Mom’s Cha Gio (Vietnamese Egg Rolls)


I feel like an imposter writing this post. I cook a lot of different cuisines, but the food that I grew up with is somehow the hardest for me. Every time I try, it doesn’t turn out exactly right. By that I mean that it doesn’t taste exactly like how my mom makes it. Maybe because I don’t cook with the same motherly love that my mom does (although I have a very strong cat-mom instinct so that can’t be it).  More likely it’s because my mom doesn’t cook with recipes. Like any true master of the art, she just tastes here, adds there, etc etc. I haven’t developed that skill yet for Vietnamese food. I taste here, add there, and still it’s off. (Isaiah cheekily pointed out that maybe the reason why it doesn’t taste like my mom’s is because I don’t cook with meat… he makes fair point).

If you google Vietnamese egg roll recipe you won’t find one that looks like this one. That’s because this one is special. It’s my mom’s. And they’re the best freaking egg rolls you will ever eat in your life. My mom’s egg rolls have the power to stop two nations from going to war. They will one day bring about world peace. Trust me.

Let’s begin.


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Thai Red Curry


Otherwise known as Ang Mo Thai Red Curry.
Otherwise known as NOT authentic Thai Red Curry.
Otherwise known as All The Veggies in Your Fridge Curry.

Once upon a time I lived in rural Thailand with an amazing host family and taught English at a local public school. I learned a bit of Thai, ate a lot of Thai food, and got bitten by approximately ten thousand mosquitoes.

Some things I learned:
1) Thai kids are the stinkin cutest
2) Papaya salad (my favorite food in the whole entire world) is most delicious when it is pounded in a mortar and pestle attached to a moto at the side of a dirt road with so many chillis it makes you cry tears of happiness and pain
3) Thai food in rural Thailand is very different from Thai food at a Thai restaurant in Seattle

Now, I won’t get into what is authentic and what isn’t authentic, because firstly, I have no idea, and secondly, people can cook whatever they want however they’d like. But this recipe includes two spoonfuls of peanut butter (trust me on this one), which I am 99.9999% positive they do not do in Thailand OR in Thai restaurants around the world, and an absurd amount of vegetables that don’t even grow in Thailand.

Hence the name: Ang Mo Thai Red Curry.

Here’s how you make it.


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Tajarin: Egg Yolk Pasta (with Tomato Sauce)


Last month, Isaiah and I spent 2 days in the Barolo wine region of northwest Italy. We stayed a gorgeous little hotel called La Villa and drank so much wine that I couldn’t really even look at wine when we returned to Singapore. There were a lot of favorites on this trip – amazing food, wine, sun-drenched vineyards, wine, total quiet – but my favorite part was a private cooking class we took with the head chef at La Villa. Isaiah joined mostly to humor me, but turned all eyes and ears when he heard we were making homemade pasta. Pasta is his absolute favorite food. The very next day, we went to a market in Beaulieu-sur-Mer and purchased a pasta machine.

I’ll start off by saying that I am in no way a pasta expert, but I learned that pasta is a very regional dish and there are many variations to how you make it depending on what part of Italy you’re from. In Piedmont, they make a very egg-yolk heavy pasta called tajarin. That scored a lot of bonus points from Isaiah, who has for years been trying to convince me for that pasta is ‘healthy’.

Sure. You guys can decide for yourself.

The accompanying sauce starts with a huge amount of good quality extra virgin olive oil (luckily evoo is good for you, right? Kind of in the same way pasta is). In goes minced garlic and shallots (or onions) cooked on low for 10-15 minutes, before jarred passata and peeled whole tomatoes are added. Salt, sugar. Simmer for as long as you have time for. That’s it. It sounds simple, and it is, but the flavour is rich and complex, so good you would have never guessed it was only 5 ingredients. Make this basic tomato sauce, coupled with tajarin, your Saturday night staple.


Measure 250g of flour onto your work bench and create a well in the middle. Separate the egg yolks from the whites (save the whites for an egg white omelette or scramble) and add the yolks + 1 whole egg to the well. If you buy high quality, cage-free eggs (I buy freedom eggs from Cold Storage), the yolks will be a gorgeous deep orange, and the eventual colour of your pasta will be much deeper.


Pull flour into the egg mixture (this part will get messy but don’t worry – it will quickly come together) until you get a messy dryish ‘ball’ of dough that barely holds together. Stop adding flour at this point. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. The dough will be tough so if you’re a weakling like me, you may want to recruit assistance from your buff husband for this part. If you don’t have a buff husband, don’t despair. Just throw your entire body weight against the dough as many times as you can until your arms turn to jelly and then give up. So long as your end result looks somewhat like the ball of dough on the rightmost picture above, you’ll be fine. This pasta is very forgiving (aaand all pasta experts around the world roll in their graves. Hey, I started this post by saying I am in no way a pasta expert! The end result is good enough for plebeian me).

Cover the dough with saran wrap and pop it in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.


When ready, remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 4 pieces. Flour your work surface. Assemble and secure your pasta machine. Flatten the first piece of dough with your palm and run it through the widest setting. Keep on going until you get to the narrowest setting, running the dough through 2-3 times at each setting. Once you’ve got a thin sheet of pasta, cut it in half with a knife and run the half sheet through your spaghetti cutter. Lightly flour the strands, place on a tea towel, cover to keep from drying, and repeat with the remaining 3 balls of dough.

(If you don’t have a pasta maker, go buy one. We got ours for 20 euros. Theoretically you could roll the dough out and cut by hand, but I feel like that would take a lot of effort.)


Keep going until you get four gorgeous piles of homemade pasta. A serious work of art. I could look at this photo all day. Beautiful.

At this point you just chuck the pasta into boiling salted water, let it cook for 3-5 minutes, fish it out, and serve it however you’d like.

Moving onto the only tomato sauce recipe you’ll ever need to know, because it is seriously that delicious.


Here’s the ingredients: passata, EVOO, whole peeled tomatoes, shallots, and garlic (+ salt and sugar, not pictured). Passata is an unseasoned Italian tomato puree that you can find on the bottom shelf of the tinned tomato section of Cold Storage.


Finely mince the shallots and garlic.


In a heavy pan (I’m using enameled cast iron), heat 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Your house will soon smell delicious. Cook on low for 5-10 minutes until the garlic and onion is golden, add the passata, chopped whole tomatoes, sugar and salt. Stir to combine as best as you can – at first the oil will be stubborn and refuse to marry the tomato sauce. But like any relationship, patience and persistence will win out and the oil and tomato sauce will combine to create one whole that is greater than the sum of its two halves.

Continue to cook on low for as long as you have the patience for. The longer you cook the sauce, the richer, thicker, and more delicious it will get.

Here’s the printable recipe.

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Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw


Crispy pan-fried snapper, tangy slaw, homemade corn tortillas. Could anything be better on a sunny day? Luckily (or maybe not so lucky) for us, it’s always warm and sunny in Singapore, so every day is a good day for fish tacos.


Have you ever wondered why red cabbage is called red when it’s actually purple? I have wondered this often, and I don’t have an answer. It’s one of those mysteries of life you’ll have to ask Jesus when you get to heaven.


Homemade flour and corn tortillas (recipe to come) are so worth it. I used to be intimidated by grains. Besides rice or quinoa in a rice cooker, I never tried making tortillas or bread until fairly recently. Then I realised how simple and how much tastier (and cheaper) they are if you make them at home. I haven’t bought bread or tortillas since.

Enjoy this recipe. It’s a favorite of ours.


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Mexican Sides: Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, and Black Beans


Mexican. My absolute favorite cuisine of all time. I enjoy both tex-mex and for-real-mex. One of my favorite restaurants in the world is Rick Bayless’ Topolobampo in Chicago, and one of my favorite meals is $1 tacos with horchata from LA food trucks. Oh my word, horchata. YES. Whenever I’m in LA I become something of a crazy woman. All I eat is Mexican. All I drink is horchata (ok, fine, and the occasional margarita). All I want is tacos and horchata and margaritas.

I used to joke that when I become pregnant I will have to move to LA because Singapore has no good Mexican food. This shouldn’t be surprising given that the Mexican population here probably isn’t very large, BUT the American population is huge, so how do they get by without their Mexican fix? I don’t know.

We have tacos, quesadillas, or burritos at least once a week in my house. The following 3 sides go well with basically anything. Eat it with rice. Put it in soups. Eat the leftovers straight from the fridge with a spoon. You get the idea.

Enjoy! -2Ns

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Zucchini Carrot Muffins


If I don’t make an easy to-go breakfast for Isaiah to mindlessly grab from the fridge every morning, he will undoubtedly eat egg prata. Don’t get me wrong, I love prata as much as the next person, but it is not a healthy way to start your day every single day. A regular conversation in our house goes like this:

Me: What did you eat for breakfast today?
Isaiah: Something nice.
Me: What nice?
Isaiah: Egg prata

I’m very concerned about his (almost) high blood pressure so I’m always devising secretly healthy breakfasts for him to grab and go. He’s actually pretty hard to please. So I considered it a great success when I made a dozen of these muffins on Sunday and he took two to work every day the following week.

I use for most of my organic fruits and veggies (get $15 off your first purchase if you use my promo code 1DCD33). I find that they have some of the most competitive prices for organic produce in Singapore and, as I work full-time, it’s just so easy to have the veggies delivered to my door. The downside is that it requires some advance meal planning (which stresses me out), and I often end up with week-old fruit & veg in the back of my fridge. Organic zucchini was only $1.99 each, so of course I had to buy 2. But then when they arrived I couldn’t think of anything to do with them until they were nearing the end of their life. I hate food waste. My dear friend Lin had sent me a recipe for zucchini muffins months back, which formed the basis of this recipe.

My Singaporean friends were absolutely horrified at the idea of zucchini in a sweet bread (this led to someone suggesting that if zucchini could go in bread, couldn’t eggplant as well? Um, no. Actually, I just googled it and apparently eggplant bread is a thing. Weird). But trust me on this one. Zucchini carrot bread is amazing. These muffins do well in the fridge for 5 days, heat up beautifully in the microwave, and are fantastic with your morning or afternoon tea.

Ok, let’s start.


Here’s the cast of characters: zucchini, carrot, banana, coconut oil or butter or vegetable oil, pure vanilla extract, brown sugar, baking soda, and whole wheat pasty flour.


Grate zucchini and carrots, mash the banana, mix it in a bowl with all the wet ingredients (eggs, sugar, oil/butter, vanilla). So here’s the deal with coconut oil – if your ingredients are too cold (ie you just removed the veg and eggs from the fridge), the coconut oil will solidify into small lumps. This isn’t the end of the world, but if it annoys you, let all your ingredients come to room temp before adding the oil).


Add flour and baking powder. Gently combine. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin and scoop ~1/4 cup of batter into each cup. Sprinkle each with a bit of raw sugar, pop into a 180C oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack.


Enjoy! Printable recipe below.

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