Dried Japanese Persimmons (with ASMR Video)

My kids challenged me to do an ASMR video. I had no idea what that was, and obviously it’s a YouTube trend right now. Knowing kids and what unimaginably dreadful things lie lurking for them to watch on the internet, my fear was that this ominous-sounding acronymic genre of video was something shady, along the lines of ADHD, S&M, or MRSA. To my relief, ASMR stands for and is defined as autonomous sensory meridian response, which is a relaxing, often sedative sensation that begins on the scalp and moves down the body. These videos usually involve no music or talking, just organic sounds. This is my first ASMR video to capture the sounds of persimmon harvesting and drying to make Japanese Dried Persimmons. You can watch it toward the end of my post, just promise you won’t snicker, at least not to my face.

My youngest with her basket of freshly picked Fuyu persimmons

The art of making dried persimmons in Asia is very much like the art of raising Kobe beef. The persimmon trees are lovingly fertilized and watered throughout the growing season and harvested at the peak of ripeness. When they are undergoing the drying process, these persimmons are massaged every day to evenly disperse the fruit sugars throughout the fruit and to prevent mold and help break up clumps within the fruit.

Depending on the locale, persimmons take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks to dry and be ready to consume. Because I live in southwest Texas, the heat and sunshine are plentiful for most months of the year. Persimmon drying can be challenging for those who live in colder climates because persimmons ripen in the autumn, and most of these places have cold and rainy fall weather. If this is the case, setting up a hanging rack indoors next to a sunny window is ideal. You can get excellent results this way, too.

In Japan and Korea, I believe they use the softer, more elongated Hachiya persimmon variety to make dried persimmons, but the tree I grow in my backyard is the crunchier Fuyu variety. Either type will work for this treat.

The hard work put into making dried persimmons pays dividends in taste and texture. They have a candy-like chewiness and a taste reminiscent of caramel, honey, and vanilla. And if you’re thinking why go through the trouble of sun-drying and not using an electric food dehydrator— I have tried that route with unsuccessful results. Dehydrators cannot give the persimmons the same rich consistency and chewiness that natural drying and massaging does. You will end up with hard chunks of fruit that are lackluster in taste and texture. So if you are looking to make persimmon chips or persimmon rocks, I’m not judging you, but don’t expect the same texture or taste as naturally sun-dried persimmons. If you ever have the opportunity to make or try these dried persimmons, they taste heavenly with a steaming cup of jasmine green tea!

Dried Japanese Persimmons with Green Jasmine Tea

Japanese Dried Persimmons


– Fresh firm and just ripened (not soft or smushy) persimmons, either Hachiya or Fuyu

– kitchen string for tying and hanging

– sturdy clothesline if hanging outdoors, or a hanging rack if drying indoors

Useful Equipment:

** Disclaimer: Please note that the highlighted links in this post are affiliate links, in which I will earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you purchase through those links. I have purchased all the products I recommend with my own funds and have tested and used each product before I post. Please know that I only recommend products that I like and trust and genuinely believe would help my audience. Thank you for your support of my blog in this way!

OXO Grip Vegetable Peeler , Shun 4″ Classic Paring Knife , Natural Kitchen Twine , Long Thumb Tacks


1. Wash and dry the persimmons.

2. Use a vegetable peeler or a paring knife to remove the persimmon skin. Be sure to leave the stem, so that you can tie the string for hanging. If your persimmons are missing the stem, you can insert a clean push pin thumbtack into the top of the persimmon to create a faux stem to attach the string.

3. Use clean natural kitchen twine (see recommendation in equipment links above) to attach the stems securely for hanging. Each piece of twine should hold 1 persimmon at each end, for a total of 2 persimmons per string.

4. When all the persimmons have been tied, it is now time to hang them outside to dry in the sunshine. If you live in a cold, rainy area, then you can hang the persimmons indoors near a sunny window. Depending on where you live, it may take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks for your persimmons to dry. Be sure to bring your persimmons inside each night or during rainy days, in order to prevent mold and rot. If you spot any green mold beginning to form on your persimmons, you can spray them with a little vodka to get rid of the mold. When daylight arrives once more, bring the persimmons outside again to dry.

5. This is where the pampering of your persimmons comes into play– when the persimmons begin to feel dry to the touch (3 to 5 days), begin “massaging” the persimmons every day. When you massage the fruit, try to squeeze them gently yet firmly in a way that breaks up the clumpiness inside the persimmons but doesn’t tear them from the outside.

6. The persimmons are ready when their exteriors are dry and shriveled. Most times there is a hard white crust present on the outside of the persimmons. This is actually the dried sugars that came to the surface as a result of massaging the persimmons. It looks much like mold, but mold will take on a green color. This sugary crust is actually a desirable trait to have.

7. Now that your dried persimmons are ready to eat, you can enjoy them with hot tea or coffee. They are decadently sweet and chewy with intense flavors of honey and caramel. Dried persimmons need to be stored in an airtight container. They can be stored at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, but if saving them for longer periods of time, you can refrigerate them for a couple months or freeze them for 1 year. I hope you take time out of your busy life to enjoy the fruits of the earth and savor every moment.

My very first ASMR video on how to make Japanese Dried Persimmons! 🙂

Vietnamese Crab and Asparagus Soup– Bikini-Friendly!

At only 183 calories a bowl, this soup is definitely bikini-friendly!

One of my favorite Vietnamese dishes is Crab and Asparagus Soup because I love most anything with crabmeat.  The marriage of delicate crabmeat and silky asparagus truly is a match made in heaven.   If you’ve ever attended a Vietnamese wedding or a birthday party, then you’ve probably encountered and tasted this elegant crab and asparagus soup.  In Vietnam this soup, called “Súp cua măng tây,” is usually reserved for special occasions.  The asparagus was introduced to the Vietnamese when the French colonized Vietnam for over a century (from 1800’s to 1954).  The other ingredients in this dish are truly Vietnamese.  

    One of the blessings in my life is living on a canal near the bay during the weekends.  There is a wealth of seafood to be had, including fresh blue crabs.  Usually when I make this soup, I like to catch, cook, and peel my own crabs.  However, this time I’m using fresh store-bought Dungeness crabs because they were on sale at the market, and they are easier and faster to pick clean due to their large size and softer shells. Even though this soup looks and tastes fancy, it is very easy to make at home.  You can substitute canned crabmeat, asparagus, and quail eggs for the fresh versions if ingredients are not readily available or saving time is a factor, but like most things in life, fresh ingredients make the best tasting soup. 

     Add-ons, such as white fungus (I know, it sounds not so appetizing, right? It’s actually just a white type of mushroom) and quail eggs give the soup extra richness, texture, and nutritional value.  The white fungus, also called snow mushroom, resembles a sponge when dried.  You can buy this mushroom in the Asian grocery store in the dried foods section.  It is valued in Asia for making the skin youthful and bouncy due to its high hyaluronic acid and collagen content.  Snow mushrooms (which I’ll call them from here on out because white fungus just doesn’t sound that appealing) don’t really have a taste, but I like to chop them and add them to this soup because they have a slight crunchy texture…and, if they’re going to make me look younger in the process, then I’m all for it!  Let food be thy medicine, right?  

White Fungus/ Snow Mushroom

  As for the quail eggs, which are these cute little poppers of protein, they taste just like chicken eggs and add extra richness to this soup.  You can also find these eggs at the Asian market, and some of the gourmet grocery stores even carry them now.  They are about 3 to 4 times smaller than a chicken egg and come packaged in small cartons of 18 eggs.  

Quail eggs are so cute! 🙂

So now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to try to make this soup at home, let’s get started!  

**Disclaimer: Please note that the highlighted links in this post are affiliate links, in which I will earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you purchase through those links. I have purchased all the products I recommend with my own funds and have tested and used each product before I post. Please know that I only recommend products that I like and trust and genuinely believe would help my audience. Thank you for your support of my blog in this way!

Vietnamese Crab and Asparagus Soup:


– 2 dungeness crabs, 6 blue crabs (cooked and picked over), or 1 large can of pasteurized crabmeat

– 1 bunch fresh asparagus (white preferred for a monotone soup, but green is great as well)

– 1 dried snow mushroom, soaked overnight until rehydrated.

– 1 carton fresh quail eggs (12-18 eggs), boiled.

– 6 quarts (1.5 gallons) of chicken stock

– 2 tablespoons chicken or mushroom seasoning

– 2 teaspoons fish sauce 

– 2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste

– 1/2 cup tapioca starch

– 1 cup cold water

– 2 beaten eggs, placed in separate bowl

– Sesame oil, add in few drops toward the end of cooking

– freshly chopped cilantro and green onions for garnish

– freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Equipment Used:

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven, Zyliss Lobster Cracker, Global 7″ Vegetable Knife


1.  If using live crabs, boil and remove the meat from the crabs.  Set aside.

2.  Wash asparagus and break off the hard woody bottom parts of the stalk. Asparagus will easily snap off at the partition of the woody part and the tender part. (See my YouTube video that is attached below this blog post)  Slice the asparagus into 1″ slices in a diagonal fashion.

3.  After soaking the snow mushroom in cold water for a couple hours until softened and expanded, remove from the water, shake off excess water, and chop into small pieces.

4.  If using canned quail eggs, rinse, drain, and set aside.  If using fresh quail eggs, boil the eggs for about 10 minutes and place all the eggs into a bowl of cold water.  Peel each egg while holding it submerged in the water.  This will help the shell to come off much easier and cleaner.

5.  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of tapioca starch with 1 cup of cold water.  Mix well into a uniform slur.  This mixture will be used to thicken up the soup later.

6.  In another bowl, beat together 2 eggs.  Set aside.

7.  Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large stockpot.  If you want more chicken flavor, you can add more chicken powder (bouillon granules) or mushroom powder.  

8.  Add the lump crabmeat to the stock and cook at a steady simmer. This will draw out the sweetness of the crabmeat into the stock and give it a lot of great crab flavor. Allow the soup to simmer for 2 minutes before adding in 2 teaspoons of sugar.

9. Bring the soup back to a boil and add in the tapioca-water mixture that you prepared earlier. Give the soup a good stir while you add in the tapioca mixture. Keep stirring until the soup gets thicker. You want the consistency of a Chinese restaurant-style egg drop soup. If your soup is too thick, add in a little water to thin out. If you want the soup to be thicker, add more cornstarch to a bowl and mix with cold water, then add mixture to the boiling soup.

Add tapioca starch mixture and continuously stir soup until it becomes thick and viscous.

10. When the soup reaches the desired consistency (thick and viscous but still fluid), add in the beaten eggs in a gradual stream while constantly stirring to form beautiful egg ribbon strands (very much like egg drop soup). You can refer to my attached YouTube video below for a full tutorial.

11. Increase the heat and add in the cut asparagus. Cook until tender. Add in the chopped snow mushroom if using. Remember, the mushroom is optional. Much of Asian cuisine has to do with texture and mouthfeel. The added snow mushroom gives the soup a pleasant crunchy texture to contrast the silkiness of the cooked asparagus and tender crabmeat.

12. As the asparagus is cooking, add a few drops of fish sauce to the soup. This will add umami flavor to your soup. Don’t add too much fish sauce because it will overwhelm the delicate flavor of the soup. Add about 1/2 teaspoon only.

13. Continue simmering the soup until asparagus becomes tender and silky. At this point, bring the soup back up to a gentle boil and add in the peeled quail eggs. Again, this ingredient is also optional. Simmer the soup until all ingredients are well blended and smooth, about another 10 minutes.

14. When the soup is in its last couple minutes of cooking time, add in 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sesame oil to the soup. This will impart a lovely flavor and aroma to the soup.

15. When the soup is done, ladle it out into bowls and sprinkle freshly ground black or white peppercorns, finely minced cilantro and green onions onto the soup.

Add finely minced cilantro and green onions for a delightfully fragrant and delicious soup!

This soup is wonderful for hot summer days as well as cold winter nights. Best of all, this soup is very low in calories and dense in nutrients. I hope you try out this elegant soup and enjoy it with family and friends!

** You can check out my full instructional video on how to make Vietnamese Crab and Asparagus Soup here:

Scratch-Made Spaghetti Sauce with Juicy Meatballs– Buh-bye Olive Garden!

One of the favorite meals served at my house is homemade spaghetti and meatballs.  My kids know I love them on days I make spaghetti from scratch, and that everything in that moment is right with the world. 🙂

    As a child, I had a dislike of spaghetti, mainly because my first introduction to it was a can of reheated Chef Boyardee SpaghettiO’s.  Then came the school cafeteria’s version of mushy spaghetti, and finally, my mom’s rendition of spaghetti using canned tomato paste and a packet of Lawry’s Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning Mix.  My love affair with spaghetti finally began when I received my first cookbook, Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, at the age of 10.  It was then that I learned how to make spaghetti from real tomatoes (albeit, canned tomatoes) and not from a reheated jar from the grocery store.

    The older I get, the more fascinated I become with the miracles of nature and how Mother Nature provides for our needs when we carefully tend to the earth.  I know, I’m sounding like a hippie here, but there’s nothing wrong with peace and love and good tomato sauce!  One of the greatest joys in my life is to tend to my garden: to plant, water, nurture, observe, and harvest the fruits of my labor.  Every summer I look upon the bushels of ripened red fruit with joy and anticipation of wonderful salads, soups, and sauces waiting to be created.  The best thing about growing tomatoes is that I can pack up a bit of this sunshine and freeze it for the gloomy winter months when not much else is in season.  

This past summer our garden had an abundant production of tomatoes, so we were fortunate to be able to freeze a lot for the winter months for marinara sauce making.  I like to also make plump moist meatballs for my spaghetti, as well as made-from-scratch pasta using just wheat flour, eggs, and water.  I realize not everyone wants or has time to make their own meatballs or pasta, but it’s worth a shot if you have nothing else to do and want to experience a culinary explosion in your mouth.  Bottled tomato sauce, processed grocery meatballs, and boxed spaghetti noodles just don’t stand a chance in the taste department when compared to freshly made ingredients. 

Below is my recipe for homemade spaghetti sauce, which tastes best using fresh tomatoes, but even frozen or canned stewed tomatoes will taste great, too!  I also included my recipe for succulent juicy meatballs, as well as what I use to make spaghetti noodles.  All these suggestions are ideas, so feel free to tweak them to fit your tastes.  For my vegetarian friends, you can substitute the meat in my recipe for mushrooms or chopped veggies like zucchini, cauliflower, bell peppers, or carrots.  I hope you give it a try and cook your loved ones a delicious homemade hearty meal!  Buon appetito!

**Disclaimer: Please note that the blue highlighted links in this post are affiliate links, in which I will earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you purchase through those links. I have purchased all the products I recommend with my own funds and have tested and used each product before I post. Please know that I only recommend products that I like and trust and genuinely believe would help my audience. Thank you for your support of my blog in this way!

Made From Scratch Spaghetti Sauce with Juicy Meatballs

-about 8 servings

For the Scratch-Made Spaghetti Noodles:

  • Because my family eats quite a bit of pasta, I invested in this wonderful Philips Pasta and Noodle Maker. It is pricey, but worth it if you want to quickly create your own pasta in just 10 minutes. This machine is super simple to use and clean. All you have to do is plug it in, add the simple ingredients, and watch it knead the dough and spit out different shaped pasta (includes several different molds for different pastas). Follow the manufacturer’s recipe.
  • Flour, egg, water
  • Boil noodles until al dente, about 5 minutes for fresh noodles.
  • Be sure to reserve about 1/2 cup cooked pasta water for the marinara sauce!
Machine kneads the dough for you!
My favorite part is watching the machine spit out perfectly formed noodles!
Fresh noodles do not need a long cooking time.  Be sure to check firmness in 4-5 minutes.

For the Marinara Sauce:

  • 12 fresh medium to large garden tomatoes, about 8 pounds, or the equivalent in canned stewed tomatoes.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef (optional– I use a little beef to make the flavor richer)
  • 1 large onion, small diced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, minced (you can add more or less, but I really love garlic and hate vampires!)
  • Bunch of fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves), or 2 tsp dried basil if fresh is unavailable.
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Organic Better Than Bouillon Chicken flavor
  • 1-2 tbsp Kosher salt (more or less to your liking)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper (more or less to your liking)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (optional– again, I really love garlic! I find that this gives extra umph to leftover spaghetti sauce.)
  • 1–6 oz can of tomato paste (to thicken sauce)
  • 1/2 cup of cooked pasta water (to thicken sauce)
You can use fresh, canned, or stewed tomatoes. I’m using the stewed home-grown tomatoes I saved in my freezer.

Marinara Instructions:

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and carefully add fresh tomatoes into the water. Boil for 30 seconds and remove.  Place tomatoes into an ice-water bath.  This will allow the skins and stems to be easily removed.  Place stewed tomatoes into a food processor and pulse the tomatoes just until they become smaller chunks, but be careful not to overprocess into a watery sauce.

If you are using canned tomatoes, you can process them as well, or break up the big chunks with a wooden spoon.

2.  Heat oil in a large heavy pot.  I like this Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven because it evenly distributes heat and allows me to simmer my marinara sauce over a long period of time beautifully.  However, any heavy-bottomed pot will work.  

3.  Brown ground beef if using.  Add diced onion and shallot to the pot and saute until tender and translucent. Add minced garlic and saute until fragrant and tender.

4.  If using mushrooms and bell peppers, add those now and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chicken bouillon,tomatoes, basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, brown sugar, salt, and pepper, can of tomato paste, cooked pasta water.

When you boil your pasta, don’t throw out all the cooked pasta water!  This is like liquid gold–adds body and helps thicken the marinara sauce.

5.  Bring to a generous simmer for 5 minutes, give the pot an occasional stir.  Then, lower the heat to a steady simmer, stirring the pot occasionally for at least an hour.  If I’m making seriously good marinara, I will simmer for 2 or more hours.  In order to prevent evaporation of the sauce, I tend to cover the pot (leave a small opening between the lid and the pot for steam release) for the first hour, and then remove the lid during the second hour and just allow to gently simmer uncovered.

6.  Prepare meatballs while you are waiting on sauce.

For the Juicy Meatballs:

-makes 15-20 meatballs, depending on the size you want.  Mine are around 2″ in diameter.

  • 2 pounds ground beef –You can also use pork, veal, chicken, or turkey.
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs, or Italian panko bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp kosher salt (season to your liking)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Red chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried parsley or basil

Meatball Instructions:

1.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Mix gently with your hands, making sure not to overdo the mixing (meatballs will be tough).

2.  Roll into desired size balls.  I make mine about 2″ in diameter.  You can make them smaller, but not too small.

3.  Place meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet.

4.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes, until a little golden brown but not thoroughly cooked.

5.  Remove meatballs from the baking sheet and gently plop them into the simmering marinara sauce to further cook them during the last 20 minutes of simmering the sauce.  The baking allows the meatballs to hold their shape and gives them a nice color, while the simmering in the sauce creates a nice moistness to the meatballs.  

After this detailed labor of love, you can now spoon that lovely marinara sauce over hot spaghetti noodles (even better if homemade), top it with a meatball or two, garnish with freshly torn basil leaves and a sprinkling of ground Parmesan cheese, and send it off with a kiss!  I hope you enjoy this recipe.  I know it requires time and preparation, but it will be worth the effort, especially since leftovers taste even better, and the sauce and meatballs freeze well.  Wishing everyone a happy week!

Even pandas love homemade spaghetti!
My 4 food critics
Spaghetti tastes best when slurped!
Complete delicious meal served with garlic bread and fresh salad