An Ode to Perilla: From Quesadillas to Crudites

In the summer of 2008, bronchitis  my mom and I went to the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, where she produced the programming for the demo booth at the Korean Pavilion. Roy Choi and his Kogi truck team flew in from LA to headline the demo and we were working with them to prepare kimchi quesadillas to sample to attendees. At the time, I was intrigued by Roy’s choice to serve a quesadilla and was worried that it might be too pedestrian to serve to the attendees of a restaurant show. I wondered, how could sandwiching cheese and kimchi between a tortilla possibly be that good?

Let me tell you, it can be really damn good, just like the rest of his food I would eventually try. Turns out that Roy’s secret “sauce” that made it a winning dish was not a sauce at all, it was the Korean perilla. While the kimchi and cheese were the dominating flavors, what made the quesadilla really gel together was the unexpected contrast between the kimchi and cheese and the perilla leaves. Suspended between the oozing cheese and piquant kimchi were thin shreds of julienned perilla leaves, which added an unexpectedly bright and clean flavor in each bite. Since those kimchi quesadillas, we now grow perilla plants in abundance on our rooftop garden.

So, what are perilla leaves? A more robust cousin to Japanese shiso in the mint family, Korean perilla (sometimes called “sesame leaves”) is used regularly in Korean cuisine and is commonly eaten either fresh (as wrap for barbecued meat) or pickled.

Fast forward 6 years to a few weeks ago, my mom was producing a demo at the Korean Pavilion, this time at the Fancy Food Show in New York and we were brainstorming what we could serve. The recipe we ended up serving was a crudités cup of bell peppers, carrots and pear with a seaweed crisp, a gochujang dipping sauce, and of course, perilla.

Korean Crudite Cup

Korean Crudité Cups

1 Korean Shingo Pear
3 Carrots
3 Bell Peppers (red, yellow and green)
1 bag of Seaweed Crisps
1 bunch of Korean Perilla Leaves
1/2 cup of Gochujang Sauce

1. Slice the pear, carrots and bell peppers into matchsticks
2. Serve vegetables and pear in a small cup with a dollop of gochujang and a seaweed crisp


K-reative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Two Sundays ago, medicine I took a field trip out of the city to spend the day at the sweltering kitchens of the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. With my DSLR in tow, youth health I was there to attend and photograph the K-reative Cooking Competition, website a student competition produced by my mom on behalf of the Korean Agro-Trade Center to showcase Korean ingredients.

Narrowed down to five teams of six students, only three of the teams competing that day would be making it to New York City the following weekend to attend the Fancy Food Show and demo their winning dishes at the Korean Pavilion.

The Judges

At the judge’s table were Dean Howie Velie, Maangchi, and Professor Michael Pardus, who evaluated each team’s dish based on taste, use of Korean ingredients, creativity, and presentation.

Here’s what went down..

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA
First two teams hard at work

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA
Korean black garlic

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Fried kelp chips tossed in cinnamon sugar, a Korean interpretation of churros. This was awesome.

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA



Quail egg stuffed ravioli



Plating the final dishes





Buns, freshly steamed and made from scratch.

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA

Kreative Cooking Competition at the CIA




NYC in Hyde Park








First Place



Second Place



Third Place




Runners Up






It was amazing to see how each team was able to creatively integrate Korean ingredients into their dishes, all within the two hours they had in the kitchen.  Excited to see what’s next for them after graduation.


Coconut, PB and Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats and Girls

Sorry, apoplectic guys. It’s been almost half a year since I’ve posted on here, and that last post wasn’t even written by me (I know, shh!)  But after reading several posts by some of my blogger pals recounting a potluck shindig I threw on my rooftop last Friday, I’m feeling motivated to dust off the good ole WordPress account. While I’m at it, I thought I’d better jot down the recipe for the rice crispy treats I made for the potluck. I mean really, how did Spring already turn into Summer?

Before we get to the treats, let’s spend a moment to talk about girls. No, I’m not talking about the HBO series, which I admit I do watch. (To read the best commentary about that show, you really should be reading Eddie Huang’s recaps.) Rather, I want to spend a moment to recognize some awesome gals I know.

Last Friday I threw the aforementioned party on my rooftop in Long Island City, inviting some of the bloggers visiting from out of town whom I’ve gotten to know through Gojee.  What started off as informal plans to grab drinks evolved into a bigger potluck gathering with both visiting and local bloggers at my apartment.

It was so nice to catch up with friends and meet new ones whom I’ve only been in touch with online and was meeting for the first time in person. Without too much planning, everything came together pretty seamlessly, with the exception of the ominous overcast. Food was served, libations were shared and heartfelt conversations were had.  Though some of us had only met that day, by the end of the night it felt like we were all old friends.

One of the more openly honest and poignant topics of conversation that evening touched on the struggles of grappling with the increasingly aspirational culture of blogging and the fact that sometimes reality isn’t particularly aspirational.  Kasey more eloquently sums up the conversation here.  I suppose it also helped that I was liquoring everyone up with shots of beet sugar vodka throughout the night.

Party people: Kimberley, Kathryne, Laura, Barb, Diana, Kristin, Kasey, Yossy, Elizabeth, Sarah. Not pictured, since we took this photo later in the evening: NicoleCathySarah, and Chitra.

Ignoring the wind and drizzle, we persevered and made our way through the impressive spread. Unfortunately, I was only able to squeeze a few Instagrams on my phone in between playing hostess for the evening, so the following is by no means a complete representation of the offerings on the potluck table. Check it out –

Cathy’s Roasted Hakurei Turnips with Israeli Couscous

Sarah’s Chocolate Dipped Farmer’s Market Strawberries

Elizabeth’s Roasted Beet Salad

Yossy’s Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies

Acme Smoked Salmon with Creme Fraiche and Buckwheat Crepes made by yours truly (crepes adapted from Kate’s recipe; I used all buckwheat flour instead of a buckwheat + spelt flour combo)

A special thanks to Bruce Cost’s Fresh Ginger Ale and Industry City Distillery for providing drinks to keep us refreshingly hydrated and liquored up.

While I’m still on the topic of girls, I wanted to give two more shout outs to a couple more awesome girls that I know –

First, to my NYU homegirls Talisa Chang and Juliet Linderman, who along with Aldona Watts and Diana Diroy started Her Girl Friday and recently hosted a panel of veteran editors from the New York Times and New York Magazine titled How to Pitch Like a Girl. The premise of the panel was to provide encouragement and insights from established journalism veterans on how to effectively pitch stories in order to level the gender playing field in journalism and storytelling. And oh hey, they also just made it onto the cover page of the New York Observer!

Last but not least, a shout out goes to my co-organizers of the recently revived Girls in Tech NYC Chapter – Kara Rota of Cookstr, Jamie Eun Lee of Tipping Point Partners and Amanda Moritz of Brainscape.  After we hacked the mailing list for Girls in Tech to throw a mixer a couple months back, we were caught red-handed by the organizers of the official Girls in Tech organization. Don’t worry, we officially now have their blessings to proceed. Kara, Jamie, Amanda and I are aiming to achieve something similar to that of Her Girl Friday but in the equally male-dominated world of tech, starting with our Start-up Equity 101 Primer on June 13th. The primer is designed to educate more women about equity in start-up companies in order to negotiate for equity more effectively. Wish us luck!

Alright, now that I’ve laced this post with enough hyperlinks to explode WordPress, onwards to the treats.  Have a great weekend, everyone –


Coconut, PB and Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats

Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon
Makes a 10 inch circumference pan-full of Rice Crispy Treats

3 cups rice puffs (I used rice puffs from the Indian store, but regular Rice Krispies cereal works too)
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
6 ounces dark chocolate chips, melted
Generous handful of shredded coconut and black sesame seeds

1. Stir together the peanut butter and melted chocolate in a double boiler (I used a metal mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water) until smooth.
3. Fold in the peanut butter and chocolate mixture with the crispies in a mixing bowl.
4. Pour the mixture into a parchment lined baking sheet and top with shredded coconut and sesame seeds.
5. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 to 2 hours to allow the treats to set quicker. (I put it in the fridge overnight)
6. Once everything has set, carefully peel the treat from the sheet of parchment, cut and serve.


Seaweed: Beyond Sushi and Salad

I grew up eating seaweed in soups and as snacks but rarely did I treat it as a “sea vegetable.” Last week, store I had the unique opportunity to produce an event at the De Gustibus cooking school about seaweed, viagra or gim (Korean dried seaweed). The panelists – the charismatic chef/owner of Miya’s Sushi, Bun Lai; FreshDirect’s corporate nutritionist, Maggie Moon, joined by world renowned experts from UConn, Dr. Charles Yarish and Dr. Jang Kyun Kim, enlightened a group of chefs, academia and food writers about the merits of seaweed.

Sushi: Beyond Sushi and Salad

Truly on the cusp of popularity in the United States, we saw that seaweed is not only an excellent and inexpensive source of nutrients, sustainable (it can grow several feet in a day!), but also helps in reversing the degradation of marine environment caused by coastal fish farming.  Myself, I’ve always known seaweed to be a good source of iodine, but never realized the amount of vitamins and proteins it contains. Even our moderator, Andrea Beaman, proclaimed a seaweed diet cured her goiter.

Among the culinary trendsetters attending the session were Hugue Dufour & Sarah Obraitis of M. Wells (and upcoming Dinette at PS1), and seafood enthusiasts, Kerry Heffernan of Southgate, Toni Robertson of Mandarin Oriental, Joe DiStefano of World’s Fare, Jamie Tiampo of Seefood Media and Kian Lam Kho of

Sushi: Beyond Sushi and Salad

The host of the event, Korea Agro-Trade New York, announced their collaboration with the Culinary Institute of America on developing a recipe book using gim as an everyday ingredient – which will be published later this year. Chef Phillip Crispo, from the CIA, even provided us with a demo and tasting of delightful seaweed dishes. Ht truly took gim to a different direction – using it creatively in stuffed pork loin, spanokopita and tortellini. It made sense, since seaweed is a sea vegetable, which can easily substitute other ingredients such as spinach! My favorites were, surprisingly, the gim popcorn, gim ice cream and my goodness, the gim brittle in my goodie bag. I could not get enough of that!

And now, I leave you with one of the dishes served at the tasting, simple enough to make for yourself at home.

seaweed popcorn

Gim-Dressed Popcorn
Courtesy of Fabulous and Flavorful Gim: A Collection of Korean Seaweed Recipes developed by Faculty Chefs from the Culinary Institute of America

Serves 6


5 sheets gim (Korean dried seaweed)
4 oz / 113 g butter
2 Tbsp / 30 ml canola oil
2.8 oz / 79 g unpopped corn kernels

1. Place the gim in a spice grinder and grind until it is finely ground.

2. Place the ground gim and the butter in a small bowl or pot and melt, either in a microwave for 30 to 45 seconds or on the stovetop over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed sautoir over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels and cover the pan with a lid. Gently shake the pan on the burner for the duration of the cooking time and listening for popping kernels to cease popping. Once the kernels stop popping, after 4 to 5 minutes, remove the foil and transfer the popcorn to a large mixing bowl.

4. Combine the gim butter with the popcorn and cover the bowl tightly with foil. Shake the bowl well to evenly coat the popcorn with the butter. Remove the foil, and serve.

This post was guest-written by Wendy Chan.


Woks & Lox Menu

The countdown begins!

4 days until Christmas Eve.

3 more tickets left for the Woks & Lox dinner.

If you can’t join us for dinner, store come to the nosh party – we’ve got plenty party tickets still up for grabs.

Just check out our menu (sponsored by our friends at TMI):


Shiitake Ginger Matzoh Ball Soup
Garlic Dill Asian Pickles
Potato and Scallion Wonton Pierogies
Matzoh Encrusted Pan-Fried Tofu with General Tso’s Sauce
Ginger Sriracha Wok-Fried Bagel Strips
Sichuan Peppercorn Latkes
Kasha Varnishkes tossed in Scallion Oil
Roasted Vegetables with Chili and Sesame Soy


Spring Roll Blintzes filled with Schmear and Chinese Jujubes
Sweet Red Bean Rugelach

Nosh Party Noshes

Potato and Scallion Wonton Pierogies
Ginger Sriracha Wok-Fried Bagel Strips
Sichuan Peppercorn Latkes
Spring Roll Blintzes filled with Schmear and Chinese Jujubes

And if that doesn’t get you excited enough, discount check out these wallets I made. We’ll be Chinese auctioning off a pair on Saturday!

Woks and Lox

Saturday, abortion Dec 24th, Christmas Eve
Dinner: 5-7pm, ticket includes Nosh party
Nosh Party: 7-9pm
at The Queens Kickshaw (40-17 Broadway  Astoria)

You must buy tickets in advance through:

Tickets to Dinner ($59), include Chichi Wang’s Jewish-Asian dinner mash-up from 5-7pm2 free drink tickets, and admission to the Nosh Party from 7-9pm.

Tickets to the Nosh Party ($28), include the Nosh Party from 7-9pm and 1 free drink ticket.

Tickets must be claimed by Friday, 12/23 @ midnight on IndieGoGo:
Official site:


Woks & Lox

I moved to New York when I was 13. I left a suburban town in Los Angeles that was almost entirely Chinese for a very similar suburban town in New York — with the exception that it was almost entirely all Jewish.

I won’t lie, approved being a new kid in 7th grade was a trying time, and at times it really sucked a lot.  It took a while for me to adjust, but looking back at my childhood, I don’t regret it at all.  If anything, I’m grateful that I’ve had a chance to have grown up in a Jewish community and be immersed in Jewish culture, which I’ve found to have many similarities and connections to my Chinese upbringing.

Even in Los Angeles, we never had a Christmas tree at my house, and I probably never will. This Christmas Eve, I won’t be crying about my treeless apartment- the only tears I’ll be shedding will be tears of joy.  I’ll be celebrating the bond between Jews and Asians by co-hosting Woks and Lox at the Queens Kickshaw with my Jewish co-producer, Jeff Orlick, and we’d love for you to come too.

Of course any celebration, Jewish or Asian, can’t be without food and drink. So, our good friend and talented chef Chichi Wang will be preparing a sit-down dinner for 20 followed by a party of 40 more, complete with Sino-semitic noshes.

The fun doesn’t end there. Aside from dinner and noshes, we’ll have entertainment ranging from adaptations of Chinese wedding games to barmitzvah festivities and mah jong, as well as a Chinese auction with prizes donated by some of our favorite small businesses and companies.

Some of our prizes and giveaways include He’Brew, The Chosen Beer, Queens Historian Jack Eichenbaum‘s Tour along the 7 train, Fresh Ginger Ale by Bruce Cost, special Woks & Lox wallets from Hail the Right Brain made by yours truly, and Jeff will be giving away tickets to his infamous Midnight Street Food tour too.

That’s just the beginning – we’ll also have JoJu’s Modern Vietnamese, and many pizza giveaways from Louie’s Pizzeria in Elmhurst to Roebling Pizza in Williamsburg, in addition to tickets to Scott’s Pizza tour, and of course Jeff’s Real Pizza of New York iPhone app. More to come in a following post!

Last but not least, we’re doing it at one of our favorite places in our home borough of Queens,  The Queens Kickshaw.  We couldn’t do this without Kickshaw owners Ben Sandler and Jen Lim, two of our very first supporters of Woks & Lox and not-so-coincidentally also a Jewish and Asian duo, who have generously offered to host us and even be there personally to mix special drinks just for this special Christmas evening.

Christmas Eve is a tough date to make, but even if you can’t come, we don’t want you to feel left out – so we’re making holiday cards, money holders, and party t0-go packs from me and Jeff at Woks & Lox HQ (aka my apartment) – all for sale on IndieGoGo alongside the tickets to the event.  It’s going to be fun, and I hope you can be a part of it.  If you can’t, please help us to spread the word and make our Christmas wish come true.

Saturday, Dec 24th, Christmas Eve
Dinner: 5-7pm (includes Nosh party)
Nosh Party: 7-9pm
at The Queens Kickshaw (40-17 Broadway, Astoria, Queens)

You must buy tickets in advance through:


Positive Feedback

“My wife challenged me to cook, caries 5 mins later someone tweeted or blogged about [Gojee] and … BAM! I’ve done two dishes already, pharmacy and I have never cooked in my life before :O Great job guys!”

It’s emails like these that makes me feel like we’re making big changes with Gojee. We’re converting people into home cooks, one recipe at a time.


A First Encounter with Garlic Scapes

It was my mom’s birthday this past weekend, prescription so I took it upon myself to explore the farmer’s market that morning to find some culinary inspiration for dinner that night.  Strolling through the stalls in Jackson Heights, I found myself drawn to a plastic carton spilling with curly garlic scapes.  I had never cooked with scapes before, but before I could second guess myself, I impulsively purchased two big handfuls and was on my way home.

While garlic scapes closely resemble beans or scallions, they’re actually shoots of the garlic plant.  As for their taste, they have a milder, sweeter garlic flavor than garlic itself.  If you eat it raw, you may get a minor case of garlic breath that lasts until the next morning, but it’s a small price to pay for a unique taste that is only in season for a short time.

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The Social Kitchen

During last week’s “The Social Kitchen” panel at Food 2.0, hepatitis Amanda Hesser of Food 52 said something that really stuck to me:

“Technology is knocking down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room”

Left to Right: Mike Lee (Studio Feast), drugs Amanda Hesser (Food 52), discount rx Mike LaValle (Gojee), Sarah Maine (RecipeRelay), Will Turnage (Ratio Bread App & R/GA)

I never really thought about it before, but in some ways it’s true — while the act of eating together and breaking bread has always been an inherently social activity, cooking has conventionally been more of a solitary act confined to the kitchen. If you think about it, a traditional kitchen has almost always been walled off from the dining room, and in a way, that separation also dictates our interactions in both spaces.

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Laphet Thote: Burmese Tea Leaf Salad

cure on Flickr” href=””>Burmese Tea Leaf Salad
Tea leaf salad in a traditional Burmese container

My first encounter with Laphet Thote, there tea leaf salad, check was at the Burmese restaurant Village Mingala in the East Village.  There’s something about the sharp zing and pronounced flavor of fermentation that really speaks to me.  While the namesake tea leaves were the star of the show, the roasted peanuts, along with a smattering of nuts and seeds stirred into the dish, played a strong supporting role, offering a rounded, nutty contrast to the sharp, pronounced flavor of fermented tea leaves.  But before I could return to Village Mingala for a second taste, I was sad to learn that the restaurant had closed down.

Eaten the authentic Burmese way, Laphet Thote challenges the conventional concept of salad. The first thing that comes to mind when you think “salad” is some sort of leafy green.  Well, in a Laphet Thote, there are none.  The laphet, the Burmese word for these fermented tea leaves, is served in the center of the a dish with other assorted ingredients, which differ according to your preference, encircle the star of the dish.

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