Jun 27, 2015

Light Version: Smoked Salmon Fried Rice 煙燻鮭魚炒飯

When talking about fried rice, most people would suggest using leftover rice that has been stored in the fridge overnight. The reason behind is that the grains contain less moisture after a day or two, which separates easily instead of sticking together when stir frying with other ingredients. It's also one good way to utilize leftover ingredients in the kitchen.

However, freshly cooked rice can be just as easy to work with. Make sure to use less water, which results in less sticky rice. When the freshly cooked rice is ready, fluff the grains and let the hot steam evaporates completely before mixing with other ingredients.

Smoked salmon fried rice -

Ingredients (for 3 to 4 portions)?

  • 2 1/2 cups white rice (before cooking)
  • 100 grams/4 ounces of smoked salmon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small can of corn kernels (I used one fresh corn on the cob)
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 big shallot
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 small bundle cilantro
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped scallion
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • Some olive oil
  • Some salt 
  • Some black pepper
  • Some Sriracha/chili sauce/white pepper powder (optional)


Cook the rice with lesser amount of water or simply use leftover rice for this recipe, make sure to prepare enough for 3 to 4 portions.

Peel and dice the onion and shallot. Peel and dice the cucumber and carrot, smaller cubes for the carrot since it's harder to cook through. Finely chop the cilantro, use the stem part if possible. Finely chop the scallion. Drain the corn if using canned version, or slice down the kernels from one fresh corn on the cob. 

Break the smoked salmon into smaller pieces.

Break two eggs in a bowl and add one tiny pinch of salt, beat well. Drizzle just enough olive oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pan and turn to medium high heat. Once the oil heats up, pour in the egg mixture and keep scrambling. You can turn off the heat first to prevent the mixture from browning and keep using a spatula or wooden spoon to break the eggs into tiny pieces. Scoop out and set aside for later use.

Drizzle more olive oil to the pan, about 2 tablespoons, and turn to medium high heat. Add in the onion, shallot, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Cook till the edges of the onion turns slightly browned.

Add in carrot, cucumber, and corn. Give it a quick stir and cook for about one minute. Add in finely chopped cilantro and fish sauce.

Mix in cooked rice. You can dump the rice in two batches if needed, it takes quite some strength to stir fry such big portion of grains. Add in scrambled eggs and mix well. Taste and adjust with more salt if needed, but do keep in mind that salty smoked salmon will be added to the fried rice shortly.

Add in smoked salmon and mix a little. Plate the fried rice and garnished with chopped scallion and cilantro leaves. Served with Sriracha, chili sauce, or white pepper powder if desired. 

The key to make this lighter tasting fried rice is the use of smoked salmon and cilantro. Just make sure to keep these two and you can substitute other ingredients with any leftover items in the fridge such as zucchini, squash, and bell pepper. 

Other fried rice recipes:

Jun 21, 2015

Inspired by a Local Restaurant Leputing - My Take on Beet Salad

This beet salad was inspired by a local restaurant in Taiwan call Leputing. The salad was one of the courses from Mother's Day lunch set. I love the vibrant color from the roasted beet. In addition, the use of mayonnaise and beet puree as salad dressing took me away from the same old vinaigrette. 

My take on beet salad - 

Ingredients (for four)?

  • 1 beet
  • 5 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Tiny pinch of sea salt

  • 1 corn on the cob
  • 1 citrus
  • 1 lime zest
  • 1 small bag of frisee 
  • Some mixed salad greens
  • Some sea salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash the beet and cut off both ends. Wrap the beet with foil and keep the top opened. 

Transfer onto a baking dish and roast the beet for 1 to 1.5 hours, till the center can be poked through with fork without much resistance. 

Once ready, remove the beet from heat and wait for it to cool down. Wear a glove to prevent both hands from staining, rub or peel off the skin and cut into smaller cubes. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of beet cubes to a food processor and save the remaining to serve with other salad greens. 

Inside the food processor, also add mayonnaise, smoked paprika, and small pinch of salt. Blend till smooth and strain if a smoother texture is preferred. This can be make ahead and store in the fridge up to few days. 

Season one corn on the cob with salt and pepper. Grill till it turns slightly browned then slice down the kernels. Peel and segment the citrus of your choice, remove the seeds if there's any. 

To plate, take a brush and decorate the plate with beet puree by drawing a circle. Add a big scoop of beet puree in the center and flatten it out. Arrange frisee and mixed salad greens on top of the beet puree. Add kernels, citrus, and beet cubes throughout. Make sure don't over-crowd the plate. Sprinkle lime zest on top of the salad.

The seasoned kernels paired well with beet puree, so I purposely used more kernels compared to other elements. Try to plate right before serving, otherwise the salad greens might appear "wilted" due to the moisture from the citrus and beet puree.

Other salad recipes:

Jun 14, 2015

Just Got a Little Greedy on the Seared Duck Breast..Just a Little.. (Spaghetti with Duck Breast in Balsamic Cream Sauce)

I know I know...

This recipe used 2 duck breasts and was meant for 4 pasta servings. I just got a little greedy and decided to put one whole duck breast for my own plate, just a little greedy..

Ingredients (for 4)?

  • 1 pack of spaghetti
  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1/3 cup of garden peas or other types of smaller green peas
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallot
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Some salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper


Bring a small pot of water to a boil and blanch the garden peas, it should take no more than 1 minute. Once ready, drain well and quickly transfer the peas to icy cold water to cool down. Lastly, drain well again and set aside for later use.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil and season with few pinches of salt. Cook the pasta according to the packaging instruction or till it almost reach al dente texture. Meanwhile, prepare the duck breasts and the pasta sauce. When the pasta is about done, the other components should be ready around the same time, drain well and prepare to mix with the pasta sauce.

Remove the duck breast from the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before cooking. Season both sides with some salt and black pepper. 

Heat up a pan and there's no need to drizzle any oil. Sear the breasts skin side down first using medium heat. About 6 to 8 minutes or till the oil has been rendered and the skin reaches desired texture. Flip and sear the meaty side, about 3 more minutes or till desired rareness. 

You can also finish cooking by transferring the breasts to an preheated oven, especially when using thicker breasts or a more cooked-through meat is preferred. My version took 6 minutes for the skin side and 3 minutes for the other, no oven needed.

Remove the breasts from heat and let them rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. Set aside and ready to be assembled shortly.

Scoop out some excess duck fat for future use and keep about 3 tablespoons of oil in the pan. Turn to medium high heat and add in finely chopped shallots along with some salt and pepper. Cook till the shallots turned translucent.

Pour in the cream and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil then lowered the heat to keep it simmering. Taste and see if more salt is needed.

Transfer the pasta to the pan and give it a quick mix. Add in the garden peas and turn off the heat. You can mix in 2 tablespoon of unsalted butter for extra shine and aroma, but the already creamy sauce tastes just as delicious.

Transfer the pasta to a serving plate and top with sliced duck breast -

Guilty pleasure well satisfied.

Other duck breast recipes:

Jun 8, 2015

Otsumami Recipe (Good with Sake) - Bamboo Shoots with Mentaiko Mayo

Bamboo shoot is in season now and can be found in Asian groceries. Some people dislike bamboo shoot because of its slightly bitter taste. However, if you get the top quality ones at the right months, you'll find yourself in love with this crunchy and delicate ingredient. 

Bamboo shoots with mentaiko mayo -

Ingredients (small portion)?

  • 3 small bamboo shoots or 1 big bamboo shoots
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons mentaiko
  • 1 tablespoon Japanese mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon mirin
  • Some dried seaweed flakes


Remove a few outer leaves and cut away the very bottom part of the bamboo shoots. You'll feel the resistance when cutting down the tough end on the bottom, this section remains tough and very hard to chew even after cooking. 

Transfer the bamboo shoots into a big pot. Fill up with water till the bamboo shoots are covered underneath. Bring to a boil and lower the heat a little to keep it simmer. It will take about 45 to a little more than an hour depending on the size of the bamboo shoots. Test by poking a barbecue skewer or a wooden stick into the center and see if it comes out easily, if so, then drain and set the bamboo shoots aside to cool down first.

Bamboo shoots at the stage can be stored in the fridge up to few days.

Preheat the oven to 390 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Cut a slit and remove the remaining fibrous layers. If it's your first time working with fresh bamboo shoots, don't doubt yourself, the sizes for before and after peeling can changed by half, end up with small portion of crunchy and delicate insides. Chop them into large bite size pieces and transfer onto a baking dish.

Mix mentaiko together with 1 tablespoon of Japanese mayonnaise and 1/4 teaspoon of mirin inside a bowl. Pour the mixture all over bamboo shoots and into the oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and further darken the sauce using a torch gun if desired.

Sprinkle with some dried seaweed flakes before serving.

Bamboo shoots with mentaiko mayo, or otsumami in Japanese, similar to what American calls "beer food" but in much smaller portion, is even better when paired with sake. The condensed saltiness from the mentaiko adds a kick to the crunchy bamboo shoots. Lighter sake is recommended for this recipe. 

(Please drink responsibly) 

Other bamboo shoots recipes:

Jun 2, 2015

Chinese Side Dish Recipe: Spicy Cabbage and Matsuzaka Pork Stir Fry

Most of the time western side dishes are on the lighter seasoning side, they can be buttery and creamy, but not too often packed with spices. Think about having a steak or barbecue ribs at a restaurant, the side dishes are usually grilled corn, potato varieties, creamy spinach, coleslaw, etc. Their purposes are mostly complimenting the entrée, providing nutrients, carbs, or for a refreshing taste. 

If you walk into a Chinese restaurant, especially the one that sells fiery hot Sichuan cuisine, every dish got their own spotlight shining above. Read the descriptions on the menu then you'll notice that most of the dishes are packed with flavors and more so heavy seasonings. In addition, many of them are flavored with lots of strong scented ingredients such as garlic, scallion, chili sauce, ginger, oyster sauce, etc. And everything goes so well with steamy rice. 

I do simply blanch the veggies and serve with easy dressing quite often when eating at home, or perhaps an quick stew using lots of soy sauce and garlic cloves. However, when I'm serious about cooking some Chinese food (meaning not being lazy doing the prepping/cleaning up work), heavily seasoned dishes are often my top mouth watering choices. 

Just make sure to prepare extra rice beforehand. 

Spicy cabbage and Matsuzaka pork stir fry -


  • 1 lb Matsuzaka pork/thick cut pork belly slices
  • 1/2 small cabbage
  • 1/2 onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 4 red chilies
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 1 1/2 olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese chili bean sauce 豆瓣醬
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Peel and slice the onion. Discard the chili stems and chop them diagonally. Discard the scallion stem and chop into about 2 inch pieces. Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Chop the cabbage into large size pieces. Lastly, chop the thick cut pork into large bite size pieces.

Drizzle just enough olive oil to a pan to evenly coat the bottom and turn to medium high heat. Add in the onion slices along with some salt and pepper. Cook till the onion turns translucent. 

Add in chilies and garlic pieces, cook for 30 seconds then add in the scallion, cook for another 30 seconds or till the edges of the onion start to brown.

Add in the pork and give it a quick sear -

Add in chili bean paste, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. Mix and cook till the meat is about half way done.

Transfer the cabbage into the pan. Don't worry about cabbage piling on top of cooked ingredients. The cabbage will start wilting down after couple minutes, just make sure to mix with the sauce once softened.

Continue to cook till cabbage reaches desired texture. I prefer mine on the softer side for this recipe.

Don't forget to prep extra rice.

Other Chinese stir fry recipes: