Project: Pok Pok Cookbook; The Breakdown


What, you were expecting those recipes right away? Greedy, greedy, greedy. Also, not only do projects take time, but blogging takes time, too, and I’ve been sorely lacking in that lately. What can we do to create more time???

Okay, so before I get to the recipes, (I’m writing a few posts at once today, so don’t worry! They’ll come one by one, hopefully all week long) I wanted to give you the breakdown on where I ended up after all my elimination rounds.

The recipes I settled on for Round One of Project Pok Pok Cookbook:



  • Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings (I mean, how can you not?)


  • Phat Khanaeng (Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts)
  • Phat Fak Thawng (Northern Thai Styled Stir-Fried Squash)
  • Phat Buung Fai Daeng (Stir-Fried Water Spinach)

Main Courses/One Plate Meals:

  • Aep Plaa (Curried Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves)
  • Yam Jin Kai (Northern Thai Chicken Soup)
  • Kaeng Khanun (Northern Thai Young Jackfruit Curry)
  • Kai Kaphrai Khai Dao (Stir-Fried Chicken with Hot Basil)
  • Khao Phat Muu (Thai-Styled Fried Rice with Pork)
  • Phat Si Ew (Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Chicken, Chinese Broccoli and Soy Sauce)
  • Hoi Thawt (Broken Crepe with Mussels)
  • Stir Fried Yunnan Ham with Chilies
  • Cha Ca La Vong (Vietnamese Tumeric Marinated Fish with Noodles and Herbs)

Now, of these 5 dishes did not make it in Round One, most because I had trouble finding Korean Salted Shrimp. I have located it, but those dishes had to be shoved to Round Two since I was starting a Whole60 so had limited time to work with.

Here’s the like ingredients these dishes had in common which I had to prepare in advance to make them:


I will add links to recipes for these ingredients as the recipes use them. Many are quick and easy, although some take hours.  Also, all these recipe titles will become links as the recipes are posted. Ahhh!! Okay, recipe posting commence!! Hope you enjoy. I found pretty much everything, across the board, spectacular.

New Project: The Pok Pok Cookbook


I know, I know, it’s been forever, I’m sure you’ve all been freaking out on a regular basis about where I’ve been. Life is busy!! Projects take time.

Anyhow, here’s a new/old one: the Pok Pok Cookbook. I was actually gifted this cookbook in 2013 — a fact I was reminded of when opening the cookbook to an inscription which read: “I love you! Now cook this stuff for us! 12-25-13”. Yes, I do realize that it’s now 2018 as of tomorrow.  Yes, I understand that’s 4 whole years. The Pok Pok Cookbook is not a simple project. I have made one or two batches of Pok Pok wings over the years and there are, of course, one off meals you can make here and there but if you really want to cook the stuff in here, it takes a commitment, probably some equipment you don’t have, definitely some ingredients you will have to seriously source, and some time to cook a load of ingredients that require home cooking and are made from ingredients that have been seriously sourced. And in my defense, in this time I have acquired some of the needed cookware, not all, but one can only do so much.

Even now, I’m attacking this project in doses. This is just Part One. I’m back on Whole 30 for a couple of months come tomorrow, and so will break from this project and return for Part Two in March or April. I’m hoping, in those few months, to get a couple more things so I can cook more dishes, though I still have plenty I can make with what I’ve got.

There are seventy recipes in all, so I think we’re talking about three parts in all. I’ve definitely learned during Part One, and so I think I’ll be able to have a better plan for Part Two.


I was hoping to have a full month of Pok Pok in December, but by the time I was able to get to the Asian market I had about two weeks left. Here’s how I approached it:

First, I went through the book and marked off recipes which interested me. (I think that was pretty much all of them). Then, I went through again, and if I didn’t have the proper equipment, I eliminated it. That probably left me with about half the recipes, cause I still don’t have a clay mortar with wooden pestle, nor an aluminum steamer; also no sticky rice steamer or long handled noodle basket, and no meat cleaver. What I DO have, and you will need to attempt pretty much any of this:

  • A flat bottomed wok and wok spatula
  • A granite mortar and pestle
  • A rice steamer

Umm…I think that’s it. If you have those three things you can make a lot of this stuff.

So, thirdly, I went through all my remaining recipes, and I wrote a list of homemade ingredients they needed, and I counted how many like ingredients there were. Any ingredient that was used three or more times got a check on that recipe.

So now I was left with about 25 recipes. I went through the book a final time and just let my instincts decide which ones were the winners for round one; partially based on what I wanted to cook and partially based on the level of complication there was in any given recipe — certainly in Part One the winners are the simpler recipes that don’t take weeks of prep.

I ended up with a list of 3 salads or appetizers, 3 sides, and 9 main courses that I was hoping to make over the last two weeks.


I succeeded in making all three salads, 2 of the sides and 7 of the 9 main courses. My reasons for failure were missing ingredients and time. I was hoping to get as many ingredients as possible in person, and then supplement only as absolutely necessary online — which is also tricky. Still, I did pretty well, and it’s certainly been a deliciously fun adventure which has taken me all over NYC in search of the right stuffs.

My next few posts will be the recipes I tried! Forgive the photography — there was never any food left the next day to photograph anything in the daylight. Happy 2018!!


The Instant Pot: Yogurt


A very interesting option. I’m mostly off dairy at this point but not entirely, and I do like yogurt. Also I find it curious that the Instant Pot can MAKE yogurt, and so I definitely had to try it. And, I’ve never made my own yogurt.

The result? Lovely, fresh, pure yogurt that’s better than store bought for sure. I recommend it. I was surprised that it took so long, but really only because so far the Instant Pot has meant instant meals, instant grains, quickly cooked things, and I had conveniently forgotten that it also has a slow cooker function, and that it professes to make yogurt. Which means, time to ferment, der.

So. Here’s the lowdown.


  • 1/2 gallon whole milk (preferably raw but definitely as un-homogenized as possible)
  • 2 tbls (ish) plain yogurt with active bacterial cultures (the back of the package will tell you if it’s got ’em).


  1. Pour the milk directly into the Instant Pot. Cover, and press the Yogurt button. Then, press the adjust button to more. Wait for the pot to turn on. It should say “Boil” on the screen.
  2. That should take about 30 – 45 minutes or so. When it’s boiling, the screen will say “yogt”. Open the lid and check the temperature in a few spots. It should be over 180 degrees F. Stir with a spatula and check the temperature again. It should still be above 180. If not, pop the lid back on and use the slow cook less function for another 15 minutes. If it is over 180, then proceed.
  3. Skim away any skin that’s formed on top of the milk, remove the inner pot and set the milk aside on the countertop to cool.
  4. Once it’s cooled, add 1/2 cup of the cooled milk to a separate cup and add the yogurt starter. Mix gently, but well.
  5. Pour that mixture into the cooled milk, and gently stir a few times.
  6. Place the inner pot back in the Instant Pot, cover with lid, and hit the yogurt function.
  7. You can set the time anywhere from 8 – 12 hours — the longer you incubate, the tangier the yogurt, so really it just depends on your personal preference.
  8. Once the incubation is complete (that many hours later), remove the inner pot and place into the fridge for a few hours.
  9. Serve.

Congratulations. You just made yogurt. Add toppings that make you happy and enjoy.


The Instant Pot: Crème Brûlée


IMG_6572.JPGWell, I wouldn’t normally make this, but the Instant Pot has me making all sorts of things I shouldn’t make. Stop being so easy, Instant Pot!!!

I took this recipe right from the book that comes with the pot. Why mess around with what’s obviously tried and true?


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbls. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • turbinado sugar for topping


  1. Place the trivet into the Instant Pot and pour two cups of water in below.
  2. Crack eggs into a mixing bowl, add sugar and whisk well.
  3. Add cream and vanilla and whisk just until combined, do not whip!!
  4. Pour the mixture through a strainer. Instant Pot suggests you pour it into a container with a spout in order to transfer the mixture to the ramekins. I just strained it right into the ramekins.
  5. Cover ramekins tightly with tin foil and place in the pot.
  6. Place lid on pot and set to 10 minutes on manual.
  7. Use the natural release method once it’s done.
  8. Remove ramekins from pot and allow to cool, uncovered for 30 – 45 minutes on your counter.
  9. Wrap ramekins in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 3 – 4 hours.
  10. Remove plastic wrap, sprinkle with turbinado sugar, and either use a torch or place ramekins under your broiler for 5 minutes to caramelize.



The Instant Pot: Korean Style Braised Oxtail

Well, this is just delicious. Also, oxtail usually takes hours to cook to perfection, and now, thanks to my amazing Instant Pot, I have achieved melt-in-your-mouth fall-off-the-bone oxtail in slightly over an hour. What?? Yes.


Here’s what to do:


  • 2 lbs oxtail
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 carrots, cut into dimes
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1″ chunk of ginger, minced
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili sauce)
  • scallions for serving


  1. Brown oxtail in a skillet. You can use the Instant Pot but there’s too much oxtail and you want it done right, so just suck it up and use the skillet.
  2. Transfer to Instant Pot
  3. Mix remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl (not scallions) and pour over the oxtail.
  4. Set on manual for 1 hour, or press the Meat setting and then adjust it up to an hour.
  5. Use the 10 minute quick release method. Serve over brown rice and sprinkle with scallions.



The Instant Pot: Sushi Rice

FullSizeRender (5).jpgI think the thing I’m most impressed by with the Instant Pot is how flawlessly it cooks grains. Grains are hard to master, and I am no exception. I rarely make things like quinoa, since it takes forever, and I tend to make rice in my rice cooker.

Well, ever since my AMAZING oatmeal experience with the Instant Pot, I have been trying all the grains in there. And, for each and every one, they’ve turned out perfect. Goodbye, rice cooker!!

I had some amazing quality tuna, and there is nothing to do with that but eat it raw. I’ve made plenty of tuna tartar and chirachi type meals, but never sushi, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to see how the rice held up to formation and whatnot.

Don’t judge the rice based on what the sushi looks like, I say again, this was my first time making sushi. But the rice was stellar. Here’s how I done it.


  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


  1. Rinse rice well.
  2. Place in Instant Pot and cover with water.
  3. Place lid on instant pot and set for 7 minutes on manual.
  4. Allow to cool using the 10 minute release method.
  5. Add rice vinegar and sugar and mix well.

Voila. Then make your sushi. Or just stick some fish on top of that rice with chunks of avocado. That works, too.

The Instant Pot: Black Bean Soup with Pork Belly

I’ve been trying all the stuff you’re supposed to try in the Instant Pot, but I’ve also just been throwing in whatever’s in my pantry and freezer, which is…a lot of stuff.


Since I discovered that frozen foods can be cooked to perfection by adding a couple of minutes to the cook time, I’ve been much more willing to just throw shit in there and see what works. What’s the worst that could happen? I end up with deliciously cooked foods but the dish is slightly not what I planned? I can live with that.

So, I decided to make black bean soup. I knew I had some bacon pieces in the freezer in a bag marked “Bacon for split pea soup or something”, meaning it couldn’t be sliced for one reason or another, so I thought that would be perfect. But alas, I couldn’t find it! Then, my eye fell on a large chunk of pork belly I had in there. I had such great success with the frozen chicken, I thought, why not.

I took the entire chunk of pork belly, frozen, and put it right into the Instant Pot along with the rest of it. The result? Fall off the bone meat that I simply shredded into the soup with a fork. Oh, Instant Pot. You had me at pork belly.


  • 1 lb. black beans, soaked for 12 hours or overnight
  • 1 lb. pork belly, frozen is fine
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbls. cumin
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • salt to taste
  • about a quart of stock, chicken, beef, veggie, whey, water…whatever ya got.
  • avocado and cilantro to serve


  1. drain beans and place in the Instant Pot. Add pork belly, onion, garlic, spices and top with the stock.
  2. Close the pot and set it on manual for 45 minutes, 35 if the pork belly isn’t frozen.
  3. Allow to cool using natural release.
  4. Remove the pork belly, carefully, and shred with a fork.
  5. Add back into the soup.
  6. Top with avocado chunks and cilantro and serve immediately.

This also makes a lot, keeps well, freezes well, and tastes better and better the longer it sits.