Monday, April 07, 2008

Good morning, Vietnam!

Sorry...that was just the cheesiest title I could think of that had Vietnam in it. It was either that or pho bistro....which is coincidentally the name of a Vietnamese restaurant down the street from me. I'm not even going to go in there until I have eaten a few more Vietnamese dishes.'s another Asian dish. After I made this, P read in my book that Vietnamese food, traditionally, gets its roots from French cuisine, which would explain why it wasn't as drenched in thick sugary sauces as the Asian food that I'm used to getting at restaurants. This was a very colorful, yummy dish, even if it didn't look exactly like the photograph in the book.

And did you know that fish sauce is the main ingredient in almost all Vietnamese food? Apparently it's a HUGE export of Vietnam.

Chicken with Pineapple and Cashews

2 Tbsp shredded coconut
1/2 c raw cashews
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 c chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp chopped red chili pepper
11 1/4 oz chicken thigh fillets, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 c chopped fresh pineapple
2 spring onions, chopped

Place coconut on a cookie sheet and toast at 300 degrees for ten minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. When coconut is golden brown, remove and put in a small bowl to cool. Turn oven up to 350, scatter cashews on cookie sheet, and roast for 15 minutes until cashews are golden brown. Heat oil in a large wok and add onion, garlic and chili. Stir-fry over medium heat for two minutes and then remove mixture from pan and set aside. Turn heat up to high and add chicken and peppers. Stir fry until chicken is light brown. Return onion mixture to the wok and add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar and pineapple and stir fry for two minutes. Add cashews and toss mixture. Transfer chicken mixture to a serving bowl and top with coconut and spring onions.

What I liked about this dish: It didn't cook as lightning fast as the other Asian dishes that I have made, but I am still very glad that I prepped ahead of time. And I didn't have to buy any weird ingredients since I had fish and oyster sauce on hand already. Those are two sauces that a lot of Asian dishes call for, so if you are going to be cooking Asian dishes, I would recommend picking them up as they seem to be as common as soy sauces.
What I disliked about this dish: I would have preferred more of a sauce to the meat, but I think I may have figured out what happened...I bought a pound of thigh fillets, intending to weigh out what I needed and then forgot, so it's possible that there was just too much chicken to go around. And I didn't think it tasted quite as good reheated, even though P thought it was great. I don't just tasted not as fresh. But it was still tasty.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: Tonight was the debut of the Calphalon wok and so far, P and I are NOT impressed. It just didn't seem to conduct heat as well as the other one that we returned. We are going to reserve judgement until we use it again, but so far, not impressed at ALL.
Tastiness factor: Very, VERY good. The toasted coconut totally makes this dish. We forgot about it until we had both served ourselves and taken the first bite, and after we topped it with the golden coconut, it was just yummy yummy. And the pineapple was nice and fresh and juicy and sweet...great combination with the oyster and fish sauce.


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