Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homemade Wontons

There's nothing I love more than getting down and dirty with cooking. And one of the things that I LOVE making (and eating), but it totally makes a huge mess, are wontons.

Although time consuming, they are super simple to make. It's just another one of those things that remind me of my childhood when my mom or my grandma would make wontons and I would just sit at the dining table messing around and "trying" to help out.

I still haven't mastered the art of wonton wrapping yet, but rest assured, I can eat!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why I'll Never Buy Orange Juice Again...

Look at what I dug up...

There's really nothing like a tall glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.
And, boy, is it easy to make.
As I was making my OJ I thought to myself..."Why did I ever buy $5 jugs of 'fresh squeezed OJ' from the grocery store?"

Friday, November 5, 2010

Raw Chicken Rocks My World

You had me at raw chicken.

I never thought that i would be able to find a place in the states that was confident enough in their chicken producers to serve it raw. But i found it...Ippuku you've won me over.

First of all, the ambiance is that of a food stand in Japan. It's small (max occupancy of 76) so, expect a wait of about 30-45 minutes. They do take reservations BUT only if your party is 5+ so be prepared. Luckily, you can order drinks at the bar while you wait.

We started with the agadashi tofu...which has nothing to do with the amazing chicken feast we had, but i love agadashi tofu so i couldn't resist.

We also got the two of the omakase yakitori (5 skewers each) which was plenty of food, and we got chicken hearts, and the ground chicken with egg yolk (more on this in a sec)--i'm pretty sure we ate a whole family of chicken...

All their chicken and chicken organ meat is cooked medium rare AND they have chicken tartar...CHICKEN TARTAR WITH RAW EGG YOLK??? not only do i love an egg yolk on anything, but the damn chicken is raw enough to cluck...i'll take 10 please. "sashimi" ever. the chicken was incredibly sweet, you would never think that raw chicken could be sweeter than fish sashimi, but boy o boy was it good. That plus the creaminess of the egg yolk added so much to the flavor of the chicken--amazing.
(They can serve raw chicken because it's FRESH free-range and locally raised, not that you would do this or anything, but i wouldn't go eating foster farm's chicken out of the package...blech. Eating chicken sashimi is common practice is Japan! Love it!)

ok. ground chicken with egg yolk...try and picture this first. Because when it came was totally not as i imagined. It was a ground chicken log on a skewer in tare with an egg yolk next to it. MONEY!!!!! It was incredible. We cracked into the egg yolk and let it mix a little with the tare and scooped it up with the skewer. Excuse me while i go get a tissue to wipe the drool from my face.

This is yakitori done right! --DAMNIT Ippuku, now i need a new excuse to travel to Japan because "searching for the best yakitori" has now been crossed off the list.

Haven't blogged in a while...but that's because I'm the marketing intern at A.G. Ferrari Foods. You can also read my blog posts at:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Food Adventure Day

We went from Sun Stream on Geary (for some Brazilian breakfast and fresh squeezed juice), to Japantown for strawberry mochi (devoured before I could snap a photo), and somehow we ended up all the way in Half Moon Bay at Crab Landing. What a great way to spend a Saturday.

Cheese Bread
The first time we ever had cheese bread was at Fogo de Chao in LA, but we like this one MUCH better--t's bigger, and way cheesier!

The most delicious fried ball ever created by mankind
Chicken and cheese in fried goodness

Bread filled with cheese, hearts of palm, and tomatoes

Crab Landing

With Cocktail and Horse Raddish and a Mignonette Sauce

Clams and Cheesy Garlic Bread

Crab and Abalone Chowder

We were obviously overly excited for our second dish of oysters because we forgot to take a picture until there was only one left!

Norcal Tacos

Can you believe that it's been over a month since I've moved back to Norcal, and I haven't been to a taco truck until now? Despicable.

Al pastor and lengua.
As always.

Live and Die By Fenton's

Fenton's, Fenton's, Fenton's, O how I wish I lived closer so that I could eat your delicious blueberry cheesecake ice cream or have a peach cream soda every day. Life is rough.

Burma Star

I'm a huge fan of Burma Star in San Francisco! But when I get off of work in the East Bay, at PRIME traffic hour, the last thing I want to do is sit though traffic before dinner. So, when Matt told me that there was a Burma Star in Alameda, we rushed our butts over there to get some grub.
This fish stew is something that I had a few times growing up. My mom's Burmese friends would cook up large pots of this stuff, and give my mom potfuls to bring home and enjoy. My favorite part of this soup was definitely the fried, crunchy stuff you put on top (I think it's friend mung bean chips, but my mom says it's corn...we'll have to find out for sure). This is definitely a meal within itself, a rich fish broth with hard boiled egg and noodles.
The home-cooked version my mom's friends make, in my opinion, is much better. It's more flavorful, and dense than the one we had at Burma Star. I'm also used to having it with ho fun (or thick rice noodles) this one came with the thin rice noodles which didn't hold up to the soup very well.

Nonetheless, it's a good substitute for now...until my mom's friends decide to make another batch!

Who's Complaining?

Crab two days in a row is NEVER a bad idea, and I can vouch for that.

Day 1:
The family and I went out for a Chinese dinner at Superior Palace to celebrate me getting an internship with our long time favorite Italian specialty store, A.G. Ferrari.

Along with many other things, we had my favorite, salted duck egg yolk fried crab and fried kabocha squash. Heavenly.
I love this dish because flecked throughout the batter around the crab and the squash are the smashed salted egg yolks and it just adds such a unique savoriness to the tender and juicy fresh crab meat that is unbeatable.

Day 2:
PPQ on Clement with Matt.

We had the peppercorn crab. Although the service was HORRENDOUS (we're never going back there again), the crab and the garlic noodles definitely saved the night. The garlic and peppercorn mixture on top of the crab, o my goodness, I could eat that by the spoonful.

And of course we had to order a side of garlic noodles--it just seemed like the right thing to do at a Vietnamese French fusion crab and garlic noodle place.
The noodles were OK, they were a bit too greasy for me, and they weren't garlic-y enough (a spoonful of the crab toppings did the trick though). I like the crab and garlic noodles at La Vie on Geary much better (as well as the service!)


I had never had Moroccan before, and while many may argue that a one Michelin star Moroccan restaurant isn't exactly the best place to have authentic Moroccan food, (and though I may agree), I definitely was satisfied that this was the place Matt and I chose as an preface to the Moroccan food places we'll be visiting in the VERY near future.

(Sorry, the photos came out very blurry. We were trying to discrete and not use flash, but when you're SO excited that you just want to dive in to your's difficult to have a steady hand)

Chicken Crackling Salad
Each piece of chicken skin was fried into a paper thin chip that complemented the freshness of the avocado and tomatoes perfectly. It was such a simple and refreshing salad, and really, who can say no to chicken crackling?

A pastry filled with chicken, almonds and spices. This thing was HUGE! The basteeya alone would have sufficed as a meal. The server cut this into fours and I had to take a quarter of it home.

This was cooked to perfection. It had been a while since we went out to eat that I had a perfectly cooked piece of fish.

With an egg! You know this is something we had to order!
Blackberry Mousse

Matt and I were impressed by how simple each dish seemingly was, but we were proven wrong as each mouthful presented us with a complex combination of flavors and textures. Delicious and oddly enough, very affordable for a Michelin star rated restaurant.

Tortoise Jelly

Yes, tortoise jelly. Traditionally, this was made with powdered tortoise shell and other Chinese herbs and medicines...although I don't think the version I ate at dim sum the other day had any tortoise shell in it (otherwise, it would have been very expensive!) it was still very satisfying.

Because it's said to have medicinal properties, because of the Chinese herbs, it does have an acquired taste. The real thing is definitely much more bitter than the imitation guilingo I had, but with the help of a little bit of syrup to sweeten thing up a bit, this, formerly known as medicine, can become a tasty dessert.

I guess you could say that I grew up eating this black Jello. I saw my grandpa eating it out of a porcelain crock when I was very young, and because I wanted to be like him, I asked for a taste. He told me that it was very bitter, and that I probably would not enjoy it. But I begged and pleaded until he gave me a spoonful. My mouth instantly puckered up as I tried to stomach the insanely bitter Jelly. "WHAT IS THIS???", I thought to myself, "This isn't Jello...YUCK!" But to avoid being ridiculed, I happily swallowed it and asked for more. From that moment on, I basically trained myself to like this bitter Jello, asking my mom to buy me cans of it whenever we went out to Chinese markets.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Boiled Peanuts

Boiled peanuts really take me back. They take my parents back too as a matter of fact. As we snacked on the star anise and clove boiled peanuts my mom made, my dad told me of how they used to sell bags of these at the movies in Hong Kong (back in the day). They would pop out each morsel and savor every bite--well maybe more like pop them in their mouths non-stop like we do popcorn at the movies. Then they would just throw the shells on the floor. Mounds and mounds of peanut shells, lima bean shells, and garbage would pile up on the floor. So the way everyone would get out of the theater would be to hop up on the seats and skedaddle out so that the people could sweep up the floors in time for the next showing.
Now we didn't throw the peanut shells on the floor yesterday, but we did enjoy the peanuts like they did way back when.

We bought about 2 pounds of peanuts.
Cover them with water and add 2 star anise and a 4 or 5 of whole cloves and about 4 table spoons of salt and boil until the peanuts are tender and the shells have soaked up some water. (about an hour, but it's really best to try them after the first 30 minutes or so to gage where they are in the cooking process).

Craving Satisfied

I can't even begin to tell you how long I've been reading cupcake recipes and how long I've been craving these black bottom cakes. I think what I really love about these are that they're both a chocolate cake and a cheese cake, all in one. It makes my inner (and outer) fat kid smile.

I had a recipe for black bottom cake that I was ready and excited to try. (True story). But then when I went to the grocery store, they were having a sale on cake mix, 88 cents per box for devils food.
Light Bulb.
SO I cheated. Sue me. I wanted cake, and I wanted them quick.

However! I did make the cream cheese filling from scratch and tweaked the recipe a found.
8 ounces of cream cheese (softened, leave it out for about an hour or two)
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
1tsp vanilla extract or a cap full of vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt

*Fill each paper cup lined tin 1/3 of the way up with the chocolate batter, and then dollop each with a spoon of cream cheese mixture. I added semi-sweet chocolate chips for fun, but you can omit them if you'd like.

Bake at 325F for about 20 minutes and voila. Light, airy black bottom cakes.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I devoured 5 right out of the oven. Yeah. They were that good.

Offal Porridge

I'm awfully fond of offal. Ok. Bad joke. But seriously, I don't know why I didn't enjoy these gem pieces of meat as a child--I bet this was good news to my parents who saw me as one less person to fight with over the highly prized organ meats.

Yesterday I had a pork organ porridge with liver and pork blood, I was rather disappointed when it came out without kidney. WHERE ARE THE KIDNEY SLICES?? Other than the missing kidney, the porridge was very good and it definitely satisfied my craving for something livery and irony (haha, these are my Andrew Zimmern descriptions).

Dragon Beard Candy

O my God. Why didn't i know about such a delicious little confection earlier? My parents have been holding out on me, claiming that I've had it before. And when I insisted that I had never seen anything like it, they're reaction was, in a nut shell, "You've been missing out...BUT...try it now." Yes, thank you parents.

It kind of looks like a dragon beard doesn't it? It's made from long thin strands of sugar wrapped around a mixture of chopped peanuts and granulated sugar like a cocoon. The texture was interesting. Once you take a bite of this candy, the sugar strands melt into a tiny chewy piece of sugar and that mixed with the roasted chopped peanuts and more sugar--oh, man, it was yummy. My only complaint is that I wish it were a little sweeter. I know, it's sugar wrapped around sugar, how could it not be sweet? I think it was because there wasn't enough granulated sugar in the peanut mixture, just a tad more would have really heightened the flavor of the peanuts.

This yummy and messy little candy can be found at Coi Palace in Daly City. Enjoy. I'll definitely be back for more real soon.

Sweet Pumpkin Dessert Soup

You'll notice that ever since I've been back in San Francisco, I've been having some of the best Chinese food. That should come as no surprise. Whether it be out at a restaurant, a hole in the wall, or at home, I just can't get enough.
The other day, my family made pumpkin and sweet potato dessert soup with evaporated milk. And it was o so silky and delicious. It was sweetened with rock sugar but only enough to enhance the natural sweetness of pumpkin itself. The final spoonfuls of evaporated milk made the dessert almost velvety to the tongue.

I am definitely a fan of all things pumpkin, and could definitely get used to it in a dessert soup for the rest of my life.

Black Sesame Mochi

One of my absolute favorite desserts as a kid was a warm chewy mochi ball covered in ground peanuts and filled with a rich, dark, runny black sesame filling. One thing that I love about this dessert is its name literally translates to mochi ball that fell in the sand. And it looks like exactly that--a sandy and delicious mochi ball.

Fut Tieu Cheug

What could that possibly mean? Well, it's a Chinese soup dish with shark fin, abalone, sea cucumber, chicken, and dried scallops--a dish that will sure make a monk jump over a wall--hence its name.

O the broth was incredibly bold and sweet in flavor because of all the wonderful (and expensive) ingredients. Each serving is about $38 at The Mayflower Restaurant in San Francisco, and it's worth every penny.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Clay pot Kind of Night

So my parents and my aunt tell me of this place on Irving that has some of the great claypot dishes and, well, you guessed it, we had to go so that I could see for myself. We ordered a LOT of food, and when they said clay pot dinner...they weren't kidding. Soup, roast duck, and five clay pot dishes. One by one the waiter brought out our clay pot dishes; unveiling them as the steam wafted into the air carrying each dish's unique aromas with it. Around the table all of our eyes twinkled and mouths watered as a symphony of, "mmmmMMmmM's" were heard. But the awe-stricken looks quickly ceased as we all dove in for a taste.

The verdict's out, I think we're going to keep going back until we've tried 'em all!

Duck feet and Mushrooms
Incredibly bold in flavor. The duck feet were cooked the way I like them, crunchy and full of anise and soy flavor.
Shrimp and Vermicelli
Vermicelli in a shrimp stock means that you can't go wrong. The vermicelli quickly soaked up all the stock as soon as it arrived at the table. Bad news for some because, well, there's no more stock. But good news for others because the vermicelli soaked up all the flavor with the stock.

This was probably my favorite of the night, pumpkin and clams.
The sweetness from both the pumpkin and the clams cooked in the savory base of the sauce, made for a great combination of flavors. I could pour that sauce over every thing!
Lamb and bean curd skin
I love lamb cooked this way because it doesn't taste gamey! The sauce was a little too salty for my taste, but flavorwise, it was incredibly bold and meaty.

Rice clay pots (one with chicken and one with Chinese sausage)
The winning points of this dish is that when cooked properly, a crust of rice forms at the bottom and the sides of the clay pot, leaving nothing but a nutty and crunchy surprise at the end.
What we did was take off all the toppings and pour a soy sauce mixture over the rice and mix (Carefully! As to not disturb the crust forming at the bottom)
Each of these rice clay pots is really a meal on its own--a vegetable, rice, a meat, and lots of deliciousness all mixed together.