Chả giò/Nem rán (Vietnamese Spring Roll) Recipe

November 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

I love these cha gio spring rolls as much as I love pho. Whenever I go to a Vietnamese restaurant, I can easily finish 10 of these rolls on my own, which is a little embarrassing in public, especially when dining with others. Now, thank God I can stuff my face with as many as I want in the comfort and privacy of my own home. Just a little secret between me and the deep fryer. Mmmm…

These are delicious. I’ve made them countless times over the past few years when I first discovered that I could learn how to make them at home, and now you can too. I may or may not have inhaled more than 10 of these in the making of this post.

I also love this recipe because they freeze so well. A bit time-consuming to make, admittedly, but when you have a spare afternoon and a marathon of television to watch (for me, it was the Sopranos), it makes the time fly by.

  1. I use square spring roll wrapping paper for this. They’re in the freezer section of any Asian supermarket. I also let them defrost completely because if you don’t, they will tear and it will be infuriating. (Not that this has happened to my impatient self numerous times….) Also, you can separate around 10-15 at a time and leave the rest under a moist paper towel or in the packaging because it’s a bit cumbersome to separate each sheet at a time.
  2. Try to get the filling as DRY as possible before rolling these. I made the mistake in the past in not pre-salting my vegetables and draining my noodles and they were a disaster. A delicious disaster, but it will not make for a pretty spring roll (holes, explosions, burnt stuff everywhere).
  3. As a side, I really like eating these with a quick pickled cucumber or some lettuce. For the cucumber, I do 2 cucumbers sliced very thin on a mandoline, 2 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of salt, and then set in the fridge for an hour, covered. I drain, then enjoy for a cool, crispy snack. And they taste really good with these spring rolls.
  4. Try to wrap these as tightly as possible. First, they’ll look prettier, but it will help keep the oil out of the roll.
  5. The dried wood ear mushroom has SO many names. Every time I’ve bought it, I’ve bought it under a different name. Including but not limited to: Auricularia auricula-judaeJew’s ear, wood ear, jelly ear, etc.
  6. I like my rolls to be pretty equal in ratio for meat to veggies, and I found that this proportion lends to a deliciously tender, juicy roll.
  7. I LOVE the taste of taro in these rolls so used taro. But if you can’t find it, don’t worry about it. You can use jicama instead, but try to find taro. You will not be disappointed. And, I found that a big bonus is that the taro helps soak up excess moisture in the filling.
  8. Please taste test the filling with one dummy roll before rolling the entire filling’s worth. Adjust the taste with more salt if you prefer, I like to keep these pretty well-flavored but not overly salty because the sauce is very salty.
  9. I use a baking sheet to hold all the rolls and pop it directly into the freezer, and then after a few hours, I transfer all the frozen rolls into a ziploc bag.
  10. Don’t love/eat pork? Substitute with ground chicken.

Chả giò/Nem rán Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring Roll) Recipe

Recipe yields 100 rolls


    • 6 ounces bean thread noodles, dried
    • 1 cup dried wood ear mushroom
    • 4 small taro root
    • 2 large carrots, around 2 cups shredded
    • 1 large onion, shredded
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 4 lb ground pork
    • 1 heaping tbsp minced garlic
    • 2 tbsp salt
    • 2 tbsp white sugar
    • 1 tsp white pepper
    • 3 green onion, chopped
    • 100 medium-sized wheat spring roll wrappers
    • 1 tbsp cornstarch/potato starch
    • 1 tbsp water
    • frying oil

Dipping Sauce Ingredients

    • 3 tbsp fish sauce
    • 3 tbsp warm water
    • 3 tbsp white sugar
    • juice from 1 lime (around 2 tbsp)
    • 1 chili of your choice (jalapeno, Thai bird chili, Jwala pepper, etc)
    • shredded carrots
    • 1 clove garlic, minced


  1. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. In separate bowls, soak bean thread noodles and wood ear mushrooms for 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil and boil taro for 10 minutes. Drain bean thread noodles well and dry even further using a clean towel. Drain wood ear mushrooms and rinse carefully until water runs clear. Using rubber gloves, peel skin off of the taro (it should come right off) and shred. Using scissors, cut bean thread noodles and wood ear mushrooms into small pieces.
  2. In a large bowl, sprinkle 1 tsp salt over the shredded carrots and onion. Transfer to a colander set over a bowl and set aside for 15 minutes. Discard the fluid after 15 minutes, and add carrots and onion back to the bowl. Add the pork, bean thread noodles, wood ear mushrooms, garlic, salt, sugar, white pepper, and green onion. Using your hands, mix until everything is well combined.
  3. Assemble work station with filling, wrappers, baking sheet. Mix cornstarch/potato starch with 1 tbsp water to form a slurry. With a square in front of you in the shape of a diamond, add 1 tbsp worth of filling on the lower corner and shape it into a roughly cylindrical shape. bring up the bottom corner so that it covers the filling and then use your fingers to press it into the tube-like shape. Roll up until you get to the middle of the wrapper, and then bring in the left side, then right side, like you’re wrapping a burrito. Add a thin layer of slurry on the top corner and then roll the entire roll up, and set it aside, seam-side down on the baking sheet. You can use this one to taste test for filling salt-level. Repeat 99x. (Did I mention it’s really helpful to be engaged in some sort of television marathon at this point?)
  4. Heat a deep fryer or heavy-bottomed skillet with your oil of choice (I use vegetable) to 350°F. You’ll know the oil is hot enough when you add a spring roll and it starts sizzling on the sides. Fry for 4 minutes on each side and flip over, or until each side is golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
  5. For the dipping sauce: Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and mix well.
  6. Enjoy!

Mille Feuille Nabe Recipe with Yuzu Ramen

October 26, 2015 § 1 Comment

Those who know us best, know that we love shabu shabu. Like, LOVE. We love it so much that we have it nearly once a week, and our favorite thing to do is to invite people over to indulge in our shabu shabu nights.

I was looking on my Instagram the other week and I came across a beautiful photo taken by one of my oldest friends, @djsim34, of a dish made by his new wife. I HAD to know what it was because it looked like shabu shabu…but not at the same time. I looked it up online and found this excellent tutorial here: which I used as the foundation for my adaptation of this dish.

Mille Feuille Nabe is literally translated into “thousand leaves hot pot”. Obviously, I didn’t use 1,000 leaves (you could if you wanted to!) but using different kinds of kale, cabbage, beef, and pork made this super colorful and complex-looking.


  1. This feeds 6, comfortably.
  2. We ALWAYS make ramen to eat with the broth at the end of cooking all of the ingredients. Our secret is to use torigara – which is a Japanese-style chicken flavoring – (we use this one:
    and we use a special ponzu:
    For the ponzu, don’t be afraid to dish out a little more than you expect for a bottle. Typically, a good ponzu will be around USD $13.00, which was a bit of a sticker-shock to me at first, but I soon realized there was a HUGE difference between a more expensive bottle and a cheaper bottle of ponzu. The flavor of the yuzu is really obvious and quite amazing, whereas cheaper bottles are made with yuzu substitute or lemon. Not quite the same. We add the torigara into the main broth, and then add around a 1/2 teaspoon – 1 teaspoon of ponzu to each bowl individually, to taste. We finish with some fresh ground black pepper and a medium-boiled egg. MMMMM.
  3. I used 2 heads of napa cabbage because the leaves get considerably smaller as you peel towards the center, and I wanted to make sure I have enough for all of my leaf layers. I then chopped up the smaller core leaves and used them in my second round of veggies for the shabu shabu.
  4. For the broth, I use my go-to for my base in most soups. For this, I used kombu, some chicken bones from a roast chicken I made the night before, radish, onion, and some Korean myul-chi (dried anchovies). It was delicious and not fishy at all, for those of you who are wary of using myulchi. I used to be terrified and quite frankly, grossed out to use myulchi in cooking (I still don’t like them stir-fried) but for flavoring soup bases, it’s absolutely delicious. If you are feeling a bit lazy (which I often do), I do a VERY basic broth with just kombu and sake, and the broth still ends up tasting delicious.
  5. Our dear friends (hi Gui’s!) gifted us this Breville electric skillet which is one of the most wonderful kitchen appliances ever created. It’s absolutely PERFECT for shabu shabu. It can be purchased here: If you don’t have one of these tabletop electric skillets, we used to use a table-top gas stove and a heavy-bottomed dutch oven.
  6. You can substitute this to whatever meat you want, if you want all beef, or all pork, you can adjust it to your preference.
  7. We like to use gomadare (sesame) sauce, ponzu sauce, and the sauce inspired by Though I usually make my own gomadare, if you are in a bind, this store-bought is fantastic: gomadare
  8. To make perfect medium-boiled eggs, bring a large saucepan of water to a rapid boil, and then add eggs. Set timer for 8 minutes exactly, and then make an ice bath in a large bowl. When the 8 minutes is up, immediately plunge each egg into the ice bath and let cool for 15 minutes. Peel, and enjoy.
  9. I found these awesome little sauce bowls on amazon that are literally the perfect size for shabu shabu sauce here: and the best part: they were a very reasonable price – 12 bowls for $21.00!

밀푀유나베 – Mille Feuille Nabe (Shabu Shabu) Recipe with Yuzu Ramen


For the broth:

  • 12-14 2×2 pieces dried kelp (dashima or kombu)
  • 12-14 dried Korean anchovies (Myulchi or myeolchi)
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms stems
  • 1/2 lb Korean or Japanese radish
  • 1 onion, halved
  • chicken bones from 2 breasts (optional)
  • 3-4 quarts water (our electric skillet has a large capacity so I needed the full 4 quarts, but if your pot is smaller, use less water)

For the layers:

  • 16 outer leaves from 2 large heads napa cabbage, outer leaves separated from inner leaves
  • 12-14 rainbow kale leaves
  • 12-14 dinosaur kale or lacinato kale leaves
  • 1/2 lb thinly sliced shabu shabu beef
  • 1 lb thinly sliced shabu shabu pork

For the nabe:

    • 1 12 ounce package mung bean sprouts
    • 3 quarts shabu shabu broth from above
    • 4 tbsp sake
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 10 ounce package shimeji (Beech) mushrooms
    • 1 10 ounce package maitake (Hen of the woods) mushrooms
    • 2 10 ounce packages enoki mushrooms
    • 2 8 ounce package shiitake mushrooms (Your preference, there are 2 types of shiitake mushrooms, 1 is more compact and ball-shaped, and the other looks a bit floppy, I like the floppy-looking ones and my husband likes the smooth ones, so we usually do 1 package of each)
    • the inner leaves from the 2 napa cabbage used above, chopped into 1 inch pieces
    • watercress
    • 1 package shirataki noodles
    • 1 package lotus root
    • 8 ounces Chinese broccoli or choy sum
    • 8 ounces kkenip (perilla leaves) to wrap
    • 1/2 lb thinly sliced shabu shabu beef

For the ramen:

    • 1 kaedama ramen per person (usually found in the frozen section of a Japanese/Asian grocery store)
    • 1 medium boiled egg per person
    • 1 tsp ponzu per person
    • 1/2 tbsp – 1 tbsp torigara


  1. For the broth: bring all ingredients to a boil in a large pot. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and cover, to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, and set aside the broth to cool. This step can be done a day before and the broth can be refrigerated.
  2. For the layers: On a clean, flat surface, lay one napa cabbage leaf, and then layer a slice of beef, kale, cabbage, pork, kale, and cabbage on top. Cut in half, then into quarters into equal-size pieces. Add bean sprouts to the bottom of your pot, and carefully line the layered pieces, cut side-up from the outside. Repeat layering the cabbage, beef, kale, cabbage, pork, kale, cabbage-combination until you reach enough pieces to cover the bean sprouts and bottom of the pot. In the center of the pot, add mushrooms of your choice, I liked the shimeji (beech), enoki, and shiitake on top. You can be creative, decorate with the mushrooms however you’d like. (This step can also be done the night before, by covering the pot and storing in the refrigerator overnight).
  3. When ready to serve: Add enough broth, sake, and salt to just cover the mille-feuille layers, cover, and bring to to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, skim the foam and let it gently boil for 10 minutes. Enjoy with the 3 sauces.
  4. When all the layers have been devoured, it’s time to add the rest of the vegetables and meat, if desired. Each person can serve themselves with the ingredient of his/her choice.
  5. For the ramen: once all the ingredients have been eaten, skim the broth for any lingering impurities and add torigara to taste, and bring a separate pot of water to a boil on the stove. Blanch fresh or frozen ramen noodles to desired consistency (we like hard noodles), strain, and divide among the bowls. Add egg,  ponzu, black pepper, and use salt to taste.
  6. Slurp and enjoy.


Gomadare (Adapted from

    • 1 cup Sesame Seeds
    • 1/2 cup tahini
    • 1/3 cup Soy Sauce
    • 1/4 cup Mirin
    • 3 tbsp white sugar
    • 1/3 cup vinegar
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 1 tbsp miso (I use miso with hondashi in it)
    • 1 tsp hondashi powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/4 cup kewpie mayonnaise
  1. In a food processor, add sesame seeds. Process until the seeds look “wet” and stop moving around. Add the tahini, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, vinegar, water, miso, hondashi powder, salt, and mayo. Process until combined.
  2. Taste, and add salt or soy sauce to taste.
  3. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. Shake before using.

Spicy soy sauce (Adapted from

  • 3 Tbs. Soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Sugar
  • Fresh zest and juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 chili of your choice, jalapeno, Thai bird chili, Indian Jwala pepper, etc, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp gochukaru (Korean red chili powder)
  • 3 Tbs. shabu shabu broth
  • 1 green onion, minced
  1. In a bowl, add all ingredients and stir until well-combined.


Pour into a sauce bowl. 🙂

YukGaeJang 육개장 – Spicy Beef Soup Part Two

September 5, 2015 § 1 Comment

This is an update to my favorite post of all time, my mom’s yukgaejang recipe. It has also been a Cozybogie favorite over the past four years (!), thanks so much for all of your support! I made a video to help demystify anything that the pictures failed to explain. Please let me know if you have any lingering questions.


I’ve copied some of my notes/pictures from my previous post here, as they still apply. I took my old recipe and updated it with some minor improvements over the years, and I’ve got to admit….it’s better than ever.

1. Many Korean grocery stores sell a special cut of beef made especially for yuk gae jang, or for making beef stock. I strongly recommend using this if your grocery has it. If not, using brisket and a mixture of beef bones will work just fine. This time, I used around 3.5 lbs of beef soup bones and 2.5 lbs of beef eye round and beef shank. Any cut of beef with a long grain is fine (ie flank, brisket, beef eye round, beef shank).

2. I like to use red chili flakes on their own in this recipe, as opposed to a mixture of chili paste and flakes. The paste can leave the broth tasting impure and sweet.

3. Using a lot of fresh, green onion is a key flavor component to this recipe. Halve the white portions length-wise because the white part is often too thick. I know 12 stalks sound like a lot, but don’t leave it out.

4. My favorite part of this soup is the egg, so I use 3. If you don’t love eggs as much as I do, feel free to use 1.

5. Use fernbrake root, also called boiled royal fern. This can be found in the refrigerated section. Yuk gae jang is not yuk gae jang without this delicious root. I noticed it’s also called “osmund” at H-Mart. I’ve also found it in my Japanese grocery store as “Warabi”.


6. You can either use mung sprouts or kong na-mool (bean sprouts).

7. This may sound like cheating but if you have it, feel free to sprinkle in a little  beef da-shi-da (Korean beef stock powder) towards the end of cooking. It’s fine if you don’t have it or can’t find it, but it adds a nice extra bump of flavor.

육개장 – Yook Gae Jang or Yuk Gae Jang (Yukgaejang) Recipe


  • 3.5 lbs beef bones
  • 2-3 lbs brisket, beef eye round, beef shank, flank steak, or yuk gae jang beef cut
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms (if using dried, soak in water for 1 hour)
  • 1 gallon water (16 cups)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 small radish
  • 4 tbsp red chili pepper flakes/powder (gochukaru)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chili oil (or sesame oil)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce (I highly recommend 3 Crabs fish sauce)
  • 2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces mung bean sprouts or soy bean sprouts, rinsed and trimmed
  • 12 ounces boiled royal fern (fernbrake root), rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch (~12-14 stalks) green onion, rinsed and ends trimmed
  • 1 package (7 oz) enoki mushrooms, rinsed and bottoms trimmed
  • 3 eggs, beaten with 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp beef dashida *optional but a nice boost if you have it


  1. Bring the meat, bones, and water to a rapid boil on high heat for 5 minutes. When you see all the impurities and foam rise to the surface, take the pot off the heat. Carefully, drain the water and rinse the meat and pot quickly with cold, clean water. Add the meat back to the pot and refill with another gallon of water and bring to a boil—the water should be clear.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and radish, and simmer the beef for at least one hour covered. Remove and reserve the radish after one hour. If possible, simmer for 3-4 hours, while keeping a vigilant eye on the water level and replacing water as it evaporates.
  3. While the beef is simmering, mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl: red chili pepper flakes, sesame oil, chili oil, vegetable oil, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, sea salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Trim sprouts, and rinse the fernbrake root several times with cold water. Drain, and set aside.
  5. Cut green onions into thirds, set aside. Separate the whites and greens. Slice radish into thin 1/4 inch slices.
  6. When the broth is ready, carefully remove the cooked beef, radish, and onion pieces. Skim the fat. Carefully drain the soup into a large, heat-proof bowl using a fine sieve to catch any bone fragments (you may need some help here if the pot is heavy). You will have 16 cups of broth. Wash the pot with soap and water and return back to the stove, along with the reserved broth.
  7. When beef is cool enough to handle, shred the beef into spaghetti-width size pieces and place into a big bowl.
  8. To the shredded beef, add the fernbrake root, sprouts, and white part only of the green onion pieces. Add the marinade into the mixture and using your hands, toss all of the ingredients together gently.
  9. Once the mixture is well-mixed, bring the broth to a boil. Carefully add the marinade mixture to the pot and simmer on medium for 30 minutes.
  10. Add the rest of the green onions, shiitake, radish, and enoki mushrooms and simmer for 5 more minutes. At this point, you may add the beef stock powder dashida desired.
  11. Slowly add in the beaten eggs. Be careful not to over stir, or else the broth will be very cloudy. Stir in one clockwise motion when pouring in the egg so that it’s well-distributed, as the eggs will cook instantly as soon as it hits the broth. Wait 5 seconds and stir just once more clockwise around the pot, and then turn off the heat.
  12. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
  13. Enjoy with a bowl of steaming white rice.

Sundubu Jjigae – 순두부찌개 (Soft/Silken Tofu Stew) Recipe

July 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

Don’t walk away! I know, I know. Soft….tofu….stew? 

That’s the #1 reaction I have gotten from every person who has never tasted this stew before, and you know what? I completely understand. I’ve got to admit, it does not sound appetizing. But let me try to change your mind, wait, blow your mind, with one of the most delicious dishes to have been created by the Korean people.

The second reaction I’ve received (after I’ve convinced my non-Korean friends to try soft tofu stew) is “OMG…this is one of the most amazing things I have ever tasted!”

So without further ado, here is a fool-proof, restaurant-quality-guaranteed soondooboo jjigae recipe that I created. I know that by calling this recipe “restaurant-quality”, it’s giving it a lot of hype. But trust me. Once you try making this version at home, it will be difficult to go out to eat soondubu in a restaurant because you KNOW you can make it just as well at home, maybe even better.


1. The key to any delicious stew or soup is a deeply flavorful base broth. In the past, I never used “myul-chi” (Korean dried anchovies) or “dashima” (kombu or dried kelp) to flavor my soups, and ever since I made the change and substituted water for this broth, it has made a WORLD of a difference. I like to make a big batch at a time and freeze it, defrosting by the quart whenever I need to. For the anchovies, make sure the head and guts are removed prior to using.

2. If you don’t have these stove-safe stone bowls, no worries! Use any heavy-bottomed pot that can hold heat well and evenly. These stone pots were a lovely and generous wedding gift from our friends (thank you again, Park’s!) and they seem to make the stew taste better because they hold heat for so long (but be careful to heat them gradually, because any drastic temperature change will cause your bowls to crack). If you want to purchase them, you can do so here: 

3. Use whatever toppings or add-ins you desire. My favorite are dumplings, so I always keep a bag of frozen dumplings in the freezer (my absolute go-to: Gyoza) and boil them for around 10 minutes while I’m making the jjigae. You can use clams, seafood, kimchi, vegetables, mushrooms, or whatever combination you’d like.

4. Be careful not to burn the gochukaru in the oil when toasting. They can go from toasted to burned in seconds so keep a watchful eye.

5. Korean red chili flakes – gochugaru/gochkaru – cannot be substituted with any other chili flake.

6. Since I was making 2 bowls simultaneously, I divided everything in half. If making 1 pot, use the quantities below. My husband doesn’t enjoy spice as much as I do, so I do my best to protect him from my raging spice-tolerance.

7. After adding the tofu, try not to stir it around too much. The longer it cooks/the more you stir it, the more watery the soup will get from the water that is being extracted from the tofu.

8. Make rice and eat it with the stew, there’s no better combination.


Sundubu Jjigae – 순두부찌개 (Soft/Silken Tofu Stew) Recipe

Serves 2; 1 hour cooking time


  • 12 Korean dried anchovies (Myul-chi)
  • 8 small squares or 2 medium-sized pieces dashima (kombu) dried kelp
  • 3 cups water
  • 6-8 ounces sliced pork (pork butt, pork belly, pork loin)
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced finely
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • FOR VERY SPICY – 3 tbsp gochugaru
  • FOR MEDIUM SPICY – 2 tbsp gochugaru
  • FOR MILD – 2 tsp gochugaru
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp fish sauce (start with 1/2 tsp, taste, and if you need more, add up to 1/2 tsp more)
  • 1 1/2 cup dashi broth from above
  • Topping of your choice (I used 8 dumplings from my freezer that I boiled for 10 minutes)
  • 1 package sundubu cut in half
  • sea salt to taste (optional)
  • 2 egg
  • 2 green onion, sliced


  1. In a medium-sized pot, bring anchovies, dashima, and water to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes.
  2. Start preheating the stone bowls (ttukgaebi) on low heat while you prepare the pork, shallots, and garlic (around 8-10 minutes).
  3. Thinly slice the pork and set aside in a bowl. Do the same for the shallots and garlic.
  4. When the pots are hot, add the vegetable oil and lightly coat the bottom of each pot with a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the sesame oil, and add the gochugaru flakes. Watch closely, they should instantly sizzle and bubble up and smell toasty. Once lightly toasted and slightly darker red in color, add the shallots and garlic.
  6. Once the shallots and garlic are lightly cooked, add the pork. Increase heat to medium, and saute until the pork becomes golden and deeply fragrant, around 5 minutes.
  7. Add the salt and fish sauce. Stir to combine.
  8. Using a strainer, measure around 1 1/2 cups of the dashi broth and add to the pots (if using 2 bowls, around 3/4 cup per pot).
  9. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the stew to a boil. Add toppings/flavorings (if using). Add the sundubu, breaking up gently as you extract from the tube. Stir lightly into the stew and bring to a boil.
  10. Once the stew returns to a boil, around 3-4 minutes, taste and adjust for any seasonings. Turn off the heat and add green onion and egg. Serve with rice.

Tsukune Recipe

June 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

Tsukune are Japanese chicken meatballs. They are also undoubtedly one of my favorite Japanese foods. The best tsukune I have ever tasted was at Smorgasburg at our dear friend Kaoru’s yakitori stand – Yakitori Inglorious. The chicken is incredibly tender and flavorful, while being very clean and pure-tasting. I was shocked when the chef told me the short list of ingredients, but it made sense – incredible food doesn’t always have a ton of ingredients, pure flavor brings out the best in the quality of the ingredients you use.

This recipe comes very close to the amazing tsukune at Yakitori Inglorious. I incorporated some of the secrets the chef was kind enough to share with me, so trust me, this tsukune is delicious!

1. Use chicken breast. There are SO many recipes online for tsukune that recommend thighs, but chicken breasts taste cleaner and are more tender when combined with my special blend of ingredients in the recipe.

2. If you can’t find Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise, use regular mayo.

3. You can easily cook these on a stovetop if you’re not up for breaking out the oven in this summer heat. Just don’t use the skewers and use a non-stick skillet.

4. If using skewers, you’ll need between 24-30 and soak them in water for 30 minutes prior to using.

Introducing…my first video! Check it out and let me know what you think.


Tsukune Recipe

Serves 3-4 or 12 yakitori skewers; 1 hour cooking time


  • 2 medium-sized chicken breast, around 1-1 1/2 lbs, ground in a food processor
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, pureed in a food processor (around 1-1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • 1/4 tsp of freshly grated ginger/juice
  • 4 tbsp panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp potato starch
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp miso
  • 1 tsp kewpie mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • Tare sauce (see below)


  1. In a large bowl, separate the ground chicken into thirds. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a non-stick skillet on medium heat and cook 1/3 of the ground chicken until fully cooked, around 2-3 minutes. Set aside in a separate bowl to cool.
  2. In the large bowl with the rest of the chicken, add the onion, garlic, ginger, bread crumbs, potato starch, sea salt, egg, miso, mayonnaise, and white pepper. Once the cooked chicken is cool, break apart any large clumps so that the mixture resembles coarse sand and mix into the ground chicken mixture. Using your hands, mix well until the mixture becomes very sticky and tacky. (It will look very unappetizing, but press on!)
  3. Fill a small bowl with water. Line two baking sheets with non-stick aluminum foil. Preheat broiler to the “low” setting. Wet your hands just before forming the meat into long oval shapes. Form ground chicken into 12 equal-sized oval shapes and place gently onto lined baking sheets.
  4. If using skewers: take the skewers out of the water and gently insert two each into each tsukune. Cover each exposed wooden skewer with foil, or else they will start smoking and ruin everything (like the first time I tried this…) Broil on low heat for 5 minutes until white and somewhat firm, then gently flip and cook for 5 minutes more on the other side. Then, baste with tare for 4 minutes, then flip them over again and baste and cook for 4 more minutes. Take them out, brush them one last time with tare, and broil on high for 1 minute and 30 seconds. They should be nicely caramelized on top.
  5. If cooking on the stovetop: heat a non-stick pan on medium heat with around 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Slowly cook each side until they turn white and firm. Brush each side with tare once or twice, if you use too much tare, it will be too salty. Cook, flipping until each side becomes golden brown and caramelized.
  6. Eat with rice or veggies. If you have very fresh and safe eggs, break apart one egg yolk as a rich and decadent sauce. (We didn’t have super fresh or organic eggs so we did not do this.)

Tare Recipe

Yield: ~1 cup; 10 min. cooking time


  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup mirin (rice wine)
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper


  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil on medium high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until it’s thick enough to coat the back of your spoon.
  3. Remove from heat and cool. You can strain it if you’d like, but not necessary.

Phở Gà Recipe – Chicken Pho

March 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

I started making this pho last year when I saw a recipe for it posted on Smitten Kitchen. Chicken pho, I thought? I loved pho, but I had never ordered or even thought to order chicken pho, as my go-to was always beef. But, I had a disastrous experience trying to make beef pho a few years ago so I thought I would try my hand at this new chicken version. I AM SO GLAD I DID. This is probably one of the easiest, most delicious recipes you can introduce into your rotation (just a little time-consuming). But the broth freezes incredibly well, so you can make a huge pot of broth and enjoy it whenever you’d like.

I made my first attempt following Smitten Kitchen’s recipe to the T, and it was fabulous. And with every attempt, I’ve modified it so that it suits our taste buds and I think we’ve nailed it with this recipe.

1. I was very unsure about the quantity/selection of herbs and spices to use but the combination I found below is by far the most well-rounded and subtle mix.

2. I was alarmed by how much fish sauce I ended up using to season the broth, but don’t be as scared as I was. The broth should always taste slightly more salty than you would normally enjoy on it’s own, as after the addition of noodles, the flavor gets diluted quickly.

3. For the toppings, do whatever makes you happy. We usually use bean sprouts (my husband hates mung bean sprouts so we use soybean sprouts), basil (we actually love sweet basil instead of the Thai basil in this for some reason), fried shallots (we buy in big jars from the Asian grocery store), green onion, lime, and chilis.

4. You must use banh pho noodles. They have a very specific kind at the grocery store for pho, and you must use this. We personally like the very thin pho noodles (reminds us of ramen, maybe?) so we usually get the thinnest banh pho at the store.

5. We had an interesting experience where I realized that the “chickens” we bought from the Asian grocery store were actually roosters…with their heads and feet still intact. O_O I was too chicken (haha!) to use the heads but I did leave the feet in the stock as there is a ton of collagen and flavor in the feet so I am glad I did. But if anyone knows if it’s okay to use chicken heads in broth, please let me know.

6. This is completely optional, so if you can’t find it, no sweat! I found this “flavor enhancer” for pho ga at the grocery store (just MSG) that gave the broth another turbo boost of flavor, not that it needs it, but if you find it, use it!

(Apologies for the iPhone photos, I had some technical difficulty with my camera.)

Phở Gà

makes enough for 8 quarts of broth

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

4 large onions, quartered and outer papery layer removed
4 2-inch pieces of ginger, smashed
1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 whole 4-5 lb chickens (or in our case, roosters)
2-3 lbs chicken wings/bones
10 quarts water
2 cinnamon sticks
10-12 cloves
20-24 black peppercorns
1 black cardamom pod
1/4 tsp star anise powder
1 tbsp sea salt (more to taste)
1/2 palm sugar chunk (around 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp)
1/2 cup fish sauce (more to taste, if needed)
4 green onions, white and greens removed (greens chopped thinly for garnish and whites left in tact)
banh pho noodles

fried shallots
chilis, sliced thinly (jalapeno, serrano, Thai bird chilis)
bean sprouts (soy or mung bean)
Basil leaves
lime wedges
green onion (green onion from above)
hoisin sauce

1. Preheat oven to 425. Coat onions and ginger with the oil in a bowl and spread onto a foil-lined or silpat baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until they are browned and charred.

2. Fill a heavy-bottomed stock pot with water and bring up to a boil and add the chicken. Boil for 5 minutes, and then very carefully drain and discard the water. Wash the pot with soap and water. Rinse chicken in cold water and return back to the pot, add 10 quarts of water and bring to a bring on high heat. Add charred onions and ginger. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for one hour. Every 10 minutes, skim the fat and scum.

3. After an hour, add spices: cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppercorns, black cardamom pod, star anise powder, salt, and palm sugar. Continue to simmer for at least 2-3 hours.

4. Remove the chicken and bones after 3 hours. They will fall apart as you take it out of the soup but try to get all the pieces. Set aside in a large bowl until cool enough to handle. Once cool, pick all the meat off in large pieces into a separate bowl and cover until needed.

5. Very carefully (this is a 2-person job), strain the broth into an 8-quart stock pot. The broth should have no chunks or pieces left and very clear.

6. Add the fish sauce and white parts of the green onion and return to a boil. Taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary and reduce heat to a simmer. After 10 minutes, remove the green onion.

7. Boil water and prepare banh pho according to package instructions. Drain, and serve immediately.


8. Heat up large soup bowls by putting some boiling water in them and letting them sit for a minute. This will help keep your pho hot. Discard the water.

9. On a large plate, place all the garnishes separately. In two small sauce bowls, add sriracha and hoisin. Set on the table so that people can pick and choose what they’d like in their individual bowls.

10. Add prepared noodles to hot bowls. Add reserved chicken pieces per bowl. Ladle broth into the bowl until it covers the noodles completely. Serve immediately, directing guests to add whatever toppings they would like.

Crack Pie Recipe

March 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

The first time I had the Momofuku Crack Pie at milk bar, I had one of those heavenly, out-of-body experiences. The kind where you taste something and you say “OH MY GOD, CAN SOMETHING ACTUALLY TASTE THIS GOOD?”

The only imperfection was that it was too sweet.

That might be my Korean-background talking, because traditionally, Korean desserts (and I would say most Asian-desserts and pastries) are very subtly sweet. This Crack Pie was a toothache-kind of sweet, but still so sinfully good. When I saw the recipe posted online, I knew I had to try making this at home, with modifications.

1. I cut the sugar in half. More shockingly, a little more than half. I knew that was an ambitious change and it could possibly be disastrous and end up being a waste of ingredients, but I was rewarded with the PERFECT pie. And surprisingly, it was still very sweet. Trust me on this, only use 1/2 cup of white sugar and it will be more than fine.

2. This dessert can only be made with a stand-mixer with a paddle attachment. I laughed at this at first, but I soon understood why. One of the first times I made this, I didn’t pay attention to the speed of the mixer and my pies came out too airy (which is NOT what you want for this recipe), and from then on I used the paddle attachment on the slowest speed to make a very dense, rich filling. Don’t make my mistake, even if it was still delicious, the texture is so lush and part of the reason why this pie is so good.

3. Corn powder might be hard to find so I used freeze-dried corn from Amazon and then I used a mortar and pestle to grind it into a fine powder. Ta-da! Corn powder. (

4. Make the oat cookie first, then crack pie filling, and then assemble the crack pies.

This is a bit of a long-winded recipe but it’s completely worth it. The first time, it took me 3-4 hours and I did not think I would ever attempt it again, until we tried the pies and they were INCREDIBLE. They’re meant to be frozen and eaten very very cold so it’s the absolute perfect dessert to keep in the freezer for when company comes over for dinner. They’re a guaranteed crowd pleaser (or when you’re home alone, watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, under a lot of blankets, with a glass of wine…).

I modified the recipe from the Momofuku website.

Without further ado, here is my recipe for a less-sweet version of the incredible Momofuku Crack Pie.

crack pie®

makes 3 (8-inch) pies; each serves 6-8 (I freeze all of them and eat them at my convenience or desire)

1 recipe oat cookie
15 g (1 tbs tightly packed) light brown sugar
1 g (1/4 tsp) salt
55 g (5 tbs) butter, melted, or as needed
1 recipe crack pie® filling
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. heat the oven to 350°f.

2. put the oat cookie, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. (if you don’t have a food processor, you can fake it till you make it and crumble the oat cookie diligently with your hands.)

3. transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the butter, and knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until moist enough to form into a ball. if it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ tablespoons) butter and knead it in.

4. divide the oat crust evenly between 3 (8-inch) pie tins. using your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the oat cookie crust firmly into each pie tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the tin are evenly covered. use the pie shells immediately, or wrap well in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

5. put both pie shells on a sheet pan. divide the crack pie® filling evenly between the crusts; the filling should fill them three-quarters of the way full. bake for 20 minutes only. the pies should be golden brown on top but will still be very jiggly.

6. the pies should still be jiggly in the bull’s-eye center but not around the outer edges. if the filling is still too jiggly, leave the pies in the oven for an additional 5 minutes or so.

7. gently take the pan of crack pies® out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature. (you can speed up the cooling process by carefully transferring the pies to the fridge or freezer if you’re in a hurry.) then freeze your pies for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to condense the filling for a dense final product—freezing is the signature technique and result of a perfectly executed crack pie®.

8. if not serving the pies right away, wrap well in plastic wrap. in the fridge, they will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month. transfer the pie(s) from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost a minimum of
1 hour before you’re ready to get in there.

9. serve your crack pie® cold! decorate your pie(s) with confectioners’ sugar, either passing it through a fine sieve or dispatching pinches with your fingers.

oat cookie recipe

makes about 1 quarter sheet pan

115 g (8 tbs) butter, at room temperature
75 g (1/3 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
40 g (3 tbs) granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
80 g (1/2 cup) flour
120 g (1 1/2 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats
0.5 g (1/8 tsp) baking powder
0.25 g (pinch) baking soda
2 g (1/2 tsp) kosher salt
pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)

1. heat the oven to 350°f.

2. combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow in color. scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. on low speed, add the egg yolk and increase the speed to medium­ high and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale white.

3. on low speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. mix for a minute, until your dough comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. the dough will be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture in comparison to your average cookie dough. scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line with parchment, or just line the pan with a silpat. plop the cookie dough in the center of the pan and, with a spatula, spread it out until it is 1/4 inch thick. the dough won’t end up covering the entire pan; this is ok.

5. bake for 15 minutes, or until it resembles an oatmeal cookie-caramelized on top and puffed slightly but set firmly. cool completely before using. wrapped well in plastic, the oat cookie will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 1 week.

crack pie® filling

makes enough for 3 (8-inch) crack pies®

you must use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to make this filling. it only takes a minute, but it makes all the difference in the homogenization and smooth, silky final product. i repeat: a hand whisk and a bowl or a granny hand mixer will not produce the same results. also, keep the mixer on low speed through the entire mixing process. if you try to mix the filling on higher speed, you will incorporate too much air and your pie will not be dense and gooey-the essence of crack pie®.

160 g (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) white granulated sugar
180 g (3/4 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
24 g (1/4 cup) corn powder
6 g (1 1/2 tsp) kosher salt
225 g (16 tbs) butter, melted
160 g (3/4 cup) heavy cream
2 g (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract
8 egg yolks**

1. combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, corn powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until evenly blended.

2. add the melted butter and paddle for 2 to 3 minutes until all the dry ingredients are moist.

3. add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue mixing on low for 2 to 3 minutes until any white streaks from the cream have completely disap­peared into the mixture. scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

4. add the egg yolks, paddling them into the mixture just to combine; be careful not to aerate the mixture, but be certain the mixture is glossy and homogenous. mix on low speed until it is.

5. use the filling right away, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

**note: it will be the death of your wildly dense pie filling if there is any bit of egg white in the mixture. i believe the easiest, and best, way to separate an egg is to do so in your hands. you may also use the two half-shells to separate the eggs, but the cracked shells can tear the yolk open, and you may not totally separate all the white. if you do this by hand,you can feel when you get every last bit of white away from the yolk. remember to wash your hands under warm soapy water for 30 seconds or more before and after you handle raw eggs! save your egg whites for peanut butter nougat or pistachio cake, or cook them up for your doggies, for a shinier coat.