Posts Tagged ‘asian’

Nian Gao [年糕]

Next weekend is the Lunar New Year, and that was my excuse for making this nian gao/dduk/mochi (年糕, 떡, もち) again.  This time, it came out nearly perfect!

The Chinese language is fascinating…I had picked out the characters for “sticky cake” (粘糕) which IS nian gao, to use in the title, only to have my mom point out that those weren’t the right ones.  You see, the reason nian gao is so popular around Lunar New Year is because the words are a homonym for “higher year.” So while I wasn’t wrong per se,  the characters actually used for nian gao mean “year cake” instead of “sticky cake.”

This pan of nian gao was cut into about 5 minutes after being removed from the oven, and the above picture was taken only 10 minutes after that.  What can I say, we couldn’t resist! My mom and I love the browned edges, and my brother and dad prefer the gooey middle.

Continue reading


Hot Pot (火鍋)

Similar to the Japanese shabu-shabu, hot pot is the Chinese/Taiwanese version of cooking meats, veggies, dumplings, and all sorts of other things in a boiling pot of broth.  The pot is set at the dinner table, and everyone cooks what they would like to eat from the assortment of raw ingredients on the table.

We used to have a portable butane stove and the split-section pot (one for mild broth, the other for spicy ma-la broth), but those were lost a couple apartments ago.  Besides, with only two people, it can be more trouble than its worth to go through the entire set up and laying out all the ingredients.  Isn’t it almost the same thing if you put it all in a pot on the stove?

When I discovered you could get these Oden (黑輪/오뎅) kits at the Korean and Japanese markets, hot pot (the lazy version) became one of our staple meals. The below isn’t really a recipe, just an ingredients list because all there is to it is: boil water and put in all ingredients. Eat from the pot, and serve with rice and dipping sauce.

Hot Pot, Lazy Version

Soup & Stuff
1 oden kit (pictured; there are many different kinds, this one is Japanese)
1 onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
6 bok choy, separated and/or cut in half depending on size
1 package tofu, cut into cubes (I use Mori-nu, the brand that looks like a juice box)
*The oden kit I use has a packet of concentrated dashi broth in it. If yours doesn’t, you could just use chicken boullion or get a bottle of the concentrated dashi broth from a Japanese market.

Dipping Sauce
1 tbsp sha-cha sauce (I use the Bull’s Head brand -it’s M.I.T.- pictured)
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
*Ratio will vary according to taste, of course. This is an approximation of what we use.  If this were the real hot pot set up, I add a raw egg yolk to the sauce.  Because the food is going straight from a boiling pot to the sauce to your mouth, the yolk gets “cooked.”

Hot Pot Options

Mushrooms (shitake, button or enoki)
Fish/meat balls
Egg dumplings
Meats, sliced
Rice cake (dduk)
*These are the additional items I have used. The list could go on forever. If you like something and it can be boiled, WHY NOT?

An ode to garlic

I will always have a soft spot for Crustacean — it was where Roo took me to celebrate my first birthday as an Angeleno (2006)! The roasted crab and garlic noodles combo is such a rich, decadent treat. One day it occurred to me that people have probably tried to replicate the An family’s secret recipe, and was excited to try out this recipe that I found. Obviously, I’m not really in the habit of keeping Dungeness crab lying around, so I just used some shrimp I had chillin’ in the freezer. I almost never cook with seafood, and I’m not really sure why it intimidates me so much.

Continue reading


I wasn’t that impressed with dinner tonight, but I guess it’s good to document things that didn’t work along with what did?

Continue reading