Back to Basics: How Do They Do That?

I caught a bit of a Ming Tsai show the other day where he explained how to flip food in the pan and it sounded so simple. Immagonnatryit. When I have time. Until then, I thought I’d share it and you can let me know if you tried it and how it worked for you.

Like everything else he does, he makes it look easy.

Ming Tsai’s Tropical Glazed Baby Back Ribs

It is rare that I actually drool when Ming Tsai is making something on his show. Don’t get me wrong, I drool plenty looking at him, and his food is good and I’ve tried many of his recipes, but this time, wow. I came in about 5 minutes into the show and saw these ribs and thought they looked amazing. So we take a moment out of our holiday recipes to present Ming Tsai’s Tropical Glazed Black Vinegar Baby Back Ribs. Yum. There is video at the link.

Tropical Glazed-Black Vinegar Pork Spare Ribs

  • 1 large slab baby back ribs (10-12 pounds or more), cut to fit the largest metal baking pan that can fit your oven
  • 3/4 -1 cup Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar with pinch of five-spice
  • 2 cups Ginger-Kiwi-Jicama Salsa (recipe below)
  • 1 pound new red potatoes, scrubbed, boiled and halved
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


The day before, in a large, deep, metal baking pan, rub the ribs with salt and pepper and let cure overnight. The next day, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Place 1 cup Ginger-Kiwi-Jicama Salsa in blender and blend until smooth. Rub off any excess salt and pepper on ribs, wash and dry pan and place ribs back in pan. Add the vinegar so that a 1/4-inch layer is on the bottom. Cover tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Check ribs at 1 hour, and continue cooking until all the vinegar is evaporated. You can now either transfer ribs to a grill and slather with 3/4 cup blended Ginger-Kiwi-Jicama Salsa or keep in the pan and slather with blended Ginger-Kiwi-Jicama Salsa and change oven to broil to color well. Meanwhile, make German potato salad: when potatoes are still hot, toss with bacon, olive oil, vinegar and parsley. Check for flavor and season if necessary. To serve, spoon potato salad onto platter, top with sliced ribs and reserved Ginger-Kiwi-Jicama Salsa.

Ginger-Kiwi-Jicama Salsa

  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4 kiwis, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 cups 1/4-inch dice jicama
  • 1 cup 1/4-inch dice red onion
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed, minced with seeds
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 1 shot agave tequila
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sugar to taste


In a large bowl, gently mix all the ingredients. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and sugar to taste. Let stand at room temperature for at least an hour before using or preferably covered overnight in the fridge.

Can’t wait to try these.  I think the Kiwi-Jicama salsa sounds interesting.  Not something I would normally think of.  There are a lot more recipes at the link and most of his cooking is simple, quick and often one pan. So check it out.

Thursday Night Menu: Ming Tsai Edition

Couldn’t sleep the other night and was channel surfing when I stumbled upon my current celebrity chef crush, Ming Tsai. He had me at sesame seeds.  I love sesame seeds and since that was the theme of the entire episode, I was hooked.  I tried two of the recipes and decided they’d be good for tonight’s menu. One thing I really like about this dinner it is a one-pan meal. Quick and easy to cook and quick and easy to clean up. And dessert is a breeze to make and addictive.  These are my versions of his, I didn’t change much because they were already simple and tasty.

On the board tonight:

  1. Sesame Chive Fish
  2. Buttered Edamames & Spinach
  3. Sesame Brittle

Sesame-Chive Fish with Buttered Edamames & Spinach

  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 4 6-ounce pieces butterfish, cod, halibut, or a favorite fish (really, this recipe works with any fish)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 cup edamames*
  • 2 packed cups baby spinach, washed and dried
  • splash of white wine
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • oil

Large sauté pan or skillet

Season fish with salt and pepper. Place pan over medium-high heat, lightly coat with oil, add 1 tablespoon butter and sear the seasoned fish on both sides, then cook on both sides, about 4 minutes each side. Fish should flake easily. Remove and set aside. Wipe out pan and add 1 tablespoon butter and sauté the shallots. Add the edamames, spinach, dash of salt and pepper, add wine, toss until spinach is just limp. Arrange vegetables on platter and place fish on top. Garnish with chives and sesame seeds and serve.

*you can substitute fresh snow peas if you like, which is what I did.

Sesame Brittle

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • salt

saucepan, wax paper and baking sheet

In saucepan over high heat, melt butter and sugar and stir to combine. Without stirring, cook until mixture becomes a light to medium caramel color, about 3-5 minutes, then add sesame seeds and stir in. Pour mixture onto a wax paper or well oiled parchment paper covered baking sheet and spread into an even, thin layer, about 1/8 to /4-inch thick, with wooden spoon. Shape will be irregular, but don’t worry, you are just going to break it into pieces after it cools anyway. Immediately shake a bit of salt over top of mixture and lightly press into caramel using spoon. I used less than a 1/4 tsp for the entire mixture and that was plenty, though your mileage may vary. Allow to set-up for about 10-15 minutes. When brittle has hardened and cooled, break into pieces and enjoy. Store in an air-tight container. I made this almost a week ago and it’s still fresh and tasty. Not to mention addictive.

You can see his original recipes here. I was hoping for video, but no such luck, because half the fun of this menu is watching him cook.

Shopping List:

  • 4-6 oz fish fillets
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1-1/2 cups toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 cup edamames or snow peas
  • 16 oz fresh baby spinach

Also: Chives, white wine, sugar

Pineapple-Bacon Fried Rice with Ponzu Sauce

I had no trouble finding Ponzu sauce today.  I only had a selection of one at this store, but I look forward to seeing the different types available next time I’m at the Asian market.

This is my take on a recipe I watched Ming Tsai make the other day:

Pineapple-Bacon Fried Rice

  • 2 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 tbsp organic ponzu
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • oil

In wok or skillet, fry bacon until crisp, remove to paper towel.  Remove all but 1 tbsp of bacon fat from pan and saute onions, garlic and ginger.  Add egg and scramble.  Add rice, ponzu and bacon and toss until heated through.  Serves 2

I used my skillet.  I like it because I can separate items to the side and cook in the middle before mixing it all together.  Can I just say I am now a fan of Ponzu sauce?  Where have you been all my life?  Good stuff.

New Crush

I suppose it’s not normal, but I have food flings with famous chefs.  I go through periods where I really enjoy watching someone cook and testing out their recipes for myself.  There’s been Emeril, Nigella Lawson, Bobby Flay in recent memory.  And who can resist Paula Deen’s charms, I mean really, it’s like having a nice southern mom cooking in your living room.

Last night I was channel surfing while  doing paperwork and settled on a cooking show on PBS.   I was only half paying attention, but finally looked up and saw him.  I knew in an instant he’d be my next chef crush.  I’m sure he’s been on forever, but this was my first encounter. 

The show is Simply Ming on PBS and he is Ming Tsai.  Here he is, cooking Black Bean and Garlic Sauce with Wok Stirred Beef and Eggplant.  Yum, yum.  I can’t wait for the next episode.