Nov 26, 2016

Oyster Sauce Beef Stir-Fry (蠔油牛肉)

A classic Chinese dish that calls for quick and big fire. Tens of minutes spent on prepping the ingredients probably far exceed the actual cooking time. Not necessarily a bad thing since you can just dive into the beef stir-fry in no time. 

Oyster sauce beef stir-fry -


  • 200 grams/0.4 lb marbled beef slices 
  • 2 stalks scallion
  • 1 to 2 red chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • Some olive oil
  • Some pre-boiled water
  • Some corn starch
  • Some Chinese broccoli/gai lan (optional)


If serving the beef stir-fry with gai lan or other types of green veggies, blanch first then just plate alongside finished stir-fry after wards.

Mix about 1 small spoonful of corn starch with 1 small spoonful of water and 1 small spoonful of olive oil. Use this mixture to lightly marinate the beef. Give the meat a little massage with the marinade and let it rest for about 10 minutes. 

Usually this stir-fry calls for beef slices, but the version I used was from a thicker cut of the beef with great marbled fat throughout, better ingredient calls for a more delicious result.

Trim off the chili stems and cut diagonally. Trim off the scallion stems and cut into about 2 inch long sections, separate the white and green sections. 

Take a non-stick pan and turn to high or medium high heat. Wait till the surface turns hot then add in the beef along with its marinade, but all the marinade should all be absorbed by the meat by then. 

Just a quick sear then pushes the beef to the side. Transfer the white scallion sections to the center and sear till slightly browned. Add in the chilies and grated ginger and cook till aromatic, this should take about 30 seconds or so.

Pour in the oyster sauce. Some people will also add some sugar but not necessary, especially the oyster sauce I used already got some sweetness in it. Stir-fry all the ingredients then quickly transfer onto a serving plate.

On top of beef, I also upgraded the scallion used here. It's called "san shin" scallion from Taiwan, Yilan. It's more aromatic but not the kind that gives your a spicy aftertaste. Try to look for it at your local Asian grocery store if possible, you won't be disappointed.

Other beef stir-fry recipe:

Nov 21, 2016

Sweet and Savory Ciabatta Sandwich with Smoked Ham, Brie, Pesto Sauce, and Maple Syrup

There is no decent bakery within walking distance around where I live, or I haven't found one yet. So whenever I ran into quality bakery, I tend to stock up a small variety of baked good, especially the ones that can be kept in the freezer. The basil ciabatta used in this recipe is one of my hidden treasures.

Sweet and savory ciabatta sandwich with smoked ham, brie, pesto sauce, and maple syrup - 

Ingredients (for 2)?

  • 2 medium basil ciabatta bread (sourdough works just as good)
  • 100 grams/0.2 lb smoked ham
  • 2 brie chunks (or enough for two servings)
  • 2 tablespoons pesto sauce
  • Some maple syrup
  • Some olive oil
  • Some black pepper
  • Some salad (optional)


Cube the smoked ham. Refer to my previous post on how to make simple pesto sauce

Slice the ciabatta bread in half and brush the inside with some olive oil. Heat up a grill pan and transfer the ciabatta over, cut side down. 

Press gently to get better grilled marks, but don't overheat the ciabatta because it can turn extra crunchy and hard to chew on.

Take the bottom half of the bread slices and top with chunky brie, which can be substitute with two brie squares per serving. Transfer to a baking dish then into the oven. Turn to high heat and wait till the cheese starts to ooze. The brie might not appear as melted when heated up, but you can poke it with a fork to check if the cheese has softened. 

Once ready, remove the baking dish from the oven. Spread out the cheese if using chunky version. 

Top the bottom bread slices with smoked ham cubes and sprinkle some black pepper. Drizzle some maple syrup and pesto sauce over. Put the top section of the bread slices on the side.

Serve with salad to complete a balanced meal.   

Other sandwich recipes:

Nov 15, 2016

Pesto Risotto with Seared Duck Breast, Perhaps with a Few Drops of Aged Balsamic Vinegar?

Making pesto sauce is a great way to utilize leftover basil and pine nuts. The sauce keeps well in the fridge and can be stored in the freezer up to one month or so. Check on my Cheesy goodness: chicken pesto lasagna for instructions on how to make simple pesto sauce.

Usually I would use the pesto sauce for pasta or as a sandwich spread, but it can be a great flavor boost for risotto as well.

Pesto risotto with seared duck breast -

Ingredients (2 to 3 portions)?

  • 1 duck breast
  • 2 cups Acquerello or Arborio rice
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup pesto sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • Some salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper


Peel and finely chop the shallots. Meanwhile warm up the stock on the stove.

Remove the duck breast from the fridge and let it rest in room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. Season both sides of the duck breast with salt and pepper. 

Heat up a big pot that'll be used for making the risotto. Turn to medium high heat and transfer the duck breast over, skin side down. Slowly searing the skin till the fat starts to render. Keep searing till the skin turns crispy but not burnt. Flip and continue to sear the breast till desired doneness. Ideally, a little pinkish color in the center yields a more tender bite of the meat.

Once the duck breast is ready, remove from heat and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

Remove excess oil from the pot and reserve for future use, leaving about 2 tablespoons of duck fat in the pot. The extra duck fat can add great flavors to dishes like fries, baked potatoes, and roasted veggies. 

Turn to medium high heat and add in chopped shallots along with 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Sear till aromatic but not burnt. 

Pour in the wine to deglaze, consider using a wooden spoon to scrape up all the delicious brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil and cook for another 10 seconds or so. 

Add in the grains and mix a little. Pour in some warm stock in 2 to 3 batches. Only need to stir the mixture once a while making sure the rice is not sticking to the pot. 

When the rice is about done, add in the pesto sauce and mix well. Let it cook for about 30 more seconds before transfering onto a serving plate. 

Usually I would finish off with some butter for extra shine, but since there are quite some oil from the duck breast and pesto sauce, adding more butter can get too greasy. 

Scoop some risotto to the serving plate and transfer some duck breast over. Sprinkle some black pepper.

It takes some time to sear the duck especially we are not transfering the semi-cooked breast to the oven to finish off cooking, so patience is the key here. You'll be rewarded when biting into the crispy skin and tender breast.

Finish off with few drops of aged balsamic vinegar and turn it into a fancy dinner.

Other risotto recipes:

Nov 8, 2016

Step Back Vampires! 10 Minutes Garlicky Pork Slices

Flavorful food can still be managed without much hassle in the kitchen, no need to sear, no need to stir-fry, no need to marinate, no need to bake, and no need to fry. Sometimes just a pungent sauce can do all the tricks. 

10 minutes garlicky pork slices -


  • 300 grams/0.7 lb pork slices 
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 red chilies
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Some cilantro (optional)


Since the only main ingredient is pork, try to use quality pork slices with some fat throughout and avoid lean meat.

Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Trim off the chili stems and finely chop the remaining.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and shabu the pork slices. Once nearly cooked through, drain well and transfer to a serving dish. The remaining heat will finish cooking the pork.

Mix all the remaining ingredients except for the cilantro. Whisk till the sugar has been fully dissolved.

Drizzle the sauce all over pork slices and garnish with chopped cilantro if desired. 

This pungent sauce also works well on seared fish fillet, but that defies the purpose of this no fuss cooking recipe. Try steamed chicken, use the dark meat of course, or even mix the sauce with plain noodles. 

Step back, vampires!

Other Asian no fuss cooking recipes:

Nov 2, 2016

Squid Ink Pasta 2.0 - with Prawns, Crab Meat, and Spicy Sausages

Looking back my old posts for squid ink pasta made me cringe. Despite the potential eyesore, I refused to delete these posts from 2010 and 2011. They are part of me, part of my memories, and without these semi-satisfactory dishes, there's no version 2.0 as of today.

Perhaps version 3.0 will come a few more years down the road.

Squid ink pasta 2.0 - 

Ingredients (for 4 to 5 portions)?

  • 1 pack/400 grams squid ink pasta
  • 6 spicy sausages
  • 6 prawns or large shrimps (shells intact)
  • 6 oz crab meat
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 chop peeled and finely chopped shallots
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons squid ink
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Some olive oil
  • 1 sprig dill
  • 1/2 lemon


Peel and finely chop the shallots. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Cut the sausages into bite size pieces.

Take a scissor and cut open the shell for the prawns or shrimps, kind of like butterflying them but just for the center of the shell. Devein, pat dry, and set aside for later use. 

Bring a big pot of water to a boil and add in few pinches of salt. Add the pasta to salted water and cook till al dente. Once ready, drain well and set aside for later use. If you time it well, the sauce should be ready when the pasta is about done.

Use a big pan or a big pot and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Turn to medium high heat and wait till the oil gets hot. Carefully transfer the prawns over and sear till both sides turn red and almost fully cooked through. Remove from the pot and let the prawns rest till cool enough to handle by hand. The residual heat will complete cooking the crustacean.

Once cools down, remove the heads and peel away the shells. Cut into large bite size pieces and set aside for now.

Use the same pot and drizzle in a little more olive oil to evenly coat the bottom. If there are brown flavorful bits sticking onto the pot, pour just a little bit of wine to deglaze it. 

Still using medium high heat, add in chopped shallots and garlic along with salt and pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till the shallots turn translucent but not burning the garlic.

Add in the sausages and continue to cook for 30 seconds or so. Add in the crab meat and cook for another 30 seconds or so.

Pour in the remaining wine along with squid ink. Adjust the flavor with additional salt if needed, keep in mind that the flavor will dilute when the pasta is added to the mixture. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to keep it at a simmer for another minute.

Pour in cooked pasta and mix well. Squeeze in juice of half lemon. 

Plate the pasta along with sausages and crab meat. Add a few pieces of prawn and garnish with fresh dill.

It's hard to tell if there are any crab meat since they all get darkened by the squid ink, but I kind of like it that way. I only want the color of the prawns to pop out, that's why I avoid mixing them with all other ingredients during the process. 

Other pasta recipes: