Archive for the ‘Veggies’ Category

Roasting for Jesus

March 24, 2008

Jesus is just alright with me
Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
– Doobie Brothers

Religiously speaking, I am godless. I am a gluttonous heathen, afterall. If hard pressed, I suppose I would say I’m a non-practicing Buddhist, but that’s only because my dad makes me pray to his little shrine whenever I go to his house. But I refuse to chant during yoga- it annoys the hell out of me (they never tell you what you’re saying, or what exactly it’s for. It’s just nonsense).

However, deep down, I have a soft spot for all things Roman Catholic. Majestic cathedrals, Pope Jean-Paul II (I saw him once!), the Spanish Inquisition, Dante’s Inferno and Jesus all fascinate me to no end. It’s so bizarre- and I feel bad cause Catholicism has traumatized many of my friends.

So of course I was excited about celebrating the Jesus resurrection on Sunday. Easter means ham, hard boiled eggs, and springtime. Gotta love it. But my plans derailed when Troy and Kumiko called to cancel Easter dinner because they were sick. I sorta panicked, but Fumiko said she would come over, so I cooked dinner for the two of us. Those in disgruntled relationships, ponder this: being single means possibly eating Easter dinner ALONE. It’s a crapshoot.

I didn’t have any big meat item, but I did my usual vegetable roasting. I love roasting vegetables- not only because they taste so good, but mostly because I am lazy, and it’s the easiest thing ever. Here are my ingredients:

Right next to the garlic is a little stick of chorizo. They sell it at Blue Apron in Park Slope for $1.50!!! What a steal! It’s great cause it will hold in the fridge forever, and it’s something different from the same old bacon.

I am relatively new to the cauliflower phenomenon- Aya introduced me to it a few months ago. I’m pretty hooked though. For this, I just chopped up the cauliflower, the zucchini, the chorizo, a few cloves of garlic and peeled the red onions. Preheat oven to 400.

Disclaimer: it took me FOREVER to peel these little fuckers, which is not fun for lazy people. I will use shallots next time.
Put everything in a baking pan, drizzle olive oil all over it, add some salt, grind some pepper. I also added a few bay leaves, cause I had some. I love all the colors here:
Stir occasionally, and take out after about 30 minutes. That’s it!!!
Shave a ton of romano over it, then mix it around.
I obviously needed something else with the meal, so I just made some pasta. I sauteed an onion with a fresh sausage, and boiled fresh pasta that I randomly had in the fridge.

Put some tomato sauce with all of that, et voila! Also, fresh parsley is so necessary.
Here is our meal- Jesus Resurrection 2008. Sadly, the corner wine store was closed, so we couldn’t consume the blood of Christ. Fumiko said we drink the blood all the time, so it was no big deal- we just settled for beer. Would that be Jesus pee? OMG I’m totally going to hell.

PS- the chorizo adds a nice crunch to the soft vegetables. Fumi liked it. Give it a whirl.

Un-Boring Salad

October 4, 2007

I don’t make vegetable dish often. I am a very vegetarian unfriendly guy. I hate cooking for vegetarians. When looking at Japanese recipes, it’s so hard not to use either fish or meat. Even when the title say “vegetarian stir fry”, it somehow uses ground meat of some sort. I like using meat for my cooking as well.

I wanted to make salad dish to accompany my main course. This time, I made Japanese curry, which Kayoko had for lunch today (I brought it for myself, but realized I had a lunch plan outside). Since curry is very heavy and sorta spicy, I decided to make a salad, but didn’t want to make just simple greens.

So I thinly sliced cucumbers and red onions, put some salt and squeezed the water out. Then I cut thinly cut out the avocado, laid them all nicely, and poured Pietro dressing (the best Japanese made western style soy sauce based dressing) over it. That’s it, simple, yet elegant, almost looks like something one gets at a restaurant for $14. Mine: avocado – 88 cents, cucumber 50 cents, onion 39 cents = $1.77! The avocado’s creaminess with crisp cucumber and onion made a very nice appetizer.

Beet Beet

September 21, 2007

I am a creature of habit, especially when it comes to cooking. I like fresh, minimal, and EASY– roasting vegetables meets all of these requirements, and I obsessively roasted vegetables all summer, despite the fact that I myself would roast in my little studio, when turning on the oven. I love to meander the farmers market, meticulously choose from arrays of colorful, just-picked vegetables, and stick them in the oven when I get home. Especially beets.

My obsession for roasted beets blossomed at the Good Fork in Red Hook. To this day, it’s still the most memorable beet salad I’ve had, but that may just be because it’s the moment when I fell in love with the purple root.

So really, there ain’t that much to it, roasting beets. I read from some recipe that all you have to do is: preheat oven to 450 degrees, wash beets, wrap them up in a foil “sack”, pop them in the oven, and take them out between 45 minutes – 1 hour. When you can cut straight through them with no trouble, that’s when they’re ready. The skin should come right off under cold water. TOO EASY!

I toss them in some olive oil, vinegar, pepper and salt, let it sit so it can soak in the vinegar, then add goat cheese and parsley. Mmmm goat cheese… Look at these wild colors!

I used to throw out the long long leaves, silly me, until a man at the farmer’s market told me it was his favorite part of the vegetable.

It is a bit bitter, very close to spinach. The kind of thing you eat and you know it’s just good FOR you.

This too is super easy. Just wash, chop and saute. I also add garlic and olive oil, salt and pepper. Et voila! Lovely, vitamin packed greens, ready in under 5 minutes.

As Ryohei mentioned in his ex-lax post, beets will definitely clean you out, if you know what I’m sayin. You’ll be peeing and shitting purple for days! But that’s just half the fun.

Also, Men’s Health put beets in the top 10 foods you’re not eating. Get on the beet people, you’re missing out.

Beet Beats Ex-Lax

July 25, 2007

Blame Mel, inspired by Ayagwa.

Caution. This is my version of Aya”Orange Oil”gwa’s Fear and Loathing in the Realm of Seafood-Lovers. If you don’t like poo talk, don’t bother to read. As umami’s mission statement says, “we all eat three times a day, so let’s talk about it” To me, it’s more like, “we eat three times a day — shit (literally) has to come out”. I was telling Mel about it, and she insisted that I post it, so here it is.

This has nothing to do with bad food, it’s human reaction to certain ingredients that causes a massive bowel movement. It was at Jule’s bistro on St. Marks a couple of years ago. We had dinner before going to a friend’s house party in Alphabet City. I was feeling duck, hence french bistro was the right choice of the evening. Soup du Jour was something like chilled beet and star anise soup, and I thought “hm, it sounds very interesting”. I like beets, especially when roasted with olive oil, then marinated in vinegar mixture, sort of home made pickled beets. Apparently what I didn’t know about beet is the stuff “cleans” you out.

According to wikipedia, “The Romans used beetroot as a treatment for fevers and constipation, amongst other ailments. Apicius in De re coquinaria gives five recipes for soups to be given as a laxative, three of which feature the root of beet.”

Yeah, it is easy to say on the web, but to experience on first person basis wasn’t.

I was starving. The soup came to my table, its deep red color,and a contrast of creme freche lookes very appetizing, so I enjoyed it, sopped with bread, yum yum. By the way, I do NOT like star anise, nor any type of licorice flavor, but my hunger overcame that part of the flavor.

I guess I’ve never had large amount of beet in my life (I had it on salad, or had a piece of a pickled one here and there, but never a bowl of soup). After the main course (which I believe it was duck, and very tasty), I started to feel it. That awful shiver, sweat coming down, and you feel like you are punched in the stomach. I could still keep my composure. My sphicter was tightly shut, no leakage was there. Unlike wax from escoloar, after all, beet is just a vegetable. Yet, I had no idea what beet does to you body, so I was just wondering if the duck was a bad one, or I was reacting to star anise.

So we walked to my friend’s apt on Avenue D. That 4 block walk was the most excruciating one. I was sweating profusely, almost losing control. We arrived at her building. Unfortunately she lived in a 5th floor walk-up. I ran up, got to her apt. Luckily, we were the first guests, and I ran into the bathroom, sat down, and relieved everything. I mean EVERYTHING, and It was RED. I first thought, God, I have a colon cancer and will die, but then realized it was the soup. The color was deep red, as if the soup I consumed didn’t go through my body at all, just passed all the tubes and came right out.

After 4 minutes (could be 2, but who cares) of pissing out of my ass, it was done. I just couldn’t believe how powerful it was and since then, I haven’t had any more than a piece of beet at a time.

Lesson here: orange oil, as well as beet, all one needs to do is portion control. Escolar should be fine if eaten less than three sashimi pieces. Beet as well, if you eat small portion of it, you should be fine. However, if you are constipated for like a week, feast on it, then everything will come out.

5 Minutes to Asparagus (plural)

July 5, 2007

It’s asparagus season!!! They’ve been at the farmer’s market for a month or two now (so I know I’m totally behind here), and they are just so nice to look at, don’t you think? There’s something really regal about them, luxurious almost–I can imagine Louis XIV snacking on them while sippin’ on champagne on his bejeweled throne in Versailles, between killing people and screwing his sisters.

Not only are these spiky things good for you, but they color your pee green, and makes it stink somethin’ sour. Asparagus makes your pee smell awesome! Wanna know why? Here’s an explanation.

Ok, I admit that the main reason why I love asparagi (or asparagus – plural, whatever) is because they are not only pretty and have a fancy schmancy air to them, but they are also extremely EASY to cook. I am currently obsessed with putting everything in the broiler after Bittman’s article, so this is no exception.

This is all you have to do:
– turn broiler on low
– wash asparagus spears
– put them on an oven-proof dish
– drizzle olive oil over asparagus
– sprinkle with salt and crack pepper
– mix asparagus with your hands to make sure each spear is evenly coated with the oil and salt
– put the dish in the broiler for 4-5 minutes

TA-DA!!! That’s it! You can serve it just like that. Easy, pretty and good for you. Love it.

I sorta added a few things to this to pump up the pretty factor. I sauteed shiitake mushrooms with oil, garlic, and a little bit of sake and soy sauce. Then I quartered a few soft-boiled eggs* and garnished the dish with it. Doesn’t it look nice? It was pretty darned tasty too.

Here’s a fun video I just found of Bittman and Batali making risotto with asparagus.

*The Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg
I tried Bittman’s method, and it came out overcooked–so I’m going back to the way I’ve learned how to make perfect hard-boiled egg (Lpono taught me this years ago, she supposedly got it from Martha):
– put eggs in a pot and enough water to cover the eggs
– when the water starts boiling, turn heat off
– let eggs sit in the hot water for about 12 minutes
– put eggs in cold water (as Bittman says, this separates the egg and the shell)

Happy peeling!

2 Ways to Cook a Dumpling

April 26, 2007

In my book, the world’s most perfect food is the dumpling. I love dinner items that are an all-in-one meal. Like dumplings… vegetables, carbs, all of it in one perfect, neat little package. What more could you ask for? My dad makes these delicious fresh-from-scratch dumplings filled with shrimp, white fish, scallion and ginger. He wraps them with store bought wrappers and gets the thick skin that give the dumplings a little more texture. He knows I love them so when I come home to Cupertino, he packs me two huge Marina Food grocery bags of 100 beautiful little frozen dumplings and sends me on my way. But, what to do with all of these dumplings?

When my dad sends me home with dumplings, it is pretty much all I eat, every night until I run out. Thus explains the title, “2 ways to cook a dumpling.”

Tonight I cooked the dumplings two different ways for me and my lovely bf. It only takes 10 minutes if you already have the frozen dumplings, which if you don’t have a homemade cook to make them for you, you can get some from any asian grocery store, chinatown, japantown, or my favorite, Trader Ming’s (Trader Joe’s, very cleverly titled, asian food line).

7 Easy Steps to Dumpling Soup

Dumpling soup with egg, seaweed, baby bok choy and green onion:

  1. Boil a medium pot of water and carefully drop the frozen dumplings in.
  2. Meanwhile, cut up some baby bok choy (also called shanghai bok choy) and split each heart into quarters. Include the bok choy into the dumpling water and cook for 3-5 mins. Don’t overcook, otherwise it will be rubbery and tough to chew! Take out of the boiling water and set aside.
  3. In your serving bowl, add a few pinches of japanese fish seasoning, I forgot what it is called but I’m sure Kayoko knows. It is made out of fish and is delicious in seasoning. Also add a few tablespoons of soy sauce, a tablespoon or so of sugar and spoon some of the hot boiling water that is cooking the dumplings. The hot water will help disolve the japanese fish pellet seasoning and the sugar. Optional step: Add very finely minced raw garlic to the bottom of the bowl. Again, the hot water will cook partially cook the garlic.
  4. In a separate pan, beat an egg and fry it up with a little bit of oil. Make sure it is a flat sheet and cut it up in the pan with the spatula. Set aside.
  5. After the dumplings are done, spoon the dumpligs and pasta water into the bowl to the top.
  6. Add the baby bok choy, the chopped up egg, and if desired, tear up some seasoned sushi nori and green onions and add to the top.
  7. Finish the soup off with a tiny drop of sesame oil. A little goes a long way, if you add too much it will overpower the soup.

5 Easy Steps to Pot Sticker Dumplings

  1. Heat some oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add the frozen pot stickers and let the bottoms brown for 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water mixed with a generous pinch of flour. This will help to create the “crust” on the bottom of the pan. Throw the water into the pan and put a lid on. You will hear it sizzle.
  3. Wait for 5-8 minutes. Don’t check on it too early!
  4. Prepare the dipping sauce. Soy sauce, sugar, vinegar (I like rice wine vinegar), sesame oil, green onions.
  5. Take the pot stickers out and plate.

I heart dumplings and I hope you will too!

$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 11 & 12

April 4, 2007

$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Prologue
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 1 & 2
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 3, 4 & 5
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 6 & 7
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Midway Meditation
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 8, 9 & 10

Monday 4/2

Total Spent: $0

LUNCH–> $0

Fumiko and Kayoko Lunch Club. Fumiko brought leftovers from her Malaysian dinner in Chinatown on Sunday night. I’ve been to this place with her and Jorge before– seriously the best Malaysian food (i don’t have such an extensive knowledge of Malaysian food, but this place was THE spot). it is hidden in this little alleyway between Elizabeth and Bowery. it’s a great little secret– i don’t even know what it’s called!


i’m feeling like hell, so i went home early and went straight to bed (wait, i blogged too, apparently…). just had a congee-like dish of white rice and egg. warms the soul when you are sick.


Tuesday 4/3
Total Spent: $1

–> $1

two bananas and an orange from my Fruit Stand Man.

LUNCH–> $0

my fridge is literally empty at the moment, so what did i do? i went through my freezer when i woke up this morning. this is what i found:

thank goodness for Trader Joe’s. i bought this stuff probably about a month ago– always so smart to have Trader Joe’s frozen foods stashed away for emergency meals. ALWAYS. this Thai green bean dish is a relatively new item i think, at TJ’s– at least i had never seen it before.

Nasi Goreng, an Indonesian rice dish– i had always been curious about this but never bought it because i always ended up with the Biriyani instead (the BEST). i finally got this i remember, because they were out of the Biriyani (the TJ’s in Union Square is the most poorly stocked place EVER! sometimes i walk out with literally, nothing. it’s maddening).

so literally, all you need to do with both these dishes is put them in a frying pan with a little bit of oil. that’s IT. no water, no spices, no nothing. you open the bag, discard beans and rice over the pan, et voila!, you have both dishes finished in 10 minutes. it’s miraculous- something you can do even at 8 in the morning, i promise.

and just as i thought, these dishes went very well together. the snowpeas, carrots and mushrooms in the Nasi Goreng tasted fresh considering they had been frozen; and the green beans were crispy. the sauce for the green beans wasn’t too salty, a light soy flavor, with some bite to it.

this lunch was assembled under 10 minutes, cost under $5, is vegetarian, and there was enough for about 3 meals. Trader Joe’s, i salute you.


had to go to a lecture at Columbia. the second i walked onto the campus, i was transported back to my college days– the frenzy of learning, the uncompromised idealism, the palpable academic synergy. i was nostalgic for a hot second, and then the rush ended– i am no longer a part of that world.

but god, remember college? being broke and hungry all the time and then blowing your money on really outlandish activities and everything when you actually had it? wait… not much has changed, has it? pretty depressing if you think about it. i may be totally financially independent now, but i still spend my money in ridiculous ways like i used to in my college days. sigh…

ok, so anyways, the lecture: disappointing. however, there was a SUSHI reception afterwards. man, oh man, what a delightful surprise– so happy i somehow stayed strong and made it through the bore-a-thon lecture.

there is nothing less attractive than watching the hungry masses descend upon free food, so here are a few pointers to make it look like you are NOT there just for the food:

– observe, and wait until the initial crowd dies down and (finally) leaves the food table– although this may take a while, you DON’T want to be a part of that ugly scene

– hang back and have a few drinks: usually, people are so preoccupied with getting their grubby hands on the food, that the bar is totally deserted. take advantage– free alcohol is just as exciting as free food

– work the crowd: take your drink and talk to people you recognize (better to get the talking/ schmoozing out of the way BEFORE you start eating)

– NEVER follow the servers with the passed hors d’oeuvres around. BIG NO NO!!!

buon appetito!!! there’s nothing like a free sushi dinner when you are living on $100 for 2 weeks!

$1 + $83.25 (Day 1-10 total) = $84.25

$100 – $84.25= $15.75


Frozen Peas Cure Cancer

March 20, 2007

…well, not quite. but research centers should look into this cause seriously, frozen peas seem to remedy all sorts of things: icing sprained ankles (been there many a time), making a batch of soup when you are sick, and of course, keeping your thermostat cold.


when i looked up in Fumiko and Jorge’s hallway last night as i was leaving, i saw this and was completely bewildered. i initially thought that it was an art project of sorts (must be an artist’s political statement, duh). we all looked at each other with confused looks on our faces, until Fumiko figured out that it was there to keep the thermostat cold, so the heat never stops generating. A-HA! GENIUS! once again, that inconspicuous bag of frozen peas you bought 2 years ago saves the day– keeping us warm during the cold winter months.

frozen peas, we salute you.


UPDATE: i was just talking to my co-worker, Dawn, who told me that SHE and her boyfriend Karl practically INVENTED this ingenius pea trick to cool down the thermostat. turns out that she is good friends with people who live in Fumiko’s building, and she told them about this- hence, there were frozen peas on the thermostat last night. isn’t it a small world???

Broccoli and Tuna Yumminess in 5 Minutes

March 11, 2007

here’s something i make that is VERY quick, healthy, tasty and also makes for a good lunch.

steam broccoli for about 3-5 minutes, more or less. keep poking at it to get it cooked to your desire– oversteamed broccoli is the worst.

drain broccoli and run it under cold water.

open up a can of tuna (for me, it’s gotta be packed in olive oil. this Genova brand one is only $0.99 at Trader Joe’s and is a decent substitute for the canned tuna of Italy and Spain – the BEST, but the imported cans here are too expensive).

tuna goes on top of broccoli. grind fresh pepper on top, and sprinkle with fleur de sel (my friend Fumiko brought this stuff above back from France for me. it’s better than MSG, i swear). buon apetito! *k*

Vietnamese Floating Market

March 8, 2007

My little brother has been galavanting around South East Asia for months, and we don’t know when he’s coming back. He took these pictures in Vietnam, at a floating market on the Mekong Delta. Don’t you just love the way they hang all their produce up on a pole on their boat to show what they’re selling? Beautiful!