Vietnamese Style Lemongrass Pork with Brown Rice and Carrot Relish. This was such a busy day and I was super rushed to get dinner together that I overcooked the pork (it was too chewy) and my coarse shredded carrots became carrot mush. Overall though, the flavors were good; Ben and I agreed that we should give this dish another shot. Next time, I will pay attention and bake the pork for 15 minutes (instead of 25) and not stick the carrots in the vita-mix.
Week of 4/20 – 4/24
Monday: Vietnamese Egg Rolls
Wednesday: Homemade Pizza
What’s on your menu this week?
Preheat oven to 350° F. Chop all your vegetables. Line a baking pan with parchment paper, spread vegetables, lightly spray with oil, sprinkle fennel seed on top, and salt and pepper to taste. (For those that like more structure, this recipe is what initially inspired us a few years ago.)
All these vegetables were grown in our winter garden. We had some serious ginormous fennel growing! Ben is the one who puts in all the work into the garden, but I’m very happy to enjoy it all in my tummy!
Mexican Picadillo. We went over to our friends’ place for dinner, and my friend Kelley made this dish for us. It’s a recipe her mom made often for her growing up, and I loved it so much that I made it at home a couple days later (I texted her for the recipe). She cooked it over the stovetop, but I wanted to see if the crockpot would work well for it, and indeed it did. It is basically lean ground turkey (she used ground beef), quartered potatoes, fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, serranos, cilantro, with a teaspoon of cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. I cooked it on high for about 4 hours and it came out so delicious. Leftovers were even better because the flavors had a longer period to blend together.
Bún Thịt Nướng (Vietnamese Grilled Pork & Rice Noodles) with Chả Giò (Egg Rolls). The BFF texted me this recipe when she made this a few weeks back. She told me that its spice level made her husband feel like he was dying, so then I knew, we would love this! HA! I finally got around to making it this week, and let me tell you… oh, we loved it!!! Don’t let the name intimidate you, it’s really quite simple to make. Everything is just absolutely delicious, and I baked the eggs rolls instead of frying them! Seriously, that is amazing. This just opened a whole new world for me and my family. I’m Filipino, and lumpia (Filipino egg roll) is delicious, but so bad because it’s deep fried. I probably haven’t had any in a few years (we don’t eat much Filipino food). Now, that I know they can be baked, I’m going to try and make them for my girls. Anyway, this is noodle and egg roll recipe is one you must try! Hungry Huy is right when he says this dish is “love in a bowl.”
Have you tried any new recipes lately?
One of our favorite dishes in Singapore was Hainanese Chicken Rice. My friend Abby, who also was our tour guide when we were there, has been learning from her grandmother how to make this delectable and aromatic dish, so she came over to teach us.
She also taught us how to make chicken rice balls, and the girls loved getting in on the action. It looks like the simplest dish, but it is really so flavorful. It’s not really a colorful meal, but what it lacks in color, it makes up for it with the magic that happens in every bite. You eat the chicken with the rice, seriously the best rice ever, a little bit of chili sauce, ginger sauce, and dark soy sauce. It’s an amazing dish! Even as I type out this post, I’m craving it. Maybe I should change this week’s meal plan to include chicken rice.
Abby created a film about her grandmother and how to make chicken rice. The film is actually more than that; it also weaves the story of her grandmother’s making of chicken rice with Singapore’s language policies and its changes. I had the honor of being able to see Abby’s film and it was so beautifully done. You see this older woman passing a priceless gift to her granddaughter. Sure, she’s just teaching her how to cook, but there’s so much depth in it, she is passing down a part of her cultural heritage, part of her story. Now, Abby gets to take that story and mold it into her own. It made me want to go spend more time with my grandparents. In college, I recorded both of my grandparents telling me how they grew up and met, so I’m somewhat familiar with some of their stories, but I’m sure there is so much more I’m missing out on too. I need to find that cassette and keep it in a safe place, so my kids can listen to it one day.
In the film, Abby tells her grandmother, “You taught me how to cook chicken rice. This is my inheritance. This is an inheritance money cannot buy.” How precious is that inheritance indeed!
Easy Pozole. I used the recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s book (I shared about it here) and it is really delicious. Best of all, it’s so simple to make (and healthy!). It had been over a year since I made it last, but it was just as yummy as I remembered it. I made two batches, one for the spice lovers in the family (Ben, Brave, and me), and another much more milder batch too for the rest of them.
Woot woot! It’s my 100th official week of meal planning. When I look back in my archives, I made so many different dishes. I started this not really into cooking, not knowing much, and now I love it! Putting it out here has been great for accountability and challenging myself. I started back in March 2012 (see the first post here) and it has helped us be more intentional with our family dinners. I love serving my family in this way, but I do appreciate a break from time to time too. If you feel like cooking or meal planning is daunting, I’m living proof that it can be done. I’m not a natural chef, but I definitely think I have gotten much better with time and practice.
Ben and I went on a date on Friday night, since the girls slept over my mom and dad’s place. We have a restaurant that is our go-to place when we are in my mom and dad’s area, but I wasn’t feeling it on Friday, and wanted to try somewhere new. After yelp-ing a few things in the area, I narrowed it down to Korean sushi, ramen, or our go-to cajun seafood place. I consulted the BFF on what to do, since 1) she’s Korean and could help me figure out if we would like Korean sushi, and 2) she knows our palettes so well that she always has good recommendations. She said, “The sushi is daring, the ramen is safe, and our cajun seafood is super-safe.” Thus, we went with daring, so Dongbu Live Fish it is!
This was a small mom and pop restaurant, and I have to admit, we were a little apprehensive upon entering. It’s a small establishment, and there were these large tanks on one side, and tables on the other. The reviews on yelp were good, so we felt safe, but we had a feeling this was going to be interesting. We’ve tried a lot of Korean food, but we have never had Korean sashimi. The special thing about Korean sashimi is that it is about as fresh as it could be. I already knew what we wanted to order, so we got the small live sashimi combo to share (that was more than plenty for two people!).
The chef, I assume he was the chef, went to one of the large tanks on the other side of the room, and pulled out a live halibut. It was a moving and wriggling fish! He showed it to us, told us this was our fish (and asked if I wanted to take a picture, so I did), and then he went to the back to do his fancy slicing. In the meantime, they brought out us a salad, quail eggs, and lots of little Korean side dishes. Next, out came some soup, and the thinly sliced abalone, which they just picked fresh from the tank moments before, and some spicy buckwheat noodles. Then, our big plate of the thinly sliced halibut, and some lettuce. The BFF (and the chef) informed us, you take a slice of fish, put it in the lettuce, add some bean paste, garlic, and jalapeño, and eat it all in one bite. We were chowing down on all this deliciousness that we were both starting to get really full. As soon as I declared that I couldn’t eat anymore, they brought out rice and hot pot tofu soup. Okay, so I had a little bit of that, and proclaimed I was done. But wait! Then, they brought out grilled mackerel, and I went for a little bite to try it, but it was so good, I kept going. Next thing you know, Ben and I had devoured the mackerel and it was all gone. Ben continued eating what was left, and I was done for real. I wasn’t stuffed, but I felt good enough, and wanted to save room for dessert.
For dessert, we went to pick up some Honeymee, which was milk ice cream with pure honey drizzled all over (see here). I happily indulged in each spoonful of that cup full of joy until it was all gone. I can’t wait to introduce the girls to Honeymee, I know they’ll love it too! If you’re adventurous, I highly recommend trying Korean style sushi. It had a lot of the Korean flavors we were already used to in other dishes, so it ended up not being too new to us. What was new though, was that was the freshest fish we ever had. I mean it was alive, then 10-15 minutes later it was in our stomachs!