July 2010

Impromptu kimchee pancakes

Having eaten cake and brownies all day at work, I came back home with a late-night craving for something savory. I finished off a container of hummus with some leftover bagged salad (hey, it worked fine!) but that just didn’t do it for me. I looked back in the fridge and saw my enormous jar of perfectly fermented kimchee. Light bulb: Time to make kimchee pancakes!

Now, the reason why this was such a good idea is because my kimchee happened to be perfectly ripe, and by that I mean it was at least three months-old. Don’t be alarmed kimchee novices. The older the kimchee is, the better. Unless you really let it go and it becomes faintly alcoholic.

It’s really so easy to make. This recipe is somewhat impromptu, because I sort of went by how I remember the way my mom makes it, but if you feel more comfortable with a specific recipe, check out this one from Maangchi.com.

All you really need to do is combine two parts flour and one part water, or around there until the mixture has the consistency of — you got it — pancake batter. Then roughly chop your very fermented kimchee and add to the batter. Be sure to include a little bit of kimchee juice — that’s the bright red liquid you see here.

Aged kimchee produces the most amazing liquid. It’s what makes kimchee jjigae, a robust Korean kimchee stew, so very delicious. It will also act as a flavoring agent for your batter. My mom doesn’t add kimchee juice to her pancakes, but I like to.

I fried one pancake with canola oil and wasn’t quite satisfied with the level of crisp on the pancake’s edges. So I then opted for olive oil the second time around, and surprisingly enough, it produced an even better and lighter oil-infused crispness. Imagine that! One of my rules in cooking is, there aren’t really any rules. If you want to use olive oil in cooking Korean food…go for it!

These go great with beer but I’m just finding that it accompanies well with a glass of Viognier. Enjoy!

Serious iced coffee

The pho at Pho Ca’Dao in Mira Mesa is really good, as are the eggs rolls, but the iced coffee is quite fantastic too. I don’t think I’ve had bad iced coffee at any Vietnamese restaurant, come to think of it.

I recently had dinner at Ca Dao and since I was going to watch “Inception” right after, I knew I was going to need a caffeinated jolt. So onward to the Vietnamese-style iced coffee!

It arrives in the most charming way, as you can see. It lets you to take part in the whole ceremony of coffee-drinking, which I think is part of the joy, don’t you?

A little silver cup with a metal press arrives sitting on top of a nifty little glass cup of condensed milk. The freshly brewed espresso slowly drips from the press onto the sugary rich milk until you’re ready to stir it with an elegantly long spoon, then pour the concoction in a glass of chipped ice.

Trust…it’s quite wonderful. Strong, creamy and sweet. Look out for it at your favorite pho joint — it’s the perfect ending to that big honking bowl of pho.

Rapture over albacore tuna sashimi

I may have possibly had the absolute best albacore sashimi experience tonight…

Nah, I’ll just say it — it was THE most fantastic sashimi I have ever had, and I did not have to go to an expensive sushi place to get it.

Just yesterday, my dad and brother delivered fresh vacuum-sealed slabs of albacore tuna and yellowtail that they caught off the generous waters of Baja California during a chartered fishing trip. We’re talking six days out at sea. Between the two of them, they caught some 40+ tuna. I could not believe it! Here we go:

An example of less-than-perfect knife skills but hey, like it matters. The tuna’s freshness compensated for any imperfect shapes and edges. Our first bite could only be described as rapturous…the pieces just melted in our mouths like butter. Straight up. This guy was probably swimming in the ocean just a couple days ago.

Here, we have seared yellowtail with ponzu sauce. Thank you Alex, for bringing the sauce and using your fish-searin’ skills. I even grated some daikon radish to go with it. Fabulous. Perhaps not as rapturous as the albacore, but still beyond divine.

Those little green sprouts are daikon radish sprouts, called “kaiware,” in Japanese. They’re peppery with a wasabi-like zing to them and they go exceptionally well with good sash. Look for them at Asian markets.

Thank you Jason, for dropping off the fish!

MIHO Gastrotruck emerges from “farm to street”

Gastronomy — Merriam-Webster defines it as the “art or science of good eating” and yes we’re lovin’ the word these days, as evidenced by new terms like molecular gastronomy, Gastronomica (a scholarly food publication), gastropub, and of course, the gastrotruck. Come on, you had to see it coming. After Kogi‘s sensational debut a year or so ago, how could progressive cooks resist inventing a gastro-TRUCK? It’s so apt for hip, local food-forwardness, kind of original enough for people to at least try it out of curiosity and it harnesses social networking capabilities that let us web-savvy folks know exactly where the truck will be at a precise time — just like all of its other mobile restaurant predecessors.

Alas, I am guilty as charged for falling into the craze of it all. A fellow food-liker and I have had our eye on MIHO Gastrotruck and when he asked if I would like to check out, I happily agreed. This was today’s lunch menu:

Their fries, inspired by “poutine,” a Belgian fries dish, were doused with mushroom gravy and actually very tasty. I enjoyed it mucho. I talked to the truck guy and he said they make their own mushroom broth for the gravy.

Pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw on a brioche bun. Below: What’s a food truck without Coke in retro glass bottles?

As I noticed succulent plants artfully placed next to the napkins and colorful candy strewn on burlap beside the ice-cold drinks,  I couldn’t help but wonder, is this a little too gimmicky? My friend and I mulled over food trucks in general, and we concluded that they are just a current trend and will likely not survive. What do you guys think?

It made me think about one of the best articles I’ve read about the original Mexican taco trucks that led to this whole enterprise. You gotta check it out.

Hey Miho, props for making some fairly tasty lunch food, even if it is a tad pricey. You’re spicing it up for bored lunchgoers who want something else besides Subway. But I’m down for a good old Mexican taco truck over anything else. Pass the tamarindo soda!

Lavender lemonade

Okay guys, sorry for the poor quality of this photo — I need to get myself a better camera — but I really wanted to discuss lavender lemonade. I present thee, the one that is served at Café Chloe in downtown San Diego.

I’m enchanted by anything that involves lavender so when I saw this on the menu, as well as read about it in numerous Yelp reviews, I ordered it with a lot of excitement. I’m sorry to say that it was very disappointing. Lavender experimenters, I would advise using lavender sparingly. There’s only so much lavender one could consume without it seeming like you’re eating or drinking perfume or detergent. Or even like an actual lavender sachet. Sorry guys, lavender lemonade is not as appealing as it sounds but it sure looks gorgeous right?