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Reblogged: “Pho” Pas

21 Jul

Here are the essential yes-yes’s and no-no’s of Asian dining out:

Most of these could apply to any list of cultural etiquette (ex: don’t serve yourself with the same utensil you use for eating; don’t grab something off of a shared plate and immediately shovel it down), but there are some rules I’ve certainly broken:

Never stick your chopsticks straight up into a dish.

Don’t use chopsticks for any non-noodle dish at a Thai restaurant.

Eat pho out of the spoon. DON’T SLURP LIKE THIS JERK:

Pho Jerk

Receive all Korean dishes with two hands.

Eat nigiri in one bite and with your hands.

Personal rule: clap with both hands.


The One Where Shrimp’s Stewed, Simmered & Slurped

5 Jan

The holidays are about the quality time with family, whether decorating or arguing about who ate the last See’s Chocolate (it was NOT me). More positively, the family time could have been cooking a meal together. My brother, whose diet consists of strictly Tyson frozen chicken nuggets and the occasional starch, likes cooking with the family. Especially if there’s shrimp involved. He loves the fruit of the sea. Cocktail shrimp, shrimp and grits, shrimp creole-like that part in Forrest Gump, there’s no shrimp he wouldn’t got for. In all of the many ways to cook the crustacean, Bubba never mentioned shrimp saganaki, a Greek style shrimp. Shrimp saganaki is a great appetizer; with some tweaking with the proportions that Bon Appétit gives, it’s a tangy and tomatoey weeknight dinner that doesn’t skimp on the shrimp. My family loves the zing the feta adds, and of course, this fundamentally is a shrimp dinner both Bubba and Bon App approve of.

A block of feta rests in the middle

A block of feta rests in the middle

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A Ladlefull of Peanuts

13 Dec

Processed food=bad. Processed photography=way more fun than Oreo cookies

If there’s one thing I like at winter time, it’s making soups. It’s  an obsession.They fill the house with rich scents, and they’re eatable with a spoon and bowl (crucial criteria). They at least seem reasonably healthy (in comparison to pasta carbonara, Elvis sandwiches, and well, the majority of this blog’s content). After seeing what some of my online soup chef contemporaries are doing, I just want to raise the ladle to them.

I like making vegetarian soups for my friend Hannah, who’s vegan and has a gluten allergy. It makes most creations very “creative” (future post about vegan pancakes coming up), but soups with spicy vegetables and international twists are leaving me, well, hungry for more.

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Heart(attack) Hotel

5 Nov

In between writing a children’s play for my theatre class and the full gamut of Halloween costumes these past two weeks, I’ve been feeling pretty imaginative at best, absurd at the worst. Let’s face it: when Halloween’s on a Wednesday, it pretty much means that a college campus in the South has two weekends of holiday-related ruckus. I’ve seen furry-costumed college kids stumbling home at 10 in the morning, and there’s no shortage of creative outfits at night time.

I love the quirk of Charleston all the time, but it never has as much character as when there’s real characters walking the streets.

With that in mind, I’m thinking of how absurd the food world’s creations can be. Bacon, for some reason, is the king of all creations. Wendy’s Baconator is called a “Fistful of Bacon,” while other fast food chains hop (well maybe not hop) to get a slice of the bacon trend (Denny’s Baconalia and Burger King’s Bacon Caramel Sundae are just a few). Epic Meal time made their career out of the sheer mass of fat it provides, while the gourmet market puts bacon flavors into candied pecans.

I decided to go back to the classics, and what could be more classic than the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll for inspiration? While he’s known for “Love Me Tender,” B-movies of questionable quality, and for the infamous location of his death, Elvis is now recognized for one of his favorite “snacks.” Biscuits and red eye gravy, along with cheeseburgers “any hour of the day,” the King had one sandwich that he couldn’t walk out from. Between two pieces of thick bread, the King liked having slathered peanut butter, sliced bananas, honey, and of course, bacon. What a hunk of burning love.

With my unabashed obsession with peanut butter and a visit to Peanut Butter & Company when I was in New York this summer, I knew I had to give them a whirl, but with some reservations. Specifically, my coronary track.

I substituted a couple of things to make the sandwich (slightly) healthier, including using natural peanut butter, turkey bacon, and downplaying the honey. Though putting some brueleed bananas would have made this Bacchanal (and moreso than Halloween and Denny’s Baconalia), resisting it may have given me a few more years, and a few more songs.

I included this song for snacking. Like the combination of salty and sweet, the King couldn’t stay hidden for long. This is from his 1968 comeback concert:

The buzz from the sugar makes you see things like this.

There’s some other twists I’m curious to try out more of: one of them being a Nutella-based sandwich. My friend and I made grilled Brie sandwiches with Nutella and basil on them. While in conversation, that’s positively disgusting sounding, in application, I think they’re spectacular. The sweetness from the Nutella is perfect for a creamy cheese like Brie, and the basil brings an almost savory element to them.

Trader Joe’s just released a Toscano cheese brushed with cinnamon. By itself, it’s like a snickerdoodle Parmesan, but with Nutella and peach jam, it could be the next best grilled cheese. One of my favorite comfort food dishes when I was little was macaroni and cinnamon butter. I don’t see why the (slightly) grown-up version couldn’t enjoy a reboot. Let’s hope the reboot’s a little bit smoother than the King’s sequin suits.

NOTE: While walking around the bookstore yesterday, I spotted this in the bargain section. Hard to resist.

“Roll With It”: Sushi-making in Atlanta

25 May

Atlanta: city of knotted highways, Braves baseball, and Gladys Knight and Ron’s Chicken & Waffles. It’s also the home of two close friends, and sandwiched between the sprawls of my lives in Buenos Aires and New York, it was an excellent weekend trip, and a little bit closer to home.

The sounds were close to home:

With that soundtrack and geography, the flavors were pretty close to home. Sauteed shrimp, lemon juice, and cheese grits form some of Charleston’s greatest hits.

On Monday, we mixed up our own “Atlanta Batch” of shrimp with a green pepper/oyster mushroom/shredded turnip medley.

My friends and I also made sushi. Did I say flavors close to home? Whoops.

Salmon/mango/avocado urimaki (rice on the outside)

I have only rolled once, but Sean & Christine have their own set and make an evening out of it. Surprisingly, arranging uncooked ingredients in a beautiful way takes well over two hours. Between soaking cooked rice in vinegar (sushi translates to “spoiled rice”) to chopping up the minutia, making sushi is a time commitment; on a professional level, it takes years to master.

A few notes on prep, offered by my friend Sean:

  1. The rolling mats, made of bamboo, should be flat on one side. Some cheaper pads are round dowels; due to the flat nori, it’s easier to roll.
  2. Starch, generally unpleasant to clean out of both bowls and oxford shirts, is especially annoying with sushi mats. We covered our mats with cling-wrap.
  3. Keep your hands wet all of the time. It makes the golf-ball sized rice balls easier to handle and shape.
  4. While I definitely had favorite ingredients (mango, cream cheese, and FRIED CRUNCH), it’s best to keep texture in mind when building rolls. Plus, it’s an excuse to make and eat more sushi rolls.

After an hour of prep, it’s relaxing to see a table as crisp as edamame

We made over 12 rolls, with standards like crab w/ avocado and a spicy tuna, but there were a few Allez Cuisine rolls that definitely pulled inspiration from cooking television. In the plate to the upper right, our two experimental rolls reigned supreme. One featured crunchy caramelized onions with crab that we all agreed had a smoky flavor we’d never expect in a sushi roll. Right next to that roll and topped with green onions, is our lox roll. We had eaten and raved over how much we loved salmon lox earlier in the week, so like many great sushi creations, we just put our favorite food into it. The result had capers, smoked salmon, cream cheese, and a little bit of chopped green onion on the top. This might be our new favorite fusion creation.

Sushi is a home hobby that I learned to love in Atlanta, the most unlikely of homes.

Slow your roll.


11 Feb

After two weeks, things are getting as smooth as a bossanova tune. I’m learning bus routes, which plazas have clowns, and how to order food.

While I may have had no idea which direction it was in when I arrived, San Telmo is a crucial part of bohemian Buenos Aires. Today was my first comfortable excursion to it.

While Recoleta may be the final burial ground for city dignitaries, San Telmo may be where the spirit of the city rests. Tango dances, guitar players, and craftsman selling feather earrings and colored signs pack the Plaza Dorrego, while the Mercado San Telmo is an indoor market selling enough of a variety to put any Wal-Mart to shame.

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Nos Vemos

23 Jan

I’m leaving for Argentina in two days. Two days. Spanish phrases are flying through my mind and I’m going over my packing piles over and over again, trying to get into that 50 pound limit. It hasn’t been the easiest. I’ve watched every single friend I have go back to their schools, back to their routines. They’re joining sororities and not sleeping for days. They’re getting new roommates and seeing candidates on campus. Meanwhile, I’m on this crazed drive to shove as much American culture in, between watching Star Wars and eating take-out Americanized Chinese food from China East.

American food seems to be the biggest item on my cultural docket.

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