Saturday, April 30, 2011

muse me, hodo yuba

ive been asked many times, how did you learn how to make that? where did you get that recipe from........

most of the times, i dont do recipes. i mean, i borrow from this recipe and that recipe all the time and i love to learn new things while replicating a dish i learned from a cookbook..... but ill be honest, my favorite part of cooking is taking the skills, techniques and ideas ive learned and evolving and applying them to a dish im making on the fly.

i like to open the frig and see whats in there and make something from it, based on ideas and techniques ive used for hundreds of other dishes.

because of my heritage and because the biggest cooking influence ive had is my mother, of course it shows in my cooking. its gonna be "asiany". theres no doubt about that. this entry is gonna be a bit asiany.

another favorite part of cooking is when i go grocery shopping and i find an item so interesting i have to buy it. most of the time, i will have no idea what to do with it. sometimes, i catch myself just staring at it on the counter in my kitchen....

"now why the hell did i buy this? what am i gonna do with this? well at least my dog will eat it if its bad... ooo i should walk her. shes getting kinda fat. maybe i should feed her a low fat diet. i wonder if she thinks in korean...."

anyways. so i buy some random item that catches my eye and i make do. i let that initial interest evolve into an idea. i take all the different techniques ive learned, go thtough the steps in my mind and shape that item into a final product. i might not know how it will turn out, and i will admit, sometimes its REALLY REALLY BAD..... but i will say, over the years, the number of really bad dishes have slowly decreased! yay!

"ok, so i know if i build a simple foundation of flavor around this ingredient, i can highlight the texture of it with this cooking technique"

"ok, so this kinda looks and smells and taste like chinese chives, maybe i can substitute it in my chive pancake batter"

different thought processes take place. different scenarios play through my mind.... but this is all part of the fun.

the other day, while at berkeley bowl, i saw they had yuba. not just any yuba either hodo beanery yuba.
yuba is basically a byproduct when you make tofu. its the skin that forms along the top of the tofu. i think its all sorts of delicious, and when a place like hodo, who are crafters of some of the best tofu out there, makes this.... its simply divine.

i brought it home and realized, i never cooked yuba. what the hell am i supposed to do with it?

thought process....

yuba is tofu skin, folded up. it kinda reminds me of tomago.

hey it also reminds me of kalguk soo before you cut it.

hey maybe i should use it like a noodle!

slice in half, the 1/4" sections

hmmm. well this is the first time im cooking with it, so i should bring out the flavor of it. simple dish.

its asiany, so lets do asiany simple. some sesame oil, some green onions, hey, theres some left over garlic greens, some black sesame seeds...

ok, maybe thats a bit too simple. lets add a bit of oyster sauce. that always goes good in everything! hmm some garlic, salt and pepper... ok this should do.

now i can just put this sliced yuba right in, but hrm..... ima blanch it real quick, it will help break apart all the individual pieces anyways.

ok, strain, then add to the hot pan... ooo a splash of good ponzu should top it off right.

TADA a new dish, inspired by a new ingredient i found, built on a foundation of previous experiences with food.. ever evolving..... i think next time around, i will do a few things different if i was to make this dish, like topping it off with fresh green onions instead of letting it cook. or better yet make a whole new dish! maybe a nice brothy one....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

easter sunday trackday

new camera in hand, flip video in hand, cooler full of food, truck full of toys, we went to thunderhill for a track day with keigwins at the track. its the third year in a row that im doing an easter sunday track day. i think its offically a tradition now.

but this time around, we did it up right. we planned this thing awhile ago and it turned out great. we had a super abundance of food thanks to the likes of kevin of kevins noodle house. hahaha i passed you up man! so much so we didnt even get to the burgers i brought! no worries. my guys at the warehouse have lunches now. sammy and company brought some delicious turkish delights. i dont know what that lentil thing you wrap with lettuce was, but it was damn good.

i wanted to record all sorts of things. video of the pits. track side videos. i wanted to snap all sorts of pictures......i guess you really go forget things when you have too much fun.

i really wanted to document the experience so i could share it here, i mean, thats the point of a blog isnt it.... but theres always next time.

for now.

shiny side up

Thursday, April 14, 2011

anything you can do i can do better

not to be out done by her little snot nosed offspring, mama patiently listened to her grown ass boy as he went on and on about this awesome salad mix from a farm thats down the street from her house. with the love only a mother can know for her oldest and youngest and only son, she looked at his excitement with pure joy...

then like your typical asian mom she smashed it and stomped on it and let him know whos boss. she busted open her subzero frig (that i paid for of course) and pulled out this plastic bag of winning.

DUDE, is that minari? *korean watercress* whoa. i see it once in awhile. ive seen my boy big willy style had some growing in a bucket before... otherwise, its very hard to find stateside. american watercress is used in place of minari at most korean restaurants... but then again, i dont like to eat at most korean restaurants.

DUDE, is that puchu? *chinese chives* i know EXACTLY what im making tonight with this. puchu pajun. chinese chives mixed into a simple batter, pan fried. make a simple dipping sauce. tada. instant, healthy(ish) snack food... great with magul li or soju or beer.

fyi, magul li, soju, beer...not healthy(ish)

both the minari and puchu looked so healthy, so vibrant, so green and smelled incredible. you can smell the care that went into growing these.

DUDE... ok wait... ok nm..... i have no idea what this is. looked like frisee, but tasted a bit more nuttier and bitter than the usual frisee you find. it started off like a nice simple green, but the finish was a bit ummm different than what im used to. any ideas what this may be?

yeah, so back on point, not to be out done by her son, mama grabbed a bountiful harvest from a backyard farm somewhere in the san bruno mountains. apparently, she knows someone that has a huge backyard garden farm filled with all sorts of hard to find korean veggies. when i asked her where it was, she said, oh, its somewhere, dont worry. yeah. i get it mama. its your thang. go on with your badass self.

if you want the best, you need to find someone that puts the care and effort into it. your local megalomart is not the place to find something like this. you find cheap and although you can find good things on the cheap and there are hidden treasures there and of course, there is a time and place for your local megalomart, if you want the best, you tend to have to find people passionate about what they do. you need to find people who go above and beyond. obviously, this mysterious urban farmer puts some care into their work.

as for myself, im going to fence off a little area in my small urban patio, making a small urban farm. i am passionate about this. it will show. 

stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

little city gardens, aka the best kept secret in sf at this very moment

warning, cliche filled moment ahead.

its pretty hard to surprise me. ive seen it all. trust me. you have to wake up pretty early in the morning to get the worm thats two eggs in a basket.

i stumbled upon little city gardens by complete chance. i was actually researching some of our local farms when i found the most local farm possible. how local? glen park local. if you were to roll down the hill from my parents house, you would land in little city gardens. ill go into more about who they are and what they do later, but for now, what i wanted to share with you is the box of joy i picked up from the folks at little city garden yesterday.

with the advent of the internet and websites like yelp, you sometimes want to hide things from people. you dont want to share. you still want to be able to get dinner reservations, you still want to be able to enjoy it.....

well with little city gardens, it is too good not to share.

what could possibly be this good?

a salad mix.

so purdy

yep a freakin salad mix.

people who know me well know im a meat and rice type person. growing up, veggies to me was the kimchee i ate with my meat and rice.

i loved this salad mix. so much i ate it twice last night.

how can i explain this? you dont really need dressing and if you do, just the simplest, light dressing possible. the balance between all the different greens and edible flowers make for harmonized event for your taste buds. i added a bit of salt, pepper and olive oil. simply delicious. each bit was a bit different then others. some times you got a more of this making it more nuttier. some times you got a bit more of that making it a bit more bitter..... it was quite delicious. i had to have a second serving. the second time around, i added a bit of ichimi for a little spicy kick. its hard to explain. if i was better at, i maybe i would be one of those weirdo food blogger types constantly talking about food.... wait a minute....

i wish i could do this salad mix more justice. it has everything going for it. its pretty. theres substance. theres excitement. its just really that good. i can see why an urban farm, a small local business, grew out of this salad mix. i can see why chefs from local restaurants want this for their menu. i can see why people get excited again.

im not sure if little city farms is quite ready to mass market this badboy, im not quite sure if thats the route they even want to take. i dont know if it will be available at a grocery store near you... but if you can get you hands on some. do it. add some salt and pepper and good olive oil and see what im talking about.... seriously. a guy with a freaking pig tattooed on his back is saying he loves this salad mix. its got to mean something.

now of course, little city gardens isnt only about a single salad mix. hell, little city gardens isnt only about producing a monthly csa box. what do i know? im just a loud mouth blogger eater consumer. im sure theres much much more going on and hopefully, ill get to all that in a future posting. for now let just see what else i got from the csa box.

pea sprouts
pea sprout? dude pea sprouts? HAHAHA i had to chuckle a bit when they were telling us what was in the box. i was (am) on this whole pea sprout thing. i LOVE pea sprouts. it seems you can only find these at your local chinese super market and to be honest, they arent usually the best quality. still, i buy them all the time. i sautee them with a bit of olive oil and salt or do that whole crab butter thing with it.  love pea sprouts.... little city gardens pea sprouts? yeah. the bizness

green (young garlic) and an herb i just cant remember the name of

green garlic? green garlic? no way. this stuff. i grew up on. it was on of my favorite things. chopped up, marinated in a spicy, sweet sauce and it becomes on of the best ban chans. more on this later also. you know this is going to become a ban chan this week!

id rather get this than flowers.

there was also nice little herb bundle that made the entire car ride a nice savory ride home.

this is what came with my first csa box from little city gardens. i cant wait to go visit the farm and see the operation for myself. i cant wait to see what else they got going there.

so quick lesson here? dont think googling random things is a waste of time. you never know what you might come across. i found an urban farm right by my hood where they grow and prep an incredible salad mix amongst other things.