Archive for the 'Beef' Category


Japanese Curry with Ground Pork and Apples

Japanese Kare

Japanese Kare

“Did you put apples in that?”


“Yes, the image on the box has a picture of an apple, so I figured I would put some of it in the curry.”


“Wait, is that a pear you just put in, too?”


“I had an extra Asian pear lying around and thought it would be a good idea.”


This is how my mom cooks.  She is always inspired by whatever seems logical to her at the time, and then it is a crapshoot as to how the dish actually tastes.  The above conversation took place while she was cooking Japanese curry.  Our Japanese curry always came from a pre-packaged spice mix.  It was the additional ingredients that made it my Mom’s “special recipe.”  To me, she was the original Sandra Lee (but Taiwanese and less intense when it came to “tablescapes”).



Is that the fruit section from the grocery store in the curry?

“I think you put too many apples in this, I can’t tell if I’m eating a potato or an apple.  Wait, is this a salted plum?”


My mom’s cooking style is an adventure and a journey.  She starts at a certain idea, picks up characters and ingredients along the way, and finishes with a complete story with a happy ending.  I’ve learned to appreciate her creative focus and now use it myself when I come up with the recipes for this blog. This in-the-moment creativity that defines my mother and my own cooking style is one of the things that my brother always criticizes me for.


For him, if it’s the first time that he is cooking a dish for friends or family, he will research a recipe and measure everything out with precision.  It makes sense.  Me, however, I will look at a recipe or two for inspiration and ideas.  I then grab ingredients that I think would taste good and run with it.  My brother gives me crap for it all the time, until he takes his first bite. The complaining then ceases.


I’m glad my mom taught me how to cook.  I credit my creativity to her.  If there was an ingredient she liked, something she wanted to try, or a dish she enjoyed from a meal out with the family, she would attempt making it at home.  Even today, she’ll still call me to chat about a dish she just made and how proud she is of the final outcome.   She’ll go into detail about it and I’m usually caught off guard from one or two ingredients.  But in the end, she is happy with result and it sounds like it would work.


I now make my Japanese curry with apples in it.  It gives it a subtle, sweet flavor without tasting too sweet.  The blend of spice and smoke go well with the apple.  But, you won’t see me putting a salted plum or pear in it.

I need more curry.

I need more curry.


Notes on the dish:  This is Japanese curry or “Kare”.  It was introduced to Japan by the British because of their colonial rule over India.  It’s much milder compared to Indian curry, and delicious with rice.  I made this from scratch, but you can make it with pre-packaged Kare.  I like both versions of the curry.  It’s kind of how I feel about homemade mac and cheese and the Kraft version.  Sometimes the packaged stuff is just as good in its own way.



2 tbs butter

1 tbs garam masala or a milder curry powder (if you want less hot)

1 tsp tumeric

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp coriander

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1 c onion, chopped

1 lb ground meat of your choice

1/2 c carrot, chopped

1 c vegetables, chopped (mix it up with squash, celery, chayote…)

1 medium potato, chopped

1 medium apple, chopped

1 c broth, vegetable or meat

½ c water

salt to taste




heat butter with curry powder, tumeric, garlic powder, cumin, and coriander and slightly toast the spices on high heat


add onion, ginger, and meat and stir until cooked through


stir in all the vegetables and fruit, add broth and water, and turn heat down to medium heat


simmer  on medium heat until fully incorporated and curry begins to thicken, about 30 to 45 minutes


season to taste and serve over rice


-serves 4-



Day 16: Braised Short Rib


Short Rib Ragu

My parents have been extremely influential in teaching me how to be a wonderful host to friends and family.  They’ve taught me how to cook, be gracious, and welcome people in to one’s home.  Their whole focus and philosophy is to always cook family style and always cook a lot of food for anyone who wants to come by.  They always had a set of three practices that they would live by.


1)     Have a stocked fridge. You never know who will stop in and need a comforting meal.


2)     Always cook family style. You should never limit a friend or family member to a certain portion or a small amount.  If they want more food or eat more, we shouldn’t judge them (unless it’s soy sauce)


3)     Serve a diverse amount of dishes.  Everyone has different tastes and everyone has dishes they are more inclined to, so everyone deserves to have at least of their options be a favorite, something that reminds them of home, introduce them to new flavors and textures, and begin new memories.


I’m glad my mom taught me these practices and instilled them in me as I watched her plan, prepare, and share her dishes with her family and friends. With this style of cooking, I’ve been amazed at how my mom has become a master at leftovers.  She is able to plan the meal, take into consideration people returning for seconds and thirds and still end the dinner without having any food left over to last more than one day.  I’ve heard rumors that Asian mothers have a certain sixth sense for these things; amongst knowing how to find a bargain, wear a perm in any weather, sneak meat into a vegetarian dish, and insult someone shrouded in a compliment.


As I started this blog marathon, I found myself having to prepare the week’s posts in one day because of my work schedule.  With the help of some very hungry housemates and friends, I’ve been able to host weekly dinners at my place and, surprisingly not have too much left over.  Unfortunately, last week I didn’t follow one of my Mom’s rules for hosting dinner.  I didn’t diversify.  I feel my mother saying “I taught you better” as she reads this.  I ended up wanting to share a bunch of meat dishes with you that week, so, the menu included pork belly, ground pork, roasted chicken, and braised short rib.  It was no wonder why I had so much of the ribs left over.  So, here is what I did with said ribs, in order to give it life, a new feeling, and a dish to pawn off on my housemates for their lunch the next day.



2 tbs olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 medium celery stalks, chopped

2 cloves of garlic

2 lb short rib, shredded or pulled

½ c braising liquid or broth

1 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes

1 tsp black pepper, ground

6 basil leaves, sliced

salt to taste

1 lb rigatoni



sauté onions, carrots, and celery in a large dutch oven until fully sweated, about 10 min

add garlic and short ribs and stir until fully cooked and fragrant

stir  in the rest of the ingredients except for cheese and simmer on low until flavors have fully developed, about 20 minutes

cook pasta based on package instructions and until al dente or slightly firm

add additional fresh basil leaves and cheese and stir right before serving and toss with pasta


-serves 4-


German Lager Braised Short Ribs

German Lager Braised Short Ribs

Growing up in Orange County, there where things that I had to do in order to be like the rest of the peers in my class and community.  It wasn’t written in law or made a school policy, but for some reason it was what everyone else was doing and marked success.  Or at least it marked a person’s journey to eventual success.  These things ranged from academic programs to extra curricular activities and included musical instruments, sports, languages, and so on.  My parents offered me many opportunities to take part in these activities in order to see me succeed in the way they where told what success was.  And that’s why they’re pretty awesome.  For this week’s posts, I’m going to talk about these requirements that where “forced” on me by society and my journey through them. 

You must learn a useful language that will get you far in life and in business.

Growing up in Southern California as a Taiwanese American, it was expected for you to know multiple languages in order to be set on a journey of success.  And, it couldn’t just be any language of your choosing.  The four languages were Taiwanese, Mandarin, Spanish, and/or Latin.  Now, if you could master all four, then that would mean that you are set for life, but three was sufficient enough to barely get by.

My parents taught me Taiwanese by communicating with me at home, so that covered the conversational skills and half of one language.  Fortunately for me the written language is the same to Mandarin, so I went to “Chinese School” on Saturdays for the rest.  I would  wake up every Saturday morning and begrudgingly go to classes every week.  I would whine and complain the whole time by reminding my parents that it wasn’t fair because all my other friends didn’t have to go to Chinese school on Saturdays.  They’re response?

“It’s because they are not Chinese”

“It’s because they are not Chinese”

The logic never made sense to me.  Nor did going to school, so I ended up not doing very well.  However, I did retain enough of the language to be able to order food in Chinese and have a basic conversation about beer and wine.  I’ve got the important parts covered.

Now, for my third language it was more of my choice.  We where required to take two years of a language in high school and everyone was choosing between Latin and Spanish.  The choice should have been easy for me, either choose something that will help me understand the English language much better in life or Spanish, a language that was important not only in my current community of Southern California, but also for the future of America.  The problem is, I was given a choice.  So, I decided to take German.

You know, that common language that is spoken all over California, especially in Southern California.  You hear it all the time on that German network on tv or when you listen to German music blaring on the radio in the streets of LA.  It was so useful for my future.

Now that I am MUCH older, I realize that I don’t remember any of my German education for two reasons:  The first reason is that I didn’t understand what I was learning and couldn’t figure out why we conjugate verbs and what was feminine, masculine, and neutral nouns.  One time, when I got the gender rules wrong on an exam in class, I argued with Frau Strauss that in order for there to be gender equality in society, we must  challenge gender roles in all levels of the world, including language.  She was impressed at my reasoning , thanked me for my response, asked me to translate my excuse into German.  I did, with the proper rules, and then she gave me the points for the wrong answers.  Unfortunately I still had to learn the gender rules.

The second reason was that I couldn’t practice it outside of school.  There was only two times that I ever used my German in

general conversation.  The first was to speak to my uncle who lives in Taiwan and spent three days in Germany for work.  The

Wir dürfen nicht zulassen Geschlecht zu bestimmen, wie wir über die Gleichheit in der Gesellschaft und Sprache zu denken.

Wir dürfen nicht zulassen Geschlecht zu bestimmen, wie wir über die Gleichheit in der Gesellschaft und Sprache zu denken.

conversation turned out to be one sided and I am sure painful to hear by any outsider or German person.  It was mostly of me asking him basic questions about the location of a library, where a generic boy named Frans lived, what his favorite fruit was, and to talk about the political environment for gender neutrality in Germany.  I was trying to repeat whatever German I remembered from my classes.  His response was to stare at me, as he tried to figure out if I was speaking in English, Taiwanese, Mandarin, German, Spanish, or Latin.  The second was with a family friend from Ohio who comes from a German family and it was to order pierogi (which aren’t even German).

I do have to say though, out of the two years of classes, I did enjoy watching “A Fish Called Wanda” (with subtitles) and listening to 99 Luft Balloons (the English version).

This braised short rib is super easy.  The key is to keep a slow and low cooking process and you will finish with some beautifully unctuous short ribs.  Most of the braising liquid comes from a light lager; specifically a German style lager to not mask the flavor of the beef and vegetables but adding a subtle nuttiness and umami to the dish.  Also, most of us have some sort of German style pilsner lying around in our house.  I used Singha.

And, do you see the connection to this dish and my story now?


3 tbs vegetable oil

5 lb short rib, bone in

1 medium onion, chopped  (about 1 c)

2 medium carrots, peel and chopped (about ½ c)

2 medium celery stalks, chopped (about ½ c)

3 cloves garlic

1 tbs tomato paste

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 bottles of beer, I used Singha

1 c water to cover the ribs completely


fresh ground black pepper


sear short ribs in a large dutch oven or large heavy pot with oil on high heat and set aside

sauté onions, carrots, and celery in dutch oven until fragrant and onion is translucent, about 5 minutes

add tomato paste, thyme, and garlic and stir until incorporated

place ribs on top and pour in beer and water into the dutch oven or heavy pot

braise ribs on low heat for at least 4 hours or until meat is tender

season to taste

-serves 6-8)


Spicy Sauteed Tendon with Garlic and Scallion

Spicy Tendon

I know Kung Fu.  Well, I know a few key basic moves.  Ok, I used to know Kung Fu.  It was part of a special extra curricular program that was part of my Chinese School when I was younger. Chinese school was a painful memory of my past.  While all my friends where enjoying two full days off from school, I had only one and a half days to play outside.  My Chinese school was from nine in the morning until noon. It was a short class, but it felt like a lifetime to a ten year old.  And, like my regular school, I wasn’t a very good student at all.  I would usually wake up early that Saturday around six or seven in the morning.  Run to the television and turn it on for Saturday morning cartoons, Saved By The Bell, and California Dreaming and attempt to finish a full week’s homework in between commercial breaks.  Once my parents woke up, I would then put the homework away and keep my textbook out to do last minute studying for a quiz (because I had finished my homework days in advanced) and then go to class.  During class I would listen real hard and answer in Mandarin, which is why I credit my ability to have basic conversations in Chinese but also why I lack reading and writing skills.   The redeeming factor on Saturdays was ending the day with my Kung Fu class.

Kung Fu class was fun.  I learned some fun sequences and felt like I could be the next Bruce Lee or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I didn’t get very far in my practice.  I had no idea as a kid that the art form required so much discipline and focus. But, you know what?  I got to yellow belt and I was satisfied. I just wanted the accessory.  It was something that I could show off to the world when my parents took me out for lunch and errands after school. I was a super hero. Well a beginner belt superhero.

One of the places I got to show off my “manly-ness” was at A&J restaurant.  Still one of my favorite restaurants of all time and I still get the same dishes every time I visit.  We went so often, to the point where the moment they saw a tiny Taiwanese boy running awkwardly in the parking lot with baggy Kung Fu clothes and a yellow sash, my order would already be in the kitchen.   A few minutes later, while my parent where still waiting for the rest of the order, I would have in front of me Zha Jiang Mian, pickled seaweed, and stir fried tendons.

It's not a sexy thing. But it tastes awesome.

I’ve been able to get both the seaweed and noodle dish in NYC to help curb my cravings. But, I have yet to find a place in the city to satisfy the tendon bug. The texture of this dish is hard to describe.  It’s a soft gelatinous chewy goodness, but has a subtle crispness fruity from the cooking processed.  Because the chili oil and scallion impart an intense citrus and floral fragrance, the flavor profile of the earthy garlic becomes a subtle nuttiness mixed with a hint of spice. Add the caramelizing of the soy sauce and you have a complex profile of flavors and textures in a dish that only has five simple ingredients.

The key thing with this dish is to use lots and lots of oil. You want the tendon to stir fry and not stick to the pan. Also, make sure your pan is screeching hot. Like, smoke alarm is going to go off hot. So make sure the house is well ventilated and you’re ready to deal with some chili oil smoke. There is a chance, if you don’t open a window, that you are creating some illegal bio-warfare.

Enjoy this dish.  It’s not exactly like the original, but maybe if I put on a Kung fu outfit and a yellow belt, it will almost be the same.


2 tbs vegetable oil

2 chili pods (or you can use 2 tsp chili oil)

1½ lb beef tendon (boiled until soft), cut in 1 inch pieces

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 scallion stalks, 1 inch slices

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp rice wine


heat oil on high with chili pods until almost smoking

add all ingredients and stir fry for a few minutes, until fragrant

remove from heat and add salt to taste

-serves 4-


grilled skirt steak with chimichurri

No fancy plating for this dish. It's too good to wait.

Every year around early May, I always get this urge to build some sort of garden in my yard, stoop, whatever pots I can find around the house.  It’s my attempt to give off the perception that I have a green thumb or that I am moderately responsible.   Usually it ends with soil full of weeds, one tomato that is big enough to make ¼ of the normal portion of the tomato and scallion scramble, and a Chinese man sun bathing while swatting at a swarm of mosquitoes and drinking a few beers.  I may have just discovered the downfall of my gardening attempt.

Now, beyond the weeds and the single dwarfed tomato, you can always be sure to find a Garden of Eden full of herbs.  I’m not sure what I am doing right, but when it comes to herbs, my thumb is as green as the Jolly Green Giant. Yes, I dare to make that comparison.  I love growing herbs for multiple reasons:  they taste so good, I never use the whole package of fresh herbs from the markets, it’s so rustic and Suzy homemaker.

The one problem with my herb garden is that it overgrows like weeds and tends to be herbs that I like, but aren’t common in Asian cooking.  So, more likely than not, I am forced to try to figure out a dish using a large amount of herbs before I feel like I’ve wasted my time and energy.  That’s where this chimichurri sauce came around.

I really just grabbed whatever herbs I needed to shave down, added some garlic and oil and voila: awesome sauce!  The flavor notes of the sauce meld perfectly.  You have the smokiness of the cumin, the citrus of the coriander, the freshness of the parsley, the spice of the garlic, and the flavor complexion of it all mixed together in the vegetable oil that can only be described as happy frolicking on a warm summer day in the country fields.

My room mate also couldn't wait.

I’ve used a mortar and pestle, good old cutting board and knife, and a hand cranked food processor to make this sauce.  All tools work the same and end with similar results, but I am a sucker for old-fashioned tools so the “mortar and pestle” was my favorite.  This, like most of my dishes, sauce is super easy.  Just grab a handful of herbs, add some garlic, sprinkle some spices, drizzle some oil and taste to make sure it’s all good.  And believe me, it will be all good.  If you’re wondering what summer freshness taste like, this is very close.

I like to make a big batch and before I add the spices, I reserve half to serve as a condiment with the steak. It adds a fresh level of flavors.  Don’t use strong flavored oil either, the star of the sauce are the herbs not the oil.  So say no to the olive oil. I also like to turn the leftovers into a steak sandwich.  Actually, I’m going to have that for lunch after I finish writing this.


2 cups of loosely packed green herbs (mix of parsley, oregano, and cilantro), whole

5 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp coarse ground black pepper

4 tbs vegetable oil

1 tbs whole coriander seeds, crushed

1 tsp cumin, ground

2 lb skirt steak, fat and connective tissue trimmed


grind herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper in mortar, cutting board, or food processor.

drizzle oil and make the mixture into a paste

reserve half of the sauce and mix in the coriander and cumin and stir to make the marinade

massage the marinade into the flat iron steak and refrigerate covered for at least 2 hours.

grill on high on one side for 6 to 7 minutes and flip and cook on other side until desired doneness. *I like medium rare so I cook it for an addition 4 to 5 minutes

roast in an oven for 9 to 10 minutes in a 450°f oven if there is no grill available.

Serve with reserved chimichurri sauce

-serves 4-


roasted bone marrow with soldiers

roasted bone marrow with soldiers

I auditioned for a reality show.  No, it was not for Real World, Survivor, American Idol, or Jersey Shore- it was for a food network show.  I didn’t make it though, however that wasn’t the point.  The point was to do something new that was way out of my comfort level and my roommate, brother, and sister in law helped push me to do it.  It was an intense process.  Waited for I think 3 hours and eventually got to meet the casting assistant for 3 questions.  All this after filling out a 11 page application, my roommate taking 5 pictures of me – one being used as my picture for this blog -, and a very tragic moment with a printer and staples copy center.  It was all worth it though.  It was fun, I learned a lot about myself by filling out the application, and I even came up with the concept of my food network show.  Late Night Cooking: the sensual side of food network.  Yes! Sexy!  It would be focused around sexy foods, or sexy things.  Maybe even give an outlet for food network stars to do some cooking.  Can you imagine it?  Paula Deen letting it all loose on my show?  Now that would be awesome.   Plus, I would only air after 10, when young-ins should be asleep.  Even had a show name already in mind: “Midnight Snack”.  Raunchy.  Needless to say I didn’t get it, but if I did get it, this would be on the show.

I don’t know if you have had bone marrow before?  It doesn’t taste like beef, but almost better.  It’s as if you took the most marbled and expensive cut of filet mignon ever, extract all the flavor, reduce it to condense it, mix it with butter, and then stick it in a bone – then you have bone marrow.  You can usually get it from you butcher.  At my butcher they sell it as soup bone for $1.25.  It also came with some of the joints of the bone.  So I saved those in a Ziploc in my freezer for the day I make Chinese beef noodle soup.  This dish is a textural and flavor overload for me.  The crunchy toast with the smooth marrow mixed in with the tart from the lemon juice and the salt from the sea salt.  It’s all topped with the herb flavor of the parsley.  It’s a good combo in a small bite.

When I think of sexy food, I think of bone marrow.  The texture, flavor, and image of it just ooze sexy-ness.  Not to mention it’s a quick fix and easy clean up, which leads to sexy things later on.  The flavors aren’t intense, strong garlic or onion, which keeps the sexy going for the night.  And it cost a small amount with little ingredients, which allows for more sexy things later.  It’s a great appetizer for a nice romantic dinner for two, or a party – depending on your preference.  Now, picture Paula Deen making it on a late night food show and then you will have my food network show.


4 marrow bones or soup bones, rinsed

¼ cup parsley, minced

½ lemons

sea salt

3-4 slices of bread


heat oven to 450˚

arrange bones in a roasting pan, cut side up

roast bones for 15 minutes or until marrow is cooked through and begins to separate

top with a squeeze of lemon juice,  pinch of salt, and sprinkle of parsley

serve with toast cut into ½ inch strips [called soldiers in the culinary world]

-serves 4 –


spaghetti with meat sauce

sphagetti with meat sauce

I loved Spaghetti night when I was young.  It was one of the few American culinary traditions that my mom took part in.  I would request it once in a while because it was fun coming home and finding out that it wasn’t the regular rice, soup, fish, veggie and or meat dish.  Instead it was the one time that I thought I was like the rest of my classmates with their starch and meat meals.  I realize now that I’m glad I didn’t grow up eating more of what my classmates where eating, or I would not be able to write most of these posts for this blog.  But, I loved spaghetti night!

It wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized that spaghetti was the name of the pasta and not the sauce, but I didn’t care.  It was good.  My mom never really studied nor learned Italian food in Taiwan, it’s not a common flavor combo, but she still made it her  way.  She would take a jar of mushroom tomato sauce and then add more mushrooms and then add ground beef.  It was easy, quick, and tasted amazing.  Essentially my mom was making her own version of a Bolognese sauce.  Traditionally a Bolognese sauce has pancetta, meat, wine, tomato paste, and sometimes cream or milk.  But there are a lot of different versions of it now.  It’s like their version of mac and cheese.  There is one original recipe, but there are a variety of family recipes out there.  But one thing that is common with a Bolognese is that it is more meat than it is tomatoes.  Much more.  My Mom’s recipe was jarred sauce, mushroom, and beef.  It’s how I always though Italian food should taste.  A nice thick, chunky, beefy sauce.

It’s weird that an Italian style pasta sauce will make me think of home, but that’s why I love food.  Food allows us to feel comfort and emotions when we eat certain foods.  It takes us back somewhere happy, sad, or excited.  I know I have brought this analogy up already, but I will always refer to the scene in Ratatouille when Anton Ego has his first bite of his dish and is taken back to his childhood.  That’s what this sauce is like to me, amongst many other dishes that you see on this blog.

My mom would always buy the fresh pasta at the supermarket instead of the dried ones to use in this dish.  My brother and I didn’t like it so much.  If you are going to use fresh pasta, either make it yourself or buy it at the farmers market.  There are preservatives and stuff in the store bought kind that give it an interesting texture, and I don’t use the term interesting in the positive way.  If you can’t make it yourself or don’t have a farmers market to go to with fresh made pasta, just buy the dry kind.  It’s just as good.  And if you have a Trader Joes by you, they sell the Mire Poix (celery, onion, and carrots) already diced and measured correctly.  It’s great and saves time.  But cutting is fine if you have the time.  I find it meditative.  Also, no need to pay extra for fresh herbs if you don’t have any around…since you are stewing your sauce for a while dry will do the work.  The fresh herbs would be cooked to the point of no recognition.  And, remember, there isn’t suppose to be too much tomato in it.  It’s a meat sauce not a tomato sauce.  So don’t worry if it looks too chunky.  That’s what makes it good.


2 cups onion, diced

1 cup celery, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

1 lb beef, ground

1 tbs garlic, minced

3 tbs olive oil

3 cups mushroom

1 tbs tomato paste

1 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes

1 ½ tsp salt + salt for pasta water

1 tsp ground black pepper

1½ tsp dried basil

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp thyme

¼ tsp red chili flakes

1 lb spaghetti, uncooked


boil a large pot of boiling water and season with salt for the pasta

brown ground beef with oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot on high

sauté onion, celery, and carrots with beef until onions are translucent

add the mushrooms and cook on medium heat until mushrooms began to shrink

combine the rest of the ingredients to the pot except for dried pasta and let simmer on low for at least 40 minutes and up to 1½ hour

cook pasta according to directions and transfer to pot with sauce and mixed

garnish with grated Parmesan to taste.

-serves 8-


i hunger...i cook...i eat...i come back...i reminisce...i blog...enjoy.


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