Shoyu Chicken

One of the easiest recipe ever! As easy as – place everything in a saucepan, simmer until done and sauce is reduced to a thick, sweet syrup. And of course, the chicken cooked through.

This is another Brentwood UCLA recipe that I still constantly prepare. The original recipe is from my work spouse, Loraine Yokote. She has a lot of easy to prepare yet utterly delicious recipes that I love! I mean who won’t like easy recipes, as we mostly work away from home yet still need to feed our families when we get home, right?

This is perfect, specially for when you are crunched for time. Simmer this on the stove then prepare the sides (rice in a rice cooker needs no supervision, a salad will come together in 5 minutes…) and you will still have enough time to take a shower, or help with homework while dinner is cooking by itself. All around awesome, I think!

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Ingredients:

6 chicken thighs, or 8 drumsticks

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon sake, vermouth, or sherry

Procedure:

1. Place chicken pieces in a saucepan. *I used up a whole package of chicken drumsticks. There were 11 pieces and so I adjusted the amount of the other ingredients accordingly.*

2. Pour in water,

3. Soy sauce,

4. Sugar,

5. garlic and ginger, (I love garlic and ginger, so I added more than what the original recipe called for!)

6. and finally the sake. Stir, stir, stir!

7. Cover the saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil.

8. Lower heat and simmer for about an hour. The longer you cook it, the more tender the chicken will be. Watch the level of the liquid in the pot. You do not want this to burn.

9. After about an hour you will have this deliciously sweet, glazed chicken that goes perfectly with freshly cooked white rice! Or salad if that is what you like!

10. Enjoy and I hope you like it!

The original recipe by Loraine Yokote

Electric Lunchbox #99: Mangoes with Sticky Rice

This is a very delicious dessert typically found in Southeast asian countries. Rice is a staple eaten 3 times a day in that part of the world – plus for dessert/snack too! Mangoes with Sticky Rice is a simple treat but truly memorable and I know that I crave it often, specially when I see ripe, super fragrant, mangoes at the grocery store.

There are several variations of this Sticky Rice in Asia.

In the Philippines where I grew up, my aunts would wrap the rice mixture in banana leaves then tie them up in pairs before boiling it until the rice is done. They would serve these “Suman” as our midday snack, dipped in sugar, topped with ube halaya, or fried and topped with more sugar. There is also Biko, which is sweetened sticky rice and coconut milk, baked in a pan and topped with caramelly coconut jam. Another of my very favorite sweet!

I tried it served as this recipe is, with a side of mangoes and decorated with an orchid flower, in Singapore. 😋

When there are ripe mangoes available, they are THE perfect partner to this simple Sticky Rice dessert. Just make sure the mangoes are perfectly ripe!

To add more ooomph to this already yummy dessert, I added a drizzle of some Coconut Rum just before serving. I personally do not drink alcohol but somehow I love baking with it! As is evidenced by this recipe, and my famous Rum Cake recipe: https://athomewiththeresa.com/2020/11/16/electric-lunchbox-bacardi-rum-cake/.

This dessert is something I’d gladly skip lunch or dinner for.

It is easy to make and sure to impress! I hope you try it!

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

1 cup sticky rice – I use Botan brand sweet rice🔝

2/3 cup canned coconut milk

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large ripe mangoes, cut from the pit and scooped out

1 1/2 tablespoons coconut rum, more if desired 😉

Procedure:

1. Place measured rice in a fine strainer and rinse under cold water until water runs clear, running your fingers through it to help in rinsing it.

2. Place rice in a bowl, cover with plenty of water and let soak for 4-12 hours.

3. Drain rice and place in the big bottom bowl of your ELB. Place this bowl, uncovered, in the ELB base.

See the difference in size? The one on the right is straight from the bag and the one on the left is after the rice was soaked overnight.

4. Place 3 ELB cups of water in the base, cover and let steam for about 1 hour, until your lunchbox shuts off.

5. Carefully open the ELB and fluff rice with a fork. Cover loosely and set aside.

6. In a small bowl, combine coconut milk, sugar, and salt.

7. Mix until sugar is completely dissolved.

8. Pour mixture onto the hot rice.

9. Place the bowl back in the ELB, add 1 ELB cup of water to the base, cover and let steam until done, about 15 minutes more.

10. Carefully open the ELB and stir the rice. Check to see if rice is done by tasting some. The best part, right? Adjust sweetness if needed by adding more sugar if you like. A reminder though that the mangoes will add sweetness to the dish too.

11. Slice each mango half into thin, lengthwise pieces. ⬇️

12. Mound rice on a serving plate and arrange mango slices around it, or on top of the rice. *I used a small cup to shape the rice into a small dome. Just scoop some rice into a clean, dry cup, level the top while gently packing the rice in. DO NOT pack too much as you want it fluffy, just enough to hold its shape. You could also just scoop some rice onto the plate and top with mangoes. It’ll still be delicious!

13. Pour coconut rum over and serve.

14. Sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy every bite!

Spicy Eggplant

Spicy Eggplant…this is one of my favorite dishes to order when eating out at an Asian restaurant. Of course with COVID-19 I had been cooking almost all of our meals at home for over a year.

Most of the meals I like to eat are easily made at home so I just had to recreate this recipe too as I have been craving spicy, salty, sweet foods lately. Must be because we are in this pandemic longer than anyone thought we would. This dish checks all the boxes – spicy, sweet, and salty – truly delicious with plain steamed rice. As a bonus, you get your veggie serving in there too!

You can make this vegetarian by cooking it as it is but my boys like meat and frowns if they cannot find meat in their plate so I did add a couple of handfuls of chopped meat in there. You can also make it spicier buy adding more chili paste. As always, feel free to tailor my recipes to your tastes!

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For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon plain white vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili paste (sambal oelek)
1/2 teaspoon ground bean sauce (or hoisin sauce)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

To finish cooking:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound eggplant, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

*I added about 200 grams chopped pork to this recipe when I was taking photos of it for this article. You can leave it out if you want, but it sure makes it taste better!*

1. Prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and mixing well. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a wok to 350 degrees F.

3. Add the diced eggplant and cook, stirring once, for about one minute. Remove the eggplant with a slotted spoon and set on paper toweling to drain.

4. Remove all but about a teaspoon of oil from the wok. Turn the heat to high and add the garlic.

5. Add the chopped pork and let it brown for a few minutes.

6. Carefully pour in the sauce.

7. Let the sauce come to a simmer for 30 seconds.

8. Add the eggplant back to the wok and cook for 10-15 seconds while stirring.

9. Combine the cornstarch,

10. and water to make a smooth paste.

11. Stir it into the eggplant mixture.

12. Keep stirring until it thickens.

13. Let it come to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

14. Serve hot with lots of steamed white rice.

15. Enjoy!

Tomato Egg Drop Soup

I wasn’t able to take photos as I was preparing this soup since I upgraded my phone and it took forever to sync with the old one.

In the meantime, I was totally phoneless (is that even a word?). I could’ve used the big Nikon dslr but it definitely would be in my way.

This soup cooked up really fast, about 15 minutes total, so it was ready way before my phone was done. I didn’t realize I had 12,000 photos and almost as much videos in there as I take photos with the phone when trying out and testing new recipes. I need to go and delete some one day. One day….

Anyway, the recipe….this is similar to the Egg Drop Soup you’ll find in most Asian restaurants, but with the addition of tomatoes. Trust me, it is very good.

My husband really loves Egg Drop Soup and since March last year, we had not gone out to eat at all. Time to try making it at home.

Someone sent me this recipe to try and after a few tweaks, I think it’s just perfect. I added a cup of water as the chicken stock made my soup a bit too salty for my taste. You may use 6 cups of chicken stock if you prefer your soup saltier.

I only have that one photo of the soup in the serving bowl, but if I make it again, I will update with step by step photos like all of my recipes!

Enjoy and I hope you’ll like it as much as we did!

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Ingredients:

2 ripe tomatoes, stemmed and diced

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 garlic clove, minced

5 cups chicken stock

1 cup water

Green onions, sliced

2 eggs, beaten

2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water

2 tbsp soy sauce

Pinch of ground pepper

Procedure:

1. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a pinch or two of salt set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes until it softens.

3. Stir in the garlic. Cool for a couple of minutes until fragrant.

4. Add in the the chicken stock and water, cover and bring to a boil.

5. Stir the soup clockwise. Pour the beaten eggs into the center of the pot and keep stirring clockwise.

6. Stir in the reconstituted cornstarch, soy sauce, and pepper.

7. Simmer for a couple of minutes to cook the cornstarch and thicken the soup.

8. Pour into serving bowls. Top with the spring onion before serving.

Japanese Strawberry Short Cake

Strawberries are pretty tasty this time of the year. I had been purchasing them from farmer’s stands and farmer’s markets as they are always good, unlike other places where it’s hit or miss.

They’re quite expensive though, at $5 -$8 per green basket, but totally worth it as they are sweet and delicious all the way through. I like eating them just as is, after washing. No need for anything else as they are very tasty…and fragrant.

There are no green sour patches on these at all. And since they are so good, I decided to make a cake for my mom’s birthday. I have quart of whipping cream and a dozen home grown eggs in the fridge so I’m all set.

I had been trading loaves of sourdough bread for eggs with my co worker once a week, so the eggs I have are really fresh. Which is important, as the cake is a simple sponge cake recipe where in your ingredients need to be really good and fresh for it to taste great. The frosting is a simple, lightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream, and topped with the best tasting strawberries you can find, this will be a cake you will make over and over.

We had to go to a soccer game at 9 am so I baked the layers and let it cool upside down for 20 minutes while we got ready, turned them right side up to cool completely while we were gone. I then whipped the cake, sliced the strawberries, and put the cake together after lunch, then chilled it for an hour before driving it over to my mom’s. Busy day!

I did not expect a lot of requests for this recipe so I did not photograph anything while whipping up the first, full sized cake. I did not have the time to either as I was rushing to get it done before we had to leave. However, since I did get a few requests, and since there was no left overs after it was demolished at my mom’s, I decided to make another, smaller cake for our home.

I halved the recipe and baked them in two 5-inch round cake pans. They were filled and frosted the same way as the full sized 8/9 inch cake. It was just enough for 6 slices, 2 each for me, my husband, and my son.

So here it is. There are a lot of steps but it is easy and the results are more than worth it. Feel free to break the steps down like I did to fit your schedule. I promise you will be amazed with the end results.

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Ingredients:

275 grams eggs

124 grams sugar

146 grams cake flour

45 grams milk

14 grams melted unsalted butter

1 pound fresh strawberries

500 grams cold heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line 2 (8 or 9 inch) round cake pans with parchment paper cut to fit.

2. Combine eggs and sugar in a small metal bowl. You will make a makeshift double boiler using the bowl and a small saucepan.

3. Place bowl over a small pan with simmering water.

4. Cook, stirring, until a thermometer reaches 98F.

5. Transfer the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.

6. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high for 4 minutes.

7. Lower speed to medium and beat until ribbons form, about 5 more minutes.

8. See the videos above to determine when to stop. You should be seeing clear ribbons in the batter. This is important as this cake has no leavening, aside from the air trapped in the egg mixture.

9. Sift flour into a bowl to aerate it.

10. Place milk in a microwave safe bowl.

11. Place the butter in the bowl too.

12. Heat the mixture for 30 seconds and stir to melt butter.

13. Fold in 1/3 of the flour into the egg mixture until combined. Repeat twice more to use up the flour.

14. Slowly add the milk and butter mixture and stir to combine.

15. Do not overmix as you need the air in the mixture to make your cake light and fluffy. Mix just until combined.

16. Pour into the prepared pans. Drop the pans from about 2 inches from the counter to release any big bubbles.

17. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

18. In the meantime, slice a few of the strawberries into thin slices, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

19. Remove the cakes from the oven when done.

20. Invert them onto a cooling rack sprayed with nonstick spray. Let cool for at least 20 minutes.

21. Turn them right side up and cool completely.

22. Unmold and peel off the parchment paper.

23. In the meantime, pour the whipping cream in the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.

24. Wash, rinse, and dry a few strawberries left whole. Cut them in half lengthwise if desired.

25. Place on cake layer on the serving plate.

26. Spread an even layer of whipped cream over.

27. Top with sliced strawberries, trying to follow the shape of the cake. Cut the strawberries if needed.

28. Top with a little more whipped cream, just enough to cover the strawberries.

29. Top with the second cake layer and gently press down.

30. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining whipped cream.

31. Top with whole or sliced strawberries. Chill until set, about an hour or so.

32. You can serve it like this or decorate with melted chocolate.

33. I used melted Hershey’s sugar free chocolate to pipe zigzags on the strawberries I used to top my mom’s cake. You can also pipe it across the top of the cake.

34. Slice it carefully, serve and enjoy!

35. See how beautiful this cake is? Yum!

The picture below is my mom’s 9 inch cake, all lit up, with the chocolate topped strawberries and chocolate greeting on the side. It was totally out of this world delicious.

Trader Joe’s Thai Style Yellow Curry Sauce

I love the convenience of bottled simmer sauces that are becoming available at the grocery stores. They are truly life savers for when you come home late from work and need something on the dinner table real quick. The trick is finding out which ones you like, which means trying out a few brands.

I’ve always been lucky with almost anything I get at Trader Joe’s. They’re reasonably priced and always delicious, but sometimes you get hooked but you can never get it again. I had some favorite cheeses and sauces that was not available anymore when I came back for more. Sad.

So if I see something I want to try, I usually buy a couple to start with. They do have expiration dates so I cannot really get a dozen or so as we will get tired of it if I cook it too often. 😊

So…this is my most recent find!

I’ll cook this with some cut up chicken, garlic, onions, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, and a couple of bell peppers from the garden.

You can definitely eyeball the amounts and adjust anything to your taste.

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Begin by preparing all of your ingredients. I used the following:

1-2 tablespoons oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 pound of chicken breast, cubed

1 big potato, peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 zucchini, trimmed and cut into half moons

A handful of mushrooms, chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 bottle of Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Sauce

Water

Freshly cooked rice and chopped cilantro, for serving

1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Sauté garlic and onions until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Next add the potatoes and carrots. Stir and cook for a few minutes.

3. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, and bell pepper.

4. Pour the curry sauce over. Fill the bottle halfway with water, cover and shake to get every last bit of the delicious sauce, open the bottle then pour contents into the pan.

5. Stir the mixture and cover with a lid. Lower heat to medium low and simmer until chicken and vegetables are done, around 10-20 minutes.

6. Serve over freshly cooked, hot rice. Top with chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Home made Natto (Fermented Soybeans)

Have you heard of, or even maybe TRIED, Natto (fermented soybeans)?

When you see it in Japanese or other Asian grocery stores, they come in a package of 3 little white, styrofoam boxes. It is usually served with rice in Japanese meals, most often breakfast. You stir it well to make it super stringy and slimy, add the tiny mustard and soy sauce packets that come with it, and pour everyting over hot rice. Then, you dig in!

It is for sure an acquired taste, even for those who grew up eating Japanese food. You either love it or loathe it. However, with all the fermented food craze lately, I read that it is added to everything, and I even saw it used to top a pizza! Now that is something I have to try! 😋

I prefer to use these small, organic soy beans when making natto and soy milk. The ones at the grocery stores are bigger, but are okay to use too.

So, in this post, I will show you how to make this super healthy, fermented food at home. In case you are like me and my mom, who happen to love natto, you can have an unlimited supply if you make it.

You will need an incubator that can keep a constant temperature of 100C. You can use an oven, a proofing box for bread making, or an Excalibur Dehydrator.

A few years ago, I purchased a Japanese Yogurt maker specifically because you can adjust the temperature, unlike the ones available here in the US. The brand is Tanika and it is really a handy little appliance that I always use to make my homemade natto. Of course, I also have an oven, an Excalibur dehydrator, and a Brod and Taylor Folding Bread Proofer, but I do not like warming up that much space for a little jar of natto. So this little yogurt maker is just perfect for me. Labels on the appliance and the manual are in Japanese but I recently saw some on Amazon that are made for the US market with English labels.

Just like yogurt, you need to buy a package first to be able to get the bacteria you need to make natto, then if you make it regularly, you just get a little from the prepared batch to make more. This is the easiest way to get started. Of course, you could also buy some natto spores to start the Bacillus Subtilis culture. Mitoku is the brand I use. It’s from Japan and makes really tasty natto. It comes with a tiny measuring spoon so you get a lot of natto even though the culture bottle is tiny.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups soybeans, preferably organic

Water

Store bought natto, or natto spores

Procedure:

1. Rinse 1 1/2 cups of soybeans in water and soak in at least 5 cups of water overnight at room temperature.

*the soybeans will more than double its size, see photo below, so make sure you use a lot of water when soaking the beans.*

A dry soybean on the left. After soaking for 12 hours, it will look like the one on the right.
I use this footed strainer basket with a handle to steam the soybeans in an Instant pot.

2. Rinse and strain soybeans and place in a metal footed strainer basket (or a colander over a trivet).

3. Pour 1 1/2 cups water in the pressure cooker liner.

4. Place the strainer with soybeans in the pressure cooker and pressure cook for 45 minutes.

5. Let pressure drop for 10 minutes, then release pressure, placing a kitchen towel over the vent to help dissipate the steam.

Cover the vent with a clean towel. I just took a photo to show the release of pressure.
Soybeans after cooking for 45 minutes.

6. In the meantime, prepare your yogurt maker.

7. Place 1/4 cup of water in the Tanika Yogurt Maker’s inner container, place the spoon inside and cover with the clear cover.

8. Position the spoon so that the handle sticks out of the cut out in the cover.

9. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds to sterilize. Dump out the water.

10. If using the natto spores, mix 2 teaspoons boiled and cooled water with 1 tiny spoonful (included in the spores box) of the culture. Mix well and set aside.

*water mixed with natto spores*

11. Take one soybean and squeeze it between two fingers, it should be soft enough that it will crush easily.

12. Transfer half of the hot soybeans in the prepared yogurt container.

13. A. *If using spores, pour the half of the diluted culture over the hot soybeans.

13. B. If using ready made natto, add a spoonful of it onto the hot soybeans. Stir with the sterilized spoon.

14. A. *Add the rest of the soybeans to the yogurt container and then the rest of the diluted culture, if using spores. Mix well.

14. B. *If using pre made natto, add a spoonful more to the soybeans, then mix throughly.

15. Make sure to mix well, but be careful not to crush the beans.

16. Set the container into the yogurt maker, cover with a clean towel and place the blue cover over, slightly ajar to allow air in.

17. Set the fermentation temperature to 45C and the timer to 24 hours.

18. Carefully remove the blue cover and check the beans after 24 hours.

19. They should have a white, fuzzy growth around most of the beans.

20. Cover with the clear cover then the blue screw, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating.

*this is how it looks like from the bottom of the container.

21. Take a big spoonful of the natto and place on a serving dish. Cover and return the rest to the refrigerator. Using a spoon or chopsticks, thoroughly mix the natto until stringy and slimy. I was told to stir vigorously 100 times! Add a little soy sauce and hot mustard, serve over hot plain rice. Enjoy!

Moo Goo Gai Pan

Here is a quick and easy version of a staple Chinese restaurant take out!

Once in a while I’d crave Chinese food really bad. Most good restaurants are not close to where I live so it’ll be about a 20-30 mile drive to get to one and I’m too lazy to drive out to hunt them down. So I made this using an older cookbook I saw at the library a while back.

The cooking process takes no time at all so make sure to prep everything in the beginning (chop, dice, mince…)and have it all ready to go.

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Ingredients:

1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese shao xing wine

2 teaspoon cornstarch

1/3 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoon garlic

2 teaspoon minced ginger

6 oz snow peas

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

Salt and pepper

Green onions, to serve

Procedure:

1. Prepare all ingredients and set close by.

2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together chicken, soy sauce shao xing wine, cornstarch, chicken stock, oyster sauce, and sugar.

3. In a wok, heat up oil. Sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant.

4. Drain chicken, keeping the marinade, and add the chicken to the wok. Stir fry until cooked through, about 5 – 10 minutes.

5. Add the snow peas, and stir fry for a minute.

6. Add the mushrooms and stir fry for another minute.

7. Add in the reserved marinade and boil for 3-4 minutes. Make sure you boil it.

8. Serve hot with freshly cooked white rice.

9. Enjoy!