Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Peanut oil sesame ginger mushroom fried rice

Great home made fried rice takes time. It requires your patience and a whole lot of effort to put together a flawless bowlful. You want to stir-fry it in a wok on high heat so that you can feel each individual grain of rice as a single entity while eating it. Using a wok to stir-fry helps distribute the heat evenly so that every item in the wok gets equal treatment. All ingredients used should be for flavor or texture and needs to be diced small enough so that it doesn't take away from the rice. I'm telling you, it's no joke. But when you do everything right, it becomes so worth the hard work.

Peanut oil sesame mushroom ginger fried rice
2-3 cups rice, cooked and left overnight* (I happened to have a mixture of wild and white rice)
3 tbs peanut oil**
2 cups dried shiitake mushrooms, resoaked*** and diced
2 tails scallion, diced
1 knob of fresh ginger, diced
10 cloves of garlic, diced
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbs white sesame
1 tbs ponzu
1 tbs rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil

1. Place half the peanut oil on a wok on high heat. Once hot, add the mushrooms and stir-fry until brown.
2. Add the other half of the peanut oil along with the garlic, ginger, and scallion.
3. Once everything is slightly browned, add the rice and stir-fry until rice is fragrant. Rice should be slightly harder to the bite, yet still retain some degree of moisture. (This should take 5-10 minutes depending on the heat of your stove top.)
4. As you are stir frying the rice, add the ponzu and rice wine on the side of wok before integrating it with the rice.
5. Mix in the two beaten eggs and keep the rice moving in the wok until the eggs are fully cooked and dispersed throughout.
6. Finally, add the sesame and make sure all ingredients are mixed evenly.
7. Remove the fried rice from the heat and add the sesame oil. Mix well.

Optional: Serve with Chiu Chow chili oil or dried seaweed strips

* Using leftover rice is key because fresh rice has too much moisture to get the right texture for fried rice. I told you making fried rice takes time! But really, people only make fried rice if you want to get rid of your leftover rice productively. But if you do decide to try using fresh rice, be prepared to be standing in front of the wok for even longer.
** I used peanut oil because it has a higher smoke point. Many Chinese kitchens use peanut oil for foods to be treated on a wok at high temperatures.
** I buy packs of fried shiitake mushrooms at Chinese supermarkets. You simply soak them in water for an hour before using them. Yup, time and effort.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Court of Two Sisters, New Orleans

The verdict is finally in -- I got matched to Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine for my dietetic internship! This is one of the final and most crucial steps to becoming a Registered Dietitian. So to celebrate, I will be posting about one of my favorite places that visited when I was last there in March during my first year of graduate school.

If you all follow my blog, you know how obsessed I am with New Orleans: the food (beignets at Cafe du Monde, po-boys and muffulettas, fried chicken at Willie Mae's), the culture, the people and all that jazz. I'm surprised I haven't written about The Court of Two Sisters yet because it was my absolute first meal in New Orleans ever, and it remains to be my favorite... along with almost every other meal I had down in Louisiana.

We went for their famous jazz brunch and were seated in their picturesque courtyard. Like everything in the French Quarter, The Court of Two Sisters gives off the aura of ageless wonder with French colonial / Creole architectural design. Compound that with the food and live music, and you're sent back to the late 19th century. It really is beautiful, captivating, and inspiring all at once.

The buffet is a generous all you can handle of hot and cold Louisiana and New Orleans Creole delicacies: boiled crawfish, spicy shrimp etouffee, creamy turtle soup, flavorful jambalaya, fresh ceviche, southern BBQ ribs, buttery corn bread, and so much more. The dessert selection is just as impressive with everything from banana fosters and bread pudding to pecan pie and king cake. Are you drooling yet?

I'm still in shock that I'm moving down to Louisiana, but I can't wait to savor all the culture. And obviously ALL the food.

The Court of Two Sisters
613 Royal Street
New Orleans, Louisiana

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lung Kee Wanton 龍記招牌雲吞

My mom is on a flight to Hong Kong now, and I cannot be more jealous. While I'm stuck doing final projects in Beantown, she will be enjoying the warmer weather and the endless feasts of Hong Kong food. There are many things that I miss eating when I'm in America, but on the top of that list today is a bowl of wonton noodle soup. 

A bowl of wonton noodle soup is not that hard to come by in any Chinatown across the world, but having a great bowl of wonton noodle soup is surprisingly challenging. Most places don't put much thought into their wontons and put a thimble amount of pork and mushy shrimp served in overcooked limp wraps. There are many conflicting schools of thought on what the perfect wonton should be like, but I'm going to have to say the following:
1. thin slippery wrap 
2. stuffed with fresh succulent shrimp
3. served on top of thin bouncy egg noodles 
4. all in a bowl of umami (maybe msg) heavy clear broth
5. with plenty of red vinegar and Chiu Chow chili oil on the side 

Now, those are my credentials for a satisfying bowl of wonton noodle soup and like I said, there are very few places that meet all my standards. So I'm going to let you in on my favorite wonton shop in Hong Kong. It's located on Kowloon island in Tsim Sha Tsui embedded in Carnarvon Road, which is packed with bustling restaurants serving everything from Vietnamese to Turkish to Chiu Chow cuisine. Lung Kee has been around, and you know it's legit because the menu only has three entrees options: wontons, fish paste balls, and sliced beef on thin or thick noodles. They do what they do the right way and their limited choices make a killing. 

Their wontons are larger than the average size, amounting to somewhere between a ping pong ball and a golf ball. And though some people find this sacrilegious, the filling is 100% fresh meaty shrimp and no pork. For all you shrimp lovers, this is the wonton for you. You will never remember ever eating a wonton noodle soup with such bounce. Add some of their beef to your order, too. It's unbelievably tender. 27HKD a bowl may be steep for locals, but that comes out to about $4USD. That with a plate of lard laden chives... noodle nirvana. 

Lung Kee Wanton 龍記招牌雲吞
Carnarvon Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sesame miso sauteed Shanghai bok choy

I'm always open to finding more ways to gain more online presence, so yesterday afternoon after much lurking on the True Detective subreddit, I decided that I should obviously venture beyond Twitter and post my photos on the FoodPorn or CulinaryPorn subreddits. So everyone, this is my first attempt at redditing. Because this is the Internet, someone left an unnecessarily rude comment and someone else asked for a recipe, so I might as well share it up here as well. Expect to see me more on reddit! 

Sesame miso sauteed Shanghai bok choy
  • 1lb Shanghai bok choy
  • 1 tbs canola oil
  • 1 tbs miso paste (I used light)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, slivered
  • 5 shallots, diced
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  1. On high heat, brown garlic and shallots in the canola oil.
  2. Add the bok choy and lightly stir fry (it should look a deeper green and be more tender to the touch when cooked).
  3. Add the miso paste and make sure it's evenly distributed and dissolved.
  4. Once the vegetables are thoroughly cooked, remove from heat and mix in sesame seeds and sesame oil.
✓ vegetables
✓ fiber 
✓ Vitamin C

✓ unsaturated fat
✓ probiotics 

Note: If you don't have miso paste, you can try using doenjang (Korean soybean paste) or yellow soy bean paste as well. These products are fermented soy products and are prepared with lots of salt, so there's no need to add more salt if you are using these bean pastes. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rose Bakery at Dover Street Market

To be totally honest, Dover Street Market is out of place in Murray Hill. The haute fashion culture and inexplicably overpriced oddly cut pieces of plastic blend materials is just not something you would encounter in the lower reaches of Lexington Avenue. Even though I live less than half a block away from Dover Street Market (or as we still like to refer to as Touro College), it took me awhile to finally get myself to venture inside the 7 story maze of Commes de Garcon, Supreme, Louis Vuitton, Nike Design, and other unaffordable brands.

TL;DR: Easy to get a seat (for now). Try the scones or the granola, but they're overpriced like everything else. And don't get the breakfast sandwich.

Rose Bakery is British cafe/restaurant that has a simple menu and is set on the first floor and mezzanine of Dover Street Market. It has an industrial feel because of the exposed stainless steel kitchen and cafeteria-like tables and chairs. I went on a Saturday morning for brunch, and it was very easy to get a table. It seems to get more filled in the afternoon from the over-fashionable shopping crowds.

We started with drip coffee ($4.50) and a minimalist fruit salad, which was a bowl of thin granny smith apple slices and small mango chunks sprinkled with toasted coconut shreds ($8). We also ordered the lemon zest scone with clotted cream and jam ($5), which was the highlight of my meal. The single scone was the perfect balance of dense buttery-ness and airy floury-ness. Though I'm pretty sure it was just served with butter instead of clotted cream, the wild blueberry jam made up for it.

My mom ordered the granola with plain homemade yogurt ($11), which was a small 3-4oz yogurt with an disproportionally large bowl of granola. The granola was an addictive crumble of oats, almonds, and dried apriocts and cranberries laced with a guilty amount of honey. I had the breakfast sandwich, which was a sad excuse for a flavorless flaccid sausage messily stacked with an egg, avocado mush, and tomato jam on an over-sized overly buttery brioche bun ($17). DO NOT get the breakfast sandwich. You will finish your meal dissatisfied and wondering why you allocated so much of your daily caloric needs on that mess and sad excuse for a breakfast sandwich.

Despite the generally overpriced everything at Rose Bakery and the unacceptable breakfast sandwich, I actually went back later that afternoon for tea time. I had a ginger lemon tea, which was a big pot of water with a few slices of lemon and a lump of ginger, with a slice of their fruit cake ($13 with tea). My uncle tried their walnut cake, which was a nutty loaf that was served with a single whole walnut. The cakes should actually be renamed to loafs, but they were not bad. They were baked on premises, properly moist, and generally boring. The best part was the small buttery sugar sprinkled chocolate cookie that came with my hot drink. I would stop by again after 4pm for tea time, but only because I live half a block away.

If you're dropping g's at Dover Street Market, Rose Bakery is the obvious choice for a coffee or tea break. Otherwise, definitely stop by for a scone or some granola to do some serious people watching. The characters that flow through are definitely worth the time, and it's undoubtedly a cool place to meet someone for coffee.

Rose Bakery
Dover Street Market
160 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Pineapple Carrot Breakfast Muffins

As you probably know by now, my family loves a good bagel for breakfast. But bagels are calorie laden and usually filled with either high fat or high sodium things (cream cheese, sausage, bacon...). I'm always looking for healthy breakfast alternatives to introduce to my parents, so recently I've been making my olive oil banana bread and these great muffins.

I've been volunteering at Cooking Matters for the past year as a nutrition educator. Each healthy cooking and nutrition course runs for 2 hours a week for 6 weeks, and participants get some hands-on food prep experience, nutrition advice, and grocery shopping tips. As an educator, I receive an instructor guide which includes lesson plans, worksheets, and a lot of healthy recipes. One of my favorites that is used pretty much every class I've observed, managed, or taught for is this great muffin recipe. It's quick, easy to follow, and can be altered in so many ways to make even healthier or to incorporate ingredients that you enjoy. Also, these muffins come out moist, fluffy, and only slightly sweet, making them perfect for breakfast. Give it a try and let me know what your favorite mix-ins are!

Who doesn't love waking up to a full jar of muffins? 
Pineapple Carrot Breakfast Muffins (~18 muffins)
3 carrots, grated (about 1-1.25 cup) *
1 cup canned crushed pineapple with juice
5 tbs canola oil
1/4 cup cold water
1 tbs white distilled vinegar
1 cup oats *
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour *
1/2 cup light brown sugar *
1/3 cup raisins *
1/3 cup walnuts, crushed *
2 tbs ground flax seed *
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

*Walnuts and raisins were listed as optional ingredients in the original recipe. I added the oats for fiber and flax seed for omega 3's. You can choose to include or omit these when you're making your muffins. In this recipe, I also used 1/4 cup less sugar, 1/2 cup more carrot, and substituted half the flour with whole wheat flour.

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together all dry ingredients: flours, sugar, oats, raisins, walnuts, flax seed, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together all wet ingredients: carrot, pineapple, water, canola oil, and vinegar.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
5. Either coat the muffin tin with canola oil or line it with paper muffin cups.
6. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full with the batter.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean.

✓ whole grains
✓ fiber
✓ fruit/vegetables
✓ omega 3's
✓ unsaturated fats