Archive for the 'Edibles' Category

My favorite Japanese food

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Here are my favorite items of Japanese food of all times:

Oyako don (親子丼)
Oyako don
It’s cooked chicken and eggs with onions and trefoil (三つ葉、mitsuba) over rice. It’s usually served in a bowl. It’s warm and savory, spicy with the addition of red chili powder. I think it’s the most comfortable and filling don ever. This is a recipe of oyako don.

Cold soba noodles (蕎麦)
zaru soba
There are so many different kinds of cold soba dishes, the most common kinds are zaru soba and ten zaru. When it comes with pieces of shredded seaweed (nori), it’s called zaru soba (笊蕎麦) and with the addition of tempura it becomes ten zaru. When eaten, cold soba is dipped into a bowl of tsuyu, which is a sauce made of dashi (出汁), sweetened soy sauce and mirin (味醂), with the addition of wasabi, scallions, and grated ginger.

Mochi (もち)
daifuku mochi
Honestly, any kind of mochi will do. But particular any kind of mochi with red bean paste (餡、an) in it is my number one choice. Such delicacies include Daifuku mochi (大福餅) and kusa mochi (草餅), which is sweet, chewy and yummy.

I generally love Japanese food, but these 3 are my staple items. How about sushi, sashimi or tempura? How about dorayaki? They are good, but none of them can compare to a daifuku mochi after a dish of zaru soba or a bowl of oyako don.

And in case you haven’t realized yet, they are all carbs.

Latest addiction – Organic Raw Kombucha

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Organic Raw Kombucha
My latest addiction are bottles of organic raw kombucha. I never had tasted kombucha before, so when I first had it, I was like, what the hell? I thought I was drinking vinegar. It tasted weird. Mind you, it tastes like nothing you would expect to taste for tea. It’s actually kombucha, which is in short, fermented tea.

When you first open the bottle, it’s fizzy. The natural fermentation process releases carbon dioxide and makes the drink naturally fizzy. Oh, and traces of alcohol.

GT claims their kombicha to have positive effects such as “increased energy levels and decreased appetite, improved digestion, healthier skin and hair, and a stronger immune system.” And of course, these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and it’s said that it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, the whole nine yards.

It tastes really good. I love to fizziness and the vinegar flavor. If you find the plain ones hard to swallow, they also have to 5% fruit juice versions.

The only hunch, it’s like 4-5 dollars per bottle. It doesn’t come cheap!

Labor Day, Matzo Day

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Matzo partyOn Labor Day, we invited some friends over (those who are not going anywhere on Labor Day, of course) to eat matzo. Yes, you’re right, matzo that is consumed during Passover.

I made caramel chocolate matzo crunch, matzo brei and matzo kugel. There were fruits and babka as well. I probably used 3 boxes of matzo for the carb feast. And thanks and C & J’s delicious pasta with pesto, we truely had a wonderful full carb brunch.

(Clockwise, from top left: caramel chocolate matzo crunch, matzo brei, close-up of matzo brei, and matzo kugel)

Crystalline fructose: HFCS’s bastard offspring

Friday, August 24th, 2007

We have been watching out for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) on food labels for years now, and while the informed public has been getting more and more informed of the health impact of HFCS and trying to avoid it, food manufacturers (think for a second, what an odd term per se) have found a replacement: crystalline fructose.

It does sound organic, natural, and possibly healthy, doesn’t it? Apparently the ever-so-popular Vitamin Water has been using crystalline fructose for a while now. Crystalline fructose is created from HFCS, by crystallizing the fructose in it. Turns out we have one more thing to look out for, not only that we should avoid food products that have HFCS, but also crystalline fructose. I am sticking to my green tea with no added sugar.

If you want learn to about just how bad these manufactured sweeteners are for you, just Google HFCS and crystalline fructose: you will likely not drink a regular soda or Vitamin Water anymore. Now, of course, diet soda with aspartame and sucralose is another story…

On a side note, a lot of organic food labels also list “crystalline cane juice”, that’s just plain cane sugar, companies just want to make it sound more “organic”, that’s all.

Durians

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

DurianWhat’s the deal with durians? Everyone is talking about durians these days.

My parents love durians. When durian was in season, they would have it every day. Not until I was a teenager did I dare to try it. I liked it. But after a while, I hated it. I didn’t want it anymore. Up to this day, I haven’t tasted any durian since.

But I can assure you that it’s not the smell. The smell doesn’t bother me a bit. Yes, it’s smelly, and it looks really ugly. In fact, this depiction of durian right here makes me think of doodie. Durian flesh smells and look like doodie!

It’s really the texture that I am not crazy about. I don’t particularly like thick and creamy stuff, except ice cream. I hate food that is creamy and sticks to the roof of your mouth. Durian is exactly like that. It’s like peanut butter. I don’t like peanut butter.

I saw some freeze-dried durian in the store the other day walking down Chinatown. I wonder how it tastes like. Will they stink? I bet they won’t stink to the roof of my mouth!

Pricey fruits

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

Summer time is always the season for yummy fruits. When I was growing up, there was always abundance of heavenly delicious fruits: watermelons, lychees, longans, rambutans, custard apples… and oh of course, mangoes and papayas.
3 fruits
God bless Chinatown, most fruits are always available there, though their prices are insanely high. $2/lbs for lychees (which are small and tasteless), $3.5/lbs for longan, and $8/lbs for rambutan. $8 for rambutan!? Are you kidding me? And no, I didn’t get the $8 rambutan, I just couldn’t do it.

Stove-top espresso maker and steamer

Friday, May 18th, 2007

Stove-top espresso maker and steamer
A session of manual cappuccino making at home one weekend involved a stove-top espersso maker (on left) and a steamer (on right). It was a lot of fun. I just love the process, honestly, the coffee comes second.

Season of iced tea

Friday, May 11th, 2007

One thing that I absolutely like to drink in the summer, especially after lunch, strolling down in the humid and hot city streets: iced tea.

Oh yeah iced tea rocks. I am not a fan of (hot) peppermint tea, on the contrary, iced peppermint tea is the one flavor of iced tea that I love the most. Some middle eastern restaurants offer mint iced tea, the mint leaves is brewed together with the tea. That’s undoubtedly the best kind. Food Network has a recipe of mint iced tea.

Another quick fix that you can get at any coffee or tea shop is regular black tea with a shot (or pump) of peppermint syrup. It also adds a tiny bit of sweetness to the tea.

It chills my throat and cools me down with just a sip on these hot and humid days.

Classic Chinese condiments

Monday, April 30th, 2007

chinese condimentsWhen you go to have “dim sum,” you are really going to “yum cha,” the correct way of describing the regular weekend brunch event in Cantonese. “Yum cha” means “drink tea,” which is in fact the main point of going to the restaurant. Going to eat “dim sum” is just a side activity that accompanies tea-drinking.

Last time I went to Chinatown to “yum cha,” they gave me a dish of classic condiment: chili sauce and Chinese mustard. The common practice is that they’d put these two condiements in one dish, a lot of times they even arrange them in a yin-yang pattern (Taijitu).

Espresso not coffee

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

stovetop espresso machine cross-section view
How come I can’t handle coffee (particularly dripped coffee) but I have no problem drinking espresso? I don’t get it.

Coffee nauseates me. The smell of it makes me sick. If I have a cup of dripped coffee from the diner I will become super hyper. If I have a cup of Starbuck’s joe, forget about it, I might just have to call 911: my heart will beat intensely, I will feel like I am going to have a heart-attack. I just can’t handle them.

But strangly, I have no problem with espresso, nor cappuccino, even when I have 2 cups of double shots espresso. The smell of espresso is actually pleasant to me, and definitely not nauseating. When I feel sleepy, a shot of espresso lifts me up lightly, and I don’t feel hyper from it, even my heartbeat remains normal. How come? I was told that dripped coffee is more acidic than espresso, perhaps that’s the reason why?

I love to make a nice pot of espresso with my stove-top espresso makers. I love the process and the science behind it. I would use a stove-top steamer to make steam milk sometimes. So much more work is required for that tiny cup of dark liquid. Forget about those automatic espresso machines that require only press-and-drink.

Oh, and with a scoop of vanilia ice cream and some almond brittle chucks, it’s another story…