Category Archives: Asian

Pass me the Vegemite, please

Beach relax

Hello and welcome back to reality. I mean, Germany. After a week in Australia, where Jonas and I again nailed over a dozen interviews, I’m back here, getting used to our new place, which is not hard to do at all. 🙂


We were in Melburne. Oh, no, it’s spelled Melbourne! But pronounced “Melburne,” and Jonas never let me forget it. There, the coffee and food culture is beyond compare. The city was spectacular and we had time to explore during the weekend in between work days. They take their coffee very very seriously there. On every corner you find a coffee shop filled with patrons. Each place offering more or less the same assortment. But apparently they are all unique as people will swear by the coffee place they visit every day, the barista who works there, probably the cows that create the milk that they use in their “flat whites.” I tried a flat white. Bah. Just a Latte. Obviously I’m completely ignorant.


But I must say, they are beautiful – these coffees shops every where. And they serve up some gorgeous coffee as well.




I can’t say that we ever had an AMAZING meal. We were pretty busy seeing the sights and pretty tired in the beginning, getting over our jetlag.

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Which was maybe a touch easier for me, as the company was willing to fly me business class while my poor intern colleague had to sit in economy. Just down there – breakfast before landing in Abu Dhabi, the 1/3 of the way there mark.



Etihad does a fairly good job of spoiling biz class passengers. The hard part is trying to decide between trying out a bunch of things or just sleeping. On the way there I was curious and probably ate more than I should have. On the way back, I simply slept most of the way.

The city was beautiful. A combination feeling of California, Singapore and Munich somehow. The hustle-bustle of a city plus the strong influence of Asia (Singapore), with the beauty of the coast nearby (California), but still a laid-back feeling (Munich).











We rented the city bikes to get around, which was easy and convenient.


And saved a little of our per diem money simply by eating breakfast in our room/s. So we could spend it on sight seeing.


Yeah, and I learned to actually like vegemite. Words I thought would never come from my mouth. But indeed, spread very thinly under a few slices of avocado and a boiled egg…wow.


Back home now, I’m learning to use all my new kitchen appliances. The stove is awesome. And even with little energy now that I am jet lagged again, it’s easy to saute some quail breasts, slice them thinly on toast, and put the rest in the fridge or freezer for another day/meal.


I love the Togarashi spice blend I bought in California a few weeks back. Spicy citrus and seaweed flavors plus a touch of salt. Saute after sprinkling on both sides, done.


Tonight will be the first test of the steam oven.

And now, time to run.



Posted by on May 7, 2016 in airplaine food, Asian, Travel


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Bean me up


Now you’re awake, aren’t you? My colleague, Valentin, brings a smile to everyone’s face on a daily basis with his crazy outfits. That was yesterday, in the Augustiner Biergarten next door to our office, where I gathered with 5 of my colleagues for a semi-spontaneous homemade lunch. (We planned it two days prior to yesterday – spontaneously.) Now these lunches have become a lunch series, inofficially named “Lunch of Awesomeness” by Herb, another foodie colleague of mine – in the back there, with the cap on. This was lunch number two – each one entailing the participants to bring some sort of home made dish or gourmet offering. We’re quite an international crowd there – representing 5 countries – USA (me), Poland (Kinga), Romania (Valentin), Germany (Guenter and Eva) and Austria (Herb.) Yesterday was a delicious mixed bag offering of Polish celery and beet salads, an Austrian beef “salad” with pumpkin seed pesto, my spicy duck and noodle dish (granted, not very American, but yummy), fresh baguettes, chocolate mousse and strawberry quark, and a minty ice tea (which you’re not allowed to bring into the beer gardens – so Valentin served it to us after lunch back at our desks.)


The last few days and weeks really have been scorching hot, with little reprieve from the sun. Taking picnics to beer gardens helps you stay cool. And when I cook in this heat, I try to find dishes that don’t require turning on the stove or oven for very long, if possible.

I’ve been a bit addicted to Korean recipes again lately, perhaps because of my discovery of this lady’s YouTube channel. Maangchi – just a simple housewife who started putting her recipes into short videos and over time has become this huge YouTube sensation (almost 700k subscribers!). And she’s really great. In just a few minutes she inspires me to throw together nice easy Korean dishes.

A week ago, again with her as inspiration, I went and bought a huge bag of dry soybeans. You know, these:


In 5 days, you can sprout them to full-grown sprouts. You just need to keep them watered regularly and covered. Not much to it.


No special equipment needed. Those are my sprouts! Fun window-sill projects.

And what to do with said sprouts? She had a great recipe for a bi-bim-bop with sprouts (called Kongnamulbap), cooked and done in about 45 minutes.

You mix up some beef with onions and garlic and a few other ingredients (a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil mixed into the beef to further flavor it).


In a pot with the rice and sprouts – yup, all together.


Let it cook for about 20 minutes….first on high and then down at a simmer.

Mix with a “dressing” of sorts, (⅓ cup soy sauce, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 stalk of chopped green onion, 2 ts hot pepper flakes, 1 ts honey, 1 tbs chopped onion, 1 tbs chopped green chili pepper, and 1 tbs roasted sesame seeds.)  fry an egg, mix the dressing with a scoop of the beef/rice/sprout mixture and then serve. Easy, fast and reasonably healthy – especially with a salad on the side.



Posted by on August 7, 2015 in Asian, Cooking at home, Summer in Bavaria


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Magic words: “Biang noodles?”


This nasty cold I have. It doesn’t go away. I’ve tried everything from ginger tea to hard drugs. Ok, not that hard. Four weeks in, I swear I would be willing to make an animal sacrifice (no, not my kitties) to get rid of the damn thing. I’m looking for a magic cure at the moment. Three weekends have now been spent in bed, and really, enough is enough.

I’m not really sick enough anymore to stay in bed all day (although I did that most of today), but I am working from home more often than not. After taking a week and a half off to “be sick” and “not infect anyone else,” enough was enough last week and I flew off to our Cologne office to work with a few colleagues for two days.

Anyway, one of my favorite bloggers out of Beijing put this blog post up a few days back and it was irresistible. Magic words – “Biang” and “Hand-smashed.” I hoped they might have some magic cure-all properties. Those hand-smashed homemade Chinese noodles looked too incredible not to try out right away – especially after her many reassurances that they were ridiculously easy to make (true.)

I wasn’t really into the idea of a spicy lamb cumin dish, though – her recipe for the sauce. Cumin and stuffed nose didn’t appeal. The husband wanted duck, and I had seen a pistachio pesto that looked interesting…but I twisted things up a bit into a strange fusion that worked in the end:

Hand smashed Chinese noodles with peanut/almond cilantro/mint pesto, wild mushrooms and roasted duck. Yes, it was a bit much, but it came together. The duck was superfluous – a rich extra that we didn’t need at all, but still didn’t overload if you had a few bites.

Mandy (up there from the Lady and Pups blog), recommends using a dumpling flour, which has at least 10% gluten. So I went out and got some yesterday. Not hard to find at your local Asian grocery.


Her instructions to make the noodles:

  • 218 grams (1 1/2 cup) Chinese dumpling flour
  • 2 grams (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 126 grams (1/2 cup) water + 15 grams (1 tbsp) for adjustment

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a dough hook mixer (I have a hand-held) for 5-6 minutes. Let sit for an hour, then roll out to about a centimeter in thickness.


Cut into strips (10 strips), take each strip, oil it so it doesn’t stick, smash it down on your counter with the back of your wrist, and then pick it up and stretch it out a bit by holding both ends and gently smacking it against the counter. It’s quite easy. You end up with a bunch of these – which you can lay out on a baking sheet. This goes quite fast – not the painstaking process of rolling out the dough and running it through a pasta machine x times and then cutting it. You only have about 10 strips – so ….really – quite fast.


Next, you want to boil each of them – dropping them into salted boiling water one at a time – for about a minute – until they rise to the top of the water. Drain, and mix with your sauce, whatever you choose, on the stove – gently tossing the noodles in the sauce.

For the pesto – I simply went with the “by feel” cooking method: a few cloves of garlic, a handful of peanuts and almonds, a chili, a couple handfuls of cilantro and mint, a teaspoon or two of sesame oil, a tablespoon or so of fish sauce, and oil. Best go with canola or similar, although I went with olive oil. Zap in your blender, adjusting for flavors and consistency with salt/oil/water.


For the mushrooms, I chopped them and threw them in a hot oven (200 degrees C) for about 20 minutes, tossed with oil, chopped garlic, and a chopped a spring onion, some sliced baby corn – until they were brown on the edges


Bringing it all together – warm the pesto, mushrooms and slivered duck (I cheated and bought a pre-roasted Chinese duck and then used pieces of it, torn up – would work just as well with a roasted chicken) on the stove in a pan while you finish cooking the noodles. Drain them and toss with the sauce.


Magic? No, she says with her still-blocked congested head. Back to ginger tea.

But they were yummy.

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Posted by on March 22, 2015 in Asian, Cooking at home


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Not quite Archimboldo


I was about to line all the veggies up on my cutting board in the usual way and realized that this is getting a bit boring. So instead I give you a rather untalented Archimboldi portrait. I should study his paintings a bit and see if I can create something a bit more inspired.

Anyway, you’d think after last night’s Korean feast over at Munich’s Seoul restaurant on Leopoldstrasse (good, but not great, wouldn’t go there again probably, but that’s me being very picky) that I would have had enough of Korean for at least a ….week? But no.  I get into these moods, and nothing can sway me for a few days if not longer. I swear, sometimes I wake up in the morning thinking about putting some kimchi on my toast. Ok, that’s a lie. But I do love it as a snack, I think especially during the winter when it is very cold or during the summer, when it is very hot. Maybe it’s when I’m in need of vitamin C/A, kimchi is supposed to be full of it – due to the cabbage. But it also has a ton of salt…not so good. But after yesterday’s incredibly beautiful but painful run (it was so slippery on the icy snow that I was a tense mess during the standard 9-10k, all muscled seized up the whole time), I knew I wanted some Korean snack food. It was calling to me.


I dropped by one of the Asian groceries in Munich yesterday in the late afternoon and picked up a bag of Korean rice cakes – Garaeddeok 가래떡- (basically a Korean pasta or dumpling) while I was poking around. I’ve made them a couple times. They’re not so far from Italian gnocchi or Schwabian Schupfnudeln in nature. Basically it’s all about layering a comforting soft starch with a delicious sauce.


I made them this evening. These were fresh, not dried, so to soften them, I simply boiled them in salted water for about 5 minutes and them pan-fried them for a couple minutes to give them a bit of a crispy exterior while the inside stayed nice and pillowy.


I had marinated a chopped up chicken breast this morning – in a mix of sesame oil, vegetable oil, some Gochujang (Korean pepper paste), chopped garlic and ginger, a bit of brown sugar, and some Vietnamese fish sauce.

I chopped a large onion and a medium sized carrot and sauteed them in oil until the onion began to brown a bit and sweeten up. Then I added the chicken plus marinade, and let them simmer together, adding in some more ginger and garlic, a handful of reconstituted shitake mushrooms, and several slices of lotus root, chopped into quarters. These simmered for a bit – until the chicken was cooked through. Then the rice cakes went in and were mixed in, letting the sauce coat the dumplings. I added in more of the Gochujang paste, a bit more sugar, and some soy sauce, perhaps a tablespoon. Mixed, tasted, corrected a bit here and there. Sprinkled it all with coriander and chopped green onion. Mixed these in and removed it from the hot stove.

Meanwhile, I had this beautiful kohlrabi in the fridge, so while the dumplings were frying and in between steps, I made a favorite salad with it – just chop it into matchsticks, and then make a simple dressing: 1 tsp soy, 1 tsp chopped garlic, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1 tsp black Chinese vinegar. Stir and them pour the dressing on the kohlrabi, mixing well, and let sit at least 15 minutes.

I had also bought some Choy Sum (a relative of Bok Choy, not so bitter), which I blanched in salt water, and then layered with slivered green onion, red chili, and ginger. Then you heat a little oil in a pan until it’s quite hot, and then pour the hot oil over the greens, followed quickly with a mix of soy and hot water. Also lovely and simple. (Both above veggie recipes from “Every Grain of Rice” by Fuschia Dunlop)



The greens are served room temperature as is the kolrabi.


Best thing is that there are leftovers tomorrow for lunch or dinner.


Looking forward already.


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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Asian, Cooking at home, Famous Chefs, Pasta


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Green Green Green


Yes, this kale fad is beginning to hit Germany, although I do wish it would speed up a bit. At the moment, to find kale I have to order it in advance from the produce guy down the street or hope that the bio shop in town carries it, or in a lucky moment find it at the Viktualienmarkt. I know that I am only singing the chorus in a many-versioned opera that has resounded in the US in the last years over kale. Although I was informed that there is a backlash now against it. (A backlash? Why? People don’t like the taste anymore? They are resentful of the health benefits? They feel forced to express their individuality by *not* liking kale? I don’t get it. ) It’s such a versatile vegetable, you can eat it raw, saute it, juice it…endless variations. And as one of these “superfoods” I have to just shake my head and ask…why ever not?


Yes, a bit over the top on the kale. But most of it was for a dinner party on Friday night. One last bunch went into last night’s dinner.

I have a variation on a theme salad that I make fairly frequently, and decided to use the kale for that last night. Rather light, incredibly satisfying, a good salad when you are still recovering from the drinks the night before and you want to feel like you are doing good things for your body.

It’s essentially a light Asian-styled noodle salad. For the noodles I can recommend either a soba noodle – although they are quite delicate and you have to be careful not to overcook them – or in my case last night – a whole grain spaghetti. You could even go with a rice noodle, although not vermicelli, or also good is a yam noodle, harder to find, but much less delicate than the rice noodles. And then I just riff on the rest:

Protein – can be leftover cooked chicken or duck breast, can be raw or cooked tuna or salmon, or alternatively you can go with strips of firm tofu lightly sauteed in a bit of peanut oil.
Mushrooms – I like the funky crunch of tree fungus mushrooms, but I could recommend anything – shitake, oyster, even simple button – also lightly sauteed in oil. With the tree fungus mushrooms, I just reconstitute a few of them in hot water and chop them up roughly. Enoki are also really lovely. You don’t even need to cook them. Just pull them apart and sprinkle them in.
Greens – here I went for a combination – par boiled kale, reconstituted wakame seaweed, arugula. But spinach works, as do other dark greens
Herbs – last night there was cilantro and green onions, but I’ve also used mint and shiso leaf. Stick with the asian flavors – I wouldn’t do anything like parsley and certainly nothing like sage or thyme, etc.
Optional – other veggies – like halved sweet cherry tomatoes, slivered sweet red bell peppers, matchsticks of cucumber with or without skin, and avocado is always really nice – ripe, cubed.

For dressing, I try to stay as simple as possible: I like olive oil, although I know it’s not an asian flavor – but I mix it with sesame oil and some chili oil to give it some aroma. I usually put in ginger (1 inch or more if you like, peeled and processed in your garlic press – it works!), 1 clove of raw pressed garlic, a few squeezes of lime juice or lemon juice, salt to taste – perhaps start with a half a teaspoon and then add more, a bit of freshly cracked black pepper is also good. For a little heat, be generous with your chili oil or sprinkle in some cayenne. I mix it up, adjusting proportions and amounts based on how many I am cooking for – and rather go light on dressing, adding in a little more of this or that after tasting.


So the recipe last night – serves 3-4 – we have leftovers in the fridge – was approximately this:

  • 200 grams noodles, cooked until just barely al dente in salted water, drained and rinsed with cool water
  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed, par boiled for about a minute or two in salted water, drained, squeezed of water and chopped (about two cups after processing)
  • a small handful of wakame seaweed, reconstituted in boiling water, drained and chopped (a cup after processing)
  • a large handful of arugula (a cup or so)
  • a half of a leftover roasted duck breast, cut into strips
  • a half of a sweet yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • two or three green spring onions, chopped
  • a handful of cilantro, stems included, roughly chopped (about a quarter cup)
  • about 5 or so tree fungus mushrooms, reconstituted in boiling water and chopped (3/4 cup when done)
  • half of a ripe avocado, cubed – toss this in last because it is delicate and you want it to stay somewhat whole
  • a heavy shake or three of my japanese furikake mix (seaweed, salt, sesame seeds) to give it some crunch, but some toasted sesame seeds – perhaps a tablespoon or two – is a nice touch and works just as well.
  • Dressing was just as described above. I had perhaps a third of a cup of dressing when I poured it on, but I added a bit of this or that to correct flavors afterwards.


Mix all your ingredients  above, making sure to coat everything evenly with the dressing. You want the salad to glisten with the dressing, a just barely there feeling. Correct for salt – you may likely need to add some.

For a wine pairing I would go with a dry Riesling. Alternatively, a dry French cider could be nice as well.



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