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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hu Tiu/Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Soup with Barbecued Pork and Shrimp)

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 1

Where were we?

Right. I bribed Tony of SinoSoul and his better half over so he could make my food look good. Tell me that photo doesn't make you want to lick the screen? Considering Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Soup with Barbecued Pork and Shrimp) is one of my and lil' sis's favorite dishes, I couldn't bring myself to post this recipe with my previous photos. So it languished in the queue waiting and waiting.

The cooking was the easy part. Making my food look as good as I'd like, well, I gladly take offers of assistance.

When he came over, Tony asked what time I started cooking. I think he thinks I slaved away all day in the kitchen or something. Far from it. I'm probably the worst hostess because my guests always have to work for their supper.

Just so you know how easy this recipe is, the whole meal came together in less than 2 hours, and that includes grocery shopping time. The key is using a combination of dried squid and shrimp to flavor the porky broth. The dried seafood is so concentrated with umami that about half an hour of simmering is all that's needed to bring out the flavors. Now, certainly you can let the stock simmer for longer, just saying it can be ready in the amount of time it takes to prepare the rest of the meal.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hot Mit Luoc (Vietnamese Boiled Jackfruit Seeds)

Hot Mit Luoc (Vietnamese Boiled Jackfruit Seeds) 1

This one's a quick and easy recipe. As I said previously, my mom said jackfruit seeds could be boiled or roasted. They look like chestnuts, don't they? Sort of tastes like it too.

Read my primer on how to eat jackfruit if you don't know.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thit Heo Kho Mit (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Jackfruit)

Thit Heo Kho Mit (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Jackfruit) 1

Last fall, I carted an entire jackfruit up to Oregon, courtesy of youngest auntie who knows how much my mom loves them. As we were picking out the fruit from between the tendrils, I remarked that it seemed like such a waste since there was so much of it.

Vietnamese people don't waste anything, said my momma, who then told me that the tendrils could be cooked in braised dishes and the seeds can be boiled or toasted and eaten like nuts.

Oh! Really?!

So the next time youngest auntie came over with a small portion of jackfruit for me, I decided to put it to the test. The tendrils, while not as sweet as the fruit, were still slightly sweet enough. A perfect pairing for braised pork. If you don't have fresh jackfruit on hand, I imagine green jackfruit would work just as well.

I have no idea if this was how my mom meant for it to be cooked. I made this up myself! :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Goi Mit Non Tom Thit Heo (Vietnamese Green Jackfruit Salad with Shrimp and Pork)

Goi Mit Non Tom Thit Heo (Vietnamese Green Jackfruit Salad with Pork and Shrimp) 1

The nice thing about having blog friends who live nearby is always having someone to eat my food. But the nicest part about having Tony of SinoSoul and his better half, in particular, as neighbors is that he makes my food look good and she washes my dishes. And get this, they actually enjoy it! Or well, they insist upon doing it, which works for me. :P

You'll have to forgive me if I become a little vain these days. There are some recipes that have sat in the queue forever just because I've been dissatisfied with the photos. I mean, sure the recipe itself would work, and the photos were adequate for blogging purposes before, but now, my photos are looking gooood! Thanks mainly to my new (used) camera and Tony's much better photography skills.

So I invited them over for dinner recently for some Goi Mit Non Tom Thit Heo (Vietnamese Green Jackfruit Salad with Shrimp and Pork) and Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Soup with Chinese Barbecued Pork and Shrimp). I had been craving hu tieu lately and really wanted to post my recipe, but didn't like my previous photos. Plus, they had never eaten green jackfruit before so it was a good a time as any to get this recipe up too.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Faux Beignets

Faux Beignets 1

I asked my friend (he of the only a Red Jambalaya is a "proper" jambalaya) what he'd say about my faux beignets made with canned biscuits.

"That's despicable."


Well, I'm not claiming this is a proper beignet recipe. One of these days, I might go through the trouble of making them from scratch and waiting for the yeast to rise and all that. But when I tweeted about this 5-minute recipe with only two ingredients, there was quite a response from people looking for short cuts too. What can I say? People need shortcuts and you might turn your nose up at it, but my Faux Tiramisu recipe is pretty popular too!

I've been making these fake beignets for years. Sometimes, I poke a hole through the middle and call them fake doughnuts. Sometimes, I cut them into fourths, roll them up, and call them doughnut holes.

But on this particular day, I was feeling like beignets, puffy squares of fried dough, with a cup of coffee.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ask Wandering Chopsticks 1

Angkor Thom 19

If you're awaiting a response to a comment or email, I must apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I've been remiss in visiting my friends' blogs too. :(

As the blog grows and grows, it has become more time-consuming to update each post. More photos to sort through and organize before I even get to uploading and then blogging. I have to manually insert links to each restaurant or recipe into their respective categories afterward. Old recipes to edit and re-photograph. Content thieves and other stuff have just really bogged down my usual blogging habits. Aiyah! I'm such a whiner!

Then when I get emails or comments from people who clearly spent no time looking for that information themselves, I get annoyed and snarky. Oh, I so don't want to be mean on the blog. It's supposed to be my reprieve from the cold, cruel world! But dude!!! If you email me to ask how much I charge for shipping sausages and whether I have locations in the Bay Area, you clearly did not read! Why are you wasting my time, and yours even, to email me to ask, when if you spent one second to even look around, it's fairly clear that I do not sell sausages!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage 1

Last summer, while waiting for my gumbo to finish cooking, I happened to catch my friend online. Since he's from New Orleans, I figured I could ask him about the differences between gumbo and jambalaya. I often confuse the two. Well, after this conversation, I've never again said the two dishes were the same thing.


WC: if i scoop out some gumbo and cook the rice in the it. does that make it jambalaya? :)

Friend: far from it
Friend: they are made from different things

: haha. but it's all the same ingredients

: no

: really? all the recipes online have the same ingredients

Friend: if it's the same ingredients you're doing it wrong
Friend: they are freaking crackheads

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bakmi Parahyangan - West Covina

Bakmi Parahyangan - West Covina 1

While eating the cow hooves and cow brain curry we ordered from Raso Minang at the Hong Kong Plaza food court, we noticed a crowd of people gathered in front of one booth. It looked like they were praying or blessing? New restaurant opening?

Then we noticed that everyone was lining up for free food.

Free food!

So some of us lined up too. :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Raso Minang - West Covina

Raso Minang - West Covina 1

Rocky Mountain oysters and squid lips weren't the only unusual food I ate this year. Shortly before our trip to Mesa Verde National Park, Gourmet Pigs organized a meet-up at Raso Minang in West Covina. I had heard of this food court at Hong Kong Plaza before, which features a handful of Indonesian food stalls. While some Indonesian dishes have become a bit more familiar to me, I'm still on a quest to learn more about the cuisine.

Gourmet Pigs said Raso Minang features food from Padang, in West Sumatra, which is known for being spicy and for being cooked in the morning and left on display for customers to choose from what's available.

She promised us the good stuff -- cow brain curry and cow hooves.

Ooh boy! I definitely haven't had either of those on the blog yet.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Indian Restaurant - San Gabriel

Indian Restaurant - San Gabriel 1

No, Indian Restaurant in San Gabriel doesn't serve Native American food. It doesn't serve Indian subcontinent food either. It's a Taiwanese beer hall that is Native American-themed. Think kitschy dream catchers on the walls, kachina dolls here and there, and waitresses wearing short skirts, tank tops, and headbands with feathers sticking up.

My eyes were quite offended; my belly was quite pleased.

Because as far as Taiwanese beer halls go, and umm, this is the only one I've been to, the ability to turn unusual ingredients into yummy deliciousness can't be beat. Think stinky tofu, squid lips, and duck tongue. Mmm. :P

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Main Street Brewery & Restaurant - Cortez - Colorado

After the Native American performances at the Cortez Cultural Center, we went down the street to Main Street Brewery & Restaurant to grab a late night dinner.

17 Main Street Brewery - Cortez - Colorado 1

I know it's a brewery, but I couldn't resist the honey root beer, $3.50. Made with local honey. It was sooo good. Not too sweet and so fresh tasting. I could smell and taste the honey in the root beer. Love! Love! Love!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cortez Cultural Center - Cortez - Colorado

After hiking the Petroglyph Point Trail at Mesa Verde National Park, I was beat. I would have liked to explore some other Anasazi cliff dwellings or pithouses, especially Long House on Weatherill Mesa, but it was almost dusk and the park closed at sunset.

Luckily, I had flipped through the travel brochures left in my hotel room the night before and earmarked the Cortez Cultural Center. Various Native American groups put on free cultural programs almost every night during the summer.

16 Cortez Cultural Center - Cortez - Colorado 1

On this evening, we got to see several Ute performances.

Isn't that the coolest mural ever?

Here's a close-up.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Petroglyph Point Trail - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado

From Spruce Tree House, we kept going since we planned to hike the Petroglyph Point Trail.

15 Petroglyph Point Trail - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado 1

At 2.8 miles round-trip, the Petroglyph Point Trail didn't seem terribly daunting. I hadn't factored in the 7,000-foot elevation though, which at times made me feel like my heart was going to beat out of my chest because I was struggling to breathe so. Add in the dry, dusty conditions, and despite having a full, large bottle of water that I quickly depleted, I was parched.

The whole hike took about two hours since we had descended to the canyon floor at this point and would take a long route climbing to the top of the cliff again. We literally stood above Spruce Tree House as we neared the end of the trail.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Spruce Tree House - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado

14 Spruce Tree House - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado 1

From the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, it was just a quick walk down to Spruce Tree House, the third largest of the 600 cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park. It was built between 1211 A.D. and 1278 A.D.

Only Cliff Palace and Long House are larger.

Spruce Tree House contains about 130 rooms and 8 kivas built into the side of a cliff that's 216 feet wide and 89 feet deep. An estimated 60 to 80 people lived here at one time.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado

13 Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado 1

After a lunch of bison sausage and Navajo fry bread tacos at Spruce Tree Terrace Cafe, we made our way over to the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum to learn a little more about the history of the Anasazi. The museum is located in the same parking area as the restaurant and the Spruce Tree House cliff dwelling so it's an easy and quick stop since we were already there.

And it's free!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Spruce Tree Terrace Cafe - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado

12 Spruce Tree Terrace Cafe - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado 1

After an intense morning climbing Balcony House and Cliff Palace, I was famished by lunchtime. We decided to eat at Spruce Tree Terrace Cafe since it's in the same area as the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum and Spruce Tree House, both places we intended to visit afterward.

I couldn't pass on another chance to eat Navajo fry bread. This time as a taco.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Introducing "Pablo"

Introducing the newest grandbaby in the WC clan...

Pablo 1

...baby "Pablo" was born to cousin Q's older brother and his wife, after 24 hours of labor, at 2:37 a.m. and weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces.

That's not his real name, just what we called him in the womb and now the blog. ;)

If you've been paying attention, you might have realized that I blogged earlier this year about his parents' wedding banquet at Pearl Chinese Cuisine - San Diego. Honeymoon baby!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cliff Palace - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado

11 Cliff Palace - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado 1

Cliff Palace is the largest of the 600 cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park, as well as in all of North America. It has 150 rooms, 75 open areas, and 23 kivas. About 25 to 30 rooms have residential features. And yet, only an estimated 100 to 120 Anasazi actually lived at Cliff Palace.

These large cliff dwellings are rather uncommon as 90 percent of the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde have less than 10 rooms, and a third contain only one or two rooms.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hemenway House - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado

10 Hemenway House - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado 1

After stopping off at the House of Many Windows, we still had more time to waste so went to see Hemenway House. Do you keep wanting to say Hemingway house too?

Anyway, can you spot the cliff dwelling?

Need me to zoom in again?

Friday, September 11, 2009

House of Many Windows - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado

Since we had almost an hour to kill after touring Balcony House, we stopped off to take pictures of some of the other cliff dwellings.

This is the House of Many Windows. Can you see? Look to the far left.

9 House of Many Windows - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado 1

I'll zoom in a little closer.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Balcony House - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado

I used to borrow random volumes of encyclopedias from the library just to read for fun. (Yes, I know I'm a nerd. Surely you've figured that out by now?) These days, even though it's much easier to Google whenever something stirs my curiosity, I still have fond memories of the particular books wherein I discovered such information.

On the flip side, I'm a sucker for historical and Western romances. So it was that that was how I first came across the Anasazi in Elizabeth Lowell's books about the MacKenzie Blackthorn families set in southwest Colorado.

8 Balcony House - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado 1

Mesa Verde, Spanish for "Green Table," because surely after wandering through the dry, dusty desert, this lush, green vista must have been quite a welcome contrast. Of course, after reading Lowell's evocative descriptions of stone ruins and an ancient people who disappeared long ago, I had to borrow the "A" volume of the encyclopedia as well as other books. And thus, Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado immediately got added to the list of places I wanted to some day visit.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ted's Taco - Mancos - Colorado

7 Ted's Taco - Mancos - Colorado 1

For breakfast the next day, we took the Enchanted Mesa Motel owners' advice and headed to Ted's Taco, a stand located next to Log Cabin Liquor, for Navajo frybread.

Best. Frybread. Ever.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Shiprock - New Mexico

4 Shiprock - New Mexico 1

The first time I heard about Shiprock, the 27 million-year-old erosional core of an extinct volcano that the Navajo called Tse' Bit'a'i' or "winged rock," was in "Only You" by Elizabeth Lowell. Actually, upon rereading the book, she didn't specifically mention Shiprock, but rather that they traveled through an area with rock formations, one of which resembled a ship.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum - Albuquerque - New Mexico

After lunch at Sadie's of New Mexico - Albuquerque, we headed to the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. Ha. Say that three times fast.

2 Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum - Albuquerque - New Mexico 1

I had originally wanted to visit the Turquoise Museum, but it was closed on Sundays. Man, we were just getting no luck that day. Nonetheless, the balloon museum was quite quirky and enjoyable, with plenty of hot air balloons and factoids.

After this visit, I totally want to make it back some day for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sadie's of New Mexico - Albuquerque - New Mexico

I have long wanted to explore the Four Corners region of the United States so when Gourmet Pigs was in New Mexico for several weeks, I decided to join her at the end of her trip and we'd drive back to L.A. together, stopping at places I've always wanted to see. Gotta love a friend who, when I linked to photos of an extinct volcano and cliff houses, immediately agreed to go exploring with me.

1 Sadie's of New Mexico - Albuquerque - New Mexico 1

After picking me up from the airport, she chose a Mexican restaurant that came recommended for us to try. Except it was closed on weekends. What kind of restaurant closes on weekends?!

So I flipped through my guidebooks and settled on Sadie's of New Mexico, known for its stuffed sopaipillas.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Downtown Portland - Oregon

I realized that I've now lived outside of Oregon for longer than I've actually lived in the state. That somehow makes me feel a little sad. But I'll always be an Oregonian at heart!

Day 3.11 Downtown Portland - Oregon 1

I'm heading home for a nice respite with the folks. Posting will be light to nonexistent. Ha! As if I haven't let weeks lapse before.

Third trip home in the past year and I have yet to post about my beloved hometown! Will have to rectify that soon. I leave you with these images taken by lil' sis on our trip home last September.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Breed Street Food Fair - Los Angeles (Boyle Heights) (Closed)

Breed Street Food Fair - Los Angeles (Boyle Heights) 1

I first heard about the Breed Street Food Fair, a collection of Mexican street stands in Boyle Heights, back in 2007 when Abby of Pleasure Palate uploaded pictures of her visit on Biggest Menu. She was introduced to it by Street Gourmet LA, who stumbled upon the lively scene while scouting out new places.

Gorditas made by splitting a handmade tortilla topped with a pumpkin and sesame seed mixture, I had never seen the like before and definitely wanted to try. I didn't get a chance to do so though until June 2009, and then I returned a couple of days later, and the week after that, and the week after that.

Squash blossoms, corn fungus, and fried chicken necks. Sure I've made Squash Blossom Quesadillas, and I've heard of huitlacoche (Mexican corn smut) before, but didn't know of where I could get some. And not only could I get both here, but deep-fried chicken necks and freshly fried churros too. Yum!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Cochinita / Puerco Pibil (Mexican Slow-Roasted Pork)

Cochinita Puerco Pibil (Mexican Slow-Roasted Pork) 1

It took a few years after my visit to Chichen Itza Restaurant - Los Angeles, but I finally got around to making my own Cochinita/Puerco Pibil (Mexican Slow-Roasted Pork) in May 2009. The above photo though was from a Crock Pot Cochinita Pibil that I made a year later.

Cochinita means baby pig, so if you're using regular pork, like I did, it's really puerco pibil. The pork is seasoned with ground annatto seeds and all-spice berries, slightly tart from sour orange juice, and cooked in banana leaves. I adapted Director Robert Rodriguez's Ten Minute Cooking School recipe, (which if you haven't seen the video yet, you totally should) because I figured that if Johnny Depp's character in "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" shoots any cook who makes it too well, then has to be good. Rodriguez's recipe is one of the bonus features on the DVD, but you can find it all over YouTube. Who knew the guy who left his wife and five kids for Rose McGowan could cook? What? Like you don't read gossip?

Anyway, I scaled down the recipe, substituted ground spices, used a combination of fresh orange and Meyer lemon juice to replicate sour orange juice, and omitted the tequila. The result was one of the most succulent and flavorful pork dishes ever. Hmm. Just writing this up makes me want to cook it again.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Chichen Itza Restaurant - Los Angeles

Chichen Itza Restaurant - Los Angeles 1

Back in September 2007, I dined at Chichen Itza Restaurant with my brother and his wife. They had been several times and especially liked the Cochinita Pibil (Mexican Slow-Cooked Pork). I was curious to try Yucatan-style Mexican cuisine, known for its freshness and seafood.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tomato Harvest

9.1 Tomato Harvest

My first tomatoes only yielded this sad harvest. It wasn't so much the fault of the kiddie pool garden, but because I was out of town for days at a time this summer and just didn't have time to water the plants regularly.