July 28, 2016

Taiwan Beer Beef Stew

by tina


I’ve always wanted to make a stew with some beer ’cause it seems like you just can’t go wrong with the two together. After experimenting with a couple of recipes, (and my patient husband letting me do my thing and trying out my various stews), I came up with my own version. This is such a good comfort food dish~


  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 to 1 1/4 lbs beef sukiyaki meat
  • 2 potatoes (medium sized)
  • 1 package (~7 ounces) konjac yam noodles (optional)
  • 2 carrots (2 small or 1 large)
  • 2 tbsps mirin
  • 2 tbsps soy sauce
  • 2 tbsps sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 pint Taiwan beer

*Due to different levels of sweetness that may come from the onion or carrots, you may need to adjust certain seasonings to taste. (For example, you may want to start off with a little less sugar and add more later, or you may need to add a little more salt, mirin, or soy sauce later.)

Here is a picture of the ingredients that I used:



Heat the pot at medium high. Add the oil. When the oil is warm, add the onions. Stir and cook for about 1 min. Add the salt and stir.

Add the beef in and stir for about 1-2 mins, or until you start to see some browning.


Then add in the potatoes, konjac yam noodles, and carrots.  Stir for about 1 min.

Add in the mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and water. Turn the temperature to high.


Then pop open that bottle of Taiwan beer and pour it in!


Once the stew reaches to a boil, turn the temperature down to low to simmer for 1 hour.





Scoop some into a bowl and have some rice on the side. And don’t forget the beer.

Food is ready :) Delicious and super easy.


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March 25, 2016

Steamed Egg for Two

by tina


I’ve always wanted to make this, especially since my husband absolutely loves eggs. The silky smooth texture is really a treat. The best steamed eggs we’ve had were in Taiwan and Japan. Although this is not as professional and more of an impromptu recipe, it sure satisfies our cravings!  Also, using cute mugs for this makes it fun =)


  • 2 shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 slices of carrot
  • 1 leaf of a vegetable (your choice)
  • 6 ginkgo nuts
  • 2 tablespoons (approx.) shredded chicken
  • salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth (homemade or store bought)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/5 cup water (for steaming)

Total preparation and cook time: 2 hrs, if making with homemade chicken broth
or: 45 mins, if making with store bought chicken broth

This is optional, but I like to make the steamed egg with homemade chicken broth. You may think it’s rather time consuming, but if you’re also making chicken soup for dinner… then better yet, you’re killing two birds with one stone–You’ll have both steamed egg and some chicken soup of your liking done within the 2 hrs!

First thing’s first, soak the shiitake mushrooms in some water.

Then, simply boil the chicken with some water for about 30 mins. Make sure you don’t add too much water in the beginning since you don’t want to dilute too much of the chicken flavor. After 30 mins of boiling, taste the broth. If you think it’s too concentrated, add some water to dilute it. Then scoop out a little more than 1 cup of broth and a piece of chicken (dark or white meat) into a bowl.

Add salt to taste. (*note that the salted broth will be diluted with the egg later, so it can be a bit saltier than you’re used to). Let the broth cool, while you continue to make the chicken soup of your liking.


Prepare the ingredients that will go into the mugs. Crack, shell, and remove/peel the skin off the ginkgo nuts. Cut the carrots into flowers. Cut the leaf of the vegetable into small pieces. Shred the chicken into small pieces. Wash and cut the stems off the shiitake mushrooms, then create slits at the top.


In a large bowl, scramble the 2 eggs, making sure there are no large clumps. Strain the chicken broth (only if it’s homemade) and add to eggs. Mix.


Place the shredded chicken in the mugs.


Add the chicken broth egg mixture.


Place 3 ginkgo nuts in each mug. Then add the vegetable, shiitake mushroom, and carrot on top.


Place the mugs in your Tatung cooker. Add 1/5 cup of water in the outer pot, cover, and switch on the cook switch.


Once the switch switches up, make sure to wait about 15 mins before you open the lid to enjoy your mug of steamed egg.


March 9, 2016

Taiwanese Style Steamed Pork Ribs

by tina


I had been making the same pork dishes, so it was overdue to try something new. I love these pork ribs–They become fall off the bone tender when steamed! Not to mentioned that they’re pretty low maintenance to make, despite the longer preparation and cook time. But what’s nice is that you could focus on cooking other dishes for your meal while this is in the cooker.


  • 1 1/2 lbs pork ribs (approx.)


  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 1/4 cup black vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water

Aromatics for steaming:

  • 1 by 1 inch ginger
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 3 Thai chilies for mild spice

4 servings

Total preparation and cook time: approx. 2 hours

I used a Tatung rice cooker (6 cups) to steam these ribs. **When first purchased, these rice cookers come with an inner pot, but the cooker that I have is 20+ yrs old passed down from my mother, and the inner pot that came with it has been lost. Instead of finding a bowl to fit into the rice cooker, you should use the inner pot instead to steam the ribs in.



Boil the ribs for about 2 mins, or until you see some bone marrow start to float up to the surface.


Remove from heat, rinse the pork ribs with cold water, and set them aside to cool. In the meantime, prepare the marinade. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, rice wine, black vinegar, soy sauce, and water. The sugar takes a while to dissolve to make sure to mix thoroughly.

Place the ribs in a large ziplock bag, and pour the well mixed marinade into the bag. All the ribs should be soaking in the marinade. Let it marinate for 1 hour. (if for some reason they are not all soaked in the marinade, check back in 30 mins to adjust the ribs so that the other side will be soaked)


When the ribs have been soaking for 50 mins, prepare the aromatics. Peel and slice the ginger into semi-thin pieces. Peel and chop the garlic into halves. Remove the seeds from the Thai chilies.

Temperature at medium high, add very little oil, and sauté the ginger, garlic, and Thai chilies. Sauté until garlic and ginger lightly browned.


Place the ribs and marinade in a large bowl (large but small enough to fit into the rice cooker). Then add the aromatics into the bowl.


Place the bowl into the rice cooker and add 1.5 cups of water on the outside of the bowl. When it is done steaming and the switch switches up (approx. 30 mins), open the lid and flip the ribs. Add another 1.5 cups of water on the outside of the bowl. Once the switch switches back up again (approx. 30 mins), your delicious ribs are done!


November 20, 2015

Braised Pork Belly Rice Bowl aka Lu Rou Fan (滷肉飯)

by tina


I’ve been a bit obsessed with pork belly lately. I’ve had some good braised pork belly rice bowls in Japan and Taiwan, that I wanted to somehow recreate it in my own kitchen. And since my last recipe was braised pork belly with mustard greens, I figured why not try and make the rice bowl style–Shouldn’t be too hard, right? Yes, in fact, I found this much easier to make. This recipe doesn’t require to fry the skin of the pork belly, hence no oil splattering encounters! (no getting hurt)

I tend to like my food on the lighter side, so this recipe is just that. Feel free to add more soy sauce in the sauce for simmering if you like this dish a little saltier.


  • About 2 lbs pork belly (with skin on)
  • 1 dozen hard boiled eggs peeled

Water bath

  • 2 stalks green onions
  • 3 to 5 cloves garlic (depending on size)
  • 1 by 3 inch ginger
  • 2 star anise

Sauce for simmering

  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp + 3 tsp sugar
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 3/4 tsp five spice powder
  • 2 star anise (same from water bath)


  • egg (half)
  • 1 small stalk of preserved mustard green
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 Thai chili
  • cilantro

**Allow about 3 hrs to make



Some pork meats tend to have more of a porky smell or taste, so boiling it in the water bath will take some of that away and will also boil out some of the fat that will make the dish less oily.

Start by filling the pot with water. Peel the garlic cloves. Peel and cut the ginger into small chunks. Cut the green onions. Place these ingredients and star anise in the water. Turn the temperature to high.


When it comes to a boil, place the pork belly, skin down, in the water bath. Make sure the pork belly is covered completely by water. Cover lid. Turn temperature to low medium and simmer for 30 mins. In the meantime, boil the eggs for about 20 mins. (You do not need to boil a dozen. You can boil any amount you want. I just like to boil more so that I have breakfast the next couple of days :))


Take the pork out and let it cool for about 10 mins, and tweeze away any hairs on the skin. Put it in the refrigerator for 1 hour. (This will allow the meat to harder so that it’ll be easier to cut into small chunks.) If you haven’t done it already, make sure to cool the eggs as well before peeling them.


Take the pork out of the refrigerator and cut it into small chunks, about 1/2 inch wide, square pieces.


For the sauce, simply mix the soy sauces, sugar, water, rice wine, and five spice powder in the pot. Place the star anises in. Turn the temperature to high until boil. Place the pork belly chunks and eggs in. When it comes to a boil once again, turn the temperature down to low to simmer. Simmer for about 1 to 1.5 hours.


For the toppings portion, wash and soak the preserved mustard green for about 15 mins, or until it is not as salty as when you took it out of the package.


Cut it into very small pieces. Also, minced the garlic and remove the thai chili seeds.

Use a pan and turn the temperature to medium-high. Place a little bit of oil in. Once the oil is warm, place the minced garlic and Thai chili in. Let it sizzle a little to let the aromas hit its peak. Then add the preserved mustard green in. Stir for about 30 secs. Place this in a bowl and set aside. (you can throw away the Thai chili at this point).


Once the pork belly is done simmering, you are ready to put together your rice bowl. Place some pork belly with some sauce on top of your white rice. Then half of an egg, preserved mustard greens, and some cilantro on top to complete the bowl!


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November 9, 2015

Butagumi, Tokyo, Japan 豚組

by Josh

I absolutely love pork. It comes second to none for me. If I had to quick fire my favorite foods off the top of my head pork would be in a lot of them. One of those would undoubtedly be tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlet). Breaded, deep fried, with Worcester sauce over on rice. Sublime. When Tina and I were in Japan, despite more than a few reservations at michelin star restaurants, I was most excited about this meal.

Chef Oishi started his culinary career in a tonkatsu shop. He went on to be involved in French cuisine for some time before returning to Japan in 2005. His love and knowledge of pork developed over the years led him to opening this restaurant that is solely dedicated to pork. You will find no other meat at Butagumi. After all buta, Japanese for pork, is in the name.

In fact, “The ultimate tonkatsu can be found here” is the heading of Butagumi’s about page. Oh yes. Music to my ears.

Butagumi’s tonkatsu is deep fried in their independently developed “sesame based” oil, breaded with “top grade panko aged for 4 hours” as opposed to the industry standard “second grade panko aged for an hour”, and drizzled with their original blend of “sun sauce”. This is straight from their website roughly translated by yours truly. I’m not sure what half of it means, but it sounds provocative.

During our honeymoon, we had two couples join us for this part of the trip. The six of us formed some kind of tonkatsu tasting squad. The restaurant is a good 20 minute walk from the Roppongi train station. Off the main streets in the midst of a residential neighborhood in a traditional looking building. On the exterior is a crescent moon carved out on the wall. The inside was very cozy and homey with various cute pig themed decor. My kind of place to have a good meal.


The menu presented to us was overwhelming to say the least. I had never seen a menu as extensively devoted to different types of pork. It is roughly divided between rosu katsu (pork loin) and hire katsu (fillet). Each further divided into light tasting, flavorful, rich flavor and super rich flavor pork. The list of pork changes depending on availability. Each cut of pork had a brand name attached with a short description of which region in Japan it came from.

There must’ve been 40+ choices on that menu. You can imagine it took us quite a while to sift through all of the options. One might think to have 3 cuts of each rosu and hire katsu in different flavor grades to try a variety. However, we did not do that. If you know anything about tonkatsu it would be that rosu katsu is usually the more desirable cut because of it’s fat and juicy nature. Hire, while still good in taste is on the leaner side. We opted for 4 rosu katsu and 2 hire katsu.

The only let down was that Iberico (Spanish pork) wasn’t offered that night, but our waitress suggested another Japanese cut that was comparable. Missing it wasn’t ideal since Iberico jamon is my favorite Spanish food, but there were plenty of options for delicious pork on the menu.



Aside from the tonkatsu, we also ordered some appetizers, beer and plum wine for the table. Great food should be enjoyed with great friends, and that night’s atmosphere was fit for serious acts of gluttony.



We ordered tomatoes, broccoli, and eggplant for appetizer. Among them the tomatoes were especially tasty. The eggplant was very good too. So good I forgot to snap a picture until there was a single piece left! Each pork entrée was also accompanied with miso soup. I would recommend getting some appetizers to share in a group, but like I said before, this place is all about the pork.


First up is Tsunan buta from… well Tsunan city in Niigata prefecture. A rich flavored hire katsu. Flavor wise was decent compared to the rest, but it was predictably leaner than what most of us liked. Still, being the first piece this was a very good sign of things to come. The panko breading was significantly better than anything I’ve had state side. Very crusty but not too flaky. One point of comparison for me would be Maisen Tonkatsu in Shibuya. There, the panko was very flaky. This is a matter of preference, and I liked both but preferred Butagumi’s style of panko breading overall.


Ryuuka ton hails from Okinawa and is a light tasting rosu katsu. Coming from Tsunan buta it was immediately obvious that a bit of fat is desirable in a tonkatsu. Among rosu katsu though, this was my least favorite. Keep in mind it’s relative to the others we tried. It’s still a very good piece of pork.


Matsuzaka pork is a cut from a pig that is originally from China but bred in Mie Prefecture in Japan. It’s name is derived from the same name of the slaughter house that packages them. It’s listed as a flavorful grade of hire katsu. From memory this tasted the most like cuts of kurobuta pork where it was chewy and juicy. Definitely the better of the two hire katsu.


Himuro buta from Isesaki city in Gunma prefecture is a flavorful graded rosu katsu. This was a favorite among the girls unanimously. It came second for me, but I did agree with the others that this had a perfect balance of taste and fattiness. Upon further research, this himuro buta is dubbed as the “ice room pork”. The description states that it is aged in freezing temperature where the pork’s amino acid content increases resulting in a soft texture and sweet taste. I’ll just chalk it up to “because science”. Apparently, Butagumi is the only restaurant in Tokyo that serves this particular cut of pork.


Rich flavored rosu katsu. From Gifu prefecture, Nattoku ton was the closest to the ideal pork for tonkatsu found upon the opening of Butagumi. It’s cited as “Butagumi’s No. 1 brand pork”. From memory this was like the Himura buta but fattier. Some of the pieces had chunks of fat, but overall this was very very solid.


Nakijin Agoo buta is another Okinawa rosu katsu in the super rich flavor classification. This is a cut from a once very rare island agoo pig that was successfully bred in recent years. This was the very cut recommended that is most similar to the Iberico. In fact, Butagumi customers have reported to have said that this is better than the Iberico. It is widely considered as the “rival to Iberico” and touted as Japan’s most flavorful pork. This was easily my favorite due of the immense amount of flavor and juiciness. First bite in and I knew I was in love. This was like tasting wagyu for the first time. Mega rich in flavor and on the limit in fattiness. The girls all found it too fatty and overwhelming in taste. I think like wagyu, this too should be had in modest quantities.

Between the 6 of us, 4 picked Himuro buta as their favorite, while the other 2 including myself ranked Nakijin Agoo buta the highest. While I tend to suggest my personal picks only as reference, in this case I think these two would be must haves for anyone dining at Butagumi. I wouldn’t hesitate to order them again.

As I sip on a beer at the end of the carnage discussing the food with my foodie friends, I found myself with the widest grin across my face. Being a piggy lover, this was nothing short of a meal of my dreams!

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