breakfast Tag

Brûlée Coconut, Palm Sugar, Pork floss sticky buns

”  It’s savoury-sweet kinda thing, you know, obviously, but also smokey around where a mixed aroma of coconut, butterscotch and bacon meet and greet.  “


What in the world is pork floss?!

And where the hell do you get palm sugar?!  Or both, for that matter?!

Ok fine, so I knew this is gonna be a hard pitch.  And I’m probably not helping my case when I tell you that pork floss, invented by an anonymous Chinese likely on a night of massive insomnia, is a brownish cotton ball made of predominantly pork, which is cooked, shredded, then painstakingly dehydrated while being tumble-fried inside a wok until what used to be muscle tissues have then transformed into super fine, fiber-like fluffs.  Whaaat?!  And as if that’s not mind-bending enough, its flavor profile wonders in between savoury and sweet with a maple bacon or jerky-like porkiness oozing into your sensory space as your mouth grapple to understand this textural anomaly.

It’s really just like any other culinary ingenuities that took form initially as a means to tackle food preservation before refrigeration, but ended up being cherished by its culture even till this day.  Stretching from southern China down to Southeast Asia, hey, pork floss matters.  For every skeptics, there also stands a loyalists who would cradle and defend this “porky cotton” if you will, against the world’s cynical suspicion.  I too, love this shit.

Having said that, pork floss is not a stand-alone item.  It needs companies.  And as it has been increasingly branching out from its traditionally more savoury roles towards making collaborative debuts in, of all things, sweet pastries all across Asia, I feel it’s time for this surprisingly multi-faceted talent to be introduced to a more internationally recognized platform.

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What’s a bialy, if you don’t already know?

I’d like to think of bialy as the ugly sister of bagel, who comes without the shiny crust nor a robust PR campaign, but, in my opinion, ultimately wins hearts and minds through slow and quiet diplomacy.  Or at least it should, if only in your kitchen.  Think about it.  Bialy and bagel practically shares the same dough, which isn’t a difficult one if I might add, but that’s about as much sameness as bagel’s gonna tolerate from her sibling.  Not a fault of her own, but bagel, being held to her finicky New Yorker status and all, is somewhat of a… hm what’s that word… right, bitch.

You didn’t “retard” the dough in the fridge for 2 days, not a bagel.  You didn’t boil it, not a bagel.  Didn’t boil it long enough, not a bagel.  Boiled in the wrong water, not a bagel.  Can’t use her crust as a mirror, not a bagel.  Too soft, not a bagel.  Too hard, not a bagel.  Lives in Montreal, definitely not a bagel.

But you see, bialy on the other hand, ah, sweet girl bialy… whether by virtue or as a necessary strategy for unpopularity, is very low maintenance.  Without exuding much judgements, she doesn’t mind being taken on a speed date, from kneading to baking, all under as short as 4 hours of your time (well, a bit longer if you live somewhere dry and cold, I mean, a lady’s gotta keep warm).  And surprising to whom care to look beyond the lack of a glamorous shine, her lightly browned exterior is thin but not without character, in fact, delicately crusty if you cherish it warm out of the oven as one should.  Then you’ll notice that her soft but chewy crumbs remind you so much of a bagel that you wonder if it’s really worth pursuing the other.  But perhaps the most heart-winning gesture from bialy is that she does, actually, carry something within her heart, a filled crater in the center whereas in a bagel, it’s an utterly hollow hole.  —- OK.. usually some sort of onions with poppy seeds kind of stuff and let’s admit that none of it is very chic and if anybody needs a before/after it’s this poor girl —-  In this case, I say why not, honey and butter coated sweet dates bedded within softly whipped cream cheese.  Right, you may think that’s rather odd against that whiff of onion powder being mixed into the dough which gives the bread a hint of savoriness, but no, it’s not.  That’s what’s surprising about this bialy, sweet and creamy but not without her savory core, soft to the touch but playfully chewy throughout, a bit of confliction but just the right amount.

Ultimately, the one you’ve been looking for.

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Yield: 5 bialy

Dough recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen and King Author Flour combined


  • 2 cups (275 grams) bread flour
  • 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp (165 grams) water
  • 1 1/2 tsp (8 grams) sea salt
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • cornmeal o semolina flour for shaping
  • 7~8 large dates
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 tbsp cream cheese, lightly whipped
  • white sesame seeds to sprinkle


  1. PREPARE THE DOUGH: In a stand-mixer with dough-hook, knead bread flour, water, sea salt, light brown sugar, instant dry yeast and onion powder on low speed until the dough comes together. Turn to high speed and knead for another 8 minutes until the dough is very elastic and smooth. The dough should feel soft, moist and slightly tacky, light a baby's bottom, but pulls away cleanly from the bowl when the machine is running. If the dough feels tough and rubbery, add a tbsp more water and knead until smooth.
  2. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until fully doubled, about 2 ~ 4 hours (this largely depends on how warm and humid the environment is). Scrape the dough onto a lightly dusted working surface and divide into 5 equal portions, then keep tucking each dough under and into itself until the surface is smooth and round. Coat each dough with cornmeals or semolina flour, then place onto a baking-sheet with at least 4" of space in between each. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until almost doubled, about 2 hours. Try dipping your finger gently into the dough, and if the indentation stays without springing back, the dough is ready.
  3. When the dough is almost ready, preheat the oven on 450 F/230 C, then place a cake pan filled halfway with hot water DIRECTLY on the bottom of the oven (this creates a moist environment that helps form a crust).
  4. SHAPE AND BAKE: Halve the dates and remove the pits, then mix the dates evenly with honey and melted butter, set aside. Dust the surface of each dough with more cornmeal or semolina. Slightly flatten each dough, then use the knuckles of your fingers to gently press and create a wide and deep crater in the center of each dough (kind of like making a fat mini pizza). To make sure that the crater doesn't spring back during baking, I highly recommend poking a few holes inside the crater with your fingers (as pictured).
  5. Now, smear 1 tbsp of cream cheese into each craters, then press about 1.5 dates into the cream cheese (avoid tips sticking out in the air to prevent burning), and sprinkle a little white sesame seeds over the top. If you have a spray bottle that forms fine mists, thoroughly mist the enter surface of the bialy until wet. This helps create a crust as well.
  6. Transfer the baking sheet into the oven, closing it as fast as you can to avoid losing steam, and bake for 10~15 min until the surface is lightly browned. Let them cool slightly on a cooling-rack but they are best when warm and crusty right out of the oven.
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Ever since I published a self-proclaimed genius recipe for my magic 15-seconds creamy scrambled eggs, I didn’t think a better one – and by “better” I mean it in the context where you need a speedy and easy recipe for morning eggs – could ever come across my path, which proves, again, that I know nothing.

A glimpse in one of the episodes in Anthony Bourdain’s Return To Catalunyain a fairytale land far far away they call Barcelona, there under the sparkling dim lights in a snuggly tapas bar, I saw it.  Quiet and flashing by, one can assume that among the dazzles of celebrity TV personalities and seemly endless flow of Spanish culinary bewitchment, this egg dish wasn’t even the heroine of the night.  But I saw it, I noticed, a hot cast-iron skillet cuddling what seemed to be the most beautiful, golden blanket of creamy eggs.  We locked eyes.  None of us said a word.  But just from that split second of eye contact, me and it, almost telepathically, we understood something deep about one another.

From its wet and almost undone surface, its slightly firmer and rippling bottom, and fact that it was served being cradled inside a warm cast-iron skillet, it whispered to me how it was made, like watching a movie unrolling, but only in my mind, a glowing mirage of prophecy.  I saw one hot skillet, butter in a hypnotizing swirl, then almost abruptly, the flame wisp away only to welcome the stream of eggs into its warm embrace.  Barely guided was the slow and perfect congelation, and the restrain to apply any unnecessary heat was absolute, resulting in an one-skillet, blink of an eye, elegant and remarkable quilt of egg magic.  At that point I’ve never met it, tasted it, but I immediately understood its calling, its noble mission of life – to ensure that no one on this earth bestowed with the gift that is eggs, will ever, ever taste a bad one again.

And what it understood about me?  Well, you’re reading it aren’t you.

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Serving Size: one


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter


  1. Before you start with the eggs, you can prepare the toppings if any. I fry a clove of thinly sliced garlic in 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, then I add 1 tbsp finely chopped herbs (basil and mint) and a pinch of ground white pepper and chili flakes, then added toasted pine nuts. But the topping can be as simple as crumbled feta with olive oil, or shaved pecorino cheese, or really, nothing would be fine as well.
  2. A note on the skillet. The size of the skillet is important. You want the eggs to spread across the diameter in a fairly thin layer. A 9" is perfect for 2 large eggs. 10"~11" for 3 eggs. 12"~13" for 4 eggs.
  3. Beat eggs and sea salt until slightly frothy (I find that thoroughly beaten eggs results in a creamier texture), set aside. Place a 9" cast-iron skillet, or any heavy NON-STICK skillet over medium-high heat. Preheat 1:30 min for cast-iron skillet, or 2 min for NON-STICK skillet. The preheat time may vary based on the skillet you use, so the first time may be a test-run for you to get a feel of it. Basically we want to have enough heat to accomplish the following result, no more no less.
  4. Add 2 tsp unsalted butter and swirl the skillet without lifting the skillet away from the heat, until the butter has fully melted. Now turn off the heat, and add the beaten eggs. Use a spatula to gently push the edges of curdled egg towards the center, then tilt the skillet to let the remaining runny egg fill the empty space. Do this until you don't have much runny eggs left. The surface of the eggs should look UNDONE at this point. DO NOT ATTEMPT to apply more heat to cook the egg. The residual heat will warm through the surface as it sits and makes it perfectly soft.
  5. Serve immediately with whatever toppings you fancy. Or really, nothing is perfect, too.
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I’m quickly leaving you the last post before we take a short trip to Hong Kong and Seoul next week.  It’s been… well… 2 years since the last time me and Jason traveled together.  What used to be frequent occurrences and a huge part of of our lives, now feels a bit unfamiliar and exciting again, well, tinted with a bit of sadness at the same time.

So with all the packing, cleaning out the fridge, packing again and feeling a bit empty now that we have minus-two dogs to say good-bye to, I’m gonna leave you alone with these pancakes that I’ve lately, grown quite fond with.  As I previously declared, I’m not a pancake person.  Still not actually.  But what I like about these pancakes, aside from the fact that they taste, preferably, like the lighter version of the often-times unbearably sweet sticky toffee puddings, is their relatively loftier heights that bring more tasty contrast to the fluffy interiors and the crispy edges.  The pancakes use, more or less, the chiffon cake-technique by folding beaten egg white into the the batter to pump up its airiness.  Then I cook them with a lid on, which speeds up the cooking time, and from what I felt, retains the height of the pancakes better.  You could add chopped dates to the party as the tradition, but I kept them lazy, only mimicking the flavours by adding molasses, grated ginger, ground cinnamon and allspice.  After all, the highlight of sweetness should only come from the thick and glistening syrup, a bubbly symphony of butter and cream, dark brown sugar and honey, a pinch of sea salt and brandy here and there, and that last touch of vanilla.

So here we go, to mark to the end, and the beginning, and then the repeating of it all that is change and life.  I’ll see you again, on the other side.

Gold brass spoon made by the amazing Ann Ladson.  Yellow mixing bowl from Dishes Only.

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Sometimes, we wait for the perfect recipe-publishing moment to present itself.  Iced dairies to fend off the heat in August… festivities to baste in the spirit of October… chocolates to sweeten the tones of February, and austerities to bring in those bikini-lines in May.  Recipes, like romance, like good stories.  I get it.  But sometimes, most times actually, the birth of a certain recipe comes as forcefully and inevitably as the bad news it carries.  Sometimes, we just have to make something, quite simply, because it’s Monday.

I hate Mondays.  And please note, that coming from someone who is technically unemployed, that is saying a lot.  Because Monday feels like standing at the bottom of an endless stairwell, and a monkey is holding a $20-bill at the top.  Monday feels like watching the prelude of a documentary on counting alphabets in a foreign language without subtitles.  Monday feels like powering through the infuriating hunger on the last day of a juice-cleanse, but only that it is still the first day.  Monday feels like a brand new sandbag.  Monday makes my coffee tired.  So even though I’ve came up with this buttery scone stuffed with honey-whipped ricotta a while back, and have been waiting for the perfect timing to tell you all about it, it dawned on me that today, which is a Monday, is actually when your joy-deprived souls will need it the most.

This time-tested, my go-to scone-dough (or biscuit dough, whatever, who knows the difference really) is crispy and flakey on the surface, but its moist and crumbly interior houses a good dollop of creamy, slightly salty, zesty whole milk ricotta whipped with mascarpone and floral honey.  Eaten hot out of the oven, the oozy filling bursts enthusiastically to lift your most stagnant Monday-blues.  Eaten cooled with rewarded patience, and the thickened and embracive ricotta-mascarpone will moisten the crumbs like a scone carrying its own clotted cream.  I don’t know about you, but my Monday is nearing its end, and I haven’t yet raised the first thought to smash my computer on the pale wall.  And I say no human should go another Monday without it.

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The brass spoon is made by the amazing Ann Ladson.

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In between the various degrees of educations throughout my life, formal or social, if you asked me, I’d probably say that I expected the least practical return from my continuous study in all of Disney’s animated movies around the 90’s. More specifically, the cartoons, the classics, starting somewhere with The Little Mermaid and ending abruptly with Tarzan. All the magic produced at the height of Disney’s prime according to my verdict, before digital animations barged in and all of a sudden, for no reason at all, everybody and so did the magic, literally or figuratively, all just stopped singing. Call me nostalgic, or even outdated, I rekindle with those movies from time to time, almost needfully, like talking to a childhood friend who never grew old. As far as I’m concerned, they don’t make shit like that anymore. But anyhow, my point is, as much as I treasure the purity and endurance of this relationship that has regretfully outlasted many, little did I think, that it was gonna bring me the bacon. In fact, more than bacon, a couple weeks ago, it brought me a hunk of 30-days dry-aged wagyu bone-in rib eye.


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You know how like in the movies, when they really want to make you feel sorry for a certain character, let it be the sweetest human being or the most hated villain, doesn’t matter, that all they have to do is to show you a scene where he/she comes home to a dimly lit kitchen, where his/her inner loneliness get stripped naked in front of an even emptier fridge?  Yes, empty fridge.  What is it about an empty fridge that so tenderly strokes our sympathy?  I mean that trick works every time.  I mean, even the most stone-hearted audiences would feel something, must feel something, if they see… I don’t know, Darth Vader, after slaughtering a whole village of Ewoks, comes back to his space-chamber behind closed doors, and starts eating a half-empty jar of mustard with stale crackers (with that labored breathing oh god I’m gonna cry…).  I mean, that shit is just sad.

But lately, I’m starting to feel the opposite about my fridge.

I think, no, I believe, that if I were to take a photo from the inside of my fridge at any given moment in the past several months, it would probably strike a close resemblance of a jacuzzi pool, inside the Playboy’s Mansion, on a New Year’s Eve in the 80’s, right before countdown.  Or at the very least, the kind of chaotic and repulsive glut that I would imagine it to be…  There had been clearly some management issues, I admit.  It had gotten to a point where I actually cracked an egg with just my index finger, in the failed effort to rest it in between a head of cabbage and a jar of peanut butter, which sat on top a pot of stew next to 3 bags of kimchi.  I mean, it’s not the same kind of sadness, but this shit is just as bad.

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So yesterday, I had to do something.  I committed what I would call, an inventory genocide, where I killed half of the population inside my fridge, ruthlessly, purely based on the justification of… well, illogical madness.  Anything that I couldn’t remember who or what or when or how it got here, or simply because it looked at me the wrong way, must go.  Just 5 minutes in, I could already see a ray of the fridge-light breaking through a cloud of blackened asparagus.  But just when I was red-eyed amidst my efficient bloodbath, I reached deep down to a corner of the fridge, and something stopped me dead on my track.

A box of forgotten but pristinely delicious, ground peanut brittle from the making of this.  I couldn’t… I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  It looked so innocent, so sinless, in fact, completely filled with scrumptious roasted peanut flavours and practically, did I mention, ground salted caramels!  What kind soulless human being would I be if I put ground salted caramel to sleep!?  I must figure out a way to do them justice… and in a way, looking back now, I think that I have always known what it would be, the most buttery brioche waffle I have been wanting to sink my fingers in for quite some time now.  They call it, the liège waffles, the Belgian waffles, the yeasted dough practically drowned in butter then strangled with pearl sugar, browned and melted in between the searing teeth of a hot waffle-griddle, and it sounded just like the beautiful, alternative death for my well deserved victim.  I mean, what is a pile of ground roasted peanuts and crushed salted caramel, but the perfect brioche stuffing?

They melted… they bubbled… then they got absorbed into the swelling cushions of the crispy edged, soft hearted, buttery and chewy brioche waffles, while the rest of the undeserving fridge-scraps watched, howling in jealousy.  Not a bad way to go… not a bad way to go at all.


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Yield: 8 small waffles

Brioche/liege waffle dough is halved and slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen


  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) whole mik
  • 2 tbsp (30 grams) water
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp (12 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7 tbsp (100 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • Ground peanut brittle as instructed here, or you can ground any type of store-bought brittles the same way
  • Honey to drizzle


  1. TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Combine whole milk and water in a glass, then microwave on high for approx 50 seconds. It should feel very warm but doesn't burn, around 110F/43C (this will help the dough start faster). Transfer into a stand-mixer bowl with dough-hooks, or large bowl with hand-held mixer with dough-hooks, along with all-purpose flour, egg, light brown sugar, instant dry yeast, vanilla extract and salt. Knead on low until all ingredients are evenly incorporated, then on medium speed for 3 min until smooth and elastic. The dough should be slightly sticky at this point. Start kneading in the butter, 1 tbsp at a time. Only add the next when the previous addition has been fully incorporated, about 2 min for each tbsp. Once all the butter's been added, knead on high speed for 3~4 min, until very shiny, smooth and elastic.
  2. Cover with plastic-wrap and let proof for 1:30 ~ 2 hours, until fully doubled, then punch out the air and transfer to a working surface (the dough is so buttered up, you won't need to flour), and divide into 8 equal portions. Flatten 1 portion out into a flat disk about 1/4" thick (7 mm), then set on top of a small bowl (the natural dent will make the stuffing easier). Place 2 tbsp of ground peanut brittle in the center, then bring the edges of the dough together over the top and pinch tightly to seal. Try to make sure there's no holes or tears. Set aside and repeat with the rest (if there seems to be butter oozing out of the dough, it's totally fine).
  3. You can now either let the stuffed brioche proof again at room-temperature for 40 min, or space them over a sheet-pan covered with plastic-wrap and leave in the fridge overnight. I did this at room-temperature, but the overnight-method will result in better flavours. The brioche will expand and almost doubled again.
  4. TO COOK: Preheat your Belgian-style waffle-griddle on medium-high heat. There's no need to oil the griddle. Place 1 brioche in the center and cook according to the manufacture's instruction, for about 5~6 min until golden browned on both sides. If any peanut brittle oozed out of the waffle during cooking, just wipe them away before cooking the next. Place the cooked brioche on a cooling rack and repeat with the rest. Serve immediately with drizzled honey.


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Today, I woke up, and as I spent the next 1:30 hours removing microscopic dead leaves off of my succulent-babies with an eyebrow tweezer, I was utterly oblivious of the surprise that was waiting, patiently, in my email-box.  A tweet from Molly telling me of the enormous gift, from you, for name Lady and Pups as the winner for Best Photography for Saveur’s Food Blog Award.

I am speechless.  Looking at the other candidates whose photography make me want to lower my head into a bucket of sour cream, I am, absolutely, without words.  At times like these, to show gratitude, I guess people make grand gestures.  But grand-ness doesn’t reflect how I feel.  How I feel, as I’m typing, is humility.  For the past 3 years, including times when I didn’t exactly deserve it, humbled by your support, tolerance, for giving me the benefit of the doubt, and above all… humbled by the kind of friendship you offer me, more real than many other forms I’ve ever known.

I’m not particularly good at moments like these.  I think I am less incompetent at being sarcastic… making bad jokes out of serious matters.  But now, I’m out of words.  So instead, I wanted to make you something simple, something earnest in its candor, something stripped off of theatrics, like how you made me feel today.  Something with the purest intent to bring you incandescent joy when you take the first shattering bite, the airiest potato ribbon-hash that is both lofty and fluffy inside, sandwiched in between two impossibly crispy layers of chips-like crusts.  Cloud-9, like how you’ve made my day, and you’ll never want to eat potatoes any other ways again.  Because when conversing fails me, this is all I have left, for the lack of my better ability to say, thank you.

So really.  Thank you.

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