June 30, 2014

Boston - Neptune Oyster

It was almost a 5-hour drive from New York to Boston. I think we left during morning rush hour, so by the time we arrived at our hotel it was almost 2pm. We were both so hungry and grumpy from being hungry. I was dying to have the lobster roll that V told me about. So once we were checked in, I was thrilled to find out that Neptune was only a few blocks away from our hotel. We arrived there around 230pm, but there was still a line. We put our names down and went for a coffee. We came back around 315pm and were seated at the bar. I liked the casual decor and ambiance of the restaurant. There were some nautical decorations, wood accents and white tiled walls. People were chatting loudly but I could still hear myself and didn't have to yell. The servers were friendly, upbeat, and didn't hover.

We were given an order sheet for oysters, clams, and other cold seafood appetizers. We picked two types of oysters: Kusshi and Kumamoto; and two types of clams: Littlenecks and Cherrystones. We preferred the Kusshi, as it was more plump and creamy. We also liked the Littlenecks more. They were succulent and briny. The Cherrystones tasted flat and was a bit too chewy. 

Wellfleet Clam Chowder: The clams were plump and fresh. The chowder was well seasoned and creamy. I liked how the consistency of this chowder wasn't gloopy and thick, like the kind from a can.

Lobster Roll served warm with Butter: Star of the show!! You can get this cold with mayo, or hot with butter. We tried a buttered version before in San Francisco, so we wanted to have something different. When our roll came, I was a bit disappointed because they had mixed up our order and given us the butter one. We were too hungry to wait for another one so we didn't send it back. I bit into it and boy was I glad the order got mixed up! The buttered one was heavenly!! Hands down the BEST lobster roll I've ever had. There was just an obscene amount of fresh lobster coated generously in a warm buttery sauce. The lobster chunks were cooked to perfection - juicy, sweet, not rubbery at all. The bread roll was toasted on the outside and soft on the inside, with a bit of sweetness to it. 

Verdict: I would come again for the oysters, lobster roll, and to try the crab claws. 

Neptune Oyster on Urbanspoon

June 27, 2014

Fettuccine with Prosciutto and Arugula

I love pasta. When I cook with my boyfriend, its usually pasta. He's the one in charge of cooking the pasta because I always tend to forget about it and it turns to mush. He always gets a perfect al-dente! A few nights ago we made fettuccine with prosciutto and arugula. I wanted to use pappardelle but the supermarket I went to didn't have any. The sauce is essentially leeks and butter thickened with pasta water, and seasoned with the melted fat from the prosciutto. The lemon cuts through the richness of the sauce, and the arugula adds a nice tang and pepperiness. There is some prep work to do, such as chopping and zesting, but nothing too laborious. Hope you will enjoy this pasta as much as I did! 

Chop up your chives and leeks

Zest two lemons and cut the prosciutto into 1-inch slices

Soften the leeks in oil and butter, but take care not to brown them. Keep stirring.

Add the pasta and arugula. Don't be alarmed by the amount! The leaves will wilt down.

It can get messy and tiring when tossing the mixture together. Here, the boyfriend takes a break from snacking and helps out.

It feels less guilty with all that arugula in it ;)

Recipe – adapted from here

For two to three


250g fettuccine or pappardelle (pappardelle would look prettier but the supermarket I went to didn't carry it)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, white and pale greens only, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest plus more for serving
4 cups arugula
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
12 slices prosciutto, cut into 1-inch pieces

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a large heavy pan over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add pasta, chives, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Cook, tossing and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until a glossy sauce coats pasta, about a minute.
  4. Add arugula and Parmesan, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Add prosciutto and toss again, distributing all the ingredients evenly. 
  5. Plate, and top with the remaining zest and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

June 26, 2014

Mentaiko Spaghetti

If you've been to Japan, you'll know that the Japanese-inspired Italian cuisine there is amazing, especially the pastas. The Japanese has managed to take Italian food and tweak it to make it their own, creating a delicious fusion cuisine. You still get Carbonara and Bolognese, but slightly sweeter and creamier than the Italian version. Often there will be pastas made with Japanese ingredients, such as sea urchin and mentaiko. Mentaiko is marinated roe of pollock or cod with a little bit of spice. There is also a non-spicy version called tarako. Mentaiko is usually a side dish, eaten as a complement for rice or to season dishes. It can also be grilled or cooked into other dishes. In this case, into a pasta! 

This pasta is bursting with layers of umami - from the mentaiko, nori, and bonito. Great indulgent dish for a quick weeknight dinner.

You can get mentaiko from nice Japanese supermarkets. Remove the outer sac membrane before using it. Bear in mind that the mentaiko is very light colored on its own, so when mixed with the pasta you can barely see it. You can add more mentaiko if you wish, but it is quite salty on its own, so one sac is enough.

The recipe is simple. The sauce itself is just unsalted butter and mayonnaise mixed with mentaiko, but make sure you use Kewpie mayonnaise (Japanese kind) and not your average American mayonnaise. It won't taste the same.


For one


50g spaghetti or angel hair
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Kewpie mayonnaise 
1 sac mentaiko
1/2 teaspoon mentaiko, for garnish
Nori (dried seaweed) cut into strips, for garnish
Bonito flakes, for garnish

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, around 7 minutes or according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter and mayonnaise in a large pan over low heat. Make sure not to burn the mixture.
  3. Drain the cooked pasta and transfer it to the pan. Quickly coat with the butter mixture.
  4. Turn the heat off and add the mentaiko. Toss.
  5. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with more mentaiko, nori strips, and bonito flakes.

June 25, 2014

Focaccia with Rosemary, Thyme and Red Onion

Focaccia is one of my favourite breads. It is soft, moist, with a nice crust on the outside. Gold by Harlan Goldstein in Hong Kong serves a really good focaccia which comes with a pesto dip. My brother, who is usually really particular about not eating bread before dinner as not to ruin his appetite, would have at least 3 pieces of this focaccia everytime we went to Gold. Each piece was about the size of my fist! It was that delicious. But bread was something I never thought of making myself. It just seemed so hard and time-consuming with all that kneading, yeasty stuff, and having to let it rise.

Then came my study break, and I had a week off from school. I was lazing on the couch one day catching up on my TV shows when my brother walked past, complaining that we had run out of bread (he wanted to make a sandwich). So, being the nice big sister that I am, I offered to make him fresh homemade bread! I looked online for the easiest recipe I could find, tweaked it a bit, and the focaccia came out amazing. My brother loved it (yay!) and I brought it to school to let my classmates (aka guinea pigs) try some. I'm sure they were being polite, but everyone gave positive comments.

This recipe is versatile. You can omit the red onions, switch herbs, and add other toppings. I made another version with garlic and sun-dried tomatoes, which worked really well too. Or make it with just olive oil and garlic, and make your own pesto!

Mix the yeast, honey and warm water together and let it sit for about 5 minutes. During this time, the yeast will be "activated" and begin to froth.

The key to this tasty moist focaccia is the herb infused olive oil. I used thyme and rosemary in mine. After simmering the herbs in the oil, I put the oil and herbs into a bowl to cool down. Then my mom asked me to help her with something and I totally forgot that I was going to make bread. The oil actually sat on the kitchen counter for two days (covered) before I remembered it, so it had been “infusing” all that time and in the end it came out more flavorful and intense.

Bake until golden. The focaccia will be moist and fluffy inside and crunchy on the outside. This bread is so tasty on its own - you won't be needing any dips!

Recipe – adapted from here


½ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup warm water
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
¼ teaspoon honey
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ red onion, sliced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

  1. In a small cold saucepan, combine olive oil, garlic, thyme, rosemary and the black pepper. On low heat, stir the mixture occasionally until aromatic, for about 8 minutes. Do not let the garlic brown. Pour into a bowl and let it cool.
  2. Using the same saucepan, cook the onions on medium low heat until they begin to soften, but not yet translucent. If they are cooked through, they will catch in the oven when you bake the focaccia. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, combine warm water, yeast and honey. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup of flour and ¼ cup of the infused oil mixture. Using a spatula, stir a few times until the flour has moistened. Let sit for another 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the remaining 1 ½ cups of flour and the salt. Once the dough comes together, transfer to a floured board and knead the dough 10 to 15 times until smooth. Here is a great tutorial on how to knead dough.
  6. Transfer to a large oiled bowl, cover with a warm, damp towel and let it rise for 1 hour. Make sure the bowl is in a warm area without air conditioning or draft, as this will affect the rise of your dough.
  7. After 1 hour, heat oven to 230 C/450 F.
  8. Use 1 tablespoon of the oil mixture to oil a 9 x 13 inch rimmed baking sheet. If you are using a non-stick pan, then you can skip this step, as the dough itself is oily enough.
  9. Transfer dough to the baking sheet and press it down into the pan. Use your fingers to dimple the dough then drizzle the top with 1 tablespoon of the oil mixture. You can save any remaining oil as a marinade, like for lambchops.
  10. Let the dough sit for 20 minutes uncovered then bake 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Transfer focaccia to a rack and cool.

June 24, 2014

Kimchi Fried Rice with Egg

When I was studying in Vancouver, I lived by myself and I would cook dinner for myself on weeknights. It was cheaper than ordering in and I could avoid the copious amounts of MSG, grease and bad oils that came with delivery food. I'm Chinese, so naturally, I had a rice cooker and made rice all the time. And what to do with leftover rice? Make fried rice! I usually just add in anything I could find my fridge, like eggs and turkey slices from the deli, finishing the rice off with a squeeze of Sriracha. However, for a more decadent but still super easy and quick weeknight dinner dish, I present to you my kimchi fried rice! The main ingredients are kimchi, spam, and eggs. And if you have leftover rice from the day before, this dish will take you less than 15 minutes to make. Take that, Jamie Oliver! 

This dish will amaze you. It is so simple to make and uses such humble ingredients, yet it has a myriad of flavours and textures: savoury crunch from the spam, spicy tangy and sweet from the kimchi, richness from the sesame oil and egg, and that layer of umami from the nori. 

The runny yolk forms a beautiful “sauce” that oozes into the rice, calming the sharp kick of the kimchi. This dish not only tastes good but also looks good. Instagram that #foodporn!


Serves two


1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for coating rice
1/2 cup cubed spam or sausage or ham
3 cups day-old cooked white rice (or you can cook the rice and put in the fridge to cool down)
1 ½ cup chopped kimchi, plus any juices
1 tablespoon gochujang (this is a spicy Korean paste made with red chili and fermented soybeans. I usually put in two heaped tablespoons for this recipe, but you should start out with one and taste first)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 eggs
Nori (dried seaweed), chopped, for garnish
1 stalk scallion (green parts) or spring onion, sliced, for garnish

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the spam and cook until crispy but not burnt, around 2 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the cooled rice in a large bowl and drizzle with a little vegetable oil. With your hands, coat the rice grains with the oil, separating the grains carefully as much as you can without breaking them. 
  3. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the kimchi and juice and stir, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and gogujang paste and toss to coat, mixing the ingredients evenly. Stir the mixture around for about a minute to make sure all the rice is colored. Drizzle in the sesame oil.
  5. Turn the heat down to medium-low and pat the rice mixture down in the pan in an even layer. Let the rice sit for about 5 minutes. The bottom layer will crisp up and the flavor will be intensified.
  6. Add the scallions or green onion into the mixture, stirring to distribute evenly, or leave them as a garnish. Divide the rice mixture into 2 bowls.
  7. In a small pan, fry the eggs until the whites have set but the yolks are still runny.
  8. Garnish with the scallions and nori.

June 23, 2014

Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons

I try to make “healthy” things from time to time to keep the monster of gluttony inside me at bay. I usually make a salad as a starter for dinner, something simple like cherry tomatoes and arugula with balsamic and olive oil. But tonight I felt like splurging and making something I loved eating when I was young and still do: Caesar salad with crunchy croutons and bacon bits. It was the only salad I ate as a child. That creamy tangy dressing pretty much covered any vegetable taste (yay!) and there was bacon! I still remember my dad had this plastic container of bacon bits in the kitchen and we would sneak a handful like candy now and then.

Regardless of how delicious the salad is, it isn’t healthy to have Caesar dressing from a bottle and bacon when you are cooking at home and can make better choices. So I found a recipe online and tweaked it to make my own Caesar dressing. Much healthier and just as delicious! You can still have a whole bowl of this salad and not feel like you had a full meal. You can omit the Parmesan, but I think a little bit won’t hurt!



Romaine lettuce, cut into 1-inch chunks

Bread, cut into small cubes (the recipe called for crusty bread, but I just used plain old white bread)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon Parmesan, shredded

Olive oil
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 small can of anchovies, chopped
½ clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Parmesan, shaved

  1. For the croutons, heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the bread on low heat until golden and crispy. Add the Parmesan on top. When the cheese has melted, remove the bread and drain on kitchen towels.
  2. For the dressing, blend the egg yolks, mustard, Worcestershire sauce. Then slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly, until the sauce is of a mayonnaise consistency. Then mix in the anchovies, garlic and lemon. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix the dressing with the lettuce, and top with the croutons and more shaved Parmesan.

June 13, 2014

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Everyone loved the cookies. I think my boyfriend must have eaten at least four in a row! We probably have to spend some extra time at the gym to make up for it.

Apart from sweets, I enjoy cooking savory things too. I used to cook for myself almost every weeknight when I was studying abroad, and now I usually cook on the weekends with my family as guinea pigs. One of the easiest sides to whip up and impress with flavor are roasted brussels sprouts. I absolutely hated them until I made this recipe for a special request. I had only eaten the boiled icky kind before so I was hesitant to try roasting them. But now I am a convert and I love them roasted like this. They are super easy to make! You just cut them up and put them in the oven. I add bacon to give it extra depth in flavor and I find that it helps caramelize the sprouts more to make them sweeter.

MmmMMMm crispy bacon and caramelized sprouts!


  • Brussel sprouts (one pack should be enough for 2 people as a side)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Bacon, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 195C/380F.
  2. After rinsing the sprouts, remember to drain well or else they will be harder to crisp up in the oven.
  3. Chop the hard stem off the bottom of the sprouts and then in half.
  4. Put the sprouts on a baking tray in one layer and toss with oil, salt and pepper.
  5. Put the bacon evenly throughout the layer of sprouts.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes* or until the sprouts become crisp 

*Depending on your oven, you may have to check the sprouts at the 15-minute mark to make sure they don’t burn.