THE FOOD-EQUIVALENT OF BATMAN AND ROBIN, THE BRANGELINA OF ICONIC TURKISH EATS
AS some of you may have noticed from this particular announcement, that I am now officially divorced… from the commitment of owning a stand-mixer (easy, gentlemen…). More accurately, a surprised appliance–widow if you may, still deeply hurt by the concealed unhappiness my stand-mixer had apparently suffered from in the past 4 years, which finally led to his jump off the kitchen counter on a cloudy Oct 24th, decapitating himself in his last, escapist act. The lumpy splatter of an unfinished pizza-dough over the black pavement, was his first and last, silent yet loudest protest, before declaring eternal freedom… from me. Looking back, devastated, I don’t think he has ever loved me…
Now, mid 30’s, dumped, and less equipped…
I know at times like this, I’m suppose to resort to less labour-intensive tasks in the kitchen, a pasta-salad perhaps, or a one-bowl-pancake mix with added sparkles, maybe even the unthinkable salad, to hide the scars from this tragic embarrassment, and more importantly, look really hot while doing it. But no. In an counter-protest to the irresponsibility of a suicidal stand-mixer, giving up making doughs is admitting defeat. With bare hands, I’m gonna prove that without him, I’m still highly desirable in the dough-market and totally dough-able. Not just the same dough down the sad memory lane, but I’m gonna make something awsome-er, something super-er.
I’m gonna make the incredible, lamahcun and ayran.READ MOREContinue Reading
JUSTIFICATION – MAXIMUM CARAMELIZATION
SO you watched Tony Bourdain in Bronx, didn’t you?
And if in the next following days, a certain very catchy phrase got stuck in your head like the most maddeningly annoying tune, echoing “chop’cheese… no, chop-peh-ded cheese… chop’cheese…”, steady, you are not mad. You are just, like me, actually more Bronx than you ever thought you were. This supposedly Bronx-via-Harlem native dish, even though, was not at all the leading lady in the narrative of that show (i mean let’s face it, Chuchifrito… who can beat that diva), but she struck a tune that I couldn’t stop singing, and there’s only one way to shut her up.
But just because I wrote about this handsome dude here awhile back, doesn’t mean I’m familiar with the other girl next door. So who’s chopped cheese? With a name like “chopped cheese”, you know she’s not the kinda girl who reads Goop, al’right. She doesn’t take the hipster burger non-sense or customizable patty elitism, in fact, pffff, she doesn’t even give a fuck about her slightly more polished cousin, cheese burger. Chopped cheese, is about disrespecting a patty in the most gloriously wrong of ways, dismantling it half-way during cooking with complete disregard to the concept of, juice, or the ludicrous question of, doneness. Hey. Just ain’t the way she likes it. Everything we’ve been taught not to do to a patty, she’s done. Justification? Maximum caramelization. To brown every possible square inch of ground beef to draw out the beefy-ness within, and let the cheese melt into the desperate nooks and crannies in between in a greasy, fluid unison. In the most non-vogue sorta way, she’s some kinda sexy.
So here you’re thinking, how do I get me some of that sexiness. Well first, before you even pull your pants up to go out to the grocery stores, you gotta put your mind right. Any obsession within you for refinement, artisanal bullshit, the love for your French cuffs, should be tossed out the window. She’s not impressed with your suits and ties. She likes fatty and economically friendly ground beef (and if you even raise a thought of grinding your own beef? To the left.). She works better with non-real American cheese and a soft, squishy bun. And she likes to be eaten instantly when you’re still in your grease-splattered T-shirt, standing by the edge of the kitchen counter, marvelling. It makes her feel special.
Well now… so you’ve been introduced. I guess this is the perfect time to… leave you two alone. READ MOREContinue Reading
I have never been to Mexico.
To clarify further, I have never even been close to any of the states next to Mexico except maybe LA, which I’m not even going to use as my pathetic credentials on real Mexican cooking which is to say, zero to none. I’ve heard that Taco Bell is about as close to real Mexican food as fortune cookies are to being Chinese. I’ve also heard that they don’t actually “nacho” much over there. Aside from that, Mexican food has remained quite a romantic mystery.
But even though I don’t know enough to say what’s Mexican food, whatever it is, that tasteless borderline-inedible crap we were served with the other day near Beijing’s embassy area, was definitely not it. Given that it was a very hot day hence we weren’t feeling particular choosey, we thought those more-than-a-handful patrons who were present during off-meal hours were a good indicator that the restaurant at least serves human food. WROOONG! I mean seriously, seriously, how inhumanly difficult is it to serve passable tacos to someone who’s never had a real taco! Not so freaking hard is it? Why!?
We left the place feeling psychologically hungry. The trauma only left me wanting more of what I’ve never had – dainty Mexican tacos good enough to fool myself. Then before long, my discontent took my memory back to a cookbook I’ve owned forever but never cooked from – Off the Menu: Staff Meals from America’s Top Restaurants, which features A.O.C in LA and a recipe for their tostadas-tuesday. OK, the critically acclaimed restaurant is not Mexican, and tostadas are not tacos but more like tacos with fried tortillas. Do I have problem with any of that? I mean do you?
Since this is starting to look like someone with no Mexican cooking experience, starting off from a recipe by a non-Mexican restaurant, I thought it won’t hurt much more to impose further ungrounded twists. A.O.C’s recipe sauté the ground beef with aromatics and spices, but I want it to be more “Mexican-y”… whatever that is. So I made a puree with soften dried chilis, onions, garlic and thyme, and a spice-mixture that includes something I’ve never used before in savoury dishes – unsweetened cocoa power.
A SANDWICH THAT HAS NO STORY…
IT’S JUST REALLY TASTY.
YESTERDAY, the last day of Jason’s 3-day-business-trip to Hong Kong, Jiaozi/Dumpling pulled a performance of his life at 10 in the morning, in a theatrical masterpiece called – This Is It. Good bye, mom and dad. Limping and whimpering, wordless but powerful… his flawless craft of showmanship efficiently triggered a wild response from the only audience, and prompted an emergency change in Jason’s itinerary for an earlier return. Then. This morning. Suspiciously and miraculously so, he was moonwalking lively around his “feeding zone” – I’d imagine singing the Smooth Criminal – barking and dancing for his personally prepared chicken liver-rice. Celebrating the success of his pathetic ploy… he ate a shit-load.
I know, I know that I shouldn’t project reasons and meanings behind animal behaviors when there’s probably none… He’s just an
cunning old, sneaky wavy-haired boy Maltese. It’s just sometimes, it’s really hard not to do that.
But what does that have to do with today’s sandwich? Absolutely nothing.Continue Reading
I apologize for the speechlessness today. In the past couple days, it has been next to impossible to compose anything on wordpress because…
Every year in China around a historical holiday known as 6-4, a massive and elaborate celebration takes place. The great beast of China and its army of cyber-minions will gather, dance hysterically, and feast on the corpses of information freedom, and any non-Chinese-friendly internet activities around the big bonfire of totalitarianism. I have about a 5 minute window to finish/publish this post before the beast finds me. So my friends, please, help yourself with some disk fries and kombu miso butter sauce, for it is unbeatable in deliciousness and unrelenting in spirit…. A small and insignificant thing it may be, but nonetheless makes me feel slightly better to say – you can bet that the beast….
…ain’t fucking getting anyContinue Reading
THIS IS MAH-KHAO-SOI,
PERHAPS this doesn’t come as a shocker to anyone who’s been stopping by for awhile, but I would like to, for once at least as public record, to officially confess.
Before we shake hands, break breads and plan our next travelling itinerary together, it’s best that you know this about me… That to a point of being almost overbearing, I have an unhealthy, perverted… RAPACIOUS fixation on anything and everything that falls under the category of – street foods.
You, too! I heard? No. No, unfortunately I’m afraid, not like this.
I’m talking about an uncurbed obsession that overwrites all hygienic senses. It could lead to an unpleasant behaviours that I’m dangerously comfortable with, that I would look right at your fearful eyes with unaccompanied excitement, drag you if I must, to sit down on a randomly scouted location where flies are feasting on bodies of other flies, and jitter over a bowl of something that I just ordered purely through hand-signals, as looooong as it looks tasty. Then as if completely clueless, I’d turn and ask you with concealed hostility… Is there something wrong with your food?
At this point, you should know that you’re stuck with a madwoman who has no intention to eat anything under a proper roof. Ask Jason, and his collaterally-damaged digestive system has got some tearful stories to tell. I’m not proud… I’m not proud…
OK fine, I am.
ALTHOUGH extremely rare, there are recipes that seem theoretically impossible at first, but somehow just come smooth-sailing under the first trial. They make recipe-developers feel invincible even just temporarily, like the lighthouse of success glowing just over the foreseeable shore. Handshakes with Batali and cold beers with Tony Bourdain, book-signing with fan-blown hair and the next dinner party, Ina Garten is bringing her cake. These occasions embolden even the blindest of self-confidence. But then, then there’s the opposite of such.
I call them, the kitchen nemesis… or for times, my baby kitchen unicorns. It’s a tormented, twisted love-and-hate relationship, with an adored food-item that hides a secret so beyond your grasps that failures of making it has been haunting you for years… even decades. The recipe of which you have ventured high and low for – with or without the luck of finding any at all – that in the very end, all greatly disappointed, again, and again. A lover, who’s not completely yours.
For the past 2 decades, my nemesis… my baby unicorn… has been but one thing.READ MOREContinue Reading