Friday, November 25, 2011

Add Kimchee. Eat. Repeat.

After Giant Sous Chef and I hit Kogi BBQ in L.A., my quest for Asian fusion began. The Korean galbi beef tacos with Kogi's aioli sauce rocked, but the kimchee quesadilla was... too intense-- Even for Spicy! Kimchee, root vegetables like daikon and Napa cabbage pickled and fermented with acid, spices and sugar, overwhelmed the classic melty jack cheese quesadilla. So what would Spicy do? How 'bout carnitas!? Everything's better with carnitas!! The vinegary kimchee cuts straight through the meaty, rich slow-braised pork and brings bright flavor. 

In the Mission District, San fran's taqueria mecca, La Taqueria deals in dangerously addictive carnitas. But, my weeknight craving became inspired the moment I added Granny Choe's napa cabbage kimchee to their carnitas quesadilla. Who doesn't love pork 'n pickled stuff?

Two-step Asian fusion... Buy Carnitas Quesadilla. Add Kimchee.
(Eat. Repeat.)

P.S. Spicy loves Asian fusion because she's Pinay and Filipino food is all about fusion like Malay and Spanish influences, Chinese cooking technique, hot dogs, spaghetti and American cheese.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cozy cooking with Spicy. Brunch with claws.

We can still get inspired by something we know, a dish that is so familiar that, laying in bed with your eyes closed, you can hear it cooking. Spanish onions and a little garlic frying in a big wok, the knock, knock, knocking wooden spatula, crab and shrimp madly kissing heat, then whispering steam. The smells surround you, you rub your eyes, walk blearily down the hall to the kitchen and savory, spicy, sticky seafood and rice slow sizzling in brown butter is your beacon.

This is Triple Asian Fusion: Dungeness Salt and Pepper Crab Goan Shrimp Curry Fried Rice concocted from the spoils of last night's dinner--takeout whole crab and spicy shrimp curry-- transformed into a morning after wok-n-rice fête. There are two four secrets here:

- Make your own cilantro basmati rice. Cook it my way with caramelized shallots, add cilantro, deglaze with chicken stock and reduce a tiny bit. Then fold into fresh, steamed rice.

- Know your leftovers. PPQ Dungeness Island's Crab does not disappoint! I picked the crabs absolutely clean and scraped every bit of garlicky rub (that smothers each order of crab) into the wok. 

- You can make organic Indian food at home--with packets! Arora Creations has the cutest story about cooking with "secret dust" as a U of M undergrad. I'd accidentally overcooked the shrimp, and I needed a way to salvage all that briny spicy goodness. Solution? Chop small and stir fry...

- Add just enough spice with the perfectly vinegary Crystal Lousiana Hot Sauce to rice while it cooks. Put the Rooster Sriracha down, people!

Your fusion is complete. Fried Rice is the ideal template--take Chinese, add Filipino, Vietnamese and South Asian tradition--and mix it up.

Don't forget to invite Spicy!

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Spicy at Play: Gimme some of that Onolicious!

My kind of R&R: Plate lunch Chili Pepper Chicken at The Village Bakery in Hanalei, Kauai, Hi. Wish you were here...
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Spicy Break.

después de una comida muy sabrosa, estamos tomando una siesta.
hasta pronto!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 1, 2011

NostalgiaFood: Linguine White Clam Sauce!

I was a latchkey kid in the 1980’s and like a lot of other latchkey kids I rooted around the kitchen after school while my parents were stuck in traffic commuting from their jobs in the Big city. Call it Reagan-era self-reliance, but if I didn’t fend for myself I was surely going to starve.

Lucky me, our kitchen was always stocked up, and growing up in the NY metro melting pot, the canned food aisle in the grocery store was no exception. Caribbean island staples like Goya beans and cream of coconut were stocked alongside American classics like baked beans and Hormel Chili. In my Italian-American neighborhood, my one particular nirvana in a can was: Progresso Linguine White Clam Sauce (with Garlic and Herbs).

Two decades and 3000 miles later, while searching for Drano I stumbled upon rows of these delicious blue cans in my local Safeway. Should I pretend that I didn’t furtively and nostalgically place a can in my basket, take it home and cook it up? Did Progresso's white clam sauce stand the test of time? Once I cranked off the metal lid, the oily, greenish liquid within had a vague garlic aroma that intensified as I gently heated it on the stove. I poured it over angel hair pasta as I would have in junior high school. The dish was surprisingly flavorful if not slightly metallic. All I was missing was that powdery sour cheese sprinkled from the green can, probably a good thing. Reader, I ate every single bite.

Canned linguine white clam sauce is what I call nostalgia food, a food experience that evokes a lush emotional memory even if in all reality, it is far from gastronomically ideal. (Like a breakfast of Spam cubes and fried rice. Or, Lyle's Golden Syrup on white bread toast. These are real breakfast's that Giant Sous Chef and I had as kids. The former disturbingly fatty and salty. The latter, oddly bland and the shiny syrup always ready to drip from the knife and stain your navy school sweater.)

The only antidote for a nostalgia food craving is making your own. You alone know exactly how the dish should taste and how the flavors meld in your mind, in your heart and on your tongue...

Tender chopped clams, Littlenecks if you can find them, in a bright, fragrant seafood jus flecked with garlic and parsley. Unctuous sauce clinging to warm linguine strands with just the right saltiness and bite. Steaming clam shells nestled among the pasta mounds. I topped each plate with buttery toasted breadcrumbs and parsley. Paired with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc it's the perfect pasta for a long winter weekend or a lazy summer night. Don't forget to invite Spice-E...

TOP 3 Linguine White Clam Sauce Experiences:

- Lenny's Clam Bar in Howard Beach, NY. With a guy who feared garlic on first dates. I ordered the white clam sauce and a big side of garlic bread. "I don't care if you don't want to kiss me later," I said. I twined my fork into a mound of pasta. The garlic slivers were visible. "I'm eating this."

- The day before Thanksgiving, Detroit. 1990. We got in on an evening train and Susie's Grandma Ginny made us a late supper. I watched her pour a small jar of clam juice into the broth. She served us wine, and, later, let me smoke in her kitchen while we talked like girlfriends. I was at college in the Midwest, a great place to learn about classic American flavors from classic American women.

- In January 2008, we christened a cherry red round French oven, a wedding present and an heirloom piece in the making, with a big-lovin' batch of linguine white clam sauce, I shaved skinny curls of parmigiano reggiano over the top.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christmas Only Comes Once a Year...


(click on any picture to enlarge)

...but there were other things, too
like rosemary sea salt focaccia...that takes forever to make!

and, maine lobster (which takes no time at all in a big stock pot).

we also had spanish potatoes with smoked paprika or...
...patatas con pimentón ahumado.

but, christmas eve lunch really was all about...

the salad bar
with the fixins...

like pomegranate seeds and valencia orange supremes...
and a bit of goat cheese.

and the microgreens were all dressed up in a meyer lemon vinaigrette.*

Brava! Brava! To the Chef...who was off the next day.

so GIANT SOUS CHEF cooked breakfast...

a dungeness crab scramble with rosemary toast points.

and, a little later spice-E stepped in to make a lobster salad...
... with delicate slices of jamon serrano on the side.

all packed up for the drive down the coast...
...and lunch on the beach in Goleta!


*Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette (i do it 3:1)
- juice of real meyer lemon
- champagne vinegar, to taste
- finely diced shallot
- wild honey, light colored or lavender
- canola oil and-or fine evoo
- fine black pepper, fresh ground
- lemon thyme salt, if you have it