Posts Tagged ‘shrimp

05
Jan
13

Day 3 of 30: Taiwanese Long Squash Soup

Chinese Long Squash Soup

Taiwanese Long Squash Soup

“Are we trespassing?”

I was home visiting my parents in California and they had asked me to join them in running a quick errand to pick up some stuff for dinner that night.  I was about to start my journey to the freeway to get us to the Chinese Supermarket, before my Mom told me to make a quick right.  She proceeded to give me directions to go deeper into the suburban neighborhood that we lived in.  Eventually she led me to the driveway of a standard California ranch house that looked similar to everyone else we knew.

My fellow offenders.

My fellow offenders.

I assumed we were just stopping over to say hello to a family friend, but my parents proceed to exit out of the car and walk toward the side of the house, open the gate, and walk into their yard.

“No, we are only trespassing if you’re not wanted.” My mom says with affirmation. “Besides, they’re not home”

“But what if they are home?” I still feel uneasy about the whole situation.  I get a vivid image of me getting arrested with my parents by the police and having to tell my brother, our lawyer, that we weren’t trespassing because we were wanted. I get anxious.

My dad chimes in.  “Then we say hello.”

We walk into the yard and I am amazed.  One of my parent’s friends had turned his yard into an amazing mini-farm full of Taiwanese vegetables and fruits.  They had surrounded their pool with trees saturated with guava, wax apple, and persimmon fruit.  All along the grass: Chinese watercress, bok choy, Taiwanese greens, and chayote had grown bright green leaves in the warm California sun. It was a magical place where birds where singing and butterflies where fluttering.  The sun had a big smiley face and clouds where dancing in the sky.  My parents had pulled the “freshest Taiwanese produce you will ever have outside of the Island” card to get me to stay in California; and it was a shady card to pull.

“Ok, I’m going to get the stuff on the floor, can you cut off the squash?  It’s too high for me to reach.”  My Mom brings me back to

Make sure you have a tall kid in your crew to reach the goods on the top.

Make sure you have a tall kid in your crew to reach the goods on the top.

reality.

So on top of trespassing, we are adding stealing to my rap sheet?  Well, it can’t be any worse then it already is.  Plus, she distracted me with the right vegetable: The “Long Squash”.

It’s a pale gourd that imparts a fabulous broth that is slightly sweet. The finished broth is almost all the liquid and juice that comes from the squash and mixed with the salty dried shrimp; it’s an amazing winter dish that warms the soul and eases all anxiety of any felony you decide to do with your family. You can get it at most Asian markets.  If you can’t find “Long Squash”, you can use “Chinese Okra” or “Fuzzy Squash”.  But it if you can’t find “Long Squash”, you probably can’t find the other two.  Sorry, maybe you can grow it in your backyard?  I’ll come trespass and steal some.

~stuff

1 tbs canola, vegetable, or peanut oil

1 large clove garlic, sliced

1 tbs. dried shrimp (can substitute with 2 anchovy fillets)

2 large “Long Squash”, sliced (about 4 cups)

1/4 c. broth or water

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground white pepper

~steps

sauté garlic and shrimp in oil in dutch oven on high heat until shrimp is tan in color and garlic turns a nutty brown

add squash, liquid, and seasoning and stir

simmer on medium heat until squash breaks down and turns into a soup, about 15 minutes

-serves 4-

31
Jul
12

Lettuce Roll and Remembering Some Friends

Luscious Lettuce Rolls

I’ve inherited a lot of great traits from my parents: my extroverted nature, my creativity, my ability to talk for hours, and my love for Japanese food. Clearly order of importance does not apply to the list (or does it?). If any of my readers follow me on social media, they would see my intrusive love affair of Asian food through twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Thank goodness that Internet wasn’t developed later in my adolescence because if I had Instagram during my cognac years, you’d all be annoyed/angry out of hunger and poor picture quality (I was a horrible photographer at a young age…just ask my dad about a trip to Grand Canyon and the last time we saw our family camera).  A place that you would have seen a lot of pictures from is our favorite sushi spot: Koi-San.

 

Koi-San is this amazing Japanese restaurant tucked in a standard suburban strip mall in Orange County.  A no-frills restaurant that served quality Japanese food that followed the tradition of simplicity, freshness, and traditional ways.  It was, although I was not aware at 8 years old, satisfying to know that this was my first endeavor into Japanese food.  In a time when the beginning of the trend of big box Japanese/Asian fusions were created with Buddha statues dangling from the ceiling, fire coming from cocktails, and a sweet teriyaki sauce being added to everything in the menu, Koi-San sought to focus on the important thing: the simplest of flavors of the ocean in a casual setting.  All of this was run by a husband and wife duo: Sam and Yoko.  Sam, the trained sushi chef, worked the back of house and Yoko was in charge of the front of house.  Although, upon entering the restaurant you would think that it was just an Aunt and Uncle inviting you to their home.

 

I credit my love for Japanese food because of Koi-San.  When I was young, I would be so excited to sit at the sushi bar (a privilege that I thought only “grown-ups” where allowed to take part in).  There where pictures and autographs of “B” and “C” list celebrities [Is Jose Feliciano still an "B" Lister?] on the wall, pictures of vacations that the couple have taken were plastered in sections of the restaurant, and in the background you could hear the soundtrack of a classic Japanese opera playing a hauntingly friendly melody.  During the holiday season, it wasn’t a rare sight to see Christmas cards from customers adorned with family portraits hanging from the ceiling.  This is how we knew that Sam and Yoko had not just created a restaurant that served guests, but created relationships that became family.

 

Sam and Yoko are unfortunately not with us anymore.  Yoko passed away a few years ago and on a recent trip home, my Dad informed me that Sam had passed away unexpectedly a few months ago.  I’ll miss them.  Not just for the food, but for the qualities that they embodied: Yoko, with her child like laugh and her attempt to always sneak candy to me at the end of every meal.  It was fun to watch her think of a strategy so that my parents, or other children in the restaurant, didn’t catch her passing on sugar to me.  This continued well into my teenage years (although she still did it with the same mischief).  Then there was Sam, who was stern and commanded attention.  He had a razor like focus when it came to creating his dishes.  Ensuring that the fish that he picked that same morning would be enjoyed for its freshness and flavor.

 

I still remember my first time ordering sushi without my parents’ assistance.  I ordered, until I could handle raw fish and spicy mustard, a California roll without wasabi and a lettuce roll.  The California roll was standard, but the lettuce roll was Sam’s invention.  It was simply iceberg lettuce, sushi rice, and some secret sauce that he made in house.  I really loved this dish.  It was so simple in flavor yet complex at the same time.  The crunch of the lettuce would blend with the creamy-ness of the sauce and tenderness of the shrimp.  Beyond the blend of textures, you could taste the sweetness of the shrimp marry with the tang of the vinegar in the rice.  It was fresh, light, simple and everything that reminds me of summers in Southern California.   Sam and Yoko were a great pair. Although I never told them, they were instrumental in my appreciation of Japanese food and the hours, training and respect that a true sushi chef puts into their food.

 

~stuff

 

1/4 lb large uncooked shrimps (about 6-8)

6-8 bamboo skewers

2 cups cooked short grain/sushi rice

3 tbs rice vinegar

2 tbs sugar

1+ tsp salt

1/2 c mayonnaise (of course)

2 tsp ketchup

1 tsp poppy seeds

1 head of iceberg lettuce

 

~steps

 

Simmer water in a large pot

 

Skewer each shrimp with bamboo sticks lengthwise to prevent the shrimp from curling while cooking

 

Lightly cook the shrimp in hot water until just cooked through.

 

Chill and set aside

 

Mix cooked rice with 2 tbs vinegar, 2 tbs sugar, and 1 tsp salt and let cool to room temperature

 

Blend mayonnaise, ketchup, rest of the vinegar, poppy seed, and salt to taste. Set aside until the rest of the ingredients are ready.

 

Remove large clean lettuce leaves and place a ball of rice in the middle of the leaf.

 

Top the ball of rice with a tbs of sauce and shrimp.

 

Wrap the both sides in and te bottom of the roll up to prevent the filling to come out (like a burrito)

 

-serves 6-

 

16
Apr
12

Shrimp Salad

Shrimp Salad

The reason for my addiction

I’m about to admit something that I used to do which was pretty gross. I want to give a little preface first before I tell you. But be warned, either you will be nauseous or proud when you read it. But first the Joyce-ian digression.

Most of my food/technique discovery comes from having access to a full fridge (well, full of Japanese and Taiwanese goods) and a kitchen to myself after school. I mastered the egg drop technique, how to quickly chop scallions, melting cheese in the microwave [sort of], and making pancake from scratch. I also had the opportunity to try playing with ingridients. I figured out that fermented back beans don’t taste good in Kraft Mac and Cheese, rice vinegar is awesome when used in pan frying dumpling wrappers, and stir fried iceberg lettuce with garlic salt isn’t half bad. The best thing about having access to a fridge after school with no one around is exactly that, I got to do things that I would have been judged for by family members based on standards of ethics and health.

So, the thing that I have feared to admit is that I used to eat mayonnaise out of the jar. Gasp!

Mayonnaise is not a popular ingredient in Taiwan. It arrived in Asia through Japan by the military. Eventually it found its way through other Asian regions and now is an important part of a young Taiwanese boy’s discovery of a highly coloric condiment. I still remember how the habit started. Whenever we went to a Chinese seafood restaurant, we would sometimes get boiled abolone. As part of the dish, a small serving of mayonnaise would be provided as dip. I would always limit myself at the table. Well, my mom would always limit me. I later discovered that shrimp could also be dipped in this pillow-y and rich goodness. So, if shrimp was ever cooked at home, I would take out the jar of mayonnaise, which I convinced my parents was necessary to have in an American house hold, and put about a tablespoon of it on the shrimp (yes singular) and enjoy every moment of the fatty, smooth, emulsion. It was when I was spooning the stuff out of the jar and having a little taste after school that I knew I hit rock bottom. I was a ten year old junkie and my drug was mayonnaise.

I’m proud to say that I have quit cold turkey, and I no longer spoon any fatty substance in my mouth in large quantities. I do however keep some mayonnaise in my fridge in case of relapse and as a reminder of my junkie days. I now prefer the japanese version much better than the classic American styles. Instead of white vinegar as the main acid, rice or cider vinegar is used to add a slight sweetness. My favorite brand is Kewpie because it is mostly egg yolk which gives it a creamier texture and the vinegar is a blend of cider and malt which provides a subtle sweet flavor. It goes great with the natural sweetness of shrimp. Especially in this dish.

I love this salad. It allows me to cheat on my “no eating mayonnaise out of jar” rule. It also is a great blend with the tartness of the lemon juice, spice of the chili, and creaminess of the star of the dish: mayonnaise. You can use this base for any other salad (crab, scallop, chicken, tuna) but shrimp and mayonnaise is a combination that will always trigger great memories of my childhood. You can do this with day old shrimp. What I like to do sometimes is double the amount of shrimp I need to make sure I have enough for a salad the next day. So, I bought two pounds. Ok, maybe my problem is not just mayonnaise but also shrimp. Although, I think we established that already.

Whew, I’m glad I got that off my chest. I can now move on with my next 90 posts without fear that my dirty secret would come out. Enjoy.

~stuff

1 lb shrimp, cooked, shelled & cut into pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium lemon, zest and 1/2 of the juice
1 tsp togorashi, more if you want it spicy
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Japanese style)
1 small shallot, minced
salt and pepper to taste

~steps
combine all ingredients in a bowl
serve in a toasted roll as a sandwich or over a bed of lettuce for a primal option

-serves 4-




…me…


i hunger...i cook...i eat...i come back...i reminisce...i blog...enjoy.

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