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