Posts tagged weeknight dinner
Hoisin Chicken
Hoisin Chicken - Eat Cho Food

How is it that the last few days before you go vacation are always absolutely crazy? I thought that was only something that happened when you worked a normal job, but nope! It definitely still has a way of happening when your job title is a hybrid of a million things. We’re heading back to Cleveland in a few days for a wedding and I’ll be staying an extra week to hang out with my family and learn a few more recipes from my mom! But before we get on that red eye flight to Cleveland I have a bajillion things I need to cook and cross off my to-do list!

I’m still coming down from a high after my Sur La Table dumpling class this Sunday. It was such a dream. The team at Sur La Table Los Gatos made my life so easy. They prepped and cleaned EVERYTHING for me. Normally, I’m prepping for a solid day and Reuben is covered in water from doing dishes afterwards. I just had to show up, remember how to make dumplings, and hang out with a bunch of people who love dumplings too! What a life it must be to always have people that help prep and access to 249,383 sets of bowls, mixing spoons, and dumpling steamers?! I have to get back to reality and clean my kitchen for the next few days of cooking. I have an exciting video shoot I’m styling for tomorrow! I’m super excited because it’s going to be on Food Network and Travel Channel, I think! I have 8 dishes I need to make by tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll probably spend of the rest of today standing in my kitchen prepping things and bopping to the Jonas Brothers. Not a bad day of work : )

Hoisin Chicken - Eat Cho Food
Hoisin Chicken - Eat Cho Food

In honor of going home for a few days, I wanted to share a meal that I grew up eating almost on a weekly basis. Hoisin Chicken! My mom makes this using chicken drumsticks, but you can use any cut of chicken you like! It’s sweet, salty, a little spicy, and soooooooo quick and easy to make. Whenever I tell people that I grew up in a Chinese restaurant, I feel like they assume I lived on chow mein and orange chicken. Chinese people don’t eat egg rolls, orange chicken, or scallion pancakes as a regular home cooked meal. Most of the dinners that my mom made consisted of 3 parts: Rice, Protein, and Vegetables. Sometimes the rice part would be replaced with noodles, but it was more or less a plate comprised of those components. Honestly, it’s not too different than what other cultures have for dinner. Mashed potatoes, steak, and broccoli is pretty much it!

Hoisin Chicken was part of a rotation of delicious meals coming out of my mom’s kitchen. Chinese BBQ ribs, chicken and broccoli, steak with oyster sauce, and shrimp with black bean sauce served over fluffy white rice and a side of stir-fried zucchini, green beans, or Chinese broccoli were some of my favorites! Other than the fact they all tasted amazing, they were also affordable and incredibly easy to make! I’m all about spending the extra time to slow cook things and making every component from scratch, but sometimes the days are crazy and you just gotta eat! That’s when meals like this come in handy!

Hoisin Chicken - Eat Cho Food

How to Make Hoisin Chicken

This dish comes together in about 30 minutes if you work quickly!

Start by marinating the chicken in oil, cornstarch salt, pepper, and hoisin. The cornstarch is key because it tenderizes your meat and helps make a thick and shiny sauce when you cook it! After about 15 minutes of chilling in your fridge, heat up some oil in a pan and throw your chicken in the pan. Make sure the chicken is in a single layer so all the pieces have a chance to get crispy on the edges. Leave the chicken alone for a few minutes and then stir it around so the other side of the chicken has a chance to cook.

Whisk together all the sauce ingredients and pour it over the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce is thick and shiny and your chicken is cooked through!

Serve immediately with warm jasmine rice and your favorite vegetable! I included a bonus step at the end of the recipe for how to quickly cook your vegetables in the same pan too!

Hoisin Chicken - Eat Cho Food

Hoisin Chicken

serves 2

chicken materials:

1 lb skinless chicken thighs
3 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp for cooking
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp hoisin

sauce materials:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup hoisin
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp Sriracha


  1. Cut chicken thighs into 1/2” pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Add 3 tbsp olive oil, cornstarch, salt, white pepper, and 1 tbsp hoisin to the chicken. Mix to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes

  2. While the chicken is chilling, whisk together all your sauce materials in a small bowl. Mix until cornstarch has dissolved and set aside.

  3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken to the pan so that it is in a single layer. Allow the chicken to sear on one side for 3 minutes. Use tongs or a spatula and stir the chicken so that the other side cooks for another 2-3 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through.

  4. Lower heat to a medium and pour the sauce mixture into the pan. Stir the pan so that the chicken is evenly coated. Continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes until the sauce is thick and shiny.

  5. Serve immediately with warm white rice and vegetables!

bonus step:

  1. Once you remove the chicken from the pan, increase the heat back up to medium high and add a little bit of oil in the pan. Add in your zucchini or vegetable of choice and stir fry for a few minutes until vegetables are at your preferred doneness. Season with a bit more salt and pepper or as you wish!

Sambal Shrimp

Hi, lovely peeps! How's everyone's weeks so far? Are you feeling ok? Are you disheartened by what's going on in America and straight up embarrassed/disgusted by who "runs" this country? Yeah, me too. I'm not really great at writing about politics. Talk to me in person. You're invited into our living room. We'll provide beer and snacks. I just wish I could give everyone who feels hurt, angry, and afraid right now a big hug and a personally decorated cupcake. If I had enough time and butter, I'd do it. My hope is that we all continue to be hopeful, kind, compassionate, engaged, and aware. Just ignoring what is going on is not okay anymore. If you're interested in reading some great and humorous political commentary check out my good friend Claire's blog. I literally LOL every time I read it.

Whenever I feel a little down about the state of the world, I try to focus on what is good and bright around me at the moment. Normally that includes being thankful for my safe and cozy apartment, Reuby, and Cho Family. As a birthday present to myself, I bought a plane ticket to Cleveland next month. Going home to see your family does so much good for your spirit! I haven't been home during the Fall for like over 3 years!!! That's far too long. So I literally can't wait to go home next month. I've been fantasizing about apple picking, making apple galettes, strictly drinking only apple cider, dim sum, quality time with my blanket, and sushi feasts with my family. Gah. Cannot. Wait. Has it been 6 weeks yet?

The weather in San Francisco has been pretty chilly and dreary lately, which has been making my craving for real Fall that much more amplified. I hope it clears up soon though, because Reuben's mom is coming this week! We've been cleaning our apartment like crazy. Gotta make sure we look like responsible adults here. I really love having visitors stay with us! It gives us a reason to not be hermits (we're not really hermits) and make welcome treats! If you're going to travel X amount of hours to come hang out with us, you most definitely deserve a homemade treat to welcome you to San Francisco. I'm practicing for the day I run a bed and breakfast where I make dim sum and cakes for all the guests. Will you come? For now, our art studio/office functions as our guest room. It's honestly really nice! I've definitely rented smaller and crappier rooms as a traveling intern. Come visit us! I've invited you into our home at least twice now... don't be rude.

Okay, there's not a great segue into this week's recipe... if you're in need of an incredibly quick and easy recipe to make for dinner because you've scheduled hugging and baking cupcakes for all the hurt, angry, and sad people of America, this Sambal Shrimp is the recipe for you! If you've never had Sambal before, it is simply an asian hot sauce made up of ground red chilies, salt and vinegar. It's pretty spicy if you just eat it by the spoonful like Reuben, but don't worry! The heat really mellows out once you start to cook it and even more so once you mix it up with some fluffy rice. Preparing and cooking the shrimp is stupid quick. If everything goes right, you'll have some tasty shrimp in 10 minutes! But you should definitely cook up some rice and a simple side of veggies because of "health," and because adults eat balanced meals. Right?

Go on ahead and make this super quick meal and get yourself some hugs : )

Sambal Shrimp

serves 2


3/4 lb shrimp - peeled and cleaned

3 Tbsp sambal oelek + more for garnish

2 garlic gloves - minced

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 Tbsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp for cooking

1 Tbsp honey

Salt + Pepper

2 green onion stalks - chopped, whites and green divided


1. Mix together sambal, minced garlic, grated ginger, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set sauce aside. 

2. Combine shrimp with oil, honey, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.

3. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the whites of the green onions to the pan and cook for 1 minute, until slightly brown and fragrant. Add shrimp and cook on one side for about a minute, flip shrimp and cook for another minute until pinkish and opaque. Add the sambal sauce and stir to combine. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Shrimp cook quick!

4. Serve over a scoop of rice, a side of veggies, and garnish with green onions!

Spiced Vegetable Pilaf with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

It is no secret that I LOVE my neighborhood. Inner Richmond is by far the best neighborhood in San Francisco. I'll debate you if you disagree. I've been planning a whole post, more like love letter, to Inner Richmond, which will come out eventually! However, I will admit that there could be some improvements. I wonder if there is a community board or council I could join.

Issue #1 is the poor access to cheese. This neighborhood is predominately Asian, and Asian people have a precedent of not liking cheese. That's fine. But would it be soooooo terrible for us to get one (just one!) cheese shop?! For the Asian girl that loves cheese?! I just need a place where I can pick up some fresh mozzarella, gouda, a nice parmesan, how about some shredded cheddar?! How is ChoCheeseBoards going to take off without proper access to cheese?!

Issue #2 is that the only Non-Asian grocery store in the Clement St. corridor is Smart and Final, which has a weird assortment of goods and items typically come in bulk. No, I don't need a 5 pound package of ground beef or a gallon tub of cream cheese (debatable). I'm also ignoring that there is a Safeway about a 20 minute walk away... too far. Can we get a Trader Joe's at 9th and Clement, please????!

So, when I decided that I was going to make this pilaf dish for a dinner party on Sunday, I found myself in a pickle. Where is the basmati rice?! I was sure that they would sell it at our go-to Asian store. Nope. I almost bought this bag described as "extra fancy white long grain rice". What does that even mean??? Extra Fancy? What is just plain fancy rice? I recruited Reuben to help me on Mission Basmati. We needed to be in Oakland in 3 hours. We went back to Smart and Final to take another look at their very limited grain aisle. There was a 20lb bag of basmati rice and we decided to just buy it. It's a big bag. I currently don't have a clever storage solution for it so it's just sitting on the floor of our kitchen, saying "I'm going to be here for a while".

We are going to be eating basmati rice for a very long time... eh, it's not the worst thing. It's delicious and technically a lot healthier for you than the jasmine rice that I typically make. I ended up doubling this recipe for the dinner party. 2 cups of rice turns into A LOT of rice here. We were able to make a giant platter of pilaf to safely transport to Oakland and still save some leftovers to have for work lunches. I recently was asked by a friend if I could make more recipes that one could easily make for work lunches. You ask and I will deliver! This pilaf works as a beautiful offering for a potluck or a yummy dish to meal prep on Sunday and enjoy all week. It's easy to throw together, filling, satisfying, and won't leave you battling a serious food coma at your desk.

The colors of the rice, carrots, and cauliflower are just so gorgeous together. If you see some rainbow carrots at your farmer's market, BUY 'EM. The carrots are sweet like candy, tossed with honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a little sumac. It acts as a sweet balance to the spicy earthy flavors of the cauliflower, seasoned with turmeric, garam masala, and cumin. I make this yogurt sauce about once a week, it's so good and works as a creamy refreshing binder to hold the whole dish together. Cooking is about balance. Once you hit salty, sweet, spicy, sour, you got yourself a great plate of food!

If you guys have any requests for what you'd like to see more of on EatChoFood, please let me know in the comments!

Happy almost weekend!

Spiced Vegetable Pilaf with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

serves 4-6


1 C basmati rice

1/3 C orzo

3 C chicken stock

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1/4 C chopped parsley + more for garnish



1 bunch of carrots (6-9 medium carrots)

1/4 C honey

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sumac

1/2 head of cauliflower

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin

oilive oil

salt and pepper 


Lemon Yogurt Sauce:

1/2 C plain greek yogurt

1 tbsp water

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp sumac


1. Start by making your rice pilaf. Add chicken stock, turmeric powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to a pot. Mix to combine and bring to a boil. Add rice and orzo to the stock and lower heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 20 mins. Remove pot from heat and allow to sit covered for another 10 mins. Fluff with a fork, mix in parsley, and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Peel the carrots and cut into 1/2" thick slices at an angle. Toss carrot slices in a medium bowl with a heavy drizzle of olive oil, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, sumac, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Arrange carrot slices on half of a foil lined baking sheet.

4. Cut the cauliflower into medium sized pieces, about 1/2" thick floret slices. Toss cauliflower in a medium bowl with a heavy drizzle of olive oil, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Arrange cauliflower on the other half of the baking tray.

5. Make sure the vegetables are in a single layer for optimal roasting! Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until tender and getting slightly crispy on the edges.

6. Make the lemon yogurt sauce by mixing greek yogurt, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and sumac. Adjust thickness by adding more or less water or yogurt.

7. Assembly the pilaf by adding a big scoop of rice to a plate or bowl, top with spiced vegetables, and then drizzle the lemon yogurt sauce over it. You could also make one big platter of this to share!