Spam Kimbap (Korean version of Sushi)
One of my favorite processed meats is Spam (from Hormel). When I was young, my family used to coat slices of this canned ham in an egg batter, deep fry it and serve it with piping hot jasmine rice. Rice and spam is the perfect combination of plain and salty. Reminiscing childhood tastes, I made Spam Kimbap today for snack.
Making kimbap is much easier than sushi. The rice doesn’t need seasoning and the fillings don’t have to be fish. In fact, kimbap can easily be made with common foods found in your kitchen fridge or pantry. Many kimbap stores in New York City serve rolls filled with canned tuna, American cheese, hot dogs, ham, and eggs.
To make kimbap, cook short grain white rice (or sushi rice, I recommend the Nishiki brand) and let it cool. Fry spam (or use hot dogs quartered lengthwise) and fry a plain egg omelet. Assemble your bamboo sushi roller. Place a sheet of nori (seaweed sheet), spread the rice onto the nori, and place cut pieces of meat and egg omelette into the rice and roll. Rolling perfectly round and tight sushi or kimbap logs take practice. Have fun :)
Also, if you like Spam, I recently published a piece on Spam foods in New York City (dishes like Spam Fries) on Realcheapeats.com. Here’s the link: http://realcheapeats.com/nyc/2013/asian-spam-dishes-in-nyc-history-of-spam-musubi-spam-fries-budae-jjigae/
Currently, I’m working for NYU Spoon, a school food blog. I published a recipe called Ham & Egg in a Nest. Check it out here: http://nyuspoon.com/ham-egg-in-a-nest/
When I made the recipe, I thought to myself, “What should I do with the extra piece of cut bread?” Well, I came up with a recipe: Pesto Toast.
You can make this after you make the Ham & Egg in a Nest or with a whole piece of bread.
All you need is pesto, mozzarella cheese and ham.
For the small cut breads in this photo you will need:
2 cut breads (use a cookie cutter or knife to cut a whole bread into 4 squares, use 2)
1 tbsp pesto
2 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
1 slice of ham (or whatever toppings you like i.e. pepperoni, goat cheese, tomato}
Spread pesto onto the bread, covering the top side completely to prevent burning.
Sprinkle cheese, also covering the top side to keep the pesto moist on the bottom
Slice your ham or other toppings on top.
Bake at 350 F for 7 minutes.
Xi’an Famous Foods - Liang Pi
Contains: Liang Pi Noodles made from Wheat Starch, Mung Bean Sprouts, Spongy Tofu, Cucumbers, Cilantro, Sesame Seeds and spicy sauce.
This is my second entry about food I didn’t make. Well, I did add the fried Spam strips. Anyways, I am absolutely in love with Xi’an Famous Foods’ Liang Pi (Cold Skin) Noodles. No, it is not because of Bourdain’s influence. I knew about his rave on Xi’an Famous Foods’ lamb burgers and tried them, but I’ve never had Liang Pi until my trip to China. My first time having Liang Pi was actually last year in Shanghai, China. I studied abroad there last spring. Nearby my apartment, there were always little shops and food carts that sold steamed buns, dumplings, jian bing (a Chinese savory breakfast wrap) and bubble tea.
One day, there was a new makeshift cart in the area. It was run by two brothers and they were selling Liang Pi. I passed by a few times, until my curiosity got the better of me, and I bought one to try. It was refreshing and amazing. It had a pungent blast of chili oil and black vinegar. From then on, I would try the different Liang Pi stalls I saw. There was one in a food court by the East China Normal University’s campus. It was the standard fare, but with ham. It made a huge difference. Since then, I’ve been looking for Liang Pi with ham. After coming back to the states, I didn’t know where to get Liang Pi. I started asking my family and friends, where would i be able to find it. My aunt directed me to Xi’an Famous Foods in the basement of Golden Mall, a block away from where we live. I tried their version, but I didn’t like it as much due to the lack of ham and vinegar. But nowadays, I buy it as takeout and add sesame seeds, black vinegar and spam/ham to it.
Without the spam, Liang Pi can be quite healthy, if you add more vegetables. I tried making Liang Pi from scratch, and it wasn’t worth it because the noodle steaming process is only easy if you owned the Chinese rice noodle steel steamers.
Green Papaya Salad with Cucumbers and Green Beans
The first time I tried this salad was in Thai Terminal, on 12th street between 1st and 2nd Ave, New York City. After my first try I loved this salad, particularly for the texture. Each papaya strip was matchstick sized and delivered a crunch I could never forget. Soon enough I kept craving green papaya salad and tasted it in other restaurants. But nothing could compare to Thai Terminal’s.
Last summer, I went back to Malaysia and had Thai food specifically to try ”som tam”—green papaya salad, outside of the states. One thing that popped out to me in papaya salads served there was black and bluish things in the salad. I asked the waiter what they were, turned out they were crabs. I tasted one of them it was very salty, fishy and the texture was not cooked. These were raw crabs that were salted and fermented and typically added to the papaya salad along with the dried shrimp to enhance salad flavor. The salad was extremely flavorful and I absolutely loved the super spicy kick it gave. This salad was much better than Thai Terminal’s.
I attempted to make my own version of som tam I had from Malaysia, without the crabs and the shrimp. In addition to the sugar, fish sauce, garlic, lime juice and chili, I added cayenne power and soy sauce to boost the flavors. My salad was good, but it lacked the seafood flavor. Someday, I need to get a hold of fermented crabs.
Folded Egg Rice Roll
This is one of the new and interesting recipes I have been trying lately. For those who personally know me, I love to watch Korean variety TV shows and talk shows. One of my favorites is a talk show named Happy Together, hosted by my favorite MC Yoo Jaesuk. On Happy Together, there is a recent segment that happens towards the end called Late Night Cafeteria. In this segment, guests (usually Korean celebrities or public figures) bring recipes from their homes that fit the category of easy and cost efficient—perfect for late night snacks.
This folded egg rice wrap was featured on the show. It is really easy, delicious and perfect for vegetarians.
You will need:
1 sheet of nori (roasted seaweed)
1-2 cups of cooked rice (preferably sticky)
How to make:
Heat your cooked rice and mix it with salt and sesame seeds according to your taste.
Using a fork, beat the eggs lightly with a dash of salt.
Take a frying pan (I used a 10 inch) and put it over high heat as you pour cooking oil into the pan.
When the pan is hot enough pour the eggs in, rotate the pan so the egg evenly coats the entire pan’s flat surface. Lower the heat.
Before the egg completely cooks, press the nori on top.
Put the rice on top of the nori, spreading the rice evenly.
Now fold your egg starting from the right side to the center.
Fold your egg from the left sider to the center, over the egg from the right side.
Flip your egg roll flat side up, with the folded egg layers on the bottom and cook over low heat for 5 min
Remove from heat, cut the egg roll like you would cut sushi or bread (The key to this is cutting it swiftly lightly and making sure to not a lot of pressure onto the egg roll.
Plate is and serve with ketchup or any condiment of your choice.
**Note**: I will upload step by step photos about how to “fold” your egg roll soon.
To start off the first month of 2013, today I made one of my favorite family recipes: Cantonese chicken and mushroom stir-fry. This recipe has been in my family for over a hundred years, even my grandma ate it when she was a young girl. This was true for my mother also. She started eating this dish when she was seven. She learned how to cook Cantonese chicken and mushroom when she was twelve. However, this only appeared in her meals a few times a year. Usually, my grandma would cook this for Chinese New Year, the May Festival, and Mid-autumn festival. Chicken was a delicacy; and back in my mother’s youth our family was very poor. Not only was chicken expensive, shiitake mushrooms were prized even higher. In Malaysia, where my mother grew up, farmers seldom cultivate them.
This was one of the first recipes my mother taught me because it was easy. The cookware my mother used back then was a majestic cast iron round wok which weighed ten pounds. Carrying and moving it from the stove to the sink definitely was a workout! This wasn’t the only workout my mother had to do. Cooking gas wasn’t available to our family until my mother was seventeen years old. Before gas, my mother and her siblings would have to go to the forests and sometimes mountains to get firewood for cooking. Thank goodness we don’t have to use firewood to cook now. Anyhow, moving on to the recipe this is how you would make the Cantonese chicken and mushroom stir fry.
Ingredients you need:
Half a chicken or 1.5 lbs bone in chicken (thigh, wings, and drumsticks)
1 tbsp minced ginger
½ lbs shiitake mushrooms
5 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup cooking wine
2 ½ tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Sesame oil to serve
Cut the chicken into 2-3 inch pieces. Use a cleaver or a heavy knife to do this. You can ask your local butcher to do this when you purchase the chicken. If you are using wings score each one lengthwise instead.
Salt the chicken and coat the chicken with 1 tbsp oyster sauce and let it marinate for 5 minutes.
Then, add the sugar and cooking wine, mixing it thoroughly. Then, let it marinate for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash and rub your mushrooms to get rid of any dirt. Then, trim off the mushroom stems so that there are half inch stems remaining on the mushrooms.
Take a stockpot, add water and boil it.When the water is boiling rapidly, put the mushrooms in. Don’t worry if all your mushrooms are not submerged into the water. Let the mushrooms cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the water turns brown. Take out the mushrooms and pour the brown water out. Put the mushrooms back into the pot and fill the pot with cold water. This stops the mushroom from being further cooked and also cools it down.
When the mushrooms are cool enough to handle, squeeze each mushroom one by one to remove excess water. This allows the mushrooms to become a “dry sponge” to absorb the flavor during cooking. Set the mushrooms aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium fire.When the oil is hot, add the ginger and let it cook for 30 seconds.Then, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
When the ginger and garlic are golden brown, and in the remaining oyster sauce and stir it for 15 seconds. Stir in the soy sauce for 30 seconds.
Add the chicken, without the marinade. Stir fry the chicken for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of water, cover it and let it simmer on low heat for 9 minutes.
Meanwhile, make a sauce thickener with the flour and ½ cup of water. Stir until there are no lumps.
Remove the lid, take out the chicken only and place them onto your serving ware. Raise the heat to medium high and let the mushrooms cook without a cover to evaporate some of the water for 2 minutes. Take out the mushrooms and place them with the chicken.
Turn up the heat to high, and pour the flour mixture into the pan. Stir quickly for 2 minutes.The final sauce should look like this:
Turn off the heat and add the sauce on top of the chicken and mushrooms.
Serve with a dash of sesame oil.
Serving tip- You can slip the wings and mushrooms into skewers like I did and serve the sauce on the side.
This week, I made Vietnamese Pho noodle soup for the first time. I spent two days making the soup and one day making stewed beef to accompany it. The soup only needed two pounds of beef bones, one pound of beef, grilled onions, ginger, star anise pods and cinnamon. The cinnamon component surprised me. Personally, I dislike cinnamon, especially on top of sweets. Therefore, I was wary of adding it to the soup. Nevertheless, I decided to follow the recipe. The cinnamon gave the soup the pho noodle taste. It was aromatic and scrumptious. The typical sweet cinnamon flavor was not there. It added a nice smoky umami kick to the beef flavor. I loved the taste so much that I might experiment with cinnamon in savory food from now on.
HAPPY BLACK FRIDAY! I’m shopping at 3 AM this weekend.
I made fancy potatoes for a fancy Thanksgiving.
These are potatoes stuffed withbacon.
This recipe is from this year’s Food Network Magazine Thanksgiving issue: bit.ly/PBxbYM
My thoughts about this Thanksgiving:
It is difficult to celebrate Thanksgiving alone. I am not referring to eating the Thanksgiving dinner alone. What I mean by “alone” is being the only person cooking the meal.
Last year, I asked my mom to buy turkey legs at bulk price, but that turned out to be one horrible mistake. She bought around thirty pounds worth of turkey legs—so I could make it and give it to her friends. That was a nice gesture, however, it took me two days of cooking. I did not plan to do it again this year.
This was why I almost canceled our family’s Thanksgiving tradition I had established three years ago because I did not want to tire myself out again.Eventually, I made my final decision (thanks to my cousin’s support and help in the kitchen) to cook some turkey. The effort was worth it. The taste of turkey meat was so delectable, I couldn’t miss it. Especially since Thanksgiving is the time when a ton of turkey birds are slaughtered for cooking instead of making deli meats.
In regards to slaughtering turkeys, every year the president pardons two turkeys from slaughter. However, they normally don’t live long after because the turkeys we eat are too fat, heavy, and physically underdeveloped for movement and exercise their wild counterparts receive. The turkeys on our tables are evolutionary monsters. I’m not saying we shouldn’t eat them because I ate one last week. I even bought one during a post-Thanksgiving sale for $0.10 cents a pound totaling up to $1.36 for the whole turkey. I just want to give you food for thought—literally, we should think again about the food that is placed onto our tables and into our bodies. I’m considering if I should buy a heritage turkey next year at $6 a pound to see how it tastes. Until then, Happy eating!
P.S. The reason why I have potatoes instead of turkey in my photo was because my family has a must-carve-the-turkey-right-now-cause-it-looks-delicious syndrome.