Chinese Food – Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu, by Reggie Soang (click on the image for YouTube video)

Mapo tofu is a spicy Chinese stew. Mapo tofu is salty, vinegary, spicy, and a little sweet. Also, one of the most important spices in Chinese cuisine, Szechuan peppercorn, gives a nice tingly sensation in the mouth that is somewhat addicting. This dish is best eaten with rice; each grain of rice gives a nice texture contrast to the tofu. Adding raw and fresh herbs such as scallions, cilantro, or even Thai basil makes this dish even more floral, fragrant, and flavorful.

For the latest New Lifestyle Cooking Series:

Mapo Tofu with Chili Oil
Serves: 4 portions

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes

4 tablespoons cooking oil
4 cups diced eggplant, medium dice
8 pieces button mushroom
2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon ground Szechuan peppercorn
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoons Hoisin
1 tablespoon sambal oelek (or any Asian hot sauce)
1/4 cup white miso
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon MSG
2 cups water
1 package medium-firm tofu, cubed to 1-cm by 1-cm
3 teaspoons water and 1 teaspoon corn starch, mixed together
2 tablespoons sliced scallions, thinly sliced into coin shape

For the Chili Oil (make 1 cup):
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup Sriracha
1/4 cup Sambal Oelek
1/2 tablespoon MSG
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce

For the Rice:
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup + 1/2 cup long-grain rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2  cup + 1/3 cup water

Served with:
Chili Oil
Chopped Scallions
Cooked white rice

  1. Using a food processor or a sharp knife, chop eggplant and button mushrooms into fine pieces.
  2. Using a food processor or a sharp knife, chop ginger and garlic into fine pieces.
  3. Put a skillet on medium heat, add oil and once oil shimmers, add ginger and garlic. Cook until fragrant.  And then add the eggplant and mushrooms, and cook them until aromatic and taking on a little bit of color.
  4. Add Szechuan peppercorn, cumin, and chili flakes, cook them until fragrant.
  5. Stir in hoisin sauce, sambal oelek (or your choice of Asian hot sauce), and miso, and then add water. Bring everything up to a simmer and add soy sauce and MSG.
  6. Add tofu and simmer for 10 minutes until tofu picks up some flavor. 
  7. Meanwhile, prepare chili oil and white rice.
  8. To make chili oil, fry Sriracha and Sambal Oelek in oil until they become jammy and thick. Turn off the heat and add the spices and seasonings. Set aside. 
  9. To make rice, toast rice in oil until smelling nutty and add water. Cover the pot and bring the water up to a boil and turn down to simmer. Simmer until water has been completely absorbed. Leave the lid on for another 10 minutes before fluffing the rice.
  10. When mapo tofu is done simmering, stir in the corn starch mixture and bring the stew up to a boil and wait until the liquid has thickened. And then turn off the heat.
  11. To finish, stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped scallions and some chili oil with the chili solids. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  12. To serve, add some white rice to a bowl, ladle mapo tofu on top, and garnish with chili oil and more chopped scallions. Bon Appétit!

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts, by Reggie Soang

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts
Serves: makes 10 tarts

Prep Time: 20 minutes (not including inactive time)
Total Time: 1 Hour (not including inactive time)

For the Dough:
11 tablespoons/5.5 oz butter, softened
1/2 cup/4 oz. sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 + 1/2 cup/8 oz. all-purpose flour

For the Filling:
1/2 cup/4 oz. sugar
1 cup/8 oz. water
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup/4 oz. evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. To make the dough, use a food processor to blitz butter, sugar, salt, and eggs together until spreadable. Add Flour into the butter mix and form a dough. Cover with plastic and chill the dough until firm, but not hard, about 40 to 50 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 30g sized portion. Roll each portion into a ball and chill the balls until firm. Fit each ball into a muffin tin and use a thumb to spread out the dough inside each cavity until all sides are covered. Chill the muffin tin for another 15 minutes until the dough is firmed. Pre-heat oven at 400F.
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling by dissolving sugar in water, set aside. Combine eggs, evaporated milk, and vanilla extract and strain the liquid through a fine sieve. When sugar mixture is cool, combine with egg mixture. Strain again.
  4. Pour the egg filling into the chilled tart shells almost all the way up, leaving about 5% of the space on top. Bake in the oven at 400F for 15 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 350F, and bake for 12 more minutes.
  5. Let the egg tarts cool down for 5 minutes and transfer them out of the muffin tins and let rest for another 5 minutes on a rack before serving them. Bon appétit!

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts, by Reggie Soang


Portuguese Style Egg Tarts (aka. Pastel de Nata)

Portuguese Egg Tarts (Pastel de Nata), by Reggie Soang

Portuguese Egg Tarts (aka. Pastel de Nata)
Serve: makes 6 tarts

Prep Time: 30 minutes (not including inactive time)
Total Time: 1 hour (not including inactive time)

For the Puff Pastry:
1 + 1/2 stick butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup water

For the fillings:
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
1 stick cinnamon stick
1 lemon zested
1 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 yolks

  1. To make the dough, combine flour, salt, and water in a mixing ball and form a dough. If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook and mix the three ingredients together on low speed. The dough will be wet and tacky.
  2. Transfer the dough onto a well-floured surface. Use a floured rolling pin and roll the dough into a rectangular shape and 1/2” thick. Put the dough on a floured tray and cover with plastic, and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. When the dough is ready, roll it out to 1/4” thick rectangle, about 12 inch wide. Dusting more flour if needed. Spread half of the butter on the dough 1-inch away from the side closest to you. Fold the top portion of the dough over the butter and seal the sides. Roll the dough out again to 1/4” thick.
  4. Repeat procedures on spreading the butter and folding the top over. Roll the dough to 1/8” thick rectangle, about 14-inch wide. Roll the dough into a log from the longer side. Chill the log in the fridge for 2 hours before using it.
  5. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a small pot, combine sugar, water, cinnamon stick, and lemon zest and bring the liquid to a simmer. Turn off the stove and let cinnamon and lemon zest infuse the syrup for 5 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk 1/4 cup of milk with flour together. Gently heat up the rest of the milk and pour over the flour mixture in a steady stream and whisk to combine. Pour the milk mixture back to the pot and return to the stove. Cook the milk mixture on low heat until thickened, and add vanilla extract.
  7. At this time, strain the syrup and pour it into the milk mixture in a steady stream while whisking. Cool the milk mixture for 10 minutes and then whisk in the yolks. Strain the mixture and cover it with a piece of plastic directly on top. Set aside.
  8. When the dough is chilled and firmed, divide it up to 12 portions. Place each portion inside of a muffin tin with cut-side up. Using a thumb, lightly dipped in water, and press it down on the dough and fit it into the cavity on all the sides. Put the muffin tin back in the fridge for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to the highest setting.
  9. When the dough is chilled and firmed, pour in the filling a little more than 3/4 of the way up and bake for 17 minutes in the oven, until the fillings are barely set and the top is beautifully caramelized.
  10. Let tarts cool for a couple of minutes, un-mold and transfer them onto a rack. Let the egg tarts cool for 10 more minutes before serving. Bon appétit!

Portuguese Egg Tarts (Pastel de Nata), by Reggie Soang


Is it a poutine or a disco fries?

Poutine…or Disco Fries with Sausage Gravy, by Reggie Soang

James, owner, chef, and barista at Watson’s Counter in Seattle invited me to be on his Instagram live video. We have been talking about different ways to make poutine delicious, and he let me share my version of poutine. Poutine reminds me of a few dishes, welsh rarebit, disco fries, and sausage gravy…therefore, I marry all of them into this version.

Guest Appearance on Watson’s Counter Instagram Live

Poutine/Disco Fries
Serves: 2 portions

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

2 Idaho potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 links Italian Hot Sausage
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons AP flour
10 oz. stock
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon A1 steak sauce or Worcestershire
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
2 tablespoons chopped scallions, on a bias
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

  1. Make the poutine sauce first. Sauté sausage until nice and caramelized and add onions. Cook until onions are nice and tender. 
  2. Add butter and spices. Cook the spices until fragrant on medium heat. Be careful not to burn the butter. 
  3. Sift the flour into the pot so you won’t have any clumps in the sauce. Cook the flour for until nice and nutty in smell. Pour in the liquid and bring the sauce to a simmer. Sauce will thicken as it is heated. 
  4. Add A1 Steak Sauce, dijon mustard, and shredded mozzarella, and stir to combine. Set the gravy aside.
  5. Set up a shallow frier with a skillet. Pour oil halfway up and turn on the heat. If using a thermometer, heat the oil to 350F. If a thermometer is not available, put a small piece, half-inch thick, of raw potato into the oil and wait until it gets golden brown on the outside, and then the frier is ready for frying. 
  6. Using a Japanese mandolin with medium teeth setting, slice peeled potatoes into thin strips. Always use a handguard when using a mandolin to avoid injury.  Rinse the shoestring fries with cold water to get rid of excess starch. 
  7. Fry the shoestring fries until golden brown and crispy. Drain the oil in a paper towel lined mixing bowl and sprinkle with salt while tossing the fries. 
  8. Plate the fries on a plate and drizzle with gravy, and then sprinkle on scallions, parsley, and whole grain mustard. Bon Appétit!

Dinner – Vegetarian Malaysian Curry

Vegetarian Malaysian Curry, by Reggie Soang

Malaysian curry is a delicious and crowd-pleasing dish. Fresh curry paste is easy and simple to prepare; using a food processor to blend onions, garlic, ginger, and curry powder together, and it serves as a base to any type of curry. For traditional Malaysian curry, add lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves when making the curry paste. If those two ingredients are difficult to source, simply grate some lime zest and add some lime juice to the curry along with coconut milk. A great Malaysian curry should be vibrant, rich, sweet, and salty. The main seasonings for Malaysian curry are soy sauce, fish sauce, sweet soy sauce, and coconut sugar, which could be substituted with brown sugar. Though Malaysian curry is usually made with chicken, the stew is wonderful for vegetarian by supplementing eggplant for chicken and adding root vegetables for substance.

For the Curry Paste:
1/2 white or red onion, large diced
5 cloves garlic
1-inch size ginger, sliced thin
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons Madras Curry
2 tablespoons cooking oil

For the Curry:
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 medium size eggplant, medium diced
2 cup curry paste, from above
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 medium size Idaho potato, medium dice
1 medium size sweet potato, medium dice
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
2 cloves
1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups chopped kale
1 stalk scallions, cut on a bias for garnish
1 cup sliced cucumbers, cut into thin strips

  1. Make the curry paste by blending all the ingredients in a food processor to a paste.
  2. To prepare the curry, put a skillet on high heat and add oil. Once the oil shimmers, add eggplant and sauté until tender and colored. Add curry paste and sauté until fragrant. Add curry powder and toast until aromatic.
  3. Stir in tomato paste, and add the rest of the ingredients, except kale, scallions, and cucumbers. Bring the curry to a boil and turn down to simmer. Meanwhile, make rice.
  4. When the curry is almost done, add kale and cook until tender and wilted.
  5. The curry is done when the potatoes are tender. If the curry gets too thick, add water to adjust the consistency and readjust seasoning.
  6. Serve Malaysian curry with rice, and garnish with scallions and cucumbers. Bon Appétit!

Lunch – Beans ‘n Rice with Poached Eggs and Tomato Salsa

Beans and Rice with Poached Eggs and Salsa, by Reggie Soang

Beans and rice is a widely popular dish; the combination can often be seen in Latin American, American, and Asian cuisines. Beans and rice is hearty and delicious, and for health benefit, eating them together form a complete protein, which is vital to our health. Bean and rice could be done in many ways. This recipe is inspired by my fondness for Louisiana beans and rice; the beans are pureed until almost smooth and served with steamed Carolina long grain rice. Leftover chili and baked beans work brilliantly with this recipe. I topped off this dish with an egg and tomato salsa, and garnished with scallions for fresh oniony flavor.

For the latest New Lifestyle Cooking Series:

Beans ’n Rice with Poached Eggs
Serves: 2 to 3 portions

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 20 Minutes

For the Beans:
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups Mexican baked beans (click on the link for the recipe)
1/4 cup cooked pinto beans
1/4 cup cooked black beans
3 poached eggs
1 stalk scallions, sliced on a bias
1/4 cup thinly sliced radishes

For the Tomato Salsa:
2 Roma tomatoes, medium diced
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 clove fresh garlic, grated
1 stalk scallions, thinly sliced to coin shape
1 teaspoon Valentina hot sauce, or any other types of hot sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
pinch of MSG

For the Rice:
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 + 1/2 cup long grain rice
2 + 1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Heat up a skillet on medium heat and add oil. Meanwhile, puree baked beans in a food processor until smooth. Once the oil is warm, add ground cumin to toast until fragrant.
  2. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add bean puree immediately to avoid burning the ground cumin. The bean puree should also be sizzling in the skillet.
  3. Cook the bean puree until aromatic and add the pinto beans and black beans. Stir to combine. Season the beans to taste. Turn off the heat and set aside
  4. To poach eggs, maintain a pot of water at simmer (in between 80 to 90 Celsius if you have a thermometer). Add a splash of vinegar (vinegar helps egg whites coagulate better) and use a whisk to create a gentle tornado in the center of the water and drop the eggs in. Set a timer for 3 minutes.
  5. To check doneness of poached eggs, gently poke around the edge of the yolks; if the whites are a little bouncy, then the eggs are done. (3 to 3 minutes and 15 seconds cooking time is usually the sweet spot)
  6. To make the tomato salsa, prepare tomatoes accordingly and mix them with the rest of the ingredients. Set aside
  7. To make aromatic rice, toast the rice until fragrant. Add tomato paste and water and stir to combine. Cover and bring the pot to a boil, and then turn down to simmer. Once the water is completely absorbed, leave the cover on for another 10 minutes and then fluff the rice with a fork.
  8. To serve, put the beans at the bottom of a bowl, top off the beans with rice and tomato salsa. Put a poached egg on top of everything and garnish with scallions and radishes, bon appétit!

Breakfast – Oat Milk and Cereal

Oat Milk and Cereal, by Reggie Soang

Oat milk is a fine alternative to milk. Oat milk tastes rich and nutty. Adding a natural sweetener such as honey or maple syrup makes this drink even more enjoyable for breakfast in a cereal. Oat milk keeps well for 5 days in the fridge, and be sure to shake it well before every use. Strain oat milk if slimy texture is unpleasant, otherwise, leave the oat milk as it is. 

For the latest New Lifestyle Cooking Series:

Oat Milk with Cereal
Serves: make 4 cups 

Prep Time: 1 minute (not including non-active time)
Total Time: 5 minutes (not including non-active time)

1 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats
4 cups water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoons salt

  1. Soak the oats in water, covering the oats by 1-inch for 15 minutes. Strain the oats and run it underneath the cold for 10 seconds until water runs almost clear.
  2. Blend the oats with water for 15 seconds, and then add maple syrup and salt and blend for another 10 seconds. Strain oat milk for a smoother consistency.
  3. Use oat milk for breakfast cereal, bon appétit!

Dinner – Repurposing Minestrone, Making Budae Jjigae

Repurposing Minestrone, Making Budae Jjigae, by Reggie Soang

Minestrone could be repurposed as budae jjigae, Korean army stew, brilliantly. Both stews are made with a ton of veggies and finished with either dried pasta or instant noodles. Additionally to veggies, budae jjigae have cure meat or sausages. In this case, hot dogs work perfectly in this recipe for giving the stew a nice salty flavor. Last but not least, budae jjigae needs kimchi, the older the better. However, without kimchi, add pickled chilies (B&G pickled hot cherry peppers are the best), pickle juice, fish sauce, and miso to make up for the flavor.

For the latest New Lifestyle Cooking Series:

Repurposing Minestrone, Making Budae Jjigae
Serves: 4 to 6 portions

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

2 cup diced onions, large dice
2 cups quartered button mushrooms
1 cup diced red bell pepper, large dice
1 head fresh garlic, split each clove in half
5 hot dog, sliced on a bias to bite size
4 stalks scallions, cut into 2-inch long, save half for garnish
3 quarts water
3 tablespoon gochujang (Korean chili paste)
3 tablespoons miso
2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
3 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon MSG
1 + 1/2 teaspoon mirin
3 tablespoons pickle juice from B&G Hot Cherry Peppers*
2 quarts minestrone (if not using leftover minestrone, add 1 cup crushed tomatoes and 1 more quart of water or any stock)
1 block/package tofu, cut into pinkie size chunk
2 packages of instant ramen

* substitute with other pickle juice as long as it doesn’t have other flavors, such as dill pickles.

  1. Add everything except minestrone, tofu, and instant ramen into a pot and bring it to a boil. Boil the stew for 10 to 15 minutes until all the veggies are tender and the stew is delicious.
  2. Add minestrone, tofu, and instant ramen last. Bring the stew back up to a boil and cook until instant ramen is cooked, takes about 2 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve hot. Bon Appétit!

Lunch – Soba Noodles Salad with Ginger Scallion Sauce and Soy Vinaigrette

Soba Noodle Salad with Ginger Scallion Sauce and Soy Vinaigrette, by Reggie Soang

A delicious and healthy Asian noodle salad is the perfect choice for lunch; the salad is flavorful and vibrant. Edamame, snow peas, string beans, bean sprouts, red cabbage, or shredded carrots complement the salad brilliantly as well. Keep the salad fresh and clean, this dish deserves to be on the weekly menu.

For the Latest New Lifestyle Cooking Series:

Soba Noodle Salad with Ginger Scallions and Soy Vinaigrette
Serves: Makes 2 bowls

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

For Ginger Scallion Sauce:
1/4 cup sliced scallions, into a coin shape
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 teaspoons MSG
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes

For Soy Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cold water

For the salad:
1/4 cup sliced red bell peppers, little bigger than a matchstick
1/4 cup sliced celery, on a bias
1/2 cup sliced cucumbers, in thin strips
1 stalk scallion, thinly sliced on a bias
1/4 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
2 portions of soba noodles, according to the package
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

  1. Prepare all your sauces and veggies before cooking your noodles.
  2. For ginger scallion sauce, prep your scallions and ginger accordingly and mix everything together, set aside
  3. For soy vinaigrette, combine everything together and set aside
  4. Bring a pot of water to a boil to cook soba noodles. Meanwhile, prep your veggies accordingly and set aside. One tip on cutting the veggies, cut them thin but leave some crunch.
  5. Cook the soba noodles according to the package’s instructions and drain and run them underneath of cold water until completely chilled. Stir in sesame oil.
  6. To serve, scoop 1 tablespoon of soy vinaigrette per portion into a bowl and lay the noodles on top. Place red bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, scallions, and chickpeas around the bowl. Drizzle the veggies with ginger scallion sauce, as much as you like. Sprinkle on toasted sesame seeds to finish. Bon Appétit!

Breakfast – Flatbread with Honey Ricotta, Peanut Butter, and Pears

Flatbread with Honey Ricotta, Peanut Butter, and Pears, by Reggie Soang

This is a delicious, quick, and healthy breakfast all around. This dish offers many other different possibilities; apples and banana are great for complementing peanut butter and honey ricotta. Take out peanut butter and add some smashed up summer berries makes this breakfast even more attractive. The sky is the limit, as long as the flatbread is nicely toasted.

For the latest New Lifestyle Cooking Series:

Flatbread with Honey Ricotta, Peanut Butter, and Pear
Serves: makes 2 flatbread

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 5 Minutes

2 pieces flatbread, toasted
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup banana pudding (please click on the link)
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 pear, sliced to 1/8-inch thick

  1. Toast flatbread until nice and warm and little crispy
  2. Meanwhile, mix ricotta cheese, banana pudding, and honey
  3. Once the flatbread is ready, smear peanut butter over them, put dollops of honey ricotta on the peanut butter. Spread sliced pears around the flatbread. Drizzle the top with more honey if desired.