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Archive for June, 2011

Sometimes (okay, more often than not), my cooking is from inspiration (read no recipe). Recently I improvised two dishes inspired by other dishes. One somewhat conventional, the other one a bit weird (even by my standards). The thing is I thought both were really good.

I was browsing through this blog recently and saw two recipes here and here that got the wheels turning. I was going to make of riff on sukiyaki and pork tofu with whatever ingredients were at hand. I had a small piece of pork shoulder that I had sliced and marinated in Shao Xing wine, a container of doufu (medium texture), Sichuan pepper, and sugar (no salt, the Shao Xing wine has salt), dried shiitake mushrooms, Chinese black fungus, a carrot, ginger, no dried soybeans. Oh oh.

I found a package of raw peanuts in the back of the freezer, yes!

Soaked the shiitake mushrooms, black fungus, and peanuts in water (not together); quickly seared the sliced pork; added shiitake mushrooms, black fungus, and sliced ginger. Simmered for about half an hour; added dark soy sauce, sugar, peanuts, and carrots; simmered for about forty-five minutes more; added drained and cubed doufu; simmered for about ten minutes.

Doufu And Shiitake Stew

The doufu absorbed all of the flavors and the carrots gave a touch of sweetness to the dish. The pork was melt in your mouth tender. The peanuts turned out well too. 🙂

The Cat gave the dish four paws. The leftover was even better.

Warning: Those of you with queasy stomachs or sensitive gag reflexes may want to stop now (it’s okay, I understand).

As mentioned at the top of this post, the next dish was a little weird (even by my standards). But afterwards, I thought it kind of made sense (at least in my world).

I was watching a program on street food and it featured “bacon jam”. I had to find out more. The “bacon jam” comes from a “food truck” in the Seattle area. A deeper search gave me an idea of the basic ingredients: bacon, caramelized onions, and vinegar (I think it’s Balsamic).

I had none of the ingredients, sigh. The closest thing was a bottle of bacon pieces (the kind used to sprinkle on salads). However, as I was poking around a came across a can of baked beans with bacon (you’ll see the connection soon).

Before “bacon jam” parked itself on my brain, I was planning to eat natto for lunch. Bacon goes well with almost everything, and natto kind of has that sticky quality (okay not kind of really sticky).

So for lunch, a package of natto, some bottled bacon pieces, Kauai sea salt, Shichimi Togarashi, ground Sichuan pepper, and chopped chives (for color). This time around, no soy sauce (I didn’t want the natto to be too “watery”).

Natto With Bacon

Think pork and beans with an Asian twist. I liked it, really (I know, I’m probably in the minority of one). The bottled bacon worked extremely well, no fat to interfere with the beans. A definite do again, maybe as a topping on a burger, the possibilities are endless.

I’ll stop now, The Cat is gagging.

Enjoy.

The Mouse

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We tried a relatively new Mexican restaurant for breakfast this past weekend.

Sign

I think the owners have a restaurant in town and run a lunch wagon (saw the truck across the street). I guess The Cat still has refried beans on her mind.

When we entered, the owner/chef was the only one inside. He seemed to be running around the kitchen either cleaning up or prepping. The owner came out to greet us, said he didn’t have a breakfast menu, and started telling us what he could offer for breakfast. All the dishes were in Spanish and our eyes started to glaze over (where’s the Star Trek translator when we need it).

The Cat ordered whatever is easiest with rice and beans. Good thinking, The Mouse followed.

Since this was another new restaurant for us, The Cat was taking in the “atmosphere”.

Interior

Interior, Detail

You Will Listen To My Voice

Tabletop Design

As more people came in, the poor guy seemed a bit overwhelmed. I got up got a pitcher of water and served everyone (had to make sure they knew I didn’t work there). 😛

After a short wait, our breakfast was served.

Breakfast, Chef's Choice

From left: Portuguese sausage, flour tortillas, fried eggs, green chile sauce, salad, Mexican rice, and refried beans.

Chips

Chile Sauce

Breakfast included a basket of chips and red chile sauce. My one “complaint” was I wish we were given some kind of “Mexican” meat instead of Portuguese sausage. Don’t get me wrong, I like Portuguese sausage, it’s just that I wanted to try something “authentic”. I kind of wanted a little more rice too (but that’s just me).

The chef said he learned all of his recipes from his mother. Everything tasted good. I think the two chile sauces were a little too spicy for The Cat, she kept drinking water. For me, the green sauce was just right, the red sauce was a bit too spicy for me too.

A very good experience.

Enjoy.

The Mouse

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One of The Cat’s favorite soup noodle dishes is braised duck soup noodle. If anyone is interested, mine is won ton with vegetables (noodles optional).

Anyway, I was walking around our local strip mall the other day and came across this Vietnamese restaurantthat serves braised duck noodle soup.

Sign

This past weekend, we decided to give the restaurant a shot.

Sometimes when we try a new restaurant, The Cat wants to experience the “atmosphere” of a place. I guess I’m simple, just strap on the feed back and “let the games begin.” 😉

So okay, some of the decorations were interesting.

Painting

More Art

A lemon wedge in the water, a good sign.

Lemon Wedge

We can order now. Whew. The Cat ordered the braised duck soup noodle.

Braised Duck Soup Noodle

I ordered the combination phở.

Combination Pho

Sorry, the pictures are a little steamy (not that kind of steamy). The soups were hot.

The Cat thought her noodles were not bad (it didn’t knock her socks off). The soup didn’t have enough of the ingredients listed on the menu (goji berries for example). I wasn’t a bad dish, but it could’ve been better. My phởwas similar. While it was not bad, I thought the soup could have been richer. Thank goodness for the house made chili sauce on the table.

Chili Sauce

If The Cat had to choose, she still prefers the braised duck soup noodle from here.

Sign

The Cat feels the soup is richer and tastier. Good to try though.

Enjoy.

The Mouse

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It’s been awhile since the last post about onigiri or musubi. The last one was over a month ago.

Anyway, today’s onigiri came from here.

Sign

I know what you’re thinking, but don’t knock it until you try it. The local stores were advertising one dollar musubi for sale. A pretty good deal now a days.

Fried Rice Musubi

Head Shot

Turns out, the sale was for fried rice musubi (not Spam musubi). That’s okay, I like fried rice musubi too (actually, I like most varieties of musubi). Sorry, the pictures are a little blurry (need to get a small tripod).

Anyway, the fried rice musubi had bits of carrot and bacon (no char siu). There was good news and bad news for this musubi.

First the bad news. The texture of the fried rice was that it didn’t stick together very well (I had to eat it on a plate with a fork). So, for hand held portability, it failed. Now the good news. Taste wise it was pretty awesome (almost everything is good with bacon). The rice was not mushy (that’s why I couldn’t eat it “on the run”). The egg omelet was also pretty good. So as far as fried rice goes, it’s right up there.

Since I was there, I also picked-up one steamed char siu manapua.

Steamed Char Siu Manapua

Small kid time, char siu manapua was my first taste of “dim sum”. It must have made a lasting impression because it’s still my favorite (not baked, not the fancy “dim sum” varieties, not even the fancy steamed manapua). Large sized local style steamed manapua. There’s probably no redeeming nutritional value to steamed manapua (white flour and roast pork), but it makes me happy. 🙂

Bite Shot

This one wasn’t bad. The taste was a little sweeter than I’m used to, and there were bits of fat that wasn’t too appetizing, but all in all, not bad.

I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to get these, but that’s the nature of 7-Eleven stores anyway, convenience and accessibility.

Enjoy.

The Mouse

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Remembering

One blog that I check occasionally is all about sardines. A recent post, talks about the closing of the last operating plant in the United States. Very sad.

The Cat’s father was willing to try different and new foods and dishes. The Mouse’s father was less prone to do so. What he did teach me was to appreciate the little things.

Sardines was one of my father’s favorite foods. Some saltine or soda crackers, butter, bread and butter pickles, and a can of sardines and he was king of the world (he wasn’t too particular about brands, not that we had that many to choose from).

Recently, I had a bowl of brown rice, a can of fish steaks (Beach Cliff brand), and capers (I prefer my canned “sardines” with rice instead of crackers).

Brown Rice

 

Can

 

Fish Steaks

Capers

To remember.

All the cans in our pantry were not packed in the United States. This can was packed in Poland. Sigh.

I’ll spare you what the finished dish looked like. To give you an idea, The Cat called it “cat food”. 😛

Happy belated father’s day dad. It also would have been his b-day in a few days, so happy b-day too.

Enjoy.

The Mouse

 

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