Latest Posts

Bánh Chuối Hấp/ Steamed Banana Cake

Every culture likely has a dessert that utilizes overly ripe bananas so they do not go to waste. Vietnam is no exception. We have our version of a banana cake, which uses ordinary ripe bananas and turn them into a special treat. The concept is similar to a traditional banana bread, but you’ll be using tapioca starch and then steaming the cake to create a chewy texture. Add this to your dessert arsenal today.

Serving size: one 6 to 7 inch cake / Difficulty: Easy / Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Cake:

6 ripe to very ripe bananas

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder for color

1 and 1/2 cups tapioca starch

1/2 cup of water

1/4 teaspoon of pandan extract or vanilla extract

Unsalted butter or baking spray to grease the pan

Equipment:

6 to 7-inch cake pan or springform pan

a steamer big enough to fit the cake

a clean kitchen towel

Coconut Sauce:

1 can of coconut milk

1/2 can of water

2 teaspoons of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 tablespoon of tapioca water + 1 teaspoon of water

Directions

Peel and cut bananas into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the bananas. Use 2 tablespoons if your bananas are not too ripe.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 and 1/2 cups of tapioca starch, 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon of pandan extract or vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of water.

Carefully mix the batter from bottom up to incorporate all the ingredients and be careful not to smash the banana slices. Let it rest for 5 minutes.

In a large steamer, bring water to boil. Cover your lid with a kitchen towel so that the condensation from the steam does not fall back onto the cake and ruin it.

Grease the cake pan with unsalted butter or spray with baking spray.

Pour the cake into the mold. Shake the pan lightly to evenly distribute the batter. Smooth out the top of the batter with a spatula. Flip a few banana slices to face upward for a prettier presentation.

Place the cake into the steamer and steam for 20-25 minutes on medium high heat until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Let it cool completely before removing from the mold.

Make the coconut sauce:

In a small pot on medium heat, combine 1 can of coconut milk, 1/2 a can of water, 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 tablespoon of tapioca powder with 1 teaspoon of water. Once the coconut milk comes to a low boil, add the tapioca water, and stir until the tapioca has dissolved into the coconut milk. The tapioca water will thicken up the milk, so it becomes a sauce.

Serve each slice with a large spoonful of coconut cream.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors: Susan Tran and Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

Easy 4-Ingredient Potato Casserole

My brother-in-law’s mother made this ridiculously simple, yet creamy and delectable baked potato casserole that has become a weekly staple in this household. My niece loves to eat it and I like to make it for her since it requires minimal effort. This dish is the perfect accompaniment to any meal, especially on a busy day.

Ingredients:

6 starchy potatoes like russet, white or yellow potatoes

1/2 tablespoon of Vegeta (European vegetable based seasoning) or any vegetable seasoning of your choice.

  • If your vegetable seasoning does not contain salt, you will need to add at least 1 teaspoon of salt or an amount to your preference for this recipe.

1 tablespoon of olive oil

5 tablespoons of Mexican or Guatemalan crema or crème fraiche thinned with approximately 1 to 2 teaspoons of lime juice or water. You can easily find this at your local supermarket, Amazon or Walmart online.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Cut 6 potatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices and soak in cold water for 5 minutes to remove excess starch.

Drain and pat dry to remove excess moisture.

Season the potato slices with 1/2 tablespoon of Vegeta and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix to incorporate all the ingredients.

Grease a baking dish with some olive oil. Assemble the potato slices on top of each other. (When I’m particularly lazy, I just toss them into the baking dish and smooth out the top.)

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes covered with aluminum foil until you can pierce through the potatoes with a fork.

Remove from the oven and pour 5 tablespoons of cream evenly over the top of the potatoes.

Bake for another 10 minutes uncovered until the top is golden brown.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Author:  Sefira Mujanovic and Chau Hoang

Easy Holiday Baked Brie in Puff Pastry

One of the simplest crowd pleasing appetizer in my holiday cooking arsenal is this delectable baked brie in puff pastry. My version smothers creamy cheese with honey, cranberries and chopped nuts and then wrapped in a delicious puff pastry…just to be extra. Serve this salty and sweet melted cheese with thin slices of French bread or crackers to kick off the holiday season or any season of the year.

Difficulty: Easy / Time: 30 minutes / Servings: for 4-6 people

Ingredients:

1 Brie circle or camembert

1/2 cup of unsalted roasted nuts of your choice

1/2 cup of dried berries of your choice. My favorite is a mix of dried cranberries and other berries.

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry slightly chilled but not frozen (You can defrost frozen puff pastry in the fridge.)

3/4 to 1 cup of honey, depending on your preference for sweetness

1 egg for egg wash

Crackers or your choice of bread

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking tray with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

Rough chop 1/2 cups of roasted nuts and 1/2 cups of berries.

Add 3/4 to 1 cup of honey to the nut and berry mixture.

Flatten puff pastry with a rolling pin to make it pliable.

Place the brie in the middle of the puff pastry and top with your honey/nut/berry mixture.

Carefully fold one side of the puff pastry over and repeat for the next section. Cut off the excess dough but do not discard it. You can use the scrap pieces to decorate later.

Once you have folded all the sides up into a package, make little leaves out of the scraps and gently press them on top to hide the seams.

Beat 1 egg and brush the egg wash lightly all over the puff pastry.

Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes on the center rack or until the pastry turns golden brown.

Use a spatula and carefully move the baked brie onto a nice plate, add crackers or bread and serve.

This recipe is also delicious without puff pastry as well.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Author:  Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

Bánh Mì Chiên Chạo Tôm / Easy Vietnamese Shrimp Toast

A fantastic party dish that is easy to make ahead of time is my version of shrimp toast with a Vietnamese twist. Shrimp paste mixed with ground meat of your choice, pressed between slices of white bread and then deep fried is always a crowd favorite. I have deep fried these mini sandwiches and have also used the air fryer. Deep frying creates a crunchier and tastier shrimp toast. Air frying these mini sandwiches is a healthier alternative and you will still get the nice crunch in every bite. Whichever method you choose, your friends and family will love you for it.

Difficulty: Easy / Time: 30 minutes / Servings: 24 toasts

Ingredients:

3/4 lb. / approximately 22 shrimps/ 350 gram of shrimp (devein with no shell and no head)

1/2 lb. of frozen ground meat such as pork, chicken or turkey

1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon powder

1 teaspoon of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of ground pepper

1 and 1/2 tablespoon of a neutral oil

1/4 teaspoon of chili powder or annatto powder

1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic

2 tablespoons of diced scallion

1 package of white sandwich bread

Equipment: Food processor

Directions:

Wash and dry shrimps well.

Cut shrimps into smaller pieces and marinate with 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon powder, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of ground pepper, 1/2 tablespoon of oil, 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder or annatto powder, and 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Cut the frozen meat into smaller pieces. Using a food processor, blend the frozen meat with 1 tablespoon of oil until you have a smooth paste. If you do not use frozen meat, the paste will be soggy. Set aside.

Blend the marinated shrimps with 2 tablespoons of dice scallion until it becomes a paste.

Mix the meat paste with the shrimp paste thoroughly.

Prepare the bread by cutting the crust.

1. If Deep Frying

Flatten the bread with a rolling pin and cut into 4 squares.

Add about 1 tablespoon of the filling to each mini sandwich.

Microwave the sandwich for 30 seconds to 1 minutes to par cook. Shrimp should still be slightly pink.

Heat up oil to 350F.

Once the oil is heated, add the shrimp toast. Once the bottom turns golden brown, which usually only takes a few minutes, flip over and fry the other side. It’s easy to burn the toast as bread will turn golden very quickly. That is why we par cook the toast before deep frying.

Remove the toast from the oil onto a plate with paper towel to drain any excess oil.

2. If using the air fryer

Cut each piece of bread into 4 squares. Add about 1 tablespoon of the filling to each mini sandwich.

Spray the toast with oil or brush on a light coating of oil on each side of the toast.

Bake it in the air fryer at 400F for 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Turn them over at the halfway mark.

Serve the shrimp toast with ketchup and mayonnaise.

It’ll be hard to just eat one.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Author:  Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

Quick and Easy Egg and Tomato Noodle Soup

When I have only a few basic ingredients on hand and need a meal asap, I turn to this fairly simple yet delicious egg and tomato noodle soup to feed a family of four. Try it for your next weeknight meal. You won’t be disappointed.

Difficulty: Easy Time: 30 minutes Servings: 4 large bowls

*This recipe can be modified for one or two servings by cutting the measurements according to the serving size.

Ingredients:

6 cups of low sodium chicken stock

1 cup of water

3 large ripe tomatoes

3 medium size egg

1 tablespoon of minced garlic

1/2 of an onion diced

1 tablespoon of oil

1 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon powder. (You can skip this if you do not have it.)

Tapioca starch water (2 tablespoons of tapioca starch mixed with 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of water). You can substitute tapioca starch with corn starch.

A package of egg noodles (it usually comes with 4 servings). You can substitute with any noodles that you have on hand. I found that egg noodles pair best with this soup.

Optional Toppings: chili oil and fried scallions

Directions:

Dice two tomato and slice the third one into thick wedges.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium high.

Sautee 1 tablespoon of mince garlic and half of the diced onion until they turn golden brown. Add the diced tomato and season with a pinch of salt and ground pepper.

Let it cook for about 5 minutes until the tomato have rendered some liquid.

Add 6 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of water to the pot.

Flavor with 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon powder. Stir to incorporate all the seasoning.

Whip 3 eggs together and prepare the starch water.

Once the soup has come to a roiling boil, add the tomato slices.

Next, slowly stir in the starch water in one direction.

Continue to stir while slowly adding the whipped eggs to create ribbons similar to what you would see in Chinese egg drop soup.

Let the soup boil for another 5 minutes and serve with noodles.

Cook the noodles according to the direction on the package.

Assemble the bowl with 1 portion of noodles, add the egg and tomato soup and topped with a handful of fried scallions, herbs and a drizzle of chili oil.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Author:  Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

Bosnian Pita – Phyllo Pie with Apples, Walnuts and Cinnamon Sugar

Autumn is the perfect weather for apple picking and eating warm meals to welcome the cooler temperature. Apple pie is a classic American dessert to go along with many other seasonal treats. We took the basic Bosnian cheese pita recipe and made our sweet version of apple “pie” with phyllo dough filled with apples, walnuts and cinnamon sugar. It’ll be hard to eat just one slice.

This recipe has directions for home-made phyllo dough or you can substitute with frozen phyllo sheets. You may need approximately 10 sheets, depending on the size of your sheet pan. This recipe is customizable for the amount of apples and phyllo dough that you have on hand.

Difficulty: Easy (if using store bought phyllo dough) to medium (if making phyllo dough from scratch) / Time: 45 minutes – 1.5 hours and up to 24 hours rest time if making phyllo from scratch Servings: 8 slices

Ingredients:

approximately 10 frozen phyllo sheets thawed or make the dough below:

Dough from scratch:

325 grams / 2 and 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 egg

1/2 tablespoon of oil

Filling:

8 granny smith apples or similar tart and crunchy variety

1 and 1/2 cups of walnut grounded fine

1 and 1/2 cups of walnut coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons of lemon juice

1/2 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of all purpose of flour

1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Toppings:

2 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter

2 tablespoons of sugar + 3 teaspoons of cinnamon

Powder sugar to sprinkle before serving

Equipment:

1 sheet pan that you have on hand

Directions:

1. Make the dough (up to 24 hours in advance):

Skip step 1 and 2 if using frozen phyllo dough.

In a mixer with dough hook attachment, add 325g or 2 and 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour. Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the flour. With Kitchenaid (“KA”) setting on #2 or stir, add 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of oil.

Turn the mixer to medium or KA #4 and knead for approximately 5 minutes until dough forms into a ball.

Remove dough from the mixer onto a floured surface. Add more flour to the dough if it’s still too sticky to handle. Knead for 1 minute until dough has a nice spring and form into a neat ball.

Placed into a well-oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and rest for 2-3 hours or best overnight.

2. Roll out the dough:

(Check out our Cheese Pita recipe for a tutorial video and in-depth writeup on how to stretch phyllo dough.)

Prepare a big table with a clean tablecloth. Flour the tablecloth so the dough doesn’t stick to it.

Place the dough in the center of the table and roll it out to 1/4-inch thickness. Brush with 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

Using your hands, carefully pull on the dough to stretch it out. Do one section until you feel that there is no more give, move onto the next. Do this until you have stretched the dough to the size of the table or if you start seeing holes at the edges. (See video here.)

*You may have to rest the dough for 10 minutes if there is no more give in between stretching. It usually takes me 2 rest time to fully stretch out the phyllo into thin sheets.

Trim along the edges to create a straight line. Let it dry for 10 minutes. The goal is to have the phyllo sheet be semi- dry, but still malleable and not crumble when you maneuver it.

3. Make the filling:

*I usually prepare the filling in between the 10 minutes rest time while I work on the phyllo dough.

Rough chop 1 and 1/2 cup of toasted walnut and finely chop another 1 and 1/2 cup. Mix the two types together to create a more complex texture.

Peel and shred 8 Granny Smith apples. Add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to keep it from browning too quickly.

Place it over a cheese cloth or kitchen towel to squeeze and drain out the excess liquid.

Add 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract to the filling. Mix to incorporate.

4. Assemble the phyllo pie:

Grease a large baking tray or line it with parchment paper.

Start from one side of the table, add the shredded apple filling in a straight line.

Pull the tablecloth up so gravity can help you roll the phyllo over the filling. Stop when the filling has been covered.

Cut the strip of phyllo with the filling and move it onto a baking tray. Make another phyllo strip and place it next to the first strip. Make sure the strips are touching each other so they will stick together.

Once you have assembled all the strips in the baking tray, brush 2 tablespoons of melted butter on top of the pie and generously sprinkle a mixture of 2 tablespoons of sugar to 3 teaspoons of cinnamon.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400F for 20-25 minutes until the pie turns golden brown.

Remove and let it cool a little bit before cutting into squares.

Dust powder sugar on top of the warm phyllo pie before serving. This apple phyllo pie is also delicious accompanied with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Author:  Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

Easy 4 Ingredients Coconut Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is such an easy dessert to make and modify with a few ingredients. This version is made with coconut cream and coconut milk that tastes like fresh coconut meat according to my family. You can add decorations such as pretty flowers like I did for this post or top with toasted coconut strips for an extra crunch.

Difficulty: Easy / Time: 15 minutes to make, 4 hours to set/ Servings: 4

Ingredients

200 ml of coconut cream

200 ml of coconut milk

1/4 cup of sugar

2 and 1/4 sheet of silver grade gelatin (160 bloom) (You can buy this easily on Amazon. I prefer to use sheet gelatin as it is much easier to dissolve and use.)

Or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of powder gelatin. You will need to bloom the gelatin in some cold water and then melt over hot water before adding it to the warm cream mixture. Fine Cooking has a good how-to guide on using powder gelatin here.

Optional toppings:

Toasted coconut strips

Directions:

Soften 2 and 1/4 sheets of gelatin by soaking them in 1 cup of cold water. Set aside.

While stirring, heat up 200 ml of coconut milk, 200 ml of coconut cream, and 1/4 cup of sugar on low until the temperature reaches 90F-100F. (Gelatin will dissolve around 90F-100F. If you boil the liquid and then add gelatin, the high heat will reduce the effectiveness of the gelatin.) Turn off the heat.

Gently squeeze the excess water out of the softened gelatin and add to the milk mixture. Stir until the gelatin has fully dissolved, which takes less a minute.

Portion the panna cotta into 4 cups. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours or until the panna cotta has set.

Enjoy this delicious treat any season.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors:  Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

Bosnian Donuts / Krofne

One day, my twin came home with some krofne or Bosnian donuts from her sister-in-law’s BBQ and left it on the kitchen counter. They looked so good that I had to have one, even though I generally do not eat sweets and fried food. One small bite became four large donuts later and I knew I had to have this recipe. Luckily, Azra decided to teach us so we can share it on this blog. This recipe has just the right amount of sweetness that it doesn’t overwhelm the taste buds and keeps you coming back for more.

Difficulty: Easy to Medium/ Time: 2 hours including 1.5 hours of dough rest time / Servings: enough for a BBQ

Ingredients:

6 cups / 900 gram of all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

300 ml of lukewarm milk

300 ml of water

3 teaspoons of instant yeast

2 tablespoons of sugar

Pinch of salt

Oil for deep frying

Powder sugar to sprinkle on the donuts

Directions:

Mix 3 teaspoons of yeast, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour and 300ml of lukewarm water. Stir to incorporate and cover for a few minutes to let the yeast bloom.

Whisk together 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add 6 cups or 900 grams of flour and a pinch of salt.

Mix 300ml of milk to the yeast water and stir to incorporate.

A. Form the dough by hand:

Add the eggs to the flour mixture.

Slowly add the yeast water to the flour while stirring to incorporate the liquid.

When all the yeast liquid is added to the flour, knead until you have formed a ball.

Mix the ingredients by hand to start forming the dough

Remove the dough from the bowl and placed onto a well-floured surface once it comes together to make it easier to knead into a firm ball.

Kneading dough by hand
Forming dough into a ball

This will take approximately 5-10 minutes of total kneading time. You will know when it’s done when the dough have some firmness and stretch. When you press on it, there should be a slow bounce back.

B. Form the dough with a mixer:

On a slow mixing setting or # 2 on a Kitchen Aid, add eggs to the flour mixture and then slowly add the yeast liquid. Once the dough starts to take shape after 1-2 minutes, increase the speed to medium or #4 on Kitchen Aid for around 5 minutes until the dough have formed into a ball.

Same as with the manual kneading, you are looking for firmness and stretch. There should be some spring to the dough when you press on it and it should slowly bounce back. If not, keep mixing for another minute and continue to check the dough.

Cover and rest the dough in a warm spot for 1 hour until it doubles in size.

C. Make the donuts:

Take the dough out from the bowl onto a well-floured surface and knead for about a minute to form back into a ball. Cut the dough into two to make it more manageable.

Dough is fully fermented when it has doubled in size and all the gluten strands have formed.

Roll out the dough until it is approximately 1/2 inch thick.

Using a round cutter or any cutter of your choice, cut out the donuts. You can use a water bottle cap to cut the donut holes for a classic donut shape.

Cover the donuts and rest them for another 30 minutes.

Donuts have rested and fluffed up.

Prepare a tray lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil and another tray to dust the donuts.

Heat up the oil, at least a few inches of it in the pot, on medium heat until the temperature reaches 350-375F. Add donuts and fry until golden brown on one side and then flip over to do the other side. It takes around 1-2 minutes for each donut.

Remove donuts from the oil when they turn golden onto a tray lined with paper towel to remove excess oil.

Dust generously with powder sugar and served warm or hot from the fryer for the most scrumptious taste.

This is such a crowd pleasing dish, especially with the kids, that it will make you a star at the next gathering.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors: Azra Hadzihasanovic and Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

Lemongrass Shrimp Noodle Bowl

More than ever, we are cooking our meals at home. Vietnamese noodle bowls make for an easy, quick and healthy lunch or dinner. This version has grilled shrimps marinated with lemongrass and fish sauce. This recipe is easy to make ahead and requires whatever vegetable that you have on hand to complete the dish.

Difficulty: Easy / Servings: 4 / Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound of jumbo shrimps (deveined and without shell)

2 and 1/2 tablespoons garlic

3 tablespoons minced lemongrass (If you don’t have lemongrass, you can still marinate the shrimps with the remaining ingredients. It won’t be as fragrant, but it will still be tasty. Squeeze some lime juice onto the shrimp before eating to mimic the refreshing citrus notes of lemongrass.)

2 tablespoons of diced onion

3 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon +3 tablespoons of fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce

1 cup of Coco Rico soda (coconut soda) – (This is for the vinaigrette sauce. If you do not have coconut soda, I have also provided an alternative for this recipe below.)

1 minced Thai chilies

1 teaspoon of chili paste (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of sugar

1/2 teaspoon lime juice

1 package of vermicelli noodles or rice noodles cooked according to directions on the package.

Toppings (suggested or use what you have in the fridge):

1 to 2 cups of romaine lettuce, julienne

1 cucumber, julienne

A handful of mint leaves

A handful of parsley, rough chopped

Directions:

Marinate the shrimps for 5 minutes with the following ingredients:

1 tablespoon of diced onion, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of minced lemongrass, 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of oil.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil with 1 tablespoon of diced onion and 1 tablespoon of minced lemongrass on high until the onions become translucent.

Saute the shrimps until they turn pink and the flesh are firm. This will only take a few minutes.

Cook the rice noodles according to the directions on the package. A trick that I used to cook rice noodles quickly is to soak them in cold water while I prepare the dish. This will shorten the cooking time to just a few minutes.

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Make the sauce:

Option 1: Combine 3 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 cup of coconut soda, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon lime juice, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of garlic, 1 minced Thai chili and 1 teaspoon of chili paste (optional).

Option 2:

If you do not have coconut soda, you can make the sauce by combining 3 tablespoons of fish sauce, 4 tablespoons of sugar, 1 cup of lukewarm water, 1/2 teaspoon lime juice, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of garlic, 1 minced Thai chili and 1 teaspoon of chili paste (optional).

In a bowl, combine cooked vermicelli noodles, julienne lettuce and cucumber, mint and parsley. Top the bowl with shrimps and pour the sauce over everything. Mix well and enjoy.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors: Susan Tran and Chau Hoang

Easy No-Knead French Baguettes

I have successfully made traditional French baguettes with the stretch and fold kneading techniques; however, the whole process can be quite labor-intensive and require some acumen to work with the wet dough. After teaching my younger cousin how to make traditional baguettes and seeing how he struggled with the wet dough, I wanted to make a beginner-friendly version. I tested different techniques and proofing time and came back to my No-Knead Artisan Bread recipe. I figure why not use that as a basis since the bread came out with a nice crust and airy insides. Low and behold, it works! Although the no-knead baguette will not be as crusty or springy as using the stretch and fold technique, it still has a similar texture and taste of a more traditional baguette. The differences between the two baguettes are marginal unless you are a die-hard bread connoisseur.

Serving Size: 3 large baguette / Difficulty: Easy / Time: Rest time of  up to 26 hours – Work time of 15-30 minutes

Ingredients:

450 grams of bread flour

340 millilitres of lukewarm water

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast

Optional: 8 grams of bread improver. I find that bread improver (organic enzymes) helps to make the dough crustier and airier, especially for these no-knead baguettes. This bread improver really helps to bridge the gap between the traditional baguettes and this beginner friendly version.

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I didn’t provide measurements in cups as I found that you do need to be precise with bread making to have the best results. You can buy a good digital baking scale for less than $15 on Amazon.

Equipment:

A baking stone or flip your baking tray upside down to create a flat baking surface.

Water spritzer

Tray for water

Optional: Lava rocks or river rocks that can hold onto heat. This helps to create the initial burst of steam and keep the oven misty. 

Directions:

Microwave 340 ml of tap water for 30 seconds until it becomes lukewarm. Add 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast and stir to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes to activate.

Mix 450 grams of bread flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 8 grams of bread improver (optional).

While stirring the flour mixture, slowly add water and mix until there is no dry flour left.  (This takes just a few minutes.) Cover with plastic wrap and rest at room temperature (approximately 72F-75F) for up to 24 hours. The longer the dough rests, the more air bubbles will form in the dough, which creates the airy texture without much kneading.

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Flour your work surface and sprinkle flour on the top of the dough. Flip the bowl over and let gravity dump the wet dough (smooth side down) onto your work surface. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with more flour.

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Pull up, lightly stretch, and fold each side of the dough inward to form a ball. Do this twice.

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Divide the ball into 3 equal parts.

Using more flour as needed, pinch the wet cut side of the dough together to form into smaller balls.

Flip the dough over.  While using your palms to turn the dough in one direction, press your palms lightly into the bottom of the dough to create tension. This will shape the dough into a tighter ball that we are looking for. I usually do this for around 3 to 5 full turns.  If the dough still feels sticky, just sprinkle more flour onto your hands and the dough.

Let the dough rest for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, form the baguettes by doing the following:

Step 1: Pull one side over. While pressing down with both thumbs at the seam, push the dough away from you seal the seam.

Step 2: Turn the dough 180 degree. Pull both sides inward and repeat step 1.

Step 3: Pull the side farthest away from you over and press down and away from you to seal with your 2nd fingers (for a smaller seams). Do this 2 times.

Step 4: Put your left thumb at the seam and while moving your left hand toward the left side of the baguette, pull the dough over the thumb with your left or right hand and press down hard with your right palm to seal the seam. This will help to create a straight and clean edge. Do this until you have sealed the entire baguette.

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Step 4: Place both hands lightly in the middle of the baguettes with both wrists touching the work surface (this will help you to not put too much pressure on the dough). Lightly roll the baguette back and forth 2- 3 times to shape.

Next, keep stretching the dough by rolling lightly as you move your hands outward to create the desired shape. You are looking for the dough to have a long straight line with tapered edges.

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Step 5: Placed the baguettes on a floured parchment paper placed on top of a kitchen towel to create a makeshift baker couche. I didn’t want to buy a baguette pan or a baker’s couche so this method works well as a replacement. Pull up on the kitchen towel to create a barrier between each baguette, which also helps the dough to keep its form.

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Cover with another kitchen towel and let the dough rest for another 1 hour.

Prepare the oven 30 minutes into the final 1 hour rest time:

Place a baking stone or a sheet pan upside down in the middle rack. Your oven should start cold so you do not crack the baking stone due to the fluctuation in temperature.

A) Add a tray filled with baking rocks (if you have them) to preheat underneath the baking stone or sheet pan. Prepare boiling water. OR

B) If you don’t have baking rocks, add a tray filled with hot water below the baking rack to preheat with the stone. 

Prepare and preheat the oven to 500F. (It takes my oven around 30 minutes to fully preheat.)

Score the baguettes right before you put them into the oven.

  • Prepare a water sprayer.
  • Using a razor or the thinnest and sharpest knife that you have, make 3 slashes to the surface of your baguettes evenly spaced out. Do not cut it too deep or you will let too much air out and the baguettes will deflate. As this is a no-knead bread, there isn’t as much gluten holding the form together.
  • Spray the slashes with some water. This will allow the bread to expand and not bake right away. The slashes and water will also help to create a light and fluffy bread.

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* You will see that the bread has grown in size and doesn’t appear to have as much structure as a traditional baguette to hold itself up. That is why having a “couche” helps keep the baguette shape and using the parchment paper underneath will make it easier to maneuver the wet dough into the oven.

Bake the bread. Read this part carefully as this will be a quick process that requires a few steps.

  • Once the oven is preheated, cut the parchment paper so each bread is on an individual sheet. This makes it easier to move the baguettes into the oven.
  • Use another tray or baker’s peel (board with a long handle) to quickly and carefully move the bread from the tray onto the baking stone or upside baking tray.

A) Add boiling water to the baking tray with the preheated rocks underneath and close the oven ASAP. Turn the temp to 485F and bake for 10 minutes. Do not open the oven. OR

B) If you don’t have a the tray with the baking rocks- Once you have placed the baguettes into the oven, quickly and vigorously spray the sides of the oven with water to create the initial burst of steam. Close the oven door ASAP.

  • After 10 minutes, remove the water tray if there is still water left and move your baguettes around the oven. (Most ovens have hot spots. Moving them around will allow for even baking.) Turn the the temp down to 425F and bake for another 10-15 minutes depending on your preference for color.
  • Optional: After the last 10 minutes, I like to flip my baguettes over to bake for another 2-3 minutes so the undersides can be crustier.

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Remove from oven and let it cool before eating. Try this bread with our simple and addicting garlic mayonnaise. (Recipe here)

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For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Author:  Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)