Updates and Drunken Chicken Bahn Mi

Does life slow down as you get older? The past year left me reeling to be honest. In both good ways and bad ways as these things tend to go. If each year of my life is this chaotic I'll be burnt out before I'm 30.

Let's recap 2016 shall we?

  • I took Techniques of Cooking II
  • I graduated college
  • Started a new job
  • Moved to LA from Boston and moved in with my boyfriend

The list is short, but they're pretty 'big' items.

I thought transitioning from college to the 'real world' wouldn't be so drastic for me. After all at Northeastern I spent over a year working full time jobs as part of its co-op program. 

Turns out that's not the case. Working full time...is hard. Relying solely on yourself financially is also hard. Life is hard! I don't want to dedicate this whole post to complaining about life, but since I moved out to Los Angeles l've been incredibly up and down. I love my boyfriend, I love living with him, I love Los Angeles, I don't regret moving here what so ever.

But I also don't have any close friends out here. I didn't like my job. I had this whole new routine that left me low key depressed. It's hard to cook when you're depressed, it's hard to do anything.

As cheesy as this sounds, 2017 brings fresh hope, new challenges, new motivation. Yeah I agree, the difference between December 31st and January 1st is arbitrary. Every day is what you make of it. But I'm a sucker for these things, so while I realize there's no real difference, I feel like my slate is wiped at least somewhat clean.

So what have I been up to in the Kitchen?

To be frank, not much. Again, this was a pretty tough year and I let it drag me down more than once. I did attempt a few more 'difficult' recipes from my cooking classes and when those failed miserably I pretty much 'tossed in the towel'.

But, but, BUT I did get some motivation back! Not only have I been taking strides to practice more 'self-care' but I FINALLY cooked something I'm insanely proud of.

The only picture I managed to take of my creation because of either bad lighting/impatience :'(

The only picture I managed to take of my creation because of either bad lighting/impatience :'(

The Crispy Drunken Chicken Bahn Mi

Adapted from the Bahn Mi Handbook by Andrea Nguyen

Ingredients (for 5-6 sandwiches)

  • Soft Bahn Mi bread (or soft rolls in general)
  • Cilantro
  • Mayo (Preferably Kew Pie Mayo)
  • Sriracha
  • Lettuce
  • 1 1/4 pounds of boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2/3 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of canola (plus more for deep frying)
  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons of regular soy sauce
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons of Shaoxing Rice Wine or dry sherry or marsala cooking wine
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, smashed 
  • A 1 inch section of unpeeled ginger, slice and smashed
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar + 1 1/2 tablespoons of cider vinegar (or 3 tablespoons of Chinkiang vinegar)
  • 6 tablespoons of water


For the Meat

  1. Trim off the big chunks of fat from the chicken thighs, if they're large or super uneven, butterfly the meat
  2. Cut the chicken into cubes/nuggets, around 1 1/2 inches
  3. In a bowl, combine the salt, 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons or rice wine (or marsala wine, or dry sherry), and 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the chicken to the bowl, mix it all together so the chicken is all evenly coated, and let it marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes

For the sauce

  1. In a 1 quart saucepan, combine the 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of rice wine with garlic*, ginger*, sugar, vinegar (either the mix of balsamic, cider vinegar, or the Chinkiang vinegar), and the water
  2. Create a slurry with the cornstarch (you do this by dissolving the 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water)
  3. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat, then lower the heat a little for 1 to 2 minutes (until you can smell the garlic and ginger)
  4. Add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce and increase the heat a little
  5. After adding the cornstarch let the sauce heat until it is nearly boiling and thick (this should take a little less than a minute), remove it from heat.
  6. Let the sauce cool down for around 5 minutes, then strain it with a sieve.
  7. Set the sauce aside to cool down

Deep Frying

  1. Heat up a wok or a deep skillet with 1 inch of Canola Oil (or vegetable oil, any tasteless oil with a high smoke point should do) 
  2. Let the oil reach 350 degrees F. You can monitor its heat with a deep fry/candy thermometer, or do the chopstick method (Andrea Nguyen in her book says to stick a chopstick in the hot oil- if bubbles rise immediately to the surface, the oil should be hot enough)
  3. Fill a bowl with cornstarch, and cover each piece of chicken in the cornstarch
  4. Fry the chicken in batches (make sure it's not overcrowded) for 2-3 minutes (you may have to turn over the chicken often if using exactly 1 inch of oil- I used more so that it had room to float and I didn't need to turn it over)
  5. Drain the chicken on a rack and let it cool

    Note: If you have leftovers, or want to deep fry in advance, you can re-heat the chicken by placing it in a pre heated oven at 450 degrees F for 8 minutes until it crisps up again (flip it halfway if you're not using a rack)

Assembling the Sandwich

  1. Cut into the roll or bahn mi bun (not fully, we want to be able to stuff it but don't want it to leak)
  2. Add Kew Pie mayo (or regular mayo) and Sriracha on either one or both sides of the bun and mix it together with a finger or knife
  3. Add the lettuce (not too much or you won't be able to fit the chicken)
  4. You can either coat the chicken in the sauce, or put the sauce onto the sandwich after it's assembled
  5. Tear up a bunch of cilantro and tuck it/put it on the sandwich
  6. Eat immediately!

*Note: You can smash the garlic and ginger with the side of your knife or (what I personally do) smash it with a meat hammer

Normally Bahn Mi has pickled vegetables on it, but this sauce is tart enough that you don't need it! In this case Andrea Nguyen suggests keeping the 'extras' light as the sauce is bold enough. You don't necessarily need pickled vegetables (though you can certainly add them if you want), you don't need Maggi sauce.

Fried Millet Cakes with Arugula, Avocado and Poached Egg

My friends kept asking me about restarting my weekly brunch for a while now. And it felt really really nice that they kept asking about it. Because that implies they must really like my food which is the highest compliment you can prolly give me.

And honestly, weekly brunch is a very fulfilling event for me. I don't like cooking just for myself, since I don't tend to eat leftovers, and this way, I get to cook crazy foods for all of my friends. They come over, we sit for an hour or so eating and enjoying each other's company- it's feels very much like a family get together. It's really really nice. Plus, I've introduced my friends to a bunch of food they wouldn't have eaten otherwise (one week I did Bibimbap, and Gua Bao breakfast sandwiches)

So yeah, after a 3 and a half month hiatus, weekly brunch is officially back! To (re) kick it off I decided to do a more traditional breakfast (so no Bibimbap or quinoa bowls). I decided it was to be strictly decadent breakfast food. And what screams breakfast food more than poached eggs?

I looked through my favorite food blogs, and found this one recipe on What Should I have For Breakfast Today, for a millet cake with roasted vegetables and a poached egg. Perfect. Savory, flexible (for my gluten free friend) and very breakfasty.
I kept the millet (which I tweaked a little) and the poached egg from the recipe, but I decided I wanted to use Avocado (because I love it) rather than roasted vegetables, and added some greens in there as well.

I also made cheese tomato and basil corn muffins from the blog as well, but I didn't alter that recipe so I'll just link it here.

Adapted from What Should I Have for Breakfast Today

Ingredients (for 4-6 cakes)

  • 1 cup of millet
  • 3 cups of chicken, vegetable stock or water
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 small green onions (minced)
  • 2 tbsp of bread crumbs (can exclude for a gluten free recipe)
  • Oil (for frying)
  • 2 tbsp of grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 Avocado
  • Greens of your choice (baby spinach, arugula, dandelion greens, etc.)
  • 2 eggs
  • Eggs for poaching (technique for this can be found here, and here)
  • Lime juice


  1. In a large dry pot (preferably a wide one) toast the millet over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown. Keep stirring to avoid burning
  2. Add stock to the pan (rule of thumb is 1 cup of millet to 3 cups of water/stock makes it a more porridge like consistency, while 1 cup of millet to 2 cups of water/stock makes it more grainy, like quinoa). Add salt as necessary, and stir the millet after pouring in the stock
  3. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer. To give an extra boost of flavor to the millet you can add in a tablespoon of butter here, but that's totally optional. Cover the Millet and let it simmer for the appropriate amount of time (based on package instructions which can range from 15-30 minutes)
  5. If making the millet more porridge like (which we want in this case), stir the millet every few minutes, otherwise leave it alone
  6. Remove from heat and let it cool
  7. Fry the onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil until fragrant, (a few minutes) over medium heat, then let it cool
  8. In a bowl mix the millet, onions, garlic, eggs, bread crumbs, and cheese
  9. Heat up oil on a skillet (preferably one with a higher smoke point- I used grapeseed) on medium heat
  10. Form cakes with your hands and place them carefully onto the skillet- it will sizzle. Press on cake with spatula to flatten it a little
  11. Fry cakes for a few minutes on each side until golden brown
  12. Place on plate lined with paper towel to absorb some of the oil
  13. Cut the avocados into slices, place on top of millet cake with your greens. Sprinkle a little salt, pepper, and lime juice and add the poached egg on top with some additional salt and pepper!




Saffron Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

I have a fear of failure. I know it's not all that uncommon, but yeah, I have it. Despite all my instructors saying 'you learn more from failure than from success' I'm still always nervous about screwing up my dishes. I know what they're saying is true, but it's downright sad when something you've put a ton of effort into just falls flat! Last time I failed to make a few dishes I stopped cooking for about a month- which of course only made things worse.
This fear also makes me avoid anything related to dough. I don't have as much experience working with it, and it can be so temperamental I can't shake off the feeling that i'll just screw it up. Not the best mentality I know.

At my last Techniques of Cooking class we covered pasta. And in this case, we learned how to make pasta ourselves. This was definitely an area I've been avoiding- it just seems hard, you know? Not only is it working with dough, but it's pasta making! Pasta is sacred!!

BUT as I learned it's actually not that hard?? Who knew when you try things out they might turn out ok.

So yes. I made my own pasta. From scratch. And it was a grand old success! (thank god, cause it took a few hours to bang out hundreds of orecchiette). I guess this goes to show that the old diatribe of "you never know until you try" actually holds true. And I'm glad as hell I tried.

My confidence boost from this class was much needed. I can kick my stubborn ass into actually baking more and working with different types of dough. Even if I fail I know I've succeeded at something I thought was way above my level at least once- so that's enough of a motivator

Explaining how to make pasta is a bit difficult. But I found a tutorial online that I think sums it up pretty well which can be found here.

I noticed they didn't mention a few things though. I personally used 2 1/4 cups of 00 flour and a cup of semolina, however, you can use their recs as well. After kneading the dough, it needs to be shrink wrapped tightly and let sit for at least 10 minutes so it softens up. And lastly, if you wish to infuse it with anything (as I did with saffron here) grab a pinch of the spice and let it sit in the warm water so the flavor diffuses.

AND of course if you don't want to spend 1.5-2 hours of lovingly crafting pasta, it's available in dried form as well.


  • 2 bunches of broccoli rabe
  • 6 anchovies
  • 1 lb orecchiette pasta
  • 1 lb spicy Italian sausage split in half with the casings removed
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 tsp fresh hot red pepper (minced) or hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup of pecorino romano cheese, grated


  1. Bring a large pot full of water to a boil and fill a separate large mixing bowl full of ice water
  2. Remove the course stems from the broccoli rabe and chop the remainders into 2 inch pieces
  3. Add salt to the pot of boiling water and blanch the broccoli rabe for about 1-2 minutes, then remove and place into icewater. SAVE the cooking water
  4. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add in the sausage and saute until brown. Make sure to break up the sausage during this process into small pieces. This should take about 10 minutes
  5. Add the anchovies, garlic, hot red pepper flakes, and saute for an additional 2 minutes (until fragrant)
  6. Return the water to a full boil and add the orecchiette. The water should be (to quote my instructor) as salty as the ocean. Boil for around 8 minutes
  7. Just before the orecchiette are al dente, add broccoli rabe to sausage mixture in the skillet, toss it, and heat over low-med. 
  8. When pasta is done, stir in 1/4 cup of the Pecorino, season with salt and pepper (to taste and if needed) and serve with extra cheese on the side ;)