Steamy Kitchen Recipes | RSS Feed Steamy Kitchen Food Blog: fast recipes, simple recipes, with fresh ingredients to create delicious meals. Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:57:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Red Lantern Crisp Parcels (Cha Gio or Spring Rolls) Sat, 07 Feb 2009 20:42:48 +0000 A fabulous recipe for Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Cha Gio) from award-winning author Pauline Nguyen of Secrets of the Red Lantern.

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Photo of Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Cha Gio) courtesy of Secrets of the Red Lantern Cookbook! It’s gorgeous!

secrets-red-lanternOne of the books that is always near my nighstand is the absolutely stunning Secrets of the Red Lantern by Pauline Nguyen. I was in Los Angeles at the famous Cook’s Libarary bookstore and was drawn in by the gorgeous cover artwork. I picked up the volumous 345 page book and simply could not put it down. No, seriously, I did not let this baby out of my sight the rest of the trip and even chose to pack my laptop in my suitcase and instead brought Secrets of the Red Lantern in my carry-on baggage.

Baby, that’s true love.

I got a chance to chat with the lovely Pauline Nguyen last night and just couldn’t wait to share her recipe for Vietnamese Spring Rolls or Cha Gio with you. At her restaurant, Red Lantern, this dish is called “Red Lantern Crisp Parcels.”

Secrets of the Red Lantern book is part cookbook, part bittersweet memoir of the Nguyen family’s escape from war-ravaged Vietnam and their struggles as they adapt to the harsh refugee life and finally making their lives in Australia. Pauline bares her soul in this debut book – it will make you smile, laugh, cry and even fume with anger. There are links at end of post to others who have written fabulous reviews of her book, so I won’t go in much detail here, but I wanted to give you a glimpse of Pauline, mom of Mia and soon to be mom of baby #2. Oh yes, and to give you her recipe for Vietnamese Spring Rolls too!

Pauline Nguyen, author of Secrets of the Red Lantern


Pauline lives in Australia and I live in Florida, so you can imagine the very thin snippet of the day where our two schedules can meet for an uninterrupted phone call! Luckily, I’m a total night owl and call her 12:30AM my time, which was 4:30PM her time. And guess where she took my call?


35C/95F degrees


Sydney, Australia.

Ooooh….I wanted to be right there on the beach with her! Oh yeah.

Pauline Nguyen took two years off from the busy restaurant business (oh yes, Red Lantern is the name of her restaurant she owns with her brother Luke and partner Mark) to write this book, and she penned this memoir as a heirloom for her now 4-year old daughter, Mia.

More on my phone chat with Pauline Nguyen in another post (and yes, another recipe from her book in the next post too). In the meantime, enjoy her recipe for Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Cha Gio).

mother-famous-chinese-egg-rolls-recipeIf you’d like to learn step by step photo instructions on how to roll the Vietnamese Spring Rolls correctly – come see the recipe of My Mother’s Famous Chinese Egg Rolls.

The Chinese version uses similar wrapper and same wrapping technique, just different filling inside. If you’d like a gluten-free version, use rice paper instead of these Spring Roll or Egg Roll wrappers. These are wonderful fried  as well. Just follow instructions on package of rice paper to use.


Vietnamese Spring Rolls Recipe (Cha Gio) (Red Lantern Crisp Parcels)

Servings: Makes 40 spring rolls Prep Time: Cook Time:

From Secrets of the Red Lantern by Pauline Nguyen with recipes by Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen
These can be cooked and eaten on their own, dipped in dipping fish sauce, or placed on top of a dressed vermicelli salad. At Red Lantern, we like to wrap the parcels in lettuce with herbs and serve with dipping fish sauce.
Note: Be sure you use the spring roll wrappers as soon as they thaw.


For the Vietnamese Spring Rolls
2 ¾ ounces dried bean thread noodles (or mung bean noodles)
1 ¾ ounces dried mushroom strips, such as wood ear mushrooms or Chinese black fungus
½ pound ground pork
½ pound ground chicken
1 pound carrots, grated
½ onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons fine white pepper
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
20 spring (egg) roll wrappers, 8½ inches square
Dipping fish sauce, for serving
For the Dipping Sauce Recipe (Nuoc Mam Cham)
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 bird's-eye chili
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice


Soak the noodles and mushroom strips separately in cold water for 20 minutes, then drain and drip dry in a colander. Cut the noodles into 1½-inch-long pieces, then combine with all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Cut the spring roll wrappers diagonally to form two triangles, then separate them into single sheets. Place a piece of wrapper on a plate with the base of the triangle facing you. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the mixture onto the middle of the bottom edge of the wrapper and fold the two adjacent sides, one on top of the other into the center. Roll toward the apex to form a nice firm roll, and secure with a dab of flour mixed with some water. Repeat until you have filled all of the wrappers.

When freshly rolled, the cha gio can be deep-fried in oil preheated to 350 degrees F or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil browns in 15 seconds. Alternatively, you can store them in the freezer and cook when needed. Just carefully slide frozen spring rolls (do not defrots) in the oil and cook an additional minute or so.

To make the Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Mam Cham)
Combine the fish sauce, rice vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, and sugar in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir well and cook until just before boiling point is reached, then allow to cool. To serve, finely chop the garlic and chile and stir in the lime juice. To liven it up, add pickled vegetables.Combine the fish sauce, rice vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, and sugar in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir well and cook until just before boiling point is reached, then allow to cool. To serve, finely chop the garlic and chile and stir in the lime juice. To liven it up, add pickled vegetables.


Reviews on Pauline Nguyen’s Secrets of the Red Lantern Cookbook

White On Rice Couple – plus recipe for Tamarind Crab and Tamarind Shrimp

In Mama’s Kitchen review

Global Gourmet – plus recipe for Steamed Cockles or Periwinkle, Bittermelon Stuffed with Pork and Black Fungus, Wok-tossed Water Spinach
with Fermented Bean Curd Sauce

and of course good ‘ol where you can purchase the Secrets of the Red Lantern book.

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Steamed Mussels in Lemongrass Coconut Curry Sun, 29 Jul 2007 15:09:04 +0000 15 minute dish and $10 in ingredients! Simple recipe for Thai Curry with Mussels from cookbook author Jaden Hair.

The post Steamed Mussels in Lemongrass Coconut Curry appeared first on Steamy Kitchen Recipes.


Suspicious criminal activity of is happening right under my roof!  We entertain about once a week, usually for a weekend supper where we invite our close friends over and treat them to a massive feast.

They all know the routine.  When I am finished with a dish, no touching until I get a photograph.  With seafood, I make the photo shoot super-quick so that we can eat the dish while it’s still hot.


and I’m done.

I’ve had to make Steamed Mussels in Lemongrass Coconut Curry no less than 4 times in the past 2 months. Each time, when I review the photos the next day, the shots are terrible…the exposure is all off, the mussels are out of focus and the whites turn out gray.

My friends know that since my husband doesn’t like seafood, I will most likely serve Steamed Mussels in Lemongrass Coconut Curry when we are entertaining.  They know that I really really want to post this recipe because it’s one of my favorites, even the best restaurants can’t produce flavors like mine….and that I won’t post the dish unless the photograph passes the “drool-worthy” test.

These are well-known facts.

Even this morning, when I reviewed all the photos from last night, the photos came out funky. Everything had a blue-ish hue to it!

Hmmmmm…..something FISHY going on here   ::cue Mission Impossible theme song::

Come to think of it….my friends last night devoured the mussels as if this was the best thing that ever happened to seafood.  As if mussels were born to be bathed in the exotic flavors of lemongrass, coconut milk and Thai curry.  As if my friends savored the dish with familiarity…like when you go to your favorite restaurant and order your favorite dish every time…  I also observed a silent smugness amongst them.

Strange. Sussssspicious!!

Its a conspiracy!  Someone is messing with my camera settings so that I take a crap photo so that I MUST make this dish again so that I MUST invite my friends over so that they can eat Steamed Mussels with Lemongrass Coconut Curry over and over and over again!!!  EEEEEKK!!!!!

Well….I’m on to them!!!    So I’m publishing this recipe, even though the photo doesn’t meet my standards.  Out of the handful of snaps, this was the ONLY one that was in focus.  But you can’t even see the Lemongrass Coconut Curry broth!  The best part of the dish is the sauce, and my friends, you can’t see it so therefore you will just have to imagine the flavors in your mind.


Secrets to Steamed Mussels with Lemongrass Coconut Curry

So I’ll share the secrets to this dish with you AND hopefully my friends are reading this so that they too can make this dish at home and not have to resort to suspicious sabotage again.  Really, its a VERY simple dish with few ingredients.  The entire dish from start to finish takes less than 30 minutes. The hardest part was finding the can opener that I accidentally misplaced last week after unsucessfully whacking a coconut with it.

Secret #1:  Clam Juice
Instead of making a standard Thai curry sauce, I wanted it to be more “broth-like” – chicken broth would be too chicken-y, vegetable broth would be too vegetable-y, and water would be to water-y. Clam juice was the perfect solution.  To create a fragrant broth, I added grated lemongrass and let the two reduce down so that I ended up with a concentrated lemongrass-infused broth.  Use a microplane/rasp grater to grate the white parts of the lemongrass stalk (the bottom 6″)  If you don’t have access to fresh lemongrass, come over over to my house where the stuff practically grows like weeds in my yard.  If you don’t live within 60 mile radius of my home, visit an Asian market or substitute with lemon peel.  Take a lemon and a vegetable peeler.  Peel just the outermost layer of skin (not the white part) – get about 4 large wide strips.  Use that instead of the lemongrass. Just remove and discard the strips when the broth is reduced.  The photo above only shows 1 bottle of clam juice – but please use 2 bottles (I had already opened and poured one bottle out when “aha! maybe I should take a photo of the ingredients!”

To find clam juice – go to aisle with canned seafood…tuna, sardines, etc. It usually is there. It’s most commonly used in Italian Linguine with Clams Sauce dish.  If your regular supermarket doesn’t carry clam juice – try an Italian specialty market, or substitute with 1/2 cup white wine + 1/2 cup veg broth.

thai chaokoh coconut milkSecret #2:  The Coconut Milk
At your supermarket, you’ll probably find a few different brands of coconut milk.  Don’t bother reading the labels. Pick up each can, shake it.  If it sloshes with lots and lots of liquid, put it back.  Buy the one that sounds and feels solid and heavy. This is by far the simplest way to judge a good quality, first pressing, fatty coconut milk.  The lesser quality brands contain diluted coconut milk or they use multiple pressings, which results in very little flavor.  You might be tempted to buy the “light” version, but please don’t. In this dish, you will only use 1 can, divided amongst 4-6 people…so really, you aren’t consuming that many calories.  The best brand I’ve found is a Thai brand for 89 cents and Thai Kitchen (above in lg photo) at double the price but a very very good quality.

Secret $3: The Curry Paste
Use a concentrated Thai curry paste.  I happened to have Panang flavor on hand, but you can use any of the other flavors (Red, Green Yellow).  You can find these at your Asian market or order online through EthnicGrocer.  You can adjust the hotness of the final dish by the amount of paste that you use.  Start with 1-2 tablespoons and go from there.

Secret #4:  The Noodles
I love adding mung bean noodles (same thing as cellophane or glass noodles).  Once you finish digging through the mussels, you’re left with the golden prize – delicious curry broth clinging to the clear, slippery noodles. Slurp! Slurp! See more info on bean noodles at Temple of Thai.


Steamed Mussels with Lemongrass Coconut Curry Recipe

Servings: 4 as part of multicourse meal Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes

Another great thing about this dish - less than $15 in ingredients!


2 pounds mussels, scrubbed & picked through (discard cracked shells and ones that don't close when tapped)
1 stalk of lemongrass, white part grated with microplane grater (or substitute with 4 wide strips of lemon peel)
2 bottles of clam juice (or substitute with vegetable broth + wine)
1 can (14oz) of good coconut milk, shake the can vigorously to mix the fat with the liquid
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of Thai curry paste (depends on your spice level)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3 small skeins of mung bean noodles, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes.
chopped scallions & chili for topping


1. Fry the curry paste: In a wok or large pot, turn heat to medium. When wok is hot but not smoking, add 2 tbl curry paste and the lemongrass (or lemon peel). Fry for 30 seconds to release its flavors. Add the clam juice, fish sauce, sugar and coconut milk. Simmer for 3 minutes. If you are using lemon peel, discard lemon peel. Taste the broth. If you want more heat, add more curry paste. In meantime, drain your mung bean noodles. The noodles should still be a little stiff.

2. Steam the mussels: Turn heat to high and add your mussels. Immediately cover with tight fitting lid. Steam on high for 4 minutes. Open lid, scootch the mussels to one side, add mung bean noodles and cook for another minute uncovered. Use a large spoon to redistribute the mussels from the top to the bottom of the broth, cook another 30 seconds and it's done! Top with chopped chilies and scallions.

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