Soy Sauce Sriracha Glazed Cod

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Few things are more important than family dinner.  I missed our time around the dinner table the most when I was away on location and during the time when Angela was at Andover.  Well, I actually missed hugging and kissing them the most, but dinner time was a close second.  I savor every dinner that the four of us can eat together.  I want each and every one of our dinners to be beautiful and delicious.  I don’t want any of it to go to waste.  Cooking to me, especially for my loved ones, is an art and pleasure on par with performing in films.

Today, I revisited the salmon recipe that so many of you loved.  The same marinade worked perfectly for the rock cod.  Compared to the salmon, the cod took less time to cook.  This recipe makes 4 servings and Peter, the fish lover of the family, had three servings all by himself!

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Ingredients for Soy Sriracha Glazed Cod:

1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce (or tamari* for gluten-free)  60mL 低盐鲜酱油

2 tablespoons honey  30 mL蜂蜜

1 tablespoon rice vinegar 15mL米醋

1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (or to taste) 15mL甜辣椒酱

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger 15mL 姜末

1 tablespoon minced garlic 15mL 碎蒜

2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions, for garnish 30mL青葱

(Above ingredients are for the marinade.)

1 pound rock cod fillet, cut into 4 (4-ounce) pieces 一磅左右石斑鱼

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil 25mL 麻油

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced 红甜椒

2 scallions, cut to one inch slices 青葱

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Preparation:

In a 1-gallon zip-top plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, honey, vinegar, Sriracha, ginger, and garlic. Add the cod, toss to coat evenly, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours, turning the fish once.

Remove the cod from the bag, reserving the marinade.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the sesame oil. Rotate the pan to coat the bottom evenly and add the cod with the bell pepper and the cut scallion. Cook until one side of the fish is browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Flip the cod and cook until the other side browns, about another 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and pour in the reserved marinade and cook until the fish is cooked through, 2 -3 minutes. 

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Corn Chowder with Queso Fresco & Chive

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Audrey loved the Fisherman’s Wharf when she was little.  We would go there a couple of times a month, first stopping at the Musée Mécanique for an hour and then to eat her favorite clam chowder in a bread bowl at the Boudin Bakery, and finally at Candy Baron for some saltwater taffy. 

We haven’t been back to the Boudin since Audrey became a vegetarian.  After school today Audrey suddenly said, “Oh, I wish I could have a bowl of chowder.”

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Audrey and a friend at her favorite haunt Fisherman’s Wharf

I used the frozen corn from the freezer and made her a healthy and nutritious corn chowder. And according to everyone in the house it was much tastier than the clam chowder at Boudin.  Not to mention much healthier.

Audrey just wished it was in a bowl of sourdough bread.

Corn Chowder with Queso Fresco and Chive

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1/3 cup chopped scallions

1 garlic clove, chopped

3 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

1 (6 oz) russet potato, peeled and diced

5 cups 1% milk

1 chicken bouillon cube (or Vegetable Better than Bouillon)

1/4 onion, chopped

1/4 cup fat free Fage

salt and fresh pepper, to taste

3 oz (6 tbsp) crumbled queso fresco or reduced fat feta

Preparation:

Heat a medium heavy pot or Dutch oven on medium heat. Add oil and sauté scallions and garlic and onion for 1 minute. Add the corn, potatoes, milk, bouillon, and cilantro in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until the corn is tender, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and reserve 6 tablespoons of the corn kernels for topping. Add yogurt to the soup and purée in the blender in two batches, careful not to burn yourself; return to the pot.

Adjust salt and pepper, to taste and heat over low heat 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour into 6 bowls and garnish each bowl with 1 tablespoon each of corn kernels and cheese. Top with fresh chive.

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Recipe inspired by skinnytaste

Baked Coconut Yam Fries

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I caught Audrey listening to Taylor Swift while practicing piano a couple of times.  I also caught her practicing with one hand while snacking with the other a couple of times.  Finally I decided that her playing piano was a futile effort for everyone involved.  Peter and I sat her down a couple of weeks ago and told her that we were letting her off the hook, that it was okay with us if she didn’t play the piano any more.  Unexpectedly, she said she didn’t want to stop.  She insisted on continuing to take lessons.  We told her that it would be her choice to either practice much more conscientiously or to stop entirely.  We told her to think it overnight and let us know her decision the next day.  The next day Audrey solemnly declared that she would practice everyday and with focus, that she wanted to continue piano. 

It’s been about two weeks since her own decision to continue playing the piano and I am hearing a marked improvement in her playing.  Life is full of surprises.

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Baked Coconut Yam Fries

Ingredients:

1 yam (spiralized or sliced)

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil (melted)

1/4 cup unsweetened shaved coconut

1/2 tablespoon xylitol or sugar (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Coat the spiralized or sliced yam with coconut oil and shaved coconut in a baking pan.  Spread a thin layer of yam in the baking dish. You may need two baking pans for this.  The fries will not be crispy if the layer is too thick.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes and then flip over. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until browned. 

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Roast Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad

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A friend came over for lunch today and we commiserated with each other on motherhood.  She has just gone through the grueling college application process with her twin boys and I’m about to take Angela on a college tour next month. I don’t know when it all began, but it seems that the college admissions process has turned into a war that requires endless amounts of strategy. 

I was told that in some cultures in the ancient times, children would be chased out of the house into the wilderness at a certain age, and they were not supposed to come home again until after they’d hunted a tiger.  The rite of passage for today’s kids is not any less difficult, except the “tigers” they are sent out to hunt are those ever elusive brand-name colleges.

Much like the ancient times, there is not much mothers can do to help their children hunt the “tigers.”  All we can do is love them.  As we ate this delicious salad, our conversation quickly turned from the stress of college application to the joy of food  — the balm that cures almost anything.

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Roast Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad

Ingredients for the sweet hot mustard:

1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. coarse ground Dijon mustard

1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar or honey

1/4 tsp. Sriracha sauce

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Ingredients for the salad:

4 shallots, thinly sliced

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 lb. (500 g) brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered

1 cup (125 g) black walnuts, toasted

1 1/2 red apples, such as Fuji or Gala, cored and thinly sliced

1 Tbs. honey lemon peel (optional & see note)

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Preparation for the Sweet Mustard:

In a bowl, whisk both mustards, vinegar, brown sugar and Sriracha sauce. Reserve 3 Tbs. mustard for the salad; refrigerate the rest for up to 4 weeks.

Preparation for the Salad:

Preheat oven to 450F.  Wash, trim and cut the brussels sprouts.  Coat sprouts with 2 Tbs. olive oil in a roasting pan.  Roast for 15 to 17 minutes or until tender.  Take out and set aside.

In a large nonstick fry pan, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil over medium-high. Sauté the shallots until slightly browned. 

Toss together brussels sprouts, sliced apples, walnuts, shallots with 3 Tbs. sweet mustard.  Season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a platter and serve.

I squeezed some fresh lemon juice on the sliced apples to prevent them from turning yellow.

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Note:

Sometime ago, Audrey made lemonade with about 10 lemons.  The lemon peels looked so fresh and smelled so fragrant that I saved them.  I added about 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and let marinate in the fridge over night.  The next day I boiled about 4 cups of water.  When the water was boiling, I squeezed dry the peels, discard the pulp still left in them, cut them into slices and then added the peels to the pot and brought it to boil again.  Then I drained the peels and transfer them into a glass jar, soaked in honey.  They turned out delicious.

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Recipe inspired by:

Williams-Sonoma

Spicy Chicken with Cashew Nuts

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I have had the good fortune of tasting the most amazing food while traveling for work in countries like Turkey, Spain, Italy, Malaysia, United Emirates and Morocco.  But inevitably by the 2nd week, I’d be missing Chinese food.  I remember frantically looking for a pack of instant noodles on the streets of St. Petersburg.  When the craving hits, it feels as if it were life and death.  Aiya, you can’t take the China out of the girl la. 

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In St. Petersburg

I was about to eat leftovers for lunch today when I suddenly craved for Chinese food.  To satisfy the urge, I made a quick stir-fry.  It was a simple dish, but very delicious.  It really hit the spot for me.

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Everyone should own a wok and try stir-fry.  It’s one of the fastest and simplest ways to prepare any food.

Spicy Chicken with Cashew Nuts

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 small onion, cut into halves

6 finger-length dried red chilies, seeded

1/2 cup roasted cashew nuts, rinsed and drained

15 oz skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut into bite size

3 scallion, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-in lengths

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Sauce:

3 tablespoon soy sauce (or Maggi seasoning sauce / Golden Mountain sauce)

2 tablespoon Chinese Cooking Wine +  1 tablespoon for marinating

1 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

2 teaspoon xylitol or sugar, or to taste

Preparation:

Marinate the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon of wine for 10 to 20 minutes.  Drain and pat dry with paper towel.  Mix the cornstarch into the meat.  (You can omit this step if you want to save time, but it does make the chicken taste better.)

Heat up a wok and add the oil. When the oil is heated, add the garlic, onion, dried red chilies and stir-fry until fragrant or when you smell the spicy aroma of the chilies. Add the cashew nuts and follow with the chicken. Stir-fry the chicken until the surface turns opaque. Add all the ingredients for the Sauce into the wok and continue to stir-fry until the chicken is cooked. Stir-in the scallion, dish out and serve immediately with steamed rice.

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Recipe inspired by rasamalaysia

Pickled Green Turnip, A Taste From My Childhood

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Shanghai has changed so much in the recent years that most of the places from my childhood memory no longer exist, but the familiar foods are still everywhere from my parents’ house to street vendors.  And they fill me with nostalgia.
Yesterday I made a jar of pickled green turnip and it’s ready to eat today! They make the crunchiest and most refreshing appetizer or a side dish or a savory snack. I used to have pickled or dried turnip with porridge at breakfast every morning. I never thought they were particularly delicious in anyway.  They were just a part of a very meager diet.  Back then, no one had refrigerators and we often pickled or dried our food to preserve them.  But this once mundane everyday staple became completely new and special after decades of living in America.
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Basic Pickled Turnip Ingredients:
2 turnips
30 to 40 grams salt or to taste
4 to 6 chili peppers
1/4 teaspoon peppercorn or Chinese 花椒
1 pack Equal or other sweetener that is not sticky
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Preparation:
Wash and scrub and peel the turnips.  Slice them into two inch long wedges.  Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl or any large container before transferring them to a jar.  Let it stay for at least an hour and up to two days, either in the fridge or in room temperature.  Pour out all the juice that came out of the turnip.  Press a serving spoon on the turnip and squeeze out as much water as you can.
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Lemon and Olive Oil Marinated Fennel Salad with Burrata and Mint

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A mí me gusta la comida china, pero a mis hijas no les gusta. Estoy, estás, está, estamos, estáis, están. This is how we normally spend our Sundays, helping Audrey while she scrambles to finish her Spanish homework and panics while Angela does her integral calculus alone in her room and panics quietly.

Today, however, there will be no panicking or scrambling. It’s winter break, Angela is sleeping well past noon, and we’re spending the day stuffing our faces. Happy holidays from the Hui/Chens!

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Audrey having breakfast with cousin Katie. My brother-in-law’s family is making their annual visit from Los Angeles. This is Audrey’s favorite time of the year.

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Lemon and Olive Oil Marinated Fennel Salad with Burrata and Mint

adapted from http://food52.com/recipes/21008-lemon-olive-oil-marinated-fennel-with-burrata-mint

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Ingredients:

2 medium heads fennel, cored and very thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving

6 strips lemon zest, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

8 ounces burrata

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Grilled or broiled bread slices, for serving

Place fennel, oil, zest and lemon juice in a shallow dish; season with salt and pepper. Let stand 10 minutes. (Meanwhile, grill or broil bread slices, if serving.) Just before serving, arrange fennel salad on a large platter. Scatter burrata and mint over fennel. Drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired.

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This is the crunchiest, creamiest and the most refreshing salad I’ve had for a long time.

Burrata is my new favorite cheese. It’s essentially scraps of fresh mozzarella tied into a neat package full of cream and little bits of leftover fresh mozzarella. And it’s delicious. I mean, it’s fresh mozzarella upgraded to first class. It is heaven in dairy form. We’ve been including it in all sorts of food lately, from crostini to caprese salad. Try it. You’ll like it. A little cream never killed anybody, no?

Guest Post: Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies!

Today our mom flew off to Taiwan, so for dinner I’m having steamed cauliflower, brown rice, and a healthy protein “milkshake.” Not exactly what you’d call gourmet. So instead of boring you with all the stuff I’ve been putting together in the microwave, I’d like to introduce you to today’s guest blogger, Kim Hoeltje:

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I am 29 years young and live in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania with my husband, two kittens, and one snuggly Puggle.
I love baking. My parents own a cookie bakery so I learned how mix, scoop, and taste test at an early age. I like to experiment with different recipes, make changes, add different ingredients, and just have fun with it. I love using protein powder in place of flour and sugar.
My protein-packed dessert recipes come from my love of sweet treats, healthy alternatives, and kid-friendly taste buds. I am a full-time nanny, fitness enthusiast, and recent lover of food blogging. My focus is creating good for you foods that make you feel good too!
One of my all time favorite recipes is my Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies!
These may look like they are packed full of sugar, flour, and butter, but they actually contain none of those ingredients!! They are low fat, low carb, and packed full of protein!
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
  • 1 scoop Chocolate Protein Powder (30g)
  • 2 T PB2 or other powdered peanut butter (14g) (can sub any nut butter)
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin (60g)
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas or any white bean (130g)
  • 3 T egg substitute (46g)
  • 3 T unsweetened almond milk (46ml)
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • sweetener to taste (4 packets)
  1. Drain and rinse beans
  2. Puree beans, pumpkin, egg, milk, and vanilla
  3. Stir in everything else except the peanut butter
  4. If using PB2, add water til you get a peanut butter consistency
  5. Coat 5×7 baking dish with nonstick spray
  6. Pour brownie batter in dish
  7. Swirl peanut butter on top
  8. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes

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You could just eat one or two brownies, but why stop there?! You can have all six for only 315 calories!! Only 5 grams of fat and 34 grams of carbs. They make a great breakfast because they are packed with 37 grams of protein!
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Brownies for breakfast!? Yes please!
Original recipe link –
Follow me on all your favorite social media sites!

Busy Bee Housewifery

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My nanny has really become quite a “farmer” lately and often brings me produce from her yard.  This morning she brought me a couple of vine ripe heirloom tomatoes.  They looked so enticing that I wanted to bite into them and eat them right away.  But my better sense prevailed and I decided to make a salad for the family to share.  I can’t think of a better gift than home grown vine ripe produce.

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2 tomatoes

1/2 English cucumber

2 avocados

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar glaze (I think Lemon juice would have been fresher tasting but I was out of lemon)

1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

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When the produce is this fresh, simplicity is the best way to go.  You can taste the food’s original flavor.

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Because I am between projects, Peter and the girls just think that I have all the time in the world to run all their errands for them.  This is the problem with freelancing.  People think you have more time than they do.  Just as I sat down with a book, Peter called me to go buy a broom for him.  What for? I asked.  For my golf travel bag.  Please make sure that the stick is longer than my longest golf club so it will absorb the impact and protect the clubs if the bag is thrown down by the handlers.

I have been asked by a Chinese film company to adapt an internet novel into a screenplay.  I thought that writing would be a perfect job because I wouldn’t have to leave home. But at home I’m never alone enough to write even when I’m alone.

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He didn’t ask me to run any errands for him then.

Audrey came home from school very anxious about the League of Creative Minds debate that she will attend at Stanford University this Saturday.  The topic is the coalition against ISIS, and she will represent Iran’s position.  She needed my help but I was equally ignorant on the issues.  Thank goodness for Google.  We could easily access all the information at our fingertips.  However, she still had many unanswered questions when she was reading the online material about the ISIS crises.  Angela decided that it was time for her to give both Audrey and me a basic history class on the Abrahamic religions, starting from the birth of Ishmael.  Audrey got more and more confused and asked more and more questions. She did learn a word that was repeatedly used in all the articles on ISIS: quagmire.  As you can see, I had a lot on my plate before I got to cooking dinner.  I am glad I chose a very easy and quick recipe from rasamalaysia.com.

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1 1/2 lbs chicken drumsticks (I used thighs and I halved the recipe for only two people)

One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped

5 garlic, peeled and chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon sesame oil

3 heavy dashes white pepper

Pinch of Chinese five-spice powder, optional

Pinch of salt

Method:

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Add the ginger and garlic to the chicken and gently rub them on the chicken. Add the rest of the ingredients to the chicken, stir to mix well so the chicken drumsticks are nicely coated with all the ingredients.

Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes. ( I marinated for 60 minutes)

Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Line the chicken on a tray lined with baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes in the middle of the oven, or until the surface turn golden brown and charred. (I used the toaster oven at 375F for 17 minutes and broiled the chicken for about 3 minutes in the end.)P1050004

Three recipes for healthy homemade ice cream!

I remember acquiring a Krups ice cream maker about fifteen years ago. I made one batch of mango sorbet and then the machine laid forgotten in my pantry until recently. My daughter Angela was ecstatic as she had hoped for an ice cream machine for months and it turned out that we had one at home this entire time. Lately we’ve been using the ice cream machine a lot and we love it; unlike a lot of machines, you don’t need any ice or rock salt!

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Angela used to make her own ice cream the slow way. She would combine 8 oz of plain nonfat Fage with a scoop of Cellucor whey and a few grams of stevia/erythritol blend, freeze it for 90 min, mix, and then freeze for another 90 min. That’s right, three hours for a bowl of hard, lumpy ice cream. Audrey tried freezing for about five hours and mixing every half hour, resulting in creamier ice cream, but it was even more time consuming this way. But now? Hallelujah, we can go from zero to ice cream in twenty minutes flat. Here are our favorite recipes!

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Vanilla ice cream topped with 100% dark chocolate bits, toasted walnuts and raspberries

1. Vanilla, of course

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 16 oz. (454 g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt, I used Fage brand
  • vanilla extract to taste, I used about 1 tsp
  • 7 tbsp xylitol, more or less to taste
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp guar gum (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free maple-esque syrup for topping, I used Joseph’s brand made with maltitol (optional)

You can easily halve this recipe if needed. If you want, you can add a scoop or two of protein powder, but since this is made out of Greek yogurt there’s already a lot of protein. Xanthan and guar gum aren’t the most common ingredients, but they are easily available on Amazon and they make the ice cream a lot smoother and creamier. It might seem expensive at first but you never really use more than 1 tsp at a time so it’s definitely worth it! Also, you can use guar gum and/or xanthan gum to make almond flour or coconut flour breads and cookies stick together better, so there’s another benefit.

Audrey eats ice cream with a smile

2. Chocolate Chocolate Chips

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon 100% dark chocolate bits (unsweetened)
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably “natural” as opposed to Dutch-processed – more antioxidants retained this way)
  • 7 tbsp xylitol (or 11 packets stevia), more or less to taste
  • 2 tbsp PB2 powder (optional, for chocolate-peanut butter twist)
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp guar gum (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional)

3. Coconut Mango

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mango
  • coconut extract to taste
  • 7 tbsp xylitol (or 11 packets stevia), more or less to taste
  • 1/4 tsp guar gum (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
  • unsweetened coconut shreds for topping, to taste

The delicious and healthy ice cream from these recipes don’t stay in Freezer well.  Don’t let it stay in the freezer for longer than an hour.  It’s most delicious right after it’s made.

PS: The ice cream stays in the freezer better when I change the healthy almond milk to 2% evaporated milk, but of course it is less healthy.