Monthly Archives: October 2011

海參南瓜盅 Sea Cucumber in Pumpkin Shell

This home grown Japanese pumpkin (Kabocha) from Yim’s garden came in just in time for my Chinese style Halloween dish.

Before cooking this dish, I have never had pumpkin with sea cucumber before so I didn’t really know what to expect. They turn out to match very well – the fluffy texture of the pumpkin is a great accompaniment to the springiness of the sea cucumber. The pumpkin also has a natural sweet taste that nice balances the savoriness of the dish very well.


  • 1 small Japanese pumpkin
  • 1 sea cucumber, chopped into 1.5 inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 slices of dried ham 金華火腿
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 scallions, chopped into 2 inch pieces
  1. Follow Sea Cucumber Cleaning Direction to prepare the cucumber or use pre-soaked sea cucumber. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in pan. Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add in sea cucumbers and stir fry for 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer the ingredients to a cooking pot. Add 1 tbsp oyster sauce, sugar, dried ham, and 3 cups of chicken stock (enough to cover the ingredients). Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 2.5 hours. Separate sea cucumber with the sauce and set aside.
  4. Cut top off the pumpkin and remove seeds and pulp. Extract some pumpkin meat and set aside. Place the pumpkin on a plate or aluminum foil and set the plate on top of a wide-mouth wok or large skillet as the base with a metal stand to balance. Make sure the water is about 1 inch beneath the plate. Cover and steam over boiling water for 20 minutes or until cooked.  Do not overcook or the pumpkin will break apart.
  5. In a saucepan, cook the sea cucumber sauce with the pumpkin meat extracted earlier for 10 minutes or until softened.
  6. Fill the pumpkin with sea cucumber.  Drizzle the pumpkin sauce on the side to serve.
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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in Chinese


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Crispy Salmon and Garlic Scallion Mashed Potatoes

Pan fried salmon is probably one of those dishes that everyone has made at some point. I came across this technique from Gordon Ramsay the other and wanted to give it a try. The main idea here is to score the salmon before cooking on the skin side, so that the salmon won’t curl while cooking. This ensures an evenly cooked piece of salmon and enables extra crispiness as the salmon has better contact with the pan and is more directly cooked. By rubbing in some salt and rosemary into the cuts, it is also possible to get in some extra flavor in the salmon.

You will notice from the pictures that the piece of salmon that was used already had the skin removed, which took away a lot of the crispiness that would have made it even better. However, I do think this is a sound technique and I would for sure try it again with skin-on salmon next time!

I paired the salmon with some mashed potatoes, and it made for a great Saturday night dinner.


  • 0.8 lb salmon filet
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. With the skin side facing out, score the skin crosswise in parallel lines to about halfway deep in the filet.  Scoring the salmon filet prevents it from curling while cooking, ensuring it’s cooked nice and evenly.
  2. Open each score and sprinkle salt and rosemary into the cut. Glaze the top of the salmon filet with olive oil.
  3. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add salmon, skin side down, as soon as the oil begins to lightly smoke. Keep your fingers on top of the salmon filet for a bit to keep it nice and flat.  Watch the side of the piece of salmon for color changes. When 2/3 of the salmon has turned opaque, flip it to the other side and cook until it’s done.

Source:  Gordon Ramsay’s Crispy Salmon

Roasted Garlic Scallion Mashed Potatoes


  • 3 small red potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon half and half (you can also use milk or even just water if you want a lighter version)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Wash and scrub potatoes until very clean. This is important as we will be eating the skin.
  2. Start cooking potatoes in a boiling pot of salted water
  3. In the meantime, take the head of garlic and remove the outermost portions of the skin (but leave the skin of the individual cloves intact). Lightly oil, wrap in aluminum foil, and bake at 400 degrees in the oven fro about 30 minutes. If you would not like to use the oven, put cloves in a heated heavy skillet and cook under lowest heat possible, covered, for about 30 minutes. Makes sure to flip the garlic once in a while to keep it from burning. The garlic should be very soft at this point, squeeze the meat out from the skins.
  4. Once potatoes are fully cooked (when a fork pokes through the potato without much effort), drain the water and place in a large bowl. Combine with butter, garlic cloves, chopped scallion, and salt to taste. Mash with a fork.
  5. Add in a bit of half and half and keep mashing and mixing. Once it is completely mixed, add a bit more. The idea is not to add in too much at a time as that would break the mixture too much.

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Beef Bourguignon/ French Pot Roast

A few days ago, I bought a cheap bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from the local supermarket, with the initial intention of drinking it as a casual dinner wine. It turned out to be pretty bad for that purpose, and simply wasn’t going to be enjoyable, so i decided to use it to cook.

This is a simple version of boeuf bourguignon, which is a classic French dish of beef stewed with red wine and beef broth. A few things to keep in mind when preparing this dish:

  1. Leaner cuts of meat is typically used for this dish. In this case, we used chuck roast
  2. Because a lean cut is used, a bit of fat is needed when searing the beef. Bacon is used for this purpose and helps provide a nice caramelized crust to the beef before the braising process
  3. A long cooking time is needed in order to ensure that the meat is tender. If braising on the stove top, it is important to ensure that there is sufficient liquid to avoid food sticking to the bottom of the pot. If you find that the liquid is drying up and there hasn’t been sufficient cooking time, you may need to add in extra broth or water

That’s all there is to it! While the cooking time is long, you really only need to check up on it once in a while, so it’s not actually all that much effort and you can be doing something else while it cooks. Bon appetit!


  • 2 strips bacon, cut into 1/2” pieces
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb chuck roast, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1/3 bottle dry red wine
  • 1 1/3 cups beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1.5 cups frozen pearl onions and peas
  • 6 oz button mushrooms, stems removed
  1. Preheat a large skillet or nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon.  Set aside and leave pan on the heat.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, pepper and beef in a small bowl, until the pieces are lightly covered with flour.  Add the beef to the hot pan and cook until all sides are golden brown.
  3. Remove the beef and add to a slow cooker.  When all the beef has been browned, add 1 cup wine to the hot pan and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon.  Pour over the beef, along with the rest of the wine, the broth, the tomato paste, bay leaves, and bacon pieces.
  4. Set the slow cooker to high and cook for 3 hours, until the beef is tender and falls apart with pressure from a fork.  In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add, carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms.  Right before serving, add the peas and simmer for a few minutes to cook through.  Discard the bay leaves.
  5. Serve the stew by itself or over mashed potatoes, egg noodles, rice or with french bread.
Source:  Cook This, Not That! with modifications.

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Grilled Halibut Steak

I was browsing the local fish market the other day and saw this nice, fresh piece of halibut steak. It made for a nice, quick weekday dinner! Pretty quick to make and it’s pretty light dish. Pair it with some veggies and rice/potatoes/pasta and you’ve got yourself a healthy and balanced meal.


  • 1 lb Halibut Steak
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2.5 teaspoons soy sauce
  • Dash of ground black pepper


  1. Preheat cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Place butter, brown sugar, garlic, lemon juice, soy sauce, and black pepper in a small saucepan. Warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Lightly oil grill pan. Brush fish with brown sugar sauce, and place on grill. Cook for 5 minutes per side, or until fish can be easily flaked with a fork, basting with sauce. Discard remaining basting sauce.



Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Fish Recipes, Seafood Recipes


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紅燒魷魚 Braised Whole Squid

While the dish is named “braised” squid, the cooking time is actually very short. Squid, like some other seafood, can be cooked very quickly until just done, or can be simmered for a long period of time until very tender.  Anything in between, and the squid will be very tough, with a rubber band texture.

There are three main steps in the preparation of the dish, and it is important to understand them as the cooking time is quite short. Firstly, the squid is quickly stir fried under high heat. Secondly, seasonings and water is added to begin the braising process. Lastly, the squid is removed when it is just cooked through, and use a thickening agent (corn starch) to prepare the sauce with the cooking liquid


  • 3 medium size squids
  • 1.5 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 Chinese star anise 八角
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rock sugar
  • 1 red birdeye chili, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine – Hua Diao 花雕酒
  • 1 green onion/scallions, chopped


  1. Remove head and cut right below the eyes, keeping the tentacles intact. Remove the beak and discard. Clean out insides
  2. Wash and pat dry the squids.
  3. Heat wok over high heat and pour in 1 tablespoon oil.  Add ginger and garlic, cook until fragrant.
  4. Add squid and lightly pan fry the squids on both sides, until the squids just turn opaque on the outside.
  5. Add cooking wine, rock sugar, star anise, birdeye chili, soy sauce, dark soy sauce and 1/2 cup of water.
  6. Bring it to boil, cook for a few minutes.  Remove squids from the wok when just cooked through
  7. Drain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, reserving liquid; discard solids.
  8. Pour the mixture in a saucepan.  In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of corn starch with 2 tablespoon of water.  Bring the mixture to boil.  Add the corn starch mixture to the saucepan.  Bring it to boil then remove from heat.
  9. Let the squids sit for 10 minutes or until cool before slicing into rings.
  10. Pour the sauce on top of the squids and sprinkle some chopped scallions to serve.

*If you’re using a large piece of rock sugar (see the size of the sugar from picture above), remove the rock sugar when it’s half-way melted, or the sauce will be too sweet.   It’s better to use the smaller piece of rock sugar that is just enough (about 1 tablespoon)


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山藥雞柳煲仔飯 Claypot rice with Chicken and Tororo

In Japanese cuisine yamaimo is usually eaten raw after being grated into a sticky, paste-like cream known as tororo, typically as a topping for soba or udon. You can find an example in this recipe. The Chinese prefers it sliced and pan-fried or used to prepare soup.  In this recipe, I took the idea of the grated yam and combined it with the traditional Chinese clay pot rice. The tororo helps make the chicken pieces take on a silky smooth texture. It is also a great way to incorporate this health food into your diet.

Sweet Soy Sauce for Claypot Rice:

In a saucepan, add 3 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon sugar, 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon soy sauce.  Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.


  • 2 chicken thighs, cut into bite sizes
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 egg – separate egg white and egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1.5 cups of rice
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon scallion, chopped
  1. Marinate the chicken pieces with egg white and corn starch for 20 minutes in the fridge.  Then add soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Marinate for another 30 minutes or so.  Combine with grated yam/yamaimo.
  2. Wash the rice with water until the water comes out nearly clear; drain completely.
  3. Thinly oil the inside of the claypot.   (Apply oil to the pot before adding rice and water to avoid sticking and to make a crispy rice effect.) Heat over medium-high heat.  Add the rice and water and cover.
  4. Bring it to boil then add chicken.  Cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover for another 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked.  Add the egg yolk and cover for a few minutes.  Add cilantro and drizzle sweet soy sauce over rice to serve.
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花雕薑蔥雞 Ginger and Scallions Chicken

After experimenting with baking whole chicken, I tried something different this time and cooked the chicken by steaming.

Steaming is a very nice way for cooking a whole chicken, and has several advantages over other cooking methods. Compared to baking, steaming gives the food more moisture and is not as easy to overcook. It is better than boiling because you do not lose flavor and nutrients to the boiling liquid.

The steps of this dish is fairly straight-forward. First, the chicken is marinated with wine, ginger and scallion. Then, it is steamed over boiling water for about 22 minutes. At the end, pour the marinate and chicken juices on top. The steaming method retains flavor, moistness and tenderness of the meat, which is why ginger and scallions chicken is always a popular in Chinese cuisine.


  • 2 lb Cornish hen
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine – Hua Diao 花雕酒
  • 1 tablespoon rose cooking wine – 玫瑰露酒
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 inches ginger, grated
  • Chicken stock from steaming chicken
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon hua diao wine
  • Dash of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon corn starch


  1. Pat the hen dry with paper towels. Season with salt.
  2. Combine Hua Diao, rose wine, scallions and ginger.  Marinate the chicken for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Place chicken on a plate and set the plate on top of a wide-mouth wok or large skillet as the base with a metal stand to balance.  (The stand can be found at Chinese supermarkets).  Make sure the water is about 1 inch beneath the plate.  Cover and steam over boiling water for 22 minutes or until cooked.  Remove and reserve the liquid in a bowl.
  4. Combine the liquid with the sauce ingredient above.  Bring it to boil and pour over the chicken.

Posted by on October 5, 2011 in Chicken, Chinese, Meat & Poultry Recipes


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