Treat from the sea: Vietnamese spicy stir-fried squid (Mực xào cay)

Just simple as that, a bowl of rice and a dish of this spicy stir-fried squid and I’m good for the night! If you’re living in the seaside then this dish would be perfect as fresh squid just caught from the sea will taste so much better than the frozen ones and it’s still one level above the “fresh” squid that you can buy at the market. You travel along the coast of Vietnam, you stop at the beach and get a sun bath and after that, you should find those small Vietnamese ladies who sell these beautiful little creatures and take them home and … cook them 😀 I used to hate seafood but well, when I prepare it myself and they are fresh, I can eat the whole thing alone! This dish is simple, it’s truly Vietnamese and it’s healthy too! But wait…the best part is that it takes about 10 minutes to cook 😀 perfect for my impatience. Here’s how you do it.

*Ingredients:

– 500 gr fresh squid, cleaned and sliced into medium-large pieces (keep the tentacles as a whole if the squids are small)

– 2 fresh tomatoes, slice into big wedges.

– 1 tbsp of minced ginger.

– 1 onion, sliced thinly.

– 1 red chili (huge, long chili which are not so spicy)

– a lot of spring onions (as much as you want) chopped into large pieces.

– 1-2 tbsp of sriracha chili sauce/ chinsu chili sauce.

– 2 tbsp canned tomatoes.

– 1 tsp sugar.

– 1 tbsp fish sauce.

– salt and pepper to taste.

*Method:

1. Prepare all the raw ingredients so that they are ready for some quick action!

2. Put the pan on the stove and set fire on high. Only add the oil when the pan is extremely hot, do not put the oil in before otherwise it will burn easily.

3. As soon as the oil is in, throw in the onion and the ginger and chili.

4. After 30 sec – 1 min, add the squid and stir them constantly.

5. Add the fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes along with the chili sauce.

6. Continue to stir fry the squid, season with salt, pepper, sugar and fish sauce.

7. After 5-6 minutes, turn off the stove and add the spring onions.

8. Give it a good stir and serve. DONE!

I know you’re gonna love it 😉

Le Degustationator.

Back to childhood: Vietnamese stuffed and grilled tomatoes (Cà chua nhồi thịt)

I loved  this dish as a child and still love it now. One embarrassing memory was when I was 4-5 years old, one day, Mom decided to invite some guests over for lunch, she made this and since I was so so so hungry and I loved this dish so much (okay, I’m trying to make it sound more justifiable 😀 ) I decided to ate several pieces on the dish mom put on the table for the guests BEFORE they arrived!!! Mom was really angry I remember, lucky I didn’t eat all of them otherwise… let’s say it would get really messy and I mean really messy… for me and for her (mostly me 😦 probably ). Anyway, the point is this dish is simply beautiful. Large vine-ripe juicy tomatoes, stuffed with a fragrant and flavourful traditional Vietnamese filling that would blow your guests away. Even better, it’s HEALTHY! YAY!

*Ingredients:

– 600 gr minced pork

– 10-12 medium/large tomatoes

– 100 gr vermicelli

– 100 gr wood ears

– 100 gr sun-dried shiitake mushrooms

– 1 large onion

– 3 medium/large eggs

– 2 tbsp pepper

– Salt to taste

– 2 tbsp tomato puree (to thicken the sauce)

– 2 tsp sugar

– Chicken/Pork rib stock

*Method:

1. Soak the wood ears and mushrooms in warm water for 20-30 minutes in total to hydrate and soften them. Squeeze out all the dirt inside them and change the water every 10 minutes. Finely chop them or put in a food processor to save time.

2. Soak the vermicelli in warm water for 15 minutes. Change water once and soak for 10 more minutes until it’s soft. Cut into short threads. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

4. Finely chop the onion, mix together with the minced pork, wood ears, mushroom, vermicelli in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper, a little bit of sugar if you will. Add 3 whole eggs and thoroughly mix them. Set aside.

5. Cut the tomatoes in halves. Use a spoon with sharp edges, spoon out all the meat of the tomatoes and set aside in another bowl. They will be used to make the sauce later on.

6. Stuff the tomato halves with the meat. Lay them on a baking tray with the tomato side on the tray.

7. Bake the tomatoes for 45 minutes.

8. Blend all the meat of the tomatoes in a food processor into a smooth paste.

9. In a pan, add finely chopped onion, 1 tsp of sugar, 2 tbsp of tomato puree and the tomatoes. Stir and add the chicken/pork rib stock to the sauce. If you need to thicken, add more puree. If you think it’s too sour, add a little bit more salt and stock, add a little more sugar. The sauce should not be too runny in the end.

10. Spoon the sauce over the grilled tomatoes and SERVE!

Enjoy 🙂

Le Degustationator.

Creamy and delicious: “No bake” (well not totally…) Lemon cheesecake

It’s hot, it’s sunny, it’s summer time and it’s the perfect time for a slice of lemony cheesecake that literally freezes everything around you and make you feel refreshing! The only downside for this dish is that it contains a lot of fat and sugar, which is detrimental to your body. But then all desserts are! And come on, cheesecake isn’t the least healthy choice compare to other stuffs but please, do not try to eat the whole cheesecake by yourself, that’s not recommended :)) This recipe is beautifully simple, it’s not mine but I’ve modified it (I saw it somewhere on the Net, can’t remember right now) as I want something less sweet and more refreshing. So here you go !

*Ingredients:

400 g digestive biscuits
150 g butter
10 g lemon/orange zest
1 1/2 small-medium sized lemons
500 g Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
100 g white sugar
150 ml condensed milk

*Methods:

1. Break the biscuits into small crumbs, I would suggest using a food processor if you want to save a lot of time (especially if the biscuits are tough, some are very tough to break).

2. Melt the butter and mix with the biscuit crumbs until they can form a firm base on the round baking pan.

3. Form the base on the round baking pan with removable side. Bake for 20-25 minutes on 180oC (this is why it’s “nearly” no bake)

4. Squeeze the juice out of the lemons, make sure the seeds are removed. Set aside.

5. Mix all the rest of the ingredients together using a plastic spatula until a smooth consistency has been reached.

6. Take out the base and let it cool down so it doesn’t melt all the cheese filling.

7. Add the filling onto the base and spread it evenly using a spatula (I’m not great at this unfortunately…)

8. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours to set

9. Serve with fresh berries, mangos, pineapples, or just like that. DONE!

Have fun!

Le Degustationator.

Romantic for two: Tiramisu <3

Hi all!!! 😀 Haven’t been updating for a few days since I was on vacation in Croatia (warm, sunny and lovely beaches => huge thumb up ;D ), time for some new foodie post!

Ok so, I just watched Masterchef U.S a few days ago and recently discovered that “Tiramisu” in Italian means “pick me up” which is unbelievable. At this moment, I can’t think of a dessert that is more romantic than Tiramisu (sounds Japanese to me though :)) ). Oh by the way, you know, after a romantic dinner, you guys share this dessert and the caffeine might help you have the stamina to go to second and third base.. he…he…he…if you know what I mean :-” No but it’s really awesome, my first attempt and it turned out perfect. By the way, it’s really simply to make as well! Can’t get any better. Just to give you a better picture, this dessert is supposed to e perfectly light, creamy, not to sweet, not to bitter but very fragrant due to the espresso and coffee liquor. YUMMY!

Here is the baby ❤ (Modified version of Gordon Ramsay’s Tiramisu)

*Ingredients:

– 500g mascarpone
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 3 tbsp Coffee Liquor
– 300ml strong coffee or espresso, cooled to room temperature
– 180ml single cream
– 8 tbsp icing sugar
– 24 lady fingers biscuit
– Espresso powder, to dust
– Cocoa powder, to dust

*Methods:

1. Whisk the mascarpone with the vanilla and Coffee liquor and 50ml coffee, until everything is thoroughly mixed together.

2. Whisk the cream with the icing sugar until smooth, then fold in the mascarpone mix.

3. Pour the remaining coffee into a dish (sweeten with more icing sugar if you like). Take one sponge finger at a time and dip it in to the coffee. Line it in the baking dish.

3. Continue lining the baking dish with sponge. Spoon the mascarpone mix in until the first layer is fully covered.

4. Continue with a second layer.

5. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavours to infuse and the tiramisu to set (so you can cut and plate beautifully)

6. Remove the tiramisu from the fridge. Dust with sifted cocoa and espresso powder to serve.

Delicious!

Le Degustationator.

Street of Hanoi: warm and crunchy eel vermicelli (Miến Lươn Trộn)

Hi all!

Have you been to Vietnam? If you’ve been there and if you’re observant, you will probably see some small street vendors selling this dish called “Miến Lươn” in Vietnamese which basically means “Eel Vermicelli” if translated literally. The dish comes in three main versions: stir-fry (I love that one), soup (popular but doesn’t really suit my taste because the soup destroys the crunchiness of the eel) and finally, the third version, which is very modern and is loved by all Vietnamese teenager, is sort of in between, it has a very thin sauce but it’s not stir fried or a soup. That’s the one I’m gonna show you how to make today. So what to know about this beautiful dish? I guess vermicelli (some call it “glass noodle”) isn’t too common outside of some Asian countries (not so sure though). It’s a transparent sort of spaghetti, quite thin, and comes in two versions: brown and white. The brown one is normally made from “Arrowroot” but then it can be processed so it turns white (I hate that…), I think brown is sexier 😀 And there is the white one that is made from mung beans, they don’t taste so different from each other but the brown one is just better ^^ (because I said so!) I also admit that the “eel” sounds kinda gooey and disgusting but it’s not! (Well the fresh and alive ones are really slippery and annoying, looks ugly as well :D) The eel that is used for this dish is crunchy  (you can buy these fried/crunchy eels or make them yourselves, I didn’t make them myself). It’s just so amazing! Let’s see how we should proceed.

*Ingredients: serves 2

– 200 gr vermicelli

– (100 gr bean sprouts to add some crunch if you want, I didn’t have that day so…)

– 120 gr fried eel

– 3 tbsp light soy sauce (or Maggi)

– 2 tbsp oyster sauce

– 1 tbsp fish sauce

– 1 tsp sesame oil

– spring onion (as much as you like)

– 1 tsp sugar

– Vietnamese fresh herbs (Vietnamese coriander or Persicaria odorata is a MUST!)

– 1 tsp fried onions/shallots for garnish

– 1-2 tbsp of pork/chicken/beef/eel stock

– 1 tsp chili oil*

*You can find the recipe for making this sauce in my Snail noodle soup post at:

https://foodloverguy94.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/a-taste-of-home-vietnamese-snail-noodle-soup/

*Methods:

1. Soak the dry vermicelli in cold water for 20-30 minutes. Blanch the vermicelli in hot water for few minutes until it’s cooked (you gotta taste). Make sure it’s not overcooked. Drain and set aside.

2. Put the stock in a sauce pan. Add all the sauce together. Add the fresh herbs. Add spring onions last.

3. Mix the vermicelli in the sauce, transfer to a plate.

4. Mix the fried eel in the vermicelli.

5. Garnish with some more fresh herbs and fried shallots. Dress with a little of chili oil.

!!!SERVE IMMEDIATELY!!!

Have fun!

Le Degustationator.