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AS some of you may have noticed from this particular announcement, that I am now officially divorced… from the commitment of owning a stand-mixer (easy, gentlemen…).  More accurately, a surprised appliancewidow if you may, still deeply hurt by the concealed unhappiness my stand-mixer had apparently suffered from in the past 4 years, which finally led to his jump off the kitchen counter on a cloudy Oct 24th, decapitating himself in his last, escapist act.  The lumpy splatter of an unfinished pizza-dough over the black pavement, was his first and last, silent yet loudest protest, before declaring eternal freedom… from me.  Looking back, devastated, I don’t think he has ever loved me…

Now, mid 30’s, dumped, and less equipped…

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I know at times like this, I’m suppose to resort to less labour-intensive tasks in the kitchen, a pasta-salad perhaps, or a one-bowl-pancake mix with added sparkles, maybe even the unthinkable salad, to hide the scars from this tragic embarrassment, and more importantly, look really hot while doing it.  But no.  In an counter-protest to the irresponsibility of a suicidal stand-mixer, giving up making doughs is admitting defeat.  With bare hands, I’m gonna prove that without him, I’m still highly desirable in the dough-market and totally dough-able.  Not just the same dough down the sad memory lane, but I’m gonna make something awsome-er, something super-er.

I’m gonna make the incredible, lamahcun and ayran.READ MORE

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Eggplant parmesan pizza w/ crispy capers


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NOT feeling particular talky today so let’s just eat.

Last night, armed with the perfect excuse of utilizing the abundance of eggplants, we had a pizza-rized eggplant parmesan.  Paper-thin slices of eggplants pre-toasted under an airy web of grated Parmigiano cheese until curly crispy and golden browned, scattered in between two layers of tangy tomato sauce and bubbling moazzarella cheese.  Then, topped with what acted as bursting land-mines of brininess and salt, my new BFF crispy-fried capers that makes it.  Just another evidence that I must drop any perfectly wholesome and healthy idea onto a throbbing field of carbs.

May or may not have something to do with my mind-paralysis today… and even if it did, the best kind there is.



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I don’t mean to sound self-absorbed and overly theatrical if I mustn’t, but officers, I have a stalker.

Please, listen to me before you dismiss my report after I tell you that, yes, it’s a cucumber salad.  Harmless and gentle it may sound, but believe me when I say that this fella, is spicy… hard-core, and possibly painful.  And it has been disturbingly obsessed with me since… oh~ officers, at least a couple months!  I can’t provide the exact records of its past appearances because, you know, that’s the creepy thing about stalker-recipes.  Their shadowless movement between the blink of an eye, tailed with the constant awareness that it’s always there…  I know I saw it smiling at me between the flips of webpages somewhere during my cyber-surfing, multiple times, or was that through my swiping finger over the stacks of e-magazines?  And I could swear, officers, that it winked at me from the dinner-menu of at least two, or several restaurants that I’ve been to lately, plain-naked and sending me its very explicit intention.

It wants me, to eat it.  Oh my, you see?  I have to put it to rest.




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Crazy week. Barely anytime to chat! But let’s grab the end of summer by its horns, by making these 2 versions of hot spicy grilled corns. Worthy of a – I don’t know about you but from where I stand – still brutally hot summer. So good that I couldn’t decide which one was better so I figured, you wouldn’t mind making the choices yourself.

The first one is a spicy and tangy mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and shit loads of cayenne pepper. Super caramelized and sticky, leaving a tingling, addictive pain on your lips with every bite.

Then the second version involves rubbing your corns with lots of miso-infused butter, grilled until nutty and charred, then showered with a soothing rain of Parmigiano cheese and seven-spiced togarashi powder. You didn’t know corns can hurt so good. Now let’s get to it.

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Let’s pretend that you’re scooching on my overly soft leather sofa, and while I’m making a considerable amount of noise in the kitchen getting the dinner ready.  You guys pop a bottle of something white, and snack on this warm, mildly spicy and tangy yogurt-creamed spinach with garam masala.  There are crusty baguette and sour dough on the table for your breaking, and you’re being harassed by a slobbering… borderline-obese blonde.  You surrendered a small piece over.  

“If you keep my secret.  I’ll keep yours.”

“I heard that~”.  

And I’ll be right with you.

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Serves: 2 ~ 4

Garam masala is quite different from typical curry powder in my opinion, consisting more spices that are “warmer” and “sweeter” such as cinnamon, cloves and cardamon, and less coloring from turmeric.  Nowadays it should be pretty common in supermarkets, and of course, online.  This would serve great as a side-dish, or just as a simple meal with a loaf of crusty baguette or sour dough.



  • 17.6 oz (500 grams) of fresh baby spinach, or 1 1/2 cup (240 grams) of squeezed-dry frozen spinach
  • 1/4 cup (40 grams) of golden raisins
  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter + 1 tsp for creaming
  • 6 small shallots, finely minced
  • 1 clove of grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp of grated ginger
  • 2 tsp of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp of garam masala
  • 1/8 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1 cup (245 grams) of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (163 grams) of Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp of chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 ~ 1/2 tsp of sugar (depending on the sweetness of the raisin)

Soak the raisins in hot water until plumped.  Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a large pot.  Wash and remove the roots from the spinach, add to the pot and cover with lid.  Let steam for 1 min, or until the spinach has just wilted.  Transfer the spinach to a large sieve and rinse under cold water until cooled enough to handle.  One small handful at a time, squeeze as much water out of the spinach as you can with your hands and set aside (you should have approx 1 1/2 cup after squeeze).  Finely chop the spinach.

Cook 2 tbsp of unsalted butter in a pot over medium-high heat until bubbly and browned.  Add the finely minced shallots and cook until slightly browned on the edges, then add the grated garlic and grated ginger with 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper, and sauté a little bit until fragrant.  Add the flour, garam masala and ground cumin, and cook for 1 min.  Off heat, add the whole milk and stir everything together quickly to prevent lumping, then bring the mixture back to a simmer to thicken.  Add the chopped spinach and raisins, re-season with salt’n pepper and sugar, and continue to cook over medium heat for 10 ~ 15 min until most of the liquid has reduced down.

Evenly stir in the Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro until creamy and cook until just warmed through.  Do not boil the yogurt or it might break.  Stir in the last 1 tsp of unsalted butter, and re-season with salt and pepper if need be.

Sprinkle with more ground cumin on top, and dried chili flakes if preferred.  Serve with crusty breads.




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THIS, this is my favourite chili sauce yet.  And that’s saying a lot.

One of the perks about growing up from an Asian background is that, pretty much since birth, most of us have been prepped in a semi-military-style training to resist torture and pain… that’s inflicted onto our taste-buds.  We’ve been conditioned to be susceptible, embracive even, to all forms and types of heat-source applied through all kinds of torture devices, that it will take a Jack Bauer to break our affiliation with the red terror.

In fact, we’ve grown so twisted in our relationship with such sensory violence, we search for it even when it isn’t given.  It’s almost guaranteed that at every food-serving locations, there would be some kind of hurt-yourself-if-you’d-like chili condiments available upon request, and you’re damn right we smother it onto just about anything until the subject bleeds red and begs for mercy, or wait, is that just the screams of my own consciousness?  Why do we do this to ourselves?  Because we know that there’s no gain without pain, and even a candy, sooner or later, needs to learn how to be a man.






Naturally, this type of die-hard environment breeds a certain level of snobbery.  If there has been any doubt on how we perceive our paler friends from the west when it comes to cooking and bottling heat, even though this is clearly not a competition, I’d like to end all speculation by saying… we win.  You see it’s not just about the heat and murdering brain cells, but about the flavour as well.   Whereas most North American brand hot sauces are vinegar based – some of which I have no doubt, is adequately hurtful – with little difference between them except for intimidatingly named chilis as ingredients, the world of Asian chili sauce (or Chinese ones alone) is a kaleidoscope of varieties.  And instead of pureed and in liquid-form, they are mostly oil-based with chunky textures, striking almost as a… side-dish.  Because for us, the red terror is not to be gingerly dabbed.  Dabbing is for baby-buttocks.  When we want to eat our chilis, we want to eat our chilis.




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So I hope I’ve made myself clear.  Throughout a life swimming in a red sea of hurt, it’s saying a lot for me to name a “favourite”, but I believe I’ve found one, so far at least, and I’m calling it, or him… The Mean Santa.  Why?  Because the ingredients are a vibrant combination of red → as in red chilis of course, and green → as in green chilis but more importantly, a giant stack of shiso leaves which give him a subtle, background fragrance.  But even more importantly, why is he my favourite?  Because he’s not just a spicy mean asshole, but he’s got flavours… substance… and depth, that make him so painfully loveable.  And despite of the suspiciously Asian-central ingredients (ginger, fish sauce… shiso), he is a fairly universal condiments that will make just about anything east or west, shall we say, not boring.

Hey, this is not a theory untested.

In the span of the last couple of weeks, The Mean Santa has scorched through my soft parts in company with just about anything except for the kitchen sink.  He will bear gifts to any grilled meat or seafood that you have prepared for the grilling season (chicken… duck… hanger steak… Heck, I’ve even spooned it over half-shell oysters and grilled them).  He will even turn any deadbeat, socially unexciting grilled vegetable into early Christmas, or a bland summer tomato sauce… a bowl of lonely noodle… a box of left0ver rice… ANYTHING!  Oatmeal.  Yes!  Oatmeal!  And once you’ve developed an intimate-enough relationship, you introduce him to your breakfast eggs.  Then together, you shall live happily ever after.

Spend a little time for your chili sauce.   It will hurt you good.

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Makes:  approx 2 cups

The sauce may look universally deadly, but in fact, the spiciness can be easily adjusted by changing the ratio between large long red chilis (vibrant color and mildly spicy), long green chilis (fragrant and medium-spicy) and small Asian red chilis (really, really spicy).  The ratio I have used in this recipe will yield the perfect, “intermediate level” spiciness.  Then again, even the same types of chili can sometimes vary in heat-level, so you should judge it by the chili you’re used to.

Small Asian chili is, I think, pretty common in supermarkets nowadays.  But if you have difficulty finding large long red chili, or long green chili, try substituting with red/green jalapeño.  Since the sizes of chilis come very different all the time (the large long red chili I used this time was ginormous), I would strongly recommend weighting the ingredients.  If you can’t find shiso leaves, you can still make the recipe without, and it’ll still be fabulous.


Ingredients: (chilis are weighted after stems removed)

  • 5.6 oz (160 grams) Large long red chili
  • 2.1 oz (60 grams) of long green chili
  • 1.2 oz (33 grams, or about 15) of small Asian red chili
  • 0.6 oz (18 grams, or 20) shiso leaves, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, grated then divided in 1/2
  • 1 tbsp of grated ginger, divided in 1/2
  • 1/2 cup (104 grams) of canola oil
  • 3 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp of ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of rice vinegar

Wash the chilis then finely dice all of them.  Add all the chilis, finely chopped shiso leaves, 1/2 the amount of grated garlic, 1/2 tbsp of grated ginger, canola oil, fish sauce and ground white pepper in a sauce pot.  Cook the mixture over medium to medium-low heat and stir occasionally.  At first, liquid would start to emit from the chilis, then it would start to evaporate.  Continue to cook for 10 min until there is no visible liquid left, then continue to cook for another 3 ~ 4 min to extract more liquid from the chili without turning them into mush.  The mixture should have reduced in size and the chilis should be soft.  Turn off the heat, then stir in the other 1/2 amount of grated garlic and grated ginger, sugar and rice vinegar.

Let the sauce cool completely then transfer to an air-tight container.  Let it sit for at least a few hours to another day to develop flavour.  It will keep inside the fridge for up to 2 weeks.





Mashed grilled eggplants w/ Mean Santa:

  • 2 Asian long eggplants
  • 1/2 cup of Mean Santa chili sauce, or more to adjust
  • 1/2 tsp of ground sichuan peppercorn
  • Soy sauce to taste

Preheat the top-broiler on high.  Peel the eggplants and cut into quarters length-wise.  Rub with a little bit of olive oil and grill a few inches under the broiler until partially browned and soft.  Remove from the oven and cut into short segments, then transfer to a mortar.  Add the Mean Santa chili sauce and ground sichuan pepper, then mash until evenly broken up and incorporated.  Taste and season with soy sauce for saltiness.  Let sit for 10 to 20 minutes before serving.


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THERE are many virtues about Beijing, and as far as I’m concerned, they are all true.  The widely studied, highly evolved lung-capacity of its residence to withstand extremely volatile air molecules is among the most celebrated.  The profound unity and rewardless participation in the national sport of competitive spitting, for god and country, is none but true patriotism.  Then, perhaps the most famous although not as extraordinary as the former points, that it’s true, these fine citizens do know how to roast a damn duck.

Like actually actually.

But the most extraordinary things are those that go unadvertised.  The best-kept secret, the silent do-er in this fine metropolis is tucked away in every unknown streets and corners, and I mean every streets and corners.  It’s the most note-worthy and representative of Beijing street-food scene, and as far as I’m concerned, it is this word – 串.


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Jason has gone to my happy place without me.

A week-long business trip to New York, by himself, is just about as much salt as you can rub on a bloody wound of someone who’s doing her time in doggy-prison.  Right.  Perhaps I’ve failed to mention that for the past 6 months, I haven’t been able to leave my apartment for more than 12 hours because these days, a pot of hot caramel is constantly bubbling on my stove.  That’s just the code-words for my 14-years-old dog, Dumpling, with his very inconvenient heart condition that has rendered me immobile as well.  So, right, no NYC for mommy, or anywhere else for that matter…  But, as if squatting in my prison-cell isn’t responsible enough, now I’m being thrown into the “the cooler”…

As I am scraping these words with my finger nails onto the concrete walls of my solitary confinement, I guess it’s only appropriate to also drench myself… in gushing orange.


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