Oct 28, 2008

Double Cooked Pork - 回鍋肉

That's the amount of money I spent on my car this month...
Two break roters..water pump...battery...those are not even that expensive,
At least half of that $1000 goes to labor...
Arghhh I'm stressed...
I need foood food FOOOOOOODDDDD!


1 lb of pork belly (sliced)
1 box of stewed bean curd 豆干 (sliced)
1 stalk of scallion (chop into 2 inches in length)
1 teaspoon of Sichuan pepper (grinded)
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
1 tablespoon of spicy bean paste 辣豆瓣醬
3 teaspoons of fermented flour paste 甜麵醬
2 teaspoons of sugar
Extra virgin olive oil
Sesame oil


Drizzle some olive oil in the skillet,
Toss in chopped scallions and cook for about 1 minute,
Pour the pork slices in after the oil turned sizzling hot,
When the pork slices are semi-cooked, transfer them to another plate.

Using the same oil in the skillet,
Add grated ginger, spicy bean pastes, grinded Sichuan pepper, fermented flour paste, sugar, and cook till the aroma comes out,
This should take less than 10 seconds.
Add the sliced bean curd and cook till it turned slightly brown color (from absorbing the sauce).

It's time to pour the pork slices back in,
Now you know why this dish is called "double cooked."
Give it a quick stir, let the meat absorb the sauce for a little bit too,
Drizzle a tiny bit of sesame oil over it,

I can eat at least two bowls of rice with this dish,
Food makes me happy,
Let's hope that this double cooked pork can ease my pain from staring at the skinny wallet on the table.

Time to dig in!

Cindy's Rating: 8

Oct 20, 2008

Western Dumplings - with Sausage, Cheese, and Corn!

What do you eat when you don't have time to cook?
Why do I ask?
Because things are getting busier and busier for me,
There's no way that I'll have time to cook a big meal every time my stomach grumbles.
(Big meal to me = 3 dishes with rice or noodles)

I have to stock up some "instant" food at home to solve my empty stomach crisis,
Of course I can just drive somewhere for food,
But sometimes the only thing I wanna do after 8 hours of work is staying at home, doing nothing.
So starving or not,
I'd rather lay down on the couch with my soft and comfortable pajamas instead of driving around preying for a meal.

So what are my options?
Instant noodles? Mmmm I'm not sure if this is a health choice for me.
Canned soup? Sure, but only when it's on sale. Call me cheap if you want, but I don't feel like spending $4 on a small bowl of liquid.
What about frozen food? I don't mind munching on no preservative kind of frozen food once a while,
But there is one issue here,
It seems like that little box of frozen food can never fill me up,
The container is always huge...and it comes with almost invisible portion of food sitting in the middle..

So that's it? Nothing else?
How about dumplings?
That sounds like a good idea,
I can make the filling myself so that there's no need to worry about eating unhealthy ingredients,
What's even better is that I can just make a whole bunch and freeze them all,
Whenever I'm hungry, I'll just pop a few in a pot of boiling water,
My instant dinner can be ready in no time!
You can see my previous post for dumpling recipe here.

After making 80 dumplings, all my fillings are gone, but there are 10 more dumpling skin left,
---Taking a peek of my fridge---
You can see a light bulb suddenly popped out on the top of my head,
Let's use those leftover skin and make something....interesting!

Western dumplings with sausage, cheese, and corn filling-

Ingredients (for 10)?

10 dumpling skin
1 sausage (choose the flavor of your preference)
2 spoonful of corn
1 palmful of shredded mozzarella
1 palmful of shredded Parmesan
Extra virgin olive oil


First we remove the casing from the sausage,
Mix the meat with mozzarella, Parmesan, and corn till well blended.

You know how to make dumplings right?
If not, well, here's one video I found one on YouTube that might be a good help for you.

After making all 10 dumplings,
Let's prepare a skillet (use the one that comes with a lid),
Drizzle some olive oil and brush it evenly inside the skillet,
Place all the dumplings to the skillet, make sure they're not sticking with each other.
Now let's pour some water till about 1/3 of the dumpling is submerge in the water,
Turn the heat on and wait until it boils,
Once it starts boiling, put the lid back on, turn to medium heat, cook till no more water is present.
Make sure you use a spatula to scoop out the dumplings from the bottom,
That way You can be sure that the dumpling won't break,
So that you keep all the melted cheese safely inside,
And you can also get a crusty bottom!

It's an interesting use of Chinese dumpling skin,
Spring roll/egg roll skin can be used this way too,
Actually it's even better,
Give it a try sometime, I think it makes a perfect snack for kids!

Cindy's Rating: 6

Oct 8, 2008

Energy Boost Vegetable Stir Fry

*** Cough Cough ***
I've been sick for the past few days...no...I mean weeks...
I don't know why I get sick so easily, something must be wrong with my immune system.
What's even worse?
I got my friends sick too.....at least 5 of them...
I'm poisonous.

By the way,
Do you know this one Chinese saying about food?
You gain more energy from the food you eat,
Mmmm hard to explain it here, let me give you some examples.

Let's say...
If I eat more brains, I'll be smarter.
If I eat more fish eyes, my eye sight will be better,
If I eat more fats, my skin will be smoother,
Got the idea?
I wonder what should I eat in order to make my sickness go away?
Eat more "throats" so I won't cough anymore?
That sounds kinda...intriguing...plus I have no idea where can I buy "throats."

Let me just cook some fresh veggies and see if those more conservative ingredients will do the trick-


6 stalks of asparagus (angel sliced, remember to peel off the tough part around the stem)
1 medium size carrot (angel sliced)
1 medium size onion (sliced)
4 to 6 shitake mushroom (sliced)
2 stalks of scallion (just a few chops)
2 to 3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 chicken breast (sliced)
Soy sauce
Ponzu flavored soy sauce (or half lemon juice)
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper


Let's marinate the chicken breast (cut into slices) first.
Use 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoons of mirin for the marinade,
Make sure you marinate the chicken slices for at least 15 minutes.

In the meantime,
Drizzle some olive oil in the pan and toss in diced onions,
While waiting for the oil to heat up, sprinkle some salt and freshly grounded black pepper over the onions.
Give it a quick stir and cook till the onion turns translucent.

Toss in the chicken slices, minced garlic, scallions and cook for about 2 minutes,
Add the carrot, asparagus, shitake mushroom,
Sprinkle more salt (about 2 teaspoons) and pepper.
The key ingredient for this dish is black pepper,
The more the merrier as long as you can take the heat!

Cook for 3 minutes, or till all the veggies are cooked down,
Drizzle some ponzu flavored soy sauce, about 2 tablespoons.
The acidity helps to bring out the natural sweet taste from the carrot and onion.
If you can't find ponzu flavored soy sauce,
Simply add about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce with half lemon juice.

This so called energy boost dish is done,
We'll see if it'll heal my throat later,
If not..maybe I'll try harder and seek out some "throat" to be tossed into my pot.

Cindy's Rating: 7 (healthy and yummy!)

Oct 3, 2008

Tokyo Table 東京食堂 - Irvine Location

People used to categorize Irvine as a "residential area."
The place has nothing but a bunch of expensive houses and apartments,
With a few grocery stores and restaurants scattering here and there.
Well, things have been changed because of this recently opened plaza,
---Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center---
It's similar to Diamond Plaza located in Rowland Heights,
But of course it's bigger and better.

Basically I can simply use three words to give you an overall image about this shopping center,
Asian, Asian, Asian.
I think at least 70% of the Asian population has been hanging out in this plaza since its grand opening.
I'm not complaining here because I contributed my small part for that 70%.

There are so many Asian stores in the plaza,
It's like a gigantic Asian magnet monster that keeps sucking Asian people into its stomach.
There's a Korean grocery store with a interesting name called H,
There are also several already famous restaurants like Tokyo Table, Guppy House, CeFiore, and 85 Degrees C,
What's even better? Spa, kareoke, and who knows what other goodies gonna move in and become part of the Asian magnet!

So this is where I went for dinner the other night in this Asian invaded plaza-

Immediately after I walked into the restaurant,
I see a bar area on the left,
You know, the area where you can watch sports and get wasted at the same time,
And then the dining area is on the right-

Here's where we were seated-

Me and my friend were impressed by the atmosphere that Tokyo Table created there,
Well, of course you can find tons of places like that in Los Angeles,
But we're talking about Irvine!
Can you give me the name of another restaurant that has this sort of vibe and mood in Irvine?

Here's the menu (cover)-

Inside the menu-

Menu with lots of pictures are always welcome.

We decided to start our night with Asahi and mango infused sake-

I was very pleased with the bottle and the container for sake,
They were so cute!
The mango infused sake was pretty sweet with minimal alcohol taste,
I think it makes a perfect drink for light weighted girls.
(That equals...me?!?)

Chicken karaage with spicy tartar sauce-

I can never resist the temptation of ordering fried chicken in a Japanese restaurant,
Especially the ones that come with tartar or mayonnaise flavored sauce.
The one from Tokyo Table was good, but not outstanding,
So far my number one chicken karaage still goes to Shin Sen Gumi.

Yuzu hamachi carpaccio-

Probably the best dish we ordered that night.
Kinda spicy because of that green little thing in the middle,
I don't know the name for that,
So if anybody here knows the name, please drop a line and let me know!
(Shishito maybe?)
This dish also has this tangy flavor from the yuzu sauce,
Spicy + tangy = great appetizer.

Beef tataki on balsamic sushi rice-

Not a good choice,
I was "mesmerized" by the word tataki there and ordered this item,
Sadly...it just tastes like seared beef on rice...it's that simple.

Garlic shrimp with rice (ishiyaki)-

Our waitress came and cooked the shrimps with this sizzling hot stone pot,
After the ingredients got cooked through,
A bowl of rice was poured into the pot and blended with the shrimps.
Very simple dish and the rice surely tastes wonderful (and buttery).

The overall experience was pretty good,
The service was excellent,
The environment was trendy yet subtle,
The food was mediocre though,
I mean, we did have a few nice dishes, but they weren't outstanding,
Will I come back again?
Yeah, there are still a few items I would like to try,
Maybe my rating will be higher for Tokyo Table after trying those dishes.
(Mochi cheese gratin, Yuzu pepper chicken, Fresh homemade tofu)

Overall Rating: 5 for the food and place alone but 6 if counting their excellent service

Tokyo Table 東京食堂 - Irvine
2710 Alton Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606