Dec 29, 2011

Lighter Version Squid Ink Spaghetti

I've been wanting to use real ink to make squid ink spaghetti, especially since I moved back to Taiwan. Instead of going to grocery store, over here, the more convenient way to get fresh seafood is through the local fish market, where sellers get their fresh items the same morning.

There's a recipe from about a year ago using squid ink infused pasta. But this time, I've got the real goodies, two fresh off the sea ink sacks, let's be a little bit more adventurous using those dark and gooey stuff!

Ingredients (2 to 3 portion)?

1 large squid
2 sacks of squid ink
8 garlic cloves
6 fresh chili pepper
1/3 cup of basil
1/2 cup of dry white wine
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper
Some spaghetti


You can ask the squid seller to clean it for you, otherwise it might be a mess in the kitchen. If DIY style is preferred, thoroughly rinse the squid under running water and pull out the legs from the body. Remove all the internal parts and the semi solid section in the middle. 

Be gentle, the ink sack will be found there, you can  poke a small hole with a toothpick and carefully squeeze out the ink into a small plate for later use.

Cut the squid into bite size pieces,
I also score some just on the surface,
That way the squid will look like the one below, kind of cute, and it also adds some texture to the bite -

Peel and finely chop the garlic,
Remove the stems from the chilies and finely chop it,
Chop the basil into smaller pieces, you can  also cut it into thin strips.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil, sprinkle some salt,
Toss in the spaghetti and cook till al dente in texture, should be about 9 to 11 minutes,
Once done, drain well and set aside.

Prepare a big pan, drizzle some olive oil,
Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and equal amount of black pepper,
Toss in chopped garlic and chili pepper, turn to medium low heat,
It'll help to bring out the flavor from the garlic but not burning it, about 1 minutes.

Add in the squid, squid ink, basil, and just a little bit more salt, 
Turn to medium high heat,
Give it a quick stir, about 30 seconds, pour in some dry white wine,
Bring to a boil then lower the heat to keep it simmer,
Pour in cooked pasta, mix well, wait till at least half of the sauce has been absorbed by the spaghetti,
Transfer onto a plate, garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Voila -

I was expecting a plate full of pitch dark pasta but it turned out on the lighter side,
Two full sacs of ink were used in this dish, not enough?

Oh well, as long as it tastes good, who cares?
Don't forget one other benefit, no gargling is needed for this meal,
However, just kind of disappointed that I can't scare my friends with black teeth after devouring the pasta!

Cindy's Rating: 7

Dec 20, 2011

My New Found Favorite Stinky Tofu - 阿灶伯當歸羊肉湯、臭豆腐

Mmmmm...stinky tofu,
The name might frighten you a bit.
In fact, the taste might actually scare you away -

It might be one of the top five all time street food favorites in Taiwan,
Just like cheeses, while brie and mozzarella are welcomes by nearly all crowds; gorgonzola and stilton are considered as "acquired taste."
The same reasoning applies to tofu! Most people enjoy products such as soy milk and silken tofu, but definitely not the case for stinky "fermented" tofu.

Have you ever watch the show Bizarre Foods hosted by Andrew Zimmern?
Well if you do, you probably know the power of this little chunky thing,
The brave and adventurous TV host eats literally everything; I mean EVERYTHING - ranging from brains to live worms.

So far I believe only two things almost got him puke:
1. The king of fruits - durian
2. Taiwanese's favorite street food - stinky tofu

Please remain calm and stay on your seat,
As I warned you earlier, it's an acquired taste.
Maybe try the tofu with some Taiwanese style kimchi on the side, I bet it'll make you feel at least a little better~*

The picture shown in the beginning is my new found favorite stinky tofu,
For most stinky tofu, you get a semi-firm center while biting into the crunchy skin. However, this one has a semi-runny center, should I call it stinky tofu - lava cake style?
So good.

If you plan to visit Taiwan, please ask the locals see where can you find a good stinky tofu stand. That way you get to try true smellest tofu instead of mediocre kinds (that's a good thing or bad thing?)  

One little bite won't hurt you,
Well, maybe later on if you have a weak stomach.
But that's all part of traveling fun yeah?

Here's the address for my lovely stinky tofu stand:


Yilan City. LuoTong Town. Min-Chuen Road.
LuoTong Night Market Stand #1094.
(03) 954-7736

Dec 15, 2011

Mom's Meatballs and My Pasta + Grated Pecorino

My mom shuffled 8 fist-sized meatballs in my fridge the other day,
"Those are very basic pork meatballs with little seasoning, you can cook them anyway you want," my mom said.

She only mixed some ground pork (on the fatty side) together with Chinese water chestnuts, salt, and black pepper. The chestnuts give the meatballs some bits of crunchy bites, they're often used in ground meat to add more texture to the dish.

Looking at those meaty goodies, I have to put them in good use.
How about...

Meatball pasta served with grated pecorino?

Ingredients (3 to 4 portion)?

Some ground pork
Some Chinese water chestnuts
Some salt
Some black pepper
Some vegetable oil
Some olive oil
1 can of garlic and basil spaghetti sauce
1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

1/2 onion
1 canned corn
1 carrot
1 yellow squash
12 button mushroom
1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
3-4 portions of spaghetti
Some olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper
Some red pepper flakes
Some pecorino
Some flat leaf parsley (optional)


Like I mentioned earlier, my mom mixed all the ingredients for the meat mixture, shape them into fist sized balls, and then into the fryer till the outer layer turns semi browned color.

Once that's done, drain well and let the meat cool down completely,
You can either store them in the fridge for up to one week, or store in the freezer for a longer period.

Chop all the vegetables into small cubes and slice the mushroom -

Bring a pot of water to a boil, toss is few pinches of salt,
Add in the spaghetti and cook till almost al dente in texture,
When ready, drain well and set aside.

Drizzle some olive oil in a deep pot,
Add in 6 to 8 meatballs, sear all sides till coated with darker color,
Pour in spaghetti sauce and 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning,
Stir occasionally and cook till the sauce has been reduced by 1/3,
Turn off the heat and set aside.

Drizzle some olive oil in a big pan,
Add in chopped onion, sprinkle some salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes,
Give it a quick stir, cook till the onion turns translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add in chopped carrot, season with some more salt,
Let the vegetable sweat a little bit, the salt will help in drawing out the liquid inside,
Add the squash and mushroom,
Same steps, we need sto prinkle some salt for every later,
Once these two cook down a little bit, pour in the canned corn,
Some more salt please, also add 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning into the mixture.

Cook for few more minutes,
Now you'll see all these chopped vegetables soaking in their own juice,
Don't worry about it, let's add in drained spaghetti and just let it absorb all the juice from the vegetables.

Time for plating,
Take some pasta, top with 2 giant meatballs and their tomato sauce,
Add freshly grated pecorino all over,
You can also sprinkle some finely chopped flat leaf parsley or simple crushed black pepper will do.

Take a bite,
Feel that cheese oozes in your mouth, adding a salty zing to the dish,
Maybe I'll grate more cheese for my portion, just for me. Greedy.

*The work between mother and daughter, plus a little help from pecorino*

Cindy's Rating: 7

Dec 6, 2011

Fried Hiratake Mushroom - 日式炸香菇

Don't we all love fried mushroom?

Today I gonna show you my Japanese style fried mushroom, using 3 coating steps: flour, egg, and panko. Panko is Japanese style bread crumbs. It comes in larger and flakier bits compared to regular store bought western style bread crumbs.

Here's what you can do if you can't find any panko around neighboring grocery stores:
Take some one day or two days old bread,
The tip here is the dryer the bread the better the crumbs you'll get.
Tear the bread into smaller pieces and toss them into a food processor.
Just keep pulsing till desired size, store with tightly sealed Ziploc.


20 hiratake mushroom
5 cups of vegetable oil
Some all purpose flour
1 to 2 eggs
Some panko
Some black pepper
Some salt
Some yuzu kosho (yuzu pepper)
Some dried seaweed flakes
Some other power seasonings if desired


Thoroughly rinse the mushroom and dry well with paper towel -

Have three deep plates ready,
Put some flour in one plate, beat one egg in one plate, and panko in last plate,
Here we have our little assembly line.

Take the mushroom one at a time,
First, evenly coat it with the flour,
Give the mushroom a quick shake to get rid of the excess flour,
Dip into the egg wash,
Finally, evenly coat the mushroom with panko then set aside,
Repeat the steps till all the mushroom are ready to go.

Try to use one hand while coating the mushroom with flour and panko,
Use the other hand while dipping the egg wash,
That way you get one hand dealing with dry ingredients, the other with wet ingredient,
This will prevent some gooey lumps from sticking all over your fingers.

Pour 5 cups of vegetable oil into a deep medium sized pot,
Turn to high heat and wait till the oil just started to get bubbly,
Fry the mushroom in 2 to 3 batches, till the color turned slightly browned on the edges.

While frying the mushroom, line a big plate with paper towel,
Once the mushroom are done, remove from oil and transfer to that plate,
The paper towel will help absorbing the excess oil from the veggie.

The seasoning part is totally up to you,
Here are some suggestions:
Seaweed flakes,
Yuzu kosho,
Black pepper and salt mixture,
Dried Italian herbs,
Curry powder.

The list goes on, I bet you can even sprinkle some cheese powder and make it into an afternoon snack.

My favorite is seaweed flakes with either yuzu kosho or black pepper & salt mixture,
If you have other ideas, share with me please, so I can savor your creation with my imagination!

Cindy's Rating: 9

Dec 1, 2011

Spicy Asian Sausage Spaghetti with a Touch of Grated Pecorino

**Secret revealed**

This is my all time favorite Asian sausage. The love is so intense, you can find at least 20 of them sitting in the freezer at all times just in case my craving kicks in any moment.  The sausages came from a local market in Taiwan that specializes in all kinds of marinated, pickled, aged, and dried goods.

So far I haven't found any comparables that get half as tasty in the states. Sadly no meat products are allowed on the plane, otherwise I'm so gonna stuff one big luggage just full of sausages. By the way, did I tell you it's "super spicy" (麻辣) Asian sausage? Even better!

The sausages are good on its own after steaming, pan-searing, or both. Some people stir-fry it with other ingredients or cook with white rice. But this time, I gonna add a little twist, how about spaghetti with a touch of grated pecorino?

Ingredients (for 2)?

2 spicy Asian sausages
2 fresh chili pepper (yes I prefer it even more spicy)
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons of sausage oil
Some spaghetti
Some grated pecorino
Some olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper


It's actually a quite simple dish. If you can't find "super spicy" Asian sausage, any other type of spicy pork sausages will do.

Steam the sausages till fully cooked through. Once done, remove from heat and let them cool a little bit before cutting into thin slices. Remember to save the grease oil that came out from the sausages during the process.

Bring a bit pot of water to a boil, add a few pinches of salt to flavor the water. Add in the pasta and cook till al dente. Once ready, drain well and set aside.

Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Remove the stems from the chilies and finely chop them.

Heat up a big pan, drizzle some olive oil till just evenly coated the surface,
Toss in chopped garlic and chilies, sprinkle some salt and pepper,
Cook till the aroma comes out, add in the sausage slices and 1/2 of the sausage oil right before the garlic almost gonna get burned.

Cook for about a minute,
Pour in the pasta, mix well and toss in the remaining sausage oil,
Cook till the juice has been absorbed a wee bit by the spaghetti,
Transfer onto a plate,
Sprinkle some more black pepper and serve with freshly grated pecorino.

So spicy, so mouth watering,
The cheese actually balances out the spiciness, but after all it's still a super hot dish. I bet it'll be a perfect meal on a cold winter day.

Be careful, those of you who can't take the heat well, tissues are required in case of excessive sweating.

Cindy's Rating: 9

Nov 29, 2011

Marinated Pork Slices Donburi - Hearty and Comforting

Post Thanksgiving shout out:
Are you tired of bird related dishes?
No more turkeys?

I'll never get tired of eating turkey. If the dish is good enough, I can munch on the same thing for up to one week, one whole week! Sadly though, I couldn't find any place that sell turkey before the holiday.

So what are we having tonight since no birds are involved?
How about marinated pork slices donburi?

Ingredients (2 to 3 portion)?

1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of mirin
2 teaspoons of Sriracha sauce or other types of chili sauce
Few drops of sesame oil

20 pork slices
1/2 onion
3 garlic cloves
3 fresh chili pepper
3 eggs
1 to 2 tablespoons of Japanese Tsuyu (soup base)
1 tablespoon of black bean soy sauce
Some olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper
Some steamed white rice
Some toasted sesame seeds
Some dried seaweed flakes


Combine all the marinade ingredients and mix well with pork slices,
Let it sit in room temperature for about 15 minutes -

Beat the eggs and set aside.

Peel the garlic and remove the stems from the fresh chilies,
Finely chop them together -  

Remove the outer brown layer from the onion and cut into thin slices,
Toss to the pan, drizzle some olive oil and turn to medium high heat,
Sprinkle some salt and pepper, cook till the onion turns translucent or even slighted browned on the edges.

Add in chopped garlic and chili pepper, cook till the aroma comes out but not burning the garlic.

Add in pork slices and give it a quick stir,
Cook till almost cooked through, pour in one tablespoon of tsuyu first along with one tablespoon of black bean soy sauce,
Mix well, taste the mixture see if one more tablespoon of tsuyu is needed,
It should be on the salty side since we gonna pour in beaten eggs and serve with rice later on.

Turn to high heat, almost to a boil,
Evenly pour in beaten eggs and turn off the heat immediately,
Gently stir up the mixture just a few times so that all the ingredients are coated with silky eggs.

Pour the sauce over steam white rice,
Sprinkle some sesame seeds and seaweed flakes before serving.

Such a hearty and comforting dish,
I'm very happy even without a turkey this year,
On a side note, this recipe was supposed for two people...but...but I ate them all in one hour...

*I have committed a sin*

Cindy's Rating: 8

Nov 23, 2011

Semi Instant Indonesian Rendang Beef Curry

Happy early turkey day!!

I was already late for the past Halloween holiday, therefore it's better to spread out my greetings as soon as possible.

This was supposed to be some kind of turkey related post, but sadly it's pretty tough to find a whole turkey here in Taiwan. Most Taiwanese prefer dark meat. As a result, even chicken breast is too dry for us, don't even thingk about extra lean turkey.

The only popular turkey dish, as least that's the only kind I found so far, is the shredded turkey over rice. In fact, it's so loved by Taiwanese, the rice has become one of the must-haves when visiting southern Taiwan. I promise, if I ever see turkey meat at my local grocery stores, my next post will be Taiwanese style shredded turkey rice.

Guess no big birds for me.
Instead, this year's Thanksgiving, I'm having Rendang beef curry -

Ingredients (2 to 3 portion)?

1 packet of Indonesian rendang curry paste
1 lb of beef cubes
1 to 2 sticks of carrot
1 can of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of red curry paste
Some olive oil


I wish one day I'll learn how to make curry from the scratch, meaning selecting the herbs and spices, grinding/pounding, and transforming them into curry paste just like the one from the instant packet, or even better.

But before I master that skill, let's just try to stick with the instruction in the back -

I actually pre-cooked the beef cubes and carrot before making the curry because those ingredients take longer time to get that fork tender texture. If chicken is used, skip this step.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil, toss in beef cubes,
Bring to a boil and cook for couple minutes till all the dirty bits come out,
Drain well and rinse the meat under running water.

Bring a pot of water to a boil again,
This time, we'll slowly cook the meat till almost tender and soft,
Add the beef cubes into the water,
Bring to a boil and just let it simmer for about 1 1/2 hours,
If carrot is used, you can also add peeled and diced carrot towards the end,
Once done, drain well and set aside.

Drizzle some olive oil to a big pan, turn to medium high heat,
Add in the curry paste and cook for about 30 seconds,
Be careful, the sauce might start flying everywhere,
I suggest using a deep pot or carrying a lid as your shield during this process.

Add in the beef cubes and carrot, cook for couple minutes,
Pour in coconut milk,
Bring to a boil and turn down the heat a bit,
Just let it simmer for another 30 minutes.

I also added additional 1 tablespoon of red curry paste for a heavier taste,
That's just for me, you can totally omit this step.

Curry is ready once the meat reaches your desired tenderness,
Recommend to serve with steam white rice.

While I'm enjoying my curry here, HAVE FUN eating all your turkey with gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, turkey soup, homemade bread, tons of cakes and cookies!!
( > ____.<)**

**jealousy kicks in**

Cindy's Rating: 6

Nov 15, 2011

Krung Siam - Las Vegas Chinatown

I can't even remember when was the last time I posted about restaurant reviews,
So why all the sudden...
Well, kind of embarrassed to tell, but I'm running out of homemade dishes and pictures to post!!

First of all, I have to blame it to the weather.
It's been raining here 24/7.  Unwilling to go out to replenish my fridge, I've been eating the same thing day after day, which leads to no new recipes to share.

But I did make something new,
Even thought it was just a simple grape juice, but was one hella yummy juice,
So what happened?
The whole bottle was gulped down by a greedy girl me?? in 5 minutes...
It was already hours after when I realized I forgot to take a picture...
You guys don't wanna see a blog update without pictures right?

All I have left are the pictures taken during my last Vegas trip,
Bear with me, I promise next time something yummy will be up here winking at you!

Krung Siam -

Located just outside of Las Vegas strip,
Krung Siam is a sizeable Thai restaurant completes with a bar and live band performance during the weekends.

For people planning to visit Vegas on a budget, it'll be a brilliant idea to dine somewhere outside the strip once a while. Otherwise be prepared to wait in a long line just for a bowl of $$$ noodles.

Chinatown can be a good place for your culinary adventure. Just 5 minutes driving distance from Vegas, you'll find tons of cuisines including Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, etc in the neighborhood - all for a decent price.

Thai Pond -

"Flavorful clear chicken broth soup with mushrooms, carrots, napa cabbage, onions, garnished with cilantro."

Roast Duck Curry -

"Roast duck simmered in red curry paste in coconut milk with pineapples, sweet peas & carrot, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers & sweet basil leaves."

Green Curry -

"Simmered in green curry paste in coconut milk with bamboo shoots, bell peppers, sweet basil, sweet peas & carrot."

For most dishes, you get to choose the meat (chicken, beef, shrimps, etc) being cooked,
On top of that, you get to select to serve with either brown rice or white rice,
Interestingly, usually only more Americanized Asian restaurants will give you the option of brown rice, and that's what attracted me to dine there, just for the brown rice.

So you figured?
Krung Siam is that Americanized Thai restaurant,
Compared to authentic Thai food, I think Krung Siam's dishes come with lighter flavors, meaning less kick from the spices.
The price is slightly higher too, about $10 per dish, but still way cheaper than Vegas food.

I guess it'll be a better idea to eat here when the restaurant is hosting a live band performance, then it'll totally worth the price!

Cindy's Rating: 5 

Krung Siam
3755 Spring Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89102
(702) 735 - 9485

Nov 8, 2011

Japanese Style Dan Dan Noodles - 日式芝麻担担麵

I got this bottle of sesame sauce from a Japanese grocery store the other day -

Unlike traditional Chinese sesame sauce, the Japanese version yields a more liquid texture with lighter taste. I think it'll be a perfect condiment as soup base or dipping sauce. Read on to see how I transformed this sauce into a comforting lunch!

Japanese Style Dan Dan Noodles - 日式芝麻担担麵

Ingredients (for two)?

3 cups of pork bone or chicken stock
1/2 cup of Japanese sesame sauce
1 tablespoon of homemade chili sauce (my dad made it!)

1 lb of ground pork
5 garlic cloves
3 fresh red chilies
1 stalk of scallion
1 1/2 tablespoon of Hatcho miso 八丁味噌 (or any other type of red miso)
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
Some olive oil
Some salt
Some freshly ground black pepper

2 portions of ramen noodles
1 small cucumber
Some toasted black and white sesame seeds
Some Sichuan peppercorn chili oil


Let's start with ground pork.

Peel and finely chop the garlic, finely chop the chili pepper and scallion,
Drizzle enough olive oil to evenly coat the pan, turn to medium high heat, toss in chopped garlic, chilies, and scallion,
Sprinkle some salt and pepper, give it a quick stir, cook till the aroma comes out but not burning the garlic.

Add in ground pork along with soy cause and Hatcho miso,
Mix well, cook till all the juice has been reduced, remove from heat for later use.

If you don't feel like dan dan noodles, this stir fry ground pork still serves as a perfect side dish for dry noodles or rice. Maybe even better if you add a sunny side up egg on top!

To make the soup, simply whisk all the ingredients in a medium pot while heating it up,
You can adjust the portion for chili sauce depend on how much heat can you tolerate (evil grin)*

As for the cucumber, just julienne it and store in the fridge while waiting for other parts to be ready,
It'll be a nice hot and cold contrast when serving the dish.

Prepare a pot of water to cook the ramen noodles,
In the meantime, scoop in some soup into a big bowl (or two),
Once the noodles are done, drain well and transfer to the bowl,
Then we top it with generous portion of stir fry ground pork,
Lastly, some very cold julienned cucumber, sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds, and drizzle some Sichuan peppercorn oil all around to add more kick to the dish -

Don't be picky about my fat cucumber strips!
I'm very bad at julienning vegetables, especially carrot,
Fat cucumber strips or bloody finger, pick one!

Cindy's Rating: 8

Oct 31, 2011

Halloween Fingers from Fat Monsters

Am I too late for Halloween?

I finally managed to chop down some fat monsters' fingers just couple days before Halloween. Overwhelmed with endless chores, maybe this post was a little bit too late for such a greenish festival. But even though Halloween might just pass few hours ago, our spooky spirits remain right!?

Ingredients (for about 15 fat fingers or 20 skinnier fingers)?

1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of almond butter
1 egg
15 or more almond halves
Few drops of vanilla extract
Small pinch of sea salt
Some Japanese matcha powder


Beat the egg and vanilla extract in a small bowl.

In another container, mix together room temperature butter, almond butter, sugar, and salt. Once fully combined, add in the egg mixture and blend till smooth in texture.

Gradually add in the flour while mixing in slow speed,
Mix till no white flour bits present, divide the dough in half.

Wrap 1/2 of the dough with foil,
As for the other half, keep blending while adding matcha powder a tiny bit at a time till it reaches desired yucky green color,
When the dough is ready, wrap with foil.

Transfer the dough to the fridge to chill for about 15 to 20 minutes,
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line the parchment paper on a baking sheet.

I also halved the almonds while waiting for the dough and the oven,
This is my dummy way to halve the almonds -

Push the almond in between the fork to position it tightly,
Aim the center with a sharp knife and carefully cut the almond in half.

Take the dough out and start our art lesson,
Just like playing with clay when you're a little kid, simply grad some dough and roll out some fingers! I tried to make some big deformed Frankenstein-like knuckles but yeah..not very successful..

Score the dough with fork that resembles the wrinkles on our fingers,
Gently push down each almond halves on finger tips to make ugly nails.

It was my first time making Halloween fingers so I got a little bit too greedy, turned out I got fat fingers.

If you want regular size fingers, remember to make skinny logs while forming the dough.

Into the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes,
If you prefer a softer bite, 10 minutes should be enough.

Despite their creepy looks, the almond and matcha flavor actually taste pretty good. In fact, I'm glad I got fat fingers because it means more bites in one cookie!

Cindy's Rating: 7

Oct 27, 2011

Simple Pecorino Pasta

Pecorino is a type of cheese with a taste similar to Parmesan,
The main difference is that pecorino comes from ewe's (sheep) milk and Parmesan comes from cow's milk. Personally speaking, I think pecorino has a slightly stronger and more so saltier taste compared to Parmesan.

Here's a very simple paste dish made with pecorino cheese. In fact, there's a traditional Italian recipe called "cacio e pepe" with pecorino, black pepper, and butter as main ingredients. But today we gonna skip all that steps and just focus on the creamy stuff. Let's save cacio e pepe for the next round!

Simple pecorino pasta -

Ingredients (for two)?

1 1/2 to 2 cups of grated pecorino
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 small bundle of flat leaf parsley
Some sea salt
Some pasta water


First and also the hardest part, grate the cheese, which requires strenuous muscle work -

Bring a big pot of water to a boil,
Add in some salt to the water, and cook the spaghetti according to package instruction, or till al dente.
Once ready, remove from water and set aside,
Remember to save the pasta water in case you need to dilute the sauce later.

Pour the whipping cream to a big pan, sprinkle just a little bit of salt since the cheese will provide most of the savory flavor later on.
Turn to medium high heat to warm up the whipping cream, for about couple minutes.

Add the already cooked pasta into the pot,
Pour in 4/5 of the grated cheese,
Mix well till all the cheese oozes in the spaghetti,
If the whole mixture appears too dry, scoop in pasta water a little bit at a time and stir well,
Sprinkle the remaining cheese and fresh parsley before serving to brighten up the flavor.

Quite simple right?
Try to finish this in one meal, otherwise reheat it with a pan instead of microwave,
You might have to add a little bit more hot water or milk when heating up the pasta.

Cindy's Rating: 8 (simple dish rules!)

Oct 20, 2011

Spicy Garlic Chives and Ground Pork Stir Fry - 辣炒韮菜豬絞肉

Saw these beautiful garlic chives during one of my recent visit to the local market -

Garlic chives is a common vegetable in Asia,
Usually you'll find it as one of the stuffing ingredients used in all kind of dumplings and buns,
Another popular way to cook garlic chives is by stir frying them with heavy seasonings, and that's how I like it.

Spicy Garlic Chives and Ground Pork Stir Fry -


1 bundle of garlic chives
4 garlic cloves
2 red chili peppers
1 pound of ground pork
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of black bean soy sauce
2 teaspoons of Sichuan spicy peppercorn sauce (or other types of chili sauce)
Some olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper


Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves,
Remove the stems from the chilies and finely chop them,
Remove the very bottom part of the garlic chives and the flower top if necessary, sometimes they might get a wee bit chewy.

Have a big pan ready,
Drizzle some olive oil untill evenly coat the bottom of the pan, turn to high heat,
Toss in chopped chilies, garlic, some salt and pepper; cook till the aroma comes out.

Right before the garlic is about to burn, add the ground pork,
Give it a quick stir, about 2 minutes, then add in all the remaining seasonings,
Mix well and cook till the liquid has been reduced by half,
Toss is chopped garlic chives,
Mix well again and cook till all the juice has been fully absorbed by the ingredients, about few more minutes,
You can taste the mixture to see if more soy sauce or chili oil is needed.

Sprinkle some more freshly ground black pepper and garnish with one garlic chive flower before serving.

*Perfect with rice or as noodle base.

Cindy's Rating: 8

Oct 12, 2011

Beef Stew Vietnamese Style

One night at a regular potluck gathering, my friend had a pot of fork tender beef stew sitting on the table. In my memory, that very first bite basically knocked me out with a big punch of exotic flavors. It was so good!

My friend was very kind to share his secret - Vietnamese beef stew seasoning from local Asian grocery store. Soon enough, I got a few packs of my own -

I think it doesn't have to be the  exact same brand. All other generic Vietnamese beef stew mix should work almost the same.

Ingredients (for a big pot)?

1/2 to 2/3 pack of Vietnamese stew beef spices
1.5 lbs of beef brisket
2 carrots
1/2 large onion
8 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons of ketchup'
2 teaspoons of granulated sugar
Some unsalted chicken stock or beef stock
Some corn starch
Some olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper


Since it was my first time using the seasoning pack, I carefully followed the instruction behind the package with a little twist of mine. Let's see how my first Vietnamese style beef stew was made.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and toss in cubed brisket,
Cook till the dirty brown bits start to float to the surface, turn off the heat, drain well, and set the beef aside.

Grab another big pot or skillet, toss in peeled garlic cloves and chopped onion,
Sprinkle some salt and pepper,
Cook till the garlic turns slightly brown but not burned,
Add in ketchup and seasoning mix, stir well and cook till the aroma comes out.

A well shielded deep pot is highly recommended since some burning bits might start flying out once you pour in the ketchup. Trust me, there is still a small burned red spot under my right eye and it's been almost 3 weeks!!
Maybe next time I should cook Captain America style with spatula on one hand and shield on the other.

After dodging the flying seasoning bits, carefully mix in beef cubes and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in peeled and cubed carrots, combine well and cook for another 5 minutes or so.

Gradually pour in luck warm chicken or beef stock till all the ingredients are submerge under the liquid,
Bring to a boil and turn to medium low heat tokeep it simmering,
Season with some granulated sugar.
Instruction calls for some msg, but I don't use msg in my cooking so didn't even bother,

At first I couldn't wait and tasted it after simmering for one hour only,
Man...the meat was tough as a rubber band.
Luckily, after 3 more hours of cooking, the beef cubes have transformed into another fork tender goodies. You'll know its ready when all the liquid has been reduced by at least half.

Once ready to serve, mix some corn starch with water.
Gently pour in the mixture while stirring the beef stew at the same time,
This will yield a thick and gooey gravy, otherwise you can try to start with even more stock in the beginning and prepare it beef soup style!

You can serve it over rice, noodles, or even pasta,
I believe almost any kind of stew dish tastes even better overnight.
Here's how I enjoy it the next day:

Cook some Asian noodles -

Drain well and mix in with the beef stew plus one teaspoon of Sichuan chili paste -

Next time I'll try eating it with rice and a sunny side up egg, make it an even heartier dish!

Cindy's Rating: 7