Archive for the 'dips' Category


Day 4: Pork and Daikon Soup with Soy Paste Dipping Sauce

Pork Broth Soup with Daikon.

Pork Broth Soup with Daikon.

As a kid, I’ve always been in to intense flavors.  One of the many great things about growing up in a first generation family in Southern California is the access to different flavors, cuisines, and ingredients.  When visiting Westminster, I would love the tart fishy flavors of Nuoc Cham, or when eating dim sum in Roland Heights, the bitter, earthy quality of gizzards, liver, and kidney would stick in my mind for the rest of the day.  So, naturally when I first tasted Taiwanese Soy Paste, I would be drawn to the sweet and salty quality of the sauce.

At home, there was one dish that we would use this sauce for dipping.  It was a soup that was made with the neck bones of pork and with the addition of bitter melon, daikon, or winter melon.  It was an easy soup to prepare and the flavor was clean and light and warmed the body.  The broth is magical because it is only a few ingredients and takes an hour to cook, but tastes like a complex broth that’s been boiling for a whole day.  The best part of the soup is always the pork bones.  It takes a little effort, but the neck bones have some meat that has to be dug out.  Once you get to it, it’s tender and earthy flavor will make it all worth the work.

I, of course, would always fish for the largest piece at the beginning of the meal so no one claim rights to it.  I’d set it aside in my soup bowl while I continued to eat my rice, other braised meats, fish, vegetables; whatever was required for my parents to be satisfied that I had eaten a balanced meal.  Then, when it was time to enjoy the pork, I would spoon some soup over the meat to reheat it and then go grab a small dish of soy paste.

My mom would always watch how much I poured into my dipping dish, because I always seemed to “accidentally” pour twice the amount that a person should consume.  Once I got it back to the table, with sheer excitement, I would start picking pieces of pork off the neck bones and cover them in this sweet salty sauce.  These bones have some nooks and crannies to them, but I discovered what the chimps had known for so long; that a long stick is a great tool.  I took my one chopstick and began picking at the crevices to get out all the tender meat.  Sometimes, if I planned it right, I would run out of the sauce and have to go back for seconds.  This is how I was able to cheat my Mom’s system.

I remember one time, when I was young; I was so excited to be able to get more of the soy paste that I wasn’t really in the right state of mind.  It’s like when I was scooping mayonnaise into my mouth or drinking coleslaw juice.  I had a moment of weakness.  I noticed that some of the paste was dribbling down the side, I could have just wiped it with a napkin, but that would be wasteful.  What if I use a piece of my pork?  Wait, it’s too far.  I know! I’ll lick it.  So I slowly moved the bottle to my mouth, and with a quick lick, it was clean.  (I realize that the last two options make me sound unsanitary.  I was)

“Did you just put your mouth to the bottle?”   Damn, my brother caught me.

“No.  That’s gross!”  I stomped back to the dinner table, upset that my brother thought I would do something so disrespectful and offensive.  But, I did.  And it was worth it.  I got more of the soy paste.

Later that night, Mom threw away the bottle of soy paste.

Taiwanese “Soy Paste” or “Sweet Soy Sauce” is a thicker more viscous soy sauce that contains sugar, rice and potato starch in addition to the soy sauce. Because it’s a blend, it has much less sodium than regular soy sauce, but not that much more. The brand that I like to use is “Kimlan”. You can commonly use it in stir fries, but when going through the streets of Taiwan, you will more likely see it mixed with cilantro and crushed peanuts and used as a dipping sauce for various dishes.  It’s really good, in that combination, over Taiwanese Tamales.

Some notes on the soup.  In order to get a really clear broth, my mom would do a quick initial boil of the bones to release all the protein and scum and then re-boil it with the vegetables.  If you don’t mind swampy broth, you can skip that step.


2 lb pork neck bones

1 large daikon, peeled and sliced into 1 inch pieces

4 cups of water

salt to taste

cilantro, optional


for clear broth (skip the next two steps if you don’t mind a clear broth)

rinse bones and place in a large pot and cover with cold water and turn on high heat

drain water once it has come to a boil

add all 4 cups of water, until covering the bones, in a large pot and boil on high heat

simmer the stock for 45 minutes after the water comes to a boil

add the daikon and simmer until fork tender, about 15 minutes

season the broth with salt and thrown in some cilantro for the last five minutes of cooking.

-serves 6-



Sun Dried Tomato Gremolata

Gremolata with Sun Dried Tomato

I go through a process about twice or thrice a year to help inspire me to become well built. It begins with a television show, image, or conversation about lean bodies, six packs, or looking hot that starts its season. I would then feel in-adequate with myself and then go to the gym and attempt a healthier lifestyle and diet and as well as try to be more mentally clear. So, thanks to the Olympics, daytime talk shows, and So You Think You Can Dance, I am forced to see what I am not (a tall muscular man with six packs and legs that can touch the cieling) and I vow at that moment that I will NOT slack off. A few weeks later,  once the season is done, I’m back to laying on the couch and pretending I can point my toes.

My regimen is usually the same. Thanks to working mostly nights, I wake up and have some breakfast, wait an hour before I walk to the gym, run on a treadmill for forty minutes, and then I walk home and have lunch. I would continue to do this two or three times a week until I attempt to make a habit of it.  Having a routine like this makes one realize what they are really good at. I’ve learned that I’m really good at: 1) looking like I work out alot when I go to the gym. 2)  Taking naps after Working out. And 3) making scrambled eggs in the morning.

Now, I haven’t always been great at making scrambled eggs. Originally, when I would wake up to watch cartoons or read the comics, my scrambled eggs were hard, clumpy, rubber like in texture, and filled with garlic powder (it’s how I thought scrambled eggs where supposed to be prepared at the age of 9).  It wasn’t until I was watching Martha Stewart a few years later that I realized that the secret is to do it over low heat and have some patience. I now understood what eggs where supposed to taste like.  It was as if the clouds had opened up to show blue skies above me and a ray or enlightenment had beamed down from above and given me infinite wisdoms and knowledge.  Okay, maybe not that extreme, but it was eye opening.

From there I began experimenting with toppings and condiments to dress my eggs with. It made breakfast more fun, and allowed me to push back the inevitable of working out. I played with salsas, vinagerettes, sauces, chutneys, and gremolatas. They where all delicious. But I think my favorite was this gremolatas dish. It had the right amount of chunky mouth feel without overpowering the flavor or texture of the egg. Also, it is still sauce-like enough to blend well with the egg to ensure even coverage so that you have some in every bite.

I first made this gremolata in college when I would buy a whole bushel of parsley but realize I only needed half. I’d end up with a bunch of parsley that would turn brown in my fridge if I didn’t use it up quickly. The solution that I came up with was to make it into a sauce and refrigerate it. This way I could keep the parsley  a few more days past its prime. I wouldn’t reccomend it for folks who have an aversion to parsley. It’s pretty heavy in that flavor profile. But, somehow the brightness from the lemon zest and the sweetness from the sun dried tomato really works well with the grassy flavor of the parsley. Plus, as you all know from my infatuations, the combination of egg and tomato will always be a plus in my books, no matter how the tomato is prepared.   Enjoy this sauce, it woul be great on gamey meats as well, but just as good on scrambled eggs.


1 cup parsley, minced

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 tbs sun dried tomato, minced

1 clove garlic, grated

2 tbs olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


combine all ingredients in a bowl and season to test.

let the gremolata sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavor to combine

-serves 6-


feliz cinco de mayo

It’s Cinco De Mayo.   Time for Americans all across the country to come together at their local “Mexican” restaurant/bar and do tequila shot, drink lots of margaritas, and eat chips and salsa to celebrate a holiday they know little about.

Some people seem to think that Cinco De Mayo is to celebrate Mexican independence.  Not so.  Instead it is the day that the Mexican army had successfully fought the French army in the Battle of Puebla.  So, while everyone is taking shots of Tequila to Mexican independence, which is September 16th by the way, I will be doing a shot of tequila (drinking a michelada) in honor of the infamous day that the city of Puebla was not conquered by the French.

In honor of the Americanized holiday, I have put together some of my past posts that I feel are fitting for today.  Enjoy and salud!

roasted jalapeno guacamole

smokey black beans

enchiladas con salsa verde

mango salsa

calamansi margarita


crispy shrimp with wasabi tobiko sauce


crispy shrimp with wasabi tobiko sauce

I’ve spent the last five months at an amazing restaurant that shut its doors on Sunday.  Japonais, a Japanese restaurant cooked in French styles, was my place to be creative with drinks as well as allowed me to talk about the thing I love the most: food.  I had a blast there and made amazing friends.  I developed a bond with the staff that I have never had at any workplace.  On top of that, I truly got to learn more about the service industry and truly value the work, friendship, and support of all the players in the restaurant industry.

One of the dishes that I constantly sold and was sure to be a crowd pleaser was the Crispy Shrimp and Salmon.  Now, Japonais had really delicious traditional sushi dishes, but the Crispy Shrimp and Salmon, amongst the three other specialty rolls, where exceptional.  It was a traditional panko fried shrimp inside a sushi roll and topped with soy marinated salmon sashimi and drizzled with a wasabi tobiko sauce.   Yeah.  Sounds decadent huh?  It was.  In a very good way though.

I tried to recreate this dish at home but hit a few obstacles.  The problem with sushi is that it’s not fun to make (or cost affective) unless it is in bulk.  The process of making sushi rice, collecting the ingredients, and marinating sushi grade salmon did not make my wallet happy.  So, I just took the main pieces that I thought I could realistically make and then just hope one day I make it to the Chicago or Vegas location.

So, this is a variation of the dish.  I did a panko fried shrimp and just accompanied it with a wasabi tobiko sauce.  Tobiko is pretty great if you have never tried it.  It’s the caviar of the flying fish.  It creates a crunchy, popping texture when you bite into it and adds VERY subtle briny flavor in the sauce.  If you don’t have access to tobiko, you can use masago.  If you don’t like either, then omit it.  It’s ok.  For this dish, you can make this sauce a couple of days in advance.  The wasabi flavor will be a little stronger, but that’s what makes my sinuses happy.  Also, I used something called Kewpie Mayo.  Kewpie is the brand of a Japanese mayonnaise that’s a little sweeter than the American version.  If you can’t find Kewpie, then the “red, white, and blue” version is fine.


[the sauce]

1/4 tsp wasabi paste

2 tsp tobiko or masago (optional)

1/4 cup scallion, minced

1/4 cup mayonnaise (kewpie if you have it)

1/2 tsp soy sauce

1/2  tsp sesame oil

salt and pepper

[the shrimp]

vegetable oil for frying

2 lb of medium shrimp, peeled with tail still on

1 large egg

1 tbs water

1 cup flour

1 cup panko

1 tbs salt

1 tbs pepper


mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and set aside

pour oil in a deep pot or fryer and heat on high

clean shrimp and de-shell if necessary (freeze shell for broth some other time)

beat egg with water in a shallow dish, set aside

season flour with salt and pepper in a shallow dish, set aside

pour panko in a (surprise, surprise) shallow dish, and set aside

coat shrimp in flour and shake of excess flour, then the egg mixture, and finally the panko bread crumbs.

fry in oil (when you insert a wood chopstick or handle of a wood spoon and bubbles form around it, then it’s ready-Thank you Rachel Ray for that tip-) until golden brown.

remove from oil and let drain on towel for a few minutes

serve with wasabi mayonnaise

-serves 4-


mango salsa

mango salsa

The first time I went to the emergency room was when I was about 10.  I woke up really late in the night with horrible cramps/stomach pains in my abdomen.  I was in major pain and ran to my parents’ room crying out for help.  I must of scared them, because they quickly picked me up and had me lie down in the back of the car as they drove quickly to the emergency room.  I don’t really remember much from the car drive, but I remember lying in the back crying in pain.  I even remember explaining to my parents that it felt like someone was playing ping-pong inside me. [I was picturing a tiny man that looked much like a tiny hamburgular wreaking havoc in my body…] The pain was in what I now know as my lower abdomen.  My mom was reaching back from the front passenger seat and clenching my hand really tight and my dad kept on assuring me that I will be alright and we where almost there.

I don’t remember much after that.  I don’t even remember getting to the emergency room.  The next thing I remember was a curtain surrounding me and I was on a bed in the ER.  There was a nurse taking my blood for tests and through out all the pain and fear, I do remember being proud of myself for not crying when the nurse took my blood.  I felt like a man.  Hey, the crying from the internal ping pong match doesn’t count as a marker of my manlihood or lack there of.  It comes from blood being drawn.  Give me a break, I was 10.

The doctor and my dad talked for a bit and then after what was about 15 minutes in my head, but in reality probably a couple of hours, I went home and had a huge plate of mangos.  Awesome.  Go to emergency room and dad preps you a big plate of mangos.  Turns out I didn’t have enough vitamin C in my system and the doctor told me to take eat some fruit and he will contact my parents with the results from the test.  I assume the results where good, because I never returned to the hospital.  However, I did learn a huge lesson.  Mangos are still good and full of vitamin c.

I always loved mangos.  They are tart and sweet at the same time with a refreshing creamy juiciness to add.  It’s amazing.  Growing up, I only ate it as a fruit on it’s own.  Sometimes it would be dried, but always just on it’s own.  I was never into sweet salsas so when I heard of mango salsa, I was hesitant.  I made some for the first time in DC when I bought some mangos that where quickly about to spoil.  I served it with a simple grilled fish, and was sold then and there.  I’ve since served it with all kinds of seafood.  My favorite is marinating salmon in the harissa/sriracha and tequila lime marinade. The sweetness balances really well with the lime and tequila/rum and cools the heat from the chili.  Perfect for the summer grill.

Come to think of it, my parents could have just poured me a glass of orange juice.  I’m glad that in all the panic and excitement, it slipped their mind.


1 cup diced ripe mango, ¼ to ½ inch

¼ cup minced cilantro

¼ cup minced shallots

½ tsp salt

1 minced medium jalapeno or serrano chili pepper (seeded if you don’t want too spicy)

1 medium lime


mix all ingredients with the juice of the lime

set in refrigerator covered for at least 10 minutes

serve chilled or at room temperature

-serves 4-


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


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