rice Tag

ONE-POT SICHUAN SAUSAGE (OR ANY SAUSAGE) RICE W HERBS SALAD

THE ABUNDANT FAT AND JUICES FROM THE SAUSAGE WILL DESCEND GODLY AND SEEP DOWN THROUGH THE RICE BELOW, FLAVORING AND AIDING THE FORMATION OF THE HEAVENLY BOTTOM CRUST

If you follow my Instagram, then you’d know that I’m head-deep in rushing towards the finishing line on my cookbook.  Yeah, I’m writing one, and this is probably the first time that I’m mentioning it on the blog, all very anti-dramatic and all.  But I promise to talk more about it when the time comes.

For now, let me quickly leave you with a recipe, well more like a technique almost, that I think everyone who struggles with weeknight meals (or writing a book no less) should have in their repertoire.  Inspired by claypot rice, here’s how to turn any type of fresh sausages and a few cups of rice into a one-pot, steaming, savory, fluffy and crispy wonder.  If you have a few minutes to spare, you can prepare this sichuan-inspired sausage thoroughly studded with fatty guanciale bits (Italian cured pork jowl), burning with toasted chili flakes and tingling wtih sichuan pepercorns.  Or, you can use any other types of your favorite, fresh sausages like sweet Italian, spicy Italian, or fresh Mexican chorizo and etc.  Either way, the abundant fat and juices from the sausage will descend godly and seep down through the rice below, flavoring and aiding the formation of the caramelized, heavenly bottom crust.  Then this steaming and comforting one-pot wonder is complimented by a scallion and tarragon salad cooled by a touch of Greek yogurt.  If you’re anything like me, you don’t even need bowls.

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JAPAN + SRIRACHA SENBEI, Japanese gluten-free rice crackers

I’m stalling on this post, about our trip to Japan, or more accurately, Osaka, Kyoto and Kurokawa.  This happens sometimes, either when the trip itself was too brief, or in this case, even with a sufficient duration to ponder, I find the place… difficult to compute.  Truth is, I’ve always had mixed feelings about Japan.  Mixed, but not foreign.  After all, I’m from Taiwan, hardly a stranger.  Since awareness I guess, Japan has been a place with unescapable elements everywhere deep inside its social fabrics that, to me, are both deeply seductive and also repulsive.  It’s a festival of confusions, to say the least, the reason why Lost in Translation was transcribed here, and perhaps the reason why I hesitated to come for years.  I didn’t know if I was more afraid to love it, or hate it, and either way, why did that matter?  I wasn’t sure of the answer either.  It’s a country where people pay for their dinner through vending machines, but spend hours drinking a cup of tea.  The country runs on the most highly efficient and developed system of high-speed rail that few others can compete, but the information kiosk of which, in the Osaka station, is still being organized in old-school filers.  It’s a country that is famed for its obsession in cleanliness and manners, but one of the few still left in the developed world where I have to endure second-hand smokes in restaurants.  A culture that is widely associated with its quiet, distilled form of beauty, that wabi-sabi life, and yet, the major cities within which are wild labyrinths of neon lights and carnivals of giant moving octopuses.

Slow, fast.  Quiet, loud.  Polite, yet perversive.  Allures, and frustrations.  Which one is true?  Or perhaps all is.

A country that thrives in contradictions.

I didn’t know what to make of it.  I still don’t.

I wanted to, like everyone else, just focus on its beauties, which are nothing but pure pleasures.  The yakitori (skewered/grilled chicken) in Wabiya Korekido in Kyoto comes close to an art form.  The beef heart sashimi from Maru in Osaka could not have been the revelation that it is anywhere else.  The amount of philosophy that goes into making a bowl of ramen cries for admiration.  A dip into the tinglingly warm hot spring, the liquid silk that percolates from deep within earth in the stillness that is Kurokawa, it is hard, real hard, not to fall for it all.

But with every enjoyments, comes with a blinding contradiction that seemed to overturn the previous experience.  Was my experience authentic rituals, or rehearsed theatrics.  Was this a sanctuary, or a theme park?  What the world is infatuated about Japanese’s deeply philosophical way of life, was that even a real part of their lives, or just advertisements?  Or maybe they are two of the same thing, a double-sided mirror.

I’m sure most of you don’t know what I’m talking about, a bunch of mumbo-jumbo.  I have failed to explain it, and for that I’m going to stop.

Maybe Japan was never something to be understood, but to be pondered upon.  Was never a maze, but growth-rings on a black pine trunk.

To get it, I gotta eat more ramen.

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SUPPLE SLOW-COOKED SOY SAUCE CHICKEN RICE

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Sometimes ideas arise upon the complete rejection of another.  This recipe is a perfect example of such.

The other day (I say “the other day” a lot, which really means “last year”), I was watching this video on YouTube, a michelin-starred chef explaining how to make his “perfect roast chicken”.  Curious, so I watched, as he demonstrated with a straight face on how he cooks his chicken slowly inside a low-temperature oven for 4 hours, then afterwards, finish browning the skin inside a skillet, and after which, injecting the chicken with melted butter.

I mean, is this guy serious?

I don’t even know where to begin.  First of all, the whole notion that one could crisp up a whole, uncut chicken inside a skillet is basically again the laws of physics.  The extremely curvy and maneuvering silhouette of a chicken is exactly the reason why people resort to a three-dimensional heat source to tackle it in the first place.  Steaks, flat.  Chickens, curvy.  Simple logic.  Is he Doctor Manhattan?  Did his pure geniuses allow him to leap into another dimension of space and time to warp his chicken to the skillet?  Of course not!  That patchy-browned chicken looked like it just suffered from a skin-graft.  But you know what, even if, just because I’m nice, even if one could disobey the laws of physics and pull this whole thing off, why would I spend 4 hours of slow-cooking in the pursuit of supple meats, just so I can over-cook it later while I roll it around a super hot skillet like a total moron?  “Not too long in the skillet.” he said.  Yeah, like you mean just long enough to color the outer patch of the thighs plus to realize that this is complete idiocy?  No injection of butter can help you, my friend.

Can you believe this guy….

But wait a second now…. there there there….

Even though his low-oven chicken method is, in my humble opinion, not the answer for crispy skin roast chickens, it would actually… work perfectly for something else.

I don’t know if you know, but there is a whole other branch of philosophy on cooking chicken where crispy skins are actually not the holy grail.  Instead, it’s the extremely supple, juicy, and almost silky slick texture of the meat that reigns supreme.  And this dish called soy sauce chicken, seen hanging inside the steamy windows of Cantonese restaurants everywhere in the world, is where cooks put their relentless pursuit for such texture to the test.

Traditionally, the chickens are cooked inside a pot filled with a shallow, simmering layer of soy sauce-mixture, turning every so often until the skins take on a deep amber sheen and the meats are cooked to perfection, after which it’s hung to cool down to room temperature in order for the salty skins to tighten and become elastic, and the meats to become “jelled” almost.  Not that this traditional method doesn’t work, but it has its flaws.  First, again, uneven heat source, making it that much more difficult to cook the chicken evenly.  Second, the risk of burning, which requires the cook to stand-by and babysit the chick as it matures safely into perfection.

A low temperature oven, solves both.

The whole chicken encased in its own skin inside a low oven is almost functioning as a sous-vide operation, and on top of which, the coating of that deeply savory and aromatic soy sauce mixture never gets burnt, but instead, gets condensed and caramelized on every inch of the skin as the meats slowly and gently comes of age.  The result, on first trial, is perfectly, and I mean perfectly silky and luscious chicken meats that literally slips down my throat, wth firm and salivatingly salty skins that, in my mind, goes head to head with crispy.

The dish is served with hot steamed rice, a good moistening from the strained sauce, and scallion oil, which is the part that will hear no objection from me.

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CRISPY SKINS ARE NOT THE HOLY GRAIL.

BUT INSTEAD, IT’S THE EXTREMELY SUPPLE, JUICY, AND ALMOST SILKY SLICK TEXTURE OF THE MEATS THAT REIGN SUPREME

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*UPDATED 2017/06/02: Added an internal temperature for the chicken for perfect doneness.

SLOW-COOKED SOY SAUCE CHICKEN RICE

Ingredients

    SOY SAUCE CHICKEN:
  • 1 small-size (1.2 to 1.4 kg/2.5 to 3 lbs) free-range chicken (weight includes the head)
  • 2 (45 grams) scallions, cut into chunks
  • 1" (20 grams) ginger, sliced
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/2 cup (118 grams) soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp (30 grams) dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp (30 grams) shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp (30 grams) rock sugar, or light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp ground mushroom powder (see note)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • SCALLION OIL:
  • 2 cups (120 grams) finely diced scallions
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup (105 grams) canola oil
  • STEAMED JASMINE RICE TO SERVE

Instructions

  1. TO PREPARE THE CHICKEN: This dish should be done with small-size chickens. Asian chickens tend to come with the neck and head attached. If yours doesn't, then it should weight even less (around 1 kg/2 lbs). In a pot, combine scallion, ginger, star anise, soy sauce, chicken stock, dark soy sauce, shaoxing wine, rock sugar, oyster sauce, mushroom powder, smoked paprika and black pepper. Bring to a simmer to cook for 5 min, then place the pot over ice to cool down to room-temperature.
  2. I marinated the chicken directly inside the pot, but I would recommend doing it in a large zip-lock bag, because it allows more surface area to be submerged in the marinate. So, place the chicken and the soy sauce-mixture inside a large zip-lock bag, and rub until coated evenly. Transfer to the fridge to marinate overnight (recommended), or at least 4 hours. Either way, turn the chicken once in a while, and remove from the fridge 2 hours before cooking.
  3. PREPARE SCALLION OIL: Place diced scallion, grated ginger, salt and ground white pepper in a large bowl. Heat canola oil in a pot over high heat until it just starts to smoke a little, then pour it evenly over the scallion-mixture. It will sizzle enthusiastically. Stir the mixture evenly with a spoon while hot, then let rest for at least 2 hours before using.
  4. TO COOK THE CHICKEN: Preheat the oven on 300 F/150 C. Choose a pot that will fit the chicken neatly without too much empty space. Remove the chicken from the zip-lock bag, then transfer the marinate into the pot. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat, then add the chicken inside. After turning it once or twice to be coated, transfer the pot inside the oven, UNCOVERED. Every 15 min, come back to it and turn the chicken, basting/brushing the sauce evenly over every surface, then return the pot back in the oven. The chicken will be perfectly done with a beautiful sheen after about 55 to 60 min, until the internal temperature around inner thighs reaches 172 F/ 77 C.
  5. KEEP IN MIND that this timing is for a small chicken about 2-plus lbs. I haven't done it with large chickens (and wouldn't want to), but just purely guessing, I would add 20 more minutes to every 1 extra lb, but go by the internal temperature just to be safe. ALSO, when I say "perfectly done", I mean it as really supple meats with a bit of pink inside the bones.
  6. After the chicken's cooked, hang it either by kitchen-twines around its wings or with meat-hooks, then brush the skin thinly with vegetable oil (keeps it shiny and prevents drying). Let it cool down to room-temperature. Strain the sauce, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as you can, then discard the solids. Add 2~3 tbsp of chicken stock to the sauce to thin out the saltiness, set aside.
  7. To serve, cut the chicken in small pieces and place over steamed jasmine rice. Ladle everything with the sauce and a good dollop of scallion oil. Sprinkle with ground white pepper.

Notes

The chicken is served at room-temperature over hot rice.

To make mushroom powder, simply grind dried shitake mushrooms in spice-grinder until finely ground.

http://ladyandpups.com/2016/09/20/supple-slow-cooked-soy-sauce-chicken-rice/
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CLAM CHOWDER RISOTTO W/ CELERY PROSCIUTTO SALT

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CLAM CHOWDER IS A FOOD THAT SPEAKS NOSTALGIA, THE KIND THAT WANTS ME TO REMEMBER SOMETHING… EVEN IF THE MEMORY ISN’T MINE.  IT’S A POWERFUL STORY-TELLER.

Today is my favourite day.  Veterinarian day + Monday + The-day-I-woke-up-to-an-empty-coffee-jar day.  Pure.  Awesomeness.

So yes, I did.  I selfishly spent every God-damn beautiful hours of this day chuckling at waffle-coned dogs through a glass-wall, powered by a state of mind as sharp as a pile of shredded cheddar cheese melting inside a hamburger.  And at exactly 6:30 pm, realised that I’ve left very little time to tell you about this risotto I made last weekend.  It’s my fault.  The risotto doesn’t deserve this neglect.  In fact, this clam chowder risotto with prosciutto-salt deserves every autumn-loving and nostalgic-holic’s attention.  Thing is, I’ve always thought of clam chowders as a food that speaks nostalgias, the kind that wants me to remember something, in an almost eager manner, trying to bring out memories even if it isn’t mine.  Even though I was never that girl standing on a beach of grey sands, the cold waves, that late summer, that blue wooden bench and the knitted cardigan…, the soup wants me, no, it needs me to feel like one when I eat it.  Clam chowder is a powerful story-teller.

But again, people who are truly nostalgic about clam chowders probably wouldn’t do what I did, replacing potatoes with equally starchy arborio rice and chewy farro, then instead of saltine crackers, a sprinkle of finely crushed crispy prosciutto and toasted caraway seeds.  What can I say, it felt almost natural to me, and even more amazing because now it tells a slightly different story.  Of what, I’m not quite sure yet.  I need to hear it a few more times for it to become words.  Perhaps a rocky mediterranean shore… a brownish tweed newsboy hat… that old sea-port market and the stain of espresso on the napkin.  Or perhaps I’m just hearing a food-coma.

How about you?  Have you heard any good stories from your table lately?

The beautiful brass dinner spoon is made by the amazing Ann Ladson.

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THE SHIT I EAT WHEN BY MYSELF: K-TOWN RICE’N CHEESE

THE RICE AND SAUCE QUICKLY COOKED INTO SOMETHING LIKE A DOPPELGANGER OF RISOTTO, BOUND BY THE STRINGENT GOOEYNESS OF MELTED CHEESE,

OF WHICH HE THEN GOBBLED DOWN BY EACH OVERSIZED WOODEN-SPOONFUL

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I hardly think that it’s unreasonable, sometimes even understandable, for people to bundle their perceptions for different cultures around a region, as a whole.  As one of the Asians, Taiwanese to be exact, I am certainly far more accustomed to many of the familiarly bizarre lifestyles or values from our neighboring cultures, than say someone who are born and raised in the Midwest of America.  Regardless of agreements, I can generally find an answer for much of the “Asian weirdness” that are otherwise lost in translation, even just by association.  But a few days ago, prompted by a segment from Tony’s Parts Unknown, I sank into a recent uprise of Korean phenomenon so baffling, that the regional cultural gap… has never felt so wide.

Did you know… that there are a swarming number of YouTube channels with millions of views and followers… broadcasting hours after hours of young, slim Koreans doing nothing but sitting in front of their HD webcam-equipped computer, and just… eating themselves to a pulp?!!  Just eating!  Just nothing else, absolutely nothing else, but them eating… and eating.. and eating what appears to be an obscene and non-human amount of foods that defies the very laws of physics!  Perhaps I should point out that the nature of these shows are not competitive, as the broadcaster, almost always, are the sole living subjects in front of the cameras inside his/her own bedrooms (except maybe this living sea-creature wiggling before its imminent death).  What seems to be just a random somebody filming him/herself leisurely ingesting takeouts after school or work, sometimes for hours, will only slowly begin to stun your consciousness when you realize… how freaking much foods have already gone inside their average-sized human torsos.  Then the shows end almost as bizarrely as they begin, when the broadcasters, however long it takes, finally decide that he/she is sufficiently fed, then goes offline…  The purposes of these shows, if there was one, don’t make any fucking sense!  It could even be argued as being hazardous to social health, but, oh God knows I tried, I just couldn’t stop watching!  On top of the fact that I couldn’t understand a single Korean-word buzzing through my ears like white noise, I still couldn’t stop watching for the same human-condition that disables us to walk away from a car-crash!

Well, today’s recipe, is a ruinous aftermath from such a show.  This dude… this fit-by-any-definition Korean dude, after ingesting what was a legitimate tub of spicy Korean stew, he then mashed 3 more Japanese rice balls into the leftover sauce, and further blanketed it with more shredded cheese that he grabbed from an enormous bag that seemed to be kept by his desk as importantly as back-up staplers.  The rice and the sauce quickly cooked into something like a doppelganger of risotto, bound by the stringent gooeyness of melted cheese, of which he then gobbled down by each oversized wooden-spoonful.  I think it rendered me mindless.  In retrospect, I believe the only sound hovering above the paralyzing astonishment was the voice of my own murmurs… That shit looks good.  I’d totally eat that shit.  So here, aside from a tip-of-the-hat, if I didn’t channel this episode into another post of (as coincidentally fitting and attributing as it is) The Shit I Eat When By Myself, what kind of a recipe-sharer would I be?


Servings: 1/10 serving for its inspirer, but 1 serving for a normal humanoid

When I made this the first time and took these photos, I forgot to add the nori/Japanese seaweed.  So don’t scratch your head wondering where they are, and just be assured that the recipe is better with than without.

K-TOWN RICE’N CHEESE

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2" square peeled ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) whole milk
  • 4.6 oz (130 grams) SPAM, cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp (40 grams) gochujang/Korean chili paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp (11 grams) honey
  • 2 cups (300 grams) cooked rice, preferably a day-old
  • 1/4 cup diced scallion
  • 1 sheet (9" x 8 "/23 x 20 cm) Japanese nori/seaweed, torn into 1" pcs
  • 1 tsp Japanese rice vinegar, or 3/4 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (25 grams) + 1/2 cup (50 grams) shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt unsalted butter with toasted sesame oil, then cook chopped onion, garlic, ginger, salt and black pepper for a couple mins until softened. Transfer to a blender along with milk, SPAM, gochujang, honey and ground black pepper, and blend for 1 min until smoothly pureed. Mix the mixture evenly with cooked rice, diced scallion, nori/Japanese seaweed, vinegar (the vinegar is important for brightening the flavour!) and 1/4 cup shredded cheddar.
  2. Microwave on high for 4 min, stirring once in between (taste and salt to season if needed), then top it with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar and some ground black pepper. You can finish melting the cheese in the microwave, or place under top broiler until browned and bubbly. Serve immediately.
http://ladyandpups.com/2015/06/02/the-shit-i-eat-when-by-myself-k-town-ricen-cheese/

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menchi katsu kare/ hamburger croquette w Japanese curry sauce

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DEEP-FRIED XL HAMBURGER PATTY… DOUSED WITH LAVA-LIKE JAPANESE CURRY… WITH A DEFENSIVE PILE OF SHREDDED CABBAGE AND PICKLES

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BEING not quite a licensed psychologist but more of a serial psycho-analyzer, I believe it must mean something, whether wishfully cute or symptomatically alarming, when your husband starts to lie to you about… what he had for lunch.  I mean it must

I’m not suggesting anyone to panic if similar clinical signs start to emerge in your marital routines or relationship.  Because based on my own study – lasting 6-plus years since the first, then constant episodes – the impact on the delicate harmony of nuptials isn’t exactly dire, but nonetheless, worth further investigation.  To continue, I guess I have to present the evidence of its first symptomatic appearance…

Back in the years when we were still in New York, for the longest time I was made to believed that in the barren wasteland far-far-away called “the financial district”, more often than not, poor he had to survive on a “very small cup” of Korean stew from a corner-deli (holding out both of his thumbs and index fingers to form a tiny circle) with an unfinished small bowl of steamed rice and kimchi.  Shoulders hunched and holding my sympathy hostage, his unspoken demand for a more nourishing dinner were usually met without any challenge.  Little did I know… until the first time I finally met him for lunch… The alleged “very small cup” turned out to be a venti TUB!  That amount can feed a Victoria’s Secret model for a month on her best eating days!  From then on, I take his lunch answers – “a few bites on a 6″ cold-cut subway and 1/2 of an oatmeal cookie”, “a small steamed bun with a little side of sautéed pepper and beef, but very little beef”, “a box of noodle that I ate half-way… only”, “zucchinis…”, “NO lunch” – with the scars of the deceived.  Who the hell knows, he could’ve sexed cheese burgers raining down with confetti then washed’em down by a keg of dark ale and instead just said, “some sliders at happy hour”.

But these were not the most shameful episodes you see.  The siren of his guilt-driven lies only sounds louder when all specifics are avoided, with just the misleading type of restaurants given…

“What did you have for lunch today?”

“Japanese…”READ MORE

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THE NEW YORK HALAL DRUNK FOOD

“CHANCES ARE, YOU’VE HAD SOME SORT OF PROMISCUOUS ENCOUNTER…  YOU JUST DON’T REMEMBER IS ALL”

You’re probably thinking, what in the world is this?  Or at least the 90% of you who has never traveled/lived in New York plus the 8% who has (completely made-up statistics..), but stuck disciplinarily to mother’s rule of never putting anything questionable from the street into your mouth, wouldn’t have the slightest clue what the hell this is.  But then… then there’s the rest of the 2% you.

Well, hello there, my friend.  You know you’ve been bad.

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FAULTY HEARTS REMEDY

You know… this blog really wasn’t, even indirectly, meant to be depressing at all.  Angry?  Yes.  It’s kinda funny.  Depressing?  Is just depressing.  But what now?

I found myself murmuring these thoughts through the indifference of the keyboard, while I watched my dog sunken within a pile of blanket like a flaccid lump of meat, the very life in him crippled by the exhaustion of every hard-earned heartbeat.  His heart murmurs, the doctor said.  Why does it sounds like an expression you can put on a Mother’s Day card for God’s sake…  And what about an overgrown, sensitive big heart?  Fuck, could’ve gotten someone laid on a Thursday night even without game.  To shit with these expressions…

In reality, you can actually die of a broken heart.

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