Recipe: Mussels with White Wine & Tomato

~ This is Day 75 ~

I get asked how to make this quite often from friends and family so I’m just going to write this really quickly. This is my favorite way to make mussels and clams. The best part after the mussels/clams? The bread dunking into the rich broth and into your mouth part.

  • 2 lbs mussels
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes (or substitute one 14 oz. can diced tomatoes)
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • ¼ cup butter (optional)
  • ½ cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ lemon

Finely chop the onion and thinly slice the garlic cloves. Dice your tomatoes if using fresh ones. Finely chop your parsley, reserve some for garnish.

Scrub the mussels and toss out the dead/damaged ones. If they’re open and don’t close when you poke them, they’re bad. Remove the beards if they have them. Set aside.

In a large pot with lid, heat up enough olive oil to almost cover base of pot. Sweat onions and garlic until aromatic and tender. Add in diced tomatoes and thyme. Season a little with salt, turn heat to medium. Cook for 2 minutes, then add in the tomato paste and cook that out, 3-5 minutes. Add the butter if adding and let the butter emulsify with everything. Once butter has melted, add in the mussels. Turn heat to high, season with salt and black pepper, and add the white wine. Cover with lid, mussels are ready once they open completely, 5-7 minutes. Before you take them out and off the heat, add in most of your chopped parsley and the juice of half a lemon, stir to combine well. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Once in a bowl, add the remaining parsley on top as garnish. Serve with toasted bread. I always eat it with ciabatta. Any bread will suffice, pick your favorite!

Recipe: Zabb Fried Chicken

~ This is Day 67 ~

Before you do anything, go here to Fish Cheeks‘ website and buy their zabb seasoning because this recipe won’t work without it!

My favorite number 3 dish at Fish Cheeks is their zabb fried chicken wings! Zabb is a spice seasoning consisting of chili, lemongrass, makrut lime, salt, and sugar. Their wings are so incredibly scrumptious! Finger-licking, smackingly good!!!!

About two years ago, I have been conducting trials at home to recreate their zabb seasoning but was unsuccessful. Thanks to Chef Ohm for recently selling the seasoning now!!! Now that I know what exactly is inside, I’m still going to try and make it at home from scratch. I was only missing the lemongrass and makrut lime flavors.

Anyway, I live outside of their delivery zone and it’s been really rough looking at their gorgeous food on social media everyday during quarantine, so I finally got their seasoning and made fried chicken at home. Not exactly how they make it at the restaurant, I made drumsticks like how Korean fried chicken is made and tossed it with their zabb seasoning! For fried chicken, I prefer drumsticks over wings!

For the Marinade:

  • Salt, as needed
  • 1 TBS garlic powder
  • 1 TBS ground ginger
  • Splash of Chinese rice wine/white wine/vodka/booze
  • 8 chicken drumsticks

Cut slits on the drumsticks to maximize flavor absorption. Season chicken drumsticks generously with kosher salt, then marinate drumsticks with spices and flavorings in a shallow bowl or dish for 30 minutes in room temperature before frying.

For the Flour Mix:

  • AP flour
  • Cornstarch/Potato starch
  • Salt

I mix equal parts flour to starch and season it a little with salt.

For Deep Frying:

  • Grapeseed or canola oil
  • Thermometer

Take marinaded drumsticks and toss in flour mix, make sure to pat flour mix into and onto drumsticks. I like to shake them in a ziplock bag to fully coat the chicken. Place coated chicken on a wire rack and heat up oil.

Fry the chicken twice, once at 300°F, and the second time at 400°F. Internal temperature of chicken should be at least 165°F. After the second frying, while the chicken is resting on a clean wire rack, find your largest bowl and toss chicken generously with the zabb seasoning!

Recipe: Thin Crust Pan Pizza

~ This is Day 30 ~

I haven’t owned a conventional oven since I moved into my current apartment, which was 5.5 years ago. Not a huge difference for my cooking needs but it would be nice to have one. I just have a large toaster oven, which can fit quite a lot of large poultry, but a regular sized pizza pan/stone it cannot. So I always make thin crust pan pizzas and broil them in my toaster oven with the door ajar because my pan doesn’t fit all the way in either.

*Side note, I’ve had my eyes on June ever since it came out… (it would be a great housewarming present) just saying!*

The pizza dough that I make is really easy – almost no knead and all you do is wait. I always make the same pizza at home because I just love the following set: spicy tomato sauce (with the addition of red pepper flakes), ham, bacon, pineapple, and mozzarella. I’ll sometimes add some baby spinach in there if I have some. If I run out of ham, I’ll substitute shrimp. And YES, I am part of that group who LOVES pineapple on their pizzas!

Makes 4-5 personal sized pizzas.

  • 1 cup water, lukewarm
  • ¼ oz. yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2¼ cups bread flour, plus more for dusting

Don’t have bread flour? AP flour is fine.

Pour 1 cup of lukewarm water into a medium sized bowl. Add in the yeast and sugar, and stir. Sit for 5 minutes until it gets foamy. Add in the EVOO and salt, then slowly add in the flour and mix (with chopsticks or wooden spoon) until water is fully incorporated. Dough will be dry; once there is no more water, knead until smooth (only a few minutes). 

In the same bowl, Pam spray/oil it, leave it covered for 45 minutes in a warm place. Punch the dough down and continue letting it rest for another 30 minutes. 

Divide into 4-5 portions and roll. Allow to rest for 15 minutes if you have trouble rolling it.

You can store the remaining portions/dough in the fridge for up to 1 week, keeping it covered and greased in the same bowl. Temper it out before you roll it.

Some tips:

  • I poke holes in the dough after I roll it to prevent bubbles of air to form when cooking.
  • I first cook the base in the pan by itself on medium heat, just to get some color on the bottom and then flip it to get the base of the pizza somewhat cooked before adding your sauces and toppings.
  • Layer/scatter your toppings, try to squeeze out as much moisture/water as possible.
  • Put a lid on your pizza in the pan while cooking.
  • I usually cook the toppings for 5+ minutes, then add the cheese, and cook for another 5+ minutes.
  • Before broiling it in the oven to get some color and to fully melt the cheese, I tilt the pan to remove excess moisture that got released from cooking. You don’t want your base to be soggy.

Chinese Chive Pockets

~ This is Day 21 ~

AKA Chinese hot pockets, if you will.

My first memory of these brings me back to a shivering, bone-dry, blistering cold, dreary winter day in Beijing. I was with my parents and we were visiting where my father went to college. We went to his school’s cafeteria, where, unlike American cafeterias, there were so many, countless, options for breakfast/lunch/dinner. These chive pockets were at the perfect temperature with the perfect bite-ratio of wrapper versus filling. This is often accompanied with congee and freshly made soy bean milk.

In my Chinese Chive Pockets, I put two different kind of Chinese chives (the flat kind and also the circular, flowering kind), shiitake mushroom, vermicelli, dried shrimp, and 5 spice powder.

Quarantine Paella

~ This is Day 15 ~

It’s almost April!!! The month of March seemed like it took forever to get by. Oh my gosh… What will I do for the entirety of next month???

I’m calling this “quarantine paella” because ingredients are difficult to come by. I try to only go outside to grocery shop when I absolutely need to, i.e. when the fridge is empty. Grocery stores such as Whole Foods Market has all the basic stuff but sometimes the things that I want are out of stock. There are also limits on certain things that you’re allowed to buy. I had hoped to buy 15 lbs of AP flour today but I was only allowed to buy 1 unit, which was 5 lbs. There is no “2-day” prime delivery on Amazon anymore. Everything takes the old regular amount of time (5 business days) or now, even longer to arrive! Jeff Bezos should reimburse us with some Prime membership fees! Totally not going to happen though.

Anyway, with my limited resources and ingredients, I made this paella last night and I’m so glad that I can cook! Thinking about my friends who cannot cook as well as I do… what are they eating? All I want to do is share!! I usually make soffritto ahead of time and just keep a quart in my fridge – it’s good with everything, especially rice! But again, don’t have the excess of ingredients to do things ahead of time. I only put head-on shrimp and bay scallops in this paella, the least variety of sea creatures that I have done in my paella history.

Mango & Sticky Rice (Recipe)

~ This is Day 15 ~

For having a not-so-sweet tooth, there are few desserts that I crave for. With this self-quarantine and almost every restaurant is closed, the only way to satisfy that craving is to make it at home yourself. Luckily, this dessert/snack is incredibly easy to make at home.

Here is fresh Mango with Sticky Rice (also called glutinous rice) with a Coconut Sauce, Toasted White Sesame Seeds, and Mint.

Serves 6.

  • 2 cups glutinous rice, soaked overnight
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 13.5oz cans coconut milk
  • ½ cup palm sugar (more if you like it to be sweeter; substitute brown sugar if you don’t have palm sugar)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Mangoes
  • Garnish: sesame seeds, mint, Thai basil

Soak rice in cold water overnight. Drain completely. Add 2 cups water and cook rice until tender. 10 minutes set to steam in rice cooker is enough.

In a pot, melt palm sugar and salt in coconut milk. Do not bring mixture to a boil. Pour half of the coconut milk into the rice and mix thoroughly. Reserve the other half for pouring over the rice on the plate with the mangoes. Garnish with toasted white sesame seeds and fresh herbs.

Quarantine Day 12

Today is my twelfth day of self-isolation, living in NYC in this epi-center of the novel coronavirus/SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic. The United States has now surpassed both China and Italy on total confirmed cases. Besides leaving my apartment for two separate grocery runs, I have not left my apartment since Wednesday March 18. The common roof deck in my apartment building is locked between the months of October through April, so I’ve been cooped up in my shoebox apartment this whole time.

There are some days where I do absolutely nothing, where I spend almost my entire day in bed, sleeping and napping, and doing whatever on my laptop, either watching TV/movies or reading random things. Then the other days consist of a semi-permanent routine, where I wake up between 7-8am (no alarms set) and I do 30 minutes of yoga, focusing on breathing and stretching, then I workout for 30-60 minutes, using all my home equipment (which isn’t much), but I follow live in-home exercise videos on Instagram, cook + eat + clear lunch, nap after lunch, clean a specific and different area of my apartment, cook + eat + clear dinner, and find tasks within my apartment that needs up keeping before making my way to bed.

Then repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. My mental-health is still intact but there are times where I feel the insanity seeping in. There is only so much you can do at home. Thank goodness for technology, i.e. FaceTiming with family and friends. I haven’t downloaded Zoom yet though. With limited resources and ingredients, I have discovered that I loathe cooking for myself now. Why do I have to eat?? Thinking about what to eat for my next meal immediately makes me frustrated. I am so sick of eating steamed rice and pasta so I have started making Chinese staples from scratch. It’s been fun but the excitement of making them was short-lived because it ended up being another bothersome chore that I had to do everyday in order to feed myself.

Another self-discovery is that I think I am over drinking! The desire for a glass of sparkling or cocktail is no more.

There’s a lot of articles out there predicting how this will end. I hope the warmer weather will contain the spread of the virus. I hope one day soon I can meet up with my best friends and brother and rediscover what it means to socialize again.

Recipe: Homemade Hoisin

(One more post to end the year!)

I don’t know why I haven’t started to make homemade hoisin much earlier in my life. I made it for this past Friendsgiving and it was amazing! I used some of the leftovers the other day with steamed buns and duck breast. So good!!

So here is my recipe. It’s significantly better than the store-bought version!

  • 6 umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum)
  • 120 g brown sugar
  • 100 g soy sauce
  • 10 g rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 TBS 5 spice powder (my homemade 5 spice powder is technically 7 different spices)
  • 1 tsp ketchup
  • 50 g Chinese fermented black beans

Just blend everything in a VitaMix and then pass it!

Sample dishes:

Pear Tart & Ginger Ice Cream

Maybe next year I should start with dessert prep and start from there because every year I have so many ideas on how to make dessert but after everything I go through, I give up and have no time to make a “difficult” dessert and end up doing something that I’m familiar with.

I won’t go on about how I was originally going to incorporate puff pastry into this and how it was going to come with a caramel sauce… one of these days…

I honestly didn’t have enough time to plan out this year’s prep list because my job’s work schedule changed its beginning and ending day of the week so I didn’t realize Thanksgiving was technically one week away… but the way that the schedule is now made it seem like I still had two weeks. SMH.

Here we have a slice of Pear Tart, using two types of pears – Asian Pear for the filling and Red Bosc Pears for the topping – served with fresh ginger ice cream and ginger snap crumble.