Friday, December 21, 2007

Steamed Crabs


live crabs
wok + steamer stand
seasoned vinegar (Chekiang or sushi variety)


1. Keep the live crabs lively in a bucket or sink full of cold water. This is to let them excrete before being cooked. (My mom's alternative method: stick a wooden chopstick up their butts and leave them hanging out in the sink until cooking time).

2. Bring water to a boil in the wok. Put the steamer stand and a large dish (Pyrex, for instance) in it. Place the crabs in the dish and cover. Steam for 25 minutes, until the crabs are completely red.

3. Thinly cut strips of ginger, and put into a dipping bowl with the vinegar. This is the sauce for the meat and crab brains (a.k.a. crab cholesterol, as Winston once corrected me) that are found in the shell.

**N.B.: Never cook dead crabs! They must be kept alive until you steam them.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Brown Rice with Burdock and Mushrooms

(I served the following dish with the stir-fried burdock dish. It takes care of the problem of what to do with the left-over burdock, once you've made the stir-fry. Also this dish is made much easier in the rice-cooker. Just add all the ingredients and hit "COOK". I also tried using a different kind of rice--short grained brown rice mixed with short-grained white rice-- and this substitution worked out well.)

4 medium shiitake (or other robust mushrooms such as dried porcini)
2 c hot water
1 Tb vegetable oil
1 medium burdock root (about 1/4 pound)
2 cups cold water mixed with 1 tsp salt
1 c long grain brown rice
1 small carrot and/or parsnip, sliced
1/2 tsp salt

1. Cut shiitake caps into thin strips or re-hydrate porcini in warm water.

2. Scrub burdock and whittle it off in slivers, placing them in cold salted water as you proceed. Soak 5 minutes. Drain burdock and place in a heavy oven-proof pot with water, mushrooms, rice, carrot and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from the stove and cover and bake in a 350 oven 45 minutes. Let stand 15-30 minutes. Uncover, fluff, and serve.

From Terra Brockman's Farming notes.

Stir-fried Burdock and Carrots with Sesame and Soy

Hiroko’s Kimpira Gobo

(From Terra Brockman's Farming Notes)

2 cups prepared burdock
2 cups prepared carrots
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tb sesame seeds
1 Tb soy sauce
2 tsp dashi (optional. I used beef stock instead)
1 Tb water, as needed

1. Prepare the burdock and carrots in the same way, by washing and scraping the outer skin (they don’t have to be peeled). Then cut into matchstick-sized pieces. As you’re cutting the burdock, throw the pieces into a bowl of cold water to prevent them from turning brown in the air.

2. In a large pan, heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil. When it’s hot, sprinkle in the sesame seeds and cook, stirring, for about a minute.

3. Drain the burdock and add it and the carrots to the pan. Cook and stir over medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes.

4. Add soy sauce and continue stir-frying. If you wish, add the dashi (available in Japanese and other Asian markets) and water and continue stir-frying until liquid has evaporated. The total cooking time is about 10 minutes. The burdock will change color from milky white to shiny gray/brown. It will be crisp and crunchy, earthy and delicious.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Grapefruit, Beet, Avocado and Blue Cheese Salad on a Bed of Watercress and Arugula

Adapted from several recipes found on, this salad is
colorful to the eyes and the palate. It's especially good if you
have some sort of pink-red-purple theme to your dinner ... which of
course everyone should have.


3 small pink-red grapefruits
2 avocados
1/2 red onion
1-2 scallions/spring onions
6 cloves garlic
4 small red beets (cooked)
salt & pepper
balsamic vinegar (preferably aged)
1 TBS honey
other similarly small sprouty green things that have a slight bitterness
blue cheese


1. Cut the grapefruit into segments and remove the pith, skin in
between, and seeds.
2. Cut up the avocado and red beets into small chunks.
3. Thinly slice red onion and chop up the scallions.
4. Put items in 1-4 in a large salad bowl.
5. Mince the garlic. In a small pan, fry the garlic in 2-3 TBS
olive oil. Set aside to cool.
6. Whisk the garlic & olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and
pepper in a bowl. Pour over the ingredients in the salad bowl and
7. Place a bed of a mix of watercress, arugula and whatever other
green thing you feel like on a serving place. Spoon some of the
salad mix onto it. Top with some blue cheese crumbles.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Butternut Squash Farfalle with Sage Butter Sauce

OK, so this is not exactly "Asian," but didn't someone say that Marco
Polo brought pasta to the Italians from China? Anyway, this is
delicious; I'm storing it here in case I ever forget how to make it. Courtesy of Lily Woodruff.

1 cup butternut squash, in very small cubes
1 cup mushrooms, finely sliced
1/2 zucchini, finely sliced then chopped into smaller pieces
1 handful of walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4-1/2 stick butter
fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
sea salt
large handfuls of grated Parmesan or Emmenthal
2 servings of farfalle


1. Cook the farfalle in salted boiling water.
2. Meanwhile, cook the butternut squash, mushrooms and zucchini in a
frying pan with some olive oil and pinches of sea salt. Add walnuts towards the end.
3. Divide the pasta and put onto serving plates. Put the cooked
squash/mushroom/zucchini on top of the pasta.
4. In the pan, melt the butter and add the sage. Stir, pressing the
leaves against the pan. When sufficiently aromatic (approx. 3-4
minutes), pour onto the pasta.
5. Top with large handfuls of grated Parmesan or Emmenthal cheese.
6. Finally, sprinkle some nutmeg on top.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Carrot, Ginger, Coriander Soup

Carrot, Ginger, Coriander Soup. Adapted from Bruce Sherman, North Pond Restaurant (!)

1 Tb olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 piece (1/2 inch long) ginger, chopped (opt.)
1/2 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 pound carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp Each of salt, pepper, ground coriander
2 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth
1/2 stick butter, cubed

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot, garlic, ginger and celery. Cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the carrots, salt, and pepper. Cook until the carrots and fennel begin to soften, about 6 minutes.

Stir in the coriander. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth. Heat to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the carrot pieces can be easily mashed, about 25 minutes.

Puree the vegetable mixture in a blender or food processor. Pulse in pieces of butter, one at a time, until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine-meshed strainer into the saucepan. Heat over medium heat, about 3 minutes.

** To make vegetarian, replace chicken broth with vegetable broth.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Dduk-gook (Rice cake soup)

This soup is traditionally eaten on the first day of the New Year (according, of course, to the lunar calendar.)

1/4 lb Beef (stew meat)
1/2 onion (optional)
1 clove garlic (optional)
2 scallions (cut at a diagnal)
1 egg, beaten for egg-drop soup
Rice cakes (flat oval-shaped pieces of rice cake, as many as you can eat in one sitting)
5 Dumplings/person (optional-- and could be frozen)
1 sheet of dried seaweed (cut up into small bite-size strips)

In a stock pot, cook the stew meat in a tbsp of sesame oil with the optional onions and optional pressed garlic. Once the meat is cooked through, add water to fill to about 1/2 to 3/4 of pot. Bring water to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Cut up scallions in the meanwhile and beat eggs. Add rice cakes and cook for about 3 more minutes. Then add dumplings and green onions, reserving a handful of the scallions for garnish. Finally add the egg, but be sure to stir vigorously as you drop the egg into the boiling soup base. When the dumplings are floating, they are done. Try a rice cake to make sure that they are ready. Serve in bowls, garnish with the remaining green onions and seaweed. And serve a spicy kimchee to accompany the soup.

If you have more soup than you can consume for the evening, you may want to remove the remaining rice cakes to store separately or toss into the trash. The broth itself will keep for a few days, and may be more flavorful the day after. Bring the soup to a boil again and add more rice cakes, scallions, eggs, dumplings, and seaweed.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Banchan: Carrots (also used for BiBimbap)

Banchan are the small side dishes that accompany every Korean meal.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium carrots, julienned
1/2 tsp salt

In a skillet, heat oil. Add carrots and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes (until carrots soften, but not lose their color). Add salt, toss.

Set aside for Bibimbap OR eat with steaming rice as banchan.

From _Eating Korean_ (C.H. Lee), slightly modified.

Banchan : Fern Bracken (Gosali Nammol) (FOR BIBIMBAP)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 lb fern bracken
1 tsp salt

In a skillet, heat oil. Add garlic and fry for 1-2 mins. Add fern bracken and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salt, toss.

Set aside for Bibimbap OR eat with steaming rice as banchan.

From _Eating Korean_ (C.H. Lee), slightly modified.

Banchan : Korean Zucchinis (Or use in BiBimbap)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 med. Korean zucchinis julienned (I just use any zucchini I can find).
1/2 tsp salt

In a skillet, heat oil. Add garlic and fry for 1-2 mins. Add zucchinis and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until zucchinis are slightly limp. Remove from heat. Add salt, toss.

Set aside for Bibimbap OR eat with steaming rice as banchan (side dish).

From _Eating Korean_ (C.H. Lee), slightly modified.

BanChan : Soybean Sprouts (in BiBimbap)

for 5.

1 lb soybean sprouts, washed and trimmed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt

In medium pot, bring 1/2 c of water to a coil.
Add soybean sprouts and cover. (yes, only some of sprouts are in water. they are cooked by steam)
Reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a skillet, heat oil. Add garlic and fry for 1-2 mins. Add sprouts, remove from heat. Add salt, toss. Set aside for Bibimbap OR eat with steaming rice as banchan.

From _Eating Korean_ (C.H. Lee), modified.

Banchan : Mushrooms (for BiBimbap)

for 5.

10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt

1. If using dried mushrooms, soak them in water for 1 hr. before slicing.
2. In skillet, heat oil. Add garlic and mushrooms, stir-fry for 2-3 mins. Add salt.

Eat as a banchan (side dish) with steaming rice OR in BiBimbap.

From _Eating Korean_ (C.H. Lee)

Banchan : Spinach (Shigumchi Namool), also used in BiBimbap

Serves 5.

2 bundles of spinach, trimmed and washed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt

1. Blanch spinach by quickly dunking leaves in boiling water. Rinse immediately in cold water to stop cooking
2. In skillet, heat oil. Add garlic and stir fry for 1-2 mins. Add spinach. Remove from heat. Add sal and toss.

Eat with hot rice as banchan. Or add to Bibimbap.

From _Eating Korean_ (C.H. Lee)

Bibimbap (Mixed Rice Bowl)

For 5.

This recipe is simple. Chop all vegetables used in the banchan before hand. Stir-fry them in same skillet, setting aside each ingredient as they are done. Rice should be served hot, but toppings can be at room temperature.

Prepare Bulgogi (according to blog posting in September)
Prepare the Banchans (Recipes are found in the blog for September) : Spinach, Mushrooms, Soybean Sprouts, Zucchinis, Fern Bracken, Carrots).
NOTE: You don't have to use all these different banchans. It is also possible to add different stir-fried vegetables

Additional Ingredients:
5 c. short grain rice, cooked
5 eggs, fried sunny side up
Seasoned Chili Paste (See recipe for Yangnyum gochujang in blog for September 2007)
Sesame oil and soy sauce to taste (I personally never put these seasonings in separately)


1. Place 1 c rice in each of 5 separate bowls. Arrange vegetables and meat on top of rice in a circle by color. Make sure there are no similar-colored vegetables next to each other. Place a fried egg in each bowl. Serve immediately with Seasoned chili Paste (Yangnyum Gochujang.

For those who can't eat spicy foods, season with sesame oil and soy sauce.
For vegetarians, use tofu instead of meat in the bulgogi recipe.

From _Eating Korean_ (C.H. Lee), slightly modified.

Radish Kimchi Soup (Dongchimi)

The broth from this kimchi is used for Mool Naengmyun (Recipe coming soon). This kimchi is white and does *not* require rubber gloves in preparation.

Makes 4 quarts.
Preparation time: 1 hour
Pickling time: 30 minutes
Curing time: 2-3 days
2-3 weeks to mature

NECESSARY EQUIPMENT : A large glass jar to store kimchi, cheese cloth or coffee filter

2 Korean radishes (Daikon is ok, about 3 inches in diameter, 6 inches long, about 1.5 lbs)
[Use the entire radish, including the green]
2 c. sea salt
6 green onions
1/2 lb. mustard greens
2 cloves garlic, peeled, thinly sliced
2 oz. fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
1 Korean ("Asian" or "Nashi" pear) unpeeled, cored and quartered
2 hot red Korean peppers (any hot asian pepper is fine)
1 green onion, sliced for garnish

1. Wash radishes in cold water and scrub clean. Leave them drenched in water. Sprinkle 1 cup of Salt evenly in a large shallow bowl, and roll each wet radish in it until it is thoroughly coated with salt. Transfer the radishes with water to a sterilized 8 qt jar and cover. *Cure for 2 to 3 days.*
2. Place green onions and the mustard greens in bowl, sprinkling with 1/2 c. of salt, and let sit for 30 minutes. Remove salted radishes from jar and set them aside. Strain the salt water in jar through sieve into 3- or 4-qt saucepan. Dissolve the remaining 1/2 c. salt into 10 c. of water and add it to saucepan. Gently boil for 10 minutes and *let cool*.
3. Place garlic and ginger in cheesecloth pouch (I used a coffee filtered and tied it shut with a green onion) in bottom of jar. Add salted radishes. Place green onions on top of radishes. Then add mustard greens, then pear, red peppers. Pour salt water into jar. Be sure that radishes are completely immersed in juices. Leave 2 inches of space at top of jar (Fermenting will cause gases to be released, leave room or there will be liquid flowing out of your fridge)
4. Close jar lid tight. Let mature at room temperature for 2- 3 weeks (or just put them in fridge to mature). Kimchi soup will stay fresh for several months. Great with a bowl of hot rice for a light dinner.

To serve, slice desired amount of radishes, place in bowl, and ladle out some juice from jar. Taste, then dilute juice with chilled water (a ratio of about 1 c. of original juice to 3 c. water). Add sugar to taste. Let sit for *30* minutes to allow flavor to blend well. Garnish with green onions.

I personally often skip the 30 minutes of sitting time, since I don't drink the juice unless it's summer. Reserve the juice, however, for some tasty mool naeng myun (cold noodle soup).

I loosely followed Hepinstall's recipe in _Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen_

korean red chili paste 고추장 (gochujang)

I'm including this picture as a reference, so that you may find a container of gochujang in an Asian market. It almost always comes in a red container and the last few words should be : 고추장

To use this paste to season Bibim Bap (Mixed Rice Bowl) or as a condiment to bulgogi, or as a dipping sauce for fresh vegetables like cucumbers, Korean green peppers (spicy), and carrots, make SEASONED CHILI PASTE (Yangnyum Gochujang).

SEASONED CHILI PASTE (Yangnyum Gochujang)
Makes 1/2 c.

Ingredients : 4 tbsp chili paste (gochujang)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar or corn syrup
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
1 green onion, chopped (optional)

1. Combine all ingredients until well mixed
2. When stored in a covered container, this paste will keep in the fridge for over a week.

From Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee's _Eating Korean_, modified.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Beef bulgogi

[Bulgogi is one of the key ingredents of Bibimbap.]

for 4.

1.5 lbs (750 g) sirloin or rib eye beef, thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 green onion, diagnally sliced into thin strips
8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded (optional)
toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

bulgogi marinade
1.5- 2 tbsp minced garlic
4 - 5 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp corn syrup or sugar syrup (i.e., sugar dissolved in boiling water)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp sake or rice wine
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 large nashi pear grated (or substitute equivalent amount of sugar) (Nashi pear is sometimes known as "Korean pear" or "Asian pear")
2 spring onions, sliced

1. mix marinade ingredients and combine with beef in large bowl. cover and marinate for 2 hours
2. heat large skillet, add beef, onion, leek and mushrooms, stir-fry over high heat for 4 minutes or until beef is cooked
3. garnish with sesame seeds.
4. serve with lettuce and rice and chili bean paste (gochujang = 고추장)
(i.e. place spoonful of rice into large lettuce leaf, add some bulgogi and add some chili bean paste)

from _Authentic Recipes from Korea_ p. 78, modified.

Boiled, Salted Edamame / maodou (Chinese: 毛豆)

From Terra Brockman's Farming Notes


· 1 pound edamame beans (unshelled)

· 7-8 cups water

· 1 tbsp salt

· *additional salt for sprinkling

Wash the edamame well. Boil salted water in a large pan. Add edamame beans and return to a boil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the edamame and sprinkle salt over them. Cool slightly and eat.

Chinese Winter Melon Soup

From Terra Brockman's farming notes

6 to 8 cups of 1 1/2-inch cubed Winter Melon pieces (about ½ large melon, peeled and seeds scooped out)
4 Chinese dried mushroom, softened in warm water and sliced
4 slices of fresh ginger
1/2 pound of ground pork (if desired, season with light soy sauce, Shao Hsing cooking wine, sesame oil, garlic powder, white pepper, salt and sugar. Mix well and let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.)
3-4 Tbsp canola oil
5-6 cups of water

Seasonings, to taste:
Light soy sauce
Sugar, about 1 tsp.
White pepper

1. Add the canola oil to a sauce pan. When hot, add in sliced ginger, stir for a while then add in sliced mushrooms. Stir for a minute, add winter melons and water. Let the water comes to a boil.

2. When it is boiling, scoop the ground pork with a small cookie or ice-cream scoop and drop into the soup. Add in the seasonings, and turn the heat to low. Simmer until the pork balls are cooked, about 20 minutes.

Stir-Fried Winter Melon

Recipe by Martin Yan, A Wok for All Seasons Cookbook

1 pound Winter Melon

1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger root - minced

1 small carrot - cut into 1/2 cubes

1/4 cup Vegetable Broth

1 can Straw Mushrooms (15 oz.) drained

1/4 lbs.Mushrooms cut into quarters

1 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce

1 tablespoon Soy Sauce

1/2 teaspoon Sesame Oil

2 organic green onions including tops, cut into 1/2 pieces

2 teaspoons cornstarch - mixed with 4 tsp. water

Remove skin and seeds from Winter Melon. Cut flesh into 1/2 cubes.

Place a wok or wide frying pan over high heat until hot. Add vegetable oil, swirling to coat sides. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 5 seconds. Add Winter Melon and carrot and cook for 30 seconds. Add broth. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Add straw mushrooms and fresh mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes or until carrot is crisp-tender. Add soy sauces, sesame oil, and green onions, and cook for 30 seconds. Add cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fermented Black Beans ("Dow See")

I'm actually not sure what kind of beans these are exactly, but they are used to steam fish, pork ribs, make sauces for stir-fried stuff, and probably many more dishes I'm not aware of. They are kind of moist and come in a plastic packet.


Frog's Legs in Black Bean Sauce

Crab in Black Bean Sauce

Salty Duck Eggs

This is probably one of my favorite foods in the entire world (yes, it beats even yak jerky). They traditionally come in a thick coating of salt and ash that serves as its preservative, but in the grocery store they are usually found, individually vacuum wrapped, in a box of about 6.


Salty Duck Eggs with Pork

Golden Cabbage

jja jang myun (noodles with black bean sauce): 짜장면

for two people.

noodles (preferably egg-noodles, but fairly large and thick noodles)
1 medium onion, diced
canola, corn, or sunflower oil
1/4 lb. ground beef OR 1/4 lb. pork belly
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 clove garlic, pressed
(optional vegetables: frozen peas, turnip, carrots, potatoes)
one small cucumber, grated (for garnish)
pickled radish (it's yellow and sweet, for condiment)

In large pot, boil water to cook noodles. In large sauce pan, sautee garlic and onion in 1 tbsp neutral flavored vegetable oil with the meat, until it is fully cooked. Then add rest of vegetables into pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add 1/2 cup water and 3 tbsp. oil to the pan with 4 tbsp. black bean paste (jja jang = 짜장). Dissolve paste well. Once dissolved, serve over cooked noodles in a large bowl. Add cucumbers on top for garnish.

Friday, September 14, 2007

doen jang jjigae (fermented soybean soup)

for two people.

1/4 lb. or less of pork belly (not smoked)
1/2 c. fermented korean soybean paste (can substitute with any kind of japanese miso)
3 c. water
1 sm. onion
1 handful diced zucchini
1 small potato, diced
2-4 white mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove (pressed through garlic press)
1/2 box of firm tofu (drained and diced)
1/2 Korean green hot pepper or any hot pepper (but *not* jalapeno)
1 scallion, chopped

In medium sized pot, sautee 1 tsp. sesame oil with pork belly and onions. Add water once pork is cooked. Add potato, zucchini, mushrooms, garlic. Pot should now be on high heat. Boil. When vegetables are cooked (~4 mins), add soybean paste. Stir to break apart paste. Boil the soup again and remove any foam. Add pepper, scallion and tofu and bring to boil a third time (1 more minute). Serve with a bowl of rice. Soup tastes better the next day-- so you may want to double recipe.

For vegetarians, in place of pork belly, use dried shiitake mushrooms. Take a handful, soak in warm water for 30 mins. Pour through sieve, reserving the water for the soup base. (omit 3 c. water). Dice mushrooms to place into the soup.

For more complex flavor: Add a small bottle of clam juice or 1/2 oz. whole baby clams

For pesco-vegetarians: Use small dried anchovies for broth. Soak for atleast 30 minutes. Reserve water, but discard resuscitated anchovies.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Apricot Samosas

From the Indian fashion magazine "Femina", by way of Sophia ...


For the samosa dough:
400 grams flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
60 grams cornflour
30 grams ghee (super fatty indian butter)
water, as required
15 grams sugar
100 ml honey
100 ml maple syrup

For the apricot filling:
500 grams dried apricots
1 litre orange juice
150 grams sugar
50 grams butter
50 grams chopped almonds

To prepare the samosa dough:
1. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and knead into dough.
2. Divide the dough into 20 balls.
3. Roll the bolls into triangular sheets with a rolling pin.

To Prepare the apricot filling:
1. Mix dried apricots, orange juice, and sugar in a pan.
2. Cook for about 10-12 minutes.
Finally, add the butter and chopped almonds to it and cool the mixture.

1. Fill the mixture in each triangular sheet and seal.
2. Deep-fry the samosas on low heat until golden brown.
3. Serve with honey and maple syrup.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Frog's Legs in Black Bean Sauce


4 pairs of frog's legs

**Black Bean Sauce: (this is for freshly made sauce; there's a ready-to-use version by Lee Kum Kee that's sold in a jar, though I've never tried that one)
2 TBS preserved black beans (kinda sticky and comes in a sealed plastic bag)
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
pinch of ground white pepper
1 cup water

1. Heat wok with 2 TBS oil, fry onion, ginger, garlic and scallion until it smells.
2. Add frog's legs, stir fry for about 10 minutes.
3. Add black bean sauce (made by mixing the ingredients above).
4. Cover, and cook on medium fire for about 8 minutes. Serve.

Chili Bean Sauce ("Do Ban Djan")

Aliases include Chili Bean Paste with Garlic and "Toban Djan". This is a basic sauce in a lot of Szechuan cooking, which for some reason (even though I'm not from there) I really love.


Ma Po Tofu

Chili Oil

I believe this may be from Szechuan, but in any case, this is made of dried chili in oil. My preferred brand has this serial killer on its label. Not to be confused with chili paste with garlic ("Lat Tsiu Cheung") or chili bean paste with garlic ("Do Ban Djan")!

Fermented Bean Curd ("Foo Yue")

Maybe I should have taken a picture of the inside, but you would have seen small rectangular chunks of clay-like substance that smelled quite pungently, to use a genteel turn of phrase. The infamous "brown sauce" from Markus' culinary adventures, this may or may not be called "Fermented Bean Curd" on the label. I prefer to use this spicy "Chili" variety.


Chicken Baked in Preserved Bean Curd

Szechuan Spicy Noodle Sauce ("Dan Dan Mein")

Lee Kum Kee, Hong Kong's king of condiments (I can't believe I just typed that), is a pretty dependable packager of the basic sauces as well as these ready-to-use ones for specific dishes. They usually include some sort of instructions on the label. This one was very tasty.

Random fact: I used to take piano lessons from Mrs. Lee Kum Kee ...

Shrimp, dried

These come in many different sizes. For the Chinese cooking I am used to, the shrimp should be around 1-1.5 cm long. They always have to be soaked in hot water for a while before use.


Napa Cabbage with Vermicelli

Anchovies, dried

They come in a multitude of different sizes (pity the poor worker who has to sort them!) and are usually found in the refrigerated part of the grocery story.


Anchovies on Fresh Tofu

Tofu Broth Seasoning (Korean)

This is a spicy soup base that comes in beef or seafood flavors. You add a tube of extra soft tofu to it, plus whatever else suits your fancy (including a handful of seafood). Serve with rice on the side or in the soup itself.

Thousand Year Old Eggs

They look beautiful to the eye of the owner of an appreciative tongue. Not only am I sure they are not really 1000 years old, but they taste really really good. For all those curious about that which pertains to everything but their taste, I refer you to the Wikipedia article I'm sure exists out there.

Miso (Korean)

This is Korean miso, which Ena tells me is used for soups. I think it's similar to Chinese bean paste, also known as fermented bean paste or yellow bean paste.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Kalbi a.k.a. Korean Barbecue Beef Short Ribs, a little modified

I invented this sauce to approximate the Korean barbecue sauce that I could not locate at the local Midwestern big-ass grocery store today. A thumbs up from Markus for this one.


1.5 lb beef short ribs

1 TBS hoisin sauce
2 tsp soya sauce
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS sesame oil
1 TBS dark miso (I used the Korean variety; I'm sure this can be substituted with Chinese fermented bean paste)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
a splash of apple juice

1. Mix the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add apple juice, enough so that the mixture is not too thick yet not runny.
2. Add the ribs and marinade for about 30 minutes.
3. Fry! Or barbecue!

Golden Cabbage a.k.a. Cabbage Stir-fried with Salty Duck Egg

I just invented this tonight: it's based on an awesome dish called "gold and silver shrimp" that I was introduced to when Jason Lo took me to dinner at North Point Market in Hong Kong. Bloody delicious.


2 salty duck eggs
1/2 cabbage
white pepper

1. Cut the cabbage into 1/2 inch thick shreds.
2. Peel the salty duck eggs. Keep the whites on.
3. Heat oil in wok, and add a dash of white pepper and the salty duck eggs. Mash the eggs with the spatula, and stir around. The oil should get frothy.
4. Add the cabbage; if too dry, add some more oil. Stir fry until the cabbage is cooked, i.e. just about see-through. Serve immediately!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007



1 pack defrosted wonton wrappers (in frozen section; I use the Hong Kong style ones, which are square and yellowish and very thin)
1 beaten egg in a small bowl (= the "glue")

**Filling, Variant A:
1 lb ground pork or lamb
2 cups chopped Chinese leek ("Gau Choy"; also called chives; long, green, with a bud at the end, they really do look like Western chives)
1 egg, beaten
10 dried Chinese mushrooms

**Filling, Variant B:
1 lb ground pork
1/2 lb raw shrimp, chopped
1 egg, beaten
10 dried Chinese mushrooms
1 cup water chestnut, chopped

**Seasoning for filling:
soya sauce
corn starch
sesame oil
white pepper

1/2 chicken (or equivalent in wings)
1/2 Napa cabbage
1 piece Knorr soup stock ("Chinese Ham Bouillon" is a personal favorite)
2 small packets vermicelli, pre-soaked in cold water till tender
10 dried Chinese mushrooms

**Dipping sauce:
1 TBS dark soya sauce
1 tsp chili oil (dried chili in oil)
2 TBS white vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil

1. Soak the mushrooms in hot water for a very long time, until tender.
2. Soak the vermicelli in cold water until tender.
3. Start the soup by boiling the chicken wings and bouillon cube in a large pot of water. Slice the Napa cabbage and add.
4. Slice 10 mushrooms and add to soup pot.
5. Mix the ingredients for the filling [mushrooms should be finely chopped].
6. Holding a wrapper in the palm of one hand, spoon about 2 tsp of filling into the middle. Dip a finger into the beaten egg and spread the egg on the edges of the wrapper. Fold in half, lengthwise. With the opening facing you, put packet on the middle finger of your right hand. Put some egg onto the upper right corner (corner that's on the fold, i.e. the side facing away from you). Holding onto the upper left corner with your left thumb and index finger, and the upper right corner with the same fingers of your right hand, gently bend so that you bring the upper left corner over the upper right corner. Press and seal.
[**alternatively, just bunch up the wrapper after spreading egg on its edges and hope for the best!]
7. Boil some water; cook the wontons in it when you're ready. The wontons should be cooked when they float.
8. Just before serving, put the vermicelli in the soup.
9. Serve in individual bowls in soup, with dipping sauce by the side.

Serve with bowl of wonton noodles!

Twice Cooked Pork


1 lb boneless, lean pork
1 slice ginger
splash of Chinese cooking wine
3 scallions
1 onion
1/4 medium sized cabbage
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS minced ginger

2 TBS Sweet bean sauce or Hoisin sauce
1 TBS Do ban djan (chili bean sauce with garlic)
1 TBS soya sauce
1 tsp sugar
dash of white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp corn starch

1. Combine pork, cooking wine and ginger slice in a pot; cover with just enough water to submerge the pork. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove, drain, and cut into very thin slices.
2. Cut scallion, onion, and cabbage into slices.
3. Mix the ingredients for the sauce together.
4. Heat oil in wok, and add garlic and ginger. When the oil begins to smell, add the vegetables. Stir fry for about 2 minutes, remove and set aside.
5. Heat a bit more oil in wok, and when hot, add the meat and cook for 1 minute. Add the sauce and toss until meat is well coated. Add the vegetables and stir until heated through, about 30 seconds. Serve.

Chicken Baked in Preserved Bean Curd ("Foo Yue")

Called "chicken in brown sauce" by Markus, this was an invention one hungry and tired evening.


1 piece (1 TBS) of preserved bean curd ("Foo Yue"; comes in small jar; I use the spicy variety)
dash of sesame oil
dash of white pepper
2 TBS cooking wine
4 chicken legs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Mash the preserved bean curd. Add sesame oil, white pepper, and cooking wine. Keep mashing until you get a smooth sauce.
3. Dribble the sauce over the chicken legs until they are completely covered.
4. Place in a baking dish. Bake for about 20 minutes or until done.

{**Tastes particularly good when served with white rice topped with Japanese rice seasoning--a mixture of dried seafoods, seaweed and sesame seeds]

Sweet Soup Variants

This is the basic recipe for a sweet dessert soup, to which a number
of things may be added as variations.

**Soup Base:

5-8 slices ginger (use more for a spicier soup)
1-2 chunks of rock sugar (a form of raw sugar that looks like clear
light brown rocks)

**Variant A: Soup with Balls ("Tong Yuen")

1 packet frozen "Tong Yuen" (= Sweet Glutinous Rice Balls filled with
a) black sesame paste; b) peanut paste; or c) red bean paste)

**Variant B: Soup with Tofu Skin ("Foo Juk") and Egg Flower ("Daan Fah")

1 egg, beaten
3-4 large pieces of dried tofu skin (looks like paper, but brittle,
yellow, and shiny)

1. Put ginger and rock sugar into a pot with 3 cups of water, and
bring to a boil.
2. Boil for 5 minutes, then lower heat to simmer.
3. Leave to simmer for anything up to 2-3 hours, depending on how
spicy you want the soup to be. [**This is perfect for a cook who's
multitasking: put the soup on, and cook the rest of your meal while
it simmers in the background. In fact, keep it simmering until you
are ready for dessert; just add a little water if you need to.]

**Variant A:
4. Boil lots of water in a separate pot. Put the frozen balls into
it, and follow the directions on the packet. They should be done
when they've been floating for a couple of minutes.
5. Fish them out with a slotted spoon into individual serving bowls,
and pour the sweet soup over them. Serve!

**Variant B:
5. With the heat back to medium and water bubbling, pour the egg into
the pot with one hand, and stir with the other; the egg should turn
into "flowery" threads.
6. Break pieces of tofu skin into the soup. Stir, and simmer for
about 3 minutes.
7. Spoon into individual serving bowls.

[**Variant B can also be served cold, in which case you should put
more sugar into the soup, since things taste less sweet at cooler

Monday, August 27, 2007

Pineapple Boat Baked Fried Rice

Fried rice with major "impress your guests" factor!

**TIP: Fried rice needs drier rice so that the egg can soak in; use refridgerated, leftover rice.


1 whole pineapple
3-4 eggs
2-3 cups cooked rice, preferably cooled overnight in refridgerator
2 cups (= a couple handfuls) of small assorted seafood (can be found in a baggy in any grocery store; alternatively, mix small shrimp, mussels, clams and/or firm fish chunks as you please)
soya sauce
sesame oil
white pepper
1 cup peas (optional)
1 cup chopped scallions
1 TSB minced garlic
1 TBS minced ginger

1. Preheat the oven to about 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cut the pineapple lengthwise, including the leaves. Cut into the flesh of each half and scoop out the chunks, trying to preserve as much liquid as possible. You should end up with 2 pineapple "boats".
3. Beat eggs; add splash of soya sauce, 1 tsp salt, dash of white pepper, and a dash of sesame oil. Mix well. Add scallions.
4. Heat oil in wok, and add garlic and ginger. When the oil begins to smell, add the seafood and stir fry for about 5 minutes. Add peas (optional) and stir.
5. Pour in the beaten egg mixture. Before it cooks thoroughly, add the cold rice (should be broken into individual grains). Wait half a minute, then flip the stuff around till all the rice is covered with some egg.
6. Add the pineapple chunks. Stir fry for a bit. Sprinkle with some sesame oil.
7. Turn off the wok. Spoon the fried rice into the pineapple boats, and pour a bit of the pineapple juice over each one. Wrap them individually in foil, and put in the oven resting on a baking sheet or other oven-proof dish. Bake for 15 minutes, then open up the tops of the foil packets and bake for another 5 minutes.
8. Serve in the pineapple boats, with more chopped scallions or some parsley as garnish.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Stir Fry Egg with Shrimp and Onion


1/2 lb shrimp
4 eggs
1 tsp light soya sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
white pepper
Chinese cooking wine
1 medium to large onion, sliced
chopped scallion
chopped garlic
chopped ginger

1. **INSTRUCTIONS FOR FRESH SHRIMP: Deshell shrimp, take the intestine out from the backs (long black slimy thread-like thing), and scrub with 1 tsp corn starch.
2. Beat eggs, and add soya sauce, salt and sugar, sesame oil and white pepper. Mix well.
3. Heat oil in wok, add garlic and ginger, and when the oil starts to smell, add onions. 1 minute later, add shrimps. When 1/2 cooked, sprinkle with cooking wine.
4. Add egg mixture, stir fry until cooked.
5. Sprinkle with sesame oil, and serve with chopped scallions as garnish.

Spicy Fish-Aroma Eggplant ("Yue Heung Keh Tsee")

1 lb eggplants, cut into strips 1/2 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long, soaked in salt water
1/2 lb ground pork
minced garlic
minced ginger
chopped scallions
1 TBS chili bean sauce ("do ban djan")
corn starch

1 TBS oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS white vinegar

1. Season pork with salt, sugar and 1 tsp corn starch. Cook in oil in wok for 1 minute, strain and set aside.
2. Strain the eggplant. Lightly fry in wok until tender, strain, and set aside.
3. Heat oil in wok, add ginger, garlic and chili bean sauce, then add pork, eggplant, and sauce mix.
4. Sprinkle with sesame oil, and serve with chopped scallions as garnish.

Ma Po Tofu


1 block soft or medium tofu
1/2 lb ground beef or pork
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2/3 tsp corn starch
minced garlic
dash of sesame oil
chopped scallion

2 tsp chili bean sauce ("do ban djan")
1 tsp fermented bean paste
1/4 tsp anise powder
1/2 tsp chili oil (preferably the type with dried chili in oil, and with a picture of a serial killer woman on the label)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

1. Season beef/pork with 1/2 tsp salt and sugar, 2/3 tsp corn starch and a dash of sesame oil.
2. Stir fry the meat in a wok with oil, drain and set aside.
3. Fry the garlic in the wok, add sauce, bean curd, and meat.
3. Sprinkle some sesame oil, put on a dish and serve with some chopped scallion as garnish.

Cashew Chicken

2 boneless chicken breasts, cubed

1 TBS oyster sauce
1/2 tsp light soya sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ginger juice
dash of pepper and sesame oil

1 bunch celery [**and/or other tough vegetable, like carrots], cubed
1 cup cashews
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS minced ginger
1 piece shallot, chopped
Chinese cooking wine

**Basic sauce:
1 TBS soya sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
dash of white pepper
dash of sesame oil
1 TBS oyster sauce
1/2 cup water

1. Marinade the chicken for 1/2 hour.
2. Deep fry cashews until brown. Drain on a paper towel.
3. Blanche celery (or other vegetables) in boiling water for 1/2 minute.
4. Heat oil in wok; add ginger, garlic and shallot. When oil starts to smell, add the chicken and fry until about 80% cooked.
5. Add vegetables and sprinkle with cooking wine. Add basic sauce + oyster sauce mixed with water, cover for 1 minute or until fully cooked.
6. Add cashews.
7. If the sauce is too runny, add corn starch mixture (1 TBS corn starch mixed with cold water), stirring constantly.

Napa Cabbage with Vermicelli

1-2 small packets of dried vermicelli
handful of small dried shrimps
1/2-1 medium sized napa cabbage
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS minced ginger
splash of Chinese cooking wine

1 TBS oyster sauce
1 tsp light soya sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup water
dash of white pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil

1. Soak the vermicelli in cold water until soft, wash and drain.
2. Soak dried shrimps in small bowl of hot water for 1/2 hour.
3. Chop cabbage into bite-sized pieces.
4. Heat cooking oil in wok; throw in garlic and ginger. When the oil starts to smell, add cabbage and shrimps, and stir fry for about 5 minutes.
5. Sprinkle with some cooking wine.
6. Add the sauce (made by mixing the ingredients indicated above) and the vermicelli. Stir well.
7. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, until most of the sauce is absorbed; alternatively, add some of the water in which the shrimp was soaked if there's not enough liquid.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Sunshine sent me this one; there's a picture of it on her blog, which you can reach by following the link.


6 sprigs laksa leaves (Vietnamese mint)
6 cups water
1 1/2 cups thick coconut milk
1 heaped tablespoon sugar
500 g (1 lb) fresh yellow noodles or dried rice vermicelli, cooked, drained
150 g (5 oz) bean sprouts, blanched (remove root ends)
1 chicken breast, steamed and shredded
100 g (3 1/2 oz) peeled prawns, steamed

8 red chilis
10 shallots
1 lemongrass
2 cm (3/4 inches) galangal
1/2 cm (1/4 in) fresh turmeric or 1/2 tsp powdered
1/2 teaspoon dried shrimp paste

3 sprigs laksa leaves, sliced
1 cucumber shredded
3 eggs, cooked as a thin omelette and shredded
2 red chilis, sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
6 TBS sambal belacan
6 small round limes or lemon wedges

1. Chop and blend spice ingredients into paste, adding oil if necessary.
2. Heat oil and gently fry paste for 10 min. stirring from time to time.
3. Add laksa leaves and water, bringing to a boil.
4. Add coconut milk, sugar and salt.
5. Reduce heat and simmer gently uncovered for 10-15 minutes

6. Divide noodles, chicken and beansprouts into bowls and top with shredded laksa leaves.
7. Pour soup on top and add a little cucumber, egg strips, chilis and spring onion.
8. Serve with a sambal belacan and limes on the side.

Crab in Black Bean Sauce


1 large crab (or 2 smaller crabs), chopped (ask the butcher to do it unless you feel like getting crab guts all over you!)
1 large onion, cut into pieces (whatever shape and size you prefer)
1/2 cup scallion, cut into lengths
4 pcs thinly sliced ginger
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pc thinly sliced small red chili

**Black Bean Sauce: (this is for freshly made sauce; there's a ready-to-use version by Lee Kum Kee that's sold in a jar, though I've never tried that one)
4 TBS preserved black beans (kinda sticky and comes in a sealed plastic bag)
2 TBS sugar
2 TBS soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
pinch of ground white pepper
2 cups water

**Light Soya Sauce Water:
1 TBS soya sauce
5 TBS water
1/2 TBS sugar

1. Heat wok with 2 TBS oil, fry onion, ginger, garlic and scallion until it smells (that's in my mom's words).
2. Add the black bean sauce (made by mixing the ingredients indicated above).
3. Add crab, stir fry for about 10 minutes.
4. Cover, making sure the water level almost completely covers the crab. If there's too little liquid, add some light soya sauce water (made by mixing the ingredients indicated above). Cook on medium fire for about 8 minutes.
5. Prepare 1/2 cup cold water with 1 TBS corn starch (= sauce thickener). Pour into wok, stirring constantly, and add 1 TBS cooking wine, till sauce is thicker and crab has turned completely red. Serve.

White Cut Chicken ("Bak Tseet Gai")

A home favorite. The dipping sauce is one of my most beloved things in the world and can probably be used for other things.


1 whole chicken

1 TBS ginger juice or mush
1 TBS Chinese cooking wine
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cooking oil

3-4 slices of ginger
1 piece scallion, cut into 2 inch lengths

**Dipping sauce: (these are just the proportions; I usually make 3 to 4 times as much)
1 TBS ginger, finely chopped
1 TBS scallion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS hot cooking oil

steamer or wok with a steaming stand
dish lifter also helps!

1. Marinade the chicken with the marinade mixture, smearing it inside and out.
2. Stuff the ginger slices and scallion lengths inside the chicken.
3. Place on a dish and inside a steamer or on the steamer stand in the wok-obviously the water has to be boiling inside the steamer or the wok by then. Cover and steam for 20-25 minutes.
4. Check for readiness by poking the thigh with a chopstick. Chicken is done when clear liquid rather than blood comes out.
5. Make the dipping sauce by combining the ginger, scallion and salt in a small bowl, and pouring the hot oil over them. Mix well.

Braised Vegetables ("Yau Choi")

This is the basic recipe for cooking any sort of fleshy green Chinese vegetable in a wok.


3-4 cups water (enough to cover vegetables)
1-2 lb vegetables, e.g. "choi sum" (= Chinese broccoli?), kale, "bok choi", baby bok choi, "A" vegetable ...
1/2 TBS sugar
1 tsp cooking oil
oyster sauce

1. Bring 3-4 cups water to boil in a wok.
2. Add 1 tsp cooking oil.
3. Add vegetables. Sprinkle sugar on them. Cook for approx. 10 minutes with the cover on.
4. Check stem for transparency-which indicates that the vegetables are cooked.
5. Serve with oyster sauce drizzled on top.

Drunken Chicken

**Warning: This takes overnight cooling in the fridge!


1 whole chicken
18 pcs (= 1 tsp) Chinese black peppercorn ("fa tsiu")
2 slices ginger
2 pieces scallion
enough water to cover chicken
3/4 cup + 1/2 TBS Chinese cooking wine (= clear and brown in color)
1 TBS salt
1 tsp fish sauce

for chili sauce:

4-5 small red chili peppers
4-5 pcs. garlic
2 tsp lemon or lime juice
1 tsp salt

1. Put water, peppercorns, ginger and spring onions in a large pot. Bring to a boil.
2. Put chicken in the pot, breast down. Cook for about 8 minutes on medium high heat.
3. Turn chicken around so that the breast is up. Cook for about 7 minutes.
4. Poke thigh with chopstick. If blood comes out, cook for another 2-3 minutes. Chicken is done when clear liquid comes out of the hole.
5. Remove chicken. Cut into 4 pieces.
6. Wait till broth is cooled down. Then, mix 3/4 of it with 3/4 cup cooking wine and 1 TBS salt, so that the taste is just saltier than a normal soup.
7. Put chicken SKIN DOWN with broth and wine mixture in a container and refridgerate overnight. Make sure all the flesh is covered. Chicken will keep for a number of days.
8. When ready to serve, chop whatever you will eat, place in serving dish and sprinkle the following mixture on top:

1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp broth
1/2 TBS fresh cooking wine

9. Blend all the ingredients for the fresh chili sauce and use as dipping sauce for the chicken.

Thousand Year Old Eggs on Fresh Tofu

I had this with Ben Shum at the most amazing Jiaozi (dumpling) restaurant in Beijing, across the big-ass road from the Beijing Film Academy. This was one of Ben's favorite dishes. Years later, I'm recreating this from my memory, so be warned: tinkering is most welcome.


1 block soft or medium tofu (the fresher the better)
1 thousand year old egg (black inside)
2 TBS sesame oil
2 pieces scallions, chopped

1. Rinse and drain the tofu. Arrange on plate (may be cut into individual serving sizes). Season with salt.
2. Remove the shell of the thousand year old egg. Chop into pieces and place on the tofu.
3. Top with chopped scallions.
4. Sprinkle with sesame oil.

**I don't think soya sauce was used-the salt should suffice-but feel free to add according to your taste.

Anchovies on Fresh Tofu


1 block soft or medium tofu (the fresher the better)
3-4 TBS small dried anchovies
2 TBS vegetable oil
8 TBS sesame oil
1-2 TBS soya sauce/shoyu
1 TBS sake
2 pieces scallion, chopped

1. Rinse and drain the tofu. Arrange on a plate. Sprinkle with a little salt. [can be cut into individual serving sizes]
2. In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil and 4 TBS of the sesame oil. Season with salt. When hot, add anchovies, and fry until foam subsides and anchovies are crispy. Remove the anchovies with a slotted spoon and arrange them on top of the tofu. Top with chopped scallions.
3. Add rest of the sesame oil to the saucepan and heat. Add sake. When hot, remove from heat and add the soya sauce, stirring quickly.
4. Pour onto the tofu and serve.

Spiced Cabbage Salad

Again, courtesy of Sophia Khan.


4 cups shredded green cabbage
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
2 to 3 green cayenne chiles, seeded and minced
about 6 fresh or frozen curry leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons grated coconut

1. wash the cabbage, then put it in a medium heavy pot with the
shallots, chile, curry leaves, salt, turmeric, and cumin
2. place over medium-high heat, cover, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes
(the cabbage will cook in the water that clings to the leaves from
washing.) give the pot a quick stir, cover again, and lower the heat
to medium.
3. simmer until the cabbage is cooked and tender, about another 10
minutes, depending on the cabbage and how finely it's shredded.
4. add the lime juice and coconut and stir to mix well. let cook for
a minute or two, uncovered, then turn out and serve, mounded on a

Cucumber Salad with Hot Spiced Mustard Dressing

I present: a salad from Sophia Khan.


1/2 pound cucumbers, peeled
kosher salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons plain yougurt (or water)
1 1/2 teaspoons of mustard oil (if you can't find mustard oil,
substitute olive or vegetable oil and just add mustard seeds)
1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/8 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 green chile, slit lengthwise and seeded
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 ablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons minced cilantro

1. cut the cucumber lengthwise in quarters and slice off the seeds
then cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths. Cut lengthwise again so the pieces are fat
place in colander and sprinkle on about 2 tablespoons kosher salt and
set aside for 15 minutes

2. dry roast sesame seeds until golden, set aside
dry roast cumin until it's aromatic
grind sesame and cumin seeds in a coffee grinder to a powder
set in a small bowl and add either the yogurt or water to make a paste
set aside

3. rinse cucumbers with cold water and pat out excess water
completely coat the cucumbers with the spice paste
set aside

4. heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat
add fenugreek, nigellla, and chile and cook for about a minute,
stirring occasionally until you can smell the spices
add cayenne and turmeric, stir
pour the flavored oil over the cucumbers and toss gently
add lemon juice, toss
set aside for 10-20 minutes for to allow flavors to mingle

5. right before serving add cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon salt or more to
taste, and toss gently to mix

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Here's another one from Sophia Khan. It's "a popular Indian chick
pea dish that works as a great side dish or snack".


1 16 oz can of chickpeas
2-3 firm tomatoes, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of garlic and ginger pulp
dash of lemon juice
cilantro for garnish

1. brown the onions in some olive oil
2. add salt, turmeric, and garlic and ginger pulp and fry together
for a minute or two
3. drain the can of chickpeas and add to the onion and spice mixture
4. add tomatoes
5. stir around for several minutes until the tomatoes have cooked
through and are a little smashed
6. add a dash of lemon juice to taste and garnish with cilantro

Green Beans and Mango Stir-Fried

This one was kindly contributed by Sophia Khan, who "kinda threw [it]
together one day and was extremely pleased, so [she] cooks it all the


1 pound of green beans, washed
1 medium to large onion sliced
1 medium to large mango, anywhere from green and tart to ripe (but
not overly ripe) cubed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 heaping teaspoon of garlic and ginger pulp (it's usually sold as a
mixture in indian groceries)
salt to taste (i usually do 1 teaspoon, makes the recipe easy)

1. slice the onions and brown them in some olive oil
2. add chili powder, garam masala, garlic and ginger pulp, salt and
stir fry for a minute on medium heat
3. toss in green beans and fry for a few minutes until the beans are blanched
4. add mango and stir it all around for a couple of more minutes

Kani Su Maki (Crab and Cucumber)

This one was sent to me by Brian Wilkens, host of memorable barbecues past.


1 Pound Crab Legs.
1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Sugar or Agave Sweetener
1 Dash of Salt
3 Large Cucumbers

1. Mix vinegar, sweetener and salt in a large mixing Bowl.
2. Add shredded crab Meat, stir and let sit for 30 minutes.
3. Skin and de-seed cucumbers.
4. Add crab meat inside cucumber.
5. Cut into bite-sized pieces and arrange on a tray. Pour any
leftover vinegar over the maki.

** For more sophistication, you can add sprouts to the shredded crab
meat, and peppers, shredded beets and onions to the serving tray for
color and taste.

Vegetarian Phô

I found this recipe online at some point and I've essentially stayed true to it. This is enough for 2 huge bowls or 3 medium sized ones and I swear on my Napa cabbage that it's as good as the original beef version.


450 g thin phô noodles
4 cups prepared broth (recipe below)
100 g seitan, drained
big handful of bean sprouts

handful of Asian basil leaves - they're minty and can't really be replaced by the normal kind
handful of coriander / cilantro, coarsely chopped
handful of Napa cabbage, coarsely chopped
1/4 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 long spring onion, thinly sliced (stalk and green part)
1.5 tablespoon roasted peanuts,
chopped (optional)
1 small lime, cut into wedges
2 small red / green chili peppers, cut into fine rounds
fish sauce, salt and white pepper to taste

1. Prepare the broth. Once it has been simmering for about 10 minutes, soak the noodles in boiling water (removed from heat) for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
2. Drain and divide the noodles into bowls. Heat through the seitan in the broth and remove after a few minutes. Cut into equal portions. Slice thinly and add to the noodles.
3. The greens-and-whites can go in the bowls at this point (bean sprouts, Napa cabbage, onion and spring onion, coriander). Ladle the broth, top with peanuts and serve with lime wedges, chili peppers, fish sauce and salt / pepper as condiments. I prefer white pepper, though freshly ground black pepper is also perfectly fine.


Phô Broth:

1 l vegetable stock
1.5 tablespoon soya sauce
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1x 1" piece of ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 small onion, diced
1x 3" cinnamon stick
1 large bay leaf
1 pod of star anise

1. Put stock, soy sauce, garlic, and onion in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
2. Heat ginger in a small skillet and add to the stock.
3. Chuck in the rest to the broth. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer partially covered for about 20 - 25 minutes.
4. Strain the broth and adjust to taste. Return to pot and keep simmering until ready to be used.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fujiko's Beet Salad

I'm going to call this Japanese because I got the recipe from Fujiko
by way of Titus. It was a hit at my most recent barbecue.


3 regular beets or 1 humungous beet the size of your head
lots of garlic
1/8-1/4 cup olive oil
balsamic vinegar
1/2 large red onion
fresh herbs, if you like

1. Boil beets WITH THE SKIN ON (I did a lot of research on this one)
for 1-2 hours. You'll know when they are done when you can poke a
chopstick all the way through the beet.
2. Drain the beets. Running them under cold water, slide off the skin.
3. Cut the beets into slices about 1.5 inches squared in area and 1/2
inch thick. Place in a bowl.
4. Fry up the garlic (as much as you like, really; I like it really
garlicky) in the olive oil. Cool slightly and add to the beets.
5. Thinly slice the red onion, and add to beets.
6. Add salt&pepper, balsamic vinegar and chopped fresh herbs (e.g.
basil) to taste. ** I have also experimented with a bit of sesame
oil, which tasted really good.
7. Can serve immediately or chilled.

Baked Salmon with Masago

Also known as "Mama J's Sinful Salmon", this recipe is from Misha, of
Ena and Misha. I am quoting from his blog with a few minor


4 salmon fillets, preferably something wild and Alaskan
2/3 cups Japanese mayonnaise (differs from regular mayonnaise in that
it is made with rice vinegar instead of white wine vinegar - also, it
comes in these cute squishy bottles with the kewpie doll on them)
6 TBS flying fish roe (a.k.a. "masago", the smaller of the two types
of bright orange fish roe you can find on your sushi)
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley


a casserole, preferably with a lid

1. Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.
2. Mix the parsley with the mayonnaise. With a pastry brush lightly
brush the fillets with the parsley mayonnaise so that all sides are
completely covered.
3. Place the fillets skin side down into a casserole. Cover the top
side of the fillets with a thin layer of flying fish roe.
4. Cover the casserole and bake in the oven for at least 15 minutes.
To tell you the truth, I lost track how long the baking took. Mama J
didn't supply a time and it seemed to take quite a bit. It will also
depend on the heat conductivity of your casserole dish and the
thickness of the fillets you're using. Ideally, the flying fish roe
should start turning opaque when the dish is done.


Steaming is a basic technique in Chinese cooking, and can be done in
2 basic ways:

1. Steamer: essentially a very large pot-like container divided into
layers by porous materials that allow the steam to seep through. We
are all familiar with the bamboo variety, which stack and come in a
variety of diameters; dim sum (Cantonese tapas-style lunch) is served
in these. But you still need to put these steamers in a larger pot
that generates the steam. So someone has invented the fusion of the
two, namely the huge pot subdivided into layers by metal dividers
that have holes in them. Pour water into the pot, bring to a boil,
put the food (either a dish or a bun with a piece of paper
underneath) onto each layer, cover with the lid, and steam for the
required amount of time.

2. Wok: if you have a metal stand (which sometimes comes with the
wok, but are also sold separately in the utensils section), just
place it in the wok, bring water to a boil in the wok, place the dish
on the stand, cover with the wok lid, and steam for the required
amount of time.

N.B.: in both cases, having what I call a dish lifter helps. This
gadget is basically a pair of non-elastic tongs adapted in width and
grip to pick up hot dishes by their edges from a steamer or a wok.
It really has no name, but is also widely sold for a couple of
dollars in any Asian grocery store.


Salty Duck Eggs with Pork


Chopsticks are useful not only for transferring food from the rice bowl into your mouth, but also for the following, extraordinarily helpful tasks:

1. Any type: beating eggs. Hold your hand stiff and the chopsticks open at an approximately 20 degree angle (yes, use a protractor). Beat eggs by moving the chopsticks rapidly in an ellipsis. I guarantee this makes less of a mess than using an egg whisk (which is bulkier and doesn't rest on a bowl easily), and faster.

2. Wooden: stirring, picking up dumplings and noodles, and similar manoeuvers from inside a pot or pan that's cooking. This includes a hot pot or shabu shabu (Asian fondu). You can also use it to poke through things like potatoes and beets, as well as into steamed dishes to check if they're done. Do not use plastic, ivory, metal or laminated chopsticks! They will either melt or burn your hands.

3. Long, wooden: for wok cooking. You'll easily find these 2 foot long things--sometimes joined on the ends by a string--near the cooking equipment. They will do all the things in #2 above, while protecting your hands from wok splatter.

4. Wooden: preparing live crabs. This will sound cruel to all you vegetarians out there, but is the traditional way to do it: when preparing live crabs to eat, you must remove the tail flap, stick a wooden chopstick up its &%$, and leave the crabs like that for about half an hour. According to my grandma, this is to let out dangerous intestinal and urinal fluids before cooking the crab.

5. Any type: saving space in your fridge. My grandma used to stack normal dishes in our tiny, Hong Kong sized fridge in our even tinier, Hong Kong sized kitchen by putting a couple of chopsticks across the top of each one as a divider. It works extraordinarily well--and saves you a couple of Tupperware to wash.


A wok should be round-bottomed for equal distribution of heat to all of its sides. This means that it will have to stand on a gas burner. In Chicago I had an electric stove top, so I bought a mobile single gas burner that feeds on canisters of gas from the nearest Asian grocery store. The entire thing (including gas canisters) cost about $17.00.

The wok should also be made of pure iron or steel ... WITHOUT a non-stick coating. The heat, which should be pretty much on a constant high if Chinese cooking is done properly (to emit the proper "wok hay" or "breath of wok" into the food), would make the non-stick coating come off, which according to my mom is carcinogenic.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Glass Noodle Salad


100 g glass noodles (bean thread noodle)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
100 g firm tofu (I like the pre-fried kind), cubed
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons vegetarian fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 tablespoon lime juice
2 - 4 red chili peppers, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped coriander / cilantro
1/4 cup chopped spring onion
handful of chopped peanuts


uhh... nothing special...
kitchen scissors to cut the noodles, maybe? nothing wrong with a knife though.
an old coffee bean grinder would be nice to pulse the nuts; i chop by hand, which can be a right pain.

Soak noodles in hot water for about 10 minutes and drain. Run under cold water and set aside in a big bowl. Prepare the following while the noodles are soaking.
2. Boil tofu for about 2 minutes, drain and set aside.
3. In a smaller bowl, mix together the following for a dressing: fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and chili peppers. Test and adjust according to taste.
4. Roughly cut the noodles into shorter lengths and toss in the tofu as well as the remaining ingredients (but not the peanuts).
5. Pour with dressing, toss and top with peanuts. Garnish with coriander.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Salty Duck Eggs with Pork


1-2 salty duck egg yolks, quartered
1/2 lb ground pork
2 fresh chicken eggs, beaten
white pepper
soy sauce
corn starch


large diameter steamer or wok with a steamer stand
pie dish

1. Season the pork with 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, dash of white pepper, and dash of soy sauce. Mix in 1 tsp corn starch.
2. Put into the pie dish and mix in the beaten eggs. Add an egg if there's too little liquid.
3. Strategically place the quartered salty duck egg yolks in the mixture: hide them inside the mixture if you like to guess where your food is.
3. Boil some water in the steamer or wok; when water starts to steam, lower the dish onto the stand, and cover. Steam for about 20 minutes. Check for readiness by poking a chopstick in the middle; the chopstick should come out clean.
4. Serve with rice and enjoy!