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archive for asian

seeing in color

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Recipe: japanese potato salad

The monochromatic tones of the cold months have given way to new growth greens and even tiny dots of color if you know where to look. The snows keep falling every few days in the mountains, but you can tell their efforts have less impact under the mighty sun. We have wintry days and we have springlike days, but the trend is toward leaving the warm hats and gloves behind because the sunshine feels so good on your back – like an old friend offering a backrub after the long slog of a low-powder winter. The trails are more dirt than snow around town (still snowy in the high country) and all three of us have been anxious to get out for hikes and trail runs. Reacquainting ourselves with those warm weather muscles that get neglected during ski season.


neva is so happy to be hiking the trails and smelling the smells

a newly sprouting pasque flower on my trail run

juicing the last of the blood oranges (to freeze for summer cocktails!)



Our spring cleaning efforts have been ongoing such that it feels like this could become a habit. Taking a proactive approach to the chest freezer, I am excavating all of those random food items that might otherwise languish in the depths for years and incorporating them into our menus. Two little pork tenderloin chops became a lovely meal of tonkatsu rounded out with leftover vegetables, rice with furikake, and Japanese potato salad.

my idea of a happy meal



I must confess that I was more excited about the potato salad than the tonkatsu. Before a few weeks ago, the only time I ate Japanese potato salad was at Japanese or Korean restaurants. I’m slightly addicted to the creamy, tangy, slightly sweet, salad and once Marc posted the recipe, I knew it was my destiny. It’s dangerously easy to make.

potatoes, onion, carrot, cucumber, ham, mayonnaise, rice vinegar, salt, sugar, more salt, white pepper

slice and dice



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forever a noodle girl

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Recipe: stir-fried fresh rice noodles with beef

I’m always on the lookout for a good Chinese cookbook, and I tend to make tiny mental notes when my cooking friends rave about the same book. Last month, I got an email asking if I wanted a review copy of Chinese Soul Food by Hsiao-Ching Chou. I usually decline book reviews – it’s not worth my time unless it is something I am personally interested in checking out – but recalled a couple of pals had sung its praises.


chinese soul food by hsiao-ching chou



The good news is that the book is full of accessible and delicious home-style Chinese recipes and good information on ingredients, equipment, and techniques that are commonly utilized in Chinese cooking. The bad news (for me) is that I’ve already made and blogged some version of most of the recipes in the book. Happily, I was able to find a handful of recipes that I haven’t blogged before, and settled on a noodle dish. I will choose noodles over rice any day, but this stir-fried noodles with beef uses fresh rice noodles. A delightful compromise.

you can find fresh rice noodles in the refrigerated section of better stocked asian markets

mung bean sprouts, gai lan (chinese broccoli), water, hoisin sauce, kosher salt, cornstarch, flank steak, soy sauce, vegetable oil, fresh rice noodles



In her notes, Chou says if you cannot find gai lan, you can substitute other leafy greens including Chinese broccoli. Gai lan IS Chinese broccoli, so I think that may have been an editorial oversight. It’s true that you can use other leafy greens, but gai lan has great flavor and texture that pairs well with the chewy, delicate rice noodles. I increased the amounts of greens and sprouts and omitted the carrots because they do absolutely nothing for me. When the rice noodles are cold (they are usually refrigerated at my market), they are quite brittle. Allow them to come to room temperature or gently warm them in the microwave so they are pliable and easily separated. If you try to cook the noodles unseparated, you will have a giant blob of rice noodles with an uncooked center.

washed and chopped chinese broccoli, separated noodles, sliced beef, washed sprouts

mix the beef with soy sauce and cornstarch

stir-fry the beef



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neva’s year is coming

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Recipe: taiwanese fluffy pancakes (zhua bing)

Chinese New Year is Friday, February 16th this year and it’s going to kick off the Year of the Dog. Neva is particularly excited about this. Actually, she could care less, but I’ll take any excuse to celebrate our lovable canine companions. And who am I fooling? Every year is the year of the dog at our house, right?


fetching on sunny days

playing on snowy days



I had grand plans of pulling off a Chinese New Year’s Eve feast and inviting friends over to celebrate, but something in my head is telling me to lay low and keep things mellow this year. Or maybe I’m simply adjusting to my life being dictated by the schedules of several fermenting foods of late. Whatever it is, I’m trying to keep the stress levels to a minimum and sanity at a maximum.

Okay, maybe sanity at a little less than maximum. See, I always feel compelled to try at least one new Chinese recipe for the Lunar New Year. If you are a fan of Chinese scallion pancakes, these Taiwanese fluffy pancakes or zhua bing are similar, but more fun.


flour, boiling water, cold water, star anise, sichuan peppercorns, sesame seeds, more flour, salt, vegetable oil, chinese five spice, scallions



I didn’t grow up eating this style of pancake, but my parents would sometimes order it as a side dish at Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area when we visited my Grandma in California. Most of the time they arrived plain – made from flour, water, salt, and oil – with concentric layers of hot delicate, crisp-edged dough. I could be mistaken (likely with my poor understanding of Mandarin Chinese), but I always thought zhua bing meant “grab pancake” as in, pull it apart with your hands. This version is flavored with spices, scallions, and sesame seeds.

mix the salt and flour together

mix the boiling water in the center well

stir in the cold water

the dough will be rough and shaggy

knead until smooth and cover with damp cloth for 30 minutes



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