Oxtail Pho

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Hello there! For the past couple of months, my mind has been focused on work, studying, and no play whatsoever. If we were able to see into each other’s minds, you’d probably see either a tornado or a block of mush, in mine.

I came across Steph’s recipe of oxtail pho on iamafoodblog. It happened I was reading her post while standing in Costco. I looked over my shoulder and saw about 100 lbs. of oxtail sitting there right before my eyes. How could I not buy a couple of pounds and not make oxtail pho, right??

Steph simmered her soup stock for about 4 hours.  Keeping in mind I’m completely mentally drained, I just threw everything into a slow cooker. That was probably the best decision I made that day. Slow-cooking the oxtail ensures fall-off-the-bone tender meat and also means stress-free no fuss cooking. I literally slept while the soup cooked. I woke up to a house that had the spicy aroma of pho broth flooding down the hallway. Almost as good as the smell of mom’s baking in the early morning. Right before serving, I heated the oxtail in a pan to create a crust and lightly sprinkled it with salt to create another dimension of flavor. I also tried to keep as much of the meat on the bone as I fully believe that one of the best ways to enjoy oxtail is to suck all of the meat and tendon off from the bone! Hey, no shame here.

This entire process took two days to make and about 10 minutes to eat, but it took very little effort and 98% of the time was waiting. Anyways, keep reading to see what I did. Thanks Steph for posting this awesome recipe!

First and foremost, take out your slow-cooker!

Oxtail Pho

Original recipe here
Servings: About 6 bowls of pho

Spices:

1 cinnamon stick
1 heaping tsp. of whole coriander
1 heaping tsp. of whole cloves
5 star anise

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Stock:

2 large onions, cut in half, keep outer skin
3/4″ knob of ginger
medium sized daikon radish, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 lbs. oxtail
3 quarts water
2 quarts beef broth
1/4 C. fish sauce

Pho noodles (this time I used fresh flat rice noodles)

Garnish:

thai basil
bean sprouts
green onions, thinly sliced
sriracha
sliced jalapeños
cilantro

1. Place halved onions and ginger into a 400 F oven or toaster oven on broil. Toast until the outside of the onions are charred. About 15 minutes.

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2. While the onions and ginger are toasting, trim the fat from the oxtail. Place the trimmed oxtail into a large pot. Fill the pot up with cold water until all of the oxtail is covered about an inch. Place the pot onto the stove and bring the water up to a rolling boil. Boil the oxtail for about 10 minutes to remove all of the impurities. Pour the dirty water out and rinse the oxtail. Transfer the oxtail into the slow cooker. This is key to making a clear broth. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

3. in a small hot pan, toast the coriander seeds, cloves, and star anise until fragrant. Put the toasted spices and cinnamon stick into the slow cooker. Also add the carrots and daikon radish.

4. Add the 3 quarts of water to the slow cooker. If you can’t fit the beef broth, no worries. You can add this in later.

5. Turn on your slow-cooker to low and slow cook for 10 hours.

6. After 10 hours, separate the onions, daikon, carrots, and oxtail from the stock then strain the broth into a clean large pot. Simmer the stock for at least another hour or until your desired taste. The longer it boils, the richer the stock will become. If you couldnt fit all if the liquid into your slowcooker earlier, this is the time to add it now. Add fish sauce and taste. If you want the srock saltier, add more fish sauce. Discard the onions, carrots and daikon or save for later to eat.

7. Let the stock cool then transfer the pot into the refrigerator. When the broth gets cold, a layer of fat will form on the surface. Remove the fat.

8. When you’re ready to eat, heat the stock until boiling.

9. Heat a frying pan and fry the oxtail meat and lightly sprinkle the meat with salt.

10. To prepare a bowl of pho, add a handful of noodles and a few chunks of meat to a large bowl. Spoon the hot broth over the noodles and oxtail then finish with your choice of garnish.

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Happy slurping!

Red Beans and Rice

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Doesn’t it feel like Thanksgiving 2014 was just a couple months ago? Where has the time gone? Something about the crisp air, decorations on people’s homes, and Fall treats give me fuzzy feelings inside. I try to stay away from the malls since I can’t handle much of the Christmas music. Let’s just say Christmas music makes me cringe (I know, that makes me sound like such a scrooge). I used to work multiple retail jobs throughout my college years and listening to the same Christmas tracks from the beginning of November to the end of January drove me nuts. Anyways, red beans and rice definitely add to the warm fuzzy feelings and I won’t let anything get in the way of those fuzzy feelings! I mean, I practically wait all year for this. It’s a hearty dish and is something I wouldn’t mind having in my bowl while snuggled up in a blanket. A friend was smoking some meats in his new smoker and suggested some red beans and rice when asked what side dish to bring. I’m so glad he suggested red beans and rice because this has become one of the family’s faves!

Leftovers are even better! Enjoy with your most favorite hot sauce.

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Red Beans and Rice
servings:6-8

16 oz. dry red beans, soaked overnight
2 strips bacon
1 red bell pepper, small diced
Half an onion, small diced
2 stalks celery, small diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 smoked turkey sausage, sliced into circles
1 smoked turkey leg
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
5 C. chicken broth

Cooked rice

1. Pour beans into a large bowl and cover with water until all the beans are submerged at least 2 inches. Set aside overnight. When the beans have absorbed most of the water, strain and set aside.

2. In a medium heavy pot, heat bacon on medium high heat and let the bacon grease cover the bottom of the pot.

3. Add the diced bell pepper, onion, celery, and garlic. Stir and sautee for until the onions are translucent.

4. Add the sausage and turkey leg to the vegetables and let the meat heat up. Stir occasionally.

5. When the sausages are browned and warmed through, add the thyme, parsley, bay leaves, cayenne, black pepper, and salt. Stir for about a minute.

6. Add the chicken broth and soft red beans.

7. Bring the chicken broth to a boil. When the broth starts to boil, set the heat to low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.

8. When the beans are completely soft, use a fork and smash at least half of the beans. The smashed beans will thicken the broth!

9. Continue to simmer for at least another hour.

10. Taste the beans and add more cayenne, pepper, or salt to your taste.

11. While the beans are cooking, cook your rice either in a rice cooker or over the stove in a pot.

13. Serve the beans and rice immediately together.

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Enjoy!

Clam Chowder

It’s been freezing lately! I can’t remember the last time it was this cold during the Winter season in SF. Regardless of how cold it gets, I think Winter is the time for major soup consumption.. San Francisco is known for their Sourdough and clam chowder so why not make a large amount of clam chowder to share at the table while bundled up in your warmest blanket?

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Clam Chowder
Servings: 4

2 lb. manila clams, scrubbed and cleaned
5 C. water
5 slices thick bacon, sliced into small chunks
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large russet potatoes, skins removed and diced
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. dry thyme
1 bay leaf
1 C milk (I used 2%)
1 C nonfat half n half
salt & pepper to taste
1 small bunch parsley

Clean your clams by rubbing 2 clams together to get rid of the grit from the outer part of the shells then placing the scrubbed clams in a bowl of cold water. When you’re done cleaning the clams, place them in a large pot with 5 cups of water. Let the water come to a boil then bring it down to a simmer for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, the clams should all be open. Remove the clams and set aside. Continue to simmer the water for another 10-15 minutes. Taste the water as it reduces. It should taste “clammy.” You will need about 2 and a half cups of this clam water.

In another large pot, fry the bacon until it has reached your preferred consistency. Take the bacon pieces out leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Add the onions, garlic, celery, and potatoes. Add some salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and stir so that the butter and flour become paste-like. Throw in the thyme and bay leaf then add about half a cup of the clam water and stir to loosen the paste. Add the remaining 2 cups of clam water and milk. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the soup thickens.

While you’re waiting for the soup to thicken, remove the clams from their shells. Add the clams and half n half to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Top with bacon and parsley and serve immediately.

Seafood with Noodle Soup

I was in China for the past three weeks and had my fair share of noodle soups. Food in China was overall very cheap and delicious. I paid an average of 3 big buckaroos for a bowl of bomb A$$ noodles… noodles I’d probably pay at least $6 for here at home. After all the noodles I ate, I oddly craved for soup and noodles when I got back into the states. Luckily, Father’s Day was only a day away and one of my Dad’s favorite things to eat is noodles in soup! Of course I took advantage of this and knocked two birds with one stone.

Most Chinese based soups are clear and are very light in flavor accompanied by ingredients that highlight the lightness of the broth. It’s not surprising to see bok choy that is crispy and slightly sweet or a few pork and shrimp wontons that are meaty and slight salty, in a bowl of noodle soup. Since I ate a bunch of curried fishballs from street vendors during my stay in Hong Kong, I decided to reminisce and add fishballs into this soup. I also went with flat rice noodles since I personally think rice noodles goes best with this soup.

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If Asian cuisine is very popular in your house, you should have all of the ingredients on-hand. In fact, I can count the number of soup ingredients on one hand. This recipe is so easy and inexpensive to make. Give it a try!

Seafood with Noodle Soup
Servings: 4

8 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
5 Tbsp. fish sauce or to taste
few dashes of white pepper

1/2 lb. ground lean pork

flat rice noodles

Condiments:
fish balls
imitation crab
green onions
fried onions or garlic
hot sauce
Or anything else you please.

In a large pot, bring the chicken broth and water to a boil. Add the fish sauce and pepper then stir. Taste the soup and add more fish sauce and pepper if needed. Add the fishballs and heat for about 5 minutes. Add the ground pork and break apart as you’re stirring (about 5 minutes) then add the imitation crab. When the soup boils, put the noodles into a small noodle strainer and heat the noodles in the boiling soup. Place noodles in the bowl and spoon in the fishballs, pork, imitation crab, and soup. Top with sliced green onions and fried garlic. You can also top it off with cilantro.

Enjoy on a rainy day!

Corn Soup with Prawns

I woke up to the sound of heavy rain landing onto the sheet metal outside of my room. I’ve already pressed the snooze button for the third time and have told myself that it’s going to be a lazy day. Then I snap into reality and realize it’s Thursday and I have to get up for a long busy day at work. Darn!

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On a happier note, no matter what the weather is outside, it’s that time of the year when the trees are fully bloomed! Boo-ti-foe!!

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leaves

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It’s now early evening and I’m way too tired to go grocery shopping, let alone make myself a grilled cheese sandwich! (Man… a grilled cheese sounds so perfect right now!) I stumble into the kitchen and see a couple cans of corn. I’m so exhausted that I even consider eating a bowl of buttered corn… then I hear the rain again. My mind immediately switches to soup. Good thing there’s chicken broth in the house at all times!! I remember having some prawns in the freezer. I guess it’s a clean your refrigerator up kind of night.

Corn Soup with Grilled Prawns
servings: 4

1 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 14 oz. Corn
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped,
4 C. chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste

8 prawns, deshelled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
pepper

1 lemon

In a large skillet, melt butter. When the butter is melted, add onions and cook until translucent-about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Next, add the corn, garlic, bell pepper, and celery and cook for another 5 minutes. Next, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. When the broth starts to boil, turn the temperature down and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add more salt as needed.

As your soup is simmering, prepare your prawns. In a medium bowl, combine prans, garlic, oil, and pepper. Put aside for 10 minutes. Heat a heavy pan, I used a grilling pan. Brush it with oil and add the prawns. My prawns were quite large so I cooked them for about 3 minutes per side, flipping once. Before taking the prawns off of the grill, squeeze half a lemon over them.

Spoon some soup into a soup bowl and top with prawns. Add a small squeeze of lemon in each bowl before serving.