trufflebeefstew

A bit of luxury for Comfort Food

Ultimate Comfort Food

Who knew that Onglet or flank steak if delicious in stews! Chuck can be kind of stringy and dry, brisket is a bit too fatty but however they are the main staples of stew until I came across a pack of Onglet which was on sale and tried to use it in the stew. IT was flavorful and delicious! I decided not to use Roux this time as i wanted a more asian watery type to eat with rice and I wanted to reduce carbs as well. How did i get the nice brown color? My secret ingredient – Marmite. Really! It gives that savory meaty and beautiful brown color combined with the tomato paste. The pilsner beer was just lying around and i accidently dropped the white truffle butter intended for my baguette into the stew… Hearty meal for Covid Depressing Lockdown Days.

Elevating the Humble Egg Sandwich with Dashi

Spending many covid enforced lockdown at home has proved to watching too many Youtube videos. Had the urge to search – Egg Sandwiches at 2 am. You name it, fried, scrambled, boiled, LA’s finest, New York’s hottest egg sandwich or now as it seems to be trending Tamago Sando as it’s called in Japan. I would really love to give credit where it’s due but at 2 am I seemed to remember only the important part. Soaking the boiled eggs – not too over cooked mind u in a liquid of kombu and dashi.

Waking up at 9 and the insane urge to have not the usual Egg Sandwich but the Tamago Sando — Note: YAY to the Asian household in the 2020’s… I have both instant dashi and kombu so nothing to prepare really – I boiled the eggs slightly over the half boiled mark still having some liquidy yolks and threw them in the tupperware with the dashi and kombu broth. After 3 hours i seperated the yolks and the whites – Dunno why…. Mashed it up, mixed it up with a bit of korean mayo, mustard, salt and pepper.

Result – The underlining savory umami flavor of the kombu and dashi is like hidden at the back somewhere giving it a certain dimension of tastes. The slight undercooked yolks help make the filling light and creamy. Honestly next time more pictures but all in all soft – delicious yumminess.

Egg Sandwich with Dashi & Kombu.  The Japanese Tamago Sando.
9 Gain Bread lightly toasted…. Very yummy!

What is Hunan Cuisine? Our first experience into Hunan.

Me and my sister have a disturbing Mala Addiction. For those in the Know it’s a beautiful balance of Chillies – Spicy – Sichuan Peppercorns – Numbing – Garlic – MSG – Salt – Sesame – and alot of other herbs and spices depending on the menu. Stuck in a Traffic Jam in a really quiet awkward area of Condos, Roads and pretty much nothing else we noticed some restaurants in front of the Entrance to several Condominiums. We were surprised by the amount of Chinese Restaurants within a few meters of each other. Our eyes widen as we saw pictures of fish swimming in red colored oil. Szechuan FOOD!!! Without any hesitation we walked in and was greeted by that familiar smell of pungent mala oil.

Upon opening the menu and trying to communicate with the waitress we found out that we stumbled into a rather big Hunan Community in Bangkok. All the restaurants and people eating here were Hunan. I’ve never really had an experience with Hunan Food but it looked and smelled like Sichuan Cuisine. So where is Hunan?

Credit: Wikipedia

Just on the upper right is Chongqing and Sichuan so i believe that’s why the close proximity has the influence in the cuisine. Will try to learn more but lets take a look at the food. First we ordered the popular and everybody’s favorite Mapo Tofu.

Mapu Tofu Hunan Style is more Spicy than Sichuan Mapo Tofu
Less Gravy but waaay Spicer!

Nice firm chunks of tofu with bits of minced pork – The star really was tofu and what i noticed was there was really less sauce or oil / gravy. I didn’t feel so much of the bean paste here because usually you taste bean paste with the mala but this one was very very spicy. Less emphasis on the MA or the numb but a lot of heat. I do think it was still nicely flavored although intensely hot, you need to eat it with rice and my spice level is quite high. Then the next craving we had was for boiled fish in Mala. They actually had like 3 types so we just picked one. I guess we picked the less spicy one or the Mapo Tofu was just like a nuclear blast of spicy.

Boiled Fish Slices in Mala Oil Hunan Style
Boiled Fish Sliced in Mala Oil & Broth

The fish was perfectly cooked delicate and not over at all – Strangely it was quite brothy and with the oil it was a nice balance of oily and spicy. Underneath there was enoki mushrooms and the sesame provided a nice creaminess to the overall dish. I can’t put my finger on it yet but there is a definite difference to the Szechuan Style and the Hunan Style. I feel that this dish had a more simpler flavor than the usual Szechuan Style. I feel there’s more layers to the Szechuan style.

In “some” chinese restaurants they have these cold salty chicken feet. I’m really not sure which province is the heritage but they would be a bit yellow and mostly served cold. If anyone knows please let me know. It’s rally fun to nibble on the cold and salty gelatinous feet however here they serve it warm and very plump and juicy not dry and chewy like i mostly have had it. For those who have never tried chicken feet it’s quite a yummy snack. It’s like nibbling on a jerky that’s paper thing with tiny bones. A jellyish jerky.

cold salty chicken feet
Cold, Salty and quite yummy! Have to try at least once!

Since we are on feet and gelatinous food – I had to order non spicy food for my parents who my dad’s strictly cantonese – He doesn’t really like spicy food as Cantonese food is quite bland compared to other chinese cuisine and my palate actually leans to the Cantonese Side (Aside from Mala) The Pigs trotters was full of gelatin the and sauce was thick with porky flavours and sticky from all the collagen and marrow that boiled in the sauce. Quite similiar to many trotters i had before with a slight spice which we all thought it was white pepper as we can’t see much in the sauce. Good with piping hot rice as it came with ample sauce.

Juicy Pigs Trotters
Peanuts gave a lovely crunch!

Definitely a must for every table is vegetables. This dish is also popular in many Chinese Restaurants not sure of the heritage although it came with smoked ham and sausage which i’ve never seen before. I did read that Hunan cuisine involved alot of these ingredients so it could be a signature twist to the normal Spinach, Salted Egg, Century Egg and soupy vegetable dish. The taste wasn’t really different elsewhere due the the power of the salted egg and century egg flavors but this dish was definitely milder (Again maby the mapo tofu was so strong) I like this vegetables as it’s a good stepping stone to those wanting to try Century Egg .

Century & Salted Egg spinach Chinese Cuisine
Garlicky, delicate flavours!

Last but not least every Cantonese meal cannot start, last and end without soup. I have never seen a chinese soup with a kombu like seaweed before. It didn’t have the same strong taste but somehow the soup was actually a creamy mouthfeel and a umami taste of the sea flavour with the creaminess of pork “fat”? It was quite a good bowl of soup. The pork spareribs were falling off the bone. It was really good mixed with rice and chinese level boiling hot soup. A really good meal and a great introduction into the world of Hunan Food. Maybe next time we will try those skewers not in the menu that other people were eating.

Hunan Pork Bone and Kelp Seaweed Soup
Really delicious hearty soup!

Please leave any comments and more knowledge for me would love to learn more about Hunan Cuisine. Thank you!

Road to Veganism – Mushroom Tempura – Leather Stuff?

Since the last post I have been quite successful in keeping meat and diary products to the minimum, some days 100% some days 1 meal a day. This is more complicated than i thought considering the whole point of this is empathy and no waste. I am not sure that throwing my my leather goods makes sense, I dont think i will be purchasing any more leather products and since gaining a sense of “Enoughism? I stood in front of my closest and actually agree that i’m content in this lifetime not buying anything more – Branded goods etc… However i dont think i’m going to toss away my Chanel that i spent years saving for…. My Dr. Martens they still fit as well as all the good quality leather that was bought years ago. There seems so much debate on the internet. Anyways if anyone has some advice or a thought please let me know or what to do about this transition. Anyways – Mushroom Tempura – If you are not using oyster mushrooms where there are slits for the batter to hold on too ) ! had a big lot of Eringi Mushrooms as i was experimenting with a “Creamy Carbonara” made entirely of Eringi Mushrooms and salted crispy tofu skin as the “Bacon” the batter would slide right off. So i cut slits into my mushrooms, coated it with a salt and pepper flour and then a batter that was a total fluke. It made totally no sense to mix glutinous rice flour with corn flour. It was a fluke mistake that turned out totally perfect.

See all the fluffy transparent batter?


Eringi Mushroom Tempura Batter:

No measurements whatsoever – 1 Part Glutinous Rice Flour to 4 Parts Corn Starch.

COLD COLD Soda Water just enough until mixed well. Salt and Pepper to Taste.

That’s it…. Opps – Sweet Soy Dipping Sauce

1 Table Spoon Light Soy Sauce or Dark if you have – it’s fine

1 Teaspoon Honey or Maple Syrup

1 Table Spoon Grated Turnip and Ginger if you have it. 3 Tablespoons of Hot water or more to taste. Let me know how it goes!

Going Veggie – My Journey trying to reduce meat.

During one of those endless sleepless nights and you tube surfing. I came upon a vegan talking about how he/she converted when they reasoned the fact that they have pets but kinda eating “other” types of “pets. I have 3 dogs and 1 cat and that started this journey of thinking how do people “turn” vegan” from a meat eater? Now i eat my steaks rare and i love my tartars. So I started more research and just looking at many points of views – Health – Ethics – Save the Earth and so forth. How does a one try to go veggie or vegan in an Asian meat eating family? I firmly believe in going the middle ground, do what you want but dont force or impose things on others. I then told myself let’s try things step by step. Let’s try to limit meat to one meat to one meal a day and limit my dairy intake. So i figured for my first meal i wanted to cook (i’m the cook of the family) something that can be vegetarian and then added the other stuff for my family.

One of the first meals was a pasta dish which i was made of spinach pasta – homemade hummus and avocado. It sounds disgusting but actually creamy and yummy. Then i added bacon and cheese for my family.

Not so bad after all. I survived the first meal. Then i got to thinking – Vegetarian meals aren’t so bad but i still couldn’t cut all my love for cheese but i could still try to reduce meat.

Yum Cha @ TST — Cute – Cheerful -Pricey

On a work trip to Hongkong and seeing so many cute bloggers eating the most adorable dim sum i was determined to give it a go myself.

Yum Cha means to drink tea which is sort of a slang for let’s have dim sum or lunch.  This quaintly cute restaurant is on top a hotel in the TST granville road.  Perfect for girfriend chatting, first date and maybe a sibling day. 

Here is what we ate:

Cute Looking custard Buns!
Too cute to eat!

Even the menu is cute and cheerful.

There’s a little fake fish in the bowl! Tooo cute!
Char Siu Bao? Pork Bun!
Lo Pa Ko – Savory Turnip Cake

Served in a different version from what i’m used to here it’s served in little cubes with a chilli sauce and fried lotus root. Very pretty to look at and quite delicious.

Savory Rice Rolls
Piping hot, garlicky calamari – Delicious
Boiled fish in Mala – Deliciously Spicy
Interesting Green Bean with Light battered Coating – A bit oily but yum

All in all this is a pricey little establishment but maybe not for Hongkong standards but food is decent and ambiance is quite cute.

Stir Fried Beef in a hot metal pan. Tender chunks of beet in oyster sauce. Quite good.
Tumeric fried rice with beef. Interesting small grained rice but not sticky like japanese rice.

Yum Cha TST – 3rd Floor (On top of the hotel) 20 – 22 Granville Road Tsim Tsah Shui

Mantao (Bao) + Pork Belly = Gua Bao

I’m not sure how the history started but we grew up with Mantao (Chinese Steamed Bread) paired with a pork belly dish with pickled vegetables (Khao Yok) This trip to Taiwan I was determined to try some – Many opened in Bangkok and i saw a few in the USA but i felt it seemed uniquely Taiwanese although i have read that it was inspired or brought by immigrants from Fujian Province. For those who haven’t heard a Gua Bao or Bao as it’s popularised from USA is the Bao (Mantao – Steamed Chinese Bread) + Pork belly cooked til soft and in 5 spice powder + sweetened roasted ground peanuts + pickled mustard greens + fresh coriander. In my next article i will explore how to make it on my own but this is what we had in Taiwan.

Hamburger Sized at this Tourist Market

I think this store had their own take on it which consists of the traditional 5 Spice Pork Belly + A thin Peppery Pork Chop Patty + a slice of Cheese and the traditional flavorings.

You can see the Peppery Patty & The Pork Belly Peaking Out

I thought it tasted alright but if they could melt the cheese somehow it would have been alot better.

Huge Steaming Buns Ready to Go
Condiments in big pails.

Will try to create a homemade version soon, anyone with recipes please share them 🙂

Eating Ramen Alone – The Ichiran Experience.

Working abroad isn’t bad. Working in Tokyo isn’t bad.   However when the weekend arrives this is what happens:

  1.  You live in CBD district where it’s surrounded by Offices and restaurants and Cafes that ONLY OPEN during Monday to Fridays.
  2. Colleagues spend time with Family.  Left all Alone.

It actually is a lonely feeling but after days of eating one pot noodles and what ever is selling at Lawsons or 7 – 11; due to many restaurants do NOT offer English Menus and even have signs not accepting Non Japanese Speakers you find yourself going to the Tourist Spots.  Shibuya.  Ueno.  Shinjuku etc. Japan is actually one of the most polite cultures I encountered and I’m Thai….  Thailand is a different concept – If you don’t speak the language they will guess something until they get it right.  I assume in Japan it’s not worth the hassle.

So i found myself getting off in Shibuya mercilessly trying to follow the google map. (which from personal experience and  my sense of direction had a part to play) It took me 30 mins to find – apparently google map doesn’t work so well in Japan and especially South Korea.

When you arrive its on the basement floor but theres a sign before you step down on the staircase.  Being remarkably early there wasn’t any ques as of yet.

You wont miss it! The sign is quite big.

Walking down a flight of stairs you will see a vending machine. This is how you order:

Choose your options according to preferences.
You can opt for plain or with Sliced Pork, wood ear mushroom, and seaweed.

They also have something called the second round noodles. Kan Dama – Which means after you finish your bowl they will refill it with 1 order of noodles – 190 Yen or half bowl of Noodles 130 Yen. Interesting! I assume it’s not to waste any of their thick broth. There are extras such as their special vinegar, half boiled eggs and extra onions for toppings.

Closer look at the additional toppings you can order.

After you paid, a waiter will show you to an empty booth.

Check your preference and hand your order with your receipt.
Choose how you prefer your ramen. Luckily it’s in english!
I ordered their premium vinegar. Quite pricey.

Walking to your booth there are hangers to hang up your coat as well as tissue paper and toothpick dispensers on the wall.

This is your little booth – Water dispenser is on left side.
They will lift up the bamboo divider to take your order and deliver your order.
The sides – My egg and a wet napkin is delivered first. Smells fantastic. Albeit a bit lonely.
Bowl is quite big and the red paste is a blend of some spice and red chilies i presume.

The food arrived and you can smell the porkiness. Mine was with 1 clove of garlic, extra rich soup, medium dashi and medium noddles. The noodles was on the thin side which i prefer i’m not a fan of too thick ramen noodles. The broth is very fatty. I’m sure there’s alot of pork richness in there as well as lots of pork fat emulsified into the soup and probably marrow. The mouth felt like cream. Light, yet a dense texture. The pepper paste wasn’t too spicy maybe should have ordered 10. I think the best way to go is to eat some of the noodles with the broth, then with the chilli paste and then with the vinegar to cut the richness. The egg was a half cooked egg with a slightly runny yolk, the pork felt a tiny bit dry to me although dunk it in soup and it’s fine. The wood ear mushroom i think helped give that nice texture. The vinegar has a slight body to the acidic taste. Expensive but you need some vinegar to cut through the fat. Quite an interesting experience. Lonely eating but not bad. Honestly i preferred this to Ipudo. However, i had Ippudo in Thailand so maybe it can’t be compared. Do buy their instant ramen home as a souvenir to friends and family. Maybe you can bring a bit of Japan back home.

Arrive early to beat the ques and dont get lost! Allocate about 1500 yen per person or 1000 with plain with no additionals.

A Taiwanese Breakfast Experience

You cannot just go to Taiwan and not experience the full on Taiwanese Breakfast Experience. We read through many blogs and wanted to try out what the fuss was about. We chose to go to Young He Soy Milk as there were so many reviews.

You can see the sign and the Ques from far away!
To Go Que

How to order? There are 2 lines. The lines on the outside are the to go orders. At the left side of the restaurant are the lines for eat in options. Get your friends to grab a table and you go inside to order.

The line snakes outside for the eat in options.
About 10 tables inside and more outside
Steaming Vats of Soy Milk on this side, the aromas make you hungry!

Now luckily there are menus in english however there are some decoding if you have never eaten this before. So tick on the paper given – We matched numbers on the english menu and when it’s your turn hand over your paper to the chefs/cooks behind the counter. (English Menu Pictures at the end of the blog.)

Tick the corresponding numbers on the English menu.
Crueller Station and the Crepes and Crispy Thicker Pancakes.

They will put your food on the trays and calculate the bill according to the food they placed on the trays. They calculate real fast! To the right of the counter there are spoons, sauce bowls etc. Grab that and tissue and start eating.

Making our order now! We ordered 4 Trays of food!
Working so fast but never splashing hot soy milk on themselves. Amazing!

At each table there are soy sauce, chilli oil, some salty bean paste and vinegar to mix your own sauce as well as salt and pepper. We made a blend of soy, chilli oil and vinegar for our table and we squished about 7 people so you can see there’s not much room for pretty picture taking.

Tiny Table for 7 people, and steaming bowls of various types of Soy Milk.

Lets talk about the real reason why i wanted to come here. In thailand we dont have salty soy milk but rather a more sweet version with some toppings like jobs tears, jelly balls, red bean etc. So i was curious about this savory salty soy milk that they call Dou Jiang here.

Condiment Tray for the Salty Soy Milk

As you can see at the counter the condiments are dried shrimp, scallions and i believe a bit of saly and sugar and vinegar to “curdle the soy milk”.

Looks like Tofu doesn’t it?

The result is a warm soft broken tofu in a savory “whey” soup? Honestly it’s like a soupy tofu soup with Yu Tiao or Crueller or Patongo as we call it in thailand – The long sticks of fried dough although i observed that in Taiwan they make it huge and long whereas In Thailand it’s more smallish in size.

You can see the huge cruelly and egg peaking our of the flat bread. Yummy.

Next order of business is the crispy flat bread wrapped around the Yu Tia (Fried Dough or Crueller) and a omelete with scallions. I think they call Shao Bing. Strangely if you put in some chilli sauce it actually tastes pretty good. The Flatbread is piping hot and crispy and with the chewy crispy Patongo and savory egg it’s kind of like a crispy burrito. The crepey one i think is called Jian Bing. Same Concept except this was more of a soft crepey version. I prefer the crispy one but other people in my crew were divided on this.

Thin crepey hotdog?
Sticky Rice Roll with Pork Floss and Egg

The element of surprise was that the most memorable dish which was completely unexpected and i must say hands down the best best most delicious dish was…

Xiao Long Bao
Juicy, soupy soft pork filling. The best i ever had.

Honestly everyone even said it was the best they ever had and sorry better than Din Tai Fung. The wrapper was not too thick and not doughy and lightly chewy. The pork was soft, oozing with juices very well seasoned and all around the best pillows of joy to eat.

The next dishes – Radish / Turnip Cake Lo Pa Ko was fine with the sauce – Now fine was quite good just the Xiao Long Bao just trumped everything. The Sweet Soy milk and unsweetened Soy milk here had a savory creaminess that we don’t really experience with bottled or boxed soy milk.

Still wondering why we ordered that lone fried egg….
Pork Bun was Soft and the filling was great as well…
He definitely prefers the crepey one….

So allocate about 100 – 150 Taiwan Dollar per person if you eat alot but definitely there’s so much more on the menu even though the english is a bit confusing…

Young He Soy Milk –

No. 102 Section 2 Fuxing South Road

Open 24 Hours a day – Monday to Sunday…