Sunday, November 2, 2008

Everybody Loves Ramen

What else is there to say? It’s so true, right? EVERYBODY loves ramen (and don’t say you don’t, because I know you do)! Something about it always makes my mouth water, no matter how not hungry I am. Maybe it’s because it is so quick and easy to make. Maybe it is because it is just so darn yummy and satisfying. Maybe it’s because it is so versatile – you can add just about anything, and it will still taste good!

Ramen really is like the Asian version of American fast food. It is quick-to-make, delicious, and unhealthy (ramen is super high in sodium and contains MSG)! It’s available in practically all grocery stores, and since it is so inexpensive, many college students depend on it to survive! Ok maybe not, but you get the picture. Ramen is good.

Here’s a short lesson on ramen! Ramen (aka instant noodles) is actually a packaged product named after a real Japanese dish called ramen. In Japan, ramen is an actual noodle soup dish (made from real noodles, not instant ones), served in a savory meat broth and topped with slices of meat (like pork), seaweed, and other good stuff (just look at the picture on your instant noodles package). If you go to Tokyo, don’t be surprised to find ramen restaurants as well! But here in the United States, we refer to instant noodles as ramen, even though they are different.

How I like to make ramen:

The ingredients I use are: 1 egg, 1 package of instant noodle (spicy flavored), 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of chicken broth powder, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and a sprinkle of roasted sesame seeds.


  1. I first bring 2 cups of water to a boil on the stove.
  2. Still on medium high heat, I add the noodles, chicken broth powder, soy sauce, and a sprinkle of the spicy chili powder (that came in the packaged ramen).
  3. Once the noodles are cooked, I take them out and put them in a serving bowl – keeping the soup portion in the hot pan on the stovetop (in other words, don’t take out the soup!).
  4. Next, I crack the egg into the hot soup broth (see where I’m going with this?) and cover it on medium low heat for 3-5 min until the yolk is a little firm.
  5. Lastly I pour the soup and egg on top of the noodles in the bowl.
  6. And then I dig in!

This is how I made the wondeful bowl of ramen pictured at the top of this post! Doesn't it look yummy?


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Shrimp Crackers - They Are Addicting!

These are probably one of my all-time favorite Asian snacks. No wait. Shrimp crackers are definitely one of my favorite snacks ever. Why? If you haven't experienced eating one already, then let me recap.

It's like biting into a light, crunchy, salty, shrimp tasting potato chip (but in the shape of a french fry)! Simple as that.

Sure, it may be unhealthy, but why then do we always gravitate towards chips and other junk foods? Because, they sure are mighty tasty!

They are also great snacks on-the-go as well! They really hold up their taste weeks after you first open the bag (I don't know if that's entirely a good thing though).

My friends have told me to stay away from these shrimp crackers. "MSG!" they all say, "Oh no! You are going to die!"

But how can someone stay away from something so...tasty?

So, I simply forget my friends' advice, stick my hand back into the bag, and sulk in the injustice of it all. I just think, Hey I could be eating worse. At least they are not french fries, right?

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Power of Green Tea

Who loves green tea? I sure do! We’ve all drank this before (or at least heard of this) right? It really is the quintessence of Asian tea. Doesn’t the thought of it just give you that Asian vibe? Well, whether it does or not, this popular tea also has powers of its own. Did you know that green tea has many PROVEN health benefits? The Chinese have been using green tea in their medicine for well over 4,000 years! Here are some reasons why you should drinking green tea as well:

Green Tea Helps You:

- Lower cholesterol
- Reduce the risk of cancer
- Treat rheumatoid arthritis
- Strengthen immune function
- Treat infection
- Prevent tooth decay
- Prevent heart attack and stroke
- On your diet! (It lowers the negative effects of a fatty diet)

It is no wonder why the rate of heart disease in Japanese men is quite low despite the fact that roughly 75% of them or smokers. Wow! That’s all I can say.

“But what makes green tea so…powerful?” you may ask. Well, green tea is filled with the anti-oxidant epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. Anti-oxidants, as you probably know, are really good for you. (That’s why we eat fruits!) EGCG is no exception. EGCG is the reason behind why green tea can reduce the risk of cancer and other cardiovascular disease.

As you can see, green tea really is good for you! So don’t feel guilty when you’re sitting in an Asian restaurant sipping tea. Even with its caffeine content, green tea can lengthen your life! Now, I won’t feel as guilty when I spoon down a whole carton of green tea ice cream!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chicken feet.

Yes, you heard me right. Chicken feet! “Is that even edible?” you ask? It most certainly is. Ok, before you go throw up or try to close this window in fright, let me tell you that people do eat chicken feet. And it’s really really good!

Chicken feet are usually used in Chinese cuisine. They are mainly comprised of skin and tendon – there’s very little actual chicken meat. Thus, when you’re eating it, I find it to have an almost gummy texture (in the most appetizing way of course). Plus, just a heads up, chicken feet also has a lot of small bones (each joint of the toe is a bone). So, you may find yourself picking out bones for a while (but that can be fun, right!). Yeah, the chicken feet dining experience is certainly nothing like the usual KFC night.

The only place I can find (and eat) chicken feet are at dim sum restaurants. If you don’t know what dim sum are, they are basically just “small bites” of Chinese dishes – kind of like the tapas found in Spanish cuisine. In these restaurants, they first fry the cleaned (and de-nailed) chicken feet before marinating and cooking them in a thick and sweet black bean sauce. Oh, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

They are sweet, savory, a little spicy, black beany, and just the perfect snack to chew on!

Still not convinced about eating chicken feet? Well, what if I told you that they are also good for you too! It’s true. Chicken feet have a high amount of collagen, which helps your skin stay firm and wrinkle free!

So, next time you happen to find yourself in a Chinese dim sum place, don’t forget to order the chicken feet! After you get over the fact that they are chicken feet, you may even come to love this stuff (I say may). Plus, you could be eating worse right? Just the other day, my friend almost found herself eating pig testicles.

Friday, June 6, 2008

7 Other Versions of Fried Rice

We are all familiar with fried rice. You know, that tasty stuff we find at all Asian buffets and Chinese take-out. Most of us (me included) usually just think, Fried rice is fried rice is fried rice. Right? Well, not so much. Fried rice isn’t always just white rice with egg, scallions, and some sort of chopped meat. There are different styles of fried rice all around the world. I bet even every household has their own recipe for fried rice. So what types of fried rice are there? Well, today I will be discussing just that! Here are seven (I’m sure there are a bunch more) “other” versions of fried rice.

1. Yang Chow Fried Rice
This is the most popular style of fried rice we eat here in the States. You can find this in almost all Chinese take-out joints and Asian buffets. We’re all familiar with this stuff – fried rice with egg, shrimp, and chopped barbeque pork.

2. American Fried Rice
Ok, this is more of a Thailand favorite than an American one. It includes hot dogs (that’s probably why they called it American), eggs, fried chicken, and…ketchup. Gotta love that ketchup!

3. Nasi Goreng
This is a Malaysian and Indonesian version of fried rice. The major difference is that it is cooked with sweet soy sauce. Often served as breakfast in Indonesia, this dish is popular in countries such as Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia.

4. Kimchi Fried Rice
That’s pretty much it. This Korean dish mixes fried rice with our favorite Asian pickled cabbage…kimchi!

5. Garlic Fried Rice
Filipino garlic fried rice is often served as a breakfast dish. Simply, it is fried rice with garlic. Mmmm, I’ve never tried this before, but garlic is sure to make everything taste great!

6. Cha Han
This is a Japanese style of fried rice. Sometimes katsuobushi (Japanese dried smoked tuna) is mixed in to add another layer of flavor.

7. Canton Fried Rice
This Canton version of fried rice is served with a special sauce or gravy poured on top.

So, there you have it! There are the 7 versions of fried rice (even though there are probably a billion more!). Just remember, recipes...and fried rice...aren't suppose to be done only one way. They are really just up to you and your taste buds!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Chinese eggs and tomato.

This is one of my all-time childhood favorites. I know, you're probably thinking, What is he talking about? How about the mac & cheese, chicken casserole, and homemade chocolate chip cookies? Well, when you grow up in a traditional Chinese household like I do, you usually don't see those foods on the dinner table. On my table, there's usually food like pig tongue, chicken feet, and definitely Chinese eggs and tomato.

When I was a kid, I use to beg my mom to make this for me every night. So what is Chinese eggs and tomato? Well, let me first tell you what it isn't. It is not American eggs and tomato - it's nothing like an omelet. And it isn't like Italian eggs with a tomato marinara. Chinese eggs and tomato is actually quite a simple dish. It's just scrambled eggs with simmered wedges of tomato. Sounds kind of boring right? But when I was a kid, it was just plain darn addicting.

It's sweet, savory, great over rice, light, and...and...yummy!

Chinese Eggs and Tomato

4-5 eggs
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
2 medium sized tomatoes
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

Break eggs into a bowl. Add salt and pepper and beat lightly. Set aside. Cut each tomato into 8 wedges. Heat a wok or skillet with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. When hot, pour in eggs and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until slightly underdone. Remove the egg from the pan into a bowl and set aside. Add remaining oil into the pan and add tomatoes. Add another pinch of salt and pepper and stir with wooden spoon. Add soy sauce. Cook until the tomatoes soften and their juices form a slightly thick sauce. Mix scrambled eggs back into the pan, plate, and serve. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Talk the Talk, Wok the Wok (Part 4)

Accessories! That's the topic for today's final post in the "Talk the Talk, Wok the Wok" series. Obviously, the accessories I will be talking about today are not the Glitz! and Glam! seen on famous celebrities (who would want to wear a wok brush anyway?). No no no. The accessories I'm going to talk about are the equiptment that will make cooking with a wok a little easier.

1. Wok brush
This is a great tool for cleaning a wok. It is make up of a stiff bundle of thin bamboo splints.

2. Wok ring
Remember this? I mentioned this in part 2. This is necessary for round-bottomed woks to stand on an American stove. Simply put this underneath the wok when you are about to cook with it, and you won't have to worry about your wok tipping over!

3. Bamboo steamers
These are useful if you want to steam with your wok. Simply fill your wok with water, and place the steamer on a trivet (metar or bamboo) over the water. Arrange food, cover, and steam!

4. Metal steamers
Another useful tool for steaming. However, food tends to stick on them - so be sure to use a leaf of cabbage or moist paper towel to prevent sticking.

Ok, that's it! That's the final post in this series! Fast, wasn't it? Well, hopefully I have explained the basics of the wok reasonably well. After you know what's good and what's not, it makes the thought of owning a wok less daunting. Now, I am proud to say that you can officially - ok, maybe not so officially - TALK THE WALK AND WOK THE WOK! (Hey, it's the last post of the series. Corny, I know, but a guy's gotta try!)

To your wok happiness!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Talk the Talk, Wok the Wok (Part 3)

Seasoning your wok is very important before you first cook with it. “What does it mean to season your wok? And why is it so important?” you may ask. Well, that’s exactly what I will be discussing in today’s post. I will explain how to season your new carbon steel wok, as well as how to clean and care for your wok afterwards.

Ok, first things first. What does it mean to season a wok? Well, let me first tell you that it does not mean that your adding a little s & p (salt and pepper) action to your wok. You’re not seasoning your wok like a steak (don’t worry, I use to think that that’s what it meant!), and you’re certainly not going to eat your wok. Seasoning a wok simply is sealing the surface of the wok with a thin layer of oil. By doing this, you not only prevent the wok from rusting (thus ensuring longevity), you also make the wok super non-stick for years to come.

How to Season Your Carbon Steel Wok

1. Scrub, rinse, and dry
New carbon steel woks often have a protective coating put on by the manufacturer. (This coating makes food taste like metal). You must remove this before actually seasoning your wok. So, scrub hard, rinse, and dry well.

2. Place wok over low heat, wipe with vegetable oil, and heat for 10 min.
You can soak a couple sheets of paper towel or cloth in the oil. When you’re ready, use tongs or long chopsticks to wipe the wok down. If the oil ever evaporates completely – don’t worry - simply wipe down more oil.

3. Remove wok from heat, let cool, and wipe excess oil with paper towel
Pretty much self explanatory.

4. Repeat Steps 2 & 3, two or three more times
This ensures the wok is properly seasoned. You should notice that the bottom of the wok is turning dark in color. This is natural and indicates that the wok is in fact seasoned well. Over time, the wok may turn completely black. Bravo! This gives food even more Asian tasting goodness!

How to Clean Your Seasoned Wok

After seasoning and using your work, cleaning it really is a snap. Simply wash it in plain water without soap. DO NOT SCRUB IT - EVER! (do you really want to waste time seasoning it again?) Let it dry by placing it over low heat. That was easy, wasn't it?

Ok, last notes. You only need to season a wok once (ever) if you do it really well. However, chances are some of you may cut some corners, and find that your wok becomes a "stick" pan and/or the metal begins to rust. No need to panic. Simply re-season it using the steps I gave above.

Hopefully, I have cleared things up about how to season and clean your wok. Stay tuned for part 4 - the final post in this series :( - which will be about wok accessories!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Talk the Talk, Wok the Wok (Part 2)

Ok, so by now you’ve probably decided, “Yes, I want a wok,” and are asking, “What do I do now? How do I know which wok to buy?” Well, today I will be focusing on just that. In this post, I will explain what type of wok works the best and what types are not quite up to par.

Carbon steel woks ARE THE BEST out there. There, I said it. “But what about stainless steel or non-stick woks?” you may ask. Those are garbage. Don’t buy them – ever.

Stainless steel and Non-stick = Major No Nos
Why? Well, firstly, stainless steel woks do a horrible job in conducting heat. Don’t be fooled by its sleek exterior. They simply do not get hot enough – fast enough. And non-stick woks are garbage because they eventually do become STICK WOKS. No matter how careful you are, some curious rugrat or sleepwalking husband (seriously, it will happen!) will use metal whatever and ruin your non-stick wok (I can’t begin to tell you how many ruined non-stick pans I have at home). Plus, stainless and non-stick woks carry a heavy price tag. Who would ever want to buy an overpriced piece of garbage?

Carbon Steel = The Best
Carbon steel woks are the best because they are everything that non-stick and stainless are not. They conduct heat extremely well, are way cheaper (most are under $20!), and last a lifetime (if seasoned well – don’t worry, I will explain in part 3). They really are the Asian chef’s dream pan.

One Handle vs. Two Handles
When you go to buy your wok, you can either buy one with one long handle, or two side handles (that sort of makes them look like ears). Each type has its benefits. A one handled wok is fantastic for stir-frying because you can simply hold the wok while being at a safe, far distance from the hot oil. A two handled wok is great for carrying the wok when you’re deep-frying, boiling, or do anything with a large volume of liquid. What’s my preference? Buy a wok with one long handle and a small “helper” handle on the opposite side.

Flat vs Round Bottomed
Ok ok, one last thing (I promise!). There are two different types of bottoms for a wok. There are flat bottomed ones and round bottomed ones. The Chinese do not cook on a completely flat stove - us Americans, however, do. That's why the flat bottomed wok was invented. Though it is a great feature, it still doesn't measure up to the traditional rounded wok. Flat bottomed woks do not heat evenly enough, they make tossing and flipping food a struggle, and they get scratched more easily. "So if flat bottomed woks are that bad, then what the heck am I suppose to do?" you may ask (give or take a few words). Easy, buy a wok ring. They are these metal rings that you simply place on the stove, and they act as a stabilizer for you rounded wok.

Wow, that was a mindful of info wasn't it? Sorry about that! Just remember this: you want to buy a carbon steel, rounded (with a wok ring), one handled (with a helper hander), about 14 inch in diameter wok.

Hopefully I have answered most of your questions about which wok to buy. Stay tuned for part 3, which will be about seasoning and cleaning your wok (trust me, it is very very important!).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Talk the Talk, Wok the Wok (Part 1)

I am often asked, “What’s a wok?” and “Do I need one anyways?” So, to answer those questions, I will be writing three or four short posts on the subject. My goal is that by the end of these posts, you will have acquired a greater understanding about the wok and be able to finally, TALK THE TALK, and WOK THE WOK!

Ok - after explaining my utterly corny title - let’s begin. In this post I will explain what a wok is and a short blurb about its history.

Hirstory Blurb
Invented roughly 2000 years ago, the wok has become known as the quintessential piece of equipment in Chinese cooking. It’s not hard to figure out why. The wok is a big, deep, round-bottomed, thin metal cooking pan (to me, it always looked like a metal salad bowl with a handle). Its unique design makes it very versatile. It’s perfect for stir-frying, steaming, boiling, deep-frying, and so much more!

Its Good Qualities
The wok is such an efficient cooking tool because it heats up quickly and does not require a lot of oil to cook with. Not only that, the curved shape of the wok helps cooks to stop playing the “chase-the-food-around-the-pan game” and having ingredients go “overboard” when stir-frying and tossing food.

Makes Cooking Healthy & Fast
The characteristic of having to use little oil makes the wok quite the healthy alternative in cooking. Using a wok makes eating healthy – easy! Food turns out less greasy and you feel better eating the things you are. And if you are one of those people who like to do things fast – then the wok is definitely for you! Using a wok saves cooking space (because you really just need to use one pan), cooking, and clean up time.

Hopefully I have answered your questions about what a wok is and if you should buy one (really the choice is yours!). Stayed tuned for my next post, which will be about shopping for the right wok!

Till then!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

General Tso’s Chicken

This is another thing I ALWAYS eat when I go to an Asian buffet. And boy oh boy is it good! Juicy tender chicken in a thick, savory, sweet, and not so spicy sauce – it’s the quintessence of American Asian buffet food!

General Tso's Chicken

1½ cup cornstarch
¼ cup water
1½ tsp minced garlic
1½ tsp minced ginger root
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup soy sauce
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup cooking wine
1½ cup hot chicken broth
3 lbs deboned dark chicken meat, cut into large chunks
1 tsp white pepper
1 egg
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 cups sliced scallions
16 small dried hot peppers

Mix ½ cup cornstarch with water. Add garlic, ginger, sugar, ½ cup soy sauce, vinegar, wine, and chicken broth. Stir until sugar dissolves.

In a separate bowl, mix chicken, remaining soy sauce, and white pepper. Stir in egg. Add remaining cup cornstarch and mix until chicken pieces are coated evenly. Add 1 cup of vegetable oil to help separate chicken pieces. Divide chicken into small quantities and deep-fry at 350 degrees until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Place a small amount of oil in wok (or sauté pan) and heat until wok/pan is hot. Add scallions and peppers and stir-fry briefly. Stir the cornstarch, water, garlic, ginger mixture and add to wok/pan. Place chicken in the sauce and cook until sauce thickens. Serve this alongside a heaping bowl of hot fluffy rice and enjoy!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lo mein.

We are all familiar with this stuff. You know, that greasy tray of noodles with skimpy flecks of who knows what kind of vegetables we find at all Asian buffets – right next to the fried rice. Yup, that’s the one. Though it may be greasy, oily, unhealthy, and not much to look at - it sure does taste good! Seriously, no matter how much I tell myself that lo mein is bad for me, I still end up getting a plate full of it anyways.

So what exactly is this stuff anyways? Lo mein is a Chinese dish of Chinese egg noodles, a mix a veggies (usually carrots, cabbage, and onions), and some form of meat (most times chicken, beef, or roast pork) – all stirred in a brown sauce (soy sauce, corn starch, sugar, and other stuff I just don’t know exactly). Then, when these ingredients – simple they may seem – are combined, you get one heck of an addicting dish.

It’s salty, savory, soy saucy, slurpable, tender, cheap, tummy filling, and just plain DELICIOUS! I can’t get enough of it.

Maybe it is oily mushy bleh. SO WHAT? It’s taste (and price) makes up for all it’s bad attributes. It’s a great on the go meal for a great price. However, if you are too worried about the calories – don’t worry – I am too. Usually I just eat lo mein in small platefuls as a guilty pleasure. Other times I just make it at home where I can control the fat content.

So, if you haven’t tried lo mein before…ARE YOU CRAZY? If you have, then try making it at home! Here’s a healthy lo mein recipe courtesy of EatingWell:,,FOOD_30878_100796,00.html

Isn’t lo mein just great?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Braised tofu.

Ok, so this is yet another recipe my mom picked up from her Korean cooking class (hey what can I say – they’re good!). But let me tell you, this by far is my most favorite recipe out of all the ones she learned. It’s savory, salty sweet, oniony, garlicky, gingery, and not so spicy. It is topped with basically raw garlic, ginger, and scallion – but don’t worry. Their flavors marry so well together and with the braised tofu that somehow the garlic tastes less breath damaging, the ginger less biting, and the scallion less like…well…a scallion. Many times I even end up just eating the garlic ginger scallion topping by itself because it’s so lip-smacking tasty!

On the serving plate, it’s the perfect combo of juicy tofu, soy sauce, and sweet thinly sliced garlic, ginger, scallion, and red pepper. Not only is this my favorite Korean dish from the cooking class, it’s also the most appetizing. As they say, we eat with our eyes first. And as soon as you see this dish, your eyes will be stuffing themselves silly! Before I say any more that might possibly bore you out of trying this – here’s the recipe:

Braised Tofu

1 pack firm tofu
2 Tbsp starch
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
¼ oz peeled ginger
¼ oz peeled garlic
¼ oz scallion
¼ oz cleaned red pepper
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cooking wine
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp rice wine

Cut tofu in half (not lengthwise) and then into ½ inch thick square slices. Pat tofu dry with paper towel. Sprinkle salt over one side. Coat all sides in starch and shake off the excess. Heat oil in a skillet and add tofu. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Turn off the stove. Julienne ginger, garlic, scallion, and red pepper. Mix soy sauce, cooking wine, sugar, and rice wine – this is for the sauce. Sprinkle the julienne ginger, garlic, scallion, and red pepper evenly over the tofu in the pan and pour in the sauce. Cook the tofu in the skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. And enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Red bean soup.

No, this is not another one of those canned bean soups. You know what I'm talking about - the ever so famous "Tex-mex" soup with three kinds of beans. And the red beans I am talking about are not the kind of beans you pack on a camping trip either - the kind that gives you...gas. No no no my friend! The red bean soup I am talking about is of a whole different sort. It's sweet, warm, and (as if it couldn't get any more strange) served as a dessert!

Did I just say dessert AND red bean soup?!? You bet I did! Ok, before you go outside and yell, "Has the writer of I Heart Asian Food gone crazy?" let me explain to you what exactly is red bean soup.

Red bean soup is a traditional Chinese soup that is served warm as a dessert after dinner. It's made by boiling red azuki beans and sugar until soft and mushy. These beans give the soup a deep red color, which makes sense since the color red signifies happiness and luck to the Chinese.

It's sugary sweet, deep deep red, warm, has mushy tender red beans, and is the perfect satisfying dessert!

When I was a kid, I use think, Ummm...I'm not so sure, when I saw red bean soup. That's because it looked so unappetizing. Don't get me wrong - it still looks like brownish red water with bean mush. But I've learned better. As I grew older, I became more tolerant to try new foods, and I discovered how good red bean soup really is. I now see it as my guilt free dessert. I don't know how many calories are in it exactly, but the fact that it's a soup helps me to believe that no matter how many bowls I drink (like 2 or 3!), I still won't gain as much weight as if I ate a slice of dark chocolate cake.

Definitly try red bean soup whenever you go to your favorite Chinese restaurant. I'm sure you will find it to be just as satisfying (or even more than) ordering that regular old vanilla ice cream!


Saturday, April 5, 2008


Dumplings are amazing. Need I say more? They are easy to make from scratch, available in almost every supermarket, the perfect on-the-go meal, fun to pop in your mouth, great for parties, and they come in all sorts of fillings. I like to think of them as the all in one meal - meat filling, bready wrapper, and specks of green (and that's enough veggie for me!).

Last night I ate at least 20 dumplings. And boy were they good! Meaty pork filling with chopped shrimp and vegetables all boiled in a thin dumpling wrapper. A full course meal all in itself and I ate 20 of them!

I don't know about you, but I don't usually like to eat a dumpling just by itself. I love dumplings, but they often turn out to be just so darn bland. That's why I love the dipping sauces. Yes, of course you can always just dip a dumpling in soy sauce, but a special sauce can make all the difference. Here's my personal favorite easy-to-make dumpling dipping sauce recipe:

Ginger Scallion Dipping Sauce

½ cup sugar
¼ cup sake (or any other cooking wine)
¼ cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon thinly slice scallions
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon minced ginger

Whisk all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Chill and serve with your favorite dumpling!

I believe dumplings are not only fun and easy to make/eat - they also bring people together. Why not make dumplings with your kids or have a dumpling making party with your friends? Then, you could also have a dumpling eating contest! Dumplings are definitely a fun way to bring those you love around the family table.

Click here for Ming Tsai's amazing recipe for shitake dumplings:,,FOOD_9936_10521,00.html

Make dumplings. Come together. Share stories. And have fun!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Scallion pancakes.

If there ever was such a thing as Asian tortillas, then scallion pancakes would be it. I love tortillas, especially as a burrito wrapper, however, tortillas eaten by itself tastes so bland and boring. To me, it's basically like a squished slice of bread.

Scallion pancakes are a whole different story. They, on the otherhand, are MEANT to be eaten alone. And who wouldn't want to eat it that way? Scallion pancakes are tender and flaky (weird, I know), pan fried till golden, rip-able, salty, mildly oniony, finger food. No knife or fork please!

But now I am getting ahead of myself. You are probably thinking, What is this crazy person talking about scallion pancakes? Do you put scallions in Bisquick mix? Don't fret. Scallion pancakes (as well as many other so called Asian "pancakes" apparently) are nothing like regular old breakfast pancakes. While the breakfast pancakes you are probably use to are fluffy and spongy, scallion pancakes are crusty and have many thin layers when you pull it apart.

I simply love scallion pancakes. My grandpa would make it all the time when I was a kid, and even now I still have fun ripping one apart and seeing the green flecks of scallion pieces spread throughout.

I really could talk about scallion pancakes FOREVER, but that would get boring. Why not try one for yourself and taste/smell/experience what I am talkin about.

Here's a link to Ming Tsai's recipe for scallion pancakes with a ginger dipping sauce:,,FOOD_9936_8,00.html

It's a perfect side dish (or main entree for me) that can be eaten anytime of the day!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Vietnamese roll.

I use to get mixed up about the "rolls." Whenever I heard the word spring roll, vegetable roll, or egg roll the same image would always come into my mind - that oily fried log you get in Asian take out boxes (I never really liked any of those rolls). So then, when my friend told me that he would bring in Vietnamese rolls to class one day, I thought, Ugh. Not another oily fried log!

Let me tell you, I was pleasantly surprised. What my friend brought in the next day was no oily fried lump/log/whatever, it was a roll of tranclucent rice paper wrapper with a seafood and veggie filling. And it was delicious!

Thin chewy ricy wrapper filled with crunchy fresh bean sprouts, bright mint, straight from the sea baby shrimps, and strips of carrots. When I took my first bite into it - I nearly jumped back! It was so simple, yet so unexpected and flavorful. I was blown away.

My friend so happened to be Vietnamese (so I knew the roll I tasted in class was straight from the best). However, if you don't know someone who is Vietnamese that doesn't mean you have to miss out on the fun! Instead of ordering Asian take out that comes with oily "logs," try ordering a Vietnamese roll. You'll be glad you did - healthwise and tastewise!

Here's a great recipe Rachel Ray found for Vietnamese rolls - its called a "Vietnamese Burrito!":,,FOOD_9936_23136,00.html

Eel sushi.

Have you ever tried eel? Hey, don't give me that look. You heard me right - have you ever tried eel? Well, if you haven't, then you've been missing out my friend.

Ok, so you are probably thinking, People eat eel? That electrifying long snake thing? Don't worry. Eel isn't as bad as it sounds. Beyond the electrifying and snake like appearance, eel meat is pretty much like a thin strip of fish. And when it is roasted - WHEN IT IS ROASTED! - words can not describe its taste (hey but I could try right?).

Sweet, savory, melt-in-your-mouth, rich eel meat.

It tastes way better than any fish fillet I've ever eaten. It is so rich and buttery that I almost feel guilty if I eat another bite of it. "Almost," I said, almost. In actuality, I could probably eat a whole plate of roasted eel by itself breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and still not be sick of it. To me, it's like candy.

Then, if eel couldn't get any better - it did. It was put in sushi. Eel sushi is like eating grownup candy. It is sweet, satisfying, and good for you! Eel has A, B1, D, and E vitamins. Eel also has good unsaturated fatty acids that lower blood pressure, promote healthy brain function, and promote good eyesight. Good for you and tastes like candy? You would be crazy not to give eel a try!

Personally, I could eat roasted eel right by itself, but that's kind of weird. So, here are some suggestions for recipes with eel. The Japanese were right on the money when they made eel sushi. So, definitly give that a try. Simple wrap a block of rice and a piece of roasted eel meat with a thin strip of seaweed. Or incorporate eel, avacado, and cucumber (in any mix) into a sushi roll.

Here's Rachel Ray's recipe for a fantastic Unagi roll (Japanese word for freshwater eel):,,FOOD_9936_23139,00.html

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Korean kimchi salad.

I never really liked kimchi to be honest. You know, that spicy pickeled cabbage with specks of red all over. The fact that it was always stored in a huge jar of murky vinegar (I think) didn't help entice my senses either. Kimchi, to me, always tasted like waxy spicy sour cabbage. I just didn't like it.

But Korean kimchi salad is a whole different topic.

Don't be fooled because it has the word "kimchi" in its name. Korean kimchi salad is a fresh refreshing mix of garden veggies with a "not so spicy" sweet dressing. It is nothing - I repeat NOTHING - like regular old kimchi.

The first day I tried it (the same night my mom came home with Korean style grilled chicken!), I almost finished the whole carton of it. Yes, it is that good. It's sweet, crisp, light, and refreshing - the perfect appetizer for any occasion. I highly recommend everyone to try this dish. You won't be disappointed.

Here's the recipe!

Korean Kimchi Salad

1 lb cabbage
1 Tbsp salt
8 oz radish
1 carrot
2 cucumbers
6 Tbsp vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Korean brand hot pepper paste (adjust amount to taste)
Minced garlic (adjust amount to taste)
Sesame seeds (adjust amount to taste)

Cut off cabbage root and take off each leaf carefully from cabbage. Boil the whole cabbage (until it is cooked but still with a snap) and then put leaves in an ice bath. Cut the radish and carrot into julienne strips. Cut the iced cabbage into thin strips. Mix vinegar, sugar, salt, hot pepper paste, and garlic in a bowl. Marinate all the veggies in the dressing and garnish with sesame seeds.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Korean style grilled chicken.

Mmmmmm. I love this stuff. One day my mom discovered this recipe when she was taking a Korean cooking class from a REAL Korean cook. She brought home a sample of it after her class and I immediately fell in love. I almost finished the whole plate before my dad could even get one bite!

Warm juicy grilled chicken with a spicy peppery garliky crust. It will make your mouth crave for more!

Here's the recipe!

Korean Style Grilled Chicken

1 lb chicken
1 scallion
1/4 oz shredded red pepper
1 tsp sesame seeds
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp ginger juice
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp hot pepper paste (this is a Korean brand - check your local Asian market)
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
2 Tbsp cooking wine

First de-bone the chicken and cut it into 2 or 3 inch pieces. Strike the chicken meat flat. Next marinate chicken meat in ginger juice, garlic juice, and cooking wine for 2 minutes. Mix all soy sauce, hot pepper paste, sugar, chopped garlic, sesame oil, sesames seeds, and black pepper to make a sauce. Combine chicken meat with the sauce and grill them in a grill pan. Finally garnish with cut scallion, shredded red pepper, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.


Peking Duck.

Need I say more? Crispy thin skin around juicy warm duck meat. It's to die for. On weekends, Mom likes to buy a steamy box of Peking duck from our neighborhood Asian Food Market. It is so good.

I've tried two different kinds of Peking duck dishes in my life. Peking duck - alone - with a dip of soy sauce (so simple and delicious!) and Peking duck with pancakes, scallions, and hoisin sauce spread (which is usually found in many Chinese Buffets).

I know. You are probably thinking, Pancakes with duck? Don't worry. Asian pancakes are not the same as regular old American pancakes. Asian pancakes are light fluffy and not wheaty at all. They are like little clouds of bread, and they are good!

Then, when this cloud is filled with succulent Peking duck, fresh crunchy scallions, and sweet savory hoisin have a masterpiece! I first discovered this dish when I went to my area Asian buffet (Super Star East Buffet). The restaurant even had their own little station and chef for making Peking duck with pancakes. I even got to build my own little sandwhich!

Definitly, if you have time, go to an Asian buffet and try their Peking duck!

Here's a link to Ming Tsai's recipe for Peking duck and pancakes:,,FOOD_9936_4882,00.html

Have a delicious time! (I know you will!)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Chicken lettuce wraps.

They are D-E-LICIOUS! The first time I remember trying a chicken lettuce wrap was 2 years ago. It was in P.F. Chang's China Bistro. Despite the fact that the restaurant was run by NO ASIANS whatsoever, the food was pretty good. But the chinese chicken lettuce wraps - THE CHINESE CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS! They were just tops.

Warm salty, savory, sweet, peppery diced chicken mixed with red peppers, carrots, and scallions were wrapped in a crisp fresh leaf of lettuce. It was MAGICAL!

The fresh crunch of the lettuce, even though you may think, It's just lettuce, was a stark contrast to the glazed chicken filling. When I ate that chinese chicken lettuce wrap, I was glad I came to P.F. Chang's China Bistro instead of the neighborhood McDonald's.

I highly recommend all you people out there to try a CHINESE CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAP! If not try it, go make it!

Here's a link to Rachel Ray's recipe for chicken lettuce wraps (and it only takes 25 min!):,,FOOD_9936_27790,00.html



I love rice. What more is there to say? Just imagine a big bowl of hot fluffy rice ready to go - ready to accompany a bite of sweet and sour pork or garliky bok choy. Mmhmmm. Boy oh boy doesn't that sound good?

I love rice. fried rice. sticky rice. rice in soup. buttered rice. sushi rice. rice balls. rice rice rice rice RICE! Maybe if I say it too many times, I'll get sick of it.


Maybe it's because rice comes from my homeland. Maybe its because it's fun to eat it grain by grain. Maybe this or that. Either way, I still love rice.

I have to go now. And it is not because I am tired of saying rice - RICE! Mom's calling, and I have to go eat my dinner of, you know what I am going to say...rice!

GO RICE! Visit to test your vocabulary skills as well as to help donate rice to those who need it!