The Plate Makes the Dish

What color plates do you eat from?

I usually use my hand-me-down black plates but they are really unphotogenic. I also don’t know if my food necessarily looks tastier because of the black background. I would rather have different colored plates but I guess I’m stuck with them until they all break.

A study has shown that the color of your plate can dictate how much you eat.

Check out the article and mini experiment recreated by ABC News: Plate Color

Tonight, I decided to test how a bi-colored plate would make me feel about my dinner.



(This is a plate my dad made! Isn’t it lovely?)

Menu: tomato basil salad with arugula.

Ingredients: 2 handfuls of baby arugula, 2 handfuls of heirloom baby tomatoes halved, a smashed garlic clove, 2 whirls of olive oil, 7 leaves of basil, and salt and pepper to taste

I tossed all the ingredients (sans arugula) together and left it standing for about one hour and then dropped in the arugula right before plating.



I grilled some herbed focaccia to go along with this salad. I made sure that I topped the pieces of bread with the tomatoes that have been marinating in garlic and basil so that the juices would seep into the toasty focaccia.

This was one of the most flavorful, light, and crisp dinners I’ve had in awhile. Perfect for a late summer evening!

But apart from what I actually consumed, eating off a plate made by my dad really made me savor each bite.


One Bowl Dinner

What do you forgo when you are busy?




I admit, the past week, I’ve been slacking on all of these.

But last night, I pulled myself together.

For dinner, I made bibimbap (literally translated as mixed rice) in no time.

What you will need: (all ingredients can be substituted and amounts changed)

1 large bowl

5 large lettuce leaves

1 avocado

6 raddiccio leaves

4 pieces of marinated Japanese burdock root

6 sesame leaves

2 pieces of smoked salmon

2 cups of brown rice

sesame oil, soy sauce, sesame seeds to taste

Chop, scoop, and tear ingredients and combine everything in the bowl. Mix vigorously until everything is incorporated well.

Then I decided to take pieces of dried seaweed and make mini hand rolls!

Quick, satisfying, and interactive!

Pork Tacos

Aren’t you all curious to know how I’ve been eating my pink pickled onions?

I’ve added them to salads and sandwiches so far but my favorite has been:

pork tacos!

I seasoned some ground pork with cumin, paprika, coriander, chili powder, and jalapeno. I then made some guacamole and red cabbage slaw. Topped the whole thing with a couple of strands of pickled onion.

Seriously, the pickled onion takes ordinary tacos to a whole different level.

Have you made your batch yet?

Quick and Easy Garnishes

Guacamole: Preparation Time: 8 mins

2 ripe Hass avocados

1/2 lime

1 jalapeno finely chopped

salt to taste

1 tablespoon of chopped red onion

1 handful of cilantro roughly chopped

Directions: Cut avocados in half and scoop out the insides with a spoon. Squeeze lime onto the avocados and sprinkle a bit of salt. Add red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno and mix.

Red Cabbage Slaw: Preparation time: 5 mins; marinating time: 20 mins

1/4 red cabbage sliced thin

1 carrot sliced thin

a couple of dashes of rock salt

a dash of cumin

1/2 lime

1/2 handful of cilantro roughly chopped

Directions: Place sliced red cabbage and carrot into a mixing bowl. Add dashes of rock salt and toss with your fingers to begin the process of wilting. Squeeze in lime juice, add cumin, and sprinkle cilantro. Mix well and let it sit until the cabbage starts to become tender.

Recipe of the Week: Quick and Easy Mild Soondubu (Soft Tofu Soup)

Frequently, I’m asked for my soondubu recipe. Here’s the quickest and simplest version.

Of course the fastest way is for you to go to the local Korean grocery store and buy a instant soup mix and add silken tofu to it. But that has a lot of artificial flavors, preservatives, and msg.


A tube of silken tofu

6-8 raw shrimp diced

1 scallion, green and white parts diced

1 1/2 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

A dash of sesame oil

A splash of fish sauce

Gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) to taste


In a medium pre-heated pot, add diced shrimp and quickly saute. Lower heat to medium and add a dash of sesame oil, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Add water and diced scallion and boil for about 3 mins. Add tofu and a splash of fish sauce and let the soup go for another 5 mins. Add a sprinkle of gochugaru and taste to adjust seasoning.

Eat it with some brown rice and you will never pick up that instant packet again!

The luxurious life of a grad student

When I had a real job, I barely had time to cook.

My daily meals usually consisted of:

Breakfast: Bagel with jam and cream cheese (it was filling!) or yogurt.
Lunch: Pret a Manger Sandwich (ham and cheese or roast beef), turkey chili, or falafels
Snacks: I wish I could say I had fruit or carrot sticks. But in all honesty, I had something sweet to get me through the afternoon.
Dinner: Frozen pizza, take out, or cereal with soy milk

I really had a poor diet but I was just too lazy to invest hours a week cooking for myself.

FF 3 years…

Of course there are still days and periods during the semester when I’m terribly swamped and don’t have time to cook. But most days, I look forward to an hour of cooking because it forces me to get up from my chair or away from the computer.

Today, I’ve spent the day in my office working on two papers and reading Sorting Things Out, a book about how categories and standards dictate the way we interact with each other and how it impacts our daily lives. At the same time I’ve made chicken stock out of a cornish hen and roasted delicata squash and sweet potatoes in the kitchen.

I skinned the hen, plopped it into the boiling water, and dropped the heavy lid back on my pot and let it simmer away for the past 6 hours.

(That’s a bit creepy, right?)

(Still creepy?)

I washed and cut the squash and sweet potatoes in half and drizzled them with a bit of olive oil and salt. Then stuck them in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 mins.

(Forgot to take a before shot!)

Now, all I have to do is read for two more hours and then put together a salad with fresh greens, squash, and sweet potatoes and make a quick soup out of mushrooms!

After the meal, if you were to ask my stomach how it felt, it will tell you:
“Ahhhh…being a student never felt so good!”

An empty fridge

My school doesn’t believe in fall breaks so I scheduled my own this weekend.

This was the only weekend that I had free to visit my sister and 7 month-old niece in LA until next spring so I leaped at the chance.

I arrived pretty late on Friday night and was starving despite the garbage salad and slider I had for dinner. I eagerly went to the fridge and opened it, expecting to find something tasty.

To my horror, the fridge was empty except for a few condiments, a little bit of milk, and a small amount of miso soup: exactly half a ladle’s worth. I ate the soup but soon after guilt settled in. Should I have saved the soup for my sister and brother-in-law?

An empty fridge makes me sad. It shows how we can all get so busy that we put aside grocery shopping, cooking, and enjoying leisurely meals.

I woke up bright and early the next morning and dashed to the market. I bought 9 packs of chicken thighs, 1.5 pound of brisket, 4 packs of frozen cod, a jarred thai curry sauce, and vegetables. I decided to make one or two dishes per day that would freeze well.

I first made chicken curry with eggplant, zucchini, squash, carrots, celery, and onions. I couldn’t find the indian simmer sauces that I have used before made by Seeds of Change so I tried a new brand called Curry Love. I chose the Thai yellow curry because the other curries were labeled spicy. It wasn’t very good because it didn’t taste much like Thai yellow curry. However, if you pretended it wasn’t Thai curry, it was good.

I only had a taste off my sister’s plate because I wanted to take advantage of being in LA. I made a quick trip to Tinga, a casual Mexican restaurant and ordered a burrito filled with adobo braised pork, black beans, and  arroz con crema.

Next, I’ll be making fish jeon, Korean pan fried fish, chicken stew, and braised brisket!


I have always wanted  a Le Creuset pot. But I never really experienced what it was like to cook with one until very recently.

Over the summer, I made lamb shank and bolognese in my sister’s bright orange Dutch oven. My brother-in-law’s favorite thing is tender meat. I was able to please him and discover the pleasure of cooking with a Le Creuset. The fact that I could just dump all the ingredients in the pot and let it simmer away without paranoid checks on liquid level was liberating!

I finally got my own red French oven for my birthday! I decided to make chicken stew with carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, garlic, herbs de Provence, a bay leaf, and white wine. The chicken became tender in no time and the stew was hearty and satisfying.

Last night, I was reheating the leftovers and decided that I wanted to change the flavor profile. I remembered a tip R had told me a couple of weeks ago. He said that he adds a spoonful of kochujang into his chicken stew.

So I got out a big spoon and plopped a generous amount of it into the stew along with fresh ginger, scallions, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. After mixing everything in, I tasted it. To my surprise, it was just like dalk tang, Korean chicken stew!

Same dish, two flavors!

Pho is better than…

When I lived in nyc I religiously ate pho.

My favorite place was Thai Son on Baxter between Bayard and Canal. I could have pho at any hour of the day, every day.

My friends and I would frequently get together over pho.

My order: Pho with thinly sliced beef with extra bean sprouts. (I would tuck them into the noodles so that they would become tender)

T’s order: Pho with the works and extra meat!

C’s order: Pho with the works and extra noodles!

After placing our orders, we would rush to get our condiments straight. We each vigorously blended our own preferred ratio of Sriracha and Hoisin sauce in small side dishes. Then we armed ourselves with chopsticks on the right and soup spoon on the left. Finally when the pho arrived, we would slurp away without looking up or at each other until it was all gone.


I made Pho for dinner tonight!

It was delicious but just wasn’t the same without T and C.

Chicken Soup

I’m making chicken soup tonight.

Ingredients: quartered chicken (skinned), large white onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and dill

Meal Composition: I’ll be having this with perfectly cooked brown rice (thank you, pressure cooker!) and cabbage kimchi I made last week!

Method: My mom taught me how to make this before waving me off to college.

  • Peel off the skin by using paper towels. (This gives you a nice grip on the slippery meat!)
  • Plop the pieces into boiling water in the biggest soup pot you have.
  • Cut up the vegetables as much or as little as you want, in whatever shape or form. I tend to put LOTS of veg.
  • Salt and pepper to taste and boil away!

Meaning: I like making this soup when I feel the need to be comforted.

I used to be convinced that this was a “Korean” recipe and made it for my Jewish friend once and she said: It tastes exactly like my mom’s chicken soup! This was a pretty shocking moment. How could my mom’s soup taste exactly like her mom’s?!?

It turns out that my mom learned how to make it from her Jewish friend.  So it’s Jewish chicken soup once removed.

This is what it looks like right now but I swear it will look more appetizing once it’s done!