Feb 092013

Mike always likes to joke that I love Chinese noodle soups so much I’ll probably turn into one.  It’s true, I could eat them ALL the time.  There is one noodle soup that would probably be my last meal because it reminds me so much of home, my mom, and always makes me feel better when I’m down or feeling sick.   It’s passed down from my mom, and I’m sure I’ll be making this dish my whole life.  It’s a chicken broth base, and there’s no chicken broth here, so I’ve been making my own.

My Feel-Good Bowl of Noodle Soup

My Feel-Good Bowl of Noodle Soup

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 spring chicken (1-1.3 kg or 2.5 lb)
  • 2 onions quartered
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ head Chinese napa cabbage (I use the top half)
  • 6-8 dried shitake mushrooms
  • Wheat noodles
  • Optional: bamboo shoots or sliced water chestnuts


  • Soak the dried shitake mushrooms in hot water for a couple of hours until soft all the way through.  Using dried mushrooms has more flavor than fresh shitake mushrooms but I’ve used both.


  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil.  Put in chicken, onions, 3 whole cloves of garlic, and bay leaves.  I use frozen chicken and it’s fine—just remember to take the plastic pouch inside out.  Skim any sediment that rises to the top.  Keep at a simmer for 3 hours.  Add salt to taste.
  2. When broth flavor is to your liking, strain the broth and put it back in the pot.  Let the chicken cool a while and peel all the meat off the bones.  It should pretty much fall off the bones.  Set meat aside.
  3. Slice shitake mushrooms and napa cabbage.  Mince the last clove of garlic.  Heat up oil (I use grapeseed oil) and sautee garlic 1 minute until fragrant.  Throw in the mushrooms and sautee for a few minutes.  Then put in napa cabbage to cook a bit.
  4. Once the cabbage has softened a bit, pour the broth to cover vegetables and simmer until cabbage is soft.  You can add in bamboo shoots or sliced water chestnuts here if you want some extra texture.  Put the chicken meat in and cook your noodles in the broth to give the noodles extra flavor.
  5. Once noodles are cooked, you’re done!  We like to add a little spicy sriracha sauce at the end and tear up a sheet of dried nori (seaweed) to put in the broth.



Nov 272012

This was my first Thanksgiving away from my family, and it wasn’t the same without the usual comfort foods that you have with your family.  When you grow up in a Chinese household, there’s certain things that you grow up with that you don’t know is not the norm.  For example, Thanksgiving stuffing.  My whole life, I grew up thinking stuffing was made of sticky rice!  Imagine my surprise when senior year of college rolls around and I’m having a Thanksgiving meal at my sorority house.  I stop at the stuffing platter and say, “what’s this?”  My friends gaped at me in disbelief and were like, “C, you’ve never had stuffing before?!?!”  “Huh?  This isn’t stuffing, stuffing is made of rice!”  Side note: I also grew up thinking everyone put soy sauce on their hard boiled eggs or fried eggs for breakfast.  Anyhow, I was missing “Lin style” Thanksgiving and it made me jealous to Skype with my brother and sister in New York where they were cooking up the usual feast.  The past 5 years, my sister always came up from DC to New York to visit me and my brother for Thanksgiving.  My poor mom was battling a cold, but she did end up making turkey and stuffing a few days late!

It hasn’t felt like Thanksgiving or holiday season here because it’s been so incredibly humid and hot; it feels like we’re in the dead heat of summer.  Hard to get in the usual holiday mood.  On actual Thanksgiving day, Mike and I went over the Heather and Griff’s apartment for some roast chicken.  It was a last minute thing but so nice to celebrate with some friends we’ve gotten close to here.  We had two roast chickens, butternut squash, (bread) stuffing, green beans, and corn.  It certainly was a feast!  It’s tough cooking here since the ovens are so small, so you really can only cook a couple things at a time.  It was late by the time we finished, and of course no one has Thanksgiving off here!  We were definitely groggy the next day.

Roast Chicken Instead of Roast Turkey

Me, Mike, Heather, and Griff with our Thanksgiving Spread on a Kanga Tablecloth

On Saturday, we had another Thanksgiving gathering at our friends Jacie and Dan’s house.  Around 15 people were there and we each brought a few dishes.  They ordered a 22 lb (!) turkey from a butcher here and it indeed was enormous.  They roasted it for 6 hours.  There was so much food that night as everyone had brought a ton.  Turkey, mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, stuffing, cornbread muffins, salad, pasta, chili, cranberry sauce (from Nairobi since they don’t have cranberries here!), pumpkin pie, and more.  Needless to say, we were stuffed.

Massive Counter of Food

Expat Thanksgiving

Then we hooked up this guy’s laptop to the projector screen since he has NFL pass and watched the recorded game of Detroit vs. Houston.  All the ladies were getting bored near the end so we switched on to Just Dance and played on the Wii for a bit.  THAT was hilarious and we even got the guys to join in for a few rounds.

So I am thankful for this incredible adventure Mike and I are on, thankful for the good friends we’ve already made here, and thankful to be able to chat frequently with my family back home.  It’s been a great two months so far, and we actually have more news to share!  I recently accepted a job and we are going to relocate to Nairobi.  Since Mike’s job is regional, he was able to get a transfer approved from his company.  My job is in digital marketing with a large mobile carrier there, so I’m incredibly excited that I was able to get a good job here.  We will miss Dar a LOT (especially the ocean), but we are looking forward to getting to know Nairobi as well.  I start work next week after a 9 month hiatus!  Will I remember how to do it?

 November 27, 2012  Posted by at 8:49 am Dar es Salaam, Food, Tanzania Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  No Responses »
Jun 242012

Our last night in Sanur, we went to check out Pregina Warung which got high reviews on TripAdvisor.  They are known for the crispy duck, so naturally we ordered the duck and also some chicken in an Indonesian red sauce called madadonese.  The duck was certainly crispy but we think Peking duck still wins over this one.  The madadonese chicken was tasty but I’m still thinking about the amazing chicken we had in Labuanbajo at Pesona!

Crispy Duck – Bebeh Becil

Chicken in a Red Madadonese Sauce

 June 24, 2012  Posted by at 2:22 pm Bali, Food, Indonesia, Sanur Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  No Responses »
Jun 242012

After my food poisoning incident earlier in the week at Matahari Restaurant, we were careful to go to our hotel’s recommendations for dinner. Bayview Gardens was a great pick for lodging, fantastic views over the harbor though a bit on the pricey side.

Sunset View from our Private Balcony at Bayview Gardens

Our last night on Labuanbajo, we ate at Pesona, which serves Indonesian food at a pretty cheap price.  I got the grilled chicken and Mike got seafood steamed in a banana leaf.  Both were delicious!  The chicken had wonderfully crispy skin and great flavor.  Perfectly cooked.  I’m also obsessed with the fresh chili sauce they make here, sambal.  Fresh tomatoes with a hint of smoky habanero.  Probably one of the best meals we’ve had in Indonesia so far.

Delicious BBQ Chicken with Chili

Steamed Seafood in Banana Leaf

That wraps up our Komodo adventure!  Next up: Bali.  Here’s another favorite photo from the top of one of the small Komodo islands.  We dove earlier in the day at the bay down below known as Crystal Bay and we would go in later that night for a night dive.

On One of the Small Komodo Islands Above Crystal Bay

May 172012

After Ko Tao, we stopped over in Bangkok for two nights to break up our trip before we head up north to Chiang Mai.  Mike got a custom suit and some dress shirts from a famous tailor here called Rajawonse.  And we pretty much went back to our mecca, Central World, to revel in AC heaven after hot hot Ko Tao.

A couple of nights ago, Mike and I met up with one of my mom’s old college classmates who lives in Bangkok.  What’s funny is that she hasn’t seen him since college!  But they went to a small university in Taiwan where their class keeps in touch all the time and has reunions as well.  So she sent him a note mentioning that we were coming, and that’s how we met the Chungs for dinner!

The Chungs are from Taiwan but have been living in Bangkok for 27 years now for work.  27 years!  Both their kids live in the US.  I asked them how long it took them to learn Thai—it seems really hard.  They said about a year to start speaking and understanding Thai.  Only a year?  Wow.  I think if we moved here it would take a lot longer.

We were excited to have locals take us out to eat—they know best where to go.  We took the subway 15 minutes south of where we are, where Mr. Chung picked us up at drove another 15 minutes to their home.  Their home was really nice and we had green mango while he showed us a photo book that his daughter had given them.  It was photos from when their daughter and husband took time off to travel!  Except they went for A YEAR!!!  Boy, we were jealous.  Beautiful photos.

After that we went to dinner at a restaurant called Baan Rub Rong (8 Soi Mooban Seri Villa Srinakarin Rd).  Wow, can we say best food we’ve had in Thailand?!?!  Amazing.  Of course they took care of the ordering.  When they asked me what I wanted to drink, I said “Coke?” To which their reply was, “What? Don’t order Coke, we’ll get you a fresh coconut.”  Nice!  When it came out, it was humongous!

Bangkok Baan Rub Rong

Fresh Coconut Water

After that, it was course after course of deliciousness.  There was one dish where Mrs. Chung was like, hmm, I’m not sure if you’ll like it—it’s a bit strange.  I said, no problem, we’ll eat anything!  It turned out to be my favorite dish of the night.  It was fish paste with basil and lemongrass and chili steamed in a leaf.  Out of this world.

Bangkok Baan Rub Rong

Steamed Fish Paste in Leaf

Another favorite was the tom yum soup.  Not too exotic, but so well flavored at this restaurant.

Bangkok Baan Rub Rong

Delicious Tom Yum Soup

Mike’s favorite dish was the chicken grilled in a leaf that had a sweet flavor to it, a bit like teriyaki.

Bangkok Baan Rub Rong

Grilled Chicken in Leaf

Then came out the hugest prawn we’d ever seen!!  It was the size of a lobster.  Mrs. Chung explained that these were fresh river prawns.  They were grilled and you could taste the smokiness and it was super tender.

Bangkok Baan Rub Rong

HUGE River Prawn

We were stuffed by the time dinner was over.  The Chungs are the nicest couple and we were incredibly fortunate to have met up with them.  Thanks for the introduction Mom!