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Vietnamese Chicken Satay & Fried Rice

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SONY DSC

So hey, it turns out I can cook Vietnamese. Who knew?

There are some things that I have a ton of interest in eating, but none whatsoever in making. Vietnamese food falls into this category. So does Chinese food, Korean food; anything I feel like I have no authority to create. I mean besides the basics. I attempted homemade ginger beef once and for all the effort that went into it I’d rather call up the place down the street and slap down a 10 spot for them to do it for me.

Besides, the mystique is taken away when you make something yourself. Do you ever get that sense that everything you make tastes like slightly different versions of the same thing? You know what went in there, and you’re intimately familiar with the process that made it taste the way it does. I’d rather focus my energies elsewhere and leave some things up to the pros.

But then recently I had the occasion to try, and I’m so glad I was shoved out of my comfort zone. Because that’s how you learn – when you expand your horizons beyond what you already know. (Whether voluntarily or by force.)

Satay aren’t really out of my comfort zone – they’d be more accurately classified as a staple around here. But the marinade is different from my usual. I kind of winged it; using about a pound of skinless chicken thighs and cutting them across into half strips, half chunks, and then mashing them more closely together than my usual slightly graceful (if anything about me could be described as such) “S” shape. I liked it this way.

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Vietnamese Chicken or Pork Satay

Recipe link

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October 20, 2009

Ingredients

1-2 lb. skinless chicken thighs or pork tenderloin, cut into strips or chunks

2 Tbsp. honey or sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce

1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil

1 Tbsp. lime juice

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp. Sriracha or a pinch of dried red chili flakes

Directions

1Put the chicken or pork in a bowl or ziplock bag; stir together the rest of the ingredients and pour overtop. Marinate for at least an hour, or preferably overnight.

2Soak bamboo skewers in water for at least 10 minutes to prevent them from burning, and thread the meat onto them, squishing the pieces together.

3 Grill or broil for a few minutes per side, just until cooked through.

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Fried rice is one of those things I tend to go about on my own. Even when I find a recipe I’m one to ignore it, thinking I know what I’m doing, and right here is a perfect example of something I make that always comes out tasting the same, with the occasional fluctuation depending on how heavy-handed I am with the soy sauce, or whether or not I opted to add curry paste.

But this. It elicited as many oohs and aahs as I’ve received for anything that has come out of my kitchen. The first time I made it, the recipient (who shall remain anonymous to protect his reputation as a mostly generous person) didn’t even share. I think it was the seasoning – the rice vinegar and sugar and fish sauce – but wow. It’s like fried rice that really means it.

Remember – you need leftover cold rice to make a good fried rice – the time in the fridge gives the grains a chance to separate, so that they won’t clump together and get all sticky in the pan.

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SONY DSC

Vietnamese Fried Rice

Recipe link

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October 20, 2009

This is a bit of a spinoff of one I found on Epicurious

  • Makes: Serves 4.

Ingredients

canola or mild olive oil, for cooking

5 cups cold long-grain rice

2 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork

big pinch dried red chili flakes

1 small bunch of green onions, chopped

1-2 large carrots, coarsely grated

1-2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 cups bean sprouts (optional)

fresh cilantro and chopped salted peanuts, for garnish

Seasoning

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. fish sauce

2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

Directions

1In a small bowl stir together the sugar, fish sauce and vinegar.

2In a large, heavy skillet, heat a slick of oil over medium-high heat. Add the rice and cook for a few minutes, until heated through. Push over to one side and pour in the eggs; stir-fry until the eggs are scrambled, allowing them to cook without mixing them into the rice completely (so that you end up with detectable bits of egg); add the chili flakes, then the green onions, carrots and garlic; cook for a few more minutes.

3Pour over the fish sauce mixture, then add the bean sprouts and cook for a minute, tossing with tongs, just until heated through. Serve immediately, in shallow bowls topped with cilantro and peanuts.

Makes: Serves 4.
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13 comments on “Vietnamese Chicken Satay & Fried Rice

  1. Reese
    October 21, 2009 at 3:35 am

    You make it sound so easy that I’m willing to try making the Chicken Satay. I grew up in a Canadian Korean family and watched my mother and aunts cook Korean and Japanese food. But, I don’t know how to cook Korean and Japanese cuisine, maybe it’s because I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t taste as good as theirs.

    Cheers for the recipe and the beautiful photos!

    Reese

  2. Manon from Ontario
    October 21, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Hello Julie, food looks great!
    I have to know, what is FISH sauce? You see, I don’t like fish at all, and I want to know what is fish sauce as I’ve been avoiding it because of its name.

    Hope you guys are feeling better. Here it’s getting worse, as it started with myself and my daughter, and now it’s one of the twins and the entire school!

    Have a great day :)

    MFO

  3. JulieVR
    October 21, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Manon – fish sauce is a thin, translucent sauce made from fermented fish, usually anchovies. Sounds disgusting, I know! it tastes better than it smells…

  4. erin
    October 21, 2009 at 8:23 am

    I totally agree with you about things tasting the same – I have that problem with stir fries. No matter what I do, they all taste the same. I think it’s because I also am reluctant to try fish sauce. My husband can’t eat most types of fish, but is a huge fan of caesar salad, so I am pretty sure he has eaten his share of anchovies and just doesn’t realize it!

  5. Jen
    October 21, 2009 at 9:00 am

    This sounds easy, and we love satay. I am going to give it a try.

    Jen

  6. Cheryl Arkison
    October 21, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Don’t be afraid of fish sauce folks! It doesn’t taste like fish at all but it adds a remarkable flavour. Sort of like adding lemon for a burst at the end of cooking something, but without that acidity.

  7. JulieVR
    October 21, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Disclaimer: if you’re pregnant, you probably won’t like the smell. I almost lost my lunch on City Cooks when I poured some into a hot pan on the air!

  8. Lovefood63
    October 21, 2009 at 11:23 am

    I LOVE to cook with fish sauce in Asian recipes. It seems to add that “extra something” that makes the food zing. Just don’t smell the contents when you open the bottle!

  9. Kate
    October 22, 2009 at 7:36 am

    This looks good and uncomplicated for a try. Does anyone know how long fish sauce lasts in the refrigerator?
    My daughter left some here but by the time I discovered it, it smelled so bad I thought it must be spoiled. Wasn’t in the fridge that long, so judging by these comments… it just stinks!

  10. eroica
    October 22, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Donna Hay’s one pan (really!) Sticky Chicken is another good reason to keep fish sauce around.

  11. Chantal Carpio
    March 12, 2012 at 4:05 am

    Awesome blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Cheers!

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