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It is a very traditional and common for Chinese people to make sweet rice wine at home.  But it is not really the clear-colored high alcohol content version of “rice wine” you are thinking.  It is non-distilled, very sweet, and more dessert like.

The most common one is made with pure white sweet rice.  Sometime people add different ingredients to make variations too.  This time I add black sweet rice.  After fermentation, it becomes a gorgeous deep purple color.

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Tails are another one of my favorite parts from a hog.  They don’t look like much.  But the texture and taste are both awesome.  They are similar to ox tails, but smaller, sometimes leaner, and usually sold with skin on. 

They can be cooked in soup, braised, or deep fried.  Different cooking method would bring out different flavors.  After trying most cooking ways I can think of, smoking-and-then-braising becomes my new favorite way to cook them.

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Can you believe it is tofu?  O(∩_∩)O~          

Yes, it is definitely tofu.  Chinese people invented tofu more than a thousand years ago.  We have been cooking and eating tofu in numerous different ways ever since.  Sometimes you know what you eat is tofu, but sometimes you don’t even know if you are eating tofu. 

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Spicy sliced mixed beef in chili oil sauce is a very traditional and popular dish in Southwest China area.  The weather is extremely hot and humid in summer time there, so local people have been developed a unique spicy cuisine to spice up regular daily food to be more appetizing.

According to legend, local poor working class people couldn’t afford expensive beef cuts like steak or ribs.  They collected what was left or unwanted beef parts from market; boiled them for a long time until they got tender enough to eat; thinly sliced, tossed them with soy sauce and red chili oil sauce.  The dish got popular because it was quite affordable and surprisingly tasty.  Years later, a local food stand run by a couple further adapted and perfected the dish by adding more complicated chili sauce; substituted beef lung with beef shank.  So people named the dish after this couple.  Don’t be surprised if you see “couple’s beef” on a Chinese restaurant menu.  That is how the dish got its name.  A Sichuan restaurant Twin Peppers in Houston even name the dish “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”.   Interesting, isn’t it?

I still call it spicy sliced mixed beef in chili oil sauce to avoid any possible confusion.

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Braised pork/ chicken/ beef in soy sauce are very traditional way to slow cook food in China.  Although the specific details vary from the south to the north; families to families, the essential ingredients remain the same.  Meat, soy sauce, rice cooking wine and ginger are a must for this dish. 

I learnt how to cook it by watching my grandma in the kitchen, starting with passing along soy sauce, washing ginger and building wood fire.  After a while, I could help with seasoning the meat and occasional stirring during simmer process.  I learnt from all these tiny things and daily chores that cooking can be so amazing and magical. 

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I brought back a bottle of dry rub from Rudy’s BBQ during our last visit.  Their BBQ taste pretty awesome so I think their dry rub may help me get closer to authentic southern BBQ when I do it in my back yard.

 Although duck is not on their menu, I started my experiment with it anyway because both my husband and I love duck so much more than chicken.  Guess what?  It turned out so great and tasty!  If you find it hard to believe, just take a look at the photos.  They would convince you how good it is ( ̄▽ ̄)”

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Whenever the weather gets cold, or when we are being hit by a winter storm, I make stew or soup.  That is a tradition I learn from my grandma’s kitchen.  I also learn how to stew beef rough flank from her.

Unlike regular beef flank, rough flank consists of tendon and tough tissues.  They are usually very tough and take a long time to cook.  I assume the slightly unpleasant look and long cooking time prohibit its popularity in America.  You can only find them in most Asian grocery stores but not in American ones.  You may also find beef flank in Vietnamese pho too.

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Can you think of other ways to enjoy pork skin besides pork rinds?  I can!  You can braise it; or put it into soup; or make dumplings with it.  One of my favorite ways is to make savory and spicy pork skin jelly. 

It is firmer, meatier, and a bit more al dente than regular jelly.  Does it sound a little less bizarre now? O(∩_∩)O~

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Boba/ bubble milk tea is so widely popular in Asian countries that you can find hundreds of tea houses in big cities.  I notice that they are getting popular here in USA too.  More and more tea stores are opening and more cafes begin to serve milk tea too.

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Lotus root might be an exotic ingredient for most American people.  Trust me, it taste very good.  Fresh lotus root is very crunchy, a bit starchy and sweet.  It has a mild nutty earthy and fruity taste.  It is can eaten raw or cooked in soup, stir-fry, and even desserts.   

There are two kinds of lotus roots.  One is crunchier, nuttier, and more refreshing.  We usually use it in stir-fry.  The other kind is more on the starchy side, which taste better in soups.  Most lotus roots available in Asian grocery are first kind, the crunchy type.  We buy them a lot, not just because it taste good on itself, but also because its mild flavor goes with almost everything in the kitchen.

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During the Christmas / New Year holiday season, I made several batches of mulled wine.  It is quite tasty and festive, perfect for a layback afternoon by the fireplace.

Most of the alcohol has evaporated during cooking process, so even people who don’t usually drink can also enjoy it. O(∩_∩)O~ 

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Hot pot is an amazing and authentic way for Chinese people to enjoy food and life.  It is available all year around in China, but it is more popular during winter times.  When cold weather comes, hot pot is not just comfort food, but also very functional.  The pot boils from beginning to the end of whole dinner time so that whatever you eat is always freshly cooked and piping hot. Who doesn’t want that?  O(∩_∩)O~ 

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Sincerely wish all my friends Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! O(∩_∩)O~

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Since the day we got the new smoker earlier this year,  we've become obsessed trying different recipes smoking a variety kinds of meat O(∩_∩)O~ I did a smoked Cornish hen this time with a little bit of Asian twist in it.  It turns out gorgeous and quite tasty.  It might just  be our new favorite!

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This is another one of my comfort foods.  Whenever I am under the weather or exhausted, I crave for these little bread rolls loaded with deliciousness and calories.  Or sometimes I just want them, no excuses needed O(∩_∩)O~

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