Intuitive Cooking: Tomato reduction


This first post in a series (depending on how motivated I am) called Intuitive Cooking, by special request from Mr. L A A. He asked me to write about how I cook without measurements and without recipes so this will be my attempt at describing the process that occurs mainly in my head.

I usually start cooking because I decide I’m hungry or there’s something going bad soon in my fridge requiring immediate attention.

I shop for groceries in an ordinary supermarket or an Asian market (Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese are all good choices) weekly if not every other day. So I always have plenty of vegetables, fruit and some form of protein on hand.

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This is what I had to work with a few weeks ago – I had half an onion, a bag full of organic Roma tomatoes and 1 courgette/zucchini squash. (Nah, you don’t need to buy organic vegetables and fruit. I often don’t. But in this case, I will say that it made a huge difference in the taste and for that reason I usually think if the price is comparable I’ll go for the organic version because it simply tastes better.)

Garlic is the not-so-secret ingredient in all my food. Anyone who tastes my cooking and watches me make it knows I put A LOT of garlic in my food.

I like to chop it as finely as possible without unnecessarily wasting precious minutes in your life. You can always wrap up extra if you chop too much.

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Next I chop up the tomatoes almost as finely as the garlic. I have a new trick to make the work go by faster. Of course you have a sharp knife (mine is mediocre and it makes life harder). I like to chop the tomato in half, dig out the stalk part, then put the cut side down on the chopping board and slide across the tomato in thin slices then cut three times across lengthwise. It makes it easy and the chunks are small.

Dice the onion. Slice the courgette (called zucchini in USA). Heat up a pan. Add some oil or butter to make sure the food doesn’t stick. Add the tomatoes and onion. Let it cook on medium high until it’s a mush. You may need to add water and stir frequently so it doesn’t stick and burn.

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10 minutes later, plus or minus 5 minutes, throw in garlic. Stir stir stir!

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I took half of the mixture out to show you what it looks like.  At this point, it’s ready! That’s right.

Your tomato, onion, garlic concoction is ready as a base for any kind of dish you want to make from it. That’s the part about intuitive cooking that’s creative because with this base, you could make a spaghetti sauce, Indian food, Chinese stir fry noodles, and more  — I’ve tried all these options and they all turned out great.

I took half out too because I didn’t want to add meat into this so that it can last longer in the fridge. I wrapped it up and saved it for another meal.

To the rest of the mixture, I added in the protein at this point. I have ground pork above but this works with any kind of meat or tofu.

Add some flavor. Salt is a good option. I put soy sauce for extra flavor.

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That’s still not enough for me so I found this shady shaker of seasonings and I dump a bunch in along with red pepper to give it a bit of a kick.

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Alright, last steps. Put in any other things I could find in the fridge. They happened to be cauliflower, coriander (aka cilantro) and green onions sliced thinly.

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When everything is cooked, it usually is quite watery because the vegetables expel a lot of water. So I finish the dish by adding an amount of cellophane noodles; they soak up the liquid which make them taste delicious, and I really love the texture!

Bon Appétit!

Autumn leaves at Stanford campus


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The colors and textures caught my eye. It was a fun exercise to walk around for 2 days, for a few hours taking photos of colorful swirls.

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Flower Carriages


The modern way to ride in style with floral decor and MASSIVE stereo crunching out old-school favs like Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey beats.

Good way to travel around Melaka city, about 30 Ringgit for a 20 minute ride. I never hopped on one. It always seemed too loud for me. But they are fun to look at – often having technicolored streamers and windmill fans spinning along.

Searching for Russian Jewish Bakeries


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Even before arriving in NYC, I knew I wanted to try some Jewish pastries.

Strangely, for a city that has a large Jewish population, I couldn’t find any authentic bakeries. At all.

We had only 1 criterion: poppy seeds. Anything, bread, pastry, rugelach, whatever had ground up and sweetened poppy seeds stuffed inside would do.

Yet search and search we did with no results.

After 7 days…nada.

To be fair, we were only looking for places in Manhattan. Brooklyn and Queens were too far away for us to make a trip just for some rolled up doughy desserts. Still, we expected something around East Village…

On the 8th and final day of the trip, we got desperate.

Yelp saved the day. We found directions to a Hungarian bakery with exactly what we were looking for in the Lower East Side. Off we were….to a completely new experience for me as I’ve never tried these pastries before.

So these are the goodies I had:

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Well, I wished I had  been able to anyway. I couldn’t try everything. But what I did try was delish!

Totally worth the trek!

Lower East Side, you’ll forever hold a special place in my heart for delicious Jewish sweetness.

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P is looking longingly at his beigli (poppy seed roll).

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Well earned treat after all that hard work searching and exploring.

More food photos to come.