Easy Chicken Pho

As with so many of my recipes, this is not truly authentic. I’m lucky there are many Vietnamese restaurants in Southern California that serve delicious gluten-free pho (both beef and chicken). I’m also aware that every place I’ve ever gone has a slightly different variation of the broth.

Some are salty and a bit spicy. Some have a bit more sweetness. Most are very rich, with intense meat or vegetable flavor.

These different flavor profiles make me confident my soup is just fine for those times when I don’t want to venture outside to get my pho fix. And when I say this soup is addictive, you can either take my word for it, or, well, become an addict yourself!

Yes, beef pho is traditional, but I haven’t mastered a good beef broth (I’ve mastered an okay beef broth), so I stick with chicken when I’m dining at home. Some things, I believe, are best left to the experts.

Filipino Garlic Fried Rice with Vinegar Sauce (Sinangag-Style)

First off, this is not an authentic Sinangag. When I discovered this fried rice dish, I also discovered that every household in the Philippines has its own spin on the traditional breakfast dish. Some use garlic and rice only. Some add soy sauce.

Many serve the vinegar sauce on the side only. As I played with variations on the recipe, I felt the rice needed a bit liquid while stir frying. I hit upon this approach after misreading a recipe in Saveur (http://www.saveur.com/article/recipes/filipino-garlic-fried-rice-with-vinegar-sauce-sinangag). Adding the sauce to the stir fried rice mellows the vinegar and garlic a bit, while incorporating heat from the red chile flakes.

If you prefer, omit the sauce while stir frying. You’ll still need a good amount of garlic, remembering to reserve some for a crunch topping. It will be delicious either way.

Vietnamese-Style Pancakes

Let me say this: I am addicted to these pancakes. Completely, totally, wholly addicted. I could eat these every single day. And I would be happy.

You can make these as easy as you want or as complicated as you want. I go for easy, meaning I use leftover meats instead of cooking them on the spot — this lets me make these quickly during the week. In addition to the rice flour and turmeric batter, the ingredients include various veggies cut/chopped/julienned into to small pieces, some meat (I often use leftover shrimp or meatballs), and some bean sprouts if you choose. Top with a spicy dipping sauce, and you are in heaven. Trust me.

The trick to cooking these pancakes is to let them get very well-done on the edges. The undersides will be crispy, and the thin batter cooks all the way through quickly.

Banh Mi Style Chicken Breasts

Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich filled with fragrant spices, seasoned meat, and crisp veggies. Traditionally, it’s served on a crusty baguette. I’ve been known to substitute Udi’s Gluten-Free breads as they’re more readily available.

However, one afternoon, I was craving this combination of flavors and found myself breadless. Since I had the chicken and the rest of the ingredients, I improvised. This chicken was so tasty, I snuck it into my leftovers for several days!

It combines sweet, sour, spicy flavors in a way that makes me want to make it again as I type this recipe.