Khiem, 41

Khiem, 41

Meet Khiem..

Food is the most important tool to connect me to my feelings and memories and to help me with my loneliness.”

Khiem, 41

Incarcerated: 11 years

Housed: San Quentin

Today I made something which I call an egg ball, a version of the traditional food which I really love to eat, especially when it is raining outside. I would stay in the house enjoying a steamed rice bowl with this egg ball. The original version is called “Mắm chưng” in Vietnamese. It is made with dried fish, egg, black mushroom, and pork. In prison I don’t have those, so I modified it with egg powder and called it egg ball. This is good for two people with steam rice and soy sauce or sriracha hot sauce. To the cooks, please go to a Vietnamese restaurant and ask for “Mắm chưng” and try it at least once 🙂



5 strips black fungus (dried wood ear mushroom)

7 oz. bean vermicelli

4 eggs

1 chili flavor instant ramen seasoning packet

1 tsp fish sauce

1 3.5-oz. tin mackerel or sardines packed in oil

2 Tbsp prepared bacon bits

2 Tbsp fried shallot

1-2 Tbsp dried shrimp (dragonfly brand 3.5 oz preferred)

1 ¼”-thick slice of hard cheese, crumbled

Steamed rice, soy sauce and sriracha, for serving



Place the black fungus and bean vermicelli in separate bowls and cover each with warm water. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.Rinse the black fungus with clean water, pat dry and mince. 

Place the vermicelli in a strainer.

Set a heat-proof bowl inside a large saucepan or stockpot. Add at least two inches of water to the pan, but don’t fill it to more than ½ inch below the lip of the bowl. Remove the bowl, cover the pan, and bring the water to a boil over high heat.

In the meantime, place the strained vermicelli in a heatproof bowl. Crack the eggs into the bowl, add the ramen seasoning and fish sauce, and lightly beat with a fork to break up the eggs. Add the mackerel or sardines and mix well – the mixture should appear muddy.

Add the black fungus, bacon bits, fried shallot, dried shrimp and cheese into the egg mixture and stir to combine. 

Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low and carefully set the bowl in the pan. Cover the pan and let steam for 30 to 45 minutes. The longer the eggs steam, the harder they get. Serve over steamed rice and seasoned with soy sauce and sriracha.

Stuffed Pepper Variations: No eggs are needed – instead, cut the tops off of two large bell peppers and remove the seeds and membrane. Save the tops of the peppers. Follow the recipe as above up until straining the vermicelli. In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients (minus the eggs) together. Divide the mixture evenly between the two peppers and place the tops back on. Proceed with steaming the peppers by placing them in the bowl set inside the pan and cook, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes.


Michael, 71

Michael, 71

Meet Michael..

“I believe children should learn how to cook: bake bread, cookies, and simple cakes using a humble kitchen stove. Both boys and girls should learn it. Learning to cook and bake gives children a sense of self-esteem and pride in their accomplishments: I’m so smart, I can learn anything!”

Michael, 71

Incarcerated: 10 years

Housed: San Quentin

Fatty Meat in a Sour Sauce


3 lbs Fatty meat

1 cup Sour fruit like cranberry  juice 

1 tsp Cumin powder

1 tsp Masala spice

Salt, peppers, garlic to taste.



Cut sour fruit like plums. Cook them for a few minutes in a stainless pot adding some water or cranberry juice.

Add cumin, spices, salt, pepper, garlic (minced), and stir.

The sour sauce is ready. Add fatty meat, bring to boil, and cook on low heat, hardly boiling, until well done.

You can use pork chops, shoulders, ribs, belly – any part of a pig.

You can use brisket, which is a cow belly, shoulder, ribs, but no rump which is hind legs. 

Chicken legs or quarters can be cooked in cranberry-mix juice. Ducks are really delicious when cooked completely submerged in juice.

Cranberry jam mixed with water makes a good sour sauce.

For a very quick dinner you can use store-bought ground meat. It has enough fat to qualify as fatty meat.

Just add a couple of eggs, mix, form meatballs, and cook in a sour sauce for 15-20 minutes. 

Eggs, or its protein, keep the meat balls together, prevent from falling apart, and keeps meat juice inside.

If meat is too fat, cook it in sour sauce for about 30 minutes.

Separately, cook lean meat like beef rump in a small amount of water for about 30 minutes.

Grind both meats, mix them, add eggs, form meat balls, and cook in the sour sauce another 10-15 minutes.
You will discover that good meat is fat meat, and a sour sauce is sent from heaven. 

Serve with rice on a side, or bread.

Meat cooked in a sour sauce has even a better taste the next day because the flavor goes inside the meat.


Arnoldo, 43

Arnoldo, 43

Meet Arnoldo…

I wanted to create something so pleasurable that I could offer and intrigue God Almighty in His majestic throne made of sterling gold.

Arnoldo, 43
Incarcerated: 17 years
Housed: Correctional Training Facility, Soledad, California

Click here to watch our team create Arnoldo’s recipe.

Crazy Choco Locos Cookie Wheels

I wanted to create something so pleasurable that I could offer and intrigue God Almighty in His majestic throne made of sterling gold. I had to start the melodious and passionate music of Gabriela Boccelli on my old shoddy Jwin stereo (click). 

I tear open (shred) a rack of mouth watering Oreo cookies.

I extract the sweet and mushy icing from each cookie with a spoon and place the icing in an empty white rice bag. 

I threw the wafers (fling fling fling) in a large plastic bag, which I purchased for 45¢ Ramen soup from a building porter. I smash (crunch crunch crunch) the cookie wafers in the bulgy bag. I beat them to a pulp with my fist and palm (thud thud thud) with a king-size almond Hershey’s bar. I hurled (fling) it into the large bag. A delicious and dismembered iced Honey Bun goes into the bag as well. Here I am adding a shot of delightful Taster’s Choice coffee. *Mmm, que rico. The aroma radiating from the bag is gratifying the heavens. Before I plunge the bag of cream icing into the hot water in the hotpot, I add a small amount of margarine so the icing can soften and be pliable. I cast two syrup packets (plunge plunge) we get with lackluster pancakes on Friday mornings into the hot water. After the syrups dance stupendously in the simmering water, I cautiously take them out with my fingers (ouch ouch) and open the syrups with an extracted razor blade (I made sure I discard the blade before the tribunal court adds more time to my 297 year sentence). I’m kindly drizzling them over the exquisite blend of crumbled Oreo wafers, Hershey’s bar, Iced Honey Bun and Taster’s Choice coffee. *Ay, mi precioso Jesus! A delicious aroma is permeating the cell. Now I have to block my outstretched narrow door window because there’s singing emulation, joyous prancing, vibrant music and a sweet aroma in my cell: someone could beg for a cookie! I mix the batch by thoroughly kneading and molding it into a husky ball that looks like a chocolaty sleek dough. I hope everyone enjoys the catchy name I made up for my cookie… Crazy Choco Loco! With my right hand I’m extracting a small size ball from the dough and tailor five thick cookies by spinning them and using my fingers (squeak squeak squeak) until they are perfectly formed. I take out the liquefied icing from the red hot water in the hot pot (boil boil steam). With a spoon I’m stirring (whip whip whip) the sweet fragrant icing in the bag. I spread with glee, the scolding butter cream on top of the cookies; a sweet steamy aroma is now dancing in my velvety nose.  Let’s rip open a bag of M and M’s and put them on top of the dark chocolaty cookies before the icing cools. Pardon me for my lower right lip is exuberantly quivering. We are finally finished with the process of making my phenomenal, delicious and colorful Crazy Choco Locos (angelic choir). One cookie is for me; one cookie for my cellmate; one is for the building officer whom I will give secretly; and one cookie for each  mountain. I can see the two awake mountains with their radiant crowns eagerly peering through my cell window!


Crazy Choco Locos Cookie Wheels

Editor’s notes:
Be sure to use an iced Honey Bun, NOT glazed.

Makes 12 cookies

12 Oreo cookies
1 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp maple syrup
2.6-oz king-size Hershey’s Chocolate with Almonds, broken into small pieces
1 4.75-oz package iced Honey Bun
1.5 tsp brewed coffee
1 1.75-oz package M&M Plain or Peanut Candy

Separate the Oreo filling from the cookies and place the filling in a small bowl.
Crush the cookies thoroughly by placing them in a storage bag and pounding with a heavy pan, rolling pin or meat pounder.

Remove the icing from the Honey Bun and set aside in a small bowl. Tear the pastry into small pieces. In a medium bowl, combine the crushed cookies, the chocolate pieces, Honey Bun pieces, and coffee. Divide the dough into five sections and form into ½”- thick circles on a baking sheet.

Cook the cookie filling in the saucepan along with the butter and maple syrup
over low heat for about two minutes, until the icing is soft and pliable, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add the reserved Honey Bun icing. Mix until smooth.

Divide the warm icing evenly between the cookies, spreading evenly to cover the entire surface of the cookie. Top with M&M Candies.

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