Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hong Kong, Ltd.

Goodies from Hong Kong!

Discover Magazine.

Man, Hong Kong's in-flight magazines are so much more interesting and better designed than the ones in the U.S. Cathay Pacific's Discover magazine even had interviews with architects, filmmakers and wine purveyors. Bright graphics, a fun techie section and streamlined layout make for a good read.

Alive, not Dead.

Can you feel the energy??! This granola bar had an ideal ratio of flavor / texture. One bite and I was hooked.

Abalone-Flavored Rice Noodles.

The packaged noodles are so much more refined than ones I can find here in the States. They've got rice noodles and vermicelli, in flavors such as abalone, chicken, beef, etc. I think my family was totally spoiled with good Chinese food because HK's noodles and seafood are bomb.

Mrs. Field's.

What other place elevates Mrs. Field's to such classy packaging? Cookie's never looked so...sweet.

Banana Bread.

This cute little slice of banana bread came in the pretty cut-out bowl (not cheap stuff, either). And this is airplane fare. Book me a flight on Cathay Pacific next time?

More Cooking Adventures with Sarah

Ramyun with Korean veggies, bulgolgi, dduk, egg.

Doesn't this one just scream: EAT ME!!! I obeyed the command. Hong is my preferred brand of ramyun for its chewy, hearty texture. I'm an al dente person, and I loathe soggy noodles.

Kimchi Chigae.

As you can tell from the picture, this is a mild version of kimchi chigae because I was still at odds with my salty gochujang and didn't feel like drinking five glasses of water to make up for it. Otherwise, I'd go for spicy. I added turkey, egg, dduk and Korean greens for some vegetable content.

Kimchi Chigae with appetizers.

I love ban chan. Period.

Neopolitan Egg Spaghetti, pre-mix.

I bought the book Easy Japanese Cooking: Noodle Comfort by chef Kentaro Kobayashi. This guy is a culinary genius. Seriously, he manages to make easy versions of semi-complicated dishes that end up with such a precise taste. Best of all, his recipes aren't 20 ingredients long, and most can be made within 30 minutes or so.

Neopolitan Egg Spaghetti, plated.

What are you waiting for? Go cop his book! Other recipes I'm fiending to try are his Ricotta, Egg & Tomato Spaghetti, Yakisoba Omurice and Carbonara.

By the way, like my paper plates? Yes, I'm low-frills. But I don't skimp on meals. This one dish gave me gastronomic joys for two days.

...And I'm Back!

Alas, I've neglected this blog long enough. Much like a chicken with my head cut off, I've been swamped in school full-time taking design courses while working part-time, so please excuse my long absence.

I thought I should update a little on my week of cooking. While my family was away in Hong Kong, I held down the fort at home and was in charge of dog-sitting, as well as making sure the house didn't fall apart or catch on fire (ha. ha). At the same time, I took the opportunity to embark on some cooking adventures.

All pictures originally taken the week of Oct. 4, 2010.

Kimchi tofu with spinach and ddukbokki.

If the plate looks empty, that's because I was so hungry I ate half of it already. Sorry!

Dduk-fishball soup.

I kind of pulled this one together on the fly. After cooking the dduk, or rice cakes, I split some of it into the kimchi tofu dish and the rest went into a soup with dduk broth. Found some fish balls in the fridge, and presto~ instant (OK, not so instant) soup! Excellent on those windy, blustery cold days of autumn.

Mystery Soup?

While the texture may appear murky, it tasted better than it's letting on...

Kimchi Bokum Bop.

One of my favorite casual Korean dishes, cooked home-style: Kimchi bokum bop, or Kimchi fried rice. I think I must've went with the wrong jar of gochujang, however, because it was mad salty! Many Koreans like their kimchi drenched in anchovy paste and other seafood flavorings, but I found that I like mine more simple and plain - with a "fresh" taste. Oh well, at least I tried...

This is not Korean.

People who know me know that I may not cook an awful lot, but I do make a few dishes well: eggs and noodles. There's nothing like an open-faced mushroom-Provolone cheese omelet for breakfast. If I have ham or bacon on hand, I throw that on too. Actually, I usually fold the omelet over once, but the ingredients in this one were too heavy and refused to turn over (fat omelet!). The cheese could've been melted more too, but it was still good...

More updates to come.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Shake Shack Attack

Shake Shack, I have missed you dearly.

Something about a hearty burger and crunchy cheese fries makes me turn gleeful somersaults inside.

These buns should be wrapped in packaging that reads: "Eat Me." Then again, I don't think that would be necessary...

Shake Shack Madison Sq Pk; E 23rd St & Madison Av; 212-889-6600.

Cultural Smorgasboard

Basmati rice and fried chicken.

Dad's homemade plantains.

Steamed chicken and eggplant.

Father's Day, Korean-style

Ah, another delayed post! Father's Day with the fam at Kum Gang San (We just can't seem to get enough of Korean, can't you tell?). It was a sweltering day, so hot and humid that I was reduced to wearing a dress. Yes, another one of those anomalies. In any case, at 6 p.m. Kum Gang San was already bursting to the brim with crowds standing elbow-to-elbow. We took a number for our party of 7 and waited to be called.

Kum Gang San has a waiting area with chairs and two long tables in the back. While you're standing, help yourself to some boricha (barley tea) or hot coffee. You can also sidle up to the bar and ask the ahjusshi to pore you a soju. Computers are available for your browsing convenience, though if you can't read Korean - tough luck - since the language default is set to Korean and I couldn't seem to change the settings. Oh well.

Twenty-odd minutes later...

We were seated at a table in the back. Waiters and waitresses carried heaping platefuls of haemool pajun, ddukbokki, boricha and appetizers. The restaurant was so busy that they didn't give us our appetizers until a good twenty minutes later. But that's OK, since we were passing round bottles of Hite...

Hite lager is a light South Korean beer with golden flecks and is brewed from rice, as opposed to malted barley. Hite can be found on draft in Korean pubs and bars. Other popular Korean beers include Cass and OB. As a first-time Hite drinker, I wasn't particularly awed by it, but I wouldn't be opposed to drinking it again. I'm definitely more of a dark beer person.

What my family ate:
Grandpa: Gopdol Bibimbap (steamed rice tossed with ground beef and various vegetables served in a stone pot)
Grandma: Sulungtang (simmered beef and bone marrow broth with brisket pieces and hand-cut noodles)
Dad & Sis: Jeonju Bibimbap (Jeonju-style bibimbap with seasoned beef and 26 different vegetables
Mom & Bro: Mandoo Gook (traditional Korean handmade beef dumplings soup)

We ordered one appetizer of Haemool Pajun (seafood pancake). My brother thinks it looks like pizza.

While everyone else was chomping away on their dishes, my place setting was still empty. Forty-five minutes is a hecka long wait time. All I wanted to know was - just where was my ddukbokki??!

After consulting numerous wait staff for an answer and getting the run around, it seemed that my precious ddukbokki had gotten lost in transit (or accidentally served to someone else). Luckily, the chef whipped up a fresh batch for me and it was glowing in all its spicy gochujang glory. I filled up as much as I could take of rice cakes, squid, kimchi and mussels, but there was no way I could finish it after stealing bits of everyone else's food all night. I wrapped the rest to go. Satisfying leftovers for the next day.

Would I go back? I still love Kum Gang San, so yes. But definitely not during a major holiday. Good thing for those appetizers and family love! There's enough of that to go around...

Kum Gang San 13828 Northern Blvd; Flushing; 718-461-0909.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Banksy Returns

Photo montage taken May 31. St. Mark's area. New York, NY.

Lychee & Jung

And now, dear brother will demonstrate how to eat a lychee:

1. Take a ripe lychee (you'll find the green-ish ones are still bitter) and wash it.

2. Cut a circle around the stem with a knife. Pluck the stem off, then, holding the fruit carefully, squeeze it to pop the lychee right into your mouth.

3. Eat the grape-like fruit part that resembles a juicy tropical flower. Avoid the seed, as its slightly poisonous.

4. Discard shell and seed.

If you don't have a knife, or you're too lazy to use one, dig in with your teeth. They work just as well.

Source: wikiHow.

Would you like some jung with that? Jung (or zong, in Mandarin), is a traditional Chinese food made of glutinous rice and wrapped in bamboo leaves. In the Western world, they are known as Chinese tamales. Typically, ingredients include mushroom, sausage, egg and pine nuts.

Great-Grandma's approaching the 101-year-old mark and she still pops out these babies like nobody's business. She doesn't even use a recipe: it's all in her head. Exceptional memory, no? Her other specialties include ha gow and tapioca starch cakes (kind of like the Chinese version of ddukbokki, but made of tapioca and not rice).

Monday, May 31, 2010

Two Little Birdies

Sitting in a tree.


This is their love story.

I called...

{{{Coo...Coo...C-O-O-O-o-oooo}}} answered.

And you came to my rescue and I

Wanna be where you are

Love is so bittersweet.

Photo montage taken May 30. Queens Zoo. Corona, Queens, NY.

Family Reunion at Angoletto's

Fried calamari.

Weddings bring together the whole family. And by whole, I mean all the grandparents, great-uncles, second aunt twice removed and a horde of extended cousins I didn't even know I had. The day after my cousin tied the knot a few weeks ago, we caught up with some of them at Angoletto Cafe in NHP.

We ordered true family-style: several appetizers and duplicates of three entrees to go around. I did the ordering. For appetizers: fried calamari and insalata caprese, or tomato and mozzarella with olive oil and basil.

Ordinarily, the fried factor would have me running to the other side of the room with images of boiling vats of oil stuck in my head. However, the fried calamari was fried to perfection - not overdone, not greasy, while still retaining the distinct squid flavor I love so much. It was so appetizing that I actually grabbed seconds.

Insalata Caprese.

The insalata caprese was also a good call, though the huge cuts of cheese might have scared off some of the lactose intolerant. Refreshing giant tomato capers accompanied the appetizer.

Entrees included Fusilli Primavera, Linguini with White Clam Sauce and Penne a la Vodka.

The fusilli came with an assortment of colorful vegetables - vine-ripened tomatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots and regular tomatoes. A light orange primavera sauce topped it off. It was neither too oily nor too tomato-drenched. Linguini with white clam sauce is what it sounds like - generous swirls of flat pasta adorned with baby clams and a light sauce that reminds you of the sea but doesn't reek of it (i.e. salt is kept in check).

My favorite of the three would have to be the Penne a la Vodka. Penne cooked aldente, or slightly chewy, gives the pasta a nice hearty bite. And buttery vodka sauce is phenomenal.

Frothy head.

Nothing like an afternoon cappuccino to rev up my energy! I really enjoyed the frothy foam head and delicate coffee taste of this one. The milk-to-coffee ratio was done just right.


Cinnamon on top. Stir and sip...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Soho Chocolate Review and Great Gift Ideas for Mom

Jacques Torres Chocolate Shoe. Photo by Joe Chan.

This article originally appeared on The Gotham Palate.

Who doesn't love a little chocolate? Whether it's chocolate candy bars, hot chocolate or truffles, chocolate holds a special place in many people's stomachs. Francine Segan, food historian, led a tour of the unique chocolate shops that make New York City such a pleasure to peruse. This event took place on Apr. 28 and was hosted by 92Y Tribeca (200 Hudson St.; 212-601-1000), a cultural and community center that holds lectures, tastings, wellness classes, films and culinary tours such as this one.

Of course, at 11 a.m., it's essential to begin the day with a jump start: Segan passed around samples of different types of fine Italian confections, ranging from fruit-filled Venchi Giandujotti chocolate to Baci's signature smooth hazelnut milk chocolate - the Baci was so good I wanted another! Two lucky winners had the privilege of taking home a box of Tuscan Biscuits with chocolate pieces (Cantuccini Con Pezzi Di Cioccolato).

To start off the Soho Chocolate Tour, Segan gave a brief talk on how chocolate is made and the process of cultivating beans into the finished product. She covered tempering, seeding, melting and types of chocolate.

Did you know that...

...chocolate grows on trees and the pods must be plucked by hand?

...chocolate can only grow 20 degrees above and below the equator?

...cocoa beans can be made into wine (but result in a lesser quality chocolate)?

After our mini history lesson, we plunged right into the heart of our chocolate addiction: The Tour.

Our first stop? Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven (350 Hudson St.; 212-414-2462), headed up by the world-reknowned classic French chef-turned chocolate purveyor. Torres has opened locations in Dumbo, Brooklyn, and Chelsea Market; the one on Hudson St. is Segan's favorite. Torres himself stopped to chat with us about his chocolate. He recommends taste-testing white chocolate first, then milk, and lastly, dark (in that order). We dug into chocolate-covered Cheerios, chocolate espresso beans and chocolate chip cookies. But the hot chocolate is by far one of his best products. Spice-inflected chocolate in thick liquid form, both rich and smooth at once. A sliver of whipped cream capped off the exceptional flavor.

But this tour goes beyond the need to quell a sugar rush. Real chocolate aficionados know to judge a chocolate by its sheen, smell (earthy, berry, nutty, etc.), snap and taste. Kee's Chocolate (80 Thompson St.; 212-334-3284) passes all those tests - little wonder it's considered the "best in NYC." Chef/owner Kee Lee Tong has set herself apart with her handcrafted, high quality ingredients and the crisp "snap" of her chocolates. "Her ganaches are amazingly fresh," said Segan of Tong. We sampled the Creme Brulee (pleasant, if predictable) and the Lemon-Basil, a strong, tangy blend that bursts in your mouth and has a sharp aroma that lingers even after you consume it. Simply put: it's poppin'.

The most intense flavors had to be from our last stop: Vosges (132 Spring St.; 212-625-2929). Vosges is a chocolate shop chain that started in Chicago. Altogether, we sampled no less than 8 varieties of chocolates with complex, intricate flavors. These included: Goji Exotic (Tibetan goji berries + pink Himalayan salt + 45% deep milk chocolate), Black Pearl (Japanese ginger + wasabi + black sesame seeds + 55% dark chocolate) and my personal favorite - Mo's Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar (Applewood bacon + alderwood salt + deep milk chocolate). Even though my palate was suffering from extreme overstimulation, I could still differentiate between the nuanced flavors.

The Soho Chocolate Tour was a resounding trumpet call for chocoholics everywhere. And just in time for Mother's Day - grab a box of chocolates for the special lady in your life! Or just to assuage your sweet tooth.

About Francine Segan:
Segan's light-hearted, bubbly personality was the perfect catalyst for getting us into the chocolate-tasting spirit. Segan is the author of four cookbooks and is currently working on a volume covering Italian desserts. Her articles can be found in the Chicago Tribune Syndicated. Segan has also worked with Lidia Bastianich, Mario Batali, among other chefs. You can also tune into her on your boob tune: she frequently appears on CBS, Discovery, History channels and the Food Network.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Homegrown Brew

Brooklyn Lager.

While not made from my house, Brooklyn Lager is a local New York favorite. American amber color beer made from Brooklyn Brewery. 5.2% ABV.

Characteristics: Foamy head, roasted barley malt, floral hops. A pleasant drink that goes down easy. Dry, slightly bitter aftertaste, medium body.

I'm no beer expert - this one fits my palate just fine. But if given the choice, I'd likely choose a Guinness or Presidente over this.

The Lineup.

Right at my fingertips, keeping company with the furikake and other seasonings on the table.

Ramen Setagaya

Ramen Setagaya.

This is not a review.

These days I've been a woman of few words on this blog. More so due to time constraints and job responsibilities - not because there's nothing to say about food! (The day that happens will be a sad one.)

I'm going back to school next month to earn my Web Design degree, so I'll be posting more sporadically than usual. (If you haven't noticed, I've already been cutting back considerably.) Nonetheless, you can still look forward to fun shots of my foodie adventures.

For now, I'll have to let the pictures speak for themselves.

Charsu Ramen.

Shio Ramen.

Beginner's Japanese.

Arigato gozaimashita! I sincerely thank you for continuing to give this blog love. Oh, and the ramen here isn't bad either.

Ramen Setagaya
141 1st Av
New York, NY 10009