Tag Archives: healthy

Ginger Chicken Congee with Preserved Egg · 皮蛋鸡肉粥

Congee is a special recipe for me. When I was growing up, if I ever came down with a bout of food poisoning, or wasn’t feel well, my parents would make me a bowl of congee to help settle my system. Plain rice congee is a common breakfast in China, but my favorite has always been either chicken porridge, or preserved egg porridge. I decided to try combining the two so I wouldn’t have to choose between two flavors I love, and this recipe ended up having my favorite parts of both congee types! It’s perfect for warming you up on a cold, rainy, day, but you can really have it any time.

basic info

  • gluten-free
  • nut-free
  • paleo
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Nutrition (per serve): 454 calories – 11g fat, 47g carb, 44g protein


  • 200g white rice (uncooked)
  • 300g celery
  • 9 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 4 preserved duck eggs
  • 50g ginger root, minced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1lb chicken breast


  1. Add your rice, minced ginger, water, and chicken stock to a pot on high heat, and bring it to a boil, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot occasionally to make sure rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.
  2. Once boiling, add your chicken breasts, and reduce the heat to a low simmer.
  3. Poach the chicken breasts until the internal temperature is 165F (about 15-20 minutes).
  4. Continue simmering the congee for about 30 more minutes. Set a timer!
  5. While the congee is simmering, remove the chicken breasts, and shred the chicken (I use two forks for this).
  6. Marinate the chicken breasts in the soy sauce, and set aside.
  7. Chop the celery and the preserved egg.
  8. Once the congee has finished simmering for 30 minutes, add the celery, preserved egg, and chicken. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  9. Salt to taste. I personally prefer adding salt to my own bowl because everyone likes a different amount of salt, and if I’m eating it with a salty side (such as 榨菜) I don’t want my congee to be too salty either!
  10. Garnish with scallions and cilantro.

I love serving this dish with some salty side dishes, such as smashed cucumber (拍黄瓜), fermented bean curd (豆瓣), or pickled mustard stems (榨菜).

Recipe Notes:

  • I love the taste of preserved egg, but you can omit it if it’s not for you, and it’ll still taste like a healthy, nourishing bowl of congee.
  • Celery isn’t traditionally used in either chicken congee or the original pork version, but trust me – it adds amazing texture to this congee.
  • Poaching is a technique that cooks food in lower temperature water, which is great at getting a more even cook and retaining moisture, especially for things like chicken breast that tend to dry out easily.

Dry-Fried String Beans · 干煸四季豆

When I was living in China, my roommate Lili and I had staple dishes that we’d order at almost every restaurant we ate at. Dry-fried string beans were one dish that always made that list. The kick of heat from the chilis, the umami from the 芽菜, and the sumptuously blistered texture of the green beans was simply irresistible.

Now that I’m back in America, the toughest part of this dish is achieving that coveted ‘dry-fried’ texture, which usually requires deep-frying the beans in a hot wok, which can be difficult without a gas stove. I tried replicating the feel by blanching, steaming, and soaking the beans, but nothing would produce the same mouthfeel as the dishes I ordered in restaurants. I was actually feeling kind of hopeless and thought I’d have to resort to ordering from restaurants, until I tried roasted the green beans!

Roasting produces a really nice charred surface that is super close to the ‘dry-fried’ texture, but omits so much of the oil that accompanies a deep fry. The reason I can claim success on this recipe is because my current roommate (a friend I met in China) said this actually tasted better than the deep-fried restaurant version. It’s super easy, so I want to share it with people who love this dish as much as I do!

Basic Info

  • nut-free
  • gluten-free
  • refined sugar-free
  • paleo
  • vegan (just omit the beef)
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 150g (5.2oz) ground beef
  • 600g (21oz) green beans
  • 10g (0.35oz) dried chili
  • 5g (0.35oz / 1tbsp) sichuan peppercorn
  • 20g (0.7oz) garlic (~7 cloves)
  • 20g (0.7oz) ginger
  • 50g (1.8oz) preserved vegetable


  1. Preheat oven to 425F (218C).
  2. Toss green beans with a drizzle of olive oil & salt.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes. Set aside after.
  4. Preheat a wok (any high-heat pan, like stainless steel or cast iron, will do) on medium-high heat.
  5. Brown the ground beef and set aside.
  6. Add a drizzle of oil, and toast the dried chilis and peppercorns until fragrant.
  7. Add garlic and ginger, stirring for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Add the preserved vegetables, stirring for a minute.
  9. Add the beans and beef back, combining well.
  10. Serve immediately with rice!

Authentic Sichuan Mapo Tofu · 麻婆豆腐

As autumn rolls around, there’s nothing that feels more comforting to the soul than rich, spicy dishes. If I’m being totally honest, I love spicy food year-round. It’s as common for Chongqingers to say that they eat spicy food in the summer to sweat and cool themselves down, as it is for them to claim it warms them up in the winter.

Mapo tofu is a Chinese dish that is now ubiquitous throughout the world, but it originated centuries ago from the Sichuan province, in my hometown of Chengdu. So it should come as no surprise that the version nearest and dearest to my heart is the original, numbingly-spicy version of the dish, one that I grew up with in my household.

I’ve found that there are three ingredients that trademark mapo tofu: chili bean paste (豆瓣), fermented black beans (豆豉), and of course, Sichuan pepper. In my opinion, omitting any of these three ingredients distinctly changes the dish, so I’d caution against substitutions.

Dietary restrictions:

  • nut-free
  • gluten-free
  • refined sugar-free
  • paleo
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 1 lb (450g) medium-firm tofu*
  • 5 oz (115g) ground meat*
  • 1 scallion stalk, chopped
  • 1 tbsp (15mL) chili bean paste
  • 1 tbsp (15mL) fermented black beans
  • 1 tbsp (20g) minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp (8g) minced ginger
  • 1 tsp (5g) dried chili peppers
  • 3 tsp (3g) finely ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp (1g) ground black pepper
  • 5 tbsp cooking oil


  1. Boil water and pour into a bowl. Add salt and mix well.
  2. While the water is boiling, cut the tofu into medium-sized cubes. Add the cubes to the water to soak and soften.
  3. Grind the peppercorns. Set aside about half for garnish later.
  4. Grind the rest of the peppercorns, black pepper, and dried chilies in a food processor or mortar and pestle.
  5. Chop the scallions, and set aside.
  6. Mince the garlic and ginger, and set aside.
  7. In a pan that can handle high heat (I used a flat-bottomed wok), heat a tablespoon of cooking oil and cook the ground meat, making sure to salt it. Break it up into little pieces. Remove and set aside.
  8. Adjust the heat to medium heat, and add the rest of the cooking oil until the wok begins to smoke. Add the chili bean paste, black beans, ginger, and garlic, stir-frying patiently while the mixture blooms and the colors deepen.
  9. Add the ground spice mix, continuously stirring to make sure heat is being distributed evenly. Add a splash or broth or water as needed to deglaze the wok bottom.
  10. Drain the tofu, and add the cubes and beef back to the wok, gently spooning sauce over them.
  11. Top with the scallions and ground peppercorn.
  12. Serve immediately with rice.*

Recipe Notes

  • Soft or firm tofu can be used. If using soft tofu, be gentle when cooking the cubes.
  • Any type of ground meat should work, but I prefer ground beef.
  • This dish is great as leftovers the next day. It can revive leftover, dried out rice very well!

Sesame Furikake Avocado Toast

Furikake and sesame come together in this fragrant, crunchy rendition of avocado toast. Furikake is a mix of dried seaweed and seasonings that can be found at most Asian supermarkets, but if you don’t have any on hand, any dried seaweed will do.


  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/2 avocado*
  • 1 tsp (5mL) sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp (2.5 mL) garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped scallions
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chili flakes or crushed red pepper
  • furikake seasoning**


  1. Warm the bread in a pan on medium heat until the facedown side is slightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  2. While the bread is warming, mash the avocado with a fork until it’s chunky.
  3. Combine the avocado, sesame oil, garlic powder, chopped scallions, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Flip the bread so the other side can brown. Remove the bread from the pan after about 2 minutes, and spread the avocado mixture over it.
  5. Top your bread with a generous sprinkle of furikake and chili flakes.


* To check if an avocado is ripe, push gently on the stem. You can also squeeze the fruit gently in your hand. The less rigid it feels, the riper it is. Perfectly green avocados will have a medium-firm feeling.

** If you don’t have furikake seasoning on hand, substitute with any dried seaweed.

Honey Prosciutto Avocado Toast

The inspiration for honey prosciutto avocado toast came from a leftover charcuterie board. I found myself with scraps of leftover prosciutto, herbs, and honey, and decided to combine them on top of avocado toast. What I ended up with was a decadent combination of sweet and salty, fresh and rustic. This is a variation I find myself making when I want a snack and can’t decide between sweet or salty.


  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/2 avocado*
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 slices of prosciutto
  • 3 basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. Warm the bread in a pan on medium heat until the facedown side is slightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  2. While the bread is warming, mash the avocado with a fork until it’s chunky.
  3. Combine the avocado, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Flip the bread so the other side can brown. Remove the bread from the pan after about 2 minutes, and spread your avocado mixture over it.
  5. Top your bread with the prosciutto slices, and drizzle them with honey. Garnish with the sliced basil leaves, and enjoy!


* To check if an avocado is ripe, push gently on the stem. You can also squeeze the fruit gently in your hand. The less rigid it feels, the riper it is. Perfectly green avocados will have a medium-firm feeling.

Curried Tumeric Avocado Toast

Curry and tumeric are some of my favorite spices to give a dish a flavorful zing. The fresh garlic in this recipe (as opposed to powdered garlic), gives it a surprising kick of spice. Since this recipe includes a poached egg, olive oil, and fresh avocado, it’s best enjoyed right away.


  • 1/2 avocado*
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp (2.5 mL) curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp (2.5 mL) tumeric powder
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 poached egg


  1. Bring a pot of water to a simmer.
  2. Warm the bread in a pan on medium heat until the facedown side is slightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  3. While the bread is warming, mash the avocado with a fork until it’s chunky.
  4. Combine the olive oil, curry powder, tumeric powder, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  5. Flip the bread so the other side can brown.
  6. Crack an egg gently into the simmering pot of water.
  7. Remove the bread from the pan after about 2 minutes, and spread your avocado mixture over it.
  8. Remove the egg from the pot with a slotted spoon after about 3 minutes, and place it atop the avocado mixture.
  9. Sprinkle some more curry powder and black pepper on top of the egg and enjoy!


  • To check if an avocado is ripe, push gently on the stem. You can also squeeze the fruit gently in your hand. The less rigid it feels, the riper it is. Perfectly green avocados will have a medium-firm feeling.

Vegan, GF 担担面: Mala Sichuan Sesame Noodles

Since I was a little kid, 担担面 (dan dan noodles) have been a staple when my family orders at Chinese restaurants. The first time I went back to visit Chengdu, my hometown, I’d beg my mom to let me eat them every day. My flavor of choice for most Chinese foods is 麻辣 (mala), the quintessential numb-spicy taste ubiquitous in Sichuan cuisine. In major cities in Sichuan (such as Chongqing, where most of my family lives), dan dan mian is street food, served for 15RMB and scarfed down as a quick lunch on a workday. Despite originating in Sichuan, most dan dan main variations in the rest of the world tend towards a sweet peanut sauce. If you’re looking for that variation, you’re in the wrong place. I like my dan dan mian with a formidable mala kick.

Something else that Chinese food is known for is including gluten and meat in everything. Even veggie dishes are often cooked in animal stock or lard, resulting in a fattier, richer umami taste. Dan dan mian is typically not gluten-free because it contains soy sauce and noodles. In this recipe, we swap out soy sauce for coconut aminos, and wheat noodles for buckwheat noodles, both of which are great gluten-free substitutes. The minced topping in dan dan mian is made from minced mushroom instead!

Ingredients (serves 2)

Minced Mushroom Topping:

  • 蘑菇 100g mushrooms, minced*
  • 姜 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 胡椒 2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, ground**
  • 辣椒 2 dried chili peppers, ground**
  • 椰子酱油 3 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 醋 1 tbsp vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar)
  • 芽菜 2 tbsp preserved vegetable**

Sesame Sauce:

  • 芝麻酱 2 tbsp tahini
  • 芝麻油 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 辣油 1 tbsp chili oil


  • 荞麦面条 100g buckwheat noodles
  • 小白菜 2 baby bok choy bundles
  • 香葱 1 tbsp thinly sliced scallions


  1. In a food processor, grind the ginger, peppercorns, and chili peppers. I like to roughly chop the ginger before putting it in the food processor.
  2. In a pan that can handle high heat (a wok works best, but stainless steel worked great in my case), heat a copious amount of oil with a high smoke point (I used avocado oil) until it’s hot. What we’re trying to replicate is the hot flash cooking method typically used with a wok. You’ll want to use a generous amount of oil so the mushrooms are properly fried.
  3. Add the mixture of spices from the food processor and let them sizzle until you can smell the aroma (about a minute).
  4. Add the minced mushrooms and cook for about two minutes. The oil should coat the mushrooms.
  5. Add the preserved vegetable, along with soy sauce, chili oil, and vinegar, tweaking the ratio of the three by tasting and adding a splash more of whatever you feel is missing.
  6. For the sesame sauce, mix the tahini, sesame oil, and chili oil in small bowl, adjusting the ratio of the three until it fits your liking. I like my sauce a little runnier, so I also mixed in a few tablespoons of water until the consistency was right.
  7. For the noodles, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and the boy choy leaves and turn the heat down to medium, cooking for 5 minutes. Drain the water.
  8. Portion out the noodles and bok choy into two bowls. Pour the sauce over the noodles, add as much of the minced topping as you’d like, and garnish with scallions. Toss immediately to prevent the noodles from drying out and clumping together, and enjoy!

* Shiitake mushrooms have worked best for me.
** Amazon sells 芽菜 (preserved vegetable), dried chilis, and Sichuan peppercorns, but these ingredients can also be purchased at most Asian supermarkets.
*** The key to all cooking is to continuously test as you go along! This is definitely true for both the mince and the sauce.

Curried Tumeric Scrambled Eggs on Toast

When your roommate looks at your breakfast and remarks, “Wow, how did you make some veggies on eggs and toast look so delicious?”, you figure it’s a good recipe to document on your blog that no one reads 🙂 I make this most often when I want something fast, light, and fresh. Sometimes, I can’t be bothered to make a meal that takes more time and thoughtfulness, but I also don’t want to settle for microwaving leftovers, or turning to a prepackaged energy bar. Elevated eggs and toast falls into the grey area between “I’m lazy” and “I’m a princess”, which is how I feel about most of my meals these days.

There are few breakfast dishes I love more than the classic eggs and toast, due to how easy it is to make it taste like a sumptuous brunch the newest hipster coffee shop would charge me $14 for (yes Vive la Tarte, I’m speaking to you). My perfect breakfast is cooked so the textures are perfect: I like my eggs just a tad runny, my spinach fairly wilted, and my toast just a light shade of brown. The magic of perfect eggs and toast really comes down to timing cooking each ingredient so they’re all at the right amount of doneness at the same time, and the key to varying how scrambles taste is all in the spices.

Ingredients (for one serving):

  • 1/2 tumeric powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp fresh or dried herbs (I used fresh dill and a dried herb mixture from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 handful of baby spinach
  • 1 slice of toast


  1. Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan on medium heat until warm. Add toast to one half of the pan, and add the spinach to the other.
  2. While the spinach and toast are cooking, whisk eggs with tumeric, curry powder, herbs, salt, and pepper.
  3. When the spinach has begun to wilt (about 1 minute), flip the bread to brown the other side.
  4. Remove the bread after it’s browned, laying it on a plate, and add the scrambled egg mixture to the pan, and turn off the heat completely.
  5. Stir the eggs around as curds begin to form, and when the eggs are at the desired doneness, remove them from the pan and plate them on your toast.
  6. Sprinkle smoked paprika powder on top of your eggs, and any other garnishes you want to incorporate (I also sprinkled on some Maldon salt, because that makes almost everything taste better).


  • Scrambled eggs are best cooked at low temperatures, and will continue cooking even after they are removed from the pan because of the heat that they retain, so it’s best to remove them when they’re a little runnier than you want them to be in their final stage.

Gado Gado with Spicy Almond Sauce

About a month ago, I happened upon this delicious hole-in-the-wall Indonesian restaurant in LA called Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine. I tried gado gado for the first time, which is one of Indonesia’s five national dishes. It’s essentially a light stir-fry served with peanut sauce, and I loved the depth of the dish–namely, the delicious sauce accompanying it. I had tons of veggies in my fridge that I wanted to use before they went bad, so stir-fry seemed like the perfect option to make use of everything. My favorite thing about this recipe is how customizable it is; it’s a solid way to use up veggies that you don’t want to throw out, but that you may not find another dish to incorporate into.

This recipe is gluten-free, paleo, keto, and can be made vegan (see modifications below).


Stir Fry:

  • 3 tsp avocado oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small nub of ginger, minced
  • 2 medium red onions, diced
  • 2 cups shredded chicken breast
  • 2 medium bell peppers, sliced
  • 2 cups of green beans
  • 3 stalks of celery, sliced long
  • 3 tsp chili sauce
  • 4 tbsp coconut aminos

Sauce (whisk all of these ingredients together):

  • 1/4 cup nut butter (I used almond butter)
  • juice from 1 lemon or lime wedge
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 tsp sriracha hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp coconut sugar

Garnish (optional):

  • Lemon or lime wedge
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fried shallots
  • Crushed peanuts


  1. In a large pan, heat the avocado oil on high heat, and saute the garlic, ginger, and onions. This helps create some nice aromatics for the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Add shredded chicken breast, then remove these two from heat and set aside.
  3. Add the rest of your vegetables, tossing and sauteing frequently to make sure everything is cooked through.
  4. After about 5 minutes of cooking, reincorporate the chicken mixture that you set aside earlier.
  5. Add the coconut aminos and hot sauce to the pan, stirring to combine everything. Keep tasting, salting, and adding coconut aminos and hot sauce little by little to get the flavor you want!
  6. Serve over rice, drizzling a few spoonfuls of the spicy peanut sauce over the dish, and garnishing with some fresh cilantro, fried shallots, and crushed peanuts.


  • To make this dish vegan, simply omit the chicken. Tofu also works if you still want some protein in the dish.
  • You can essentially use any vegetables that would work well in a stir-fry; ones that have lower water content and cook quickly. I would suggest: bean sprouts, cabbage, or bok choy

Herb and Garlic Sweet Potato Mash (GF, NF, Vegan, Paleo)

It’s been a long time since my last post, hasn’t it? Since my last post back in November, a handful of other priorities have surfaced in other areas of my life that brought about a wave of reflection on how often I wanted to post new recipes and commit to sharing new culinary experiments. At the end of the day, being in the kitchen is like coming home and sinking into a warm bath; my muscles relax, and my stress dissolves as I rhythmically rock the blade of my knife over sprigs of fresh herbs. The kitchen is a place where I can create love without restriction, and share it with others. When I’m experimenting with a new creation, there’s no pressure to produce or impress. Ultimately, I decided that the cooking content on my blog should reflect a similar philosophy; beyond being a joy to make, and a joy to consume, there’s nothing else that I really want to define the food here.

With weekdays that are typically very full and demanding of time, I love carving out time for a slower brunch on the weekends, consuming it with my nose in a book, and taking my time savoring each bite. Slower brunch usually involves poached eggs and mashed avocado, because those are two breakfast staples that I think taste entirely different when made fresh, and simply aren’t indulgences I can afford during my work week. However, instead of spreading the avo on toast like I normally do, I was feeling a bit adventurous today, and decided that I wanted to pair my favorite duo with a carb source that typically isn’t seen alongside avo and poached eggs: sweet potato!

Sweet potato isn’t usually found in the same dish as mashed avo and poached eggs, because it can be tricky to make the sweet potatoes in a way that complements the two other savory items. This presented me with a fun little challenge: how would I be able to make savory sweet potato? The answer is deceptively simple: a boatload of herbs, garlic, and seasonings. The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it’s easy to customize based on whatever herbs you have on hand. I used scallions and dill, but there’s no hard-and-fast rule to follow here. It’s a great way to clean out your fridge and use up some remaining fresh herbs that seem like they’re on the verge of going bad. I will say that I think using fresh herbs and garlic, as opposed to pre-minced garlic and dried herbs, folds in an unmistakable savory aroma. And don’t be afraid to use a lot of garlic and herbs, because the sugars in the sweet potato will dominate the flavor profile otherwise.

Cook time: 30 minutes


  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 6 sprigs of dill
  • 6 sprigs of green onion (scallions)
  • Paprika powder
  • Onion powder
  • Tumeric powder
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Wash, peel, and cube the sweet potatoes. Some people like the skin of the potatoes in the mash, so you can also leave it on for more texture.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot (I used a Dutch oven), and cover them with water. In order to shorten the cooking time, I use an electric kettle to boil the water separately. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium so that the water is a gently rolling boil, and let it cook uncovered until the potatoes are soft enough to easily slide a fork in and out (roughly 10 minutes).
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, mince the garlic, and roughly chop the herbs. I only used dill and onion in this recipe, but you can honestly use anything you want!
  4. Drain the potatoes and transfer them back into the same pot. Using a fork or spatula, mash the potatoes, which should be easy if they’re cooked enough.
  5. Fold in the apple cider vinegar, herbs, and spices (paprika, tumeric, onion, salt, and pepper), adjusting the seasoning ratios to your liking.

That’s it! This is such a versatile, simple side to make that pairs well with just about anything. Use it in place of white mashed potatoes when serving a steak. Spread it on a slice of toasted rustic bread. Layer some smoked salmon and capers on top of it, drizzled with a bit of lemon juice. This morning, I made my favorite avocado mash (recipe coming soon!), and poached an egg on top, letting all that yolky goodness bind the different textures and flavors together. It was one of the best slow brunches I’ve made in ages.

If you try this recipe out (or do any variations on it), let me know in the comments below 🙂 Happy lazy Sunday brunching.