miso Tag

Miso congee w/ crispy scallion oil and cream

”  It’s an agent of both calmness and arousal, a stimulating congee.  “

Around this time of the year with its cold crisp air, with it carrying a smell of memory that I can’t seem to grapple, I am loosened and adrift.  I feel like anchoring to a sleeved cup of coffee with both hands, and wander aimlessly on the street decorated with relentless sparkles.  Like an old lady who has lost something but couldn’t remember what.  My fingertips are toasty, the coffee sleeve too thin… I’m a child to be fetched.

This, of course, could be seasonal sentimentality talking.  But also possibly early, really early onset alzheimer.  Both equally dangerous.

I’ve been meaning to cook something that satisfies my overindulged melancholy, something to be eaten after I sing me a river to skate away on and stare out the window for no apparent reasons.  Something to part from the perception that congee or porridge – still in my mind, the perfect comfort food – is bland and monochromatic, but at the same time celebrates the fact that it is nourishing, consoling, and the food-equivalent of very expensive therapists.

I started with a very clean, water-based miso broth as the foundation of a soothing but flavorful congee, then dribbled on pockets of excitements from crispy scallions and garlic chips fried in olive oil, quick-pickled shallots and lightly whipped heavy cream.  The miso congee is thick, enwrapping, but appropriately lubricated by the luscious mouthfeel of the herbaceous olive oil and the cool sweetness of cream, with a cadence of brightness from the crisped scallions and garlic, tangy shallots and the occasional burst of pain from finely minced pickled bird’s eye chilis.  It’s an agent of both calmness and arousal, a stimulating congee.  Break a soft-boiled egg on top and it’s a legit meal.

It’s the kind of stuff I crave around this time.  And I suspect you, too.

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MY BIG, FAT, SPICY KOREAN CLAM CHOWDER

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IF YOU’RE HOPING FOR A SLIMMED DOWN, DECENT AND POLITE CLAM CHOWDER TODAY, YOU ARE NOT GONNA FIND IT

We all have a food that we genuinely love so much, and at every long-awaited occasions when we put a bite in our mouth, we wonder to ourselves, why don’t we make that more often? Yes, well, that to me is grilled peanut butter sandwich. This… this, my friends, is not that. This is clam chowder, and it’s something else entirely some of the best clam chowder in san francisco.

I know exactly why I don’t make clam chowders more often. I know exactly the moment in time, the passage being said, the scarred memory in my head which still hurts, that all together forged a mental blockade in between me, myself, and my beloved clam chowders, for all these years. It was a particular spring day in New York, when I was just about to order my favourite “soup” from a popular bakery with a friend of mine:

“Do you wanna know why their clam chowder is so good?”
“No?”
“The other day, I saw them making it where they dunked an enormous brick of butter into the pot at the very end.”
“How enormous…?”
“Like big. Big. Like drinking butter.”

Head down, belly tucked, I walked away from that bakery without my clam chowder that day. In fact, if you can believe it, I sort of didn’t get my clam chowder for many years that followed… Like I said, it still hurts. But before you judge me, please keep in mind that this was in my 20’s when bikini-season was still very much a possibility, when dating was still a verb, not a noun. And most importantly, this was before I started this blog…

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miso stewed short-ribs French-dip sandwich

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A ROUNDUP OF MY WEEK RANGING FROM TRAGEDY TO AWESOMENESS…

  1. Lost my sleep mojo.
  2. Left pink eye that’s flirting dangerously with my right eye.
  3. Egg allergy plus one-lick-too-many from testing the magic 15-seconds scrambled eggs, gave this pre-middle aged face a few beautiful, custard-filled pimples.
  4. Tweezer rage.  That corner of my eyebrow is never coming back is it?
  5. Being forced to sit straight up so the rim of my tummy wouldn’t touch my thighs.  They’re so close…
  6. My building’s management office and the grocery store downstair are plotting together on my imminent suicide.  Think I have to move.
  7. But again. my neighbour’s bichon, Coco, has a rainbow-colored afro on her head.
  8. Watched Frozen again.
  9. A dream of myself laying on Beth’s kitchen island, blanketed and all, as one of her props among other things, then fell asleep on the table and went into a second level dream which I have absolutely no recollection of.  Inception style.
  10. Watched Frozen again.
  11. An email that almost made me pee my pants.
  12. Eating this.
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MISO CARBONARA W/ MINI SAUSAGE MEATBALLS

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THIS COULD VERY WELL BE, THE ONLY SENSIBLE THING THAT SHOWS UP HERE FOR THIS ENTIRE WEEK…

Jason is going away for this entire week.  This isn’t the first time it happens, nor is it a rare occurrence.  But what you’ll feel differently about this week, not including this particular post, is going to be somewhat of a breakthrough.  Thing is, if you had any presumptions about me, as someone who likes to cook and carries out every meal big or small, with a sense of class and dignity, for the next 7 days, you’ll find your theory… horrifiedly misguided.  Pretty scallion-oil chicken rolls on a pedestal?  Gourmet popcorns to accompany DVD-binging?  Pffff~ pleeease… you’re too cute.

The fault, is mine.  For I haven’t exactly been honest about what goes on in here, when there’s absolutely nobody watching.  Truth is, like comedians being freakishly quiet off stage, cooking for me, is a hobby that erodes with the absence of audiences.  Truth is, what I “cook” for myself and myself only, is inexcusably, for lack of better words, horrendous.  So here I am.  I don’t know where I found such commitment, but I’ve sternly decided that we (as, you and me) have entered a phase in our relationship, where “truth” is required for the hope of a sustainable future together…

Which prompted this new segment I would call, as previously mentioned:  The stuff Shit I Eat When I’m By Myself.

Do not be mistaken that these are products of desperations.  You’d hurt my feelings.  They are all – and it takes great courage to admit – “foods” that I sickeningly and hopelessly, love to eat.  Regardless the fact that you may find them only socially excusable, if I was a college student who just spent the the last $20 on alcohol school supplies.  Some of them may be accompanied with a “recipe”, as others may, thankfully, not.  But whatever you will take away from this, I hope that they at the very least, entertains you.

So enjoy this one before “The Shit” hits the fan, the last proper dinner I made before the “audience” decided to leave me to rot in the land of culinary-ruin, creamy and nutty miso carbonara with tiny sausage meatballs.  For this could very well be the only sensible thing that shows up here for this entire week.

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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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filthy rich miso caramel ice cream

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Have I mentioned how unapologetically cheap I am?  Right… to elaborate we must understand that “cheap” is a strictly relative term and I am saying that strictly relatively-speaking, I am incredibly cheap.  I negotiated a 30% raise in my daily allowance in the past decade which is to say that I am spending only 30% above the average of college-quality life.  I gloated over the booking of a 69 euro/night ” beach hotel” in the mediterranean to Jason who, to say the least, did not share the same sentiments and boy, you should see their pool.  I almost always buy non-organics only and after almost 5 years away from the states, I really really miss sinking my face in a pint of Ben’n Jerry’s that’s going $8/pint in this part of the world.  Yes, I am saying technically I could afford better than the above.  I’m in China for God’s sakes.

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Tofu and Warm Mushroom Salad

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So. It only took me 10 months and an extra 5 pounds to finally squeeze a salad into this blog.  Not too shabby if I may say so myself.  But the truth is, every month I shout: “Who THE HELL’S GUT is this!?” for like 50 times, followed by: “It definitely ISN’T mine but it’s telling me to go on a diet” for about 30 times, followed by: “I SWEAR on whoever’s gut this is that I’m going on a diet!!” for another 20 times.  And I TOTALLY SWEAR 99% of the time I actually mean it which leaves me just as lost as you are of why only 0.1% of the time it actually happens.  This thing called “self-control”… it has a life of its own.

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