May 30, 2017

Quick-Fix Tuna and Mizuna Salad Using Japanese Sesame Dressing

Getting back on track after the long weekend can be draining, not just physically, it also took a toll mentally. Since we can't really avoid dragging ourselves back to work, at least we can take a break from serious cooking in the household. 

Salad sounds like a good idea, and don't be ashamed asking for help from store-bought salad dressing. There is no better time to use the already-made dressing after the holidays. 

Tuna and mizuna salad using Japanese sesame dressing -


  • 1 bundle/pack mizuna
  • 12 slices sashimi grade tuna
  • 1 wax apple (can be substitute with sweeter tasting apple)
  • 1 small can kernel corn
  • 1/2 kumquat (can be substitute with citrus)
  • Some Japanese goma/sesame dressing
  • Some toasted white sesame seeds
  • Some extra virgin olive oil (if needed)
  • Some tsuyu (if needed)


Chop the mizuna into shorter strips, about 2 inches in length. Drain the canned kernels. Chop the wax apple into bite size pieces. Wax apple can be hard to find even at a Chinese grocery store. In that case, use sweeter tasting apple instead.

Taste the Japanese goma dressing first and see if need to adjust the flavor with additional extra virgin olive oil and tsuyu. Toss with mizuna, kernels, and wax apple together with small amount of dressing. 

Kumquat usually comes with sashimi grade tuna, so how not make a good use of it? Kumquat can also be substitute with citrus. 

Drizzle some kumquat juice over tuna first. 

Arrange tuna slices on top of the salad. Drizzle some more goma dressing. Sprinkle some toasted white sesame seeds and squeeze the remaining kumquat juice all over for a refreshing touch. 

Play around the ingredients per your preference, perhaps use more seafood such as scallops, abalone, and shrimps. 

No splashing oil and easy cleaning afterward, just what we need after the long weekend right?

Other salad recipes:

May 24, 2017

Shrimp Risotto Part II, This Time with Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp)

After taking a series of food pictures, I just realized that I've made similar risotto before, and even wrote about it. The ingredients used are about the same, especially the umami-packed homemade shrimp stock. However, instead of adding seared shrimps, the key ingredient under the spotlight has swapped out with sushi grade raw shrimps. 

Amaebi, or sweet shrimp, just by changing the cooked ingredient to raw ingredient, the flavors of the risotto did change slightly. Less savory note but bumped up the sweetness level. Compare the two recipes and see which one fits your palate, or perhaps just make two versions at once?

Shrimp risotto with raw sweet shrimp - 

Ingredients (for 2 to 3 portions)?

  • 1 cup Acquerello or Arborio rice
  • 3 cups shrimp stock
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 6 sweet shrimp
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Some flat leaf parsley


Warm up the stock on the side. You can use store-bought shrimp or lobster stock, but why not make it yourself?

Drizzle some olive oil to a big pan or enameled cast iron pot. Turn to medium high heat and add in peeled, chopped shallots and salt. Cook till the shallots start to turn translucent.

Pour in the rice, give it a quick stir and make sure each single grain is coated with olive oil. 

Sear for about a minute or less then start to pour in warm stock one or two ladles at a time. Make sure to stir the mixture once a while. About half way through, pour in dry white wine and continue to cook the risotto. Keep adding small amount of stock till the grains reach desired texture. The amount of liquid used in this recipe yields al dente rice, but on a slightly chewier side.

Taste the risotto and see if more salt is needed. Turn off the heat and add the butter and lemon zest to the risotto, give it a few stir and the grains will start to shine.

Halve the raw shrimp and remove the veins if any. Plate the risotto. Garnish with halved shrimp and some flat-leaf parsley. One delicious suggestion, take the parsley and turn it into a simple herb oil or pesto. Drizzle the parsley infused oil over risotto for a level up flavor boost.

My other version of shrimp risotto was finished off with grated Parmigiano Reggiano, but not here. The highly savory cheese will hinder the crisp taste from the sweet shrimp. However, you can always devour the sweet shrimp with some risotto first then generously grate a ton of cheese over the grains if you'd like. Whatever you like as long as this food makes you happy.

Other risotto recipes:

May 18, 2017

Quick and Easy Tomato Chicken Stew

Even though the key ingredients here are tomato, chicken, and chicken soup, but in fact it's the cilantro that make this dish shine. 

I didn't expect that a small bundle of leftover cilantro can greatly enhance the flavors. This dish provides warmth from the chicken stock and a pop of refreshing aroma from the herbs. And one extra point - nearly zero food waste, even the cilantro stems were chopped up into the stew.

Quick and easy tomato chicken stew - 


  • 0.5 lb chicken tenders
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cabbage
  • 1 pack maitake mushroom
  • 1 box of semi-firm tofu
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small bundle cilantro
  • Some chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon grated or finely chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Some black pepper


Cut the chicken tenders into 2 or 3 smaller pieces. Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Drain and slice the tofu into about half inch pieces. Tear the cabbage into smaller pieces. Finely chop the cilantro and separate the stems and leafy parts. 

Drizzle some olive oil to the pot and turn to medium high heat. Add in the garlic along with some salt and pepper. Cook till the garlic turns slightly browned but not burnt.

Add in chicken pieces and sear till slightly colored on the surface.

Add in grated ginger and let it cook for about 30 seconds, till aromatic. Pour in soy sauce, mirin, and chopped cilantro stems. Give it a quick stir then add in the mushrooms. Cook for another minute or two then top with cabbage. The cabbage might appear overflowing the pot, but it will start to wilt after few minutes.

Once the cabbage wilts and easier to mix with other ingredients, gently transfer the tofu into the pot. Drain the canned tomatoes then pour into the mixture. Also pour in some chicken stock, just enough for the liquid to go slightly above all the ingredients, but use more stock if soupier texture is preferred. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to keep it at a simmer for another 10 minutes.

Sprinkle some chopped cilantro leaves right before serving. 

Fresh tomatoes are doable too, but sometimes the canned version binds better in a stew, and doesn't take long to cook. If using fresh tomatoes, it might take a while to turn soft with center texture almost melts in the stew.

Other stew recipes with tons of veggies:

May 12, 2017

Salted Black Beans Beef Stir-Fry (豆鼓炒牛肉)

Salted/fermented black beans (豆鼓) is such a versatile ingredient that I absolutely adore. Salty and sweet at the same time, it never fails adding depth to my Chinese dishes. Here's an old post back in 2013 with a picture of the salted black beans and the brand I preferred. Hopefully you can find it at your local Asian grocery store!

Salted black beans beef stir-fry - 


Marinade -
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon salted black beans
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Others - 

  • 0.5 lb beef (cut into 1/4 to 1/3 thickness bite size pieces)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red chili
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Some black pepper
  • Some chopped cilantro


Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Mix the chopped garlic with salted black beans and soy sauce. Use this marinade to massage the beef pieces. Cover and refrigerate, let it marinate for at least 2 hours. If marinate over 12 hours or overnight, you might want to reduce the amount of salt used later on.

Peel and slice the onion. Trim off the chili stem and give it a fine chop.

Drizzle some olive oil to the pan and turn to medium high heat. Add in the onion along with some salt and black pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till the edges of the onion turns slightly browned. Remember to add in the chilies halfway through.

Add in the beef and all the marinade. Cook till fully cooked through, even slightly browned on the meat is fine.

Plate the beef and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Salted black beans work well on various ingredients. Not just beef, it can also be used in fish, pork, chicken, and even tofu. Try to find a high quality version to get the full benefit of its natural sweetness from the fermentation. 

Other recipes using salted black beans:

May 6, 2017

Chinese Radish and Carrot Stew - 燉雙色蘿蔔

Dining out not only satisfied my cravings, once a while it serves as an inspiration - an inspiration for Mister's bento side dish. 

There's a local bento joint that we both love and probably to-go their food every other week. Usually the bento comes with all the common Asian side dishes such as scrambled eggs, stir-fry veggies, tofu stew, etc. So when I saw radish (daikon) and carrot stew showed up in my bento box, it caught my attention. 

"Should be easy to replicate," I thought. And there it is, a revamped version of bento side dish. Not going to brag about it, but the homemade version was less salty and much more flavorful. 

I guess I'm still bragging about it.

Chinese radish and carrot stew - 


  • 1 Chinese radish/daikon
  • 2 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce paste
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Some white pepper powder
  • Some corn starch/water mixture
  • Some chopped cilantro (optional)


Peel and cut the daikon and carrots into small cubes. Peel and dice the onion. Peel and grate or finely chop the ginger.

Use a pot or a big pan with some depth, drizzle enough olive oil to evenly coat the bottom. Turn to medium high heat. Add in diced onion and sprinkle some salt and pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till the edge of the onion turns translucent.

Add in diced daikon and carrot. Cook for about one minute. 

Pour in the chicken stock till about the same height or a little bit lower compared to the ingredients. Also add in grated ginger, soy sauce, soy sauce paste, and mirin. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to keep it at a slight boil. Cook till the liquid has been reduced by about half and the radish becomes fork-tender. 

Prepare some corn starch and water mixture on the side. Evenly pour into the stock mixture while stirring at the same time to prevent lumps.

Sprinkle some white pepper powder before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired. 

Both the radish and carrot already fully soaked up the flavorful chicken stock. And the corn starch makes the remaining juice gooey and comforting. Thanks to that bento joint, I've got one more bento side dish recipe to feed Mister at home.

Other radish/daikon recipes: