Kwan Recipe Curry Puffs

Kwan Recipe Curry Puffs

In high school, my dear friend Tina’s parents always invited Tina’s “riff raff” high school friends over to eat at their Chinese restaurant (now closed). Okay, we really weren’t riff raff. We were actually pretty wholesome key clubbers, where the worst thing we did was “ditch” for a couple hours on days were were excused from school for key club offsite meetings. Anyhoo! Enough tooting our wholesome horns! On these dinner nights, I always looked forward the deep fried goodness on their menu called curry puffs. I’ve unsuccessfully tried to make them in the past few years, trying to guess at the ratios and ingredients, and I would utterly fail at each attempt, disappointed at the flavors.

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Fast forward 19 years later, Tina’s dad agreed to spend some time teaching us how to make them! Since our other friends weren’t around to eat the bounty, Tina and I ate like pigs and enjoyed every crispy, creamy bite.

Vegetable oil
Sesame oil
Indian curry powder
Cream Cheese, softened
Sprinkle of salt
Sprinkle of sugar (ratio is more than salt)
1/2 tsp of cornstarch mixed with water
1 pack wonton skins (choose brand with thicker wrap consistency)

Heat wok with high heat first and add in oils. Quickly brown the curry powder and then add water until consistency of gravy. Season with sprinkle of salt, msg/chicken bouillon and sugar. Stir in cornstarch mixture. Turn off heat and mix into separate bowl with softened cream cheese. Place cream cheese mixture in fridge to firm up before wrapping.
Fill wrapper with cream cheese mixture and seal with egg. Deep fry until golden.

Regulate heat accordingly so that the curry does not burn.
Don’t crowd the fryer

Easy Bun Rieu

I’ve grown up eating Vietnamese food all my life. I was blessed to be born to Chinese parents who grew up in Vietnam, so you can say I got the best of both worlds. Both parents cooking Chinese and Vietnamese food. It’s not surprising that one of my favorite comforts is bun rieu. It is a vietnamese noodle dish that is centered more on tomato, shrimp and depending on the family it can also involve pork and other meats. Bun Rieu is often more sweet and light when compared to it’s famous earthy counterpart Pho Bo (a.k.a. beef noodle soup).

Here is my mom’s Easy Bun Rieu. It doesn’t require too many complicated ingredients and it’s can all be done in half a day (minus some night before preparations), which can’t be said for many other noodle soups if you want to do it the “right” way. As many of you may be familiar with home cooking, this recipe is guerrilla style – measurements are from the gut. This one is “easy” Bun Rieu because it’s basically a “dump” and “forgetaboutit” stew.

Dried Shrimp, Soaked Overnight, Drained, Food Processed and liquid saved
Tomatoes, cut into chunks of your size preference
Chunk crab meat
Chicken Broth
Jar crab paste
Season with salt to taste

Directions (Michelle Guerilla Style, a.k.a, describing with no finesse at all):
Dump your broth, liquid from shrimp and some water in the pot
Dump your cut tomatoes into the pot
Bring to boil
While waiting for soup to boil, stir fry dry your ground shrimp so that it can soak up your beaten egg (Makes it pretty and floaty shrimp)
Dump your lump crab, crab paste, and shrimp/egg mixture into the pot
Let it rip for 3 hours
Season to taste

Enjoy with rice noodles, your favorite herbs, and yummy shrimp paste

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Recipe: Jenn’s Soondubu Jigae

Recipe: Jenn’s Soondubu

I recently had the pleasure of visiting our good friends Jenn and Chris in Atlanta, and we had a blast there. They were wonderful hosts, and I fell in love with their guest room pillows (that’s a whole other side story). Anyways, we decided to have korean food for dinner one night, and Jenn made her delicious and comforting Soondubu Jigae (a.k.a. Korean Style Tofu Stew) for us on a chilly and rainy day.

What I love about any Asian cooking, everything is not precisely measured. You go by your gut and experience. That can be a double edged sword in a way, but overall, I think it makes it fun!

Jenn’s Soondubu Jigae

1. Jenn purchases this specific seaweed package from the Korean market, and as you can see, it has a lot of salt. Rinse it well, give it a rough chop, and set aside.

seaweed package IMG_2549 rinsing

2. Chop up your green onion and set aside.

3. Next you want to cook up your bulgogi you either marinated yourself or got pre-marinated from the market. Set aside – we’ll throw this in later. This is to add some more flavor.

4. Get your beef stock (either homemade or canned) on the burner and throw in your seaweed and green onion and bulgogi. Let this simmer and stew.

seaweed and green onion

5. Next comes the tofu – simmer these flavor sponges until tender to your liking

tofu and red pepper flakes

6. Season to taste: Sesame oil, Salt, Fish Sauce, Red Pepper Flakes

7. The finishing move: Drop an egg!

dropped egg

Since the weather is cold, this is the perfect time for stews. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Seaweed, rinsed and roughly chopped
Green Onion, chopped
Beef Broth
2-4 oz. cooked Bulgogi
Soft Tofu, cut into 1” chunks
Seasoning: sesame oil, salt, korean red pepper flakes, fish sauce
Egg (Optional)

1. Start heating beef stock with seaweed, green onion and bulgogi and bring to boil. Simmer.
2. Add your tofu. Simmer.
3. Season to taste
3. Drop that egg!

Recipe: 9+ Layer Rice Cake (Savory)

9+ Layer Rice Cake (Savory)

Spent another day with Grand Aunt learning how to make her famous steamed 9 layer rice cake (about 11-12 really). It has flavorful topping of pork, shrimp, mushrooms and onions on top with a delicate thin layers of glutinous rice cake. It’s a chewy and savory mouthful, and when combined with Aunt Cindy’s famous Nuoc Cham (a.k.a. Vietnamese dipping sauce). It combines savory, sweet, tangy and chewy all in one glorious bite. A meal great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I can attest to that because Grand Aunt gave me so much that I did have it for all 3 meals!

True to Grand Aunt’s style of cooking in bulk production… Here we go!

Large Pans
BIG steamers (so big it fits a small child)
Large Wok (also fits a small child)

Ingredients for the rice layers:
9.5 lbs Glutinous Rice soaked for 10+ hours and rinsed halfway through soaking time
1 ladle full Onion Oil (for better savory flavor and smoother texture)
1/2 ladle Salt

Ingredients for savory topping:
2.5 lb ground pork loin
2 lb shrimp
3 onions (drip dry)
1/2 lb red onion
1/2 lb mushroom
~1/4 lb garlic
Chicken Bouillon
Cooking Wine
Sesame Oil
Oyster Sauce

Method for rice layers:

Blending glutinous rice 1 Blending glutinous rice 2 Prepping steamers Coat pans with oil Coat pans with oil 2

1. Blend glutinous rice until completely smooth/fine
2. Add water until texture on ladle looks like…
Add water until

3. Season with onion oil and salt
Finished blending Season with salt Add oil

4. Grease pans with onion oil and set into steamer
Ended with total approx 12 L Metal bowl to measure liquid for layers Pouring the layers 10 minutes per layer Rotate pan for even layers

5. Pour even amounts of mixture into pan and steam for 10 minutes each layer until pan is filled
6. Rotate pans every so often to ensure even layers

Method for savory topping:

3 Onions Red Onions Food process shrimp + red onions + garlic Shitake Mushroom Pork

1. Food process shrimp, garlic and shallots together, so that the shrimp does not stick to each other
2. Food process mushrooms and onions individually
Getting ready to cook Fire power! Cooking shrimp Cooking pork Pork in colander

3. Stir fry shrimp mixture on high heat and season with salt, pepper and cooking wine. Set aside.
4. Stir fry pork and season with salt and cooking wine. Place in colander and set aside to drip off fat.
5. Stir fry onion and proceed to add in mushroom. At this point, okay to add more water to onion and mushroom if it seems dry. Add in cooked pork and shrimp. At the final seasoning stage, season with chicken bouillon, sesame oil, oyster sauce (~ 4 Tbs-ish?), pepper, and sugar. Set aside.

Final step:

Spreading toppings Finished product 1 Two large pans

Once all layers of rice cake are steamed, spread meat mixture evenly and steam for 10 additional minutes.

Serve hot or cooled with Nuoc Cham!

Final product

Thanks Grant Aunt / Yi Po for the cooking lesson!

Recipe: Nuoc Cham

Nuoc Cham

Aunt Cindy is the cool aunt known for fabulous food. Among her famous are beautiful Asian style fruit cakes that taste even better than the “professional” bakeries, but Grand aunt tipped me off that she has the best recipe for Nuoc cham. It is a type of Vietnamese dipping sauce that is tangy, sweet and umami all in a few drops. She shared me her recipe along with a few tips. Enjoy!

N??c ch?m

1. 1 cup fish sauce / nuoc mam (recommend 3 crab brand)
2. 1 1/2 cup sugar
3. 3 cup water
4. 1/3 cup vinegar
Optional – Fresh lime juice for more tangy flavor

Method (if eating same day):
Mix all ingredients together. Add freshly minced garlic, chilis and lime juice to taste.

Method (if prepping to store):
Bring fish sauce, sugar and water to boil. Allow to cool. Stir in vinegar after solution is cooled to maintain optimal tangy flavor. Add freshly minced garlic, chilis and lime juice to taste on the day you plan on using it.

Recipe: Cha Gio (Vietnamese Eggrolls)

Cha Gio (Vietnamese Eggrolls)

Growing up I had the pleasure of eating food from two cultures – Vietnamese and Chinese. Growing up Cha Gio otherwise known as eggrolls were made for birthday parties and family get togethers. So, it was always a treat to have them. Of course, as a child, we all grow accustomed to the certain styles our parents cook. In my case, I always preferred my mom’s ratio of meats to seafood to vegetables in her egg rolls, so here I’ll share with you my mom’s recipe for eggrolls.

Vietnamese Style Egg Rolls by Mom

Pork Shoulder Butt The List Egg Roll Wrappers Dried Black Fungus Vermicelli

Food process all these ingredients but the lump crab meat:
1-2 lb. shrimp (optimally 2:3 ratio of shrimp to pork)
1 lb. pork shoulder (fat trimmed)
1 lb. crab meat (freshly steamed from whole crab preferred)

Food processing the shrimp Crab meat Food processing the pork Chopping vermicelli Removing moisture from shrimp Chopped ingredients

Finely chop:
1 package dried black fungus, rinse, soak overnight, trim stems
1-2 small/medium Jicama (smoother and smaller is better)
2 yellow onions
1-2 rolls of vermicelli
1 carrot for color

Approximate seasonings to the meat filling:
4 tsp of salt
3 tsp of sugar
Pepper to taste
2 beaten eggs
Makes 100 egg rolls

Egg roll Wrapper Sealant:
Prep tapioca starch and water – stir until thickened. Approx 1:10 starch to water ratio.

Bot Nang Cooking tapioca starch with water Thick

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Put your back into it.

Getting ready to mix Mixing

Wrap ‘em up in egg roll wrappers
Meat mixture placement Partial roll Fold the flaps in Deep frying Taste test The get up

Fry at 350 degrees in peanut oil until floating and golden about 11-12 minutes. Serve hot and fresh with your favorite vegetables and nuoc cham (fish sauce). Enjoy!

The spread

1. Rid of excess moisture in all ingredients before incorporating together to minimize bubbling of the egg roll wrapper when deep frying. So, Mom literally squeezes the moisture or of the veggies, shrimp, fungus, etc.
2. The trick to wrapping it – Place meat almost in middle. Tuck the wrapper snug so there are no air pockets. Roll partial way until you see the second layer and then fold side flaps to equalize thickness and minimize jutting corners. Finish rolling and seal. Don’t be overzealous like me, and add too much sealant. It will cause the other rolls to stick together in the pile.
3. Why no egg for binder in the mixture? Supposedly the egg rolls fry better without it – something about affecting the oil, too.
4. Why no egg yolk to seal the egg roll wrapper? Supposedly the tapioca starch mixture will not affect the frying oil as much and looks better
5. If you want the real deal holyfield with rice paper, mom says you will need to wrap and deep fry immediately. The advantage with the egg roll wrappers is that you can wait to deep fry.
6. Do not overcrowd your deep fryer because it will decrease the optimal frying temperature.

Recipe: Comforting Goodness, Pho Ga (Chicken Noodle Soup)

Pho Ga

Happy new year, everyone! It’s a brand new year, and how about starting with some healthy comfort food? Because I grew up on Vietnamese noodles soups, they have become my go to comfort food, and I have since converted my husband to share this same mentality. Of course, many cultures share the same comfort food – CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP, so I’m going to share my mom’s recipe for Vietnamese style noodle soup. It’s warm. It’s tasty. It’s belly warming good. Enjoy! (Please, note that all measurements are approximate. Mom said to use your sense of taste for the everything!)

Finished Product


Pork Loin Soup Bones Whole Chicken Trimming the fat

1 Whole Chicken (preferably organic/free-range)
5 lbs of pork soup bones (trimmed of fat)
Banh Pho Tuoi (Pho noodles)


2 TB fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt + more for rubbing the chicken down
3 tsp chicken bouillon


Chopped green onion
Chopped cilantro
Deep fried onions (recipe to come from Grandaunt)
Drizzle of sesame oil

    Preparing the soup stock:

Parboil BonesParboil 2

1. Parboil the pork bones. Cook from cold water and bring to boil. Rapid boil for about 5 minutes. Rinse clean.
2. Add bones to fresh water in stock pot and simmer bones for a minimum 4 hrs

    Preparing the chicken:

Rinse chicken Rinse chicken 2 Drip Dry chicken Rub chicken with salt

1. Wash and dry chicken
2. Rub the insides and outside of the chicken with salt
3. Bring soup stock to boil
4. Place chicken in broth and bring back to boil
5. Turn heat off and set for 45 minutes (can be more or less depending on size of chicken)
6. Restaurant Method: Remove chicken from stock and cool down completely in ice bath to allow for chicken meat texture to be more smooth. Mom Method: Immediately rub chicken down with salt.
In goes the chicken It's done! Ice bath

7. Drip dry (Try to stand chicken vertically with cavity facing down)
8. Shred chicken meat into strips
Shredded chicken Nuoc Mam - Fish Sauce Brown Sugar

9. Bring soup stock back to boil and season to taste

    Assembling the bowl (your mis en place *snicker):

Cilantro and Green Onion Cooking the Banh Pho Tuoi Pre-soup

– Cooked noodles, shredded chicken, fried onions, chopped cilantro, green onion, drizzle of sesame oil
– Ladle hot soup stock and viola!
Finished Product

– If you boiled too rapidly and the soup is cloudy, an onion thrown in during the simmer will fix it and decrease the cloudiness.
– When you are cleaning the chicken, don’t be afraid to literally squeeze the snot out of the chicken.
– Allow chicken to come close to room temp before placing into soup stock to allow for even cooking

Recipe: Chè Xôi Nuoc (Vietnamese Dessert)

Chè Xôi Nuoc

credit wikipedia

This dessert is has ingredients related to sesame balls and Xôi Dau Xanh, so naturally this was the last of the 3 desserts grand aunt would teach me that day. (This is also the least detailed in terms of amounts because it is the last dish of the cooking lesson.) From deep frying with Jin Deui, to steaming the Xoi and finally we were boiling the Chè Xôi Nuoc. Chè Xôi Nuoc is a glutinous rice ball filled with mung bean sweetened with coconut milk. It is a fun dessert to eat because the soft, chewy rice ball is paired with a ginger syrup, cool/creamy coconut milk. It is a great summer dessert.


Soaking Mung Bean Soaking Glutinous Rice Washing Soaked Mung Bean Dry Dry the Mung Bean

– 2 bags Mung Bean soaked 9 to 12 hours (Do not soak more because it affects the texture when cooking) and rinsed clean
– 5-6 lbs (This amount is a little fuzzy) Glutinous Rice, soaked for 12-14 hours, rinsed every 5 hours to prevent it from spoiling
– 4 lb bag of granulated white sugar
– Water (Grand Aunt emphasized to never use warm or hot water!)


Lots of pans and strainers

    Simple syrup (heat ingredients until dissolved):

Rock sugar Ginger Syrup

Fresh Ginger slices
Rock sugar


Coconut milk
Crushed sesame seeds

1. Pile mung bean into steaming tray with open area in the middle to allow for steam to circulate

Prepare Mung Bean for Steaming

2. Bring water to rolling boil. Steam mung bean starting on high heat but we turned it down to medium high (level 6) – don’t want too much moisture lost. Approximately 45 minutes.
3. Mash in wok on low heat with coconut milk. Make sure you don’t burn it. Allow to cool.
Pour in the steamed mung bean Finished mashed mung bean

4. Knead and form into balls.
Knead the mung bean Make the mung bean balls Mung bean balls!

    How to prepare dough (FROM SCRATCH!)

1. Blend glutinous rice with water until completely smooth and you feel no grains! About 10 minutes but may be more or less time depending on the horsepower of your blender.

IMG_1701 Glutinous rice in blender Blending glutinous rice

2. Pour blended glutinous rice into a cheese cloth or similar bag
Wet processed-in-blender glutinous rice powder Pressing water out of wet glutinous rice Bag of pressed glutinous rice powder

    Time to fill ’em!

1. Roll, knead and cut wet dough

Making a tube of dough to cut cutting the dough

2. Fill dough chunks with mung bean balls. Tip: Take your lump of dough and rough to round ball first, gently smash a with palm of hand. Grand aunt also recommends making the edges thinner than the center so that it doesn’t get too thick when you seal it.
3. Final step is to cook them in your ginger syrup until floating.
4. Allow to cool and serve with coconut milk.