Apr 24, 2012

Stir Fry Shrimps with Vegetables and a Touch of Cilantro

Cilantro to me is just like parsley to Italians. It can be mixed into a dish or can be sprinkled on top of a cooked meal. People either fall in love with this tiny leafy greens or try everything they can to pick it out from every single bite. It's really a love and hate story. As for me, I love it with all my heart.

Stir fry shrimps with vegetables and a touch of cilantro -


25 shrimps
25 grape tomatoes
8 button mushrooms
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon of red chili flakes
Some olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper


Peel and devein the shrimps. Peel and slice the garlic cloves. Halve the tomatoes. Quarter the mushrooms. Finely chop the cilantro.

Drizzle just enough olive oil onto a pan till evenly coat the bottom. Sprinkle some salt, pepper, add in sliced garlic and 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes. Turn to medium high heat.

Cook till the garlic aroma comes out, about 30 seconds. Remember to lower the heat if the garlic is about to get burned. You can turn the heat back up as soon as other ingredients are added to the pan.

So once the aroma comes out, toss in quartered mushrooms and season with a little bit more salt. Cook for about couple minutes -

Add in the tomatoes, about 1o seconds, toss in the shrimps. Once the shrimps are cooked, should be less than 2 minutes, toss in chopped cilantro. Give it a quick stir and you'll have a very aromatic stir fry shrimps -

I'm guessing..if you like parsley, you'll probably like cilantro too?

Cindy's Rating: 8

Apr 17, 2012

Party Appetizer - Crostini with Tuna, Tomato, Shallot, and Dill

There's this cute cheese store located in the center of Beverly Hills. Luckily I was invited there for a small cheese tasting for four (thank you my dear friends).

Here's what we had on a Monday afternoon, I know, what a good life -

Meat section -

Maybe not so small after all with all that generous amount of cheese, wine,

pâté, charcuterie, and my favorite honeycomb -

The whole idea behind this tasting is that the cheese store owner wanted to introduce some new items to our chef friend, among all is this olive-like ??? in the center -

Yes, I said "olive-like," obviously these are not olives,
Anyone want to take a guess?
.........peaches! Dwarf peaches!! Truffled dwarf peaches!!!

They had similar crunch as olives, but not as salty and perhaps the best parts of all - there is no pit in the middle.

On our way out, we grabbed some more bottles, a jar of dwarf peaches, and a can of tuna in oil -

Let's prolong this yummy tasting memory from a welcoming cheese store to my cozy home, with this -

Crostini with tuna, tomato, shallot, and dill -

Ingredients (for 8 slices of baguette)?

1 small baguette or 1/3 regular baguette
1 can of tuna in oil
1 ripe tomato (prefer more sourish kind)
1 shallot
2 threads of dill
Some olive oil
Some sea salt flakes
Some freshly ground black pepper
Some freshly squeezed lemon juice (if preferred)


Cut the baguette diagonally to about 1/3 to 1/2 inch slices,
Evenly lay out the sliced baguette on a baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil on top. Into the oven and turn to high heat till the surface turns slightly brown. Once done, remove from heat and set aside for later use.

Drain out the oil from the tuna. Take a fork and gently break the tuna into smaller chunks -

Peel and chop the shallot into small pieces, dice the tomato into same size pieces, and finely chop the fresh dill.

Mix tuna, shallot, tomato, and dill,
Sprinkle some salt and pepper then give it a quick taste, see if more seasonings are needed. If you prefer more acidity, perhaps some freshly squeezed lemon juice would help.

Generously spread the mix over baked baguette -

Garnish with some fresh dill,
It'll be a very refreshing snack, perfect for weekend afternoon or serve as a party appetizer.

Apr 10, 2012

Animal Restaurant - Los Angeles

Man..when's the last time I wrote about a restaurant review?
Ever since I semi-moved back to Taiwan, there's lesser chance for me to share my truly subjective opinions while dining in LA.

This time during my short trip (well if you consider 1.5 months out of one whole year as short) back in sunny Cali, besides weekly visit to Japanese shabu restaurant, loads of Korean food and occasionally Mexican dine out, I've managed to try out a new venue - Animal in downtown Los Angeles.

If you never dine at Animal and would like to give it a try, remember there is no sign in front of the restaurant. If you have eagle-liked vision, maybe you'll spot "Animal" on the valet parking stand, but that's about it. My suggestion for locals, just look for "Canter's," Animal is just few stores next to this historical deli joint.

Please spare me for such grainy pictures throughout. My iphone4 is the only camera device that travels with me during the whole trip.

Booking a table of eight for a weekend dinner can get quite tricky. We called almost 3 weeks in advance:
The first coming weekend - Completely full,
Second weekend - We do have seats at 11:30 p.m.,
Third weekend - 9:30 p.m. is the earliest available slot. Yes we'll take it.

Toast to our victory in securing a spot.

The food portion at the Animal is kind of small, which is good for a large party like ours. We pretty much ordered at least half of the items on the menu. Let the venture begins!

Dark brown ale beer -

American pale lager -

Chicken liver toast $3 -

One of my favorite dishes of the night. Simple delight packed with creamy texture and dense flavor.

Veal tongue, smoked foie gras, pastrami spices, crab apple $14 -

The coral-like thin crust is actually dehydrated bread, pretty interesting.

Marrow bone, chimichurri, caramelized onions $10 -

The acidity from the chimichurri balanced out the oily marrow. The bread on the side is da bomb. In fact, I probably care more about the bread than the marrow itself.

Rabbit loin spring roll, eggplant, sprouts, green curry $14 -

If you think rabbit is too cute to be eaten, just think of it as a chicken - the one here tastes just like it.

Hamachi tostada, herbs, fish sauce vinaigrette, peanut $15 -

Sweetbreads, creamed spinach, mushroom, caper, brown butter $14 -

Least favorite dish of the night. Perhaps adding some crunch to the dish will yield a better result per my preference.

Grilled baby broccoli, smoked trout, crispy egg, romesco $12 -

Runny yolk is such a thing of beauty, don't you agree? -

Balsamic pork ribs, braised greens, chili oil, garlic $19 -

Pretty standard,
If you're here for an unusual food adventure, skipping this one won't hurt at all.

Polenta, six-hour bolognese, parmesan $10 -

I have a thing for polenta,
Maybe because it's a rare dish in Taiwan so I just have to order polenta every time when spot on the menu.

Foie gras loco moco, quail egg, spam, hamburger $36 -

Foie gras, biscuit, maple sausage gravy $25 -

Despite the unhealthy side effects that might come with the dish, this is for sure my favorite of the night. Especially that luscious biscuit and smokey gravy, maybe bursting one blood vessel or two isn't so bad after all.

Poutine, ox tail gravy, cheddar $18 -

Barbecue pork belly sandwiches, slaw $13 -

Veal brains, vadouvan, apricot puree, carrot $14 -

See, it doesn't even look like a brain, or brains (I wonder how many calf heads being suck out for this dish). Give it a try please, to me it tastes way better than sweetbreads.

Off to dessert,
Bacon chocolate crunch bar, S&P ice cream $7 -

At first I was like S&P? Is that possible? Is it really the S&P that I think of?
This is a "very interesting" "dessert" - if missing a sweet note still qualifies this dish as such. Delicious? Definitely not. Fun? Well...depends on how you define the word.

Citrus, rhubarb, sabayon, yogurt, sable $7

That's more like the dessert I expected, on a sourish side though.

It'll be fun to take on a food adventure here at the Animal. However, generally speaking, it's not the flavor that wows me, but the creative combinations that draws my attention. Will I come back again? Only if I can get my own plate of foie gras biscuit with maple sausage gravy.

Animal Restaurant
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782 - 9225

Overall rating: 7

Apr 3, 2012

Shirasu and Vegetable Pancakes 吻仔魚蔬菜煎餅

I love fish - just not when the bones are still intacted,
Maybe that's why sushi and shirasu naturally become my favorite way to enjoy fish.
*Shirasu - tiny boneless white baby fish.

The recipe below was inspired by Korean kimchi pancake with some of my own twist.

Shirasu and vegetable pancakes -

Ingredients (10 to 12 medium sized individual pancakes)?

6 ounces/170 grams of shirasu
1 small carrot
1 potato
1 zucchini
1 small bundle of cilantro
2 stalks of scallion
3 eggs
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
Some olive oil
Some Sriracha sauce


Peel the carrot, potato, and maybe the zucchini,
Julienne these vegetables and transfer into a big bowl.

Remove the stems from the scallions and chop into small pieces,
Finely chop the cilantro,
Add all these ingredients into the bowl along with shirasu, 3 beaten eggs, flour, salt, and pepper.

Mix well and set aside for couple minutes,
Drain out excess liquid if necessary.

Take a flat surface pan, drizzle some olive oil and turn to high heat,
Once the oil gets hot, scoop out one large spoonful of the mixture and press onto the pan,
Repeat the step until the surface is filled with round pancake mixture,
You might have to cook them in several batches depending on the size of the cookware.

About 2 minutes or till the bottom turns slightly brown, flip the pancakes and cook for another minute or so.
Remember to gently press down the mixture during the searing process.

In the meantime, line the paper towel on a big plate,
Once the pancakes are ready, remove from heat and set on top of the paper towel in order to remove excess oil.

Line up seared pancakes and garnish with cilantro and Sriracha sauce,
The dipping sauce I made for shabu shabu beef also works great with shirasu pancakes.

Bon appetit 請慢用!

Cindy's Rating: 8