Snacks

EASY MOLE-D BEEF TOSTADAS

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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.


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STACKED GREEN PIG SANDWICH

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 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.

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KOMBU MISO BUTTER SAUCE + DISK FRIES

“DANCE…AND FEAST…AROUND THE BIG BONFIRE OF TOTALITARIANISM”

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 any

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CRACK SLURP PT 2 – MAH KHAO SOI

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THIS IS MAH-KHAO-SOI,
AS IN…
MY 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.

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CHEWY LAYERED ROTI + KICKASS DIP

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” …WHOPPING 90% HYDRATION…
SPRUNG LIBERATED OUT OF THE FOUNTAIN OF SECRET DOUGHS “

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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.

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VIETNAMESE Chả Cá FISH TACO

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WE FOUND OUR WEAKENED FOOTSTEPS AT ITS TURQUOISE COLORED DOORWAY

THE official statement is, that like all other celebratory spirits who paint golden eggs on Easter, play Frank Sinatra on X’mas and wash their faces with Buffalo wings on Superbowl, we the family of forever-festivity, ate tacos on Cinco de Mayo and danced to a whirlpool of margaritas this past Sunday.

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DUSTY CHEDDAR POTATO CROQUETTE

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“A SEQUEL OF CHICK-FLICK POPCORNS…”

I couldn’t stop thinking about the color orange.

Not thinking about orange after the revelation of homemade cheese powder for this white cheesy popcorns, is like ignoring the bigger and prettier elephant in the room.  You know you thought the same.  So let’s just take a moment to put this unnatural, unhealthy, un-anything-you-should-really-eat-or-let-alone-making-at-home idea aside, before we can get back to eating real foods.

Shall we?  A sequel of our chick-flick popcorns – the orange stuff that would make cardboard taste good.

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“PRINCE” SPICY NOODLE CHIPS

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“WE ALL KNOW HIM, A PUNK PRINCE WITH A BASEBALL CAP”

This story of the distortion or/rebirth of a Prince, is either going to sound savagely wrong or/wistfully nostalgic, depending on whether or not you came from an island called Taiwan in all its quiet and subordinate existence just southeast of China.  You’re looking at something called the wang-zi (prince) mian (noodle).  The extent of its popularity outside of Taiwan is a less certain matter but yeah, we all certainly know him, the punk-looking prince with a hideous baseball cap on a bright yellow and red-striped plastic bag, with a brick of fried noodles and seasonings inside.  Cup Noodles in bag-form.

Except for the obvious disconnection between his look and the word “Prince”, there was nothing out of the ordinary.  His journey only grew remarkable at a historic moment when he, among other bugs and such, became the victim of children’s relentless savagery which left him deformed.

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