Thursday, November 30, 2006

Simple Mixed Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette

Category: Salad
Style: Fusion
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

1 lb washed mixed salad leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
salt and pepper to taste

To make vinaigrette, put all ingredients in a jar with a tight lid. Shake until all blended.
To serve, dress and toss salad leaves with vinaigrette, put on a plate.

You can adjust the taste of the vinaigrette by changing the amount of each ingredient. Do some experiment to create your best proportion. Try adding some honey too.
The base for a vineigrette consist of an equal amount of oil (olive oil here) and acid (lemon juice here. Vinegar is also common). The rest of the ingredients are all flavour enhencer. Some people like adding mustard too. What I usually do is: select an acid, add oil, and open my pantry cupboard and pour in whatever I feel like right. Be creative.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Fusilli with Tomato, Eggplant and Bocconcini

Category: Pasta
Style: Italian
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 4

1 Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cans 14-oz whole tomatoes with juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
pinch of chili flakes (optional)
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 tbsp whipping cream
1 lb dried fusilli or other pasta (about 450g)
1 tub Bocconcini cheese, about 200g (or use fresh mozzarella)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmasan cheese)

Heat 4 to 5 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Add eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until softened. Add garlic, onion, sauté for another 2 minutes until fragrant. Add canned tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Add chili flakes if desired. Simmer for about 15 minutes, add basil and cream. Lightly crush tomato with a wooden spoon.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add about 3-4 tbsp salt. Add pasta, stir around, and cook according to package instruction until al dente. Drain and return to pot. (For tips to cook pasta, read here)
Add tomato sauce to the pasta. Tear the bocconcini to small pieces and stir into the pasta. Let sit about 30 seconds and stir again. The cheese should now be nicely melting. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Bocconcini is a fresh cheese. It is sold soaked in lighty salted water. It has a very mild and delicate milk flavour. You can buy them fresh from the deli department of the supermarket or packaged in plastic tub. If you cannot find bocconcini, you can substitute with fresh mozzarella, or even pressed mozzarella (the kind used for making pizza)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Chinese Clay Pot Rice with Preserved Meats

Category: Rice, Meat, One Dish Meal
Style: Chinese
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 4

2 杯 白米
2.5 杯 清水
適量 臘腸,臘肉,臘鴨等



Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Chinese Rice Congee with Salted Pork and Preserved Egg

Category: Pasta
Style: Chinese
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

一塊 瘦豬肉或豬月展,約半磅
3 tsp 鹽
1杯 白米
2 tbsp 油
1.5 tsp 鹽
1塊 薑
約6粒 瑤柱
2只 皮蛋,去殼

用一大湯煲,盛2.5 – 3 公升水,置大火上煮至大滾。先放入鹹豬肉及薑,待水再次沸騰時便放入醃好的米,瑤柱及一只切碎的皮蛋。


Japanese Zaru Soba

Category: Pasta
Style: Japanese
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

600 g dried Soba noodles
roasted nori seaweed, finely sliced
4 green onions, finely sliced
wasabi, according to taste
Dipping Sauce
1 cup hot water
3 tsp hondashi powder
2 cups cold water
1/3 cup mirin
1/2 cup Japanese Soy Sauce

Cook dried soba according to package instruction. Rinse with ice cold water and drain.
To make dipping sauce: mix hondashi powder with hot water until completely dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
To serve: Place one serving of soba on a dish, top with seaweed strips. Put some green onion and wasabi in another small dish. Put one serving of dipping sauce in a small bowl. Serve together.

The Soba should be kept ice cold. Do not cook the Soba too long ahead of time or it will become soggy. The Soba should be al dente, not too soft. See tips for cooking pasta here.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Category: Meat
Style: Japanese
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 4

1 piece pork shoulder (char siu meat), about 2 lb, cut into 2 strips
1/2 cup Japanese soy sauce
2 tbsp grated ginger with juice
1 piece star anise
4 cloves garlic, mashed or roughly chopped

Put pork, soy sauce, ginger, star anise and garlic in a large zip-lock bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible, and put in the fridge to marinate overnight. Turning often.
Pre-heat oven to 300F. Put pork and marinade in a small baking tray. The liquid should be about 1 cm deep. If there is not enough liquid, add water to make up. Sprinkle sugar generously on the pork.
Roast the pork for a total of 2.5 to 3 hours, or until the liquid has almost all evaporated and become a syrupy sauce. While roasting, turn the meat every 1/2 hour, and sprinkle sugar on the top of the meat each time.
Store in the fridge or freezer.

Yakibuta and Ramen in Miso Soup

Category: Soup, Pasta
Style: Japanese
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 4

300 g fresh Japanese Ramen
2 litre water
5 tsp hondashi powder
6 tbsp miso paste
Corn kernels (fresh, frozen or canned) and Bean sprouts, sautéed with butter
Japanese fish paste cakes, cooked in miso soup
Bamboo shoots (canned)
Boiled eggs
Slices of Japanese Char Siu (Yakibuta) (Recipe here)

Bring a large pot of water to full boil. Cook ramen according to package instruction. Drain and set aside.
Bring 2 litre of water to a boil. Add hondashi and stir until melted.
Put miso paste in a bowl. Add about 1/2 cup of dashi stock to dilute. Add diluted miso to dashi stock. This is the miso soup base.
Put cooked ramen in serving bowls. Add miso soup, and finish with desired toppings.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies

Category: Cookie, Dessert
Style: Western, American
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Makes about 24 cookies

2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Dipping
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp vegetable oil

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar, continue to beat until very light in color and fluffy, about 2 more minutes. Sift flour and salt into mixture, combine on low, scraping sides of bowl with a spatula if necessary, until flour is just incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed with fingers.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a clean surface, dust with flour. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thinkness, and move dough to a cookie sheet. Chill in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Using the back of a knife, cut dough lengthwise into 1-inch wide strips, then cut crosswise into 3-inch bars.
Bake until firm and barely starting to color, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cool completely on wire rack.
In a heat proof bowl, microwave chocolate on high for 1 minutes. Stir chocolate until completely melted. Stir in the oil. Dip one end of each cookie into the chocolate mixture. Place cookies on a piece of parchment paper and allow chocolate to dry. Serve, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Remember to rest the butter until room temperature before starting, or you'll be unable to combine the butter and sugar. It usually takes 2 to 3 hours. If you do not have enough time, grate the hard butter with a grater, and the butter will soften in less time.
Chilling the dough before baking will make the cookie more light.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Classic Penne Carbonara

Category: Pasta
Style: Italian
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 4

1 lb dried penne or other kinds of pasta (about 450g)
100 g bacon or pancetta
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup whipping cream (can substitute with coffee cream, even milk)
5 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat broiler. Place rack at the top 1/3 of the oven.
Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente according to package instruction.
While pasta is cooking, place bacon slices on a baking sheet and broil until slightly crispy, about 4 minutes. Break bacon into small pieces.
Mix egg yolks and cream in a bowl.
When pasta is cooked, reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid. Drain pasta and immediately return it to the pot. Mix in egg mixture and toss. The residual heat should cook the eggs and make a creamy sauce.
Mix in half the cheese and the bacon pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
If the sauce is too thick, add some pasta cooking water to dilute.
When serving, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the pasta to garnish.

This is a traditional Italian style pasta recipe. The name is called "Carbonara" because it is a favourite among coal miners –it provides a lot of energy through the protein and the carb.
Always use good quality Parmesan cheese. It is the key to the success of this dish. Never buy pre-grated cheese, or worse, cheese powder in a green can. Good parmesan cheese cost about $5 per 100g; a packaged 200g piece usually cost about CDN$10. Anything cheaper than this will not be good enough.
This pasta needs to be served at once. It will dry out very quickly.
If you like, you can also add some green peas to the pasta.

How to Cook Dried Pasta
When cooking pasta, use a large pot and lots of hot water. Use as big a pot as you can find. At least 5 litre in volume. There are 2 reasons: 1. the more water you have, the less starchy will be the water after you add the pasta, thus less sticking together to sticking to the pot and less mushy pasta; 2. the more water you have, the quicker the water will return to a boil after you add the pasta, thus less mushy pasta.
Generously salt the water. It will not only flavour the pasta, but will also makes its texture not as mushy. For a 5 litre pot, I add about 3-4 tbsp of salt. Trust me, it will not be too salty.
Do not add oil to the cooking water. Oil makes the pasta slippery, thus unable to hold onto the sauce.
Bring the water to a rapid boil. (Do not add pasta until water is rapidly boiling!) Add the pasta, and keep stirring with a wooden spoon for the first 2 minutes. It is because in the first 2 minutes, the pasta releases the most starch to the water. If you don't stir, the pasta will eaily stick together. But if you stir in the first 2 minutes, it will not stick together (or to the pot) even if the don't stir afterwards. But still, after the first 2 minutes, stir occasionally.
Length of cooking: whatever said on the packaging. But 2 minutes before the scheduled done time, check the doneness of the pasta by taking a bite. If it is already al dente, stop cooking.
Do not rinse the pasta after it's done, unless you are making pasta salad. Rinsing will remove the starch on the surface of the pasta, thus unable to stick to the sauce. Simple drain the pasta, and add to prepared sauce immediately. Do not pre cook pasta, it will stick together or dry out very quickly.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Baked Pork Chop with Special Sauce

Category: Meat
Style: Chinese / Fusion
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 4

1 piece pork shoulder butt or collar butt 梅頭肉 (about 2 lb), cut into 4 slices
3 tbsp "Bullhead" Barbeque Sauce 沙茶醬
3 tbsp hoisin sauce 海鮮醬
1 tbsp sesame oil 麻油
1 tbsp brown sugar

Making marinade: in a large bowl, mix all ingredients together until it forms a paste.
Add pork to bowl, make sure the marinade cover all surfaces of the meat. Let stand in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 425F.
Put a roasting rack on a cookie sheet. Arrange pork on rack. Bake for 35 minutes or until done. Flip once.
Serve immediately.

This recipe came from a friend back in the small town college days, when we all lived in dormitory or small apartments. Since the town that we lived in did not have much entertainment, getting together to cook and eat became the favourite pass time. This recipe is so easy to make that many of my friends who do not know how to cook could still make this successfully.
Pork chop that we can buy on the market these days tends to be too lean, thus too tough too. Using pork shoulder butt or collar butt to imitate pork chop is a good way to solve the problem.
You can also use this recipe for making spare ribs.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Classic Tiramisu

Category: Dessert
Style: Italian
Difficulty: Medium
Portion: Serves 8

1.5 cup Espresso Coffee, room temperature (or use espresso powder)
6 tbsp Coffee Liqueur (such as Kahlua) or brandy
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup whipping cream
500ml Mascarpone Cheese, room temperature
36 Savoiardi Ladies Fingers
Cocoa powder

Take cheese out of fridge ahead of time and let sit until it is warmed to room temperature.
If using espresso powder, make espresso according to manufacturer's instruction. Let cool completely.
Prepare coffee dipping liquid: mix prepared and cooled espresso with 2 tbsp Coffee Liqueur or brandy in a shallow bowl.
Place egg yolk, sugar and salt in a stainless-steel mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat the egg yolk mixture until it is thick and creamy and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Stir in cream.
Place bowl over a pan of simmering water. Reduce the heat to low and stir constantly with a rubber spatula until the mixture reaches 160F, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from heat, let sit a a pan of cold water to cool it down.
In another mixing bowl, beat mascarpone and the remaining 4 tbsp liqueur with an electric mixer at medium speed until combined and fluffy. Add egg mixture, continue to beat on high speed until smooth and very thick, about 3 minutes.
To assemble: Dip ladies fingers into coffee liquid, then cover the bottom of dish with moistened cookies. Spread half of cheese mixture on top of the ladies fingers. Repeat until all cheese and ladies fingers are used.
Chill covered at least 4 hours. Dust with Cocoa powder to garnish just before serving

Be careful not to over-soak the ladies fingers or it will become too soggy. Briefly soak on side on the cookie, about 3 seconds, then flip it over. The liquid will automatically wet the unsoaked side.

An easier version of this recipe

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Chicken Cacciatore with Mushroom & Sage


Category: Meat
Style: Italian
Difficulty: Medium
Portion: Serves 4

8 bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 lb), trimmed of excess skin and fat
salt and ground black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
6 oz button mushroom, wiped clean and cut into halves
4 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 tbsp flour
1.5 cup dry red wine
0.5 cup chicken broth
1 14oz-can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp dried thyme
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
2 tsp minced fresh sage leaves

Preheat oven to 300F.
Heat oil in a large ovenproof pot (Dutch oven) over medium-high heat until very hot. In the mean time, season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Add chicken thighs to pot, skin side down, and cook, not moving them until the skin is crisp and well-browned, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, flip the chicken and brown on the second side, and 5 minutes longer. Transfer the browned chicken to a large plate.
When the chicken has cooled, remove and discard the skin. Remove and discard all but about 1 tbsp fat from the pan.
Add the onion, mushrooms, and 1/2 tsp salt to the Dutch oven. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute. Add the wine, scraping the pot bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen the brown bits. Stir in the stock, tomatoes, thyme, Parmesan cheese rind (if using), salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken pieces and accumulated juices, submerging the chicken in the liquid. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place the pot in the preheated oven. Cook until the chicken is done, about 30 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven. Discard the cheese rind, stir in the sage, and adjust the seasonings. Serve hot.

The reason for using bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs is that the final stew will taste richer in flavour than boneless-skinless chicken. But to avoid the excess fat, we will remove the skin after the first browning process and pour off most of the accumulated fat. This way, we can maximize the flavour and minimize the fat.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Insalata Caprese (Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Salad)

Category: Appetizer
Style: Italian
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 4-6

4 very ripe medium beefsteak tomatoes
16 oz fresh mozzarella or bocconcini
2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Cut tomatoes and mozzarella into 1/4 inch thick slices
Layer tomatoes and mozzarella alternately on a platter.. Sprinkle basil, salt and pepper on top. Drizzle the oil over the platter and allow the flavour to meld for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Fresh mozzarella is sold soaked in water/brine. It is available in large supermarket at the fresh cheese or deli department.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Glutenous Rice Flour Balls in Rice Wine Sweet Soup
Category: Dessert
Style: Chinese, Shanghai
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

一盒 酒釀,425g
12 oz 冰糖
1 tbsp 桂花糖
12 cups 清水
適量 急凍湯圓



Sunday, November 05, 2006


Giant Meatball in Clay Pot
Category: Meat
Style: Chinese, Shanghai
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

兩磅 碎豬肉(自己剁的更好)
四片 薑
一包 小棠菜,洗淨,切開邊
Marinade 調味料
1 tbsp 生抽
1 tbsp 紹酒
4 tbsp 生粉
少許 白胡椒粉
1 tbsp 薑米
Sauce 汁料
2 tbsp 生抽
1 tsp 老抽
3 tsp 糖
1.25 cup 水



Saturday, November 04, 2006


Revised Easy Braised Pork
Category: Meat
Style: Chinese, Shanghai
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

一條 五花腩肉,約兩磅
四片 薑
一札 蔥,切成長段
Sauce 汁料
2.5 tbsp 老抽
1/2 tsp 鹽
1.5 oz 冰糖
一大粒 八角
1/4 cup 紹酒
1 cup 水



Friday, November 03, 2006


Soup with Salted Pork, Bamboo Shoots and Soy Sheets
Category: Soup
Style: Chinese, Shanghai
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

一磅 豬掙肉,切小塊
半磅 上海五香咸肉
一罐 清水竹筍肉,淨重約10oz,溺乾,切塊(或用經過出水的鮮冬筍肉)
一包 急凍百頁結,約半磅

燒滾一大鍋清水(約12 cups)。將豬肉,咸肉,筍肉放入,用大火猛滾約半小時。


Thursday, November 02, 2006


Stewed Siu Choy with Ham
Category: Vegetable
Style: Chinese
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

兩條 長紹菜,約5-6磅
4 oz 金華火腿
2片 薑
3條 蔥,切段
1 tbsp 糖



Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Black Glutenous Rice Sweet Soup with Coconut Milk
Category: Dessert
Style: Chinese
Difficulty: Easy
Portion: Serves 8

2 cups 黑糯米
4 liter 水
8 – 12 oz 冰糖
適量 椰漿