White Stew or Gung Gung’s “a la King”

4/22/20 Note: if you are a Radical Family Farms CSA member, scroll down to the end to see how I used their mustard greens and Chinese celery for this.

Hello hello hellooooo. I got request yesterday from a follower friend on Instagram for a recipe for the much beloved Japanese White Stew, also known as Cream Stew. Before I moved to Japan, my Gung Gung (Mom’s Dad) used to make this thing called Chicken a la King, basically the filling for a Chicken Pot Pie (and in fact an actual dish) but over rice. My ultimate family comfort dish.

When I made the move to Tokyo, I immediately starting eating ALL the Kare Raisu (Curry Rice) all the time, and trying out all the different brands. One day I stumbled upon a box in the curry section with the writing on it: ホワイトシチュー or White Stew. The picture on the box looked JUST like my Gung Gung’s Chicken a la King- cubes of chicken breast, carrots & potatoes swimming in a sea of creamy white sauce over a bed of steamy white rice- the most beautiful sigh to behold. And lo and behold, it was literally my Grandfather’s dish- albeit milder, kind of artificial in flavour, but what do you expect from a premade sauce? And for that reason, I set out to replicate my Gung Gung’s miracle recipe. As I was only 21 and not a very sophisticated cook at that point (am i now tho?), it never dawned on me just how simple the base recipe actually is.

White Stew is literally, meat and veg in a beschamel sauce. That’s it. Totally gorgeous. BUT in order to get the richness of flavor and a few more complex notes, there are a few things I have devised to give it a kick- the closest I can get to my Gung’s a la King. Still, the whole thing is very easy to make and very difficult to resist saving for leftovers, even when there are only 2 of you and you made enough servings for 4.

Two things I need to mention about the photos here. First, I prefer doing a vegetarian version of this dish, so there is no meat in any of the photos. I will, however give instructions on how and when to add the meat should you decide to have it. Second is that when I made this dish to write out the recipe, we were under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. As such, I didn’t have all the ingredients I needed to make the true classic version. However, I love doling out alternative ingredient advice and encouraging people to make recipes their own. So the first photo at the top is from a few months ago when I made the classic version of this dish and the ones at the end are from last night when I was working with what I have.

White Stew (or Gung’s a la King)

Serves 4 (or 2 if you are in it to EAT!)

1 Onion, diced(yellow or white is preferable but any onion, even shallots or green onions work)

4 Brown Mushrooms, sliced or quartered (I wouldn’t use shiitake here because you want something that will get very tender rather than bitey)

2 Medium Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (chunky is hearty, but you could do smaller sizes if you want, just adjust the cooking time)

2 stalks of Celery, cut into 1/2 inch chunks (you can use Chinese celery here too! If you do, cut it into 1-2inch pieces and only cook them in the sauce at the end for a few minutes as they cook quickly. You should try adding the leaves in too!)

2 medium Potatoes, peeled or not and cut into 1-1.5 inch chunks (Floury potatoes like Russet work best here but even New Potatoes work, especially when unpeeled)

A small handful of herbs such as Sage, Rosemary, Thyme or Oregano, finely minced ( I even put in lavender one time, that was very interesting!)

Optional- A few small Broccoli florets to garnish

Optional- 1lb Chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces or thinly sliced if you want (You could also try other kinds of meat such as pork, beef or lamb but definitely slice it thinly)

Steamed Rice to serve 4

The Sauce

3T Butter

3T Flour

1 cup Milk

1 cup Stock and about 1/2 cup extra to adjust the thickness, vegetable or chicken (beef or fish stock will result in a darker and bolder flavour. It won’t be bad but just different)

1t Salt, with more at the ready just in case

1/2t Pepper (many people use white pepper, but I prefer the extra “pepperyness” of black pepper

1 tsp Mustard (dijon is my preference- you could omit this too if you want)

1T Corn starch + 2T Water, mixed together and at the ready for adjusting thickness

First I par cook my potatoes, carrots, celery & broccoli (and chicken if using) ahead of time and set aside so I can throw them in at the same time as the faster cooking veggies. Then I’m not worried about all the different cooking times when I’m making the stew. It also helps to keep the flavor of each individual vegetable (or meat) so they are not completely overwhelmed by the sauce.

I put the potatoes in a pot, cover them with water, bring it to a boil and then down to strong simmer. Cook them for about 3 minutes, then add the carrots, celery (and broccoli if using) and cook for another 2 minutes. You can then use a take them out with a slotted spoon, and put in a bowl of cold water the halt the cooking. Change the water once or twice if it heats up too warm. Use the same cooking water to do the same for the chicken and simmer for about 8 minutes.

Next, make the sauce. Make a roux by heating your butter and a glug of canola oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan or wide shallow pot on medium. The canola oil keeps the butter from burning. Once the butter has melted and begins to sizzle, sauteed your onions in them for about a minute or two, then add your flour and coat all the onions and oil in it. Allow it to cook for a couple of minutes and keep it moving so it doesn’t brown. Then add your 1 cup of stock slowly, whisking the flour and butter into it. As you do this, you will notice the stock get thicker and thicker as it heats and starts to bubble. As it thickens and starts becoming paste like, do the same thing but this time with the milk. As that begins to thicken, you now have a choice as to how thick you want your sauce. Add as much as you like of the reserved 1/2 cup of stock to make it thinner. If you accidentally make it too thin, use some of the cornstarch and water mixture to thicken it. If you find yourself wanting it even thinner, add more milk. Once you get the sauce to the thickness you want, add the mustard, herbs (reserving a few pinches to sprinkle when serving) and salt then adjust the heat to get it to a gentle simmer.

Once the sauce is simmering, add all of the raw and par cooked vegetables (the broccoli can go in as well if you want) as well as the cooked meat. Give it a good stir to evenly coat everything in the sauce, then allow to simmer for about 5 more minutes or until the vegetables are tender. If you like your veggies al dente, it won’t take long, but make sure your potatoes are tender. Use a fork or pointy end of a chopstick to test one. If you find the sauce starting to reduce too much, just add more milk to thin it out. It’s up to you. Once the veggies are ready, you are ready to serve your stew.

Portion out enough rice for everyone and ladle the stew, contents and all onto the steamed rice. Garnish with a couple florets of the par cooked broccoli (unless you dumped it in the stew), a sprinkling of herbs……. and put your face into your plate. Or if you’re civilized, eat with a fork and spoon, and enjoy!

You can also serve this with extra mustard and even dollops of yoghurt but an extra kick.

If you want to try other kinds of vegetables I think the following would also work: zucchini, yellow summer squash, daikon, cauliflower, peas or even chick peas/garbanzo beans would be super interesting! The main thing is the sauce. I personally think everything else is fair game. Rule should be: parcook the heartier vegetables in boiling water first as described and then finish off in the stew with the faster cooking greens at the end.

Kamatama Udon

This is a short recipe for something quick, healthy, delicious and incredibly flexible in terms of ingredients. The only thing you absolutely need…is to get over your fear of raw eggs.

Kamatama Udon is a warm [not hot] noodle dish which uses a raw egg as it’s sauce in combination with a drizzle of something called dashijoyu, soy sauce and dashi broth. Think of this as a Japanese version of a Italian carbonara, which is literally pasta with a raw egg sauce. Once the noodles are prepared, you put the egg in and top with green onions. You can also add other vegetables- raw, pickled or cooked- as I have done here. In the photos, I added blanched soybean sprouts, kimchi and raw cucumber. I use plain light soy sauce without the dashi broth bc I prefer a richer flavor and I also only use the egg yolk and leave it solid on top to break just before I eat. This is my preference bc , for me, eating raw eggs is a sacred experience best savoured and fully observed. Lol, oh me…

So this recipe is by no means traditional or authentic, but it is tried and true. It’s also a no brainer and a sure win. God I love it so much.

Kamatama Udon

Serves 1

1 serving of Udon noodles, dry or fresh. You could also use any long noodle but udon is best bc of the chewiness.

1 egg yolk, save the white for something else or your dog (like we do!) 🐕

A small receptical with Light Soy Sauce for drizzling. Or just the bottle 😁

An array of small portions of Vegetables such as kimchi, blanched spinach, mung bean sprouts etc. Just about anything that is fresh tasting, crunchy and is easy to prepare a head of time and keep in the fridge for later (for convenience)

The greens of 1 Green Onion, chopped finely.

A bowl, chopsticks (or fork) and your gob(mouth).

Notes on the egg: Because it’s raw, you must be sure the egg is the freshest you can get. A trick to make sure the egg is fresh is to submerse it in a glass or bowl of water, if the egg stays at the bottom, it is fresh. If it rises significantly or floats, it’s not fresh enough to eat raw.

Have all of your veggies, egg yolk and soy sauce at the ready.

Cook your udon and drain thoroughly.

Immediately place the udon into the bowl while they are still hot.

Place your veggies in little mounds around the edge of the noodles, place the egg yolk on top, drizzle with a tiny bit of soy sauce (you will keep adding as you eat) and sprinkle the green onions on top. Just before you eat, break the yolk, watch it dance down into the noodles and enjoy! Feel free to mix it all up before digging in or mix in together bit by bit as you eat. It’s all up to you.


Sukiyaki is more than just a meal. It’s an event. Sukiyaki is a time for sharing food, stories, laughs and a bit of fun at the end of a busy week. Usually reserved for family dinners or dinner parties with friends, it’s a special kind of meal. The dinner table flows with fresh ingredients and accoutrements, the sake is out and you all cook. At the table. Together. It’s the most wonderful way to eat a meal with loved ones. As I write this, we are at the beginning of our 2nd month of the coronavirus quarantine and I think, now more than ever, we need to create reasons to celebrate with each other. So I encourage you to gather your quarantine mates (or facetime your besties), get the table laid, pull out the sake, put your favorite playlist on and give this a try.

Despite the visual complexities and busyness of a Sukiyaki dinner table, it is actually quite simple and healthy to make. You need an array of fresh vegetables and thinly sliced meats as your stars of the show. Next comes water and sauces. Then, if you can have them, you also need firm tofu, eggs and noodles. I’ll walk you through the details in the ingredients list. Everything is either cooked at the same time at the dinner table on a portable tabletop burner or camping stove, OR if you don’t have one, you can prepare everything at the stove and bring it over to the table at the last minute. Main thing is to have everything prepared and setup to go ahead of time.


serves 4, or 2 if you’re piggies like Chris and I.

Cooking Ingredients:

A few bunches of Vegetables like mustard greens, bokchoy, mizuna, chrysanthemum greens, chopped into approx. 2inch pieces– There should be an array of mild and bitter greens. If you can’t find Asian greens, spinach, dandelion greens, rapini or even kale could work. Feel free to choose anything you want, just make sure that while the greens should be hearty, they should not take a long time to cook.

Shiitake Mushrooms (Optional), about 3 per person– Be sure to remove the woody ends. We normally put mushrooms in our sukiyaki but decided not to when we took these photos. Enoki mushrooms are also lovely in Sukiyaki!

3 stalks of Green Onions (halved lengthwise) or Chinese Chives, cut into approx. 2in pieces– Leeks could also work here. Cut them diagonally at a 1/2inch thickness.

1 block of Firm Tofu, cut into 1inch squares– Soft tofu could work but it needs to be able to keep its shape. If possible, do not use the extra firm tofu, the kind that you can grill. It should have some kind of softness to it.

1 Packet of Shirataki Noodles OR 1 bundle of Saifun cellophane noodles, drained– Shirataki noodles are not readily available everywhere but Saifun noodles usually are. Basically any very thin vermicelli clear noodle will work. I even invite you to use thin pho noodles if that’s all you have. If you are using saifun noodles, make sure you soak them in warm water for 30 minutes ahead of time. If you don’t have anything at all, no worries, its not essential.

1lb (approx.) of marbled Meat (omit if Vegan or Vegetarian)– Traditionally, Sukiyaki is eaten with beef but you could also have pork, chicken or even lamb if you wanted. Make sure it is fatty and marbled OR is tender like a pork loin. It must not go tough when it is cooked. Slice the meat very thinly on the diagonal into approx 3×4 inch ribbons. To make slicing easier you could freeze the meat first and then cut the meat like shavings. Just be careful not to let your knife slip!!!! If it is too difficult, don’t worry, just cut it as thin as you can. It will be fine as long as the meat is marbled or a tender cut.

Cooking Broth: 1 cup water, 1/4 cup mirin, 1/3 cup light soy sauce– Mirin is, in simple terms, a mixture of cooking sake and sugar. If you don’t have mirin, you could use 1/4 cup of sake or dry sherry mixed with half a tsp of sugar dissolved into it. I’m not sure about sweet sherry but I dare you to try it. I mean, it won’t be bad.

Serving Ingredients:

1 fresh egg per person (omit if Vegan)– these must be fresh and I’ll explain why in a sec.

Extra soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar and water.

Japanese Rice for serving

Notes on the egg: This is meant to be your dipping sauce! Raw! Don’t be afraid of this! It is delicious! Each time you add the hot meats, vegetables and sauce it will slightly cook the egg rendering it a creamy, custardy sauce halfway through. If you’ve ever had a proper Carbonara before, you’ve had raw egg. It’s basically the same thing. Raw egg as a sauce. It will change your life. If you absolutely can’t stomach the idea though, no worries, it’s not essential. Because it is raw, you must be sure the egg is the freshest you can get. A trick to make sure the egg is fresh is to submerse it in a glass or bowl of water, if the egg stays at the bottom, it is fresh. If it rises significantly or floats, it’s not really fresh enough to eat raw.

Prepare your table with a set of the following for each person: 1 rice bowl, 2 medium egg dip bowl, 1 medium serving bowl for the sukiyaki, chopsticks and a soup spoon. Also put out a bowl with the eggs uncracked (and for the egg shells later), the extra soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar and water.

Also lay out on the table (if cooking at the table): all the raw vegetables (on one plate), meats, tofu and drained noodles in their own serving dishes.

Place the portable tabletop burner on the table if you have one.

Crack one egg into each dipping bowl, one per person.

Portion out rice into the rice bowls.

Mix the cooking broth together with the ingredients above in a heavy-bottomed shallow pot. We like to use a chinese claypot for this bc it looks so purdy, but you could also use a shallow cast iron pot or anything which has a similar shape to what is in the pictures.

Either on the stove or on the tabletop burner, heat the broth gently over medium. As it heats, lay out a portion of each of your vegetables along the inside perimeter of the pot, along with a portion of the tofu and noodles, then lay a portion of the meat slices in the middle. You will keep going back for more so don’t pack everything all in at once. Once it starts to simmer, turn down the heat so it stays at the lower simmer. When the meat has changed color it is ready to eat and you can turn the heat down to low. If you’ve cooked this on the stove, now is the time to turn off the heat and bring the pot to the table (on a heat resistant hot plate!).

Whisk the egg in your dipping bowl with your chopsticks in preparation.

Either use a serving spoon to scoop small portions of the cooked ingredients into the medium serving bowls or allow diners to use their chopsticks to serve themselves directly from the pot. We do the latter. Try not to take too much broth so you have some left in the pot. Also, don’t empty the pot out immediately. The idea is to keep going back for more, eating little by little.

Once you have finished the first round, check how much liquid you have left, top it up with the liquids on the side if you don’t have enough and repeat the whole process for Round 2, adjusting the heat as necessary. Repeat this until you’ve finished all the raw ingredients or until you are full.

Note: There will be a lot of things on the table. Don’t be overwhelmed. This is meant to be fun! Feel free to go at your own pace, take breaks, whatever. And make sure you enjoy a good drink with this too!

Rosemary ‘Conbini’ Carbonara Udon

I lived in Tokyo for just over 5 years and I’m ashamed/proud to say that one of my favorite guilty pleasure take-aways is convenience store (“conbini” コンビニ) carbonara. To set the record straight, Japan’s convenience stores sell legit delicious food. Its not good quality or well crafted, it’s just really really tasty. Especially when you’re 25, crawling home from Ni-chome on a Saturday night/Sunday morning at 5am, dodging the sunlight (points if you get that one!)

There’s just something about it…and with the most basic ingredients. Like Kraft Mac n’ Cheese. Something you would expect to just take minutes to make for instant creamy, eggy, cheesy pleasure.

Here’s an easy recipe for making a quick Rosemary “Conbini” Carbonara Udon. I only added Rosemary bc it was staring at me from a vase on the kitchen window sill. Turned out to be pretty fancy and delicious! If you don’t like rosemary, just ommit it completely. I made my own noodles, the recipe for which I will post here soon. But you can use any noodles you want!

Rosemary コンビニ Carbonara

Serves 2

2 portions of Udon or Pasta (spaghetti, linguine, spetzl, whatever, as long as it’s long)

1/2 cup Peas (optional)- we do need our veg

1/2 cup diced Parma Ham (or leftover ham, prosciutto, sausage, bacon, whatever) OR Mushrooms for a vegan option.

4 cloves Garlic, peeled and sliced

2 large Eggs

4T Greek Yogurt

1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or pecorino, jack, white cheddar or whatever)

2 fresh sprigs Rosemary

Sea Salt


Olive Oil

Boil or microwave the peas (if using) for a couple minutes, drain, then let sit in cool water. Drain when cool.

Whisk the egg, yogurt, half of the cheese and a generous sprinkling of pepper together in a bowl until it resembles something like a cream sauce. Set aside.

Get the water for your udon (or pasta) boiling and ready to go. This all goes very fast.

Fry the garlic, ham and rosemary in a few hearty glugs of olive oil for about 5 minutes until crispy. Make sure the rosemary is well coated to infused the oil. Add the drained peas in the last 2 minutes. Take out the rosemary just before the green goes and eat the fried needles. Let sit off the heat until the pasta is ready.

When the water has boiled, cook your udon, turn off the heat, drain as much water as possible, then immediately put it back into the pot.

While the udon and the pot are still very hot, add the ham, peas and garlic mixture (including ALL the oil) as well as the egg, yoghurt and cheese mixture. Be sure the quickly stir everything in, keeping everything moving so the egg doesn’t set in big clumps. All of this is done off the heat. You are simply evenly coating the hot udon in the mixture. The heat will cook it through enough.

Season with sea salt to taste, serve immediately with the remaining cheese and enjoooooy.

Mapo Doufu

If you are not a tofu lover, this dish will turn you. Mapo Doufu is a homey and comforting tofu-based dish hailing from the land of chilies and peppercorns, Szechuan Province, where my grandfather comes from.  The sauce is a spicy, tangy and rich “gravy” generally made from fermented soybeans, chilies and Szechuan peppercorns. The complexity of the sauce contrasts beautifully when combined with the soft custard-like texture and flavor of silken tofu.  Mapo Doufu- literally meaning “Pock-Faced Grandma Tofu”-is named after a legendary grandma from Chengdu who invented the recipe “back in the day” but no one knows the exact story.  Either way, no one cooks better than Grandma! Although the dish is specifically from Szechuan, it is known across China and much of Asia as a kind of continental must-eat! Typically, it is cooked with ground pork, but I’ve chosen to share with you a vegan alternative so everyone can give it a try! If you want to add ground meat (poultry, pork or beef or lamb), I tell you when to add it. My version is by no means a traditional or strictly authentic recipe as it has evolved over at least 3 generations of my Asian-American family.  But then again, who can claim authenticity for a recipe with origins based in legend?

Note: Mapo is typically made with either doubanjiang (fermented broad beans paste) or gochujang (fermented chili paste) but I came up with this recipe in college when I couldn’t find either and it just stuck!

Update 8/5/20: an IG follower of mine told me she used Doenjang instead of miso as she didn’t have any. I have since amended my recipe to reflect this glorious discovery. Miso is made with rice koji which sweetens the flavour. Doenjang is straight up fermented soybeans and salt which makes for a sharper and more complex flavour which mapo deserves. Both will work but doenjang is now my new favorite.

Mapo Doufu

Vegan & Gluten-Free

Serves 2 healthy portions or 4 as a shared dish.

8 medium dried Shiitake Mushrooms, reconstituted and minced

3 medium cloves of Garlic, crushed into a paste

2 Tbsp Doenjang (or Red Miso)

2-3 Tbsp Gochugaru chili powder- if you can’t find gochugaru chili powder, Indian chili powder or hot paprika work as a substitute but you may have to adjust the amount.

2 Tsp Szechuan (or Black) Peppercorns, whole

2 inch piece of Ginger, peeled and minced

1/2 cup peas, soy beans, lima beans, or similar- frozen or fresh (optional)

1 block (approx. 500g) Silken or Soft Tofu, cut into 1-1.5 inch squares

2 stalks Green Onions, chopped (green ends included)

Sesame Oil

First, reconstitute your shiitake mushrooms by soaking them in boiling water and covering with a lid for about 30 minutes.  When done, gently squeeze out the excess water, reserve the stock and mince.

Chop your garlic roughly then crush with a couple pinches of salt in a mortar & pestle until it becomes a paste.  The salt will make it easier to break down the fibers. Add the miso and gochugaru chili powder and blend well. Gradually add a few tablespoons of the stock and mix in until the mixture is creamy.

Heat a few tablespoons of canola oil in a wok or pan on medium-high heat and infuse the peppercorns in the oil until they are dark and crispy, then remove them and set them aside to drain on a paper towel. Add the ginger and stir fry until fragrant. If you are going to add ground pork, do so here and stir fry until the color is no longer pink. Add your minced shiitake mushrooms and stir fry for a couple minutes.

Next, add the miso mixture, saving a couple dollops to serve on top. Stir fry everything together for a couple of minutes and, little by little, add mushroom stock as it dries out, you don’t want the paste to burn. Next, gradually pour more stock into the pan, stirring until it reaches the consistency of sauce that you want and adjusting the heat so it stays at a simmer.  I personally like my sauce thick, like the consistency of a Bolognese.  If you’d like it thinner and you’ve run out of stock, just use water.  If you accidentally add too much stock and it becomes too soupy, you can always thicken it by stirring in corn starch dissolved in water.  Similarly, add it little by little until it gets to the right consistency again. The corn starch will thicken the sauce as it heats.

Once you have the sauce the way you want, add the peas and simmer for a couple minutes more while you grind your peppercorns in a mortar & pestle and add them to the sauce, reserving a bit to sprinkle at the end.  Next, toss in your green onions (reserving a few pinches for garnish) and stir them into the sauce.  Immediately add your tofu by very carefully by folding them into the sauce.  It breaks apart very easily.  Once the pieces are coated, let it simmer low until heated through about 2 minutes.  I personally turn the heat off right after incorporating the tofu.  I like the contrast of cold pieces of custardy tofu with the spice and heat of the sauce.  If you decide to use firmer tofu, give it time to cook in the sauce in order to soften the consistency.

When ready, serve immediately on a bowl of steaming-hot rice ( I prefer Japanese!), with a pinch of chopped green onions, ground peppercorns a bit of leftover miso paste and drizzles of sesame oil on top.  If you are feeling brave (and not vegan), try this dish with a dollop of Japanese mayonnaise or aioli (as in the photo).  I know it sounds weird, but the combination is akin to the “revelation” of raita/yoghurt with curry or bechamel in lasagna.  Once you’ve had it, you can’t not have it ever again!

Variations: There are so many variations of this dish and many people like to add their own twist.  I often like to serve topped the dish with a hard-boiled egg or a handful of raw mung bean sprouts or alfalfa sprouts for some “garden-y” freshness. Have fun playing with this dish and making it yours!

Easy Southeast Asian Inspired Curry Noodles

I wish I could have given this a more creative name but my work has been so busy recently, my mind just hasn’t had the space! The night we made this dish, we originally wanted to make Laksa but we didn’t have the energy to make a rempa (chili paste) and Chris wanted to save his sambal (chili sauce) for a rainy day. So we ended up using some frozen homemade Thai red curry paste instead. I realize not everyone will have curry paste or the makings for it, so one hack is to just use your favorite Asian chili sauce- something like a sambal or even Sriracha- in its place. You just need to up the amount of certain fresh ingredients like herbs, ginger or some kind of citrus to mimic the aromatic qualities of a curry paste. I’ll make some suggestions on how to brighten up your flavours if you are lacking ingredients.

As for the noodles, since we’ve been quarantined we’ve been needing to get more creative with our ingredients and even though we had already starting making our own noodles ages ago, NOW we’re doing them almost every week. But this recipe is for a specific dish, not for how to make your own noodles. I use Olia Hercules’ noodle recipe from her Khingal dish which I will find a link for and post here asap. But if you don’t have flour (bc people are stockpiling tsk tsk) you can easily use ramen noodles, udon noodles, instant noodles or even pasta. Honestly, use whatever noodles you want. It will be delicious for sure!

This curry noodle dish is rich, creamy, aromatic and oh so cozy. Add more herbs and vegetables (raw or steamed) on top to make it a proper meal. I cooked mushrooms into the curry too bc we fancied it, not because it needed it. You could basically add any of your favourite vegetables to this curry but keep it simple so as not to overcrowd the noodles. Again, you will end up topping the curry with crunchy raw or steamed veggies and herbs anyway. For example, we added steamed broccoli, raw fava bean flowers & cilantro that night.

Note: I realize coining something as generally Southeast Asian can be problematic. I base the inspiration for this dish off my experience of having lived in Singapore for 3 years and having worked in Singapore, Malaysia & Thailand for 6. During this time, I had the privilege of eating the food of many talented cooks and chefs who were kind enough to teach me a few things about their heritage cuisine. I do not claim this dish to be authentic, but merely a humble homage to a region of Asia in which I have lived and still hold so dear to my heart.

Southeast Asian Inspired Curry Noodles

Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a side

*Substitutions at the end of recipe

1-2T Thai Red Curry Paste (give or take based on your tolerance for heat)

1 can/400ml Coconut Milk

Half an Onion, sliced or chopped

1 knob Ginger, peeled and minced

3-4 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced

1 can Straw Mushrooms or 1-2 handfuls of small mushrooms (or large mushrooms cut into smaller pieces) NOTE: You can even add meat here or in place of the mushrooms.

2-3T Fish Sauce (give or take, make sure you taste as you go)

1t Sugar

1-2T Lime Juice (or any tart citrus)

2-4 Lime wedges (or any tart citrus)

1-2 large handfuls of aromatic herbs such as Cilantro, Basil, Mint, etc (I challenge you to try western herbs too!)- chopped or left whole!

2 servings of Noodles (ramen, udon, spaghetti, saifun, anything in that vein of thin and long)- enough for 2 as a full meal or 4 as a side.

A small selection of vegetables like steamed broccoli, raw cucumber slices, mung bean sprouts, edible flowers etc- to be added to the curry on top. Whatever you fancy!

Have your noodles and extra vegetables prepared and ready and have them set aside. The curry will not take long to make. If you’re worried about everything getting cold, feel free to multitask everything at the same time but the curry will be super hot when you serve and will be enough to warm everything through.

Heat a few globs of cooking oil in a bottom heavy sauce pan or wok on Medium-high heat. Throw in your ginger and garlic and sautee for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add your onion and cook 2-3 minutes. Next add your curry paste and fry it for 1-2 minutes, keeping it moving so you don’t burn it.

Next pour in your coconut milk, fill the can with water or measure out 400ml of water and add that too, blending the two together. Bring it to just before a boil and simmer gently for a few minutes. If it reduces, too much, add some more water. It is meant to be more liquidy (that’s not a word, is it?) than you are expecting.

Throw in your mushrooms and stir in. Add your fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and stir it in. Make sure you give it a taste. Add more of whatever you want. If its too rich or thick, again, add a little more water. Just keep taste testing. Let it simmer gently for another few minutes then take off the heat.

Portion out noodles into 2 bowls for 2 full meals or 4 small bowls for 4 sides. Pour the curry evenly over the portioned out noodles. Layer small handfuls of herbs and the vegetables you prepared on top of the curry noodles with a wedge of lime and enjoy!


This recipe idea was created during the COVID-19 outbreak and is easy to make with some of the most basic of ingredients. Of course, somethings can’t be replicated but I do my best.

Curry paste: Substitute with your favorite Asian chili sauce such as sambal or even Sriracha. Portions will depends on your threshold for spice. You also do not need to fry it as long before adding the coconut milk. If your sauce is more liquidy (again, not a word), don’t fry it too long or it will evaporate too much. You basically want to heat it up enough to activate the flavors so it can properly infuse the coconut milk. If you think you may not have added enough, you can just add more chili sauce after the fact. If you’ve added too much, add a bit more sugar and citrus. The key is to taste test through each stage so you can ensure the right flavours. Hacking your favorite dish takes time but is so easy to do with practice.

Aromatics: If you have to go the chili sauce route as described above, you’ll need to add more aromatic ingredients to make up for the lack of the curry paste. At least double the amount of garlic and ginger. You may also find you need to add more seasoning like fish sauce, lime juice or sugar. Again, keep taste testing! If you’ve got lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves, use those too. Although if you’ve got those in your fridge, you probably don’t need this recipe at all!

Fish Sauce: Sorry, there are VERY few substitutes for fish sauce. I have a vegan fish sauce recipe using kombu seaweed but I haven’t written it out yet. If you are a vegan follower of mine, I’ll promise Ill post it sometime soon. Sorry work is so busy at the mo!

Coconut Milk: You may not have it. That’s ok. Don’t panic. One of our best friends in Kuala Lumpur says you can get away with using regular dairy milk, soy milk or even goat milk. It just depends on how creative you want to get….or how desperate you are! If you do use a coconut milk substitute, remember to up all those aromatic ingredients and use coconut oil instead of whatever cooking oil you were going to use. You may even decide to add a bit more coconut oil after you’ve taste tested. Also, instead of the extra cup of water, just double the amount of milk. These substitutions do work, just be prepared for the flavour to be different than what you would get in a normal curry. We can’t have it all!

Citrus: You can use lemon if you don’t have lime. It’s totally fine, just remember lemons tend to be sweeter than limes so you may need to add a bit less sugar. But you’ll be fine if you TASTE TEST! You can also use the grated zest of your citrus to intensify the citrusy(?) flavour to your liking. So many non-words, sorry.

These are the best substitutions I can think of for when times are tough or things just aren’t available. Cooking is meant to be a creative process. Have fun trying new things out! If you follow a general flavor format- and actually TASTE AS YOU GO- it will always come out delicious.

Enjoy! btw I’m so hungry now haha

Grießnockerlsuppe-Semolina Dumpling Soup with Asian Greens

Here is a really easy soup to make that is super delicious and only takes a few ingredients. And as is the way these days, it’s very good for quarantine cooking. If you are reading this sometime in the future wondering what I mean by “quarantine cooking”… well the entire world is currently experiencing a pandemic called the Coronavirus, causing most countries to be in lock-down and the lucky ones like myself are forced to stay at home to protect our loved ones and ourselves to stop the spread of infection. This also means that we can’t go to the markets for supplies as often as we’d like and some of us can’t go at all! Therefore supplies are scarce and those of us from 1st world societies are needing to learn how to make things last and how to make the best out of very little.

At the beginning of the lockdown, I had posted on Instagram about saving your vegetable scraps and animal bones to make stock for a rainy day. My husband Chris and I have been religiously saving all of our vegetable peelings, tops, ends and tails in a zip lock bag to then dump into a pot, cover with water, simmer for ages & season with salt to make a simple but beautiful homemade stock. It is so easy to make, very economical and can be used to create yummy dishes like this one! If you are reading this sentence, it means I haven’t written a blog post on how to make the stock yet, but I will soon!

This Grießnockerlsuppe recipe is actually adapted from a recipe by very talented cookbook author & artist Anja Dunk. Grießnockerl (or Griessnockerl) are Bavarian or Austrian dumplings(depending on who you talk to) made from semolina. The semolina mixture is made into a coarse dough, then dropped into soup to create fluffy, soft pillows of loveliness which float to the top in minutes when done. I can’t really take credit for this recipe as it’s a classic, traditional dish, but in times like these, we need to use what we’ve got, so here is how I made Grießnockerlsuppe with a fridge full of Asian vegetables from my friends at Radical Family Farms. Please do play around with variations for the veggies, I make some suggestions below.


Semolina Dumpling Soup with Asian Greens

Serves 2 bowls or 4 small cups

For the Grießnockerl Dumplings:

3.5oz Semolina (preferably coarse)

1/2T Butter, softened

1 Egg

1T Water

1/3t Baking Powder

1 pinch each Salt & Pepper

For the Soup:

3 cups of Stock

1 handful Sugar Snap Peas, chopped (or similar such as long beans or french green beans)

1 handful Mizuna, torn into 3 (or similar such as Chinese celery or chrysanthemum greens)

1 handful herbs like Cilantro, Shiso or Dill, roughly torn

1 Green onion, chopped

Mix your dumpling ingredients together into a dough and set aside.

Bring your stock to a boil, then lower to a simmer.

Throw in your sugar snap peas (or similar veg) and let simmer for about 10 seconds.

One by one, tear off rough pieces of the dumpling mixture about the size of a ping pong ball, give them a quick gentle squeeze (to keep them compact) and plop them into the simmering stock. After a couple of minutes they will rise to the surface and will be done.

Take the soup off the heat and stir in your leafy greens.

Ladle the soup and its contents equally into 2 bowls.

Tear your herbs up roughly, sprinkle them on top of the soup along with the green onions and serve!

Simmered Daikon with Shitake Mushrooms

3/31/20 NOTE: If you are using WINTER MELON from Radical Family Farms March 2020 produce box instead of daikon, I add instructions at the end on how to prepare the melon and the cooking time. No pics yet though sorry!

In our house this dish is just called “daikon” because it is our absolute favorite and shows up on our dinner table at least once a week. It works perfectly as a main for simple meals or as a side dish for larger spreads. The brilliant thing about this recipe is that it can be used with many different types of root vegetables. The only thing you would have to change is the cooking time depending on the vegetable. Daikon is one of my favorite vegetables but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It can be eaten raw, par cooked, or stewed to oblivion- in fact there is no oblivion. Once my husband Chris did a slow cooked pork shoulder with daikon, cooked it for 4 hours and even though the daikon was tender inside, the shape was still intact AND it still had an al dente bite! Eaten raw daikon is crunchy and watery like jicama but can be very bitter with a slight sweetness. When you cook it through, it does loose some of its bitterness as the sweetness goes up, but that depends on the variety. I find many Korean varieties tend to be on the more bitter side.

This dish uses a base liquid of broth, sake & soy sauce to simmer the daikon. It also contains minced shiitake mushrooms and, for meat eaters, minced pork or chicken. We are 90% vegetarian and very rarely eat meat, but on the rare occasion, the minced meat is a lovely addition. And of course sprinkled with some chopped green onion….because you’ve just got to! Eat this dish with some steamed rice to soak up the sauce! If daikon is not your thing, I would also try this recipe with winter melon, kolrabi or lotus root (if you can get your hands on them).

Simmered Daikon with Shitake Mushrooms

serves 3-4 as a main (5-6 as a side)

1 medium-large daikon radish, about 2lb, cut into 1.5-2 inch cubes or wedges

5 shitake mushrooms, minced, fresh or dried. If dried, reconstitute in boiling water for 30 minutes or until soft.

1/2lb Ground Pork or Chicken (optional)

1 inch knob Ginger, peeled and minced

2 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced

2 Green Onions, chopped

1 cup Broth (or Water)

4T Sake (or Sherry)

4T Light Soy Sauce

1T Corn Starch + 2T Water

A drizzle of Sesame Oil

Start by cutting your daikon into 1.5in cubes or wedges. My friends in Japan will kill me for saying this but I don’t peel them. The skin contains double the amount of nutrients than than the actual flesh itself. Start by quartering your daikon lengthwise then chopping into cubes or wedges. Chris loves chunky cubes so that’s how we have it. I’ll eat daikon however I can get it.

Prepare the garlic and ginger as described.

In a wide shallow pot or wok (with lid), heat some canola oil on medium-high heat and cook the ginger and garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute. If you are using meat, add it now. Break it up in the wok and stir fry it until it changes color. Then toss in the daikon pieces, ensuring that all the pieces are coated in the oil. Do this for about 2-3 minutes.

Next add in your cup of broth or water and the sake or sherry. Bring everything to a boil, then immediately turn it down to a low simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, take off the lid, add in the soy sauce, mix it in thoroughly, then replace the cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Next, add in the minced shiitake mushrooms and let them simmer gently in the daikon for a few minutes uncovered.

Blend the cornstarch and water mixture in a separate bowl then add to the daikon. Turn up the eat to bring it to a high simmer, stirring until the sauce thickens to a silky gravy.

Take the wok off the heat, toss in the chopped green onions and stir them in. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with sesame oil and enjoy!


Winter Melon is extremely mild in flavor with a very subtle sweetness to it lending itself well to both savory and sweet dishes. It is perfect for soups and sauce-heavy dishes as they absorb flavor beautifully without being overwhelmed by it.

If you want to swap out daikon for winter melon, you’ll need 1 small to medium melon or half of one large melon.

Start by cutting away the rind. Much like peeling a watermelon, you can’t really use a peeler for this without having to go through several layers as the rind is quite thick. I use a knife but feel free to use a peeler if yours is sharp enough and you’ve got some time to kill. If using a knife, cut the melon width wise into 2inch wide round disks of melon with an outer ring of skin. Lay each disk flat and using the knife cut away the rind from the outer edge following the curve of the melon. Again, imagine you are wanting to cut away the skin of a watermelon.

Once skinned, cut out the seeds and the spongy white center. You want to be left with only the firm white flesh. Cut the melon into 1.5 inch cubes and set to the side.

Using the same ingredients, follow the same directions as above, swapping out daikon for winter melon. I’ve cut and pasted the cooking directions below to adjust the cooking time:

In a wide shallow pot or wok (with lid), heat some canola oil on medium-high heat and cook the ginger and garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute. If you are using meat, add it now. Break it up in the wok and stir fry it until it changes color.

Then toss in the winter melon pieces, ensuring that all the pieces are coated in the oil.

Next add in your cup of broth or water, the sake or sherry and the soy sauce. Bring everything to a boil, then immediately turn it down to a low, cover it and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Next, add the minced shiitake mushrooms and let them simmer gently uncovered for about 3-4 minutes.

Blend the cornstarch and water mixture in a separate bowl then add to the wok. Turn up the eat to bring it to a high simmer, stirring until the sauce thickens to a silky gravy.

Take the wok off the heat, toss in the chopped green onions and stir them in. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with sesame oil and enjoy!

Stir Fried “Dou Miao” Pea Shoots in Gravy

Freshly harvested Pea Tendrils 

Some dear friends of mine have a farm 20 minutes drive from us in Sebastopol which focuses on growing Asian heritage vegetables. When Radical Family Farms were just getting started, the first vegetable they ever sold was Pea Shoots or “Dou Miao” as they’re called in Chinese. I remember randomly coming across one of their Instagram posts and actually gasping out loud at the thought that no longer would I need to travel all the way down to San Francisco Chinatown to get them. I immediately DM’ed them and Leslie & Sarah invited me down to the farm to pick some up. The rest is history and now they can’t get rid of me. I don’t know what I’d do without RFF. I’d be cooking a helluva lot less Asian dishes than I am now!

Dou Miao pea shoots are crunchy and crisp with a tender middle, much like spinach stems. And similarly to spinach, when cooked, they wilt and soften extremely fast. This is why when cooking with pea shoots, it’s important not to overcook them, otherwise they can turn into a fiberous mush. This might make it sound like there is not much you can do with them but in fact, pea shoots are some of the easiest and most versatile vegetables to cook with. They are a staple in Chinese cuisine when stir-fried, go excellent raw as an addition to any salad and even work brilliantly on pizza! If you can get your hands on some, give them a try. What I love most about the pea shoots from RFF is that they keep the twisty tendrils at the end of the shoots. I believe they give the greens an extra injection of texture.

Here’s my recipe for stir fried pea shoots in gravy, a dish you will find in most authentic Chinese restaurants and one that was never missing from my Grandmother’s dinner table. It will have the texture of par cooked spinach but in a silky savoury gravy with a hint of caramel-ness from the soy sauce and sugar.

Stir Fried Pea Shoots in Gravy

Serves 2 as a side dish

100g/3.5oz fresh Pea Shoots

2 cloves Garlic, pealed and chopped

1 Green Onion, chopped

2T Canola oil

1 cup Stock

1T Soy Sauce

1t Sugar

1/2T Corn Starch & 1T Water, mixed together

Heat the canola oil in a wok or pan over high heat.

As it’s hearing combine the stock, soy sauce and sugar. Stir together the corn starch and water in a separate bowl.

Just as the oil begins to smoke, throw in your garlic and pea shoots and toss for about 10 seconds.

Quickly combine the two stock and cornstarch mixtures together, making sure the cornstarch is evenly mixed in, pour the liquid into to the wok and keep tossing everything until the sauce thickens. Depending on the strength of your flame it could take anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute to thicken. Immediately take it off the eat.

If the sauce too thick for you, add some water little by little to dilute it.

Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle the chopped green onions on top and serve immediately.

This dish will only take a couple of minutes to cook so save it till just before you’re ready to eat!

Serve with a selection such as rice and meat/protein dishes. The other day, I served it with fried rice, grilled fish & fresh tomatoes!

Hakusai no Tsukemono & Kimchi

Salt Pickled Napa Cabbage 2-ways

It’s not quite an apocalypse, but in times like this, it’s good to know how to make things last. Napa Cabbage is prolific (for now) and you can make it last for up to 6 months or even a year depending on who you talk to!

In this post, I’ve got 2 recipes for salt pickling napa cabbage: Hakusai no Tsukemono and Kimchi, with one actually (according to my method) as the precursor for the other. Both go as a wonderful addition to grilled meat dishes, cooked in stir fries or even just as an accompaniment to something as simple as a bowl of steamed rice.

Hakusai no Tsukemono is the Japanese version of non-spicy Kimchi which the Koreans call Baek Kimchi or “White” Kimchi. It is simple, can be ready in a matter of days, light in flavour in comparison to regular kimchi for those who can’t handle it. It only requires 2 basic ingredients: cabbage & salt.

Kimchi is better known here in the states and so many people have fancy, posh versions floating around the internet. I am far less fussed about a kaleidoscope of exotic ingredients and simply prefer to make my kimchi as basic and easy to make as possible. Very appropriate for our current situation! In fact, I make my kimchi from the first stage of my recipe for Hakusai no Tsukemono and it only requires an extra addition of garlic & chili powder.

Hakusai no Tsukemono

Salt-Pickled Napa Cabbage

1kg/2lb Napa Cabbage (about 1 large head)

30g/1oz Fine Sea Salt (NOT iodized or it will not work!)

note: The weight of your salt should be roughly 3% that of the cabbage.

A large pot with lid

Something flat like a plate, slightly smaller than the width of the pot

Something heavy like a stone (I’ll explain)

A dish towel

Optional Ingredients:

Rind from 1 Lemon, grated or sliced thinly

3-4 cloves (or MORE) Garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2-3 dried Chili Peppers

Quarter your cabbage lengthwise and lay them out on a plate or a tray in the sun for a few hours or overnight indoors. This will dry out and wilt the cabbage which is what you want! If you live in a city or somewhere with lots of pollution or dust, do this step indoors.

After air-drying them, get out your big pot, measure out your salt and it set aside. Piece by piece, gently massage salt into all corners and crevices of the cabbage for about 1 minute each piece. As you do it, you will feel them “sweat”. Place each piece at the bottom of the pan to create layers as flat as you can. Once you’ve created one layer of cabbage, sprinkle some of the garlic, lemon rind and chili (if you’re using them) on top before creating the next layer. Repeat until you’ve finished off all the ingredients.

The next part is a bit weird. You need something flat like a plate. I use an otoshibuta (drop lid) my husband made for me but don’t be confused by the pics. A plate works fine. Put the plate face down on top of your cabbage layers. The plate MUST fit inside the pot and cover as much of the cabbage as possible. Next take the heavy “thing”, like a stone, and set in on top of the plate. These “things” and plate will create a weight on the cabbage thereby encouraging the sweating liquid to come out of the cabbage and create a natural brine. It doesn’t need to be super heavy, but it definitely needs more than just gravity! Then place the lid on the pot.

Next take a towel and wrap it around the whole pot as best as you can. This not only helps create an extra seal but also keeps in the smell of fermentation as it ages…becauuuuuuuse……

….you will now leave the tsukemono, as is, somewhere in your kitchen or house where it won’t be moved for at least 3 days. It is not going in the fridge!

Leave it in the same spot for at least 3 days. We normally wait about 5 days because we like a more pungent flavour. Each day, you can check on the fermentation if you are interested. Open up the lid and you should see the liquid rising day by day until the point that it reaches the top, almost completely submersing the tsukemono in its own brine. If by the third day you do not see much liquid, that may mean that you do not have enough salt OR the weight is not heavy enough. Fix that by adding more salt gradually and sparingly or by putting more “things” on the plate to weigh it down.

After the 3-5 days, it is basically fermented. Follow the next steps to jar and store them OR scroll down to turn it into Kimchi!

Sterilize some jars to store your tsukemono. This can be anything from a proper big pickling jar or a jam jar BUT you must ensure that it can seal AND that you sterilize it first, which you can do by pouring freshly boiled water into them then letting them cool naturally.

When the jars are ready to go, once again, layer the tsukemono into the jars. This ensures that there are no air-bubbles and that all the tsukemono can remain under the brine. It also helps you fit more into the jars! If you are using small jars, you may need to cut your tsukemono first. If you do, do them in 2 inch pieces. After filling your jars, slowly pour brine over the tsukemono allowing it to work its way down through the layers and up to the top, leaving about 1 inch of brine above the cabbage. Using a fork, gently press down on the top to remove any extra air-bubbles and to make room for the brine to cover the tsukemono. Put the lid back on, sealing the jar. Now the rest is up to you. You can put it into the fridge and start using it. OR you can leave it in a dark, cool cupboard for anywhere up to a month. Chris and I tend to let ours ferment for 2 weeks before putting it into the fridge. Either way, once it’s in the fridge it will last up to 6-months! Just make sure you keep the cabbage under the brine to keep it as fresh as possible.

Note: If your tsukemono hasn’t gone into the fridge yet, open it every few days to release the gas caused by fermentation and press down on it with a fork to get it under the brine and release more gas.


Spicy Salt Pickled Napa Cabbage

Choose your own adventure! If you are here, you have chosen to make your Hakusai no Tsukemono in Kimchi!

After your cabbage has fermented in the pot as per the instructions for Hakusai no Tsukemono, you’ll want to prepare your kimchi paste:

3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1 pinch of Salt

3-5 T of Gochugaru Chili Powder (or any kind to be honest!)


1 T Fish Sauce- optional

Now if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, this could be tricky but not impossible.

First make a garlic paste by pounding your chopped garlic and a pinch of salt. The salt breaks down the composition and fibers of the garlic, turning it to mush when smooshed. Then add your chili powder. Gochugaru is a Korean chili powder made from dried Togarashi peppers but of course not all of us have this. I have used Indian chili powder before as well and it turned out great, obviously not without its subtle differences. Add the fish sauce then, little by little and stirring all the time, add cold water until it forms a thick paste-much like a Thai curry paste or tomato paste consistency.

Pour the brine out of your pickles and reserve to the side for later. Dump the kimchi paste into the pot and using your hands massage the paste into every single nook and cranny of your cabbage pieces. Really get it in there! Your hands will be red and oh so smelly good! Once rubbed in, get your jars ready and load them up!

Sterilize some jars to store your kimchi. This can be anything from a proper big pickling jar or a jam jar BUT you must ensure that it can seal AND that you sterilize it first, which you can do by pouring freshly boiled water into them then letting them cool naturally.

When the jars are ready to go, once again, layer the kimchi into the jars. This ensures that there are no air-bubbles and that all the kimchi can remain under the brine. It also helps you fit more into the jars! If you are using small jars, you may need to cut your kimchi first which you should do before you add your kimchi paste. If you do, do them in 2 inch pieces. After filling your jars, slowly pour brine over the kimchi, allowing it to work its way down through the layers and over the cabbage. Using a fork, gently press down on the top to remove any extra air-bubbles and to make room for the brine to cover the cabbage. Put the lid back on, sealing the jar. Now the rest is up to you. You can put it into the fridge, wait 24 hours and start using it. OR you can leave it in a dark, cool cupboard for up to a month. Chris and I tend to let ours ferment for 2 weeks before putting it into the fridge. Either way, once it’s in the fridge it will last up to 6-months! Just make sure you keep the cabbage under the brine to keep it as fresh as possible.

Note: If your kimchi hasn’t gone into the fridge yet, open it every few days to release the gas caused by fermentation and press down on it with a fork to get it under the brine and release more gas.