Feb 25, 2018

Vegetable Rice Bowl for the Family (野菜丼)

Don't walk away just yet, this vegetable rice bowl is not as plain as you think. In fact, with the help from the pork slices and grated ginger, this is actually a pretty aromatic and fulfilling meal. 

Vegetable rice bowl  (野菜丼) -

Ingredients (4 portions)?

  • 4 portions quinoa rice or plain white rice
  • 18 slices fatty pork
  • 1/2 small cabbage
  • 1 bundle tong ho (glebionis coronaria)
  • 1 cup bunashimeji mushroom
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 medium carrot
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons twice concentrated Japanese tsuyu 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Some corn starch and water mixture


If using fancier quinoa rice, soak the quinoa first for about 10 minutes then add to white rice. Cook and fluff the grains once ready. Keep them warm while waiting for the vegetable toppings to be done.

Peel and slice garlic cloves. Tear the cabbage into large bite size pieces. Cut the tong ho leafy greens in half. If you can't find tong ho, a small bundle of aromatic greens like cilantro will do the trick. Pick out dry stems from the bean sprouts. Grate the ginger. Julienne the carrot. 

Use a big pan and drizzle some olive oil along with garlic, salt, and pepper. Turn to medium high heat. Sear till that garlicky aroma comes out, but not burning them.

Add in cabbage, mushroom, carrot, bean sprouts, and grated ginger. These vegetables will pile up like a little mountain. It might seem overflowing at first, but rests assure that they will cook down soon after.

Once wilted, add in tong ho or other tender leafy greens. Just remember to cook harder texture vegetables first then add in soft leafy greens towards the end. Or simply cook any ingredients that you prefer a softer bite early on.

Add in pork slices one by one. Do not dump them in all at once since the pork slices might stick together and will end up taking more effort to separate them.

Pour in chicken stock and Japanese tsuyu. Bring the whole mixture to a boil them keep it at a low heat. Mix about 1 to 2 tablespoons of corn starch water mixture. Pour in the corn starch mixture while gently stirring the veggies to spread it out evenly.

The sauce will start to thicken, slightly gooey but not soupy, also without any lumps. 

Scoop out cooked rice and generously top with this vegetable mixture right before serving.

Some might also drizzle a little bit of sesame oil before serving. However, this time I prefer just let these aromatic ingredients speak for themselves and avoid over-powering their natural aroma with sesame oil. 

Light yet flavorful thanks to the aromatic greens and grated ginger. Also the fat from the pork slices help binding all the ingredients together, providing a more gentle touch on the tongue. If you have someone who does not fancy eating vegetables in the family, perhaps this Japanese style rice bowl can come to a rescue.

Other rice bowl/donburi recipes:

Feb 19, 2018

Leftover Scallion? Try This Scallion Chicken Recipe

Despite that we Asians use tons of scallions in our dishes, sometimes I'm still left with extra scallions in the kitchen. I've tried adding chopped scallions in my noodles and cold dishes, I've tried making scallion oil, but sometimes it just seems like these scallions are duplicating themselves and I can never really finish them all at once.

So this scallion chicken recipe came to a rescue. Helping me vanish all the leftover scallions once and for all.

Scallion chicken -


Marinade -

  • 1 small stalk scallion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Other -
  • 90 grams deboned, skin still attached chicken thigh pieces
  • 1 big stalk scallion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 to 2 red chilies
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil


Prepare the marinade first. Remove the scallion stem and chop the remaining into about 2 inch long sections. Peel and halve the garlic cloves. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a container and make sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Add in deboned chicken pieces and massage with the marinade. 

Cover with lid and into the fridge overnight.

When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the fridge and let it rest in room temperature for about 10 minutes. 

Remove the stem of scallion and also chop most of it into 2-inch long sections. Save a small portion and chop the scallion into small pieces to sprinkle over the finished dish later on. Peel and slice the garlic cloves. Remove chili stems and chop the remaining section diagonally. 

Drizzle some oil to the clay pot or a pan and turn to medium high heat. Add in scallion strips along with garlic slices and chilies. Sear till aromatic and the scallion turns slightly browned.

Transfer the chicken over along with all the marinade. 

Sear till most of the liquid dried up and the chicken starts to darken, concentrating the soy sauce aroma. Flip the chicken once a while during the process.

Be patience here, really make sure the chicken has darkened before removing from heat. Clay pot will further help retaining that heat and it's better to just serve the whole thing along with the clay pot right away. Sprinkle some freshly chopped scallion before serving. 

The aromas are completely different when the scallion is seared versus freshly chopped. And this scallion chicken gets the best out of both worlds. Also a happy ending for all, one extra dish for the family and no more pale yellow-looking scallion lying in the kitchen.

Other Asian chicken recipes:

Feb 13, 2018

Cajun Rice - A Little Makeover for Your Daily Grains

Plain rice is good, but sometimes just want to jazz it up a notch. I've made rice with cilantro, also rice with quinoa before, but both are just a simple mix together with extra ingredient. This Cajun rice, however, is a little different. With few more steps and ingredients, it provides the carbs needed and also acts like a side dish at the same time.

Cajun rice -

Ingredients (about 5 to 6 portions)?

  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 2 cups cubed celery
  • 1 loosely packed cup cilantro
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun creole seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Cube the celery. Peel and cube half of the onion. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Finely chop the cilantro. Remove the stem and seeds from the red bell pepper then cube it.

Measure the rice using regular measuring cup, not the smaller Chinese rice cup that comes with the rice cooker. Need two cups for about 5 to 6 servings.

Take a big pan or big pot, add in the butter and turn to medium high heat. Once melted, add in chopped onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Cook till aromatic and the onion turns slightly translucent.

Transfer cubed celery and bell pepper over and cook for few more minutes.

Add the long grain rice to the mixture and give it a quick stir, making sure every grain is coated with butter. Wait one more two more minutes.

Add the Creole seasoning and chicken stock. Use about 3 1/2 cups of chicken stock first. It's better to start with a little less of liquid since you can always add more if needed. However, if you pour in all the chicken stock in the beginning, there's no return and have to bear the risk of potentially soggy rice.

Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover with lid and cook for about 20 minutes. Check towards the end and see if need to add more chicken stock.

Once ready, use a fork to fluff the grains. Mix in chopped cilantro right before serving.

Not too heavy and not over-powering. This Cajun rice can serve as a fancier side dish for steak or blackened fish. No meat diet? It also works great with grilled vegetables.

Other Cajun related recipes:

Feb 6, 2018

Tofu Can Be Flavorful Too - King Oyster Mushroom and Tofu Stir-Fry with Chinese basil

Plain, light, and healthy are the usual impressions about tofu. But with selected seasonings and even aromatic herbs, it can be a rice killer ingredient too, like this stir-fry with Chinese basil.

King oyster mushroom and tofu stir-fry with Chinese basil -


  • 150 grams king oyster mushroom
  • 1 box firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed Chinese basil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 to 2 red chilies
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Few splashes sesame oil


Cut the king oyster mushroom into medium sized chunks. Remove the tofu from the box and drain out the liquid, cut into medium sized cubes. Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Destem and slice the chilies diagonally. Finely chop the basil, but do save some whole leaves as garnish later.

Drizzle some olive oil to the pan and turn to medium high heat. Add in chopped garlic, chilies, salt, and pepper. Sear till aromatic but not burning the garlic pieces.

Add in the mushroom and sear for about one minute. Add in drained tofu cubes, sear for another minute.

Add in the soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice cooking wine, and sugar. Mix gently and sear till the whole thing appear nearly dried up.

Add in chopped basil and cook for a little bit longer. Lastly, add a few splashes of sesame oil and give the whole thing a few flips. Plate and garnish with Chinese basil leaves.

The key here is to "shovel" the tofu instead of "stir-frying" it. Otherwise the tofu might fall apart even we are using firm tofu here. Also make sure to fully drain out the liquid from the tofu. Pat dry with paper towel if needed to prevent any residual moisture diluting the flavors.

Who said tofu was boring? Think twice.

Other recipes using king oyster mushroom:

Feb 1, 2018

Bucatini Pasta with Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

It's true that tomato sauce can be messy, but man oh man, I love this kind of messiness while enjoying a plate of devilish red pasta. I don't care if my lips or even my cheeks turn red, I don't mind if the sauce got on my shirt, just give me this plate of hearty bucatini with meatballs.

Bucatini with meatballs and tomato sauce -

Ingredients (about 5 to 6 portions)?


  • 250 grams/0.55 lb ground beef
  • 210 grams/0.46 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley stems
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


  • 1 package/500 grams bucatini pasta
  • 1 to 2 big bulbs shallots
  • 1 box/25 medium button mushrooms
  • 1 can/400 grams diced tomatoes
  • 1 can/500 grams plain tomato sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Some dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 small bundle flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Some olive oil
  • Some salt
  • Some black pepper
  • Some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


There's no strict rule on the exact amount of ground beef or ground pork used. Just pick one box each at the store, and a little more ground beef is preferred.

Peel and finely chop the shallots, do the same for garlic cloves. Finely chop the parsley and separate into leaf and stem sections. Halve the button mushrooms.

Grate the cheese and set aside for later use. I highly suggest doing this step first since it's the most strenuous work in the kitchen. Seriously, my arms were so sore after grating one chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Prepare a big bowl and mix in below ingredients for the meatballs: ground beef, ground pork, 4 tablespoons chopped shallots, 1/2 cup grated cheese, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 egg, and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley stems. 

Mix well and form the mixture into about 18 medium sized meatballs.

Use a pan that's big enough to cook all the pasta later on. Drizzle enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Turn to medium high heat and wait till the surface turns hot. Gently add in the meatballs one by one and sear till browned on most surface.

The key here is to avoid moving the meatballs in the beginning. It might stick to the pan and break the shape. Just be patience and wait till the meat gets cooked on the outside, then it'll be easier to turn the meatballs and continue to sear. 

Once ready, scoop out the meatballs and set aside for later use.

Prepare a big pot of water and salt it generously. Once boiling, add in selected pasta, the hollow in the center bucatini per my case, and cook till almost al dente in texture. The pasta should be ready when the sauce is about done too. When that happens, drain out the liquid and add to the sauce.

So for the tomato sauce, use the same big pan for searing the meatballs, there should be some fats rendered inside. Turn to medium high heat, add in remaining chopped shallots, garlics, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Cook till the shallot turns translucent.

Pour in the tomato sauce, canned diced tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to keep the mixture at a simmer. Add in halved mushrooms. Continue to cook for about one minute to concentrate the flavors.

Mix in nearly al dente bucatini and meatballs. Cook till the pasta seems to absorb the sauce a little bit then add in 1 more cup of grated cheese. Mix well. Taste and adjust the flavors with extra salt if needed.

Plate the pasta along with some meatballs on top. Garnish with chopped parsley leafs and grate some more cheese all over.

Something magical about the tomato sauce, making it so irresistible. It's just so warming and comforting. Not sure about you, but I can eat this dish any day, any time.

Other pasta recipes: