Dec 26, 2017

Buttery Scrambled Shiso Eggs

Like using dill and chives, shiso (perilla) can also be an aromatic addition to softly scrambled eggs. Some people love its airy, floral, lemony, and almost minty aroma, while others turn away from the strong scent. But do give it a try, the butter used here helps in smoothing out the taste, and if you're not a big fan of shiso, just use half of the portion indicated on the recipe. In a case of shiso leaves, a little goes a long way.

Buttery scrambled shiso eggs - 


  • 6 large eggs
  • 10 shiso leaves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Prep the shiso leaves first. Use just 5 leaves if a lighter herbal scent is preferred.

Chiffonade the shiso leaves by laying them on top of each other, roll up into a tube shape then thinly slice it.

Beat all the eggs in a medium sized bowl. Add most of the shiso, but save some to sprinkle on top of the scrambled eggs later. Add a splash of water, also sprinkle tiny pinch of salt and beat well.

It's very important to use a non-stick pan if you're not sure about oil/heat control. It'll tremendously help preventing the eggs from sticking onto the pan. Add the butter and turn to medium low heat. Once the butter melts, pour in the shiso egg mixture and softly scramble it.

Keep gently folding the eggs around to prevent any single spot from overcooking. Not stir-frying it, but slowly folding the uncooked part to the heated area. Lower the heat a little if needed. The eggs are ready when the mixture is still slightly runny. Once removed from the pan, the residual heat will continue to cook the eggs, and the texture should be just about right when serving. 

Garnish with the remaining shiso -

The amount of salt used here yields a very light-tasting scrambled eggs. Use more salt while beating the eggs or just sprinkle some salt over finished product at the table.

By the way, belated Merry Christmas! 

Other egg recipes:

Dec 20, 2017

No Ketchup Needed Sweet and Sour Snapper

Frankly speaking, I'm not a fan of the taste and texture of farm raised snapper. It can be bland and a little too tough for my preference. However, these characteristics made it an ideal ingredient for heavy seasoning dishes, such as Chinese sweet and sour sauce.

No ketchup needed sweet and sour snapper -


  • 2 medium sized snapper fillets
  • 1/2 onion
  • Some olive oil
  • Some corn starch
  • Some salt
  • Some chopped cilantro

Marinade -

  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated ginger
  • Tiny pinch salt

Sauce -

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


Cut the fish fillet into large bite size pieces. Mix all the ingredients under the "marinade" section and transfer the fish over. Marinate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion. Grate the ginger and chop some cilantro.

After marinating the fish, pour some corn starch onto a plate and coat the snapper piece by piece with it. Gently shake the fish to remove excess corn starch.

Drizzle some olive oil to the pan, the amount used should be more than simply coat the bottom, about 4 to 5 tablespoons. Turn to high heat and wait till the oil gets hot. Carefully add in the fish one by one and sear till slightly golden. 

Line a dish with kitchen towel and transfer the fried fish over. The kitchen towel will absorb extra oil dripping.

Scoop out some oil and just save about 1 to two tablespoons in the same pan. Add in the onion along with a tiny pinch of salt. Sear till the onion turns translucent.

Mix all the "sauce" ingredients and pour to the pan. Bring to a boil then lower the heat just a bit, continue to cook for 30 seconds or so. 

Transfer the fried snapper back to the pan and cook for another 30 seconds or so.

Mix some corn starch with small amount of water as thickening agent. Pour this corn starch water to the pan and gently stirring the sauce at the same time to prevent lumps. Cook till the sauce turns gooey. You might want to add just a little bit of corn starch water mixture at a time in case the whole thing turns to one lumpy mess. Gradually add the thickening agent till the sauce reaches desired texture.

The corn starch dusted on the fish earlier and the corn starch added to the sauce in the end should bind together nicely. Slightly crunch on the edges, but mostly help binding with gooey seasonings. In the end, the sweet and sour snapper should all be coated with thick and flavorful sauce, neither watery nor soupy. Garnish with chopped cilantro right before serving. 

Even though I'm not a fan of such fish, but with no ketchup used sweet and sour sauce, that I can do.

Some other fish related recipes:

Dec 14, 2017

Skipping the Wine, How About Allspice for Beef Stew?

Beef with red wine, this combo can never go wrong, but how about changing gear and use allspice in beef stew instead? It's more of an old-fashioned style beef stew. The basic aromatics are the same, but instead of red wine, allspice and Worcestershire came into the picture to help boosting the flavors. 

Also by choosing a more tender cut of beef, fork tender beef stew can be done in one hour. Layers of flavors are not sacrificed, still delicious, and still comforting.

Allspice beef stew -


  • 2 lbs beef (use more tender cut to speedy up cooking time)
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed celery
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, cubed carrot
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 can onion soup
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Peel and cube the carrot, peel and cube the onion, cube the celery, peel and slice the garlic cloves. Cut the beef into large bite size pieces. 

Instead of searing the beef first, scooping it out, then searing the aromatics, this is going to be a one seamless deal. Cooking the aromatics first then add the beef straight into the pot, the end result is still fulfilling for both body and mind. Trust me, after devouring the whole pot, rest assured that the beef stew is irresistible.

Drizzle some oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pot and turn to medium high heat. Add in cubed onion along with salt and pepper. 

Cook till the onion turns translucent then add in the celery, carrot, and garlic. Cook for couple more minutes.

Add in beef and sear for couple more minutes.

Pour in onion soup and chicken stock. Also add allspice, smoked paprika, Worcestershire sauce, and bay leaf. 

Mix well, also turn to high heat to bring the pot to a boil. Skim off the foamy bits flowing on top then lower the heat a little to keep it simmering/light bubbling. Cover with lid and let it simmer till the juice has been significantly reduced but not completely dried up. The color will also get darker and more condensed over time. It took me about one hour and still left with some juice to drizzle over rice or pasta.

Pick out bay leaf when ready to serve. Plate and garnish with some celery leaves.

I took a sneaky sip early on and the taste of allspice was overpowering. Don't be scared, after one hour, all the aroma blended in smoothly. You probably won't even notice that allspice was used for this beef stew.

Serve it with some mashed potatoes or mix it with pasta. I served the beef stew with some rice instead, hands down it was the best dish of the night, perhaps of the month?

Going the French route? Try this beef recipe instead:

Dec 8, 2017

Cabbage Stir-Fry with Shio Koji (鹽麴高麗菜)

Talking about shio koji, one of the most popular ways to utilize this ingredient is making it into a marinade, usually for chicken, fish, or cucumber. This time, I'm going to use it in a cabbage stir-fry.

Cabbage stir-fry with shio koji -


  • 1 small cabbage
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 medium sized carrot
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons shio koji
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine 米酒
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper


Tear the cabbage into large bit size pieces. Peel and slice the carrot. Cut the shiitake mushrooms into thick slices, one mushroom can cut into 3 slices. Peel and slice the garlic cloves.

Drizzle some oil to a pan, add in garlic, salt, and black pepper. Turn to medium high heat and sear till the garlic turns slightly golden but not burnt. 

Turn to high heat and quickly add in the mushroom and carrot, cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer all the cabbage over and drizzle some Chinese rice cooking wine. It might pile up like a tiny mountain but will soon wilted down. Once wilted a little, add the shio koji and give it a quick stir. Taste and adjust with salt if needed.

Keep cooking till the cabbage reaches desired texture. Some like it crunchy and with a distinct wok hei when cooking with high power heat/fire. Sometimes I prefer my cabbage with a softer bite like the one shown in these images. 

Once heated, shio koji releases its aroma into the dish. So instead of the natural sweetness from the cabbage, you also get a mellow, deeper note of sweetness from the fermented rice, but only to an extent. It is still a savory dish after all, but one well-seasoned veggies stir-fry. 

Other recipes using shio koji:

Dec 2, 2017

Canned Tuna + Mayonnaise + Macaroni + Sugar + Chips!? You'll be Surprised

What!? Tuna and sugar together? 

That's probably my first reaction before trying this snack. My host family in Minnesota used to make this chips and tuna mayo dips. As odd as it sounds, this is actually a perfect example of sweet and savory combo. Years passed, I can't recall the exact amount used for each ingredient, but my taste memory guide me through the process.

Tuna mayo macaroni and chips -

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup)?

  • 150 grams/about 5.3 oz macaroni pasta
  • 100 grams/1 canned tuna
  • 5 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar
  • Some salted thick cut wavy chips
  • Some salted thick cup 


Salt a pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni according to package instruction, but don't cook till al dente this time. Overcook the pasta a couple more minutes. The macaroni should be on the softer side but still with a slightly chewy texture. When ready, drain well and transfer to a big mixing container.

Open the can and drain out the liquid from the tuna, add to the mixing container. Also add some mayonnaise, sugar, and a tiny pinch of salt.

Mix well. Take a breadth and taste it, you'll be amazed that canned tuna works so well with creamy mayo and sugar. Adjust the flavors. If the mixture doesn't seem salty enough, instead of using more salt, maybe try to open up second canned tuna and add to the mixture. Do keep in mind that the chips are salty too.

Serve with thick cut chips on the side. Use the chips to scoop out the macaroni dips, enjoy this unexpected sweet and savory snack.

Nostalgic indeed. This tuna mayo chips definitely is a walk down memory lane for me. Don't be shy on the sugar, sweeter taste can further help enhancing the savory note from the tuna. Plus a stronger tasting dip is always welcomed when serving with chips right?

Other recipe using canned tuna:

Nov 26, 2017

Stir-Fry Okra with Dried Shrimps (蝦米炒秋葵)

Okra is full of vitamin B, C, folic acid, and even calcium. Studies also indicate that okra contains anti-diabetic properties that can help in lowering blood glucose levels. Despite all the health benefits, some people still turn away from okra mostly due to its slimy mouthfeel.

Worry no more, instead of simple boiling, steaming, or using okra in soup, we are going to stir-frying it this time. The best part about stir-frying okra? It can significantly cut down the slime. Also when paired with aromatic dried shrimps, okra further transforms itself into a rice-killing dish.

Stir-fry okra with dried shrimps (蝦米炒秋葵) -


  • 2 to 3 tablespoons dried shrimps
  • 250 grams/about 20 to 25 okra
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 red chilies
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper


Rinse and soak the dried shrimps in cold water for about 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry with kitchen towel. Finely chop the shrimps. Trim off chili stems and finely chop the remaining section. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. 

Trim off the tougher end of the okra then slice into little star-shape.

One way to prepare the okra is by rubbing it with salt to remove the thin hair. That might be necessary if serving the okra after boiling or steaming. However, we are making a stir-fry dish and the okra I'm using here are pretty tender. It's ok to skip the rubbing step.

Drizzle some oil to the pan and turn to medium high heat. Add in pat dried shrimps and cook till bubbling and aromatic. The color will turn slightly browned but careful not to burn the shrimps. Add in chopped chilies, garlic pieces, salt, and black pepper. Keep cooking till aromatic but not burning the garlic.

Add in okra and mix a little. Cook till okra reaches desired texture.

Even though okra is the main ingredient here, but this dish's success depends on dried shrimps. Make sure you sear the shrimps well. Lower the heat slightly in order to fully sear the dried shrimps if needed. 

Other recipes using okra:

Nov 21, 2017

Black and White Chocolate Bar with Almonds and Freeze-Dried Strawberries

This is a similar recipe post from the earlier version of dark chocolate with candied violets and hazelnuts. Since all the candied violets brought from Vienna were gone (oh no), freeze-dried strawberries came into play

Black and white chocolate bar with almonds and freeze-dried strawberries - 


  • 167.5 grams or 6 oz dark chocolate bar (I used 82% dark chocolate)
  • 25 grams white chocolate
  • 30 grams freeze-dried strawberries
  • 20 grams crushed roasted almonds (salted version even better)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or heavy whipping cream (optional)


Transfer the freeze-dried strawberries to a Ziploc and gently smash them till breaking into smaller pieces.

Do the same with almonds, smash till whole nuts breaking into smaller pieces.

Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Use double boiler and melt the dark chocolate and the white chocolate separately. As for the white chocolate, if it can't melt nicely, try to add a tap of warm milk or heavy whipping cream then stir till incorporated. I used some skimmed milk for mine, not the best option but that was all I got in the fridge. As a result, my melted white chocolate looks a bit more diluted than usual.

Pour the dark chocolate into the baking dish first then drizzle the melted white chocolate over to form an irregular pattern. A medium baking dish should do the trick. Just make sure once pouring in melted chocolate, the thickness resembles chocolate bar instead of spreading to a thin layer. 

Garnish with crushed almonds and freeze-dried strawberries before the chocolate sets.

Transfer the baking dish to the fridge for at least 2 hours. Once ready, take out the chocolate bar and break or cut into smaller pieces.

Be creative with the toppings, it doesn't have to be freeze-dried berries. A more accessible fruity ingredient such as raisins and even figs can add a nice touch to the chocolate bar. Keep in mind that we are using bitter-ish dark chocolate and sweeter white chocolate, so which ingredient works better with these two?

Other dark chocolate bar recipe:

Nov 14, 2017

Maple Glazed Duck Breast (with Duck Fat Potatoes Side Dish)

One duck breast should be enough for two people, but if you would like to indulge a little, go for two duck breasts. Don't worry about the glaze, the portion for the glaze listed below should be just enough for two duck breasts. 

Maple glazed duck breast with some duck fat potatoes -

Ingredients (for two)?

  • 1 to 2 duck breast
  • 1 potato
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 lemon or other type of yellow citrus
  • 1/3 cup peas
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Some salt 
  • Some freshly ground black pepper
  • Some freshly ground rainbow peppercorns (optional)
  • Some extra lemon zest (garnish)


  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Tiny pinch cayenne pepper powder (optional)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/190 degrees Celsius. Line a baking dish or baking sheet with foil. 

Peel and dice the potato into tiny cubes. Peel and chop the onion into tiny squares too.

Mix all the ingredients under the "glaze" section and set aside for later use. 

Rest the duck breast in room temperature for about 10 minutes before cooking. Trim off any excess skin if desired. Score the skin crosswise but be careful not to cut through the meaty part. 

Season both sides with some salt and black pepper.

No need to drizzle any oil to the pan. Transfer the duck breast to the pan skin side down. Turn to medium high heat and slowly searing the skin till the fat starts to render. It'll take a few minutes. Sear till the skin turns brown and crispy, you can check the texture by poking with spatula and get a feel of it. 

Scoop out excess fat if needed, save that for other dishes or the potato side dish we're going to prepare later. 

Transfer the duck breast to the prepared baking dish, skin side up. Brush the skin with maple glaze then into the oven for about 5 minutes. Take out the baking dish and reapply the glaze again. Back to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Plus and minus few minutes depending on the thickness of the duck breast.

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

While the duck breast is baking in the oven, use the residual duck fat to quickly put together a potato side dish.

Leave about 2 tablespoons amount of duck fat in the same pan and turn to medium heat. Add in onion along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Sear till the onion turns translucent.

Add in tiny potato cubes and sear till nearly reaches desired texture. Add some wine when the mixture appears too dry. Towards the end, add in the peas and cook for another minute or two. Taste and see if more salt is needed.

Plate the potato side dish first then transfer the duck breast slices over. Garnish with some freshly ground rainbow peppercorns and some lemon zest right before serving. 

Ideally, the center of the duck breast should be slightly pinkish for a softer bite. It might take a few practices till mastering that perfect timing. I kind of overcooked the one shown in the pictures but the glaze still made the duck tastes pretty good, like a maple syrup infused barbecue sauce slathered all over. 

Until the next perfectly cooked pinkish slices of meat, I am more than happy to devour trial and error duck breasts.

Other duck breast recipes:

Nov 8, 2017

Not Baking but Stir-Frying This Time - Mentaiko Mushrooms 2017 Version

Only until I finished editing all the pictures and started searching other mentaiko recipes on my blog, surprisingly there was already one old post back in 2012 for mentaiko mushrooms. So I carefully compared the 2012 post with the most up-to-date version here. Well, they're almost the same with just a slight variance on the ingredients used.

This 2017 version did not include Japanese mayonnaise, but with the addition of garlic slices. In a way the older version tastes more like an otsumami/beer food, and this updated version serves better as a side dish, especially if you are looking for something that works well for bento box.

So here it is, the mushrooms made with lunchbox side dish in mind.

Mentaiko mushrooms 2017 -


  • 1 bundle enoki mushroom
  • 1 bundle bunapi mushrooms
  • 1 bundle shimeji mushrooms
  • 3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons mentaiko (about 2 sacs)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Small pinch salt
  • Some dried seaweed threads or flakes


Peel and slice the garlic cloves. Trim off any tougher ends then rinse and pat dry all three kinds of mushrooms.

Remove fish roe from the sac/membrane -

Add the butter and garlic slices to the pan and turn to medium high heat. Add a small pinch of salt. Wait till the butter starts to melt and gently cooking the garlic slices. 

Just a little bit of salt at first to help drawing out some excess moisture from the mushrooms. The mentaiko can be quite salty, so try to avoid over-salting the dish, you can always add more salt in the end.

Transfer all the mushrooms to the pan and stir-fry till softened and shrink by about half of their original size.

Mix in mentaiko and cook for another minute. Taste and adjust the flavor with more salt if needed.

Plate the mushrooms and garnish with dried seaweed threads or dried seaweed flakes.

Some people like to add salt last minute when cooking mushrooms, that way the mushrooms won't shrivel too much. It's completely up to you. The amount of salt used here were so little, looking at these images you'll see that the mushrooms are still "plump" in some way. Moreover, by drawing out some moisture early on and just let these mushrooms cook in their own juice create another kind of deliciousness. Give it a try and you'll see.

Other recipe using mentaiko -

Nov 2, 2017

Shio Koji Marinated Chicken Seared to Perfection (香煎鹽麴雞)

It's interesting that shio koji, such pale colored ingredients can transform into something brownish and delicious looking coating with just a simple sear. To enhance the flavor, I also added soy sauce to the marinade, turning the chicken into a rice-killing bento/lunchbox dish. 

Shio koji marinated chicken with simply cabbage stir-fry -


  • 75 grams deboned, skin-attached chicken thigh
  • 1/2 small cabbage
  • 1/3 cup green peas
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chili
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Some salt


  • 2 tablespoons shio koji
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger


Mix all the ingredients under the "marinade" section. Cut the chicken into large bite size pieces and massage the meat with the marinade. Cover with lid or cling foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Peel and slice the garlic cloves. Destem and slice the chili diagonally. Tear the cabbage into large bite size pieces. 

Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and turn to medium heat. Add in garlic slices, chili slices, and small pinch of salt. Sear till aromatic but not burning the garlic. Turn to high heat and transfer the cabbage over. Give it a quick stir and cook till the cabbage reaches desired texture. 
Once ready, plate the cabbage.

Meanwhile, blanch the peas and drain out the liquid.

Use the same pan to cook the chicken. Remember to remove the rice grains before searing, otherwise they can get burnt easily under high heat. Use the remaining oil in the pan and turn to medium heat. Sear the chicken with skin side down first till browned and slightly brunt on the edges. Flip the meat and sear the other side till fully cooked through. 

Move around the chicken pieces from time to time to prevent over-burning spots. Cover the pan with a lid if needed, it will lock in the heat while speed up the cooking process.

Transfer seared chicken onto the cabbage, then garnish with blanched peas.

During the searing process, you might find that the chicken still looks pretty pale in the beginning, but once it gets hot enough, the chicken turns brown fairly quickly. 

Look at that dark coating on the chicken, doesn't that make you drool a little?

Other recipe using shio koji: