Mandy Lee - Food blogger

Hi, I'm Mandy Lee, Taiwan-born, Vancouver-raised, and slow-aged in New York for the better part of my life, until, moving to Beijing where out of sheer desperation and misery. I started Lady and Pups - an angry food blog in 2012.  I excel at giving uninvited opinions.  I love movies.  I love traveling.  I am a dog person, only because I've never met a people cat.  I'm also conflicted about whether pigs should be pets or SPAM.  In 2016, I finally eluded my geographic adversary and am currently residing in Hong Kong with my husband and a, hopefully, growing number of dog-children.

Lady and Pups are dedicated to all the poor and unfortunate souls out there to whom, cooking is not a chore to be tackled, but a necessary and fantastical escape, a salvation, a fix from the daily unpleasantness that is the reality.  It's not about over-complications, nor is it about simplicity, but to chase the adrenaline highs in this solitary sport that is cooking.  My recipes focus on inspirations from traveling and ideas that intrigue my curiosity, sometimes with a little Asian flare, or sometimes utterly nonsensical.  Who cares, life is too short to cook bad foods.

 When did you start experimenting with cooking?

I first "serious" experiment with cooking started at a time in my life when I was also "seriously" short for cash, at age 16.  I became the designated cook responsible for the grand buffet at a private pop-up casino held twice a week in my mother's living room.  One majiang table, one meal, four Taiwanese housewives, and five dollars for my most appreciated but undervalued labor.  It wasn't that much money, but it jumpstarted my curiosity and passion for cooking.

What's your favorite recipe for a nice dinner at home with friends you've been loving for years?  

Funny thing is, I don't really really like hosting dinner parties.  Stress is not my favorite appetizer.  But when I do, or shall we say, forced into it because of my husband's relentless "support" for my hobby, I go with the dishes that can be mostly done, or better yet, enhances when it was prepared the day before, and that means, deep braising.  White wine braised meatballs with prosciutto fat has been proven a gift that keeps on giving.  Or my mother's Sichuan peppercorn braised oxtail is pretty sick, too.  Both recipes are on the blog.

If you could use only 1 dish for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

Eat only one thing for the rest of my life?  Is a buffet count as one thing?  Ok if you must be cruel, I would say a lightly crusty baguette with almost translucent, chewy soft tissues smeared with extraordinary butter and sea salt.  Or, milk tea with tapioca pearls.  

Name your top 5 dishes you've been using and love lately.

I just came back from a trip to the south of France and made anchovy crude for the first time in my life.  I would like to do that for the rest of my life if I could.  But in reality, I make do with eggs fried with crispy garlic and that basil; blanched amaranth (a beautiful purple/green Asian vegetable) dressed with garlic olive oil, fish sauce and stewed chili paste; savory oatmeal with SPAM in Xi'an chili oil; steamed rice with fried shallots, sweet soy sauce and rendered bacon fat; canned sardines.

What's the worse cooking mistake in your opinion?

Cooking as a chore.  Seriously, if you don't like cooking, your smartphone can get you something better to eat.

What's the most fun part about being Food Blogger?

The people, strangers I met on this strange cyber universe.  Sometimes I wonder if they were all just robots who are programmed to be unnecessarily nice to me.

Best Autumn dish?

I've been recently obsessed with making fresh pasta using everyday kitchen gadgets (tongs, rice spatula, etc).  I think spending a lovely autumn afternoon making these chewy delights, then serving them with a creamy wild mushroom (or oyster!) sauce is the definition of autumn.

Share with us a quote that inspires you.

"THINK!"  - Anthony Bourdain
Not sure if that's a "quote", but seriously, think!  Good things can be simple but never dumb.