Finally, a recipe

I’m back from the (blogging universe) dead!

Today we had a busy day; it started out with my husband T not going to play airsoft outdoors because it was 25 degrees out, so he went to the gun range with his trusty friend K instead.

I had choir practice today until 4, then visited the new Penzey’s at the Bourse (Independence Hall East and Randstead)- my first time at a Penzey’s, ever! It was nice but I decided to stick to purchasing “Western” food spices, because some of the non-Western spices like Sichuan peppercorns, were not only much more expensive than I’m used to seeing, but not as high in quality. (They contained quite a few of those black crunchy seeds) My favorite aspect of the store was being able to smell all the different spices. Something that I actually would have preferred would be the ability to scoop out whatever amount you desire, instead of just buying previously portioned out amounts, like 1, 4, or 8 oz, etc. I bought 4 oz each of cayenne pepper and Hungarian paprika, and each was around $5. Not bad, considering they will last me a very long time.

If you are looking to buy spices, I have had good experiences with They also sell stuff including matcha powder (it’s from China, so I am a little skeptical- though it has good customer reviews), spinach powder, beet powder, and tons of other types of powders, if you want to use them to color your frostings naturally. Lots of spinach powder can actually make your food taste like matcha, strangely. I speak from experience- I used it to color the frosting on my mom’s wedding cake, and people were asking if the frosting was green tea!

I came home and had some chicken leftovers, but needed some vegetables. I had bought a big napa cabbage, and had soaked mushrooms already, so it was easy to think of what to make.

Braised Napa and Shiitake Mushrooms
Da bai cai xiang gu
Makes 2 hearty vegetable servings

1 Tbsp oil
8-9 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in room temperature water until flexible (~30 minutes)
6-7 dried shrimp, soaked in room temperature water until flexible, then minced (optional; I didn’t use them this time)
7-8 cups of roughly chopped napa cabbage (~20 ounces)

1) Heat oil in a pan until it’s hot.
2) Add shiitake mushrooms and shrimp, and sautee until fragrant.
3) Add napa cabbage and salt.
4) Cook until napa starts to leach out some water
5) Cover the pan with a lid and cook on low until the napa is cooked through and translucent; or, until it is soft enough for your tastes. Taste for salt again.

-My shiitake mushrooms are pretty small (almost 2 inches in diameter), so adjust accordingly if you have big, fat mushrooms
-Like most cooking recipes, measurements don’t need to be exact, but I put them here so that you can get a sense of relative proportions.




  1. Melissa Zamojcin

    Hi there! I'm an American girl who's engaged to an amazing man from Taiwan, who grew up with Taiwanese/Chinese home cooking and still mostly prefers it. I've been learning to cook food to please him and his traditional dad and finding REAL Chinese/Taiwanese food (not just the takeout recipes) in English have been very hard. Your website has really been a treasure trove of information to me, but I finally had to comment and let you know because of the reference to myspicesage…trying to get ingredients online has been daunting, and now I can get Sichuan peppercorns and star anise for cheap, yay! Thank you for all of your help so far, please keep sharing more recipes for us lonely English-speaking-only readers!! I'll be combing through the rest of your blog for more of these hidden gems (as well as tasty recipes, of course)!

    • meggers616

      Hiya Melissa,
      Thanks so much for writing to me! Props to you for learning to cook food to make you fiance happy and full – he is a lucky guy to have a future wife who is putting such great effort into learning the food of his childhood 😉
      Do you guys live near any cities with sizeable populations of Asians? The frugal person in me also encourages you to look for star anise and Sichuan peppercorns (hua jiao) at any Asian markets near you, as you will find they are even less expensive. Check for sulfites in the star anise- I don't like the sour, nose-wrinkling smell sulfites add. Anyway, myspicesage is also great because anytime you can get free/included shipping is really nice!
      I was thinking to add an 'ingredients' section to the blog at some point, so your comment is encouraging me to seriously consider doing so! You are exactly the type of people I am trying to reach: people who are curious to learn about non-Americanized Chinese/Taiwanese food! Hurray. Thanks for the affirmation, and thanks for reading!

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