not your average chicken noodle soup: soto ayam

This recipe was suggested to me when I was looking for some “new” chicken soup recipes to make for someone who had a cold. I’d never had it before, and didn’t really know what it was supposed to taste like, but according to my “patient”, it was really good.



1/2 chicken breast meat, skinless and deboned (cut into small cubes)
1 stalk of lemon grass (cut into 3 strips)
1 can of coconut milk
1 can of chicken broth
1 glass of water


1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
4 shallots (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 pieces of turmeric (peeled and chopped) or 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder
2-inch piece of galangal (peeled and sliced)
2-inch piece of ginger (peeled and sliced)
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice


2 cups of sliced cabbages
2 cups of bean sprouts
1/2 pack of vermicelli or 1 small package of glass noodles
2 limes, cut into wedges
2 hard-boiled eggs (cut into wedges)
1 bunch coriander
1 stalk of spring onion (chopped)


Blend the spice paste in a food processor. Add some water if needed. Pour some oil in a pot and add in the spice paste. Stir the spice paste and wait for it to turn light brown. Add in chicken broth, coconut milk, lemon grass strips, and water. Once the broth starts boiling, add in chicken breast cubes. Cover the pot and lower the heat and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Blanch beansprouts, pre-soaked vermicelli / glass noddles, cabbages in another pot of boiling water and transfer them into a bowl once they are cooked. Add in toppings of hard-boiled eggs, chopped spring onions and pour the hot chicken broth into the bowl. Serve hot with lime wedges and sambal (see recipe below).


3 tablespoons oil
¼ cup minced onion
1 -2 tablespoon minced garlic
4 -6 teaspoons tinydried red chilies, crushed or 4 -6 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
1/3 cup finely minced fresh tomato
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons molasses


In a small frying pant or in a wok, heat the oil and stir fry the onions and garlic. After a minute, add the hot pepper flakes or dried chiles. Reduce heat and stir constantly so the peppers don’t burn. As soon as the flakes darken a little, add the rest of the ingredients and on the lowest heat, cook the sambal until most of the moisture has evaporated, about 15-20 minutes. The final product should be so well cooked that you can’t detect the tomatoes. Refrigerated, this will keep for months.

herbs et home depot

It all started with a pair of gardening gloves.

One lovely Sunday afternoon, I managed to drag Jules out of the house and off to Berkeley Horticultural Nursery to buy some plants.  Herbs, specifically.  Since it has been so nice and sunny in the Bay lately, I had this crazy urge to get my gardening on.

Now, let me preface this by saying that my grandfather was an exceptional gardener.  Our house in San Diego had a number of fruit trees, including one impressive pomegranate tree, in the yard, and strawberry and tomato plants.  Then, when our family moved to Hawaii, we had a bounty of Asian vegetables (bok choy for days, y’all) and tropical fruits, thanks to my Lolo.  So, I firmly believe that somewhere beneath this city-girl exterior, there is a green thumb in my DNA.  It’s just in hibernation.  I mean, I’ve managed to keep my orchid alive for the past four years, so I can’t say that I’m horrible with plants, right?

flowers at berkeley hort

Jules, trained in vineyard management, thinks he isn’t that great with plants.  But as soon as we stepped foot into this amazing nursery, he started grabbing a ton of those little 3-inch seedlings.  We walked away with 14 plants, a bag of soil, and soil booster (mmmm, chicken manure)…and then headed to The Home Depot.

I didn’t see the total at the cash register, but let’s just say, he got into it.  Three planter boxes, a tiller, a plastic trowel, a basil plant, and a pair of patterned Digz ladies gardening gloves for moi (plus a ton of other stuff for his yard) later…I found myself wrist deep in dirt an hour later, replanting our precious herbs.  And thus, I have decided to chronicle the garden in this blog…along with any other related things that strike my fancy.

See you soon!