Steamed Eggplant Sauté in Black Bean Sauce with Spring Green Onions and Garlic

Steamed Eggplant Sauté in Black Bean Sauce with Spring Green Onions and Garlic
The eggplant in this dish cost me a dollar. I got a bag of out-products eggplant from Berkeley Bowl, a supermarket in Berkeley, CA.  You can get this similar deal by start visiting local farmer markets and farms near you! You will be surprised how much fresh produce you can get for a few bucks. This dish is light; best to serve with something more flavorful, like a Thai curry.

3 long purple eggplant, diagonally cut into 1 inch thick pieces
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 stalk spring green onion, cut diagonally into small pieces
4 tablespoon black bean sauce
½ tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
a pinch of black peppers
a pinch of sugar (optional)

Bring a steamer to rolling boil, steam the eggplant for about 10-15 minutes. Use a heatproof plate if you don’t own a steamer. Once the eggplant is tender, it will not hold its form very well; remove gently and set aside. Check if the eggplant is cooked by poking it with a fork. Cooked eggplant will change their color to faded purple and has a slight brown tone.
Meanwhile, prepare the seasoning sauce by mixing the black bean sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and black peppers in a small bowl.
Once the eggplant is ready, heat olive oil in medium low heat then add garlic. Maintain this heat consistently so that the garlic won’t burn, but still get cooked.  
Add the eggplant. Gently “fold” the eggplant into the sauce until well combined. As you will notice, steamed eggplant does not hold its shape, it will turn into a puree if stirs too often and too hard!  Add the green onions and let it simmer for about 2 more minutes. 

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Spicy and Sweet Pineapple Fried Rice with Zucchini, Cashew Nuts, Raisins, and a Sprinkle of Cinnamon.

Spicy and Sweet Pineapple Fried Rice with Zucchini, Cashew Nuts, Raisins, and a Sprinkle of Cinnamon.  
This fried rice is a perfect blend of fruity, savory, and spicy flavor. Toasted cashew nuts bring about crunchy and creamy texture; almond or pine nuts would be a perfect substitute. Choose your favorite dry fruit; I like using raisin and cranberry for their tangy flavor. Although this is a vegan recipe, don’t hesitate to add your favorite meat or seafood.

People have different preferences when it comes to pineapple. I prefer using a very ripe pineapple for this fried rice because it has more juice that would be absorbed by the rice and the texture is more chewable. This recipe makes 6 servings and takes about 1 hour to  prepare and make.

~4 cups cooked jasmine rice ~2 tablespoons vegetable oil ~3 bird eye chili, crushed  ~4 garlic cloves, crushed ~1 fresh pineapple, cut into small pieces (if you want, keep second half of the shell for decoration) ~2 stalks scallions, finely chopped ~1 zucchini, thinly sliced ~⅓ teaspoon cinnamon ~¼ cup dried cranberry ~⅓ cup roasted cashew nut ~¼ cup raisin  ~½  teaspoon cumin or curry powder ~3 tablespoons light or soy sauce ~3 tablespoons mushroom sauce  ~1 teaspoon sugar ~salt, for taste
(my fried rice under the golden sunset, so beautiful!)

Combine cumin, soy sauce, mushroom sauce, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and mix well. Heat oil in a wok and fry garlic and chili in medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add zucchini, dry fruits, cashew nuts, and pineapple, then add about 2 tablespoons of the seasonings, stir for about another 2 minutes (add meat before all these if you prefer). Adjust the stove to high heat, add the rice and stir it until well mixed. Make sure there are no clump. Add scallions  and sprinkle some cinnamon all over then cook until everything is hot, about 3 minutes.If you choose to serve with pineapple shell, make sure not to peel it! Cut it in half first and save at least a half of the shell. Carve the pineapple out of the shell carefully. To clean, rub the entire shell with your hand under running water. Use a spoon to scoop and scrape out any remaining fruit meat off the shell. Allow it to dry by placing the open side downward. You can also broil the shell for about 10 to 15 minutes to make it dryer and it would create a fruity burnt aroma. To save time, this step should be done right before making fried rice.

Serve it with a smile!

Miso Soup with Udon Noodle and Tofu

Miso Soup with Udon Noodle and Tofu

I made this soup yesterday for breakfast. I just arrived home in Berkeley, CA to visit friends and family, and there are two vegetarians in the house right now, so the fridge is full of vegetables and “vegetarian ingredients.” This miso soup is simpler than I thought it would be - that is, once I had the right kind of miso paste in hand. I used Cold Mountain red miso paste, which has the right kind of strong, savory and salty flavors I needed for this soup. I don’t know what makes this miso paste “red” or what the differences are between red and the other “colors.” To me, it seems like how some Thai curries are named by their colors, but Thai red and green curry taste very similar, while the Thai yellow curry is just something else.

This soup was quick and easy to make, and was a great light breakfast. It would also make a great appetizer or snack. I used one cup of water for each tablespoon of miso paste. I also added about half a tablespoon of dark soy sauce to each cup of water. I added some celery, scallions, and baby carrots based on what I found in the fridge. You can also add baby corns, spinach, peas, bok choy, mushrooms, or sprouts for a more balanced meal.  Poached eggs or thin slices of ham would be a great substitute for tofu or red meat.

Makes 1 Serving

Takes 10 Minutes


1 (3.5oz) package pre-made Udon noodles

2 cups water

2 tablespoons red miso paste

1/3 cup tofu, diced

1 stalk scallions, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, diced

4 baby carrots, diced

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

a small pinch of (coarse sea) salt, if needed

a pinch of pepper flakes


In a small pot, combine water, celery, baby carrot, and a very small pinch of salt and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer; then dissolve the miso paste for about 1 minute. Add the Udon noodle and tofu. Bring them to boil one more time; the Udon noodle should be softened and the tofu should be fully cooked by this time — take an extra minute if you need to. Turn off the heat immediately after it boils. Pour the soup into a bowl. Add the remaining seasonings including scallions, soy sauce, and pepper flakes. Taste and fix the flavor to your liking.  

Cooking for Fun: Walk on Your Dinner: Homemade Udon Noodle

Make You Go Crazy: Soba Salad

This effortless dish hides complex flavors of fresh ginger and toasty sesame oil.  Me and my boyfriend made this together during our midterm, it took us less than 20 minutes. 

Serving: 2-4 ( We eat a lot so it makes only two servings for us)


1 pack soba buckwheat noodle ( about 8-9 oz)

2 bok choy, cut horizontally as in the picture (also see below for other varieties)

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

1 tablespoon scallion, minced (use cilantro if you don’t have scallion, or use both)

2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon rice vinegar (optional)

2 tablespoon kikkoman soy sauce or tamari

1 teaspoon chili flake, jalapeno, or serrano, chopped finely  (optional)

How to:

1) To cook buckwheat noodles, it is best to follow the instructions from the back of the package. Bring water to a boil, then add the noodles. Uncover the pot. Allow the noodles to simmer in a low heat, for about 6 to 10 minutes.* Stir occasionally. Drain and rinse with cold water. 

2) *In this recipe, right before the soba is completely cooked, immerse bok choy in the same pot. Then drain and rinse them together. 

3) Chop your vegetables while you wait for the noodle. In a large salad bowl or a tableware, whisk together ginger, scallions, cilantro, rice vinegar, soy sauce, chili flakes, and sesame oil. 

3) Throughly combine the noodle and bok choy into the sauce.

Tips: Always simmer soba noodles over low heat after you bring the water to  a boil. Soba likes to be slow cooked for a tenderly firm texture. If you cook the soba noodle in boiling water throughout in the same way you prepare pasta your soba will be overcooked, sticky, and starchy. ( I made this mistakes twice because I didn’t read the instruction)

For Variety: Feel free to replace bok choy with your choice of vegetables such as asparagus, string beans, bell peppers, snow peas, bean sprouts, or eggplant. You can also grill the vegetables like eggplant, asparagus, bell peppers, and perhaps some portobello mushrooms. 

Zucchini and Tofu with a sprinkle of Curry Powder

I have so much zucchini from the fruit and veg co-op at Wes. Usually, I like to put zucchini in green curry or to fry them with eggs. Today, I tried to add a new flavor to zucchini. Looking at my spice racks, I noticed a curry powder that I probably have used only twice in a year, so I thought why not try it on zucchini since it takes new flavors well.

Serving: 1

Time: 10-15 minutes


- 1 medium zucchini, cut into thin slices

-1/2 cup tofu, cut into about 2 square centimeters pieces

-1 scallion, cut into 1inch pieces

-1/2 tbs vegetable oil

-1/2 tbs garlic

-1/2 tbs soy sauce

-1/4 tsp curry power

-salt and pepper, to taste

Making it:

In a non-stick pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Brown your garlic, then add in the tofu. Once the tofu is slightly browned, added zucchini and the remaining ingredients. Stir until the zucchini is cooked, when it becomes soft and wilts. Serve on top of warm rice.

Summer Send Off

     Dianne, who is like my best friend,and my mother, had offered me her home and all forms of support for the past five years of my stay in the United States. I admire Dianne’s skill in the kitchen because she can make big portions that are still healthy, tasty, simple, and they satisfy everyone’s needs. She is a mother of two, a wife, and has three jobs. The night before I left for my senior year at Wesleyan the weather was warm in Berkeley. We decided to do a barbecue night. Dianne grilled skirt steak, corn, vegetables, stuffed Portobello mushroom. And I offered my Thai barbeque chicken. Oh oh, she also made me some Tequila from scratch! 

     That day was like a fridge cleaning day. We grilled everything we found in the fridge; both fresh and wilted zucchini, onions, all kinds of chili peppers, and oyster mushrooms. We sprinkled some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper on them before grilling. The grilled oyster mushroom was the most interesting to me. I was paying little attention to the time (due to the beautiful California weather!) so the mushroom became very dry, and burnt on its edges. However, the oyster mushrooms turned out to be as thin as chips and they tasted like cheese (some sort of cheese I have had, I don’t know many cheeses by name)!

     Dianne made a vegan dish, stuffed Portobello mushrooms. On a pan with a little bit of olive oil, she cut the stems that had just pulled out from the mushrooms into small pieces, mixed them with cous cous, olive oil, salt, and pepper. After the mushroom was cleaned out, she fill them with the mix, topped with a slice of vegan cheese then it was ready for grilling!

     To make Thai barbecue chicken wings, I usually use fresh ginner, cilantro, garlic, and lemongrass for marinating. However, I had to modify the recipe on that day because I was still doing my last minute packing. Instead of fresh herbs, I used dry ginger powder, coriander seed, black pepper, and paprika. I didn’t have garlic powder at hand, but add some if you find some. Then I added fish sauce, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. I marinated the wings for only 20 minutes this time, but they taste best when you marinate it overnight. The chicken wings cooked for about 15 to 20 minutes on medium heat with top on.

     The dinner turned out great! My favorite dish of the evening was grilled oyster mushroom and Dianne’s delicious stuffed Portobello mushroom!

Rad Nar Noodle

Last week, a Thai student group on campus, Pad Thai, had its first meeting of the school year. I made vegetarian Rad Nar, a fried rice noodle topped with Chinese broccoli in gravy sauce for everyone to try. Typically Rad Nar uses flat rice noodles, the same ones that are used in Chowfun. I didn’t have it on hand, so I substituted thin rice noodles (use in Pad Thai). However, you can find them in most Asian Grocery stores in the produce section. Rad Nar  served in Thailand or in Thai restaurants in the United States, often has a variety of noodles to choose from. In addition to thin and flat rice noodles, they may also offer egg noodles or rice vermicelli. The dish is served with condiments such as sugar, pickled chili in vinegar, ground dry chili pepper, white pepper, and fish sauce. You can play around with the flavors (to suit your taste).


Servings: 5

Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients for noodle:

-5oz package of noodles, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes and rinsed. Cut into small approximately 6 inches  pieces before cooking.

- 1 ½ tablespoon sweet soy sauce

- 1 tablespoon canola oil

Ingredients for topping sauce:

-1 ½ cups of Chinese broccoli ( Thai Pak Kha Na)

- 1 cup tofu, cut into 2 cm square pieces

- 1 cup of shitake mushrooms, depending on size cut into halves or smaller

-1 tablespoon vegetable oil

- ½ tablespoon garlic, finely chopped

- 1 cube bullion

- ½ teaspoon fermented soybeans

- 2 tablespoon soy sauce

- 1 tablespoon fish sauce

- ½ tablespoon sugar

- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper

- 1 tablespoon tapioca powder, mixed in a small bowl with 1/3 cup of cold water and set aside

Making noodle:

In a nonstick pan or wok, heat the oil over medium heat. Fry the noodles in the pan, adding sweet soy sauce. Mix evenly. If noodles form into a large chuck, use two wooden spatulas to pull them apart so they cook evenly. The noodles are ready when softened; they will turn brown or maybe slightly burnt. Set the noodles aside in a deep plate.

Making topping:

In a wok or a saucepan, brown garlic over medium heat. Add about two cups of water and bullion (adjust the proportion of water according to the bullion you use but ensure that there is enough water to cover the noodles). Bring the broth to boil then lower the heat. Add all flavorings EXCEPT for the tapioca mix. Add the tofu and shiitake mushrooms. Cook over medium heat.

Stir tapioca mix* you set aside earlier, then add it into the broth. Tapioca helps to thicken the broth. Stir constantly so they don’t form jelly-like chunks. After it’s cooked, serve the sauce on top of the noodles!


*Don’t forget this step because the tapioca powder will sink to the bottom of the bowl in cold water. To make a gravy texture, NEVER add tapioca powder directly into hot water without mixing first in cold water. If put the powder goes directly into hot water, it will immediately form chunks of jelly that are impossible to break and you will have to start over!

Tofu and mushrooms can be substituted with your favorite meat or seafood. Chinese broccoli can be substitute with regular broccoli, carrots, spinach, and cauliflowers.

I find this recipe to be accurate. I also love this video from an imported ingredients online store, they went to Thailand and captured some common dishes. I hope the video will encourage you to make it!