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Bacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew Recipe

Bacalhau Guisado – Portuguese Salt Cod Stew

For some reasons, this stew reminds me so much of home: Macau, my family and my childhood. From the moment the stew started bubbling on the stove, the distant but familiar aroma escaped from the pot, which I have known since I was a child; to every bite of this dish, the combination of the different tastes and textures were in fact something that I have been longing for – without knowing and unable to describe. But why am I telling you this? I know it probably might not be so relevant to you, but I am convinced that everyone has a dish/food that they once loved but somehow its existence has buried under their many other recent memories. For me, this salt cod stew is one of them, I love and enjoy every bite and every taste of this dish, it reminds me of the many trips our family made to our favourite Portuguese restaurant, where we enjoyed its food immensely. Because of this, Portuguese food became part of our family food culture, it was just as important as Chinese food in our family. But somehow I have forgotten many of these delectable Portuguese dishes since I moved away from home.

I made this stew twice in the last two weeks, not only because I needed to perfect the recipe for this blog post, but also I couldn’t shake off the feeling of traveling back to my childhood while eating this dish. Well, I think I have much need to plan a trip back home very soon as I reckon this is part of the syndrome of homesickness.


Apart from planning 24 hours ahead to desalinate the bacalhau, and preparing the other ingredients for the stew, there is hardly any active cooking involved. If you aren’t sure about the level of saltiness of the bacalhau and whether it is ready to go into the stew after the requested timeline, just cut a small piece and cook it in boiling water for a couple of minutes, and have a taste. It should be slightly on the salty side but not overwhelming.

You can use fresh cod instead if you can’t find Bacalhau, although it won’t taste the same but it will still be delicious! One thing though, please reduce the cooking time to 45 minutes. (A friend has made this recipe with fresh cod and he liked it a lot and has recommended to his friends as well)

It sounds like there is much of olive oil going into the dish, but it helps bringing all the flavours of the ingredients together and trust me, the finish dish doesn’t taste oily at all!

I love serving this stew with steamed rice but it is commonly served with warm crusty bread.

Do not skip the fresh coriander, sprinkle it generously on your portion, it really brightens up the rich and wholesome flavour of the stew.

Bacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew RecipeBacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew RecipeBacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew Recipe Bacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew RecipeBacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew Recipe


recipe adapted from ‘Taste of Macau’ cookbook by Annabel Jackson

Serves 4-6

  • 600g Bacalhao (salted cod)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced crosswise
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 400g Potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bell pepper (red, green or yellow), halved, ribs and seeds removed, sliced
  • 2 large ripped tomato, sliced crosswise
  • 80g black olives with stone (or pitted, preferable Spanish or Portuguese)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large bay leaf (or 2-3 small)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander (leaves and soft stems) roughly chopped

To prepare the bacalhau: the fish needs to be desalinated 24 hour before you want to make this stew, first rinse off the salt and submerge the fish in water, covered and leave it for 24 hours. Change water 3 to 4 times, or every few hours (it depends on the salted cod, some need less time about 12 hours). Drain the cod and pad dry with a tea towel or kitchen paper. Remove the skin and bone if there is any, tear with your hands or cut the cod into little bigger than bite size pieces (as fish will fall apart after cooking, so you don’t want to cut them too small). Set aside.

In a casserole, layer half of the onions, tomato, bell pepper, garlic, cod and olives, add the bay leaf then repeat the layering until all ingredients are in the casserole.

Add a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Pour in the water and drizzle all the olive oil evenly on the mixture.

Cover the casserole with a tight fitted lid, bring the content to boil and immediately turn the heat down to as low as possible, simmer gently for 1.5 hours. Keep the lid on at all time and just gently shake the casserole occasionally during cooking to make sure nothing stick to the bottom.

After 1.5 hours, remove the lid and stir once to combine the sauce with everything else together, check the seasoning. Add salt if needed (very unlikely you will need to).

Serve the stew with generous amount of sauce in a warm plate and sprinkle freshly chopped coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with slices of warm crusty bread to soak up all the lovely flavours.

Bacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew Recipe

Spicy Mushroom and Kale Stir-Fry recipe

20 Minutes Spicy Mushroom and Kale Stir-Fry

This mushroom stir-fry will only take you 20 minutes to make, a perfect week night meal which is not only full of flavours: smoky, spicy with a wonderful umami taste, but also packed with nutrients: both vegetables are low in calories and two very good sources of various vitamins. It is so easy to make and so delicious that there is no more excuse not to include more mushroom and kale in your diet. It can also be easily made vegan.

This recipe makes more than enough for two, it tastes even better the next day. I will double the recipe amount next time so that I can enjoy it throughout the week. I serve it with rice here but other fantastic alternatives will be quinoa, noodles, pasta, creamy polenta or even in tortilla for tacos!

Note: you don’t have to be too specified with the amount of water which is added into the dish during cooking, some mushrooms release more water than others so water should be added gradually, 100ml at a time. If you like it more ‘saucy’ then add more water, all you need to do is to make sure to adjust the seasoning at the end before serving, with either soy sauce or salt. I do recommend you add the cornstarch slurry as it allows the sauce to cling on nicely on the vegetables. When reheat the leftover, simply add a splash of water to loosen the sauce, again adjust the seasoning if needed.

Spicy Mushroom and Kale Stir-Fry recipe Spicy Mushroom and Kale Stir-Fry recipe Spicy Mushroom and Kale Stir-Fry recipe


Serves 2

  • 500g mixed mushrooms (I use Chestnut, oyster and king oyster), roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of Cavolo Nero (Tuscan Kale or Black Kale), leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 1 shallot, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 piece of 3cm chunk fresh ginger root, peeled and finely sliced
  • Vegetable oil
  • 200ml water
  • 1 small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • Cooked Jasmine rice for serving
  • Half a lemon, cut into wedges

For the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp. Chinese fermented black bean, rinsed and mashed with the bottom of your knife handle or with a fork
  • 1 tbsp. Gochujang (korean chili paste)
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce (omit if vegetarian and vegan)
  • A small pinch of coconut sugar (or regular brown sugar or agave syrup)
  • 1/8 tsp. roasted garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. water to loosen the sauce
  • Tamari (or regular soy sauce) to taste

For the cornstarch slurry:

  • 1 tbsp. of cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. water

Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Warm 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan on medium high heat. Sautéed shallots and ginger for a minute until the shallots turn slightly translucent. Add mushrooms, stir-fry for about 2 minutes, add a splash of water, cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat down to medium. Let the mushrooms sweat in the pan for a full minute. Remove the lid and the mushrooms should reduce its volume by half. Add kale and stir to mix well.

Add the prepared sauce to the vegetables and make sure everything is well combined. Add the water gradually (see note above) and cover with the lid again and cook for a further 2 minutes.

While the vegetables is cooking, make the cornstarch slurry by combining the two ingredients. Set aside.

Remove the lid and stir the vegetables a few times, have a taste, adjust seasoning with Tamari if needed.

Finally, stream in the slurry (mix it again before adding) to the pan and cook until the sauce is thickened. Transfer the vegetables in a warm serving plate and sprinkle with chopped coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice, served with cooked Jasmine rice.

Spicy Mushroom and Kale Stir-Fry recipe

Crispy Tofu with Szchuan pepper and chilli / chinese pickled cucumber recipe

Crispy Tofu with Szechuan Pepper and Chilli / Pickled Cucumber with Ginger and Chinese Vinegar

Happy Chinese New Year! Gung Hei Fat Choi! I wish you all prosperity and a healthy Year of the Dog! I used to love Chinese New Year when I was a child (I still love it but in a different way since I have been living in Europe for so long), because it is the time when the whole family will get together and spend some quality time with one another, share and enjoy wonderful traditional Chinese food, play games and watch some spectacular firework by the ocean. It is the time when everyone wishes everyone happiness and prosperity, everywhere you go is full of festive atmosphere. I do miss that feeling of being surrounded by my sisters, nephews and nieces, family time is priceless. Anyway, I hope those of you who celebrate Lunar New Year have a wonderful time and a lucky year ahead.

Today, I have prepared two recipes for you. Crispy Tofu with Szechuan Pepper and Chilli, and Pickled Cucumber with Ginger and Chinese Vinegar. The crispy tofu recipe has a wonderful mixture of flavours – licorice, spicy, savoury and smoky because of the Chinese Five Spice and Szechuan peppercorn, they are two of the most important ingredients in Chinese kitchen. A chef once told me that Chinese Five Spice is the equivalent to the Italian mixed herbs (rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil) in Italian cuisine or the French Herbs de Provence in French kitchen which adds depth to the flavour of any dishes. It is widely used in restaurants and almost every household in Asian countries. I love the distinct licorice flavour of these spices and they go well especially with meat, like the Char Siu recipe I posted here last week, Chinese Five Spice was used as part of the marinade, it gives the meat a nice smokey tone.

But this time, I use these spices on tofu. This recipe is inspired by one of my favourite dishes ‘salt and pepper tofu’ which I often ate when I was living in London. There are several variations: with squid, chicken, fish filet, or spare ribs. They are all super tasty and the spices work equally well with either of these ingredients. I oft for tofu this time as I have posted a meat recipe last week and I somehow like to share some more vegetable side dishes with you (in time for Chinese New Year too). Apart from this delicious crispy tofu recipe, the other dish I am sharing here, is a quick and simple pickled cucumber with ginger and black rice vinegar. If you haven’t yet came across black rice vinegar (also known as Chinkiang vinegar), it is well worthy to try it out. The vinegar is made with rice, sometimes millet or sorghum, the sweet and smoky taste is quite different from the usual sharp tangy note of its other counterparts. It is a rather common ingredient for meat stew as the vinegar softens the meat and enriches the sauce after a long cooking process. It is also delicious in pickles and salad with its woody tone, its flavour compliments brilliantly with ginger especially, which is why it has become one very popular dipping sauce for Chinese dumplings.

Note: After you pan-fried the tofu, the rest of the dish comes together pretty quickly so I recommend you to have all other ingredients prepared before hand.

Crispy Tofu with Szchuan pepper and chilli / chinese pickled cucumber recipe Crispy Tofu with Szchuan pepper and chilli / chinese pickled cucumber recipe

Crispy Tofu with Szechuan Pepper and Chilli


serves 2 as a side

  • 250g organic Tofu, cut into approx. 7mm thick slabs.
  • 1 chilli, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. Chinese Five Spice powder
  • 1 tsp. Szechuan Peppercorn
  • A very generous pinch of flaky sea salt (I use Maldon)
  • 1 tsp. tamari or regular soy sauce
  • 1 cup corn starch (or potato starch)
  • Vegetable oil

In a pastor and mortar, finely ground the Szechuan peppercorn. In a small bowl, combine ground Szechuan pepper, Chinese five spice, salt and set aside.

Squeeze out excess water from the tofu and coat them in corn starch.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan, pan-fry tofu on medium high heat until they are crispy and have turned golden brown. Transfer them onto a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. When cool enough to handle, cut tofu into bite size pieces. Set aside.

Use the same pan, warm another tablespoon of oil and add the garlic slices, fry them on medium heat until they are golden brown but not burnt. Use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic. Set aside.

Add chilli and spring onion in the garlic oil (on medium heat) followed by the spices, be careful not to let them burn! Add tofu and quickly stir-fry/toss everything together until all the tofu are coated with the spices. Add the crispy garlic and a teaspoon of tamari, and give the pan a final toss so everything is well combined. Transfer the content on to a warm plate or shallow bowl. Serve immediately.

Pickled Cucumber with Ginger and Chinese Vinegar


Serves 2-3 as a side

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 thumb size ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 4 tbsp. of Chinese black rice vinegar (Chinkiang Vinegar)
  • 1 tsp. of Tamari or regular soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. lime juice (optional)

Cut the cucumber into 3 parts. Then halve each part and scoop away most of the seeds. Use your fingers, roughly tear the cucumber segments into smaller pieces, or use a rolling pin to slightly crush them.

Sprinkle the salt on the cucumber and set it aside for 10 minutes to draw out excess water.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, then add the cucumber (leave the liquid behind) and mix well. Leave the cucumber marinating in the vinegar mixture for at least 30 minutes, stir every so often to make sure all the cucumbers are marinated evenly.


Crispy Tofu with Szchuan pepper and chilli / chinese pickled cucumber recipe

Char Siu - Chinese Style BBQ Pork recipe

Roasted Chinese Style Pork Filet served with Ginger Spring Onion Sauce

Exactly one week today will be Chinese New Year day. If you are planning to host a big new year party, I hope you are nearly ready with all the ideas that I have prepared you since the last couple of weeks (on the blog, my facebook page and Instagram). But I am not stopping with my Chinese food theme yet, today I have another recipe for you. This roasted pork recipe is one of my childhood favourites, it is known as Char Siu 叉燒 in Cantonese. The original cooking method is barbecue but I roasted mine instead (maybe I will try barbecue it in the summer with our outdoor grill) since I find the top grill of my oven is not the best and I want the pork to cook evenly inside the oven. The filet came out nicely charred on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside, because of the long marinating time, the flavour has developed deep into the meat. No wonder it is one of the most popular dishes in Cantonese speaking countries.

Although it is not usual to serve Char Siu with ginger and spring onion sauce, but since the taste of the meat is on a slightly sweeter side, serving it with the sauce balances the sweetness out beautifully. I love to serve it on top of steamy hot rice with a piece of crunchy lettuce leaf, a good dollop of the ginger spring onion sauce, this combination provides the most complex texture and a perfect balance of all different flavours in one bite. Therefore I definitely recommend you serve yours with the suggestions I wrote down here in the recipe below.

Note: It does make a different if the meat is marinated for a longer time than 3 hours, so it is worth to prepare it 24 hours before you plan to roast it. Apart from that, active cooking is minimal.

Char Siu - Chinese Style BBQ Pork recipe Char Siu - Chinese Style BBQ Pork recipe  Char Siu - Chinese Style BBQ Pork recipe


Served 3-4

  • 500g pork filet

For the marinade:

  • 2 tbsp. tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 1.5 tbsp. Hoisin sauce (plus more for serving)
  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Shaoxing rice wine (or sake)
  • 1 tsp. runny honey
  • 1 tsp. Chinese five spice
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil (plus more for brushing)

For the Ginger Spring Onion Dip: (makes about 1 cup)

  • 1 bunch spring onion (white and light green part only), finely chopped
  • 1 thumb size ginger, minced
  • 1 pinch of flaky sea salt (I use Maldon)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use rapeseed oil)

To serve:

  • Mixed grain rice (or white rice)
  • Little gem lettuce
  • Steamed Pak Choi

Combine all marinade ingredients into a small bowl, set aside.

Use a small container or bowl just enough to fit the pork filet in for marinating (you can use zipper bag, but I am trying not to use disposable plastic bag as possible), pour in the marinade and make sure the filet is coated evenly with the sauce. Cover and keep in the fridge for at least 3 hours or the best is 24 hours (you will need to turn the filet a couple of times to make sure it gets marinated evenly).

Take the filet out of the fridge an hour before cooking (to bring it back to room temperature).

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius. Transfer the filet on a roasting rack on top of a roasting tray to catch the dripping. Roast the filet for 20 minutes.

While the filet is roasting, pour the remaining marinade into a small sauce pan, add 1 tsp. of sesame oil and bring to simmer for 1 minute. Set aside with a pastry brush.

After the first 20 minutes, brush the warm marinade onto the filet and turn the filet around, make sure all sides are brushed with the sauce. Then put it back into the oven and roast for another 20 minutes.

Brush the filet all over with the remaining sauce and turn it over again after the second 20 minutes, return it to the oven and roast for a further 5-10 minutes.

Removed the filet from the oven, cover in foil and let it rest on the counter while you are preparing the ginger and spring onion dip.

Combine the chopped spring onion and minced ginger in a small bowl, set aside.

In a small sauce pan or pan, heat the vegetable oil on high until very hot, you can test it by carefully dropping a small piece of onion to the oil, if it sizzles, then the oil is ready. Add the spring onion and ginger into the pan and remove from heat immediately (you just want to take the raw edges off from the vegetables but not cooking them). Transfer the onion oil sauce back into the bowl and add a generous pinch of sea salt. Mix well and set aside.

Slice the pork filet and arrange them onto a serving platter. Serve with more Hoisin sauce and the ginger spring onion sauce, on rice or on lettuce.

Char Siu - Chinese Style BBQ Pork recipe


Sautéed Chinese Sausage and Kale recipe

Sautéed Chinese Sausage with Garlicky Kale

Chinese sausage is also known as ‘Lap Chong’ in Cantonese, a type of dried sausage made with mainly pork, but some also made with duck or pork liver. These sausages are sweeten, seasoned and then smoked or sun/wind-dried. They are mainly sold in dried goods store in Hong Kong and Macau food market. Bunch after bunch of sausages hanging on hooks in the shop front (they usually came in pair and connected with a kitchen string, my mother used to hang them on a hook on the kitchen wall where she stored her dried food in plastic bags) alongside with some dried bacon and dried duck. I remember when I was little, standing in front of the shop, admiring the wonderful (but odd) sight of hanging sausages while my mother was selecting our family favourite ones. The sweet and smoky aroma always made me hungry. The favourite way of cooking them is to lay a couple of sausages onto the washed uncooked rice with the right amount of water, then turn the rice cooker on, once the rice is cooked, so are the sausages. The rice has soaked up the oil and flavour from the sausages and they will then be sliced into bite size pieces, served on top of the fragrant rice with drizzle of sweet soy sauce. It tastes heavenly.

I have somewhat forgotten about these sausages after living in Europe for two decades. I saw them in the Asian shop the other day and my childhood memory has come back to me, the taste and the aroma of these delicacy suddenly rushed back into my mind. So I decided to buy a pack and to recreate my favourite childhood dishes. One of the dishes I love is stir-fry Chinese broccoli and Lap Chong which I am trying to make here. But in this recipe, I use kale instead as it is available in most markets here in Berlin (in fact, any leafy green or even green beans would work here). This dish is so easy to make, once you have done all the washing and chopping (and it doesn’t take long at all), the dish will be put together deliciously in less then 5 minutes. The flavour is complex, sweet, savoury, garlicky, slightly spicy (from the ginger) and umami. It compliments wonderfully to any main dishes and I will even eat it as a main with hot steamy Jasmine rice, so so good.

Note: Since the sausage will release oil while cooking, therefore you don’t need to add much vegetable oil to cook from the beginning. This dish is not meant to be saucy, just in case you are expecting much sauce in the finished dish. These sausages usually come in a package, I separate them (because they stuck together when they were vacuum packed) and put them into a zippy bag and store them in the freezer.

Sautéed Chinese Sausage and Kale recipe Sautéed Chinese Sausage and Kale recipe  Sautéed Chinese Sausage and Kale recipe


serves 2-3 as a side dish

  • 2 whole Chinese sausage, thinly sliced
  • 100g Kale, leaves picked and tear into bite size pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 thumb-size ginger, peeled and julienned

For the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp. tamari or regular soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Shaoxing rice wine (or sake)
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • water

Prepare the sauce by combining all ingredients and mix well, set aside.

Warm the vegetable oil in a wok or non stick frying pan on medium high heat. Sautéed the Chinese sausage until slightly crispy and most of the oil has released. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon (or chopsticks), then discard most of the oil and return the pan on the stove.

Add kale, garlic and half of the ginger into the pan, sautéed the vegetables for a minute. Then add a splash of water, and cover the pan with a lid, turn the heat down to medium for one minute.

Remove the lid and pour the sauce over the vegetables, mix once and then add the Chinese sausage back into the pan, mix again. Cover the pan and let it cook for 2 minutes. Take one piece of kale out and have a taste, adjust seasoning if needed.

Transfer the content on to a serving platter and garnish with the rest of the ginger slivers. Serve immediately with steamed Jasmine rice.

Sautéed Chinese Sausage and Kale recipe

Braised Aubergine Ramen in Spicy Blackbean Sauce recipe

Braised Aubergine Ramen in Spicy Black Bean Sauce

I have the most vivid memory of my mother making this black bean sauce, she would mash the fermented black bean with the end of the knife handle together with crushed garlic, she would work on it patiently until it was well mashed and combined. After that, she added soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and mix it into a thick glossy paste. The aroma of the umami black bean and the strong pungent garlic filled our tiny kitchen. I have no idea why I remember so well with her making this particular sauce since I had learned so many other homemade sauces from her. But whatever reason it might be, it remains one of my favourite sauces to make if I crave for a taste of home as it will always remind me of this picture, in which my beloved mother and I stood in our kitchen together, making dinner for the whole family.

When I was planning this week’s recipe, I wanted to make something Chinese, not because I was homesick (yes I do miss my mother), but because Chinese new year is just three weeks away (New year day is on the 16th of February). So I decided I will devote the next 3 weeks’ recipes to Chinese dishes. I want to share with you these delicious dishes that you will really enjoy during or even after the celebration. I hope you will like what I am going to offer you in the next weeks. But for now, let’s move on to this week’s recipe and I have to say, this ramen dish is truly satisfying in many levels; it is a flavour bomb with multi-layers of texture. If you are not a ramen fan, steamed jasmine rice will be an excellent substitute.

Note: my mother’s recipe doesn’t include sambal oelek, and most of the times I make it without if I have to cook for my daughter as well. But this time, I wanted something spicy and I wanted the heat, and sambal oelek absolutely gives the sauce another level of flavour. So spicy or not spicy, it is entirely up to you, but I will assure you either way will be absolutely delicious.

Braised Aubergine Ramen in Spicy Blackbean Sauce recipe Braised Aubergine Ramen in Spicy Blackbean Sauce recipe Braised Aubergine Ramen in Spicy Blackbean Sauce recipe


Serves 2

  • 1 medium aubergine, cut into bite size pieces (or 1/2 of a large one)
  • 2 large mushroom (120g), brush clean, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, deseed and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 small carrot, slice into coins
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • A large handful of broccoli florets (or stem), roughly chopped
  • Vegetable oil
  • 300ml water, plus more
  • 2 cake ramen (I use brown rice ramen)
  • 1 chili, finely chopped (for garnish)
  • a few sprigs of fresh parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped (for garnish)

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp. fermented black bean (Asian store)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp. miri
  • 2 tsp. Shaoxing Rice Wine (or Sake)
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 heaped tsp. sambal oelek (plus more if you prefer spicier)
  • small pinch of coconut sugar (or honey)

Cook ramen according to package instructions. Drain and drizzle sesame oil and mix well to prevent sticking. Set aside.

Put the black bean into a small bowl and mash them with the end of your knife or the end of a rolling pin until it is mashed, added minced garlic and the rest of the sauce ingredients, mix well and set aside.

Warm 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a non stick pan or wok, add aubergine and brown on all sides, cook until aubergine is slightly soft and translucent. Transfer them on a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. Set aside.

In the same pan, wipe away the oil and turn the heat up , heat 1 tbsp. of oil until hot. Add onion, carrot, broccoli, bell pepper, mushroom and stir fry for a couple of minutes, add a splash of water and carry on stirring for another minute. Add the spicy black bean sauce in the mix and 300ml of water to the pan. Bring to boil and add the aubergine. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 2 minutes. Push the vegetable on one side of the pan and add the ramen to the sauce, stir until the ramen is coated evenly with the sauce. Divide and transfer the ramen into 2 warm bowls and then spoon over the remaining vegetables onto the ramen. Garnish with chopped chilli and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Braised Aubergine Ramen in Spicy Blackbean Sauce recipe



Roasted Beetroot Blood Orange and Feta Cheese Salad recipe

Roasted Beetroot, Blood Orange, Snow Pea Shoots and Feta Cheese Salad

I am always fond of beetroot, one of the few root vegetables I cook regularly. I don’t like so much the ready cooked type which mostly wrapped in plastic vacuum bag, although my first taste of beetroot was one of those cooked one soaked in vinegar, packed in plastic; laying somewhat out of place among other fresh vegetables on the supermarket shelves. But in the past years I have learned how to cook it from raw and I have never looked back since. I prefer to buy the one that still has its greens intact as it is more flavourful (usually can be found in farmer market). The beet greens are surprisingly delicious and only requires minimum cooking. My favourite way to cook them is add them to a skillet with crispy chorizo, fry for a few minutes and then drench the mixture with beaten egg, good pinch of salt and pepper then baked in the oven until the egg is set. Serve the frittata with crumbled feta and chopped fresh parsley, an amazingly tasty and satisfying meal takes mere minutes to make.

For the root, I love to baked them whole in foil for an hour or less depends on the size, until tender, strip off their skin after cooling, and add into salad, grain bowl, or even blend into hummus. But in today’s recipe, I quarter the beetroot and season them with dried thyme, flaky sea salt, freshly ground pepper and a generous drizzle of olive oil before baking them until tender and the edges are caramelised. I suggest you bake a large batch and keep the left over in an airtight container and it can be kept in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. So you can add them into anything you like throughout the week. I serve, in this particular salad with some snow peas shoots which I bought from the farmer market, but any soft leafy green salad will be just as good. Feta cheese is used here but Halloumi cheese will be absolutely delicious in it as well.

Roasted Beetroot Blood Orange and Feta Cheese Salad recipe Roasted Beetroot Blood Orange and Feta Cheese Salad recipe


serves 4

  • 6 small to medium raw beetroot, washed (trim the leaves and root off)
  • Dried Thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 blood orange, segmented
  • 2 large handful of snow peas shoots (or other soft leafy green salad)
  • 180g Feta cheese (or other type of goat cheese)
  • 1/3 cup walnut, toasted and chopped
  • Fresh mint leaves (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tbsp. good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. blood orange juice
  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. honey (or maple syrup)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 degree celsius. Cut the beetroot into wedges and place them onto a baking tray. Sprinkle dried thyme, a good pinch of sea salt and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle some olive oil on top and use your hands, combine the seasoning and oil well with the beetroot. Cover the baking tray with tin foil and place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes. The beetroot should be tender and a knife can be eased into it easily. Remove the beetroot from the oven and set aside to cool.

To prepare the dressing, combine all dressing ingredients into a small glass jar, cover with a lid, shake and mix well. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Set aside.

Add a couple of spoonfuls of the dressing onto the baked beetroot and mix well.

To serve: divide beetroot, blood orange and snow peas shoots on 4 plates and drizzle dressing just before serving. Finally crumble feta cheese and toasted walnuts (not pictured, I forgot!!) on top and garnish with fresh mint leaves (if use).

Roasted Beetroot Blood Orange and Feta Cheese Salad recipe


Brazilian Cheese Bread recipe

Brazilian Cheese Bread – Pão de Queijo

These Brazilian cheese bread are crispy on the outside, cheesy and gooey on the inside, almost elastic, such texture reminds me a little of Mochi (a type of Japanese rice cake which is made with glutinous rice flour), one of my childhood favourites. Technically, they are not really ‘bread’ as it requires neither yeast, nor proofing which normally a must for bread making. The recipe calls for just a handful of ingredients and it takes about half an hour to three quarters of an hour to make. These little fluff balls are light as feather, freckled with golden brown spots from the cheese, are best served warm straight from the oven. Slather a couple of them generously with velvety butter and a pinch of flaky sea salt, that’s exactly the way I like to eat them! Alongside with a cup of warm matcha latte and a good book (or a Netflix series!) would be a real treat for me. I imagine it will be absolutely delicious if served with a hearty soup or stew where you can use the bread to soak up all the lovely flavours. Whichever way you choose to serve, these little gems will definitely be something you will enjoy. And, did I tell you it is naturally gluten free?

This recipe is based on the recipe from KingArthur Flour website which was recommended by one of my fellow Instagramers, I made it a couple of times already in the past and it worked really well. For this recipe, I made a few adjustments: I choose to use a mixture of mozzarella cheese and parmesan as I quite like the squeaky nature of baked mozzarella, it gives a little more interesting texture. I also replace garlic from the original recipe with smoked garlic powder, it blends very well with the tapioca starch which allows the garlic flavour to immerse into the dough evenly. Finally I use less butter in the dough than it calls for so I can serve it with more butter and salt generously when it is warm and crunchy! The left over bread can be kept in a air tight box for a day, reheat it on the toaster or in the oven shortly.

Brazilian Cheese Bread recipeBrazilian Cheese Bread recipe

Brazilian Cheese Bread – Pão de Queijo

recipe slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour


makes about 18 small or 9 large

  • 60ml milk
  • 60ml water
  • 100g butter
  • a generous pinch of salt
  • 230g tapioca starch
  • 1 scant tsp. garlic powder
  • 70g mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 40g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 190 degree Celsius. Line a large baking tray with parchment.

Combine tapioca starch and garlic powder in a large mixing bowl, set aside.

Combine milk, water, butter and salt in a small sauce pan and bring to a gentle boil. Carefully pour the boiling butter milk mixture into the tapioca starch and using a handheld mixer with the dough hook (or stand mixer, even better), beat the flour and liquid until combine. Add the cheese in the mixture and beat continuously with the mixer until well combined (at this stage, the mixture will still be coarse and lumpy, but once the egg is in, it will come together nicely).

Stream in the beaten egg while the mixer is still running. The mixture should now come together in one glossy and sticky dough (it feels still quite wet, but that’s ok), beat for another 30 seconds.

Divide the dough with a spoon and drop the ‘batter’ onto the parchment, about one tablespoon each for small ones, a heaped tablespoon each for large ones. Make sure there is enough space in between each dough. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes (small ones) to 30 minutes (large ones).

Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving.

Brazilian Cheese Bread recipe


Miso Tahini Dressing recipe and Styling Project

Miso Tahini Dressing and My Food Styling Projects

Happy New Year my dear readers!! Hopefully this year will be an exciting one for everyone! It will certainly be one for me! I have been so eager to tell you about the food styling project I worked on for the last couples of months, until now, I can finally show you what I have done and what I have achieved so far!

This styling project was for an advertising campaign of a well known Japanese food company – Ajinomoto, who specialises in frozen ready made Japanese food products, seasoning and Asian cooking sauces. So far I was involved in two of their projects entailed recipes writing and food styling using their products, in this case a selection of their frozen gyoza. The first one was a video project in which I created a few recipes for their campaign – a salad dressing recipe (which features here) and a selection of dipping sauces for their gyoza. Then I was responsible to style the scenes and demonstrate the recipes in videos. There are three videos in total and two are now online on their facebook page! I am so excited to share these videos with you and I hope you like them too! Here are the links for the videos on my Vimeo page:

Video link: Miso Tahini Dressing

Miso Tahini Dressing recipe and Styling Project

screen shot from the video

Video link: How to pan-fry perfect gyoza

Miso Tahini Dressing recipe and Styling Project

screen shot from the video

The second project was for their advertising entries (leaflets) to an online gastronomy website (for restauranteur in Europe). My role was to design a mood-board for the leaflets, create 8 recipes, cook and style the dishes. It was an absolute fun project in which I worked with a team of talented people – professional photographers (from a Berlin based photo studio: Bert Spagermacher Fotografiert) for the photos of the final dishes, and a graphic designer who put together the final layout of the leaflets. As soon as I got hold onto the images, I will share them with you either on the blog here or on my facebook page! So stay tuned!

It has been a tremendous experience for me and I enjoyed every single minute of it! I was able to use my design knowledge as well as my experience of cooking and recipe writing in one single setting, it was such an exciting and valuable project for me!  I am ever so grateful for having such an opportunity and to work with fun and like-minded people. The even better news is: there is another styling project coming up next month and I am so so excited about it! I am very much looking forward to telling you more about it, but for now, let me share our favourite Miso Tahini dressing (from the video) with you, the one and only tahini dressing you will ever need!

Miso Tahini Dressing recipe and Styling ProjectMiso Tahini Dressing recipe and Styling ProjectMiso Tahini Dressing recipe and Styling Project


1.This dressing is creamy, slightly nutty in flavour and extremely versatile, for example, I used honey in this recipe but you can use sugar, maple syrup or date syrup (if vegan) instead. Depends on the brand of Tahini, some are runnier than others, therefore, adjust the quantity of water accordingly. You can even replace water with orange juice! Just add liquid a little at a time to achieve the prefer consistence. This recipe is just an inspiration, play around with different options and create your own favourite version!

2. This salad is amazing with grilled meat or fish, if vegetarian, with roasted root vegetables such as pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot, or pan fried mushroom or tofu. Use any leafy green salad you like, add cooked grains such as brown rice, millet or quinoa for a quick and satisfaction lunch!

Miso Tahini Dressing

serves 2


For the dressing: (please see head notes)

  • 2+1/2 Tbsp. Tahini
  • 2 tbsp. Tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. white Miso paste
  • 1 tsp. honey (or maple syrup or date syrup)
  • 1-2 tbsp. water
  • A squeeze lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil (optional)

For the salad:

  • 2 Pak choi, halved or quartered (depends on the size)
  • a bag of Mixed leafy green salad (baby spinach, baby beet green, rockets etc.)
  • handful of radish, sliced
  • large handful of cherry tomato, halved
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 carrot, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced (optional)
  • Toasted sesame seeds

Prepare the salad in a large serving bowl.

To make the dressing: combine all dressing ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until well combined and creamy. Adjust the water to achieve the desire consistency.

Serve salad with the dressing, for serving suggestion, please see head notes.

Miso Tahini Dressing recipe and Styling Project

Check out Ajinomoto’s facebook page for their events and promotions.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Chestnut Miso Soup recipe

Roasted Butternut Squash, Chestnut Miso Soup served with Crispy Sage

I do love a heart warming bowl of soup seasoned with warm spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, tastes festive like Christmas in a cold winter night. I know everyone has at least one winter squash soup recipe up their sleeves, but this one I made is a little different from the others – with a subtle umami flavour. The addition of dashi stock and miso paste which not only gives the soup another layer of flavour but also balances out the sweetness of butternut and chestnut. You can of course replace dashi stock with water or vegetable stock if you want to make it vegetarian.


If you don’t have the time to roast the butternut squash, you can skip the roasting bit and just peel and chop the squash and add to the onion fennel mixture and pour enough stock to just cover the vegetables. I love the nutty and intense flavour of the squash after roasting though, so give it a try if you have some spare times in hand. But I have done the non-roasted version as well, and it tastes also delicious.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Chestnut Miso Soup recipe Roasted Butternut Squash, Chestnut Miso Soup recipe Roasted Butternut Squash, Chestnut Miso Soup recipe

Roasted Butternut Squash, Chestnut Miso Soup recipe


serves 4-5

  • 1 butternut squash (about 1.5 kg whole), halved lengthwise
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • a few turns of freshly ground black pepper
  • a few sprigs of fresh sage
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 fennel bulb (or 1 stalk celery), finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 200g cooked chestnut, divided (120g for the soup, 80g roughly chopped for the topping)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of salt
  • 550ml Dashi or vegetable stock, divided
  • 1 tsp. tamari (or soy sauce) or to taste
  • 1 tsp. white miso paste
  • olive oil

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius. Season the squash with cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and place one sage leaf on each half. Then place the butternut squash cut side down on a baking sheet lined with backing parchment. Bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes depends on the size of the squash. Once cooked, remove the seeds and the stringy membranes, and then scoop out the flesh of the squash and set aside.

To prepare the soup. Warm a tbsp. of olive oil in a medium soup pan, sautéed chopped onion, carrot, fennel (or celery) and pinch of salt on medium low heat for about 7 minutes or until the vegetables are starting to soften. Add the bay leaves and a small sprig of sage. Pour in 400ml of the stock, cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Then add the 120g cooked chestnut into the soup, cover and return to simmer for another 10 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, prepare the topping. Warm 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a pan and fry a few sage leaves until crispy and turns slightly brown. Remove from the pan and set on a plate lined with kitchen papers. In the same pan with the same oil, fry the chopped chestnut until it takes on a nice brown edges. Transfer it to a little serving bowl and set aide.

Transfer the squash to the soup and remove from heat, use a immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth (you can add a little stock to help the pureeing process). Now gradually add in the remaining stock until it reaches a smooth and silky consistence (add a little more water if it is still too thick).

Return the soup pan to medium heat (be careful not to let it boil as the soup will bubble up and it is scorching hot!) and add the tamari and miso paste. Have a taste and add more tamari if needed.

To serve, ladle the soup in warm bowls and top with fried chestnut, crispy sage and a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Chestnut Miso Soup recipe