Showing posts with label Asian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Asian. Show all posts

Monday, August 25, 2014

"clay pot" salmon recipe

with all the excitement around here lately, hung and i have been slacking in the kitchen.  it's not that we haven't been cooking, it's just that we haven't been cooking anything new or, well, presentable.  i mean, ramen noodles with egg and spinach isn't exactly rocket science (but gosh does it taste good!).  a rotisserie chicken sammich? come on, guys, you don't need instructions on that….

but now that things have calmed down a bit, we (hung) have been stepping things up.  the last visitors left on monday, and we took advantage of our day off of work to put some thought into dinner. a trip to the new-to-us asian grocery store on route 440 in jersey city called " asian food " (clever) led us to make a vietnamese dish called "ca kho to," which is essentially clay pot fish or caramelized fish.  salmon steaks are cooked in a caramel-y sauce with all the best flavors: sweet, salty, spicy.  the dish is quick and easy, the hardest part is pulling the ingredients together if you don't normally cook asian food, notedly fish sauce and black bean chili sauce.  both can be found at nearly any asian grocery store or online (see here and here).  though there are so many different ways to achieve the key flavors for clay pot fish, we've been experimenting a lot with the black bean chili sauce, which isn't exactly a traditional ingredient for vietnamese food. however, we find that it's the perfect punch of flavor for SO many asian dishes, and like the depth it adds to clay pot salmon.  this dish is served with white rice and steamed vegetables, no seasoning needed because the best flavor comes from the sauce from the salmon!  we liked this so much that we ate it twice this week.  are you hungry yet? lets go.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

february date: a brooklyn adventure

my first attempt at topping all other monthly dates   failed.  kung fu is an off-Broadway show in manhattan about the life of bruce lee.  perfect, right?  i like shows, hung likes bruce lee.  it was going to be perfect, and tickets were going to be just $70 TOTAL for the two of us.  i ordered them, it was going to be the best surprise ever.  but only 20 minutes after i ordered tickets online, i received an email saying my order has been canceled.  there was a glitch in the system and i would be refunded all of my money.  i tried a second time, and the only tickets available were in march, and they were $75 EACH.  more than double the original price! although if it was a special occasion i may have just bit the bullet, but i was just so angry at the fact that my order was canceled for ticket prices to just go up that i decided it just wasn't meant to be.

luckily though, hung claims that my plan B turned out to be the best date yet (jenn does the happy dance!)  we have had such great experiences at olive oil and vinegar tasting rooms, so i set my sights on finding one in the city.  luckily for us, there's one right in williamsburg! it's called o live , and it's pretty close to a lot of other fun places, so i decided to turn our date into an adventure!

before trekking to brooklyn, though, we stopped at a vintage furniture store in manhattan called furnish green .  i have had my eyes set on a credenza there, and i NEEDED to at least look at it in person.  let me tell you guys, this store has SO many cool things! and in such great condition!  sure, your average vintage store might have a handful of mid-century modern furniture in beat up condition for a price you might find on craigslist, but this place is carefully curated, and only keeps items in good condition.  the pieces might be a little bit more expensive, but i'm no expert at refinishing furniture (let alone stuff that may or may not have a veneer on it), and i'm not about to PAINT mid-century modern stuff either.  hung ultimately made the "adult" decision, and said we needed to pass on the credenza, we don't "need" it now anyways... maybe one day though ;)

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next stop, o live!  i planned out our day such that we had to walk to the farthest place first, then work our way back to the train.  although we didn't purchase anything at furnish green , we were on a small "high" of furniture shopping (guys, it's SO fun!). so when we passed all those hipster vintage shops in williamsburg on our way to o live, we couldn't help by pop into some of them.  needless to say, we WILL be going back soon!  we tasted practically every balsamic vinegar at o live before settling on the cranberry pear white balsamic and the vermont maple dark balsamic.  we ran out of 2 balsamic vinegars at home recently, and before this purchase we only had, say, 3 or 4 kinds of balsamic vinegar at the house.  clearly we "needed" more options!

just a few blocks away was a vietnamese bar and restaurant called bia .  i was drawn to this place because my during FIRST time in new york city (looking for apartments, ironically), my friends took me to a place in manhattan (that's now closed) called bia garden.  just like it sounds, it was a TINY beer garden tucked away in the tiny "open space" behind a building somewhere in manhattan (I had no idea where I was at the time, NYC was so overwhelming!)  bia had a great vibe, although when we first walked in, we were the only ones there, so i was a little concerned my day date plan was going to be disasterous.  we sat at the bar, we each ordered a guinness, and soon people started strolling in.  i decided on my favorite vermicelli noodles with grilled pork and spring rolls, while hung ordered a grilled pork banh mi sammich, both better than expected! my noodle dish had about half lettuce, half noodles, so it was more like a salad than most places (which serve a huge bowl of noodles with a sprinkle of veggies).  we ventured to the rooftop, which was closed for the winter, but looked like it would be so fun in the summertime! i'll have to remember this place come april or may :)

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(don't make too much fun of our mini photoshoot.  guys, it was 55 degrees and sunny in FEBRUARY!! it put us in a good mood :P)

next on the list was momofuku milkbar ! the only time i had tried to go to a milkbar location was after dinner in manhattan, when milkbar is just PACKED.  although the intention was to get dessert, hung may have ordered the best thing on the menu : the volcano.  i'm not sure if it's on the menu all the time (it's not posted online), but this thing was a very chewy bun stuffed with pork, potatoes, carmelized onions, and fontina cheese. not exactly "dessert", but hey, that's how he rolls ;)  we also ordered the corn cookie and the 5 boro cookie, both worthy of ordering again (and again and again).

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last stop on the date was barcade! yes, we have barcade in jersey city too, but because we were so close and the brooklyn one is the original one, i felt the need to at least stop in for a beer.  it is practically the same thing as the one in jersey city (except ours is bigger with more arcade games!)  they have similar craft beers on tap, behind the bar is a big chalkboard wall with the menu and lots of neon beer signs, and no barstools match.  seriously barcade is the best bar to go to with a dive-bar feel with better-than-dive-bar beer (and, of course, all of your favorite childhood arcade games).

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around 3pm we looked up the location of the restaurant for dinner with friends, and found out that it was in williamsburg too! with a few hours to waste before dinner, we explored a grocery store (one of our favorite things to do! don't judge!), picked up grocery store sushi (i'm such a sucker for it), and made our way over to the restaurant.  with still an hour or so before dinner, we popped into surf bar .  this place smelled of nothing but fried calamari, it was crowded, and there was a beach on the floor.  yes, you read that right, sand on the floor, throughout the entire place! when i was lured in with the "hot spiked apple cider" sign out front, i was not expecting sand on the floor.  and, if we weren't heading to a pre-fixe, 3-course dinner soon after, my hands would have been ALL OVER that calamari.

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the rest of the evening was spent celebrating a birthday with out-of-towners, so date day ended at surf bar.  days like this are why i love new york city!!!! i wouldn't have changed a thing!

(except maybe grab more cookies from milkbar... damn they were good)


Thursday, October 17, 2013


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(or dumprings, as mr p likes to call them)
(he's Asian, so he can get away with putting on a fake Asian accent without sounding TOO racist)

i told you guys earlier this week that we made dumplings on sunday after our little day date in Brooklyn.  the truth is... we ALSO made dumplings the night before.
we also woke up Saturday morning at 11:30am
we also never got out of our pj's the entire day.
we also never showered.
and it was GLORIOUS .

for some people, the "hassle" of making dumplings at home is not worth the return.  ....especially when everyone around here seems to know about "that place on mosco street that has 5-for-$1 dumplings" in Chinatown manhattan. mosco street is only 1 block long, people, so we all KNOW we go to the same place.

but for mr p and i, it's just fun.  who wouldn't want to spend a day getting messy in the kitchen in your pj's? I bet if I said we were making cookies everyone would understand (even though we all know there are awesome cookies at practically any bakery or grocery store)  "to each their own," I say, and for us last Saturday, it was dumprings dumplings.

let me just point out that this experience was pretty darn awesome, mostly because we had no timeline, and no people to please but ourselves.  the last time we made dumplings we used wonton wrappers (totally not as good) and started making them mere hours before people arrived. oh and we made 200. we were nuts.

dumplings are pretty simple though... the dough is just water, flour, and salt, and requires no kitchen aid mixer, just your own 2 hands.  the filling can be whatever you want (my mind was going crazy thinking about the different dumplings we could make, more on that later, hopefully when we've actually tried my  crazy-brain idea of putting truffled mac-n-cheese with bacon and sage inside)

we made 2 very similar fillings using ground pork, onions, ginger, LOTS of fresh cilantro, and chili peppers.  the recipe we loosely followed was this one from eCurry (it was featured on ).  the only difference is we added a pinch or two of salt to the dough, and mixed the chutney with a vinegar/soy sauce mixture (TO DIE FOR!!) one of the fillings had cabbage for an extra crunch, and we made 2 different shapes to distinguish between the two fillings.

the key to making good dumplings is to get the dough right.  i'm not talking about texture (though that's important too), i'm talking about thickness and shape.  that's the part that takes practice. anyone can follow the recipe from eCurry and "make" dumplings. but it's when you KNOW you've got the dough thickness down and the shape right that it will actually be fun...  that's the part that takes practice.

the first day we got the dough thickness right, but the shapes all wrong (until we started youtubing how to wrap dumplings )

the second day when we got the shaping technique down, the thickness was WAY too thin so they were difficult to shape.

the good thing is they tasted pretty darn amazing both days, AND we have probably 100 more in the freezer to pull out whenever we're not in the mood to cook (and too cheap to order take-out).

stay tuned for our net adventure in dumpling-making... perhaps the mac-n-cheese version I mentioned earlier, or maybe we'll "go big or go home" with SOUP dumplings!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

october date

it seems that lately mr p and I rarely get truly alone time, except for those few minutes of the day we're snuggling before bed, oogling over things we see on  we know how to make great, cheap food at home, so often times it seems hard to justify spending even just $50 for a dinner date when we could make the exact same thing at home for $10.

but every time we DO go on a date, we wonder why we don't do it more often. there's something different about going "out".  you get all dressed up and get that "look good, feel good" feeling, and there's instant romance.

a few weeks ago i told mr p that we need to go on more dates, and we should try to be more conscious about it.  if we don't plan ahead, next thing we know we will have spend 3 or 4 months of spending every weekend night with family or friends and not 1 with just each other.  now we're going to start off with dedicating 1 day or night a month going on a date.  it can be going to a restaurant, it can be going for a picnic, it can be taking the circle line or a tour bus, going to a museum, taking a cooking class, going to a concert, it doesn't matter... as long as it's something we do just the two of us.

i started off the "initiative" with a brunch date at talde in park slope brooklyn on sunday. i heard about this place recently because this article on the jersey journal mentioned that anthony carrino and john colanari of the kitchen cousins and cousins unvercover on hgtv will be collaborating with the head chef at talde Brooklyn to open another talde location very close to our house.  the menu in Brooklyn is American/Asian fusion, and the one in jersey city will be Asian/ITALIAN fusion! i'm pretty excited to see how they mix "noodles" and "pasta" on the new menu, haha.

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when we got off the train in park slope, i was instantly in love.  the homes look JUST like the homes in our neighborhood, but the neighborhood is much more developed with more stores, more people... i can just imagine that our neighborhood will look like this in 5 or 10 years :) 

when we got to talde, we got seated right away (a big plus for brunch in Brooklyn at 12:30pm on a sunday!!) we ordered tater tots with siracha ketchup, lobster bao, and Korean fried chicken wings with waffles and coconut browned butter sauce.  lobster bao was meh, the tater tots were the crunchiest I've EVER had (score!), and if it wasn't for me wearing red lipstick and mr p sweating buckets with any bit of spice we could have eaten 4 orders of the wings and waffles! lets just say i feel sorry for the person who has to wash the white linen napkins all full of red lipstick and sweat :P

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we walked around the sunny neighborhood a bit, we were on a mission to find a mini rolling pin for rolling out dumpling dough (as soon as i think we have EVERYTHING for the kitchen, there's always something else :P) when we didn't find it at the kitchen store nearby, we trekked to Chinatown where there are kitchen stores galore.  with intentions of googling one when we popped out of the train, we saw one right in front of us, as if it had rays of light beaming from it with sounds of "ahhhhhhhhhhh" like in the movies. mr p and i both got a good chuckle out of it.  we walked into the store, which looked like it was someone's messy garage. we asked for a tiny rolling pin for dumplings, the girl behind the counter took us down a very narrow isle, fumbled through a basket of stuff on the floor, and finally pulled out a half-opened mini rolling pin, exactly what we wanted!! when we asked for 2 of them, she sighed, went searching again, and thankfully found another. "four dolla each".  SCORE!!!

after achieving all we wanted for the day, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and walk to the world trade center train.  again, our internal NYC senses won over google, and we made our way back by just following the big tower!  it's amazing how tall the freedom tower is, and how well you can get a sense of direction by landmarks. its sort of like when you're in midtown, where you can tell where you're at by looking for the empire state building (except this one is MUCH taller!)

finishing off the day by making over 100 dumplings rounded out a perfect sunday :)

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date day deemed a success.  now it's mr p's turn for our November date, he's got a month to find a place and pick a day!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

year of the snake

happy lunar new year!
mr p and i snuck out of jersey right after nemo on saturday morning and left for ohio to celebrate lunar new year with his family ...and my mom! she came to cleveland too!
(i know, went to ohio AHHH-GAIN, third time this year, but you gotta do what you gotta do when you live so far away)
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it was a blast though. the weekend was filled with babies, baby bumps, too much food, big hugs, tall drinks, belly laughs, casino-exploring, chinese-grocery-store-exploring, pho-eating, grammy's-watching, birthday-celebrating... it was nearly perfect.
happy (lunar/chinese/asian) new year!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

yunnan kitchen

"we know this great place on the lower east side that has rice cakes"
"what do you mean, rice cakes? i don't wanna eat there"
"no... not THOSE rice cakes.  not the crunchy ones dieters get from the grocery store"
"what then?"
"you'll see.  and you'll love them"

ok so the conversation went something like that.
we had friends in town for the weekend, and they insisted that we go to yunnan kitchen sometime during the weekend.
with a name like "yunnan kitchen", i was expecting your typical chinatown restaurant... you know what i'm talking about:
--- bamboo & philodendrons overtaking the place
---those plastic bowls with chinese designs all over them
--- a little of that outdated-but-its-ok-because-its-a-chinese-restaurant-and-that's-the-way-chinese-restaurants-are kind of feel to the place

this place is a complete 180 from that. 
it's trendy, dimly lit, has communal tables, fashionable employees, a view into the kitchen... everything you'd expect from a hot, new york city restaurant.

and the food certainly exceeded our expectations.
if you've never had yunnan food, one of their specialties is their mala sauce.
mala sauce is a flavor i had never tasted before. it's spicy, but in a totally different way. it doesn't set your mouth on fire and make you dripping sweat, but rather gives a bit of heat, but also gives a numbing or tingling sensation.  you just have to try it.  we had this spice on chicken wings and as a dipping  spice for crispy pork belly.
as for the "rice cakes"... oh my... the best way i can describe them, is chinese gnocchi.  they make them in a long roll and slice it.  the texture is sort of gummy like gnocchi, but made with rice flour instead of potatoes and wheat flour. it was served in a sort of stir-fry with mushrooms and greens.  seriously, i could go back there JUST for that...

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side note, if you are the kind of person who just "can't use chopsticks", we suggest taking baby steps by using them with sticky rice first!  i don't know why someone wouldn't like sticky rice, it just about tastes just like regular white rice, but sticks together more.  but, it's easy to eat with chopsticks because it literally sticks to it, helping those chopsticks-impaired folks ;)

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i highly suggest this place!

cheers to the weekend :)