Simple sour Asian Soup

Simple sour Asian Soup

When we lived in the Philippines, we adopted a few “family” members. One was Lindsey whom we taught with, lived next door to and did life with for 10 months.   One way we forged a family was by eating dinner together almost every night for 10 months straight. Cooking dinner for 2 hasn’t quite been the same since.  Lindsey is an excellent cook and one of her signature meals was this soup which I am calling “Simple sour Asian soup.” She picked up the idea from a soup she had while living in Cambodia. One thing you should know about Lindsey is that she has an amazing sense of smell and taste.  She can taste/smell something and pick out exactly what flavors are present.  You can see one of our super cute family photos to the left. 🙂

I am calling this ‘simple sour Asian soup’ because Asia has many versions of sour soups. This is not exactly like any of those but a more basic version from which you could create many different things.  I like it in this simplistic form though. If you are looking for something with a bit more pizazz you could look into Tom Yum (Thailand) or Sinigang (Philippines).  What makes this soup sour is tamarind.  I had never heard of tamarind before I left America but apparently it is used all over the world: Africa, Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean. It is quite an unusual fruit. I was able to play with fresh tamarind while in the Philippines. Here is a picture:

TamarindWhen you buy fresh tamarind, it is a hard brown bean pod.  You soak it in hot water then take the outer pod off. Inside the pod is the soft sour flesh and a seed. You scrape the fleshy part off and use that.  It is very tart!

Today, living in America, I am using tamarind bullion from an Asian grocery. Although I would probably be using the bullion if I lived in Asia too. (It’s just easier.)

Here’s how to make the soup:


1 head bok choy

1 medium onion

3-5 cloves of garlic

2-4 stalks of green onion

1-3 tamarind bullion cubes

1 stalk lemongrass

1 cup white rice

optional vegetable or chicken broth



Dice a medium onion and 3-5 cloves of garlic

Wash and roughly chop bok choy leaves and stalk.

Saute the onion and garlic in oil and toward the end add the bok choy stalk and diced green onion.

Add 5-8 cups of water or vegetable broth and 1-3 tamarind bullion cubes. I add one at a time until it reached the level of sour that I wanted.

Add lemongrass. (leave as large pieces so you can remove it at the end)

Add leaves of bok choy.

Simmer for 20min. – 90min.

Make rice and serve soup over rice.

Sour Soup


The bok choy I got at the farmer’s market this week is hilariously large. So I had to share a picture of it. We’ve had a lot of rain so I’m hoping that is why this is so large and not that it’s pumped with fertilizer. Either way it was $2 and I’ll be making 2 large meals with it this week. So I’ll take it!

monster bok choy



PoPcOrN! with fresh thyme, salt and pepper


Fresh popcorn! Popped fresh on the stove in a little coconut oil, topped off with Himalayan pink salt. My favorite movie  night snack.  Not many people make fresh popcorn these days but it is so much healthier than microwavable for many reasons and it is super easy! 😀  Give it a try and try out this savory fresh herb version if you have herbs on hand.


2-4 TBSP virgin organic coconut oil

1/8 cup popcorn kernels

1/2 TBSP fresh thyme leaves (or herb of your choice)

1 TBSP virgin organic coconut oil and 1 TBSP butter (or oil of your choice)

In a heavy bottom pot with a good sealing lid, melt 2-4 TBSP coconut oil on med-high. You need enough to cover the bottom of the pot. Put 3 kernels in with the oil while heating with the lid on. Once these 3 kernels have popped, the oil is hot enough, add the rest of the popcorn. Turn heat down to medium heat.  Pick up the pot from the stove and give it a good shake/swirl about once every minute. Be sure to hold the lid on while you do this. I use pot holders and put my thumbs over the lid while I shake.  When the popping stops or is very very slow, remove from heat and pour out into a large bowl.


In a small skillet melt oil/butter with fresh herbs and heat for a few minutes on a med-low heat. Pour this mixture over the popcorn and mix.  When I make the plain version of this I just pour a few tablespoons of straight coconut oil over the popcorn and add salt.  So tasty!


Quiche Breakfast Bites with bread crust


So in the past year, I have moved to the Philippines, back to America and then to a new city. Now, in our new location, I have 2 new jobs! Teaching and working at an awesome bakery! (yes, it is all a bit too overwhelming) As a perk at the bakery, I will get 2 loaves of bread for free each week! That’s a lot of bread for 2 people. At my interview, I was given a free loaf and I have used it well. The bread was a whole wheat bread that is rolled out as dough then lathered in homemade pesto, rolled into a loaf and baked. It is delicious! I was thinking that I’m going to have to get creative if we are going to make the most of our 2 free loaves of bread each week. (waste not- want not!) So with that in mind and the fact that I would love to get out of my milk and cereal breakfast habit- I decided to make quiche bites with the pesto bread. It might sound weird to have quiche for breakfast- but Panera sells soufflés like hotcakes every morning which are essentially- quiches! Also, vegetables for breakfast is not a norm in America- but in many cultures- It is! America has become too obsessed with a fiber filled breakfast that we have forgotten about getting good protein at breakfast to get us going. These little quiches will have protein, fiber and veggies!

So here’s what I used:
-Artisan quality whole loaf bread (but really sliced bread would work just fine too)
-Whatever you want for your quiche: eggs, milk, cheese etc… see recipe link: My Mom’s basic quiche recipe: Quiche Recipe
-rolling pin, muffin tin

I sliced the bread into thin slices, microwaved it for a few seconds to get it really soft and rolled/smushed it down flat with a rolling pin. Then I used a large mug to cut circles (or whatever shape I could get…) out of the bread and pressed it into the bottom of a muffin cup.
You can use any quiche recipe you want.. I use my mom’s classic quiche base and added broccoli and cheddar cheese. (A strong white cheese would have matched the pesto better though.) Here is what I came out with:
They were a little hard to get out of the pan.. should have used muffin cups- but it wasn’t too bad. I am putting these in the freezer to pop out as a quick filling breakfast. I could make it a bit healthier, but for an occasional item- I’m happy with them. These could also be a great lunch item!

Beef Tapa- Filipino Breakfast


In the Philippines we thoroughly enjoyed “Filipino Breakfast.” Generally Filipino breakfast is a fried egg and rice- often garlic rice and a choice of one of the following: Tocino (a sweet, cured pork) Tapa (a savory beef) Bangus (fish) or Loganiza (sausage). Our favorites were Tocino and Tapa. Here is a recipe for Beef Tapa. Here is a lovely picture of a Filipino breakfast at the Filipino beach hotel: Final Option. This plate has both Tocino and Tapa with garlic rice, egg and slice of tomato. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Beef Tapa
Ingredients :
1/2 lb. thinly sliced beef
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. peppercorn, crushed
1 tbsp. patis (fish sauce)
oil, for frying
(Kitchen Measuring)

Cooking Procedures :
In a bowl, combine all ingredients except oil.
Marinate beef for at least 3 hours.
Stir-fry in a small amount of oil.
Makes 4 servings.

I didn’t have fish sauce in the house this time and it tasted pretty good without it (so I’d say it’s optional, but others may disagree.) If you want to use it be sure to only use a little and do not spill any- it smells awful- but it does add to the flavor of the dish- not a fishy taste though if you use the right amount.

Happy eating!

Japanese Sauces


While living in the Philippines we had the great pleasure of making friends with a Japanese family. They had us to dinner one night and taught us several japanese recipes. Here are a few different sauces to use with pork or chicken. I will also later post another meat recipe and a japanese salad recipe.

Ginger Fried Pork (or chicken)
“Shogayaki” show-guy-aki


Very thinly sliced pork- like a centimeter thick (about 1lb)
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the Sauce:
1-3 tablespoons grated ginger
one small yellow or white onion
one small apple – any kind
3-5 tablespoons Soy Sauce
2-4 tablespoons Sake- this is rice wine
2-4 tablespoons Mirin- This is syrupy rice wine, it is sweet.
-make sure to make enough sauce-
First flour, salt and pepper the meat lightly- just put flour directly onto the meat- no egg or anything.
Then make the sauce:
Grate the ginger, apple and onion into a bowl.
Add the soy sauce, sake and mirin
Mix and taste- see if you think there should be any more of anything.

Then cut any excess/unwanted fat off the meat and cut some slits into it to prevent from curling up.
Cook meat over a medium heat in a skillet until mostly cooked. Then add sauce to skillet and cook about 2-3 minutes longer.

ginger fried pork


Pan-Fried Thick Pork with Onion Sauce
Pork with “tamanegi” sauce
about 1 pound of pork or chicken- tenderized (pound on it a bit with a knife or meat tenderizer)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the sauce:
1 small onion- diced
3-5 cloves of garlic- chopped
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
small piece of chicken bullion cube- maybe 1/4 of the cube
Mix onion, garlic, water, soy sauce, and chicken bullion in a bowl.
Lightly flour, salt and pepper the meat and cook in a little oil in a skillet
Add sauce to the skillet and cook until done
Cut meat into chunks and return to the skillet to finish cooking.

onion pork

Green Onion Pork/Chicken
negi sauce accent on the I making e sound
1 lb of pork or chicken (generally pork butt or shoulder is used for this)
salt and pepper
For the sauce:
2 green onion stalks- sliced
2-4 tablespoons soy sauce
2-4 tablespoons vinegar
1-2 tablespoons Mirin (syrupy sake)
1-2 tablespoons sake
1 teaspoon chicken bullion
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Sauté meat in 2 tablespoons sesame oil
Cut up meat and return to pan with sauce and cook till bubbly

IMG_6084Green onion pork

I was impressed to see the wife cooking with chopsticks- so fun! Then after my husband wow-ed them with is skills at chopsticks we played a chopstick game! 🙂

Perfect Carmel Popcorn


A new favorite: Homemade Carmel popcorn. I found this recipe online at: The recipe was for carmel popcorn balls, which I used for Christmas presents. Then I started making it as a bowl of popcorn for a movie night treat and it has become a household and party staple. It is super easy. Here is the official recipe from Carmel Potatoes’s website:

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 rounded cups mini marshmallows (or about 25 large)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
18 cups popped corn (about 6 tablespoons of kernels)


Pop corn and set aside in a large bowl. {I like to remove any unpopped kernels – nothing worse than biting into those!}

In a saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and let cook just one minute and then add salt and vanilla. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Immediately pour over popcorn and coat completely. Let cool for just a few minutes or until you can handle it. Spray your hands with cooking spray and form 8 popcorn balls (approx. 3 inches). Of course you can just spread it on a tray to cool and serve it in a bowl if you’d rather.” – Carmel Potatoes blog


I make it by popping a TON of popcorn- like a huge bowl. Then melting 1 stick of margarine (I don’t use butter here b/c it’s expensive- I’m sure butter would work fine though) Add a heap of brown sugar and a bunch of marshmallows, a sprinkle of salt, and a dash of vanilla. Melt it all together and pour over the popcorn. Mix well and chow down! It is much easier to eat as regular popcorn than as a popcorn ball. This is even still good the next day or two.. maybe longer, I’ve never given it a chance to last that long! If you are into the whole “salted carmel” thing- add coarse salt at the last minute- I think it’s pretty good.

Gimbop/Kimbop/ Kimbap! Korean lunch! ^ ^


I have to admit I did not like Kimbap at first. The only thing holding me back was the seaweed. It is so good for you, but I just hated it. Kimbop is a Korean staple. I think it should be spelled Kimbop but for some reason online it is most commonly spelled Kimbap. Koreans often spell it Gimbop as the K has a bit of a /G/ sound. I am going to spell it Kimpbop. Kimbop is kind of like sushi but not really. Everything is cooked and it is eaten as a picnic or lunch food. I’ve heard it called the “Korean PB&J”. It’s really a complete meal in a roll! After about 7 months in the Philippines I am proud to say that I have acquired a taste for Kimbop- I love it now! Well, I really like it anyway. I am not a fan of burping up the seaweed taste afterward. But if you don’t mind seaweed or are looking to try something really healthy and tasty- this is the recipe for you! If you like this, you’ll be happy to know that there are MANY versions of kimbop. You can use Kimchi, fish, different kinds of vegetables etc…


Cooked Beef Bulgogi. Make sure the beef is very very thin- like shaved. You could buy it at an asian store this way or partially freeze it then slice it thinly with a sharp knife.
-Imitation crab (you can buy it in strips at Asian stores or use what you can find and cut it how you want it.
– 1-2 cups cooked short grain asian sticky rice- remember rice doubles in size when you cook it… so you only need 1/2 cup to a cup of uncooked rice.
– 2 carrots cut into thin match sticks
2-4 eggs beaten and cooked into a flat piece- like you’re going to make an omelet
-Pickled radish strips- my favorite. I think you have to look for this at an Asian grocery in a refrigerated section.
-Steamed spinach (optional) we didn’t have it when we made it. I hear it is good but you have to eat it right away.
-Seaweed squares for Kimbop or Sushi. The Japanese Sushi seaweed tends to have a stronger flavor.
-Sesame oil
-2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds- roasted or roast them yourself.

Before you can assemble these tasty rolls  you need to do a lot of preparing.
1.Cook the rice. When it is done add a few tablespoons of sesame oil, a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of roasted sesame seeds.
2. Cut the carrots into thin matchsticks and sauté with a little oil, salt, garlic powder, and pepper.

3. Beat 2-4 eggs in a bowl then cook in a skillet like an omelet. When finished cooking, cut into 1/2 inch strips.

4. Prepare imitation crab as necessary. The kind we bought was in pretty thick strips and we peeled it in half.. like string cheese.

5. Arrange all ingredients that you are using- you can use more or less- depending on what you like and what you have. Steam or salute other vegetables if necessary.


My favorite part of Kimbop is the pickled radish. Sometimes they come pre cut and other times you need to cut them into strips yourself.

Then lay seaweed down on the table. Cover 3/4 of the way with rice.
Then layer the ingredients across the middle of the square.

Roll tightly. The seaweed will stick to itself at the end. You can put sesame oil on the outside to hold together but it will moisten itself if the rice is moist enough.
Finally cut into slices and eat!