Dinner Swap: Round 2

I have a problem cooking enough for just 2 people.  I always tend to overcook, and the result is leftovers for the next 3 meals.  The problem with that, is that my BF doesn’t enjoy eating the same thing over and over again, which leaves me to be the garbage disposal and try to eat all the leftovers before it goes to waste.

Solution: Dinner Swap – I proposed the idea to 2 other friends that I know love to cook.  We’ll each pick a day out of the week and cook dinner for 6.  The Chef of the day can host the dinner at her place or prepare the food for pick up.  Aside from the having to hike up and down stairs on crutches (which is a feat that I am proud of), the dinner swap has been “so far, so good” and delicious!

For my day this week, I decided to try out some Vietnamese cuisine.  I should’ve been one of those daughters that watched and learned from my mom in the kitchen, but I wasn’t.  I spent my time studying and playing sports, or just plain playing with the neighborhood kids.  I can cook things like pasta and steak without a problem, but Vietnamese cuisine intimidates me.  Well it did until I found some great sites and references, such as friends and family, that would help make Vietnamese cuisine seem less overwhelming.

When I’m at a lost of what to cook, my go to protein is pork spare ribs.  There’s always sooo much you can do with it.  It can be sauteed, pan fried, made into a soup, there’s a plethora of things you can turn pork spare ribs in to, and it’s always satisfying.

Pork Ribs in Coconut Juice as found on Little House

Coconut Pork Spare Ribs

  • 1lb pork ribs
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp minced shallot
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups coconut juice
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 stalk scallion, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • salt, to taste
  1. Wash the ribs well and cut into short piece, I use the ribs as guides. Drain
  2. Combine the ribs with garlic, shallot, fish sauce, and sugar.  Marinate for 15 minutes

    Marinating pork spare ribs

  3. Add the ribs and coconut juice to a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20-30 minutes.  Season if necessary.

    Pork spare ribs in coconut juice

  4. Continue to simmer until all the juice is absorbed and the ribs are slightly brown.  Remove from the pan.
  5. Add the onion wedges to the pan, and cook until onion is crisp-tender.
  6. Toss together with the ribs.  Sprinkle some pepper and spring onion.

Long Gourd Soup with Pork Ribs & Shrimp

Long Gourd Soup with Pork Spare Ribs & ShrimpLong Gourd aka Opo Squash

  • 1lb pork ribs, chopped
  • 10-12 medium shrimp w/ heads
  • 1lb long gourd (opo squash), peeled and cored, cut into half round pieces
  • 1 tbsp crushed fresh ginger
  • 2 stalks scallions
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • salt, to taste
  1. Clean the ribs well. Drain
  2. Separate shrimp heads from the body. De-vein shrimp bodies.
  3. Pan fry shrimp head and bodies, until just pink. About 1 minute on each side.
  4. Add the ribs and shrimp heads to a large saucepan with fish sauce and ginger.  Set to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until the ribs start to get dry.

    Shrimp heads & pork spare ribs for the soup

  5. Pour about 6-8 cups of water into the saucepan, enough to cover the pork with about 1 inch of additional water.  Simmer until ribs are tender, about 45 mins to 1 hour.
  6. Add the gourd pieces to the saucepan and cook for another 5 minute.  You can add more water as necessary, it is up to you when it comes to the depth of the flavor.  I add enough to ensure everything is just covered.

    Long Gourd aka Opo Squash

  7. Add the remaining shrimp and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the gourd pieces are tender
  8. Stir in the chopped green onion before removing from heat, and serve.