Oct 27, 2017

Let's Finish that Bottle of Red Wine Vinegar by Making Pickled Red Onions

It should be safe to say that we all bought something before just to complete a recipe but never get to use that seasoning or ingredient again. It can be a rare herb or something common like red wine vinegar. 

Don't get me wrong, I do use red wine vinegar quite often, but not as frequent as I would like especially there are so many types of vinegar in my cabinet. Chinese black vinegar, rice vinegar, western red and white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and of course my favorite touch of acidity - fresh lemons.

So as one way to clean up space to store even more rarely use seasonings (!?), here's what I did for leftover red wine vinegar. 

Pickled red onions -

  • 1 small red onion
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small pinch/about 8 to 10 Sichuan peppercorn
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • Small amount of cold water (optional)


Peel and slice the red onion into rings and transfer to a colander. Put a big bowl below or set above the kitchen sink. 

Bring a small pot of water to a boil then pour onto the onion rings. Just a quick rinse will do the job. Drain out any excess water.

Use a glass container to store the pickles, avoid plastic or other type of materials that might interact with acid. Add the sugar, salt, and red wine vinegar to the container and stir till the sugar fully dissolves. Add in Sichuan peppercorn and dried chilies.

Transfer the onion rings over. Gently stir the mixture to make sure all the onion are coated with vinegar, or cover with lid and gently shake the mixture. Pour just a little cold but pre-boiled water to cover all the onion rings if needed. 

The pickles can last for few weeks in the fridge, but the flavor will get stronger and less crisp as time goes by. It's better to just finish the pickles in one week. Personally speaking, I enjoy these pickles the most after 2 to 3 days. 

Do not waste the vinegar, you can mix that with a beef or chicken stew, or used in a pasta dish. 

The use of Sichuan peppercorn and dried red chilies give this pickle recipe a gentle touch of Asian aroma. Omit these two ingredients if a simpler taste is preferred. Maybe swap out the Sichuan peppercorn with regular black peppercorn to keep that gentle kick of spiciness. 

Other Asian no fuss cooking recipes:

Other western no fuss cooking recipes:

Oct 21, 2017

Cabbage Stir-Fry with Sweet Flour Paste/Tien Mien Jiang (甜麵醬高麗菜)

Sweet flour paste, or sweet flour sauce, sweet bean sauce, tien mien jiang, is kind of like an Asian version of black roux. It is basically made with fermented soybeans, so why the flour paste name? I guess judging by its appearance and texture, this blackened seasoning does somewhat look like something mixed with flour, thick and paste-like. 

You can often find sweet flour paste served alongside Peking duck, it's one of the common sauces used when wrapping up that crispy duck skin. Another popular way to use this sauce is by adding it to stir-fry cabbage. You'll be amazed how can a simple veggies stir-fry turn into a rice-killing dish.

Cabbage stir-fry with sweet flour paste (甜麵醬高麗菜) - 


  • 0.5 lb shabu pork slices
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 small or medium cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 1 to 2 red chilies
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons sweet flour paste
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper 


Peel and slice the onion, garlic cloves, and carrot. Tear the cabbage into large bite size pieces. Destem the chilies and slice diagonally. 

The seasonings are quite heavy for a veggies stir-fry dish, so there is no need to pre-marinate the pork slices.

Drizzle some oil to a big pan or pot, turn to medium high heat and add in the onion slices. Also add in some salt and black pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till the onion turns translucent. 

Add in garlic and chili slices. 

Cook till the garlic turns slightly browned then add in the pork slices one by one. Continue to sear the pork till about 70% cooked through.

Time to transfer the cabbage and carrot to the pan. I prefer a softer bite for my cabbage so the cabbage was added to the mixture early on and cooked longer. If a crunchier texture is preferred, use very high heat and quickly stir-fry the cabbage. I mean "very high" heat, like fire surrounds the wok kind of flaming power. It should only take about 30 seconds to one minute and you'll end up with that wonderful wok hei aroma.

So for my gentle version, cook till the cabbage softened a little then add in the sweet flour paste, oyster sauce, and some Chinese rice cooking wine. Mix and cook till the veggies reach desired texture, also make sure the sauce has been reduced, almost all dried up so to speak.

Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Otherwise, make sure the rice is ready to be devoured!

Other cabbage recipes:

Oct 15, 2017

Not the Prettiest but Still Hit the Spot - Vietnamese Spring Roll

Made a few mistakes for this recipe. First of all, I over-estimated my wrapping skills, so there it went a few destroyed hand rolls. Then I used smaller rice paper, which made it even harder to maneuver. There's a saying right? Practice makes perfect. Well, these spring rolls are still far from perfect, but at least they can finally hold up the shape and ready to be munched by hand.

Vietnamese spring roll -

Ingredients (makes about 8 to 12 smaller ones)?

  • 8 to 12 Vietnamese spring roll rice paper (16cm or about 6.5 inch in diameter)
  • 10 or about 100 grams medium shrimps
  • 1 small bundle or about 30 grams glass noodles
  • 1/2 small cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint (can be substitute with cilantro)
  • Small bundle Chinese or Thai basil leaves
  • Some lettuce leaves


  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 lime (for the juice)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 
  • 1 red chili, destemed, finely chopped (can be substitute with Sriracha sauce)


Mint is preferred, but if you can't get a hold of it, cilantro works as well. Finely chop the mint leaves or cilantro. Julienne half of the cucumber. Rinse and pat dry the lettuce.

Peel and devein the shrimps. Bring a pot of water to a boil then quickly cook the shrimps. Drain and wait till the shrimps cool down. Slice the shrimps in half and set aside for later use.

Cook the glass noodles first till desired texture, drain and set aside to cool down. Pour a little oil and mix with the noodles if the noodles tend to stick together. Mix in chopped mint or cilantro leaves along with some julienned cucumber.

If you never work with Vietnamese rice paper for spring roll before, it's kind of fun! 

The rice paper might feel like a piece with thin plastic at first, but once soaked in warm water, it'll turn into almost translucent soft wrapper in seconds.

Oil the surface where you're going to make the spring rolls. Lay down soft rice paper then transfer halved shrimps and basil leaves on top. Remember the bottom part is going to be the one showing when rolled up, so the prettier sides of these ingredients need to face down.

Add one layer of lettuce then transfer some glass noodles mixture over. Start with just a small amount at first in case the filling overflows when rolling up the rice paper.

Cover the glass noodles with another layer of lettuce.

Roll up the rice paper, also fold in both the right and left edges, then continue to roll up the rice paper till it shapes like a small tube. It's nearly impossible to get it perfect on the first try so don't get discouraged when fillings start to fall out or ended up with misshaped spring rolls. Just quickly stuff these not so perfect creations into your mouth to destroy the evidence. 

After a few tries, you should be able to get some better looking spring rolls and time to take some pictures!

As for the dipping sauce, simply mix all the ingredients under the sauce section. Make sure the sugar is full dissolved, you can also substitute fresh chilies with Sriracha. The one showing in these pictures are the mixture of some hoisin sauce, Sriracha, etc. Frankly speaking, I was frustrated from rolling up these finger food and got a little lazy on the sauce. 

On top of the actual dipping sauce and my lazy dipping sauce, some like their spring rolls with creamy peanut sauce, but let's keep it simple first, till we master the art of Vietnamese spring roll making. 

Other Asian appetizer/side dish recipes:

Oct 10, 2017

Buttery with a Kick - Softly Scrambled Eggs with Caramelized Balsamic Onions

Getting back to work after the break can be tedious, especially when teammates are not cooperating well, guess they are tired as well. To be honest, that's the best excuse I can come up with for my working partners.

Well, what can I do to make myself feel a little bit better after a stressful morning? Food can never disappoint, especially something velvety and buttery. Bring it on softly scrambled eggs, I seek comfort in you.

Buttery scrambled eggs with caramelized balsamic onions - 


  • 6 eggs
  • 1 small/medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon water or heavy whipping cream
  • Some mixed baby salad greens
  • Some salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper


Peel and slice the onion.

Prepare a pan, drizzle some olive oil along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Bring to medium heat then add in the onion slices. Give it a quick stir and cook till the onion turns from translucent till slightly burnt on the edges. It can take a while, mine took about 15 minutes. Cook longer for "softer" texture onions.

When the onion is about ready, pour in balsamic vinegar. Mix and continue to cook the onion. Wait till the balsamic vinegar has been reduced or evaporated a bit. Scoop out the onion and set aside for later use.

Beat the eggs together with some drinkable water or heavy whipping cream and a small pinch of salt.

Use another pan, add in unsalted butter and turn to medium/medium low heat. Once the butter melts, pour in the egg mixture and keep gently stirring it so the eggs can cook evenly. Keep moving the egg mixture by "softly scrambling" it also prevents brown spots from forming.

Unlike the onions, the eggs cooked fairly quickly. Also keep in mind that the eggs continue to cook even after being removed from heat. So it's better to transfer the eggs to a serving plate while it still looks slightly undercooked. The texture will be perfect when ready to serve. 

Transfer caramelized balsamic onions over the eggs right before serving. Garnish with some baby salad greens.

The buttery egg pairs well with slightly bitter note salad greens. Not mentioning that sourish kick from the onions which completely opened up my appetite, and it definitely helped releasing some that stress from the morning. 

Other egg recipes:

Oct 3, 2017

Cold Mung Bean Noodles with Sour and Spicy Sauce (Can be Substituted with Cellophane Noodles)

Just trying to catch the last heat of summer and an excuse to enjoy more cold noodle dishes before the leaves start to turn red.

Cold mung bean noodles with sour and spicy sauce 酸辣綠豆寬粉 -

Ingredients (for 2 to 3 portions, or as a starter dish for more people)?


  • 4 tablespoons black vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorn oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 1 red chili (optional)


  • 90 grams/about 3.1 ounces dried mung bean noodles
  • 1 tablespoon chopped scallion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Some roasted peanuts (optional)


If you cannot find mung bean noodles, cellophane noodles work just as well.

Cook the mung bean noodles first till desired texture, preferably still bouncy to the teeth. Soak the noodles in icy cold water to quickly lower the temperature. Once ready, drain and set aside for later use.

Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Destem and finely chop the scallion. Finely chop the cilantro.

Mix all the ingredients under the "sauce" section. You can even add some finely chopped red chilies, just beware of that spicy kick comes soon after. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.

Mix the noodles with most of the sauce mixture. Transfer the noodles to serving bowls then drizzle the remaining sauce over. Garnish with more chopped scallion and cilantro right before serving. You can also add some crushed roasted peanuts for a crunchy bite.

Chopped garlic can be "spicy" in some way too. That pungent kick when biting into garlic pieces is very satisfying, but to some, it can be deadly. Take that into consideration when weighing how much chili/chili sauce are adding to the noodles.

Other cold noodles recipe: