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Recipe: Eight Treasures Porridge(八宝粥)AKA Laba Porridge(腊八粥)when served on Laba Festival

Eight Treasures Porridge(八宝粥 ba bao zhou, pronounced like “bah ball djoh”)is a Chinese sweet recipe made from many grains, nuts, beans, and dried fruits. In many regions of China, this dish is served on the Laba Festival(腊八节 la ba jie, “lah bah dzyeh”)and is called Laba Porridge(腊八粥 la ba zhou, “lah bah djoh”)on that day.

So what exactly is the Laba Festival?

The month of La(腊月 la yue, “lah yweh”; literally “La moon” or “La month”)is the 12th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. Laba(腊八 la ba, “lah bah”; literally “La eight”)means the eighth day of La. This year, the date corresponds to January 5, 2017.

The festival originated in ancient times as a celebration of the winter harvest, welcoming the upcoming spring and Chinese New Year. It was also combined with a Buddhist holiday commemorating the day of the Buddha’s enlightenment. In China, it is still customary to eat a special porridge to celebrate the Laba Festival.

Note about “porridge” vs “congee”:

In English, “porridge” traditionally meant “oatmeal”, but it can also refer to any similar food made from boiling grains. “Congee” is the usual English word used to refer to Chinese porridge, and the word is derived from an Indian word, kanji/ganji (depending on language): கஞ்சி in Tamil, गांजी in Hindi, and other words in other Indian languages.

I usually prefer to call 粥 as “Chinese porridge” rather than “congee”, since the word congee is itself not Chinese in origin. I think that Indian porridges should be called “congee” instead. Why not call Chinese porridges as “zhou” then? (Well, most English-speakers would pronounce it incorrectly as “zow” instead of “joh”, and even if pronouncing it right, it would then sound too much like the name Joe XD)

I recently bought an Instant Pot, which is a brand of electric pressure cooker that I have wanted for quite a while! It is very easy (and fast!) to use, so I will include instructions for the stovetop version, as well as the Instant Pot version!

Note About Ingredients:

Ingredients can be adjusted (a lot!) based on what you have. Everyone makes this porridge differently! It’s customary to use 8 ingredients total, but you can definitely use more or less (I often include more!). You can omit some ingredients if you don’t have them, or use other grains/beans/fruits that you do have. I added some commonly used examples as suggestions in parentheses as well!

You can adjust amounts of most ingredients to your preference. The recipe is very flexible. I prefer using around a heaping tablespoon of each! You can also adjust water depending on ingredients and amounts. Generally, my family prefers porridge that isn’t too thick (also, Chinese porridge is already much more thin than western porridge), but you can use less water for a thicker porridge! 🙂


1/2 cup sticky (glutinous) rice, or regular white rice – either is fine (besides water, this is the only non-optional ingredient!)

1 heaping tbsp black sticky rice

1 heaping tbsp barley

1 heaping tbsp millet

(can also add: oats, corn meal, other grains, etc. — more grains makes a thicker porridge)


4 Chinese dried red dates (jujubes)

1 heaping tbsp goji berries

(can also add: dried longans, raisins, other dried fruits, etc. — more fruits makes a sweeter porridge)


1 heaping tbsp peanuts

1 heaping tbsp walnut pieces

(can also add: pine nuts, other nuts, etc. — nuts become soft in the porridge, an interesting texture)


1 heaping tbsp mung beans

1 heaping tbsp red (azuki) beans

(can also add: dried lotus seeds, black soybeans, other beans, etc.)


8-10 cups water (for cooking in a regular pot)

Adjust the water amount depending on how thick you want the porridge! If too thick, you can add more water during the cooking process (or afterwards, if using a pressure cooker).

Directions (Stovetop):

1. Combine everything in a large pot, rinse in cold water (*), and then and soak overnight (in the 10 cups water) or for at least 4 hours. (If you do not soak, you can also cook for a longer cooking time until soft.)

2. After soaking, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat (stirring once every few minutes).

3. Stir, and turn heat to low (to keep a simmer). Cover, but leave a small gap, and cook for around an hour until ingredients are soft to yor taste. Check every 10 minutes to make sure it is not boiling over! Also, stir, and make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn. Add more water if it becomes too thick.

4. Once ready, serve hot in bowls. Add sugar to your bowl to taste, if desired.

*Note: If using corn meal or other ingredients that mix into water, do not rinse it! Rinse only the ingredients that need rinsing! Also, if all the ingredients are clean, rinsing should be optional, but more starch will remain on the rice.

For the Instant Pot!

1. Combine everything into the insertion pot, and rinse in cold water (please see the above * note!). There is no need for soaking if you are using an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker.

2. Add water, 7-8 cups should be enough. Less water will evaporate if using an Instant Pot than if cooking on stovetop. If it is too thick, you may mix in more water after cooking. If you’d like a thicker porridge, use less water 🙂

3. Cover the pot (correctly, as in the manual) and select “Porridge”, setting time to 30 minutes.

4. Once it is done, safely release the steam (directions in the manual) and you may uncover the pot. Stir, and add more water if you wish it to be more thin.

5. Serve hot in bowls. Add sugar to your bowl to taste, if desired.


PS. I will be adding a picture once I get one!


Recipe: Vegetable Soup

This is a really good soup!

I currently have a cold, so I made this soup yesterday. It’s really good, whether you are sick or not.

Please try out this recipe when you want to try some vegetable soup!

For the recipe, the ingredient proportions and cutting sizes are not extremely important, so don’t worry too much about them. 🙂


1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium-large onion, diced (1/2 inch squares)

3 stalks celery (4 if smaller), sliced (1/4 inch thick)

3 carrots (depending on size, probably 2 to 4), sliced into rounds (1/4 inch thick)

2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely minced

salt and black pepper

1 medium-large russet potato, diced (1 inch cubes)

3 cups chicken broth/stock, or vegetable broth/stock for a vegan version

1.5 cups water

1 bay leaf (make small cuts with scissors into sides to allow flavor to be released into the soup)

1 tsp dried parsley flakes (optional), or some fresh parsley

1 medium-large tomato, diced (3/4 inch cubes)

3-4 green onions, diced, separate green and white (optional)

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed


1. Heat a pot (I use a Dutch oven), and add olive oil.

2. Add garlic, onion, celery, carrot, about 1/4 tsp salt and some pepper.

3. Stir to coat evenly with oil.

4. Now cover the lid and cook on medium to medium-high in order to “sweat” the vegetables for about 10 minutes. Open the lid and mix the vegetables every two minutes or so. Be careful not to burn the vegetables, and lower the heat if they seem like they might burn.

5. Open the lid and cook the vegetables for a couple more minutes so that the water remaining in the pan evaporates.

6. Add the potato, chicken stock, water, bay leaf, parsley, and some more pepper. Stir well and cover with a lid.

7. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low, covered, for about 30 to 40 minutes. The vegetables will become soft.

8. Add the tomato, white part of the green onion, and chickpeas. Bring back to a boil, cover, and simmer on low for about 15 to 20 more minutes. The tomato will become soft.

9. Add the green onion and simmer for one or two more minutes to get rid of its raw flavor. Turn off the heat.

10. Taste the soup and add more salt and pepper to taste.

11. Serve the soup in bowls, with bread if you like.

Enjoy! 😀

The picture isn’t very good, but I hope you can see what the soup looks like 🙂

Happy Lunar New Year! (2016)

新年快乐!Happy New Year!
恭喜发财!Wishing you prosperity!

This year is the year of the monkey! Unlike last year, there is thankfully less confusion over the zodiac animal of the year (lamb? ram? sheep? goat? Ovis aries? why not just say 羊?). 🙂

Please continue to support Teddy’s Cooking this year as well! 😀

This year, I made the Cantonese 斋 (Usually called “Buddha’s Delight” in English, but literally means “Vegetarian Food”) again! I added fried tofu puffs this time, and it was super delicious! To ensure my prosperity this year*, I also even added the 发菜 (“Hair Vegetable”, AKA the colonies of bacteria that grow in the Inner Mongolian desert and look exactly like black hair and are usually translated as “seaweed” on the package, yet this time mine was translated as “dried nostoc”, which is the actual name of the bacteria species); although, as it was only $6 as opposed to $18, it may have just been the fake variety made with corn husks (which is probably fine – would you rather eat colonies of bacteria or corn husks anyway? actually, I’m a bit creeped out of the fact that I may have been eating colonies of bacteria… I almost hope it was corn husks instead).

*This is supposed to be somewhat sarcastic as I’m not a superstitious person at all 🙂

Due to the terrible quality of the tiny, dry, and ugly, yet expensive napa cabbages at the 99 Ranch Market (as opposed to the beautiful, fresh, crispy, and sweet, yet affordable napa cabbages at the Galleria Korean Market), I used bok choy instead! (If you recall, 白菜 means napa cabbage in Mandarin and bok choy in Cantonese.)

The fresh vegetables made the dish look quite colorful, with beautiful green bok choy and bright orange carrots mixed in… a strange and mysterious purplish-brown mess consisting of various fungi, bacteria, flowers, and products of bean curds.

Okay, with my description, you may not wish to try the so-called “Buddha’s Delight” (which, remember, is just called “Vegetarian Food” in Chinese… I wonder how the real-life Buddha would feel about this dish; would he really find it a “Delight”? I must take a time-machine to visit Ancient India and find out for myself!), but it’s really good! So even if it resembles a “strange purple-brown mess of various fungi, bacteria, and flowers”, I definitely recommend it! As long as you are a fan of real Chinese food 🙂

The best parts of the dish are the fried tofu puffs and tofu bamboo! I should make it with extra fried tofu next year! 😀

Have a great year! -Link and Teddy

(If confused, please refer to the “About” page for information on who Link and Teddy really are.)

(Can you spot the colonies of Nostoc bacteria / perhaps corn husks?)

Find the delicious recipe for “Vegetarian Food” here!

Recipe: Chole/Chana Biryani (Indian Rice Dish with Chickpeas)

YUM! This is one of the best rice dishes I have ever had! It is SO GOOD! If you like Indian rice dishes, I strongly recommend it!

The biryani is a rice dish cooked with “dum” method. The rice is partially cooked, while a tasty gravy with spices is made. The rice is put on top of the vegetable gravy, and then it is covered tightly and cooked over low heat. This is somewhat time-consuming, so it is best to eat on weekends.

I have previously shared a Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani recipe. In my opinion, this Chole Biryani is even more delicious! 🙂

Chole or Chana means chickpeas in Hindi. So this biryani uses chickpeas as its main ingredient besides rice.

My recipe is adapted from Veg Recipes of India. I use a can of chickpeas instead of dry chickpeas, which makes the cooking process faster and does not require a pressure cooker. Please see the original recipe for lots of great pictures!

Serves about 5-6, depending on how hungry you are! 🙂

Like my Japanese curry recipe, I will be splitting the ingredients into different sections because the recipe has many steps. The ingredients are bolded so they are easier to find.

1.25 cups white basmati rice

1. Rinse and drain the rice.

2. Then, cover with water and soak while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

1 medium onion (American size)

3-4 cloves garlic

1/2 inch ginger

2 small roma tomatoes (American size)

2. Thinly slice the onion.

3. Finely mince the garlic and ginger.

4. Dice the tomatoes into small cubes.

2 tbsp cooking oil

1 tsp caraway seeds (you may use cumin instead, for a different flavor)

2 green cardamoms, lightly smashed open with rolling pin

1 black cardamom, light smashed open with rolling pin (optional if you do not like it or cannot find it)

1.5-inch-long cinnamon stick

1 Indian bay leaf (tej patta) (optional if you cannot find it)

2 or 3 cloves

2 or 3 single strands of mace (if you cannot find, skip or substitute with about 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg)

5. Heat a large pot. (I use a Dutch oven)

6. Add oil.

7. When hot, add all the spices above. Sauté over medium-high heat for about 15 seconds.

1 pinch salt

8. Add the thinly sliced onion and minced garlic and ginger.

9. Add the salt.

10. Mix well and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onion becomes soft. If the heat is too high, turn it to medium.

heaping 1/2 tsp turmeric power

heaping 1/2 tsp red chili power (use Kashmiri red chili power for non-spicy)

heaping 1/2 tsp coriander power

1/2 tsp garam masala power (optional)

11. Add the diced tomatoes. Mix well and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.

12. Add the spice powders above. Mix well and sauté 1 to 2 more minutes.

1 can (14 oz) chickpeas

13. Drain the chickpeas and rinse well.

14. Add to the pot and stir well.

15. Sauté 1 to 2 more minutes.

about 1 cup water

1/2 tsp salt

16. Add water and salt, stir well. The water should just cover the chickpeas. (I used 1.5 cups water, and it was a bit much, so I had to reduce the liquid later.)

17. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn heat to low.

1.5 cups water

1/4 tsp salt

18. Meanwhile, take out a smaller pot that can fit the rice.

19. Drain the rice well. Add to that pot.

20. Add water and salt to the rice.

21. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high to high. Meanwhile, do the next step.

1 pinch saffron threads

2 tbsp hot water

22. Put the saffron in a small bowl and pour the hot water over it. Set aside.

23. Back to the rice. Once the water is boiling, stir it well, and cover again.

24. Cook about 5 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

25. Turn off the heat and stir the rice well. It should be about 80% cooked, not too hard but not fully cooked yet.

26. Cover the pot and leave it until the rice is ready to assemble.

1 cup thick coconut milk (I use one carton of Aroy-D coconut milk. Shake it very, very well and tear open the carton where it tells you to tear.)

27. Back to the pot containing the chickpeas! Open the lid, and pour in all the coconut milk.

(Note: The coconut milk makes the gravy very creamy and the finished dish very delicious. It does not add a lot of coconut flavor! I was surprised when I did not taste much coconut flavor in the end. So do not be too worried about its flavor.)

28. Mix very well, and turn the heat back to high.

29. Bring back to a boil. Reduce the broth if necessary. It should be a little high than the chickpeas. This might be hard to judge if you are not experienced in dum biryani-making. If you only added 1 cup of water earlier, it should be all right.

30. Turn off the heat when ready.

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (I didn’t have it, so I skipped it.)

1/4 cup finely chopped mint (I used 1 tsp dried mint instead.)

2 tsp finely julienned ginger

2 tbsp fried onions (optional)

31. Over the chickpea gravy, evenly sprinkle half of the cilantro, half of the mint, and half of the ginger. 

32. Evenly spread all of the rice on top of the chickpea gravy.

33. Evenly sprinkle the fried onions on top of the rice.

34. Evenly sprinkle the rest of the cilantro, mint, and ginger on top of the rice.

35. Evenly sprinkle the saffron water on top of the rice, including the saffron threads.

Time to DUM! 🙂

36. Turn the heat back on.

37. Cover the pot tightly with a lid.

38. Turn the heat to low, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.

39. Turn off the heat and leave the rice covered for a couple minutes.

Serving the Biryani

40. Open the lid!

41. Cut into the biryani like a cake, so you can remove all the layers at once. Serve on plates.

42. If you have plain yogurt, I recommend serving the biryani with some of it. It is very refreshing and tasty!

Tip! Do NOT eat the whole spices. Be very careful of cloves and cardamoms, because you might accidentally bite into them and it is not a pleasant experience!

Enjoy your biryani! 😀

Plated Biryani:   

Biryani right after Dum Cooking:


Biryani after “Slicing”:  

Recipe: Sichuanese Braised Fish with Tofu(豆腐烧鱼)

Braised Fish with Tofu(豆腐烧鱼 dou fu shao yu, pronounced “doh foo sholl yee”)is a common homestyle dish in Sichuan Province. It is flavored with the Fermented Chili and Fava Bean Paste from Pi County that Sichuanese people use in many other recipes, such as Mapo Tofu. The tofu and fish go well together with the sauce.
I will admit, I do not like whole fish myself. This is because of the small bones inside the fish. They make it very challenging to eat, and as a result I usually only eat the tofu. My parents love whole fish (my mom buys a whole fish almost weekly – I will be introducing a steamed fish recipe sometime as well), so they eat all of the fish 🙂

If you do like whole fish, I strongly recommend this recipe. If you are a vegetarian (or if you don’t like fish), you can even make this recipe with only tofu. Just cut all other ingredients in half to account for the lack of fish 🙂

Adapted from Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop

Ingredients for Fish Preparation:

1 whole fish, 0.75 to 1.5 lb (adjust the seasonings based on fish size) (carp is used in Sichuan, bass is fine, we use snapper)

a little salt and 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

Fish Preparation:

1. Remove scales of fish and make shallow slashes with a knife on both sides of fish if you wish (these will help flavor penetrate the fish, but this is optional).

2. Rub the fish with salt and Shaoxing wine, then set it aside while preparing other ingredients.

Rest of the Ingredients:

1 block tofu (about 1 lb), cut into 1/2 inch thick slices

1.5 tbsp minced or 2 tbsp finely julienned ginger

1 tbsp minced or 2 tbsp thinly sliced garlic

cooking oil

2 green onions, thinly sliced, separate green and white parts

2 tbsp fermented chili and fava bean paste from Pi County(郫县豆瓣)

1.5 to 2 cups Chinese stock or chicken stock (no sodium preferred) or water

1 tsp dark soy sauce

2 tsp fermented sweet flour paste(甜面酱)

2 tbsp Shaoxing wine

1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water into a slurry

1 tsp Chinese black vinegar (Chinkiang or Baoning vinegar)


1. Heat a wok over high heat and add 2 tbsp oil.

2. Pat the fish dry with paper towels, then add it into the wok. Be careful of splattering! Hold a lid to protect yourself.

3. Fry a couple minutes on each side over high heat until golden.

4. When done, take the fish out and set on a plate.

5. Add more oil so there is about 2 tbsp oil in the wok.

6. Add chili bean paste and fry over medium heat for 30 seconds until oil is fragrant and red.

7. Add ginger, garlic, and white part of green onions. Stir-fry 30 more seconds, increasing heat to high.

8. Add stock/water and soy sauce.

9. Gently place the fish into the wok. Bring to a boil over high heat.

10. Add the Shaoxing wine and sweet flour paste, gently stir to mix.

11. Turn the heat to medium-high and simmer 5 minutes. Flip over the fish and simmer 5 more minutes. If your fish is smaller than 1 lb, decrease the simmering time.

12. Place the tofu slices around the fish, turn heat to high, and cook 2 more minutes.

13. Gently remove the fish to a serving plate. Make sure it is large and deep enough to fit everything.

14. Mix the starch and water slurry, then add to the wok, along with the green part of the green onions. Adjust the amount of slurry depending on the sauce left. If very little sauce is left, add more water. Stir well and bring to a boil to thicken.

15. Lastly, turn off the heat, stir in the vinegar, and pour the sauce and tofu over the fish. It is ready to serve!

Serve with rice and a green vegetable dish. Enjoy!

Recipe: Baked New Year’s Sticky Rice Cake(烤年糕)with Coconut, Red Bean Paste, and Walnuts!

Happy New Year! / 新年快乐!(Chinese) / 明けましておめでとうございます!(Japanese)

In Chinese, sticky rice cake is called nian gao(年糕, pronounced “nyehn gall”, literally “year cake”)and is traditionally eaten during the Lunar New Year. This year, I made some for the Solar New Year (January 1). There are two main ways to cook it, steaming or baking. Baking sticky rice cake is interesting, producing a slightly crisp crust and a very chewy inside.

Today, I am sharing the recipe for baked sticky rice cake! You can make it with coconut, red bean, and walnuts, or make a plain cake, or use any combination of flavors. If you do not like coconut, you can just replace the coconut milk with milk or water. Enjoy!

The red bean paste is very delicious inside the rice cake, so I recommend adding it. You can use either chunky or smooth red bean paste, depending on your preference. 🙂

Walnuts or pecans are also very tasty because they become very crisp and fragrant on top of the cake.

Remember, sticky/glutinous rice flour is gluten free! 😀


1 lb sticky rice flour AKA glutinous rice flour (use 1 bag of Erawan brand glutinous rice flour, the one with an elephant and green text)

1 tbsp baking power

1 can (400 ml) coconut milk (Chaokoh brand or Aroy-D are recommended), shake well before opening!

about 80 ml water (to bring batter to correct consistency)

(If you are not using coconut milk, use 2 US cups = 480 ml milk or water instead.)

3 eggs

1 cup sugar (Some recipes use 1.5 or even 2 cups, but 1 cup is enough to make it sweet! If you are not using the red bean paste, you could add 1 1/4 cups sugar because the red bean paste is sweet.)

1/3 cup oil (Do not use olive oil, which has too strong of a flavor. I used melted coconut oil, which is great if you want to make a coconut-flavored cake. You can use peanut, canola, corn, soybean, etc. other oils as well.)

red bean paste (optional), about 1/2 cup

walnuts (optional), about 1 cup, you can also use pecans – I used raw walnuts, because baking will roast them fragrantly 🙂


1. Add sticky rice flour, baking power, coconut milk or milk or water, eggs, sugar, and oil to a mixing bowl, and mix everything well with a whisk.

2. Adjust batter consistency with water if necessary. If you lift the whisk from the batter, the batter should flow like a folding ribbon.

Tip: Don’t worry about overmixing! Mix as much as you like. Because rice flours are gluten free, you do not have to worry about gluten developing as you have to with batters made with wheat flour. 🙂

3. After you are done mixing, remove the whisk (tap on side of bowl to remove excess stuck batter). Then, pour the batter into the baking dish, using a flexible spatula to scrape the batter from the bowl.

For the baking dish, I used a 9-inch diameter Pyrex glass pie plate. The batter was filled exactly to the very top! When baking, the cake will rise, but don’t worry, it will not overflow from the sides but rather rise like a cupcake.

Also, I forgot to grease the pie plate with oil, but the cake did not stick to the pie plate. However, you may still grease the pie plate with oil if you wish, just in case. 🙂

4. If using red bean paste and walnuts: After pouring the batter, place small balls of red bean paste evenly on top of the batter. Use a flexible spatula or chopstick to gently bury the red bean paste under the batter. For walnuts (or pecans), evenly sprinkle the walnuts on top of the cake.

5. Bake the cake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour! Watch it rise!

6. Take the cake out to cool. As it cools, it will also deflate! You do not have to cool it until actually cool, but you can still remove it when it is warm. Just leave it for at least 10 minutes.

7. For removing the cake, I used a knife to gently release the sides of the cake from the pan and it surprisingly did not stick. Then, I placed a plate on top and flipped it over, so the cake was released upside down onto the plate. Then, I removed the pie pan and placed another plate on top of the cake, flipping it over again, so the cake was right-side-up.

8. Slice pieces from the cake to eat (the cake is very sticky inside, so it may be a bit diffucult to slice) and enjoy! 😀

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Slice of the Cake: 

Rest of Cake after Slicing:


Recipe: Twice-Cooked Pork(回锅肉)

Twice-Cooked Pork(回锅肉 hui guo rou, pronounced “hway gwuh roh”, literally “return pot meat”)is one of the most famous Sichuanese dishes! It is called “twice-cooked” in English and “return to the pot” in Chinese, because it is cooked twice. First, it is simmered in water for a while until just cooked. Then, it is cooled down and sliced thinly. Lastly, it is stir-fried in a wok with seasonings. It’s very delicious! 🙂

For this recipe, you need a trio of fermented bean seasonings. If you are not used to East Asian food, you may be thinking, “ewwwww!” But fermented bean seasonings are extremely tasty and add tons of delicious flavor and umami. You may already know some fermented bean sauces: soy sauce and miso! So here are the 3 seasonings you need, and you will find them at a Chinese grocery store.

1. Paste of Fermented Salted Fava Beans with Dried Red Chilies from Pi County (郫县豆瓣 pi xian dou ban, pronounced “pee syehn doh bun”, literally “pi county bean segment”)

This paste, which I call Pi County Chili Bean Paste for short, is one of the most important Sichuanese seasonings and essential to get a home-style Sichuan taste. I also used it in my Mapo Tofu recipe and much more. I use the official paste from Pi County, which is necessary for the authentic flavor.

2. Sweet Paste of Wheat and Soybean Flours (甜面酱 tian mian jiang, pronounced “tyehn myehn dzyahng”, literally “sweet flour sauce”)

I call this one Sweet Flour Paste, but it has many other names too. It has a slightly sweet and salty flavor. It is used not only in Sichuan cuisine but also in northern Chinese cuisines. This is the traditional sauce served with Beijing Duck. I also used it in my Fried Sauce Noodles (zhajiangmian) recipe.

3. Fermented Dry Black Soybeans (豆豉 dou chi, pronounced “doh chzh”)

These tasty beans are also found in my Mapo Tofu recipe. They are used in Sichuan cuisine and also much of souther Chinese cuisine. I use the ones from Yangjiang in Guangdong Province. They are fermented with ginger.

After you have these seasonings, you will need some pork belly, which is the star of the dish! Pork belly is very fatty. It’s what bacon is made of. It’s very tasty, as long as it is cooked well. Since I don’t like a super fatty texture, I usually fry it longer to render out more fat, and it tastes much better that way.

This time I bought pork belly from my local Costco, which now sells pork belly! Yay! I used to have to go super far to an Asian grocery store, but now Costco sells it too.

Let’s start!

Adapted from Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop, my favorite Sichuan cookbook! 🙂

Ingredients: (Serves about 3-4, with a stir-fried vegetable side dish and/or a soup, and cooked rice)

3/4 to 1 lb fresh pork belly, in 1 piece

water (to cover pork)

optional for boiling pork: 3-4 thin slices of ginger, 1-2 green onions cut into 2 inch lengths, 1-2 tbsp Shaoxing wine or sake etc., 1/8 tsp salt

2 tbsp cooking oil

vegetables: choose what you like: 1 small onion cut into squares, 1 small carrot sliced thinly diagonally (optional), about 2 cups cabbage cut into squares, 1/2 bell pepper cut into squares

4 green onions, sliced diagonally (in Sichuan, garlic stems are commonly used, but I do not have any), optionally separate white and green parts

1 tbsp Pi County chili bean paste

1/2 tbsp sweet flour paste

2 tsp fermented black soybeans, lightly rinsed

1 tsp sugar

1/2 to 1 tsp dark soy sauce


1. Add pork in one piece, water to cover, and optionally ginger, green onions, wine, and/or salt, to a pot that can fit everything. You can curl the pork to fit it in the pot.

2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then turn to medium and simmer for 25 minutes. This should just cook the pork. (In 20 minutes, it was just slightly pink inside, so 25 should be fine.)

Meanwhile, you can cut all the vegetables.

3. Now take out the pork and add to a bowl of ice water to cool.

4. Let’s stir-fry the vegetables! Heat a wok over high heat.

5. When hot, add 1 tbsp oil.

6. Add the onion and stir-fry for 1 minute. It will just turn slightly translucent. I added 1 pinch of salt also.

7. Add the cabbage, carrot, and/or bell pepper. Stir-fry for 2-3 more minutes until the vegetables are al dente, cooked but still crisp.

8. Take out the vegetables to a plate and set aside.

9. When the pork is cool, take it out to a cutting board. Slice it thinly. If you aren’t so good at slicing, this is quite challenging! Just do your best 🙂

10. Heat the wok again over high heat. When hot, add 1 tbsp oil.

11. Add all of the sliced pork. Stir-fry.

12. After a minute or so, the pork will release water. And it will start simmering. Let it simmer until dry.

13. When it is dry, you will hear the rendered fat crakling. You can now lower heat to medium.

14. Continue stir-frying for a few minutes. The pork will start to brown and become very fragrant, a little crispy, and tasty. More fat will render out.

15. When you think it is ready (different people like different cooking times, I like it when the pork is a little browned and very fragrant), turn the heat to low, and put the pork to one side of the wok.

16. Hold the handle of the wok (be careful!) and tilt the wok so the fat collects to the other side. Use a spoon or something to scoop out most of the rendered fat into a small bowl. This is lard! It is very tasty. Use it to stir-fry vegetables. Leave 1-2 tbsp of fat inside the wok.

17. Now spread the pork to all sides of wok, leaving a well of oil in the center. 

18. Turn the heat to medium-high, and add the chili bean paste to the oil.

19. Use the spatula to break the chili bean paste and distribute it through the oil. It will smell very fragrant and tasty, and the oil will become red.

20. Now add the sweet flour paste and rinsed fermented black soybeans. Combine them well with the chili bean paste and stir-fry 5 more seconds so they are fragrant too.

21. Now stir-fry everything together for 1 minute, coating the pork in the fried sauces. YUM!

22. Add the sugar and dark soy sauce. Add the white part of the green onion if you separated it. Stir-fry for 1 more minute.

23. Now add the previously stir-fried vegetables and stir-fry 1 more minute to combine everything well.

24. Lastly add the green part of the green onion and stir-fry for 30 seconds to combine.

25. Turn off the heat and put everything onto a plate! Yay! You are finished!

Serve with a stir-fried green leafy vegetable dish and/or a soup, and cooked rice. Enjoy!

Now, how to make a soup? Here we go!

If you simmered the pork with ginger, green onion, wine, and salt, then you can use it as a broth!

Strain the broth to remove some of the fat and the foam. Then add some vegetable pieces like sliced carrot, etc. Bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are cooked. Tada! You have a refreshing and simple vegetable soup to serve with the pork 🙂

Enjoy! 😀

Recipe: Pickled Long Beans with Ground Pork(肉末豇豆)includes recipe for 24-hour pickled long beans!

Pickled Long Beans with Ground Pork(肉末豇豆, rou mo jiang dou, pronounced “eroh myuh dzyahng doh”, literally by character: “meat end cowpea bean”, strangely, this recipe is not made with cowpeas, but it has that name)is a typical Sichuan dish found in homes and restaurants throughout the province. Traditionally, it is made with long beans that have been made into traditional Sichuanese pickles(泡菜)but the way I am making, I am using 24-hour lighter pickles instead. So my version is less sour and less salty compared to the original. 🙂

This stir-fry is so delicious, with crispy beans and tasty pork. It has a fresh and light flavor with a touch of chili and Sichuan peppercorn. It’s also very easy to make!

First, we have to make the 24 hour pickled beans. Recipe adapted from a Chinese vegetarian food blog my mom sent me 🙂

You need Chinese long beans, which look sort of like green beans, but extremely long and darker green. You can also substitute regular green beans.

Get about 1/2 lb of the beans (about 250 grams). Wash the beans well, then soak in water with a few pinches of salt for 30 minutes. Then drain and dry the beans well (traditionally under the sun). Dice the beans into small pieces (about 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch), then add into a glass jar. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt (about 2.5 grams).

Add 2 cups (500 ml) water to a pot and add 1/2 star anise and 1/2 tsp Sichuan pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer 3 minutes. Then, immediately pour over the beans in the glass jar. Add 1 tsp Chinese distilled liquor (bai jiu), or vodka, or gin. Cover with a lid very tightly, shake a little.

Put the glass jar upside-down into a larger glass jar. Then pour more boiling water into the large glass jar. This seals the pickle jar from air. (In the traditional Sichuan pickled vegetable clay jar, there is an inside layer to add the hot water.) This may sound a little confusing, so here is a picture of my glass jar set-up:

After this, leave it for 24 hours and you have Sichuan pickled long beans, although a lot less sour and a lot less salty than the original. To make it more sour, perhaps leave it longer, maybe 36 or 48 hours even. (I haven’t tried it yet, but with 24 hours it was not sour yet.) You can store them in the fridge and eat the pickle with rice. However, you should not keep it for longer than 3 days because it will lose its crunchyness.

Now, time to make the stir-fry!

Adapted from Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop and Madame Huang’s Kitchen blog.


1 batch 24 hour pickled long beans (made from 1/2 lb or 250g fresh long beans)

1/2 lb (or 250g) ground pork

1 tsp light soy sauce

1/2 tbsp Shaoxing wine

2-3 pinches salt

1 tbsp minced garlic (optional)

1 tbsp minced ginger (optional)

1 tbsp minced green onion (optional)

2 tbsp cooking oil

1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns (optional)

4 dried red chili peppers, cut in half and seeds removed

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

more salt and soy sauce to taste if necessary


1. Drain the pickled long beans and remove the star anise. You can also try to remove the Sichuan peppercorns.

2. Add soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and salt to the ground pork, mix well.

3. Heat a wok over high heat.

4. When hot, add oil. Lower heat to medium and add Sichuan peppercorns if using. Fry for 1-2 minutes to allow their flavor to infuse.

5. Add chilies and fry for 30 seconds or so until fragrant.

6. Turn heat to high, adding garlic, ginger, and green onion, if using, and fry for 1-2 minutes. If not using, do not fry longer and skip this step.

7. Add ground pork and use the wok spatula to break it up into tiny pieces while cooking it.

8. Stir-fry pork until fully cooked and water is dried up, leaving oil. This should take a few minutes.

9. Add the drained pickled beans. Add sugar. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes to heat up and lightly cook the beans.

10. Taste and add salt and/or soy sauce to taste. I added about 1/4 tsp dark soy sauce for a slightly darker color.

11. Turn off the heat and add sesame oil, stir well.

12. Transfer stir-fry to a plate and serve with rice. Enjoy! 😀

I hope you like this recipe! If you have any questions about the process, please comment below. 🙂

Recipe: Fried Sauce Noodles(炸酱面)

Fried Sauce Noodles(炸酱面 zha jiang mian, pronounced “djah dzyahng myehn”, literally “fried sauce noodles”)is one of the most popular noodle dishes in China, especially in Beijing, where it is a local specialty. It consists of wheat noodles topped with a sauce made from pork and seasoned with sweet flour paste AKA tianmianjiang (甜面酱). It’s also super easy to make at home and makes a great 1 bowl meal. Unlike Italian meat sauce, which takes an afternoon to simmer, the “fried sauce” of this dish takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, making it a great weekday meal too. Enjoy!

(I forgot to take a picture of the noodles this time! Next time I make it, I will update the post with a picture. :))

Ingredients: Serves 2

200 grams dried Chinese wheat flour noodles (such as: Shandong lamian), or 300 grams fresh Chinese wheat flour noodles

2 tbsp cooking oil

1 tsp whole Sichuan peppercorns (optional)

1 star anise (optional)

1 tbsp minced ginger

2 green onions, finely chopped (separate white and green parts)

1/2 lb ground pork

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

2 tbsp sweet flour paste (甜面酱), or 1.5 tbsp sweet flour paste + 1/2 tbsp chili bean paste (豆瓣酱) if you want it a little spicy

1 stalk celery, finely diced (optional, probably not traditional but I like to add it)

about 1 cup water or broth

1 tsp cornstarch + 1 tbsp water (optional)

1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)

1 Persian cucumber, julienned (or equal amount of other cucumber) (you can substitute with, or add to it any other crispy vegetable, like lightly blanched mung bean sprouts)


1. Bring a pot of water to a boil for cooking noodles. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.

2. Add oil, Sichuan pepper and star anise to a wok. Heat over medium-high until hot and fragrant. When the oil is hot and you can smell the fragrance of the spices, remove the spices and leave as much oil as you can in the wok.

(Step 2 is optional. If not using the spices, just heat a wok and add oil.)

(Instead of a wok, you can also use another kind of pan or pot.)

3. Over high heat, add the ginger and white part of the green onions, stir-fry 5 seconds or so.

4. Then add the pork and break up with the spatula.

6. When half cooked, add the Shaoxing wine and continue cooking.

7. Once the pork is fully cooked and there is no juice left in the wok, make a well in the middle of the pork and allow the oil to drain into the well.

8. Add the sweet flour paste and chili bean paste (if using) into the well and stir-fry 15 seconds, so the paste gets fragrant and distributed through the oil.

9. Add the celery if using, then stir-fry everything and combine together for a minute.

10. Then pour in the water or broth, to cover all of the pork well. Bring to a boil. Then lower the heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes.

11. Meanwhile, cook the noodles in the boiling water until they are fully cooked. Drain well and rinse under cold running water briefly. Dry well. Divide between 2 serving bowls.

12. If the sauce is thick to your liking, you can turn off the heat. If not thick enough, add the corn starch mixture and stir well until thick. Then turn off the heat. Stir in sesame oil if using.

13. Pour the sauce over the noodles in the bowls. Garnish with julienned cucumber and green onions.

14. Enjoy!

Recipe: Sopa Criolla

Sopa Criolla (pronounced: soh-PAH-kdee-OL-yah, the capital letters meaning stressed syllables, literally: “Creole soup”) is a very popular soup in Peru. You can find it in almost every restaurant and hotel, and it is one of the most tasty Peruvian dishes. I introduced it in my Peru blog post (I still haven’t finished that post but I will soon!). The pictures below are from some of the restaurants I ate in Peru. As you can see, there are some small variations in the soups.

 This soup is made from basic ingredients and is very, very delicious. The stars of the soup are the ground beef (in Peru, diced beef is often used, but ground beef is easier to use and I prefer its texture more), angel hair pasta, fried or poached egg on top, and delicious broth. The broth is flavored with ají panca, a type of chili pepper used in Peruvian cuisine that also gives the soup a red color. You can find ají panca paste in a Latin American market. It is easier to find in a Peruvian market, but there aren’t that many here. The paste is sold in small glass jars like this:

If you cannot find it, you can leave it out, but it is not traditional to do so. The other flavorings of the soup include onion, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. The optional ingredients are the tomato (fresh or paste) and evaporated milk or cream. Some people do not add them because they used to not be added. However, in Peru, every restaurant I have seen adds these ingredients into the soup. You can use one of these ingredients, both, or none, as it is your preference. I do not add the evaporated milk because my family does not prefer it. Another optional ingredient is to garnish the soup with a slice of toasted bread or croutons. Actually I never saw this in the restaurants I ate in Peru, so it is optional (most recipes online include it), but if you have bread, it would taste good this way.

Adapted from Peru Delights and LimaEasy

Ingredients: (Serves 3-4)

2 tbsp cooking oil

250g (about 1/2 lb) ground beef, or beef cut into small cubes

1/2 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1-2 tsp ají panca paste (depending on how spicy you want it; Peruvian food is only faintly spicy anyways)

1-2 tbsp tomato paste (optional)

1 tsp dry oregano

1 liter (4 cups) beef stock or water, you could also use chicken stock if you want

3-4 oz angel hair pasta

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 to 1/2 cup evaporated milk or cream (if cream, use less) (optional)

2-4 eggs (however much you want)

2-4 slices white bread (optional)


1. Heat oil in a pot.

2. Add beef, salt and pepper. Cook, crumble the beef until it is cooked.

3. Add onion and garlic and ají panca paste, saute a few minutes until onion is translucent and softened.

4. Add oregano and tomato paste, saute 2 more minutes.

5. Add stock or water. Traditionally this liquid is boiled in another pot and then added, but I’m not sure why. I just add room temperature liquid instead.

6. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes over medium-low or low heat.

7. Meanwhile, you can prepare the bread if using. For croutons, cut 2 slices into cubes and mix with a little oil, then toast in a pan until golden. For whole slices, brush with a little oil and toast both sides in a pan until golden.

8. Also, if you wish to have fried eggs in the soup, cook the eggs in a little oil in a pan. You may also poach the eggs, directions in the next step.

9. Add angel hair pasta and stir. If poaching eggs, add the eggs right after the pasta is added. Simmer 3-5 more minutes or however long it takes to become al dente.

10. Turn off the heat. Add the evaporated milk or cream, and stir to mix. Be careful so it doesn’t curdle. Make sure the heat is off because if it boils, it will curdle!

11. Serve the soup in bowls, with egg and bread on top. Optionally garnish with a little parsley if you like.

Enjoy! 🙂