Category Archives: Food

Today’s food: green curry with sômen noodles

Green curry and somen noodles

This derives from a recent trend in Japan of dumping canned ready-made green curry onto sômen noodles. My green curry somen deviates from the original by mixing in some fish broth and kaeshi (mixture of mirin, sugar, soy sauce) into the green curry to temper the heat and to increase the amount of the very little green curry that I had left. However, if you have enough green curry, you can also just dump it on the boiled sômen noodles.

Strange as it seems, it’s a pretty marvelous combination. The fish broth and kaeshi actually works well with the fish sauce that’s already present in the curry.

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Filed under Food, Japanese noodles, Thai

Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok

Complimenting on the cookbook Pok Pok at this point is like stating that cats are fluffy. People have acknowledged it, and already moved on. However, I just cannot get over how every dish I made from the book has turned out amazing. Sure, the dozens of homemade condiments listed in the ingredients are time consuming to make, and I did end up subbing a lot of ingredients (although it is explicitly stated not to do this) due to the large number of hard-to-find or hard-to-use-up ingredients. But even with my constant bastardizing of the dishes with Japanese/Korean ingredients, every dish provided a wholly novel flavor that took me out of the monotony of my home cooking.

I love this cookbook as dearly as I love the Thai recipes from the blog She Simmers. Besides the obvious commonality that they both feature Thai cuisines is that they both take a critical stance against the notion of authenticity.

 

So here are some of the highlights:

Khao Phat Muu: stir-fried rice. I thought I was bored, tired of any iterations of fried rice dishes. I was wrong.

Khao Phat Muu, Thai fried rice from Pok Pok

Khao Tom: Rice soup. Wonderful for warming your body, getting over colds, and hangovers.

Pok pok's rice soup

Yam Makheua Yao: eggplant salad

Thai eggplant salad

Phat Fak Thawng: stir-fried squash. My partner’s new favorite way of eating squash. Actually, her only favorite way of eating squash.

Squash from pok pok

Tam Taeng Kwaa: Cucumber salad

Thai cucumber/tomato/vermicelli salad

Holy basil chicken without the holy basil. I feel remorse.

Thai basil chicken

Yam Khai Dao: Fried egg salad. I am not sure if I would qualify this as a salad. But it’s delicious.

Thai fried egg salad

Kung Op Wun Sen: glass noodles and shrimp baked in a pot. This one’s one of the more Chinese influenced dishes in the cookbook. It’s one of the few noodle dishes that actually pairs wonderfully with rice. Thai-Chinese vermicelli baked in clay pot

PHak Buung Fai Daeng: stir-fried water spinach. Although I used gai-lan. Oyster mushroom, Thai chili, gai-lan

Khao Soi Kai: Northern Thai curry noodle soup with chicken. It’s hell making this dish without a mortar and pestle (I used a cylindrical baking pin with pint glasses.) But it’s worth it. If this dish involved less work, I would seriously consider replacing this with my curry udon recipe as my hangover morning food.

Khao Soi Gai

 

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Filed under cookbooks, Food, Thai, Uncategorized

Today’s food: deep fried cauliflower with tahini sauce

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With tabbouleh-like salad, and baba ganoush, and leftover french bread.

Cauliflower deep fried at 350f for 3 minutes: not crunchy, but delicious nevertheless.

 

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Today’s food: Taiwan maze-men

Taiwan maze-men has nothing to do with Taiwan. It’s a dish that came from Nagoya, the Japanese equivalent of a midwestern city, a middle child living in the shadows of Tokyo and Osaka. However, there are numerous strange culinary inventions that originated in that city, such as the cutlet doused in miso sauce, or Japanese style spiced wings. Taiwan maze-men is not the best known of Nagoya foods, but it’s still a highly popular dish.

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Maze-men is a direct translation of the Chinese ban-mian, soupless noodles that are meant to be mixed before being eaten. Taiwan maze-men consists of thick noodles, onion or garlic oil, spicy sauteed ground pork, shredded nori, and chopped Chinese chives, and an uncooked egg yolk on top.

I didn’t have any chives, so I topped it with some thinly sliced cabbage. Not the best substitute, but it’ll provide some crunch. I had some doubts about the freshness of my eggs, so I threw them in a 140f hot water for 45 minutes, so that they would come out soft-cooked. The eggy parts are essential to this dish.

The spicy pork I made by sauteeing doubanjian (Chinese spicy chili bean) with garlic until the oil turned red, and then threw in some soy sauce, sugar and sake. The ground pork is the main salty element in this dish, so season heavily.

If you have the ground pork, noodles, and the egg yolk, I think you got the most essential parts covered. This sum of this dish is much, much greater than its parts. It becomes this eggy, spicy, porky mass when it’s mixed.

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Filed under Food, Japanese noodles

Today’s food: making okonomiyaki without the sauce

I haven’t had okonomiyaki since I moved to Vancouver. Partly this is my fault, since I refuse to buy any okonomiyaki sauce unless I come upon an industrial sized bottle. I take the smaller bottles as a personal insult to my okonomiyaki obsession.

So yesterday I was stuck with a strong desire to eat okonomiyaki, but without any sauce. So I stumbled off the path of authenticity and made strange multicultural cabbage pancakes. Gochujang okonomiyaki and another with fish dipping sauce

They don’t look pretty. But they turned out pretty good.

The one on the right has a gochujang/grated apple/garlic/scallion/sugar sauce, and had some Korean rice cakes (the tubular kind) and pork slices for toppings. The white, gloppy things on top is my homemade mayo, to smooth out the hotness.

The one on the left comes from my recent infatuation with the cookbook Pok Pok. That one is brushed with mayonnaise, topped with octopus bits and cilantro, and the batter was mixed with fish sauce and water in place of dashi stock. The dipping sauce is actually the leftover from the Khao Phat Muu (fried rice) from the Pok Pok cookbook. It’s a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, chopped Thai chilis, and sliced garlic.

The parallel drawn between okonomiyaki and pancakes and pizza are strangely appropriate, because all three are simple creations that are glorious receptacles for new sauce/topping combinations. I will keep on with the bastardized okonomiyaki dishes.

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Today’s food: knife cut noodles with seaweed chili soup

Knife cut noodles, douban jian, soy sauce, sugar, ground pork, shredded nori

Usually, being time constrained leads me to make something that tastes like crap, but this time the dish worked. This dish turned out pretty amazing. The seaweed element is essential for this dish, and you can use either the Chinese dried seaweed that comes in big, round slabs, or just shred some nori, which is what I did.

So to make this dish, you fry up some chili bean paste (doubanjian, 豆板醤), garlic, ginger in oil until the oil turns red. Put in ground pork and mix it up with the chili bean paste. Once the pork changes color, pour in chicken broth, wait until it’s boiling, and add some cooking wine, soy sauce, and sugar. Once the noodles are boiled and ready, throw in the seaweed, pour everything over, and garnish with green onions.

One of the key points is to use very little broth, less than 200cc per person. This makes for a small amount of intensely flavored broth, rather than a lot of bland liquid.

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Filed under faux chinese, Food

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

Flying To Taiwan

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The way to get the most out of your in-flight meal is: out of the two choices, choose the less appealing options (cheaper ingredients, less innovative quality, or sounds just plain weird).

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Although this has proven successful many times for myself, I cannot get other people to try this.

This is perhaps due to people’s fear of choosing the less appealing option and actually receiving an unappealing dish.

The irony of the situation is that whatever you choose for your inflight meal, whatever investment you have for your choice, the difference in quality is marginal.

This quality, this critical “choice” during the flying experience that proves to be have little substantial difference makes me feel that I have learned a life lesson every time.

 

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Filed under Food, Travel, Uncategorized, Western stuff

Today’s food: stir-fried udon (yaki-udon)

Years of living alone has made me develop the uncanny ability of cooking while nursing a heavy hangover.

Yaki-udon

Fry sliced onions, bok choy, and pork slices. Add butter, grated garlic, soy sauce. Garnish with bonito flakes.

The most popular version is seasoned only with soy sauce. But my hangover demanded a bit more grease and substance. Hence, the garlic and butter. I recommend adding those two things.

 

I also cannot get the Luke Haines album title out of my head.

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Filed under Food, Japanese, Japanese noodles, udon