Foolproof Hand pulled noodles in red braised beef soup 牛肉手拉面By Yun Zhang JohnMaking hand pulled noodles seems highly technical and best left to the noodle masters who does it everyday for years, right? After all, those videos of chefs pulling multiple strands of fresh wheat noodles out of a block of dough with ease look so impressive and totally intimidating to attempt. But I’m here to tell you that you CAN actually make a delicious bowl of hand pulled noodles or Lā Miàn/拉面 at home! Yes, it’s true! Naturally, there are some techniques to this, but they are easy to follow and adapted for the home cook. It won’t take lots of practice either, if you follow the steps right, you will end up with bowls of springy, hearty and chewy hand pulled noodles each and every time.

Home version hand pulled noodles require:

1. FLOUR, WATER + SALT. - Note: All purpose flours works best here because of its middle-of-the range protein content of about 10-11% per 100g. Which means that it has enough gluten to be elastic but won’t spring back as much like in a higher gluten bread flour. 2. OIL. You will need enough oil to coat the rolled out dough thoroughly. This does 3 things: - prevent the dough from drying out as it rests - separated each of the noodle once they've been cut - give the noodles a smooth finish 3. TIME. Time is of crucial importance because the dough needs ample time (at least 2 hours) to develop gluten that makes stretching possible. Without proper resting, the strips of dough will simply break when pulled.

Cooking and eating

Once you are ready to cook and eat, bring a pot of water to a boil and pull one portion at a time. For beginners, I would suggest to pull all the noodles for one portion first and put them on a plate instead of dropping each strand into the boiling water as you pull. This way is less stressful and more manageable. And the noodles will not stick together in the water if you give it a little stir. Finally, do not overcook! These fresh noodles have more moisture than dry noodles and will only take 1-2 minutes, so fish them out of the water as soon as they are done. How to eat them is up to you! Quickly stir fried in sauce? Tossed in spicy dressing? Or as in this version, eaten with my Sichuan style red braised beef. Now you can enjoy a hand pulled beef noodle soup 牛肉手拉面 made entirely from scratch at home!
THE Classic Hot Chilli Oil 红油辣椒By Yun Zhang JohnLike soy sauce and Chinese black vinegar, chilli oil aka hot oil aka 红油辣椒 is indispensable in any Sichuan kitchen. But unlike its counter parts, chilli oil is almost, always, better homemade rather than store bought. Even though there are whole aisles at Asian grocery stores devoted to various chilli oils from numerous regions, to me, you just can’t bottle up and preserve the fragrance of a hot sizzling chilli oil. Not to mention that you can easily customize YOUR oil to suit personal preferences. Do you like it spicer? Choose a Thai chilli powder rather than a Korean one. Which spices and aromatics do you want to include? Ginger? Garlic? Star anise?…etc Do you want to add salt, or leave it salt free? It’s all up to you! I love chilli oil in all forms, but in my kitchen, and the kitchens of my mom and her mom and so on, there will always be THE Classic. A simple recipe that showcases the flavours of the dried chilli. No competing spices or aromatics because the focus is solely on the fragrance of the chilli. This is a traditional hot oil that you will find in most Sichuan kitchens. No salt is added, because this acts as a base for so many different applications in so many dishes. Easy and cheap to make at home, one whiff and your mouth will start to water…or is that just me?
Red Braise Beef 红烧牛肉 (Sichuan style)By Yun Zhang JohnEven if you think that you’ve never tasted red braised beef or 红烧牛肉, you’ve probably have. This stew/soup/meat dish has got some familiar classic Chinese flavours. There’s soy sauce, star anise, cloves, bay leaves, cassia bark, Chinese black cardamon, ginger, etc… But the things that makes this a Sichuan style red braised beef are the inclusion of Sichuan peppercorns and Pixian Doubanjiang or fermented broad bean chilli paste. And if you think that all these spices, peppercorns and chilli paste will be over powering, then you would be mistaken. The combination of these aromatics creates a well-rounded, complex and deeply savoury stew. The natural beef flavours are somehow more distinct and enhanced. It’s also a very easy dish to master at home. The hardest part of the whole process is gathering up all the spices. Really! Having this simmering on the stove will really heat up your house and your taste buds in the winter months ahead.

Cook’s notes:

- Cutting the beef against the grain ( ie. across the meat fibres) will yield a more tender bite. - Blanching the beef in water and rinsing it thoroughly will remove excess blood and ensure a cleaner beef flavour in the broth. - Taste for seasoning at the end, different brands of soy sauce have differing saltiness, taste and then add salt or Chicken bouillon powder.
Yu Xiang Rou Si / “Fish-Fragrant” Stir Fry Pork 鱼香肉丝By Yun Zhang JohnIf you’ve never heard of “Fish-Fragrant” flavour before, you are not alone. It’s not the most appetizing name for a dish, after all, who would want to eat fishy scented anything? But rest assured, “Yu Xiang / 鱼香” aka. "fish-fragrant" has nothing at all to do with fish. It refers to a combination of aromatics and flavours that comes together to form an incredible fragrance. Yu Xiang Rou Si / 鱼香肉丝 is a traditional and well known Sichuan dish in the fish-fragrant series of dishes. Traditions aside tough, it’s beloved around the world because of its universally appealing sweet, sour, spicy and savoury taste. It’s a staple on most Sichuan restaurant menus and it’s also easy to master for the home cook. And as with any stir fry, the key to success is to get everything prepped and at the ready before turning on the heat. The whole process from prep to table will only take around 20minutes…sometimes, that's less time than you need to cook the accompanying white rice.

The Specialty Ingredient

One special ingredient that’s important for the flavour profile of a fish-fragrant dish is the Sichuan style pickled red chillies or Pao La Jiao, 泡辣椒. It adds a unique tangy, fermented flavour that goes beyond simply spicy. This is mandatory in any authentic yu xiang rou si recipe. However, if you just can’t source it and/or you are not interested in starting your own Sichuan pickle pot, it can be substituted with Pi Xian DouBanJiang 郫县豆瓣酱 or fermented broad bean chilli paste. Which is readily available in most Asian grocery stores. The final product won’t be exactly the same but it'll be tasty nonetheless.

Looking for more stir fry ideas and recipes? Check out:

Gong Bao Chicken Chinese Lemon Chicken Home Style Tofu
Pull Apart Garlic Bread Loaf 蒜蓉面包By Yun Zhang JohnWho doesn’t like garlic bread? Really, who doesn’t? Garlic bread is like one of those recipes that you can’t really mess up! No matter what, when you combine bread, garlic and butter…people are going to flock to it. I love garlic bread as much as the next person, but I do shy away from those mass produced ones that make use of mediocre baguettes with a smear of garlic-y butter in-between. They are ok in a pinch, but if you are really after a superb made-from-scratch bread recipe that integrates completely with garlic and butter, then look no further! This recipe is the perfect marriage between soft, tender brioche and sharp, fragrant garlic butter. Great for garlic lovers and non alike because somehow, the garlic flavour is pronounced but not evasive. It really is a crowd pleaser.

But Do I need to use stand mixer?

The answer here is of course, no. As with any of my bread recipes, you can knead by hand. Just make sure to knead thoroughly in order to develop the gluten networks. Sometimes I prefer to do it by hand because to me it's therapeutic. But if you do have a stand mixer, use it! it’ll save you a ton of time and elbow grease.

Flavourings are completely customizable

Other than the garlic, you can include which ever herbs and spices that you like. Don’t like parsley? Use oregano. Sprinkle some mozzarella before rolling and make it into cheesy pull part garlic bread! Make it into your own and your family will be asking for it again and again, I promise.

In the mood for more baking? Check out

Asian Coconut Bread 椰蓉面包 Handmade Croissants
Pumpkin steamed buns with pumpkin filling 南瓜蒸包By Yun Zhang JohnFall has arrived and a wave of orange has washed over the land. No, I’m not talking about the leaves turning beautiful shades of fall colours, I’m talking about all the pumpkins in shop bins, adorning door steps and windows and of course, found in our food and drinks. As far as I’m concerned though, all pumpkins should be eaten. Why use these versatile fruits as decorations when they are packed with vitamins and so delicious to eat? Put them in savoury dishes to desserts to everything in between. Personally, I enjoy them straight up in its unaltered form…but I understand that not everyone is a fan like me. So for them (and my kids) I make these pumpkin steamed buns. And to pack in even more pumpkin goodness, I add the pumpkin filling. Ever since then, our household consumption of pumpkins has gone way up! We all enjoy these soft, pillowy, naturally sweetened steamed buns with a slightly spiced, slightly buttery and slightly sweet filling. Great for breakfast or snack, they are delicious right out of the steamer but taste exactly the same reheated, even from frozen.

Cook’s notes

- Knead the dough well before proofing. The dough should have a smooth appearance after it’s been kneaded. This will develop the gluten network and ensure that the bun will hold its shape after steaming. - Cook the filling until it’s darken in colour and thick. This will take time and it does need to be constantly stirred, but it’ll pay off in terms of a more complex pumpkin flavour and texture. - Make a double batch so there is enough to go in the freezer! These buns freeze and reheat well and can last for a long time. This way, a pumpkin steamed bun is always only minutes away.

Looking for more steamed bun recipes? Check out my:

- Sesame buns - Saucy meat buns - Longevity peach buns
Sweet and Sour Riblets 糖醋排骨By Yun Zhang JohnIf you order sweet and sour ribs 糖醋排骨 at Chinese restaurants, you will most likely be served flash fried ribs covered with a thickened soy sauce heavy sauce. I rarely order it in restaurants because I like my ribs falling-off-the-bone tender….and because my mom makes a stellar version at home. Her recipe is super easy to make and insanely delicious! You don’t have to marinate the ribs before hand, there is no need to caramelize the sugar and there is definitely no deep frying involved. This is a home version that anyone can make with confidence. But rest assured, there is no compromise on flavour. The flavour profile goes beyond the sweet and the sour because there is a ton of aromatics used to cook the ribs.

Cook’s notes:

- One thing that I have to underline is that you must use spare ribs. Have your butcher cut them into smaller pieces so they can soak up and coat as much of the sauce as possible. - Keep a close eye on the wok towards the end of the cooking process. As it's cooked over high heat, the liquids will evaporate quickly and can be reduced too much. The sauce should be thickened but still a bit runny so it can coat the ribs well. And trust me, you'll want to mop up all that sauce as you eat the ribs. - We used a huge range of aromatic spices to flavour the broth, but don’t rush out and buy them all if it isn't already in your pantry. The recipe is forgiving and any combination of ginger; green onions; star anise; cinnamon; cloves; fennel seeds; bay leaf and/or Sichuan peppercorns will go a long way to make the broth super interesting.
Handmade Croissants : It’s not as hard as you think! A beginner’s guideBy Yun Zhang JohnMaking croissants at home is not for the faint of heart, it takes a bit of planning, a bunch of folding and a whole lot of patience. But once you’ve succeeded in making your first batch of buttery, crispy, flaky croissants, you will be hooked. Hooked on perfecting the techniques, hooked on the challenge of creating something so intricate with so few ingredients….And hooked on the undeniable sublime flavours and textures of a perfectly baked croissant, fresh from the oven. I’m not going to pretend and say that I make croissants all the time. Truth is, I’ve only made them a handful of times. I’m certainly not an expert…not even close. There are many recipes and videos from more experienced professional & amateur bakers with much much more knowledge. What I can offer is the experience from an enthusiastic home baker who recently discovered the wonders of pastry and bread making. If I can achieve such great results (in my first try no less), then you, can too!

The recipe

I discovered this croissant recipe on the Buttermilk Pantry blog . I found her explanations and instructions on the ins and outs of croissants making extremely detailed and helpful. It’s a really well written post and recipe. Please check it out and fall in love with it like I did. As with any baking, the science has to be exact. So I followed her recipe to the letter, and lo and behold, I had great results the very first time. While I am evangelical about her methods, I have been experimenting with the logistics.

Logistics? What do you mean?

Well, it’s simple. Do you want to eat freshly baked croissants in the morning? Do you have things to do during the day like taking care of kids and work? Do want these croissants to be baked at the optimal time? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ll need to plan ahead. See under instructions for a proven schedule for me (a busy mom with active kids who still wishes to eat fresh homemade croissants on a weekend morning).

Some other important details

- Choose a cool day to make croissants. Having that on your side will keep the butter and dough cool longer as you roll and fold aka. lamination. - Choose the right butter. A higher fat and lower moisture butter like many European style butters will be more malleable and easier to work with. - Make sure to have enough: Fridge and counter space. This is actually really crucial because the dough is kept in the fridge for over 2 days. - Be patient. Only make croissant at home when you have time to go back and forth to the kitchen. And you need to give it enough time to rest/chill and ample time to proof. - While in the Buttermilk Pantry recipe, the timing of lamination and chilling of the dough is precise, my approach is more relax. This way I can go about with my busy days and still make time to laminate and wait. It makes the whole process more accessible. - Have fun! This is a continuous learning journey. Each time I make a new batch of croissants, I learn something different. The results vary depending on your conditions and sometimes I fail. But if you like the challenge, croissant making is so worth the work. Finally, you might ask. Why do all this when there are so many solid ready-to-bake or to-eat croissants out there to be purchased? Well, A: Do it, because they are truly delicious. Buttery, crispy, flaky and full of flavour due to the long fermentation process. B: Do it, because you can!
Spicy clambake with Vermicelli 花甲粉By Yun Zhang JohnShellfish is one of those ingredients that you either love or loath. Personally, I love eating shellfish like clams and mussels. It’s normally so simple to prepare, yet so complex in flavour because of its natural briny juices. But I also love chillies. I love adding a healthy dose of heat to any dish, because for me, spice is life. So if you are like me, this spicy baked clams with vermicelli 花甲粉 in a packet will be deeply satisfying. The natural sweetness from the clams balances the powerful chilli spiked sauce, and adding a splash of wine will bring the two parties together to form a wonderfully aromatic liquor that you’ll want to drink up!

Some important tips

- Make this dish only when you can get your hands on the freshest of fresh clams. Not only will the meat taste more succulent, but the fresher the clams, the more delicious juices it’ll give out. - Spread out the ingredients as you layer. An even, thinner layers of ingredients will not only shorten the cooking time but also ensure that the clams all open up at the same time. - Sealing the packet really tight will help trap in the steam, thus decreasing cooking time and increasing that yummy liquor. Whether you make a single portion for just for yourself or a grand portion to be shared, the next time you pass by fresh clams at the market, pick some up and make this! I promise that a lovely easy and tasty seafood meal will be on the table in less than 30 minutes!
Fresh Sichuan Spring Rolls 春卷By Yun Zhang JohnSpring rolls 春卷 is one of those Chinese foods that probably everyone has had a taste. It’s wildly popular as a restaurant appetizer and can be found as a takeaway item in supermarkets around the world. When most people think of spring rolls, it’s normally the fried version served with a sweet sauce that comes to mind. No doubt, it’s yummy…after all, it’s deep fried, crispy, salty and sweet. But it’s not really something you can make a meal out of. The spring rolls that I grow up eating were never fried. True to their name, they are readily eaten in the spring time when the weather begins to warm up. I can still remember watching vendors hand make fresh wrappers on large griddles in wet markets…and then bringing them back home to encase flavourful raw or cooked veggies. Eaten this way, spring rolls are refreshing, healthy and enjoyed as a meal instead of as a treat.

Substitutions are welcome

I used celtuce / Chinese lettuce, taiko radish and carrots for their colour and texture, you can certainly change them according to your preference. Some other veggies that work well include mung bean sprouts, raw shredded cabbage and branched sliced wood ear mushrooms or fresh kelp seaweed.

Easy to pack and easy to eat

It can also be a great picnic idea. Pack the cut up veggies, sauce and wrappers separately, dress the veggie mixture right before eating and roll as you eat. I encourage you to give these fresh Sichuan spring rolls a try! It’ll open up a whole new way of enjoying one of your favourites.
Easy & Authentic Dan Dan Noodle Recipe that you need to make! 担担面By Yun Zhang JohnI’m not going to lie, this is not THE recipe for Dan Dan Noodles 担担面…this is A recipe for the famous Sichuan noodle dish that has gained popularity across much of the world. Even in its place of origin, there are many variations. Every restaurant you go to seem to have a different rendition. Some are soupy, others have just enough sauce to coat the noodles… some add crunchy peanuts, others include starchy soy beans.

However, there are a few elements that need to be present in an authentic Dan Dan Noodle

1. A mince meat topping - the addition of pickled veggies provides a real depth of flavour that is used in many Sichuan dishes. However it is not entirely required. Some mince topping use only cooked down fatty meat. 2. Fresh noodles - dry noodles are ok in a pinch but if you can get your hands on fresh Chinese wheat noodles, you are half way there! Just don’t over cook them, it takes only couple of minutes. 3. Sesame paste - the ingredient that sets Dan Dan noodles apart from other Sichuan “干拌面 / Gān bàn miàn” aka dry mixed noodles. 4. A crunchy element - this can be in the form of fried soy beans or peanuts. In my case, in the form of pickled string beans. 5. A balance of flavours - the ma la 麻辣 (spicy & numbing) flavour has to be pronounced, as well as a bit of sourness. In short, there are quite a few seasonings to include in an authentic bowl of Dan Dan Mian.

Too hard to make at home?

Yes, I know…all this sounds too complicated if you are not already familiar with Sichuan cooking. And yes, there are quite a few elements involved. But the speciality ingredients are only a couple. Once you get them, a satisfying, flavour-packed bowl of Dan Dan Noodles will be just minutes away.
Saucy Steamed Meat Buns 酱肉包子By Yun Zhang JohnOnce in a while, I would crave a steam bun with a sweet filling like a sesame or sweet red bean paste. But I would always, always be in the mood for steam buns filled with meat or vegetables.

A convenient handheld meal

The steam meat bun is the Asian answer to the sandwich. Fill it with whatever you like, it’s portable and can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Growing up in China, my second favourite thing to eat for breakfast were saucy meat filled steamed buns. It's also super convenient because you can steam a big batch, freeze it after they've cooled and they'll keep fresh for weeks. Steam it straight from the freezer next time and it'll be just as good.

The Filling

There is not just one recipe for Jiang Rou Bao Zi 酱肉包. Some like it more sweet, others, more spicy. But all the while, it's flavour-packed, fatty and savoury. This is another Chinese meat dish where a lean to fat ratio of 50/50 works best in delivering that rich decadent mouth free. To keep things healthier though, most of the time I opt for a leaner pork mince. As well, the filling for this meat bun “BaoZi” recipe is cooked before it’s steamed in the bun itself. This method yields a more loose filling than other buns which are steamed with uncooked meat fillings.

The dough

The dough is actually quite straight forward. The key for a fluffy and light bun is to give it enough time to proof for the second time after shaping. Don't rush it!
Easy and healthy meals to feed your family FAST!By Yun Zhang JohnI don’t know about you but I have to feed my family All. Day. Long. 3 meals a day, plus snacks… times 7 days a week times 52 weeks a year…equals A LOT! And if you have kids, you know that when they want to eat…they want to eat….NOW! Throw in a couple of picky eaters and you’ve really got your work cut out for you. That’s why I have some goto recipes that gets fresh, good food into their mouths fast. They have few things in common: - Require only a few ingredients that I always have on hand. - 10 minutes or less from prep to table - Yummy and balance meals that I feel good serving to my kids

Easy Peasy Egg Fried Rice

You don’t have to use peas…I often use shredded cabbage or even omit the veg altogether. But I always have frozen peas on hand and it’s a great way to add more nutrition and fibre into an otherwise plain egg fried rice dish. Eaten together, you’ve got complimenting flavours and textures and a fully balanced meal.

Sweet corn and bacon pasta

Who doesn’t like corn and bacon? Separately, they are great…but together they are surprisingly better! The sweetness from the corn contrasts so well with the saltiness of the bacon. And the addition of garlic brings a subtle complexity. However, the real secret that pulls this dish together is the cooking the semi cooked pasta with some pasta water and a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano. It creates a light sauce that coats each pasta with all the flavours in the pan. This seemingly simple looking pasta dish will satisfy both young and old.
Asian Coconut Bread 椰蓉面包By Yun Zhang JohnWhenever I go to a Chinese bakery, I always pick up a pack of coconut buns or loaf. If you are not familiar, these are soft brioche or milk bread layered with a slightly sweet and fragrant desiccated coconut filling. It's a staple item in any Asian bakery and my husband and I both love it! Then, I moved to a country where Asian bakeries were not to be found and finding a good coconut bread recipe became a mission. I wanted a recipe that is easy enough for the home cook but tasted as amazing as the ones I used to buy. And after much testing, tasting, tweaking, I believe that I’ve come up with a real winner!

About the Flour

Many recipes for brioche or milk bread ask for bread flour due to its higher protein content that produces more gluten, thus making a chewier end product. However, for this recipe, I decided to go with All-Purpose flour simply because I always have it on hand. And to compensate for the lower protein levels, I increased the kneading and proofing time.


In bread making, fermentation refers to the process in which yeast cells consume sugars and produce ethanol and other byproducts that develops flavour as well as carbon dioxide that inflate the gluten network which develops the structure of bread. Many bread recipes call for double fermentation or proofing, and this one is no different. What I would like to stress here is…simply, do not rush it! This dough is quite wet and needs longer time to develop gluten. If you have a draft-free warm and humid place to proof that’s between 25-27C, then 1.5 hours might suffice. But if you leave it at room temperature, stick to the full 2 hours for the initial fermentation.

Choosing the right loaf pan

Depending on how you want the final appearance your loaf or buns to have, you can choose to have a longer / shallower pan vs. a shorter / deeper pan. I used a L24cm x W13cm x H5cm loaf pan which yield a shorter and wider shape than traditional bread loafs. Either way, just make sure to leave the dough some space to rise after it’s been shaped. I always ended up with a more dense bread when I tried to cram it in to a tighter pan.


In a convection oven, this bread will take 30mins to bake at 180C or 350F. Add 5 more minutes in a traditional oven where the heat comes only from the top and bottom. In both cases though, you’ll need to cover the top of the bread with tin foil after about 15mins to prevent the top from over browning. Now you are ready to make this delectable bread in the comforts of your own kitchen…where ever in the world you might live!
Beef Chow Fun / Stir fried Beef Rice Noodles 干炒牛河By Yun Zhang JohnBeef Chow Fun or 干炒牛河 is a Cantonese dish of tender slices of beef stir fried with springy wide and flat rice noodles. A very popular street food in Southern China, the flavourings are super simple, mostly soy sauce and oyster sauce.

The Beef

Picking the right cut of beef is important. We are after a super tender bite and a skirt or sirloin works really well in this dish. Cutting the beef across the grain to break up the meat fibres will also help to make the beef easier to chew. However, the real secret that most Chinese restaurants use to tenderise the meat for stir fry dishes is the addition of baking soda. The baking soda cause the outside of the meat to become alkalised, this makes it harder for the proteins to bond together, thus keeping the meat super succulent.

The Noodle

In my opinion, the key to making authentic Beef Chow Fun is choosing the right noodle. Ho Fun or 河粉 is a type of flat and wide rice noodle that’s used in this dish. It’s soft, and has a slippery and slightly chewy texture. You can use dried, but the fresh ones will be a thousand times better in this classic dish. But when you can’t get your hands on fresh rice noodles…what do you do then? Making them from scratch is actually not too difficult.

Bringing it all!

Typically, Beef Chow Fun is tossed together in just a few minutes in an extremely hot wok. Although it's hard to replicate the smoky flavour or “wok hei” or "breath of the wok" that comes from cooking over intense heat as they do in restaurants. You can still make a stellar plate of fried noodles at home by having all the ingredients ready for the hot wok/pan before you turn on the heat...because everything will go fast!
How to make Fresh Flat Rice Noodles from scratch 手工河粉By Yun Zhang JohnMaking homemade fresh rice noodles or Hor Fun 河粉 sounds like a daunting and unnecessary undertaking. After all, it’s so easy to pick up a pack of fresh rice noodles at any Asian grocery market for cheap. But when you can’t find it, and you are craving the soft, slippery and slightly chewy texture that only fresh flat rice noodles can offer....the only thing to do it to get busy in the kitchen and steam it from scratch!

The flours

Not surprisingly, the main ingredient for making fresh rice noodles is rice flour…not glutinous rice flour. The other main ingredient can be interchangeable. Many recipes call for tapioca starch or flour, but I find that the final product can be a bit too chewy. For me, a good rice noodle should be soft and more yielding. So I use potato starch instead. Both options are good, it just depends on your personal preference.

The water

If you’re making making rice noodles for soups or stir fries, use cold water. If however, you are making these to eat on its own in a cold noodle dish or salad, then use hot water.

The steaming station

To steam the noodle sheets, you will need a steamer big enough to hold a shallow dish that can sit flat while cooking. I used a non-stick metal pan because it’s less heavy and conducts heat better than a glass or ceramic dish during the short cooking time. Having a couple of similar pans or dishes can speed up the cooking process. And just like making pancakes, the first ones might not be very good, but once you get into a rhythm, they’ll cook up consistently well and fast. Watch my tutorial video to see how the whole steaming process unfold. And there you have it! Handmade fresh flat rice noodles that are naturally gluten-free! Use them in soups or stir fries like Beef Chow Fun or 干炒牛河...just use them on the same day it's made because they do get really brittle once its been in the fridge.
2 Thirst Quenching Ice TeasBy Yun Zhang JohnThe weather is getting hot and let’s be honest, who wants to turn on the stove when it’s so hot and sticky. What we really want...and need is a nice, cold, refreshing and not too calorie ladened drink! That’s exactly what I have prepared. A couple of super satisfying and delicious ice teas that will quench your thirst fast.

Different teas, same health benefits

Matcha - A Japanese green tea that’s made by grinding up young green tea leaves into a fine vividly green powder. Unlike traditional teas, when you drink matcha, you are drinking in the tea leaves themselves. It has a slightly bitter and vegetal flavour and it’s many health benefits including cancer-fighting antioxidants. Jasmine - A Chinese green tea scented with jasmine blossoms. This mild tea is subtle sweet flavour and a very fragrant aroma. Jasmine tea made from green tea is loaded with polyphenols. These powerful compounds act as antioxidants in your body and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. In short, both teas are awesome juice! I used my favourite soy milk to make the Matcha Latte, but any plant based or regular milk will do. Or if you prefer non-milk teas, the Jasmine ice tea provides a lovely floral scent and is ultra refreshing.

Drink now and drink later

And while it’s best to mix the matcha latte right before drinking, the jasmine tea is perfect when made ahead of time…and drank cold straight from the fridge. But rest assure, both drinks will leave you completely invigorated. So, next time when you feel perched, make these drinks! You’ll be glad that you did.
Simple and Quick Home Style Tofu 家常豆腐By Yun Zhang JohnTofu is one of those polarising ingredients…some people, like me, love it. Some people loath it…and many others find it bland and blah tasting, such as my husband. And I always say to him: “It’s not tofu, it’s because you’ve never had it cooked the right way!”

A Multifaceted Ingredient

It’s true, tofu itself does not have much flavour. But it acts as a vehicle and takes on any flavour that you want it to. It also comes in various shapes and forms…from soft smooth silken tofu to dried chewy bean curds and everything in between, this one food offers up a variety of textures. And really, there are a myriad of ways to cook and enjoy tofu and tofu products. While my Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐 recipe uses silken tofu for its custardy texture, this home style tofu dish uses medium firm to firm. It has a more meaty bite and holds up well in the cooking process and against the other vegetables.

An Easy meatless meal

This vegetarian dish is high in protein and fibre, simple to make and comes together in 15 to 20min. Aside from the tofu itself, the other ingredients are completely interchangeable. Use your favourites or whatever you have on hand. Serve it with some rice, and a fast, easy and nutritious meal is sorted! Believe me, even my pickiest eater enjoys tofu made this way. Please give it a try at home and maybe convert some tofu critics along the way.
Chinese Lemon Chicken 柠檬鸡By Yun Zhang JohnChinese style lemon chicken is a dish consisting of battered and deep fried chicken pieces covered in a sweet and sour lemon sauce thickened with corn starch. Its flavour profile is widely popular and it has become one of most well-known Chinese chicken dishes in the world. You will find a rendition of this dish on the menu of any Chinese restaurant outside of China, no problem.


But is it actually from China? Or was it created for westernised palette? While the dish does have cantonese origins, you will have a hard time finding it in traditional restaurants in China because lemons are not readily used in Chinese cuisine. Chinese lemon chicken is one of those dishes that you either love it or hate it. As a spice lover, I’ve never been drawn to it, for me its sweet and sour flavours are a bit one dimensional. And often times when you order it at a restaurant or for take away, it’s greasy by the time you eat it and overly sweet with the amount of sugar added.

Easy recipe that's perfect for homecooks

But my sister-in-law and her family are huge fans, and that has made me take a second look at the dish. My conclusion is that you can make it more interesting and less greasy by cooking at home! By including aromatic in the preparation process, you can boost the flavour complexity. And by adding the sauce to the chicken at the last possible moment, you will keep the contrast between the crispy fried chicken and the smooth sweet sauce. The ingredients are few and easy to find or substituted. So why not try it tonight? I promise it’ll be better than take out!
Scallion oil sauce 葱油 and 3 easy ways to use it without noodles!By Yun Zhang JohnI’ve always known about scallion oil sauce…it’s like Chinese teriyaki sauce. Mostly salty, a little sweet and very very fragrant. Of course, the most famous application of this sauce being the Scallion Oil noodles. But it wasn’t until recently that I’ve really discovered the versatility of this intensely aromatic sauce. I had a lot of it left over from making Scallion Oil Soba noodles, and in an effort to use it up, I started adding it to a bunch of things that weren’t noodles. Lo and behold! They totally worked!

Completely customisable

Not only did this sauce work wonders to add a deeply savoury note to the food, but its flavour profile can be changed by adding just one extra ingredient. For example, squeeze in some Sriracha sauce to it and make it spicy to stir into some egg fried rice, or drizzle in some honey and turn it into a glaze for wings or even ribs! The possibilities are numerous for this “all-purpose” soy sauce based sauce.

Long lasting and Easily stored

And the long shelf life also add to its versatility. Make a big batch and it can stay safely in an air tight container in the fridge for several weeks. This way, you will always have a flavour enhancer on hand to be use as a quick marinade or to jazz up some plain stir fry veggies on a week night. And don’t forget, it also works great on noodles! So why not pick up some extra scallions next time you are at the market and make this work horse of a sauce for your family kitchen,
Triple Strawberry Swiss Roll Cake 草莓瑞士卷By Yun Zhang JohnSince he was a baby, my son loves to eat strawberries. For his first birthday, I made a strawberry cake that looked good but didn’t taste great. So for his second birthday, I was determined to make a strawberry cake that looked and tasted AMAZING. I wanted a cake that not only looks impressive but captures the essence of fresh, in season strawberries. This was the inspiration for my Triple Strawberry Swiss Roll…a cake is literally bursting at the seams with over a pound and a half of juicy red strawberries.

Why is this a triple strawberry cake?

Well, there is strawberry puree in the cake, a layer of soft strawberry jello and fresh unadulterated strawberries galore! This is THE cake to make to take advantage of all the fresh strawberries this season. But aside from the fruit, the cake holds up on its own. The soft, tender crumb is pillowy and not overly sweet. The balance of the tangy jello and the rich whipped cream is perfection. When you combine all the elements onto one forkful, you will have a dreamy, light and refreshing bite every time.

It takes long…but you don’t have to do anything as it sets!

Yes, there are a bunch of steps to make this cake. You must make each element and leave enough time for it to set. But the active prep time takes in total about 1hr. So roll up your sleeve and get rolling! Because one bite of this cake will make you instantly forget how long it all took.
Shui Zhu Yu 水煮鱼 – Water Poached FishBy Yun Zhang JohnWater Poached Fish, or Shui Zhu Yu 水煮鱼 sounds like a pretty benign dish, doesn’t it? What can be more bland and uninteresting than boiling fish in water? Well, this cannot be further from the truth!

What is Shui Zhu Yu?

The truth is that Shui Zhu Yu 水煮鱼 is probably one of the most flavourful and fragrant dish in the Sichuan culinary repertoire. In deed the fish is poached in water, but the water in question is packed with spicy chillis, numbing Sichuan peppercorns, fermented broadband chilli paste (Pi Xian Dou Ban) and much much more! Poaching anything with this elixir will elevate the flavours tenfold! And it doesn’t stop at the broth, the fish is also the star. For the most authentic version of Shui Zhu Yu, you must use a whole fish. You’ve GOT TO separate the fillet from the bones and cut it into thin wide slices and you’ve GOT TO use the fish head and bones to make the soup stock. But do we always have the time? What if your knife skills aren’t great or can’t get your hands on a whole white fleshed fish like a carp or a catfish? Well, defrosted white fish fillets like tilapia are the next best thing. It’ll reduce the prep time by half and by treating the fish with proven tenderising techniques, you’ll be surprised at just how succulent this once frozen fish can be.

A great way to eat your veggies!

But believe it or not, my favourite part of the dish are the vegetables. They are use to bulk up the dish and to provide a contrasting texture to the fall-apart tender fish pieces. Some great options include soy bean sprouts, Chinese celery, enoki mushrooms and celtuce - a leafy veg commonly found in China that closely resembles lettuce.
How to Make Pork & Cabbage Jade Dumplings 翡翠饺By Yun Zhang JohnMaking dumplings from scratch is not something I grew up doing. Even in recent years, I’ve always relied on store bought wrappers. It wasn’t until I moved to a place where fresh dumpling wrappers were hard to come by that I dove into making it ALL from scratch….and truthfully, I’ve not looked back! Because having a handmade dough wrapper encasing your favourite meats and vegetables just can’t be beat!

Dumplings with a side of culture

Once you have the technique of hand making dumpling wrappers down, you can start experimenting. Just like I’ve done here with these “cabbage” dumplings or 翡翠饺, as they are called in Chinese. The name is actually quite poetic as it means jade. In Chinese culture, jade is a highly treasured ornamental stone which are often carved into the shape of napa cabbages due to the natural variations of whites and greens found in the stone. Jadeite Cabbage sculptures are not only pretty to look at, but they also symbolise prosperity and wealth. And that’s how this gem of a dumpling got its name. But I don’t make these just to look at, they are truly yummy to eat! The pork and napa cabbage filling is a classic combination and totally appropriate here. Making dumplings from scratch takes a bit of time, but why not build a family tradition around making and fold and eating these beautiful bites? My step-by-step guide will give you all the techniques and secrets that you’ll need to enjoy these juicy, fragrant and satisfying parcels of deliciousness at home!
Lu Rou Fan – Braised Pork Over Rice 滷肉飯By Yun Zhang JohnTaiwanese braised pork over rice or 滷肉飯 is a well known dish of braised pork belly in a dark brown sauce from Taiwan. It’s served over rice so that the white rice can soak up all the rich meaty juices. It has become one of our family favourites because its savoury and sweet flavour profile is perfect for my non-spicy eaters.

A less fatty version

While I LOVE pork belly…I have many recipes that uses pork belly. For my version of 滷肉飯, I choose to use pork neck instead. I find that it has more than enough fat to enrich the sauce and more than enough meat to satiate the strictly lean meat eaters.

An easy to make dish that doesn't need too many ingredients

Great as a week night meal idea, this is easy to make and comes together in less than an hour on the stove top. Better yet, throw it all in your pressure cooker/Instant Pot and get the same melt-in-your mouth morsels of pork in under 30 minutes. Better still, throw it all in your slow cooker and forget it about completely as you go about your day! The ingredients are super simple, all you’ll need are pork and eggs and a handful of mostly pantry items. Please try it out for your family tonight, you won’t believe how so little effort gives out so much big flavours!
A Step by Step Guide to Make Longevity Peach Buns 壽桃包By Yun Zhang JohnIf you attend any Chinese birthday celebration for an older person, you will find peach shaped buns at the centre of the banquet. This is because 壽桃包, as they are called, symbolise longevity and are used as an offering to wish for a long and healthy life.

But why peaches?

Well, peaches symbolise immortality in Chinese mythology. Peaches of Immortality or 仙桃 are mythical fruits that were consumed by celestial beings or saints. The myth goes that The Queen Mother of the West (a Chinese goddess in the Taoist tradition) grows peaches of immortality in her garden on the mythical Kunlun mountain. Once every 3000 years, she gathers together all the celestial beings and they feast on ripe peaches, thus ensuring their immortality. You will also find peaches depicted in numerous fables, paintings, literatures and other works of art. So I thought that it would be totally appropriate to make them for my mother in law, who recently celebrated a milestone birthday. While the mythology is neat to know, I was after the “pretty” factor with these adorable looking buns. It was a win-win. A bit of culture…packaged in fluffy steamed buns decorated in red and green and filled with sweet red bean paste.

Therapeutic bread making

While they do take a bit of an effort to make, I found tranquility in the process. As if time stood still as I focused on kneading, folding and shaping and painting… a gift of timelessness in my otherwise ever fleeting days.
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