Thursday, March 9, 2017

Cha Sau Pork Ribs - 叉燒排骨

Have you ever wondered how Chinese BBQ Pork or spare ribs get that nice sticky texture? Growing up, I always thought the natural color of the Chines BBQ is bright red. Actually - that's food coloring! The natural color is a brownish color with slight charr. Feeling intinidated by Chinese BBQ? No need anymore! It is actually VERY easy!

Since I've been trying to use the InstantPot more, I decided to use the InstantPot to make my Cha Sau Pork Ribs!

Cha Sau Sauce: (I tripled this recipe so I have extra sauce to brush on the ribs when it was in the oven and left overs for chicken legs, etc)

3 TBS Soy Sauce
1.5 TBS Oyster Sauce
1.5 TBS Hoisin Sauce
2 TBS Chinese cooking wine
4.5 TBS Sugar (I used coconut palm sugar)
4 TBS Honey (I used local honey but any would be okay)
1.5 TBS Garlic Powder
1 TSP Salt
1 TSP Five Spice Powder
2 pieces Fermented Tofu

Cooking Instructions:

1. Mix all of the above ingredients together to create your homemade Chinese BBQ sauce.
2. Cover and marinate the pork (pork butt, ribs, etc) for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
3. With Ribs, I used the InstantPot to initially steam and used the steamer basket. Slater the sauce all over the ribs before you steam, that will ensure extra tastiness!
4. Cooktime - 18 min High Pressure on Steam, 12 min Natural Release (At 18 min, the mean was already fall off the bone, I think maybe 12-15 min would have been better)
5. Once the ribs have been finished steaming, place ribs on a foil tray for the oven. Brush additional sauce and broil. Watch carefully as you broil so the ribs do not over cook. As it finished up, you'll find yourself with beautifully glazed pork ribs!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sujiko to Ikura

Ever wonder how cured or marinated salmon roe gets to be the way it is?

I never did until I saw a beautiful orange sack of salmon roe at the Japanese Market. I took a closer look and to my surprise, it was an entire encased sack of it! First time I tried to make this was almost two years ago and since then I wasnt able to find it at the market again. Only recently (within the last 4-5 months) did I find some more. It is an extremely laborious process as the membranes need to be separated cleanly.


- Sujiko
- Light Soy Sauce
- Mirin
- Sake

1. While soaking the salmon roe in about 35°C water - about nearly hot water from the faucet , separate the skin/membrane from the eggs so they disperse. Once the membrane touches the warm water, it will turn white allowing it to be more visually effective to separate

2. Drain in a colander and gently use a knife to cut off and remove the remaining membrane. I ran my hands through this multiple times until the water had cleared and all I had left was the roe. The color of the roe will change slightly and decrease in size. Dont worry, this is normal - once you begin the marinade, osmosis will allow for the roe to plump back up and change colors.

3. Place the roe in a dish, add the mariade, and marinate for at least 5 hours. I would be conscious to use less salty marinade since I do keep it in the marinade over night. Watch as the color changes from a white-ish/pink roe to a clear brilliant roe color that you are used to seeing. 
(Osmosis in the process)

4. Once marinating is complete, enjoy over white rice with avocado, wasabi, shisho leaf and seaweed!
The texture of the freshly made ikura is different than the ones you'll find at the store or restuarants. They pop in your mouth and they're quite fun to eat! If you are unable to finish them, they're good in the refrigerator for about a week but also hold great in the freezer. It does not change the taste or texture. Enjoy!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Happy Year of the Rooster!

Goodbye to the Monkey and hello Rooster!

For those that dont know, Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year) is a huge holiday filled with festivities and lots of superstitions!

Growing up in NY, we were lucky enough that we were able to celebrate with other Chinese and Asian folks. We had access to all the decorations and the parades, lion dances, red envelopes, and more! Our family follows the basic rituals and traiditons but we don't follow them all. If we did, we probably would need the two weeks off that the Asian countries have! This was and still is always a time where my sister and I looked forward to. Nowadays, we really enjoy meal planning and throwing the party!

This year, my sister decided to host and about two weeks before the CNY dinner, we began to furiously plan. We knew we needed an entire chicken, a whole fish, noodles, meat, and dessert. We ended up with Hainanese chicken, whole steamed fish, Turnip cakes, Taiwanese mee fun, sweet and sour pork ribs, salt and pepper fried head on shrimp, fish cake soup, pan fried bottarga from Taiwan, and Taro tapioca dessert. Believe it or not, we made all of this from scratch!

Few days before the dinner, we were debating on where to order the Turnip cakes from. At the end of our debate... we just decided to make our own!

Let me just preface and say... turnips do not smell the best! My apartment smelled like turnip for a few hours... but it was so worth it!

I knew that getting the consistency of the turnip cakes was the most important part so I had to very careful in all my measurements. Another pro to this recipe is that I used the Instantpot to steam the turnip cakes. Here is my recipe and ingredient list:

2lbs coarsely shredded Daikon/Turnip, about 2.5- 3C (always buy a bit more because of water weight and you wont want to shred your fingers)
1 Chinese Sausage steamed and finely diced
Handful of Dried Shrimp
5 dried Shiitake Musrooms, finely diced
2.5 C Rice Flour (do not use glutionous rice flour)
2 C water (split into 2 1 cups)
Salt to taste
White Pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:
- Rehydrate the mushrooms and dried shrimp in lukewarm water. You can do this in the same or separate bowls.
- Peel and shred daikon. I used a scale to measure grams to pound which is 453.5g to 1 pound
- Mix the rice flour with  1 cup water and make sure the mix is smooth and not lumpy
- Heat oil in a pan/wok/skillet, and stir fry the sausage, mushrooms, shrimp for a few minutes. Add the daikon, 1 c water, salt, white pepper.
- Once the daikon starts to cook down and the liquid is bubbling/boiling, turn off the heat.
- Since my pan wasnt big enough, I moved my daikon mix into a bowl and began to add the rice flour mixture. Stir thoroughly.
- Grease lightly an aluminum loaf pan and pour the mixture in the pan.
- Add two cups water to the Instantpot, make sure the steam rack is in the pot and place the loaf pan on top of the steam rack. I was able to fit two loaf pans criss crossed.
- I steamed in the Instantpot for 40 minutes with a natural release (10 min)
- After I took them out, I let it cool down and harden a bit.

The best would be to prepare this in advance and let the turnip cakes harden so it would be easier to pan fry. I found that the results two days after it was made  was the best!

Once pan fried, garnish with cilantro and enjoy with soy paste!

Of course, photos below!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hot hot hot!

Speaking of SE Asia, I just returned from a trip to Taipei, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur! Let me tell you, it was HOT! Pretty accurate for this time of the year there. I actually havent been to Asia during the summer in countless years. It was always more convenient to go during the holidays due to work and family plans. This time around, my family was there and seemed like a great opportunity to travel with my sister.

Since I arrived in TPE later than everyone else, they had already been well accustomed to jetlag and sourced out all the new places we should check out. I won't go into details of every single place we went but one that is worthy of mentoning is Red Lantern, at Silks Place in  (Yilan - outside of Taipei). They're most known for the Cherry Valley Duck, 5 ways. If you love duck, especially peking duck, this place is a must have!

One of their top dishes is known is the duck skin sushi. It was the most amazing duck skin I've ever had. It was crispy to the right amount without being overly dry, the duck fat oozed as you took a bite. I savored every single chew! I even stole a bite from my nephew... needless to say he was not so happy!  (and still holds a grudge to this day and continuously brings it up - mind you, he's 6). The set meal also included shrimp, some starters, duck egg/spring rolls, duck soup with cabbage, 3-cup duck bones, and sweet dessert (red bean) soup. You can also order additional dishes as well. Photos below to show how amazing it was!


After a few days in Taiwan, my sister and I ventured out to Singapore and Malaysia. There was a lot of walking in both places, many times we walked so much and didnt ancipate it that we just got super hangry! Though we were determined to find the food we were looking for.

Some must eats in Singapore: Hainanese Chicken, Pepper Crab/Chili Crab, Assorted food from Tiong Baru Market.

We didnt actually get to eat the famous Tian Tian Hainese Chicken but we had an amazing Hainanese Chicken which is actually pretty well known as well. We went to Wee Nam Kee. You can pretty much customize your order (dark meat or white or mix). The chicken was tender, white meat wasn't dry and the sauces-- even if you're not a fan of spicy, you have to try the sauces. The ginger in the sauces, the umami of the flavors, cant beat it.

We love small hole in the wall places so we were having a hard time finding "No Signboard Seafood" that was not touristy or a big banquet like restaurant. We tried a few places and gave up on No Signboard. Ended up talking a walk through chintown - I know, touristy however came to a crab place in the middle of the square called Chinatown Crab Master. It wasnt over priced like the other places along the Quay and the lady was super nice. We really wanted to get multiple crabs but with just two people, it wanst feasible. We settled on Chili crab and fried man tou (fried buns). We brought it back to the hotel to chow down and it was sooooo amazing. The black pepper crab looked amazing too (we snuck a photo of someone elses pepper crab!) The aromas of the saltiness crab plus the freshness of the meat is an undescribable combination. In additon to that, you've got the chili sauce that you just want to dump over a nice bowl of hot rice! The buns were fried to golden perfecton so that instead of rice worked nicely.

Another fun place we checked out was satay street (Lau Pa Sat) right outside of Telok Ayer Market. We went later in the night for a snack and there are so many different satay stands! We really wanted to get something from every stand as a comparison. We ended up trying only two stands. Number 6 and 8. #6 was definitely the winner. The satay was grilled just right, the meat was still dripping with juciness and the peanut sauce was also spot on. We tried grilled skate wing at #8 but it wasnt what we eexpected, way over cooked and dry - that was a no go for us. I do hear skate wing is a must try though, maybe just not at #8.

Tiong Bahru market is a simliar to a wet market where they on the first floor is all produce and second floor is all food stands. Few thigns to know is the Tsui Kweh (steamed rice patties), the tofu pudding (BEST soy milk and dou hua - tofu pudding I've had in my life!)

After a few days in Singapore, we were off to KL! We were actually very much on the fence about KL during the planning phase. We LOVE LOVE LOVE Thailand and BKK but we've been there so many times that we wanted something new. So we decided to buck up and letter our inner curiosity take us for a whirlwind of a trip. I have to say though, it turned out more exciting and better than expected. First of, Malaysia/KL is a melting pot of so many different cultures. It really reminds me of the US in the sense that you've got people of Indian, Chinese, etc descent, however, they only acknowledget themselves as Malay no matter how many generations they've been there. It's pretty phenomonal. The Malays are extremely welcoming and it made us feel super comfortable.

Our first stop was W.A.W Restaurant - they're known for their bbq chicken wings. It was definitely good but I wouldnt say it blew my socks off. Definitely fresh and alot of manual labor in getting the wings to the perfect bbq taste. Maybe it was the weather but we had a bottle of Carlsberg beer and it was super refereshing and tasted so crisp!Probably also becuase it pairs well with the bbq! Their Hokkien noodles, which seems basic but was actually very tasty and well cooked. They were not stuck together and missing sauce, it was covered evently and consistency was just right.

Along Jalan Alor, we found a BBQ bacon spot. Imagine beef jerky but using bacon strips. We bought 200g of this and lasted us the entire time we were there plus some! Tasted almost like maple coated bacon but even better with a tinge of soy. It really had that sweet/savory umami flavor to it. Def must have.

Another must have is Ba-Kuh-Teh. I believe it is a national dish of Malaysia/Singapore and widely known. It is a pork rib soup cooked with some special spices. It's got some innards/intestines, veggies, mushrooms and you usually eat it over rice. One of our guides had taken us to a spot off the beaten path and it was phenomenal. It was quite herbally but that is just how its supposed to be. You can also buy Ba-Kuh-Teh packets to go and can make your own at home.

I know this is getting quite long but the last "food" thing I will mention is that since Malay is made up of such a large Indian population, one of my KL friends suggested that we MUST have banana leaf while in KL. Boy, was he right. It was the easily one of the top 3 meals we had on our trip. Keep in mind anyone going into this should be fairly open minded of a new culture and new way of doing things. We went to Sri Nirwana Maju Bangsar (Nirvana Restaurant in Bangsar). Bangsar is a pretty hip, young, up and coming area with lots of small local places. What is banana leaf? Banana leaf is a type of Indian cuisine where the curry, side dishes, are all served on a banana leaf! You would typically use your hands to eat what is served on the leaf and the tradition is that when you are done, you fold the banana leaf inwards to show your appreciation and show that you enjoyed the food.  (i ended up folding the wrong way but they were appreciative of the effort, haha!)

We ordered fried squid, mutton curry, and chicken tikka masala. Sides that were included were yogurt sauce, fried gourd (I'm not a fan of bitter melon but this was exceptional), and onions amongst a few other items. Not sure what it was but the combination of all the items just worked. It was definitely spicy on some dishes but it was really really phenomenal. Looking around, you can see how intertwined all the different cultures was and it was an enlightening sight. I will definitely be back for this!

One of our last spots before leaving was Yut Kee, they're a famous breakfast spot known for old school chinese breakfast. They're known for their chicken chop and Roti babi. Again, one of our top meals in Malay! Yut Kee has been around for generations and was passed down. It is a mom and pop shop and even though it has been pased down from generation to generation, the friendliness and hospitality of a small shop still stands. They also sell kaya roll cake and freshmade kaya jam!

Here are some photos to show our trip from KL!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Blast the AC!

If I didnt know better this summer, I would have thought we were in the south or SE Asia! The heat, humidity, and random thunderstorms in the last few weeks have been very un-NY like. July has always been hot and humid but we've never experienced flash thunderstorms as often as we have this year.

So, I thought... What is better than having Taiwanese style piping hot beef noodle soup (紅燒牛肉麵) in the middle of this disgusting heat? But at least I'll have the AC on, right?

I used to slave over the stove for HOURS on end trying to braise the perfect soup base and cook the meats down to the perfect texture. This time, the Instant Pot saved me again!

Growing up, Mom would seldom make this because it would take so long but we craved for it all the time. Back in Taiwan, Ah-Ma (my maternal grandmother) actually sold beef noodle soup out of the small porch of the house that I remember visiting when I was a kid. By the time I was born, she was no longer selling it but I would hear so many stories. On top of that, my dad even got involved with the business when him and Mom were courting/dating/or even beginning of their marriage. Dad was definitely a keeper ;)

So here is my authentic version of Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup!


2 lbs Beef (this can be shank, beef stew, oxtail, beef tendon, tripe, etc)
*Beef shank is what is traditionally used as that is the cut that gives the noodle soup the rice collagen-filled soup base. This time around, I used Oxtail and Beef Tendon
2 small/med carrots - cut up in one inch pieces
1 small/med Onion - halved
3 Scallions - cut in halves
2 Tomato - cut in quarters
3-4 Garlic - peeled and smashed
1 Marinade packet
1/2 cup Soy sauce 
1/3 Chinese cooking wine
1 stick Rock/Brown sugar
1 TBS oil 


Chopped cilantro
Sauteed sour cabbage
- 1 bag pickled mustard green (thai branded)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- sugar to taste
- 1 TBS Oil

Noodles: I used Japanese Udon Noodles which is what I had in the pantry but hand pulled noodles or any other types of Chinese noodles would work too

(tips on some of the ingredients)

Marinating packet option 1
Marinating Packet Option 2

Brown/Rock Sugar 

First, I put on a pot of boiling water so I can blanch my meat. This will clean the meat and rid it of any dirty blood and things. I prefer a clearer broth so this step helps me in getting there. 

The pot will start to boil and there is a pinkish/brownish foam that will be created from the boil. I strain the meat and rinse it real quick with some clean water and leave it to the side. 

Instant pot is amazing in that you can do everything in one pot! Add the oil, then sautee the scallion, onion and garlic (all the fragrant ingredients) until brown.

I then added tomato and carrots, and the beef or choice of meat. 

Add soy sauce, cooking wine, sugar (I prefer this on the sweeter side so this can be adjusted to taste). Add water until it just covers the top of the all the ingredients. 

Finally, add in the marinade packet. 

Close the lid to the pressure cooker, make sure the vent is closed.

Press the manual function and adjust the timer to 75 minutes. I thought 75 minutes was a bit long so maybe 65-70 minutes would be slightly better. 

Final Product!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Black Friday... in JULY?

So most of you, if not all of you know that a few weeks ago Amazon had their Prime Day. Some walked away with some pretty good deals. One of the biggest sellers was the Instant Pot. It is a 7 in 1 multi function cooker. You can purchase on Amazon.

Truth be told, I was definitely a bit hesitant. Reason being that I wasn't sure that I would really make good use of all 7 functions and I thought that I'd just have a one week phase with it and then stop using it. Plus my kitchen doesn't have a lot of room so it was just another appliance that I could do with out. In my research phase, I read up on a bunch of blogs and reviews - everyone had positive things to say and people seem to use this appliance regularly! So I decided to purchase the pot! It was supposed to arrive with free two day shipping but ended up getting it the next day which was a nice surprise.

Recently, I had been craving a simple chicken soup and figured I can use the pressure cooker function to cook it in a just a short period of time. It was a weeknight and I didnt have a lot of time to make a full on chicken stock/broth. I was able to make the soup in 60 minutes. Just enough time for me to work out at the gym!

The result? Better than I could have imagined!

In addition, I had so much stock left over, I thought, why not make some chicken congee in the SAME POT! So that's what I did. All I had to do was add rice, turn the pressure cooker back on and by the time I had gotten ready for bed, congee was the perfect consistency and delicious.

Below is the recipe and some photos - enjoy!

Soup: (can use pork ribs, carrots, daikon, etc)

2 corn, broken into thirds
2 organic chicken thighs - can use any part of the chicken as you wish
few slices of ginger
4-5 dried shiitake mushroom

1. soak mushroom in water - 20 minutes should be fine
2. fill up the instant pot with water to about the 6 mark
3. once mushrooms are soaked and roughtly sliced, pour the mushroom water in the pot
4. Add in all ingredients
5. Press the "soup" setting, it should default to high pressure (make sure the valve is sealed)
6. Set time for 45 min
7. Salt/season to taste

Soup base/water/liquid of preference
Whatever else you want

1. Liquid to rice ratio is 7:1
2. Add in any other ingredients
3. Press the "Porridge" setting, it should default to high pressure (make sure the valve is sealed)
4. Set time for 60 minutes
5. Salt/Season to taste - add any toppings (scallions, thousand year old egg, cilantro, etc)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

It's Been a While!

Wow, I can't believe it has really been 3+ years since I've last posted. Time certainly flies and life definitely happens.

Since 2013, I've travelled quite a bit as well as taken on some challenges both in my personal life and career.

To me, life is about the journey, and not about the end goal. The experiences and people we encounter in our lives help shape who we become. Those that have come and gone in our lives, I believe have a place and a purpose in our journeys. No matter the outcome of those relationships, always try to see the silver lining. You'll be much happier when you accept those things and see positivity stem from them. Of course, in the case that there are already positive outcomes, don't forget to show appreciation and thank those that have supported you.

Those that have followed me for some time have seen some of the transformations in both my writing and my life. For a while, I've taken on some interest in street fairs, events, "fun" things to do around NYC. It really allowed me to appreciate NYC as a whole and I enjoyed every part of sharing that with my friends and family.

So where am I going with this? Since I've [really] settled in NYC, I've had the opportunity to develop my second loves - CULTURE AND CUISINE!

In NYC, you can practically find anything and everything! If you're talking about quality, that might be a whole other ball game but generally speaking, NYC is the epitome of what we consider a culture mash up.

Anyone who follows my IG (@crewgrl19), Facebook, Snapchat (ID: crewgrl19) know that my life is consumed with trying new things, and finding the best food out there (whether it's homemade or found elsewhere).

I'll be [hopefully] posting more consistently on my adventures of Pigs and Chicks (IG: @pigsandchicks or Pigs and Chicks FB Page), cooking, and dining out experiences.

Lots of folks have asked for recipes of food I've put up on social media - I've decided to post them here so everyone can access. Would love to see the results if you decide to test out one of Luluish's receipes!

Cheers to more yummy times!