Summer Green Roll – avocado, cucumber, kaiware sprout, wakame and hijiki. Alissa scooped wasabi like it was green tea ice cream, but I like this one just as it is: plain, fresh and light. It’s been a long time since I last either wrote about food or ate anything that I could write about. The occasional rainfalls during the drought of takeout Chinese are so-so hu tieu and com suon somewhere in the Ranch 99 complex, and homemade soups, lovely but no hot news. Vegetable intake has been limited to shibazuke from Berkeley Bowl, homemade kimchi, and toasted seaweed (seaweed counts, doesn’t it?). Before leaving for her trip, Cheryl fed me her black chicken soup, brown rice, tau yew bak (similar to thit kho but with soy sauce instead of fish sauce) and, like a loving sister, concerned looks and advice on how I should feed myself healthy meals. I agree with her one hundred percent, but all planned menus for the next day fluttered their wings away as I run from class to class and get home only wishing to relax. [...]
Continue reading Vegan out at Cha-Ya
One very cold Saturday afternoon in Oakland. Darren: Normally I don’t like fruit flavored stuff, like watermelon candies you know? Mai: Yeah, like cherry candies… Darren: But this mango ice cream is really good! Mai: It is! I like the green tea the most though, it’s so refreshing. What about you, Kristen? Kristen: I usually don’t like strawberry flavors, but this strawberry one is so good… Good thing we each had a different favorite. [...]
Continue reading Seven flavors of mochi ice cream
When I’m home, Little Mom pampers me with her food and sweeps me out of her kitchen, except when I open the fridge to snack, because her mind fixes on the idea that if she lets me touch the stove, I only make a mess. She’s right. Not to toot my own horn but when I’m home, I’m a lazy mess. So when I said Mom, let’s make bánh dầy đậu, she threw her hands up, said oh my sky there’s no more room in the fridge, made the bean paste herself, and only let me play with the dough. The mung bean paste filling is really the most important part of the Vietnamese mochi (similar to the Japanese mochi, but it’s 100% Vietnamese): you want it slightly savory, slightly sweet, and mashed. Little Mom is the queen of seasoning, so that part was flawless. My job was to knead the dough and roll up them balls. At least I didn’t have to pound steamed sticky rice into oblivion. I was kneading while watching TV with Mom. I was kneading when she sectioned her bánh bao dough into balls. I was still kneading [...]
Continue reading Recipe for bánh dầy đậu – Vietnamese mung bean mochi
And eat an amazing cream puff. (Cream puffs >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Cupcakes) Click to see my post on the Spring Harvest Tea Party at Teance tonight. We drank some eye-opening teas, literally and figuratively.
– 2 scoops Dreyer’s Double Fudge Brownie ice cream – 1 scoop Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia froyo – A handful of potato chips Use the potato chips to scoop the ice cream. They may break, in which case lick your finger and get a spoon.
They aren’t banana chips. Those are crunchy, not very sweet, and make you thirsty. These are chewy and packed with honey sweetness. They’re as addicting as soft-baked chocolate chip cookies and as healthy as dried blueberries. At least I like to think so when I nibble twenty of them in one go. Chewy dried bananas come in many shapes and sizes. Some were pressed into flat sheets (3-5 bananas to make a sheet), laid on bamboo panels and dried under the sun. Cà Mau is known for this kind of chuối khô, the main ingredient of the other 101 banana snack things in the South, e.g., banana candies. Other bananas are dried whole, and they turn into finger-long wrinkly banana fingers. Eurasia Delight sells two kinds: the normal chuối khô – more caramel looking, shinier, sweeter, shorter and chewier, the “organic” chuối khô – whiter, dryer, longer, not as good. [...]
Continue reading Chewy dried banana
The best (known) green tea of China. The cream of the cream of the crop. I feel sophisticated just drinking it. Paired with a tangerine bee pollen truffle and I almost hear little cherubim playing the lyre. You can read the whole story in my journal Tea & Mai. I’m off to dance in my head.
“You girls know how to eat”, our hostess smiled at us, the check attached. Ten things. At a tapas place like Vanessa’s Bistro where everything sounds tasty, I’d say we did a pretty good job narrowing down our choices, and we asked for the house recommendations only three times. All rendered success. The first decision was the easiest: we’d got to get the sweet potato fries. Neither mushy like their orange cousins nor mealy like the white kinds, these Okinawan sweet potatoes, or purple yams, are sturdy in texture and just gently sweet. With or without the ginger aioli, they were loved. The small plates also stood alone splendidly, not that their dipping sauce came short. Black pepper cured filet carpaccio with roasted peanuts, fried shallots and Asian mint (húng quế). A twist on the classic Vietnamese bò nhúng dấm (carpaccio with vinegar) bò tái chanh (carpaccio with lime). (Thanks for the correction, Linh-Dang!) [...]
Continue reading Vanessa’s Bistro, sweet and savory the Vietnamese way
Last year I had a great meal at Himalayan Flavors, starting with a reddish purple smoothie whose ingredients I no longer remember and can’t find anywhere on their current menu, and ending with a mango dessert. The owner is Nepalese, so technically, the food is Nepalese, which is too similar to Indian for me to discern because I haven’t had much of either. A quick Google search renders over 6 million results, but the actual number of differences between Nepalese and Indian foods are few and easy enough to remember: Nepalese cooks use no cream/curd, so their gravies are thinner and more watery than Indian gravies. In Nepalese dishes, green vegetables are chopped up and stir-fried, like in Chinese cooking, except for the cumin. In Indian dishes, the green vegetables are turned into paste (like saag paneer (spinach and soft cheese), the best of which I’ve had is at Aslam’s Rasoi, but that’s a different story). Nepalese cooks do not use sugar to flavor the savory dishes. Source: Binaya Manandhar [...]
Continue reading Himalayan Flavors and the mango art
Technically, ごま蒸し饅頭 (goma mushi manjuu) means Steamed Sesame Bun (as a friend told me), but I’m a firm believer that proper nouns, i.e., names, cannot be translated without losing some of their meaning. Since there is no sufficient translation already, I might as well make the English name suitable to describe the object instead of sticking to the literal translation. Hence, to distinguish these little buns from the gazillion of buns in the Far East, I shall call them “buttons”. Flaky, multi-super-thin-layered dough. Semi-sweet black sesame paste. Adorable, in every sense of the word. Here’s the label, for those who can read Japanese:
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