Homebrewing Kombucha

Left: Brewing Kombucha; Right: Close-up of a SCOBY

Left: Brewing Kombucha; Right: Close-up of a SCOBY

Being from California, I’ve fully embraced the kombucha movement and was that person who would pay $5 for a bottle of GT’s Enlightened Kombucha. I liked how it was carbonated without being too sweet AND you had the extra benefits of plenty of probiotics.

However, being abroad has separated me from my beloved kombucha. Imagine my complete and utter excitement when I met a fellow American, Clifford, who brewed his own kombucha. My first reaction was: “Can you teach me!?”

What exactly is kombucha? I didn’t realize it was so easy to make. It starts out as sugary tea and then you ferment it with the help of a SCOBY or “mother” mushroom. SCOBY stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” To me, it’s almost like homebrewing your own beer, but with tea instead. During the fermentation process, the SCOBY eats up all the sugar in the tea, which causes it to grow and also release probiotics. While it may not look like the most appealing thing in the world, the end result tastes good.

Getting my Kombucha starter kit.

Getting my Kombucha Starter Kit

Clifford was kind enough to teach me and give me a starter kit to brew my own kombucha, which consisted of a SCOBY and a cup of fermented tea. If you don’t have a friend who can give you a SCOBY (because let’s face it, who does?), you can go online and buy a starter kit. I’m not going to link to a site because I can’t personally vouch for its quality.

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Recipe: Tofu and Avocado Appetizer

Tofu and Avocado Cold Appetizer

Tofu and Avocado Cold Appetizer

Do you ever have those points in the day when you feel like you’re about to die from starvation? You don’t have time to make anything; you need food! You open your fridge and can’t find anything readily available to eat. Then you end up snacking on a bunch of random things and feel even less satisfied than before. This happens to me relatively often and I’ve found the perfect “snack” for satiating my hunger pangs. Best of all, it takes 5 minutes to make.

I love silken tofu. I never really know how to cook with it (other than soup) since it breaks so easily. This recipe was inspired by two small events. I was eating at a Japanese fusion tapas restaurant in San Francisco and they served a caprese salad with avocado and fresh mozzarella cheese. It was a unique combination that I had never had before, but it was absolutely delicious.

The other event was when I was living in the dorms last year. My married friends were nice enough to make me dinner when I was feeling under the weather. The wife is Japanese and whipped up a simple chopped avocado appetizer, which was mixed in a sauce comprised of soy sauce, wasabi and dashi broth. This appetizer is a marriage of both of those events.

The tofu is bland enough to not overpower the taste of the sauce. Its custard consistency pairs well with the creaminess of the avocado. With this continuing hot weather in Hong Kong, it is incredibly refreshing to eat this as a cold snack. While I eat it as a snack, I can see doubling the recipe and making it as an appetizer for a dinner party. Hopefully, you can cut the avocado in a more presentable way than I can.

It is key to mix the wasabi with a little bit of soy sauce to get rid of the clumps (top right) before adding more soy sauce and water.

It is key to mix the wasabi with a little bit of soy sauce to get rid of the clumps (top right) before adding more soy sauce and water.

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Recipe: Vegan Mushroom and Cauliflower Soup

Vegan Mushroom & Cauliflower Soup

Vegan Mushroom & Cauliflower Soup

I already wrote about how obsessed I am with the food at MANA!. After scouring their website, I stumbled upon a recipe for their vegan mushroom soup. I had high expectations, but this soup really blew me away. I was shocked how much flavor could come out of vegetables, especially because I didn’t even use vegetable broth for the base– just plain water.

I changed up the recipe because I can’t deal with the metric system so I made up my own measurements. The original recipe calls for shitake mushrooms, but I used portobollo mushrooms because I wanted a “meatier” texture. The recipe is really simple and just requires some mincing/chopping and 30-45 minutes to cook.

Vegan Mushroom Soup

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Recipe: Watermelon and Feta Summer Salad

Watermelon and Feta Summer Salad

Watermelon and Feta Summer Salad

I don’t know what the weather is like where you’re living, but it’s always hot in Hong Kong. Hot and HUMID! It doesn’t even matter if there is a thunderstorm outside– it will be over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of weather makes me crave something cool and refreshing like watermelon. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather eat on a hot summer day.

Watermelon Feta

I wanted to dress up my watermelon so I decided to make an easy salad with watermelon, mint and feta cheese. Since watermelons are huge and I’m only feeding myself, I’ve already made this salad multiple times. The first time, I used cut-up feta and the second time, I crumbled the feta. I definitely prefer the crumbled feta cheese.  I hope you can enjoy this salad during the last few days of summer!

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Recipe: Super Easy 3 Ingredient Banana Pancakes

3 Ingredient Banana Pancakes

3 Ingredient Banana Pancakes

I don’t have an oven so baking is out of the question. Flour is useless to me because I really only use it when I bake cookies or cake. I’ve been searching for easy recipes that don’t require a lot of ingredients (and no oven) and came across this super easy banana pancake recipe.

At first, I was a little skeptical. Can you really make pancakes just out of bananas, eggs and peanut butter? How does the consistency come out? They came out surprisingly well! For anyone suffering from Celiac’s or Crohn’s disease, they’re also gluten free. I added a note at the end if you want to make a vegan version.

3 Ingredient Banana Pancakes: Cooking

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Recipe: Minced Chicken Lettuce Cups

Minced Chicken Lettuce Cup

We’ve been experiencing crazy typhoon weather in Hong Kong (typhoon 8 warning) and so my will to go outside is very limited. More time indoors leads to more time to cook. Since I don’t have an oven and have a small “kitchen,” I needed something easy that doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. I was inspired by Amy’s Turkey Lettuce Wraps. This simple stir-fry is great because you can use practically any leftover vegetables you have in your fridge– almost like a chop suey.

Prep

Left: Key sauces; top right: Getting the veggies ready; bottom right: Mince, mince, mince!

Stir-frying ingredients

Stir-frying ingredients

My pan is really small so I could only make a small portion. Feel free to double the recipe! Since my time in Hong Kong is transient, I don’t have a lot of sauces. I made suggestions at the end on how you could enhance this recipe too.

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