Jul 17, 2017

Ugly Delicious? Lightly Braised Tomato Beef

A mixed up between squashed tomatoes, nearly melted onion slices, and beef chunks, the end result might look messy, but definitely delicious.

One of the bento side dish favorites too.

Lightly braised tomato beef - 


  • 1 lb thick cut beef slices
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 to 2 red chilies
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bundle Chinese basil


Peel and slice the onion, peel and slice the garlic cloves. Destem the chili and finely chop the remaining section. Cut the beef into large size thick cut pieces. Roughly chop the basil leaves. Drain the canned tomato juice and set aside for later use.

Drizzle enough olive to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Turn to medium high heat and add in sliced onion. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till edges of the onion slices turn slightly browned. Transfer the garlic and chilies over. Keep cooking till the edges of the onion slices are nearly burnt. It'll take few minutes at least.

Transfer the beef to the pan and sear both sides. 

Add in the oyster sauce along with drained tomatoes. Turn to high heat and cook till the juice reduced by half, this will take a short moment too. 

Mix in chopped Chinese basil and give it a quick stir. Turn off the heat immediately. You can also save some fresh basil leaves as garnish in the end.

Plate and garnish if desired. 

This dish seems gooey with ingredients sticking to one another. But that's the point, with such a lightly braised recipe, its gooey appearance means all the flavors are now intertwined and ready to be devoured.  

Other beefy recipes:

Jul 11, 2017

Bento Side Dish Recipe - Kimchi Tamagoyaki

I've made cheese tamagoyaki and mentaiko tamagoyaki before, now it's time for kimchi to shine!

Kimchi tamagoyaki - 

Ingredients (single serving, double the amount if needed)?

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped kimchi
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • Some olive oil


The steps of making tamagoyaki are about the same even though different fillings are used. Refer to my previous post for a more detailed description with step-by-step pictures on how to roll up tamagoyaki.

Instead of the cheese I used before, just swap it out with chopped kimchi. Also there is no need to add more tsuyu or light soy sauce to the egg mixture since kimchi can be quite salty on its own. 

Kimchi flavored tamagoyaki makes a great addition for bento. Kimchi provides a spicy kick, and the eggs are always comforting, so putting these two together can hardly go wrong. 

So what should I test out with tamagoyaki next?

Other tamagoyaki recipes:

Jul 7, 2017

Lightly Braised Silken Tofu and Ground Pork (豆腐羮)

This is a simple yet comforting dish that my mom used to make when I was a kid. She likes to add some shirasu but I have omitted that due to environmental reasons. However, without shirasu, the flavors are still good and satisfying, especially with additional help from one other ingredient, keep reading and you'll find out the answer in the end. 

Lightly braised silken tofu and ground pork -


  • 1 box silken tofu
  • 0.5 lb ground pork
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock (preferably infused with ginger)
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Some corn starch/water mixture
  • Some chopped cilantro
  • Some white pepper powder


Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Trim off the scallion stem and chop the remaining stalk. Drain the tofu and roughly cut into big cubes. Finely chop some cilantro leaves and set aside for later use. 

Use Chinese style chicken stock if possible. Otherwise you can warm up the stock and add a couple slices of ginger. Bring to a boil and keep it as a simmer for about 10 minutes to draw out some of that gently spiciness from the ginger. Turn off the heat and keep the stock on the side for later use.

Use a pan or a pot with some depth since we are going to pour some stock over. Drizzle enough olive oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pan.

Turn to medium high heat. Add in ground pork, salt, and pepper. Give it a quick stir till some fat starts to render. Transfer chopped garlic and scallion over. Sear till the meat has been fully cooked through. 

Pour over the stock and bring to a boil. Carefully add the tofu to the mixture and bring to a boil again. Lower the heat a little if needed, this mixture needs to be reduced to concentrate the flavor, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle some white pepper powder. Taste and adjust with salt.

There is no need to nicely cube the silken tofu in the beginning. The tofu will break into smaller pieces during the cooking process from stirring and mixing. Don't worry about getting the perfect shape, cubed or mixed shapes, they all taste just as good.

Prepare some corn starch and water mixture on the side. While the tofu mixture is hot but not boiling, pour in the corn starch water and keep stirring at the same time to prevent lumps. 

Plate the food and garnish with some chopped cilantro leaves.  

I also like to add some cubed shiitake for extra spongy bite. On top of that, shiitake can further bump up the umami level. If using shiitake, remove the stems and cube the caps, stir-fry it after the ground pork is about 50% cooked through. Try it yourself, won't you?

Other tofu recipes: