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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Japon Bistro - Pasadena

Japon Bistro - Pasadena 1

A week after making my own Hawaiian Salmon Poke and Spicy Tuna Poke, I was still craving poke. It was the tail-end of DineLA and while perusing the list of restaurants, I saw that Japon Bistro in Pasadena offered a three-course lunch set for $15 that included poke.


Or so I thought.

But, let's backtrack to my first visit in June 2010 with Gourmet Pigs.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hawaiian Spicy Tuna Poke

Hawaiian Spicy Tuna Poke 1

I wanted to stick to a pretty typical Hawaiian poke for the sashimi-grade tuna that I picked up from Yama Seafood - San Gabriel. So it was the usual seasonings of soy sauce and sesame oil, with the addition of chili sambal and Sriracha to kick it up a notch.

I looove spicy tuna, and while cheaper cuts are often used in the rolls, I can't stress enough that you should really splurge on sashimi-grade tuna for poke. Freshness makes a big difference, especially when you're eating raw fish.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Yama Seafood L.A. - San Gabriel

Yama Seafood - San Gabriel 1

I don't know how many times I've driven past Yama Seafood L.A. on Las Tunas Drive in San Gabriel and not really noticed this rather non-descript Japanese grocery store. Until March 2008 (I know, going a ways back for this one). How could I have missed the large "Sushi Takeout" and "Sushi" and "Sashimi" signs?

Sometimes, I'm not in the mood for a whole sit-down sushi restaurant experience. Sometimes, I just want a few sushi rolls, and you know the American grocery store versions are not gonna satisfy that craving!

Parking is around the back. I ducked in to see what Yama Seafood had to offer that day and have been happily indulging in freshly-made and inexpensive sushi and sashimi at this little mom and pop shop for years.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hawaiian Salmon Poke

Hawaiian Salmon Poke 1

While catching up with my friend Ivan at Snow Monster - Westminster (Little Saigon), I asked him what foods he'll miss in SoCal after he leaves. He mentioned North Shore Poke Co. - Huntington Beach, specifically that he could get poke made with salmon instead of the usual tuna poke. Mmm. Poke. I haven't had poke in forever and the Hawaiian places around me usually just have the typical cooked dishes.

The next day, I couldn't get poke out of my mind. I bought half a pound of sashimi-grade salmon from Yama Seafood - San Gabriel. Since salmon is more delicate than tuna, taste-wise I mean, I opted to use Korean chili flakes for the spice portion instead of Sriracha. A little bit of grated ginger seemed appropriate. And a small tomato, diced, to make it more salad-like and add a little color.

Totally satisfied my craving. I even sent a photo to my friend to show him what he started. Was it really only two years ago that he moved here? And while saying our good-byes, we realized it's been 10 years since we met that long-ago summer in Wisconsin. Time flies when you're old!

One last word about poke, since you're eating the fish raw, it really is worth the splurge to buy sashimi-grade salmon. Pick up some ready-made seaweed salad to add to the mix and the dish comes together as quick as you can chop the ingredients.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Snow Monster - Westminster (Little Saigon)

Snow Monster - Westminster (Little Saigon) 1

After dinner at Da Nang Com Tam Tran Qui Cap - Westminster (Little Saigon), my friend Ivan and I went across the street for dessert. Actually, I was heading toward TeaZone Lollicup - Westminster (Little Saigon) for their matcha green tea snow bubble when we spied this crowd from across the street.

Ah! So that's where Snow Monster is located! In February 2013, I received an email from someone from Snow Monster who mentioned that she was a fan of the blog "for many years now" and inviting me to try a "fairly new dessert called Taiwanese shaved snow."

"Fairly new"? Really? Because I first blogged about shaved snow back in 2007. She wasn't sure if I had "tried or heard about it." I think I have when I've blogged about shaved snow not once, but twice, thrice, and a fourth time.

Look, I don't expect everyone to remember every blog entry I've ever written, but I do clearly state on my contact page to use my searchbar before emailing me. Don't pretend to be a fan or try to sell your product as something I don't know about when I've blogged about it multiple times and years ago. A simple search before contacting me would have cleared that up. She offered a large shaved snow and a Belgian waffle sundae, and asked that if I had anything negative to say to tell them in person. And to blog within two weeks after my visit. Geez, I can buy my own shaved snow, thank you very much! Pet peeves aside, at least the Snow Monster name was now on my radar?

Anyway, I wasn't going to hold that minor annoyance against them, especially since shaved snow sounded like just the thing on a hot summer evening.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Roasted Radishes with Salt and Pepper

Roasted Radishes with Salt and Pepper 1

This recipe is so simple that I'd hesitate to even call it a recipe, except that it's so delicious, it needs to be shared. Well, that's if you love radishes as much as I do.

While I generally just eat radishes plain, dipped in a bit of ranch dressing to soften their harsh bite, cooked radishes are totally different in flavor. No harsh bite. Almost buttery in flavor even.

I trimmed off the tops and ends and any dirt spots, then drizzled a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Baked until crisp-tender. These roasted radishes make a great side dish, or a full meal if you wish.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lasagna with Salmon and Spinach

Lasagna with Salmon and Spinach 1

I've made regular Lasagna with Meat Sauce and Vegetarian Lasagna with Broccoli, Kale, and Zucchini. I got a little more creative with Vegetarian Lasagna with Feta Cheese, Spinach, and Tofu. I've even blogged Pastitsio (Greek "Lasagna").

This Lasagna with Salmon and Spinach is more of a Swedish/Italian fusion. Not that I came up with it on my own. I actually saw it on the menu at IKEA - Covina, and mentally made a note to try making it at home. I used cheap frozen salmon filets, because the good stuff I save for eating fresh.

I prefer to bake the salmon first using my go-to Baked Salmon with Lemon Pepper Seasoning to bring out the flavor. Baking also makes sure the salmon flakes easily before adding it into the lasagna. A nice bechamel sauce and spinach goes far in disguising mediocre salmon so the final result was mighty tasty. Of course, if you want to splurge and use fresh salmon, by all means do so, but just a little suggestion with the frozen salmon so you can save your pennies.

I actually made my version at the beginning of the year, when I was thinking of recipes for Lent. Then on a recent visit to buy tickets for the IKEA (Swedish Crayfish Party) - Burbank, figured I should order it for comparison.

The verdict?

My version is much better.

Of course. ;)

Friday, July 04, 2014

Red, White, and Blue Sangria

Red, White, and Blue White Wine Sangria 1

With temperatures hovering above 90 degrees for most of the week, I really wasn't in the mood for cooking, much less baking. I debated whether to make something to bring to Johannes' third birthday party, and while blogging the Red (Lingonberry), White (Brie), and Blue(berry) Puff Pastry Mini Tarts I made the previous year, got me thinking about what else I could with patriotic colors. I'd have to run to the store for strawberries and blueberries though and was feeling decidedly lazy. Plus, the party was in the early afternoon; too early to start drinking perhaps? It was just as well I came empty-handed as my cousin ordered quite the Armenian spread.

I couldn't get the thought of a red, white, and blue sangria out of my head so afterward, I stopped at the store to get the needed strawberries and blueberries. My neighbors invited me to a barbecue later that day and a pitcher of sangria was just right for sipping beside the pool.

Of course, you're not limited to strawberries for the red, watermelon or raspberries would work too. I used a pear and an apple for the white. And there's really few other readily available substitutes for blueberries, but if you can get your hands on some huckleberries or salal berries or Oregon grapes, those would work too.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Singaporean Roti John with Sardines

Singaporean Roti John with Sardines 1

Considering how much I love the Banh Mi Ca Moi (Vietnamese Sardine Sandwich), when I came across mention of a sardine sandwich in Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan's "A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family," I knew I had to try making it. Her friend, who is a chef, suggested cutting the fishiness of the sardines with sesame oil. I don't know if it really made that much of a difference for me since I like sardines, but you could certainly try that if you wish.

Read my recipe for Singaporean Roti John with Beef which includes the background history of the British, Malay, Indian, Singaporean influences that went into the creation of this sandwich. Since the sardines are already cooked, this version is a little quicker since you don't have to cook the meat before adding the eggs. I removed the bones and mashed the sardines with the eggs, scallions, and chili paste. Drizzled sesame oil to cook the mixture before placing the toasted bread on top. If you really want to cut the fishiness of the sardine sandwich though, I'd suggest stuffing it with slices of cucumbers and tomatoes.