Nov 26, 2023

Smoked Sardines and Stracciatella Cheese Crostini - Hurray Store Bought Ingredients

Fancy crostini doesn't have to be a hassle to put together all the time. If you can source quality store bought ingredients, it'll only take you 10 minutes to put together something nice for the crowd, or why not just for yourself?

Smoked sardines and stracciatella cheese crostini -

Smoked sardines and stracciatella cheese crostini


  • 100 grams canned smoked sardines 
  • 125 grams stracciatella cheese
  • 1 medium baguette
  • Some pickled red cabbage
  • Some fresh dill


Slice the baguette. Usually I would drizzle some olive oil over and perhaps rub garlic on it before toasting. However, the canned smoked sardines I used was smoked over beech wood and preserved in rapeseed oil, so I'm going to keep the main focus on that and keep other ingredients as simple as possible.

Fangst smoked sardines and other ingredients for crostini

So toast the baguette slices as it is. Once the texture turns slightly crunchy on the edges, remove from heat.

Toasting baguette slices

Drain out excess liquid from the stracciatella cheese. Tear a small portion then lay on the baguette slices. Top with some pickled red cabbage then add the smoked sardines on top.

Lastly, garnish with fresh dill then it's good to go. I think 10 minutes total to put together the whole thing?

Smoked sardines and stracciatella cheese crostini

I got the smoked sardines during my trip to Denmark, but you can use whichever varieties of your liking, preferably pick something smoked for this recipe.

Smoked sardines and stracciatella cheese crostini

After trying one crostini, I actually added more dill than the ones showing in the pictures for myself. Simply love the flavor of dill, the more the merrier, it does really well with the smoked sardines I'm using here.

Extended reading:

Nov 20, 2023

Looking for Another Rice-Killing Dish? Try This Pork Strips Wood Ear and Cilantro Stir-Fry

Even though there're pork strips and wood ear, but the key to this recipe is actually cilantro. The usual flavor-booster in many Chinese dishes, a little bit here and there for a refreshing touch. But this time, we're putting the spotlight right on it. Not just a spoonful, but one big handful of cilantro adding to the stir-fry.

Pork strips wood ear and cilantro stir-fry - 

Pork strips wood ear and cilantro stir-fry


  • 1 handful/small bundle cilantro
  • 220 grams pork strips
  • 200 grams fresh wood ear
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chili
  • 2 tablespoons light-tasting cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon pickled chilies (泡椒)


  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese rice cooking wine


  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar


If you can't find pork strips, simply use pork belly and slice into strips yourself. A bit more work but manageable. Marinate the pork strips with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of Chinese rice cooking wine. Give it a quick mix and massage, keep it aside while prepping other ingredients.

Marinating pork strips

I like to rinse the wood ear with hot water before using it. Mostly for cleaning and to wash-away excess slimy thing on the outside. Once ready, trim-off the tougher center for the fresh wood ear then slice to strips.

Fresh wood ear sliced to strips

Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Destem and chop the red chili. Trim-off the cilantro stems then section the remaining part to shorter pieces. Depending on the type of cilantro you have, some are tender even for the stem part. If you got tougher cilantro, it might be better to chop it instead of sectioned.

As for the pickled chilies, if you can't find the Chinese variety, I think the Mexican pickled jalapeños are just as delicious, and definitely much spicier, so be careful if you're substituting with jalapeños.

Bring out a pan and drizzle 2 tablespoons of preferred cooking oil. Switch to medium heat or medium high heat. Add in pork strips together with chopped garlic and chopped chili. Give it a quick stir-fry till the pork nearly turns all white.

Cooking pork strips with garlic and chili

Add in all the ingredients listed under the "sauce" section. Also add 1 teaspoon of pickled chilies. Give it a quick mix.

Adding sauce for pork strips stir-fry

Add in wood dear and cook for about a minute. Transfer cilantro over and cook for 30 seconds or so.

Pork strips wood ear and cilantro stir-fry

Taste and adjust if needed. Once the flavor has been checked, plate and serve.

Pork strips wood ear and cilantro stir-fry

Even though it's more of a Chinese dish, but Chinese pickled chilies can be hard to find, even for me in Taiwan unless I'm up for making it from scratch. Interestingly Mexican jalapeños happened to be a wonderful alternative. I can imagine the end result is tasty, if not even more delicious, and definitely packed with fiery heat. 

Other pork stir-fry recipes:

Nov 14, 2023

SPAM and Gochujang Kimchi Stew

Let me put it upfront, this SPAM and gochujang kimchi stew might not be the most authentic Korean recipes out there, but the flavors are on par. 

I'm not some Korean food connoisseur and keep a stock of all the ingredients needed for making hardcore Korean food. However, treat this as a "simplified" Korean recipe with all the easily accessible ingredients. One that doesn't have to hassle as much and still get a pretty good taste of Korean flavors at home.

SPAM and gochujang kimchi stew - 

SPAM and gochujang kimchi stew


  • 1 can/340 grams SPAM luncheon meat
  • 1 pack/150 grams beech mushroom
  • 1 pack/100 grams oyster mushroom
  • 300 grams potatoes
  • 300 grams kimchi
  • 2 stalks scallion
  • 3 jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Korean chili powder (or other types of dried chili flakes)
  • Some coarse black pepper


Cube the SPAM. Peel and chop the onion and garlic cloves. Destem then slice the jalapeño to rings. Destem and chop the scallion. Trim-off the stems then separate both mushrooms, tear to smaller strips if needed. 

Cubed SPAM luncheon meat

Peel and cube the potatoes. Regarding the size of potato cubes, bigger cubes have a more satisfying bite but takes longer to cook, so it's completely up to you. As for myself, I try to keep the potato cubes the same, or not much bigger than the SPAM cubes.

Bring out a big pot, drizzle 2 tablespoons of preferred neutral cooking oil then switch to medium heat. You can add in the SPAM cubes while the oil is still room temperature. Sear till most sides turn slightly browned.

Seared SPAM cubes

Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of gochujang sauce. Mix till evenly blended. Pour in 3 cups of chicken stock and 3 cups of water.

Bring to a boil. Add in chopped garlics and 2 teaspoons of dried chili powder/flakes. Mix and cook for about 30 seconds.

Add in the potato cubes. Keep the heat at a light bubbling stage. Cook till the potatoes reach desired texture. I like mine on the softer side, that took about 20 minutes. Remember to stir the mixture once a while, especially the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking.

SPAM and potato cubes in a stew

Once the potatoes are set, add in all the mushrooms and onion, also add in 2/3 of the jalapeño, 2/3 of the chopped scallion, all the kimchi along with its juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Mix and cook for another 5 minutes.

Making SPAM and gochujang kimchi stew

Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Crack some coarse black pepper to add a pop of peppery aroma.

Garnish with the remaining jalapeño rings and chopped scallion.

SPAM and gochujang kimchi stew

If you prefer soupier consistency, use 4 cups of chicken stock plus 4 cups of water instead. However, remember to adjust the seasonings in the end since the flavor will get diluted a bit.

SPAM and gochujang kimchi stew

You can enjoy the stew as it is, or just like ordering sundubu-jjigae at a restaurant, you can serve the stew with some steamed rice. Perhaps dump the rice into the stew, or some like to savour it by sinking a spoonful of rice to the stew and eat it one bite at a time. Equally delicious and satisfying either way.

Other recipes using gochujang:

Nov 8, 2023

Pork Bamboo Shoot and Shiitake Takikomi Gohan 炊き込みご飯

Have you noticed that a lot of Japanese recipes only cook for smaller portions? Most of the times recipes are prepared for two servings only. Taking the takikomi gohan for instance, I searched online and the most I've seen are recipes using 2 rice measuring cups.

It might work for smaller households or for someone who doesn't like leftovers. But for me, I prefer cooking big portions, and I don't mind eating the same thing days after, especially if that means less prepping and cleaning work in the kitchen. So I came up with this recipe using 4 rice measuring cups, that way you'll get like 6 to 8 servings in the end. Nice to have an alternative for different needs.

Pork bamboo shoot and shiitake takikomi gohan - 

Pork bamboo shoot and shiitake takikomi gohan

Ingredients (for 6 to 8 portions)?

  • 4 rice measuring cups white rice
  • 400 grams pork belly slices
  • 260 grams fried bean curd / inari age
  • 12 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 medium small carrot
  • 2 bamboo shoots
  • 60 grams chicken essence or chicken stock
  • 3 1/2 rice measuring cups water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine
  • Some chopped scallion (optional)


Measure the rice then add to the inner pot of rice cooker. Rinse the rice then drain a few times. Leave it drained in the end.

Rinse and dry the white rice grains

Slice the pork to shorter pieces. Peel and slice the carrot to sectors. Destem and slice the shiitake mushrooms to quarters or halved if using smaller mushrooms. Squeeze dry the inari age then slice to strips. Peel and trim the bamboo shoots then slice to sectors. Destem and chop the scallion if using any for garnish in the end.

Ingredients for takikomi gohan

Add all these ingredients on top of the drained uncooked rice. Pour in chicken essence and 3 1/2 rice measuring cups of water. You can simply use all water or substitute the chicken essence/stock with some chicken bouillon.

Also add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of rice cooking wine. Some prefer to add a bit of mirin too, but the inari age I'm using here was already seasoned. It's quite sweet, as the packaging says Kyoto style seasonings. However, you can modify the seasonings based on your preference.

Assembling all the ingredients needed for takikomi gohan

Since we're adding quite the amount of ingredients on top of rice, once pouring in the liquid, you probably won't see the edge of the water. One might start thinking is there enough water to cook the rice? Trust me, the amount of liquid I listed here should yield a bit more than enough needed. 

Transfer the rice pot to the rice cooker and start cooking. Once ready, bring out the inner pot.

Pork bamboo shoot and shiitake takikomi gohan

Pork bamboo shoot and shiitake takikomi gohan

Fluff the grains and make sure all the ingredients have been evenly mixed together. Scoop to serving bowls and garnish with chopped scallion if using.

Pork bamboo shoot and shiitake takikomi gohan

It can take a few practices before mastering the rice water ratio when making takikomi gohan. When unsure, I'd prefer soggier rice in the end compared to slightly undercooked rice. So I tend to use more liquid. 

Pork bamboo shoot and shiitake takikomi gohan

Keep in mind that the ingredients you used will also release some liquid, especially inari age. Remember to squeeze them dry before adding to the rice cooker.  

Other takikomi gohan 炊き込みご飯 recipes:

Nov 2, 2023

formel B - Mix and Match Your Own Courses at a Michelin Restaurant in Copenhagen

Let's switch the scene all the way across the globe to a Scandinavian country Denmark. 

formel B 2023 dinner celeriac dish

It was such a long-haul flight, two flights plus the layover time was nearly 20 hours one way from Taiwan to Denmark. Mister and I were like a pile of rattling bones when we landed. What's the quickest way to recuperate besides a very comfy bed? Food of course. On top of many must-eat small items in Denmark, we also booked two one-Michelin star establishments throughout the trip.

formel B exterior

Just like many other gourmet foodies, we did try to book the two most iconic restaurants in Copenhagen, Noma and Alchemist. I actually put in the waitlist right after the schedule has been laid out, but with no luck of course. After all, these two restaurants were like the pinnacle for all the international food lovers traveling to the country. It's extremely difficult and unbelievably lucky if I can get a table at any of these places under such short notice. 

formel B front door

So what I did was laying out all other Michelin options in Denmark, ruled out places that don't fit in our travel plan, and picked the ones closer to our hotels. There I had two wonderful candidates, formel B in Copenhagen and Substans in Aarhus. Tried both, and they were amazing, not just as I hoped but far exceeded my expectations.

formel B wine cellar

The servers greeted us long before we walked in. In fact, if you look closer to the image of formel B's front door when I snapped a shot, one guy was actually posing to my phone camera. As you can see, the vibe was friendly and welcoming here. 

So we settled in and have our coats and bags stored away, we were led downstairs walking pass their impressive wine cellar by the stairway.

formel B interior

It seems like the first floor were for large group customers, I also saw semi-private dining room on the way. Downstairs were mainly smaller table settings, the space gives you a classic vibe but still has a cozy element to it.

formel B dining area

formel B dining area

Dotted with wooden tables and chairs, the decor looks like an actual living space for a model from a Montblanc campaign. Elegant, classic, a bit charismatic matured man sort of energy.

formel B dining area, also our table

We were arranged at the end of the corner, which I like. There's also enough space between tables, a bit private but yet not too far away from the main scene.

formel B table setting

Just like many other fine dining restaurants in Europe, we were greeted and asked if we would like to start our meal with a glass of champagne. Note that such gesture is not as common in Taiwan. Some might also get confused and thought that the champagne is included in the set menu.

formel B champagne

No no, you pay extra for the champagne, and sometimes it's the same for the tea or coffee towards the end of the meal. That part is different again compared to Taiwan, in which tea or coffee are usually included in the set menu.

formel B champagne

I got the Lacourte-Godbillon Terroirs d'Ecueil Premier Cru, and Mister got the Frédéric Savart Bulle de Rosé. The prices are 200 DKK and 300 DKK. A bit pricy yes, but the quality of the wine and the selection seemed very promising.

What I like the most about formel B is that customers get to mix and match their meals. Pick five out of the selection, and of course you can always go for more with a slightly bargained price. If I prefer lots of veggies, go for it. If I love seafood, just order whatever's on the menu. The unrestrained combinations are limitless. 

formel B menu

Even if I'm such a sweet-tooth person, I can simply order two dessert items on top of the simple petit four that was going to serve to all guests in the end. What a marvelous way to present the meal. Let the customers decide, let us get what we want.

formel B simple wine menu

If fact, if formel B is in my neighborhood and I have already tried and liked it, I can come back quite often and just order different dishes, perhaps keep one or two must-eats. That way I get to try different food most of the time, very versatile and highly customizable, a rare find especially at a Michelin restaurant.

On top of the basic five dishes of your liking, all guests will still receive extra items such as starters, bread, and dessert. So here they were, our two thin and crunchy tarts to begin the meal.

Starter tarts at formel B

Both tart shells were lighter than expected, almost like an airy pillow, especially for the dark and tough-looking one. It's the filling that gives the majority of the weights when I picked up the tart. 

Starter tarts at formel B

One has Jerusalem artichoke, crème fraîche, and salmon in it. And the darker one was centered on blue mussels. Both tarts were lightly flavored, a gentle way to approach the meal instead of going for the bright acidity to awake the senses.

Starter tarts from formel B

Sour dough dusted with sesame seeds from a local Danish bakery -

Sour dough at formel B

I really enjoyed all the bakeries in Denmark. While the bread tends to be soft and fluffy for Taiwanese style bread, the European counterparts can be quite chewy or even tough, but the bite gives the bread such strong character and the true aroma of the wheat really shines this way.

Sour dough from formel B

The outer layer had a bit chew, but manageable, and you can see all the pores inside, giving the center a softer texture but still somewhat elastic. When spread with butter, the bread tastes even sweeter. I had to stop myself from eating the whole thing in case I run out of room for all the upcoming dishes.

My first non-alcoholic beverage pairing, kombucha from a local Copenhagen brewer Table Ferments -

Table Ferments kombucha from formel B

The scent is quite familiar to me because it reminiscent of a Chinese ingredients pickled napa cabbage. Supposedly it'll go really well with the salted beef coming up soon. 

Table Ferments kombucha from formel B

Danish black lobster with Hokkaido pumpkin and dried tomatoes -

Danish black lobster from formel B

Such a lovely presentation, it's like a three-dimensional painting on the plate.

The main acidity comes from tomatoes, especially the dried tomatoes dotted throughout. To balance that acidity, you'll find Hokkaido pumpkin purée and fermented pumpkin juice. However, both the sourness and the sweetness from the tomatoes and pumpkins are kept within the middle range, so that the true flavor of black lobsters can still be the center of the dish.

Black lobster from formel B

There you get the claw meat on the bottom and tail meat on the top. All the elements were well-orchestrated, not exaggerating, it really was a harmony in my mouth. When I had a dish like that, I always think that the lobster has died with dignity, with its body being utilized and transformed in a such a wonderful creation.

Tartar of salted beef -

Tartar of salted beef from formel B

Where's the salted beef? Underneath the grilled cabbage and fried kale, you'll find salted beef tartar mixed with Spanish green olives and fermented cucumbers. 

Tartar of salted beef from formel B

On top of the pickled taste from the green olives, you can also sense a vivid aroma from the olive oil. The oil acts like a binder, bringing all the chopped ingredients together as a whole. And yes, such flavor profile really works with my kombucha pairing, especially these two shared some sort of pickled scent.

The next pairing was also from a local Danish brand MURI - 

MURI pairing from formel B

The two men behind MURI are Murray Paterson and Ioakeim Goulidis. One had experiences at a distillery, and the other once worked at Noma Fermentation Laboratory. Don't underestimate the complexity of their products. Perhaps not as aged or as strong compared to wine, but the complexity and delicacy were to another level.

MURI pairing from formel B

Like the bottle served here, "THE SOUND," with its apricot base, you'll find tannins from Yunnan tea, marigold, and pine sap. The semi-finished drink has to go through multiple fermentation processes then finished with a maceration of citrus skins and kaffir lime leaves. 

One probably wouldn't know that this bottle has gone through such extensive process, so don't treat it lightly. A lot of planning and hard work have been poured to it to give you something with depth yet enjoyable, and without the side effect of getting buzzed. 

Fried celeriac - 

Fried celeriac from formel B

We can't find celeriac easily in Taiwan, basically none unless once in a blue moon from a fine dining restaurant. So me and Mister were demanded to order this dish and gain some familiarity with celeriac.

For sure that half celeriac, such generous portion, truly carved into our senses. But I'm quite positive that the celeriac at formel B should be a lot more tastier compared to the commonly served celeriac. 

Fried celeriac from formel B

The main celeriac was fried entirely, then paired with caramelized celeriac purée, black garlic sauce, plum wine sauce, and white miso. I was surprised to see so many Japanese ingredients being used here, don't forget there was also Hokkaido pumpkin earlier. 

The celeriac itself probably just like other root vegetables, it has an earthy taste, but not strong at all. What gave it flavors were the frying technique, especially the crispy root, and the combination of the sauces on the plate. The high acidity from the orange vinegar works really well with creamy black garlic sauce, these two acted like salt and pepper, simply breathed life to the celeriac.

MURI again, this time NUALA series with much higher acidity compared to THE SOUND -

MURI NUALA from formel B

Pointed cabbage -

Pointed cabbage from formel B

I was glad that I picked so many vegetable-centered dishes. It was the biggest amount of vegetables I've eaten from a meal throughout my stay in Denmark. There just weren't enough greens from the common dining scene. The most was a bit of pickled cabbage from the sandwich or a few pieces of salad greens here and there. That's it, so I've been drinking mixed juice in order to get some veggies.

Pointed cabbage from formel B

Served with morels, pine, and pickled ramson. You'll also find pickled cabbage juice and morel foam, dotted with adorable onion flowers.

Pointed cabbage from formel B

Morels are very expensive in Taiwan, so even when we find it on the plate, no way you'll see such amount of morels used in a single serving. I guess on top of celeriac, I also gain more understanding of morel after eating so much of it. One interesting finding is that when you had quite the amount of morels, it'll evolve into an aged cheese-like aroma. Something I never realized back then. 

Pointed cabbage from formel B

Rebæl -

Rebæl from formel B

Main body consists of cherry juice and lesser amount of grape juice. More depth was achieved through blackcurrant juice, roasted oak, hibiscus, rose petals, and black pepper. Of course I couldn't detect all that from a few sips, but it did leave an impression of something like smoked plum juice and spicy earthy note.

Rebæl from formel B

If you spot some bread there, that's our second round. Yes, I couldn't resist the temptation and finished the first batch. Our server brought over another round of bread soon after he found out we devoured our earlier serving.

Roasted turbot - 

Roasted turbot from formel B

The flatfish appears with some thickness over here, but in fact half of it was braised ox cheek underneath.

Roasted turbot from formel B

I really enjoyed this dish. You got something from the sea and something from the land, somehow they managed to marry these two completely different ingredients so well. The fish wouldn't be so flavorful without the support of braised meat, and the meat would be too salty without the fish to mellow the seasonings. 

Roasted turbot from formel B

Not mentioning the crust on top, very well presented and the texture was like fine breadcrumbs seared to perfection. Parsley garlic sauce on the bottom for a somewhat refreshing herbal touch.

Jus de pomme from formel B

The logo of this apple juice was actually the same as the wines from Domaine Mark and Martial Angeli, where their land has been practicing biodynamic farming for a while. However, I couldn't find enough information regarding the juice side of it, but nonetheless, the apple juice was quite satisfying.

Apple juice from formel B

Out of the basic five dishes, me and Mister both selected one dessert instead of going for all savory items. 

Desserts from formel B

I was very happy with my choice, which was written as "havtorn en surprise" on the menu. The server told us it was one of formel B's signature dishes. When it first came to our table, I immediately thought about hedgehog, quite cute, and indeed delicious.

Havtorn en surprise from formel B

The spikes were meringues, with slightly crisp pointy tips but soon melts in your mouth once in contact with heat. A fun textural change. The server especially informed us to dig deep inside in order to get the sea ​​buckthorn filling together with the meringue all at once.

Havtorn en surprise from formel B

True, with the sweetness and acidity from the filling, it's like these spikes came to life. All the flavors are now more vivid and unique, and what binds the meringue and sea ​​buckthorn was the silky smooth vanilla cream in between. 

Mister got a raspberry themed dessert. There're also vanilla mousse, raspberry sorbet, and surprisingly, sorrel.

Other desserts that were already included in formel B's set, Mister also ordered extra hot latte to complete his wonderful meal -    

Desserts from formel B

There're currant marmalade, white chocolate, something almond and rose for these sweet treats. Sorry I didn't get the details but I assured you they taste just as good as they look.


Dessert from formel B

Initially we chose formel B because this is the restaurant that fits in our schedule the most. Before the trip, I only searched online for some pictures, formel B website, and Google Maps, nothing more. Gladly, the result was more than satisfying, and for sure we had a good time at formel B. 

End of our meal at formel B

I'm most happy about getting a deeper taste of the ingredients not so familiar with before. Especially after eating that half chunk of celeriac, our understanding about such plant has already been deeply imprinted in our senses.

formel B

formel B

formel B

What we didn't know about is the news associated with formel B back in 2020. Mister took some time looking up more information regarding the two Michelin-starred restaurants we visited during the trip. Then he saw this Hollywood-like wine heist story.

formel B book

I remember hearing about such news back then, since it was pretty serious and somewhat unbelievable. These thieves actually dug a passage from the nearby wine shop all the way to formel B's wine celler, and only stole Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair, and Domaine Leroy. If you're unfamiliar with these wines, let me give you a reference. At the Sotheby’s auction in 2018, a bottle of 1945 Romanee-Conti was sold for $558,000 USD.

formel B at night

Despite the vintage difference, for sure one of the bottles stolen from formel B was 2014 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru, still comes with a scary price tag. However, it's one of these things that cannot be found easily even if one's willing to pay. Imagine the loss and sadness dawned upon formel B at that time.

Oh man, I should have take a closer look at the wine cellar. Such a fool, I walked pass by such treasure house, TWICE, without knowing anything about it.

formel B currently holds one Michelin star status. 

formel B

Vesterbrogade 184 

1800 Frederiksberg C, Denmark 

+45 33 25 10 66


Opening hours: 

Monday through Saturday 5:30 p.m. ~ 12:00 midnight

Sunday off