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Chocolate Zuccini Muffins Recipe


These chocolate zucchini muffins are not too sweet and somewhat healthy.


1 ½ cup all-purpose white flour⅔ cup whole wheat flour (or substitute white flour)1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1½ tbsp. for garnish3 Tbsp non-alkalized or Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder2 tsp baking powder (used Clabber Girl Baking Powder)½ tsp salt1 cup chocolate chips, divided⅓ cup canola oil2 medium. zucchinis (7-inch long), cut into chunks⅓ cup low-fat or non-fat vanilla yogurt2 eggs, large⅔ cup chopped walnuts


Recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Muffins slightly adapted from Clabber Girl
  1. Line standard muffin pan with 12 muffin cup liners or use baking spray to coat pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place both flours, baking powder, sugar, cocoa powder and ½ cup chocolate chips in a food processor. Pulse until chocolate chips are finely ground. While the processor is running, add canola oil in a low stream. Scrape sides and pulse until combined. Place chocolate mixture in a large bowl.
  3. Add chopped zucchini to food processor and pulse until finely chopped (you should have about 1½ cups). Add zucchini to chocolate mixture.
  4. Place eggs and yogurt in processor and pulse until blended. Add to zucchini/chocolate mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in remaining chocolate chips.
  5. Divide batter among muffin cups until almost full. Top muffins evenly with 1½ tablespoon of sugar. Bake in middle rack of oven for 20-24 minutes.
  6. Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes. Keep in airtight container at room temperature for 3 days (If it's hot the sugar tops may melt a bit).

Sesame Sweet Soup Recipe

Sesame Sweet Soup Recipe
My parents made sweet sesame soup only once in my memory. It was because making a living wasn't easy back then and they wouldn't have time to make anything other than the core meals. Also, there was nothing called pre-packed ground sesame available in the market. To make your own in a large batch (so that you would feel it's worth the effort) and then grind them into a fine powder was absolutely time consuming. It was a warm moment in the kitchen, helping my parents put the sesame in a blender and enjoying the privilege of controlling the on/off button.

Let's come back to the dessert. Adding white rice in the soup not only can thicken the consistency but also gives it a smoother texture while coordinating the bitter flavour of the sesame. You may see that I added a few other types of mixed grains in my rice, but it's totally personal preference. The fact was, I ran out of white rice (Lol). 

In this recipe, I skipped the process of straining, which is supposed to give a silky texture for your palate. Since this original texture doesn't bother me, I was happy to keep all the remains and to save the work. If you do like the smoother version, after blending the rice and the sesame, you can strain the mixture through a cheese cloth or a fine-mesh sieve to filter the residue.

Hope you enjoy our traditional dessert.


Simple Sesame Sweet Soup (popular dessert in Hong Kong)

Ingredients: (yield about 2 portions)
85 gram Ground Black Sesame
20 gram Rice, rinsed, soaked for about an hour
60 gram Rock Sugar or White Sugar
2 cups Water

* Ground black sesame is always available in big Asian markets. If you have only black sesame seeds, just simply toast them in a pan over a low heat until they are fragrant and start to pop. Then, blend the seeds with the soaked rice together until smooth.

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Sushi Rolls Japan Recipe

Sushi Rolls or Hosomaki are a very basic but popular sushi in Japan.  Hoso means thin and maki means roll. We want to say “thin” because there are also thick rolls, Futomaki.  While Futomaki has a lot of fillings such as cooked vegetables and sweet fish flakes, Hosomaki rolls only have one skinny filling inside.  Because of the simplicity of ingredients and cooking technique, Hosomaki is suitable for home cooking as well as restaurant food.
The two most popular Hosomaki are Tekkamaki, tuna roll, and Kappamaki, cucumber rolls, and those are the recipes here.  Tekkamaki uses raw tuna which has a pretty red color against white rice. The name Tekka, hot iron, is said to come from this color.  You only need a little bit of fish for each roll, the price of this roll is very reasonable at restaurants.  Kappamaki is only cucumber and so is perfect for people who don’t eat raw fish.  There is something for everybody in sushi rolls!
Hosomaki filling can be something other than tuna and cucumber. Takuan (pickled radish) and cooked Kanpyo (cooked gourd) are popular.  People in Japan also like Nattomaki (fermented soybeans) which is a little hard to swallow, literally, for Kansai (western Japan) people since a lot of them don’t like Natto.  Believe it or not, tuna salad is a staple ingredient for rolls now too.
We didn’t specify the amount of ingredients so you can adjust how much rice and fillings can be in a roll for your taste.  However, if you use our Sushi Rice recipe and use 1/4 cup in each roll, you’ll probably get 7-8 rolls.  We recommend you have extra rice and fillings to experiment and have fun making them.
You may need a couple times to practice to roll (I did!), but you’ll get the hang of it.  (Watching the video really helps with this technique.)  Make varieties of rolls for dinner or better yet for parties, and your fiends and family will be very impressed!

  1. Cut Roasted Seaweed in half (4 x 7 1/2" or 10 x 19cm). Cut tuna into 1/2" (1cm) thick pieces and 7 1/2" (19cm) long. Cut cucumber into the same size, cutting out seeds. (It's OK not to have one 7 1/2" long piece, just add pieces together to make the total length.)
  2. Put a sushi mat flat on your work surface with the bamboo slats left to right, so you can roll the mat away from you. Place a piece of seaweed on the sushi mat with one of the seaweed's long sides close to the front edge of the sushi mat (the edge near you). Spread about 1/4 cup sushi rice on the seaweed leaving a 1" (2.5cm) space along the far edge of the seaweed. Place tuna or a cucumber strip on the middle of rice. Holding the filling down, roll from the front end of the mat guiding with the sushi mat toward the other end. Tighten the rolls like roll cakes, pulling the mat to tighten. Remove the roll from the mat.
  3. Cut a roll into 8 pieces. Serve with soy sauce and Wasabi.

Omurice Japan Recipe

Omurice, omelet rice, is ketchup fried rice wrapped with a crepe-like thinly fried egg.  Doesn’t sound like Japanese food, does it?  Omurice is a “western style” dish created in Japan in the early 1900s.  For over 100 years, Omurice has been a very popular food for people of all ages, especially kids.
Omurice is often served at western style Japanese restaurants where Hamburger Steaks and Curry and Rice are also on the menu.  Today, there are omelet specialty restaurants in Japan, and they have a lot of different and elaborate kinds of Omurice.  Omurice can be covered with cream sauce or demi-glace brown sauce, while basic Omurice is usually finished with ketchup.   At restaurants recently, more eggs are used and the trend seems to be for the eggs to be soft and runny, although more traditional Omurice egg is cooked very thin.
Ketchup fried rice may sound a little strange, but it is more like tomato pilaf.  The typical meat used in Omurice is chicken fried in butter which has an aroma that makes this dish taste western.  However, you could use ground beef, shrimp or anything you like.
We put rice and eggs together separately because it may be a little easier, although many people wrap rice with eggs in a frying pan.  Do whichever works for you.  It tastes great either way!
  • 1 chicken thigh
  • 1 small onion
  • 1Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper
  • 3 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1/4 cup frozen green peas
  • egg crepe
  • 2 eggs
  • salt
  • 1 tsp oil
  1. Cut chicken thigh into 1" pieces. Cut onion finely.
  2. Melt butter and add oil in a frying pan at medium heat. Add chicken and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add onion and cook until onion becomes translucent.
  3. Add cooked rice and cook mixing for 2 minutes. Season rice with salt and pepper. Make room in the frying pan and add ketchup. Cook only ketchup for 30 seconds to cook it down. Mix rice and ketchup and fry together for 1-2 minutes. Then add frozen peas and cook some more.
  4. Place half of the ketchup rice into a rice bowl or similar kind of bowl, pack lightly, and unmold on a plate. Make another one.
  5. Beat eggs and a pinch of salt together. Heat frying pan with 1/2 tsp oil. Pour 1/2 of egg mixture onto hot frying pan and make a crepe-like thin round egg sheet. Cover molded rice with egg sheet to form an oval shape. Repeat one more time.

Kasutera (Castella) Japan Recipe

Kasutera (Castella) is an old-fashioned Japanese sponge cake that is loved by everyone from the young to the old.  It is sweeter and moister than western sponge cakes which are often designed to be eaten with cream or some kind of frosting.  You can eat Kasutera as is, and it is perfect for tea time with green tea.
It is said that the original Kasutera cake was brought to Kyushu, the southern island of Japan, in the 16th century by Portuguese missionaries.  Over hundreds of years Kasutera has been improved to Japanese tastes, and it has become today’s Kasutera.  It is sweetened with sugar and honey or gooey syrup like corn syrup to make the cake very moist.  Also the substantial amount of sugar and syrup gives the Kasutera’s signature look of a dark brown top which is the favorite part of the cake for a lot of people (I peel the brown skin off and eat it first!).   Kasutera is soft but chewy in texture, different from the sponge cakes in western countries.  Flour with higher gluten content such as bread flour is used to achieve this result.  Still, it is a very light cake, and there is no fat in it.
Kasutera is sold at many old established Japanese sweets stores, department stores, and even supermarkets.  Prices and flavors varies widely.  Expensive ones from nice stores are usually for gifts, and cheap ones from supermarkets are for everyday snacks.  We can’t beat the taste of the store run by a family for generations, but our version is pretty good for home baking.  It is hard to stop the urge of eating warm cake, but it is better to leave the cake wrapped for a couple of days before eating.  The flavor and texture gets better if you wait.
Even though Kasutera is originally from Europe, it is a very authentic Japanese sweet today.  If you aren’t sure you want to jump right in to red bean paste cakes yet, this might be an easier starting point for Japanese desserts.
  • 7 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar (250g)
  • 1/4 cup milk (60g)
  • 1/3 cup honey (80g)
  • 1 1/2 cup bread flour (200g)
  1. Heat the oven to 350F (175C).
  2. Beat eggs in a stand mixer, adding sugar in 3 parts over about 10 minutes.
  3. Mix milk and honey in a separate bowl, then heat to lukewarm until the honey melts.
  4. Sift the bread flour and set aside.
  5. Add half of the milk mixture to the egg mixture and mix for a few seconds. Add half of the bread flour and mix. Add the rest of the milk and honey, and mix, then lastly add remaining bread flour and mix for 2-3 minutes. Give a good mix by hand with spatula.
  6. Line a 9"X9" (23cmX23cm) baking pan with parchment paper. Pour the cake batter in the pan (if you have leftover batter, bake in another small container). Bake at 350F (175C) for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 320F (160C) and bake another 30-40 minutes. Cover the top with aluminum foil if it is browning too much too soon.
  7. Take the cake out from the oven and immediately drop the pan from a height of about 5" (12.5cm) to release the air in the cake to avoid collapsing.
  8. Spread plastic wrap on a flat surface, cool the cake top side down on the plastic. Wrap it with plastic after it has completely cooled.

Korean Beef BBQ Recipe

Korean BBQ short ribs call Galbi

2 pounds short rib
1 medium asian pear
1 medium yellow onion
2 red thai chile 
5 cloves garlic
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine 
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey 
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed peppercorns

Dipping sauce  ssamjang 
3 tablespoons season soy bean paste
1 tablespoon red pepper paste
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1 stark green onion sliced
1 teaspoon sauté minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 teaspoons brown sugar

Kung Pao Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Hi again!

I know, I know. It's been a while since I've posted a new recipe. Between running Plate & Pencil, teaching, and putting on Tangra Spring, I've been a little short on time, to put it mildly. Sadly, things like creating new recipes can sometimes go on the back burner.
Also, this winter sure was long, wasn't it? I think the lack of sunshine, the frigid April that felt like March, and rainy May that felt like April made most of us feel a little less than inspired in the kitchen. Sometimes all I wanted was soup, spaghetti, pizza, soup, spaghetti, pizza, rinse, repeat. Anything that could be made or purchased in 10 minutes or less.
(Okay, there were also many days of making dumplings en mass, to store up for the week ahead.) 
Luckily, creating new recipes for Tangra Spring, the Indian-Chinese vegetarian dinner series I created with Chitra from ABCD's of Cooking, brought the fun back into cooking again. We had yet another great night cooking for our guests, aided by some fantastic local produce from Good Eggs, like radishes, ramps, and bok choy microgreens. 
And these sweet potatoes. 
Kung Pao Sweet Potatoes | Appetite for China
We over-ordered the number of sweet potatoes needed for our signature dish (sweet potato and coconut dumplings with South Indian spices). So I've had these babies sitting on my kitchen counter for at least a couple of weeks. Today I decided to use them in a vegetarian kung pao dish.
Now, many people think that in Chinese cooking, in order to have a vegetarian main course, you need to use tofu, tempeh, seitan, or another protein substitute. So many Chinese restaurants do, so it seems like an easy default.  But sometimes it's nice to get a little creative with your ingredients and find other vegetables that work well in the wok. 
I've already posted about Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts, my favorite vegetarian kung pao dish to do in the winter. Today I wanted to try my method with these really nice leftover local sweet potatoes from Rogowski Farm
The sauce ingredients are altered slightly from my Kung Pao Chicken recipe to compensate for the lack of marinade ingredients. And I also added some nice homemade chili oil for extra smokiness, though you can also use a good quality store-bought brand. 
Kung Pao Sweet Potatoes | Appetite for China
Colorful, no?
Kung Pao Sweet Potatoes | Appetite for China
Oh yes, you also may have noticed in the photos of the finished dish that there are cashews instead of peanuts. In China, for fancier occasions restaurants would use cashews instead of peanuts, usually in more upscale spots or for large banquet dinners. As for me, this was what I happened to have in my cupboards. So fancy lunch it was! You can go either way. 
Chinese cooking is just so darn versatile.

Kung Pao Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 8 to 10 dried red chilis
  • 5 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced or grated ginger
  • ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts or cashews
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar, or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili oil, homemade or store-bought 
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
  1. Cut the sweet potatoes into bite-sized pieces about 1/2-inch around.
  2. Prepare the sauce: In another bowl, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, chili oil, sugar, and Sichuan pepper. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and set aside.
  3. You may need to turn on your stove’s exhaust fan, because stir-frying dried chilis on high heat can get a little smoky. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil and swirl to coat the base. Add the chilis and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, until the chilis have just begun to blacken and the oil is slightly fragrant. Add the sweet potatoes and stir-fry for 5 to 6 minutes, continuously stirring, until the outsides are golden brown.
  4. By now the sweet potatoes should be golden brown on the outside, and the pan a little dry. Create a well in the middle of the pan and pour in the remaining 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. Add the scallion whites, garlic, and ginger, and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the sauce and mix to coat the other ingredients. Allow the mixture to simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to thicken. Stir in the peanuts or cashews and cook for another 1 minute. Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle the scallion greens on top, and serve.

Edamame Japan Recipe

Edamame have become so popular outside Japan today.  Edamame is green (young) soy beans in pods.  It is usually served as an appetizer with your favorite drinks.  There are frozen Edamame you can buy all year round so you might not realize that Edamame is actually in season in summer and started as a summer food.  So in the middle of a hot summer, when you drink ice cold beer before dinner, you eat Edamame watching an evening baseball game on TV.  This is the absolute right way to eat it in Japan (or it was, 20 years ago).
It is very hard to buy fresh Edamame in the US, but frozen works just fine.  Salt is the only seasoning we use, but you can experiment with something else if you want.  There are shelled Edamame, too, but we recommend to use the ones in pods.  It’s like peanuts.  Yeah, it is easy to eat just the beans, but it’s really not the same.  Edamame doesn’t have to be an appetizer you eat only at restaurants.  Serve hot or cold, however you like.  Just don’t forget your beer!
  • 1 bag Edamame, frozen
  • salt
  1. Boil water in a big pot with 1 Tbsp salt.
  2. Add Edamame and cook for 5 minutes. Strain and sprinkle on some salt.

Katsudon Japan Recipe

Katsudon is Tonkatsu (deep-fried pork) and eggs cooked in a sweet and salty broth and placed over rice. Don (donburi) means a bowl, and Donburi dishes are a popular kind of casual rice dish in Japan. Because you have to prepare Tonkatsu first, it is a little bit of work involved since you cannot cook everything in one pan.  Katsudon is a hearty dish compared to other Japanese food because Tonkatsu is breaded and deep-fried, but the taste is so good that you will not mind the extra calories from the oil.  Besides, since deep-fried Tonkatsu is cooked in tasty broth and is crunchy yet juicy, you may not notice the grease at all (well, maybe, just maybe, calories might stay in, or near, your tummy).
Katsudon was once portrayed as a hearty, soul food in Japanese culture.  A typical scene for it was in TV detective dramas: a criminal gets interrogated by a tough detective intensely first, and then the detective asks if the criminal wants to have Kastudon.  While they eat, the detective asks how the criminal’s mother is doing in his home town in the country, and as you may guess, the criminal confesses with tears.  That’s a pretty old fashioned drama, and we don’t see it much today (fortunately?), but Katsudon was the symbol of tasty and warm food that can melt even the coldest part of a criminal’s heart :)
Just like Oyakodon, Katsudon is a very typical lunch dish you can get at casual restaurants. Udon noodle shops, small corner restaurants, and bento shops all have this tasty dish.  If you don’t want to deal with a lot of cooking oil at home, it is much easier to eat out or buy Katsudon from stores.  However, a lot of us here are outside Japan and may not have good Japanese restaurants nearby who serve tasty Katsudon. So once again, we can make it at home!  And it really is not as difficult to make as you might think.
We didn’t here, but you can add sliced brown onion and cook in the sauce before adding Katsu and eggs if you like.  Also the recipe below is for one person because it is easier to make individually, but you can multiply and make a bunch at once in a bigger pan when you  serve for your entire family.
  • 1 Tonkatsu
  • 1/4 C Dashi
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sake
  • 1/2 Tbsp Mirin
  • 1-2 eggs
  • green onions, chopped (optional)
  • Steamed Rice
  • roasted seaweed (Nori), thinly sliced
  1. Cut Tonkatsu into strips, set aside.
  2. In a small frying pan, add Dashi, soy sauce, sugar, Sake, and Mirin, and cook at medium heat until it boils. Reduce heat to low-medium.
  3. Add cut Tonkatsu to the sauce in the pan. Beat egg(s) in a small bowl and pour over the Tonkatsu. Cover and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle chopped green onions if you like.
  4. Slide Tonkatsu and egg(s) with sauce over rice in a bowl.
  5. Sprinkle sliced Nori on top.

Yakisoba Japan Recipe

Yakisoba Japan Recipe
Yakisoba is Japanese stir fried noodles. It is served with Yakisoba sauce, similar to Tonkatsu or Okonomiyaki sauce. Yakisoba is usually fried with sliced pork and vegetables like cabbage and bean sprouts. It is a very popular casual food (or snack) everyone likes in Japan. You can find Yakisoba at many places like Okonomiyaki restaurants, festivals, supermarket delis, and of course, home. Yakisoba is a great light or quick meal. Kids stop at a little shop for Yakisoba after school, and people stop for it at a food court in a mall during shopping. One of the best Yakisoba can be found at summer night festivals. Street vendors cook Yakisoba on a big grill. I don’t know what they do to it, but they make superb Yakisoba. If you are making your own Yakisoba, you can put your favorite meat and vegetables; chicken, beef, or even squid. The must-have toppings are Aonori and Benishoga. The fragrance of Aonori and spicy Benishoga accentuate the flavor of Yakisoba so well. Even when your Yakisoba is mediocre, they can upgrade the dish for you. We use Chuka Men, Chinese style noodles, in Yakisoba, but the dish is not Chinese at all. It is actually very Japanese, and nothing like Chow Mein other than they are both noodle dishes. Yakisoba sauce is very similar to Okonomiyaki sauce (you can even substitute Okonomiyaki sauce for Yakisoba sauce), though it is a little bit more like Worcester sauce and thinner. We made the Yakisoba sauce using Tonkatsu sauce and Worcester sauce which are in our pantry. You can of course purchase Yakisoba sauce if available, but this may be a good alternative. Chuka Men for Yakisoba is usually sold as packages of fresh noodles in the refrigerated section at Japanese or some Asian markets. Each package of noodles (square) is for one serving, and sometimes comes with Yakisoba seasoning powder. The seasoning powder is a convenient thing and doesn’t taste bad, I admit, so you may opt to use that as your Yakisoba sauce. For people who do not have access to any Asian markets at all, dried spaghetti can be used instead of Chuka Men. Similar to what we did in Ramen, boil dried spaghetti in boiling water (2L) with baking soda (2Tbsp), and cook according to the package. You may not want to use fresh pasta because it may be too soft to stir fry after boiling. We know it is not exactly the same as Chuka Men, but it can be a pretty good substitution for those who cannot get Chuka Men.Get all the ingredients ready, fry them together, and enjoy your own Yakisoba! (We recommend using a non-stick pan to make Yakisoba to avoid noodles getting stuck on the pan.)

  • 1/3 lb (150g) pork, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 C cabbage, cut into about 2" squares
  • 2 C bean sprouts
  • 1/2 small carrot
  • 1/4 green bell pepper
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • Aonori
  • Benishoga
  • 2 packages Chuka Men (Chinese style noodles)
  • salt and pepper
  • Yakisoba Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp Tonkatsu sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Mirin
  1. Cut sliced pork into bite size pieces. Prepare the vegetables: slice onion, carrot, and bell pepper thinly; cut cabbage into 2"squares; wash and strain bean sprouts. Mix all the ingredients for Yakisoba Sauce.
  2. In a large frying pan, add oil and heat at medium high heat. Cook meat first until browned. Add onion, carrot, and bell pepper and cook about 1-2 minutes. Then add cabbage and bean sprouts, and cook until vegetables are wilted. Once water seeps out from vegetables, add Chuka Men, stir under the vegetables, lower heat and cover, and cook about 2 minutes until noodles soften.
  3. When noodles get loose and soft, keep stirring to mix with vegetables, then add sauce and coat the whole thing for a couple of minutes. (Season with salt and pepper to taste.)
  4. Place Yakisoba on the plate; sprinkle with Aonori and put Benishoga on top.