Showing posts from 2018

Ahi Tuna Poke! Such Fad, Much Ease

I was square in the poke-trend-hating squad for the past decade. It was to me the embodiment of everything annoying about the hipster culture - overpriced low-effort product that people rave nonstop because it's cool. It was the culinary modern art. At last my inner cheapo finally resolved to do something about this ripoff trend that I so resented: by making my own, and urging everyone to make their own.

Disclaimer: consumption of raw or under-cooked seafood may increase risk of foodborne illness. Now, if you're reading this you're probably both aware & willing to take your chances. You can minimize your risk by:
1) purchase "sushi grade" tuna that were previously frozen and processed with likely higher hygienic standards, but cost something like $36/lb & require a trip to specialty stores, or
2) purchase the much cheaper, more ubiquitous, previously (or still) frozen tuna steak & then salt-cure it before using.

In a nutshell, freezingkills parasites…

Easy Marron Glace (Candied Chestnuts)

Easy marron glace sounds like an oxymoron. The traditional method calls for soaking, peeling, heating, cooling, reheating, etc; a 4~7 days ordeal. This is a shortcut version that will get you pretty close to the end result in 2 hours (out of which, maybe 5 minutes of active time).

These make great wallet-friendly holiday gifts. Even for those that have the fortune of living nearby an Italian market, marron glaces are not cheap; neither are fresh chestnuts. Frozen chestnuts are inexpensive (and much more convenient!) alternatives.

By using frozen, you can skip all the soaking and peeling prepping steps and go directly to candying. These chestnuts won't be as super-saturated as those from the traditional method, but frozen chestnuts have the advantage of not breaking as easily, which makes them good for long simmering. Cooking chestnuts for extended time in one sitting will produce a finished product that is similar in texture to the traditional ones: silky, translucent, melting so…

Air Fryer Truffle Fries

Try this borderline guilt-free version of your decadent, restaurant-favorite dish!
Using ingredients you can count in one hand,  you can have low-fat truffle fries prepared in half an hour, from cutting to tasting!

Ingredients: 3 medium sized potatoes 1 tbsp olive oil  1/4 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano (or Grana Padano, or good old Parmesan) 1/2 tsp truffle salt 1/4 tsp truffle oil (optional - use olive oil if you don't have any)
Instruction: Fill a mixing bowl with cold water. Cut potatoes into your preferred thickness for fries (between 1/3~1/4 inch). Add the fries to cold water as you cut to prevent oxidizing (and to start the rinsing process). Once all the fries are cut, give them a thorough rinse in the water. Pour out the water and dry the fries with paper towel. 
Add one tablespoon of oil to the fries. You can drizzle and toss, or use an oil sprayer - which allows you to get away with using less oil. All we're looking for here is getting the potatoes thoroughly coated …

Easy Steak Enhancement for the Restaurant Experience: Bercy Butter

This is a lazy bum's approach to Bercy Butter. I skipped the traditional wine and stock because reducing liquid is too much for my patience on a workday. Cooking shallots in the pan that you seared steak in will give it a good amount of beefy flavor. Regular olive oil/butter works too. When it's topped on a steak the difference won't be too noticeable. What you're really looking for is the aromatic shallots and parsley.


1 stick butter, softened* (see shortcut for quick softening)
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp oil/butter/tallow, for frying the shallots


Fry minced shallot on medium heat until softened and slightly caramelized. You can cook this in the pan that you just cooked steak in.
To soften butter quickly, microwave a whole stick with wrapping paper on, for 5~7 seconds, rotate the stick 90 degrees, repeat 4 times for all 4 sides. This will heat the butter evenly. butter should be just softened and not liquid.

Easiest Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Our local steakhouse makes the most amazing bread. After shamefully asking for seconds for the nth time, I decided to take matters into my own hands, for ~10 minutes.

Yes this bread takes no more than 10 minutes of active time on your part. Just mix the ingredients and leave it overnight. Form the dough the next morning & bake in a 4qt dutch oven, and you have fresh bread!


3 cup flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp yeast
1 cup raisin
1.5 cup water


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, salt, yeast together. Add raisin and water, stir & form a dough (this is easier with a wooden spoon, but a spatula will do). Leave the dough in the bowl; cover with clear wrap and top with a lid (optional, prevents drying out if wrap isn't sealed tight). Leave it overnight. In the morning, scrape down the dough and kneed for 1~2 minute; grease & dust with flour as needed to make dough less sticky. Cover and let it rest while oven preheats.

The Golden Low-Effort Eggwhite Cake: Financiers

Many recipes call for egg yolks - gelato, custard, even some cookies or cakes. What do you do with all the leftover egg whites? Honestly, not many people love scrambled egg whites. Recipes that calls for egg whites tend to be a hassle - macarons, meringue buttercream, things that generally involve beating air into mixture, and tend to be temperamental. Financiers are the lazy bum's savior for using up a lot of egg whites, with no risk of under-folding, over-beating, or producing a bland end product (like most store bought angel food cake).

These buttery almond cakes are traditionally baked in a tin mold, in the shape of a gold brick - hence the name. It is such a simple classic, you can count the ingredients with one hand, and the steps with the other. 
Ingredients: 5 tbsp butter 10 tbsp ground almond 8 tbsp sugar 3 tbsp flour 4 egg whites
Instruction: 1. Brown the butter on stove: keep heating melted butter until bubbling stops, and butter looks browned & smells nutty. This …

Easiest Thai Curry Ever

Full disclaimer - This stuff is 1) not authentic, and 2) highly addictive.
It is so simple that you won't need to look at the recipe twice. It really boils down to a 2-ingredient sauce, plus whatever fillings you like. You'll have a satisfying meal in half an hour that takes far less effort than it looks. It makes otherwise unexciting vegetables something you can't stop eating. Make it for date night. Your date will ask you what did you do to those celery and carrots. I like making this with red curry paste for the vibrant color, but feel free to substitute for green or yellow curry paste, they all come out equally delicious. 
I make everything in one pot and poach everything in the sauce. Normally cooking common sense would suggest searing the meat and vegetables first. But this particular dish is so packed with heat you won't really miss the caramelization.  Feel free to substitute with your preferred vegetables and/or meat. 
Here are all the ingredients you need:


No Grease, Almost Instant Croquette

Try this air fried, Japanese style croquette from instant mashed potato mix! You can totally use real mashed potatoes if you have time or leftover. This is a hack for crispy baked croquette in under 15 min. If you don't have an airfryer, oven-bake will work too. Airfryers are essentially small convection ovens. If using a traditional oven, increase the bake time by 10 minutes.

2 cup cooked mashed potatoes2 cup 'filler' *1/4 cup flour1 egg, beaten1/2 cup panko breadcrumb, lightly toasted1 tbsp oil (optional)
* choose your favorite filler:
- traditional: ground beef sauteed with diced onions
- vegetarian: sweet corn, peas, minced carrots, sauteed onions
- anything else: diced turkey, chicken, ham, anything you would serve with mashed potatoes


Prepare instant mash potatoes with ~20% less liquid than called for. A dryer potato mix is harder & easier to shape. (Don't worry about the moisture amount if using leftover mashed potatoes, cold mashe…

When Frangipane meets Clafoutis - Blueberry Almond Tart

Almond tarts are simple crowd pleasers - and easy desserts that you can make the night before your work buddy's birthday. This is my go-to recipe when I'm too lazy to make a fresh fruit tart. You only need to prepare two simple parts: a shortcrust pastry, and a couldn't-be-easier almond filling.

For my version of almond tart, I played around with the ratio a little, using half the sugar and butter as traditionally called for, while doubling the almond and egg portion. This makes for a lighter, somewhat custardy filling, that kind of resembles a clafoutis, compared to the traditional rich, crumbly filling that feels more like something between a cookie and a cake. You can't go wrong with the classic ratio, but I've found that between the buttery shortcrust and tart fruit, no one really misses the extra fat and sugar - not even my low-fat-loathing, health-unconscious taste testers!


For the shortcrust:
1 1/4 cup flour1 stick butter, cold6 tbsp powdered sug…

A Real Hot Chocolate

I'm a chocolate fundamentalist. 
My idea of a hot chocolate is quite literal - it uses real chocolate, and it's hot.  It’s worth being a chocolate snob when it takes under 3 minutes to ‘do it right’.  Making it with real chocolate will give the end product a rich, intense flavor as well as a thick, full body, that a simple mix of sugar and cocoa can't quite compare.  This gourmet-feeling beverage will take you minutes to finish. You won’t need a double boiler; you won’t need corn starch slurry; you won’t even need to turn on the stove - but you’ll get a finished product that feels like you’ve done all of the above.  The only tools you’ll need is a small whisk and a sharp, fine grater. 
Ingredients: 1 tablespoon cocoa powder2 tablespoon boiling water½ tablespoon sugar4 tablespoon finely grated bittersweet chocolate (~20grams)1 cup hot milk

I find this easier with shorter, wider mugs like a cappuccino cup, but any shape will do. Mix cocoa and boiling water to form a semi thick paste…

When Korean BBQ meets Yakiniku Burger - Kalbi Rice Burger

Switch up your weekday night burger dinner! Try this special kind of  "Asian Fusion' - garlicky Korean marinade X crispy Japanese rice patty. This recipe can be made in under an hour, if you start your rice cooker first, cook the meat, and sear the rice patties as the meat finishes up cooking. It is also a great way to use up any leftover rice or meat. 
For the rice patties:
2 cups cooked short grain rice  2 tsp potato starch  sesame oil (for pan searing)
Optional tool:
- Burger press or wide mouth jar lid, for forming patties. Try regular size jar lids for sliders!
- Kitchen scale, for accurate measurement. Rice : potato starch ratio should be ~ 200g : 1 teaspoon. 
Add potato starch to hot rice (if using leftover rice, microwave until hot); mix until rice becomes very sticky. Depending on how large you like your burger, divide the rice into desired portions. I find that ~75g rice fits a wide mouth jar lid, and ~50g rice fits a regular size jar lid.

Line the burger press or …