YouTube Schedule

~ This is Day 140 ~

ICYMI, I have my second YouTube video up already! It’s about the first fermentation of brewing kombucha.

I figured out a schedule too. Major videos will be posted every Sunday, like the one above. And short funny ones will be posted every Wednesday, i.e. gag reels and possibly easy cocktail recipes!

YouTube Channel Live

~ This is Day 138 ~

I posted my first video yesterday on YouTube!

It’s just a short introductory clip. I’ve never really done filming so this will be a fun process for me. Believe it or not, this video took me 103 tries to get it right. I even made a gag reel, which will be uploaded later next month.

Both my Instagram and YouTube handles are @chefrontini, so if you haven’t already followed/subscribed, please do! Help me reach to 100 subscribers so I can customize my URL! I’m excited for this! I just only wished I would have started this earlier in the pandemic, not on day 137. But life is a journey, right?

Crab Fried Rice

~ This is Day 125 ~

Not to sound elitist, but what do those people do during quarantine/lockdown if they “don’t cook”? Seamless everyday? My mind is baffled. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t know how to cook.

So… Fish Cheeks opened up outdoor dining but I live uptown so it’s a trek to go down there during COVID-19. Also, I’m still skeptical about outdoor dining in NYC, there seems to be groups/crowds nearby your table… Even though I am used to the mask now, NYC is experiencing an intense heatwave and I can’t deal again. SO, if I can’t get Fish Cheeks‘ crab fried rice, I’ll make it myself!!! I mean, it’s just crab + cold jasmine rice + accoutrements. It’s not identical to their fried rice but fried rice is fried rice!

I have been ordering seafood from Pierless, a restaurant purveyor of all things seafood. Many restaurant purveyors started selling their products at wholesale price to home chefs since quarantine began. And I love that! You know you’re getting the best quality, compared to regular grocery stores! Although prices can be expensive sometimes, you just have to justify what you would want to pay versus what you can get in the regular stores.

In this picture, I have fresh Lump Crab Fried Rice with Scrambled Eggs, Sweet Corn, Scallions, and White Sesame Seeds.

Romescada with Homemade Ciabatta

~ This is Day 116 ~

This was such a good choice for the main course of my birthday dinner. I’m delighted that my friends had an amazing time yesterday. There were barely any leftovers, in terms of seafood. I still have leftover sauce, which I’ll eat today for dinner too! I’ll add more seafood in, enough for one!

If you’re interested, this was our first course.

In this photo here, it’s Romescada with Monkfish, Shrimp, Squid, and Manila Clams! Served with homemade ciabatta too!

Recipe: Scallop Crudo with Blueberries & Lavender

~ This is Day 116 ~

I bought a bouquet of dried lavender flowers back in 2018 at the farmer’s market for $13 and I still have a third of it. I mainly use it to make cocktail ingredients but it occurred to me that I could use it for these blueberries.

NYC has slowly reopened but the idea of sitting outside on the patio or sectioned off road is not appealing to me, especially in the heat of the summertime. So I had a few friends over for my birthday dinner. Just a very small gathering, since we’re indoors. I didn’t want to go crazy with the cooking because it was my actual birthday on the date but I also wanted good tasting food so I did two courses: this scallop crudo and a seafood stew. I know the stew doesn’t seem summery but it’s my birthday and IDGAF. I baked my own ciabatta bread and made a little veggie-pasta side as well.

Serves 4-5.

For the Pickled Blueberries

  • 150 g blueberries
  • 150 g white wine vinegar (I’m using chardonnay Forvm)
  • 150 g water
  • 20 g sugar
  • A few buds of dried lavender flowers

This makes about a pint of pickled blueberries. Bring the vinegar, water, sugar, and lavender up to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes to allow the lavender to infuse then pour everything into a container with the blueberries.

You can strain out the lavender if you would like but I kept it in there for more flavor. I put 5 buds into the pickling liquid. Lavender is quite pungent; you don’t want to overpower the sweetness of the scallops.

Allow to cool to room temperature then place into fridge and pickle for at least 24 hours.

For the Scallops & Garnish

  • 12 fresh sea scallops, U-10
  • Purslane, 1 bunch, picked
  • EVOO
  • Maldon salt
  • Espelette pepper

When ready to serve, slice the scallops thinly and arrange on plates. Pour a little of the pickling liquid over to season the scallops. Cut the blueberries in half and garnish the scallops. Season the scallops with the Maldon salt, picked purslane, Espelette pepper, and a dash of EVOO before serving.

Recipe Update: Coconut Curry

~ This is Day 95 ~

After making Fish Cheeks’ coconut crab curry at home several times using the mortar & pestle way, I got tired. It’s hard work!! So here is the modern way using appliances.

This is a double recipe of the mortar & pestle, yields 2 quarts of curry. I pint them up and freeze them.

For the Curry Paste:

  • 1½ oz. dried Thai bird’s eye red chili
  • 1 oz. fresh Thai bird’s eye chili
  • ½ oz. garlic
  • 1 oz. fresh galangal, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 oz. lemongrass, smashed and chopped into small pieces
  • 2 oz. wild ginger, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 oz. fresh turmeric, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 oz. dried shrimp
  • ½ oz. sea salt

In a food processor with a feeding tube, start with the ingredients listed above in that order. Blend into a paste.

For the Curry:

  • Four 14 oz. cans of coconut milk
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 2 oz. fish sauce
  • 2 oz. palm sugar
  • 2 oz. lemongrass, smashed and chopped
  • 2 oz. tamarind concentrate
  • 1 oz. fresh galangal, sliced into rounds
  • 8 fresh makrut lime leaves
  • 8 Chinese broccoli leaves, coarsely chopped

In a large saucepan over low-medium heat, bring the coconut milk, shallot, fish sauce, palm sugar, lemongrass, tamarind, galangal, makrut lime leaves, Chinese broccoli leaves, and the curry paste to a simmer. Be sure to break the tamarind concentrate thoroughly with a whisk. Stirring constantly to prevent scorching, cook for 15 minutes, then take off heat and remove the Chinese broccoli leaves.

Wait till cool enough to blend without steam building in the VitaMix. It’s better to blend while the curry is still warm but I don’t like to get burned by spicy curry at home so I blend the next morning, after the curry pot has cooled down completely in my fridge. Blend in batches until smooth. Pass through a chinois and discard solids.

Store and freeze! Just take them out the night before and let it thaw overnight in the fridge.

Recipe: Soybean Milk

~ This is Day 85 ~

NYC just re-opened today: construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade & retail for pickup with some restrictions. More info: nyc.gov/coronavirus. Outside my street looks almost entirely normal, like from before quarantine; the street is bustling with delivery trucks, there’s a lot more traffic up and down, and there are people everywhere, however not all with masks on.

I thought during the past three months I would have done more food projects at home but instead, I found myself loathing to cook for myself. I have been cooking and making a lot of Chinese comfort food, mostly things I ate or drank as a child.

We usually had homemade soybean milk during the weekends. It’s traditionally a breakfast beverage, eaten with 油條/youtiao (Chinese crullers). My parents like to drink it hot and unseasoned, however my brother and I like it chilled and sweet, and other people like it hot and savory. I made the crullers for the first time last week but they didn’t come out as puffy as I remember so no postings of that any time soon. It’s also quite time consuming so I don’t know when I’m going to tackle that again.

Having a VitaMix definitely helps the process of making homemade soybean milk. Before moving to the U.S., the only soybean milk I had were Chinese-styled. In my mind, Silk products in American grocery stores are not “soybean milk”. To me, they tasted like drinking a liquid that resembled how silk, the fabric, would taste like. Although I love chilled and sweet soybean milk, I’m not going to make this on a regular basis. The worst part of making soybean milk is the constant stirring because the bottom of the pot burns so quickly, and I can’t deal with that.

If you’re feeling up to the challenge, here’s the recipe.

Yields 4 quarts.

  • 2 cups dried soybeans

Begin by washing the dried soybeans three times in cold water. Then soak overnight in the fridge, making sure to cover the soybeans with at least 2 inches of water. Strain and discard soaking water.

In the VitaMix, using 1 cup of beans to 2 cups of water, blend on high until completely combined. Pour and strain into a large pot with a cheesecloth-lined chinois. Bring up to a boil on medium heat. Skim off foam – there’s going to be a lot – and stir constantly to prevent burning. It burns really easily!! Burnt soybean milk just doesn’t taste good – at all!!! Once up to a boil, bring down to a simmer for 8 minutes, continually stirring constantly. Right when it comes up to a boil, it will blow up so you have to be vigilant!!!

Once ready, remove from heat and I like to pass it through a cheese-cloth lined chinois again. Adjust savory/sweet to your liking. Once it cools, it will develop a skin on the top. I like to add a little more water to thin it out a bit but not too much, just a quick splash or two.

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!

*For clams, I like to add bacon and hot paprika to this.

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.