Fried Spring Rolls

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What’s the difference between fried spring rolls and fried egg rolls?  It’s the wrapper and the filling.  Fried spring roll wrappers are made from flour.  The skin is thinner, flaky and crispy.  Egg roll wrappers are made from wheat and eggs making the wrapper dense and thick.  I prefer the flakiness of spring rolls over egg rolls.

There are many variations of fried spring rolls.  It’s mostly made with ground pork, carrots, wood ear mushrooms and bean thread noodles.

Servings:  20-25 rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground pork
  • 1 cup dried wood ear mushroom
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup bean sprouts (optional)
  • 2 bundles bean thread noodles
  • 3 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 package spring roll wrapper
  • 2 eggs (1 for meat mixture, 1 for sealing rolls)

Prep:  Soak dried wood ear mushroom in warm water for 15 mins and drain.

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Soak 2 bundles of bean thread noodle in warm water for 15 mins and drain.

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Chop:  Place noodle, mushroom, onions, carrot in a food processor and chop coarsely.

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Mix with pork, bean sprouts, and 1 egg.  I try to avoid leaner ground pork for the rolls.  Leaner ground pork tends to make drier rolls.  I like a little bit of fat to keep the rolls moist.

Add fish sauce, salt, sugar, oyster sauce and mix well.  I like to taste my seasoning and cook a small amount in a skillet.  Adjust seasoning to your taste.

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Roll: Rolling is quite easy once you do it a few times.  The key is to not add to much meat mixture and to roll tightly.

Add 2 tablespoon of meat mixture to wrapper.  Brush covers with beaten egg.

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Fold bottom corner up over meat mixture and pull back tightly.

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Roll over once and fold left and right corners in.

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Continue to roll.

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Fry:  Heat fryer to 375 degrees and fry for 10 mins or until golden.

Drain:  Remove from fryer and drain over mesh strainer or lay on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Serve with your favorite sauce.  We like Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce or a sweet fish sauce.

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Firecracker Shrimp

I love hosting parties for friends and families.  But c0oking for a large group can be exhausting.  That’s why making Firecracker Shrimp is a perfect appetizer. It does not require a lot of ingredients and is easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 20 Large Shrimp with tail-on, peeled and deveined
  • Spring Roll Wrappers
  • 3 tablespoon Mae Ploy Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Oil for frying

Dipping Sauces

  • Mae Ploy Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Sriracha Mayo
    • 2 tablespoon mayo
    • 2 teaspoon Sriracha

Prep:  Pat the shrimp dry.  To keep the shrimp from curling, score the bottom of the shrimp where the body curves.  I scored the shrimp in 3 spots.  Be careful not to score to deep.

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Marinate: Mix the shrimp with salt and Mae Ploy Thai sweet chili sauce for 30 mins. The chili sauce is not spicy but rather sweet.  It’s a great dipping sauce for the shrimp as well.  Also it’s great for fried spring rolls, egg rolls, calamari, and BBQ chicken.

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Roll:  Cut the spring roll wrappers diagonally in half.  I prefer to use spring roll wrappers instead of egg roll wrappers.  Spring roll wrappers are thinner and will fry more crisp.  Here are a two that I like.

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If you have a smaller size shrimp, use the 8.8oz wrappers,

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Beat one egg and set aside.  To roll the shrimp place wrapper with the point away from you.  Follow the pictures below.  Make sure you roll tightly and brush the wrapper points with the egg to help seal the rolls.

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IMG_0024Fry:  Heat deep fryer to 375 degrees.  Fry a few shrimp at at time for 3-5 mins or until golden.

Drain:  Once the shrimp is golden, remove from the fryer and lay on paper towels to remove any excess oil.

Sauce:  Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce is a great dipping sauce.  Or make a spicy Sriracha mayo sauce by combining 3 parts mayo to 1 part Sriracha.  Add more Sriracha if you prefer a spicier dip.

And that’s it!

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Crockpot Pho

Pho is one of my favorite meals but it takes so long to make a good broth. The broth makes the pho and it can take anywhere from 6 hours to a full day to get a rich broth with layers of flavors. It’s so time consuming to make. We typically only make it on the weekend when I have free time to watch over the broth. But I crave it on the weeknights too. Especially after a long day of work, all I want is to come home, sit down and eat.

Then one day, I open Snapchat and my sister has snapped her bowl of crockpot pho. What the HELL?! Pho-King Brilliant. Why didn’t I think of this before.

This is going to be so easy. You can cook the broth in a crockpot overnight or while you are at work.

Servings: 4 bowls

6.5 Quart Crockpot

Ingredients:

Broth

  • 1 ½ lbs beef bones, beef ribs, and/or oxtail
  • beef tendon (optional)
  • beef balls
  • pho bouillon cubes (optional)
  • 3 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ¼ cup oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon rock sugar
  • 1 large charred yellow onion
  • 1 knob ginger, sliced

Pho Spice

  • prepackaged pho spice mix

or make your own

  • 6-8 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken
  • 3 black cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 6 whole cloves

Garnish

  • thinly sliced beef
  • bean sprouts
  • Thai basil
  • cilantro
  • green onion
  • beef balls
  • lime wedges
  • pho noodles
  • Sriracha sauce
  • hoisin sauce

Prep: The key to a good broth is the bone being used. I like bones that have marrow as the fat will give the soup more flavor and thicken the broth. It helps created a rich broth but can be somewhat fatty. You can strain and remove the fat and marrow before serving. I also like to mix in oxtail to help layer the flavors. If you prefer a broth that is not as rich or fatty, look for bones with no marrow and more meat.  I don’t have any oxtail on hand and will be substituting with beef tendon instead.

Clean: First, wash and rinse bones/oxtail/tendon in hot water. If you have time, parboil the bones/oxtail/tendon first before placing in the crockpot.   This will help with the clarity of the soup. I was short on time and only rinsed with water and drained.

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Note:  I added beef balls to the broth but I would suggest not doing that.  The beef balls were overcooked after simmering for 10 hours. The beef balls are precooked.  Add to broth to heat them up right before serving.

Spices: Char the onion in the oven on broil (optional). While the onion is charring, toast the spices in a pan until fragrant if you are making your own.  This is also optional but I find my broth is more fragrant if the spices are toasted first.

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Once toasted, add spices to a spice bag or large metal spice ball (it looks like a big tea strainer ball).

If you prefer a premix package here are a few options.  I like all three.

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Broth: Add the bones/oxtails/tendon to your crockpot. Add the onion, spices, and remaining pho broth ingredients into your crockpot.  I also like to add pho boullion cubes.

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Fill the crockpot with water but leave some room so the broth does not boil.

Simmer: Set to low for 8-10 hours and walk away.

Skim and Strain: If you have simmered overnight,  remove the ceramic insert and take out the bones, onions, and spice packet.  Place ceramic insert in the fridge while you are at work. The fat will congeal once the broth cools and makes it easy to remove the excess fat.  Reheat pho broth before serving.

I decided to let the broth simmer while I was at work instead.   Once I got home, my house smelled of yummy pho. Discard bones, spices, and onion. Skim excess fat from the top of the broth using a fine mesh strainer or strain the broth through a cheesecloth and return broth to crockpot.

Assemble: Please use pho noodles!  It’s not pho without a good broth and pho noodles.  Look for dry pho noodles or fresh pho noodles.  If you use dry pho noodles, soak in warm water to rehydrate before using.  We prefer the fresh noodles.  Whatever kind you decide to use will work but USE PHO NOODLES!

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Rinse the noodles and blanch for a few seconds in the broth with a mesh strainer to soften the noodles.  Add noodles to the bowls.

Lay slices of raw beef (the hot broth will cook the beef) and beef balls on top of the noodles. If you prefer your beef more cook, blanch it in the soup broth with a mesh strainer. Ladle broth over the beef and noodles.

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Garnish: Top with the garnishes of your choice. We prefer Thai basil leaves, squeeze of lime wedge, green onions, sliced onion, chilies, and bean sprouts. Season with Hoisin and Sriracha to taste.   Also, mix hoisin and Sriracha on the side as a dipping sauce for the meats.

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How easy was that!

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Product Review – Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a staple in Southeast Asian cuisine.   I always have it stocked and it’s not often I cook without it. If you don’t know what it is, you should get to know it. It has a unique flavor and adds layers of complexity to a dish. It’s in most Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Filipino cooking. It is used similar to salt but leaves a savorier flavor.

Refer to as nam pla in Thai, nam pa in Lao, and nuoc mam in Vietnamese. What is it? It is a liquid sace made from fish (typically anchovies) mixed with salt and fermented in covered jars under the sun for several months. The anchovies break down and liquid is extracted and filtered from what remains. Fish sauce has a pungent strong odor. Fish sauce fermented in a shorter time will have a strong fishy taste and smell. The longer the fermentation, the richer and cleaner the finish. Also, an indication of quality is the “press”.   First press fish sauce means the liquid was bottled from the first drain. Second and third presses are done by adding water to what remains and left to ferment again for a few months before bottling.

To determine the quality, check the color and smell. First press will be lighter amber color similar to whiskey and clear with no sediments. Later presses will be darker in color and have a stronger fishy smell.

Not sure which one to try? Here is a quick review on three popular fish sauce: Megachef 30°N, Three Crabs, and Red Boat 40°N.

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Megachef 30°N

  • Sugar and Fructose added
  • Sweet finish
  • Sweeter than most fish sauce
  • Light, sweet aroma

Three Crabs

  • Good balance of savory and sweet, but salty
  • Saltier than the other two brands
  • Fructose added
  • Commonly used in Vietnamese cooking

Red Boat 40°N

  • Regarded as the primer, highest quality fish sauce
  • Clean, sweet finish
  • Not as fishy or salt compared to other fish sauce
  • Light and simple

How to use fish sauce?

  • Fish sauce can be used as seasoning similar to salt.
  • Add with simple syrup, minced garlic and lime to make Vietnamese Nuoc Cham. The dip is sweet and savory. Use it as a dipping for spring rolls, dressing for vermicelli noodle salad, or a dressing for broken rice plate.
  • Use it to make kimchee.
  • For Thai and Lao dishes, combine with lime, garlic, sugar, and grounded Thai chilies as a condiment for grilled meats.
  • Use it as replacement for anchovies in Italian recipes (we add a dash to pasta dishes)
  • Check out Bon Appetit’s article on 15 Ways to Use Fish Sauce in Non-Asian Cooking
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Bun Rieu – Vietnamese Crab, Egg, and Tomato Noodle Soup

Sometimes I can’t decide what I like more, rice or noodles. It’s a toss up but right now noodles are my favorite. Any type  of noodles. One of the boyfriend’s favorite is a Vietnamese noodle soup made with crab, eggs, and tomato.  He introduced me to bun rieu years ago and I still love it.

Ingredients

For the soup, you’ll need:

  • 4 cubes crab soup bouillon or 8 cups fish stock
  • 1/2 lb shrimp minced, reserve shells
  • 1/2 lb whole shelled shrimp
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • ½ lump crab meat
  • 1/2 lb minced scallops (optional)
  • 4 large tomatoes quartered
  • 1 package fried tofu
  • 1 package fish balls
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 green onion
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. soft shrimp paste
  • 1/2 cup crab in soybean
  • 2 shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Accompaniments:

  • 1 package vermicelli noodles
  • Red and green cabbage shredded
  • Bean sprouts
  • Variety of Mint
  • lime

Start by making the broth.  You can use fish broth but I’m being lazy.  I’m using a bouillon for the broth.

Boil shrimp shells and the crab bouillons in large pot with water for 30 mins. After 30 mins, remove the shrimp shells and add 4 tablespoons of fish sauce.

Next is to make the crab egg mixture and sauce.

Cut off the white part of green onion and mince the green stems.  In separate bowl, combine ground shrimp, ground pork, crab, minced scallops, green onions, and eggs.  Season with white pepper and 1 tablespoon fish sauce.  Mix well.

Now make the tomato sauce.    The key ingredient is the crab paste in soya oil.

Heat oil in pan.  Add white part of green onions, garlic and shallots.  Add tomatoes and crab paste.   Stir fry until tomatoes soften.  Be careful!  The hot soya bean oil and the tomato juice will splatter.

Once the tomatoes soften, add tomato mixture and fish sauce to the soup.  Next, slowing drop the crab and egg mixture into the soup base.

When crabmeat mixture begin to float, stir to break up the lumps.  Add the toppings.  You can add whatever you like.  I’m adding fried tofu, shrimp, langoustine, and fish balls.

Allow the broth to simmer for 30 minutes.

While the broth is simmering, boil the rice vermicelli noodles according to package instructions.

To assembly, add the noodles first, then the broth.

Add the fresh herbs, cabbage, and bean sprouts last.
Enjoy!

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Lab Nam Took – Waterfall Beef Salad

Lab is one of the essential Lao and Thai dishes. Also known as larb or laap. It is a type ofmeat salad made with chicken, beef or pork tossed with herbs and fish sauce. Growing up,we had lab quite often. There’s different variations of lab. One of my favorites is lab namtook which translates to waterfall beef.

Lab nam took is made with grilled, broiled, or seared beef. It’s pretty easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb beef (tenderloin, flank, or sirloin)
  • Boiled whole shrimp (optional)
  • cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • mint leaves
  • sliced cucumber
  • snake beans cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small red onion
  • thinly sliced Thai Chilies (optional)
  • bean sprouts (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon ground toasted rice powder (optional)
  • Marinade

  • 1/4 cup minced lemongrass
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • Dressing

  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup  fish sauce
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Start by making marinating the beef with oyster sauce, fish sauce, garlic, and lemon grass.  I am using tenderloin but any beef will work.   Set aside.

    Next make the dressing.  Boil sugar and water for about 15 mins on medium heat and remove from heat.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix.  Season to taste.   I prefer mine a nice combination of salt, sweet, and sour.  Set aside to cool.

    Now move on to the beef.  It’s pretty good grilled or broiled.  I like to pan sear my beef first.     Add some oil to a pan and add beef.   Sear on all sides until brown.

    Finish in the oven on high broil until medium rare.  The internal temperature should be anywhere from 135 to 145 degrees.   Remove from the oven and allow the beef to cool.

    Next prepare the vegetables.

    Once the beef has cooled, sliced into thin strips.  Add in the dressing.  Add Shrimp and add the vegetables last and toss.  Serve with sticky rice.

    So yummy.

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    Thai Tea and Lychee Coconut Mint Popsicles

    Often times the boyfriend brings home new products from the store and wants me to try it out.  I don’t always know what to do with it. But last night, he brought home popsicle molds!  I was so excited to use it especially with Memorial Day Weekend coming up.

    So many ideas and I don’t know where to start.  I’ll just have to start with what I have at home.  Two flavors pop into my mind: Thai Tea and Lychee Coconut Mint.  Both only require a few ingredients.

    Thai Tea Popsicle
    Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Thai Tea mix
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk or half and half
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Tea Sock
  • Lychee Coconut Mint Popsicles
    Ingredients:

  • 1 can Lychee in syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut mint
  • 3 mint leaves
  • juice of half a lime
  • Let’s start with the Thai Tea. Begin by boiling hot water.

    Traditionally, Thai Tea is made with a tea sock.  If you are able to locate one, boil the tea with the water and then strain. Or seep using a tea ball.

    Add 1 cup Thai tea into the sock and placed over a pitcher.  Add sugar and condensed milk to the pitcher. Pour hot water into the sock.  Allow to seep for 15 mins.  The longer you seep the stronger the tea.

    The tea will be dark. Once stir thoroughly, the tea should be orange colored.

    Pour into ice mold and set aside.

    Next, start on the lychee popsicles.  Add the lychee including the syrup into a blender.  Add coconut milk, lime, and mint.

    Blend for a few minutes until the lychee is finely chopped.

    Pour into the molds.

    Freeze for 4 hours or until frozen.

    To remove from the molds, run under hot water for a few seconds. Gently pull from the mold.

    Hope you enjoy!

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    Kalbi – Korean BBQ Short Ribs

    I’ve been hiking more lately to prepare for a backpacking trip and I’ve noticed the leaves are beginning to turn color.  It’s a sign summer is almost over.  What better way to send off the summer than with a BBQ.  I had said earlier I was intimidated with Korean recipes.  But this is an easy recipe for Kalbi.  Kalbi is BBQ Korean beef short ribs.  Buy Kalbi style short ribs which is cut thinly across the bone.  For the marinade, there are various pre-made sauces available.  I had extra time today and made my marinade from scratch.
    Ingredients:
    • 2-3 lbs short ribs
    • 1/2 cup medium or light soy sauce
    • ginger (2 inch piece)
    • 4 garlic cloves
    • 2 green onions thinly sliced
    • 2 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
    • 1/4 cup mirin or cooking rice wine
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoon honey
    • 2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
    • 1 medium Korean pear peeled and cubed

    In a food processor, blend the pear, ginger, garlic and mirin/cooking rice wine.  Remove and add soy sauce, sesame seeds, green onion, sesame oil, honey, and sugar.  Mix well.

    Trim any excess fat from the ribs and rinse.  I like to cut my ribs into small individual pieces instead of keeping it in one long piece.

    Add marinade to ribs and mix well.  Marinade in the fridge for at least 1 hour to allow the ribs to absorb the flavors.  I typically allow to marinade overnight but at least 1 hour if I am in a hurry.

    Remove the ribs from the refrigerator at least an hour before cooking to bring them to room temperature.

    Heat a charcoal grill or gas grill to high.  Place ribs on the grill and cook about 3-4 minutes on each side for medium rare.

    The ribs are thin so make sure you are keeping an eye on the grill to prevent burning.

    Serve immediately

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    Miso Glazed Fish

    Another cuisine I love but wished I knew how to make is Japanese.  It always seems too complicated.  I do have a go-to recipe which only requires 5 ingredients – miso glazed fish.  It’s sticky, salty, and sweet.  And the best part is it’s very easy to make.  YOu can use cod, salmon, yellowtail or sea bass.  For this recipe, I’m making both black cod and yellowtail collar.

    Use white miso for this recipe.  It’s milder and sweeter than the red or yellow miso.   The delicate flavors will not overpower the fish.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 lbs Hamachi Kama (yellowtail collars)
    • 1 lb cod, salmon, or sea bass (about 4 6oz steaks)
    • 1/2 cup white miso
    • 1/4 cup sake
    • 1/4 cup mirin
    • 3 tablespoon sugar

    Begin by cleaning and patting dry the fish and set aside.

    The yellowtail collar is amazing.  It’s one of the fattiest part of the fish.  Once grilled or baked, it just falls right off the cartilage.  If you have a fish market nearby you must try it!

    Next heat sugar, mirin, and sake on a small sauce pan.  Bring to a slow simmer until sugar melts.

    Add in the miso and stir constantly and you have a smooth, slightly thick consistency.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

    Once cooled, coat fish with miso glaze and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake the cod in the oven for 15 minutes or until fish is cooked through.  The cod should be flaky when ready.

    For the yellowtail collar, bake in oven for 15 minutes then broil on low for a few minutes to get a slight char.

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    Bibimbap – Korean Mix Rice

    I love Korean food.  I never had it until after college.   It’s now one of favorite cuisines.  Making it has always been intimidating to me.  But let’s give it a go.

    Bibimbap is a mix rice dish with a variety of meats and vegetables.  It’s a convenient dish to make.  You can top the rice with any meat and vegetables you have available.  Or use tofu and vegetables for a vegetarian version.  Bibimbap is typically served in a hot stone bowl.   Cooked rice is added to the hot bowl and topped with meat and vegetables.  The rice continues cook and becomes crispy and crunchy.  It is topped with a fried egg and hot pepper paste.   Finally, you mix everything together and eat!

    Servings: 2

    Ingredients:

    • 4 cups cooked rice
    • 1/2 lb sliced beef
    • 2 garlic cloves minced.
    • 1/4 cup Korean galbi sauce
    • 1 carrot julienned
    • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
    • 1 Persian cucumber
    • 2 cups soy sprouts
    • 2 eggs
    • sesame oil
    • sesame seeds
    • Korean hot pepper paste

    Marinate the beef in galbi sauce for an hour.  For this recipe I am using prepared galbi sauce which is available at the market.

    Prepare your vegetables.  I like it with spinach but I have none on hand.

    Boil the soy sprouts in water for 1 minutes.  Drain and toss with a little sesame oil and sesame seeds.

    Next, heat up a wok with a little oil and sauté carrots until soften.  Remove and aside.  Now do the same for the mushrooms and set aside as well.  Add a little more oil and fry beef with the minced garlic.

    Don’t forget to fry the eggs sunny side up and set aside.

    Assemble by a putting the rice in a bowl first.  Arrange meat, fried egg, and vegetable on top.  Add some hot pepper paste.

    The pepper paste is spicy so make sure you try some before squeezing over your rice.

    Mix it all together and enjoy!

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