Category Archives: Recipes

Brie Brulee with Fig Jam on Toast

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I grew up on white bread toasted with Kraft cheese singles and a dollop of ketchup for sweetness.  I would eagerly wait for the cheese to bubble up in the toaster oven and puff into a bronzed dome.  Brie brulee is my gourmet take on this childhood favorite.  The blow torch further caramelizes the  melted cheese to add a smoky flavor.  Fig jam adds sweetness in this very classic pairing.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 half inch slices of brie, enough to cover a piece of toast
  • 1 tsp fig jam
  • 1 slice whole grain bread

Steps:

  1. Spread fig jam on sliced bread
  2. Lay brie over bread
  3. Toast for 5 mins until cheese has melted but bread not burnt
  4. Using a blow torch run flame quickly over cheese to caramelize
  5. Serve immediately

Strawberry Sauce

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Living in southern California, we are spoiled by our great weather and abundant organic produce.  Making a crappy salad is actually hard.  On weekends, ladies would descend upon our farmer’s markets in their Lululemons and grab their fill of antioxidants packed greens.  I would head to my favorite strawberry vendor from Oxnard and whip up a batch of strawberry sauce.  I love making berry sauces because I can add alcohol.  Blueberries pairs beautifully with gin and strawberries with grand marnier.  Drizzle it over vanilla ice cream, layer it with custard in a trifle or spoon it over scones, the options are endless.

Ingredients:

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  • 2 pints of strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • Pinch of salt

Steps:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pot and cook over medium heat.
  2. Use a potato masher to crush strawberries and release juices.
  3. Cook until mixture is thick and bubbling.
  4. Turn off flame and add 1 Tbsp of favorite liqueur.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Miso Shiso Hazelnut Dressing

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Brussel sprouts have stormed the menus of America.  Never have kale and brussel sprouts been this popular.  I am not the biggest fan of brussel sprouts because the return on effort (“ROE”) is only average.  None drools over roasted brussel sprouts as one does roasted pork belly with a crispy crackling.  It is a pain to prepare because I have to cut them into halves, bust out the roasting pan, preheat the oven, etc.  It has a high utensil requirement (“UR”) which translates into more dishwashing.  But this recipe is worth it because the flavor profile is unusual yet delicious.  The hazelnut oil adds an earthly note to the salty sweet miso paste brightened with lemon juice and shiso.

Ingredients:

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  • 2 lbs brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 toasted hazelnuts
  • 4 Shiso leaves, sliced into long thin strips “chiffonard”
  • 1/4 cup white miso
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Steps:

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  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Wash brussel sprouts, cut off ends and cut into halves. 
  3. Lightly coat brussel sprouts with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Do not use too much salt because the miso paste is salty.
  4. Place brussel sprouts in sheet pan and roast in oven for 20-30 mins. Stir or shake pan mid-way to ensure even browning. Cook until leaves are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
  5. Combine miso, water and sugar in small sauce pan. Mix with a whisk and reduce sauce over medium heat until it turns brown and syrupy.
  6. Whisk reduced miso sauce, lemon juice and hazelnut oil together in glass bowl.
  7. Toast hazelnuts in toaster oven and remove skin. Rough chop.
  8. In a large class bowl, combine roasted brussel sprouts, chopped hazelnuts, shiso chiffonard and miso dressing.
  9. Serve immediately.

Spelt Berry Corn Salad with Coriander Lemon Dressing

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People in Los Angeles do not diet, they cleanse.  In West LA, we are either caught massaging our kale or juicing some vegetation sprouted from ionized water.  Monsanto is the devil and white rice arsenic.  Everyone has at least one to two high protein/high fiber salad tucked solidly under their belt.  Fearing for my woefully clogged chakras, I came up with this recipe last summer when fresh sweet corn was in season.  I love corn thus may be biased with my oversized corn ration.

Ingredients:

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  • 3 cups fresh corn
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked spelt berries
  • 1 1/2 cup diced japanese cucumbers
  • 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped italian parsley
  • 1 Tbsp ground toasted coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Steps:

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  1. Toast pumpkin seeds till golden brown in a small skillet over medium heat.  Swirl continuously  to prevent burning.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 Tbsp butter. When butter foams, add fresh corn and season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 black pepper. Stir frequently for 2 mins. Cool.
  3. Toast coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium heat.  Swirl continuously to prevent burning.  Grind to powder in coffee grinder.
  4. Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl and mix thoroughly.

Salmon Mango Tartare

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Whenever I browse through the produce section of an American grocery store I always wonder why they do not carry Manila mangoes.  Instead preferring the Hayden or Turpentine varieties which are more fibrous and sour.  Manila mangoes are oh-so sweet and the national fruit of the Philippines for this good reason.  Continuing on the salmon sashimi theme I have thrown together a salmon tartare.  Lemon juice is used liberally to enhance the sweetness of the mango and balance out the fattiness of the salmon sashimi.

Ingredients:

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  • Salmon sashimi, cubed
  • Manila Mangoes, cubed
  • Shiso leaves, sliced into thin long strips known as “chiffonard”
  • Toasted white sesame seeds
  • Soy sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Touch of Sesame seed oil (very strong)
  • Optional: Jalapeno peppers

Steps:

  1. Mix soy sauce, olive oil and lemon juice using a 1:2:3 ratio. Taste and adjust to your liking. Add a touch of sesame seed oil. 
  2. Combine mangoes, salmon sashimi and shiso leaves in a glass bowl and fold in dressing.
  3. Garnish with toasted white sesame seeds.

Cook’s notes:

I am not specifying specific measurements in this recipe because the salmon to mango ratio can be adjusted to your liking. I tend to use a 1:1 ratio. Shisho is a very bright and citrusy herb so use sparingly. For the dressing use a 1:2:3 ratio for soy sauce, olive oil and lemon juice respectively. Be generous with the lemon juice!

Sardine Puff with Tomato Onion Jam

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When I first served this at a party I had to lie and call it tuna. I kept my ears peeled for the first crunch followed by gasps of delight. Only then did I quickly confess to my little white lie. Sardines, unjustly known as bait fish, are much misunderstood. These small oily fishes belonging to the herring family are not only delicious but are also high in omega-3 acids and iron. Canned sardines are eaten throughout Southeast Asia. This recipe is my open faced take on the sardine puff, a favorite among Singaporeans.

Ingredients:

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  • 1 can of sardines in tomate sauce (Ayam Brand is recommended)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 whole onion thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 2 tps curry power
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste (if unavailable substitute with ketchup)
  • 1 Tbsp Lingham’s sweet chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp calamansi lime juice (if unavailable use regular lime juice)
  • 1 Tbsp of finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 1 egg

Steps:

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  1. Empty sardines from can and reserve tomato sauce.
  2. Saute onions in butter for 5 mins. Add 1 tsp salt to sweat onions.
  3. Add curry powder and garlic. Saute garlic till fragrant.
  4. Add reserved tomato sauce, tomato paste, Lingham sweet chili sauce and calamansi lime juice.
  5. Reduce mixture to a jam like texture.
  6. Fold sardines and chopped cilantro into the mixture. Expect sardines to fall apart which is fine.
  7. Cut puff pastry into squares.
  8. Beat 1 egg and apply egg wash to puff pastry squares. Bake according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Spoon sardine mixture onto each square and garnish with cilantro leaves.

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Indonesian Pork Satays

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Indonesia has the biggest muslim population in the world. The Koran forbids the consumption of pork. Yet ironically some of the most delicious pork dishes come from Indonesian Chinese restaurants and pork satays, “sate babi”, are definitely one of them. The key to this dish is using freshly ground toasted coriander seeds. Beware! This recipe is for the patient.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb of pork butt, cut into thumb size cubes
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup kecap manis
  • 1 thumb of ginger
  • 1 thumb of galangal root
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Steps:

  1. Toast coriander seeds in pan over medium flame. Swirl the seeds while toasting to prevent burning. Grind to powder in a coffee grinder or use a pestle and mortar.
  2. Repeat step 1 for cumin seeds.
  3. Place ginger, lemongrass, galangal root, a bit of water in food processor and blend until completely smooth and fibers cannot be seen.
  4. Combine all ingredients with pork in glass bowl and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge to marinate overnight.
  5. Soak bamboo skewers in water overnight to prevent them from burning on the grill.
  6. Piece together 4-5 cubes of pork using bamboo skewers. Do not cram but space pieces evenly apart to ensure pork gets cooked thoroughly.
  7. Grill over BBQ
  8. If BBQ grill is unavailable, use the oven broil function and cook for about 7 mins each side.

Sauce:

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Ingredients:

  • 4-5 gloves of minced garlic
  • 2-3 chopped fresh chili padi
  • 2 Tbsp of chopped cilantro root
  • 1 Tbsp of butter
  • 4-5 Tbsp of kecap manis
  • 3 Tbsp of water

Steps:

  1. Heat butter in sauce pan.
  2. Stir fry minced garlic, chili padi and chopped cilantro root till fragrant.
  3. Lower heat, add kecap manis and water.
  4. Cook till sauce bubbles, careful not to burn the sugars in the sauce. Turn off heat and drizzle over satays.

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Cook’s Note:

I have tried unsuccessfully to use pork butt from Whole Foods that is hormone and antibiotic free but the resulting pork was so gamey tasting that I had to switch back. This is an instance where the less we know the better. Do not use fresh garlic or onions as it may burn over the grill and turn bitter. Use garlic and onion powder instead.

Chili Ginger Sauce

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This is the tangy garlic ginger chili sauce that made Hainan Chicken Rice the super rockstar dish that it is today. Fortunately it does not need to stay monogamous and pairs well with grilled pork and beef too.

Ingredients:

  • 8 red jalapeno peppers, de-seeded
  • 1 small thumb of peeled ginger
  • 2 – 3 gloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp of calamansi lime juice (if unavailable use regular limes)
  • 2 Tbsp of sugarcane vinegar (if unavailable use white vinegar)
  • 1 tps sesame seed oil
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce

Steps:

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Add some chicken stock or water to thin out the sauce if too thick. 
  2. Taste and adjust accordingly.

 

Hainanese Chicken

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If Singaporeans had to choose a national dish the title could easily go to Hainanese Chicken Rice. But it looks like any poached chicken topped over rice?! What makes this dish distinctively Singaporean lies in the flavoring of the rice and its accompanying chili and ginger sauce. Cooked in a delicious chicken broth flavored with ahem chicken fat, stir fried ginger, garlic, shallots and screwpine leaves, the rice alone stands out as a star. I substituted quinoa for rice because it has a lower glycemic index. Quinoa also cooks fast and absorbs the wonderful flavors of the chicken broth just as nicely. I can imagine Singaporeans crying in horror at my suggestion but give it a shot and let me know what you think.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (preferably organic/air-chilled)
  • 2 Tbsp of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp of chinese cooking wine
  • 5 thick slices of ginger
  • 8 stalks of scallions
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, bruised.

Steps:

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  1. Exfoliate chicken with kosher salt to clean skin and remove any gunk from its cavity. Rinse thoroughly.
  2. Rub the chicken cavity with 1 tsp of chinese cooking wine
  3. Stuff chicken cavity with ginger, scallions and lemongrass
  4. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season boiling water with 2 Tbsp of kosher salt. The water must taste salty.
  5. Immerse chicken into pot of boiling water with breast side down. Water temperature will decrease immediately.
  6. Keep flame on high until water re-boils with chicken. Boil for about about 3-5 mins. Flip chicken over to breast side up. Cover the pot with its lid and TURN OFF FLAME.
  7. Let chicken sit in pot for 30 mins.
  8. Remove chicken from the pot and plunge it immediately into an ice bath to halt the cooking process.
  9. Once the chicken has cooled down, remove from ice bath and discard all the ingredients from its cavity.
  10. Pat dry and let it rest.
  11. Debone and slice when ready to serve. Reserve the chicken bones and stock.
  12. Optional – Mix 2 tsp of soy sauce and 1 tsp of sesame oil with 2 Tbsp of chicken stock. Spoon glaze over the sliced chicken and garnish with cilantro.
  13. Serve with Quinoa, Cilantro Ginger Sauce and Chili Sauce

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Cook’s Notes:

I have tried various brands of organic chicken and love Mary’s chicken from Whole Foods. Because it is air-chilled, water is not absorbed and the chicken retains its natural flavor and firmness. I have seen recipes where you bring the chicken to a boil starting with cold water or boil the chicken for 10-20  minutes then bring it down to a simmer. These are all attempts at meeting the key challenge which is, how to thoroughly cook the chicken breast while keeping it super juicy and tender. It is very important to have enough water in the pot to keep the water temperature constant. There must be enough water/heat to swirl around the chicken. This is the cheap Chinese version of “sous-vide” minus all the contraptions. This recipe is very technique driven. Unfortunately you will most likely undercook or overcook the chicken the first time. You will get better as you practice more.

 

Ginger Cilantro Sauce

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I created this sauce as the herbier sister to the ginger sauce, a must-have companion in eating Hainanese chicken. View it as a pesto or chimichurri but with an Asian twist. It is versatile and pairs well with roasted chicken, grilled beef and steamed fish. What a great way to use up leftover herbs!

Ingredients:

  • A handful of cilantro (use the amount that it is sold in)
  • 10 scallions (use both white and green parts)
  • Thumbs of peeled ginger
  • 2-3 gloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of Japanese “tsuyu”, a seasoning soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 tsp of brown sugar

Steps:

  1. Remove roots from the cilantro and scallions.
  2. Rough chop cilantro, scallions, ginger and place all ingredients into food processor. Pulse 10-12 times to finely chop the herbs. Do not create a paste.
  3. Transfer herbs into a glass bowl.
  4. Heat one cup of canola oil in pot till smoking.
  5. Add fish sauce, Japanese tsuyu, sesame oil, brown sugar to the herbs.
  6. Slowly pour the searing hot canola oil over the herbs. Mix as you pour. The mixture must sizzle as the hot oil hits the herbs.

Cook’s Notes:

To develop the key flavor in this sauce it is important to sear the herbs with the hot oil. It also helps tone down the sharpness of the ginger. Do not use olive oil due to its low smoking point. “Tsuyu” is a Japanese seasoning soy sauce and often used diluted to form a soup base for udon, soba or soy noodles. If neither fish sauce nor soy sauce is available just use salt and it will taste delicious too. Play around with the herbs to develop your favorite ratio or add jalapeno for spice.