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Canh Bi Xuong & Tom Kho

Whew! That’s a long title! Almost more work to write it out, than to cook it!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… It has been HOT up in this city.  This is my second year in San Jose, and the HOT weather still surprises me.  It’s nice, sunny, and beautiful, but when I cook, my whole place heats up like a sauna!  But that won’t deter me from making a delicious meal… okay a meal.

When I was younger, my mom used to always say that when it’s hot out, we’ve got to eat things that will cool us down from the inside, but she’d say it in Vietnamese.  One of my favorite dishes was the long gourd soup, it was soo light and refreshing.  Yes, it was a hot soup, but you don’t have to eat it steaming hot, let it cool down a little and enjoy the refreshing nature of it.  Some people make it with shrimp, I decided to make it with pork spareribs since I had some leftover.  However, I couldn’t just send long gourd soup off for dinner swap, so I thought about what other home cooked meal I loved to eat with it.  And that’s when it came to me… Tom Kho (shrimp braised in caramel sauce).  My mom made it for me the last time she was here, just about 2 years ago this month.  Boy do I miss her! But at least I’ll get to see her in 6 months! Ahh… What a perfect family meal to make for dinner swap. 😀

Canh Bi Xuong (Long Gourd Soup with Pork Spareribs) [Serves 6]

Canh Bi Xuong

  • ~10 cups water
  • 2.5 lbs pork spare ribs, cut the ribs into about 1 inch pieces, or as the ribs permit
  • 2 long gourds (aka opa squash), skin removed, quartered in about 1 inch pieces and core removed.
  • tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 stalks of green onions, chopped for garnish
  1. Bring pot of water to a boil.  Add in pork spareribs.  Let boil for about 10 minutes. You’ll see gunky stuff form.  After 10 minutes pour contents into a strainer, and rinse thoroughly, so you can get rid of all the gross stuff.
  2. Fill a clean pot with water again and bring to a boil.  Add the partially cooked and clean spareribs back to the pot.  Bring to a boil and then turn to low.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add in long gourd, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, until long gourd is just tender.
  4. Serve in a bowl and garnish with green onions.
I love eating this over rice! :9

Tom Kho (Shrimp Braised w/ Caramel Sauce) [Serves 6]

Tom Kho

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1.5 lbs shrimp, shell and head on (optional, but I find it holds more flavor)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 can Coco Rico (coconut soda)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • black pepper for taste
  • green onions for garnish
  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil.  Stir a little bit just to dissolve the sugar.  Then let the heat work it’s caramelizing magic.
  2. When it just turns an amber color toss the shrimp and salt in and try to coat it with the caramel sauce as much as possible.  (It’s okay if the caramel doesn’t coat, it’ll eventually make its way around).  Add the Coco Rico.  Bring to a boil and immediately turn it low to let it simmer for about 15mins.
  3. Garnish with green onions and serve.
I don’t think Coco Rico is traditionally used with Tom Kho, mostly with Thit Kho to tenderize the meat, but I like the familiar taste of it. 🙂
Serve the soup and the shrimp dish together.  Maybe it’s just me, but I love how the tastes mingle together. ENJOY!
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