Home Grown Star Anise


A lovely reader sent a package of his homegrown star anise spice. Have you ever used star anise before? Normally, when I buy them at the Asian market, they look like they’ve been picked through – none of the “stars” even resemble stars. Upon opening the bag, there is a dusty, musty smell. Not these. These are fresh and dried …


Easiest way to cut paper-thin slivers of onion (video)


I’m a raw red-onion lover – but only when the red onion is paper thin. Tissue paper thin. See the cell membranes thin. I’ll show you the best way to cut an onion so that you get thin slices with a beautiful tapered wedge-shape just like this. How to slice paper-thin slivers of onion It’s a quickie. I mean a …



Cilantro is used in a lot of Asian and Mexican cooking.When purchasing cilantro make sure the leaves and steams are not bruised or soft . The fresh herb has thin, delicate leaves and flavorful steams. It is used in soup, stir-fries and noodle dishes. Cilantro should be stored standing in a container of water with leaves covered with a plastic …

Thai Basil

Thai basil has a stronger flavor than sweet basil that is found in most supermarkets. You should avoid chopping the leaves, it is better to tear the leaves from the steam and/or tear them into pieces when cooking. The basil should be loosely wrapped in a paper towel and stored in the crisper of the refrigerator.

Star Anise

Star Anise is a very strong spice which taste and smell like licorice. Star Anise is used very often with pork and duck. It is one of the main ingredients in five spice powder and is used in both savory and sweet dishes. Whole Star Anise has a very long shelf life, purchase the ground variety and store in a …


Cinnamon is used in both sweet and savory dishes. Cinnamon can be used whole, broken or ground. It also has medicinal uses. The sticks are very hard, making them difficult to grind, so you should purchase ground if you plan on using a lot of ground cinnamon. Cinnamon has a long shelf life, it should be kept in an air …


Coriander seed

Coriander is used widely in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, thus having many uses for this wonderful spice. Buy Coriander in seed form. When a recipes call for ground coriander, the seed should be dry pan roasted and freshly ground to release its warm lightly spicy aroma. Ground coriander will keep for a few days in a air …



Cloves have a very strong distinct flavor. This spice is traditionally used in savory dishes. When purchasing clove you should look for a large whole clove with plump buds. Whole cloves can be stored in a cool dry place, ground clove should be stored in small amount is an air tight container away from light.


Matsutake Mushroom Dobin Mushi Recipe

One of my favorite cooking shows of all time is the original Iron Chef. No, not the modern version that plays over and over on Food Network right now, but the one taped in Japan with the silly English dubbing that always cracks me up. The episode that I drooled most over was “Battle Matsutake.” Matsutake Tempura?! Oh hello lover! …

Baby Corn

Baby corn is young corn, usually eaten whole, yes, cob included. They are boiled, or tossed into stir-fry dishes. Cooking doesn’t change its texture – they are as crunchy and sweet as raw. They can be found fresh in Asian grocers or canned would be an acceptable substitute. While fresh baby corn is incredibly delicious and snappy, they are difficult …


Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is an essential ingredient in my pantry. It has a nice salty-sweet flavor to it, and you use it very sparingly, like Anchovy paste. A little goes a long way! There are several brands of fish sauce, the best one I have found so far is called “Three Crabs”. Good fish sauce should be the color of brewed …



Saffron comes from the stigma of the saffron crocus. It’s no wonder that saffron’s considered one of the most expensive spices: according to Mr. Harold McGee, it takes over 70,000 flowers and about 200 hours of labor to produce only 1 pound of dried saffron. The best saffron is bright red, and not yellow. It’s wonderful for adding a signature …