Sep 29, 2015

Pomelo is In Season Now - A Nice Addition to Seared Chicken Leg Rice

Chinese Moon Festival just passed a few days ago and many of us Asian people had quite a feast that night. Barbecue and moon cakes are two of the most common food associate with this holiday. A healthier but still tasty autumn related option is pomelo, a type of large citrus well known among Asian countries. 

A good pomelo carries a light citrusy aroma, sweet to a point without much sourness in the back note. Its taste can be a good addition to seared chicken and grilled fish. Thought it would be a good idea utilizing what's abundant now to brighten up this rice meal, and of course healthier option always follows after a big festive meal. 

Seared chicken leg rice with Chinese chive flowers stir fry and pomelo pulps -

Ingredients (for two portions)?

Side dish:

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small bundle Chinese chives or chive flowers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Small pinch black pepper


  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon black soy bean paste 醬油膏
  • 3 garlic cloves (optional)


  • 1 deboned chicken leg
  • 2 bowls steamed white rice
  • 2 sprigs cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Some Sriracha sauce
  • Some fresh pomelo pulps


Cook some white rice, at least enough for two people. 

Cut the deboned chicken leg into large bite size pieces. Mix all the marinade ingredients inside a bowl. Add in the chicken piece and massage the meat a little. Set aside while preparing other ingredients. The meat doesn't need to be marinated for long since we'll "cook in" the sauce afterwards. Add 3 peeled garlic cloves to the marinade if desired, but not necessary.

Peel away the thick skin from the pomelo and carefully pick out the flesh in between membranes. Store in a sealed container and transfer to the fridge first. This recipe only needs a small portion of the pomelo flesh, you can enjoy the rest maybe as a after meal treat.

Peel and slice the onion. Chop the Chinese chives or Chinese chive flowers in to shorter strips. 

Drizzle some oil to the pan and turn to medium high heat. Add in the onion slices along with some salt and pepper. Cook till the onion turns translucent then add in the chives. Cook till the chives reach desired texture, transfer onto a plate first. 

Wipe the pan with paper towel if needed. Use the same pan and turn to medium heat. Pour in the chicken along with the marinade. Don't stir too often, just once a while to prevent the sides from burning. Cook till no more marinade juice presents then add in 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Quick mix and cook till the chicken appears medium/dark brown color.

Time to plate the dish, bravely splash some Sriracha sauce on a white plate. Do it at the kitchen sink if possible in case the red sauce flew everywhere -

Scoop steamed white rice to the center of the plate and add some stir fry chives over the over -

Place some chicken on top, don't let it fall onto the plate -

Sprinkle some chopped cilantro and pomelo pulps right before serving -

The best part about using chicken leg is that this part of the meat can withstand extended period of searing without turning into jerky-like texture. Pomelo and chopped cilantro add a refreshing note. If you can't find pomelo, a mixture of grapefruit and orange pulps should work as well.  

Happy belated Chinese Moon Festival!

Other rice bowl/donburi recipes:

Sep 23, 2015

A New Type of Japanese Rice Balls, Not Onigiri, but "Onigirazu" (おにぎらず)

Onigiri is the common Japanese rice ball formed by both hands, you can find more detailed descriptions from one of my old recipes here: Japanese onigiri two ways

"Onigirazu" on the other hand, is more like a rice sandwich. You make it by layering up ingredients on the cling foil then wrap everything by bringing all four foil corners together to tighten the ingredients. The encased rice ball will then cut in half, showing all the nicely layered ingredients just like a sandwich.

Still confused? Hope these step-by-step pictures will help a little.

Onigirazu two ways using Chinese ingredients -

Ingredients (1 to 2 portions)?


Cook about 2 cups of white rice. The actual amount depends on the size of the dried seaweed sheets. 

Lay a sheet of cling foil on the surface and put one dried seaweed sheet in the center. Scoop some rice to the center. 

I used too much rice so it can get tricky when folding in the seaweed. First timers, try to start with smaller amount of rice at least for few rounds of practices, otherwise the onigirazu might explode when attempting to fold in the corners.. 

There are two flavors, one using fish floss and Chinese fried flour stick; the other one utilizing some kitchen leftover with additional lettuce and cheese. The pictures below use fish floss onigirazu as example. After laying and flattening out some rice, add a layer of fish floss, top with Chinese fried flour sticks then one more layer of fish floss again -

Finish with one more layer of white rice. The key here is try to start and finish with layers of rice.

Fold in all four seaweed sheet corners, making sure no ingredients are peeking through. You'll see why starting out with smaller amount of rice is a good idea. To me, folding in all the corners without the rice ball exploding is the hardest part. 

Bringing in all the cling foil corners and tighten them up so the seaweed rice ball stays firm and tidy -

Wait for five minutes before cutting.

Dip the knife in hot water and dry with a kitchen towel. Cut the onigirazu in half with cling foil attached. Once done, you can leave the foil to better hold up the shape or remove before serving.

Here're the layers for my second onigirazu, start from the bottom: 

Seaweed sheet, rice, ground pork stir fry, lettuce, kimchi, Cheddar cheese square, lettuce, ground pork stir fry, rice.

Sounds like a lot and it sure took me quite an effort to keep the rice ball from exploding. The final product was worth it though, packed with flavors, savory ground pork, spicy kimchi, creamy cheese, and all. 

Onigirazu is gaining its popularity recently especially it's easier to make compared to onigiri. As long as you get a hang of the portion that can withhold by the seaweed, you'll have even more fun trying to mix and match all sorts of ingredients. The best part follows after cutting the onigirazu in half, seeing all the work comes to life with these pretty and appetizing layers.

Stay tuned for more flavor varieties. You can also explore some other possibilities and create colorful layers by using carrot, cucumber, ham, corn, and more. Let you be the artist. 

Other bento recipes:

Sep 16, 2015

Japanese Curry Nabe for Two - To Make It Even Better? Top It with an Egg

Curry is one of my all time comfort food. My mom once told me that I even ate it for 7 days straight when I was a kid, never get sick of it. My appetite for this Japanese food keeps expanding and now to a point where a plate of curry rice can only scratch the surface. 

How can I enjoy more curry sauce in one meal? Nabe/hot pot it is! One whole pot of curry sauce all for myself! Oops, I mean for two people.

Japanese curry nabe for two -

Ingredients (for two)?

Soup base:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 4 curry cubes 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Others (mix and match per your likings):

  • 2 packs instant udon
  • 1 egg
  • Some bac choy
  • Some lettuce
  • Some triangle shaped fried tofu
  • Some maitake mushroom
  • Some lamb slices


Drizzle enough olive oil to evenly coat the bottom of the stock pot. Turn to medium high heat and add in peeled, sliced onion. Sprinkle some salt and pepper then give it a quick stir. 

Cook till the edges of the onion slices turned slightly burned. Add in peeled, cubed carrot and cook for another 15 minutes using medium heat. I specially diced the carrot into smaller cubes so it gets cooked through and softened faster.

Pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil then turn to medium heat to keep it at a light bubbling condition, cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. Add in the curry cubes and keep stirring gently till the cubes have been fully melted with no lumps present. 

Use another pot that will be brought to the dining table. Scoop enough curry stock for two people to the serving pot and turn to medium heat.

Carefully arrange the hot pot ingredients around. Usually I would put leafy greens along the edge with harder texture items such as mushrooms and tofu in the inner layer. Add the udon to the center then arrange the meat slices around. 

Cover with lid or not, cook for about 2 minutes. Separate the udon gently. 

Break one egg and add to the center of the pot. Cover with lid and cook for another 30 seconds before serving. Scoop more stock into the pot if desired.

Pay attention here, if using beef slices, it might be better adding the meat to the pot when the egg goes in. That way the beef slices will be semi-cooked through while the egg is ready. By the time you start eating, the beef will be at a perfect tender stage with slightly pinkish color in the center. 

Meat is always good, but the tofu that soaked up all the curry juice is the best.

Other Japanese food recipes:

Sep 10, 2015

Chinese Chive Flowers and Salted Black Beans Stir Fry - Wait till You Find Out This Dish's Real Name

This recipe calls for Chinese chive flowers, which is basically the same thing as Chinese chives but come with flower buds at the tips. The flower version carries a lighter aroma compared to Chinese chives. These two are interchangeable. However, the salted black beans (蔭豆鼓) cannot be substituted in any way.

Chinese chive flowers and salted black beans stir fry -


  • 0.7 lb ground pork
  • 1 medium bundle Chinese chive flowers
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 sprigs Chinese basil (optional)
  • 2 red chilies
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons salted black beans
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon homemade chili sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar


Traditionally, this dish doesn't use any Chinese basil, but I happened to have some in the kitchen. Figured just a small amount of finely chopped Chinese basil would add more depth and aroma to the stir fry, why not?

Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Discard the chili stems and finely chop the remaining. Take the Chinese basil leaves and finely chop them. Also chop the Chinese chive flowers into small pieces.

Drizzle enough oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pan and turn to medium heat. Add in chopped garlic and chilies. Cook till the garlicky aroma comes out but not burning them, lower the heat a little if necessary. 

Turn the heat up a little and add in ground pork, give it a quick stir, about 30 seconds. Add in salted black beans and mix well.

Pour in the soy sauce from the side of the pan along with Shaoxing wine. Also add the sugar and chili sauce. Keep stir frying for another minute or two.

Transfer the chopped Chinese chive flowers and Chinese basil into the mixture and cook for one more minute. Taste and adjust the flavor with salted black beans. Using more salted black beans can bring up the saltiness and sweetness levels.

On a side note, this dish actually has a not-so-tasty name in Chinese. Its pronunciation "tson yin tou," 蒼蠅頭, which literally translated to "flies' heads." The salted black beans somehow look like flies' heads and that's how this dish was named. I didn't want to mention it in the beginning in case some of you got scared away before even get a chance to see how delicious flies' heads actually are (wink).

Other Asian stir fry recipes:

Sep 4, 2015

Savory Muffin Recipe: Jalapeño and Cheddar Cheese Muffins

More cheese please! 

First time trying out this recipe and was very happy with the oozing result. These savory muffins make a great weekend brunch item or afternoon snack. The use of heavy cream seemed to add even more moisture to the flour mixture. The leftover muffins were stored in the fridge and later heated up in the oven using medium low heat before serving. The texture wasn't dry at all even after days storing in such dry and cold environment. 

Confession time, I actually ate two in a row because the oozing cheese inside and the crunchy edge were too addicting. Do not attempt this recipe if you're on a diet. 

Jalapeño and Cheddar cheese muffins -

Ingredients (for 6 large ones or 8 medium ones)?

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons pickled jalapeño plus additional slices for the topping
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line the muffin tray with paper muffin liners. Melt the butter and let it cool down a little bit before mixing with other ingredients.

Chop the pickled jalapeño into tiny pieces and save a few slices to decorate the muffins. This recipe uses Cheddar cheese so the muffins are on the slightly salty side. Reduce the amount of salt by half if preferred. 

In a big bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

Take another big bowl, mix together heavy whipping cream, egg, and melted butter. Blend till fully incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients in two batches and blend well. Lastly, fold in diced jalapeño and shredded Cheddar cheese.

Scoop the batter into prepared muffin cups. Top each muffin with one jalapeño slice and press it down gently.

Into the oven and bake for 22 to 25 minutes. It can be hard to remove the liner from hot muffins. Just wait till it cools down a little and the liner should peel off easily.

Simply store the leftover muffins in the fridge and reheat in the oven before serving. 150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, make sure the center is warm in order to get the best oozing effect from the Cheddar cheese.

Check out the oozing cheese in the center -

I should start baking more savory muffins, these are just too addicting.