Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Larb Gai - Laotian Spicy Chicken Mix

Larb Gai with lettuce and cucumber

I apologize as I waited so long to post this easy recipe!

As a favorite traditional food as many birthday parties and get togethers, this dish is an easy fix. It takes longer to prep than anything but it well worth the effort once its complete. This version is a chicken version as there are many version from beef to pork just adding and mixing according to the likes and dislikes of individuals.

Tradition has it with many different innards from the animals sliced / diced up small and mixed with basic Larb ingredients, so depending on availability you can create it with just the basic ground of your preferred meat.

For my chicken larb recipe, I prefer the different textures from gizzards, liver and skin of the chicken in addition to the ground chicken.

You will need the following (as for this and other recipes amounts are not specific as dishes are usually mixed then adjusted as individual taste differs):

thinly sliced kaffir leaves
1 pkg of ground chicken or turkey
1 pkg of chicken thighs
1 container / pkg of chicken livers
1 container / pkg of chicken gizzards

green onion (scallions)
chili peppers
kaffir lime leaves (optional)
lemon grass  (optional)
Thinly sliced lemon grass

fish sauce (2 tbsp)
chicken broth (powder mix)
roasted rice powder (1 tsp) (instructions below)
dried pepper (optional for added spice)
lime juice (1-2 limes depending on flavor)

 How to make roasted rice powder:

In a skillet with low flame, mix rice slowly as the rice is roasted. Keep in mind not to mix too much in the beginning to allow it to turn brown color. Once the pan is hot the rice will roast quicker, then you would mix more. Do not burn rice but do not disregard if there is a little burning. Rice powder can be gray (from the charcoaled / over burned rice) or light brown. Once the rice is cooled either pound in a mortar or blend in a blender until it is a fine powder. This can also be bought in a local asian grocery store.

Prepare the meat by cooking the ground meat in a skillet then draining. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and place in boiling water to cook it thoroughly, then cut and thinly slice into small strips. Boil liver and gizzards, separately as liver will cook quicker. Do not over cook liver as it will get tough. Once gizzards are cooked slice into small thin pieces and do the same with the livers putting each ingredient in small bowls to be mixed later.

Prepare the herbs, this can be done while the meats are cooking. Thinly slice all the herbs, except the cilantro (coriander) can be chopped. Mix all together in a bowl for later except for the chili peppers, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves to be in separated bowls.

Once you have all your ingredients, in a big mixing bowl put in the ground chicken, gizzards, sliced skin leaving out the livers as it will be added last. Add the spices, sliced chili peppers and lime juice. Mix thoroughly with your hands. Taste and adjust the flavor now. You should taste all the spices harmoniously with a bit of tang from the lime. If it is not slightly tangy add more lime juice. It should not taste plain, if so add more fish sauce and chicken broth powder. I tend to make it slightly salty as the herbs will change the taste. Once the taste is to your liking fold in the liver and the herbs.Adding the herbs will give it a different taste, fresher taste. Voila!

This can be served with lettuce and cucumber with jasmine rice.

Bon apetit!

Bay Nan

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pineapple Sauce for Daht Seen - Laotian Hibachi

Just this past weekend we had a few friends over for what we call "Daht Seen" in Lao. It's basically a griddle or skillet set up in the middle of a dining table covered in an oil then a variety of foods are thrown on to cook while everyone around grabs their chop sticks reaching for different foods to dip in different sauces.

There are many ways to eat in this fashion. Some people will cook their food then make either lettuce wraps or clear Vietnamese summer rolls. Some people prefer to just go from the griddle to the sauce and be done with it. Preference is up to you.

A very popular sauce being used now is a pineapple based sauce that my friend asked the recipe for. It's very easy and can be done with a blender.

1 can of pineapple - any (crushed, chunks, whole rings)
few slices of ginger - julienne (just to make it easier for the blender to process for slight hint of flavor)
2-3 garlic cloves - (this can also be sliced up)
2 thai chilli peppers - start small (with 1/2 of pepper) and build up to desired heat. Easier to add than to take away.
2 tbsp of fish sauce
1 tbsp of chicken broth granuals for flavor

Once you blend it thouroughly taste and adjust as needed. You do not want a sweet sauce but a savory slightly spicy sauce. If it is too spicy, salty or strong in the other flavors just add more pineapple.

Add a few stems of corriander (leaving out most of the stems) and blend. Serve in small bowls for dipping.

This sauce can also be a dipping sauce for steak. My friend even suggested it may be used as a salad dressing. Have fun experimenting with it and let me know how many different ways you use this sauce!

-Bay N.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mok Bha - Lao Style Spicy Steamed Fish Recipe

Mok Bha Duke (Spicy Steam Catfish) Nuggets (diced herbs)
One of my favorite traditional Lao food is Mok Bha. Basically it is steamed fish. What makes this dish amazing is the aroma from the different herbs and spices that are added for the unique flavor. As with any dish everyone makes their own dish differently. I was told the basic ingredients from my mother with a few changes according to how my family eats. As with home cooking and traditional Lao food there are no measurements. You add a little until you feel its right. I apologize ahead for the lack of exact measurement but usually is a few pinches here and there! Try it experiment and if its too salty ... eat more rice!

This recipe can be used with any fish that you like but the most popular fish used is the catfish. To make my life a little easier I buy catfish nuggets from the local grocery store. Feel free to use any fish and feel free to just cut up the fish with the bone in.

This dish is usually eaten with rice, let it be jasmine or sweet (sticky) rice. It also includes a type of rue but in Lao tradition what they do is soak sweet rice until it is so soft that it crumbles when touched. It is taken out of the water and placed in a mortar and pounded until its paste like. This will create the gravy. When this is unavailable flour can be used but it will not be as thick as using the rice, but just as delicious.

Basic Ingredients include:

lemongrass stalk
lime leaves / kaffir leaves
fresh dill
fresh green onion / or shallots or 1/4 of medium onion
chili peppers
fish sauce
chicken broth powder
shrimp paste
flour / rice mixture (paste)

You can chop or slice up all the herbs or you can leave them in chunks. All the ingredients are edible but some people prefer not to eat the lemongrass or kaffir leaves. If you leave them in large pieces it is easier to eat around.

The lemon grass and kaffir leaves give this dish the distint aroma and flavor but it can be left out if you prefer. The MSG is a flavor enhancer and can also be left out as the chicken broth is used to enhance the flavor also. The shrimp paste can be replaced with badaek or fermented fish or it can be left out altogether.

Mok Bha Duke (Spicy Steam Catfish) Strips (chopped and whole herbs)
You basically chop up the herbs and peppers and mix everything in a mixing bowl. Place it in foil and steam. Using an asian soup spoon, one of each is a good amount of each of the ingredient being careful not to over salt (maybe just a pinch) since you are using fish sauce and chicken broth. Wrap it in foil closing it at the top and do it twice. The fish will cook and keep in mind the juices may leak out so be careful when wrapping.

I steam usually for 30 minutes or so making sure the fish is cooked. It should never be dry from not only the fish sauce but its own juices also.

This can be stored in the freezer or in the fridge to be enjoyed another day. Sometimes its even better the next day. Enjoy with jasmine or sweet rice.

Any questions please comment!!

Have fun cooking!

Bay Nan

Laos Food - Cooking at Home

Jasmine Rice with Khmer sausages & jewl mak len
Lately I haven't done a restaurant review since we haven't eaten at any new restaurants in so long. I've been cooking a lot of traditional food at home.

My family is from Laos. A small land lock country in southeast Asia. Most of the foods are similar to Thai food with a different flare if you will. It has a harsher taste and smell due to the access of certain foods. Its a poorer country with less luxuries as we have here in the states. With many of us coming to the US as small children and growing up mainly speaking English and eating McDonalds we tend to lose our culture and the way food was cooked back in the old country.

grilled chicken wings, mango spicy salad, Lao style eggs
With the help of the internet and youtube.com  we have resources to help us cook good old fashion Lao food. Some foods are taught from our moms and gmas so from my family to my friends and family online I will try to share some simple recipes for some of my favorite stinky Lao food that I post up on instagram from time to time. Feel free to ask for any recipes for anything you see on my instagram page.

instagram : BayBayNan916

Until then enjoy the reviews and recipes...Bay Nan - FGC

Sour bamboo soup with chicken, sour bamboo jewl, stir frys and Lao traditional sausage

ramen noodles (mi mama) with fish cakes, pork cake, beef and herbs

grilled seasoned duck head with pork nam and papaya salad

Spicy noodle salad, stir fried beef in oyster sauce, stir fried chicken gizzards with cabbage
sour chicken soup, larb gai, tomato jewl, mok bha (steamed catfish)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Supreme Buffet & Hibachi Grill ... why me?

Supreme Buffet & Hibachi Grill

After seeing so many posts on Instagram of the good looking food from this buffet I was so excited to visit it with my family. My husband is not a fan of buffets but for the kids sake we visit so they can eat immediately. This place is located in Hillard Ohio which is a good 20 min or so drive for us. T

I've seen excellent pictures of a good selection of seafood and sushi so I figure for a price of $11 a person I can eat all the good specialty sushi I want. We went on a Sunday so they were serving dinner all day.

Boy was I disappointed.

We had a party of 7 and was placed in the back on the left of the buffet area. My husband asked to be seated in a less crowded area just in the next room but was told they were unable to seat more than 6 because they were not allowed to push tables together. Of course as I walked by 5 minutes later, they were pushing together tables for other people.

SERVICE: The service is good for a buffet. Our plates were not there for too long before the waitress would clear them from the end of our table. She did refill our cups once or twice before we left. The only thing is when the host sat us and took our drink order he was short one glass which after I told the waitress she brought over right away. We did not get offered any chopsticks which I just grabbed from the waitress station.

mixed sushi
FOOD: I can't do food portions because of course its an all you can eat. But the food quality is not very good. After seeing pictures on Instagram, I was enticed by how good the food look. After tasting the Octopus salad, BBQ ribs, green beans, lo mien, egg drop soup, baked crab meat, fried jalapeno shrimp and sushi. It was average if not below average. The only thing I really enjoyed was the crawfish, which was frozen precooked crawfish but they cooked it good. Not overcooked, which is very easy to do, but good let alone they were big and meaty. Not spicy at all, but fulfilling.They had blue crab but nothing to crack it with. I thought it would be flavorful but just tasted like it was stirred around in oil and decorated with green onion. If you were going to do that, they should have just steamed it. The soups needed salt, very plain and the lo mien noodles were just cooked spaghetti noodles, not even lo mien. The sushi was my biggest disappointment. This was well below grade but I should have known being a buffet. It seemed like they just grabbed what was left from the buffet and rolled it up in rice and seaweed, added some sauce and served it as is. It was the first time where it almost came out of my mouth before I finished chewing on it. I had to hold my gag reflex since I was in public. The rice was hard and the fish did not look fresh. There are plenty of options but also missing options you expect at Chinese buffets like certain noodle dishes. Seemed like they were on the thin line of American / Chinese. They did have 2 different steaks and plenty of ribs which weren't bad. They kept running out of the fried shrimp but this is the first buffet where no one was fighting over the crab. My husband said the hibachi was good but fresh cooked food is always better than food sitting out.

LOCATION: You could spot the sign right off the highway on 70 westbound toward the Hillard Rome Rd exit. But if your not familiar it may be easy to miss. You have to turn right at the light immediately off the exit then a small sign leads you onto a side road to the buffet. They are a stand alone location surrounded by motels & hotels.

ATMOSPHERE: Typical buffet with rooms of tables for guests and buffet area right in front when you walk in so you see it as you enter. There's an outdoor patio to eat at. Very awkward with people walking around to get food mixing with the guests walking it. Usually the buffets are set up out of the way of people walking in to be seated so this was a little crowded.

PRICE: 60+ guest get 10% off, 3-10 yrs old are at a reduced price, 2 and under are free. Adults are about $11 but I don't remember if that included the drinks but knowing buffets it probably doesn't. They have coupons on their website.

OVERALL: My family did not enjoy this place at all and I doubt I would give it a second chance. It felt like everything was fried and was extremely greasy. It was not clean and no one was trying to even keep it decently clean. The first thing out of my husband's mouth was it was dirty. The sushi was horrible and the place was messy even for a buffet. I read some of the reviews from Urbanspoon which a majority of the people seem to agree with me how bad it is there. I regret the visit and should have taken my kids to Asian Gourmet for good sushi and food.

Sad Sushi Eater - Bay Nan

Supreme Buffet & Hibachi Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bangkok Restaurant - never changes...

Bangkok Restaurant - Columbus OH

phad kanar moo karb

Yesterday, after a busy early morning with my husband and son, we decided to go to a local favorite for authentic Thai food along with Chinese food made to order. Bangkok has been a favorite in our family even with the kids. That's a plus for us since our children are such picky eaters. They have such a variety and unlike other Asian restaurants, the taste of the food doesn't change. If you've had their food, you grow to love the taste of the food and if you return, it will stimulate your brain as if it's the first time you're having it again.

baby spring rolls / fried chicken
SERVICE:  It may be favoritism since I know the workers there but as busy as it may get, they are very friendly and as fast as they can be with service. Always walking offering water and checking in with us if we need anything for our meal. They are happy to help and provide. At time when visiting restaurants I get a feel that we are overstaying but not here. In addition we never feel like we are unwanted customers. Always good service and attention the same as other customers at lunch or at dinner.

shrimp chips
FOOD: The food taste consistent so you get what you expect and if you are trying new food they can adjust the heat (spiciness) according to your own preference. The food is delicious and authentic, very close to home. I have never tried the Chinese dishes because I tend to only order according to the specialties in which restaurants are categorized. (steak from steakhouse, seafood from seafood restaurants, sushi from sushi restaurants, etc.) They have specialty drinks from my favorite Thai ice coffee and Thai tea along with a selection of bubble teas. I don't prefer the bubble tea here for its a little on the sweet side. This is in addition to the sodas and water.

PRICES/PORTIONS: The prices depend on which time of day you visit. I believe they have lunch specials for smaller portions. They are usual prices for the food and the portions do feed the family. We tend to order multiple dishes to share and we always pack home for later. We split some of the dishes among the kids to share and the older kids get their own so we always go home happy and full.The drinks are a little pricy but then you are at a restaurant. You can get a dish for about $5 - $9 depending on what it is. 

ATMOSPHERE: There are plenty of Thai decorations around and they always have Thai karaoke music videos playing in the background on a flat screen TV for your viewing pleasure. It is not a big restaurant with about 10 booths and tables in the middle. 

yum seafood
OVERALL EXPERIENCE:  We continue to go back for the food and the nice "home" feeling. I have a rule I use with eating at international cuisine restaurants, if the people of that culture eats there, it must be authentic and good. There are always a crowd of Thai and Lao people eating there with my family included. It's a treat and being there at lunch is just as good as dinner with less of a crowd, but still a crowd all the same. Good service and good food is always a plus with us. It will keep you craving! For safe picks, the Phad Thai and Lad Na is always a choice. Phad Ke Mao is spicy good, but rice dishes are my favorite from ordering soups, Phad Ka Na Moo Korp (fried pork with Chinese brocolli), and Red Curries. Try one then try them all.

Bangkok on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sunflower Chinese Restaurant ... "Dim Sum funny ninjas!"

Sunflower Chinese Restaurant - Dim Sum

Recently I received an email from Tasty Tree. Once in a while I will get an email  with the local deal of the "moment" since its so inconsistent. Well recently  I received the following deal: http://tastytree.com/resto/SunflowerColumbus/ Which was buy a $50 gift card for $20 (but they add a 16% tip automatically).

My husband was never a big dim sum fan being a fan of the big "I want to get full" meal usually consisting of noodles. But since I went ahead and bought this coupon / gift card we decided to give the kids a treat and take them out to eat. This would be the first time for the kids to try something new.

Now I have had dim sum before so I enjoy it because I'm the type of eater who likes to pick at different foods and taste different things. So you can tell I'm a big fan of cooking too many sides to the one main meal. I like the selection and the option of choosing many different tastes within one sitting. Dim sum means point of the heart meant as a snack or quick meal that lightly "touches the heart". But when it comes to my family, we eat until we were half way to food comas. If you've never had dim sum, they are like little bite size dumplings that are either steamed or fried served in wooden baskets, steam tins or on small plates.

The restaurant opens at 11 am and fills up quick. We were there half an hour early, but no one was there yet except the workers. Once we walked in 10 min early we were seated and our waitress promptly arrived to take our drink orders. Soon after the serving cart and rolled around. Basically the waitress will ask what you would like. If you know your dim sum you can ask for it by name. If not, like us we just look and point at what we like. You can ask for more than one basket and what they do it they stamp or mark it according to size on a piece of paper that is for our table.

We tried several different ones, our favorites being the pork siu mai and the steam shrimp dumplings (ha gow). My youngest loved the chicken feet and I really enjoyed the fried tofu. They have several carts rolling around consisting of soups and congee (rice porridge), fried dumplings, clams, veggies, and desserts. They also had bubble tea which the kids tasted. Not the best bubble tea but an option non the less.

Our bill was a total of $106 ($136 - $50 gift card +$20 tip) for about 20 little tins/plates,  4 sodas, 2 hot tea, & 3 bubble teas. Not bad for a family of seven. It took them a while to validate the coupon and ring up the bill but end the end well worth the savings of $30. Overall we had a good time, full bellies, and hopefully will come again. The kids enjoyed it and being picky eaters did get full from tasting every little dumpling.

Happy Ninja - Bay Nan

Sunflower Chinese Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon