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Monday, June 23, 2014

Chinese Corn and Imitation Crab Egg Drop Soup

Chinese Corn Imitation Crab Egg Drop Soup 1

It was one of those nights. I wasn't feeling particularly hungry, but wanted something to tide me over. Didn't want to go out. Didn't want leftovers. So I started combing through my freezer and pantry.

There was a package of imitation crab that I had intended to make Crab Rangoons with, except the cream cheese went bad before I could get to it. The pantry yielded a can of corn and some seafood stock. I almost always have eggs on hand. All the makings for Chinese Corn Imitation Crab Egg Drop Soup, enough to fill me up without making me feel stuffed.

It was late at night and I honestly hadn't planned on blogging this recipe. But while eating the egg drop soup, I was thinking it was mighty tasty and asked my Facebook group if anyone wanted the "recipe." Several people mentioned they wanted a quick recipe for when they're in the same predicament too, so here you go.

The egg drop soup was still good the next day, when I re-heated it to take better pictures.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Singaporean Roti John with Beef

Singaporean Roti John with Beef 1

"Food -- or makan, as we call it -- is a national obsession," said Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan in "A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family." "In the fifteen years that I've lived in the United States, I've often said to American friends that, when it comes to Singapore, I miss the food first and then my family. They think I'm joking."

(Tan is a former classmate, although Facebook and food have brought us closer that four years of undergrad ever did.) In the first chapter of her food memoir, Tan waxed nostalgic about bak kut teh (Chinese pork bone tea soup), Hainanese chicken rice, ice kacang (Malaysian shaved ice), Singaporean Chilli Crabs, and Singaporean roti John.

Most of the dishes I'm familiar with, but the last was new to me.

"The influence of the British -- whom the locals called Johns when Singapore was a colony -- inspired the Malay dish of roti John, which features a baguette topped with beaten eggs, minced mutton, and onions that's then quickly panfried and served with a spicy tomato dip," Tan described.

That sounded delicious, as did her descriptions of making kaya jam and pineapple tarts. But, as I wasn't about to make 100 pineapple tarts or 60 mooncakes or 80 otak (Singaporean spiced grilled fish paste), the recipes in her book weren't quite feasible for me.

A bit of Googling and I came upon this YouTube video by the Singapore International Foundation about roti John at the Shukor Stall Makanan Istemewa featuring Sufiah Nordiyana, granddaughter of the hawker who invented and/or popularized the dish in 1976.

I've changed the methodology a little bit, to scale down for cooking for one as opposed to hundreds. I used Vietnamese-French bread and substituted the mutton with beef, but kept the egg and onion. I also added a chopped scallion for some color and a dash of curry powder and garam masala as a nod to the Indian origins of the dish. Since I wasn't quite sure what the tomato chili sauce tasted like, I drizzled Thai Shark Sriracha, which is sweeter than the Huy Fong Foods, Inc. version.

British, Malay, Indian, Singaporean, the various influences that went into creating this dish, resulted in a delicious sandwich that was perfect for lunch. And again for dinner.

Friday, June 06, 2014

General Tso's Chicken

General Tso's Chicken 1

In May, while waiting for an oil change, I offered my seat to the little old Asian lady coming towards me with a walker. She opted to sit next to me instead. She remarked about the weather (98 degrees that day, 100+ for the next three days) and mentioned that she'd take the heat over the tornadoes she had growing up in the Midwest.

Which led to fascinating stories about her father opening a Chinese restaurant in 1920 (!!!) in Omaha, Nebraska. All the decor was imported from China, which made eating at the restaurant quite an adventure for many people back then. Her family was one of only two Chinese families in town.

She came out to Los Angeles before WWII to work for the Air Force (which was still part of the Army at the time and didn't become a separate service until 1947). She talked about encountering racism when she tried to rent an apartment as a newlywed. A landlord said he decided to rent to his nephew instead and another landlord said the apartments were all taken but if there was an opening he'd call her. She credited Miiko Taka's 1957 appearance on the Ed Sullivan show to promote "Sayonara" that changed one landlord's mind about renting to Asians. Immediately after the show, she got a call saying the spoken-for tenant decided not to take the apartment and it was available after all.

And then my car was ready and I had to go.

Monday, June 02, 2014

King Hua Restaurant - Alhambra

King Hua Restaurant - Alhambra 1

It started out as a Twitter conversation when David Chan (who has eaten at 6,297+ Chinese restaurants) mentioned the crispy deep-fried milk at King Hua Restaurant in Alhambra. One More Bite said she loved the dish. I haven't had sauteed milk since Macau Street - Monterey Park closed a while back and a deep-fried crispy version sounded intriguing.

We made plans to meet up and Gourmet Pigs decided to make King Hua one of her going away dinners before she moved to Boston. Well, I don't know if she picked the restaurant in particular or was more nudged in that direction, but it helped me achieve Cantonese seafood restaurant trifecta (dim sum, wedding banquet, and regular dining at one location). Not that that should be a goal, mind you, just happenstance.

A few years ago, I blogged King Hua Restaurant - Alhambra for dim sum and later that year, attended a wedding banquet so I knew it was a solid Cantonese restaurant. Part of the reason Gourmet Pigs chose it was for some fresh Chinese seafood since she doubted her options in Boston would be as good.