Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Aug 1, 2010 01:36 PM

*August 2010 COTM - COMPLETE ASIAN: Cambodia & Laos; Vietnam

Our cookbook for August is The Complete Asian Cookbook, by Charmaine Solomon.

Please use this thread to discuss recipes from the chapters CAMBODIA & LAOS and VIETNAM

There are a variety of editions and publishers of The Complete Asian Cookbook, although it appears that the recipes for the most part are unchanged between them. Please mention the edition you are using along with the page number when you report on recipes.

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. COM CHIEN (pot roasted rice) pg 333 ed 1992
    This recipe calls for medium grain rice, and honestly I don't even know what that would translate to at my usual store, so I used sushi rice, which I usually use for short grained rice. I didn't feel to bad about the substiution since at the beginning of the recipe she says that the amount of water will work for short or med grained rice and also gives an amount to use for long grain rice. I was scared that the amount of rice (2 cups) and water (1.25) cups were switched, but I proceeded as directed. It worked out okay. This results in tender but firm (not crunchy) rice with good flavor and not very sticky at all. I would cook rice this way again if I wanted it to stand up and add texture to a dish. That said I prefer my rice steamed or boiled the usual way.

    GA HAP CA (steamed chicken with tomatoes) pg 335
    I followed this exactly except I used cherry tomatoes, because they looked so pretty at the farmers market that all the larger tomatoes seemed tame. Chunks of chicken with tomatoes a little ginger, green onions and some fish sauce, oil, S and P, sugar get mixed in a bowl. The bowl is put in a big pot with water 1/2 way up the side of the bowl. Cook with the lid on to steam. Loved this dish, it goes together quickly and as the chicken steams some of the steam condenses into the bowl and creates a really delicious sauce. The only caveat I would give is that when the dish is almost finished it should be given a good stir and then put back to steam for 5 minutes. The chicken clumped together and a couple pieces in the middle of clumps didn't cook even though everything else was definitely done. I will make this quite a bit.

    NUOC CHAM (Garlic, chilli and fish sauce) pg 341
    The suggested accompaniment for the chicken. I used lime instead of lemon, because I forgot to but one and I was not going back out into hot heavy August air. I used a blender because my mortar and pestle is so small its basically useless. This adds a great complex note to the meal.

    14 Replies
    1. re: corneygirl

      In Re: the Ga Hap Ca...what an unusual way to cook the dish. A bowl in water. At first I thought, why not use a dish in a bamboo steamer? But realized that a bowl would be best because of the sauce you say collects in the dish. Your entire meal sounds delightful. Thank you for reporting about it!

      1. re: Gio

        I agree re the bowl in water. I really had to fight the urge to go about things the way I normally would. It says a lot about the book/author when you follow a counter-intuitive recipe and it works out.

      2. re: corneygirl

        Looks delicious. Putting this on my list! I've got tomatoes I need to use up!

        Funny about your choice of lime over lemon. I always think of lime as being more Vietnamese than lemon anyway. Lemon seems like an odd choice.


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I think of lime being more authentic as well. I would have followed exactly since I'm a block from a little grocery store, but when you need a machete to cut through the air I give. The lime tasted really good.

        2. re: corneygirl

          GA HAP CA (steamed chicken with tomatoes) pg 335

          I loved just about everything about this dish. The ease, the cost, the taste and the versatility. I followed the recipe almost exactly, although I did add a splash of dark soy to give it some color. Even as I was assembling the ingredients, I could think of other variations of this dish. For example, instead of fish sauce, shao xing wine, or adding greens and/or salted chiles,or Less scallions and more garlic, etc. The combos are really endless. This also brought me back to when I first started cooking - I used to steam fish fillets with garlic and ginger in a bowl. As my technique grew, I stopped using this method. But, I'm back to it - the chicken came out so tender, even the white meat (I used half breast, half thighs).

          The one part I didn't love was the execution of taking the dish out of the pot. I used a large soup pot and a corningware round bowl. There wasn't as much space around the diameter. Putting the bowl in caused me to splash some of the water into the bowl so it was saucier then called for. And, taking it out was a bit hazardous - I slightly dropped it, causing some sauce to slosh out. I ended up using a spatula to support the bottom while I grabbed the other side. Tongs didn't work at all.

          I ate this with rice noodles but it would be even more delicious with rice.

          1. re: beetlebug

            So... two good reviews for this dish. I'm tempted to make it but the bowl-in-a-pot technique makes me worry. I suppose if the pot is much larger than the bowl it probably would be OK. Another thing is the bowl sits on the bottom of the pot over the flame. I have Pyrex bowl but you said you used a Corningware one. Same company as far as I know but two diferent substances. Would the Pyrex work too?

            1. re: Gio

              I don't see why not. I think any glass bowl would work well. I used the corningware one because it was the right size.

              As for the logistics, I've been thinking about it. I have a large pasta pot with a pasta insert. I never use it bc it's a bit too big for everyday use. But, if you filled the water up to the pasta insert (and so it goes halfway up the bowl), it would be easy to remove it out of the pot. It would still be difficult to get it out of the insert but at least it's not in bowling water anymore.

              Another thought is if you used a flat bottom bowl, kind of like a pie dish. Then you can use a wider skillet and it may be easier to remove. And, since the chicken pieces might be spread out, you may not have the same clumping issue.

              I'm going to experiment because this recipe is definitely a keeper.

              1. re: beetlebug

                Thanks Beetlebug! I love the idea of the pasta pot insert. As for the pie plate (LOL now that I have in Corningware) I think you'd need one with taller sides rather than the typical pie plate, yes? Come to think of it I have a double boiler top with side handles and a large pot it will most likely fit into... the possibilities are many, including placing the bowl on a steamer basket. I have a large one with sides shorter than a pasta insert, a flat bottom and handles on top....

                1. re: Gio

                  I have a pyrex pie plate. I think it would work well as long as I don't overfill it with stuff.

                  Just don't forget that the water should be halfway up the bowl. I think that's part of how it cooks (not on steam power alone).

                  Have fun with it.

              2. re: Gio

                I used a small metal bowl and I think that is a little lighter than glass so it might be easier to get out if you have a smallish metal bowl. I like the pasta insert idea. I also don't see why putting a bowl or plate in a steamer wouldn't work as long as there was room around the dish for the steam.

              3. re: beetlebug

                We loved this dish as well (steamed chicken with tomatoes). It was just delightful and so easy to prepare. I served it with rice, the nuoc cham, and Pham's cucumber salad.

                I used a metal bowl with a long handle that I usually use for melting chocolate etc as a bain marie. I used a bigger pan than I normally would so the bowl sat in the water, as instructed. It was slightly small, and the chicken did clump together like corneygirl said, but it meant that it was very easy to remove from the boiling water.

                All in all, a big hit, and I'm looking forward to the leftovers already!

              4. re: corneygirl

                My turn on the Ga Hap Ca. Easy and delicious and healthy to boot. Husband took one bite and said "Wow! (don't think he was expecting much flavor from those innocent-looking little pieces of chicken). Served with the Nuoc Cham as suggested (but subbing lime for lemon). Will definitely make again. Oh, and on the whole bowl debate, I used a pyrex bowl set into a large saucepan and there was enough of a lip on the edge for me to pull it out with potholders.

                1. re: corneygirl

                  Com Chien (Pot Roasted Rice), Pg 333, 1992 Edition

                  Going through my notes I saw that we cooked the pot roasted rice months ago. We used the suggested peanut oil instead of lard and used Aborio rice for the short grained. The technique for cooking is different than we usually employ, but as Corneygirl said, we mostly make steamed rice. However, my notes say that we emphatically loved this.

                  Nuoc Cham (Garlic, Chilli and Fish Sauce), Pg 341, 1992 Edition

                  At the same time we also made the nuoc cham using lemon as suggested and rice vinegar along with the other ingredients: garlic, sugar, water, and fish sauce. This was one of several renditions of the sauce I've made the others being Mai Pham's and Andrea Nguyen's. Curiously, there's no mention of the main dish we made... must have been from another book and I saw no need to note it, although since it was made in October of '09 perhaps it's in my diary...

                  1. re: corneygirl

                    We had this for dinner tonight with brown rice - quick, healthy and flavorful. Thanks to everyone who highlighted this recipe and for discussing the logistics of the bowl in the water. I used a soup pot and metal bowl and used tongs to remove the bowl.

                  2. I have nothing whatsoever to say here, but I want this thread to come up on my My Chow posts. We gotta do what we gotta do.

                    4 Replies
                      1. re: smtucker

                        quickly sticking my toe in and out of the discussion.

                          1. re: greedygirl

                            I'll just point out that I have discovered that this is a decent bonus, if you will, for a term serving as coordinator - all the threads I've had to start come back to my My Chow list. Very handy!

                    1. Thjt Heo Kho Tieu (Pork Strips, Dry Cooked), Pg. 338, 1992 Edition

                      This was easy and very simple to prepare and cook. While the flavor was quite nice, I thought the meat was dry and slightly tough. DH liked it very well. We followed the recipe exactly as written and used the requisite 1.5 lb. lean pork chops which I sliced into thin strips. The meat is put into a small deep pan so the liquid which is thrown off during the cooking process doesn't evaporate. After the meat all the other ingredients are put into the pan: a little water, fish sauce, sugar, thinly sliced spring onions, and black pepper. All this is brought to the boil and cooked for 2 minutes. Heat is reduced and the meat is cooked till all liquid has evaporated. As I said, it was tasty. but I don't think I'll make it again. I didn't finish my portion.

                      The side dishes were the suggested white rice, we used Jasmine, to which I added raw corn kernels, chopped cilantro and lemon juice when the rice had finished cooking and a salad, also suggested, with Napa cabbage, shaved carrot, cucumber, chopped tomatoes with a dressing from Mai Pham's Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table.

                      1. Thjt Heo Kuo Kuo, (Pork Cooked with Sugar), Pg. 338

                        Back again...this recipe is directly below the one I reported on a year go. The title sounds odd but believe me the finished is not sweet at all.

                        The choice of cut of pork is variable: belly or loin, we chose a 2.75 lb. loin with a little fat but no skin. This is sliced in "large" chunks leaving the fat on. Oil is heated in a large saucepan then chopped scallions are fried till golden. The pork is then added and fried till all pink has gone. Two tablespoons of sugar and S & P are added to the pot and everything is stirred till the meat has browned. Four cups of water are now added, heat turned to a simmer, cooked uncovered for 1 hour. Add fish sauce and continue cooking till pan is almost dry. That's all there is to it.

                        The meat was moist and tender with a mild but lovely flavor. I also served plain steamed basmati rice and 2 dishes from Seductions of Rice: Everyday Sprouts and Quick and Easy Chinese Greens (bok

                        1. Com Chay (Stir-Fried Vegetables), Pg. 340

                          My notes for this recipe tell me that I last made the dish on 29 March 2009 then again on 10 August 2010 but I see that I didn't report on it. Both earlier times I used a variety vegetables as listed but last night we used only bok choy. It's a dish that's very flavorful because of shiitake mushrooms, both light and dark soy sauces, scallions, garlic, ginger, etc. and is a typical stir-fry that accompanies any main so well. This could be a go-to stir-fry veggie recipe for virtually any vegetable in my opinion. I guess I'll now keep it in heavy rotation...