Make Simple Noodles Delicious

As I was brainstorming ideas for my last post for this course, Ramen noodles came to my mind. Actually, my lunch today was Nongshim Noodles. Believe or not, Ramen noodles is probably the most seen instant food among college students. It’s convenient and taste s okay. I like Nongshim noodles better, especially mixed with some extra stuff such as tofu, mushrooms, shrimp, and baby bok troy.   🙂 It might be the simplest food, yet it can definitely surprise you with how delicious it can be.

What we usually see in Chadron Walmart is this brand – Maruchan, and it has chicken, beef, shrimp, and maybe chili flavors.



Do you know what are the top 10 instant noodles of all time selected in 2014? I’ve gotten  the answers for you. Looking at those picture, I get hungrier and hungrier even though I just had one big bowl of noodles. Let’s check out the list together and see if you have ever tried one of those on the list.

#10. Mama Instant Noodles Yentafo Tom Yum Mohfai Flavour – Thailand


#9: Nongshim Soon Veggie Noodle Soup – South Korea


#8: Prima Taste Singapore Chilli Crab La Mian – Singapore


#7: Mamee Chef Curry Laksa Flavour  – Malaysia


#6: Paldo Cheese Noodle – South Korea


#5: Samyang Foods Maesaengyitangmyun Baked Noodle – Southh Korea


#4: Sapporo Ichiban Otafuku Okonomi Sauce Yakisoba – Japan


#3: Prima Taste Singapore Curry La Mian – Singapore


#2: Prima Taste Singapore Laksa La Mian – Singapore


#1: MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodle – Malaysia

photo 1

it looks like we have a winner – Singapore. Now I know who to ask to bring me back some noodles. My friend Heather Ong is from Singapore, and she is currently on summer vacation there. 🙂 I have most of them link to Amazon. If you are interested in trying them out, one click and it will take you to the right place. But honestly, these noodles are more expensive than Ramens. I am not sure how healthy they are, but I definitely don’t recommend eating them all the time. What’s your recipe for a better-taste instant noodles? Let’s say, if you want to eat a fancy Ramen noodles, what would you like to add in it?

I just want to tell you – my readers – that I’ve had such a wonderful eight-week to share with you my favorite food and experimenting cooking. I will continue this blog because food bring people together and I love to cook for my friends and family.

Thanks for all your support!!! 🙂


BBQ vs. Grill

One thing I love about summer here is that I get to eat grilled food. I thought grill = BBQ three years ago, and I know now differences exist. Do you remember I had one post dedicated to Night Food market in China? Well, the night food market is basically made up of street food. When it comes to street food, BBQ is the king.  I love BBQed vegetables, fish, lamb, chicken, and more…

From google image

From google image

From google image

From google image

At this point, you probably think, “Oh well, I can eat these BBQs if I ever go to China.” Now, let’s put on a little bit challenge – Fear Factor? Sounds familiar? There are also the following stuff you probably wouldn’t even want to see, not to mention to eat them. Here we go:

From Yuppie Traveler

From Yuppie Traveler

From Yuppie Traveler

From Yuppie Traveler















I am not sure what kind of nutrition people get from these insects or animals, but I mean seriously? Oh, I did once drink a medicinal alcohol made of centipede when I was in junior high. I don’t remember for what cause, but I drank that thing straight for about a week because the doctor said, “Like cures like.” Enough of the extremely creepy pictures. Let’s watch an episode of grilling at my host parents’ backyard 🙂 And thanks to him, we had a wonderful birthday dinner (his birthday) 🙂

Taste of Accomplishment

My challenge for this week is to integrate several video clips into one, and I believe I beat it. High Five!!!

Remember I mentioned in my earlier post that I would make Spicy Wok-Fried Chicken with Chilis (Chongqing Chicken) following Diana Kuan’s recipe? Well, I did it over the weekend at my host parents’ place. I love their kitchen!!! My host mom was in charge of video recording, and she nailed it. I’ve gotten quite a few good quality videos. You will see two dishes in the video. One is Chongqing Chicken which is our main focus, and the other one is tomato fried zucchini. Yes, you are right – most of the dishes I have shared with you guys involve stir fry. Here we go! 🙂  This is another wondering stir fry (Oh, how I love spicy food!).

Since I just simply followed Diana Kuan’s recipe on Chongqing chicken, I will quote her recipe here so that you can try it out if you want to take on a challenge.

” Spicy Wok-Fried Chicken with Chilis (Chongqing Chicken)

Serves 4

  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups peanut or vegetable oil, plus 1 tablespoon for stir-frying
  • 8 to 10 dried red chilis
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 1 small piece ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 egg whites


  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chicken stock or water
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar, or substitute a good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
  1. Prepare the marinade: In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine, and egg whites. Coat the chicken with the marinade mixture and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix together the ingredients for the sauce: chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, chicken stock or water, Chinese black vinegar, cornstarch, and Sichuan pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl or plate, mix together the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Dredge the chicken in cornstarch mixture and shake off the excess cornstarch.
  4. Heat the 3 cups of peanut or vegetable oil in your wok until it registers 350°F on an instant-read oil thermometer. Working in 2 or 3 batches, add the first batch of chicken cubes and fry until golden brown on the outside and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
  5. Drain the oil into a heatproof container and save for discarding. Wipe the wok with a paper towel to remove any brown bits, but don’t wash.
  6. Reheat the wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add another 1 tablespoon of oil and swirl to coat the base and sides. Add the dried chilis to the wok and and stir-fry until just they start to blister, about 30 to 60 seconds. Add the leeks, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir in sauce mixture and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Add the fried chicken, toss to combine, and remove from heat. Serve immediately. “

Note: This recipe is copied from blog appetite for China by Diana Kuan. Many thanks to her for sharing this excellent dish and my host parents as well for letting me mess up their kitchen. 🙂  I used dry sherry and balsamic vinegar. Like I said in the video, Chongqing chicken is now on my Signature Dish List! Most importantly, cooking for people who I love dearly makes me happy!!!

My Host Family!!!

My Host Family!!!

Oh, That’s What I Thought…

We have one Chinese restaurant – China House – in town.  I’ve probably been there less than five times during these three years.  People always ask me, “Tell me, is the food in China House real Chinese food?” Well, who are we kidding? My answer is “No”. Speaking for myself, I think they put more soy sauce or salt than I can handle. Therefore, I did a little research to compare Chinese food in America and Chinese food in China. An article I found really drives my points home. Now please allow me to sum up some of the ideas from the article “Chinese Food in America vs. Chinese Food in China” written by Xiaoyu Yan.

Chinese restaurant in China

Chinese restaurant in China

Chinese restaurant in America

Chinese restaurant in America

First, let’s talk about the dining experience. In most Chinese restaurant, people talk loudly. Feel free to use the word “shouting”. If you want to relax and eat in a quiet place, a westernized restaurant is probably your best shot. Cold or iced water is almost impossible to find in Chinese restaurant whereas it’s just the thing here in the United States. Even to today, I still ask for hot water every time when I dine out. I guess our stomach is not made for cold or iced water.  Alcohol can be ordered any time in any restaurant in China if the restaurant carries. People don’t give tips in China. A lot of our international students learn to do it when they come to this country.

Second, ingredients used in two countries are far different. American people don’t eat animals organs such as pig ears, chicken feet, or duck blood, etc. To the contrary, Chinese people believe you can make up to what you are weak of from eating that part of the animals. I like duck blood. 🙂 Many authentic Chinese dishes contain a lot ingredients which take a long time to cook. Furthermore, some of the combinations of vegetables and meat are rarely seen in restaurant in China, for example broccoli and beef which is a common dish we order here in the United States. In China, beef usually goes with tomato, potato, or carrots.

Broccoli Beef

Broccoli Beef

Birthday dinner made my friend in China

Birthday dinner made my friend in China

Taste wise, Chinese food in America tends to be saltier and sweeter. Sometimes, we may find cheese in some dishes. Cooking methods are also different. Americanized Chinese food is often cooked through frying while authentic Chinese food applies stewing, braising, steaming, boiling, and so on. One of my good friends Arby went to China for an internship, and he told me once “I miss American Chinese food.” What can I say? He may have to come back here and be my neighbor again. 🙂

If you are interest in reading the whole article, here you go! 

What’s your favorite Chinese food? sweet sour pork? Broccoli beef? Angel crab?

Favorite-To-Be “Appetite For China”

As a matter of fact, my blog was inspired by my summer cooking class. However, I did find this food blog of Diana Kuan’s truly fantastic and professional from every aspect. According to Diana Kuan, her blog ‘Appetite For China’ is “about traditional dishes as well as creative takes on Chinese food and dishes that became popular due to the Chinese diaspora around the world.” I couldn’t agree more with her that the traditional and non-traditional can absolutely co-exist and bring out the best of each other. Quite honestly, I’ve been struggling with this post for a couple days. I want to do something different, creative, and fresh, yet I am clueless as how to break the routine. You see, I usually post two pieces per week, and they are in the similar styles. I guess this is where I get frustrated when I know I need to shake up things a little bit but I don’t know how. Well, “Appetite For China” found me at the perfect time. One of the afternoons, I made Sichuan Dry-Fried Green Beans with fresh green beans picked right from a garden. One of my goals for this week is to improve my recipe writing skills, so let’s get down to the business.


Green Beans on the upper left corner

Sichuan Dry-Fried Green Beans

Serves 2


  • 1/2 pound green beans
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 or 6 dried red chilies
  • a tablespoon Sichuan Peppercorn or 1/4 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
  • 2 green onions thinly sliced as long as the cut green beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 fresh minced or ground ginger


  1. Rinse the green beans and dry them thoroughly; and cut the beans into 2-inch lengths. It’s very important to ensure no water on the green beans both for taste and safety purposes.
  2. Heat a stir fry pan, add vegetable oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Keep your stove on high. For about a minute, add dried chilies, green onions, and Sichuan pepper corn to the pan and stir fry until fragrant. Then add the green beans to the pan and stir fry. Keep the beans constantly moving while turn the stove to medium-high.
  3. Add garlic salt, ginger, and sugar and stir fry for about 6 or 7 minutes until the green beans change color and become sort of crispy. Make sure you constantly stir the green beans so that they won’t burn.
  4. Taste to see if more salt needed. Then turn off the stove and transfer the dish to a plate and serve hot.

Two things to keep in mind:

  1. Dry the green beans very well. No water needed.
  2. Be generous with your vegetable oil. This is the kind of dish eats up a lot oil.

I hope you guys will find this recipe more detailed and operable than all my recipes in previous posts. Who is my role model in this case? Yes, Diana Kuan, you are! I am going to try the Spicy Wok-Fried Chicken with Chilis (Chongqing Chicken) tomorrow.

Spicy Wok-Fried Chicken with Chilis (Chongqing Chicken) from Diana Kuan

Spicy Wok-Fried Chicken with Chilis (Chongqing Chicken) from Diana Kuan

You guys wanna join me on this experiment? Hit me up!

“A Bite of China ” – People, Food & Nature

“Wassup?”, “How are you?”, “How’s going?” “It’s a beautiful day!” You must wonder what the heck why she lists all these greeting phrases. Well, in China friends usually greet each other with “Have you eaten?” This refers to an idiom from Han Dynasty “People are the most important to an emperor while foods are vital to people.” The importance of food in Chinese culture cannot be stressed enough. Today I would like to invite you to watch an episode of A Bite of China which is a series of food documentary produced by China Central Television. You may have known some of the staple foods from my previous posts, for example noodles and dumplings. However, I hope this episode ‘The Story of Staple Food’ swill give you a more in-depth perspective on Chinese Food Culture. And of course, the video brings to mind a vivid recollection of my childhood.  Are you ready for this adventure? Let’s go!!!

I used to be a picky eater, the kind who would rather starve than eat food I didn’t like. Because of that, I often got “time-out” or spanked and I weighed so little. My parents ran a small restaurant by then, and their foods were so popular in our town. However, I found myself immune to the restaurant food as I was not fond of the processed ingredients such as flour or rice. It still baffles me even today when people back then thought eating processed flour was a privilege. ODD!!! In my little world, I snuck out and ran to my friends’ houses for home-made food whenever a chance came up. The smell of fresh whole wheat steamed buns and vegetables from backyard garden were so wonderful. I always ate a lot at their houses. When my mom caught me, she would yell, “Are we starving you or what? ” Oh funny. Sometimes I would buy friends snacks for their steamed buns or baked bread. Those days have long gone. When fast food started prevailing the market, everybody was crazy about KFC fried chickens or McDonald’s Cheese burger. Now going green or eating organic is the trend, but how many people in the cities can afford organic? Farm land were abandoned in sacrifice of industrialization, and farmers were looked down on. People flood into big cities dreaming that they can have a better life and live in decency when they can’t even feed themselves some times, not to mention eating healthy.

Just like the title conveys, this documentary may not give you the whole story of Chinese food but you get a bite!

For more episodes, please check out here!!! I will be more than happy to answer your questions regarding Chinese cuisine or culture. 🙂

Asian Night Food Market


Have you guys ever watched the Food & Travel show – Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern? It’s unbelievable that he dares to try some of most bizarre food from all over the world. Seriously, I admire him for that, and I am glad he is still on air.  Anyway, today I will talk you on a virtual tour of Asian Night Food Market which is a staple of summer nightlife.  These night food markets are composed of hundreds of food booths crowded on specific streets or area. They usually come out around 9:00 ish at night and stay all the way till 3:00 or 4:00 am in the morning. We know bar hopper, right? Well, at the night food market, people are food hopper from one booth to another eating and drinking. Here is one awesome video I found that can give you a picture of what the night food market look like. If you ever go to Asia, you gotta have this experience.

My personal favorite night food is mainly seafood and grilled fish. To be honest, I am afraid of gaining weight if I eat at late night, so I usually just pick a vegie or two. You can probably find the strangest food at these open-air markets. Feel free to try, to satisfy your curiosity, and to challenge yourself, but be careful with what you eat. Over the weekend, I was taught by little boy that You Only Live Once. Who can argue with that?

Night food market is definitely a social platform for people. It’s a place where you can indulge yourself and let go of the stress from work or whatever happened during the day. Almost all food booths sells beer because China is fairly easy on selling alcohol and drinking age. Drinking leads to another scene of night market – fighting. I remember seeing all sorts of fighting: men fight with men, women fight with women, and women fight with men. What a wonderful night! Haha 🙂 Well, if you happen to be around the ugly fighting, try to stay away. People lose their mind when drunk.

Bottom line, you should absolutely go out and take a stroll at the night food market if you happen to be in one of those Asian countries.  🙂

What Are My Favorite Dishes?

Trista Schell commented on my earliest post ” Brief Intro To Chinese Food“. She also asked about my favorite Chinese food. This list can go on and on and forever. Here, I would like to share with you some dishes that also mean a lot to me.

First one – Dumplings (the boiled kind). The two pictures below were sent by my friend in China. 🙂

photo 1 (1)         photo 2 (1)

I love love dumplings. They are usually made of pork with cabbages, celery, or garlic chives. Most people make them from scratch including the wrap and the stuffing inside. It’s always a tradition in my family that we make these cute dumplings at New’s Year’s Eve and then eat them in the morning of first day of the new year. Sometimes, my mom would sneak a coin or two in any of those dumplings. Whoever finds the treasure is supposed to have a good fortune in the next year. I doubt that’s sanitary. Oh well, it means well, I guess. Hopefully I get to roll the fresh dough and wrap up some dumplings with my family next Spring Festival.

Second one – What I am going to present you is absolutely my dad’s favorite, and I like them too – Noodles in all shapes and forms. 2_110301093033_1 20130609124056-620675157  

Che Mian                                                                 Kudai Mian (Belt Noodle)


Shaozi Mian

My dad can eat Che Mian everyday and every meal, and he still won’t get tired of it. The rest of us gotta have rice and stir fried veges every other day. I remember I experimented with Che Mian my first year when I was in Billings. My friends all love it, but gosh, it was hard work because the flour was not exactly right. The width of the belt noodle is literally as wide as a person’s belt. That’s how it got its name. Shaozi Mian is in a different form – soup. It has less noodles but more soup. As you can see from the picture, it also looks greasy. Man, I miss those different types of noodles so much.

Third one – my personal favorite Hot Pot (火锅). Some people say it’s like a fondue. Well, I guess that probably makes more sense to you. When you see the pictures below, you will know what I am talking about. BTW, I am famous for my hot pot over the past few years in the states.  🙂 Ha

photo 1 (2)photo 2 (2)photo (1)

The third one is what we usually eat in China, and it’s called Mandarin duck pot. You can see there is a divider in the middle dividing the pot into two parts – one part is spicy and the other is non-spicy. I was lucky to enjoy that delicious meal during Thanksgiving 2012 when I went back to Billings visiting my friends. The first two pictures represent my creation of American hot pot. The pot is actually a skillet I bought from Walmart, and it’s all very spicy. This meal is perfect for family gatherings or friends reunion. There are many different kinds of the base soup seasoning. It’s time for me to stock up some seasonings and get ready for the fall and winter! Are you hungry yet? I know I am. If you are in Chadron when school starts, let me know if you want to try my all time favorite – hot pot. I promise you won’t be disappointed! Which one of them make you hungry?

Holiday Cooking – Spring Rolls

As I have promised you guys, here comes chef Yanrong’s Specialty – Spring Rolls. Since Fourth of July is already, you may have to make family dinner for tons of people. I assure you the Spring rolls would be a simple yet popular dish. Are you ready to take some notes? Well, I also have this video for you. Finally, I am able to upload videos. Isn’t that awesome?

1st video – students cooking spring roll stuffing on the stove

Ingredients for the stuffing include:

1) one cabbage – cut off the roots part and slices into small pieces.

2) 3-4 long carrots – peel off the skin and slices

3) one bag of Mung bean sprouts  (Safeway has it)

5) Nasoya Foods All Natural Egg Roll Wrap

4) cooking oil, salt, lemon pepper, chicken broth (either power or liquid), Chinese Five spices (I think Walmart has it)

Once you have all these ready by hand, put a stir fry pan on the stove, warm it up and then pour a reasonable amount of cooking oil on the pan. I am really bad at using measurement. Wait one or two minutes for the cooking oil to heat up, then put carrots, mung bean sprouts, and cabbage in.  Put right amount of spices in and let it cook for about 10 to 12 minutes while the stove is on medium to high. Try it to see if they are all cooked. If it’s done, take it out and put in a bowl. Make sure you drain the liquid out because too much liquid will soak up the wrap. Now are you ready to roll it and bake it?

Spring roll making ING

As you can see in the video, thoroughly brush cooking oil on the baking pan and also on those spring rolls. Then cover them with foyer. Pre-heat the over on 400 F, and then put spring rolls in for 10 minutes. Take it out, open the foyer, turn the spring rolls to the other side and let it bake for another 8-10 minutes. You should at least check twice to avoid burnt.

Dada, I hope your spring rolls will turn out like the one below or even better. You judge it based on the color. If it’s golden all around, then that’s an A+. If 60% golden, that’s an A. What will you get if it’s burnt?

Spring rolls

Have a fabulous holiday! If you decide to try it, please let me know how it goes. 🙂


We Love Soup!

Q: What’s the one soup that almost every Chinese restaurant in the states offers?

A: Egg drop?


Bingo! That’s absolutely the correct answer. Well, to tell you the truth, we love soup and there are hundreds of types of soup intended for different purposes. In this post, I will introduce you to some of our signature soups.

There are seven basic traditional soup stocks in Chinese cuisine. Let’s take a look at each of them. If you get hungry while looking at the picture, you know where to go – grocery store or the kitchen! Hold on to your appetite :).  The following information is quoted from Wikipedia on Asian soup:

” Chicken (T: 雞湯, S: 鸡汤): The basic broth used in creating most Chinese soups. The basic broth is sometimes fortified with liquorice root, wolfberry, and other Chinese herbs.

  • Pork broth (T: 瘦肉湯, S: 瘦肉汤): Lean pork is used most often as the soup base for long-simmered Chinese soups, called 老火湯 in Cantonese. This soup base is often simmered over low heat for several hours with other roots, dried herbs, vegetables, and edible fungi like shiitake mushroom, white fungus, or wood ear.[2] The Cantonese are especially known for their long-simmered Chinese soups, as they often pair ingredients under Chinese Medicine concepts to enhance health-benefiting functions of the soup.
  • White broth (T: 白湯, S: 白汤): Made from lightly blanched pork bones that have been vigorously boiled for several hours, creating a white milky broth. This broth has a rich mouthfeel, and is often used in ramen soups.
  • Fish broth (T: 魚湯, S: 鱼汤): Made from fish that have been fried and boiled for several hours, creating a white milky broth. This broth has a rich feel, and sweet umami taste.
  • Coarse broth (T: 毛湯, S: 毛汤): A broth made using the bones, meat offcuts, or skin of either pork, duck, or chicken. A commonly broth used for simple flavouring of common dishes.
  • Refined broth/stocks:
    • Superior broth (T: 上湯, S: 上汤): A dark tan broth made from Jinhua ham, pork, and chicken that has been slowly simmered to finish. This rich and umami broth is used in the creation of many expensive soups such as shark fin soup or wonton soup.
    • Clarified broth (T: 吊湯, S: 吊汤): A filtered white broth made through vigorous boiling of bones and chicken that has been clarified using pureed or finely minced chicken breast meat. Repeating the clarification and infusion process with more minced chicken produces a double clarified broth (T: 雙吊湯, S: 双吊汤). The white broth can also be clarifed using egg white or blood but taste will not be optimal.[3] Used in the Sichuan dish, Kaishui baicai (開水白菜, lit. Cabbage in boiled water).[4]

Ingredients used in making Chinese stocks can be recooked again to produce a thinner broth with less intense flavours, known as ertang (二湯, Pinyin:èr tāng, lit. second soup). ”

Out of these seven soup styles, I have made chicken soup, pork soup, and fish soup. My favorite and also the easiest one is tomato egg soup. I usually eat it with other dishes and plain rice. Most families in China make dinner as “si cai yi tang 四菜一汤” which means four dishes and one soup. Fours dishes are made up of vegetables and meat either sty fry or salad. The soup is usually tomato egg or rice noodle soup. To satisfy your curiosity, I found this picture very typical.


A huge difference between American and Chinese soup style is the creaminess. Most Americans love creamy soup. Chinese soup, on the contrary, is usually made without cream. In the winter, people would put herbs and roots in their chicken or pork soups because they believe those soups are supposed to help you stay away from illness or strengthen your immune system. Bone soup is extremely popular for recovering patients and people who need more calcium. In terms of spices, most soups don’t need much of them. It’s usual to have dried chili peppers in healing soup like the one below.


During my two weeks of cooking class, I made rice noodle soup twice. The recipe for it will be given in my next post. Are you ready to try it? I also discovered an awesome soup blog for you if you are interested in trying more!

IMG_1409  (This is the rice noodle soup 🙂 it went on my menu twice! guess they all liked it!)

Well, are you guys hungry yet? I am gonna do an variation of this rice noodle soup this weekend and will let you know how it goes!