Feb 27, 2013

Dried Radish and Ground Pork Stir Fry - 蘿蔔干炒肉末

Not 100% sure if dried vegetables are allowed to bring from Asia to America, but well, this precious jar of dried radish is now sitting on my kitchen island!

I got this dried radish from a local restaurant in Taiwan. Basically you cure the radish with salt and drain out the liquid, then the radish is dried under the sun. Repeat the steps for days or even up to weeks depending on the weather condition and personal preferences. Of course, every traditional family has their own ways of making the perfect dried radish. This will be my next project too, making my very own dried radish. Why waste the California sunshine right?

Dried radish and ground pork stir fry 蘿蔔干炒肉末 -


1 lb of ground pork
1 cup of dried radish (loosely packed)
3 tablespoons of dried shrimps
5 fresh red chilies
5 garlic cloves
1 big stalk of scallion
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of grown sugar
Some salts
Some freshly ground black pepper


Gently rinse the dried shrimps and soak with room temperature water for about 10 to 15 minutes. Once ready, drain the water, pat dry the shrimps, and chop into tiny bits.

Gently rinse the dried radish and pat dry also. Depending on the hardness of the dried radish, if the vegetable still feels kind of soft then there is no need to soak it. However, if the radish has been dried out completely, then soak it with room temperature water till softens a bit. Lastly, pat dry and chop into smaller pieces.

Peel and chop the garlic cloves into smaller bits. Discard the chili stems and finely chop the remaining. Discard the scallion stems and chop the remaining into smaller pieces.

Drizzle some olive oil to the pan and turn to medium heat. Add in chopped dried shrimps and cook till the color turns slightly brown. Be careful when the dried shrimps start to bubble. There is still liquid inside the shrimps so when the oil gets to the center, just about time when the dried shrimps start to bubble, you know these shrimps are about to burst out from the pan.

Lower the heat a wee bit or cover with a lid will help you dodging some flying shrimps. Add in chopped chilies, garlic, and scallion along with just a little bit of salt and pepper. Give the mixture a quick stir and the dried shrimps should have stopped bursting out by now. Cook till the garlicky aroma comes out but not burning the garlic.

Add in the ground pork and stir the mixture to make sure every pieces of the meat is mixed with the aromatic ingredients. Make sure the heat stays medium or medium high power if it was turned down earlier when battling with the dried shrimps.

Wait till the pork is about 50% cooked through then add in the soy sauce and brown sugar. Try to pour in the soy sauce along the edge of the hot pan. The high temperature from the side of the pan will help bringing out the soy aroma. Mix well and add in chopped dried radish. Give everything a quick stir and cook till the ground pork starts to dry out, like till almost going to burn on the sides.

Don't use too much soy sauce especially it's only meant for extra fragrance and coloring. The dried radish already contains a lot of salt. You can taste the pork after cooking the dried radish for about one minute. If still not salty enough then adjust the taste with soy sauce.

Serve it with steamed rice or mix it with dried noodles, even spaghetti works great with this stir fry dish.

Hopefully I can get my own batch of dried radish here in California so I can generously use it in fried rice, steamed food, scrambled eggs, and even chicken soup!

Feb 22, 2013

Jean-Paul Hévin - Taiwan, Taipei 101 Branch

Taiwan is famous for its local food, let it be shaved ice, stinky tofu, pork chop rice, beef noodles, and the list goes on. But that's not just it. Visitors around the world flocked into Taiwan not only for its traditional charm, but also for its growing international vibe.

Taipei 101, the fairly new landmark of Taiwan since 2004 sits in the heart of Taiwan's capital Taipei. Besides offices and financial institutions, a big portion of Taipei 101 is designed as shopping area, food court, and restaurants.

Well-known fashion brands flocked into this building including Louise Vuitton and Burberry. Fancy restaurants spread across the floors. Even renowned French chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin has set an oversea branch here on the 4th floor.

In fact, this is the 2nd store here in Taiwan, which shows the market potential of this little island.

Cold drinks menu -

Hot chocolate and tea menu -

High tea set menu -

How much I wish we have one here in California, not just the Jean-Paul Hévin store, but also its quality dessert selections.

Salad and sandwiches -

Other savory items and hot chocolate selections  -

I only tried a few sweet desserts this time and would like to test out their savory dishes next time. The aroma of baked crust and creamy cheese lingered around our table a couple times, and it surely smelled tempting. Their mini pizza with crunchy crust will be on the to-eat-list during my next visit to Taiwan.

Small dessert set menu -

Macaron menu -

My raspberry flavored hot chocolate -

Jean-Paul Hévin has a series of hot chocolate - matcha, raspberry, and original. The menu states that its hot chocolate was rewarded the first place under the hot chocolate category in Paris by "Le Figaro" in France.

Dense chocolate aroma with a slight touch of bitterness. The only thing I would pick on would be its tiny portion plus hefty price. But oh well, it was so good! 

Mazaltov set -

White cheese cake and chantilly two flavors (chocolate and raspberry).

The cheese cake is light and fluffy. However, if you're looking for stronger cheese flavor then this might not be your best option.

In the other hand, chantilly, or whipped cream, is very flavorful. I can be careless about the extra flavor added on top, just the whipped cream along goes a long way. The chantilly compliments the cake by providing that creaminess to the slightly sourish scent from the cheese.

Epicure set -

Vanilla flavored dark chocolate ganache with almond biscuit and matcha flavored chantilly.

Supposedly this set comes with one macaron. However, since it's around Chinese New Year so they substituted the macaron with a chocolate decorated with a Chinese letter "fu," meaning good things and happiness.

Overall experience wasn't too bad. The hot chocolate and chantilly are both delicious and worth coming for again. Atmosphere-wise, this open spaced branch is located in the center of the floor, which means little privacy for the customers. Some people do like this type of vibe, enjoying a few bites of luscious treats while people-watching at the same time.

One other note, this place can get pretty pricey, the high tea set is about $56 U.S. for 2 people. The dessert set I had there was about $15 U.S. not including the hot chocolate.

Official website (France, French):

Official website (Taiwan, Chinese):

Jean-Paul Hévin (Taiwan, Taipei 101)
Number 45, Shi Fu Road, Xin-Yi Area, Taipei, Taiwan
(Shopping Center, 4th Floor)


Taipei 101 Official Website:

Feb 17, 2013

Garlicky Eggplants Stir Fry with Scallops X.O. Sauce - 蒜炒干貝XO醬茄子

Quick post before catching my flight from Taiwan to CA.

Garlicky eggplants stir fry with scallops X.O. sauce -

Ingredients -

2 long shaped eggplants (avoid the round and fat kind)
4 garlic cloves
2 red chilies
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of scallops X.O. sauce
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of dried shrimps
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
Some fresh greens and red chilies for garnish


Gently rinse the dried shrimps and soak them with cold water for about 10 minutes.

Once done, drain well, pat dry, finely chop the shrimps, and set aside for later use.

Scallops X.O. sauce is one of the common Asian seasonings and can be found easily in Asian grocery store. The one I used here contains Gin Hua ham, shrimps, scallops, garlic, shallots, etc).

Peel and chop the garlic cloves into smaller pieces. Discard the stems from the spicy red chilies and finely chop the remaining. Discard the stems and slice the eggplants with an angle, about 2 mm in thickness.

Drizzle 4 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan and turn to medium high heat. Add in chopped dried shrimps and cook till the color turns dark or the shrimps started to dry out.

Add in chopped garlic and chilies. Cook for about 30 seconds till the garlicky aroma comes out but not burning the pieces. Add in good amount of scallops X.O. sauce, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Give the seasoning a quick stir. Don't worry if the seasoning appears oily at the moment because eggplants tend to absorb lots of liquid. All the sauce will be sucked in by the veggie soon.

Add in sliced eggplants and mix well with the seasonings. Make sure to cook the eggplants till brownish in color, just like the ones shown in the picture. Depending on the eggplants used, some types tend to absorb the sauce easily, like those long and skinny eggplants. If you still get some pale spots on the eggplants, lower the heat a wee bit and cover with lid. Wait for couple minute and stir the mixture occasionally. You'll get beautifully cooked eggplants shortly after.

Garnish with some fresh greens and red chilies before serving.

Feb 11, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day! Let's Celebrate with Pear Infused Chocolate Truffles

February 2013 is such a festive month. With people here in Taiwan still enjoying their lunar new year's break, Valentine's Day is gradually approaching. Let's see what we can make to treat our valentines. (Yes, plural)

Pear infused chocolate truffles -

Ingredients (for about 18 to 20 truffles)?

200 grams of 70% dark chocolate
200 grams of heavy whipping cream
1/2 pear
Some chocolate powder


Peel and chop the pear into small cubes. Pour the heavy whipping cream into a pot and turn to medium low heat. Add 1/2 of the pear cubes into that same pot.

Bring to a slight boil till the cream almost reach the bubbling state then lower the heat to keep it simmer gently for about 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure not to bring the mixture to a full boil, otherwise the texture of the cream will be changed and will not mix nicely with melted chocolate later on.

Once done, drain well and set aside. Don't waste the pear bits, I actually blend it with other fruits and some more milk, turned out to be another delicious juice creation.

Take a double broiler, or simply add some water into a pot and top it with a big bowl or plate. Make sure the upper container does not touch the water on the bottom. We want to create a steaming mechanism instead of cooking the chocolate directly.

Break the chocolate bars into smaller pieces and transfer onto the top container. Pour in the pear infused cream. Turn to medium low heat to gradually melt the chocolate.

Stir the mixture constantly and make sure the cream is fully incorporated into the chocolate. Turn off the heat and transfer this "ganache" mixture into a smaller container. Let it cool for a little bit then cover with foil. Into the fridge for about 2 hours, or till the texture hardens.

Meanwhile, sift some chocolate powder.

Can you tell I'm trying to use any tools I can find in my mom's kitchen here in Taiwan to make western dessert? Chopsticks instead of a whisk, tea leaf filter instead of a sifter.
When the ganache is ready, use a small spoon or a melon baller to scoop out the chocolate. Gently roll it into round shape if using a spoon. Dip the chocolate balls with the choco powder and set onto another container.

I prefer to transfer these just finished chocolate truffles back to the fridge for another 15 minutes before serving. Of course you can dig in right away.

The truffles should melt fairly quickly. You'll get that silky and smooth sensation once the melted truffles flow all over your mouth. You can also substitute pear with other fruits such as cherries or passion fruits. You can even jazz it up a bit adding a few drops of flavored liquor into the mixture. However, it's totally up to you how you would like to surprise your valentines. (**plural**)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Feb 5, 2013

Worldly Plated Ice Cream Experience - Haagen Dazs Taiwan, Taipei DunNan Store

I've been to Haagen Dazs stores many times in Taiwan ever since I was little. Unlike the ones in the states, which only sells limited items such as scoops of ice cream, cakes, and drinks; Haagen Dazs in Asia really kicks it up a notch. Let me show you how.

This is the DunNan store in Taipei, Taiwan. The entire Haagen Dazs takes up a three-story building located in a busy area where young people like to hang out for entertainments.

The first floor is mainly the display area, the second and the third floor are spacious seats for customers who want to dine indoor. Outdoor seats are also available.

Now that's what I'm talking about. You can actually get plated desserts here, and it's more than a pretty looking treats. Those fancy ice cream plates were actually created by three renown pastry chefs in the world - Jean Francois Arnaud, Anil Rohira, and Hiroshi Igarashi.

These three chefs specially created a series of eight different plated desserts using Haagen Dazs ice creams. Check out Haagen Dazs Taiwan's website for a list of these charming creations.

Before getting into details about the two plated desserts I devoured, let me briefly tell you what other items we have here for Haagen Dazs Asian stores. A good assortment of coffee and tea selections ranging from traditional Chinese tea to western herbal tea.

Other staple dine-in creations such as banana split, Belgian waffle, Lost in Manhattan (chocolate based ice cream selections served with warm brownie cake), Joyful Party (vanilla, green tea, strawberry ice cream, raspberry, mango sorbet, together with crispy almond meringue), and the list goes on.

Sounds delicious? These are merely the "regular" stuff we have in Taiwan. During winter months, Haagen Dazs even came up with Ice Cream Magic Fondue and ice cream teppanyaki style so that we can still devour these cold treats without freezing to death!

Back to my precious plated dessert,
Below is called Charlotte Kiss by chef Hiroshi Igarashi -

Main ingredients include all sorts of berries and berry flavored ice creams, vanilla ice cream, raspberry sorbet, ladyfingers, chocolate swirls, and almond brittle.

Cologne Light -

Main ingredients include chocolate ice cream, cappuccino chocolate truffle ice cream, vanilla ice cream, caramel cream cookies, and black forest cake.

Each specially plated desserts costs around $13 U.S. If you know the price for one scoop of Haagen Dazs ice cream, you'll feel that these $13 for a well plated treats and a relaxing time with friends in such a cozy environment is totally worth it.

Come give it a try if you ever travel to Asia/Taiwan, then you'll understand why I keep saying Haagen Dazs in Asia is so much better than the ones back in the states.

Haagen-Dazs Taiwan (Taipei DunNan Store)
No. 173, Section 1, DunHua South Road, Daan District, Taipei, Taiwan 106
+011 886 (02) 2776-9553

Taiwan official website: http://haagen-dazs.com.tw/
U.S. office website: http://www.haagendazs.com/