Blog Recipes

Poached Eggs and English Muffins

(Poached Eggs, English Muffins, Taylor Ham, Spicy Tomato Sauce, and Kale Pesto, by Reggie Soang)

A simple brunch egg dish to start off your weekend right!

For the latest on COVID – 19 Home Cooking Series, I present you:

Poached Eggs and English Muffins, w/ Spicy Tomato Sauce and Kale Pesto


Tomato Sauce:
1 Can (28 oz.) Canned Tomatoes
(You’d be able to use this sauce for other meals)
1/2 of a medium size onions, diced
12 Cloves fresh garlic
Salt, to Taste
1 Tablespoon of dried chili (personal heat preference)
1/2 Cup EVOO

Kale Pesto:
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
2 cloves Fresh Garlic
1 Cup EVOO
7g Salt, just less than 1 Tablespoon
1 Bunch of Kale
1 & 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan

1 English muffins, split in 2, buttered
2 pcs Taylor Ham
2 Eggs
White Vinegar

  1. In a medium pot, gently cook your onions and garlic with olive oil until soft. Add canned tomatoes and simmer until thickens (this could be done well ahead, or just use any red pasta sauce you have on hand)
  2. To make Kale Pesto, use a food processor to blitz pine nuts and garlic first until fine, add kale and pulse until the greens have been finely chopped. Slowly drizzle olive oil into the food processor with motor running. Adjust the amount of oil for consistency.
  3. Add grated parmesan and salt for seasoning.
  4. To cook taylor ham, use a non-stick skillet and turn the heat up to medium. Slash few cuts around the ham to help cook evenly. Cook taylor ham until crispy on the edge. Remove and set them on paper towel to drain off excess fat.
  5. Maintain the heat at medium, put the buttered side of English muffin down in the skillet and toast until fragrant and browned.
  6. To poach your eggs, maintain your pot of water at simmer (in between 80 to 90 Celsius if you have a thermometer). Add a splash of vinegar to help egg whites coagulate. Use a whisk to create a gentle tornado in the center of the water and drop your eggs in. Set a timer for 3 minutes.
  7. To check doneness of poached eggs, gently poke around the edge of the yolks; if the whites are little bouncy, then the eggs are done. (3 to 3 minutes and 15 seconds cooking time is usually my sweet spot)
  8. To Serve, put Taylor hams on toasts, scoop some tomato sauce onto hams, and put the eggs on top. Spoon some kale pesto onto eggs and sprinkle some black pepper if you’d like. Drizzle some olive oil around, and voila. Bon Appetit!
Blog Recipes

Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake…Saving AP Flour for Pancakes

(Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake, Pomegranate, White Chocolate Ice Cream, and Brown Butter Solids, by Reggie Soang)

I need my chocolate…and to prolong my indulgence in Chocolate, I made it into a cake without flour, how about that gluten free diet? This one is for you!

For the latest on COVID – 19 Home Cooking Series, I present you:

Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake
Serves your family

170g (1 & 1/2 Stick) Unsalted Butter
170g Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
220g (1 Cup + 2 Tablespoons) Sugar
Zest of 1 Orange
4 Eggs
2 Yolks (save the whites for Macarons!)
55g (1/2 cup)Cocoa Powder

  1. Preheat your oven at 350F and get out your 10-inch cake pan. (You could absolutely use other baking pan, mine was 13″ by 9″, so I doubled the recipe)
  2. Butter your baking pan, and lay a piece of parchment paper on it. Butter and flour your parchment paper.
  3. Set up a double boiler, and melt chocolate and butter in it. Whisk to combine.
  4. Once the chocolate and butter are melted, add sugar and orange zest. Whisk to combine. Take it off the heat.
  5. Combine your eggs and whisk. Now…carefully adding 1 ladle at a time (about 2 oz.) of warm chocolate to your eggs and whisk to combine. Do this few times until your eggs are lukewarm. You will use about half of the chocolate mixture. We call this technique TEMPERING, which is to bring up the temperature of the eggs so they won’t scramble when combined with hotter liquid.
  6. Once your eggs are warmed up, add them back to the chocolate mixture. Whisk to combine.
  7. Sift cocoa powder into the chocolate and stir to combine with a rubber spatula.
  8. Pour your batter into the cake pan and place your cake inside a water bath. To set up a water bath, use a pan large enough to fit your cake pan and pour hot water until water level reaches half way to the cake pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, and check for doneness.
  9. To check for doneness, insert a skewer. You should hear a crack at the surface, and there will be some chocolate clinging to your skewer…THIS IS NOT THE USUAL CLEAN-SKEWER TEST.
  10. Let cool, and use your knife to run around the pan to release the cake. Put a tray that is big enough to cover the cake pan and flip the cake over. Do this again with a cutting board. Now you are ready to slice.
  11. Run your knife under hot water to help you slice through the fudge-like flourless chocolate cake.
  12. Now…sky is the limit on how you’d like to serve it!

Last 48 Hours

(My brother, sister-in-law, and two cute nephews, who’ve become naughty kids!)

I won’t repeat what is on the news…I will get to the point.

– Job creation has been on my mind for the last 48 hours. In 2020, I might be too late to the game. But after doing some readings, there have been 5, including COVID – 19, pandemics since 2002, starting with Coronavirus – SARS. These pandemics have happened 3.4 years apart on average. I am thinking our lives will be tested even more rigorously in the future if we don’t look ahead.

– What’s up with “not taking your life too seriously”?…now I might have finally understood it. There is a big…huge…ginormous (haha!) difference between caring and taking my life too seriously. I care about everything I do. But I have lived a good chunk of my life by taking it too seriously; my tunnel vision was from my own insecurity, ego, competitiveness, and loneliness. What good is it if what I learn, do, and speak can’t make me and you happy? When it’s all said and done, my health or livelihood is just as fragile as the person I either choose to love or hate.

– Be accountable…be accountable…and be accountable. If I can’t be accountable to my own health and happiness, who else is there to do it? I have found myself doing a few more probability problems since you know…the shit show; What’s my probability of getting sick if I were going out for a run ?(not too high). what’s my probability of getting up on time in the morning if I were to indulge in few more whiskeys than I should at night? (not high…I try to keep my alcohol consumption to minimal). What’s the probability of me getting others sick? (unknown…therefore, I need to be accountable in everything I do).

– Be responsible…be responsible…and be responsible. Know my personal finance in and out. I am only spending money on: groceries, books (might become an expandable purchase, but hopefully not), medicine, transportation, rent, and utilities.

– Staying connected. Be transparent with myself and my closest friends and family. I believe my family and friends should know about my health, as I’d like to know about theirs. I leave nothing to chance.

– Dig deep…real deep. For the ones who still have jobs…stay relevant. I dig deep into my experiences and think of as many ways as I could to prepare myself to get back to work. Work will be strenuous, recovery will be taxing, and the best way to prepare myself for long days ahead is to have all the arsenal ready within my reach.

– I am not ready to die, but I am not scared of death. I am doing everything I possibly could to continuously live a normal life. I know this world is a function of each individual, all 7.6 billions of us. If I do my part, then I have lived.

All in all, it’s been a shit show. But I ate, slept, ran, spoke to my friends and family, and made templates for work.


Why Did You Choose to Become a Chef

(Scrambled Eggs, Shittake Mushroom, White Anchovies by Reggie Soang)

I am often asked about my reasons for choosing to work in the restaurant industry, and my answer has been the same and consistent…because I love cooking, and I have found the calling to become a cook because I wanted to learn how to do it better. However, I’ve never managed to reflect on my choice in depth because my job has consumed me, and I am also scared to find out if my choice had been unfitting…or worse, wrong.

I remember after watching a video on Gordon Ramsay making scrambled eggs, I thought to myself…I’d like to do that for my future wife and kids every Sunday, and most of the New Yorkers on Saturday Morning (I actually enjoy working a brunch shift…an inside joke for my fellow cooks and chefs). My sheer passion for cooking led me to put on a suit and headed into NYC for a job interview. 

Around the same time when I grew to be obsessed with all the Gordon Ramsay videos, I traced his work back to working for a chef, named Marco Pierre White. Chefs and cooks idolize Marco Pierre White because of his immaculate craftsmanship and relentless pursuit for Michelin stars. I was quickly drawn to an industry where aesthetic and taste of the food would be judged. In addition, growing up as an immigrant, I’ve battled identity crisis; therefore, it was easy for me to choose a job that could point me in the right direction and give me an identity…a chef, perhaps. 

I’ve also been drawn to work in the kitchen because I see the similarity of cooking and playing on a team sport. I liken prep to a practice, and service to a game. Every cook in the kitchen needs to participate in the prep, as players to a practice, and then executes, as the players to any game or match. A great kitchen works in sync to deliver delicious food in a timely fashion, as a great team plays with harmony with discipline. I’ve likened my job to being a professional athlete, who practices repetitively in order to perfect a scheme or move, as in my case, a menu or cooking technique. 

In addition, cooking allows me to stay connected to my closest friends. My closest friends helped me pave ways to start my own business. Though defunct, I’ve never deemed my business entirely a failure; I had my closest friends critiqued me and gave me fresh perspective on my food and services, and I believe I had learned valuable lessons on running a business from their support. 

My obsession with Gordon Ramsay’s videos had led me to work in the restaurant industry. For over a decade, my love for cooking hasn’t waned. Cooking is soul searching. Cooking is a team sport. Cooking develops leadership skills. Cooking helps me stay connected. However, the restaurant industry has drastically changed over the course of my career, and I’ve contemplated if my desire to cook in a restaurant has slowly diminished. Regardless, I came to work in the restaurant industry because I love eggs, I love team sports, and I love my friends.


A Real Rock Star

 Mother Nature is a true rock star; it never ceases to inspire and teaches humility

With prominent leaders and chefs accused of sexual harassment, our restaurant industry is confronted with harsh reality of sexism and discrimination. To the chefs who have committed and condoned such wrongful behaviors (to that extent, what were you thinking?), you guys have got it all wrong when you became rock stars; a rock star’s got perspective, a rock star’s got respect for his craft and would do anything to protect it, last but not least, a rock star’s got to inspire the future generation, and you guys have failed in each of the category.

I worked in The Spotted Pig at the very early stage of my career. My culinary path was rather unusual in the beginning; I am a self-taught cook and I was trained in English and Italian cuisine, a somewhat overlooked style of schooling compared to the more popular French haute cuisine training. I consider myself to be fortunate to have worked with Chef April Bloomfield; she held high standard and her work ethic inspired me to work relentlessly; she was one of the rare celebrities who devoted herself to the restaurant entirely even after reaching stardom status. Unfortunately, The Spotted Pig has become a brewing ground for male industry leaders to harass female workers, as was told by several news articles.

Chef April’s apology for wrongful behaviors occurred in her restaurant have received wide range of responses; some accused her lack compassion and insincere in her statement, and some stood by her and showed sympathy for the unwanted attention that came with Ken Friendman’s negligence and abusive behaviors. As I took a hard look at myself in the mirror and reflected on being on the receiving end of scolding and humiliation in the kitchen, I realized that Chef April might have been blindsided and desensitized by the supposed rock star chef culture when she was cooking her way to the top. The culture of rock star chef stemmed from the 80’s when Marco Pierre White, arguably the very first celebrity chef, stormed the culinary scene as the youngest British chef to achieve 3-Michelin Stars. Marco’s style of leadership was often the center of the controversy because he was brutal and ruthless towards his cooks. His abrasive style of leadership was adapted throughout the industry. However, most of the chefs have failed to interpret and reflect on his legacy; Marco Pierre White did not condone sexism. Marco’s militaristic style of coaching was to push to refine dining experiences, and his trailblazing kitchen had no room for amateur bullying culture. Marco paved the way for future chefs to get inspired and work hard, and we have failed as a group to preserve his legacy of a rock star chef.

After working at The Spotted Pig, I got a job at the renown WD~50, where great female leadership further shaped my way of becoming a chef. Great leader shows courage. Great leader is responsible and accountable. Great leader also shows great humility. Great leader is as focused as a rock star to further refine his or her craft. Samantha Henderson, our Chef de Cuisine, was a WD~50 rock star. Sam’s food was an extension of herself, the perfect marriage of wit and grace. With a string of wrongful behaviors brought to the eyes of public, we chefs, as a group, have failed to inspire others as Chef Sam had inspired me. Working towards becoming a chef is no longer frowned upon as it was few decades ago. Number of people working in hospitality soared and businesses flourished because of the rise of mainstream rock star chef culture. However, with the money and fame, chefs often lose sight of what is truly important in becoming a rock star chef – nurturing young talents, pushing to be innovative, and continuously create jobs and opportunities for the next generations. To abuse stardom status and suppress others, rock star chefs have only become a bunch of narcissists and not leaders, and lastly, those rock stars have betrayed mother nature, who has been blindly faithful in giving us the resource to be creative.

From working under female chefs, I have witnessed resilience, compassion, and great intelligence. We should embrace our differences in gender, and to also mutually understand our strengths to support each other. Being a chef is a privilege; we often start our journey because of our love for food, and through the long and winding journey of grind and tear, we often meet incredible people and develop long lasting friendship. We are resilient, compassionate, and smart as a group, or how else could we have justified the time and energy spent on refining our craft. We are also rock stars; we enjoy entertaining our customers. But let’s not forget rock stars need to inspire and have perspective, and most importantly, real rock stars have humility and respect humanity.


Through a chef’s lenses

I was a bit distracted when I read a heartfelt news article about a bigot who made racist postcards and distributed them around in my hometown, Edison, New Jersey, before the state-wide election this week.

My first reaction was filled with anger and the need for vengeance. However, knowing my own shortcoming as an emotional person, I calmed myself and analyzed the situation, and decided to reflect on racism through the lenses of a chef, and a proud Asian American, made in Edison, New Jersey.

My first encounter with racism was during my first couple years in America. I was often picked on and ridiculed because I didn’t speak any English. Reflecting on those years, I realize that racism is an issue that is often neglected in school or at home. Teaching who Dr. King is and what he stood for is merely a lesson about American history, but not a thorough teaching on how racism shapes people’s behavior and causes of domestic terrorism, which you…can hardly deny. Racism is often taught in the manner of “you against the world, vice versa”. Therefore, violent and abusive behaviors and retaliation have become norm when it comes to race disparity. I am grateful that all the ridicules, stemmed from my lack of English proficiency, were an act of childishness and not hostility; some of the kids who laughed at me had become my friends or acquaintances. However, the thought of lacking adults encouraging kids or each other to embrace cultural differences irks me every so often.

When I wanted to become a chef ten years ago, i thought nothing but to be the fastest at chopping onions and butchering pigs. And boys…was I totally wrong about the full responsibility of being a chef. As I moved up the rank, my cooks looked up to me for advice and creativity, and on many occasions, my cooks and I shared our fond memories of eating a grand meal to slurping a 5-dollar Pho in Chinatown (I miss that kind of camaraderie very much). My creative process often involves reflecting on my experiences of eating ethnic cuisines and reinterpreting the flavors to tailor to my customers’ palate. Needless to say, being open minded and curious have helped me grow as a chef, and most importantly, as a person. I often tell my cooks to travel and eat different varieties of food; accepting the unfamiliar is yet the best way to have a beautiful mind.

In closing paragraph, I thought I’d share couple quotes that could help us reflect on humanity.

“In a very gentle way, you can shake the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

I truly believe to rid of racism (I am not entirely being realistic here), all grown ups are responsible for showing compassion and understanding in the public eye. Only through practice and willingness to adapt will we ever be able to embrace our differences.

“When it comes to love, compassion, and other feelings of the heart, I am rich.” – Muhammad Ali

Wealth is often spoken in terms of monetary possession because money is the main medium in all trades. Not only should we be responsible with our own money, but we also ought to enrich humanity with empathy.

With the above, I can only ask myself to be more patient and understanding of others.


President Obama’s Love Letter for All

My last love letter was written in 1999, and I don’t remember it to have any perspective or meaningful gestures; the letter was rather a wasteland of cringing words (here’s where you roll your eyes at me). After reading an NPR article on Obama’s love letter to his ex-girlfriend, Alexandra McNear, I was struck by his tenacity to survive living in New York, and his perseverance to pursue his goals when he felt left alone. President Obama’s words reminded me, and hopefully you after you read it, that life should be filled with ups and downs; struggles are omnipresent, and we have the choice to conquer them.

I have been a chef in New York City for over a decade. My struggle with finance often exhaust my mental capacity to be creative and positive. I often wonder if these struggles are self-inflicted or attached to my jobs. For many years, my first two (weekly) paychecks helped me pay my rent, and the next two paychecks were divided among student loans, utilities, NYC Metro Card, gym membership, obligatory dining expenses (chefs don’t cook at home), and cereal and milk (as much home-cooking as it gets). If I could write a love letter to a girlfriend from afar, I’d write,

“one week I have to bring home as many slices of stale bread for the weekend, and the next I have to hope C-town has a massive sales on milk and cereal. But I have saved enough to get a us a bottle of red, or white, when you visit”.

Photo Credit: Eric Medsker
Source: HarperCollins Publisher

I also have struggled with self-image for many years. My insecurity comes from measuring my own success against others, and my own expectation for myself when I set out to be in restaurant business 10 years ago. Most of my friends have already, if not in the process of, settled down. Their ability to be responsible for another (or multiple) human being often becomes a measurement for my own success. President Obama wrote,

“I must admit large dollops of envy for both groups, my American friends consuming their life in the comfortable mainstream, the foreign friends in the international business world. Caught without a class, a structure, or a tradition to support me, in a sense the choice to take a different path is made for me. The only way to assuage my feelings of isolation are to absorb all the traditions, classes, make them mine, me theirs. Taken separately, they’re unacceptable and untenable”.

If I need to rephrase that for an imaginary girlfriend, I’d write,

“I wish our Sunday breakfast could be us competing for the last cup of coffee and fighting over just whose turn is it to walk the dog (of course I’d lose). Caught without a clear future of the current restaurant, and having to constantly live from paycheck to paycheck, the only way to ease my anxiety is to be as open minded and compassionate, and grateful, as I could possibly be. Without understanding and compassion, my food and career will suffer.”

I have made two trips back to my country, Taiwan, recently. I suddenly found myself lost in a place where I thought was home. I wasn’t caught up on its pop culture, and I had trouble having small-talks since I could hardly finish a sentence in Mandarin without reserving back to English. President Obama wrote,

“ I can’t speak the language well anymore. I’m treated with a mixture of puzzlement, deference and scorn because I’m American, my money and my plane ticket back to the U.S. overriding my blackness. I see old dim roads, rickety homes winding back towards the fields, old routes of mine, routes I no longer have access to.”

Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with the prejudice when I went back to Taiwan. If I really needed to express my loneliness that came with the trip, I’d write,

“ It sucks I didn’t know where to get a well made martini without paying the price of a tourist. I mean…I am a Taiwanese! I just happen to speak some English, and it’s not even remotely good. I met up with couple childhood friends, and I miss them dearly already because I don’t do well when it comes to farewells.”

President Obama’s love letter drew a rare smile out of me. I admire his courage to keep living while almost everything was, or still, working against him. Although President Obama never intended to have his love letters made public (or do you think he was already making a move to the White House at the very young age?), I am glad to have read some beautifully written passages that help me reflect on my mind and maturity. I’d only hope to be fraction as articulate and tenacious as President Obama as I march onward to make Weekday Herbivore viable.



Proteins are made of a chain of 20 amino acids, and there are nine essential amino acids that we, humans, cannot synthesize; therefore, we must eat food to fulfill those needs.

I am here to tell you that you could absolutely get all your amino acids (note that I didn’t use “proteins” here) from eating plants. I am here to solve the myth of “incomplete proteins” that plants are often mislabeled or misunderstood. “Incomplete Proteins” simply means that the ingredient may be low or lack in one of the nine essential amino acids (eg. lentils are low in methionine, Brazil nuts are low in lysine). In order to obtain all the essential amino acids for our body, we need to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to pool enough amino acids to form proteins. Classic pairing such as beans and rice, corn and beans, and legumes and nuts provide the necessary amino acids intake. As a chef, I love pairings. Pairing food gives me the opportunity to explore flavors and texture; broccoli (my constant obsession) is sweeter if cooked with garlic or chili. Lentil is more savory if paired with walnut. Finally, rice is sweeter if eaten with savory beans.

My walk through a rice paddy field in Taiwan

Here’s a recipe of Italian beans and rice that could get you started on completing-your-proteins from eating through the veggie aisles.

1 large carrots, cut into bite size chunks
1 medium onions, diced to your preference
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin or minced
3 tablespoons of canola/vegetable oil
1 can of great northern white beans or cannellini beans (canned beans has   its benefit in its unique texture), or you may soak some beans overnight     and cook them fresh the next day
½ cup of edamame (optional)
2 sprigs of thyme leaves
1 teaspoons of salt, or more to adjust seasoning
½ teaspoons of ground black pepper, or more to adjust seasoning
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup of your favorite rice, cooked (my choices are a mix of short grain         brown rice, jasmine rice, and wild black rice)

  1. Set a pot on medium high heat and add oil, once the oil starts to shimmer, add your carrots, onions, and garlic. Season with salt and black pepper. Cook the onions and garlic until fragrant and soft. Carrots will be stewed and softened in the next step.
  2. Add thyme to the pot and cook until fragrant, and then add enough water to just cover the carrots. Cover the pot, bring it to a boil, and turn the heat to medium low. Simmer the carrots until soft, but not mushy. Bite size carrots will take less than 10 minutes to soften.
  3. Add the can of white beans and leave the pot to simmer for another 2 minutes to thoroughly heat the beans.
  4. Turn off the heat and add edamame. Cover the pot with a lid for 2 more minutes to heat up the edamame with its residual heat.
  5. Serve your Italian beans with your favorite side of rice. Add freshly chopped parsley and mint, and a squeeze of lemon to brighten up the dish, or a pinch of cayenne pepper will wake up your palate and help you enjoy a pint of IPA.

Rustic Italian beans and rice

Last but not least, why eat multiple plants when you could get all the amino acids from a piece of meat? Animal proteins have higher ratios of amino acids that contain sulfur, which is converted to sulfuric acid when digested by humans. In order to balance out the acidic condition, our bodies work harder to keep us alive, alert, and sexually active, as I am told.



(Can you spot the difference?)

Implementing plant-based diet to my personal life was an economical decision that pairs with my curiosity for its benefit to triathlon training. Becoming a plant-based chef is a lifelong resolution in learning how to cook the most misunderstood category of food – plants and vegetables.

Most of the professional kitchen is set up to have vegetable cooks (entremetier) working under the meat/fish cooks, who are usually senior to all the staff. Proteins are more expensive; therefore, only experienced chefs are allowed to cook them. After working in numerous world class kitchens, I start to question the tradition of the chain of command; does a senior cook have to be cooking a piece of meat or fish? Or, can a restaurant succeed if proteins are used as garnishes only?

I remember a cook once told me that vegetables are more forgiving; therefore, vegetable cookery is the training ground to build fundamentals. Very true to the latter part, but to its “more forgiving” nature than animal proteins, I say bullshit…based on my own frustration in keeping vegetables’ integrity and flavors when I put them on flames.

(some very overcooked broccoli)

No bull, green vegetables are incredibly hard to handle. Green vegetables are of their color because of chlorophyll, molecules that absorb sunlight and undergo photosynthetic system to become sugar. When green vegetables are heated, gases trapped between cells expand and escape; therefore, we see chloroplast, the green pigment, more clearly. However, prolonged cooking and acidity are the main culprit to the loss of the green pigment. Green vegetables are susceptible to dull colors from its exposure to acidity during cooking. When green vegetables are heated, their cell membranes around chloroplast are damaged; natural acidity leaks out and replaces magnesium ions with hydrogen, a change that turns colorful green pigment to grayish-green or yellow (stop there…getting too scientific). The moral lesson here is that most of the green vegetables should be cooked quickly and swiftly, but long enough to help pocket of gases collapse inside the cells and make the green color more apparent, and appealing to the diners.

(I like my broccoli blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds…no more, no less, and saute the cooked broccoli on high heat for 30 seconds more with chopped garlic and black pepper – my credential to a great uncle-hood)

To how long should you be cooking green vegetables…somewhere between 3 to 5 minutes, or even less, depending on your preference for their texture, in an appropriate size of pot and a more alkaline condition, with temperature at boiling point (that might just be another conversation).