Mar 29, 2014

Super Easy Way to Jazz Up Sliced Salami - How About Crispy Chips?

I can't think of any other finger food recipe easier than salami crisps. Basically all you need to do is lay the chips on a baking sheet, pop into the oven, and voila! Party food done in 15 minutes. Keep reading and you'll see how simple it is to jazz up regular sliced salami.

Salami crisps -


  • Sliced Salami 

Dipping sauce (optional):
  • Honey mustard
  • Cheese grits
  • Hummus
  • Yogurt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line the baking sheet with parchment paper.

Evenly lay the salami slices onto the baking sheet, make sure to leave some space between slices.

Into the oven for 12 minutes or till the edges of salami turned slightly dark browned color.

Remove from heat and let the salami chips cool down on a wire rack till ok to handle by hand. This cooling process will further harden the salami chips. If a less oily bite is preferred, lay the baked salami slices on a kitchen towel instead. By doing so, some excess oil will get absorbed by the kitchen towel below. 

The salami itself usually comes well seasoned. However, you can always go the extra mile by serving the chips with dips. Suggestions for the dips: honey mustard, cheese grits, hummus, and even yogurt. Be creative!

Mar 23, 2014

How About Burmese Food for Lunch? Yoma Myanmar in Monterey Park, CA

Burma, or Myanmar is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia with five neighboring countries. Multi-ethnicity gave characteristics to its cuisine. Flavors and ingredients used in Myanmar cuisine are deeply influenced by adjacent China, India, and Thailand. Seafood, fermented/salted items, noodles/rice, and a wide variety of salads are few of the many staple food from Burma. 

Thanks to the cultural diversity in Los Angeles County, on top of Chinese food, Thai food, Vietnamese, and more, there's even a Burmese restaurant located on East Garvey Avenue that's been opened for more than six years. 

I've been missing out!

It's a semi-hole-in-the-wall restaurant especially how it looked from the street -

Decors and the interior are pretty much "old school," but the lady owner kept it tidy and clean -

Menu -

Appetizers (click on the picture to enlarge the view) -

Salad -

I've never seen such wide variety of uncommon items for salad, tea leaf? Sour shrimp? Preserved egg? Might sound funky but they all appear very delicious to me.

Main dishes -

No. 33 Pone Ye Gyi or also known as Pone Yay Gyi, is a flavored paste made from horse gram. No. 36 Hilsa, is a popular silver colored fish in Southeast Asia. 

Traditional noodles -

Chef special, soup, and soft drinks -

Prices are pretty low here at Yoma Myanmar. Many main dishes are only about $5.99 or $6.99, very wallet friendly.

Thai ice tea -

Tea leaf salad -

Interesting flavor, the tea leaves were steamed then fermented, giving a sourish and fragrant taste to the salad. Other main ingredients including freshly chopped tomatoes, cabbage, sesame seeds, peanuts, and one other smaller nuts. The texture is amazing, you get that crunchiness from the nuts and even chopped cabbage. Softer ingredients such as cooked kale-like tea leaves and juicy tomatoes provide another tasty dimension. 

Peanut oil, fish sauce, and some other seasonings were used in the dressing. Take a bite and it's like an aromatic festival in my mouth. Highly recommended. 

Fried fish cake -

It was actually better than expected. Initially we ordered this appetizer just to have something fried to munch on. After one bite, the fish cake revealed itself as a juicy and meaty goddess. Unlike the version sold at Chinese tea shops, Yoma Myanmar's fried fish cake seems handmade and definitely not mixed by a machine from the factory -

Traditional fried noodles -

Regular Chinese stir fry noodles but on a sweeter side. We asked for some chili sauce to eat along with the noodles. The lady owner asked if we want it with veggies. Hmm, veggies? Why not?

At least the vegetable intake for the day was well covered.

Pork with pone ye gyi (fermented soy bean paste) -

Recommended by the lady. It tastes kind of like Indian dry curry without too much spice. The texture slightly resembles hummus, just slightly, in which you get that bean paste feeling from the sauce. 

The pork is fork tender and very flavorful. It's not as spicy as Indian curry and carries cooked bean aroma.

Too much food left so we asked for to go boxes. The lady was very nice and even scooped some more rice so we can have something to eat along with the pork. 

My rating for Yoma Myanmar might not be too high. However, the score was limited on just a few dishes experienced that day. Some hit the spot and some were just about right. There are still many delicious sounding items on the menu such as garlic noodles, water crest sour soup, and preserved egg salad. Hope I'll get to try all these dishes during my next visit. In that case, I'll come back and adjust this rating to a higher level.

Cindy's Rating: 6 (more future visits might bump up this score)

Yoma Myanmar
713 East Garvey Ave (between N. Garfield Ave and N. New Ave)
Monterey Park, CA 91755
(626) 280-8655

Operating Hours:

Monday - Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Mar 18, 2014

Panda Rice Balls with Spicy and Crunchy Ground Pork Stir Fry Stuffing

Don't be fooled by the cute appearance of these panda rice balls. Their inner souls (stuffing) might not be as innocent as they looked, which were made of ground pork, fried flour stick, and mouth burning ingredients like chili bean paste, Sriracha, and fresh chilies.

Ingredients (for 6 to 8 rice balls)?

  • 2 cups of glutinous rice
  • 1.5 lbs of ground pork
  • 1 fried flour stick (老油條)
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 4 red chilies
  • 2 to 3 stalks of scallion
  • 2 tablespoons of black bean soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon of chili bean paste 辣豆瓣醬
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of black pepper
  • Some olive oil
  • Some dried seaweed/nori sheets


Gently wash the glutinous rice and soak in water for 20 minutes. One ready, drain and pour in some more water till the rice just slightly submerged in the liquid. Steam in rice cooker and make sure to fluff out the rice once ready. If your rice cooker already has preset function for cooking glutinous rice, just prepare the rice according to your rice cooker's instruction.

The fried flour stick is a common traditional Chinese breakfast item. Some Chinese grocery store will have a breakfast section where you can buy freshly made fried flour stick. The one I'm using here is over-fried version, which is harder and crunchier than the regular kind. If this ingredient is unavailable, simply cook the stuffing without or substitute with plain croutons.

Crush the fried flour stick into smaller pieces by hand. It'll be hard to crumble the flour stick if it has turned soft due to moisture. In that case, heat it up in the oven for about 5 minutes beforehand. The flour stick should be very easy to break apart once dried enough. 

Discard the scallion stems and chop the remaining into smaller pieces. Discard the chili stems and finely chop the remaining. Peel and chop off the ends of garlic cloves then give them a fine chop. 

Drizzle some olive oil to the pan, just enough to evenly coat the bottom. Add in chopped garlic, chilies, and scallion. Turn to medium heat, also add a small pinch of salt and pepper to the mixture. Give it a quick stir. 

Cook till the garlicky aroma comes out and the garlic turns slightly browned, but not burned. Add in ground pork and mix together with the ingredients. Cook for about one minute.

Pour in the soy sauce along the side of the pan so the direct contact of heat will warm up the soy sauce and further heightened the aroma. Also add in the Sriracha sauce, black bean soy sauce, and some chili bean paste. 

Mix well and cook till no more liquid presents, turn off the heat. Lastly, mix in the fried flour stick crumbles. 

Lay a sheet of cling foil on your palm and scoop some rice over. Gently press down and spread the rice evenly to create a 1/3 inch layer. 

Add a spoonful of the stir fry stuffing in the center of the rice then top with a little more rice. Fold in the cling foil and shape the rice into semi oval shaped rice balls. The cling foil prevents the rice from sticking everywhere on your hands. 

Cut the nori sheet with a scissor, make one pair of eyes, one pair of ears, one nose, and one long strip of arms for each panda rice ball. Stick these nori shapes onto the rice balls while the rice balls are still hot, so the evaporated steam and moisture will help the nori stick onto the rice.

You can always change the stuffing into fish or pork floss, perhaps adding seared egg inside, much easier than cooking the stir fry ground pork from scratch. 

There are also nori cutters selling at the Japanese market or can be found easily online, which will definitely save a lot of work compared to cutting out the shapes with scissor and clumsy fingers.

Don't wanna use glutinous rice? Lettuce wrap will be another delicious and healthy option.

Mar 12, 2014

No Fuss Cooking - Breakfast Mantou Burgers (簡易饅頭夾蛋早餐)

Mantou, or Chinese steamed buns, are mainly made with flour, yeast, and other ingredients. There are also some other healthier variations using wheat, grains, and even fermented rice. 

This no fuss mantou burgers recipe is best served fresh off the steamer as a breakfast, ideally with cold sweetened soy bean milk. You can make a bunch of steamed buns from scratch and store them in the freezer. However, this time we are taking a short cut using the milky mantou purchased from a local Chinese grocery store. These steamed buns can be found either at the bakery section or at the frozen food aisle along with other flour based products. 

I've also seen other popular mantou flavors such as brown sugar and sesame. You can also go with these varieties since the sugary, sesame, and also the milky tastes are subtle, which will not heavily alter or overpowering the taste of our breakfast burgers.

Ingredients (for six)?

  • 6 small/medium sized mantou
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 stalk of scallion
  • 1 pound of pork loin
  • Small pinch of salt
  • Some olive oil
  • Some black pepper
  • Splash of drinking water

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 stalk of scallion
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of mirin


On top of fish floss, I also prepared oven baked pork loin to eat along with the mantou. Cut the pork loin into large bite size pieces. Tenderizing and flattening the meat by using a meat pounder. The back of the knife works as well, use it to beat the meat in different directions.

Chop the ends off and peel the garlic cloves, also chop off the stem from one stalk of scallion. Give the scallion a few chops to get shorter strips. Mix the garlic cloves and scallion together with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of mirin. Add in the pork loin and massage the meat with the marinade. Into the fridge and let the meat marinate overnight.

Take out the pork and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. The meat can also rest a little bit to room temperature while waiting for the oven to heat up. Make a container using foil and put onto the baking dish. Transfer the pork to the foil container and into the oven, bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Once ready, remove from heat and sprinkle with some black pepper. Make sure to let the meat rest for few minutes before adding to the mantou. 

You can also coat the pork with flour, drizzle some olive oil to a pan, and sear the meat instead of baking. Make sure to do it after making the eggs. That way you can use the same pan and avoid extra cleaning work afterwards.

Remove the mantou from the freezer and let them warm up slightly, or till you can slice each mantou into three pieces. It's easier to slice the mantou when they're still cold and firm.

Put the pieces back together and steam for about 10 minutes, or warm up the mantou according to packaging instructions.

For the semi-scrambled eggs, beat the eggs together with 1 stalk of chopped scallion, small pinch of salt, and splash of drinking water. 

Drizzle just enough oil to evenly coat the bottom of a small/medium sized pan. Turn to medium high heat. Once the oil turns hot, pour in the egg mixture and slightly scramble the eggs in the beginning. Don't let the mixture thin out too much since we are looking for some thickness instead of crepes-like texture here. Folding the egg mixture from the edge to the center helps. 

Stop stirring when the egg is about to set, just let it sear till the bottom turns slightly browned. You might have to flip to the other side and sear a little bit longer if the top still looks uncooked.

Divide the cooked egg into 6 smaller pieces. Just like assembling a burger, add the egg as one layer and use baked pork loin or fish floss as the other.

Too much hassle cooking the eggs in the morning? Substitute the eggs with peanut butter and jelly, you'll be amazed how such iconic western spread duo works so well with Chinese fish/pork floss and steamed buns. 

Mar 5, 2014

Bamboo Shoot is in Season Now! Try This Stir Fry Bamboo Shoot Cubes with Marinated Pork Belly

If you have been stepping in any Asian grocery stores lately, you might notice some woody colored and triangular shaped objects piling up in the vegetable section. These are fresh bamboo shoots, and no one can be more trilled than me seeing fresh bamboo shoots are finally available in the market!

Bamboo shoots are very high in fiber and protein. In addition, it is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Eating cooked bamboo shoots straight up can be too rough for our bodies to digest. That’s why this recipe incorporates pork belly, utilizing its fattiness to balance off the rough texture of the bamboo shoots.


  • 2 large fresh bamboo shoots
  • 0.5 lbs of cubed pork belly
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 4 red jalapeños
  • 2 stalks of scallion
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of salted black beans (豆鼓)
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • Small pinch of granulated sugar

Marinade –
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine (米酒)


Step by step recipe available at my Yummly guest post.

By the way, I finally gave in and started using Pinterest couple weeks ago. Too many social media on hand and my old brain start malfunctioning. Here's my Pinterest user profile if you're interested.

My Instagram is where you can find a more real time update, which I try to upload pictures twice daily whenever possible.