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Showing posts from July, 2005
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Miso Chicken Salad Sandwich

Miso Chicken Salad Sandwich

This summer truly feels like a global warming sign. After playing two hours of tennis today in the humid and hot air, I was ready for getting take-out. But since I am on a budget now, I reluctantly forced myself to scavenge my fridge for dinner inspiration. After some Rainier cherries and orange juice, I was cooled down enough to think creatively. I usually buy chicken whole and cut it into parts myself -- typically breast meat for stir fries, thighs for roasting, and drumsticks and wing parts for stews. And oh, don't forget the chicken tendorloins! These are the tendor strips of meat underneath the breasts, usually made into fried chicken fingers. I was going to cube them and stir fry them with cucumber chunks. But high heat cooking with oil just seemed wrong today. I thought of a chicken salad sandwich with cucumbers and sesame sauce, which really didn't appeal to me at the moment. I placed the bag of frozen chicken in warm water to thaw while I dragged my sweaty self into t…
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Taiwanese pork soup

Taiwanese pork soup

Many popular Chinese dishes these days may seem strange, making you wonder what the cook was thinking when he or she made up the dish. Chicken feet, anyone? Well, cooking is an art to make food more delicious to the palate, but also a magic to make something out of nothing. When resources were scarce, clever tricks were invented to make scraps of leftover meat and organs edible, stretch the minimal amount of ingredients into a fulfilling meal. This requires lots of time and labor, and most importantly brain power, to change the texture of raw ingredients, to impart flavors, and to add fillers that actually don't taste like so.

The example of chicken feet requires changing the texture (skin) and imparting colors and flavors to this scrap of meat that would normally be trashed. Sausage is another example. Whatever leftover pieces of meat are ground down and spiced up. Meat that had lots of chewy connective tissue is cut into little pieces so that eating them is no longer painful on t…

Restaurant Review: Uncle Cheung's

In the spirit of more positive thoughts on food, I have this review on Uncle Cheung's.

Uncle Cheung's cooks up Shanghai-style dishes. The maitre d' speaks Shanghainese and Mandarin, and she is very nice and friendly. I do not claim to be an expert on Shanghainese food. I only know that this cuisine is what pleases my palate the most among the different Chinese reginal cuisines. I first tasted their food at their other branch China Ting in Ashland, MA. It was about 1-hour drive to get there for weekend brunch -- it had better be damn good to worth the drive on an empty stomach! Now China Ting is closed, and Uncle Cheung is a little closer -- in Framingham, about a 30-40 minute drive. The restaurant is very roomy. I never had to wait to be seated. Do not be fooled by many tables serving up Americanized Chinese food to unknowing customers, the chef can produce the real stuff.

Brunches there have been worthwhile for the following items: pork moon cake -- juicy ground pork fillin…

Evolution of taste and standards

My tastes for food has changed so much since high school. When I first came to the US, pizza and burrito were novelties to me. There wasn't much of whether I liked it or not. Most of the time I was just happy to discover new ingredients, new flavors, and new cultures. Then in college I really got to eat a wider array of food: Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Greek, Spanish, Mexican, Mediterranean, French, Italian, and whatever ethnic foods presented at cultural events. After college in a small town, I moved to Boston. Faced with a dizzying number of restaurants, armed with a bigger wallet, I was able to try even more different places. And now that few dishes are surprises anymore, I do start to pay more attention to details and compare the differences. This creates a problem that didn't happen very often before -- I become pickier than before and I start to find more and more faults with my food. Take my latest two dining experiences for example:

On Thursday I had dinner wit…
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Flank steak, asparagus, and goat cheese appetizer

July Fourth party appetizer

I am not terribly creative, which is why I don't think I would make it big being a professional chef. So I was very proud of myself for coming up with this dish. I had to make something to bring to a July Fourth party that has meat in it. I didn't want to make any casseroles, because I don't want to eat any at the time. So I decided to make some appetizer type of thing. Basically appetizers and desserts are really crowd pleasing dishes because everything will have a nice presentation and everyone will think you spend the whole week making it. So I start looking through my Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres book, which of course features gorgeous-looking food, most of which requires either too much time or too many exotic ingredients. (As much as I love Martha, I only had one afternoon to make this) Neverthelss, I did get inspiration from it. I have really come to love broiled flank steak, and I have lots of asparagus in the refrigerator. To make it richer, I added goa…