Archive for ‘Asian’

October 6, 2015

Pad Gra Pow

Here’s my version/attempt at a favorite Thai dish of mine. Honestly, mine comes out tasting like Chinese food. Maybe ’cause I added sesame oil in the end. Don’t add sesame oil. Otherwise very tasty and simple stir fry that’s very “下飯“ or “makes you down a lot of rice”. My picture isn’t as pretty ’cause it’s missing the bright red chilis. Baby does not like spicy so we had to do without.

pad gra prow

Mmmm…comfort food.


  • 1 lb ground pork/chicken/turkey/beef, whatever. I prefer pork.
  • 0.5 lb green beans (hericots are more tender) chopped into 1/2 cm length pieces
  • 2-3 large shallots, minced (about 0.5 cup)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (about 1.5 tbs)
  • 3 tbs fish sauce
  • 1.5 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1-2 tsp lime juice
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 pinches kaffir/makrut lime leaves, dried. 2 fresh leaves if you can find it
  • 5-7 thai chilies, sliced
  • handful of asian basil leaves
  • optional: sliced cucumbers
  • optional: fried egg


  1. Heat large wok/frying pan over med high heat until you can’t hold your hand over it for over 5 sec.
  2. Add 1-2 tbs high smoke point cooking oil (peanut, avocado, etc), when oil is just shimmering, add minced shallots, garlic, salt and stir until fragrant, ~1-2 min. Do not burn the garlic. Bad.
  3. Add ground meat and break it up with the spatula. Add all seasonings except basil. Mix well. When meat is juuuust barely cooked through, remove and set aside. Pour remaining meat juice back into the pan.
  4. Add chopped green beans, cover and let steam in meat juice (mmmm) 3-4 min or so or until just tender. Add meat back in and mix well. Scoop a little hole in the middle of the pan and add a bit of oil, fry basil, then mix everything together. Season to taste with soy sauce and lime juice if needed.
  5. Plate with sliced cucumbers, serve with rice.
  6. Optional: Top with fried egg
January 8, 2015

Chinese Lion Head Meatballs 獅子頭


  • 2 lb ground pork
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-2 green onions, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
  • 4 tbs minced water chestnuts (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 – 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Optional: 1/4 cup cornstarch


  • 4-5 cups napa cabbage, chopped
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 3 slices of ginger
  • 3 cans chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup Chinese rice wine


  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix all meatball ingredients. Do not over mix or you’ll end up with tough meatballs. Roll into large, softball size meatballs.
  2. Add corn starch in a large bowl. Roll meatball in bowl to lightly coat.
  3. Heat frying pan over medium high heat. Add plenty of oil to coat bottom of pan. Once oil is shimmering hot, add meatballs one or two at a time with tongs. Avoid crowding.  Remove once evenly browned on all sides. Reduce heat to medium if they start to blacken too quickly.
  4. In a large dutch oven or pot, add chicken soup, rice wine, remaining slices of ginger, leftover mushrooms, stem portions of the cabbage, soy sauce. Bring to a boil then add cabbage leaves. Stir and add salt to taste.
  5. Place meatballs over cabbage. Spoon over soup and cover. Simmer on low for 1 hour, adding the cabbage leaves at the half way point.
  6. Serve over a bowl of rice.
August 5, 2014

Thai Beef Salad

This is a rather versatile recipe. Feel free to add/adapt as you see fit! Speaking of fit, this counts as healthy food, right?

thai beef salad

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • ~1.5 lb flank steak
  • 1 tbs thai red curry paste
  • Marinade:
    • 1/4 cup (4 tbs) soy sauce
    • 2 tbs fish sauce
    • 2 tbs oil
    • 2 large cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 basil leaves, julienned (stack and roll, then rock the knife to create thin strips)
  • green onion, julienned (cut thinly on the diagonal with a SHARP chef’s knife)
  • 1/2 large carrot, julienned
  • 1/2 cucumber, julienned
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • handful or two of cherry tomatoes
  • 10 oz fresh spring salad mix
  • crushed peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • fried shallots


  • 3 parts soy sauce
  • 1 part fish sauce
  • 1 part sesame oil
  • 1 part thai sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy is my brand of preference)
  • optional if you like sweeter: honey to taste
  • dash of lime juice


Mmm… all prepped?


  1. Marinate steak, uncut, in a ziplock bag for 4-8 hours. Remove and rub with a thin coat of red curry paste.
  2. On an aluminum foil lined grill (or cast iron griddle with grill lines), bring heat up to high. Drizzle aluminum with oil and grill meat 4-5 minutes per side (depending on thickness). Better to undercook than overcook!
  3. Let meat REST for 3-5 minutes. Slice on the diagonal (against the grain) in thin slices.
  4. Combine veggies and toss with vinaigrette. Top with sliced meat, then sesame seeds, peanuts, shallots, or whatever toppings you please.


August 5, 2014

Grilled Eggplant

Inspired by a cute, non-assuming little Japanese restaurant in Sunnyside Queens called Takesushi. I may have Chinese-ified it a bit…I’m going to venture to say that smaller eggplants, and especially asian eggplants are more tender. The big behemoth ones are a bit tougher. And they take longer to cook.

Word of advice for folks who don’t own a grill nor the space for it: cast iron stove top griddles! Grill away.


INGREDIENTS: (serves 4 as appetizer)

  • 1 large eggplant or 2 medium
  • 1/4 cup hoisen sauce
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs rice wine
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 green onions, chopped


  • Heat grill. (I use an indoor cast iron stove top grill). To make things easier to clean, I lined my grill with aluminum foil, then generously brushed it with oil. Heat until you cannot hold your hand 5 inches from it for over 5 seconds. If it’s on your stove, medium high heat for a good 5+ minutes.
  • Rinse and halve eggplant. Slice off a small sliver from the rounded back of each half, so that it can sit flat on the grill.
  • Brush all sides of eggplant with oil. Score top side of eggplant, criss cross pattern. Cut about half way into the flesh. This allows better sauce/flavor distribution as well as even cooking, but any deeper and it might fall apart on the grill.
  • Place flat/presentation side down. Combine and brush with next three ingredients: hoisen, soy sauce, rice wine over the tops. Grill ~3-5 minutes. Rotate <90 degrees (to create grill mark) and grill another 3-5 minutes. Flip and continue to grill ~3-5 minutes, brush with plenty of hoisen mixture. Rotate <90 degrees again. Continue to brush with sauce if it dries. Eggplant should be deflating a bit. The flesh will be soft and pull away easily. Sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions over the top. Serve.
April 3, 2014

Ketchup Stir Fry Prawns + Chinese BBQ Noodles

Chang’s mom gave me this huge bag of frozen shrimp a few weeks ago and I never got around to cooking it. Every time we saw her she’d ask, “Did you try the shrimp yet?” and I’d shamefully shake my head and admit that I hadn’t figure out what to do with it yet. Stir fry shrimp and eggs? Shrimp with edamame? Overdone. That’s the extent of my Chinese shrimp cooking skills, those two recipes. Then literally out of sheer laziness because it requires no peeling, it occurred to me that I could make the ketchup stir fry prawns I’ve seen my own mother make with those giant tiger prawns. Too ambitious? Maybe. I called my mother to ask for her recipe but she was busy and forgot to call me back. 7:00pm came and went. Chang and I were getting hungry.

So I winged it.



  • 1.5 lb fresh or thawed prawns, heads off shells ON
  • salt
  • corn starch
  • oil (high smoke point, like avocado or peanut)
  • 2 stalks green onions, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated/minced ginger*
  • Sauce:
    • 1/2 cup ketchup
    • 2 tbs soy sauce
    • ~2 tbs brown sugar, loose
    • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

*if you don’t have fresh ginger, 1/2 tsp or so of ginger powder mixed into the sauce will do.


  1. Rinse prawns under cold water (this will thaw them quickly, too, if they’re still frozen). Drain well. Line paper towel over baking pan and place prawns in.
  2. Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl
  3. Dry prawns thoroughly with more paper towels (always make sure whatever it is you’re frying is very very dry. It will crisp better and you wont have as much splash back of hot oil when it hits the pan.).
  4. Remove paper towels, mop up baking pan so everything is dry. Lightly salt prawns. Coat with 3-4 tbs cornstarch. Toss and mix.
  5. Heat large frying pan or wok over medium high heat. When pan is hot (you wont be able to hold your palm right over the pan for over 5 seconds if it’s hot enough), add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat until oil shimmers.
  6. Slowly add prawns in a single layer (you may have to do this in batches). Fry until the cooked orange edges creep up and over to the top side. Flip and cook other side. Both sides should be orange, with just-golden brown and crisp shells. Remove and set aside.
  7. Drain oil so that only a thin layer is left. Add minced garlic/ginger/green onion and quickly stir until aromatic. (You WILL be able to smell it.) Do NOT burn garlic, this does not take long. Add shrimp back in and toss to coat. Spoon in sauce, not all at once, but enough to coat the shrimp. (You can always add more, but you can’t take out.). Remove and serve!


Woohoo! Yay for winging it! I feel like a real adult now. I’m making grown up dishes! By myself! Who needs mama now?! Yea OK, technically Chang’s mom gave me the shrimp… but I made it into a MEAL! Annndddd ’cause that about hits my grown up-ness quota for the week, I served it with my favorite college lazy dish: BBQ noodles. Literally ate this 3 out of 7 nights back then.



  • dried noodles (I like the thin japanese variety, or the curly ramen-like noodles)
  • scallions (minced)
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese BBQ (sha cha)
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • Optional Toppings: soft poached egg, veggies


  1. Cook noodles.
  2. Mix rest of the ingredients in serving bowl.
  3. Add and mix noodles when cooked.
  4. Top with egg and/or veggies.





September 11, 2013

Chinese BBQ Spare Ribs + how to mince garlic

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 2.10.35 PM

I had left over spare ribs from my stew and basically tweaked the recipe for Chinese Chicken Wings


  • spare ribs, cut in 2 or so inch pieces
  • equal parts honey, hoisen (NOT oyster) sauce, soy sauce, rice wine.
  • ginger, garlic, green onion
    • Classic Chinese recipe trio.
    • cut in thin but large slices so that it’s easy to remove from the marinade later. Less burning when you bake.
    • I also like so smash the slices with the flat side of my knife before I add it to the marinade, releases more juices.
  • Chinese Five Spice. ~1 tsp is fine. don’t over-do this. Just sprinkle over the ribs before you add it to the marinade.

It’s hard to mess up the ratio. as long as you keep equal parts of the liquid ingredients, you’ll be ok.


  1. Marinate ribs in a large ziplock bag over night.
  2. Preheat oven ~310F.
  3. Space ribs evenly on foil lined pan, pour 1/2 cup marinade into the pan, tent over with aluminum foil (**this part’s different from the chicken recipe!).
    • Pork takes longer to cook. Lower heat, longer time, and tenting the foil keeps the meat nice and moist and prevents burning. Results in a more tender rib.
  4. Bake for 1 hour. Open the tent and flip the ribs 180 degrees, add a bit more marinade
    • pan bottom should be bubbly and brown, not black and charred. When you flip, the side of the ribs that were in contact with the foil should be shiny and have a bit of a golden crust.
  5. Re-tent and bake for 30min-1 hour more, depending on thickness of the ribs. Check on it on the 30 min mark, and if it’s not shiny and brown with a nice crust, it’s not done. If it’s greyish, it’s not done. If the meat doens’t come easily off the bone with a fork, it’s not done. Pan bottom by now should start to blacken. That is A-OK.
  6. eat.

MMM… nice end of summer snack. (yes. i eat bbq ribs as a snack.)

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 2.11.05 PM


See the little black bits clinging to the meat? Doesn’t taste bad. Just looks bad. That’s green onion, diced. I know, I know, I said use long slices for the marinade. But I get my green onion in bulk in Flushing where it’s like 3 bunches for a $1 as opposed to 1 for a dollar. I chop ’em up then freeze them in ziplock bags. So if you want to be cheap, use frozen diced green onion. If you’re going for presentation, use fresh sliced green onion.

Ginger powder works fine if you don’t have fresh.

Never skimp on garlic. Canned stuff is foul. I don’t even do pre-peeled bulk garlic. Just break off a clove, smash with the back of your knife, and the skin comes right off. Chop off the hard nubby end and slice, OR, if you want minced garlic, I use my onion method (I think I learned this from Alton Brown):


  • break off 1 clove.
  • do NOT cut off nubby end.
  • Smash lightly a few times with flat side of knife, peel.
  • Lay clove on its flattest side.
  • slice parallel to the cutting board, then perpendicular along the LENGTH of the clove, all the while stopping at the nub. You should end up with long slivers, all still attached to the nub. Like a brush.
  • Slice perpendicular to the board, this time starting at the tip, along the wiDTH of the clove. this creates the mince.

Voila! less sticky fingers, less useless tools in the kitchen that only perform one duty. I will draw you pictures some day. SOME day…


EDIT: found an awesome video on chopping onions. The “traditional way” is how I mince my garlic. I think the new way looks intriguing, but not sure how I can manage that with a tiny garlic clove…

September 6, 2013

Pork Rib Noodle Soup

Pork Rib Noodle Soup

Holy crap! Was it really in the 50’s last night? Is it really only September and already noodle soup weather?

Yea, I’m not in Texas anymore.

Left over pork stew works wonders on a day like this.

Note: did not parboil ribs this time. Rubbed them with salt and brown sugar and seared them in the pot. Remove. Add aromatics, deglaze, add soup, add ribs, then simmered on the stove for 4 hours. Similar outcomes, different method of getting there. I did have to skim a ton of “meat particulate” throughout the simmering process though.

Mmmm…meat particulate…

September 4, 2013

Indonesian Chicken and Egg Curry Noodles


This is a large meal for two. Inspired by the best meal I had in Bali this summer, at a little run down restaurant overlooking a volcano (Mount Batur). My mother actually use to make something similar when we were kids. (Sans curry ’cause we’re not southeast asian). It was a smooshy chicken noodle soup with lots of greens and fluffy eggs melted in. Any time one of us was feeling sick, she’d make us this soup. Perhaps my strong affinity towards this Indonesian dish is just due to homesickness. Anyway, don’t tell my mother, but I like it better with curry and shallots. Just a stronger, richer tasting meal.


  • 1 qt Chicken Stock
  • ~3 servings of noodles (I used dried, flat wavy noodles. plain dried ramen noodles are good, too)
  • chicken thigh meat, diced (yes. dark meat. do it.)
  • lime
  • fried shallots (comes in a plastic container w/ red lid. asian supermarkets)
  • ~3 tbs yellow curry paste (thai. ’cause that’s what i have.)
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • spinach (frozen OK, other asian greens, OK.)
  • 3 eggs
  • salt
  • optional: sliced green onions  and peppers as garnish


  1. Rub diced chicken meat with curry paste. Salt generously. Mix with your hands. It’s slimy. It’s fun. Please wash your hands.
  2. 4 qt pot – Heat on medium high. Add a tbs oil. When shimmering, add onions. Stir. Saute until soft ~5 min. Salt generously. Add 1 tbs curry paste and mix in.
  3. Add chicken stock. Bring to a  boil. Stir in another spoonful of curry paste or to taste. Add chicken, reduce heat to simmer. Cover and simmer 10 min.
  4. Bring heat up to medium high. When bubbling, add noodles directly into pot. If you are uncomfortable judging cooking times, you can boil a separate pot of water and cook noodles there. Skip to step 5 and ladle finished soup over it after wards.
  5. Once noodles are almost done but still white on the inside and slightly too hard for al dente, add handfuls of spinach (to your heart’s content). I used 1 handful of frozen spinach. It will expand as it cooks.
  6. Bring soup to a low simmer, no rolling bubbles. Lightly beat 3 eggs (whites and yolk still slightly separated), drizzle into soup. Like all over. Don’t just dump it into the center. Cover. 3 minutes or until eggs solidify (OK if still a bit runny. will continue to cook)
  7. Spoon into serving bowls. Squeeze in a bit of lime and toss in spoonful of fried shallots.



Note: obviously not a picture of my recipe, seeing as there is a volcano in the background. These pics are from my vacation. I unfortunately ate all the noodles I made before I thought to take pictures. Next time!

April 24, 2013

Ants up a Tree 螞蟻上樹: Spicy Pork Noodles

Mmmm…spicy. Super fast Sichuan Chinese noodle dish. Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 9.50.16 PM

A note on mung bean noodles: they come in different sizes and shapes, not unlike Italian pastas. I ran out of the thin skinny kind, which is traditionally used in this recipe. Personally, I rather like the thicker, more al dente texture of the thicker noodles. Random cultural lesson: in Taiwan, they call this chewy bite “Q”. Like mochi is Q. Or gummy bears are Q. Insert extra Q for added f.o.b factor: “these noodles are so QQ!”

Anyway. Mung bean noodles are awesome because they are made out of beans. And therefore gluten free! It’s got a brittle dry texture pre-soak. Stiff and slightly slimy post-soak. Wonderfully Q when cooked. Stole a picture of the thin kind from google:

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 10.02.27 PM

On to our recipe! Not including soak/marinating time, takes 10 minutes max to cook. I heart me some fast stir fry.

INGREDIENTS: Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 9.47.20 PM

  • 3 batches of mung bean noodles
  • 1/4 lb ground pork
  • 1 tsp hot bean sauce
  • soy sauce
  • 1 slice fresh ginger, julienned  (or 1/2 tsp ground)
  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • corn starch
  • cooking oil


  1. Soak mung bean noodles in cold water for 1 hour+. Drain and set aside. 
  2. Marinate pork in 1/2 tsp corn starch dissolved in 1 tbs soy sauce and ginger for 30min-1 hour. Discard ginger.
  3. Dissolve ~1 tsp+ corn starch in 1 cup of cold water and set aside.
  4. Heat 1 tbs oil in wok/large saute pan on high. When pan is smoking hot (smoKING), add meat. Using the edge of the spatula, break up the meat as small as you can. When evenly brown and cooked through, remove from heat and set aside. NOTE: I used a sharp pair of kitchen scissors to cut meat up even smaller after cooking.
  5. In remaining oil over medium high heat, fry garlic and green onion until fragrant ~ 1-2 min. Add ~3 more tbs soy sauce, HALF the corn starch mixture, and stir. When mixture starts to bubble, add meat back in and stir evenly.
  6. Add noodles. COVER and let it steam for 3-5 min. If not enough liquid to steam noodles, add more corn starch mixture. (this is not meant to be a soupy dish, just enough liquid to cook the noodles is fine). Remove from heat.
  7. Top with fresh chopped scallions and serve.

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 9.50.29 PM

August 24, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken w/ Cashews

Here is my easy/no fuss version of Kung Pao Chicken. I always though Kung Pao Chicken was just another one of those fake Chinese food dishes you get at those ubiquitous Asian fast food joints with the fat and fluffy ursine mascot. I believed this for most of my life, until the day I actually ORdered this dish from [insert panda themed restaurant name] and was like, “wait. my mom makes this.”

So yea. I’ll eat my own words. I guess this stuff is authentic after all.

Anyway, I believe stir fry purists would say you should 1) marinate for 30 min then cook the chicken until mostly done, remove. 2) heat oil back up again, add garlic, fresh ginger, and chilies to release the full flavors, then 3) add the chicken back in, the sauce, then the green onions, and lastly the nuts (my mother uses peanuts).

But MAN that sounds way too complicated. And after a long freaking day at work, I do NOT want to have to think about “what do I do next again?” Solution? Add everything into the marinade. Sure my mom still makes it better. But mine is FASTER. and with WHITE meat. JUICY white meat, I might add… because I marinate overnight instead of on the counter for 30 min (I chalk that tradition up to the fact that my ancestors did not have refrigerators and to let your chicken sit overnight is to kill your whole family w/ salmonella.)

So here goes. Kung Pao Chicken, simplified:


  • 1.5 lb chicken tenders
  • ~1/2+ cup soy sauce or enough to cover chicken
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1-2 tsp sesame oil
  • ~5 dried chili peppers, sliced diagonally
  • 1 tbs dark brown sugar
  • 1-2 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 tbs Chinese rice wine
  • optional: Chinese black vinegar (I had none. Didn’t miss it)
  • 2 talks green onion, chopped in 2 inch sections
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted cashews
  • oil for stir frying (NOT olive oil. something with a high smoke point like peanut oil is better)


  1. Cut chicken into small pieces, about 1 inch cube.
  2. In a deep container (I like to use glass tupperware) mix soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, sesame oil, ginger, chili peppers, and corn starch until thickened. Adjust to taste. Add chicken, cover, and marinate overnight (if using dark meat, 15-30 minutes is plenty. Overnight is if you want to make healthy crappy white meat juicier.).
  3. Heat a wok or large frying pan on high. Add oil and heat until shimmering. Add chicken and marinade. Stir until chicken is cooked through. Add green onions and cashews. Toss until green onions become fragrant (1 min or so). Remove from heat and serve.

Stir Fry Tips:

  1. Use a hot Guo1, or pot/wok. I mean HOT. Like smoking red hot. Then add oil and let it heat until shimmery. Always. Hot pot and hot oil = less crap sticking to your pan.
  2. Always add green onion last. You still want to stir fry it a bit to let the flavors release (you’ll be able to smell it when it does), but cook it any longer than absolutely necessary and you’ll get limp ugly green onion. Green onion should act as a garnish as well as an aromatic. It should be bright, green, and pretty.

Thank you, Mama Chen for teaching me well.


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