Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sichuan DanDan Noodles

If you like noodle soup and you like spicy food, you should definitely try this (and if you have never tried, why the hell haven't you?).
Dandan noodles/Dandanmien/Tantanmen hails from Sichuan province in China, known for their cuisine's bold flavors and spiciness. With its sweet pungent aroma, mouth-numbing and piquant flavors, all in delicious savory broth, the soups is literally an assault on your senses.
But a good assault. Because you will be addicted to this.
Because you will wake up the next morning and feel sad because you don't have any leftover.
Because you realize that your regular noodle soup just won't do anymore.

For Sichuan Chili Oil (Hong You) aka happiness in a jar:
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 stalks green onion, sliced
  • 4 star anise pods
  • 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons Sichuan peppers (preferably red and green mix), crushed
  • 4 tablespoons red chili flakes
For the noodle soup:
  • 1/2 pound pork, coarsely minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine/rice wine
  •  2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4-5 tablespoons Pixian Doubanjiang/spicy broad bean paste (it looks like this)
  • 4 tablespoons sesame paste
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • Asian dried noodles
  • Cilantro for garnish
To make Sichuan Chili Oil (Hong You):
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pot. Cook over medium heat and fry the ingredients until garlics and green onions are browned, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and continue cooking until the oil turns darker color. Remove from the stove and set aside.
  • Transfer oil to an airtight jar. Store in the cool part of the kitchen until ready to use.
* The leftover chili oil stores very well and can be used for other dishes such as this one.

To make the noodle soup:
  • In a large bowl, mix pork, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and rice wine until well combined. Set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a pot. Add pork and cook until brown. Stir in Douban and sesame paste, cook for about 1 minute. Add chicken stock into the pot, bring to simmer. Taste the soup, season with salt and white pepper if necessary.
  • In a separate pot, boil water and cook dry noodles per package instruction. Drain the noodles and divide into 4 individual bowls. Ladle the broth over the noodles, sprinkle with a lot of cilantro. Drizzle generous amount of chili oil before serving.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Quick and Easy Italian Wedding Soup

Click here to print the recipe

Mr. Wikipedia says that the term "wedding soup" is a mistranslation of the Italian language phrase "minestra maritata ("married soup")," which is a reference to the fact that green vegetables and meats go well together. 
But mistranslation aside, Italian wedding soup is one of my favorite dishes. Not only that the soup is full of healthy ingredients, it is easy to make and it's darn tasty.

There are many many versions of this soup, but 2 things don't change; meatballs and greens. In this version, I use turkey meatballs but feel free to use any kind of meat.
Same goes with the greens. Spinach, escarole, kale, swiss chard, any kind of green vegetable will work beautifully.
Since I honestly hate making meatballs, I always try to double or triple the batch and keep the unused meatballs in the freezer. They come in handy whenever I need them.


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cup chicken stock
  • 12 ounces baby spinach, washed 
  • 1 cup dry pasta
  • 1 can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated parmesan for sprinkling
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  • In a large bowl, mix turkey, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper until well combined. Roll meat mixture into 1-inch balls, place them on a lined baking sheet (you should have about 30-35 meatballs), bake for 30 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.
  • In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté until soft. Add chicken stock into the pot, bring to boil. Add beans and dry pasta into the boiling stock, cook for 5-6 minutes until the pasta is almost tender. Add meatballs, season the soup with salt and pepper, simmer for 1 minute. 
  • Stir-in the spinach, cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Ladle soup into individual bowls, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

When my kids are craving for some fried chicken and they want it within 30 minutes, Kara-age is the way to go.
Unlike other types of fried chicken, Karaage doesn't take all day to make. Just a quick marinate, coat with potato starch, then deep fry to produce flavorful crispy fried chicken everybody will enjoy.
Drizzle with liberal amount of lemon juice before serving.

  • 1 lb boneless chicken thigh, preferably with skin, cut into 2-inch pieces.
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • Oil for frying
  • Lemon juice
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine garlic, ginger, soys sauce, sake, salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces into the marinade, mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  • Heat the oil in the frying pan to 350 F. Dust the chicken in potato starch, fry in the hot oil until golden brown. Transfer the chicken to paper towel to absorb excess oil. Serve immediately while they're hot.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Oyster Po'Boy Sliders with Sweet & Tangy Broccoli Slaw

August came, and it made me realize that the end of summer is near. 
We vacationed, the boys did all their summer activities, 2 more weeks to go and they will be back to school. They're not happy about it, and surprisingly I'm not all too thrilled about it either.
Spending time with the boys have been wonderful, and the less time I spend being a chauffeur means more time for me to be a little creative in the kitchen (although I'm not always doing a good job taking pictures of the end results).

Out of some new dishes we made, oyster Po'Boy is definitely a crowd pleaser. It's such a simple dish with simple preparation, but yet they pack so much flavor, they're ah-mazing!
The cornmeal breading on the oysters make the crunchy layer outside but still soft and delicious inside. Also the broccoli slaw complements the oysters very well with its sweet and tangy flavors. Make sure to make plenty of them as they will go fast!

For the oysters:
  • 12 medium-sized oysters, shucked and drained
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil for frying
  • 12 slider buns, split
For the broccoli slaw:
  • 2 cups shredded broccoli stalks
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and pepper
For chili-lime aioli:
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • To make chili-lime aioli (can be made one day ahead): In a food processor, puree garlic and salt. Add egg yolks and continue processing. Drizzle canola oil little by little in slow and steady stream, while the machine is still running, until aioli is formed. Turn off the food processor, add lime juice and chili powder, mix thoroughly and transfer to an airtight container. Store in refrigerator  before using.
  • To make the breaded oysters: In mixing bowl mix buttermilk, egg, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper together until well blended. Add oysters into the bowl, making sure that they're submerged in liquid. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least one hour. 
  • Mix cornmeal, flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl and set aside. Heat oil in a frying skillet to 350 F degree. Drain the oysters from the marinade, roll each one of them in the breading mixture. Fry the oysters in batches, careful not to overcrowd, about 3 minutes per side until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  • To make broccoli slaw: In a large bowl whisk oil, mustard, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper until well combined. Add broccoli and carrots, toss together.
  • Scoop a heaping tablespoon of broccoli slaw and place it on the lower part of the bun. Place one fried oyster on top of the slaw. Spread a dollop of chili-lime aioli on the top of the oyster and cover with the top part of the bun. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Banana Blossom and Chicken Stir-Fry

Click here to print the recipe

Banana blossom aka banana heart aka banana flower, is not an ingredient you would normally find in your local grocery store. But if you live near an Asian grocery store, you might see some fresh ones in the produce section. A widely popular ingredient in Southeast Asian and Indian cuisine, banana blossom's mild flavor works wonderfully in salad, stir-fry, or curry.

To knowledge to prepare banana blossom for the dish is somehow crucial. Make sure you follow every step, so you don't end up with discolored blossom that leaves unpleasant bitter taste in your mouth.
If you do it right, this is the delicious dish that might make more than one appearance at your dining table.


  • 1 banana blossom
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fermented shrimp paste (if not available, substitute with 1 tablespoon fish sauce)
  • 2 red Jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, bruised
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • In a large bowl, mix cold water and white vinegar, and set aside. Peel the tough purple outer layers of banana blossom until you reach the pinkish-creamy color part of the blossom. Split the blossom in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise as thinly as possible. Transfer banana blossom slices immediately to the bowl with vinegar water. Soak the blossom for 1 hour, up to 2 hours. This process will prevent the blossom from turning brown, and also will get rid of the bitterness. Drain  and rinse with cold water before cooking.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, shrimp paste, Jalapeños, and lemongrass into the skillet and cook for a few minutes. Add ground chicken to the skillet, breaking up the chunks with the wooden spatula while stirring. Continue cooking until the chicken is crumbly and no longer pink.
  • Add banana blossom and chicken stock into the chicken mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the blossom is tender and the stock is absorbed. 
  • Serve warm with steamed rice, if desired.