Jul 18, 2018

Lemony Roasted Chicken Legs (Thighs and Drumsticks)

Never thought that adding whole lemon to roasted chicken can tremendously boost up the flavor. At first, I thought lemon might keep the roasted chicken moist and tender. But there's more to it. The oven heat further draws out the lemon juice and lemon oil. As they drip down to the bottom along with chicken fat, the vegetables, especially potato slices absorb all the essence, to a point even outshined the chicken legs. 

Lemony roasted chicken legs -


  • 2 whole chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks)
  • 2 medium small potatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Few sprigs fresh tarragon
  • Some olive oil
  • Some salt
  • Some black pepper
  • Some red pepper flakes


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/205 degrees Celsius. Season both sides of the chicken legs with some salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Peel and thickly slice the potatoes. Peel and slice the onion into ring shape. Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Remove tarragon leaves, it can pull out easily when pinching fingers to the end of the sprig and run down the opposite direction from where the leaves are growing. Roughly chop the leaves. Cut half of the lemon into slices and save the other half as a whole. Remove stem and seeds from bell pepper and cut into thick slices.

Squeeze half of the lemon juice to a bowl, also add in about 5 tablespoons of chopped tarragon, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/2 cup of olive oil, and 2 chopped garlic cloves. Mix till integrated. 

Take a big ovenproof pot, lay the bottom with onion, bell pepper, potatoes, lemon slices, and that 1/2 squeezed lemon. Transfer seasoned chicken legs over. Drizzle pre-mixed sauce all over.

Into the oven for about 50 minutes. 

Remove from heat and put on the lid. Let it rest for around 10 minutes before serving/carving.

The drippings become even more gelatinous, with added refreshing note from the lemon. If there's anything need to be changed for this recipe, I'll use more potatoes! Potatoes filled with lemon oil and chicken fat, to die for.

Perhaps with some bread too so I can wipe out all the drippings!

Other roasting recipe:

Jul 12, 2018

Grilled Shrimps with Spicy Parsley Sauce

This is a fairly simple recipe, the most troublesome part falls to shrimp preparation. Oops, ok, maybe cleaning the food processor can be quite a hassle too. As for the sauce, all you need to do is toss all the ingredients to the food processor and let it does all the work. You can even make the sauce ahead of time and store in the fridge, it can last up to days. Use it on baked, steamed, or seared seafood ingredients, or even mix some with pasta. Perhaps use the sauce as a sandwich spread or faux chimichurri for steaks. Be creative and have fun!

Grilled shrimps with spicy parsley sauce -


  • 14 medium/large shrimps
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika

Sauce -

  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed parsley
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed Italian seasoning


Butterfly and devein the shrimps. 

Transfer the shrimps to a bowl and mix with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon of smoked paprika. Cover with lid or cling foil, marinate for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Roughly chop the parsley. Transfer all the ingredients under the "sauce" section to the food processor and blend till fully incorporated. 

Take a pan or a grill, remember there is no need to brush the surface with more oil. Turn to medium high heat and sear both sides of the shrimps till nearly cooked through then quickly removed from heat. The remaining heat will further cook the shrimps, and the texture should be just right when ready to serve. 

Plate the shrimps and drizzle over some spicy parsley sauce.

Refreshing in a way but still got a kick from raw garlics and cayenne pepper, maybe that's why it's so addicting. I even drizzle some over my steamed rice, what an uncommon combo!

Other recipes using shrimps:

Jul 6, 2018

Curry Fettuccine - So Spicy but yet so Addicting

A little Japanese influence, with a little shortcut. This recipe mixes Japanese curry with Italian fettuccine. The al dente pasta matches very well with thick and heavy-tasting sauce. But instead of making curry from scratch, let's use pre-made Japanese curry cubes. It cuts down quite workload and the end result can just be as addicting. 

Curry fettuccine -

Ingredients (about 4 to 5 portions)?

  • 250 grams mizuna (Japanese mustard greens)
  • 175 grams thicker cut boneless short ribs
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 purple onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 100 grams/4 cubes Japanese spicy curry
  • 1 2/3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon Japanese twice concentrated tsuyu
  • Some olive oil
  • Some salt
  • Some black pepper
  • Some pickled Japanese vegetables (to serve as a side, optional)


Peel and chop the onion. Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Cut the mizuna into shorter sections. Cut the short ribs into thicker, larger bite size pieces. Remove the stems, get rid of the seeds, and then slice bell peppers. You can save a few strips or cut a small portion into rings to use as garnish once the pasta is ready.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil and add in generous amount of salt to flavor the water. Transfer pasta over and cook till nearly al dente. Once ready, drain and set aside. It you time it well, the pasta should be ready when the sauce is about done too.

Season beef pieces with salt and pepper on both sides. Take a non-stick pan and drizzle just enough olive oil to coat the surface. Switch to medium high heat. Once warms up, transfer beef slices over and sear till colored, flip and do the same for the other side. When done, remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare a big non-stick pot and turn to medium high heat. Add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with onion, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till the onion turns translucent.

Add in garlic pieces and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Add in bell pepper strips and cook for 30 seconds to about one minute.

Add in mizuna and quick stir-frying it, shouldn't take long.

Pour in chicken stock along with 4 curry cubes and 1 tablespoon of Japanese tsuyu. Bring to a boil then lower the heat a bit to keep it at a light bubbling. Make sure to gently stir the mixture during the process to help the curry cubes melt and spread out evenly.

Mix in fettuccine and short ribs, make sure every pasta is coated with curry sauce. Cook till pasta reaches desired texture.

Plate and garnish with uncooked bell pepper strips. Serve with pickled veggies on the side if desired.

It was so spicy, even spicier than the extra spicy curry cubes I always get at a grocery store. It was actually a special version made with bhut jolokia (ghost pepper). So spicy to a point it becomes addicting. Hope Mister can withstand the heat... 

Other pasta recipes:

Jun 30, 2018

Dried Oysters, Garlic Chives, and Ground Pork Stir-Fry

Dried oysters, yes you heard me right. It might not be as common back in the states, but dried oysters can be found with little efforts here in Taiwan. You can find it at specialty grocery stores, sometimes even fancy supermarket has a little stand selling such seafood item. It's actually much easier to find dried oysters compared to canned artichokes here. You should see my face when I finally locate canned artichoke with price tag for more than $24 USD.

My mom used to add one or two dried oysters in "zhonzi," the glutinous rice wrapped with bamboo leaves usually served during dragon boat festival period. So consider this a simplified version of the filling. It's way less work without the bamboo leaves wrapping step. However, I still save some of the dried oysters stir-fry and wrap with glutinous rice just for fun, kind of like a Taiwanese rice ball. But do know that serving it as a side dish with steamed rice can be just as great.

Dried oysters, garlic chives, and ground pork stir-fry -


  • 1 1/2 cups round glutinous rice (optional)
  • 1 loosely packed cup dried oysters
  • 0.4 lb/ 1 small bundle garlic chives
  • 0.4 lb ground pork (pick the leaner kind)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chili
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Some dried nori sheets (optional)


Cook the glutinous rice first if going to turn this stir-fry into rice ball filling. Once ready, fluff the grains and set aside wait for it to cool down.

Dice dried oysters into smaller pieces. Chop garlic chives. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Destem red chili and finely chop the remaining section.

Drizzle some olive oil to the pan and turn to medium high heat. Once warms up, add in dried oysters along with garlic, red chili, salt, and black pepper. Give it a quick stir. Wait till aromatic but not burning the small garlic pieces. If uncertain about dried oysters, treat it like dried shrimps, they are somewhat similar when used as aromatic ingredients.

Add in ground pork and stir-fry till the meat gets separated. 

Pour in 2 tablespoons oyster sauce and 1 tablespoon soy sauce paste. Mix and cook one or two minutes then add in garlic chives. Keep cooking the whole mixture till darkened and nearly dried up.

Serve as a stir-fry side dish, or if taking one step further and making rice balls, lay out a sheet of cling foil first. Dip a spoon in drinkable water and scoop some glutinous rice onto the cling foil to prevent sticking. Spread out the rice and transfer one small spoonful of the stir-fry to the center. Grab all four corners of the cling foil to the center and enclose the filling with glutinous rice with some force. Make sure the rice sticks together so the rice ball won't fall apart easily. Wrap with dried nori sheet if desired.

Practice makes perfect, don't get discouraged if finding the rice just keep sticking onto your fingers instead of forming into a ball.

This recipe is on the saltier side, but it's intended to be served as a filling or heavier-tasting side dish, adjust the amount of soy sauce paste used if needed. Do keep the same portion for the oyster sauce, it pairs very well with dried oysters and can further bring out that extra natural sweetness all together. Not just to serve with the rice, it also works very well with dry noodles.

Even my Mister who's never a fan of seafood can withstand this dish, so go ahead and embrace dried oysters. 

Other Asian stir-fry recipes:

Jun 23, 2018

Sweet and Savory Honey Glazed Chicken Tenders

Some Chinese dishes incorporate sugar to balance out the salty flavor or tone down the spicy touch. Take pork stew and spicy stir-fry for instances, you can't really tell since the sweet note is hidden behind all other pungent aromas. But this time I'm going all out and making a truly sweet and savory dish by using honey. You can definitely feel the sweetness this time.

Sweet and savory honey glazed chicken tenders - 


  • 1 lb chicken tenders
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallion
  • Some flour
  • Some toasted white sesame seeds (optional)


  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 2 garlic cloves


Destem and chop the scallion. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Mix chopped garlic together will all the other ingredients under the sauce section.

Remove the tendon from each chicken tender. Just hold on the end of the tendon and scrape the meat out with a knife. The tendon should be able to pull out easily. 

Sprinkle prepped chicken tenders with salt and pepper. Coat the chicken with flour and shake out excess powder.

Drizzle some oil in the pan and turn to medium high heat. Once heated up, add in chicken tenders and sear till colored. Flip and continue to sear the other side till slightly golden browned.

Pour in the sauce and wait till it starts to bubble. Lower the heat just a little if needed. Flip the chicken tenders so both sides are coated with the sauce. Continue to cook and reduce the sauce till it thickens.

Plate and garnish with chopped scallion and toasted white sesame seeds.

I especially love the sticky yet smooth sauce clinging on the chicken. Feel so luscious and satisfying. 

Even though this dish tastes sweet, but still balanced will some acidity and savory note, works really well as a lunchbox side dish. Even after reheating, the texture stays the same and the chicken remains moist and tempting.


Other chicken related recipes:

Jun 18, 2018

Fuss Free Cooking - Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Chunky Ham

Mister loves Brussels sprouts, so whenever he goes to grocery shopping with me and spots these round veggies, I have to put some in my basket, otherwise he won't stop bugging me.

So here's one basic Brussels sprouts recipe with side benefits of fuss free and easy cleaning.

Oven roasted Brussels sprouts with chunky ham -


  • 600 grams Brussels sprouts
  • 185 grams ham
  • Some salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper
  • Some olive oil
  • Some Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)


Trim the Brussels sprouts by cutting off the brown ends. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit/218 degrees Celsius. 

Transfer Brussels sprouts to the baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle some olive oil throughout. 

Into the oven and bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, or till the outer layer turns slightly browned.

Carefully take out the baking sheet. Toss the Brussels sprouts then add cubed ham throughout. Transfer the baking sheet back to the oven and continue to bake till the ham turns slightly browned on the edges. Check once a while and make sure not to burn the Brussels sprouts.

Once ready, remove from heat. Dust some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano right before serving if desired. 

If using grated cheese, use less salt in the beginning since both ham and cheese carry certain level of saltiness. You can always adjust the flavors by adding more salt later, but it'll be hard to revert to a lighter taste.

One happy Mister at home.

Jun 12, 2018

Rice with Braised Ground Pork and Shiitake Mushrooms (香菇肉燥飯)

No kidding, I was drooling over this rice bowl, a true Taiwanese comfort food at its best. And to make it even better? It was equipped with juicy chunky shiitake mushrooms!

Rice with braised ground pork and shiitake mushrooms -

Ingredients (about 4 portions)?

  • 1.1 pound/about 500 grams coarse ground pork
  • 12 to 14 shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 bok choy
  • 4 portion steamed white rice
  • 5 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • Some olive oil
  • 3 small chunks crystal sugar
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • Some salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Prepare about 4 portions of steamed white rice first. I actually mixed some quinoa in basmati for my own preference, brown rice works well too.

Trim the bok choy, if too big to serve as a whole, tear into individual leaves instead. Blanch and set aside for later use.

Destem scallion and finely chop it. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Peel and finely chop the shallots. Destem and cube the shiitake caps.

Take a deep pot and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in 5 tablespoons chopped shallots, chopped garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to medium high heat and sear till the shallots turn translucent but not burning the garlic pieces.

Add in coarse ground pork and give it a quick stir. Cook till the meat gets separated instead of sticking together as big chunks. Add in cubed shiitake and cook for another 30 seconds or so.

Pour in 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons soy sauce paste, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons mirin, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, and 3/4 cup hot water. Mix and bring the whole thing to a boil, then lower the heat just a little. Not boiling but still bubbling. 

Cook till reduced by half then add in crystal sugar, it'll add some shine to the finished dish once fully incorporated into the sauce. Make sure the crystal sugar has been fully dissolved, continue to cook till only slight juice remains, but not completely dried. In a way, moist but not soupy.

Take another non-stick pan and drizzle some olive oil, turn to medium high heat and wait till the surface turns hot. Make 4 sunny-side up eggs. Try to make the edges slightly browned and crunchy, while the center yolk still runny. Sprinkle some salt on the eggs during the cooking process.

Scoop some rice to the bowl and top with braised pork and shiitake. Place bok choy around the bowl and transfer the egg to the center. Garnish with chopped scallion. Repeat for remaining portions.

Truly a comfort food that can't go wrong. But next time around, there's one thing I would like to modify - use more shiitake and cut into bigger cubes. Chunkier shiitake should absorb even more sauce, imagine all that juice squeezing out when chewing on this dish, simply irresistible.

And that yolk flowing down, slurp. 

Other Asian rice recipes:

Jun 6, 2018

Quick Stir-Fry with Garlic Sprouts and Milkfish Tenders

Salmon has been the most popular fish variety in my household. But I'm craving for something different that is still easy to prepare. So I was happy to see milkfish tenders at a local specialty grocery store. Especially milkfish comes with many tiny bones, so the boneless fish tenders are definitely a plus.

Quick stir-fry with garlic sprouts and milkfish tenders -


  • 0.7 lb/300 grams milkfish tenders
  • 2 stalks/130 grams garlic sprouts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chili
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Some corn starch

Sauce -

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar


Calling it a quick stir-fry, but actually more like seared fish tenders plus a quick mix with all the aromatics.

First dust the milkfish tenders with corn starch and shake off excess powder.

Chop garlic sprouts two ways, mostly slice them diagonally, save a small portion and chop them into rings to sprinkle on top of finished dish. 

Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Destem and chop the chili. Grate the ginger and mix it together will the remaining sauce seasonings. Make sure the sugar has been fully dissolved before use.

Drizzle about 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan and turn to medium high heat. Once heated up, add in fish tenders one by one. Do not move them around in the beginning, wait a little longer so the surface won't stick to the pan that much. After couple minutes, carefully flip the fish tenders and continue to sear till colored. 

Gently push the fish to one side of the pan and drizzle one more tablespoon of olive oil to the empty side. Add in garlic sprouts sections, garlic, and chili. Cook till aromatic but not burning the garlic, should be less than one minute.

Pour in pre-mixed sauce and combine with fish along with all the other ingredients in the pan. Bring to a boil then lower the heat a little, but still keep it at a slight bubble. Cook till the sauce has been reduced and almost fully dried.

Plate the milkfish tenders and garnish with chopped garlic sprouts.

Unlike salmon, milkfish comes with a distinct taste, almost like the scent you get from fresh water fish, and I'm not quite fond of it. So by cooking the fish with heavy aromatics and seasonings help covering that taste and further changed it into a stronger Asian flavored dish. 

Finally something different on the menu tonight.

Other fish recipes:

May 30, 2018

Umami Burst - Braised Abalone with Bok Choy

After opening canned ingredients, what do you do with the juice inside? Keep it? Or drain it? There's no absolute answer for me, but what I'm used to do is that for canned corn kernels, I drain out all the juice before use. Chopped tomatoes, depending on the dish, I'll use the juice or loosely drain out the liquid. However, for expensive canned abalone, I make sure no juice goes to waste, its pale juice can make or break my braised abalone recipe.

Braised abalone with bok choy -


  • 1 can/425 grams ready to eat abalone (about 2 medium abalones inside with about 1 cup of juice)
  • 5 bok choy
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Some corn starch and water mixture


Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Remove any tough outer layer and grate the ginger. Trim off tougher base and separate bok choy into individual leaves. If using baby bok choy, just use the whole bok choy and no need to break the leaves apart.

Take the abalones out from the can and pour the juice to a container. Slice the abalones then soak in their own liquid until needed.

Prepare a pot or deep pan, drizzle some olive oil to evenly coat the bottom and add in chopped garlic, grated ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to medium high heat and wait till aromatic but not burning the garlics.

Pour in about 1 cup of abalone juice, 1 cup of chicken stock, and oyster sauce. Also transfer bok choy over and bring the whole thing to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer and continue to cook till bok choy softens. Juice should reduce a bit during the process.

Lower the heat furthermore and pour in the corn starch/water mixture while gently stirring the mixture at the same time. Once the stock thickens with texture similar to soupier chowder, add in sliced abalone and cook till abalone warms up, about 1 minute.

Serve as it is, or plate the veggies first then arrange the abalone over, then finish with gooey umami-packed juice all over.

This recipe used much more juice than needed because I don't want to waste any of that umami liquid. Plus I can just generously scoop all that flavorful juice over steamed rice to munch on. However, you can cut the abalone juice and chicken stock by half with lesser amount of oyster sauce to turn it into a slightly juicy side dish instead.