Monthly Archives: September 2014

Today’s food: Gazpacho Asian noodles

Cold noodles are wonderful. Much like watermelons, swimsuits, and ripe tomatoes, they are only meant to be enjoyed during a limited time, and lamented over the other seasons (although the jazz pianist Yosuke Yamashita was a strong advocate for cold noodles served year-round at restaurants.) With the beginning of the fall, we approach the end of cold noodle season. Simultaneously, we’re at the tail end of the period when tomatoes are the most flavorful.

Gazpacho somen

The gazpacho part of the gazpacho noodles follow the conventional recipe for the cold soup, except for the additions of ginger, soy sauce, and a bit of sesame oil at the end. Today it’s topped with scallions, homemade kimchi, cucumbers, and leftover roast beef. Any kind of asian noodles would do, but my favorites are sômen noodles and ramen noodles.

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Filed under Japanese noodles

Beer making: 5 gallon all grain with a 19L pot

I’ve been brewing my own beer for about an year now. I started mainly because of the cost of beer in Vancouver, which is at least a dollar and a bit for the shittiest beers, and close to two dollars for a bottle of decent beer. Brewing my own, and reusing yeast has lowered the cost of beer to about 50-60 cents a bottle. Now that’s how much I paid for Hamm’s in the US. Wonderful. Brewing with extracts don’t take too much time or attention, so I was quite content.

However, my tendency towards obsession and cheapness drove me further. I wanted to do all-grain brewing for its lower cost and the potential to customize my mashing. I only had a 19L (or maybe it’s 20L) canning pot that I picked up at the thrift store, while people usually agree that you need at least a 7.5 gallon pot for brewing a 5 gallon batch of all-grain homebrew.

I usually love sticking to people’s recommendations, but I decided to test out all-grain in a 5 gallon pot anyway. I really wanted to try all-grain, and I don’t have the resources (or the space) to get a burner and a big pot for outdoor brewing.

I decided to use a combination of brew in a bag and sparging (or putting it simply, just dunking grains in a bucket full of hot water). The result was a success! I’ve done this twice now, and I constantly hit at least 75% efficiency with my brews.

So here’s the explanation to what I did. My brain is too jumbled to explain it verbally, so I just drew the whole thing on a tablet. That’s why the whole thing is horrendously ugly.

1-All grain 1-001

2-All grain 2-001

I would love to have a better setup with a dedicated mash tun in the future, but this works pretty well in the meantime. I can throw in about 2.5 kg of grains without problem.

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Filed under Alchoholic stuff, beer, Homebrewing

Today’s food: Stroud’s style fried chicken

Stroud's style fried chicken

Stroud’s Chicken. What a wonderful feeling it was to live in a state that is known for having one of the most renowned fried chicken in the country.

I had the recipe that the chef provided to some online source, saved as a screenshot. It’s relatively simple, starting with a galic powder, black pepper and salt seasoning, moving onto a egg wash with eggs and hot sauce, and finishing up by coating the chicken with self-rising flour.

The real key is to the frying. When I first ate at Stroud’s, the subtlety of the dish surprised me. The chicken wasn’t about a boatload of spices, or craggy crunchy exteriors. The fried chicken at Stroud’s is all about the chicken. The simple, slight crunch of the batter highlights the moistness of the chicken, which undoubtedly comes from the long cooking time in a skillet, as opposed to a pressure fryer.

So fry the whole thing in relatively low temperature oil, between deep-frying and making a confit. When the chicken comes close to being done, raise the temperature to crisp it up.

 

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Filed under Food, Fried food, Western stuff

To Taiwan and Back

The crappy thing about traveling and taking pictures are that there’s a crapload of pictures that you end up with, unless you’re one of those diligent people who can label and organize stuff while traveling. Well, I didn’t, and I ended up with a ton of pictures of food, and very little memory of what I actually ate. The following are some of the stuff that I actually remember, and hence are literally the “memorable meals” of this trip:

 

Papaya milk from a fruit stand in Taiwan. It’s beauty is a product of simplicity and restraint that is lost when you throw in a bunch of other fruits and vegetables and call it a “smoothie.”

papaya milk

 

 

Grilled pope’s nose from a yakitori place in Taipei. The wonderful thing about Taiwan bbq skewers places are that they have the pope’s nose on the menu. It’s the triangle tail thing that hangs above the chicken’s ass when you buy it whole. So what you see in the picture is about 8 chickens worth. If you think the thigh’s juicy and decadently fatty, you should try this part of the chicken.

Pope's nose: the triangle tail thing on chickens

 

 

A pot of crawfish in a Beijing department store food court. I just wandered in a department store, I don’t recall the name, and I knew I needed to order this dish when I saw another customer eating it. In the course of my meal, about three other groups of people stopped by to look at what I was eating, and ended up ordering the same thing.

The dish tasted wonderful with a large amount of sichuan peppercorns and dried hot peppers. My hands were bruised and cut halfway through, but I kept tearing in, leaving empty crawfish shells as I went.

Pot full of crawfish

 

 

BBQ duck from Yat Lok in Hong Kong. This joint and their duck has been thoroughly explored by other people. I just want to mention the helplessness you feel when you find out that they charge you for tissues (which I know now is customary in Hong Kong) midway through eating your BBQ duck. The sauce clings to your beard like nothing else.

BBQ from Yat Lok

 

 

Oyster noodle soup at a food stand in Chiayi. Rich but refreshing with a splash of black vinegar. The joy you feel when you fish out a bit of pig offal or a small bit of oyster.

06-DSC_5329 Oyster soup noodles

 

 

Scallion pancakes near the Yilan night market. Juggling the pancake between your hands to keep you from burning, and taking bites in between because with the crunchiness and the smell of cooked green onions, waiting it to cool down is not an option.

Scallion pancakes Damn good scallion pancakes

 

 

Stinky tofu soup, in a place near Taipei known for their stinky tofu. It’s quite stinky. Smells and taste like sewage, and I still cannot figure out why I enjoy that taste so much.

Tofu soup

 

 

Ma-la hotpot style stewed stuff (oden) from Family Mart. Who knew that MSG laden, artificial flavoring laced (probably) ma-la tasted so good. I wish convenience store food in North America tasted this good. Gas stations serving good food (such as Oklahoma Joe’s in KC, or fried chicken from Quick Pack Food Mart in Seattle) shouldn’t be the exception, it should be the norm.

Ma-la stew from 7-11.

 

So that was the wonderful trip where I got to eat food that I didn’t make myself. Now I am back in Vancouver, to my mundane existence where most of the food I eat was tossed by my hands in my wok.

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Filed under Eating out, Fish, Food, Travel