Noodle/Pasta/Rice

HOW TO WRAP ONIGIRI LIKE JAPANESE CONVENIENCE STORE


  

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Hi, here’s a random video on how to wrap onigiri, aka rice balls, like those Japanese convenience stores.  The easy-to-pull-away wrapper separates the rice and the seaweed, keeping the seaweed crispy until serving.  This technique will make beautifully wrapped onigiri, perfect for your next picnic, work lunch, or as a gift!  A few notes on how to do it right:

  1. Use freshly cooked rice, never day-old, but wait until it’s completely cooled (so the steam doesn’t make the seaweed soggy).
  2. Use triangle-moulds to make the onigiri.
  3. Cut the seaweed and allow enough width to cover the sides of the onigiri.
  4. Cut a piece of parchment that is at least 2X the width of the seaweed.
  5. The parchment in the video didn’t actually cover the entire inner surface of the seaweed because it wasn’t wide enough.  Don’t make the same mistake.
  6. Label the onigiri and they’re going to be your newest edible gift.

NOW THAT’S A WRAP.

  
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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. Memories of trips to the San Franciso pier to find and taste the best clam chowder in san francisco and then heading to the beach to enjoy the feeling of sand between my toes, and the smell of the salty sea air. Great memories, however, I was never that girl standing on a beach of grey sands, with the cold waves, that late summer, or on that blue wooden bench and in 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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CUMIN LAMB AND HAND-SMASHED NOODLE SOUP

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FOR THIS WEEKEND….

I’m quickly leaving you with this recipe today because I don’t have a whole lot to say about it.  In fact, it is precisely because I’ve already said everything I wanted about them in my previous posts.  This recipe is a good example of how I, and you as well, can utilize all the recipes on the site fluently in combination, to draw to a different conclusion.  This particular dish is mainly a soup-version from my xi’an famous cumin lamb and hand-smashed noodles, but it draws from three different recipes that have somewhat became a staple of my own kitchen.   Plus a little further processing and tweaks, it can become something that scratches an entirely different itch.  So here, whether you are a dry noodle or soup noodle kinda person, or both, you can now travel between two worlds.

  
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UNI CARBONARA WITH PORK SALT

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IF I RANTED, I HOPE IT ISN’T THOUGHTLESS…

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

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If I ranted, I hope it isn’t thoughtless.

If I wrote songs, I hope it isn’t comfortable.

If I were a wood-worker, I’ll have a summer cabin.

If I made things with metals, I hope I had made these.

If I were sociable, I hope I am also sincere.

If I were a friend, I hope I don’t mistake loyalty with bias.

If I envied, I hope I could say it out loud.

If I had experienced joy, I hope it is without victims.

If I had a garden, I hope it grows shades for stray dogs.

If I were young, I would change nothing.

If I were a parent, I hope I don’t always think like one.

If I were a believer, I hope I have strength for reasons.

If I were a lion, I hope I respect the lambs.

If I were a vegetarian, I am going to have a pet pig.

If I were smart, I hope it comes with wisdom.

If I were a follower, I hope I wasn’t blind.

If I asked myself questions, I hope it isn’t answered by someone else.

If I were a particle physicist, I hope I can overlook human pettiness.

If I had compassion, it shall be selective.

If I were powerful, I hope I have the capacity to let go.

If I were in the same position, I hope I could resist the mistakes.

If I could live anywhere, I want to live in New York.

But if I lived by the sea, I hope it is home for sea urchins, too.

And if I lived by sea urchins, I hope you would visit me in the summer.

If you visited me in the summer, I hope I make this for you.


  
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GOCHUJANG TUNA-MELT ONIGIRI

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ONIGIRI COULD BE NONE BUT A BALL OF RICE, UNTIL YOU’VE HAD A REAL ONIGIRI AND REALIZED WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT…

A BALL OF REALLY GOOD RICE

The weather in Beijing is driving me mad.  Rainy, swampy, relentlessly brownish grey.  In all the fond days that I’ve been in this dump, all five years and counting, the summers have never been this wet.  Soaking wet.  I mean let’s face it, nothing here is pleasant to begin with I’ll give you that.  But for this region, a supposedly semi-desert climate for fuck sake, that for what it’s worth, the relatively dry summers and butt-cracks used to contribute as the pitiful silver-lining of being in this hell-hole.  The cherry on a very bad cake.  But lately, no.  Not this summer.  Every morning begins with a slow poach inside a thick tarred and slimy cloud of grossness – think the colons of Jabba the Hutt or inside Donald Trump’s comb-over under a baseball cap – then, comes the almost guaranteed torrential rains around 7 pm that marinates everything in a wet mop-like humidity.  Then the next day, it repeats.  Did I mention that the pollution congeals even more enthusiastically in its special sense of sarcasm?  Did I mention that it’s been like this, for weeks.

It’s an understatement to say that these days, I’m not happy much.  All the recent riots of Instagrams flaunting farmer’s markets, elf-like human beings and basic living bliss, only make me bleed jealousy and really hateful thoughts.  If I could stab your heirloom tomato in the abdomen right now, I’d gladly do so with gruesome gratifications and throw in all its cousins for good measure.  It’s also safe to say that these days, I don’t go out much.  The joy of grocery-runs has been reduced down a battle of mind-dragging chores, not to mention, that at any given seconds, the heaven could punish me with an acid-fueled downpour for daring optimistic thoughts.   These days, I made do with what I have.

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HOW TO ACTUALLY COOK PERFECT RICE WITHOUT A RICE-COOKER

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LET’S SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT, ONCE AND FOR ALL… DON’T YOU EVER, EVER, AND I MEAN NEVER EVER, BOIL YOUR SUSHI RICE

There are a lot of rumours out there about cooking rice without a rice-cooker. Obviously, it will be much simplier with a rice cooker. This is why a comparison of the best rice cookers, or comparatif meilleur cuiseur à riz as the French would say, could be very useful. And when I say “rice” in this particular case, I’m specifically referring to the Asian short-grain white rice, or mostly known as, the Japanese sushi rice (but not exclusively for making sushi). Whether or not you grew up cooking/eating this type of rice, that for every different reasons, the idea of cooking it on the stove can be a very confusing matter. Because if you did, like every other sensible Asians out there, you’ve been deferring this task to a trusty rice-cooker and the idea of doing it without one, for as long as you’ve been eating rice, has never even occur to you as a potential reality. But if you didn’t, like every other typical non-Asians out there without a rice-cooker, the assortment of instructions for cooking this type of rice on the stove with bare flames and pots, is a maze laid out with conflicting informations, false promises, and more often than not, guaranteed failures.

And when I say “failure” in this particular case, I’m specifically referring to anything but the state of its optimal textures. Look, it’s fairly easy to cook rice, or anything for that matter, until it’s no longer raw and passably edible, but it’s something else entirely to do it properly. Asian short-grain rice/sushi rice, when cooked properly, should glisten with a gentle shimmer on the surface, where every grains are consistent with a soft but bouncy mouthfeel, moistly sticky but ease gracefully into individual selves when being chewed. Now this, this is not something easily obtainable, not even for some less competent rice-cookers out there, let alone if you did it on the stove following many of the wrong directions online, which is to say, almost all of them.

So today, let’s set the record straight, once and for all. Here’s how to actually cook sushi rice on the stove.

THE CORRECT RATIO AND TOOLS

The ratio between rice : water is perhaps the single, most confusing information on cooking sushi rice. Most recipes out there ranges from 1 : 1.1 (too much water) to 1 : 1.5 (waaaaay too much water!). But the correct ratio should always, and I mean always, be 1 part rice : 1 part water BY VOLUME. Always! It doesn’t matter if you are cooking rice for sushi, or just for plain eating. Always. And when it comes to the right pot, I would highly suggest using a small, heavy-bottomed non-stick pot with clear glass lid. There is a reason why all rice-cookers uses a non-stick inner-bowl, because when rice sticks (and it will stick), it breaks. Broken rice = bad rice. Then, instead of flying blind, the clear glass lid allows you to get a good idea of what’s going on inside. Also, we don’t want a steam-hole for the lid, so if yours comes with one, simply block it with a damp paper-towel. So:

Makes about 4 cups cooked rice:

  • 2 cups (400 grams) Asian short-grain white rice, or Japanese sushi rice
  • 2 cups (429 grams) water

UPDATE 2015/08/04: You may be able to tell that the type of rice used in this particular example, was a typical Asian short-grain rice, which took 15 min in STEP 2. But if you were using an even stubbier short-grain variety, specifically for making sushi, with a wider and rounder body, then please increase the duration of STEP 2 to 20 min.

* The instruction is for 2 cups of rice only. Anything more or less by 1/2 cup will require adjustments on the cooking time.

UPDATE 2015/12/1: Months after I tested this recipe on the gas-stove, I finally had a chance to test it on induction stove, and the heat-setting turned out to be a bit different. It seems that induction stove requires a slightly higher setting to reach the description of each steps. In STEP 2, instead of 1~2 for heat-setting (on a scale of 10), induction stove needs around 3~4. Then for STEP 3, instead of 2~3, induction stove needs around 5~6. So whatever stove you’re using, adjust the heat-setting to get you to the description for each steps, instead of relying on absolute heat-settings.

STEP 1: Put the rice in a large sieve, then rinse under running cold water. Gently rub the rice between your fingers, removing the excess starch, until the water runs clear. Drain very very well, until the last drop of water seem to have been shaken off, then transfer the rice to heavy-bottomed non-stick pot. Add the water and give it a stir, then put on the lid (if there’s a steam-hole, block it with a small piece of damp paper-towel.

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TURMERIC BUTTER CHICKEN RICE

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WHEN YOU RELEASE THE CHICKEN-BAG WITH A SCISSOR OVER THE BED OF COCONUT RICE, ALMOST LIKE GOD-SENT, A STREAM OF PROMISED GOLDEN LIQUID WILL PERCOLATE FREELY INTO EVERY THIRSTY GRAIN OF HAPPINESS THAT YOU’LL ALMOST HEAR THEM PURR.

Hey, I own a shit load of cookbooks, I do.  And I’m not saying it isn’t a problem.  Especially when it’s become a very common first remark that people make when they visit our apartment, noticing from the ungoverned stacks that seem to occupy every flat surfaces of every able furnitures, evidently overrunning our shelving-space that is already working its double-layer capacity.  And my worst fear is that before long, Jason has to kindly ask Thomas Keller to scooch over before he can “relieve” himself, if you see what I mean.  So yeah, there is an issue there.  But you know, I guess it could be reasonably understood.  I mean, for someone like me and for what I sort of do, I guess, it makes sense.  What doesn’t make sense, at all, is that for someone who owns this many cookbooks, I have almost never cooked a recipe from any one of them.  And I mean never, except maybe once but not really, ok?  Because I can’t follow instructions.  Period.  Now this is really bizarre.  For one, I create recipes and expect people to follow them explicitly all the time.  But if you didn’t, don’t fret it, because guess what?  Ha!  I can’t follow a recipe for a damn either!  It’s really more of a severe birth-defect than anything else, like the other day when I absolutely made up my mind that for the first time ever in my cooking life, even if it kills me, I was going to execute a recipe like how the creator had intended, and yet, I still derailed.

The particular recipe that I owe my grave apology to, is the turmeric-rubbed chicken from Eat With Your Hands Cookbook.  Now I have to give myself some credit here.  At first try, I really did manage to change ONLY HALF of the recipe!  Instead of roasting the turmeric-rubbed chicken over lemongrass and coconut milk, I decided it was in both of our best interest to do it over a bed of lemongrass and coconut rice.  The urge of putting a “sponge” underneath a grease-dripping hot body overruled my determination to obey, so I’m sorry for that.  But for the other half of the recipe, including rubbing the chicken with turmeric butter and letting it sit for 24hours, I followed painstakingly.  But the thing is, have you ever tried rubbing butter over the skin of a chicken?  Try sticking a piece of lard on a teflon surface to get a feel of it.  It’s practically impossible!  They just don’t bond!  And even though the butter is sufficiently seasoned, the “emulsion” prevents the seasoning from seeping into the chicken, even after the whole 24 hours of it.  So at the second try, it became inevitable, that in spite of my best effort, I had to sabotage the recipe completely.

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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.
https://ladyandpups.com/2015/06/02/the-shit-i-eat-when-by-myself-k-town-ricen-cheese/

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