“Clam”oring for more Part 2

Assuming you and your guests have not depleted the sumptuous broth left over from our previous steamed clams recipe, you are in luck! Because we are cross utilizing it for today’s treat.

After Sarah and I first made the steamed clams recipe,  we were completely enamored with the flavor-packed broth that was leftover and decided that we could not just simply dispose of it. Somehow, I settled on the idea of risotto.

Risotto is an Italian dish which is essentially rice with broth cooked to a creamy consistency. It is really important to use a starchy rice, classically arborio, for the best texture.

Clam Risotto



  • Arborio rice                                 2 cups
  • Onion                                            1 medium, diced
  • Clam broth                                   3-4 cups
  • Butter                                            2 T
  • Spinach*                                       2 cups, chopped

Prior to starting, put your leftover broth through a cheese cloth or sieve to get rid of any sediment. In a large pan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add rice and a small pinch and salt and saute for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add broth one cup at a time and stir constantly. If you run out of broth, it is okay to add some water as well. Unlike conventional rice, stirring is important to help release all the starches from the rice grain to obtain that classic risotto consistency. When you have obtained your desired texture. stir in the spinach and serve.

*I’ve substituted bok choy in this dish with great results as well.



“Clam”oring for more

Back when I was a kid, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of eating mollusks. There was just something about the idea of eating organisms who spent their life filtering gunk from the ocean that was not terribly appealing. Then there was also the slightly chewy texture that made them difficult to stomach.

But as I’ve grown older, I forced myself to retry some of the things that once turned me away. When Sarah and I were back in New Orleans, I remember spotting a bag of clams and deciding that I would try to make something from them. New Orleans also happens to be home to Pesche, James Beard winner for best new restaurant in 2014. Sarah and I had a very tasty curried mussels recipe that I drew upon for some inspiration for this next dish.

My favorite part about this dish is how simple and easy it is despite seeming much fancier. It takes very little work and tastes amazing.

Garlic Steamed Clams with Herbs 



  • Clams                    5 lb, cleaned and rinsed
  • Garlic                    2 cloves, minced
  • Onion                    medium, diced
  • Rosemary             2 sprigs
  • Thyme                   2 sprigs
  • Sage                       2 sprigs
  • White wine          1.5 cups
  • Butter                    2 T
  • Lemon                   1
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes

In a large pot, melt butter on medium high heat. Add diced onions and garlic. Cook until onions translucent. Add rosemary, thyme, sage, and clams. Add white wine and turn to high heat. Put top over pot and let steam for 5-7 minutes. Afterwards, remove from heat. All the clams should have opened. Squeeze juice of 1 lemon over pot. Crack some black pepper and sprinkle on some red pepper flakes to taste. Serve in bowl with some of leftover clam/wine broth and fresh bread for dipping.

*Save your leftover broth and stay tuned for the next recipe!*


Comforting Chicken Curry

“Comfort food.”

Whenever I hear those words, I always think about the scene in Ratatouille where food critic Anton Ego tastes Remy’s dish and is immediately transported back to his childhood. Comfort food to me has to satisfy 3 major criteria.

  1. Invoke major nostalgia
  2. Transports you home
  3. Homemade

Smells, above all else, seem to trigger the strongest memories. Like many of you, I think there is no chef in the world quite like mom. My mom has made a ton of different dishes that I always associate with home. I’m also proud that in the last few years, she has also really expanded her repertoire to include cuisines outside of Chinese. If you do happen to visit my mom, don’t be surprised if she consistently asks you if you want some of her homemade tiramisu for dessert or a snack. She also makes her own duck confit.

In honor of a belated mother’s day, I want to share a recipe for chicken curry that my mom made for me growing up. This recipe is one of my many favorites. It also has additional meaning for me because it is one of the first recipes I learned from her. It also inspired the first and only episode of “Ren Can Cook” – a Martin Yan inspired video project for a high school Mandarin class.

Chicken Curry



  • bell peppers                           4, julienned
  • onion                                       2, sliced thinly
  • ginger                                      2 cm, minced
  • garlic                                        3 cloves, minced
  • chicken thighs                        6, diced
  • potatoes                                   6 small, diced
  • curry cubes                             4
  • green onion                             sliced for garnish
  • water                                        1.5-2 cups

Heat up 1/2 tablespoon of oil in large wok/saucepan on high heat. Add sliced bell peppers and onions. Add a pinch of salt and saute until lightly browned and set aside. In same wok/pan, add diced potatoes. Add a pinch of salt and saute until outside is light browned and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to wok/pan.Add diced chicken, minced garlic and ginger. Saute diced chicken until outside is nicely seared. Add curry cubes and water. Stir until curry cubes are dissolved. Add in bell peppers, onions, potatoes. Bring entire mixture to a boil then let simmer for 20-30 minutes. As the water evaporates, you will be left with a nice curry sauce. Garnish with green onions and serve over rice.

I love you mom!


Lassi but not least

I still remember one night, back when I lived in Boston, when I ran into a friend heading home from the gym at an hour when most people were venturing out to bars. He was working for some big bank or consulting firm at the time, the kind of place where the 9-5 grind is more like 8-7 or so, if you’re lucky. I commented that I was impressed by his dedication, devoting his little free time to staying in shape, when it would be so easy to let that sort of thing fall by the wayside. He smiled a little and then said, ‘the way I see it, if I get out of shape on top of everything else, they’ll have won – my job will have officially taken over my life. As long as I stay fit, I’m still winning.’ I’ve thought about that comment a lot over the years, pretty much anytime I’ve started to slip a little, succumbing to the ‘busy-ness’ that pervades medical school and now residency. It’s so easy to just melt into the couch when I get home, grabbing my computer and mindlessly clicking though facebook and the news and design blogs as I left my brain wind down. Over the course of the year I slowly started to succumb to that temptation more often than not, and it had definitely started to feel like the scorecard was heavily on the side of residency. Surgery and pediatrics – 1; Sarah and Dennis – 0. So we’re fighting back, little by little, sometimes just in 10- minute mini-runs. Tempting post-workout snacks definitely help soften the blow. A few weeks ago we brought a box of 18 mangos back from the market, and I became obsessed with the idea of turning some of them into a lassi. I had never made a lassi before, and haven’t consumed all that many of them, but it sounded like a refreshing use of our rapidly ripening haul of fruit. What follows is perhaps not an entirely authentic lassi and is perhaps better classified as a yogurt-heavy smoothie, but it was delicious nonetheless.


Mango Lassi

  • 2 ripe mangos
  • 1 C plain yogurt*
  • 1/2 C cold water
  • Ice
  • 1-2 T honey (adjust based on sweetness of your fruit)
  • 1/4 t cardamom

Add mangos, yogurt, water, honey, and cardamom to a blender. Pulse until smooth. Add ice until the lassi reaches the desired consistency (we used ~2 handfuls). Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired.

*Note – we used greek yogurt for this recipe as it was what we had on hand. This resulted in a rather tangy lassi, which we enjoyed. If  you want a sweeter drink, plain yogurt will give you less zip.


The Colors of Spring

The weather in DC has finally started to transition to spring now. Despite the frost and chill, the cherry blossoms around the basin have still managed to bloom. Sarah and I joined the horde of locals and tourists wandering about the National Mall and Jefferson Memorial to take in the sights. Some people were having picnics. Others meandered at an infuriatingly snail-like pace in the middle of the sidewalk  with their heads in the clouds (or blossoms to be more accurate). Some were busy painting. Numerous were trying to capture the perfect photo in the midst of the chaotic crowds. There was a wedding proposal (she said yes!). We caught a glimpse of the couple huddled together with an expression of mixed joy and fearfulness as the multitude of bodies swarmed around them like a fire ants. Their photographer and family members flitted around them snapping photos furiously.

With the beginning of spring, Sarah and I have also decided that it’s about time to shake off the winter doldrums and shed those winter pounds in anticipation for some more time in the sun. We’ve started a more regimented exercise program (complete with measurements) and diet. As such, I’ve been looking a little at the workouts and diets of body builders. It looks like most tried and true diets consist of chicken breast/fish with rice/sweet potato and broccoli. Now as much as I like simplicity, I don’t think these meals necessarily need to be that bland or boring.

Last week also happened to be the first day of the Dupont farmer’s market after being closed all winter so we wandered down to gather some inspiration and ingredients for meal that would herald the beginning of spring in both flavor and color.

Swiss Chard and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast with Roasted Garlic and Sweet Potato Puree


  • Chicken Breast                                      2
  • Swiss Chard                                           2 cups, chopped
  • Mushroom (assorted)                          2 cups
  • Garlic                                                      7 cloves, roasted
  • Parmesan cheese                                  1/3 cup, grated
  • Sweet Potato                                          1/4 lb, peeled, cubed and steamed
  • Lemon                                                     1
  • Olive oil
  • Salt                                                           To taste

Let’s break this down to make things a bit more manageable.

Start by turning on oven to broil. Place cloves of garlic on aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes until fragrant and soft.

Chicken Breast

Pat dry chicken breast and season with salt on both side.

If using Joule, place chicken breast into ziploc and drizzle in olive oil. Place in water for 55 minutes at 149 degrees. After done cooking, slice lengthwise but not all the way through. Add stuffing and sear in hot pan.

If not using Joule, carefully slice in half lengthwise but not all the way through. Scoop the stuffing (see below) into the center. In a hot pan, add cooking oil. Add stuffed chicken breast and sear each side for 7 minutes with a lid over the pan.


Finely chop swiss chard, mushrooms, and garlic (4 cloves). Heat a pan to medium high heat. Add cooking oil. Add the stems of the swiss chard first and mushrooms. Salt lightly and sautee. Add garlic and remainder of swiss chard leaves. Salt lightly and continue to sautee. Takes around 10-15 minutes. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top to finish. Add grated Parmesan and mix well.


Steam cubed sweet potato until soft. Add to food processor along with 3 cloves of roasted garlic. Blend until creamy. You can add a little bit of water to help out with the texture. Salt to taste.

For final plating, spread puree in a circle on bottom of plate. Add stuffed chicken breast. Serve with a side of vegetables (I like having a bitter green).


Honey and Soy Glazed Salmon

It’s been an entire year since we started this blog! I was wistfully looking back at some of our pictures from our time in culinary school the other day and boy do I miss it. We worked 14 hour days but we had so much fun and learned so much. So many techniques, tips, and recipes we still consistently use today in our every day cooking.

But a picture is worth a thousand words so:

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Honey and Soy Glazed Salmon



  • salmon filet                              1 lb, portioned 6-8 oz
  • soy sauce                                  1/4  cup
  • black vinegar                           1 T
  • cooking wine                            2 T
  • honey                                         3T
  • garlic                                          2 cloves, minced
  • ginger                                         1 in segment, peeled and minced

In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, black vinegar, cooking wine, honey, garlic, and ginger. Mix together thoroughly and pour contents into large Ziploc bag. Place salmon in bag and allow to marinate at least 2 hours.

Heat up some oil in a pan to medium high. After removing your salmon from the marinade, make sure to thoroughly pat dry with paper towel and lightly score the skin with a knife before laying the salmon skin-side down in the pan. This is the difference between nice, crispy skin vs soggy mess that curls as you cook. Allow the salmon to cook skin-side down until you see that that it has cooked about 3/4 thickness and flip it to the other side to finish things off. In a separate sauce pan, you can start reducing the leftover marinade. Stir consistently to make sure it doesn’t burn. Drizzle the final product over your finished salmon for more flavor.



Going Verde

One week of celebrating our anniversary in Mexico City and one week of battling gastroenteritis (unrelated) later, it’s now March 18th. This marks exactly 1 year since Sarah and I discovered via the voodoo magic that is the Match algorithm, that we’d be spending our next few years in sunny recently sleet and snow-covered DC. Yesterday, another cohort of medical students discovered the next destination on their journey. It was also of course St. Patrick’s Day! So we’re going green.

Unfortunately, I’m not sharing any traditionally Irish recipes, but allow me to reminisce a little about our Mexico City trip and share some good pictures. I’ve mentioned before that one of my food heroes is Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods. So I have a rule that on any international trip, I actively seek out “bizarre” foods. Sarah has half-joked that she should start a photo album of “Dennis Eats Things.”Mexico City definitely did not disappoint. I ate/drank an assortment of insects in various forms, ant larvae, fresh coconut water, and pulque (fermented agave drink) in addition to consuming a small-child’s-weight worth of all the typical tacos, quesadillas, tlacoyo, huaraches, tamales, elotes that dotted the streets.

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One delectable and inescapable element of Mexican cuisine is the sauce or salsa. If you’re lucky, you may stumble upon a taqueria that offers a dizzying selection that you can shameless slather on your platter of tacos. I haven’t yet started trying to recreate every single one we encountered, but here’s a twofer to get started.


Roasted tomatillo salsa (back) and Avocado cream salsa

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

  • Tomatillos                 4, remove outer husk and rinse well
  • Jalapeno                     1, remove seeds to reduce spice level
  • Garlic                          2 cloves
  • Cilantro                      1/4 cup
  • Olive oil
  • Salt                              To taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatillos, jalapeno, garlic cloves on a large foil sheet. Drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle of salt. Fold foil so that all contents are nicely wrapped in foil package. Place foil package into oven for 30 minutes. This should be enough time to lightly char the tomatillos and jalapeno. Afterward, quarter the the tomatillos. Remove the stem from the jalapeno and seed if desired. Add tomatillos, jalapeno, garlic cloves, and cilantro to a food processor and blend until desire consistency. Add salt to taste. My favorite part of this recipe is that you can taste the change in flavor as the salsa cools. I recommend waiting at least 30 minutes before serving but letting it rest for even longer results in the best flavor.

Avocado Cream Salsa

  • Avocados                 2, pitted
  • Jalapeno                   1, remove seeds if desired
  • Tomatoes                 2, medium
  • Garlic                        3 cloves
  • Cilantro                    1/4 cup
  • Lime                          1, juiced
  • Plain yogurt            1 cup
  • Olive oil
  • Salt                             To taste

This particular salsa is probably one of my favorites. It is the nice cooling and refreshing foil in the myriad of spiciness. Start off exactly the same as the previous recipe (or do both at the same time). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large foil sheet, place jalapeno, tomatoes, garlic and drizzle in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap contents in foil and place in oven for 30 minutes. In the meantime, prep the avocados by removing the pit and cutting the flesh into cubes. You can cut a cross hatch pattern while it is still in the shell and scoop contents into a food processor. Remove foil package from oven when ready. Quarter tomatoes and remove stem from jalapeno (seed if desired). Add tomatoes, jalapeno, garlic, and cilantro into food processor.  Blend until smooth. Add plain yogurt. Blend until smooth. Add salt and lime juice and blend once more. That’s all.*


*You may have noticed in the picture that my avocado cream salsa has some red specks of seasoning sprinkled on top. Sarah and I can home with a small jar of sal con chapulines aka grasshopper salt 😉



We’re back! 75% done with the first year of residency. But even more importantly…

2 days away from our first wedding anniversary!

And of course it’s a new year on the Lunar calendar. While this may seem like a bit of a side note, Lunar New Year has meaning for Sarah and I in addition to all the values, tradition, and culture that I grew up with. Because I proposed to Sarah on Lunar New Year.


a quick snap for our parents on that day

For those unfamiliar with the story, Sarah was on her surgery rotation at that point in time in medical school. I had come home and began preparing a fairly traditional new year’s dinner consisting of dumplings, noodles, and fish (each dish with its own symbolism). In true surgery fashion, she ended up being delayed in the operating room that day. When she did arrive home, we had dinner together. Afterwards, there still remained the tradition of red envelopes. I had purposely made a show early on that evening about stuffing a few red envelopes with chocolate. While Sarah took a shower, I had wrapped up her wedding ring in chocolate foil and shaped it into the form of the other chocolates and stuffed it in a red envelope. So when Sarah opened her red envelope that evening, she discovered the ring. In a day already full of symbolism, why not add one more symbol to the list and start the year off right. We announced our engagement to our friends a few weeks later at a belated Lunar New Year gathering.

Being away from home on New Year’s is always tough for a day that is supposed to be spent with family. We’ve made the most of it the past few years by having our friends over to celebrate as in many ways, they’ve become members of our new family. This year in DC was no different (although we greatly missed our NOLA family). A few weeks ago, we hosted a bunch of my co-interns and friends at our annual Lunar New Year party. I’ve posted a lot of the recipes that I use already including peanut noodles and dumplings. But I have been holding out on my steamed fish recipe.

Steamed Fish with Ginger and Green Onions



  • Fish                                          1 whole, cleaned
  • Green onions                        6
  • Ginger                                     6 large slices
  • Cooking wine                        3 T
  • Salt
  • Soy sauce                                1/2 T
  • Black vinegar                        1/2 T
  • Sesame oil                              1 t
  • Sugar                                        1/2 t

We’ve been pretty spoiled living in New Orleans and having access to some really tasty and cheap fresh fish. For best flavor, try to get whatever local fresh caught white fish is available to you. I used rockfish for my most recent iteration.

To prep your fish, trim off the fins/spines, get rid of the insides, and descale (all this can be done at the store for you if you ask). Slice 3 evenly spaced slits on each side of the fish. Rub cooking wine onto the entire fish including the inside cavity and the slits. Lightly sprinkle some salt on the fish. Place your slices of ginger into the slits on each side. Smash 3 of the green onion stalks with the flat side of your knife. Place it on the bottom of a dish to line it. Place your fish on top of the green onions and place entire dish into a steamer. Depending on the size of your fish, it should steam for about 10-15 minutes.

As the fish is steaming, make a simple sauce to drizzle over. Combine soy sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. Mix well in small bowl. Also slice remaining 3 stalks of green onion longitudinally into thin strips. If you want them to curl for added prettiness, place the strips into a bowl with water and ice.

When the fish is done, carefully remove in from the dish and place it onto a clean plate. If you put our green onions in ice water, make sure to dry them off on some paper towels. Sprinkle your green onions generously over the fish. Pour over the sauce. Serve.




Eggs of Benediction

It seems like a whirlwind of things have happened in the past few weeks. I had the great pleasure of joining our medical transport team at the hospital and went on my first helicopter flight. Our country underwent a huge transition with the inauguration of a new president. I happened to work as part of the DC Pediatric Medical Reserve Corps on inauguration day (it was just as empty as the photos showed). Sarah and I attended the Women’s March the following day, as did a big group of our co-residents (it was as crowded as the photos).

There have been a lot of executive orders under the new administration that have really riled up the populace, more recently the one on immigration. I proudly stand by the statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics. But this one hits a bit close to home. My parents and I are first generation immigrants. They worked hard to get to where they are and paved the way for me and my siblings to chase our dreams. Now we’re all contributing members of society. So I can’t help but feel like this immigration order embodies the antithesis of what the United States stands for. Asian American history includes events like the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese Internment Camps that should have taught us valuable lessons. Now that the same prejudice is being applied to our Muslim brothers and sisters, we do ourselves a disservice by not speaking out and allowing history to repeat itself. Like it or not, we are a country of immigrants; a melting pot of color, ethnicity, religion, cuisine, and tradition. That’s what makes this country great. No hate. No division. More love.

Eggs Benedict with Joule (adapted from ChefSteps)



  • 6 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 T water
  • 0.5T salt
  • 3 English muffins
  • Canadian bacon x6
  • Paprika
  • Dill, fresh

Fill a large pot with water. In a ziploc bag, add whole eggs. In a separate bag, add 3 egg yolks, stick of butter, lemon juice, water, and salt. This will be your hollandaise sauce. Place both bags into the large pot of water. You can add some water into the bag with the eggs to help keep it submerged. Set Joule to 145F for 2 hours. When it is about 30 minutes from completion, start toasting muffins and frying up the Canadian bacon. When 2 hr is up, take the bag of hollaindase ingredients and put them into a blender and run until uniform consistency. Crack the eggs over a slotted spoon to reveal perfectly poached eggs. Set eggs over muffin and Canadian bacon. Drizzle hollandaise sauce over. Sprinkle paprika and dill over the top. Serve and enjoy!


Wonton to go home

Hey! Don’t worry. We’re still both alive!

2016 was quite the year. It was a year of a lot of firsts for us. First time in culinary school. First (and last) time we got married. First time being a real doctor with our first patients. First time getting a real paycheck in a while. First time we’ve had to work through the holidays. First time we’ve spent Christmas together as our own little family. First time we haven’t seen our families over the holidays (except when my sister came to visit).

Nonetheless if we truly consider home to be where the heart is, then we’ve been truly blessed to have family in CA, Colorado, New Orleans, and now DC.

That being said, prior to last week, Sarah and I hadn’t seen each for close to 2 weeks time thanks to the joys of working opposite schedules. Boy did that suck. We tried to make the best of things; FaceTiming if there was any downtime, leaving notes and pictures for one another, prepping breakfast/dinner for each other to come home to, and of course dressing up our respective pillows in clothes so the other could have a snuggle buddy. I’d like to say that we had quite a lot of fun with the latter endeavor. One morning I had left my pillow surrogate cold and completely uncovered with all the blankets and sheets on Sarah’s side in a little nest. Art imitating life.

Shrimp and Bamboo Wontons


  • bamboo shoots                                1.5 cups, diced
  • shrimp                                               2 lb, heads removed, cleaned, trimmed, diced
  • ginger                                            2 cm, minced
  • garlic                                              3 cloves, minced
  • cooking wine                                    2 T
  • white pepper                                    1.5 T
  • salt                                                       1 T
  • wonton wrappers                            1 pack, (these should be square shaped)
  • broth
  • green onions                                    garnish 

This is another one of my mom’s recipes that you will find my sister and me requesting every time we go home. It’s simple, but the flavors are absolutely fantastic yet the overall dish is very light.

Start by putting your diced bamboo shoots and shrimp into a large bowl. I leave them in slightly larger chunks because I like the texture. Fresh bamboo shoots are preferable as the preserved ones sometimes leave a slightly sour flavor. Add the minced ginger and garlic, cooking wine, white pepper, and salt. Mix with your hands. There’s really no need for any binder in this recipe as the shrimp serves this purpose. Take your wonton wrapper and place 1 tsp of filling in the center. Lightly run a finger with some water around the edges and fold into a triangle. Fold the ends together once more into the shape seen in the picture. Repeat until you’ve used all your filling and/or wrappers. Heat up the broth to boiling and drop in wontons for 3-5 minutes (you do not want to overcook the shrimp). Garnish with green onions and enjoy.