廚房大戰 – Lina vs. cooking

Yesterday we tried to prepare article about Western girls in gwai-mui lovers’ eyes, but we end up losing our time to 賭俠2之上海灘賭聖 and a hot pot so just keep on waiting for that post! Enjoying our noms I don’t know why but I thought about this – there are two sentences we like to say in my country: ‘The easiest way to man’s heart is thru his stomach’ and ‘Love is like a war’. And because you don’t go to a battlefield without weapons I want to introduce you basic equipment of your kitchen war. Actually it’s mine but it might be useful for any girl dating/marrying Asian men.


Men love to eat. Especially Chinese men – I met many friends or relatives and believe me, when you seen Goku from Dragon Ball eating, that’s how much they can handle. If you like to cook or at least know how to cook you can also get some points in your in-laws’ eyes, older generation keeps complaining that girls like to eat out rather than cook so just keep that in mind.

The first thing is just a ‘must have’. He will probably have that even before you meet. Magic… RICE COOKER. No matter how good you can make rice in the pot nothing can beat rice cooker quality. Even older ladies use it, students bring it to their dorms. I also call it ‘Shame on you, ghost lady’ – we went to buy our first rice cooker to a Chinese mall here, when Chinese people buy them it’s perfectly fine but when the two of us went there they gave me that shameful look ‘Oh, you don’t know how to make rice that’s why you need a rice cooker’ – just to make it clear I said to my husband ‘You KNOW I CAN make it in a pot, we don’t need it’.

We picked very good and popular Taiwanese brand Tatung – basic model, our model can fit around 6 cups of rice (I guess, I threw away the box), it comes with measuring cup, thing that can help you steam in your cooker and a rice spoon. I think I cannot introduce it better than on this movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGPky9ExLZg – they also show what else you can cook using their rice cooker. If I can recommend something – don’t buy colorful one, buy the stainless steel. It’s little bit more expensive, but it is said that it’s healthier. Price was around 120USD at that time.


And I have a tip for people with limited space – buy yourself a small vine stand, we got our in IKEA for 9.99 USD + tax, I’m using it to keep my newspapers, sauces and hold a rice cooker. It’s very good solution especially in tiny apartments like our.

The other good-to-have thing in your house is a hot pot. It’s nice to eat it out but usually it’s either overpriced or very short, you have your all-you-can-eat but you have just 2h to be done. We live close to the bay so it’s cooler than the rest of Northern California and having our own hot pot at home is a really good solution. Besides if you don’t have an idea for meal just keep having some frozen hot-pot items, add veggie from your fridge and you already have a nice and fast meal!

There are two basic types of hot pots – with one pot or with two pots. We got one pot for 32USD in 99 Ranch, double pot was more than 50USD at that time. From what I see know Helperware hot pot we use can be bought on efooddepot.com for 17.50USD + tax + shipping (free shipping if you spend more than 75USD) and that model is devided for spicy and non spicy soup. Really good deal. The only complain I can have is that when it gets hot it’s quite loud, once it gets warm it gets quiet as well.




You had your rice, you had your beef out of your hot pot… you must get thirsty! Most of Chinese men I know were rised in the way that only tea and water are good, it’s OK to drink something else from time to time but the healthiest way is drinking teas. That’s why my husband got, in my opinion the useless thing I’ve ever seen as a Western girl – let me introduce you… Zojirushi water boiler – like you cannot use a kettle. And from what I’ve noticed my husband is not the only one who just HAD TO HAVE it. I must say that if you have only 2 fires it might be quite useful or in the morning if you want to make a rice soup you just plug it and wait to be boiled, but it’s not what I would buy for myself – mostly because of the price comparing to a normal or electric kettle. It cost more than 100USD, bigger it is more expensive it gets. The only really good thing in it is that it keeps water warm, you can leave it for a whole night and it still will be warm in the morning. You might wonder does it use a lot of energy – not really, once it’s boiled it takes very little energy on ‘keep warm’ option.



Remember to have a tiny tea kettle in your place as well with few kinds of tea. The most healthy one is green tea so if you want to keep your man long-living get it. Besides the green tea and some magic Chinese-Japanese tea my husband owns we recently got chrysanthemum tea – we always take it when we eat a dim sum and it was quite cheap, whole pack for 2USD.


My tip as a person who likes only very specific types of tea: get yourself… a boba! Probably at least once in your life you had a boba tea (bubble tea) and you know how fun and tasty are those little bubbles in your drink. Just buy a pack in any Chinese (I don’t know if other Asian malls have it as well) and keep it in a jar. It takes five minutes and a little bit of rock sugar/honey to give them a taste. You can use it to most of the drinks.2013-08-15-08-33-08_photobubble-tea-bellingham

And last but not least is basic cooking items. No matter how you try you cannot make up the taste. I want to show you what’s ALWAYS in my shelf, of course beside 7kg of rice and 4 packs of different noodles, plantation of garlic and a green onion.


Soy sauce – Pearl River Bridge, superior light. In America I had problems with finding a perfect, not too salty soy sauce, only that brand can match the taste we had in Hong Kong. Always check where your sauce has been produced – don’t but if it’s not from Asia, especially American one are always WAY too salty.

Vinegar – Zhen Jiang black vinegar and white vinegar Shuita. Black one is perfect for any kind of dumplings, especially the fried one, goes really well with kimchi dumplings as well. White vinegar has little bit different taste because black one is made out of rice, white one is water, sorghum, barley and peas.

Saunces – three very useful sauces from LEE KUM KEE: Panda brand oyster flavored sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce and my ultimate favourite, Hoisin sauce perfect for fried noodles. Beside that I sometimes use Amoy’s black bean & garlic sauce to fry a fish.

Sesame oil – my number one brand is Lian How producing Meiwei blended soybean & sesame oil, you can use it to cook almost everything, and since I mentioned hot pot I will share my hot-pot sauce recipe: soy sauce, few drops of sesame oil, a lot of garlic and green onion. Done – delicious and smell like heaven.

Rock sugar – good for desserts, making your boba or just cooking. Some of the pieces are really big so you need to crush them.

Coconut milk – it’s in a can so I have few of them waiting to become a dessert or chicken coconut sauce, it’s good to have it hidden somewhere just in case you feel like cooking Southern food.

What do you use in your kitchen war? What are your tips for Chinese/Asian cuisine? Please share!

PS Recently I found a good site that helps you write your CV/resume – if you want to live and work in Hong Kong or you’re local who still has some problems with finding a job contact this  – fbirecruit.com

PS2 Got over 2000 view few days ago! Thank you so much whoever visited me! You’re awesome! 🙂



16 thoughts on “廚房大戰 – Lina vs. cooking

  1. Hey Lina, I’ve got the same water boiler too, from Panasonic. We call it hot water dispenser. Basically every Asian household has one. Though my mum still boil water using a kettle. I used to cook and bake when I was in college, like weekends. I remembered messing up the kitchen causing my mum suffered from boiling point. Haha. Thanks for ‘liking’ my flash fiction. Have a great weekend. 🙂

    P/S: Just a suggestion, you may want to watch Troublesome Nights I to VII, starring the lovely Louis Koo.


  2. I have one of those hot pot with side grill. so that we could do both steamboat and grill at the same time. “Shame on you, ghost lady” made me laugh but I think you are more capable than a Chinese lady now, if you ask my honest opinion. 🙂


  3. Lina, I love your blog! I’m about to live in Shanghai for a year – it’s so interesting to read about your cross-cultural experiences. Racing through your posts 🙂


  4. Different vinegar have different tastes. The one you mentioned has a slight balsamic taste. For Canton egg/lye noodles we normally use the one that is super red (also good with crabs.
    Like hot pot places we are switching from gas to induction. But in Canton hotpot it is about the sauces (e.g. Light, dark, spicy… Etc soy sauce as well as the different fermented bean sauce), which depends on what your cooking.
    Most Chinese I know want a gas wok (13″ for mobility) setup but too much grease fumes. It can have better control for cooking.
    As for boba (tapioca balls), it can be good but dangerous (Taiwan invention). Hard to make good with chewy texture all the way.
    Regarding the water boiler, it used to be a glass bulb thermos with tea. Which kept hot tea for a whole week. I like to boil water myself because I can control the temp better (i.e. the water is not hot enough to efficiently make instant coffee.
    As a hongky I go to Venus Tam in Newark for milk tea or lemon ice tea (not sweet tea).


  5. hiya! what a great post, I wished I had read it earlier 🙂 we have quite the same ingredients in our cupboards, on top of that I would add: fish sauce, mirin and sriracha for marinades. Now I really feel like we need a hot pot at home!!


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