Sunday, January 25, 2009
Went to Santa Ramen in San Mateo for Ramen.
Apparently this is Soosa's favorite ramen place. My friends really like it too. Will it be the Ramen champ?
I got the Chashu Ramen w/ the Kurobuta (black pig) extra. The noodles were firm but only semi smooth. The broth was hearty but a little heavy. The regular Chashu was kinda myeh. The kurobuta had a mighty flavor but maybe cooked longer to soften it up. No fish cake. No bamboo or burdock root. I've been to Watami 5-6 times (just wrote up a review) and their Ramen is also good but definitely a very different experience.
Dan also ordered some "Cheeze-it" Chicken Karage. He claims they have a cheeze-it taste to them. I sorta guess they do but if he didn't mention it I don't think I would have noticed.
Dessert Republic. Also in San Mateo. They had these posters us looking to get voted as one of the top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the USA. Pretty lofty ambitions.
The interior reminded me of the Venetian in Macau. Only with a lot lower production values. The ceiling was painted like a sky and lit up and the walls were done up like Hong Kong stalls with not-so-glorious paintings. Actually they were quite fine but definitely not top 100 material.
Service buttons. Even though you can push the buttons for many different functions, we determined that they all do the same thing. Someone comes to your table and pretty much goes "what do you want/need?" Smoke and Mirrors!
Got an Almond and Sesame combo paste. This was pretty good. Not top 100 good but still pretty good.
Boba tea was awful. The tea was way too sweet and the boba was that really bad, the "cooked at too high of a temp and not long enough = mushy outside, raw inside" variety.
Still it was an enjoyable night.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Remember that chicken we salvaged from the chicken bones? Well I have to figure out a good way to flavor them. Probably soaking them in some magical solution of soy and sake and maybe some vinegar.
Add some noodles. I like to use Maruudon which is not as thick as regular udon noodles.
Add chicken soup. Some final Iron Chef flair I skipped because I had neither would be to add a bunch of chopped scallion greens on top and then heat peanut oil till it begins to smoke and then pour the oil over the scallions. Morimoto has a Chicken Noodle Soup recipe but it's super complicated involving boiling a chicken, preparing Shanton Broth (which I have) and a Ramen soup base (which I have not). It's pretty much, add some Ramen base to the serving bowl, add noodles and chicken, pour broth, do scallion and peanut oil thing. Interesting because it doesn't use chicken soup. It's just Chicken + Noodle + Soup.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
My chicken soup - a work in progress.
I parboil the chicken bones one by one to melt out any excess fat and blood and transfer them to a pot of cold water which stops their cooking. Then I stew that for 2-4 hours skimming the muck that rises up. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low/low-medium heat.
After that, you can take out the chicken throw it out or let it cool till you can pick off all the meat. You can leave it in for further stewing but then the meat falls apart with all the other ingredients and it becomes pretty hard to dig that stuff out.
I then add kosher salt, parsley stems (no leaf), some chopped carrots, uncut celery stalks, one quartered onion, one chopped potato, 8 white peppercorns + about an equal volume of sichuan pepper corns inside a tea ball, 4 dried longans, and dried goji berries. In this version, there is a Chinese Chicken soup medicine package that contained (according to the back label) Radix Discoreae (okay...), Codonopsis (haha), Astragalus (my what?), Lycium Berry (goji?), Arillus Lonagn (oops, did I get double Longan in my soup?), Lotus Seed, Dried Fox Nut (Ah, fox nuts. The nut of champions). I think one of those is ginseng as there were two ginseng looking sticks.
Stew that for another 1-2 hours. I save the carrots and potatos and strain the rest out, cool, refridgerate, degrease, heat, enjoy.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Tried to do a Moroccan pork chop dish. Lesson learned. When Alton Brown says to brine your pork chops for 1-2 hours, he means 1-2 hours because the osmosis in your brine will make it taste like salt-lick if you brine overnight. I guess no pork chops for me on weekdays. Even if I brine in the morning when I leave for work, that will go for too long. The tomatoes are just washed, halved, sprinkled some kosher salt on top, add parm near the end and the green is my failed attempt to make a mint sauce. The other thing that went wrong was the pork overcooked in the oven. Lesson learned by my meat thermometer, meat cooks fast in the oven. When it's that thin, I saw the temp going up about 1 degree every 10-20 seconds. Meaning to get your pork chop to the recommended 140 degrees, that is only about < 10 minutes. I should have stuck with the pan searing but I was afraid of burning the rub which I couldn't taste because the chops were too salty. the rub was coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and red peppers ground together in my coffee bean grinder (for spices) and then mixed together with olive oil and harissa paste. Mint tea was pretty successful. But in the category of "what else could go wrong" my bag of sugar came in contact with a still warm stove top and sugar came pouring out the burnt hole caking the stove in instant caramel.
Meat cooks fast. A meat thermometer is a good way to learn just how fast that stuff cooks.
Sugar + hot stove top does not play well.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Somewhat inspired by the mushrooms from France and having bought fresh shitake mushrooms and wondering what the hell to do with them, I did some googling and whipped this up. Really simple. Chop up your mushrooms. Chop up 2 garlic cloves. Chop up parsley leaves. Throw in a bowl. douse with olive oil and toss w/ kosher salt. Throw in a dish and bake in the oven. Mix occasionally and when you get to the end hit it with some grated Parm. It came out a bit salty because I hadn't thought about the cheese when I first salted it and I might of had too much salt to begin with so added to the salt from the cheese...
Monday, January 12, 2009
So to the stock I added an onion (quartered), carrots, celery, ginger, potatoes, kosher salt, and a spice ball containing white peppercorns, green peppercorns, sichuan wild peppercorns, goji berries, and dried longan. After refrigerating the soup so I could de-fat/grease it, I removed a bunch of the soup for freezer storage for later use. Actually I reheated it first then transferred the soup. Mainly cause I wanted have some of the soup. And when cold, the soup turns solid like jello. See the picture above? Look ma, no hands.
I got rid of the pork and chicken bones and spent vegetables. What I was left with was ox tail super soup with carrots (still tasty and sweet) and potatoes (starch).
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Back home. A bunch of stuff I brought back. Teas, spices, herbs, gravy bits...
Here is a directory of the posts from my trip.
Day 1: Merry Ole England
Day 2: Boxing Day
Day 3: Wandering about London
Day 4: Fish & Chips
Day 5: Fancy Foods, Pub Quiz
Day 6: More around town, Tapas w/ Henry
Day 7: NYE
Day 8: New Years Day, Indian Food, Che
Day 9: Noodles, Scones, Museum, Dinner Party
Day 10: Paris
Day 11: Paris 2
Day 12: Viet Noodle, Chinatown, Random Dinner
Day 13: Italian food, Pictionary madness
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Meet up with Henry on my last day in London.
We got dinner (w/ Maria) at an Italian joint Henry frequents (he works not so far from where Maria lives in Central London). Henry brought this discount coupon voucher that lets you buy one get one free. There was an epic exchange with the restaurant manager as he valiantly tried to get the manager to let us use the same print out to get two meals items for free as the coupon stated any number of coupons could be used in a meal. The thing was there was this info you had to fill out so the company could collect customer details. The manager insisted that a separate form of details had to be filled out on the proper form so that it could be attached to the receipt for the central office to process and that it HAD to be on the form. Her hands were tied. Whatever lady. Henry did all the CCMs (Cheap Chinese Man) proud this night.
This was the meat lasagna. Only the inside was more like chili than Italian meat goods.
Afterwards, we went to a diner for milkshakes. We started talking about what we normally do during our holidays and the subject of family Pictionary (usually played at the Hickey's) came up. Well, I saw no reason why we couldn't play right then. The way we play is you have two teams. Team 1 delivers a phrase/clue to a designated drawer for Team 2. The drawer must draw and the rest of the team must guess the clue. There are no points. You just keep going. Well we do have the board game in Toronto but it usually turns into this more fun version. The standard board game has this concept of winners and a finish that makes the game less fun. That and the clues from the games can be incredibly easy and/or lame. One year, the clue to be drawn was "essence." That word has since been deemed unfair. I believe another banned word was "irreverence." So here we have some great drawings. Play along why don't you.
Clown Graduation? (upper right:) Cow? Car? Tent?
Hint: has to do with London. Answers below.
This was a recreation of dinner. The bottom left is supposed to be "Disk" + "Oww" = Diskoww --> discount.
So it might be worth mentioning, the way we played with three people was one person gives the clue, one draws, one guesses. No teams.
This one Henry drew and I guessed. The clue was three words. From what I gathered there was a dude with a guitar... ok, a musician. His hair once was long. Now it is short. And he's singing about some weird ass shit. I randomly happen to get the first name. Jon. Who could it be?
Well this one has the clue written on it and I'm too lazy to blur it out in photoshop and reupload the image. The full clue is "surround sound system" Surround proved to be the hardest word to guess. (Maria was drawing, Henry was guessing, I was laughing) sound was derived from - sounds like Hound, the dog with the pipe next to a fox, a radio, and music from a car. System for 6 + 10. Six ten. System. Also sounds like "Sis" (see family tree) + 10.
Two words. Ok, so sandwich is an easy one. But what type of sandwich do you think this could be? Sandwich with a tongue? Can you guess where the bottom clue is going?
That's my trip to London. Hope you all enjoyed it. Yadda Yadda Yadda. Now you want the answers don't you?
1) Not Cow Car Tent, but Ox + Ford + Circus. The clown apparently got his diploma from Oxford. Oxford Circus.
2) Discount Coupon. Maria kept saying discount voucher because I guess they don't say coupon in London. =P
3) What is that guy doing in the first song? He's thinking? No, there is a cross. He's praying. Praying about a cloud? With a house and car? That's not a cloud. That is the prayer. And there is a dude living on it. Ohmygod, it's Jon Bon Jovi. That one took me forever to figure out. The song to the right was a half-way implemented You Give Love a Bad Name.
4) Surround Sound System.
5) So there is a gangster dude. The arrow pointy to him is Bug + Sea = Bugsy. What gangster is named Bugsy? Bugsy Malone. So this is a Bugsy Malone Sandwich. Wait, whaaaa? Ok, think about how many sandwiches in there world there are. Actually narrow it down to how many sandwiches in the USA. Bugsy. Malone. Bugsy. Maloney. Bumoney. It's Baloney Sandwich! Bologna Sandwich to be precise.
Thanks for playing. Now go have your own wonderful pictionary adventures. If you're really mean, you'll try to have someone guess "The essence of Irreverence"
Monday, January 05, 2009
Bagels for breakfast that we got from the French Jewish street (next to Chez Marianne)
Rice plate of many porks
In Chinatown to get Maria some groceries.
Wacky Dinner of whatever we got lying around - brussel sprouts = fartastic times!
Chinatown spare ribs.
Fancy french bread from the Eric Kayser Bakery