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This is my absolute favorite sesame chicken recipe! The fragrant sesame oil, sweet savory sauce and tender chicken, wonderful served with a bowl of steamy rice. You can adjust the amount of sugar and vinegar depending on how sweet and sour your palette prefers. Either black or white sesame seeds make the dish pretty. Happy May holiday weekend everyone!

3-4 chicken breasts, about 1 pound
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 spring scallions, chopped
Toasted black or white sesame seeds
Peanut oil for frying

For the Sauce:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, finely minced
2 dried red chilies
2 tablespoons good quality roasted black sesame oil
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 cup stock or water
3 tablespoons cornstarch, mix well into 3 tablespoons of water

Cut the chicken breasts into small bite size pieces. In a mixing bowl, marinade the chicken with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine and dust with cornstarch, mix well, let sit for 15 minutes. Deep fry the chicken pieces until lightly-medium golden brown. Fry in batches to ensure they brown evenly and not overly cooked. Drain on paper towel.

In a large skillet or wok, heat the sesame oil until smoking, throw in the garlic, onions, red chilies and fry until your kitchen is filled with the aroma. Carefully pour in the stock, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and bring to a boil. Thicken the sauce with the cornstarch mix while stirring constantly.

Put the chicken pieces in and flip the wok until the chicken pieces are well coated with the sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, chopped scallions and serve immediately.

When I was a young girl, I would love to come home from school and find my grandmother cooking in the kitchen all day. Our house would be filled with fragrant chilies, fresh cut vegetables, roasted garlic, lemons, aged soy sauce, star anise, ginger and caramelized rock sugar. Lion’s head has been the No. 1 comfort food in our family.

My grandmother was originally from Qingdao, grew up in Beijing then relocated to Taipei, Taiwan in the 50’s after college. In addition to my grandmother’s unique passion to food and gourmet cooking, Fu Pei Mei, the renown and beloved mother of Northern style cooking largely influenced her cooking style throughout the 70’s and 80’s. In those years, my grandmother traveled and lived as an expat in Saudi Arabia and Katong, Singapore, where she embraced cooking as a way to be closer to home. In the 90’s, she devoted her time to her grandchildren in America; gifting her heart through the food she prepared every day. Grandmothers are the best and here is a loving recipe that has been enjoyed in our family for decades.

artisan foods

This is my Shangdong grandmother’s and mother’s version of lion’s head. Jesse and I make this dish often as it’s one of our favorite Chinese comfort foods. Slowly braise to get tender, melt in your mouth meatballs. It’s best served with fresh steamy rice.

1 pound ground pork
1 head napa cabbage
12 stalks scallions, finely minced
1 teaspoon ginger, finely grated
1 egg
3 tablespoons cornstarch plus 1/2 cup cornstarch
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon rice wine
5 tablespoon soy sauce plus 2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy
6 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Wash and separate Napa cabbage leaves, drain well. In a medium bowl, mix the ground pork, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 egg, minced scallions and grated ginger. With a pair of chopsticks, mix in one circular motion either clockwise or counter…

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While Jesse surfed the famous Bali beach breaks in a late afternoon. I strolled around the beach where I crossed paths of sun worshippers’ and female hawkers selling exotic snacks out of straw baskets. The women were friendly and welcomed snap shots of their food. Fish rubbed with spicy sambal, along with a small fried fish and roti bread.

A mix veggies salad of sliced bitter melon, green beans, fried shallots and mashed avocados.

Sun worshippers on Seminyak beach.

Fresh scallops are wonderfully sweet and taste like the sea. The sweetness matches well with the zing of lemon zest and white pepper. This ceviche is so easy to prepare. A great starter to any nice meal at home. Happy cooking ^.^~

5 raw scallops
3 teaspoons good olive oil
6 leaves mint plus 2 top snips for garnish
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
A small pinch of white pepper
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt

Clean the scallops and reserve the edible muscles. Place a knife underneath the muscle and scraping across the bottom shell. Remove the top shell, take away all the inedible innards. Slice the scallops thinly across the top into 1 to 1 1/2 mm thickness.

Roll the mint leaves together and cut into chiffonade (long and thin strips).

In a small mixing bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, mint chiffonade, lemon zest, white pepper and sea salt.

Mix the scallops and coat well with the citrusy dressing. Plate and enjoy.

We have been gone a while, trekking and eating through South East Asia. Over our stop in Singapore, we have found some really great Hainan chicken rice, Indian curries and Katong laksa. The components of a good Hainan chicken rice are the tender meat that is expertly cooked, fragrant chicken broth infused rice and perfectly concocted ginger & chili sauces.

Heng Heng Hainanese Chicken Rice at the Maxwell hawker food center.

Little India, where colorful temples and mosques, shophouses stocked with spices, gold and incense lined the streets. We found a small, unpretentious corner food stall mobbed by locals.  Despite the heat, loud street noise and wobbly plastic stools, the food had our undivided attention. It was simple, spicy and straightforwardly good.

Last but not least, Katong laksa–made with slightly sweet coconut curry and strong aromatics. The noodles are cut up in small pieces so the soup can be eaten with the only utensil provided, the spoon. The version we had eaten had shrimp, strips of fish cake, bean sprouts and garnished with laksa leaves and sambal chili paste that was available on each dining table.

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