Japanese-style Steamed Fish

Sometimes its nice to just have something simple.


Clean, crisp, light flavors are like a cleanse for the palate, and after my dad and I had three nights of heavy eating, we were really craving a simple dinner for Sunday evening.


With some fresh ginger from the farmers market and beautiful fillets of cod from Whole Foods, what better way to use them than with Japanese steamed fish. Seasoned with only soy sauce, mirin, and ginger, this dish steams conveniently in the oven for those of you who don’t have a nice steamer.


Japanese-style Steamed Fish

Adapted from Allrecipes

  • 24 oz. true cod, cleaned and cut into palm-sized fillets
  • 1 inch grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1-2 green onions, sliced
  • Handful of sprouts for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a round or square glass baking dish, place fillets of fish in one even layer. Mix the marinade in a seperate bowl. Carefully pour over the fish. Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until fish is opaque as it will continue to cook in the hot liquid.

Garnish with fresh sprouts and serve with rice or a grain and steamed fresh vegetables for a truly simple meal. Enjoy!

Revamp the Classics: Peanut Butter & Jelly with an Asian Twist

As part of theKitchn‘s cooking cure, I’ve been trying a load of new recipes for lunch. One idea that I will definitely be adding to my regular lunch rotations is an amazing spin on an old childhood classic: Peanut butter and Jelly! 

Instead of the sweet route, this sandwich goes savory & southeast asian, with crunchy peanut butter, chili jelly, a drizzle of sriracha, and some fresh herbs on top. To lighten it up, I’ve decided to go open faced. Plus, the sandwich is SO much prettier that way!

Feel free to use any peanut butter/bread/jam you have on hand. I’ll go ahead and give you the recipe for what I used, though. Image

Open-Faced Peanut Butter + Chilli Jelly

  • 1 slice of seeded whole wheat bread (any will work, preferably not a very sweet loaf)
  • 1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter (I used Jif)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet chilli jelly or orange marmalade (I have used both and they are equally delicious)
  • 1 drizzle of sriracha
  • A handful of cilantro, mint, torn into small pieces

Layer peanut butter, then jelly/marmalade, then sriracha, then cilantro/mint. Enjoy! 

New Ingredient: Basil Seeds


These are NOT chia seeds!

Yeah, they look a lot like them, don’t they? However, these are basil seeds. Commonly an ingredient in cold Asian drinks, they swell up in liquid and have a jelly-like, chewy texture. This is characteristic of the seeds of several varieties of basil species (sweet basil, thai basil, italian basil…). The seeds are about the size of a sesame seed.

While basil seeds do not have the same healthy fat benefits as the recently-popularized chia seed, they are still just as fun to play with in drinks! And bonus: they’re much cheaper! A bag of basil seeds typically costs me about $2, while I’ve seen chia seeds at health stores for about $8.


But don’t be weirded out! They are amazing little seeds to add to a sweet drink. Often they are components in faluda,  and I like to add them to Sam Bo Luong (or Ching Bo Leung).



Sam Bo Luong/Ching bo Leung

Sam Bo Luong/Ching bo Leung

Unfamiliar with these names? All of them are refreshing, sweet drinks from South Asia that are eaten with a spoon. They all contain many types of jellies of differing textures, so it’s a lot of fun to eat! Faluda is creamy, while Sam Bo Luong is tea-like.

IMG_0071How do you use basil seeds? Simply soak them in a liquid for 1-2 hours, and they will expand and become gelatinous. 1 tablespoon is probably enough to add to a drink.


They have pretty much no flavor; it’s all about the texture! I bet they’d also be cool to add to raspberry-flavored jello 🙂

If you’re feeling adventurous, you have to try these! They are fun ingredients that are often sold in bags (the one I bought was in a shaker though, how convenient) at most Southeast Asian groceries. They are awesome!

Vietnamese “Grilled” Fish Salad Bowls

fishbowlOne of my mom’s favorite dishes is Vietnamese grilled fish. Typically rolled with fresh herbs, rice noodles (bún), julienned raw vegetables, rice paper (banh trang), and dipping fish sauce (nuoc mam cham), it’s a great meal to enjoy around a big table, chattering amongst friends and family in the sweltering humidity.

While there are many ways to prepare fish, her favorite is with lemongrass and fresh herbs. The lemongrass, crushed, goes into a sweet and salty marinade on the fish before it is broiled or grilled. Chopped fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, flat-leaf parsley, thai basil) garnish when the fish is done.

However, seeing as it is winter, the grill is covered, it’s a Sunday night, and there’s work to be done before dreaded Monday rolls around, it isn’t ideal to be lounging around meticulously assembling dinner. So, my mom and I have discovered a way to still enjoy all the flavors and textures of her favorite meal all in a bowl.

These “bowls” are becoming popular, too, regardless if they are traditional preparations or new spins on old recipes – bibimbap, burrito bowls, deconstructed falafel bowls, vermicelli rice bowls (bún).

So the recipe comes in two parts: the fish, the sauce. The assembly in a bowl is really up to you. Have fun with it!

grilledfishsideVietnamese Lemongrass Fish

  • 4 Tilapia fillets (or other white fish), thawed if frozen
  • 2 Tablespoons minced lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder, any mild one will do (I used trader joe’s generic)
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (or agave)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used olive)
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Chopped cilantro, thai basil, mint, flat-leaf parsley, or any herbs of choice for garnish

Stir together the lemongrass, fish sauce, sugar, oil, and green onion in a small bowl.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spread with vegetable oil. Preheat the oven 450 degrees.

Lay the fillets on the tray, about an inch apart. Ladle marinade onto each fillet with a flat spoon (or alternately brush). Make sure to get both sides! Cover the fish and let sit for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, turn the broiler of your oven on (or if you don’t have a broiler, leave it on the highest setting). Hopefully your oven won’t explode when you turn the broiler on because you preheated it!

Put the tray in the oven on the top rack. Check the fillets after 5 minutes – they are finished when the meat is no longer opaque and the ends become charred. Flip each fillet and repeat on the other side, just until browned.

When the fish are done, garnish with chopped herbs.

Vietnamese Dipping Fish Sauce (Nuoc Mam Cham)

This is the dipping sauce served alongside many vietnamese dishes: bún, certain types of spring rolls, etc. Basically, you stir all the ingredients together in the proportions that you like. Warning, I can never perfectly measure these ratios! Sometimes the fish sauce is too salty, other times I use vinegar instead of lemon juice… blah blah. It’s difficult to get it right, but when you find the perfect mix, it’s worth it! I’ve found the best way for me to get the perfect consistency (without heating it up to melt the sugar) is to use agave. The sweetener is fairly neutral in taste, so it doesn’t affect the nuoc mam. My mixture this time (approximately):

  • 1 part agave nectar
  • 1 part fish sauce
  • 1/2 part white vinegar
  • 2 parts water (to dilute)

Mix, taste, mix, taste. Adjust to your liking! Some people also like to add minced chili or garlic.


To assemble: In a bowl, place a base of noodles, lettuce, chopped greens, or rice. Add blanched broccoli, shredded carrots, bok choy, or another steamed vegetable. Add the fillet of fish on top, garnish with chopped herbs, crushed peanuts, fried shallots, and finally dress with about a tablespoon of nuoc mam cham. Mix to combine, and enjoy! This is a very filling lunch or dinner, great for exotic vietnamese flavors without much time! No skill required to make these into rolls, either, haha.




The forgotten vegetable



Children cringe; memories of warm coleslaw, briny sauerkraut, and diet soup quickly turn this vegetable boring.

However, cabbage is one of my favorite vegetables. While lately, other cruciferous vegetables, (brussels sprouts and cauliflower, anyone?) have been revived, lonesome cabbage still sits there, just waiting to be a star.

There are a few tricks with cabbage to make it more, palatable, though. First, you never want to overcook it. As with all crucifers, the sulfurous, yucky smell will release as the vegetable breaks down, noses will be turned… it’s just not appetizing. Secondly, cabbage is a great blank slate. As in kimchi and sauerkraut, cabbage nearly always benefits from a meaty highlight. Whether it be with bulgogi or corned beef, both elements help round out the overall flavor profile. If you’re vegetarian? Peanuts  make a great pairing, as do whole spices (mustard seeds, peppercorns).

One of my new favorite ways to cook cabbage is with Lap Xuong (Chinese: Lap Cheong), a Vietnamese/Chinese cured sweet pork sausage. Beautifully dotted with pork fat, a gorgeously warm red flavor – it’s the candy bacon of Asia.


Now, Lap Xuong is by no means healthy for you, the trick is to use it to season the cabbage. Just a little bit will do – I only used 1/2 a whole sausage for a whole cabbage! I also found a pork and chicken mixed Lap Xuong sausage, so it has less saturated fat. Please enjoy the recipe that follows for lunar new year, as a side dish, or a healthy meal alongside a bowl of brown rice.

Stir Fried Cabbage with Lap Xuong

1 Medium head cabbage, sliced thinly

1/2 medium carrot, cut in rings or strips

1/2 Lap Xuong sausage (find it at your local Asian store), cubed very small

1 Tbs fish sauce (can sub salt or soy sauce, to taste)

Black Pepper

  1. Heat a wok or large sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the cubed lap xuong and sliced carrots. No need to oil here! The Lap Xuong will render its fat to oil for you.
  3. Let the lap xuong and carrots brown for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced cabbage, and toss to combine. Allow to cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until cabbage is tender. Do not overcook!
  5. Season with fish sauce and pepper.
  6. Turn off the heat, toss again, and taste to adjust seasoning. Serve hot with a bowl of rice, by itself, or as a side dish. Enjoy!

carrotlapxuongRendering the fat. 

IMG_0033_FotorĂn Ngon! (That means Bon Appetit in Vietnamese)

Fusing cultures with LA-style Sweet Rice Cakes!

Yes, I know, it seems like I’ve forgotten all about this blog. But don’t worry! I just have a lot of college-related things to do, but I’ll try to post at least once a week.

Anyway, onto the recipe. This is a recipe from Koreans who began to move to LA, but missed the sweet korean rice cakes they had back home. Instead of recreating them, they tweaked the recipe so that the rice cakes are baked (!) rather than steamed. The result is a wonderfully delicious bar that has the interior of a mochi (if you don’t know what mochi is, it’s a chewy, soft sweet made of pounded sticky rice) yet a slightly crunchy, golden brown exterior akin to a quickbread crust. The fillings are completely up to you!

Action shots of mine –

Ready to stir; I recommend azuki beans and sesame seeds!



I love this recipe because it’s so simple! My favorite filling is azuki/red beans to go with the asian theme, it may sound weird to put beans in a dessert but you just have to try it. Also sesame seeds (of both colors) add a nice toasty flavor.

From Beyond Kimchee

LA Style Sweet Rice Cake Bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 20 bars

LA Style Sweet Rice Cake Bars


3 cup glutinous rice flour (DO NOT SUB RICE FLOUR, you can find this at an asian/specialty grocery)
1-1/2 to 2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cup milk (Soy, lowfat, skim, whole, I bet even almond would work)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups fillings (nuts, raisins, pistachios, COOKED azuki beans, chocolate chips, sesame seeds, etc… possibilities are endless)


  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. In a large bowl whisk together rice flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pour milk and vanilla and stir to mix well.
  3. Add the fillings. Mix well.
  4. Pour the batter over well greased 9×13 inch pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top gets brown and crisp.
  5. Cool completely and cut into bars. Wrap leftover bars with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.Happy munching!

Quick Choy Sum

A quick stir-fry to use up those old vegetables. Every weekend there’s a farmer’s market in my area. My favorite stall, by far, is run by this Chinese lady who carries so many different types of vegetables. She has okra, sweet potato, tons of herbs, pumpkins, chilis, fresh peanuts, you name it! I always try and grab a bunch of chinese greens because they’re full of fiber and vitamin C, and so simple to prepare! But, what are all these vegetables called? I found a handy chart if you ever want to refer to it:

Keep in mind, however, that these are only one of the variations of the name! There are different spellings, different languages, etc, so nothing is definitive.

So, here’s  a recipe for a quick take on what you can do with asian greens. I don’t use as much oil as the chinese restaurants do nor does my wok get as hot, but it’s delicious none the less. And   healthier, too! Who needs all that extra oil, anyway.

Pretty much any will stand in place for choy sum, and feel free to replace soy sauce with fish sauce, hoisin sauce, kung pao sauce, or whatever you’d like.

  • 1 Bunch of Choy Sum (About 4 cups), cut into 1 inch long pieces
  • 1 Stalk of Celery, thinly sliced on a bias
  • 2 green onions, sliced in rings, divided
  • 1 thinly sliced zucchini squash
  • 1 teaspoon neutral oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch

Heat your wok on medium-high while preparing the vegetables. Drizzle the oil around your wok. Add half the green onions and the celery. Let brown for about 2 minutes. Add zucchini, stir, and let cook for 2 minutes. Then add the stems of the choy sum. Stir, cover the wok for 1 minute. Add the tops of the choy sum, cover for 1 minute.

In a seperate bowl, stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch. Add to the wok and mix, heat the wok to high and stir fry for 1 minute with the sauce. Garnish with the rest of the green onions and chili flakes (optional). Serve hot with rice and meat.