Cha lua kimbap

3 cups of rice, 3/4 lbs cha lua, 1.25 cucumbers, 3 avocados. Made 10 fat rolls of kimbap. We used long grained rice because we didn’t want to bother buying short grains, giving the rice a little more water than what the cooker says, and it’s sticky, but gotta roll quickly or the rice would dry out, perhaps in hindsight short grain would do the job better? Seasoning the rice calls for sugar, salt, and vinegar, but ubercmuc detests the taste of vinegar, hence water substituted. Inadvertently, my rolls deviate from Maangchi’s by a great distance. Cha lua (also labelled giò lụa) was bought at a local Vietnamese shop in Little Saigon, hot and fresh from the steamer. Don’t buy those frozen things at the Asian supermarkets, who knows how long they’ve been there. I cut up the cha lua and boiled the slices to lessen the nuoc-mam flavor (which is only a wisp to begin with). It is a much better meaty core than crab stick. We weren’t sure if we got nori or kim, the sheets are green instead of black, salty, and have a noticable taste […]

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Recipe for Bánh ú tro (Vietnamese-adapted jianshui zong)

The recipe calls for a lot of prep time (up to a year!), and the products are little triangular pyramids sold for $3.75 a bunch at sandwich shops. But hey, if you can make bánh ú tro, you can enjoy it any time of the year without having to wait until the Fifth of Lunar May. 1. Ash water Use the fine, soft ash from burnt coal, dissolve in water. The common ratio is 50 grams of ash for every liter of water, but it varies depend on how strong the ash is and how strong you want your banh to be. Let the ash collect at the bottom, leaving a clear solution. Sift the solution to get rid of dirt and coal bits. You can use lime powder instead of ash. White lime gives bánh ú tro the natural green hues of wrapping leaves, red lime gives them reddish amber hues. The mixing ratio is 20 grams/liter for lime powder. Continue reading Recipe for Bánh ú tro (Vietnamese-adapted jianshui zong)


After all I happen to stay in school longer than the average person, and if all goes well I will die a member of some academic body, so I figured school cafeterias might as well be another source of food and blabbing inspiration. Previously I blogged about the dining facility at Texas A&M, here comes Nexus at Stanford, where I ate last August. The price of course has changed with the economy, but hopefully the taste remains the same.Nexus has a few different sections of food, the menu also changes weekly it seems, but the Texan in me often has no difficulty picking out lunch – to the grill I went. The sign said it all. Burger with blue cheese and sauteed balsamic onion, and the food came out exactly that, with some lettuce, tomato, pickle, and more onion. I really had some doubt about the blue cheese, its presence neither enhanced nor diminish the taste of a good beef patty, its lack of texture didn’t make the burger any more or less juicy. It was a third wheel, […]

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Down the Aisles -1: Endangered species chocolate

Follow up on my previous chocolate review, this time in a much better mood as I’ve settled at the new school. New city, getting further behind in blogging. Deep forest mint: dark with mint (72%): what do you expect, well… it’s like eating your toothpaste, only more unyielding. It’s not bad, but a little sweetness would be nice. You know how you picture a humid, colorful setting damped with flavors and warmth when you hear “deep forest”? This chocolate doesn’t taste at all tropical. It’s cold, harsh, dry, it flushes your sinus with strength. I prefer mint chocolate ice cream. I shouldn’t score this one. Wolf: dark with cranberries and almonds: crunchy, crunchy, little bar, almond, chocolate, there you are… no trace of cranberries though. What else is there? Have I lost taste for dark chocolate? Perhaps. It is 70% in any meaning you can think of. Pass. Continue reading Down the Aisles -1: Endangered species chocolate

Beach and buffet

Galveston beach is calm today. In Vung Tau we can see foaming waves hitting the shore from 300 feet away, and the sun-shy ones (like myself) can hide under the shade of sheoaks planted along the beach (*). Galveston is different. A blazon strip of land. When you go to the sea on a holiday weekend, you get what you expect: (too) plenty of sunshine, sand, lots of people smiling, sweating on the bikes, burning tanning on the beach. When you go to a Chinese restaurant, you expect cheap, commonplace food, casual companies and indeed they are. But never expect too much. We went to China Island, a “restaurant” 10 minutes from the sea, expected decent seafood, and didn’t get it. A lady stared at little mom, making her feel guilty for taking the last fish fillet. Later we found out the lady didn’t really miss much, the fish wasn’t fresh. The fried shrimps were poorly coated and poorly fried. Continue reading Beach and buffet

Recipe for bánh bía (Vietnamese-adapted Suzhou mooncake)

If you just want to enjoy a piece of sweet flaky mooncake, Vietnamese sandwich stores and bakeries are the place to go. If you have plenty of time at hand and little trust for unknown kitchens, then hit the market to find these ingredients for a batch of 12 bánh bía: 1. The skin dough – 375g all purpose flour (Pillsbury preferred) – 110g confectioner sugar – 80g corn/canola oil – 100ml coconut milk (Chef’ Choice preferred) – 50ml water. Continue reading Recipe for bánh bía (Vietnamese-adapted Suzhou mooncake)

Korean Garden Grille

Korean movie series are my soju. It’s for celebration, depression, even seeking motivation. I got motivated to learn Korean and to try Korean food. I made a couple of attempts in College Station, but it’s not a good idea to judge Korean cuisine from a local Chinese restaurant. The urge to understand why their food looks so appealing in movies overtook the resistance against chili pepper. So we went to Bellaire the first weekend I got home, to a Korean buffet. Korean Garden Grille has a spacious feel (again, something of Texas that I will miss). I made a point to sample everything, and I almost accomplished my goal. I tried “beef seaweed soup” (no beef was visible, so I assume it was beef flavored seaweed soup?), 11 kinds of kimchi (not knowing most of the Korean names nor the veggie names), bulgogi, japchae (stirfried cellophane noodle), 7 kinds of fried egg/veggie (again, not knowing either the Korean names or the veggie names). The kimchi was mostly sour (a little more sour than pickled daikon and carrots, not as salty as pickles, much less aggressive on the back of the throat […]

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