Healthy Vegetable Stir-fry

The weather’s getting nicer outside and that means that many people have started their gardening. In the Hmong-American culture, gardening is a large part of many older Hmong people’s daily summer routine. This article by Young Kim details Hmong-American farming from a unique perspective.

Gardening helps keep the older Hmong generation active, provides abundant vegetables, and brings back good memories of their traditional farming practices in Laos/Thailand. For many, they have continued to grow traditional crops such as mustard greens, bok choy, and corn. Additionally, they have adopted non-traditional crops as well. Some of these are zucchinis, yellow squash, and bell peppers which I will be using to make a veggie stir-fry for this blog post.

The beauty of this veggie stir-fry dish is that it is both healthy and easy to make. Total prepping and cooking time is between 15-20 minutes, which is great for individuals with a busy schedule like me. Let’s get started, shall we?

Meet the Main Ingredients

prepared vegetables

Ingredients List:

Preparation

  • (Optional) Skin zucchini and yellow squash to create a striped design as I did for this blog
  • Chop up vegetables

Cooking Instructions

cooking vegetables

  1. Lightly spray cooking pan with vegetable oil spray
  2. Put on high heat on stove top
  3. Add in the chopped up vegetables
  4. Cook until veggies start to soften
  5. Add 1 tbsp salt
  6. Add sauces and black pepper
  7. Cook for approximately 5-8 minutes total or until veggies are soft

cooked stir fry

Presentation: Healthy Vegetable Stir-fry

healthy vegetable stir fry

  • Scoop some stir-fry onto a plate
  • Add a side of rice
  • Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped green onion

Alternatives

  • If you don’t like the sauce flavor, try making it with just salt and pepper
  • Try other veggies such as mushrooms, broccoli, or even tomatoes
  • Add meat in for some protein and a little texture

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Hmong Rice Porridge (Congee) with a Modern Twist

Rice porridge is a common dish among numerous Asian countries. It varies in name, texture, and ingredients throughout all of Asia (see Congee). With rice being the main course of many meals, it is not surprising how popular this dish is in Asian countries. What amazes me is how the recipe differs from region to region within a country. I guess you can say that rice porridge in Asian countries is the equivalent of mac and cheese in America.
With regards to Hmong culture, rice porridge is often given to elders, babies, and individuals recovering from illnesses. Traditionally, Hmong people eat rice porridge plain consisting of just rice cooked in water, which doesn’t provide much nutritional value. However, it is light on the stomach, and effectively in recovering health.
Growing up, I’ve only always made traditional plain rice porridge when I was sick with occasional dashes of sugar for a sweet taste. But in today’s blog post, I will be attempting to make rice porridge with a little modern twist. Bear with me! I assure you it will be worth it 🙂

Meet the Main Ingredients

rice porridge ingredients

Ingredients List:

  • 1 diced chicken breast
  • 2 long stalks of celery (diced)
  • 3 small carrots (diced)
  • 1 cup – short grain rice
    • You can use any type of rice you want. I prefer short grain for rice porridge because it softens better when cooking.
  • 6 cups – water
    • You may want to use 8 cups of water. I used 6 cups and mine turned out a little too thick 😦

Preparation

  • Dice chicken and vegetables
  • Rinse rice until water is clear

Cooking Instructions

cooking instructions

  1. Cook diced chicken in 3 cups of water for 5-10 minutes or until fully cooked.
  2. Add salt.
  3. Strain chicken out of pot.
  4. Add rice to the pot of chicken broth.
  5. Cook until the texture starts to thickens (approx. 10-12 minutes).
  6. Add the chicken (which was strained out earlier) and raw vegetables into the pot.
  7. Add 3 cups of water to pot.
  8. Cook for another 15-20 minutes until texture thickens to your liking.

Presentation: Rice Porridge w/ a Modern Twist

modern day rice porridge

  • Scoop rice porridge into a bowl.
  • Optional: Add a drizzle of soy sauce, black pepper, and chopped green onion for a kick of flavor.

Happy Eating! 🙂

Thai-style Papaya Salad Alternative

Papaya salad (Som Tam) is a dish that originated in Southeast Asia. With its unique blend of sweet, spicy, sour, and salty tastes and crunchy texture, Som Tam has been voted as the #6 most delicious food in the world by CNN Travel.
Som Tam can be found in most Thai and Laotian markets and is famous among travelers, tourists, and ethnic food lovers around the world.
In context with Hmong history, Hmong people have been familiar with this dish since before their arrival in the United States. However, I believe that Hmong people are more accustomed to the Laotian version called Tam Maak Hoong which has a stronger flavor due to ingredients such as tamarind paste and fermented crab paste.
Som Tam is a very healthy and light dish that is sure to make your taste buds tingle. In this blog post, I will be showing you how to make a simplified Som Tam without the papaya! Let’s get started, shall we?

Meet the Main Ingredients

som tam ingredients

Ingredients List:

Preparation

  1. Shred cabbage and cucumber
  2. Slice tomatoes
  3. Peel garlic
  4. Squeeze lemon/lime

Cooking Instructions

ingredients in mortar
ingredients in mortar

  1. Add garlic, peanuts, and chili peppers into mortar
  2. Use pestle to roughly smash ingredients
  3. Add lemon/lime juice and mix well with spoon
  4. Add rest of ingredients
  5. Use spoon to work ingredients together while smashing
  6. Continuing smashing ingredients in mortar until mixed well

Presentation: Thai-style Cabbage & Cucumber Salad

thai-style cabbage and cucumber salad

  • Scoop the salad from mortar into bowl/plate
  • Optional: Sprinkle with crushed peanuts for presentation
  • Best eaten with a side of sticky rice!

Alternatives

  • For a sweet summer flavor, try substituting cabbage and cucumbers with mangoes
  • Add long green beans for a crunchy texture and gorgeous color
  • Add vermicelli noodles for a soft texture

Happy Eating!

Steamed Cabbage Rolls: Healthy Alternative to Egg Rolls

Cabbage Rolls (aka Stuffed Cabbage) is a common dish among Eastern Europe and Asia, and has been adopted throughout the world. With the replacement of growing poppies with cash crops in Asia, Hmong farmers have been cultivating cabbage for 30+ years now. According to my mother, who experienced first-hand the cultivation of cabbage in Laos, Hmong people were familiar with and ate cabbage but they didn’t learn to make cabbage rolls until arrival in the U.S. I assume that they adopted this recipe from the Chinese seeing as it is a mixture of Chinese Stuffed Cabbage and Egg Rolls.

This delectable dish consists of wrapping various ingredients inside of a leaf of cabbage. It is a very healthy alternative to egg rolls. Cabbage rolls can be cooked in many different ways such as steamed, simmered, or baked. In this blog post, I will be showing you know to make steamed cabbage rolls with a simple stuffing, similar to that of egg rolls. Let’s get started, shall we?

Meet the Main Ingredients

cabbage leaves
ingredients for filling

Ingredients List:

Preparation

Cabbage Leaves:

cabbage preparation

  1. Boil a pot of water
  2. Cook cabbage leaves in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until soft
  3. Drain cabbage leaves and soak in cold water to cool down
Filling:

filling preparation

  1. Soak cellophane noodles in hot water for 10-15 minutes until soft
  2. Drain noodles and cut into 2 inches length
  3. Mix noodles with ground pork, minced onion, and salt
Wrapping:
    1. Take a cabbage leaf and lay it flat
    2. Scoop two spoonful of filling into cabbage leaf
    3. Roll cabbage leaf in the same way as you do an egg roll (see photos below)

wrapping cabbage roll

wrapping cabbage roll
wrapping cabbage roll
wrapping cabbage roll

Cooking Instructions

cooking cabbage rolls

  1. Place wrapped cabbage rolls into steamer and cover with lid
  2. Cook on stove for approximately 20 minutes or until filling is fully cooked

Presentation: Steamed Cabbage Rolls

finished cabbage rolls

  • Allow cabbage rolls to cool down
  • Serve with pepper sauce (or any sauce of your choice)
  • Enjoy! 🙂

Alternatives

  • Are you a vegan? Substitute ground pork with tofu or various veggies
  • Replace cellophane noodles with brown rice
  • Try baking the cabbage rolls instead of steaming
  • Try other veggies such as carrots or celery