Apr 15, 2018

Rice with Braised Kimchi and Beef (泡菜牛肉燴飯)

Spicy! This might be the first impression when talking about Korean kimchi. Indeed, this pickled veggie can be pungent and tongue numbing in a way, but when used as part of the seasonings and served over rice, the flavor softens. Instead of that instant kick on the palate, gentle spiciness and pickled aroma round up the entire braise and provide more depth to the dish.

Rice with braised kimchi and beef (泡菜牛肉燴飯) -

Ingredients (about 3 portions)?

  • 2 Hiroshima cabbage
  • 1 bundle spinach
  • 5 to 6 shiitake mushroom
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 lb/about 20 beef slices
  • 200 grams Korean kimchi (cabbage and daikon strips)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 portions quinoa white rice
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce paste
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Some corn starch and water mixture


There is no need to use exactly the same ingredients I have listed up there. It doesn't have to be "Hiroshima" cabbage, any type of Chinese cabbage will do. The same goes to quantity, a little variation is fine as long as it suits your own preference.

Cook the rice first. Destem the shiitake mushrooms and slice the caps. Trim off the stems from leafy greens and cut into about 2 inch long sections. Grate the ginger. Peel and slice the garlic cloves. Peel and slice half of the onion. Beat two eggs on the side.

Drizzle some oil to a big pan and turn to medium high heat. Add in onion, salt, and pepper. Cook till onion turns translucent then add in garlic and grated ginger. Give it a quick stir till that garlicky aroma comes out but not over-browning the garlic pieces.

Add in tougher veggies first, switch to high heat here if preferred. Also transfer shiitake over and cook for 30 seconds or more. Transfer remaining tender leafy greens to the pan and give it a quick stir. 

Pour in the kimchi along with its juice. Also pour in chicken stock. Bring it to a boil then lower to a simmer. Add in beef slices one at a time, also soy sauce, soy sauce paste, and oyster sauce. Let all the ingredients "braise" for a short moment then turn to low heat. 

Wait till temperature drops then pour in corn starch water while gently stirring the mixture at the same time to prevent lumps. Adjust the thickness with more corn starch water if needed. It should be gooey but not soupy.

Lastly, pour in beaten eggs and only stir it slightly for couple rounds. Scoop this kimchi beef mixture over rice.

Not too spicy and not too sourish, Korean kimchi here provides just the right touch to the whole dish. On top of flavors, the fresh cabbage was already cooked down and turned to softer texture. But the kimchi cabbage still has that crunchy bite, which provides even more depth to this comforting meal.

Other rice recipes:

Apr 8, 2018

紀の善 Kinozen - Following the Footsteps of Saboriman Kantarou

Netflix might be carrying different shows in different countries, but for Taiwan, there's a Japanese series called Saboriman Kantarou (さぼリーマン甘太朗), about a dessert-loving salaryman.

As Japanese as it can be, this show ventures into the leading actor Kantarou's mind when he tastes all the wonderful sweets in Japan. Put the semi-exaggerating reactions aside, it provides a good list of where to eat in Tokyo. So there I was, at 紀の善 Kinozen, where the leading actor figured out the meaning of "wa sweets" with matcha bavarois.

According to the TV show, Kinozen was a sushi restaurant transformed into Japanese sweets joint. Current owner remodeled the place. It still has a Japanese soul, but with a few minor touches of western influence.

Two-story shop, since we came as a small group, we were taken to the second floor tatami room. Need to take shoes off and not the most comfy seating style, but in return, slightly more spacious with a window overseeing the street.

Welcomed by hot tea, hand towel, and some rice crackers.

Here's one example what I meant by "a slight western influence." These piggy-shaped rice crackers were dusted with Brittany sea salt. Simple as it tastes, but delicate in a way.

Menu -

It's already hard to understand Japanese sweets names as a foreigner, but wait for it, the kind lady brought over this English menu that can be even more confusing.

Just pick and point, as long as I get my matcha bavarois in the end.

Anmitsu (あんみつ) - 

Red bean paste with agar cubes, red peas, some fruits, and served with brown sugar sauce/syrup. That's basically what it says on the menu. Kinozen uses dainagon azuki bean to make their red bean paste, supposedly one of the top varieties in Japan. The paste is smoother than it appears, with a soft and light sugary note permeating every pore.

Noticed a few brownish beans, they call it red peas on the menu, but do not mistaken it from azuki/red beans. Harder texture with outer skin about 2.5 times the thickness compared to cooked red beans. But once smashed, you'll fall for perfectly cooked smooth pea paste hidden underneath. Also the most obvious difference, it's salty. Not sweet, but slightly salty. What a way to balance this bowl of Japanese sweets.

In addition to sweet and salty contrast, there is also a comparison between the fuller bite red peas and clean-cut jelly-like agar cubes. Agar cubes carry little to no taste, but offers a clean and refreshing touch here.

Mitsumame (みつ豆) -

Served with brown sugar syrup.

Red peas can be very filling, so frankly speaking, we were struggling over below anmamekan (あん豆かん) -

Good news is that matcha bavarois came to a rescue when we were almost drowned by red peas -

Composed by three simple but strong elements: red bean paste, matcha bavarois, and heavy whipped cream.

The red bean paste was discussed earlier, so let's move onto the other two. The matcha bavarois was packed with matcha aroma, very low or nearly no sweet taste at all. Just pure matcha in an almost panna cotta form. The whipped cream, oh man, it was so creamy. Stiff in a way but not hard. To put it this way, the whipped cream used here is more like a highly condensed whipped cream made by 46% Hokkaido milk, it has to be good.

So the red provides sweetness, the white provides creaminess, and the green provides that adult-like tea and tannin touches. Separate these three elements, they are delicious on their own; but together, it become one greater self.

So "wa sweets," not exactly Japanese but not western either. Wa, instead of simply means "Japanese," Kantarou thinks that this word is more like "mixing, blending, integrating." What a great translation for crossbreed dessert like the matcha bavarois I've just tasted.

If you love matcha, do come here and give Kinozen's matcha bavarois a try. Moreover, if you love dessert, see if you can find Saboriman Kantarou on your Netflix show list. Been there and tried one of the recommendations on the show, it seems pretty legit and trust-worthy. Taste buds won't lie. 

紀の善 Kinozen

〒162-0825 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kagurazaka, 1 Chome-1-12
+81 3-3269-2920
Official website: http://www.kinozen.co.jp/

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Saturday 11:00 a.m. ~ 8:00 p.m.
Sunday and holiday 11:30 a.m. ~ 6:00 p.m.
*Please check website for recent day-offs update

Apr 2, 2018

Veggie Sticks with Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

Greek yogurt is healthy but sometimes its flavor can be too intense for some people. But just with a few extra ingredients, it can turn into a flavorful dipping sauce for veggie sticks. Even my Mister at home embraces this transformation.

Veggie sticks with garlicky yogurt sauce -


  • Some veggie sticks (such as celery, carrot, cucumber, and romaine lettuce)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5 to 6 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper


Prepare the veggie sticks. Peel and trim off the skin or fibrous parts if needed. As for the sauce, finely chop the mint leaves right before serving and mix with peeled and finely chopped garlic cloves, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt.

Serve the veggie sticks with this garlicky yogurt sauce. That's it, can't be simpler than that.

I still got some leftover Greek yogurt, maybe it can be used as a marinade. Let me figure it out and maybe one other Greek yogurt related recipe will be up in the near future.

Extended reading: