Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ike Jime

If you want to geek out for 15 minutes, read this.  It's about a Japanese fish slaughter technique where they ram a metal rod through the fish's spine.  Seriously, it's fascinating!

Friday, January 29, 2010


If it's Friday night, I'm probably doing something pointless and inane wickedly awesome with food!  Tonight's experiment:  Can the BCC sprout seeds?  We'll find out in a few days!

Step 1. Two layers of moist paper towels on a baking sheet:


Step 2. Sprinkle with seeds:
From left to right: fennel, caraway, cumin, black mustard, fenugreek, yellow mustard and coriander.  I've seen fenugreek sprouts in a restaurant I used to work at but, as for the rest, your guess is as good as mine regarding sproutability.  

Step 3. More damp paper towels and saran wrap:

I'll check every couple of hours starting tomorrow.  I'm hoping this works because I've been eating a lot of salad lately and am looking for a cheap, cost effective way of spicing them up. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Enhanced Stock and Coffee Filter Sieve

Instead of the usual crap I've been serving up lately, I decided to post something useful and informative.

First, enhanced stock.  Have you ever wanted something better than store bought stock but were too lazy to start from scratch?  Easy: enhanced stock.  Just take stock/broth from the store and throw in some onions, carrots, peppercorns, whatever.  Let it simmer and, in 30 minutes to an hour, you've got something infinitely better than plain ole store bought. 

For my stock, I threw in half of an onion, sage, chopped onion and serrano ham bones.  There might be some garlic hidden somewhere in there. 

Cover with your store bought stuff and bring to a simmer.  If you're simply using vegetables and herbs, give it 30 minutes and you're good to go.  If you decide to really kick things up and use some chicken bones, give it an hour.  If you decide to use beef bones, well, you're an idiot and SHOULD be making beef stock from scratch.

What to do once your broth is done simmering?  How about a coffee filter sieve?
Uhhh, it doesn't take a genius to figure this one out.  Strain your stock of the veggies and big chunks.  Let it cool a bit.  Ladle the liquid into the filter and let 'er rip!  See that nice, clear, clean liquid?

Coffee filters...not just for coffee anymore.  :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Greatest Pork Chop Ever

Remember the pork chop from the previous post?  Here's what became of it:

Nicely golden brown, right?  I'm going to teach you a useful technique which can be applied to steaks, pork chops, seared chicken breasts, whatever.  Very useful.  Start by cooking your meat until it's nearly done.  When it's about a minute from completion, throw in a knob of butter and a few springs of herbs, some sage leaves, a sprig of rosemary, whatever.  Herbs.  I used sage leaves with my pork:

The herbs will flavor the oil so use a spoon and baste your meat with the herby butter.  Careful, it'll be hot.  This technique is great because your meat gets great color, the herby butter adds great flavor and, above all, it's easy.

Random: This ladybug has been living in my room for a month now.  I don't see it very often but I am always happy when it reappears. 

And, very exciting:

Mmmm, fresh mushrooms!  I am curious about this for a couple of reasons.  1. How many mushrooms will I harvest?  I ask because the mushroom box was $25 bucks.  Oyster mushrooms are about $5.00/lb.  If I harvest, say, 4 lbs, I will call it a success.  Additionally, I want to see if I can screw this up because, thus far, I haven't demonstrated much of a green thumb.

A REAL post coming in the next couple of days.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Random Stuff from the Past Few Weeks

Hi Bahar!!!  :)

Just a collection of random things.


Most everyone loves Bakesale Betty but not me.  Its claim to fame is a fried chicken sandwich--breaded, fried chicken breast with a vinegar and oil slaw on a fluffy torpedo roll.  In theory, it sounds fine.  In execution, it fails because it is DRY.  D-R-Y.  The breast is overcooked and dry.  Combine it with bread and you've got a starchy mess.  I also find the chicken somewhat flavorless.  The kitchen needs a heavier hand with the seasoning.  Even the excellent slaw isn't enough to bring this sandwich back from the dead. Maybe slather some mayo or slaw juice on the bread?  I've had it four times over the past few months always wondering about the raving masses and whether or not my tastebuds are off but I've come to the conclusion that the sandwich is not all that.  Besides, at $8.50, that sandwich better scale some spectacular heights.  Sorry Betty, but I'm over your sandwich.

However, I feel like an ungrateful ass bad writing this because the staff at Bakesale Betty is AWESOMELY GENEROUS.  They are some of the nicest people I've ever met.  They hand out free cookies and brownies like Santa hands out presents.  And the baked goods aren't just free, they're delicious!  Pumpkin pie with a perfect flaky crust?  Yes please, no matter what season it is!

In short, this is a joint I really, really WANT to love but just can't.  I'll return for the baked goods but not for the (overhyped) sandwich. 

Bakesale Betty
5098 Telegraph Ave
(between 49th St & 51st St)
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 985-1213

How to Supreme an Orange (or any other citrus fruit)

Get the flash player here:

1.  Find where the stem used to be.  Cut through the orange to level it.  Level the other side.  You should have two smooth sides.

2. Cut the peel off.  Just follow the flesh.

3. You will have an orange with mostly pulp.  Trim off any leftover bits of pith.

4. Find where the orange naturally segments itself.  Cut in between these segment lines.

5.  Done!


I've eaten here a few times over the past week because I love Vietnamese food and I love noodle soup.  The first time I went, I was lured in by the sign for Bun Bo Hue. Bun Bo Hue is a lemongrass scented Viet noodle soup from the city of Hue.  If done well, it is spectacularly delicious.  What brought me back for subsequent visits is 1. the quality of the food and 2. the owner.  The food is pretty good here, not mind blowingly good but pretty good.  The owner is the most loquacious noodle shop owner I have ever met.  He has a real passion for Vietnamese food and he loves what he does.  He wants to make everyone who walks into his restaurant happy.  He is also very specific about certain things.  For Bun Bo Hue, he puts rau ram (a Vietnamese herb), shredded cabbage and bean sprouts on the side plate.  For Pho, he puts Thai basil and bean sprouts only.  When I asked him why, he simply said that it's for matters of taste.  Gotta admire that.

His wife, the restaurant's cook, makes a delicious crab dish which isn't featured on the menu.  You have to order it a day ahead of time but it's well worth it.  It's a bit pricey ($25) but makes a fine meal for two people with a bit of rice.  Fresh crab, butter, garlic, salt and can you go wrong?

Get the flash player here:

If you are in Oakland Chinatown and find yourself craving noodle soup, I encourage you to give this place a try.  

Kim Huong
304 10th Street
(between Harrison St & Webster St)
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 836-3139

I walked 3 freaking miles in the pouring rain for this pork chop:

Sure is a beaut, isn't she?  Look at that layer of external fat.  Look at that intramuscular fat.  Look at that deep rich color.  Man oh man oh man.  And this isn't just ANY pork.  This is Becker Lane Pork.  Becker Lane is an organic farm which supplies many of the better restaurants in the area with their swine.   Just check out the marbling: 

I have delicious, delicious plans for this little piggy.  :) The pork was purchased at Cafe Rouge in Berkeley.

One last thing.  I purchased two slices of bacon at my local butcher today and this is what they wrapped it in:

It just strikes me as egregiously wasteful.  Anyone have any ideas on how I can solve this problem?  Ask them to use less paper?  Incidentally, the bacon was wonderful.  It is from Vande Rose Farms and is made from heirloom Duroc pigs.  This was my first experience with their product but I was very impressed.  Nice fat to meat ratio, a pronounced smokiness and delicious swine flavor.  I sliced it, crisped it up and threw it into a wilted green salad with chicken livers and sherry vinaigrette.  I will absolutely buy more of this stuff.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Last Meal: Not Eating Out in New York

(I am asking other bloggers for their perfect "last meal."  See this post for additional details.)

Today's participant is Cathy, author of Not Eating Out In New York.  Because there are so many take-out restaurants in NYC, quality is high and prices are low and, consequently, people eat out a lot.  However, there ARE a few residents who try to cook at home and some, like Cathy, do a good job of it!  Check out her site and see what she's been cheffing up!

1. Who would you dine with? My family, or can I bring only one member? This is like Sophie's choice!

2. Where would you dine? I think an outdoor picnic would be a fine setting... midsummer dusk, orchard trees, doesn't matter too much where, as long as it's quiet and peaceful.

3. What would you eat? Probably not something fancy. I'd have my mom's soy sauce chicken stew, cooked so long the bones and bloated skin fall from the meat and fat ginger slices are stained brown and tough as leather.

Mmmm, I also love soy sauce chicken.  Thanks, Cathy!

To see all of the posts in this series, click here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Last Meal: Quick Indian Cooking

(I am asking other bloggers for their perfect "last meal."  See this post for additional details.)

Today's participant is Mallika, author of Quick Indian Cooking.  Her blog is about Indian food and fast, easy dishes that can be successfully integrated into a busy lifestyle.  I find her recipes for dal (lentils) to be especially comprehensive so gogogogogogo learn a thing or two about Indian cuisine!

1. Who would you dine with? Has everyone said family? I'm going to be pretty boring... I suppose it would have to be my husband, baby, mum and little sister.

2. Where would you dine? At the family home in Calcutta. Our German Shepherd will be salivating by the side of the table, while the cook brings sizzling hot buttered rotis to the table. My mother will shout at my sister, she will shout back and next everyone will shout at each other. Then the phones will go off. Perfect!

3. What would you eat? The last supper are you kidding? What wouldn't we eat? We'd start with a thick yellow dal, with a spicy tadka, vegetable pulao rice and an aubergine stir fry. Then go on to goat meat curry cooked in dark whole spices and deep fried plain flour puris, while dipping into lemony mixed salad and three different pickles. To finish off, I'd have mishti doi, yoghurt sweetened with raw cane sugar, and anything deep fried and bright orange in colour. Now that would be the perfect way to go.

Mallika, thanks!  I can't possibly imagine how hot Calcutta must feel for your German Shepherd, lol!

To see all of the posts in this series, click here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

More on Zongzi

After yesterday's slapdash, slipshod, and sloppy (ha!) post on zongzi, I wouldn't at all be surprised if you readers were still confused as to what exactly a zongzi is.  So, because I love all of you so much, here's a little more on zongzi.

Zongzi, clothed in bamboo leaves:

Zongzi, naked.  They are mostly composed of sticky rice:

Zongzi, slain (I swear this isn't a metaphor for how I treat my women hahahahahahahah):

See the peanuts and the chunk of pork?  There's also a salted egg yolk hidden in there.

Zongzi are traditionally consumed on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival...aka 端午節.  The festival originates from the attempted rescue of an ancient Chinese poet named Quan Yu.  Poet Yu drowned on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month which explains why the festival is celebrated on that day.  In 2010, the festival will be celebrated on June 16th.  To tie it all together rice, the main ingredient in zongzi, is traditionally thrown into the river in which Quan Yu died to prevent the fish from nibbling on his body.  Then again, Chinese mythology and history is filled with all sorts of symbolism so who knows what REALLY happened.

In truth, I wish I had done a better job documenting yesterday's zongzi because it was far superior to today's specimen in that the rice had better texture and the fillings were more ample.  Oh well, maybe I'll just have to get a third and dissect it in a future post.  :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tonight's Supper:

Salad with balsamic dressing and feta crumbles and a Chinese zongzi (粽子).  

Maybe this strange mix is just part of being half-Asian.  :)  I love zongzi aka Chinese tamales.  Tonight's version came studded with peanuts and stuffed with pork products and a salted egg yolk.  You can't see it from the picture but they are wrapped and steamed in bamboo leaves.  Yummmy! 

A real post is in the works.  A belated Happy New Years to all of my readers!