May 24, 2017

Shrimp Risotto Part II, This Time with Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp)

After taking a series of food pictures, I just realized that I've made similar risotto before, and even wrote about it. The ingredients used are about the same, especially the umami-packed homemade shrimp stock. However, instead of adding seared shrimps, the key ingredient under the spotlight has swapped out with sushi grade raw shrimps. 

Amaebi, or sweet shrimp, just by changing the cooked ingredient to raw ingredient, the flavors of the risotto did change slightly. Less savory note but bumped up the sweetness level. Compare the two recipes and see which one fits your palate, or perhaps just make two versions at once?

Shrimp risotto with raw sweet shrimp - 

Ingredients (for 2 to 3 portions)?

  • 1 cup Acquerello or Arborio rice
  • 3 cups shrimp stock
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 6 sweet shrimp
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Some flat leaf parsley


Warm up the stock on the side. You can use store-bought shrimp or lobster stock, but why not make it yourself?

Drizzle some olive oil to a big pan or enameled cast iron pot. Turn to medium high heat and add in peeled, chopped shallots and salt. Cook till the shallots start to turn translucent.

Pour in the rice, give it a quick stir and make sure each single grain is coated with olive oil. 

Sear for about a minute or less then start to pour in warm stock one or two ladles at a time. Make sure to stir the mixture once a while. About half way through, pour in dry white wine and continue to cook the risotto. Keep adding small amount of stock till the grains reach desired texture. The amount of liquid used in this recipe yields al dente rice, but on a slightly chewier side.

Taste the risotto and see if more salt is needed. Turn off the heat and add the butter and lemon zest to the risotto, give it a few stir and the grains will start to shine.

Halve the raw shrimp and remove the veins if any. Plate the risotto. Garnish with halved shrimp and some flat-leaf parsley. One delicious suggestion, take the parsley and turn it into a simple herb oil or pesto. Drizzle the parsley infused oil over risotto for a level up flavor boost.

My other version of shrimp risotto was finished off with grated Parmigiano Reggiano, but not here. The highly savory cheese will hinder the crisp taste from the sweet shrimp. However, you can always devour the sweet shrimp with some risotto first then generously grate a ton of cheese over the grains if you'd like. Whatever you like as long as this food makes you happy.

Other risotto recipes:

May 18, 2017

Quick and Easy Tomato Chicken Stew

Even though the key ingredients here are tomato, chicken, and chicken soup, but in fact it's the cilantro that make this dish shine. 

I didn't expect that a small bundle of leftover cilantro can greatly enhance the flavors. This dish provides warmth from the chicken stock and a pop of refreshing aroma from the herbs. And one extra point - nearly zero food waste, even the cilantro stems were chopped up into the stew.

Quick and easy tomato chicken stew - 


  • 0.5 lb chicken tenders
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cabbage
  • 1 pack maitake mushroom
  • 1 box of semi-firm tofu
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small bundle cilantro
  • Some chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon grated or finely chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Some black pepper


Cut the chicken tenders into 2 or 3 smaller pieces. Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Drain and slice the tofu into about half inch pieces. Tear the cabbage into smaller pieces. Finely chop the cilantro and separate the stems and leafy parts. 

Drizzle some olive oil to the pot and turn to medium high heat. Add in the garlic along with some salt and pepper. Cook till the garlic turns slightly browned but not burnt.

Add in chicken pieces and sear till slightly colored on the surface.

Add in grated ginger and let it cook for about 30 seconds, till aromatic. Pour in soy sauce, mirin, and chopped cilantro stems. Give it a quick stir then add in the mushrooms. Cook for another minute or two then top with cabbage. The cabbage might appear overflowing the pot, but it will start to wilt after few minutes.

Once the cabbage wilts and easier to mix with other ingredients, gently transfer the tofu into the pot. Drain the canned tomatoes then pour into the mixture. Also pour in some chicken stock, just enough for the liquid to go slightly above all the ingredients, but use more stock if soupier texture is preferred. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to keep it at a simmer for another 10 minutes.

Sprinkle some chopped cilantro leaves right before serving. 

Fresh tomatoes are doable too, but sometimes the canned version binds better in a stew, and doesn't take long to cook. If using fresh tomatoes, it might take a while to turn soft with center texture almost melts in the stew.

Other stew recipes with tons of veggies:

May 12, 2017

Salted Black Beans Beef Stir-Fry (豆鼓炒牛肉)

Salted/fermented black beans (豆鼓) is such a versatile ingredient that I absolutely adore. Salty and sweet at the same time, it never fails adding depth to my Chinese dishes. Here's an old post back in 2013 with a picture of the salted black beans and the brand I preferred. Hopefully you can find it at your local Asian grocery store!

Salted black beans beef stir-fry - 


Marinade -
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon salted black beans
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Others - 

  • 0.5 lb beef (cut into 1/4 to 1/3 thickness bite size pieces)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red chili
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Some black pepper
  • Some chopped cilantro


Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Mix the chopped garlic with salted black beans and soy sauce. Use this marinade to massage the beef pieces. Cover and refrigerate, let it marinate for at least 2 hours. If marinate over 12 hours or overnight, you might want to reduce the amount of salt used later on.

Peel and slice the onion. Trim off the chili stem and give it a fine chop.

Drizzle some olive oil to the pan and turn to medium high heat. Add in the onion along with some salt and black pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till the edges of the onion turns slightly browned. Remember to add in the chilies halfway through.

Add in the beef and all the marinade. Cook till fully cooked through, even slightly browned on the meat is fine.

Plate the beef and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Salted black beans work well on various ingredients. Not just beef, it can also be used in fish, pork, chicken, and even tofu. Try to find a high quality version to get the full benefit of its natural sweetness from the fermentation. 

Other recipes using salted black beans:

May 6, 2017

Chinese Radish and Carrot Stew - 燉雙色蘿蔔

Dining out not only satisfied my cravings, once a while it serves as an inspiration - an inspiration for Mister's bento side dish. 

There's a local bento joint that we both love and probably to-go their food every other week. Usually the bento comes with all the common Asian side dishes such as scrambled eggs, stir-fry veggies, tofu stew, etc. So when I saw radish (daikon) and carrot stew showed up in my bento box, it caught my attention. 

"Should be easy to replicate," I thought. And there it is, a revamped version of bento side dish. Not going to brag about it, but the homemade version was less salty and much more flavorful. 

I guess I'm still bragging about it.

Chinese radish and carrot stew - 


  • 1 Chinese radish/daikon
  • 2 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce paste
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Some white pepper powder
  • Some corn starch/water mixture
  • Some chopped cilantro (optional)


Peel and cut the daikon and carrots into small cubes. Peel and dice the onion. Peel and grate or finely chop the ginger.

Use a pot or a big pan with some depth, drizzle enough olive oil to evenly coat the bottom. Turn to medium high heat. Add in diced onion and sprinkle some salt and pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till the edge of the onion turns translucent.

Add in diced daikon and carrot. Cook for about one minute. 

Pour in the chicken stock till about the same height or a little bit lower compared to the ingredients. Also add in grated ginger, soy sauce, soy sauce paste, and mirin. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to keep it at a slight boil. Cook till the liquid has been reduced by about half and the radish becomes fork-tender. 

Prepare some corn starch and water mixture on the side. Evenly pour into the stock mixture while stirring at the same time to prevent lumps.

Sprinkle some white pepper powder before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired. 

Both the radish and carrot already fully soaked up the flavorful chicken stock. And the corn starch makes the remaining juice gooey and comforting. Thanks to that bento joint, I've got one more bento side dish recipe to feed Mister at home.

Other radish/daikon recipes:

Apr 30, 2017

Just Keep Rolling and Rolling That Mentaiko Tamagoyaki

Last time I made tamagoyaki with oozing cheese inside, this time let's spice it up a bit by using mentaiko (spicy cod roe).

Mentaiko tamagoyaki -

Ingredients  (makes about two full squares/6 rectangular servings)?

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 to 2 small sacs mentaiko
  • Some olive oil
  • Some dried seaweed threads 


Remove the roe from the filmy sac. This recipe calls for about 1 tablespoon of spicy fish roe. Also one full square of tamagoyaki uses 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon of mirin. Beat these ingredients together and brush some olive oil to the tamagoyaki pan.

The steps are just about the same as making tamagoyaki with oozing cheese, but swap out the cheese with mentaiko. Use about 1/2 tablespoon of mentaiko for each big tamagoyaki serving.

Once the tamagoyaki is ready, slice each big omelet square to 3 smaller rectangular pieces and serve with dried seaweed threads on top or on the side. 

The salty and spicy cod roe goes very well with rice. In fact, some Japanese restaurants serve a small chunk of mentaiko with white rice, kind of like a mini side dish. With just one extra step by wrapping the mentaiko with egg making it a great addition to bento box. Since it's pretty high in salt content, one little piece goes a long way. 

Now I've tried cheese and mentaiko for tamagoyaki, what's next?

Other tamagoyaki recipe:

Apr 24, 2017

Steirereck - Modern Austrian Cuisine, where I Find Pickles are Kings

Do you know what is Austrian cuisine or even so "Viennese" cuisine? I had no idea when I first set foot in Austria, but I left that puzzle to Steirereck. Known for its modern Austrian cuisine, this futuristic-looking restaurant sits inside Stadpark and welcomes visitors around the world.

Trying out a couple of Michelin restaurants while traveling has become a habit of mine over the years. There aren't too many starred eateries in Vienna that emphasizes on Austrian dishes, so the choice was easy. Just upon my return back home, news came in that Steirereck was honored no.10 on 2017's World's 50 Best Restaurants list. Indeed, their food did live up the praises.

There is one other restaurant right next to Steirereck called Meierei, kind of like a sister branch concept. While Steirereck carries a more formal fine dining vibe, Meierei leans toward the casual side. These two places share some of the resources, such as the cheese room with hundreds of varieties downstairs. 

The avant-garde looking metal façade reflects the surroundings, the trees, the sky, somehow the restaurant and the environment blend together, coexist in the park in a very peaceful way.

Unlike the exterior, inside the restaurant was channeled by industrial wood with floral arrangement on each table. A more soothing vibe so to speak.

Just like when we were back at EVDARD, our meal started with local sparkling wine -

They put one book next to each table, and ours was les grandes tables du monde 2017 -

Flipped a few pages and found Steirereck among these great restaurants.

Menu -

Surprisingly there were quite a few varieties to choose from. On top of full on tasting courses, simpler dishes were also provided. Guests can choose from 4-course set or 7-course set, wine pairings are optional.

We felt fearless and decided to go for the 7 courses, but held back on the wine pairing, just the sparkling in the beginning and one extra glass of wine for each of us.

Here it came the bread cart -

The server went through the varieties as I tried to keep up with names and ingredients. For sure I was lost somewhere, but still managed to pick a few interesting ones. 

Just when I thought I selected quite a number of bread for the table, the serve went on and started asking what Mister would like to choose. Well, he wasn't paying much attention I supposed, let it be the same for both of us please.

Black pepper pork cracking, double-baked, lavender honey, and chia seeds -

Served with butter and salt powder -

No kidding, just by eating these bread along was worth the trip to dine at Steirereck, especially for the black pepper pork cracking bread on the top right -

The aroma reminiscent of long baked pancetta. Not greasy at all, only that dense cracking aroma left, it's macho bread.

Mister was fond of that extra crunchy bite from the double-baked bread -

Not rushing to our first course yet, here it came some small bites -

Usually there is one or two smaller dishes to start the meal, but it definitely took me by surprise with our entire table full of food, a pleasant surprise though.

Every course came with its own little information card, but server will also explain a little when presenting the dishes.

The card shows that "Austrian cuisine was deeply associated with the Austrian monarchy and was always influenced by the people and regions of their crown lands." More so a melting pot but each region still has its own unique way of food preparation. 

As for "Viennese" cuisine, it is the only cuisine in the world named after a city. Think of American food vs. Los Angeles food and you'll grasp the idea. 

While each dish carries its own characteristics, one thing I found in common was the use of pickled and marinated ingredients. Let it be an intense flavor boost or just a backdrop for the sauce, nearly all dishes throughout the meal involved some kind of pickles. In a way "sourness" was presented in these dishes, but well integrated instead of a strong hit on the palate. 

First course: chicorée with salted physalis, chestnuts and Sungold -

In this dish you'll also find buttermilk, cous cous, cabbage and miso, marinated bitter salad, and tarragon oil.

It might appear on the lighter side, but the flavors were actually quite strong. With each moist yet crunchy element in my mouth, sourish seasoning dominates but with a slight touch of bitterness, it's salad for grownups.

Different utensils for every dish -

Mister's second course: "Reinanke" with cornel cherry, yacón and stonecrop -

"Confited, glazed Reinanke (fish) with cornel cherry, Meyer lemon, and red elderflower." 
"Roasted yacón root with spiced pumpkin, stonecrop and grains of paradise." 
"Steamed and marinated stonecrop." 
"Pumpkin jus with cornel cherry and Tonka bean."

Our single glass wine pairing recommended by the sommelier -

My second course: crayfish with bittersalad, Jerusalem artichoke and green almonds -

"Crayfish grilled with coffee butter."
"Marinated foie gras."
"Cream of Jerusalem artichoke."
"Jerusalem artichoke and bittersalad flavored with crayfish marinade and coffee oil."
"Crispy peel of Jerusalem artichoke."
"Red onions pickled with lingonberry."
"Preserved green almonds."
"Roasted crayfish and Jerusalem artichoke sauce."

It's amazing how much details and work put behind every single dish here, not to mention every plate was like a piece of art. 

This dish was both high in acidity and sweetness, rounded by the dense aroma from the foie gras. Packed with strong flavors yet maintaining that perfect balance at the high point.

Third course: pike perch with fennel, pericon and schönbrunner' calamansi -

The key ingredient is pike perch, but the star is definitely the fennel. Layered with Neusetzer speck, which is the back fat from 18-month-old Mangalitza pork. Wait, the story doesn't end there, the fat was further ripened with lavender and basil in basalt stone troughs for another 12 months.

That is one good looking fennel.

Mister's fourth course: salsify with kohlrabi, coconut and Périgord truffle -

"Salsify braised in coconut milk."
"Burnt kohlrabi with brown butter."
"Marinated kohlrabi with coconut water and rice vinegar."
"Steamed kohlrabi leaves."
"Périgord truffle."

"Sweet and sour kohlrabi with young coconut."
"Périgord truffle-mandarin verjus vinaigrette."
"Sour cream."

My fourth course: Pogusch lamb with romanesco, chanterelles and walnut leaf -

Did I mention that Steirereck has its own garden? Many of the ingredients used were actually sourced right next to the restaurant. 

Steirereck used the best end of Pogusch lamb, it was so tender, and felt like almost each single cell on that meat fully absorbed the seasonings. To make it even more awesome, many pickled and marinated elements were incorporated such as pickled chanterelles and marinated romanesco. It happened that I'm the person who absolutely adore sourish food. It might be the best piece of lamb I've ever had so far.

Mister's fifth course: pigeon with parsnip, cyclame and turnip -

The texture is what left a mark on my memory. Just like concentrated foie gras, it was almost creamy so to speak.

My fifth course: veal liver dumplings with swede, Japanese artichoke, and red cabbage -

"Fried, boiled liver dumplings."
"Braised red cabbage with candied swede and star anise."
"In thistle oil sautéed Japanese artichoke."
"Swede puree with pomelo"
"Crispy red cabbage and onions."
"Veal broth with lovage."

Sixth course: Fresh cheese with rhubarb and sweet clover -

The other option for the sixth course was selected cheeses from Meierei. However, since the menu offered "refreshment" instead of the usual cheese selection, of course I dived straight ahead.

It was pretty fun!

The server brought over this cake-mold looking thing with fine mesh. The "device" was placed over a plate with rhubarb and haymilk ice cream. 

The fresh sour milk cheese was gently put on top of the mesh and cut into slices. The serve gave it a gentle shake to separate the cheese slices. While we ate the cheese with the pinkish sauce, whey stared dripping down to the plate on the bottom. 

Then we started digging the rhubarb, ice cream, and fresh sour milk cheese whey. Candied celery was also presented in this course. Perhaps a little resistant at first, but candied celery actually taste quite like guava, even texture-wise too. Okay, celery as dessert can be attractive too.

Mister's seventh course: Forelle pear with spruce tips, parsnip, and rose mallow -

"Forelle pear braised with spruce tip syrup and verjus."
"Puffy parsnip-rye milk loaf with rose mallow."
"Parsnip and hays milk ice cream."
"Pear and spruce-tip braising jus."

My seventh course: Viennese malt with quince, sea buckthorn, and lavender -

It was somewhat like a cold soufflé, but I felt quite a resistance when my fork went in, like cutting a hard marshmallow or semifreddo. The fun part was that immediately after the dessert went in my mouth, it was gone.

Like nothing ever happened, the not-so-soft dessert just disappeared in my mouth.

Still amazed by the texture, here it came our petit four after all seven courses -

It looked like a simple rectangular cart at first, but the server kept extending it, revealing many compartments within. 

Another playful concept. The server asked if we want "refreshing" or "aromatic," and we got one for each. So the server started assembling all the ingredients in the glass. 

Some fruit balls and yogurt on the bottom, covered with sugary paper and some other elements in the center. 

"Just grab the edges and pick it up like a little purse" he said. 
Had to be quick, otherwise the sugary paper started to melt and the purse won't hold for that long. 

The refreshing version consists of "marinated citrus fruit with elder and dried pear." The aromatic version consists of "orange blossoms with apricot, yogurt, and quinoa."

"What about the bottom part?" I asked,
"Use a spoon or just drink it, whatever you'd like."

Also some dried citrus for the nibble. 

Here's a little fact about these citrus, displayed on the little card:
"Since 1647 citrus plants have been cultivated in the Orangery of the royal park Schönbrunn. Nowadays the collection comprises about 100 varieties, about 35 of them are historical. Europe-wise this diversity is unrivaled."

Before we left Steirereck, the server asked if we want to walk around and check out other spaces. 

Bar area - 

Other dining space facing the riverbank - 

Semi-open kitchen - 

Part of the wine collection -

Long live the pickles!

After 3.5 hours, vaguely I grasped what Austrian cuisine is. Even though just by the tip of the iceberg, but for sure I left with a delicious impression in mind. The regional ingredients, food preservation, yes, these flavorful pickles seemed to intertwined across borders. And all these prompted my urge to find out more about Austrian cuisine. 

Steirereck currently holds 2 Michelin stars and no.10 on 2017's World's 50 Best Restaurants list.


At the Heumarkt 2A / in the Stadtpark A-1030 Vienna 
+43 (1) 713 31 68

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