Tag Archives: cooking

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!

Steamed Whole Seabass · 蒸全鱼

Fish is commonly prepared whole in a lot of Chinese seafood dishes. The striking appearance, along with the flavors of the different parts of the fish, is a delicate, but impressionable, way to prepare whole fish. While this dish looks complicated, preparation is so easy and simple, and always satisfying!

Basic info:

  • nut-free
  • gluten-free
  • refined sugar-free
  • paleo
  • keto
  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 1 whole fish, about 1lb (453g)*
  • 3 stalks scallions
  • nub of ginger, roughly half the size of your palm
  • soy sauce
  • a handful of cilantro stalks
  • cooking oil with high-smoke point (I used avocado oil)
  • 1 pack firm tofu, drained and cubed (optional)


  1. Julienne the ginger and scallions.
  2. Place the fish in a steam-proof pan.
  3. Top the fish with the ginger and scallions, and stuff some into the cavity.
  4. Optional: add cubed tofu in the pan, around the fish.
  5. Douse the fish and tofu with soy sauce.
  6. Steam the fish for 8 minutes.**
  7. Remove fish from steam, and top with cilantro.
  8. Heat oil until it begins to shimmer.
  9. Pour the hot oil over the fish to finish.
  10. Serve immediately with rice.***

Recipe Notes:

  • I look for black bass or seabass, as their delicate flesh cooks wonderfully with this recipe. I normally buy the fish at a Chinese supermarket, where there’s a wide selection of live seafood that the fishmonger can clean and scale for you when you purchase.
  • 8 minutes is for a 1lb fish, but you may need 10 minutes for a 1.2 lb fish, or 13 minutes for a 1.5 lb fish. The fish is fully cooked when the flesh is opaque and flakes easily from the bone. If it’s not done, you can steam it for another few minutes.
  • I love spooning the sauce and scallions from this dish onto my rice to eat with the fish.
  • Simmer any leftover sauce with tofu for a quick and easy bite.

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!

Savory Stir-Fried Tomato Egg · 番茄炒鸡蛋

Growing up, one of my favorite dishes was stir-fried tomato and egg. It was one of the first recipes I learned to cook from my parents, and is one of my go-tos when I want to cook something comforting, healthy, and easy. In high school, I’d often stay up late studying, and my mom would knock on my door to ask if I wanted tomato egg noodles, so I associate this dish with my mom’s care.

This is a staple homestyle Chinese dish, so restaurants and online recipes will each have slight modifications. Variations on stir-fried tomato and egg include a sweeter version, a more savory version, including ketchup, serving it over noodles, and more. There are more possibilities than you’d think with such a simple recipe! My favorite version tends to be on the more savory side, and the texture is thick like stew, which makes it a perfect accompaniment to rice or noodles.

Dietary restrictions:

  • vegetarian
  • soy-free
  • nut-free
  • gluten-free
  • refined sugar-free
  • paleo
  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 4-5 medium tomatoes
  • 4 eggs, beaten and salted
  • 1/2 tbsp (15 mL) cooking oil
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 g) smoked paprika powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 g) onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 g) garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp (1 g) sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp (1 g) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 g) black pepper
  • scallions, chopped
  • ginger, sliced


  1. Boil water and pour into a bowl. Soak the tomatoes in this bowl for at least 5 minutes. This softens the skin and begins to break down some of the flesh inside, which helps the tomatoes release more juice and reduce later.
  2. While the tomatoes are soaking, beat the eggs. Add a pinch of salt to the eggs before beating.*
  3. Peel the skin from the tomatoes and cut them into large chunks.
  4. Heat oil in a skillet or wok over high heat.
  5. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the eggs. Cook them to be fairly well-done.*
  6. When the eggs are fully solid, add the tomato and ginger slices, and stir-fry for about 15 seconds. The tomatoes will begin to release juice.
  7. Add the paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine in the mixture.
  8. Cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat down to medium-low so the juice can reduce and thicken, about 5 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat, add the sesame oil, and garnish with chopped scallions.
  10. Serve immediately over noodles or rice.*

Recipe Notes

  • I’ve always been told not to salt eggs before scrambling them, but I came across this article from Serious Eats that convinced me it doesn’t make a difference.
  • Unlike scrambled eggs, which most people prefer to be soft and silky, I find this dish works best when the eggs hold more structure and firmness, but feel free to experiment with what you like!
  • I love eating this dish with a side of preserved or pickled vegetables (榨菜) because the saltiness balances out the natural sugars in the tomatoes

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.

Blueberry Banana Protein Pancakes

Have you ever had a bad day when it starts with pancakes for breakfast? I haven’t either! Protein pancakes have always come out dense and dry for me. Thanks to the dalgona craze that’s been taking over the Internet lately, I’ve developed an interest in egg whites and what they can do to combat dry or dense recipes, and that’s exactly what happened with these banana blueberry pancakes.


  • 1 speckly banana, mashed
  • 2 scoops Tropeaka lean protein powder (40g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 handful of blueberries, mashed
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Siggi’s vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • Whole blueberries


  1. Separate the egg yolks and egg whites into separate bowls. Beat the egg whites for about 2 minutes, until soft peaks form.
  2. Mix the egg yolk, mashed banana, mashed blueberries, and protein powder until a smooth consistency is achieved.
  3. Gently fold in the egg whites until roughly combined.
  4. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Once it’s warmed, add a thin layer of the mixture onto the pan.
  5. Once small bubbles start forming on the surface of the pancakes (about 2 minutes) and the sides lift easily under a spatula, they’re ready to be flipped!
  6. Give the pancakes a flip and cook for another 2 minutes.


  • Whipped egg whites and baking powder are what makes these pancakes nice and fluffy, so make sure to beat the egg whites separately before folding them in.
  • Salt’s role in this recipe is to bring out the flavor of the other sweet ingredients – don’t omit it!
  • When folding in the egg whites, the mixture doesn’t need to be perfectly mixed. Overmixing will break down the airy strucure of the egg whites.