Best French Onion Soup


Date Published: August 16th, 2020 | Last Updated: August 16th, 2020
Author: Abby |Category: soups
Serves: 4-6 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 1 hour

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I’ve loved French onion soup for as long as I can remember – what’s not to love about caramelized onions and ooey gooey cheese? This soup has been in my recipe box for at least the past decade. In fact, it’s the first soup I can remember ever attempting to make in my mom’s kitchen back in Canada with a couple of friends after school. The results were bang-on but we didn’t know how to work the broiler (and neither did my mom – who uses a broiler in Chinese cooking?) so we didn’t get the classic bubbly cheese on top but it was still sooooo good. It was a long shopping list for us back in the day since none of these ingredients are in my mom’s traditional Chinese cooking arsenal, but now looking back at this ingredient list in preparation for today’s post, I had pretty much everything already in my pantry and picked the herbs from the garden!

This soup is pretty easy to make, but you’ll need a little patience at the start to caramelize the onions. After that, it’s just adding the rest of the ingredients then simmer and done! You can choose to top the soup with a slice of toasted bread or make your own quick chunky croutons by toasting bread cubes in the oven with some olive oil. I prefer croutons because I find it easier to eat when you don’t have to cut through a thick slice of bread and I also don’t have to worry about whether my slice of bread will fit perfectly into the bowl (plus, munching on extra croutons while the soup simmers is always a bonus). The serving size says 4-6, but when I make this soup I always end up having 4 bowls, so realistically it serves me and maybe one other person. 😜

Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup (55g) butter, unsalted
  • 2 large red onions, sliced
  • 2 large yellow/sweet onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 cups (1.5L) low sodium chicken broth – the combination of the chicken and beef broth with the salt needed to caramelize the onions and the rest of the ingredients tend to make this soup on the saltier side so I suggest using low sodium chicken broth in this soup and adding your own salt in at the end to your liking.
  • 1 cup (250ml) beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves (or a pinch of dried thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4-6 thick slices of French or Italian bread
  • A few slices of cheese per bowl
    • A milder tasting cheese is recommended since the soup itself has a very robust flavour and can be salty – ie. Asiago, mozzarella, Gruyere or Swiss. You can do a mix of these cheeses!
    • Tip: If you don’t have any oven-safe bowls, you can use shredded cheese so it melts easier over the hot soup and bread.
  • pinches of paprika for garnish

Directions:

In a medium pot, on medium heat, melt the butter and cook the onion with the salt until they’re caramelized and syrupy – stir frequently and scrape the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t stick and burn. This is the most time-consuming process and takes about half an hour.

Once onions are ready, add into the pot: chicken broth, beef broth, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Simmer on medium heat for 20mins without the lid, stirring occasionally.

While the soup simmers, prepare the bread: toast the bread slices until golden and crispy or alternatively you can make them into croutons by cutting them into cubes, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and toast them in the oven at 180˚C for 10 minutes until golden and crispy.

When soup is ready, remove the herbs and add in the balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the soup into oven-safe bowls and place the crispy toasted bread into each bowl then topped with slices of cheese. Put the soup bowls in the oven and broil on HIGH until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Sprinkle some paprika over each bowl and serve. Enjoy!

Summarized Recipe:

Best French Onion Soup

Date Published: August 16th, 2020 | Last Updated: August 16th, 2020
Author: Abby |Category: soups
Serves: 4-6 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (55g) butter, unsalted
  • 2 large red onions, sliced
  • 2 large yellow/sweet onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 cups (1.5L) low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup (250ml) beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves (or a pinch of dried thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4-6 thick slices of French or Italian bread
  • A few slices of cheese per bowl
    • A milder tasting cheese is recommended since the soup itself has a very robust flavour and can be salty – ie. Asiago, mozzarella, Gruyere or Swiss. You can do a mix of these cheeses!
    • Tip: If you don’t have any oven-safe bowls, you can use shredded cheese so it melts easier over the hot soup and bread.
  • pinches of paprika for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a medium pot, on medium heat, melt the butter and cook the onion with the salt until they’re caramelized and syrupy – stir frequently and scrape the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t stick and burn. This is the most time-consuming process and takes about half an hour.
  2. Once onions are ready, add into the pot: chicken broth, beef broth, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Simmer on medium heat for 20mins without the lid, stirring occasionally.
  3. While the soup simmers, prepare the bread: toast the bread slices until golden and crispy or alternatively you can make them into croutons by cutting them into cubes, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and toast them in the oven at 180˚C for 10 minutes until golden and crispy.
  4. When soup is ready, remove the herbs and add in the balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Spoon the soup into oven-safe bowls and place the crispy toasted bread into each bowl then topped with slices of cheese. Put the soup bowls in the oven and broil on HIGH until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Sprinkle some paprika over each bowl and serve. Enjoy!

Khao Soi (Thai Coconut Curry Noodle Soup)


Date Published: August 11th, 2020 | Last Updated: August 11th, 2020
Author: Abby |Category: mains, soups, asian, quick and easy
Serves: 4-6 | Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 15 mins

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Khao Soi? Oh boy! If you’ve never had Khao Soi before, you’re about to have your taste buds obliterated because this dish is THE BOMB (I’ll see myself out). It uses an intense curry paste that’s similar to red curry but with the addition of curry powder (like a yellow curry paste) which is then simmered with coconut milk that results in a luxe creamy coconut curry soup with some heat. This northern Thailand dish is commonly served with egg noodles, chicken, and topped with crispy noodles. There are many variations of this dish and you can easily customize it yourself with extra veg, tofu puffs, fish cakes…etc.

I’m going to admit something here. I’m actually pretty new to Khao Soi and only heard about it a month ago on Masterchef (when Jess made it in the ramen challenge) and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. I LOVE curries, especially Thai curries for their aromas so it’s no surprise that Khao Soi instantly made it straight to the top of my (long) list of dishes to make. Since I’ve never had Khao Soi from Thailand I can’t attest to how “authentic” my recipe is to the real thing but I can guarantee that this recipe is f*cking delicious. I ate two bowls in one sitting the first time I made it! Move over green curry, I actually think this may be my new favourite Thai curry. Since I’m a novice to Khao Soi, I came up with this recipe by reading through a LOT of highly rated “authentic” recipes and compiled all the best parts together. I’m surprised I pulled it off!

I’m a huge advocate of homemade curry paste because it just has so much vibrant flavours that you can’t get from a can without “freshening it up” with aromatics. I used my pre-made homemade Thai red curry paste for this recipe which saved SO much prep work and made this recipe infinitely easy and fast to come together (I haven’t tried this with canned paste so apologies to anyone that was hoping to use it. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!). This dish takes about 15-20 mins from start to finish. The only thing you need to chop is the chicken! So quick and easy for something SO full of flavour.

Hopefully one day when this pandemic is over I’ll be able to travel to northern Thailand and have Khao Soi to see how it compares. It’s a shame because I was actually in Chiang Mai last year for 3 weeks volunteering at an animal shelter desexing stray dogs and cats. The whole time I was there no one mentioned Khao Soi but I did have some pretty amazing green curry. Ah well, another excuse to travel! 😊

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 4 portions of egg noodles
  • Khao Soi paste:
  • 1kg chicken thighs (or breast), diced into large pieces (or to preference on how big you prefer your chicken pieces)
  • 4 cups (1 litre) reduced salt chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 600ml (1 1/2 cans) coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsps fish sauce (or more to taste)
  • Optional: any additional veg you like

Directions:

Cook the egg noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

In a bowl, make the khao soi paste by mixing the red curry paste, curry powder and turmeric powder together. Set aside.

Warm a pot on MED-HIGH heat, add 1-2 Tbsps of oil and sauté the chicken pieces until browned (don’t worry about cooking it all the way through – it’ll finish cooking in the soup). Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.

In the same pot, use the leftover oil from the chicken (or add more if there’s not much left) and add the khao soi paste (red curry paste, curry powder and turmeric powder). Quickly sauté for a couple minutes until the paste dries out a little and becomes fragrant.

Add in the chicken stock and coconut milk. Stir until no clumps remain from the paste. Simmer the soup for 5 minutes then add in the browned chicken pieces (and any additional veg you like). Simmer for another 5 minutes (or until veggies have cooked – if using). Add the fish sauce. Taste and adjust flavours as needed (if it’s not salty enough you can add more fish sauce or salt, if you prefer your soup creamier add more coconut milk).

Divide the egg noodles into 4 bowls and ladle the soup with ingredients into each bowl over the noodles. Done!

Summarized Recipe:

Khao Soi (Thai Coconut Curry Noodle Soup)

Date Published: August 11th, 2020 | Last Updated: August 11th, 2020
Author: Abby |Category: mains, soups, asian, quick and easy
Serves: 4-6 | Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 15 mins

Ingredients:

  • 4 portions of egg noodles
  • Khao Soi paste:
  • 1kg chicken thighs (or breast), diced into large pieces (or to preference on how big you prefer your chicken pieces)
  • 4 cups (1 litre) reduced salt chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 600ml (1 1/2 cans) coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsps fish sauce (or more to taste)
  • Optional: any additional veg you like

Directions:

  1. Cook the egg noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, make the khao soi paste by mixing the red curry paste, curry powder and turmeric powder together. Set aside.
  3. Warm a pot on MED-HIGH heat, add 1-2 Tbsps of oil and sauté the chicken pieces until browned (don’t worry about cooking it all the way through – it’ll finish cooking in the soup). Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.
  4. In the same pot, use the leftover oil from the chicken (or add more if there’s not much left) and add the khao soi paste (red curry paste, curry powder and turmeric powder). Quickly sauté for a couple minutes until the paste dries out a little and becomes fragrant.
  5. Add in the chicken stock and coconut milk. Stir until no clumps remain from the paste. Simmer the soup for 5 minutes then add in the browned chicken pieces (and any additional veg you like). Simmer for another 5 minutes (or until veggies have cooked – if using). Add the fish sauce. Taste and adjust flavours as needed (if it’s not salty enough you can add more fish sauce or salt, if you prefer your soup creamier add more coconut milk).
  6. Divide the egg noodles into 4 bowls and ladle the soup with ingredients into each bowl over the noodles. Done!

Taiwanese Crystal Dumplings 水晶饺 (Shuĭ Jing Jiao)


Date Published: August 9th, 2020 | Last Updated: August 9th, 2020
Author: Abby |Category: asian, mains, easy, soups
Serves: 24 dumplings | Prep time: 30 mins | Cook time: 10 mins

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[Warning: Long foreword to this post. If you want to skip ahead to the recipe, click on the link above.]

Taiwanese Crystal Dumplings!!! I don’t think I’ve been more excited or proud to share a recipe! These hold the ultimate nostalgia for me. My maternal grandparents live in Miao Li which is a county ages away from Taipei (where we lived) and it takes roughly 2.5 hours train ride to get there and then we’d have to hail a cab to get to their house because their public transport system isn’t the most efficient. Although the journey to visit them is laborious, it was always so nice to see them, especially when it was only once a year when we’d visit Taiwan. It was even better when ‘wai po’ (grandmother on my mother’s side) would visit us in Taipei and stay for a few weeks at a time. She’d always make such delicious food (steamed egg (chawanmushi), fried fish and sesame chicken soup was her specialty). Back to crystal dumplings: she never made them for us but there was a special shop in Miao Li that would sell them frozen and she’d always buy a big bag of them when she visited. Those crystal dumplings were Miao Li’s best kept secret. I’ve had crystal dumplings in Taipei from various shops, but none compared to the ones she’d bring from Miao Li. Now in her later years she doesn’t travel to Taipei anymore, but every time we’d visit Miao Li with my aunt, we’d be sure to pick up a bag before heading home.

Crystal dumplings were always this special treat that we’d only get if wai po visited or if we made the journey to Miao Li. There was no other way to get them and no one else makes a good substitute (I guess you could say I have very high crystal dumpling standards 😜). However since the pandemic, I’ve had a lot more time on my hands and I’ve been delving deeper and deeper into the cooking world. I was a self-taught cook in the kitchen and only made Western dishes in the early days roughly 8 years ago. Asian food is familiar territory when it came to ordering from a restaurant, but cooking it was completely foreign to me – I had no idea where to start (so many sauces!). Over the years I became more competent in the kitchen and started cooking more Asian food. During this pandemic and with the release of Polyphagic Abby, I found myself gravitating towards more and more traditional Taiwanese and Chinese dishes. Perhaps I’m missing my family from so far away in all this craziness or maybe it’s because there’s no decent good Chinese food out here in the Aussie country. Whatever the reason, it makes me so happy when a recipe turns out perfectly and I’m transported back to the days eating with my family again.

I’ve had a few victories so far recreating my childhood dishes such as cheese dan bing, Vietnamese pho, and Taiwanese cold noodles which I’m all really proud of, but I’m especially proud of this crystal dumplings recipe because this brings me back home. A lot of dishes make me revisit my childhood in Taiwan, but this one in particular makes me think of wai po. This is a photo of wai po and wai gong back in 2016.

Taiwan has a LOT of popular dishes but for whatever reason the reputation of the crystal dumpling didn’t cross into the Western world so it was impossible to find any recipes on these bad boys. I searched high and low and couldn’t find any english recipes for this dish so after watching multiple Taiwanese youtube cooking videos, compiling different methods and ingredients together with a lot of taste-testing and trial and error (I still have a 500g bag of failed pork filling in the freezer that I didn’t want to throw away 😂), I think I’ve successfully created a recipe that is just like the ones in Miao Li (I haven’t been to Miao Li in a few years, but I’ll have to have them side by side to be extra sure) 👏 👏 👏 (is it weird to applaud myself? I’m just that proud)! Crystal dumplings are one of my mom’s favourite foods so I’ll have to let her be the judge when we can be together again. This is the reason why I’m so proud and excited to share this recipe with you. Not only because it’s so sentimental to me, but also because I feel like I’m introducing crystal dumplings to the Western world and it’s a Taiwanese secret that the world needs to know about.

Taiwanese crystal dumplings have an outer casing that’s made with potato starch which becomes translucent when the dumplings cool down after being cooked (hence “crystal”). The starch gives it a distinct chewy texture. The casing itself doesn’t have much flavour but serves more as a textural component. The real flavour is in the pork filling which is sautéed in fried shallots and soy sauce, making a little flavour bomb. The intensity of the flavours in the filling carries the bland casing with it to create a wonderful balanced mouthful of savoury chewy goodness. There are multiple ways to eat a crystal dumping. My favourite way is to have it in a bowl of warm chicken soup with fried shallots but you can also eat it on its own or throw it in a hotpot. Scroll to the end of the recipe and I’ll show you how to eat them in different ways! I’ll be uploading a video on how to make them shortly so keep an eye out!

Anyways, thanks for reading my story and without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • Filling:
    • 200g pork mince
    • 1 1/2 Tbsps soy sauce
    • 1 1/2 Tbsps fried shallots
    • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • Crystal Dumpling Skin:
    • 1 cup (165g) potato starch
    • 1/4 cup boiling water
    • 3 Tbsps (45ml) cold water + more if needed
    • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Bowl of cold water + 2 tsp sesame oil

Directions:

Make the filling: Heat a skillet over MED-HIGH heat and sauté 1/3 of the pork mince in some oil until cooked through. Add in the soy sauce and stir until fragrant. Turn off the heat and mix in the fried shallots.

Put all the contents from the skillet in a large bowl and mix in the remaining pork mince and white pepper to the bowl. You should now have a sticky filling mixture. Set aside.

Make the dumpling wrappers: In a wide base bowl (you want a wider base for a bigger surface area), add in potato starch and pour the boiling water over the potato starch and mix with a spatula until combined/clumped together. When the dough is cool enough to handle, continue mixing with your hands. THIS STEP IS CRUCIAL! The boiling water cooks the starch and it’s what gives the dumpling the chewy texture so you want to mix it all together as best as you can before adding the cold water. Once you’ve mixed it as well as you can (you’ll end up with a rough dry dough (second photo)), add in the cold water 1/3 at a time while using your hands to mix the dough until you get a smooth ball (you might not need all of the water, just add enough until it’s smooth). Roll the dough around the bowl to ensure you’ve incorporated all of the potato starch into the dough. Add in 2 tsps of sesame oil and mix it into the dough. You should have a smooth, easily pliable dough ball similar to soft play-doh.

Oil your hands and roll the dough out into a roll and cut it into 24 equal pieces (you can keep dividing the dough into halves until you reach 24 pieces). Then using your hands, flatten each small dough ball into a flat pancake roughly 2-3mm thick and place 1 tsp of filling in the middle. Bring the edges together to form a triangle shape and press together the edges to seal it.

Tips:

  • Be careful not to overfill the dumplings! This dough is not like typical dumpling dough and does not stretch well – it can easily break if you stretch it too much or overfill the dumplings. If you can see the filling through the skin, you’ve stretched it too much and it will have a higher chance of breaking while cooking.
  • If you’re worried you’re wrapping them too thin or thick, you can always wrap a few and cook them first as a test to see if the thickness is right for you.
  • While you’re wrapping the dumplings, keep the rest of the dough covered so it doesn’t dry out. By keeping your hands oiled during the wrapping process it helps keep the dough moist and easier to work with.

Cook the Dumplings: Once you’ve finished wrapping all your dumplings, bring a pot of water to a hard boil and gently drop the dumplings in one at a time. Traditionally when dumplings float to the top they’re considered cooked, however with these dumplings I found that they need a little longer to cook the skin to get the ultimate chewy texture. These dumplings will pretty much float to the top in the first 30 seconds, but they aren’t done cooking until the skin looks a little puffy/squishy and the edges are a little translucent (see photo above – it’s hard to describe it!), ~5-8 mins to cook.

Strain from the hot water and dunk them into a bowl of cold water with sesame oil (the oil stops them from sticking together and the cold water stops the cooking process, firms up the skin, and also makes the dumplings more translucent). When cooled, drain them (don’t let them soak for too long in the water or they can get soggy and fall apart).

Choose Your Eating Adventure:

In a broth (my favourite way!!): Add some fried shallots and chopped spring onion to a bowl and pour hot chicken stock into the bowl, topped with a few dumplings and serve. You can also add in some noodles and shredded chicken if you like to make it a full meal.

Eaten alone: If the dumplings have cooled, put them in a pot of boiling water to warm them up and then drain and serve with any sauce you like. Lao gan ma crispy chilli oil would be my go-to choice! You can alternatively also eat them directly as they come out of the pot after boiling instead of dunking them in cold water but make sure you add some sesame oil on them or else they’ll stick together when you serve it.

Storage: Drain the dumplings well and place them in a plastic bag with a teaspoon of sesame oil and mix them around. You can refrigerate them in the bag for a few days but I’d recommend eating them soon

In a hotpot: Dump them directly in your hotpot soup! They only take a couple minutes to warm up and be ready to eat.

Summarized Recipe:

Taiwanese Crystal Dumplings 水晶饺 (Shuĭ Jing Jiao)

Date Published: August 9th, 2020 | Last Updated: August 9th, 2020
Author: Abby |Category: asian, mains, easy, soups
Serves: 24 dumplings | Prep time: 30 mins | Cook time: 10 mins

Ingredients:

  • Filling:
    • 200g pork mince
    • 1 1/2 Tbsps soy sauce
    • 1 1/2 Tbsps fried shallots
    • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • Crystal Dumpling Skin:
    • 1 cup (165g) potato starch
    • 1/4 cup boiling water
    • 3 Tbsps (45ml) cold water + more if needed
    • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Bowl of cold water + 2 tsp sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Make the filling: Heat a skillet over MED-HIGH heat and sauté 1/3 of the pork mince in some oil until cooked through. Add in the soy sauce and stir until fragrant. Turn off the heat and mix in the fried shallots. Put all the contents from the skillet in a large bowl and mix in the remaining pork mince and white pepper to the bowl. You should now have a sticky filling mixture. Set aside.
  2. Make the dumpling wrappers: In a wide base bowl, add in potato starch and pour the boiling water over the potato starch and mix with a spatula until combined/clumped together. When the dough is cool enough to handle, continue mixing with your hands to pick up as much starch as possible (you’ll end up with a rough dry crumbly dough (see photo above) – THIS STEP IS CRUCIAL! Next add in the cold water 1/3 at a time while using your hands to mix the dough until you get a smooth ball (you might not need all of the water, just add enough until it’s smooth). Roll the dough around the bowl to ensure you’ve incorporated all of the potato starch into the dough. Add in 2 tsps of sesame oil and mix it into the dough. You should have a smooth, easily pliable dough ball similar to soft play-doh.
  3. Oil your hands and roll the dough out into a roll and cut it into 24 equal pieces. Then using your hands, flatten each small dough ball into a flat pancake roughly 2-3mm thick and place 1 tsp of filling in the middle. Bring the edges together to form a triangle shape and press together the edges to seal it (see tips and photos above). Don’t overfill or stretch them too much and keep your remaining dough under cover so it doesn’t dry out.
  4. Cook the Dumplings: Once you’ve finished wrapping all your dumplings, bring a pot of water to a hard boil and gently drop the dumplings in one at a time. They’re done when the skin looks a little puffy/squishy and the edges are a little translucent (see photo above – it’s hard to describe it!), ~5-8 mins to cook.
  5. Strain from the hot water and dunk them into a bowl of cold water with sesame oil. When cooled, drain them (don’t let them soak for too long in the water or they can get soggy and fall apart).

Choose Your Eating Adventure:

  • In a broth (my favourite way!!): Add some fried shallots and chopped spring onion to a bowl and pour hot chicken stock into the bowl, topped with a few dumplings and serve. You can also add in some noodles and shredded chicken if you like to make it a full meal.
  • Eaten alone: If the dumplings have cooled, put them in a pot of boiling water to warm them up and then drain and serve with any sauce you like. Lao gan ma crispy chilli oil would be my go-to choice! You can alternatively also eat them directly as they come out of the pot after boiling instead of dunking them in cold water but make sure you add some sesame oil on them or else they’ll stick together when you serve it.
  • Storage: Drain the dumplings well and place them in a plastic bag with a teaspoon of sesame oil and mix them around. You can refrigerate them in the bag for a few days.
  • In a hotpot: Dump them directly in your hotpot soup! They only take a couple minutes to warm up and be ready to eat.

Legit Vietnamese Pho


Date Published: August 3rd, 2020 | Last Updated: August 3rd, 2020
Author: Abby |Category: asian, mains, soup
Serves: 4-6 | Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 4-8 hours

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Pho (pronounced ‘fuh’) is a traditional Vietnamese dish. It’s a delicious flavourful beef (or chicken) broth stewed for hours and served with rice vermicelli, bean sprouts, Thai basil, and beef slices. It’s not super traditional, but I always eat pho with a HEALTHY amount of hoisin sauce. I had a friend put hoisin directly into the broth, but I like to make a perfect spoonful of broth, noodles and then dip a slice of beef in hoisin sauce and eat it all in one delicious bite. The beef slices are usually served raw and the hot broth cooks it when ladled into the bowl. [Side story: Every time I order pho, my mother would always immediately tell me to quickly dunk the beef slices and bean sprouts to the bottom of the bowl so it can cook right away before the broth cools. We’ve ordered this dish for years and she’ll still say it every time without fail – now I hear this every time I eat pho.] You can order other versions of pho served with chicken, pork balls, brisket, tripe…etc, but raw beef pho will always be my go-to.

Side story: Pho is very nostalgic for me. When my family immigrated to Canada, my parents made my siblings and I go to “Chinese school” every Saturday morning continue our Asian studies. I hated going. The school was nearly an hour drive away and we had to get up crazy early every Saturday morning for 3 hours of lessons. Class finished at 12pm and I was always SO hungry counting down the hours until lunch. The only good thing about driving so far was the food afterwards. In our hometown there wasn’t a very big Asian population, which translates to not a lot of good Asian food – but in Mississauga (the city where the classes were), the majority of the population was Asian which meant legit good Asian food EVERYWHERE. We’d most often go to this Vietnamese restaurant in a shopping mall where my mom would pick up some groceries and a free weekly Chinese newspaper. Their pho was insanely good and they had melt-in-your-mouth brisket. I’d always forget to ask for no coriander so I would spend 15 minutes picking out every little piece of finely chopped coriander before I would start eating – but it was worth it even if my soup was a little cold. A few years later a Vietnamese restaurant opened up near our home and we pretty much went there all the time – what’s even better was that there as also an Asian grocer in the mall where my mom could continue to do her shopping and get her weekly Chinese newspaper. Now that we’ve all gone our separate ways, every time I eat pho it transports me back to those days with my family.

Strap in, because this soup takes a long time to make. The majority of the work is waiting to let the soup simmer but the actual process is really quite easy. The longer you cook the soup, the stronger the flavours will be. I’d recommend even starting this recipe the evening before and let it simmer overnight so it’ll be ready for lunch the next day (warning: make this on a full stomach because the amazing aromas of this soup will make you hangry). There are lots of quick shortcut versions of this soup out there, but I feel like I won’t do this dish justice if I don’t put in the extra effort and make it legit for maximum flavour. I’ve adapted this recipe from RecipeTinEats and made some changes in regards to ingredients and cooking times, but the gist of it is similar.

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

Beef Mix: You’ll need a good mix of beef meat and bones to create the wonderful flavours of the broth. Each type of beef has their role:

  • 2kg beef brisket – the most important player which adds the most beef flavour to the broth (top left in the photo)
  • 1kg meaty beef bones (ie vertebrae, ox tail) – you can use any bones that have a decent amount of meat attached to them. This adds additional beefy flavours and richness (bottom left in the photo)
  • 750g marrow bones (ie femur/leg, knuckle) cut into fist-sized pieces to reveal the marrow (your butcher can do this for you) – the marrow cooks out into the broth and gives it a fatty richness (too many marrow bones will result in a greasy broth) (right side of the photo)
    • Note: the marrow bones in the top right corner of the photo are too big. I forgot to ask the butcher to cut them smaller and didn’t realize until I got home, heh. You want pieces similar to the bottom right corner with marrow exposed.

Spices, Aromatics & Seasoning: these give the broth the signature pho aroma and flavour.

  • 10 star anise
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cardamon pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 1.5 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 large onions, halved and peeled
  • 150g ginger, sliced and unpeeled
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce (or more, to taste)

  • The Rest:
    • 375g (1 package) of rice sticks/vermicelli
    • 300g beef tenderloin, raw, very thinly sliced – or any steak cut will do since it can be pricey
      • This will be plated raw in the bowl with the rest of the toppings and the heat of the soup will cook the tenderloin to a perfect med-rare to medium, therefore it’s very important to slice it as thin as you can, otherwise it won’t cook enough. Keeping it in the freezer for 30 mins before slicing will make it easier to slice. Alternatively if you’re struggling to slice it thin or prefer not the serve raw beef, you can slice it thicker and cook it in the broth for 10-20 seconds before serving it in the bowl.
    • Beansprouts, handful per bowl
    • Thai basil, 3 – 5 sprigs per bowl
    • Lime wedges
    • Hoisin sauce
    • Sriracha chilli sauce (or any chilli sauce)
    • Optional: finely sliced red chilli (for garnish)
    • Optional: chopped cilantro/coriander (for garnish) – confession: I hate coriander with such a passion that I debated whether or not I should mention it in this recipe. I decided to include it for the sake of authenticity. It’s nasty AF so every time I make this for people, I never include coriander 😜.

Directions:

Clean the meat: (two methods) Cleaning the beef and bones gives you a clear broth and rids the impurities.

You’ll be amazed how much scum comes off in just 5 minutes! Strain and wash all of this away for a clear broth.

Method 1: Place the brisket and bones in a large pot and boil them in water for 5 minutes then drain to remove all the scum/impurities. Rinse each piece of meat and bone with tap water before replacing back in a clean pot.

Method 2: Turn your oven to 220 (usually the highest it’ll go) and bake your bones for 10 minutes, then rinse each piece under running water before putting it in a clean pot.

Toast the spices: In a dry skillet over HIGH heat (no oil needed), toast your spices (cinnamon stick, coriander stick, star anise, fennel seeds, and cardamom pods) for a few minutes until lightly brown and fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside.

Char the onion & ginger: Then in the same pan on HIGH heat (still no oil needed), char the onion and ginger for a few minutes until you get black charred bits on both sides (see photo). Remove from the pan and set aside. If your char is excessively black, scrape it off so it doesn’t discolour your broth.

Make the broth: in a large clean pot, add the cleaned bones and brisket, toasted spices, charred onion and ginger, sugar and salt. Add enough water to just cover all the ingredients. With a lid on, bring the soup to a boil then let it simmer for 3 hours until the brisket is tender, flakey and falls apart easily (see video below).

When the brisket is tender, remove it from the soup and set it aside (you can slice up the brisket to be served in the pho later on or refrigerate and use it for another recipe later).

Add the sugar, salt and fish sauce and stir. Continue to simmer the broth with the lid on for another 2-6 hours (the longer you simmer the broth, the richer the flavour – you can even simmer it overnight on low heat). Skim away any scum as they float to the top.

Slice the tenderloin: While the soup simmers, you can thinly slice your raw tenderloin. Remember, this will be plated raw in the bowl with the rest of the toppings and the heat of the soup will cook the tenderloin to a perfect med-rare to medium, therefore it’s very important to slice it as thin as you can, otherwise it won’t cook enough. Keeping it in the freezer for 30 mins before slicing will make it easier to slice. Alternatively if you’re struggling to slice it thin or prefer not the serve raw beef, you can slice it thicker and cook it in the broth for 10-20 seconds before serving it in the bowl. After slicing, keep it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Cook the rice noodles: cook the rice noodles according to package instructions half an hour before you’re ready to serve then strain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Reduce the broth: After simmering, taste the broth. If you’re happy with the flavours, you can turn off the heat now and skim off any excess oil and scum floating on top. Don’t remove too much oil because this also adds richness to the broth. If you want it more concentrated, remove the lid and continue to simmer the soup until it reduces by 1/3 (~ another 45mins).

Strain the broth: strain the soup in a mesh strainer to remove all the bones, ginger, garlic, spices…etc. You should be left with a beautiful broth. Taste and add extra fish sauce (or salt) or sugar to taste. Put the broth back in a clean pot and bring it to a boil before you serve it. You want the broth to be really hot so that it cooks the raw beef when ladled over it.

Assemble the pho bowl: in a bowl, put in one serving of rice noodles, a few slices of the beef brisket, a few slices of the raw tenderloin, small handful of raw bean sprouts and a sprig of Thai basil (6-is 8 leaves). Make sure your soup is hot (if not, then bring to a boil over the stove) before you put it in the bowl over the ingredients. You can alternatively cook the tenderloin for 10-20 seconds in the broth first then place it in the bowl instead of serving it raw.

Serve it with a lime wedge, hoisin sauce and sriracha sauce on the side.

Summarized Recipe:

Legit Vietnamese Pho

Date Published: August 3rd, 2020 | Last Updated: August 3rd, 2020
Author: Abby |Category: asian, mains, soup
Serves: 4-6 | Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 4-8 hours

Ingredients:

  • Beef Mix:
    • 2kg beef brisket
    • 1kg meaty beef bones (ie vertebrae, ox tail)
    • 750g marrow bones (ie femur/leg, knuckle) cut into fist-sized pieces to reveal the marrow (your butcher can do this for you)
  • Spices, Aromatics & Seasoning:
    • 10 star anise
    • 4 cinnamon sticks
    • 4 cardamon pods
    • 3 cloves
    • 1.5 Tbsp coriander seeds
    • 2 tsp fennel seeds
    • 2 large onions, halved and peeled
    • 150g ginger, sliced and unpeeled
    • 2 Tbsp white sugar
    • 1 Tbsp salt
    • 2 Tbsp fish sauce (or more, to taste)
  • The Rest:
    • 375g (1 package) of rice sticks/vermicelli
    • 300g beef tenderloin, raw, very thinly sliced – or any steak cut will do since it can be pricey
    • Beansprouts, handful per bowl
    • Thai basil, 3 – 5 sprigs per bowl
    • Lime wedges
    • Hoisin sauce
    • Sriracha chilli sauce (or any chilli sauce)
    • Optional: finely sliced red chilli (for garnish)
    • Optional: chopped cilantro/coriander (for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Clean the meat: (two methods) Cleaning the beef and bones gives you a clear broth and rids the impurities.
    • Method 1: Place the brisket and bones in a large pot and boil them in water for 5 minutes then drain to remove all the scum/impurities. Rinse each piece of meat and bone with tap water before replacing back in a clean pot.
    • Method 2: Turn your oven to 220 (usually the highest it’ll go) and bake your bones for 10 minutes, then rinse each piece under running water before putting it in a clean pot.
  2. Toast the spices: In a dry skillet over HIGH heat (no oil needed), toast your spices (cinnamon stick, coriander stick, star anise, fennel seeds, and cardamom pods) for a few minutes until lightly brown and fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Char the onion & ginger: Then in the same pan on HIGH heat (still no oil needed), char the onion and ginger for a few minutes until you get black charred bits on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. If your char is excessively black, scrape it off so it doesn’t discolour your broth.
  4. Make the broth: in a large clean pot, add the cleaned bones and brisket, toasted spices, charred onion and ginger, sugar and salt. Add enough water to just cover all the ingredients. With a lid on, bring the soup to a boil then let it simmer for 3 hours until the brisket is tender, flakey and falls apart easily.
  5. When the brisket is tender, remove it from the soup and set it aside (you can slice up the brisket to be served in the pho later on or refrigerate and use it for another recipe later).
  6. Add the sugar, salt and fish sauce and stir. Continue to simmer the broth with the lid on for another 2-6 hours (the longer you simmer the broth, the richer the flavour – you can even simmer it overnight on low heat). Skim away any scum as they float to the top.
  7. Slice the tenderloin: While the soup simmers, you can thinly slice your raw tenderloin (tip: freeze it for 30 mins will make it easier to slice). Alternatively, you can slice it thicker and cook it in the broth for 10-20 seconds before serving it in the bowl. After slicing, keep it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
  8. Cook the rice noodles: cook the rice noodles according to package instructions half an hour before you’re ready to serve then strain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  9. Reduce the broth: After simmering, taste the broth. If you’re happy with the flavours, you can turn off the heat now and skim off any excess oil and scum floating on top. Don’t remove too much oil because this also adds richness to the broth. If you want it more concentrated, remove the lid and continue to simmer the soup until it reduces by 1/3 (~ another 45mins).
  10. Strain the broth: strain the soup in a mesh strainer to remove all the bones, ginger, garlic, spices…etc. You should be left with a beautiful broth. Taste and add extra fish sauce (or salt) or sugar to taste. Put the broth back in a clean pot and bring it to a boil before you serve it. You want the broth to be really hot so that it cooks the raw beef when ladled over it.
  11. Assemble the pho bowl: in a bowl, put in one serving of rice noodles, a few slices of the beef brisket, a few slices of the raw tenderloin, small handful of raw bean sprouts and a sprig of Thai basil (6-is 8 leaves). Make sure your soup is hot (if not, then bring to a boil over the stove) before you put it in the bowl over the ingredients. You can alternatively cook the tenderloin for 10-20 seconds in the broth first then place it in the bowl instead of serving it raw. Serve it with a lime wedge, hoisin sauce and sriracha sauce on the side.

Creamy Salmon Chowder


Date Published: July 2nd, 2020 | Last Updated: July 2nd, 2020
Author: Abby |Category: soups
Serves: 6-8 | Prep time: 30mins | Cook time: 30mins

Jump to recipe | Watch the video

I LOVE chowders. The first chowder I ever had was a Boston Clam Chowder when I was kid and it blew me away. From then on I will always choose a chowder over any other kind of soup. It’s creamy, rich, hearty and warms you up on a cold day – what’s not to love? It’s comfort food at its best. If chowders weren’t so dense in calories, I’d definitely be having this every day.

I always thought chowders were difficult to make so I never attempted it. However, when Toby and I went salmon fishing (on a small fishing farm where you fish out of a small pool…) last year, I caught my first ever salmon! It just also happened to be the largest one in the pool, coming in at a whopping 3.5kg! We ended up with 1kg of fish fillet and I was scrambling to find new recipes to use up raw salmon (other than my go-to maple salmon recipe) before it went off since our freezer was too small. This recipe was the best thing that came out of the fishing experience (other than the excitement of catching a big fish)!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can actually use any meaty fish you like. In fact, we went tuna fishing with Toby’s dad earlier this week and we collectively caught 4 tuna, each averaging about 10-15kg! I made this soup for Toby’s parents yesterday to use up some of the tuna fillets and they’ve already requested it again for their dinner party tomorrow! The strong flavours of the soup does a great job masking the overly fishy taste of tuna.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! This recipe is easy and cooks up relatively quickly compared to some soups. You can watch the video below to guide you through the recipe.

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsps butter (or olive oil to reduce the calories)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups onion, chopped (roughly 1 large onion)
  • 2 cups celery, chopped (~4 stalks)
  • 2 cups carrots, diced (roughly 2 large carrots)
  • 2 cups potatoes, diced (~2 large potatoes)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 450g of fresh salmon (or any fish), cut to 2.5cm chunks (you can used canned fish as well, drained)
  • 1 can (375ml) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (420g) creamed corn
  • 1 can (420g) corn kernels, drained
  • 200g cheddar cheese, shredded (~1 large handful)

It takes a little time to chop up all the veggies, but once that’s done, the cook goes by pretty quickly.

Directions:

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the garlic, onion, celery and carrots for a few minutes then put a lid on the pot and steam the veggies until the carrots are soft enough to break with your spatula (~5-8mins). You can alternatively keep cooking the veggies without the lid if you like but it takes much longer for the vegetables to soften.

Once the carrots and celery are soft enough, add in potatoes, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and dill. Turn up to high heat and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and let the soup simmer with a lid on until the potatoes are soft enough to break with your spatula (~15-20mins).

Note: I used tuna in the video to try and use up our fillets

Once the potatoes are soft, add in the salmon, evaporated milk, and corn. Put the lid back on and bring the soup to a boil then turn the heat down and simmer until the salmon is cooked.

Once cooked, turn the heat off and mix through the shredded cheese until melted. (If you’re using canned fish, then just mix until heated through and add the cheese. Serve when the cheese has melted.)

Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve!

You can serve this as a side dish or a main soup with some toasted bread or crackers. I love curling up on the couch on a cold day and hugging a bowl of this creamy soup while binge watching something… then unknowingly end up eating 3 bowls because it’s JUST. THAT. GOOD!

Watch the Video Tutorial!

Summarized Recipe:

Creamy Salmon Chowder

Date Published: July 2nd, 2020 | Last Updated: July 2nd, 2020
Author: Abby |Category: soups
Serves: 6-8 | Prep time: 30mins | Cook time: 30mins

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsps butter (or olive oil to reduce the calories)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups onion, chopped (roughly 1 large onion)
  • 2 cups celery, chopped (~4 stalks)
  • 2 cups carrots, diced (roughly 2 large carrots)
  • 2 cups potatoes, diced (~2 large potatoes)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 450g of fresh salmon (or any fish), cut to 2.5cm chunks (you can used canned fish as well, drained)
  • 1 can (375ml) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (420g) creamed corn
  • 1 can (420g) corn kernels, drained
  • 200g cheddar cheese, shredded (~1 large handful)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the garlic, onion, celery and carrots. Put a lid on the pot and steam the veggies until the carrots are soft enough to break with your spatula (~5-8mins).
  2. Stir in potatoes, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and dill. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are soft enough to break with your spatula (~15-20mins).
  3. Stir in the salmon, evaporated milk, and corn. Put on the lid and bring the soup to a boil then turn the heat down and simmer until the salmon is cooked. Once cooked, turn the heat off and mix through the cheese until melted. (If you’re using canned salmon, then just mix until heated through then serve.)
  4. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve!