Monday, February 28, 2011

Look Who's Also Hungry

I was busy making my pho broth + dinner and saw a pair of legs behind our tree when I looked out the window. Yup, it's a baby deer searching for some food in our backyard. And we live in the cities!

I decided to make pho broth from scratch. I found two recipes online that I wanted to try, so I'll let you know in a few days how it turns out. Yes, pho broth takes that long to make. There's a lot of steps to it for sure.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

iPhone, recipe withdrawal, restaurants, etc.

I don't know where I got the above image from, but I certainly did not make it. I wanted to take some cake decorating classes this season, but I'm already busy with so many projects. Maybe in the summer. Been so busy that I haven't experimented with new recipes for weeks now! I am craving for some new food. The other day, my family and I went out for lunch at a chain restaurant and I couldn't help but miss my own cooking. I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, but my cooking has improved so much that my own food tastes so much better than places that I used to enjoy dining at. But then again that was only a 2 or 3 star restaurant. :p

Speaking of the iPhone, I really miss my iPhone. I turned it off because I wanted to save some money each month since not working. I've had the phone since it initially launched in 2007. It became my best friend instantly. I'm usually not the type that buys the latest techno stuff, but since I was searching for a smart phone back then anyway, I tested the iPhone out and nothing else beat it at that time. It was funny how every time I brought it out in public, people around me were like, "Is that the iPhone??" And then I would get all these gawkers surrounding me. lol I guess it was kind of rare back then, but not anymore!

We also went to try out Mirror of Korea in Saint Paul on Valentine's Day. Yeah, I know. Not very romantic, but Valentine's is not just about couples. I have a family now, so we didn't necessarily go there because of V-day. I just felt like eating some bulgogi, so we decided to try them out. We have only tried King's and the one across from Mirror of Korea. Forgot what that one is called, but I don't like going there because it's so dark and gloomy inside. I felt scared to even go down to the basement to use their restrooms. Same case with the restrooms at Village Wok; although, I haven't been there in ages.

Mirror of Korea was fine. I was actually surprised how much cleaner and brighter it looked inside compared to the outside. The outside never wanted to bring me in. The food was good. We ordered the regular bulgogi and bibimbap so we could compare to other Korean restaurants. Actually, that's all we know what to order from Korean restaurants. :p I felt like an American going into a Chinese restaurant and the only thing I know what to order is sweet and sour chicken. I love sweet and sour chicken BTW. I didn't know that the bibimbap was going to come in the hot stone bowl. Otherwise, I would've asked for it not to. We also ordered the seafood omelette-type cake. It was quite appetizing. Overall rating of Mirror of Korea. 3/5 stars. It was clean, bright and food was good.

I promise to make a menu plan tonight and go shopping tomorrow.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Baked Alaska

I always wanted to try out this dessert as it looks so good. I've never seen it on the menu at any of the restaurants I've been to, but I heard that the Oceaniare makes this. Their menu probably changes though. So one day, I decided to look up the recipe and decided to make one myself. It's actually not that difficult, but there are steps to them. I made the cake portion with yellow cake mix, but honestly, to save time you can just buy the Sara Lee pound cake from the freezer. I actually like that better. I made this a while ago and used a couple of different recipes from the Internet, so I don't remember what they were actually. Basically, all I did was line a round small cup with saran wrap, then put strawberry ice cream in the mold, followed by the cake. I let it freeze for hours and then made the meringue. I topped it off with the meringue and put it in the oven.

I think this dessert looks better than it tastes. I mean, it didn't taste bad, but it was nothing special. It's basically just an ice cream cake. My favorite ice cream bar is the strawberry shortcake bar from Good Humor. I want to make an ice cream cake that will taste exactly like that.

is one of the recipes that I followed or used to make my own Baked Alaska.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nam Khao (Laotian Fried Rice Ball Salad)

I've been meaning to post this a while back because I wanted to show step-by-step photos, but just haven't made this dish in a while. I first discovered this dish from a member of a forum and tried the recipe he/she had given. I wasn't that pleased with it, so I never bothered looking up other recipes. One day at the local Asian store, it sold a to-go package of this dish and I grabbed it. It was love-at-first-bite. Nam Khao is one of my favorite dishes now and the best new dish I have discovered in 2010. To me, it is that good, but it does require some acquired tasting. For example, if you don't like nam sausauge, then you might not like this dish, but you can certainly make it without it. The reason why the store-bought version was so much better than the original recipe I had tried earlier was because the original recipe was baked and not fried. It also did not include coconut flakes in the recipe. Those two things made a huge difference. This dish has to be deep fried or it won't taste the same.

This is a great dish to make when you have a lot of leftover rice and want to try something new besides regular fried rice. If you like the exotic tastes of Thai and Laotian, you will love this dish. I did anyway.

Here is a good tutorial online. I adapted my recipe from hers. For example, I used freshly fried shallots and garlic and threw it in the dish. I also added sugar since the one at the store tasted a little sweeter. I did not add any ground meat to the dish. I thought the nam sausage provided enough meat already. And I never use MSG in any of my foods. Some recipes call for curry, but I did not like that in mine. I also made my rice balls larger, so the rice wouldn't be as crispy (hard) all over. Some people like more of the hard rice, but I didn't want too much of that. One of these days, I'll post my exact recipe, but give this recipe a try first.

I made these the other day on a whim, and didn't turn out exactly like how I made them when I took the time, but here are photos to give you some ideas:

Thailand Food Journey

Photo from here.

It would be a dream of mine to visit Thailand one day and just go on a journey to eat all their food, visit their markets as well as check out some of their beaches. Growing up, my dad would post all these colorful posters of fresh and exotic fruits from Thailand as well as the beautiful girls in Thai costumes and the markets on the water.

Until then, I like to look at these vendor street food videos from They make me so hungry just watching them. Ok, maybe sanitary-wise--not so great, but the food is cheap!

Speaking of exotic fruits, I picked up a pomelo from the Asian store the other day. I never tried it before, but saw it a few times in Thai cooking, so I thought I try one. It's actually quite good. It looks and smells like a grapefruit, but it's actually tastier than a grapefruit. It doesn't have that bitterness that grapefruits tend to have. So if you don't like grapefruit, then you might like pomelos.

And those bananas in the background? I have no idea what kind they are. I thought they were just regular bananas that haven't riped yet, but after a few days, they still haven't riped, so I ended up tossing them. What kind of bananas are these that don't ripe? Were they like the green mango that will never ripe like a regular mango? We buy bananas every week, so I just felt dumbfounded this time.