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Great Pineapple Jam

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Has anyone ever wondered why pineapples are so left out in the community of preservatives?  Neither have I.  I mean I love pineapples.  LOVE pineapples.  But it never occurred to me that it should be offered immortality in a glass jar among berries and other things.  Until a couple of years ago on a trip back to Taipei, I spotted a relatively new artisanal jam company in the most unlikely places – a bookstore.

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The Dreamiest of Dreamy Milk Toast

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OH boy, do I have a sob story for this one.  Well, not of me growing up with Hokkaido milk toast of course (If you love bread but don’t know what it is, I feel truly sorry.  It’s the dreamiest loaf of toast you could dream up.).  Those were only fond memories, VERY fond memories  like – me standing in the bakery, staring and chuckling like an idiot at the milk toasts on the racks why because they were also smiling back at me, and couldn’t stop myself from poking them with my fingers – kind of memories.  The sobbing part is how I got to successfully making them in my kitchen, which was a road paved with disappointments, heartbreaks and betrayals (supposedly-trusted recipes out there…how could you?).  Let me just start by saying that on Sep 19th at 10:45 pm, a loaf of bread died of a gruesome death on my kitchen counter.  And at 4:30 am the next day, another one followed.

This is how I killed them and atoned for it.

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TAIWAN BEEF NOODLE SOUP / NIU ROU MIAN

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(简体)(繁體)  UPDATES AVAILABLE * 2013/03/11: online sources for ingredients added!

I’m gonna start this by saying something that seems completely irrelevant…  The Japanese are marketing geniuses.  No, not geniuses. Gurus!  No no, NOT gurus.  GODS!!!  It’s like their entire way of life comes with a built-in marketing system that in comparison would reduce Don Draper down to nothing but just a raging alcoholic.  I mean really, something about their culture is so mesmerizing that…  OH look! Hello Kitty! (slap! FOCUS!) …that they’ve become easily one of the biggest culture exporters in the world, and most evidently in their success in pushing their cuisine into a world domination that’s stronger than the force of nature.  Not so long ago who would’ve thought that Americans, the genetically-hardwired loyal patrons of well-done white meat chicken, would pay $200 and UP to surrender their fork’n knife, pick up the chopsticks (some awkwardly) and chew down a piece of raw fish on vinegary rice then moan, “Mmmmm… UMAAAAMI…”.  Seriously!!  Forget X-men, THIS is where human mutation takes a giant leap!

I’m telling you, it’s crazy.  Japanese can sell anything like it has a halo on top of it.

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Golden Foundation

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I know that I may have been a little (a little?) explicit about my harsh feelings toward this sad little place called Beijing. But I realized that sucks-ass it may (or certainly) be, moving here is undeniably a blessing in disguise when it comes to how my cooking has evolved. With all the convenience that came with living in New York, I would never have learnt about fresh pasta, layery biscuits, insanely flaky pies, crazy buttery brioche, plus many more that has yet to come next. And of course this, homemade golden broth. One may question if this is really worth its own post. Yes, yes it does. Because it’s NOT JUST your average chicken stock.

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Egg Crepes

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I think that more than lunch, or dinner, or snacks and what-nots, people tend to have a more fixated idea on what a breakfast ought to be.  Even though I may have my Asian background to thank for (if I may) a broader window on other-than-American foods, I’m still sometimes a bit… pleasantly awed by what other parts of the world eat for breakfast during my travels (that’s IF I ever wake up for it… but let’s just pretend I do).

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Pretty Little Purple Shoestrings

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I’ve attempted good-old French fries at home before.  Once.

And the fact that no song was sung for it in any chapters on this blog, you should know better and NOT to ask what happened.  You see, it wasn’t that it was inedible.  No no no… who said that?!  But the shreds of sanity left in me (surprise) just couldn’t justify the entire process of one-step soaking, one-step blanching and two-steps frying which then are all painstakingly repeated in 3~4 batches.  Let alone the giant tub of grease that will never EVER be conscientiously regarded as “fresh” again, ALL for a STINGY amount of fries that (covering my ears) just isn’t all-that-better than outsourced.  OK… again you see, the grease is never hot enough.  And I could never (maybe you do…) bear to invest the obscene ratio for grease : fries like the restauratns, which is to say… 15:1!  And therefore they never come out as goldenly delicious and crispy…

All in all it brings me to say – and believe me that these words don’t come without pain but – French fries are better-off left for professional kitchens.

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“C” Is For Cold Capellini

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Despite the respectable effort of window displays everywhere and pretty little fashion magazines who would like us to believe that the next season is upon us and seduce us into stocking up on goose-down parkas or snuggy scarfs, the truth is that the chances of heatwaves is right around the corner on any given Wednesday, and will last well into October for the freakier parts of the world at least.  This is a confession coming from a dark corner inside a pre-season shopaholic who, almost every year, excitedly opens a box full of winter goodies sometime in September while sweating profusely in her tank-tops and couldn’t stop the idea of downing a bowl of something really cold… ANYTHING cold.

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Curry Laksa

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If you haven’t heard of “Nyonya”, chances are you have eaten it instead.  Yeah.  It may not have been as justly popularized as Thai or Vietnamese, but its low-key awesomeness is in every Southeast Asian restaurant.  The word itself means the union between Chinese and Malays, and the fushion cuisine thus born which is PURE MAGIC.  So then… why am I struggling to finish this post after writing then tearing (…symbolically) and rewriting again?  Because I JUST can’t escape the thought that people would come, and see, and “huh??” and just FADE OUT.  And I’m exhausting all my aren’t-really-there writing skills in an attempt to make this sound like a Rachel Ray’s which has let me to a desperate conclusion to say that… it isn’t.  Yes, it is complicated and consists of a blinding array of exotic ingredients.  And chances are if you weren’t those who have true affection for a bowl of spicy noodles, I’ve lost you somewhere along the second sentence.  BUT if you are those like me, it would be worth the while.

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