Jul 30, 2012

Taiwanese Ruo Gen Soup Noodles - 酸辣肉羹麵

Ruo Gen is the pronunciation for a traditional Taiwanese food. The two most common ingredients for Ruo Gen are ground pork and blended fish meat. Some also add vegetables such as chopped mushrooms and carrots. Basically just mix all the ingredients together, usually with additional corn starch or other type of binding agent to form the base of ruo gen.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil, simply use your hands to squeeze out an irregular, rectangle or stick liked shape of ruo gen and let it cooked through in the water. Ruo gen can be store in the freezer for quite some time. This ingredient is usually utilized as the main ingredients for a type of Taiwanese glutinous soup or soup noodles.

Taiwanese Ruo Gen Soup Noodles -

Ingredients (3 to 4 portions)?

2 cups of ruo gen
5 cups of unsalted chicken stock
5 shitake mushrooms
4 wood ears
1 carrot (however I forgot to use it during the cooking process)
1 small bamboo
1 small bundle of cilantro
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of black vinegar
Some soy sauce
1 teaspoon of Chinese chili sauce
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
Some white pepper powder
Some corn starch and water mixture
Some fresh alkaline noodles


My mom helped me to buy most of the ingredients from a local market, thank you! As for the ruo gen, I got it for free from a local fish vendor. Thank you too!

*I'll make my own ruo gen and share the recipe in the future.

Prepare the ingredients first. Remove the mushroom stems. Slice the caps into strips and set aside. Discard wood ears' tough center stems. Slice the remaining section into strips and set aside. Peel and discard bamboo's outer tough skin. Slice and chop into thin strips. I forgot to use the carrot, otherwise peel and chop into strips also.

Grate the ginger, give the cilantro a few chops. Peel and chop the shallots and garlic cloves into tiny pieces.

Most people prefer to cook the soup with a deep pan, I used an iron cast pot instead. Drizzle the olive oil, add in chopped shallots and garlic along with some salt and pepper into the pot. Bring to medium high heat and cook till the aroma comes out, about 2 minutes.

Add in sliced mushrooms and wood ears. Give it a quick stir, cook till the mushroom appears softened. Next, transfer the bamboo into the pot along with grated ginger, soy sauce. Cook for another minute.

Pour in the chicken stock, black vinegar, chili sauce, and ruo gen. Bring to a boil first then turn down the heat a little bit. Just let it simmer for a while, about 10 minutes. Add in some chopped cilantro and white pepper powder, mix well.

Have the corn starch and water mixture ready. Slowly pour into the pot while stirring at the same time to prevent lumps. You might need to adjust the amount of corn starch and water mixture in order to reach your desired thickness for the soup.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the fresh alkaline noodles till desired texture. Once ready, drain well  then transfer to individual bowls. Scoop in the soup and garnish with some fresh cilantro.

You can adjust the taste by using more black vinegar and chili sauce. For my personal preference, I like it extra spicy with lots of vinegar. The glooey character of the soup helps in clinging on the noodles, making every bite packed with flavors.

Jul 22, 2012

Spicy and Garlicky Stir Fry Shrimps with Asparagus and Button Mushrooms

Usually for the ease of blogging, I'll have a pen and a piece of paper next to me during the cooking process. Writing down the ingredients used and the steps then store the information for later use. You know, as my age keeps adding up, most likely there's no return for my fading memory capability. It's getting harder to recall all the details for any particular dish.

This is one of the few dishes that I forgot to write down the information. Lucky enough, the ingredients and preparation steps are pretty standard. Hopefully my brain will not fail me this time in presenting this spicy and garlicky stir fry recipe to you.

Spicy and garlicky stir fry shrimps with asparagus and button mushrooms -


1 dozen shrimps (peeled and deveined)
1 small bundle of asparagus (skinny type)
10 button mushrooms
5 garlic cloves
4 fresh red chilies (shorter kind)
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper
Some olive oil


Cut off and discard the very bottom of the asparagus. The asparagus used here do not need to peel off the outer skin since the whole stalk is very soft and delicate. Just grab all the asparagus and dice them diagonally all at once, into 1/3 inch pieces.

Halve or quarter the mushrooms depending on the sizes. Peel and slice the garlic cloves. Discard the stems from the chilies and cut into small pieces. Do not remove the seeds because we want that spicy kick while enjoying this dish.

Drizzle enough olive oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pan, about 3 to 3 tablespoons. Add in sliced garlic and chopped chilies. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Use medium heat to slowly cook these two ingredients till the aroma comes out. Add in grated ginger and let the heat to brighten up the flavor.

Turn up the heat and add in the asparagus and mushrooms when the garlic slices turn slightly brown on the edges. Sprinkle more salt depending on your preference. Cook for about one to two minutes. Lastly, add in the shrimps and cook till fully cooked through.

The asparagus is really good with garlic. Sometimes for the sake of less cleaning work, I simply bake the asparagus in the oven with some salt, pepper, and olive oil. Maybe turn up a notch with some shaved parmigiano reggiano. But trust me, you can also stir fry asparagus with garlic, mix and match with some of your favorite ingredients. If go easy on the garlic and chilies, this can also serve as a delicious side dish for any kind of seared fish.

Other recent shrimps related recipes:

Stir fry shrimps with vegetables and a touch of cilantro
Spaghetti with creamy fava bean sauce and rosemary infused grilled shrimps 

Jul 16, 2012

One Other Way to Utilize Leftover Ingredients - Healthy Porridge

I made stewed beef tongue the other day and left with extra celery and chicken stock in the fridge. Usually for leftover ingredients, I prefer to turn them into fried rice, spaghetti, or frittata as my next yummy meal. But this time, since chicken stock is involved, porridge might be a good idea to help me free up some space in the fridge.

Healthy porridge with shirasu, leftover veggies, and chicken stock -

Ingredients (4 to 5 portion)?

2 cups of brown rice
1/2 cup of fresh shirasu (baby anchovy)
3 stalks of celery
2 stalks of scallion
6 shitake mushroom
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
Some unsalted chicken stock
Some white pepper powder
Some sea salt if needed
Some white sesame seeds if desired


Discard the stems from the mushroom and chop the remaining into tiny cubes. Also dice the celery stalks and scallion into same size cubes.

Cook 2 cups of brown rice. Transfer the rice into a non-stick pot and add in enough chicken stock to cover all the grains. Toss in diced leftover vegetables along with grated ginger, cook with medium heat. Remember to add more chicken stock once the liquid has been absorbed by the ingredients. Repeat this step till the rice reaches your desired texture.

When the porridge is about done, add in shirasu and cook for one more minutes. Taste the mixture and see if extra sea salt is preferred. I didn't use any since this porridge is intended to serve with other salty dishes. Remember to sprinkle some white pepper powder and perhaps some white sesame seeds to add more nutritional value before serving.

It's a very easy recipe. You can basically chop all the leftover vegetables and add into the mixture. Let it be broccoli stems, carrot, zucchini, and even leafy veggies. Just chop them into smaller pieces and toss into the pot for your next healthy and delicious meal.

I steamed some spicy Asian sausages and garlicky broccoli/tomato mix to serve with the porridge.

This can also be a good meal for someone who is suffering from flu or a cold. The porridge is easier to eat because of its liquidy texture. In addition, lots of vegetables, fish, and chicken stock are used which is exactly what a sick person needs to regain strength!

Jul 10, 2012

Summer Salty Treat - Pickled Cucumber with Yogurt and White Miso


Don't get it wrong. It's not the score for this recipe, but the temperature here in Taiwan right now! As the heat keeps hiking up, all we need is a no fuzz yet refreshing recipe.

Pickled cucumber with yogurt and white miso -


2 cucumbers
1 small can of unsweetened yogurt
Some white miso
*yogurt and miso ratio - 1:2


This is a very simple recipe in which all the prep works can be done in 10 minutes. Afterwards, just wait for the seasonings soak into the cucumbers then you'll have a refreshing salty treat in couple hours.

Yogurt and white miso ratio 1:2. Remember to use unsweetened yogurt only. Whisk both ingredients together. It's a good idea to taste the miso and see how salty it is. If the miso is on the salty side, you might want to reduce the "pickled" time and vice versa.

Cut the cucumbers into bite size chunks -

Transfer the cucumber into the miso mix and cover well. Into the fridge for couple hours. If you're uncertain about how long it'll take for the seasonings to soak in or if the cucumbers will get too salty, just try one piece every hour and adjust the time amount based on your preference.

Once ready, discard most of the miso mix and plate the cucumbers before serving -

I think it'll be a refreshing appetizer for entrees like soup noodles or something spicy. The cucumbers will balance out the heat, let it be the temperature or the spiciness. Definitely cool you down one way or another!

Jul 3, 2012

My Version of Langue de Boeuf à la Bourguignonne

Langue de boeuf à la bourguignonne? My head spins just by trying to pronounce it. It's basically the same thing as boeuf bourguignon or beef Burgundy in English. However, instead of beef chunks, I used beef tongue as main ingredient for this traditional French cuisine - something beefy stewed in red wine.

Ingredients (for a big pot)?

1 beef tongue
6 strips of smoked bacon
8 stalks of celery
3 to 4 carrot (or 2 big ones)
15 button mushroom
4 garlic cloves
1 onion
2 cans of unsalted chicken stock
1 can of beef stock (I couldn't get a hold of it so I used ragout fin instead)
1 big can of plum tomatoes (or 2 regular sized cans)
1 2/3 cup of fruity red wine
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 bay leaves
3 stalks of oregano
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
3 tablespoons of flour
Some olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper


Usually I would use beef stock for langue de boeuf à la Bourguignonne, but it seems like it's not a popular ingredient here in Taiwan so I used the already made "ragout fin."

Also for the herbs, my ideal choice would be fresh thyme but I was lucky enough already to see a box of fresh oregano in the supermarket. Usually you'll have to grow western herbs yourself in order to have easy access of these type of ingredients...I did have a pretty pot of fresh thyme growing in my balcony few months ago...sadly all devoured by caterpillars...

Yes, that's the true sight of beef tongue you've been eating all these years. Let it be the chunks from Mexican tacos or thinly sliced version from Japanese barbeque joints. They all come from this slightly pink looking blob of meat.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil then transfer the whole beef tongue in, cook for few minutes till the dirty bits come out. Drain from water. Take a small knife to scrape the surface of the tongue to remove any leftover brownish bits.

Cut into large chunks then set aside.

Dice the bacon and transfer to the big cast iron pot. Drizzle just a tiny bit of olive oil into the pot and bring to medium high heat. Cook till the bacon fat has been rendered and the texture hardened. Remove the bacon.

Sear the beef tongue in two to three batches. Remember to season with some salt and pepper. Cook till the sides turn slightly browned then transfer onto a plate for now.

Peel and cut the carrots into medium chunks, cut the onion and celery into similar sized chunks.

Toss them all into the pot and season with lots of salt and pepper. We have a big pot of food here so don't be afraid of over-seasoning. Cook till the sweet aroma comes out, about 3 minutes. Add the beef tongue back to the pot.

Pour in half of the chicken stock, beef stock/ragout fin, plum tomatoes, and red wine. Gently mix all the ingredients together. Evenly sprinkle dried thyme over the ingredients then add 2 bay leaves and some oregano into the pot.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the pot has brought to a boil, put on the lid and transfer to the oven. It took a total of 4 hours in the oven for the tongue to get fork-tender. Remember to check the pot after couple hours. If the mixture appears too dry, just pour in the other half of the chicken stock to prevent burning. You can also pour in more red wine if preferred.

Let's prepare the button mushrooms while the langue de boeuf à la Bourguignonne is still baking in the oven. Take a small pan, add in 1 tablespoon of butter and a little bit more olive oil if needed. Turn to medium high heat, toss in the mushroom and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Once done, transfer the mushroom to the pot and continue to let it stew for 15 more minutes.

Right before serving, mix 1 tablespoon of melted butter and 3 tablespoon of all purpose flour as our thickening agent. Drizzle to the pot and gently stir the sauce.

I served it over steamed white rice for my first meal and switched to penne pasta for my second meal. Personally speaking, I like it better with penne with extra hot drops all over.

If you have a big party coming over for dinner, this will be an idea dish to make ahand during the day for both the stew and the mushroom. Just keept it warm inside the oven and add in the mushroom shortly before dinner time!