Vietnamese Cilantro-Chile Sauce (Nuoc Mam Ngo)

Nuoc Mam Ngo

This sauce is amazing! It’s sour, sweet, herbaceous, pungent, salty, and spicy. So flavorful. It is a perfect example of what I love about Vietnamese food.

Nuoc Mam Ngo

This sauce is versatile. It can be used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls as well as a sauce for grilled chicken, beef, pork, fish, or shrimp. I served it with grilled chicken atop rice vermicelli noodles and spring rolls. So good.


It’s a spicy-hot sauce, but you could control the heat by using mild jalapenos. I used one serrano and one jalapeno and it was hot, but not too hot.

If you do not have a mortar and pestle, you could surely make this sauce in a food processor or blender.

Vietnamese Cilantro-Chile Sauce (Nuoc Mam Ngo)

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 2 chiles, stems removed and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 – 1/2 lime (rind and all), chopped (to taste)
1 tablespoon Vietnamese fish sauce

Add the chopped garlic and chiles to a mortar and use the pestle to pound them into a course paste. Add the sugar and cilantro and pound until smooth. Add the chopped lime and pound with the pestle until liquefied. There will be chunks of lime rind. Stir in the fish sauce and let sit for at least 10 minutes for flavors to develop.


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I’ve been taking Tae Kwon Do for about 6 months now.  My instructor’s sister brought the most amazing kimchi I have ever had to the Christmas party in December.  I have been thinking about it ever since. I have only had kimchi at Korean restaurants and was never really crazy about it. I decided to try making kimchi for myself. I looked at several kimchi recipes online and watched a couple of videos of it being prepared. I put together this recipe based on the recipes and techniques I saw. It turned out half way decent. Overall, my first attempt at kimchi was successful. I’m starting to understand how people become so addicted to this stuff.

I  have the used sriracha instead of the Korean red chile powder and I think it’s a good substitution in a pinch.


1 head Napa cabbage, cut into 2-inch chunks
6 cloves garlic
1 1-inch piece of ginger
1 medium diakon radish, peeled and cut into small dice (or grated)
1/2 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1/8 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup Korean red chile powder
1 teaspoon sugar

Place the cut Napa cabbage in a large colander and sprinkle generously with salt, turning to coat. Let sit for about an hour. Add the diakon radish and sprinkle with salt again. Let sit another hour. Rinse vegetables with cold water and drain. Squeeze excess water from the cabbage and diakon mixture.

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Meanwhile, finely mince garlic and ginger in a food processor (or use a knife). In a large bowl, combine minced garlic and ginger, fish sauce, red chile powder, sugar, and green onions. Add the cabbage and diakon radish and mix well.

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Add the mixture to a large (1 quart) mason jar, pressing the ingredients down to remove air bubbles. You should be able to get most, if not all of the mixture into the jar. Screw on the lid. Let stand at room temperature for 1 or 2 or 3 days. When it starts to ferment, it will begin to bubble a bit. At that point it is ready to be eaten. Refrigerate after opening.

Kimchi keeps for awhile in the fridge. It will continue to ferment and will get increasingly sour. Some people like it that way. After about 4 weeks, it will be very sour. I prefer my kimchi to taste fresh and not sour, so I probably wouldn’t keep it longer than 4 weeks.

Basic Harissa

This is a chile and garlic paste from Northern Africa that I have been wanting to try for quite awhile.  I must say I waited way too long.  This stuff is awesome!  It’s not very hot, but it is super flavorful.  Use it anywhere you would Tabasco or Sambal (on eggs, in sandwiches, in soups/stews, etc…).  I used dried New Mexico chiles, but you could use any one dried chile or even a combination.  This is a basic Harissa recipe.  Other variations have tomato paste, cilantro, lemon juice, and/or cumin (among other ingredients).  I’ll probably add some cilantro next time I make this.  This keeps in the refrigerator a couple of months.

Basic Harissa
makes 1 cup

Note: You can grind the spices in a spice grinder, a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

4 ounces dried chiles
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds, freshly ground
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, freshly ground
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for storage

Place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let rest until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain, then remove the seeds and  stems from the chiles.

Place the seeded and stemmed chiles into the bowl of a food processor (or blender) with the garlic and pulse a couple of times. Add the salt, caraway and coriander. Process until smooth, pouring the olive oil into the feeding tube on top as you blend. Add a little water if necessary to achieve the right consistency: The harissa should be a thick paste. To store, top off with a thin layer of olive oil and refrigerate.

Quick Spaghetti Sauce

This is another recipe I developed for my kids’ cooking class.  It’s a scaled down version of a sauce I have been making for years.  I just love this sauce.  The whole can of tomato paste really gives it a concentrated flavor, as if the sauce had been simmering for hours.  Sometimes I add anItalian herb blend from Penzey’s to the sauce.  This sauce freezes really well.

Quick Spaghetti Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions (about 1 small onion)
1 tsp. minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (diced if you like a chunky sauce)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
pinch black pepper

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add onions and garlic and saute until tender, about 7 to 10 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and the remaining ingredients.  Cook, stirring
occasionally, for about 5 more minutes, or until sauce is heated through.

Bacon-Corn Chowder with Shrimp

This is a super fast and super delicious soup.  It is worthy of  a special occasion, but easy enough to do anytime. Pair it with a nice BLT sandwich and you have a great weeknight dinner. This recipe makes about 4 servings.

Bacon-Corn Chowder with Shrimp

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped  onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1/3 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon and saute until the bacon begins to brown and get crisp. Remove about 2 slices-worth of the bacon to be used as garnish later and drain on paper towels. Add onion, celery, and garlic to the pot, and saute for 2 minutes. Add corn, and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth; bring to a boil, and cook for 4 minutes.

Place 2 cups of corn soup mixture in a blender. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape), and secure lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in the blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return pureed corn mixture to pan. Alternatively, use a hand-held blender to partially puree the soup, leaving some of the soup chunky.  You will want to be able to see whole corn kernels.

Stir in shrimp; cook 2 minutes or until shrimp are done. Stir in half-and-half, pepper, and salt. Ladle soup into bowls and crumble reserved bacon over soup.

Bahn Mi Burgers

These flavorful burgers are inspired by the Vietnamese sandwiches, Bahn Mi, and are a nice change from hamburgers.  Depending on how big you make the patties, this recipe makes about 8 burgers.  They freeze well.  The left-over burgers can also be cooked, sliced,  and put on top of a bowl of rice vermicelli (bun).  Serve the noodle dish with the pickled carrots and radish, cilantro, bean sprouts, cucumbers and fish sauce (nuoc cham).  Delicious!

Bahn Mi Burgers

for the burger:
2 pounds pork (sirloin tip, butt, or other lean cut) cut into 1-inch chunks (or use ground pork)
1 – 2 tablespoon(s)lemongrass, finely minced
3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced (or grated)
1 jalapenos, seeded and finely minced
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
freshly ground pepper

buns (French style, Kaiser rolls,

for the toppings:
English cucumber, thinly sliced
pickled carrots and diakon radish (recipe follows)- made the day before for best flavor
fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
Sriracha-lime mayonnaise (recipe follows)

Cut the pork into 1 inch chunks and grind it in a food processor with the blade attachment.  Place the meat in a large bowl and mix in the lemongrass, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, fish sauce, sugar, and pepper. Form patties and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes for flavors to meld.  While the meat is resting, make the Sriracha-lime mayonnaise.
Fire up the grill and grill burgers to desired doneness. Grill buns.

Alternatively, cook patties in an oiled cast iron skillet over medium heat until done and juices run clear. Toast buns.

To assemble, spread Sriracha-lime mayonnaise on each side of the bun. Place the cooked pork patty in the bun and top with the pickled carrots and diakon radish, cucumbers, cilantro and jalapenos.

Sriracha – Lime Mayonnaise

1/2 cup mayonnaise
juice from 1/4 lime
1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce (or other chili garlic sauce)
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine ingredients.

Pickled Carrots and Daikon

4 cups daikon radish, julienned
about 1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 cups carrots, julienned
1/4 cup white vinegar

Place daikon in a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons sugar. Set aside for 30 minutes. Drain off liquid. Add 1/3 cup sugar and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Toss carrots with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar in a separate bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes. Drain the liquid and toss with 2 teaspoons sugar.

Drain the daikon and carrots again. Toss daikon and carrots together and add another 1-2 tablespoons of sugar to taste. Add 1/4 cup vinegar. Toss, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Keeps in the fridge for about a week. Store it in the liquid but remove from liquid before serving.

Pork Chops with Raspberry-Chipotle Sauce & Garlic Orange Spinach

Valentine’s Day Dinner

.Pork Chops with Raspberry-Chipotle Sauce
.Garlic Orange Spinach
.Baked Potatoes
.Chocolate and Coconut Cream Fondue

This is the meal I made for Valentine’s Day.  It was a nice, as well as easy meal.

Pork Chops with Raspberry-Chipotle Sauce

4 pork chops, trimmed of fat
1 T. oil
salt and pepper to taste

2 T. finely chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 12 oz. bag frozen raspberries
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
2 T. butter
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse pork chops and pat dry.  Season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 T. oil in a skillet over medium high heat until hot, but not smoking.  Add the pork chops to the skillet and cook, turning once until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Remove pork chops to a plate and cover with foil; set aside.

Add shallots and garlic to skillet and saute for about 30 seconds (you may have to add a dash of oil).  Add the raspberries and cook, stirring for another 30 seconds.  Add the red wine, scraping any bits on the bottom of the pan.  Reduce the mixture over high heat until about 3/4 cup liquid remains.  Add the stock and chipotle.  Reduce over high heat until about 2 cups of liquid remains.  Strain the mixture into a clean saucepan and heat to boiling.  Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon some of the sauce onto a plate and place a pork chop over it.

Garlic Orange Spinach

1 10 ounce bag of spinach leaves, washed with stems removed
1  clove garlic,  thinly sliced
2  T.  olive oil
3  T. fresh orange juice
1  T. orange zest
salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot heat oil over med. high heat, add garlic and cook stirring constantly until it begins to brown, about 30 seconds.  Add orange juice and cook until reduced about 30 seconds.  Add spinach and orange zest and saute until spinach wilts.  Remove from heat and season with salt & pepper.