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Friday, September 23, 2011

Apple Puff Pastry Turnovers

Apple Turnovers 1

If you have any puff pastry leftover from making Semarang-Style Turnovers with Bamboo Shoots, Dried Shrimp, and Scrambled Eggs, then you can make dessert too. Actually, in real life, the Apple Puff Pastry Turnovers preceded the savory ones, but in blog life, I try to make the recipes more sequential.

These turnovers are great if you're craving apple pie, but are too lazy to make the dough. I guess you could use pre-made pie crust too, but there's just something about these flaky, hand-sized turnovers that make them more fun to eat.

I made them to bring to my youngest aunt's house for my paternal grandfather's death anniversary dinner and they disappeared in a jiffy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Indonesian Semarang-Style Turnovers with Bamboo Shoots, Dried Shrimp, and Scrambled Eggs

Indonesian Semarang-Style Turnovers with Bamboo Shoots, Dried Shrimp, and Scrambled Eggs 1

I had just a bit of filling left over from making Lumpia Semarang (Indonesian Egg Rolls with Bamboo Shoots, Dried Shrimp, and Scrambled Eggs) to fold them into a few puff pastry turnovers. Waste not, want not!

I've included the original measurements for the egg rolls, in case you wanted to make those and use the leftover filling for turnovers like I did. Or you can certainly make a batch of turnovers only if you don't feel like doing any deep-frying.

The filling freezes well so you can easily divide the batch and save it for when you have a craving.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lumpia Semarang (Indonesian Egg Rolls with Bamboo Shoots, Dried Shrimp, and Scrambled Eggs)

Indonesian Lumpia Semarang with Bamboo Shoots, Dried Shrimp, and Scrambled Eggs 1

When Mochachocolata-Rita showed off her mother's Lumpia Semarang, I was intrigued at the mention of bamboo shoots, dried shrimp, and scrambled eggs in the ingredients. Semarang is the capital city in central Java with a large population of Chinese Indonesians, which would explain the pork in Rita's mother's version of lumpia. Although, I imagine ground turkey or chicken would work too for the Muslim population in Indonesia.

Lumpia, dervies from lunpia, the Hokkien Chinese word for popiah, which are fresh spring rolls. As Hokkien immigrants migrated throughout Southeast Asia, variations of popiah arose. In Vietnam, popiah became Bo Bia (Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Chinese Sausage, Jicama, and Eggs).

Lumpia Semarang can be eaten fresh or fried. In the former case, obviously all the ingredients would need to be cooked first before wrapping. As I was making the latter though, I opted to use raw ground pork and to slice the bamboo shoots into strips to bind the filling ingredients better so nothing falls out when one bites into the egg roll. I soaked the dried shrimp to soften it, then put it in the food processor to break up in smaller pieces, similar to how Vietnamese people make dried shrimp topping for dumplings. I used a generous tablespoon of Indonesian kecap manis in the marinade since the Wikipedia article on lumpia mentioned that Lumpia Semarang were supposed to be on the sweeter side. Then it was a simple matter of wrapping and frying egg rolls as normal.

The taste was a nice umami earthiness from the dried shrimp and bamboo shoots. I served the egg rolls with bottled sweet chili sauce. Quite a nice change from my usual Cha Gio/Nem Ran (Vietnamese Spring/Egg Rolls), so I hope you give these a try.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nem Nuong Cu Sen (Vietnamese Grilled Lotus Root Pork Patties)

Nem Nuong Cu Sen (Vietnamese Grilled Lotus Root Pork Patties) 1

It only took three+ years, but I finally got around to making my own version of lotus root cakes after eating them at Tasty Garden - Alhambra. The only similarity though is the chopped lotus roots in the pork patty. Other than that, these are really Vietnamese lotus root pork patties.

After playing around with my usual Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties) recipe by adding scallions and making Nem Nuong Hanh La (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties with Scallions), I decided to use that as the base. A little less sweet than the usual nem nuong though, with chopped lotus roots mixed in with the pork and thinly sliced lotus roots on both sides for presentation. I then sprinkled the plate with Cu Sen Chien (Vietnamese Fried Lotus Root Chips) since the plate was looking decidedly brown.

The lotus roots added a nice crunch to the pork patties. If you can't find any lotus roots where you are, I think jicama would make a good substitute. I think that's enough nem nuong posts for a while. :P

Monday, September 19, 2011

Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty) Sliders

Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty) Sliders 1

Since my hometown's style of making Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties) already resembled little hamburger patties, it wasn't that much of a leap to put them in between Hawaiian bread rolls and turn them into sliders, but I wanted to carry it further. I wanted to put what I loved about the rice paper roll into a bun.

Do I add cornstarch to the dipping sauce and make it even thicker? Still too gloppy. And do Vietnamese herbs really go with bread? Not really. Do I fold the empty wrapper into a big square instead of a roll like I do for nem nuong? But a bun doesn't contain the crispy bits as well as a rice paper roll.

I was overthinking it, a basic nem nuong cuon just has the meat, lettuce, and a crispy bit in the middle.

So I cut an egg roll wrapper into fourths and fried them crispy and stuck them into the bun. It reminded me of upscale hamburger places that had a crispy Parmesan chip inside the burger.

Biting into my nem nuong slider, I got juicy meat, I got lettuce, I got a lightly crispy bit to contrast with it all.


I wolfed down several sliders right away and made another batch a few days later when my parents came to town. The only caveat is that the fried egg roll wrapper gets soggy quickly so eat these right away.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bun Nem Nuong Cha Gio (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Grilled Pork Patties and Egg Rolls)

Bun Nem Nuong Cha Gio (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Grill Pork Patties and Egg Rolls) 1

Now that you've made Nem Nuong Hanh La (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties with Scallions), let's assemble it all together into a Vietnamese restaurant favorite -- bun (Vietnamese rice vermicelli noodle bowl).

Pictured is the nem nuong hanh la with Cha Gio Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Egg/Spring Rolls), but it can be any kind of egg rolls you wish, or none at all. Add some vegetables and herbs, and douse everything with Nuoc Mam Cham (Vietnamese Fish Dipping Sauce) and you've got a complete meal in one bowl.

This is really more of an assembly list than a recipe. Add more noodles or meat if you want a heartier meal. Add more lettuce or herbs if you want it to be more of a salad during hot summer months. You can also lay out the components separately and have each person assemble his or her own bowl.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Nem Nuong Hanh La (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties with Scallions)

Nem Nuong Hanh La (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties with Scallions) 1

Sometimes I get amazed at how the addition of one ingredient can change up a dish. I was making Nem Nuong and Nem Nuong Cuon (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty and Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty Salad Rolls) as usual when I decided to add in some minced scallions to the mix. The green scallions added a bright freshness to the meatballs.

I've made Nem Nuong Xa (Vietnamese Lemongrass Grilled Pork Patties), which obviously would taste different since lemongrass is quite strong. I guess I didn't expect green onions to have such an impact. Total game changer. Why had this never occurred to me before?

I ate some of the nem nuong wrapped in rice paper, but made up a noodle bowl for the rest. I added some Cha Gio Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Egg/Spring Rolls) since I had those on hand, which actually worked out well since the vegetarian egg rolls offset the amount of meat I was eating.

Just a simple adjustment to an old recipe, but definitely a big difference in flavor.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cha Gio Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Egg / Spring Rolls)

Cha Gio Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Egg Spring Rolls) 1

After working too many hours this summer, eating out too often, eating too much junk, and just, in general, not eating well, I craved vegetables and simple Vietnamese food. Nothing elaborate. Just some cold noodles. Grilled meats. Perhaps a few egg rolls to toss into the bowl.

My standard Cha Gio (Vietnamese Egg/Spring Rolls) were fine, but I had been wanting to challenge myself to come up with a tasty vegetarian version for a while. My mom made vegetarian egg rolls long ago for my Chinese grandfather's first year death anniversary, in which the whole meal is supposed to be vegetarian. All I remembered were the vermicelli noodles, which were quite dry and crunchy because they didn't have anything substantial to latch on to. I don't count the cheap cabbage-only fillers at Chinese buffets. Recently, at my oldest uncle's 49th day death anniversary, the Buddhist temple had an excellent version with shredded taro root.

So in creating my recipe, I knew that I wanted to add some tofu for moisture. Instead of taro, I used a small yam. Have you seen the sizes of taro that are sold at the supermarket? They're just way too big for one person and I didn't want food to go to waste. But other than that, the traditional cha gio ingredients of Nam Meo (Vietnamese Tree Ear Fungus), bean thread vermicelli noodles, and carrots suited me just fine. The main trick then was pressing the tofu to reduce as much liquid as possible so that the egg rolls don't get soggy.

The result? These vegetarian egg rolls were so good that I didn't even see them as a meat substitute, but as a separate recipe all their own. And isn't that how it should be? Not a substitute; just good.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blueberries, Long Days, and Vacillating Victuals

Picking Blueberries in Oregon

Last year, my siblings and I weren't able to take a family trip home to Oregon. The niece was still too young and lil' sis ran the Disneyland Half Marathon. This summer we made it a point to sync up our schedules and came home for several days in August.

Aside from that, August was mostly a blur of long days at work and too much bad food because I was either too hot or too tired to cook.

Friday, September 09, 2011

One Pomegranate. Singular.

9.9 One Pomegranate. Singular. 1

Two years ago, I had about half a dozen pomegranates on my tree. Last year, they were only about an inch or two in size. :( So I was really excited this year to see about three that were almost 3 inches in diameter.

Only, when I cut it open, that's what I saw above. The seeds never even formed! Have you ever seen the like before?

Still, I was hopeful since there was one decent-sized pomegranate left on the tree.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Mama's Lu Dumpling House - Monterey Park

Mama's Lu Dumpling House - Monterey Park 1

For a while a few years ago, Right Way to Eat kept trying to convince me to try other dumpling houses, but I wasn't willing to give up my favorite -- Luscious Dumplings, Inc. - San Gabriel. Well, I've certainly tried other dumpling houses, I just refused to relinquish the title of "favorite" to any other. :)

After going back and forth on various places, we decided to eat at Mama's Lu Dumpling House in Monterey Park. This was partly because it's owned by the daughter of the original mama Lu herself of Dean Sin World - Monterey Park fame, and partly because I was curious about the restaurant that replaced Heavy Noodling, which I liked more for its name than its knife-cut noodles.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Chinese Sauteed Lettuce with Oyster Sauce

Chinese Sauteed Lettuce with Oyster Sauce 1

I bought a bag with three heads of romaine lettuce that I intended to eat with my homemade Caesar Salad Dressing, but I was feeling too lazy to run to the store to buy anchovies and Parmesan cheese. Plus, there was all that mincing and chopping.

I've always much preferred to eat my vegetables via soups rather than salads, but it was late August, the dog days of summer, and I was in the midst of working 12 days in a row. Exhausted! Hungry!

I needed vegetables and I needed them in minutes. So recalling that I wanted to try making the cooked lettuce I ate at Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead and, more recently, at Mama's Lu Dumpling House - Monterey Park, I decided to treat lettuce like I treat most vegetables -- I sauteed it with just a bit of oyster sauce.

Oh my!

It was so good that I made it again a few nights later.

Cooked, lettuce has a lovely sweetness that's enhanced with oyster sauce. Just saute it until wilted so the lettuce retains its crispness. Perfect as a complement to many dishes, but I ate this as a meal with rice and salmon.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Chinese Shanghai Noodles with Ground Pork, Spinach, and Onions

Shanghai Noodles with Ground Pork, Spinach, and Onions 1

As I was sorting through the photos for my Vegetarian Shanghai Noodles with Spinach and Onions recipe, I realized that although the photos weren't awful, I could do a lot better. Plus, it made me crave the thick Shanghai noodles again and it had been a long while since I made them. This time around, I decided to add ground pork, just 1/4 lb, but it made the dish so much better.

The noodles were so good that I made them again the following week when lil' sis came home, but that second time, I used thick chow mein noodles, and they just weren't quite the same. Still, she loved this dish so much that she killed off the whole pan, taking some home to polish off later.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Chinese Vegetarian Shanghai Noodles with Spinach and Onions

Vegetarian Shanghai Noodles with Spinach and Onions 1

This quick and easy recipe has been buried in my queue since November 2008. Too simple I thought, but then sometimes we all need simple.

It's based upon similar Shanghai noodles that I've eaten at J&J Restaurant - San Gabriel and Mei Long Village - San Gabriel. If you like the chewy toothsomeness of thick noodles, then you need little else except a bit of vegetables and oyster sauce.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Dai Ho Restaurant - Temple City

Dai Ho Restaurant - Temple City 1

In August 2007, I joined lil' sis and her best friend for lunch at Dai Ho Restaurant in Temple City. The owner has been dubbed the "Noodle Nazi" for his brief noodle menu and short hours. Which was news to lil' sis's best friend, who's been dining at the restaurant since he was a kid. He said the owner has always been nice to him.

How bad could the owner be? And just how good were his noodles?

Well, on my two visits, the owner wasn't there because he was battling some health issues. As for the latter, apparently the noodles were so good that a Los Angeles Times reporter stole my photo and uploaded it onto his personal Facebook page without acknowledging that the "two thumbs up" in the picture weren't, in fact, his thumbs at all.

On my first visit, we arrived shortly after opening. Dai Ho is only open for three and a half hours a day for lunch.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

How to Julienne Carrots and Other Vegetables

How to Julienne Carrots and Other Vegetables 1

During our lunch at Young Dong Tofu - San Gabriel, Pink Candles at Ridgemont High and I were talking about julienning vegetables. Was it when the Korean Cold Buckwheat Noodle Salad was brought out and we were admiring the artfully arranged platter? Or was it a discussion of cooking techniques in general?

In any case, I was telling her how I do it, and wondered whether I should blog such things. And she said I should since she didn't know. So, in case you'd like to slice your carrots or other vegetables like how I do mine, so you get something like this...

Friday, September 02, 2011

Jaengban Gooksu (Korean Cold Buckwheat Noodle Salad)

Jaengban Gooksu (Korean Cold Buckwheat Noodle Salad) 1

I liked the Korean cold noodle salad at Young Dong Tofu - San Gabriel so much that I recreated it later at home. After recently coming across the photos of Ding's Garden - Alhambra and the noodle dishes there, I decided to add shredded roast chicken to my version. Not that you need to add meat, this cold noodle salad works well if you keep it all vegetarian too.

A perfect light dinner for those long hot summer days.

I used green tea buckwheat noodles because that's what I had in the pantry, but regular soba noodles or Korean arrowroot noodles will work too.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Ding's Garden - Alhambra (Closed)

Ding's Garden - Alhambra 1

Speaking of cold noodles, and in my attempt to clear out old photos by reorganizing them by date, I stumbled upon these pictures taken on June 13, 2007 of Ding's Garden in Alhambra. I usually try to visit a place at least twice before blogging it, but the restaurant closed before I got around to it.

Besides being a loose online diary of what I ate, the pictures sometimes remind me of dishes that I'd like to recreate later.