• American,  Latin American,  Meat

    Eddie’s Famous Chili

    Did you know this all-American comfort food originated from Texas? It’s one of the first Tex-Mex foods that borrowed its flavor profile from Mexican cuisine. Sources claim that the very first chilis didn’t have beans or tomatoes. They were made from just meat and dehydrated paste made from chilies and aromatics, that travelers could cook while on the road. While embarking on a journey to make the perfect chili, we stumbled upon Mexican recipes for adobo marinades that really reminded us of the flavor profile of Texas chili. The blend of chilies, garlic, oregano, cumin, and vinegar is nearly identical to old-time adobo recipes. What if we used adobo for…

  • Latin American,  Quick & Easy,  Vegetarian

    Instant Pot Arroz con Gandules

    Hi guys! Some of you have been asking me for veggie-friendly recipes, and you ought to know you’ve been heard! I have a lot of delicious rice, bean, and curry recipes that I can’t wait to share with you. Here’s an Arroz con Gandules (rice with pigeon peas) recipe that’s a Latin American classic, adapted from Ambitious Kitchen. You should be able to find pigeon peas in cans. Be on the lookout for the Goya brand. You will also need Sazon seasoning, which you can get either on Amazon, your latino grocer, or the ethnic aisle of your grocery store. Some brands contain MSG, but I got mine off Amazon,…

  • Noodles,  Vietnamese

    Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup (Bún Riêu)

    There’s something incredibly comforting about a bowl of tomato and meatball soup on a gloomy day. Its hearty flavors balance perfectly with the heaps of fresh herbs. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients! Most of them are just herbs, and you definitely don’t need all of them. For a casual bowl, you can just top it with scallions or mint and call it a day. With the growing popularity of the Instant Pot, you can definitely use it to prepare the stock. It will be ready in just 30 minutes! How does that sound? Why not give it a try?    Ingredients Serves 8-10 Stock 3 pounds…

  • Meat,  Quick & Easy,  Vietnamese

    Grilled Lemongrass Chicken

    This dish is my go-to easy meal prep recipe. You can make this in large batches and it’s extremely versatile. With this simple protein, you can make rice plates, vermicelli bowl, spring rolls, fried rice… the possibilities are endless. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!    Ingredients 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs 3 stalks lemongrass (~3 tablespoons prepared) 3 cloves garlic 2 tablespoons shallots -OR- any onion, minced 2 tablespoons fish sauce 1 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon sugar Ground black pepper, to taste 2 tablespoon neutral oil (canola, grape-seed, etc) Scallion, sliced for garnish, optional Fried garlic, for garnish, optional (You can buy these at…

  • Thai/Lao

    Thai Red Curry Paste

    I love Thai food, but finding authentic flavors in restaurants is not easy. Most food found in Thai restaurants in America is too sweet, does not have enough spices, not enough chilies, and lack real Thai ingredients. Curries taste watered down with too much coconut milk and prepared to suit western tastes. But I really, really wanted to eat good curry. How do I get that spicy authentic flavor? I live 15-20 minutes away from a Thai market! There’s so much that I don’t know about Thai cuisine, and I was determined to learn more about food that had been misunderstood in America for decades. The best way to start, I…

  • Braised,  Chinese/Taiwanese,  Meat,  Noodles

    Chinese Braised Brisket Lo Mein

    It was Mid Autumn Festival [中秋节] yesterday. The harvest moon was high and bright in the sky, and I was craving a homely meal and some lotus paste mooncakes. I don’t live with my parents anymore– and since they are quite a distance away, I have to resort to my own kitchen to satisfy my cravings. Thankfully, I do enjoy cooking :). I figured I would cook one of my dad’s favorite dishes, mun ngao lam (braised beef brisket). I gave him a call after work and asked him in detail of the ingredients and steps to prepare this dish.         Ingredients  2.5 – 3 pound beef drop flank,…

  • Braised,  Chinese/Taiwanese,  Epic Recipes,  Noodles

    Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

    Noodle soup is the purest form of cultural expression. Noodle soup is truth. Ok, am I exaggerating a little? Maybe. Noodle soup always tells a story. It is said that during the Tang Dynasty,  Muslims brought beef noodle soup to western China. The Muslim populations influenced Chinese food heavily with beef dishes and unique spices. La mian (hand-pulled noodles) supposedly has Muslim origins as well. Over time, beef noodle soups gained popularity and became a staple in Lanzhou and other regions of China. Beef noodle was then brought to Taiwan during the early 1990’s after World War II. It is now considered the national dish of Taiwan.  Are you ready to…

  • Epic Recipes,  Meat,  Thai/Lao

    Lao Sausages (Sai Oua)

    My standard meal at my favorite Laotian restaurant in Oakland is a grilled Lao sausage (sai oua), papaya salad (thum mak hoong), and sticky rice. The sausages there are scored and then deep fried, leaving the perfect, crispy edges, which I love so much. Paired with the funkiness of fermented fish sauce (padaek) and crab paste, it’s really just the perfect meal. The sausages are wonderful with just sticky rice and herbs such as mint and lettuce as well. It’s the perfect summer BBQ food. I just can’t wait to get grilling again!  If you have no means to stuff the sausages, don’t be deterred: the sausages taste great without…

  • Thai/Lao

    Southern Thai Pork Rib Curry

    If you have red curry paste on hand, then making a weeknight curry is a simple task. All you would need to do is stir fry the paste, add protein, water, and simmer! Super simple and doesn’t require much babysitting. It’s pretty hard to overcook it, since sparerib is a very forgiving cut of pork. If pork is not your cup of tea, you could substitute bone-in chicken thighs. Just as delicious! Ingredients 2 Tb cooking oil 3 tablespoon of homemade red curry paste  -OR- 2 tablespoon of store-bought paste plus 1 teaspoon turmeric powder 2 pounds pork spareribs 6 kaffir lime leaves Enough water to cover the ribs 5 Thai…

  • American,  Dessert

    Classic Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce

    If summer is about berry and peach sangrias, then autumn is about pie and enjoying hot chai on the couch.  The warm days of summer were fleeting at best– (damn you San Francisco), but has brought a bounty of delicious fruits and vegetables. It’ll be another 9 months until I see get to eat another melon or nectarine. This always gets me feelin’ some type of way. Grilled corn and barbecues, you were great, but I am ready to bid the season adieu with a good ‘ol apple pie.  Every September I turn into a pie-making machine. I think I have a solid enough foundation this year to start expanding my pie-rizons, yeah? Before I get…

  • American,  Dessert

    Choosing the Best Apples for Pie-Baking

    I’ve only ever known three apples in my childhood: the Red Delicious in the school cafeteria, the Fuji as my parents’ chosen sweet snacking apple, and the Granny Smith for baking due to its overwhelming tartness. Throughout the years, Gala and Honeycrisp grew in popularity, and became available in most mainstream grocery stores. Now that I’ve moved to Berekey, I have 15-20 different varieties of apples to choose from at my local grocery store; Gingergold, Jonagold, Braeburn, Gravenstein, Newton/Cox Pippin, Russet and Famaeus just make my baker heart leap in excitement.  What makes a good pie?  First let’s discuss what we’re really looking for. In my years of baking, I have made numerous bad pies…

  • American,  Dessert,  Uncategorized

    Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

    My only experience with pound cake as a kid was from the boxed Sara Lee stuff. My grandma would secretly buy a loaf from the Chinese supermarket and sneak some to me before dinner. Boy were they a treat! Thinking back, those rectangular prism cakes were actually kind of creepy. How did they manage to get it to a perfectly brown rectangle? It doesn’t have a single crack at the top! Life is full of mysteries.  This is easily my go-to cake to bring to work or picnics, and makes a great “just because” cake. It’s delicious, easily transportable, and the perfect sharing size! I seriously can’t think of one reason to dislike this.   

  • Chinese/Taiwanese,  Quick & Easy

    Sichuan Mapo Tofu

    I’ve grown up eating mapo tofu. My dad always made his own Cantonese version, which I would happily gobble up with my rice. Despite the fond memories, I was not satisfied with the mapo tofu I’ve come to know. It was too much like soybean, too mild in spice, and totally lacking the iconic numbing peppercorn. It didn’t have that robust flavor I was craving.  So what makes the flavor robust? Good question! Pixian doubanjiang has actually been fermented for much longer than the Hong Kong brand, giving it a much darker color and earthy flavor. If I had to draw a parallel, it would be similar to a smokier…

  • American,  Braised,  Meat

    Pork and Mushroom Ragu with Polenta

    With tomatoes aplenty at the market, I’ve been in this meat-sauce mood lately. It’s hearty and warming; perfect for those cold nights in the middle of summer. Ok well, regardless of whether your summers are cold or not– surely there can’t be an inappropriate time for delicious ragu over a buttery plate of polenta? Those who know me, know I love braising. It’s my preferred way to eat fat-laden cuts of meat. Just imagine moist and tender chunks of pork, soaked in a thick sauce of meat juices and herbs, then ladled over creamy polenta. The lobster mushroom and peak-of-the-season tomatoes impart an umami that marries wonderfully with the rich flavor of the pork shoulder. The recipe is pretty standard.…

  • Chinese/Taiwanese

    Pan Fried Pork Buns (Sheng Jian Bao)

    I AM KIND OF a purist when it comes to SHENG JIAN BAO (生煎包). For a sheng jian bao to be good, the pork filling must capture all the essences of pork flavor. The bun must be fluffy, the filling must be juicy and porky, and the bottom must be seared to a crispy golden-brown. With that said, I generally dislike the following in my buns: Milk Five spice powder Too much sesame oil Vermicelli  Root vegetables However, if you want to get creative with your buns, feel free to explore! Just don’t shoot down this bun until you’ve tried it.   Step 1. Make the dough. The dough will need…

  • Chinese/Taiwanese,  Quick & Easy

    Caramel Plum Spareribs

    After at least an hour of agonizing over dinner, I dragged my heels to my local supermarket and decided on pork spareribs. I debated between Vietnamese caramel ribs and my dad’s plum sauce steamed ribs. That was a no-brainer. Sticky, gooey ribs always wins, but why not have the best of both worlds? For this recipe, you will need fish sauce, plum sauce, and sugar. I typically use Koon Chun brand plum sauce, which I’ve been able to find it in most Chinese super markets.  If you love sweet, sticky and tender pork ribs, then you’ll love this recipe. Give it a try!