Vietspices Search

Monday, November 29, 2010

Khoai Lang Chiên Ngào Đường (Caramelized Ginger Drizzle Fried Sweet Potato Chips)

Khoai Lang (Sweet Potatoes or Yams) are one of those things that we generally keep in our kitchen because they provide many surpising health benefits: they're a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and folic acid which is important for fetal development; they help regulate blood sugar level in diabetics and decrease stress; they are beneficial to your lungs, heart, and digestive system. In addition they're also abundant and versatile; you can boil them, bake them, roast them on an open fire, fry them, and make soup out of them; We even grow them in our garden. The young leaves and vine tips of sweet potato are also edible; in fact, they contain more nutrients and dietary fiber than some green leafy vegetables like spinach. You can stir-fry or boil the leaves to be served as a vegetable dish.

My mother-in-law and two daughters love the starchy, sweet taste of Khoai Lang, especially the purple yams and the Japanese yams. Most of the time, my mother-in-law would steam or microwave them for breakfast and my daughters out of curiosity have acquired a liking to them.

Sweet Potato vine in our vegetable garden

The other day, a friend invited us over for dinner. It's customary that I would bring a side dish to share; it was late when I learned of the invitation, but decided to look around the kitchen to see if I can put together something at the last minute. Lo and behold, I found a few sweet potatoes sitting in the basket. Perfect! I have always want to make something other than the usual Vietnamese Potato Pudding or chè. 

My daughters love potato chips, especially sweet and crunchy fried potato chips with a drizzle of caramelized ginger coating. Khoai Lang Chiên Ngào Đường was a instant hit; they kept coming down the kitchen to ask for more during the frying process. I particularly like the orange flesh sweet potatoes for this recipe which you can find at any of supermarket as they are sweeter than the purple, yellow or white flesh. 
This Khoai Lang Chiên Ngào Đường is simple to make; it's a delicious and addicting snack. 
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RECIPE: Khoai Lang Chiên Ngào Đường


3 large sweet potatoes
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger, optional
1/8 lime
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon salt
Preparing Sweet Potatoes

Using a slicer to remove potatoes skin. Soak potatoes in a large bowl of cold water and salt mixture to prevent them from turning brown. Using the slicer slice the potatoes thinly. Rinse and dry with paper towels or air dry them in the sun. The drier the potato slices are, the faster they will fry.  
Frying Potatoes

Bring a pot of oil to boil (add a slice of potato into the hot oil pot to test it. You should see the oil bubbling), then reduce the heat to medium. Fry a handful of potato slices at once at medium high tempeture until they turn golden. Since the potato slices are real thin, it turns color very fast, so make sure to keep an eye on it at all time. Use a strainer to scoop them up. Let the oil drips down the oil pot a little bit before transfering them to a tray with paper towel on the bottom. Continue frying the remaining potatoe slices. Transfer potato chips into a bowl. Sprinkle roasted sesame seeds. Set it aside.

Caramelized Sugar

Melt sugar and ginger in a small pan. As soon as the sugar melts and turns a golden caramel color, squeeze lime into the sugar and stir it up. Remove from heat and drizzle evenly on the potato chips.

Toss it up as you're drizzling the melting sugar. Immediately sprinkle a little more of roasted sesame seeds alll over the caramelized potato chips. Now these are ready for your enjoyment!

Click here for more info about Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tương Ớt Tỏi (Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce)

When fall arrives, our garden looks so luscious with many variety of tomatoes, bell peppers, chayote (xu), bitter melons, eggplants, and much more...But what stand out the most are the beautiful chili pepper plants. 

We usually start harvesting our chili peppers in October and throughout the November month. In the past we used to freeze them and cook them whole in dishes such as cá kho (fish clay pot), thịt kho (caramelized braised pork), or when we make fish soups to reduce the fishy smell and spice up the flavor. We also stored some in the fridge to enjoy with each meal. We dried them and make chili powder. We packaged the remainder in ziploc bags and shared them with our families, friends and our neighbors. 

This season I decided to try my hands at making chili garlic sauce. It was so much fun and easier than I expected; it was spicy indeed, just the way we love it!

It's part of our culture, and a meal without some sort of spicy chili sauce would just be too bland. My chili sauce is super hot, but its tone is gentle and not sharp. This is achieved through the use of tomato paste and vinegar to reduce the spiciness. If you can't tolerate super hot chili sauce, you can use the combination of Thai chili with tomato or habanero or serrano peppers or jalapeno to reduce the spiciness. 

The beautiful vivid orange and red colors of the chili peppers remind me of this season's colors. So my husband and I made a basket of jarred chili garlic sauce to give thanks to our family members and friends during this holiday season. My husband added a nice touch to the jars with those nice straw bows which I tried but can never make it look nice enough.

RECIPE: Tương Ớt Tỏi


1 pound fresh Thai chilies, washed and removed stems
6 cloves garlic 
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar 
1 teaspoon salt 
3 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup fresh ripe Tomato Paste (about 3 Roma tomatoes, peeled and seeded)

Making Tomato Paste 

Place a pot with water over high heat and bring it to a boil.  Lower the tomatoes into the water gently and leave them there for 1 minute. 

Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water.  Set the tomatoes aside until they're cool down.  Peel the skin off then cut the peeled tomatoes in half.  Gently squeeze tomato to remove the seeds. Discard the seeds.

Put these peeled tomatoes in a food processor or blender and process until coarsely pureed. Set it aside.

Making Chili Paste

Place chilies, garlic, vinegar, salt and sugar in a food processor or blender and process to a coarse pureed.

Transfer chili paste and tomato paste to a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ớt Chuông Nhồi Tôm và Thịt (Stuffed Bell Peppers with Shrimps and Pork)

Since this is our first season with an abundance of bell peppers in our vegetable garden, I have to come up with some dishes to take advantage of these wonderfully tangy, crunchy,  juicy vegetables packed with powerful antioxidants and full of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

I have always wondered why green peppers are so much cheaper than the red, yellow and orange peppers; I finally did some research and found out that green peppers are less sweet and slightly more bitter than red, yellow or orange peppers.  Compared to green peppers, red peppers have more vitamins and nutrients and contain the antioxidant lycopene. The level of carotene, another antioxidant, is nine times higher in red peppers. Red peppers also have twice the vitamin C content of green peppers. 

Luckily, our bell pepper plants produce a variety of sweet orange and yellow bell peppers so this is perfect for my Ớt Chuông Nhồi Thịt và Tôm. Oh the combination of shrimps and pork mixed in the fish sauce, seasoned with fresh garlic, spring onion, black pepper, and other essentail ingredients such as sesame oil produces a distinctively delightful, sweet and nutty in aroma sure to make your mouth water. 

This dish will not only pack your palate with full of flavors, it can also do wonders for your health by ways of the vitamins and antioxidants; These bell peppers are not hot, so my kids enjoyed them as much as the rest of us.
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RECIPE: Ớt Chuông Nhồi Thịt

6 bell peppers (any color), stems and seeds removed, cut in half
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound  shrimps, shelled and deveined, cut into half inch pieces
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 white parts of spring onion (củ trắng của hành lá), finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onion
1/2 - 1 teaspoon  pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon  paprika
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine all the filling ingredients and mix well.  I didn't have time to measure everything while preparing this dish, therefore, this recipe doesn't have correct measurements so make sure to adjust the seasonings.  You can give it a taste by cooking or microwaving a teaspoon of the mixture, then adjust the ingredients to your liking. 

Fill bell peppers with pork mixture.  Sprinkle roasted sesame seeds on top.  Brush olive oil all over the bell peppers and the top to prevent it from shriveling up.   

Place bell peppers in a baking tray and bake, uncovered for about 20  minutes in the preheated oven.  During the baking process,brush oil on the bell peppers to keep it from being dried. Turn the oven to Broil and broil it on high for a few minutes or until the top is a little bit golden brown. Serve hot.

Enjoy !