Jun 30, 2018

Dried Oysters, Garlic Chives, and Ground Pork Stir-Fry

Dried oysters, yes you heard me right. It might not be as common back in the states, but dried oysters can be found with little efforts here in Taiwan. You can find it at specialty grocery stores, sometimes even fancy supermarket has a little stand selling such seafood item. It's actually much easier to find dried oysters compared to canned artichokes here. You should see my face when I finally locate canned artichoke with price tag for more than $24 USD.

My mom used to add one or two dried oysters in "zhonzi," the glutinous rice wrapped with bamboo leaves usually served during dragon boat festival period. So consider this a simplified version of the filling. It's way less work without the bamboo leaves wrapping step. However, I still save some of the dried oysters stir-fry and wrap with glutinous rice just for fun, kind of like a Taiwanese rice ball. But do know that serving it as a side dish with steamed rice can be just as great.

Dried oysters, garlic chives, and ground pork stir-fry -


  • 1 1/2 cups round glutinous rice (optional)
  • 1 loosely packed cup dried oysters
  • 0.4 lb/ 1 small bundle garlic chives
  • 0.4 lb ground pork (pick the leaner kind)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chili
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Some dried nori sheets (optional)


Cook the glutinous rice first if going to turn this stir-fry into rice ball filling. Once ready, fluff the grains and set aside wait for it to cool down.

Dice dried oysters into smaller pieces. Chop garlic chives. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Destem red chili and finely chop the remaining section.

Drizzle some olive oil to the pan and turn to medium high heat. Once warms up, add in dried oysters along with garlic, red chili, salt, and black pepper. Give it a quick stir. Wait till aromatic but not burning the small garlic pieces. If uncertain about dried oysters, treat it like dried shrimps, they are somewhat similar when used as aromatic ingredients.

Add in ground pork and stir-fry till the meat gets separated. 

Pour in 2 tablespoons oyster sauce and 1 tablespoon soy sauce paste. Mix and cook one or two minutes then add in garlic chives. Keep cooking the whole mixture till darkened and nearly dried up.

Serve as a stir-fry side dish, or if taking one step further and making rice balls, lay out a sheet of cling foil first. Dip a spoon in drinkable water and scoop some glutinous rice onto the cling foil to prevent sticking. Spread out the rice and transfer one small spoonful of the stir-fry to the center. Grab all four corners of the cling foil to the center and enclose the filling with glutinous rice with some force. Make sure the rice sticks together so the rice ball won't fall apart easily. Wrap with dried nori sheet if desired.

Practice makes perfect, don't get discouraged if finding the rice just keep sticking onto your fingers instead of forming into a ball.

This recipe is on the saltier side, but it's intended to be served as a filling or heavier-tasting side dish, adjust the amount of soy sauce paste used if needed. Do keep the same portion for the oyster sauce, it pairs very well with dried oysters and can further bring out that extra natural sweetness all together. Not just to serve with the rice, it also works very well with dry noodles.

Even my Mister who's never a fan of seafood can withstand this dish, so go ahead and embrace dried oysters. 

Other Asian stir-fry recipes:

Jun 23, 2018

Sweet and Savory Honey Glazed Chicken Tenders

Some Chinese dishes incorporate sugar to balance out the salty flavor or tone down the spicy touch. Take pork stew and spicy stir-fry for instances, you can't really tell since the sweet note is hidden behind all other pungent aromas. But this time I'm going all out and making a truly sweet and savory dish by using honey. You can definitely feel the sweetness this time.

Sweet and savory honey glazed chicken tenders - 


  • 1 lb chicken tenders
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallion
  • Some flour
  • Some toasted white sesame seeds (optional)


  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 2 garlic cloves


Destem and chop the scallion. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Mix chopped garlic together will all the other ingredients under the sauce section.

Remove the tendon from each chicken tender. Just hold on the end of the tendon and scrape the meat out with a knife. The tendon should be able to pull out easily. 

Sprinkle prepped chicken tenders with salt and pepper. Coat the chicken with flour and shake out excess powder.

Drizzle some oil in the pan and turn to medium high heat. Once heated up, add in chicken tenders and sear till colored. Flip and continue to sear the other side till slightly golden browned.

Pour in the sauce and wait till it starts to bubble. Lower the heat just a little if needed. Flip the chicken tenders so both sides are coated with the sauce. Continue to cook and reduce the sauce till it thickens.

Plate and garnish with chopped scallion and toasted white sesame seeds.

I especially love the sticky yet smooth sauce clinging on the chicken. Feel so luscious and satisfying. 

Even though this dish tastes sweet, but still balanced will some acidity and savory note, works really well as a lunchbox side dish. Even after reheating, the texture stays the same and the chicken remains moist and tempting.


Other chicken related recipes:

Jun 18, 2018

Fuss Free Cooking - Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Chunky Ham

Mister loves Brussels sprouts, so whenever he goes to grocery shopping with me and spots these round veggies, I have to put some in my basket, otherwise he won't stop bugging me.

So here's one basic Brussels sprouts recipe with side benefits of fuss free and easy cleaning.

Oven roasted Brussels sprouts with chunky ham -


  • 600 grams Brussels sprouts
  • 185 grams ham
  • Some salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper
  • Some olive oil
  • Some Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)


Trim the Brussels sprouts by cutting off the brown ends. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit/218 degrees Celsius. 

Transfer Brussels sprouts to the baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle some olive oil throughout. 

Into the oven and bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, or till the outer layer turns slightly browned.

Carefully take out the baking sheet. Toss the Brussels sprouts then add cubed ham throughout. Transfer the baking sheet back to the oven and continue to bake till the ham turns slightly browned on the edges. Check once a while and make sure not to burn the Brussels sprouts.

Once ready, remove from heat. Dust some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano right before serving if desired. 

If using grated cheese, use less salt in the beginning since both ham and cheese carry certain level of saltiness. You can always adjust the flavors by adding more salt later, but it'll be hard to revert to a lighter taste.

One happy Mister at home.

Jun 12, 2018

Rice with Braised Ground Pork and Shiitake Mushrooms (香菇肉燥飯)

No kidding, I was drooling over this rice bowl, a true Taiwanese comfort food at its best. And to make it even better? It was equipped with juicy chunky shiitake mushrooms!

Rice with braised ground pork and shiitake mushrooms -

Ingredients (about 4 portions)?

  • 1.1 pound/about 500 grams coarse ground pork
  • 12 to 14 shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 bok choy
  • 4 portion steamed white rice
  • 5 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • Some olive oil
  • 3 small chunks crystal sugar
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • Some salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Prepare about 4 portions of steamed white rice first. I actually mixed some quinoa in basmati for my own preference, brown rice works well too.

Trim the bok choy, if too big to serve as a whole, tear into individual leaves instead. Blanch and set aside for later use.

Destem scallion and finely chop it. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Peel and finely chop the shallots. Destem and cube the shiitake caps.

Take a deep pot and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in 5 tablespoons chopped shallots, chopped garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to medium high heat and sear till the shallots turn translucent but not burning the garlic pieces.

Add in coarse ground pork and give it a quick stir. Cook till the meat gets separated instead of sticking together as big chunks. Add in cubed shiitake and cook for another 30 seconds or so.

Pour in 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons soy sauce paste, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons mirin, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, and 3/4 cup hot water. Mix and bring the whole thing to a boil, then lower the heat just a little. Not boiling but still bubbling. 

Cook till reduced by half then add in crystal sugar, it'll add some shine to the finished dish once fully incorporated into the sauce. Make sure the crystal sugar has been fully dissolved, continue to cook till only slight juice remains, but not completely dried. In a way, moist but not soupy.

Take another non-stick pan and drizzle some olive oil, turn to medium high heat and wait till the surface turns hot. Make 4 sunny-side up eggs. Try to make the edges slightly browned and crunchy, while the center yolk still runny. Sprinkle some salt on the eggs during the cooking process.

Scoop some rice to the bowl and top with braised pork and shiitake. Place bok choy around the bowl and transfer the egg to the center. Garnish with chopped scallion. Repeat for remaining portions.

Truly a comfort food that can't go wrong. But next time around, there's one thing I would like to modify - use more shiitake and cut into bigger cubes. Chunkier shiitake should absorb even more sauce, imagine all that juice squeezing out when chewing on this dish, simply irresistible.

And that yolk flowing down, slurp. 

Other Asian rice recipes:

Jun 6, 2018

Quick Stir-Fry with Garlic Sprouts and Milkfish Tenders

Salmon has been the most popular fish variety in my household. But I'm craving for something different that is still easy to prepare. So I was happy to see milkfish tenders at a local specialty grocery store. Especially milkfish comes with many tiny bones, so the boneless fish tenders are definitely a plus.

Quick stir-fry with garlic sprouts and milkfish tenders -


  • 0.7 lb/300 grams milkfish tenders
  • 2 stalks/130 grams garlic sprouts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chili
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Some corn starch

Sauce -

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar


Calling it a quick stir-fry, but actually more like seared fish tenders plus a quick mix with all the aromatics.

First dust the milkfish tenders with corn starch and shake off excess powder.

Chop garlic sprouts two ways, mostly slice them diagonally, save a small portion and chop them into rings to sprinkle on top of finished dish. 

Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Destem and chop the chili. Grate the ginger and mix it together will the remaining sauce seasonings. Make sure the sugar has been fully dissolved before use.

Drizzle about 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan and turn to medium high heat. Once heated up, add in fish tenders one by one. Do not move them around in the beginning, wait a little longer so the surface won't stick to the pan that much. After couple minutes, carefully flip the fish tenders and continue to sear till colored. 

Gently push the fish to one side of the pan and drizzle one more tablespoon of olive oil to the empty side. Add in garlic sprouts sections, garlic, and chili. Cook till aromatic but not burning the garlic, should be less than one minute.

Pour in pre-mixed sauce and combine with fish along with all the other ingredients in the pan. Bring to a boil then lower the heat a little, but still keep it at a slight bubble. Cook till the sauce has been reduced and almost fully dried.

Plate the milkfish tenders and garnish with chopped garlic sprouts.

Unlike salmon, milkfish comes with a distinct taste, almost like the scent you get from fresh water fish, and I'm not quite fond of it. So by cooking the fish with heavy aromatics and seasonings help covering that taste and further changed it into a stronger Asian flavored dish. 

Finally something different on the menu tonight.

Other fish recipes: