Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thai Red Beef Curry (Cà ri bò kiểu Thái)

I'm a fan of Thai food and luckily my husband loves Thai food too. Last friday, we had a date night and we tried a new Thai restaurant in Midtown on the East side of Manhattan. We ordered a Thai beef curry and the taste was kinda weird. After I found a Thai grocery store, I decided to make my own. Actually, I never follow the exact recipes, I always adjust to my taste--luckily it always turns out good. For The Thai Red Beef Curry, I used lots of vegetables with the beef and red curry paste: taro, potatoes, okra, string beans, tomatoes, carrots, Thai lime kafirr, and Thai sweet basil. I also used coconut milk and Coco Rico for the soup. If you want to try something new, I think you will love this one. My husband told me I made this dish better than the Thai restaurant in NYC lol. I know that he loves me and he loves my food but i think he's telling the truth :)


  • 2 sirloin beef or bison steaks (6 to 8 oz. each) OR equivalent, cut into thin strips or small bite-size chunks
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 Thai lime Kafirr OR substitute bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato 
  • 1lbs taro (chop/slice and steam)
  • 10 Okra
  • 1- 2 big carrot
  • 1/2 tsp. whole cummin seed
  • 1 cup string beans
  • 1-2 medium potatoes (chop/slice and steam)
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil or vegetable oil 
  • 5Tbsp. Coco Rico

  • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, finely sliced, OR 2-3 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR fresh ginger, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1+1/2 tsp. Red curry paste
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2/3 can coconut milk (reserve remaining 1/3 for later)
* Tip: To make the beef more flavorful, you can season it first for 15minutes with 1tsp of salt, 1tsp of pepper, 1tsp of chicken powder, 1tbsp of yellow curry powder, 1tbsp of ground garlic.


  1. Combine all 'Curry Sauce' ingredients together in a food processor or blender, process until well blended and set aside OR you can simply pour all the "Curry Sauce" ingredients to the wok if you don't want to blend it in the food processor.
  2. Warm a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl around to coat, then add onion and garlic. Stir-fry 1 minute, then add the beef and stir-fry 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add prepared curry sauce, lime leaves and Coco Rico. Stir well and bring to a gentle boil (if it's too thick, add 2-4 Tbsp. water or stock).
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, so curry is gently simmering. Cover and simmer 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and whole cumin seed and continue simmering until carrots are soft enough to pierce with a fork (about 10 - 12 minutes). Add the string beans, Okra, tomatoes and simmer until everything is well cooked (5 more minutes). Finally add steamed taro and potatoes.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the last 1/3 can coconut milk, stirring to incorporate. Taste-test the curry. If not salty or flavorful enough, add a little more fish sauce. If you'd like it sweeter, add a little more sugar, or add more chili if you'd like it spicier. If too salty or too sweet, add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice.
  6. Serve with plain Thai Jasmine rice/Sticky rice and enjoy!

                                              GOOD LUCK & ENJOY!

Classic Thai fish cakes (Chả cá Thái Lan)

I love Thai food. When i was in Vietnam, I went to a Thai restaurant 2 -3 times a week. I would say the taste of Thai food in Vietnam is similar to authentic Thai, but in NYC Thai food is adjusted to American taste. Actually, I do want to make some Thai food at home as I'm craving for Thai fish cakes and Tom yum soup, but it is not easy to find Thai ingredients in NYC. One day, when i was wandering around Chinatown, I found a tiny Thai grocery store located in a little alley called Mosco street. I bought some Thai lime Kafirr leaves which is very hard to find in New York and costs $3 just for a few leaves.

Thai fish cakes are a popular dish in Thai cooking. It makes a great snack, especially when you dip it in spicy sweet chili sauce. You can also serve it as a main course with sticky rice and pickled cucumber and carrot.

Well, let's get cooking now.

Ingredients: (Adapted & modified from About Thai

  • 1 lb (.454 kg) white-fleshed fish fillets (Cod, Tilapia etc....)
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, snipped into thin strips with scissors
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. shrimp paste OR 2 tsp. red curry paste (I use red curry paste because my hubby doesn't eat shrimp paste)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/3 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 5 big string beans, sliced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated ( I use ginger)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cucumber (to accompany cakes)
  • Olive or Canola oil for high temp. frying
  • To SERVE: Thai sweet chili sauce & lime wedges


  1. Rinse fish and use paper towel to pat thoroughly dry (if using frozen, the fish will be more moist so be sure to dry it as well as you can). Cut into chunks and place in food processor.
  2. In a cup, combine the coconut milk, fish sauce, red curry paste, chili powder, cumin, ground coriander, and brown sugar. Stir with a fork to combine, then pour into the processor over the fish.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (kaffir lime leaf strips, string beans, ginger and garlic). Pulse to create a thick fish paste.
  4. Picking up a small amount in your hand, pat the paste into a small cake and set on a clean plate. Note that traditional Thai fish cakes are small (about 2 inches in diameter and 3/4 to 1 inch thick) and not too thick.   

    If your paste is too wet to easily form into cakes, add a little flour or breadcrumbs to the mix. As you continue making the cakes, it helps to rinse your hands every so often with cool water to prevent the paste from sticking.
  5. Set a plate of cakes in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, prepare your pan for frying as well as your garnishes. Cut the cucumber length-wise, then dice up into small cubes and set aside. Pour oil into a small frying pan or wok (at least 1 inch deep).
  6. Heat oil. When hot enough, gently place cakes in oil. Fry 30 seconds to 1 minute before turning, gently lifting cakes from the bottom of the pan (they may stick a little). Fry until golden-brown and drain on paper towel.
  7. Serve fish cakes immediately with the chopped cucumber and Thai sweet chili sauce drizzled over. Top with fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime juice just before eating.

                                                    Good luck and Enjoy !

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chat box

Welcome to my home. Reading my blog, you will know I'm a newbie in the kitchen and still learning. Actually, I started cooking 6 months ago when I was craving Vietnamese food that I could not find here in New York city. If you visit my page by chance, like my food and want to know more about New York, please kindly leave your comments. I would love to know about your visit :)

About me

Hi, my name is Jenny. Eating and Travelling are my passion. I love to eat, travel, explore new places, try new food, get to know more about other cultures & local people. I fell in love with New York city 5 years ago and I never knew that one day I would live here with my dear husband.

Ironically, I hated cooking in Vietnam though I loved to eat. I only started cooking when i moved to New York. I'm a newbie in the kitchen but each time I find I love to cook more and more. It helps me reduce stress, so why not??? 

This blog is a collection of my favorite recipes and the results of my experiments. I'm writing in English to improve my language skills. However, dear Vietnamese-speaking visitors, please feel free to post your comments in our native language and I'll answer you in Vietnamese.

And last, but not least. I want to thank you everyone who has expressed the interest in my blog. Thank you so much for your kind comments and feedbacks on the recipes. They are highly appreciated. I'm looking forward to your future visit.

Now, read about my food creations (try my recipes!), tales from New York and other places I've traveled to.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My first time baking Carrot cupcake

After reading a mouth-watering post of a carrot cupcake, I set out to buy ingredients. I bought flour, cream cheese, butter, carrot, apple, almonds, confectioners sugar and even a Wilton decorating cupcake set. Frankly, I'm not a detail-oriented person and I have no patience to focus on little things. I never ever used a tip to decorate cupcakes before in my life, but I wanted to try new things, so here I go :)

It's not easy at first to use a tip because the icing melts so quickly in the summer.  I had to put it in the freezer for 15 - 20 mins to cool it first then put it in a pastry bag to decorate. It's the first time I baked cupcakes and if I can do it, so can you :)

Here is the recipe for you to try (Apdapted from Food network)
Makes 12 cupcakes.

Carrot Cupcakes:
1 1/3 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts or almond chopped
2 large eggs
1/4 cup organic sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup grated apple or crushed pineapple
1 1/3 cups  finely grated raw carrots

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup (55 grams) butter, room temperature
4 ounces (115 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1//4 cups confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar sifted (because I dont eat too sweet, normaly, they use 2 1/4 cup confectioners sugar)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of lime juice (My invention). It makes the frosting tastier

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Lightly butter (or spray with a non stick Olive oil spray) or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Fold in the chopped walnuts/almond.
In another large bowl whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Then whisk in the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract until slightly thickened. Fold in the apples and grated carrots. Then fold this mixture into the flour mixture until incorporated. Evenly fill the 12 muffin cups with the batter and bake about 20 - 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and let cool completely before frosting. 

Frosting: In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until very smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract and lime juice. Add more confectioners sugar if needed. Pipe the frosting on the top of each cupcake. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate the cupcakes until serving time. Can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Vietnamese sandwich with grilled beef lemongrass (Bánh mì bò nướng sả)

Bánh mì, which is the Vietnamese word for “bread,” is actually the baguette, which was introduced to Vietnam during the French occupation of Indochina. Today, however, 'banh mi" refers to the type of meat-filled sandwich and there are vareity of meat choices. The classic version "banh mi thit nguoi" refers to the special at Vietnamese banh mi deli, includes of homemade liver pork/chicken pate^, butter, and Vietnamese ham (Cha lua), cucumber, cilantro, daikon and carrot pickles (do chua), slices red hot pepper and a drizzle of soysauce. Other filling options are BBQ pork, shredded chicken, grilled pork, meatballs.... but one of my favorite banh mi is the grilled beef lemongrass. It reminds me of my childhood in old Saigon with delicious street foods and no pollution. I also miss my "banh mi" breakfast in Vietnam. Here in NYC, whenever i need banh mi, it's a 15 mins train to China town, but sometimes i'm too lazy to travel just for one banh mi, so make it myself.

Here is the recipe for you to try

Serving: 4 people

1,5 lbs ground beef 90/10
4 baguette rolls, sliced lengthwise in the center
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves
4 Jalapeno chilies, deseeded and thinly sliced
Pickled carrots and daikon (store-bought or homemade)

Lemongrass Beef Marinade:
1/2 cup minced lemongrass
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce (Lee Kum Kee)
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 medium Onion, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons Olive oil
1 teaspoon chicken powder
A pinch of salt

Sauce " The Tuong" 
5 tbsp Hoisin sauce
3 tbsp chunky peanut butter (don't use creammy)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp chicken powder
1/2 - 1/3 cup water 

1. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, and all above ingredients. Mix well and form into 14 balls. Store, covered, in refrigerator until needed.
2. Preheat grill until ready to use. Gently arrange marinated beef onto the grill. Grill until the beef is nicely charred on both sides and meat is thoroughly cooked. If use indoor broiler oven, broil for 5-7 minutes on each side or until the meat is completely cooked and nicely charred.

Make the Tuong.

Combine all ingredients, stir thoroughly and boil it over medium high heat. 

                                                   Good luck and enjoy!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My first time baking apple crumble (Bánh táo vụn)

In Vietnam, we always went to NYDC for dessert, i would say they have the best dessert in town. David has a sweet tooth and he loves the cheesecake with chocolate, way too sweet (for me). My favorite at the cafe is the apple crumble served with vanilla ice cream because it's not too sweet. When we came back to New York, everything is it too sweet. When i make desserts at home, i always reduce the sugar by half and try to avoid whipped cream. My apple cumble is just sweet enough to balance with the vanilla bean ice cream on top, the nuttiness of toasted pecan, and the buttery, cinnamon flavor.Oh they are just gorgeous! I promise that you wont feel guilty for eating a second portion! :P :P 

It's so easy to make this dessert and is great for last-minutes guest.

Here is the recipe for you to try (Adapted and modified from Food network)
Serving: 4 people



  • 3 large sweet apples like Golden Delicious or Fuji or Gala (Peel, core, slice and chop)
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (normally they use 1/2 or 1cup sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of fine salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place apples in a large mixing bowl and toss with sugar, lemon juice, flour, and cinnamon. Pour into a lightly greased baking dish, and spread out into an even layer. Set aside.
In another large bowl, mix together the nuts, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt for the topping. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, gently work in the cold butter until pea-sized lumps are formed.
Top apples evenly with mixture and bake until apples are bubbly and topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes, rotating once halfway through cooking.
Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

                                                   Good luck and enjoy!!