Pad Kee Mao SUCCESS!!

Guys. GUYS. I’ve done it. I’ve finally made pad kee mao at home, and it’s MARVELOUS. I’m never leaving my apartment again!

…okay, so I’m being a little dramatic, but really though, this makes me SUPER excited because this noodle dish is SO delicious. I have cravings for this dish pretty often, so making this at home instead of always going out will help me save money that can go towards traveling! I used a recipe from Recipe Tin Eats, with a few adjustments to match how I like eating my noodles.

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What exactly is pad kee mao? Pad kee mao, or drunken noodles, is a popular spicy Thai stir-fried noodle dish. If you’ve had pad see ew before, it’s similar to that but less sweet and a good fiery kick to it. I was introduced to this flavorful noodle dish while in college. For whatever reason, Davis, CA is FULL of Thai restaurants–there was at least 5 different ones within about a 5-block radius downtown (and more throughout the city!). Wanting to try something different besides pad Thai all the time (as introduced to me by my mom), I decided to try this dish because I love spicy foods. After one bite, I was hooked. Wide rice noodles are quickly tossed together with garlic, onions, chiles, and fragrant Thai basil in a screaming hot wok, then coated in a savory soy sauce with a hint of sweetness. So good! To this day, I hardly order anything else besides pad kee mao when I’m out at a Thai restaurant.

Some notes about this recipe! There are a handful of specialty ingredients that can be a little confusing, so please take note!

As you can see below, there are 5 billion different kinds of soy sauce. I don’t know about you, but when I think of soy sauce, I only really thought of one–the one you use to dip things in to eat. Alas, there are much, much more than that! Even Japanese soy sauce, Korean soy sauce, and Chinese soy sauce are all different–they apparently all have slightly different tastes due to the differences in the brewing process. Who knew! I certainly didn’t. If you’re so inclined, I’d suggest taking a look at Serious Eats‘ soy sauce comparisons–super interesting. For this specific recipe, we’re going to be using some Thai soy sauces, and pay close attention here! There’s a handful of them and if you grab the wrong one, you won’t get the right flavor. Take a look at these here:

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Black soy sauce A, sweet soy sauce, black soy sauce, and there are MORE not included this photo? Crazy, I know. I stood in the soy sauce aisle for quite some time studying the labels because I bought the wrong soy sauce yesterday (don’t get thick soy sauce!). The special soy sauce you want for this recipe is the black soy sauce, BUT WAIT. You want this one:

If you can’t find this particular one, the Chinese brands also work–you’ll be looking for a dark soy sauce. The key to buying the right one is to check the ingredients. You want one that looks like regular soy sauce, but has added brown sugar. Mine has soy sauce (salt, water, soybean, wheat flour) and brown sugar). You DO NOT want one that has molasses for the first ingredient because this is something completely different.

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Don’t get something like this!

From my understanding, that’s used for color rather than anything else. Don’t get it. I got a jar of that on accident yesterday, and it does noooot taste good.

Rice noodles! You’ll be using rice noodles for this specific recipe, and the thickness to your noodles is important. Make sure you get the noodles that are around 1/2″ thick, not the thin ones! If you’re fortunate enough to be able to find it, I would suggest getting the fresh noodles in the refrigerated section like these:

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Otherwise, you can get the dried noodles. If you get the dried noodles, I would cook the noodles according to the package (add 1 tbsp cooking oil to the boiling water) BUT take the noodles out 2 minutes before they’re cooked. The oil in the water is so the noodles don’t stick together (the fresh ones have a bit of oil on them already), and you want the noodles to be al dente after the boil so they can soak up the sauce when you stir fry them.

The recipe I used doesn’t include veggies, but I personally love having some veggies in noodles to give it some texture. You can use what you’d like, but I’d suggest bell peppers for some crunch (and they’re inexpensive!).

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Last thing! For this dish, you ideally would want a wok. Why? The shape of the wok allows you to cook items at a high heat quickly without burning things because you can easily toss the food and coat everything evenly. You can cook this dish without one, of course, but it’s much easier with one. I don’t have a wok, but I do have a pan with rounded sides (instead of the tall sides). I might invest in a wok at some point since I do like stir frying and it’s kinda fun to toss the food around 🙂

Okay, enough blabbing! Are you ready? Here we go!

Pad Kee Mao with Chicken

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: medium
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Credit: based of recipe from Recipe Tin Eats

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, split into 1 tsp and 2 tsps
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bird’s eye chili/Thai chili, sliced (seeded if you don’t want it that spicy)
  • 4.5 tsp oyster sauce
  • 2.5 tsp light soy sauce (the soy sauce you eat with)
  • 2.5 tsp dark soy sauce (the one I showed you above!)
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 chicken thigh, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/8 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced (can use 1/4 green, 1/4 red if you’d like some color)
  • 8 oz fresh rice noodles (about 1/4 of a 32 oz packet)
  • 1/2 cup basil

Directions

  1. Let’s first mix up your sauce! Mix together oyster sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, and water together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Take the noodles out of the packet and place in a colander. Rinse the noodles under some warm water and separate them into individual noodles so it’s not just a giant clump. Let drain in colander and set aside.
  3. Now to move onto some cooking! Add 1 tsp oil to your pan on medium high heat. Wait until the oil looks shimmery (oil should slide around really easily), then add the chicken. Cook for about 5 minutes, then take out of the pan and set aside.
  4. Add the other 2 tsp oil to the pan on medium high heat. Once the oil is nice and hot, add the minced garlic and sliced chili and fry for about 15 seconds so the garlic is nice and fragrant. Don’t sniff too hard–the chili is spicy!
  5. Add onions and bell peppers and saute for about 1 minute.
  6. Add the chicken back into the pan with about 1 tbsp of sauce and toss together with the bell peppers. Let it cook for another 2 minutes.
  7. Add noodles to the pan and pour in the rest of the sauce. Mix everything together. As the noodles absorb the sauce, they’ll become softer and brown. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until you have nice pliable noodles (but don’t overcook or they’ll clump together). If your sauce is starting to burn onto the pan (and not coating the noodles evenly), turn down the heat a little and add a splash of water (like about 2 tsp) so it releases the sauce from the pan (it’ll boil off).
  8. Once your noodles are all cooked, turn off the heat and mix in the basil. Serve on a plate, and enjoy!

This recipe is a little fast paced, so make sure you have all the ingredients ready to go! If you make it, let me know how it turns out 🙂

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Chicken Congee!

Yay, it’s the weekend! Normally, I’m all about trying out new recipes and crazy cooking adventures on the weekend, but I have a number of leftovers in the fridge that I needed to finish. Earlier this week, I made a bunch of basmati rice to have with falafels and red lentil curry (during different meals haha), and despite eating a bunch of it, I had about a cup left. I’m a bit particular about my rice–gotta have the right grain with the right meal! I know that sounds over the top, but really, longer grains of rice tend to be a little drier while shorter grains absorb more liquid so it’s more moist. It’s not crucial per se, but I personally think it enhances your dish more when you have specific rice types with different meals.

Anywho, I had a cup leftover and didn’t have anything particular planned to serve with that rice. I wanted to catch up on my reading, so I wasn’t in the mood to cook anything elaborate. Rice pudding is always an option, but I wanted something for a meal rather than just a snack. Congee ended up the perfect dish for my predicament! Congee, a rice porridge, is super easy to make and doesn’t take that much fuss. I could let it simmer away as I immersed myself in a novel. I also had a piece of chicken that I had taken down from the freezer to make something the other day (but got too lazy to make), so I figured this was the perfect way to use it up too.

This chicken congee is similar to the one my mom made for me as a kid whenever I got sick. Nice and light, super easy, and absolutely delicious! Depending on how much time you have, you can cook this longer than 3 hours (on a nice, even simmer), which gives the porridge a silkier texture. I, however, didn’t want to spend more than 3 hours, so I added a tiny smidgen of cornstarch (a trick I learned from a friend!) to the congee to give it a nice finish. It’s a bit of a cheat move, but it works if you don’t wanna spend 5 billion years cooking. You can exclude it if you want–the congee will still taste great!

Chicken Congee

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Time: 3 hrs
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

To cook with:

  • 1 cup cooked rice (I used basmati)
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 chicken thigh
  • 1 tsp corn starch (optional)

To serve with:

  • 2-3 sprigs cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 green onion, roughly chopped
  • ground white pepper
  • Chinese donut, cut into 1″ pieces

Directions

    1. Bring 1 cup cooked rice, chicken broth, and water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Once it has come to a rolling boil, turn down the heat to a medium low and cover the pot with a lid so the steam can still escape. Mixture should be at a good, steady simmer. Give the pot a stir every 20 minutes so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom. Keep an eye out for your pot–you don’t want your porridge to boil over (and it will if it boils too hard!).
    2. Cook for about 3 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when you see that the grains of rice are broken up into tiny pieces, and the broth is a little thicker. If it gets too thick at any point, you can always add more water.
    3. About 2.5 hours in, add the chicken thigh and allow it to cook in the congee for 20 minutes.
    4. After 20 minutes, pull the chicken and slice into 1/4 inch slices.
    5. After 3 hours of cooking, your congee is ready! If you’d like to add the cornstarch*, mix 1 tsp of corn starch with 2 tsp of cold water, then stir it into the congee. Add salt to taste (I didn’t find it necessary).
    6. Ladle the congee into a bowl and top with chopped cilantro/green onion mix and Chinese donut pieces. Enjoy! 🙂
  • optional, see note up above for more info

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What are your favorite ways to use up leftover rice? Let me know below!

Chai Overnight Oats

After trying it for the first time the other day, I decided last night to make another overnight oats jar! It’s just so easy and I’m so lazy in the morning that it’s really the perfect breakfast solution. But me being me, I get bored really easily so I can’t have the same thing too many times. My first jar was a banana-peanut butter mix, which was delicious but I didn’t want it 2 days in a row. “So what to do!?” I thought last night, while sipping on a mug of chai tea. Why not a chai flavored overnight oats?!

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Honestly, this was really an excuse to just have more of that chai tea latte mix. I recently found it at World Market (aka my favorite place ever), and it’s an instant mix that I rather like, so I decided to give it a shot. The oats turned out pretty well! I wanted to add a little more texture and some variety into the mix, so I added some baked sweet potato and toasted pecans. The added sweet potato and pecans will give this dish a fall-esque flavor, so I hope you like fall 🙂

Notes! I don’t like large portions of sweet things for breakfast, so if you need a lot of food in the morning, I would suggest doubling this recipe. Also, if you can add whatever chai instant mix you’d like–I just happened to have this one on hand. Just make sure it’s instant (just add water types) or else you’ll have some weird tea bits in your oatmeal.

Chai Overnight Oats

  • Time: 2hrs 15 min (at least)
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit for base oatmeal recipe: Wholefully

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp plain yogurt (I use Trader Joe’s French Cream Line Yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsps chia seeds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp Chai Diaries Insta Masala Chai (or your instant favorite mix!)
  • 2 tbsp baked sweet potato (diced)
  • 1 tbsp toasted pecans, chopped

Directions

  1. Make your base! In a bowl, mix together yogurt, oats, milk, chia seeds, chai powder, and salt until combined. Put in a container and let sit overnight in the fridge (or at least 2 hrs).
  2. Dice up some sweet potato. Drizzle (like 1/8 tsp) with olive oil and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 375F. I use my toaster oven since there’s not much! Set aside when done.
  3. Then toast the pecans in the oven on 375F for about 2-3 minutes. Make sure to watch them so they don’t get over-toasted and burn! After toast, cool and roughly chop.
  4. Take your oatmeal jar out of the fridge, top with sweet potatoes and pecans, and enjoy!

Let me know your thoughts and feel free to share your favorite overnight oats flavors!

Red Lentil Curry

Sorry I’ve been so MIA! I’ve been pretty busy lately, flying back and forth between home and Denver. Now that my schedule is a little less hectic, I have time to sit down and share a recipe with you!

So I’m not going to lie– since I’ve last talked to you guys, I’ve definitely gained some weight. Part of it is eating out so much, part of it is stress snacking, and a large part is just pure laziness. In an effort to slim back down to my normal size, I’m getting off my butt to exercise more (no more excuses!), sleep at normal hours, and making more of an effort to try to eat out less. It’s hard since Fat Sully’s Pizza is right down the street, but I’m trying!

I didn’t have too much time today, but I knew I could still make something delicious and healthy. One of my go-to recipes is an Indian-inspired dish I found on AllRecipes.com years ago in college. This dish is easy to cook and pretty inexpensive, which was perfect for the poor and busy college student. I still think it’s a fantastic dish–packed with protein, low in fat, and full of flavor. I pared the recipe down to 2 servings because I always like having leftovers for lunch the next day 🙂

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Tips for this recipe! While your lentils are simmering away, start cooking your onions and spices. Once that’s ready, your lentils should be ready so your meal will be ready super quickly. Yay dinner!

Red Lentil Curry

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 3/4 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1.5 tsp curry paste
  • 3/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp minced ginger
  • 2/3 cup tomato puree (or 3 tbsp tomato paste + 2/3 cup water)
  • 2 tbsp frozen peas (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash the lentils in cold water until the water runs clear. Cover lentils with water in a pot. Bring to a boil, cover, then lower to a simmer. Cook until tender (soft but not mushy), about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook onion on medium heat until caramelized, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Stir curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, garlic, and ginger into the onions. Increase heat to medium high and cook the spices for about 1-2 minutes. It should be a little crumbly.
  4. Add peas at this point if you’d like and cook for about 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the tomato puree, remove from heat and stir into the lentils.

Enjoy with basmati rice!

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Food experiment: Spaghetti squash carbonara

It’s been almost a week since Thanksgiving and I somehow still have leftovers. I don’t get it, it’s insane. After eating turkey for a few days straight, I needed a break. But as I left the gym earlier this evening, I had no desire to get into the car, drive, leave the car, buy something, get into the car again, and drive home. No no, that was too many steps in too cold of weather. My California body is still very unprepared for 31F evenings.

That meant leftovers! But I couldn’t handle any more turkey. Not tonight! As I drove home, I contemplated stopping by the store to grab some veggies, but then I remember I had half a gourd of spaghetti squash left that I hadn’t touched in about a week and a half. Maybe I could do something with that…?

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If you’re unfamiliar with spaghetti squash, let me tell about this intriguing vegetable. Spaghetti squash is a yellow winter squash that is about the size of your butternut squash. As its name describes, spaghetti squash, when cooked comes out in strands that can be scraped out of the gourd once cooked. The yellow strands of sweet squash is very reminiscent of Italian spaghetti. It’s become very popular to use a carb substitute for dieters due to its low caloric value compared to carby pasta. Personally, nothing replaces carbs for me, but I heard about it on some cooking show so I thought it’d be fun to try out. Spaghetti squash is probably one of the easiest things to cook, but sometimes a bit difficult to use in application. At least for me, I haven’t been able to make anything particularly interesting with spaghetti squash.

img_3950-1Then it hit me–spaghetti squash carbonara. That could be a thing, right? If people use it as a spaghetti substitute, why not for carbonara? It sounded like it would be a brilliant thing because spaghetti alla carbonara is normally a very rich dish–pasta, eggs, parmesan cheese, pancetta/bacon, garlic, and salt & pepper. Spaghetti squash and marinara has always been boring to me since it’s just squash and some sauce (albeit delicious sauce). In carbonara, perhaps the spaghetti squash could be a lighter spin on the dish by balancing out some of the richness. Also, spaghetti squash could give an interesting texture to the dish as well since it’s not a soft pasta, but also not too crunchy since the strands are relatively thin.

So how’d it turn out? Not too shabby. In fact, I would even say it’s something I’d make again, which is why I’m going to share this experimental recipe with you.

Notes about this recipe!

Unlike pasta, spaghetti squash gets a little watery once cooked. My dish turned out a little more watery than I wanted because I didn’t saute the squash for too long before mixing in the sauce. If yours does start to produce some water, don’t panic! It’s perfectly edible and it REALLY bothers you, you can put your pan back on the heat for a couple seconds. It might scramble your egg mixture bit, but it’ll be less watery.

From recipes I’ve looked at before, I cook my spaghetti squash WAY less. Personally, I don’t like it when the squash is cooked too long and the strands get a little clumpy, so I think 12-15 minutes to cook squash is too long. That being said, it also depends on the power of your microwave. Mine is pretty strong, so the time it takes to cook in mine might be different than yours. The key thing to remember is if it’s easily scraped out, your squash is good to go!

When I mention parmesan cheese, I’m using the block of cheese, not the stuff in a bottle. I love Kraft’s parmesan in a bottle for pizza and cheese toast (childhood favorite!) but please don’t use that in this. You need the block of cheese because it’ll provide that melty texture you need for this. Pre-grated works fine too, but the best thing for this recipe is if you grate the cheese yourself with a microplane. It’ll give you a better melt and will help coat the “pasta” better.

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of spaghetti squash (a little less than 1/2 a squash)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (microplaned is best)
  • 2 slices of thick cut bacon, diced (I just used bacon ends from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper

Directions

  1. If you have a whole spaghetti squash, cut it in half length wise and store one half. With the other half, use a spoon and scrape out the pulp and seeds. Once it’s all cleaned out, place the squash on a microwave safe shallow plate. Pour in about 3-4 tbsp water at the bottom of your shallow plate. This water will help steam and cook your spaghetti squash.
  2. Microwave the squash for 7 minutes (or what it says on the sticker of your squash). After it’s done, let it sit for at least 5 minutes to cool down a little.
  3. Then check on your squash. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s easy to scrape the squash out with a fork. Be careful you take it out of the microwave–it’s hot!
  4. If your squash is ready, scrape away! You should be able to get most of the flesh and be left with a light outer skin. Toss the skin and set aside the squash.
  5. Grate about 1/2 a cup of parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  6. Beat 1 large egg, then add the cheese. Beat a little more to combine the two, then set aside.
  7. Mince a clove of garlic. Set aside.
  8. Dice up your 2 slices of bacon. Set aside.
  9. Heat up a frying pan on medium high heat. Once the pan is warm enough, add the bacon and render the fat out. You’ll know it’s about ready when the bacon changes to that caramelized reddish brown color.
  10. Once bacon is just about rendered, add the garlic and give it a stir. Fry for about 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.
  11. Add your 1.5 cups of spaghetti squash and stir to incorporate the bacon and garlic into the squash. Add the salt and mix. Cook for 4 minutes.
  12. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove. Add your egg-cheese mixture onto your “pasta” and toss the squash to mix the sauce in evenly. The sauce will seem too thick at first but it’ll start to thin out a bit as you continue to mix. If it gets too watery, feel free to place it on the stove for a couple seconds again to cook the sauce a little (make sure you keep tossing if you’re doing this). Just FYI, it probably will scramble since it is an egg mixture.
  13. Once your squash is completely covered and well-mixed, put your squash on a plate to serve. Top with more parmesan cheese if desired and a sprinkle of black pepper. Enjoy!

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Ta-da! Recipe probably could use some tweaking to solve the watery squash problem but taste-wise, it’s pretty good. If you try it out, lemme know what you think.

Leftover turkey ideas: turkey pho!

It’s been 3 days since Thanksgiving, but do you find that you still can’t get rid of your turkey? I was joking with some friends that it’s never ending–for every slice you eat, it feels like two more pop up in its place. It’s baffling!

After being injected with cream and butter for several days now, my body is begging for something lighter and less fat-laden. Whenever I feel I’ve been eating terribly, I always like to reset by having some soup and salad. This recipe I want to share with you won’t include salad, but I can promise something light but full of flavor 🙂

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Pho, arguably the most well-recognized dish of Vietnamese cuisine, is a simple, yet complex broth. Traditionally, pho is made with beef bones to make a flavorful soup, but the chicken variety has started to become more and more popular in the United States. The idea behind pho is very simple: bones, water, toasted spices, ginger, and onion simmered for several hours on stovetop to create a deeply flavored broth.

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I have fond memories of eating pho as a kid–I ate the broth a LOT. When my mom made a big batch of beef pho, it’d be a feast for days. I’d have it with the traditional rice noodles, of course, but I also liked mixing the pho broth with white jasmine rice, as well as just having the broth by itself. I didn’t really get sick of it despite eating it so much, probably because of it’s simplicity. I also wasn’t a super picky kid 😉

Inevitably, Thanksgiving makes me think of home and home cooked meals. My mom is a genius when it comes to holiday leftovers, so I took a page out of her book for this recipe. Every Thanksgiving, after we had cut away all the meat from the turkey, we’d save the bones (including the body!) to make a broth, then use that broth to make something fancier. Mom made a lot of different things with this turkey broth–cháo (rice porridge), bún riêu (tomato-y seafood-y noodle soup), canh bún (another noodle soup), mì hủ tiếu (egg noodles with a combo of meats and seafood). The possibilities for turkey variations on classic dishes really seemed endless! Weirdly enough though, turkey pho was NOT one of my mom’s creations from turkey broth. So why turkey pho, you ask?

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Simple, really. It reminds me of home. Despite the fact that we often eat pho at restaurants nowadays (because San Jose, CA is full of fantastic pho spots!), pho holds a special place in my heart as my childhood food love. I didn’t fly home this Thanksgiving, so to compensate, I’m filling my apartment with the smells of home instead.

Notes about this recipe!

This is not one of my just-for-one recipes since you really don’t usually make a single serving of pho. It’s just too time consuming for that. However, if don’t feel like having people over, you can certainly freeze the broth into portions and reheat it for later consumption. I’d say it tastes best if you eat it within 3 months.

Did you make a chicken instead of a turkey this year? Or maybe you just stumbled across this recipe and feel like making chicken pho? Go for it! The two birds are interchangeable in this recipe. Also, when you make the stock, you’ll find that a lot of turkey scraps that was left on the bone will easily fall off. Feel free to use this to serve, or if you’d prefer, feed these lean poultry scraps to your furry friend 🙂

How big should your stock pot be? The one I use is 26cm in diameter. After Googling some math equations I haven’t used since I was 12, I believe my stock pot holds about 2.5 gallons, so you should aim to at least have a pot that large.

Toast your spices! It seems like an annoying step that you can do without but don’t skip it! Toasting spices is very important in bringing out the flavors of each spice. When you heat spices, it brings out the oils inside the spices, which gives the spices a deeper, more nuanced flavor (which is what you want) than raw, un-toasted spices.

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img_9925Last important thing! Don’t let your stock come to a rolling boil. Ever. You want to keep this broth on a simmer, but never a full boil. Why? A rolling boil will cause the stock to go cloudy. While a full boil is required for broths like tonkotsu ramen broth, you want your pho broth to always be at a light simmer. Throughout the broth making, you also want to keep a ladle handy so you can skim off any impurities you see that float to the top of the broth. This is most common during the beginning of the broth making process, but you see a little bit throughout the process. Make sure you do this because leaving the “foam” floating around will also cause your stock to go really cloudy. Random fun tidbit–not 100% sure on this, but I think the clear broth rule is a French food influence, similar to their consommé (but less fuss because no egg whites).

Last, last thing. Just a reminder that I currently reside in Denver, CO, so my cooking times may be a bit different from yours due to the altitude. It shouldn’t be that big of an issue for this recipe, but do make sure to watch your cooking carefully (especially with toasting things!) to make sure you don’t have any mishaps.

Now without further ado, the recipe!

Turkey Pho

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 5 hours
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

    For the stock:
  • carcass from Thanksgiving turkey (mine was a 12-lb bird)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 knob of ginger, about 2 inches long
  • 1 tsp whole star anise (about 5-6 stars)
  • 3/4 tsp whole coriander seed
  • 1 tsp whole cloves (~6-7 cloves)
  • 1-2 sticks of cinnamon (1 large or 2 small)
  • 1-2 whole black cardamom pods
  • salt to taste (I used about 1 tbsp, then sprinkles here and there)
  • 3.5 tsps pure fish sauce (I use Squid brand)
  • For serving:
  • leftover turkey slices
  • 1 lb fresh pho noodles (or 1 package of dried pho noodles)
  • lime wedges
  • hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha
  • bean sprouts
  • herbs (Thai basil, culantro)
  • green onion and cilantro, chopped (will be soup garnish)

Directions

  1. Place your turkey carcass in your stock pot and fill the pot until it covers your turkey. Put stock pot on stove on high heat to heat up the water quickly.
  2. While your stock is heating up, toast your spices! You can do this on the stovetop or in a toaster oven. If you do it on the stove, medium-high in a pan and constant stirring. If you do it in the oven, 350F for about 4-5 minutes with the occasional stir. Watch your spices carefully so they don’t burn!
  3. Once your spices are toasted, place them in a tea steeper and add it to your stock pot. If you don’t have a tea steeper, a coffee filter tied with twine will work too!
  4. Bring your stock pot to just a boil. Once you start seeing it bubbling, lower the heat to medium.
  5. As the stock bubbles, you’ll see some foam and impurities float to the top. This is usually marrow from the bones, so they may look a little brown and foamy. Use a ladle to carefully skim the foam from the stock. Continually do this every couple of minutes.
  6. Once most of the impurities are gone (usually takes me about 10 minutes of watching and skimming), turn your stove down to low. Partially cover your pot with the lid and let the broth simmer for the next 4-5 hours. Check back every so often to skim off more things that float to the surface.
  7. After four hours, your broth should taste pretty flavorful. Take a sip to taste and add salt as needed. We’re adding salt near the end so you can make sure to taste the flavor of the pure broth before deciding whether or not you need a little or a lot of salt to season.
  8. About 5 minutes before you’re ready to take the broth off the stove, stir in the fish sauce. The fish sauce will give the broth the extra umami kick.
  9. When you’re ready to serve, prepare the rice noodles for the pho according to the packaging. Place the leftover turkey pieces into a ladle and dip it into the boiling water to heat up the meat. You can also dip it in the broth if you’d like.
  10. Portion the noodles into bowl and place the warm turkey pieces on top of the noodles. Ladle on the broth, then add a tablespoon of your chopped cilantro-green onion mixture.
  11. Serve with hoisin sauce, Sriracha, and all the herb fixings. Enjoy! 🙂

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Turkey leftover ideas: Vietnamese bì cuốn!

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! Sorry I’ve been lax about posting! The holiday weekend has given me a bit of free time, so I’m back with another recipe! Hope you guys had a wonderful holiday stuffed (heh) with lots of turkey, potatoes, green beans, and copious amounts of gravy. I’m flying home in a couple weeks, so I figured it’d be best to not fly back and forth unnecessarily so I stayed here in Denver. Despite being relatively new to Colorado still, I managed to rally together a few friends to share Thanksgiving with. Yay friends!

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See that pile of turkey in the back? It’ll be just as big by the end of the meal.

There were three super hungry ladies sharing a hefty little 12-lb turkey, and despite stuffing ourselves silly, we still managed to have a mountain of pretty much everything we made at the end of dinner. Endless food! While I did get one of the girls to take a bunch of stuff home, I still have quite a bit of turkey left in the fridge waiting to be eaten.

I don’t know about you, but by my 5th or so consecutive meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, and green beans, I get rather tired of the typical Thanksgiving meal. And despite all of that eating, there’s still probably about 4 lbs of turkey left in the fridge! Leftovers are difficult to deal with sometimes, but luckily, I have a plan! My family back home actually has had this similar problem every Thanksgiving since I was a kid-—lots of leftover Thanksgiving food despite eating tons of it. My mom, who is brilliant in the kitchen, hates eating leftovers day after day, so she came up with two main ways to repurpose our leftover turkey:

  1. bì cuốn– spring rolls!
  2. phở gà tây – turkey pho

I’m going to share both with you! Let’s start with the bì cuốn recipe since my pho is still bubblin’ away.

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Let’s first break down what “bì cuốn” means! “” is a meat dish, and “cuốn” means rolled. Literally, this dish means “rolled bì”. So what exactly is in this bì? Bì a meat mixture that is traditionally made with julienned pork mixed with thinly cut pork skin and rice powder. This is actually a relatively common dish that’s served as an appetizer at many Vietnamese restaurants, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve eaten it before! While I’ll be showing you how to make bì cuốn, bì is equally as delicious if you eat it with rice (or traditionally, broken rice!)–that dish is called “cơm tấm bì”.

Before we get to this receipt, here are my usual notes!

img_9888Rice powder is a bit of a weird, uncommon ingredient, but you definitely need it for this recipe. This fine powder of roasted rice gives the dish a unique nutty flavor that you can’t really replicate with anything else, so there’s no substitute that I know of. You can probably find this at your Asian supermarket in the spices section.

img_9886Pork skin is another crucial component of this dish, although if you really can’t find pork skin (and it has to be this specific ingredient) or you don’t like pork skin, you can skip it.
It won’t be as balanced as the dish usually is, but it’s not as make-or-break as the rice powder. Do make sure that you’re getting this specific type of pork skin though. Normally, I love making stuff from scratch and I would encourage making things from scratch, but this is not one of those things you can make from scratch. You can usually find this item in the frozen section of your Asian supermarket.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THE PORK SKIN: You’ll be blanching the pork skin in a bit of hot water in this recipe. Once you blanch the skin and take it out, don’t let it sit too long to drain. If you let it sit for too long, you’ll have a giant clump of pork skin. If that DOES happen, no worries. Just toss the pork skin back into some warm water, swirl for a sec until the strands separate from each other again. Once that happens, drain again and don’t let it sit for too long this time!

Dark meat? White meat? Which parts of the turkey do you use? Personally, I like a mix of both. For your own bì, add what you’d like/what you have! Just make sure to julienne all the turkey evenly so the mix gets an evenly coating of rice powder and seasoning. Depending on how seasoned your turkey is, you can omit salt or just season to taste. Mine wasn’t super salty so I added a sprinkle of salt to make sure my mixture wouldn’t be too bland (since you are adding pork skin that’s not flavored!).

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All right, are you ready? Here we go!

Leftover Turkey Bì Cuốn

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1-1.5 cup of leftover turkey, julienned
  • 3 oz sliced pork skin
  • 1 tbsp rice powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt (or to taste!)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • green leaf lettuce (red works too!)
  • 1 oz vermicelli noodles
  • mint
  • Thai basil
  • pickled carrots (optional)
  • rice paper
  • deep plate with warm water
  • prepared fish sauce (recipe here)

Directions

  1. Julienne your turkey so you have little even sticks of turkey and place into a bowl. You should have about 1 to 1.5 cups of turkey.
  2. Bring some water (about a 1 cup) in a small saucepan to a boil. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, drop in the sliced pork skin. Give it a little swirl, then drain it in a colander. Run some cold water over it to cool it down, then once most of the water is gone, toss it in with the turkey.
  3. 3.img_9918Add in the roasted rice powder, salt, and garlic powder, and mix everything together. There should be enough rice powder to coat everything, so feel free to add a little more if it doesn’t look like you have enough. Taste to make sure you have it seasoned with enough salt. If it tastes good, then your bì mixture is done!
  4. Time to start our rolling! Dip a sheet of rice paper into the warm water and place it on a plate you can roll on.
  5. Add lettuce, herbs, and noodles about an inch from the edge closest to you. Add pickled carrots too, if you’d like!
  6. Add your bì mixture! You can add as much or as little as you’d like. I add enough to make about a 1-inch line of it on the rice paper.
  7. Taking the side closest to you, fold the paper over your pile and pull the pile in tight. Start rolling a little, then fold the sides in. Make sure you hold everything in nice and tight (but not too tight or you’ll rip the rice paper!) so your roll ends up tidy and even. Continue to roll until you have a completed roll.
  8. Repeat until you’ve used up all of your bì mixture.
  9. Dip your rolls in prepared fish sauce and enjoy!

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Super easy, right? Hope you like this little recipe to help get rid of the turkey in your fridge! Let me know your comments, questions, and criticisms below! The recipe for the turkey pho will be up next—-I’m in the process of making it at the moment 🙂