The first time that I had this soup was with my glamorous friend, Euriele. At the time we both worked together in Palo Alto. One day we just took a long lunch break and feasted on an authentic Korean meal with multiple courses: kimchi soup, pickled cucumber, bean sprout, rice cooked with beans, Napa cabbage kimchi, Korean seafood pancake, seaweed salad and other items I don’t recall right now. There were so many! The centerpiece of the lunch was the spicy soup served piping hot in a stoneware pot. You cracked a fresh egg over the soup and watched it cook while at the same time you waited for the soup to cool down enough to eat. I love spicy food. That said, some Korean dishes are not for beginners when it comes to chili pepper intensity. This soup is an exciting and hot example.

spicy kimchi soup aka Kimchi Jiigae

spicy kimchi soup aka Kimchi Jiigae

To make my kimchi jiigae, I used the rest of the Napa cabbage kimichiI had prepared the previous week.

This recipe was adapted from this you tube video. The video uses meat, so I changed it here. If you’re vegetarian then no need to watch it 🙂

spicy kimchi soup aka Kimchi Jiigae

1lb silken tofu (extra soft type) chopped into 1x1x1 inch thick pieces
5 cups chopped kimchi and juices
1tsp sugar
1tbsp Korean Gochugaru hot pepper paste
1tbsp Gochugaru pepper flakes
½ cup red onion chopped
3 whole scallions chopped
Water to cover the chopped kimchi by two inches
Toasted sesame oil
½ head iceberg lettuce cut into large wedges

Place chopped kimchi and juices in a large sauce pan with onions, scallions, gochugaru peppers, sugar and water. Bring everything to a boil, cook on high for about 10 minutes, reduce temperature to medium and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Add tofu towards the last 10 minutes.

Place a wedge of iceberg in each bowl. Add a couple of ladles of the soup, and drizzle with some toasted sesame oil. Serve with a side of rice.


Pasta à la Romana has been a Friday ritual at home ever since our friend Kristen taught us how to make it a few years ago. We enjoy it so much that we’ve even posted the recipe twice on the WC for your pleasure.

spaghetti with salt cod and tomato sauce

spaghetti with salt cod and tomato sauce

Last week I de-salted a large gorgeous piece of cod. The steaks looked so chunky that Steven suggested… no really hounded me to prepare it other than my customary Portuguese businessman’s cod or the classic bacalhoada. I’d been flirting with the idea of revisiting Vitória’s lovely arroz de bacalhau com broccolis, but my demanding spouse vetoed the plan.

look at these stunning pieces of salt cod fresh from their long soak

look at these stunning pieces of salt cod fresh from their long soak

Previously I’d seen a recipe for salt cod somewhat like I’m showing here today. That one didn’t require the desalinated fish be pre-cooked (via boiling), which is a real time-saver. Though since you omit the boiling step, you’ve got to really soak the fish extensively to get enough salt out.

spaghetti with salt cod and tomato sauce

1 lb spaghetti
~1 lb thick piece salt cod (soak for 2 days, changing water multiple times, keep refrigerated), drained and cut into 2-3 inch wide pieces
3 cloves garlic
1 Bay leaf
½ cup Italian parsley, chopped fine
20 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Sea salt
Black pepper
28oz can of diced tomatoes
½ tsp dried oregano
2 dry chili de arbol, broken
1 red scallion, chopped fine

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring it to a boil.

Add olive oil to a large skillet followed by the garlic. Cook on low heat until aromatic. Add cod fish pieces and sauté, turning occasionally so all sides brown. Add chili, bay leaf, parsley and scallion, cover and let herbs wilt and cook. Now remove the lid, add tomato and oregano, some salt and pepper, bring temperature to high then when boiling reduce again to medium and cook to reduce and thicken the sauce. Reduce temperature to low.

Boil spaghetti for about ¾ of the cooking time suggested on the package, mine was 10 so I cooked it for about 7 minutes. Drain.

Add pasta to sauce and carefully toss it around the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes more to finish. Lastly, toss in Kalamata olives and tomato halves.


authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

by Heguiberto on January 11, 2013

This Napa cabbage kimchi turned out as authentic as the ones I eat at Korean restaurants here in San Francisco. It was fun to make and it took just 3 days before it was ready. (Three days might sound like a long time to some, but I’ve seen recipes where the kimchi had to ferment for a week or more.) I have made kimchi at home before but never used the traditional Korean gochugaru pepper. Instead I substituted jalapeño and poblano peppers, which resulted in an ultra-spicy version. This is milder.

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

This recipe, with some minor adaptations, comes from Insanity Theory written by Ellie Won, a South Korean who grew up in Australia.

Aside from the excellent recipe, she wowed me with a kimchi refrigerator! Pretty cool! It makes sense to me. My jar of kimchi only fit in the refrigerator after some serious reshuffling.

Steven served it for the first time with rice and beans cooked in the Brazilian way. I simply love mixing foods from different ethnic backgrounds. The results can be surprisingly good. I think that this is what they call fusion cuisine? A bit of this and a bit of that combined together? It certainly breaks the monotony of a meal that could otherwise be boring and monochromatic. A toast to globalization!

The recipe calls for Chinese pear, which I didn’t have. I added red radish to it and changed the proportions of chili powder, sugar and fish sauce. I also added a fresh red jalapeño pepper because… well why not?

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

1 large head Napa Cabbage cut into wedges (~6Lbs)
~1½ cups non iodized sea salt
4 cups water (1 quart)
1 heaping tbsp sweet rice flour (sticky rice)
1 &1/3 cup Gochugaru chili powder
3 tbsp fish sauce (leave it out in case you want to make it vegan) use ~ 1 tbsp salt instead
1 tbsp sugar
6 whole scallions cut into 2’’ long segments
6 cloves garlic
1 2’’ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
½ white or sweet onion
1 fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and ribs removed
5 small red radishes, thinly sliced
1/3 lb daikon, sliced

key ingredients for authentic kimchi

key ingredients for authentic kimchi

Dissolve ½ cup of salt in the water. Add cabbage bottom parts in first. Make sure all leaves and base receive a coat of this brine. Drain water.

Use part or all the remainder salt to sprinkle over each leaf, including the thick white parts at the base. Put the cabbage in a bowl and let the salt dehydrate it for about 3 hours (Ellie recommends 5-6 hours or until it is floppy). Mine became floppy within 3 hours.

Rinse cabbage thoroughly in running water to remove excess salt. Squeeze it to remove as much water as possible. Place it in a colander and allow it to drain for another 15 to 20 minutes.

During the cabbage dehydration process, make a ‘pudding’ or ‘glue’ by mixing rice powder with ½ cup of water and cooking it on low heat, whisking nonstop until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Towards the last 10 minutes before draining is complete, add jalapeño chili, onion, ginger, garlic, and daikon to your food processor. Whiz into a pulp. Mix this pulp with the rice ‘glue’ along with gochugaru pepper, sugar and fish sauce.

Using a spatula spread the kimichi paste uniformly on both sides of each of the leaves. Put the cabbage in and jar, cover and let it rest in a dark, cool place for about 3 days. Be careful when opening it as gases that build up during fermentation will be under pressure. When ready the flavors will have married and you will sense a slight fizzyness, At this point refrigerate and enjoy.

As your kimchi continues to age in the fridge the flavors become more pungent. If it gets too intense to eat by itself, you can turn the kimchi into soups or make a yummy kimchi fried rice.

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Sweet or savory, most countries have their own style of making pancakes. I really like the Vietnamese version, bánh xèo. This recipe is especially interesting because it utilizes two ingredients very common on our table in a totally different way: rice and beans, a favorite combination on this blog. See what I mean here.

Bánh Xèo AKA Vietnamese mung bean pancakes with leaft lettuces, mint etc. in the afternoon sunlight

Bánh Xèo AKA Vietnamese mung bean pancakes with leafy lettuces, mint etc. in the afternoon sunlight

I’ve often seen this with shrimp or pork. (I used fish sauce in the spicy dipping sauce, otherwise this would be vegan.) Omitting these two still delivers a pancake packed with delicious flavor. I’ve adapted this bánh xèo from two sources: flavor explosions and Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook. It didn’t come out as crisply as I expected, probably due to me limited experience in this art. Nevertheless these were divine.

Bánh Xèo AKA Vietnamese mung bean pancakes

For the batter:

½ cup hulled mung beans, soaked for 2h, drained and then steamed till soft and cooled down
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups rice flour
½ cup corn starch
2 cups water
1 tsp kosher salt
¾ tsp turmeric powder
4 whole scallions, chopped

For the stuffing:

I lb mung bean sprouts
1 shallot, chopped
Canola oil
1 pack enoki mushrooms, stems discarded

For the salad condiments:

Any sweet lettuce, mint leaves, cilantro, chives, mung bean sprouts all undressed

For the spicy dipping sauce:

1 serrano pepper, seeds and ribs partially removed, chopped and slightly crushed
1 tsp chili garlic sauce (Túong Ót Tói Viet-Nam)
2 tbsp fish sauce
6 tbsp water
5 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 limes
1 large fresh clove garlic peeled and smashed

Place sugar, water, vinegar, fish sauce, Serrano pepper, chili sauce and juice of one lime in a small pot. Warm on stovetop until sugar just melts. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Add juice of second lime, and garlic.

Next prepare the filling. Sauté shallot in one table spoon of canola oil until translucent, add mung bean sprout and cook briefly just to wilt them a bit. Sprinkle with salt. Set aside.

To make the batter, place cooked and cooled mung beans, salt, turmeric powder, and coconut milk in food processor and whiz until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Add water, rice flour, corn starch and whisk to combine. Mix in scallions. Adjust consistency if too thick with a bit more water.

Add one tablespoon canola oil to a non-stick skillet on high heat. Let it warm up. Depending on the diameter of the pan, ladle in one or two scoops of batter. Spread batter evenly on surface of pan, add some mushrooms so tips are showing on the edge of one side of the pancake. Cook for a couple of minutes, until border is crispy. Flip with a spatula and cook for another minute, flip back again, add a bit of sautéed mung bean sprouts and fold it to shape into half moon. Repeat process with rest of the batter.

Serve the pancakes and salad with spicy dipping sauce.


Cherokee tomato gazpacho

by Heguiberto on July 16, 2012

I’m so excited! We just came back from the Alemany farmers market after a quick stop at our community garden plot. The garden’s doing great but the market was amazing! Goodbye to all those tiresome root vegetables—at least for now. Heirloom tomatoes are back! It isn’t quite mid-summer yet but they’re starting to look good. I was delighted with the selection. Plus we bumped into our friend John shopping at the same time. There’s a real community experience to be had at local farmers markets. Sure, it can happen at large supermarkets too, but somehow I always get so weighted down by the fluorescent lighting at places like that that I’m desperate to get in-and-out, so never consider socializing. This visit to Alemany almost felt like Brazil when we would meet several of our neighbors on market days.

Cherokee tomato gazpacho

Cherokee tomato gazpacho

There was a lot to choose from, and I indulged. This week we bought different types of tomatoes, fresh aromatic garlic that had just been harvested, stone fruits, cucumbers and more! I had my eyes on a stall where they were selling organic overripe heirloom purple Cherokee tomatoes. At just $1.50 a pound, what a bargain! These were a bit too soft for a salad but that’s what I wanted, as they looked perfect for gazpacho.

With this relatively warm weather (I realize that most of the Country is experiencing record-breaking heat, but in San Francisco, it’s only warm-ish) what could be better than a cool gazpacho soup for lunch made with exceptionally fresh ingredients?

I went for an international style here: California heirloom tomatoes, of course the soup idea comes from Spain, I added a tropical Brazilian touch with cashew nuts and garnished with refreshing Japanese cucumber, my favorite.

Cherokee tomato gazpacho

2½lbs ripe organic heirloom purple Cherokee tomatoes, quartered
1 clove of the freshest garlic, minced
½ cup Arbequina olive oil
½ Italian baguette, cut up coarsely
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
½ cup raw cashew nuts
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh black pepper
½ cup water
a few scallions, sliced thinly, both green and white parts
1 Japanese cucumber, sliced

Place bread, garlic, water, salt, cashew nuts, sherry vinegar, pepper, ¾ of the olive oil, ½ of the tomatoes in the food processor and whiz until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Add rest of the tomatoes to the food processor and whiz again until smooth. Mix it with the first batch. Taste, adjust flavors. Add one or two ladles of soup to a cup or bowl, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with sliced scallion and cucumber. Chill the rest to eat later—if you have any left!


This delightful recipe comes from Eating Well. I was feeling inspired after Hegui made those tremendous red lentil croquettes. We eat a lot of beans at home and frankly it gets a bit boring just having them tossed with garlic and olive oil after a while. Sure, that always tastes great, but variety is the spice of life.

Southwest black bean and fresh corn croquettes

Southwest black bean and fresh corn croquettes

This dish certainly has variety, and spice. I used 4 cups of black beans that I rehydrated myself, rather than the suggested two cans. That turned out to make enough for a “double” portion of the croquettes, which means since I only had enough salsa ingredients for the original Eating Well recipe, I didn’t have any leftover to garnish. I used fresh corn which I cut from two ears. For some reason my “batter” was a bit runny, so I ended up adding more breadcrumbs. Also I used dried pasilla powder and chile in adobo instead of chili powder for the spice. Yum!

Southwest black bean and fresh corn croquettes

4 cups prepared black beans
2 tsp cumin
2 ears sweet corn, corn cut from cobs
~1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
2 cups chopped tomatoes
4 scallions, chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
2 tsp pasilla powder
1 chile in adobo, minced
Kosher salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 425F. Cover a baking tray with parchment paper.

Mash black beans with cumin in food processor. Remove to a bowl. Add corn, tomatoes, scallions, 1 tsp pasilla powder, chile in adobo, cilantro, salt and enough breadcrumbs to make batter firm enough to shape. Mix well.

In another bowl, mix ½ cup breadcrumbs, 1 tsp pasilla powder, a pinch of salt and olive oil together.

Shape batter into balls and gently roll into breadcrumb mixture. Bake croquettes about 20 minutes until they become a golden brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature with lime wedges. These would be particularly tasty floating on some tomatillo salsa.


With this unusually cold and wet spring in San Francisco, I feel like I want to eat hearty, earthy food. Something flavorful that fills you up and makes you happy and satisfied. Something like mushroom risotto.
Initially I was going for the Italian approach. The thing with the Italian approach is all that cheese and butter.

Japanese mushroom risotto, or kinoko gohan

Japanese mushroom risotto, or kinoko gohan

I wasn’t feeling dairy-ish. Inspiration struck when we went to a Korean market in Daly City.

The market has a huge assortment of fresh mushrooms for sale. I settled for the shimeji, button and shiitake types. I also bought some aanori seaweed salad, a couple of servings of cucumber and cubed daikon kimchi to serve as side dishes to jazz up our meal a bit more. I served the Japanese mushroom risotto with pan fried mahi-mahi steaks and kabocha pumpkin wedges cooked in dashi-shoyu broth, so we had fun.

Mushroom risotto is still English-Italian. This is originally called kinoko gohan in Japanese. Kinoko stands for mushroom, and gohan, for rice. The dish is rich and flavorful yet does not use a single drop of fat.

Japanese mushroom risotto, or kinoko gohan

1 tray (100g) fresh white shimeji mushrooms, aka beech mushroom, rinsed and very bottom discarded
1 tray (100g) fresh brown shimeji mushrooms, rinsed and very bottom discarded
8 large fresh shiitake mushrooms, rinsed, cut into ½ moons, stems chopped and reserved
1 lb fresh white button mushrooms, rinsed and quartered
3½ cups dashi broth (see below to make fresh)
2 cups Japanese sushi rice
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sake
4 tbsp soy sauce
Kosher salt to taste
toasted sesame oil
Ponzu-soy sauce
1 4×4 inch piece dried kelp (kombu)

Wipe white layer of salt off the kombu leaf using a wet paper towel. Put it in a sauce pan with 4 cups of water and shiitake mushroom stems. Let soak for 30 minutes. Place saucepan on stove top, and bring to a boil. Immediately turn it off, remove from heat and let kelp and mushroom stems continue soak for another 15 minutes. This is your dashi broth. Discard mushroom stems. Kelp can be stored in the fridge and reused another time soon, otherwise simply discard it.

Bring three cups of prepared dashi to a boil. Add ginger, mirin, sake and soy sauce, a sprinkle of kosher salt and all the mushrooms. Cook mushrooms for a couple of minutes. Scoop them out of the broth and set aside. Top up broth with hot water (if needed) to make up for 3 and ½ cups then add rice. Bring temperature to a boil. Turn it down to medium low. Stir rice to prevent sticking. Cover and cook for about 14 minutes, lid on, until liquid absorbed. Stir occasionally. Top with mushrooms and their liquid. Cover and cook on low for another couple of minutes to warm through. Remove from heat and keep pan covered for another 5 minutes.

Transfer rice to a serving platter. Scatter with chopped scallion. Serve with toasted sesame oil and ponzu-soy sauce on the side.


This recipe was adapted from the latest issue of Vegetarian Times. I didn’t have most of the veggie ingredients so I made do with what was available at home. It turned out as granola as it can be, of course not in any pejorative way, but simply healthy and delicious. The sauce reminded me of something similar that I made to dress a Thai inspired salad.

springtime garden tempeh with snow and garden peas, Kabocha with quinoa and almond butter sauce

springtime garden tempeh with snow and garden peas, Kabocha with quinoa and almond butter sauce

springtime garden tempeh with snow and garden peas, Kabocha with quinoa and almond butter sauce

1 block of garden tempeh, cut into bite size cubes
2 wedges Kabocha pumpkin, skin on; steamed and then cut into bite size cubes
1 cup snow peas
1 cup fresh garden peas
1 cube vegetarian bouillon
1½ cups dried quinoa
1 tsp black sesame seeds
2 scallions cut into thin rounds

for the sauce:

1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp red miso paste
2 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp cider vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tbsp canola oil

Rinse and soak quinoa for 20 minutes. Drain, add to a sauce pan with vegetarian bouillon, 2 cups of water, bring to a boil reduce the heat to medium/low and cook until water has absorbed and grains are soft, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Keep covered for few minutes.

Prepare the sauce by combining together ginger, miso, almond butter, cider vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic and a third to a half cup of water. You want the sauce to be relatively thick but with a runny consistency. Set aside.

Add canola oil to a skillet. Bring temperature to high. Toss in tempeh cubes, sprinkle with salt and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning cubes occasionally to brown them evenly. Add one tablespoon of water, cover the pan and let tempeh absorb the water. Transfer tempeh cubes to a plate and keep them warm. Add remaining oil to the skillet, followed by snow peas, garden peas and cook for a couple of minutes until they turn bright green. Add kabocha pumpkin and tempeh cubes.

To serve, fluff quinoa with a fork, mix in scallions and transfer to a large serving platter. Pile sautéed tempeh and veggies combo next to the quinoa. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve sauce on the side.


quinoa tabouli

March 13, 2012

I made this dish for a “healthy-“themed potluck at the office the other day. Several areas of my company are on an inter-departmental contest for weight loss. I am impressed with the dedication of my colleagues and the number of pounds some people are dropping. Go marketing team! The recipe is a variation on tabouli […]

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grilled tuna roll-ups with hoisin sauce

February 21, 2012

This tuna roll-up takes me back to memories of one of my first jobs in America. It’s been about 20 years now: gosh time flies by so fast! Then I managed a miniscule and extremely busy coffee shop located in the Murray Hill area of Manhattan on 3rd Avenue. We served gourmet coffee (before Starbucks […]

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