How to prepare: Nian Gao (tikoy), a Chinese New Year tradition


Known as tikoy in the Philippines, nian gao is a traditional Chinese New Year dish. Why it is so has many aspects. One account has it that it is an offering to bribe the Kitchen God (a reference in Amy Tan's The Kitchen God's Wife) who reports everyone's behavior to the Jade Emperor. Another interpretation is that "nian gao … »

How to cook: General Tso’s chicken


The thing about stir fries is that they cannot be cooked in advance. Which makes them none-too-ideal dishes for large gatherings especially if, like me, you prefer to distribute the cooking over several days so that you don't look and feel like wilted vegetable by the time the guests arrive.But if you're cooking for a … »

How to cook: Steamed fish head with salted black beans

Steamed fish head with salted black beans

A few weeks back, my husband and I had lunch at Causeway Seafood Restaurant and we chanced upon a dimsum item that we had never seen there before -- steamed fish head. As far as I could tell, the ingredients were very basic -- salted (fermented) black beans ginger, garlic, chili and sesame seed oil. This is my version.I … »

How to cook: Braised pork spare ribs with black bean and garlic sauce

Braised pork spare ribs with black bean and garlic sauce

The typhoon season and powerless days may not be over yet. If cooking in the dark bothers you, go for dishes that require minimal preparation. And if you're among the unfortunate ones who also go waterless on powerless days and nights during a typhoon, choose dishes that require the use of the fewest cooking utensils so you … »

How to cook: Lemon chicken

Lemon chicken

A variation of the basic stir fried dish with sweet and sour sauce, lemon chicken is a familiar item in the menu of Chinese restaurants in Metro Manila. The curious thing is that the dish does not appear to have originated in China but was the specialty of the former Pearl's Chinese Restaurant at 148 West 48th Street in New … »

How to cook: Sweet & sour fish


This is an updated version of a recipe originally published on April 27, 2003. This was also my Feast Asia column on May 20, 2009.As common as it may be, the curious thing about sweet and sour sauce is just how many versions there are. I remember my mother (who wasn't a good cook at all) trying to replicate the … »

How to make: Green onion (scallion) pancakes


Say bread and most Filipinos conjure an image of something soft, fluffy and mildly sweet. We like our pan se sal that way and, until recently, we associated not-too-white loaf bread with inferior quality. We like our bread perfectly shaped too and with a soft and light-colored exterior. In short, we've come to associate … »

How to cook: Ma Yi Shang Shu (Ants Climbing A Tree)

Ma Yi Shang Shu (Ants Climbing A Tree)

The Chinese, the Italians and the Arabs all used to claim having invented the noodle. Then, in 2005 in Lajia in the Chinese province of Qinghai, archeologists unearthed "an upturned earthenware bowl filled with brownish-yellow, fine clay. When they lifted the inverted container, the noodles were found sitting proud on the … »