May 29, 2011

Spaghetti with Rosemary Marinated Pork Slices and Toasted Pine Nuts

This is one of these days,

I turn away from rich and creamy sauces, where my palate get tired of it only after a few bites,
Instead, I'm trying to unlock a combination that can let each of the simple ingredients shine in my comfort dish - perfect for a long weekend lunch.

Spaghetti with rosemary marinated pork slices and toasted pine nuts -

Ingredients (3 to 4 portion)?

Marinade -
1 sprig of rosemary
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
Little less than 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
28 to 30 pork slices
Some olive oil

Cook -
3 to 4 portions of spaghetti
1/4 medium onion
4 to 5 garlic cloves
4 to 5 fresh chili peppers
1/3 cup of pine nuts
Some olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper

Finish/garnish -
1 lime
Some parsley
Some Tabasco sauce (optional)


Since there will be no heavy tasting sauce for the spaghetti,
Fresh ingredients naturally become the key success factor of this dish -

Let's prep the pork slices first,
Finely chop 1 sprig of rosemary and transfer to a bowl,
Add the remaining marinade ingredients into the bowl together with the meat,
Add enough olive oil to evenly coat each pork slices,
Set aside and let it marinate for at least 15 minutes -

Peel and finely chop the garlic and onion,
Chop the chili peppers into smaller pieces.

Bring a big pot of water into a boil,
Add a few pinches of salt into the water and toss in the spaghetti,
Cook the pasta according to package instruction, preferably till al dente,
Once done, drain well but remember to save some pasta water for later use.

Heat up a grill pan,
Toss in pine nuts and toast it till slightly browned on all sides,
You'll know when it's ready when that wonderful nutty aroma start perfuming the kitchen,
Once done, transfer the nuts into a food processor and give it a few pulses.

Since the grill pan already got a tiny bit of oil and residual aroma from the pine nuts,
We'll just use the same pan to cook the pork slices,
You don't have to brush extra olive oil onto the pan since the pork slices were already coated with it.

Couple minutes on each sides of the pork or till the meat get that yummy-looking burn marks,
Once done, set aside for later use -

Prepare another big pan,
Drizzle some olive oil and turn to medium high heat,
Add in chopped onion, sprinkle some salt and pepper, cook for 2 to 3 minutes,
Add the chopped garlic and chili peppers,
Cook till the aroma comes out but not burning the garlic.

Toss in grilled pork slices and toasted ground pine nuts,
Give it a quick stir, mix in the pasta,
Add more olive oil and/or pasta water if the mixture appears too dry,
Personally, I prefer using more olive oil than water because it adds more fruity flavor to the dish.
Taste the mixture and add more salt if needed.

Squeeze some fresh lime juice and garnish with parsley before serving,
You can definitely add chopped parsley instead of just using it as a garnish,
Serve with Tabasco sauce if you wanna bring the spiciness up to another level!

Happy Memorial Day!

Cindy's Rating: 8

May 22, 2011

Popular Taiwanese Ingredients: Semi Stir-Fry Amaranth with Tiny White Fish

What a tongue twisted name for a vegetable,
This leafy green is similar to spinach, however, with lighter color and a wee bit softer texture in my opinion.
Amaranth can be found in almost every grocery store and outdoor markets here in Taiwan.

Another popular Taiwanese ingredient is tiny white fish (吻仔魚), also known as shirasu in Japanese.
I'm deeply in love with this ingredient,
Years ago, there're quite a few controversies regarding the over consumption of tiny white fish, especially those are basically baby fish in the ocean.
Luckily, more and more regulated fish farms have been established over the years so now we can enjoy this nutritious ingredient without harming the balance of the nature.

Tiny white fish can be found in major Asian grocery stores such as Ranch 99 and Mitsuwa,
Personally, I prefer the ones from Mitsuwa,
The quality is more stable and the fish are definitely fresher and cleaner.
As for the amaranth, if you can't find any around the neighborhood, just substitute it with spinach.

Semi stir-fry amaranth with tiny white fish -


1 1/4 cup of tiny white fish (that's a lot, you can definitely tone down the amount a bit)
1/2 cup of hot water
2 bundles of amaranth
2 garlic cloves
2 Thai chili peppers
1 teaspoon of black bean soy sauce
Some olive oil
Some sea salt


Chop 2 peeled garlic cloves and 2 chili peppers into small pieces,
Thoroughly rinse the vegetable, pick out tough stems, drain well and set aside for later use.

Drizzle some olive oil to the pan, turn to high heat,
Toss in chopped garlic and chili peppers, sprinkle some salt,
Give it a quick stir, cook till the garlic aroma comes out, but don't wait for too long that you'll burn the garlic.

Transfer the fish into the pan, cook for about 30 seconds, add in the amaranth,
Here's why I call it a semi stir-fry dish,
I'm not gonna "stir-fry" the vegetable, instead, let's add in the hot water and wait till the amaranth starts to wilt.

Bring to a boil and turn to medium heat,
Add in the black bean soy sauce and cook for a wee bit longer,
You might find it hard to "maneuver" the amaranth because it tends to stick together when cooked this way,
That's why traditionally Taiwanese will add some corn starch and make it a gooey, soup-like dish,
Not for me this time, the gooey style is only good if you gonna finish the dish immediately,
If you want to eat it the next day or use as lunch box dish, just omit the corn starch and do it my way.

Taste it before serving,
You might need a bit more salt or hot water depending on personal preferences.

Now that my semi stir-fry style amaranth is done, time to pack this dish into 3 lunch boxes,
Can't wait to eat this tomorrow!

Cindy's Rating: 7

May 15, 2011

Fusion Hambagu Topped with Asian Sauce and Ricotta Cheese

This is probably my first weekend late night blog post,
There're many distractions while this recipe is being updated, which means:
Friend playing guitar just few inches away from my laptop,
Occasional screaming while the cute little doggy keeps chasing around the kids,
Drunken karaoke sound vibration from downstairs.

Please applaud if this recipe comes out right.

Fusion hambagu with Asian sauce and ricotta cheese -

Ingredients (for 9 medium ones)?

Meat patties -
1 - 1.5 lbs of ground pork
3 cremini mushrooms
1 egg
1/4 small onion
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper
To Sear -
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/3 cup of hot water

Sauce -
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
Some freshly ground black pepper

Topping -
Some ricotta cheese

Optional -
1 bundle of spinach
Some sea salt


Peel and finely chop the onion,
Chop the mushrooms into little pieces,
Beat 1 egg,
Have a big container ready, mix the ground pork, onion, mushrooms, beaten egg, soy sauce, some salt and pepper all together.

Let the mixture rest for about few minutes,
Grab a palmful of meat mixture and toss between hands while forming small patties,
This helps in driving out the air inside the mixture, which result in firmer instead of loose patties -

Have a big pan ready,
Add 1 tablespoon of butter and equal amount of olive oil, turn to medium high heat,
Sear the patties about 3 to 4 minutes each side, or till it turns slightly burned,
When the two sides are done, add in hot water and put on the lid,
Turn to lower heat and let it simmer for about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil,
Add in a pinch of salt and toss in the spinach, cook till wilted,
Drain out the water and lay it on the serving plate to form a spinach bed,
Blanching the vegetable works better but since this is just simple home-cooking...nah, we should just save some dish washing troubles for ourselves.

As for the sauce,
Put the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, and some black pepper all together in a sauce pan,
Bring to a boil and turn to lower heat,
Cook till the sauce reduced by at least 1/3, or at least semi-gooey then you'll know it's ready.

To assemble the plate,
Put the meat patties on the spinach,
Add a spoonful of ricotta cheese on top of each patty while the meat is still hot - 

Last step, drizzle the sauce all over -

( > _.< ) I hope this post turns out well.

So why am I writing this recipe while my friends are singing and "kinda" drinking?
Well, just say this is one way for me to avoid injecting too much toxic liquid into my system?

Happy weekend!

Cindy's Rating: 8

May 7, 2011

Chinese Influenced Roasted Beef with Tomatoes

Happy Saturday everyone!

I just got back from my Southern California coastline road trip and still "recuperating" from all the binge eating activities throughout past few days,
There were gigantic steaks from Jocko's Steak House,
Crab and asparagus savory crepes from Novo Restaurant and Lounge,
Hawaiian style chicken wings with green curry dipping sauce from Hula's Island Grill,
And of course a few cups of fiber boosts to help me digest all these meaty goodies during the trip.

Sad thing is, too much fun can actually cause some serious damage when trying to get back to normal and boring schedule,
Symptoms including:
Sense of guiltiness,
Swollen belly,
And the most menacing of all, I kept asking for more,
More steaks, more seafood, more rice, more noodles,
You name it, I want it!! 
This can't be good....arghhhHHHHH (roaring beast)....

And this recipe below definitely doesn't help curing my food craving disorder (or maybe I should just embrace it and let binge eating be a part of my regular lifestyle?)

Chinese influenced roasted beef with tomatoes -

Ingredients (small/medium portion)?

1 lb of beef (the fattier the better, I just picked the cheapest one available)
2 large tomatoes
1 medium potato
2 carrots
3 garlic cloves
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of mirin
2 teaspoons of Sriracha sauce
1 cup of hot water
Some olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper


Cut the beef into large bite size cubes,
Bring a small pot of water to a boil, toss in the beef cubes and cook till the dirty bits come out,it should take less than one minute,
Drain the water and set the beef aside,
Don't boil the beef for too long otherwise it's gonna get tough and tasteless.

For the veggies,
Dice up one onion, peel and cut the carrot/potato into smaller cubes,
Chop the tomatoes into large cubes, peel the garlic cloves and finely dice them -

Take a pot or a big pan,
Drizzle some olive oil and turn to high heat,
Toss in diced onion, sprinkle some salt and pepper,
Let it cook till the onion turns slightly translucent, add the garlic and cook till that garlicky aroma comes out,
Turn to medium heat,
Add the carrot and potato, add additional small pinch of salt, cook for another 3 minutes -

Add in beef cubes, soy sauce, oyster sauce, mirin, and Sriracha sauce,
You can definitely add more spicy seasoning if you want this dish to be mouth-burning hot!

Mix well and keep cooking for about 2 minutes -

Add the tomato cubes, give it a quick stir then pour in almost 1 cup of hot water,
Bring the sauce to a boil and turn to lower heat,
Put on the lid and let it simmer for 40 minutes to an hour then you'll have this comforting meal -

One tip here is to cut the ingredients into smaller pieces so the food can be done in a short period of time,
My potato cubes were fork tender only after 30 minutes of simmering,
Preferably serve with steam white rice!

(Now you know why I can't stop myself from eating even after the trip? it a bless or a sin??)

Cindy's Rating: 8