String beans with tomatoes and beef

When most people think of Vietnamese food, they dream of fresh spring rolls with peanut sauce, steaming hot bowls of pho, and delightful, flavorful banh mi. What I always dream of is my mom’s homemade cooking and Vietnamese comfort food. However, most people never get to experience Vietnamese comfort food at restaurants so most people never have tried traditional, every day rice dishes.

A traditional meal in a Vietnamese household consists of one soup dish, one vegetable and/or stir fried dish, and one “kho” dish which is a caramelization process to meat. Or something to that extent at least. Served family style and white Jasmine rice on the side, I was spoiled my whole life with good and vast varieties of food. I haven’t been cooking for very long so I have yet to venture to cooking foods my mom usually makes me. While I was home this past weekend celebrating an early Lunar New Year, I sat down and asked my mom how to make certain dishes. Since she just eyeballs everything she does, this is my attempt of measuring out ingredients.

One thing my mom uses in almost her dishes is what I’m just going to refer to my Mama’s house seasoning. Its pretty much what she thinks is the perfect combination of spices for all dishes. The holy grail of spices. Goes on everything. Makes everything taste better.

Ok recipe now after the jump –

1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 lb of beef (round roast), thinly sliced
1 tea of corn starch
1/2 lb of string beans
1 tea nuoc mam (cooking fish sauce)
2 Roma tomatoes (or 1 large tomato) – coarsely chopped
1 tea of tomato paste
1/2 tea of sugar
3 and 1/2 tea of “Mama’s house seasoning”

Water (less than a cup, depends on what kind of pan you use)

**Mama’s house seasoning**
1 part salt
1 part pepper
1 part garlic powder
1 part onion powder
3 parts sugar

1. After thinly slicing the beef, coat with corn starch and set to the side
2. Add some oil to a pan and stir fry onions until translucent on medium
3. Add minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add beef to pan while adding 2 tea of house seasoning
4. Cook beef until a nice brown color, may turn the heat up to medium high to achieve this. Then set onion, garlic, beef mixture to the side
5. Using the same pan, add the green beans, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Add water until it barely covers the mixture.
6. Add the fish sauce and 1 additional tea of house seasoning and 1/2 tea of sugar (because I like things slightly sweeter)
7. Once it comes to a low boil, cover the mixture with a lid for approximately 10 minutes or until desired tenderness – try to stay on the less cooked side because you will continue to cook the mixture
8. Remove lid and let the water evaporate until desired amount of sauce is left
9. Remove from heat and mix in the beef, onion, and garlic mixture
10. Serve over rice or desired starch :)


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