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Cooking in 20 minutes with Esther Yang

By Esther Yang

My late grandmother always taught me to turn my life’s pleasures into my medicine. Unfortunately, I am out of ideas what that medicine should be. It used to be going to the movies, eating out, visiting friends, enjoying museums, working out at the gym and yoga studios and walking everywhere in my favorite city. Now, New Yorkers are dying and thousands of people are infected. I am deeply sad.


For me, the craziest challenge besides all of the above is dealing with all my excess energy. So I thought what if I challenge myself and cook from scratch with 5 ingredients or less and all under 20 minutes. I need to cook different food everyday.  Food must invoke my taste buds (salty, sweet, sour, bitter and spicy).  

I have no choice. I am stuck at home. Seeing a therapist online or over the phone is not the same -so cooking became my therapy to save myself from my own stinking thinking.


Life is already challenging for me because I made a choice to only eat carb (rice, noodles, bread) once a week and no sugar. So I thought the worst that could happen is I will eat healthier. Think about what it’s like for a Chinese person not to eat rice and noodles. Super crazy but so far so good for the past 3 years. I cheat once a week. I love being an imperfect human being.

I also challenge myself to post my cooking with the recipe to my friends and students. They are always in need of ideas to cook for their kids. Kids being a picky eater is magnified a million times over during the pandemic.


I now have 200 recipes –  follow me at Instagram. Laugh with me as I navigate cooking under 20 minutes with 5 ingredients. At least I don’t have Gordon Ramsey breathing and cussing. Cooking under 20 minutes also gives me more time to do more fun things like practicing yoga, watching Asian dramas (my drama in real life is not enough)and laughing with my daughter.

I am making my best effort to eat all my cooking mistakes, share the love, pay it forward in my home sweet home.

Try out my recipes for mussels (3 ingredients 8 minutes):

3 ingredients – Mussels with Onions and Tomatoes – (6 -8 minutes). Yup, no alcohol.  Most people use wine with mussels. I never drink alcohol, it tastes yummy with just the 3 ingredients. 


My fav senior loves mussels, so am making fresh mussels for her. She loves it so much; she was drinking the broth as a soup. A compliment. Hey if you are 87 years old, you are the queen. Whatever you want, you get!


The recipe:
1. Because I plan to cook the mussels in my big pot, I Caramelized the onions there with olive oil (2-3 minutes), then add the cut-up tomatoes. (1minute). Fewer dishes to wash.


2. Add 1 cup of water or more if you like more broth for your pasta or bread or have the broth as a soup. Add some salt or dry parsley or do without. Your food, your kitchen, your domain. You do You.


3. Add the mussels. Cover. (3-5 minutes till all the mussels are open). Keep stirring every 1 or 2 minutes.


Happy eating. Happy cooking. Love to you all ❤❤❤ Make your life great every day no matter what #mussels#onions #tomatoes🍅 #Quarantinecookingchallenge#quarantinelife

Try this recipe out and let us know what you think. Have questions. Leave them below.

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