Oxtail Pho

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Hello there! For the past couple of months, my mind has been focused on work, studying, and no play whatsoever. If we were able to see into each other’s minds, you’d probably see either a tornado or a block of mush, in mine.

I came across Steph’s recipe of oxtail pho onย iamafoodblog. It happened I was reading her post while standing in Costco. I looked over my shoulder and saw about 100 lbs. of oxtail sitting there right before my eyes. How could I not buy a couple of pounds and not make oxtail pho, right??

Steph simmered her soup stock for about 4 hours. ย Keeping in mind I’m completely mentally drained, I just threw everything into a slow cooker. That was probably the best decision I made that day. Slow-cooking the oxtail ensures fall-off-the-bone tender meat and also means stress-free no fuss cooking. I literally slept while the soup cooked. I woke up to a house that had the spicy aroma of pho broth flooding down the hallway. Almost as good as the smell of mom’s baking in the early morning. Right before serving, I heated the oxtail in a pan to create a crust and lightly sprinkled it with salt to create another dimension of flavor. I also tried to keep as much of the meat on the bone as I fully believe that one of the best ways to enjoy oxtail is to suck all of the meat and tendon off from the bone! Hey, no shame here.

This entire process took two days to make and about 10 minutes to eat, but it took very little effort and 98% of the time was waiting. Anyways, keep reading to see what I did. Thanks Steph for posting this awesome recipe!

First and foremost, take out your slow-cooker!

Oxtail Pho

Original recipe here
Servings: About 6 bowls of pho


1 cinnamon stick
1 heaping tsp. of whole coriander
1 heaping tsp. of whole cloves
5 star anise

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2 large onions, cut in half, keep outer skin
3/4″ knob of ginger
medium sized daikon radish, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 lbs. oxtail
3 quarts water
2 quarts beef broth
1/4 C. fish sauce

Pho noodles (this time I used fresh flat rice noodles)


thai basil
bean sprouts
green onions, thinly sliced
sliced jalapeรฑos

1. Place halved onions and ginger into a 400 F oven or toaster oven on broil. Toast until the outside of the onions are charred. About 15 minutes.

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2. While the onions and ginger are toasting, trim the fat from the oxtail. Place the trimmed oxtail into a large pot. Fill the pot up with cold water until all of the oxtail is covered about an inch. Place the pot onto the stove and bring the water up to a rolling boil. Boil the oxtail for about 10 minutes to remove all of the impurities. Pour the dirty water out and rinse the oxtail. Transfer the oxtail into the slow cooker. This is key to making a clear broth. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

3. in a small hot pan, toast the coriander seeds, cloves, and star anise until fragrant. Put the toasted spices and cinnamon stick into the slow cooker. Also add the carrots and daikon radish.

4. Add the 3 quarts of water to the slow cooker. If you can’t fit the beef broth, no worries. You can add this in later.

5. Turn on your slow-cooker to low and slow cook for 10 hours.

6. After 10 hours, separate the onions, daikon, carrots, and oxtail from the stock then strain the broth into a clean large pot. Simmer the stock for at least another hour or until your desired taste. The longer it boils, the richer the stock will become. If you couldnt fit all if the liquid into your slowcooker earlier, this is the time to add it now. Add fish sauce and taste. If you want the srock saltier, add more fish sauce. Discard the onions, carrots and daikon or save for later to eat.

7. Let the stock cool then transfer the pot into the refrigerator. When the broth gets cold, a layer of fat will form on the surface. Remove the fat.

8. When you’re ready to eat, heat the stock until boiling.

9. Heat a frying pan and fry the oxtail meat and lightly sprinkle the meat with salt.

10. To prepare a bowl of pho, add a handful of noodles and a few chunks of meat to a large bowl. Spoon the hot broth over the noodles and oxtail then finish with your choice of garnish.

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Happy slurping!

Chicken & Taro Eggrolls

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It’s been a really long week at both home and work and I’m SO glad I took some time to myself. When I say time to myself, I mean time in the kitchen. I don’t know about you, but my therapy is cooking or baking a completely new recipe I’ve never tried before. You have to concentrate a little more and pay attention to what you’re doing just in case the recipe comes out a success! It would be unfortunate to come up with a winner recipe then forget it.

When I was in school, while everyone went out for drinks after a midterm or final, I’d rush home to take a nap (since I was always pulling all-nighters). I’d roll out of bed when it was dark out then would make a run to the grocery store and would start baking the night away. That was how I relieved my stress. My housemates probably thought I was crazy, but they never complained! That meant there was always some type of snack during our breaks from studying.

I haven’t done anything tedious in the kitchen lately and at first I was sort of regretting thinking about making these egg rolls, but that regret quickly went away. Sitting at the table watching random YouTube videos and rolling a bunch of egg rolls was actually a breath of fresh air. It helped clear my mind and it felt just like those late night baking sessions during my college years.

Anyways, the Farmer’s Market near my work has a stand that sells a bunch of vegetables and other ingredients found in Asian cuisines that may be hard to find even in local Asian supermarkets. For example, they have ube, galangal, and mountain potato. I decided to pick up a couple of small taro and ended up making these chicken and taro egg rolls. They surprisingly came out well! The insides are very moist and soft from the taro and the outside is extremely crispy. Perfect snack for this Superbowl weekend!

Make sure to use the small round type of taro and not the large ones that are of an oblong shape. The small taro are more dense and tight while the large taro are more starchy like. Think of a waxy potato vs. a russet potato. Another tip is to make sure to wrap the egg rolls tightly. Wrapping them loosely allows for the oil to seep into and stay in the egg roll making them become very greasy and soggy!

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1 medium sized taro, grated
1 lb. ground chicken
1 small onion, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 egg, beaten

1 pack spring roll wrappers, defrosted. (I used the square shaped wrappers)
1 egg, slightly beaten

canola oil for frying

1. combine all of the ingredients except for the spring rolls wrappers and the lightly beaten egg. Mix all of the ingredients together until everything is evenly combined. Cover and set into the refrigerator for an hour or up to 1 day.

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2. When you’re ready to wrap your egg rolls, open your defrosted spring roll wrappers and separate each wrapper. Set a damp sheet of paper towel over them to make sure they don’t dry out.

3. a. Place a spring roll wrapper in from of you so that it shapes a diamond.
b. Using a spoon, place a generous tablespoon of the meat and taro mixture onto the bottom third of the diamond and form the meat into a log shape.
c. Fold in the left and right sides of the diamond partially covering the meat the fold the bottom point of the diamond up and continue rolling upwards like a burrito. Make sure to keep the rolling tight!
d. Using your finger, wet the top tip of the diamond with some of the lightly beaten egg and finish rolling upwards sealing the egg roll.

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4. After rolling all of the egg rolls, you can either fry them now or place them in the freezer for later. If freezing, make sure to keep all of the egg rolls in a single layer on some type of baking sheet and partially freeze them before throwing them all into one container. This keeps the egg rolls from freezing into one large egg roll.

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5. When ready to fry, heat a medium sized pot of oil, about 3 inches deep, to 375 F. If you don’t have a cooking thermometer, use the chopstick method. Dip a wooden chopstick or wooden spoon into the oil. When bubbles rise from the wood, your oil is hot enough!

6. Fry eggrolls for about 8 minutes or until they’re golden brown. I like mine extra crispy so I keep them in for longer. Don’t overcrowd the pot by putting tons of egg rolls in at once. This will bring the temperature of the oil down and your egg rolls won’t be crisp.
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7. Take the egg rolls out and lay them onto a paper towel to drain the excess oil.


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Red Beans and Rice

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Doesn’t it feel like Thanksgiving 2014 was just a couple months ago? Where has the time gone? Something about the crisp air, decorations on people’s homes, and Fall treats give me fuzzy feelings inside. I try to stay away from the malls since I can’t handle much of the Christmas music. Let’s just say Christmas music makes me cringe (I know, that makes me sound like such a scrooge). I used to work multiple retail jobs throughout my college years and listening to the same Christmas tracks from the beginning of November to the end of January drove me nuts. Anyways, red beans and rice definitely add to the warm fuzzy feelings and I won’t let anything get in the way of those fuzzy feelings! I mean, I practically wait all year for this. It’s a hearty dish and is something I wouldn’t mind having in my bowl while snuggled up in a blanket. A friend was smoking some meats in his new smoker and suggested some red beans and rice when asked what side dish to bring. I’m so glad he suggested red beans and rice because this has become one of the family’s faves!

Leftovers are even better! Enjoy with your most favorite hot sauce.

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Red Beans and Rice

16 oz. dry red beans, soaked overnight
2 strips bacon
1 red bell pepper, small diced
Half an onion, small diced
2 stalks celery, small diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 smoked turkey sausage, sliced into circles
1 smoked turkey leg
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
5 C. chicken broth

Cooked rice

1. Pour beans into a large bowl and cover with water until all the beans are submerged at least 2 inches. Set aside overnight. When the beans have absorbed most of the water, strain and set aside.

2. In a medium heavy pot, heat bacon on medium high heat and let the bacon grease cover the bottom of the pot.

3. Add the diced bell pepper, onion, celery, and garlic. Stir and sautee for until the onions are translucent.

4. Add the sausage and turkey leg to the vegetables and let the meat heat up. Stir occasionally.

5. When the sausages are browned and warmed through, add the thyme, parsley, bay leaves, cayenne, black pepper, and salt. Stir for about a minute.

6. Add the chicken broth and soft red beans.

7. Bring the chicken broth to a boil. When the broth starts to boil, set the heat to low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.

8. When the beans are completely soft, use a fork and smash at least half of the beans. The smashed beans will thicken the broth!

9. Continue to simmer for at least another hour.

10. Taste the beans and add more cayenne, pepper, or salt to your taste.

11. While the beans are cooking, cook your rice either in a rice cooker or over the stove in a pot.

13. Serve the beans and rice immediately together.

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Kalbi (Korean Shortribs)

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It’s officially Fall in San Francisco and it’s time to brush the dust off of the Winter coats. Before I shift full swing into the cold weather comfort foods, I figured why not do some BBQ’ing one last time! Actually, I’d still take the grill out for these ribs even if it were snowing.

Mr. V and I were going over to a friend’s place for dinner and didn’t want to go empty handed. I didn’t have much time to spend in the kitchen so something made beforehand and cooked quickly was in demand. I marinated the ribs two nights beforehand to make sure the ribs had maximum flavor and Mr. V helped with the grilling the day of. They came out flavorful, juicy, and finger licking delicious. I sorta wished we made more so that there were more leftovers!

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Adapted heavily from Rasamalaysia
Servings: 6-8

1 small Asian pear
1 small yellow onion
1 C. Light soy sauce
1 C. Citrus soda
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1/4 C. Sesame oil
4 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp. Chili flakes

5 lbs short ribs (cut perpendicularly to the bones)

Sesame seeds
Green onions, sliced

1. Put all MARINADE ingredients into a food processor and blend until there are no chunks from the pear or onion.

2. In a large bowl, cover ribs with water and let sit for a few minutes. Drain the water out. This removes the impurities from the meat.

3. In a large ziplock bag or large dish, lay the ribs flat and pour in the marinade, making sure every rib gets covered. Let the meat marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

4. Heat a heavy pan over high heat or prepare your BBQ grill. Cook the ribs until the surface gets charred. Flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

5. Set on a plate and sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds.

Serve immediately. Provide lots of napkins. Enjoy!!

Char Siu Flavored Chicken

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For all of my Chinese brothers and sisters out there, you know we consume a whole bunch of char siu (Chinese BBQ pork). It’s one of our staples as a side dish in our household whenever the family gets together and at every celebration, my grandma insists on buying a large chunk of char siu and slicing it up into thin pieces for “the kids”. It’s a food that has become very nostalgic to me, but as I became older, pork was one of the food items I tried to eat less of (yes, including bacon!). Chicken is my most preferred meat, but Chinese BBQ pork is probably my most favorite flavored meat so when I saw this recipe, I KNEW I had to give it a try. What pushed me even harder to make this recipe was that every single ingredient was already in my kitchen. Making something new without running to the grocery store is extremely rare for me!

I’m not a big fan of drumsticks so I opted for chicken thighs and they came out extremely moist and flavorful. Although this doesn’t look anything like char siu, the marinade comes pretty close.

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Char Siu Flavored Chicken
Adapted from Chopstick Chronicles
Serves 2-4

4 chicken thighs, skin and bone in, poked with a fork
1 small yellow onion, small diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
4 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 green onion, sliced

1. Puncture the skin of the chicken thighs a few times with a fork to allow the marinade to reach the meat and place into a large ziplock bag.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bag and move/shake the meat around to thoroughly mix all of the ingredients together. Make sure all parts of the meat are covered.

3. Put into the refrigerator and marinate for at least 8 hours. I marinated the chicken for 24 hours.

4. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 425 F.

5. Place chicken thighs flat onto a baking dish and add about half a cup of the marinade into the dish.

6. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the chicken juice runs clear when cut with a knife.

7. Optional: If you want the skin to crisp up a little and have a darker color, broil for about 10 minutes.

8. Top with green onions.

Mini Hazelnut Blueberry Tarts

I have a couple of handful of friendships that are almost as old as I am. I trust them with almost everything and know I can count on them at any hour of the day even if it’s waking them up to ask a stupid question at two in the morning. I feel exactly the same way about this recipe. There’s hundreds of pages in my recipe book, but when it comes to baking a dessert for a party, I know this one won’t let me down. A friend has asked me to make her dessert table at her wedding and this recipe definitely made the cut.

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This recipe is originally Dorie Greenspan’s French Pear Tart and has been posted on here before, but I’ve made this tart in so many variations, with them all being delicious outcomes, that I might as well share this one with you too. Almonds were replaced with hazelnuts and the poached pears were replaced with blueberries.

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You can find Dorie’s recipe here.

Follow Dorie’s recipe with the exception of using 3/4 C. of ground hazelnuts and 1 lb. of fresh blueberries.

Don’t forget to make that powdered sugar RAAAAAAINNN!!

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Makes 13 cupcake sized tarts.
Pan used was this Wilton’s Mini Tart Pan.

Ginger & White Chocolate Matcha Snickerdoodles

There have been so many new and upcoming bakeries in San Francisco that I’ve been MIA from the kitchen and have been bakery hopping just about every chance I can get. A few weekends ago, I woke up bright and early to buy some fresh pasta from the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market. I made the mistake of showing up with an empty stomach and ended up buying a lot more than just pasta! One of the things I bought was a ginger and white chocolate matcha snicker doodle from Craftsman and Wolves. I’m not very big on snickerdoodles or ginger, but I do fall head over heels for anything matcha. On my bus ride home, I took a little nibble of the cookie and immediately knew I had to remake it at home.

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I found a recipe online for ginger and white chocolate snickerdoodles and made a couple changes to add the matcha in. I was pretty happy with these cookies, except there wasn’t enough matcha flavor. Next time, I’d use 4 Tbsp. of matcha in the cookie dough instead of just 1. The cookies came out sweet, fluffy yet chewy, and was so easy to put together!

Ginger & White Chocolate Matcha Snickerdoodles
Recipe Adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Yield: 4 dozen medium sized cookies

2-3/4 C. All-purpose flour minus 1 Tbsp.
1 Tbsp. matcha powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 C. granulated sugar
1/2 C. dark brown sugar
1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 whole eggs
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. white chocolate chips (I used ghiradelli)

4 Tbsp. matcha powder
4 Tbsp. granulated sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, matcha powder, baking powder, salt, and ground ginger.

3. In a mixer, combine the sugars, butter, and fresh ginger until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Mix the flour in in two parts. Stop mixing once the cookie dough forms.

4. Fold in the white chocolate chips.

5. In a small bowl or plate, combine COATING ingredients and mix.

6. Scoop out 1 Tbsp. of dough and roll between your hands to create balls. Coat each ball in the coating mixture.

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7. Place each cookie dough ball on your lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. They will spread during baking.

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8. Bake for 12-14 minutes just until the edges turn a very light golden color and the cookie is puffy. Take the cookie sheet out and let sit for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies onto a cooling rack. Eat warm or store in a seal tight container for up to two days.
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