Show ’em you love ’em: Pesto

Tell me my fellow thirty-somethings, is it all babies and weddings and more weddings and more babies from here on out? Because that’s what it feels like.


pesto ingredients

I haven’t shared a recipe in awhile, and recently life’s been too busy to document things like Strawberry Hand Pies. But we can do things like Pesto. First, a short backstory:

A friend here in Dar had her baby a few months ago in the US. I met this sweet thing for the first time a few weeks ago, sitting in an air-conditioned office at the Embassy that I am pretty sure mirrored the polar vortex happening in New York right now. Here, in my frigid office, I met perhaps the most well-traveled eight week old on this planet. This child has been, since her birth in early December, From Austin to Costa Rica, to DC, through Amsterdam, to a new home here in Tanzania. Diploman joked that her parents must have used her ultrasound photo in her passport, but seriously, did they?

garlic w evoo

We must celebrate babies, just like we must celebrate weddings and birthdays (but not Valentines’ Day, I am pseudo-against Valentines’ Day). I wanted to celebrate my friend and the birth of her first child with a gift. All new parents, especially first time parents, are showered new things for baby so I knew it would take a bit of hunting for me to find a good gift in Tanzania to compare to all the cute Etsy-purchased gifts from home…

I also knew another thing: a return from the US was never easy, certainly not with an eight week old, certainly not after coming home to a house that may or may not have a working water pump and generator issues and gecko poop everywhere after months on maternity leave. I knew that at these times, food was more important than ever.

My mom was one of those ‘show them you love them with food’ type of women, something I will always appreciate. When friends were sick she would make soup, freeze lasagnas, and arrange bento box-style dinners in plastic tupperware–in militant fashion. I was touched beyond belief that years ago, when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, my dear friends in New York arranged for two small loaves of lemon cake to be Fed Ex’d to my mother in California. THAT is a love, a thoughtful kind of love, that triumphs over all material gifts.

3 mason jars

So one night, recalling my mother’s unspoken gift policy, recalling these two small loaves of lemon cake, I made a batch of pesto for my friend to accompany a jar of homemade tomato sauce already in the freezer. I gifted the two to her, in between fawning over her child, telling her it was for all those 3am wake-up calls when perhaps a late night dinner was needed to keep going. It wasn’t much, but it was a gift I was happier to give over cute baby onesies and boppy things. I sensed my pesto had found a loving home—most importantly, a home of three.


Homemade Pesto

Quick Side Note: I had wanted to call this ‘eight week old pesto’ in honor of my friend’s baby, but after reading it over thought it might be interpreted differently. So homemade pesto it is! 

Pesto is one of those things though, that because it’s so simple, the use of a few little tricks can elevate the already delicious sauce into something so savory and delicious. The first is the toasting of the pine nuts, a must-do in my book. Next is the crushing of the basil leaves, a quick clap of the leaves in between the palms to release extra oils. Whether this actually makes a difference, I don’t know, but I feel super profesh’. The third and final trick is a slow and long roasting of a garlic clove. I love roasted garlic’s caramelized sweetness, and find that adding roasted garlic in pesto compliments the sourness of the lemon and the salty punch of a parmesan absolutely wonderfully.

  • 4 cups basil, packed
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 cloves garlic, roasted
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon juice
  • 8 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Salt, to taste (usually 1-2 teaspoons)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend for 2-3 minutes, or until thick and creamy. If you’d like the pesto a little more runny, add a Tablespoon or two of water.

Makes enough for one large batch of pesto, or freeze half for later use.

Fish and Noodles; family and food.


Happy Chinese New Year. There’s my grandmother on my father’s side along with my grandfather, looking pretty awesome. Tiny people!

Though I’m mostly Chinese and grew up with Chinese customs mixed into our American life, my family, strangely, didn’t really celebrate Chinese New Year in any huge fashion.

I went to Chinese school once a week every week, so during that one day of the year we would get little red envelopes with a $2 bill folded crisply in half, but that was about it for me and my sister. Other kids in my Chinese School class would boast how much money they received at home; even at the tender age of 9, I knew that $100 was an exorbitant amount for a second grader.

In lieu of cash, and I suppose without any regrets from any of us in retropect, the only consistent tradition observed by my family every year was an emphasis on food; a meal together on at least one night surrounding the New Year holiday. Even though this emphasis would always seem to come about more casually that naught, with either mom or dad saying something like, oh shoot, it’s Chinese New Year tomorrow, we should definitely have fish for dinner.

dried noodles

chinese ingredients

If not fish than it was noodles, sometimes dumplings or 10-ingredient stir fry and 8-jewel-sticky rice or nien gao for dessert. Throughout dinner we would be asked the same question, as we were asked every year: do you know why we’re eating (insert so-and-so) now?

Though we rolled our eyes at the time, we were also nervously excited to carefully, with the calculated concentration so practiced by children, give the right answer. After all, if it’s anything that the Chinese are, it’s superstitious, and everything has a meaning attached. Peaches for fertility, dumplings for wealth, oranges for luck, cakes for prosperity, the list goes on.

The two big-occasion dishes of our household during all Chinese gatherings were fish, and noodles.

Fish was a favorite of mine, for its multiple symbolic qualities, some of which I could remember, some I could not. Always whole, usually steamed, with its beady, glazed eyes always seemingly pointing at me. On the table only because it of an eponymous misfortune (for the fish, at least); the word “fish” in Chinese is a homonym with the word for prosperity, and so, eating fish over the new year is extremely good luck (for the diner).

In traditional fishing cultures, as was the tiny island of Taiwan where my parents are from, it brings especially great luck in the year ahead. However one should NEVER flip a fish over on the serving platter, for this indicates a sunken boat and bad luck at sea. Rather, the spine should be lifted off the plate once the meat is picked cleanly from the bones.

stir fry noodles

My sister preferred noodles, because she was a normal child and liked noodles over fish. I remember we were told, year in and year out, that noodles signified longevity, and more so than usual, we slurped as if the louder our inhalation of an entire noodle, the longer we’d live.

I’m surprised as to how much of this knowledge I’m able to recall all these years later, without hesitation and with great pride. Food serves many important roles, most fundamentally in its nourishing qualities, but to me, it’s also a reminder of where I’m from, and the family that I’m tied to.

It’s Chinese New Year today, and to celebrate, these noodles will likely make an appearance…well, sometime this weekend.

Chow Mein, aka Longevity Noodles


  • 1 small knob Ginger, about 10g or 2 tsp. peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Sesame oil
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
  • 1 chicken breast, approx. 200g
  • 4 servings egg noodles (see your package’s directions) + sesame oil
  • 1 small red onion
  • 6 leaves (approx. 275g) Chinese napa or savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 8 shiitake or oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, julienned


  1. Cut chicken into thin strips. In a medium bowl, combine chicken with ginger and garlic, the whites of the green onion (reserve the green to add into noodles later), soy sauce, and sesame oil. Cover. Marinate for at least 15 minutes, or 1-2 hours if possible for more flavor.
  2. After chicken has marinated to your liking, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, and drizzle additional sesame oil and toss. This will not only add a great flavor and fragrance to your dish, but it will also keep the noodles from congealing and sticking together!
  3. In a wok or large saute pan over high heat, add 2 Tbsp. Cooking oil (peanut or grapeseed are the best for Chinese cookery). When oil is hot, add onion. Saute for two minutes, or until onion starts to become translucent. Add napa cabbage and mushrooms, cooking for another 3 minutes. Add the marinated chicken, stirring constantly. When chicken is no longer pink (just about 30-40 seconds), add carrots and green onion. Continue to saute until chicken is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes, occasionally tossing with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add noodles to the pan, carefully turning noodles into the vegetables with the help of tongs or chopsticks. Cook for another minute or two. Taste, adding another Tbsp. of soy sauce if you would like more flavor. Transfer to a large dish or bowl, and serve immediately.

Optional: substitute shrimp, peeled and de-veined, instead of chicken. Or, broccoli, for a vegetarian option!


Hummus, and other gems in second-tier cities


My favorite hummus, ever, was ordered at a Turkish restaurant called Bosphorous, located on a popular street in the mega-city (and our old home) of Guangzhou, China–population 12-15 million, depending who you ask. Quite an unexpected location for a platter of really amazing hummus, right?!

By the time I left Guangzhou, there were two branches of Bosphorous open, but the original, located near the Xiao Bei (小北 ) metro stop in a neighborhood casually known as Little Africa, was the one I preferred due to it’s…ahem, more “rustic” quality, which I personally think made the food just that much tastier. Plus the original was located next to a nightclub called 50 Cent. The club was always an option for a night out for our group of friends, since it involved going no earlier than midnight, Chinese girls dressed in turkish belly dancer outfits dancing around and on tables, and amazing people-watching. It’s also the only place I’ve seen more men on the dance floor than women, I think.

Every order of hummus eaten since 2010 has warranted comparisons to that one creamy, nutty, fluffy, olive-oily hummus, served at Bosphorous–at the long and crowded communal tables, in a smoke-filled room that was milling with so many dark-haired, olive-skinned Middle Easterners that you’d think you were in Ankara or Istanbul proper. It was a hummus that was perfectly drizzled with rich olive oil and garnished with a single olive, one olive that the Diploman and I were always wont to fight over during subsequent trips back–and there were many, many trips back during our two years there.


And such is part of the beauty of these International second-tier cities, like Guangzhou. Like Dar. For every Michelin-starred gem in Hong Kong or Cape Town, there are also equally spectacular gems to be uncovered in lesser known, smaller-named cities. Great hummus isn’t a reason to visit Guangzhou, but it’s certainly a perk of one’s time there.

Here in Dar, I’ve found excellent BBQ prawns at BBQ Village, spiced and smooth curried chickpeas at Patel Brotherhood, satisfying grilled fish on the beaches of Bongoyo Island, open-air rooftop dining scooping up Ethiopian lentils at Addis in Dar, and the richest, most luxurious seafood platter at Alexander’s Guesthouse, tucked away in the backroads near my house.

And while none of these are the sole reason that I’m here, nor are the the sole reason you should come and visit (aside from grilled fish on the beach…that’s pretty compelling, isn’t it?), they certainly make spending some time in this city all the more exciting.

Homemade Bosphorous-ian Hummus 

I’ve created what I think is a hummus, on par with the best hummus I’ve ever had from that unlikely Chinese Turkish restaurant. This is one that I proudly bring to any potluck, picnic, fundraiser, or party, anywhere I am in the world.


  • 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, shelled (see instructions below), about 1 1/4 cups chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup tahini paste
  • Juice from 1 ripe, juicy lemon, about 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbsp. Chickpea water (liquid reserved from draining chickpeas from the can)
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. filtered water

shelling chickpeas



  1. Shell chickpeas- meaning, remove the bean from the translucent film covering each chickpea. This step isn’t mandatory, but it will create a much smoother hummus, separating just-average hummus from truly-great hummus! It’s a slow and methodical process, but it’s not too tiresome. The best way I’ve found is to pinch a single chickpea between your thumb and pointer finger until the bean slips out, leaving its shell between your fingers.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend for 30 seconds, or until super creamy. Of course everyone’s texture preferences are difference, so if you prefer even smoother add another tablespoon or two of water. Keep in mind, the hummus will firm up just a little bit after some time in the fridge.
  3. Serve drizzled with a generous pour of olive oil over the top.
And just FYI, here’s the address to Bosphorous. You’ll find 50 Cent just down the street…
Bosphorus Turkish Restaurant near XiaoBei metro stop
304 Huanshi Middle Road, Yuexiu, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, 510350
+86 20 8356 3578


Pass the Prosciutto >> Florentine Memories (stuffed chicken breast recipe)


>>>>> A very big Asante Sana (thanks a lot!) to Parma Ham for this sponsored post

Firenze, 2003. My first international trip alone, for a summer study program of Italian language and culture. Which meant language class in the mornings and exploring Florence in the afternoons. Oh, and food and dancing in the evenings, of course, which were the universally agreed-upon, unofficial coursework.


I don’t remember a lot of Italian language anymore–that brain space seems to have been crowded over with other semi-useless information, such as how long Challerhocker cheese ages for and the translation of items on a Chinese dim sum menu. Eh, priorities. What I do distinctly remember, however, were my first tastes in Florence. I don’t have the photos, but I have memories.

I remember, very vividly, the first caffè I stepped into, after checking my cobblestone-destroyed bag into a hostel. That cavernous, industrial-looking caffè—before the industrial-looking cafe/bar was a thing in the US. The long, marble, L-shaped bar, stacked two deep with Italians ordering their morning shots of coffee like stockbrokers brokering on Wall Street. I like to think that I faked it well enough as I boldly strode through the crowd of italians, ordering a macchiato—which, up until that point, I thought was a sweet, frothy, rich drink (a la starbucks’ Caramel Macchiato). Anyway, I savored my first sip of jarringly potent milk-dotted espresso, and lingered that morning far longer than any other Italian. So much for faking it.



After getting sufficiently buzzed off the one shot of Italian espresso, I wandered the streets of Florence, beginning what is becoming a lifetime of getting lost in foreign cities. Back and forth random streets, sometimes accidentally on the same street as before. I noted many a sidewalk cafe, bakeries, delis, more coffee shops. And many sidewalk sandwich storefronts. On my long meandering walk, I made sure to note the selections of each of these and the varying degrees of freshness of their offerings. Not that I could have found my way back—not intentionally, at least, not yet. After much thought and deliberation, I picked one vendor, and from him I ordered a panini in my broken, level-2-of-American-University Italian. Prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula, and olive oil, smushed between a piece of bread that had been cut lengthwise through the middle. Not grilled, like they do to the panini in the US, but fresh, like the do the panini in Italy. The olive oil was so liberally poured into the sandwich that the wax paper wrapped around the sandwich started to weep with a yellowish-greenish hue.

The sandwich was crudely re-wrapped in another sheet of white wax paper, and for several Euro, it was all mine. I was handed the sandwich and a few napkins; not even a paper bag to take away. I can’t tell you where I stayed that night, or the names of two of my roommates on the program that summer, but I do remember that sandwich, for its rich and fruity olive oil, the meaty yet pillowy mozzarella, the spicy arugula—but most of all, because of that prosciutto, my first real taste of prosciutto.



Ever since, I’ve been a sucker for cured meats, prosciutto in particular. I was excited when Honest Cooking invited me to participate in this little project, which asked nothing more than to use Prosciutto di Parma in a dish. I’ve settled with a great recipe that I’ve recently invented, which works well for a dinner for two or a dinner for ten. For larger parties, you can do most of the work ahead of time, holding off until your guests arrive to pop it into the oven for the last 25 minutes to finish off.


This recipe takes a classic French-inspired American favorite, the Chicken Cordon Bleu, and adds an Italian twist. Swirled with prosciutto di parma, mozzarella cheese, and baked with tomato sauce, it really does encapsulate the flavors that I tasted not only on my first day in Florence, but throughout that summer in Italy.


Follow Parma Ham on Twitter for a chance to win $50 worth of the world’s most famous ham. Click on the banner below to participate. This post is a collaboration between Peeps From Abroad and Parma Ham.

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My Florence, aka: Chicken rolls with Prosciutto, Spinach, and Mozzarella

  • 4 skewers, for holding the chicken rolls together.
  • 4 large individual boneless chicken breasts, about 16-20 oz. (500g)  **if you’re able to swing it, buy the breasts in twos, still connected in the middle, like are available at my butcher shop here. Ask for the breasts to be butterflied by your butcher or meat counter
  • 1 bunch spinach, about 3 cups of leaves, packed
  • 4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 20 slices prosciutto, approx. 3.5-4 oz
  • 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  1. First, soak 4 small skewers in water to use later. Preheat oven to 380°F.
  2. Prep the chicken breasts. Rinse and pat breasts dry. Place a cutting board over a kitchen towel on the counter, then lined with 2 layers of saran wrap. Place 2 individual chicken breasts side by side in the center, just slightly overlapping. Cover with another long piece of saran wrap. Using a meat hammer, mallet, or my weapon of choice–last night’s wine bottle–pound the meat flat, until only about 1/8-inch thick. Some parts of the chicken may be thinner than others and some may rip, but don’t worry about this. Just make sure the middle stays together.
  3. Remove the top layer of saran wrap temporarily, adjusting parts where necessary, and season liberally with up to 1/2 teaspoon of salt and plenty of ground pepper. Replace saran wrap and transfer the entire thing (both layers of saran wrap and all) onto a large baking sheet. Repeat with second set of breasts.
  4. Transfer the baking sheet with both pounded breasts to the freezer. This will firm up the meat a little and make it easier to “stuff” and roll later on.
  5. Now prep the filling. First, shred mozzarella and set aside.
  6. Next, slice the onion and red bell pepper into long thin pieces. In a saute pan, heat about 1 Tbsp. olive oil until hot and add onions. Cook for 3 minutes, and add bell pepper. Cook for another 7 minutes, until onion and bell pepper mixture turn completely soft.
  7. While the onion and bell peppers finish cooking, boil a small pot of water. When water is boiling, drop in spinach for about 45 seconds. Strain, and rinse under cold water. Squeeze dry–you’ll only have a handful after it’s boiled down–and chop.
  8. Set up your ingredients around a large cutting board, keeping everything at hand, including the skewers. Working one at a time, take the pounded breasts out of the freezer and transfer to the cutting board. Align the meat so the longer side is towards you, discard the top layer of saran wrap. Layer 10 pieces of prosciutto (or 1-2 ounces) directly on top of this layer of chicken. Next, on the leftmost two-thirds of the chicken, spread half the onion and red pepper mixture, patting down and leaving about a 1/2-inch border. Place half of the chopped spinach on top, also patting down, and then a couple heaping tablespoons of mozzarella cheese, also patting down (check out that gif below, woooohoo!).
  9. Turning the chicken and stuffing counter-clockwise 90° so the end with the stuffing is closer to you, begin to roll. As you roll, you may peel the chicken away from the saran wrap meanwhile tucking the bottom end tightly like you are rolling a yoga mat (I’m assuming here that this makes sense). Make sure to keep the ingredients compact as you go. You can use the saran wrap to lift up the breast and make it easier to roll over itself. After the first tuck or two of meat, fold in the left and right sides so your filling doesn’t completely fall out of the sides (this doesn’t have to be perfect). Because you’ve popped the meat in the freezer, this should hold a little easier. Continue rolling, as tightly as you can, keeping mind of the sides too. When you reach the end, use the skewers to hold the rolled chicken. If you don’t have skewers, you can use toothpicks, otherwise just carefully place the meat seam-side down.
  10. In a cast iron skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. When oil is hot, place chicken (seam side down) in the pan. Sear for two minutes until browned, then use tongs to roll over. Sear for two more minutes, flip, and repeat one last time.
  11. Coat both breasts with tomato sauce and, if you wish, sprinkle a couple ounces of additional shredded cheese over the top. Cover with a lid and bake for 25 minutes.


psst- remember when I talked about simple recipes a couple days ago? Yeah, this is a perfect example of one that’s NOT.

Chicken Broth >> Cooking at its Core

Hey guys! I originally wrote this as copy for a recipe website. But after sitting on it for a bit, I decided it was much too personal (and that I loved it a little too much) for it to go out into the world under anonymity. So here it is, in its full glory- a little piece on chicken broth*. 


Cooking can mean different things to different people. To some, it simply means heating up a frozen burrito in the microwave. To others, it involves a complicated form of kitchen science, or as its better known these days, molecular gastronomy.

To me, cooking usually involves complicated techniques, seasonal ingredients, and lots of spices for flavor. But I do occassionally make recipes that don’t involve complicated techniques, aren’t laden with seasonal ingredients, and don’t have any exotic spice flavorings. I have these simpler recipes in my arsenal–both out of want and need.

When I make these simple recipes, I find them to be a-Ha! moments. Like, a-Ha! Why don’t I do this ALL the time?! A simple roast fish, with nothing more than salt and pepper. Tomatoes and mozzarella and olive oil. Done. Easy. Simple. Boiled penne pasta with store-bought pesto thrown in one pot. Even a marshmallow toasted over the campfire, golden browned on the outside and bursting with a sticky sweetness on the inside. It’s still cooking, you know.

I guess throughout all my years of tinkering around in the kitchen, despite how fun it is to make a chicken biryani or an elaborate puff pastry, it really is the simplest of methods, the simplest of instructions, and the simplest of ingredients—that define the joy of cooking.


In both its prep and particularly due to its potential for usage in so many dishes, chicken broth defines cooking. One needn’t be the most precise chef to make a good chicken broth, nor do you much else except for time and patience to extract bold flavor. Chicken broth is, to me, cooking at its most basic form, and perhaps its most pure.

Onions, carrots, and fragrant celery get diced into haphazard, chunky pieces. No need for appearances’ sake here. Sometimes I substitute fennel for celery, as I have here, for a deeper and richer flavor that I personally prefer. After that, anything goes. I often add radishes, or mushrooms, since I tend to have a few of those rolling around in the bottom of my vegetable drawer. But, with a recipe as simple and wholesome as this, you do as you please.


While I normally am very adamant about making sure I follow the proper steps of a recipe, and that my knife skills for cuts are en pointe, again, with chicken broth I more or less throw it all out the window–or, I guess, into the pot. I love that I don’t have to pay attention to these nitty details, and that I can let my mind wander free–thinking about what plans I’ve got for the week, or the article I’m researching, or even simply, think about nothing more than the task at hand. And still, be creating something amazing in the kitchen.

I’ve lived in China, in East Africa, in Italy and The US- and no matter where I am, I’m able to make a great broth.  So as long as I have a chicken, some vegetables, and a big pot of water, I’m able to cook to my heart’s delight.



(*In case you’re wondering, I ended up turning in a piece on roasted garlic. Also basic, also romantic, but definitely no chicken broth.)

Chicken Broth

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into quarters
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 ribs celery, or 1 large bulb fennel
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. Black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. Salt (or more, to taste)
  • 4 liters (16 cups) water

Optional: add mushrooms, radishes, cabbage, or any other bits of vegetables!

  1. Prep chicken: (Or, as I just read about in Eddie Huang’s book Fresh Off the Boat, chefs call this “Boiling the first”. I didn’t even know it was anything other than a trick my momma taught me!) Boil water in a large pot. When water is boiling, drop chicken in and let it boil for 5-7 minutes. There should be a layer of fat and foam that rises to the top. Remove chicken, and dump out this cloudy water. Rinse out pot, wipe clean, and return to the stove. Remove all unwanted fat from the chicken at this point- the parboiling will make this relatively easy.
  2. Heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in the pot. When olive oil is hot, saute onions. After onions are soft and starting to brown (5-7 minutes), add carrots and celery. Mix using a wooden spoon. After 5 minutes, add chicken, breast side up, to the pot. Add in parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt.
  3. Add water into pot, cover, and wait for it to come to a boil. When the water is bubbling, turn heat to medium-low, and let the broth simmer for at least 2 hours, more if you’d like to reduce the broth.

*To freeze, ladle chicken broth into freezer-safe ziploc bags. I like to freeze 2-4cups at a time per bag. Squeeze air out and lie flat, stacking one atop each other for convenient storage.


Recipe >> Coconut Braised Greens, two or three bowls.


The first time I learned coconut milk could be used in cooking (aside from curry), was when I was working at a restaurant in New York. For our pre-service family meal one day, one of the cooks made rice cooked in coconut milk instead of water. Blew. my. mind. I typically don’t eat that much rice (bad Asian, I know) but that day, I must have eaten two or three bowls worth.

Last week, on our trip to Zanzibar, after spending several days in Stonetown we escaped to a more remote part of the Island. On the eastern shore, at the Pongwe Beach Hotel, we enjoyed the beautiful blue waters, caught up on a lot of reading (him), and work that had piled up (me). We ate some excellent food, including mchicha (local spinach) stewed with coconut milk every morning as part of breakfast. We each must have eaten two or three bowls worth, each, every single morning.


Since we’ve been home, for the last two weeks, I’ve been recreating this dish using greens from our backyard and fresh coconut milk that I’m now making every few days. It’s not a chore to make this coconut milk, but rather, a craving and a necessity.

These greens that are stewed in coconut milk resemble, in many ways, the familiar collard greens dish of the south, with fatty coconut milk replacing fatty pork instead (just for once, I’ll say that despite the lack of pork I think this version is better!). Having a hearty helping of greens for breakfast has put an extra bounce to my step in the morning. And it’s certainly making my old, staid routine breakfast options of oatmeal, granola, and toast seem so lackluster (and, so brown). Trust me, have two or three bowls of these coconut braised greens every day, and you’ll be hooked- and healthy- too.


Coconut Braised Greens

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • Three bunches of leafy greens- collard greens, kale, or chard will do just fine.
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Sautee yellow onions in olive oil on high heat until semi-soft, about three minutes. Add in leafy greens, season with a few pinches of salt, and give it a vigorous stir.
  2. Pour in the coconut milk, keeping heat on high. Allow the greens to cook in the bubbling milk until most of the milk is reduced, about 15 minutes. Turn heat to medium and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
  3. Season with plenty of ground pepper. Eat, two or three bowls.


How to open a coconut, and

How to make coconut milk