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A Spot of Bánh Xèo For You

Feast your eyes on this...

Feast your eyes on this…

 

I’ve flexed my muscles and have conjured up a bit of Bánh xèo for you, or ‘sizzling cake’, for want of a literal meaning. This scrummy Vietnamese dish (even if I do say so myself) combines the stuffings of crispy pork and shrimp, smothered in bean sprouts, wrapped snuggly in a coconut-infused crepe. Sounds rather similar to a regular crepe, only difference is the crepe is really more of a papadum-pancake hybrid (at least, that’t how mine turned out), crunchy as you plant your gnashers on the outside, only for them to be met with a soft, doughy centre as you plough on.

It’s high time I crack on with the dish so for starters, you’ll need…well, money. To get your ingredients.

Serves 4

Step 1: Mix the batter

12 ounces Bánh Xèo flour or rice flour
1 teaspoon turmeric
14 ounces coconut cream
3 cups water
½ cup chopped green onions

Yup, that’s right. Throw everything into a bowl and whisk away until smooth. Set it aside.

 

work those biceps, guys...

work those biceps, guys…

Step 2: Make the sauce

½ cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 ½ cups water
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup shredded carrots
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon chopped Thai chilli (optional, I added a tablespoon of chilli sauce instead)

Once again, whack all of these ingredients together, and make sure all the sugar has dissolved.

yup, my bowl is most definitely a multi-tasker

yup, my crockery is most definitely a multi-tasker

Step 3: Prepare the vegetables

Lettuce
Mint
Coriander
Cucumbers

 

Peel the lettuce, leaving the leaves whole. Chop up the mint and coriander roughly. Cut the cucumber into long, small chunks. Set this aside too.

Step 4: Cook the crepes

8 tablespoons vegetable oil
1  sliced  onion
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 pound lean pork meat (sliced thin)
1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ pounds bean sprouts

 

Season the pork and shrimp with the salt and pepper. Heat up a non-stick pan and gently fry the onions and garlic. Once golden brown, throw in the pork and shrimp, remembering to stir gently. As the meat develops a crispy skin, pour in your whisked batter from Step 1 . Allow it to cook for a few minutes, so that the crepe becomes crunchy on the outside. Whack on the lid to cook for a further 4 minutes.

At this point, both sides should be cooked. All that remains is to sprinkle some fresh bean sprouts on the surface, and carefully fold the crepe in half. Scoop it out and place on a bed of lettuce. Serve with the dipping sauce.

I was a little too immersed in the cooking so er, no pictures for this bit, which happens to be THE MOST IMPORTANT. How convenient.

Thankfully, YouTube has come to save the day. Yummiesfordummies has made a video of the full cooking process, so you can spare my abysmal attempts at recipe writing.

 

 

HAPPY NOMMING!

 

 

 

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Good heavens, 中秋节 (Mid-Autumn Festival) 很快到了!

The Mid-Autumn Festival is almost upon us! This year, the Chinese national holiday will fall on September the 8th or, the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar.

So what’s particularly special about a festival that coincides with the Middle of Autumn (if the name is anything to go by), I hear you mutter?

It’s all to do with the moon, chaps. Let us delve into the origins of 中秋节.

In the ancient times, it was said that there were ten suns, which unsurprisingly, roasted people. Along came  Hou Yi (后羿), and thanks to his Olympics-worthy archery skills, succeeded in shooting down nine of the ten suns. Flocks of people from afar flooded to thank him and to learn how he mastered fire-proof archery. Among these people was Peng Meng (逢蒙). Hou Yi (后羿) later married a beautiful woman named Chang E (嫦娥) and lived happily ever after. Until that is…

Hou Yi (后羿) stumbled upon Wang Mu (王母) , Queen of the Heavens, on his way to meeting his friend. She whipped out an elixir to offer him, to whom she said that if drunk, Hou Yi could ascend to Heaven and become a god or goddess. Being the gentleman that he was, Hou Yi (后羿) decided against drinking it himself and offered it to his wife, Chang E (嫦娥).

As with all good legends, there’s always a busybody lurking somewhere. Yup, you called it. Peng Meng happened to catch them in the act, so as Hou Yi (后羿) was running his daily errands, Peng Meng (逢蒙) ambushed Chang E and demanded that she hand over the elixir. Realising that there was no way she could win, Chang E (嫦娥) chugged it. Instantaneously, she zoomed out of the window and up into the sky, finally settling on the moon. Yeah, not the most graceful description. But you get the picture.

Hou Yi (后羿), in a fit of grief, bellowed Chang E’s (嫦娥) name to the sky. To his amazement, a goddess-like figure emerged from the moon, bearing a remarkable resemblance to his wife. He took the food that she loved and offered it as a sacrifice at an altar. After hearing that Chang E (嫦娥) transformed into a goddess, folklore also came bearing sacrifices  to pray for good luck and peace. Since then, making sacrifices to the moon has become the custom.

So there you have it. A bit of a background on the legend of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Typically you can observe a full moon if you haven’t succumbed to the lures of modern technology but what do you actually do on the day?

MOON CAKES!

 

 

The traditional moon cake, courtesy of Google images

The traditional moon cake, courtesy of Google images

The Ice Skin moon cakes I managed to rustle up

The Ice Skin moon cakes I managed to rustle up

 

We chomp excessively on moon cakes and slurp on green tea. This year, I decided to avoid buying moon cakes and instead channel the domestic goddess within me. In a bid to curb any more weight gain, I attempted to make a variation of the traditional moon cake (脆皮月饼), called Ice Skin moon cake ( 冰皮月饼). If the glistening pastry isn’t already a big enough give-away, the typical traditional moon cake is laden with fat and at a whopping 1000 calories, you might want to give it a miss if you can no longer see your feet.

For the espionage fans amongst us, messages were actually smuggled by Ming revolutionaries via moon cakes to aid the overthrow of  the Mongul rule in China during the Yuan Dynasty. This proved to be successful and is now a brilliant excuse to stuff yourself silly with carbs.

 

LANTERNS!

It is also customary to light and display lanterns around the house. Depending on your proximity to a body of water, namely a lake, you can also choose to float lanterns and they look somewhat ethereal on the surface of the water. Of course, try not to trespass on private property, however alluring this idea sounds.

 

Float lanterns legally guys...

Float lanterns legally guys…

The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated across many countries across Asia, including Vietnam and Singapore, and coincides with the Korean Chuseok and the Japanese Tsukimi holidays. Don’t forget of course, the overseas Chinese community try to celebrate it in their countries too.

祝大家中秋节快乐!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, everyone!

 

 

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What on earth is this blog about?

Perhaps the blog name ‘Asiansoup’ was a little misleading. Soup definitely does not feature here. But Asia does.

Despite having Vietnamese and Chinese origins, growing up in the UK has left me with fairly Neanderthal-like linguistic skills, when it comes to these languages. To this day,  stringing a sentence together in Vietnamese is a physical impossibility. A baby spewing out ‘Ba! Ma! DADA!’ comes to mind. Hey, at least I can hail Cantonese as my ‘fluent’ second language. Inverted commas here, because admittedly you could probably equate my standard with a 13 year old’s!

So, I have a pretty darn good reason to take up Vietnamese and Mandarin, and just recently, I’ve had a stab at Korean too. Turns out there are striking resemblances between these three languages. Anyone out there ready to give me a history lesson?

I’ll do my best to ramble as accurately as possible in Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese (have patience for this one- it could be some time!) and share some of the more amusing things in life.  If you manage to understand my terrible translations, all aboard!

And if I ever get better at languages, maybe I’ll stay true to the blog title and dazzle you with my culinary prowess, posting soup recipes in multiple languages(!)