Category Archives: Side Dish Recipes


Looking for a perfect side dish for a New Year Party?  Guacamole may be what you are looking for. The simple combination of ingredients creates a flavorful condiment as a dip for nachos. You can also use it as a spread for sandwiches or a side with the main course.  It is also great for the health conscious – it is rich in fiber and full of vitamins.

The most important part of the guacamole is, of course, a great avocado. They must be soft—but not too soft. It is slightly preferable to have one that is too hard than too soft, as you run the risk of having the avocado turn brown when overripe. When it is at the right level of ripeness, you’ll feel a slight give when pressing on it. If your finger punctures the skin easily, it definitely too soft.


  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeno, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon scallion/cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a small bowl, mash the avocado until is pureed.   Combine all ingredients above and refrigerate for an hour for best flavor.


Tags: , ,

Black Bean Soup

This is a dish that is perfect when It’s raining outside or if for whatever reason you just don’t want to go out to do food shopping.  All you need here is a can of black beans and some onions, tomatoes, or peppers. If you don’t have these either, you might even experiment with whatever you have lying around the house. Try accompanying with rice or simply some bread for a healthy and complete meal. Also adding a dash of hot sauce, or even add in some jalapenos when cooking to give it a bit of a kick!


  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Saute onion, bell peppers, and garlic in a small pot with the juice from the can over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until vegetables soften.  Add the beans, tomato, white wine vinegar, cumin, oregano, bay leave and salt.
  2. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, covered, simmer for 20 minutes or until the soup thicken. Garnish with diced red onion, tomatoes and pepper.

Tags: , ,

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

A hearty soup that is also nutritious with plenty of vitamins and fiber. Chicken stock was used in the recipe below, but the soup can be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead.


  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, diced (5-6 cups)
  • 1 green apple, peeled, cored, diced (1.5 to 2 cups)
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • Pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, basil, salt and pepper
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat.  Sauté onions and carrot for 5 minutes.
  2. Add squash, apple and the broth to the pan. Bring to boil. Cover, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until squash and carrots are soften.
  3. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
  4. Return the soup to the pan.  Add curry powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, basil, salt and pepper.

*Add water to the soup for the consistency you like.


Tags: , , ,

青椒山藥炒螺片 Conch with Pepper and Yamaimo Stir-fry

Question: what is usually the actual ingredient for fake abalone?

Answer: Conch

It is no coincidence that conch is often used for this purpose, as it has a somewhat similar texture and flavor, at a small fraction of the price.

Conch is an interesting ingredient to work with and can be eaten raw or cooked in many different ways, including fried, included in a salad, made into a soup, or even . In Chinese cuisine, it is often stir fried.



  • 2 fresh conchs, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 3 garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • White pepper, to your taste
  1. In a pot of hot boiling water, add yamaimo and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. In a skillet/pan, heat oil over high heat.  Add ginger and stir fry until fragrant.  Add pepper, stirring and cook for 2 minutes.  Add Yamaimo then
  3. Add the sliced conch and cooking wine, stirring for 1 minute then add sesame oil and dash of white pepper.  Mix well to serve.

Tags: , ,

拍黄瓜 Marinated Cucumbers

At this time of the year, it is harvesting time in the family backyard and we have lots of fresh cucumbers to work with. Cucumbers by themselves have a great fresh smell and taste that quickly reminds one of summer and fresh vegetables in general. But the flavor is also extremely light because of the high water content in them.

Marinated cucumbers is often served as an appetizer in a Chinese restaurant.  It is also served after eating a lot of fried foods and oily dishes in the New Year. The subtle balance of saltiness, sourness and sweetness can really boost one’s appetite.  As with many Chinese dishes, achieving a desirable smell is important. In this case, the sesame oil, garlic, and fish sauce combined with the fresh smell of cucumbers really define the dish.

Marinating achieves two important goals: firstly to draw the water out of the cucumber so that it becomes more crunchy and to concentrate its flavors, and secondly to impart flavors and a desirable smell into the somewhat bland cucumber. To achieve the second goal in particular, a key step in the preparation of the dish is to “smash” the cumbers before the marination process. Smashing the cucumbers has the effect of producing rugged edges, increasing the surface area of the pieces of cucumber and therefore making the seasonings more easily absorbed.

I have noticed that the fresher the cucumber, the higher the water content seems to be. With the freshest cucumbers, like I am using here, a longer marination process is recommended. For example, I made a batch last night by marinating for about 3 hours. To my surprise, they were even better today after being refrigerated overnight!


  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 red bird eye chili or 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


  1. Using a large knife, preferably a cleaver, smash the cucumber on the chopping block, until the cucumber cracks open.  Remove the seeds inside of the cucumber,  then chop them into smaller pieces (about 1.5 inches long).
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. You should notice that a significant amount of liquid has emerged. Rinse off the salt and drain.  Add 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 minced garlic, and 1 chili.  Mix well and refrigerate at least another 2 hours.
  4. Drain the excess water from the cucumbers again.  Add fish sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 minced garlic, 1 chili, and sesame oil. Top with cilantro to serve.   You may serve the dish now or refrigerate even longer for the best taste.

Tags: , , , ,

Walnut Lettuce Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

How about a great summer salad recipe?  With the season’s freshest veggies and tangy orange vinaigrette, this is one refreshing side dish or meal on a hot day.


  • 2 oranges, zested
  • 2 small oranges, juiced or 1 large orange, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 to 12 ounces shredded lettuce
  • 1/2 avocado, thinly slice into thin wedges
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced and quartered


In a blender, combine the orange juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. With the blender running, add the olive oil in a steady stream until combined.

To serve, place lettuce, avocado, tomato, cucumber in a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette to coat the salad. Sprinkle walnuts and orange zest on top.

Source: The orange vinaigrette is a recipe adapted from Food Network.


Tags: , , ,

豉油雞翼 Easy Soy Sauce Chicken Wings

Soy sauce chicken wings is one of the most typical dishes that is served in a Chinese home, and is a favorite of kids in particular. Goes excellent with a steamy bowl of white rice.


  • 10 frozen mid-joint chicken wings
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons chinese cooking wine


  1. Defrost chicken wings.  Blanch chicken wings in large pot of boiling water for 20-30 seconds. This can remove some oil and the frozen smell/taste from the wings. (See picture)
  2. Heat wok over high heat and pour in 1 tablespoon oil.  Add ginger and cook until fragrant.
  3. Add chicken wings and cook until light brown.
  4. Add soy sauce and dark soy sauce, cook over medium heat for 8 minutes.
  5. Flip the chicken wings over to let the other side absorb the sauce.  Cook for another 8 minutes.
  6. Add cooking wine and sugar.  Mix well and cook for another 5 minute or until cooked through.
More Chicken Wings Ideas:

Tags: , ,

馬拉盞炒通菜 Spicy Stir fried Water Spinach with Belacan

Water Spinach also known as ong choy, swamp cabbage, swamp spinach and kangkong.  Belacan is Malaysian shrimp paste that comes in a block. Combine the two, and you’ve got a classic Malaysian dish that highlights the characteristics of Malaysian food – strong flavors and vibrant colors.


  • 1/2 lb water spinach (ong choi)
  • 1.5 tablespoon belacan 馬拉盞 (Shrimp Paste)
  • 3 garlic, minced
  • 2 bird eye chili, chopped


  1. Wash and trim the water spinach, remove the base stalks (about 1 inch). Cut into 2-3″ sections.
  2. Blanch water spinach in large pot of boiling water for 30 seconds.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in skillet over high heat.  Add garlic, chili, and belacan, stir until fragrant.
  4. Add the blanched water spinach, mix well with the garlic, chili and belacan.  Cook for 1 minute or until soft.

Tags: , , , , ,

Broccoli Potato Gratin

Broccoli Potato Gratin is a classic French dish that is usually served as a side dish. The bread crumbs and cheese melts forms a delicious browned crust over the soft and creamy potatoes inside.  The combination of garlic, thyme and nutmeg provides the sauce with flavor and fragrance. The broccoli adds a bit a crunchiness to complete the perfect balance of textures to the dish.


  • 1 potato, cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 onion, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup soymilk or milk
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Blanch broccoli for 40 seconds and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour, chicken stock, and soy milk.  Whisk out any lumps.
  4. In a saucepan, add butter, garlic, shallots and onion.  Saute over medium heat until translucent and add the thyme.  Pour the flour mixture to the pan.  Add Dijon mustard and nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place potato and broccoli in a 9.5 x 6.25 in baking pan.
  6. Pour the sauce over.  Top with cheese and breadcrumbs.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees.  Then broil until cheese browns, about 2-3 minutes.



Tags: ,

Shime Saba (Japanese pickled Mackerel)

Shime Saba is vinegar-pickled mackerel, a classic dish from Japan.  It is first cured in salt then washed with rice vinegar.   Mackerel does not keep well.  If it’s not consumed within the first several hours after being caught, it will deteriorate quickly.  Therefore, the Japanese pickle it before serving as sushi.


  • 1 fresh mackerel, cleaned, and filleted, with skin on
  • 1 tablespoon salt (I used sea salt)
  • 1 cup of rice vinegar, enough to cover the fish fillet


  1. Clean and fillet the fish. Remove the remaining bones with a tweezer.
  2. Sprinkle salt on both side of the fillet in a glass bowl for 1 hr.
  3. Pat away salt and and dry the fish with paper towel.
  4. Place the fish in a ziploc bag and pour enough vinegar the cover the fish.  Let it marinate for 25 minutes.
  5. Peel off the skin from the mackerel.  *Start by rubbing the corner of the fish fillet to peel off the skin.
  6. Then place the fish on a cutting board and slice the fish diagonally into ½ inch-wide
    pieces. Serve shime saba with grated ginger, wasabi and lemon juice.

Tags: , , ,