Jan 30, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year! Steam Chicken with Goose Liver Sausage

February 2nd is gonna be Chinese's New Year's Eve according to the lunar calendar,
Everyone is preparing for the upcoming "rabbit" year while waving goodbye to the "tiger" year.

You can sense how crowded the streets are these days,
Moms shopping for New Year's Eve dinner ingredients,
Kids picking up their favorite festive candies,
Workers putting in more hours to wrap up tasks on hand in order to freely enjoy a whole week break.

Since my mom is going to be the chef in charge for our big holiday's dinner,
I'll be the one cooking these few days,
And this is on tonight's menu - steam chicken with goose liver sausage,
*Semi-Chinese New Year's Eve dish (no fuss style) -


Some chicken pieces (preferably with bones and skin)
15 small dried shitake mushroom
4 garlic cloves (peeled)
2 goose liver sausage
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1 teaspoon of Chinese rice wine

Optional/garnish: fresh chilies


Thoroughly rinse the chicken and pat dry,
Wash and soak the dried shitake mushroom in lukewarm water till softened -

Once done, drain well, cut off the stems, and set aside.

Massage the chicken pieces with soy sauce, oyster sauce, and rice wine,
Marinate for at least 30 minutes, at least,
Mine was about 2 hours -

You can add 2 fresh chilies into the marinade,
Remember to cut them cross-wise.

Steam the goose sausage for about 8 minutes,
It doesn't need to be fully cooked through yet,
Cut the sausages into thin slices, save the juice for later use -

I love this goose liver sausage,
It's more of a traditional dish from China (外省) instead of from Taiwan,
The sausage tastes sweet, makes it a perfect seasoning while adding on top of other ingredients.

That's about all the prep works,
Now mix everything together (mushroom, chicken, sauce, including all the juices),
Combine well and steam for 30 to 40 minutes.
Once done, garnish with fresh chili -

The sweetness from the sausage made this dish a winner,
It also made the sauce a perfect condiment for the rice,
Just drizzle it all over the rice and down it like you haven't ate anything for 3 days!

That's how I celebrate my new years!

Cindy's Rating: 8

Jan 23, 2011

Simple Stir Fry Matsusaka Pork Slices

Hello Taiwan!

It's been almost one week since I arrived in Taiwan,
My parents are really taking good care of me,
Not sure about other families, but to mine, that involves a lot of feeding...

Don't get me wrong,
Feeding is good, especially everything's homemade and childhood favorite dishes,
But man oh man, how much I miss cooking and messing around the kitchen.

Luckily, I finally got my cooking time back yesterday,
My dad got tons of Matsusaka pork slices for friends and business partners,
6 of that high pile of meat containers went into my fridge,


30 slices of Matsusaka pork slices
2 garlic cloves
1 stalk of scallion
1 tablespoon of black bean soy sauce
1 teaspoon of chili sauce
(*not the paste kind, preferably with some fine grounded Szechuan peppercorn)
Little olive oil
Little salt


Here're my beautiful Matsusaka pork slices -

The texture is on the chewy side once you cooked it,
But it's tender at the same time due to its high fat content.

I've decided to go light on the seasoning so I get more taste from the meat,
Here's how I did it,
Drizzle some olive oil in the pan and turn to medium high heat,
Just a little bit of oil is fine since the meat is so fat.

Toss in peeled and sliced garlic, sprinkle a little bit of salt,
Cook till the garlic just about to get burned,
Add in pork slices, soy sauce, chili sauce, and chopped scallion,
Cook till the sauce is fully absorbed by the pork.

All 30 slices, finished in 6 minutes, by myself.
That's life \( ^ _.^ )/

Cindy's Rating: 8

Jan 17, 2011

Fleur by Hubert Keller

As a food blogger,
It is pretty expectable when I'm saying a few of my favorite TV shows are from Food Network and Travel Channel,
But there's one more indelible series I've got to watch,
Bravo's Top Chef!
Check the link here if you're not all familiar with it.

They even brought the show up to another notch a while ago called - Top Chef Masters,
Several already well-famed, world renowned chefs competing for their choice of charity and the title of top chef masters.

Man, that was such a fun season,
The show provides a chance for a closer look of these usually behind-the-scene chefs.
After following many tough competitions and high level challenges,
Hubert Keller, one of the last three remaining chefs, totally won over my heart.

I've turned myself into Hubert's little fan ever since.
Music fans support the musicians by buying their music,
So what about food fans?
We DEVOUR chefs' creations!

Fleur by Hubert Keller (Las Vegas, inside Mandalay Bay) -

It was a light lunch occasion,
Our waiter was wonderful, not the hostess though,
She was having a stinky face the whole time.

As we sat down and ordered some food,
The waiter informed us that our food will be sending out based on light-to-heavy flavor profile.

They offer chopsticks too -

Since we're having lunch,
Our dining area is located on the first half of the restaurant open to the hotel area,
There's the other half of the space for dinner only with a large wine selection display along the wall.

Pan con tomate -

Toasted ciabatta, tomato, garlic, with a thinly sliced manchego.

Gnocchi -

San marzano fondue, pesto.
The gnocchi was indeed light and fluffy, which matches the heavy pesto sauce brilliantly.

Italian style meatballs with minestrone garnish -

Sadly three was not enough,
I myself can eat at least 10 of it!

Skirt steak -

Chimmichurri, roasted fingerling, créme fraiche.

Additional order: croque monsieur -

Smoked ham, gruyere, béchamel.

Cheesecake lollipop -

White chocolate, kumquat,-gingerbread, strawberry coolie.

Overall the food was pretty good,
Light tasting, but definitely not bland,
Somehow these dishes gave me an "elegant" flavor profile,
It's like that pleasant aroma keeps lingering in my mouth even long after the meal.

Dessert was the low-light of the day,
The presentation is fun and playful, however the taste was not quite there,
It felt a wee bit sour cream overload.

Anways, not sure about Fleur's dinner items,
But absolutely worth the try for lunch!

Fleur by Hubert Keller - Las Vegas
*Inside Mandalay Bay
3950 Las Vegas Blvd (South)
Las Vegas, NV 89119

Jan 12, 2011

Vdara Las Vegas and Aburiya Raku

Thanks to my friend, I got a free pass to CES Las Vegas this year!
(CES = Consumer Electronics Show)

Sadly I didn't bring my camera to the show,
Lesson learned,
No matter what happens, camera should always be within reachable distance 24/7!

Since I cannot show you all the exciting new gadgets, 3D TVs, green engineered cars of this upcoming year,
At least I can give you some thoughts and feedbacks regarding the hotel I stayed in,
Plus possibly my top three favorite restaurants in the U.S. - Aburiya Raku!

You never know,
These information can come in handy if you ever gonna visit Vegas!

Vdara is one of the modern looking hotels inside CityCenter,
Other hotels and structures including Mandarin Oriental, Aria, etc.

Their interior design gives you a more modern yet elegant vibe -

Bathroom -

Apartment-like setting, which the room is equipped with a small kitchen -

You can request for different kinds of cookware, plates, and utensils.

View from the room during different time frames,
View 1 -

View 2 -

View 3 -

View 4 -

View 5 -

View 6 -

View 7 -

One of the hotel lighting -

I've only stayed in four other hotels in Vegas:
Venetian, Aladdin, Mandalay Bay, Treasure Island,
But of course I've visited all other hotels *just like a tourist!
By far, Vdara is my favorite,
I think 70% is due to its anti-smoking regulation, and 20% due to its fabulous view.

*Vdara smells really nice!
Unlike most of the Vegas hotels...even high-end ones...always carries a hint of cigarette..

Enough about hotels, let's talk about food!

I had a pretty old post about Raku,
Read here if you're interested,
But pardon me that some of the picture sizes are all messed up and went over the border.

If you've been reading my blog, you'll notice the change of layout couple months ago,
And that's how some of my older image sizes got over-board..
Maybe I'll spare some time to fix it one day...when I'm not around food...
(which will NEVER happen* muahaha......ah...laziness...I blame it to the confusing technology)

This is how we started out our binge eating night -

Complimentary dish that goes pretty well with our sake,
Baby vegetables with miso -

Specials of the day,
Darn it! They didn't have any dessert items ( > _.< ),
I remembered having Raku's brown sugar flan with foam, it was so darn good!

Beef liver sashimi with thinly sliced garlic, high-quality oil, and a pinch of green tea sea  salt -

Never had it before,
When I saw raw liver on the menu, there's a sudden voice in my head forcing me to order it,
And I didn't regret that decision at all.

Poached egg with sea urchin and salmon roe -

Steamed foie gras egg custard -

Front to back:
Kobe beef fillet with wasabi, apple marinated lamb chops, oden -

Front to back:
Soboro don and foie gras don -

That's just a tip of what we ordered that night,
Two people, nearly 20 dishes,
Man...I felt like I've never been this full in my life,
I left the restaurant with balloon shaped belly and a spinning head (foodcome kicking in),
It was definitely worth it!

Here's the link to Raku's newly designed website:

Go check their "commitments to quality" section under "about us,"
Good ingredients, good chef, good place, plus chef's passion for food,
No wonder this place is so DARN good!

Jan 4, 2011

What Is This?? Stir Fry...Unidentified Vegetables with Bacon

Hooray my first post of 2011!

After days of binge eating just like how I expected right before the holidays:
Non-stop grilled meat, spicy hot pot, and endless boba milk tea,
The healthy eating God finally shined on me today,
Yes, it's definitely the time to get back on the less greasy track.

Let's see what they have in the grocery store...
No eggs...no small pack of basil...no lactose free milk...
What?!? Was this store raided by a bunch of hungry customers?

But a fine home cook like me should be able to cope with any emergency situations,
As I quickly crossed out the original shopping list items,
This fresh and bright purple colored veggie caught my attention -

What is this?
The label says "broccoli," but...eh?
I also grabbed one additional white colored "broccoli" to my basket -

When I was at the check-out register,
The lady tried to find a code for these veggies,
After several flips of her "coding booklet,"
She decided that these purple and white things are indeed "broccoli flower."
Eh? You sure?

Whatever the names, it's gonna be on my dinner plate tonight.


2 unidentified vegetable (possibly broccoli-related)
3 bacon strips
2 garlic cloves
Some sea salts
Some freshly ground black pepper
Some olive oil (depends)


Peel and mince 2 large garlic cloves,
Cut the bacon strips into smaller pieces,
Cut off the veggie stems and rinse the leaves with water thoroughly,
Once done, drain well and set aside -

Toss the bacon to a pan and turn to high heat,
Sprinkle some salts and pepper, give it a quick stir,
Cook till there's enough bacon fat covering the surface,
Add in minced garlic,
Transfer the veggies to the mixture right before the garlic gets burned.

The leaves will start to wilt down a wee bit,
You might need to drizzle additional olive oil if the ingredients appear to be on the dry side.

Give it a quick taste and add more salts if needed.

So this mysterious veggie has a tougher texture,
This time I cooked it stir-fry style,
But I'm guessing it'll taste even better when baking slowly in the oven,
Turning the leaves  into veggie chips and maybe serve with homemade aioli sauce?

I think it'll be hella good.