Archives for category: food

One good thing about large Chinese supermarkets is that they often have a “hot, prepared foods” section. This is where they prepare and sell vast quantities of fried rice, steamed buns, soups, stir-fried dishes, and many different types of dim sum. And, if you go later in the day when it is near closing time, they usually put whatever food they have left out on sale to get rid of it all.

It’s not often that I like the stuff that comes out on sale in the evening, since it’s usually the stuff that doesn’t sell as well. But yesterday, they had small tubs of 낙지볶음 (nakji bokkeum) on the sale table, and I could not resist but take one. I had not tried it before, but I did know that it was a Korean side dish, and since I’ve so far liked all the Korean side dishes that I’ve tried, I was pretty confident that my $2 would be well-spent. Furthermore, I had no qualms about eating tiny octopuses in a spicy sauce (낙지볶음 is basically stir-fried octopus); being from a seafood-loving family, I’ve consumed octopus (and squid!) countless times.

I don’t usually eat much rice, but I did last night, because those octopuses (or octopii?) were just so good. They were a bit too salty and spicy to be eaten alone in large amounts, but that is perfectly balanced out by a small bowl of rice. I have to say, while Koreans may have to wash a lot of dishes after every meal (they serve a lot of side dishes in ADDITION to a main dish, and everyone has their own separate bowls for rice too), they certainly have found out how to make bland rice really tasty.

The 낙지볶음 was so good that my parents and I consumed the entire box before I remembered to take a picture of it for this post first! What  a shame. However, it did look something like this, except it was slathered with generous amounts of sesame seeds and sesame oil, and it was accompanied with some crunchy, julienned carrots and pickled daikon radishes:

낙지볶음 (nakjibokkeum), stir-fried octopus. A spicy and very tasty Korean side dish.

Gosh, just writing about it makes me hungry for some 낙지볶음 right now. Maybe I’ll go get some more tonight.

(Image courtesy of nawayo.com)

I have not had chocolate candy bars for a long time.

There was a time when I stuffed my face with cookies and Tim Bits (doughnut holes from Canadian coffee shop Tim Hortons, for those who don’t know), but that stopped when I started caring about my health and weight in general.

So when I decided to take a walk down my gustatory memory lane today by enjoying a Coffee Crisp bar, let’s just say I had a knock-out punch from the deathly amount of sugar packed in that 50 gram bar.

A Coffee Crisp chocolate bar. A wafer containing coffee creme surrounded by a thin layer of chocolate. However, I only tasted the sugar.How on earth did I enjoy these things in the past? Really, you can’t taste anything besides the sugar! Sure, there’s that hint of coffee goodness, and a suggestion that there is actually chocolate somewhere in the coating, but the first thing that hit me was the sugar. Halfway through the bar, I didn’t even want to finish it — a shocking statement from someone who loves her chocolate and sweet things so much.

Perhaps I’ve been sensitized to large amounts of sugar since I’ve stopped regularly consuming junk food, or maybe it’s because I’ve grown to like dark chocolate too much to revert to candy bars. In any case, I don’t think I’ll be having another Coffee Crisp (or any candy bar, in fact) for a very long time.

(Image courtesy of candywarehouse.com)

i suddenly had the craving for a jos louis.
O.o

totally random.

i was taking notes on the “no-crossing branches constraint” for my syntax course, and all of a sudden, i had a faint impression of the taste of a jos louis in my mouth.

(well, actually, not in my mouth. the sensation of taste is experienced in your brain; we just think it’s in our mouth, because it seems logical to us that the sensation would be caused by whatever we just shoved into our oral cavity.

in any case, the fact that i tasted a cream-filled chocolate cake with a hardened  milk chocolate shell without actually having such a delectable concoction in my mouth is proof enough that taste is an illusion by the brain.)

weird.

especially because i haven’t eaten a jos louis in years. (or maybe not especially so. perhaps time has made me miss it unconsciously.)

anyways.
back to the wonderful world of mathematically describing the structure of sentences.

Having consumed three steamed potatoes for breakfast and a sizeable chunk of salmon with a side of rice for lunch, I wasn’t particularly fond of eating anything heavy for dinner today. So, instead of eating what my mom was cooking up (pasta, mixed with sauteed bok choy and chicken strips), I decided to make my own dinner: A refreshing pasta salad, with cold milk and raw red bell peppers. Yum.

Bell pepper pasta salad, with cold milk, black pepper, and Diana Sauce.

 

Bell pepper pasta salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • 1-2 small fresh red bell peppers, chopped into bite-size chunks
  • milk, freshly cracked pepper, and Diana sauce to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook your pasta. Dried pasta doubles in size when cooked, so if you want two cups of cooked pasta, dump one cup dried pasta into your boiling water. Boil for 7-10 minutes, depending on how chewy you want your pasta. I don’t add salt to my boiling water, because I don’t like salty foods.
  2. Drain your pasta. Run it quickly under cold water and drain again. You don’t want your pasta heating up your milk or bell peppers.
  3. Mix in the chopped bell peppers. Add as much or little milk and pepper as you want.
  4. At this point, feel free to put any condiment in you want. I like using Diana Sauce, a thick, sweet, full-bodied BBQ sauce. I used the Gourmet Maple flavour.

And you’re done! :D That was fast, wasn’t it? A perfect meal for someone on the go, for a hot summer night, or perhaps someone who has had too many heavy meals already in the day.

You know, I’m beginning to think I don’t have an obsession with cereal (although the five boxes of cereal in the cupboard suggests otherwise) — I probably obsessed with adding cold milk to everything! Believe it or not, I’ve actually had instant noodles with cold milk. (It actually doesn’t taste bad, believe it or not. Strain the noodles, then add milk. You will need to add some other seasoning, because when you strained the noodles, you lost all the MSG that gave them its flavour.)

I should’ve called my blog “experimental milk” instead. XD

I don’t usually buy anything to drink when I’m out, because I always bring a water bottle from home with me. But, while I was out exploring the city with my transit pass, my water bottle ran dry, and so I went in search of something to drink in Wal-Mart. (Yeah, I happened to be in a mall. Which, sadly, had no water fountains, as far as I knew.)

I ended up purchasing Aquafina’s plus+ Vitamins 10 CAL. yumberry pomegranate, a vitamin-enhanced water only available in Canada at the moment . I didn’t choose this because I needed the vitamins (I eat enough veggies and whole grains to get my nutrients, thank you); rather, I bought it because it cost only $1 — the same amount that a regular, 500 mL bottle of re-filtered tap water would’ve cost me. “Why not spend that $1 on something new instead?” I reasoned. And besides, this bottle has 91 mL more liquid — my economics professor would tell me that this gives me more consumer surplus.

The nutrition information for this water sounded promising. (Well, actually, they called it “Medicinal Facts”, probably in an attempt to tap into the public’s general desire to be healthier these days. All it did for me was remind me of horrible bitter tasting liquids… So much for that marketing campaign.) For the entire bottle, you will consume:

  • Calories: 10
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g / 5%
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Vitamin C: 148 mg / 250% DV
  • Vitamin E: 7.8 mg / 80% DV
  • Vitamin B5: 5.3 mg / 80% DV
  • Vitamin B3: 5.0 mg / 20% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 0.7 mg / 40% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 2.3 mcg / 120% DV

A tasty drink with that many vitamins for only 10 calories and no sugar? It sounded too good to be true. I read on to the “Non-Medicinal Ingredients” list:

Water, erythritol, natural yumberry and pomegranate flavours, citric acid, xanthan gum, calcium lactate, potassium citrate, Reb A (PureVia brand natural pure stevia extract), modified corn starch, red colour, calcium phosphate dibasic, gum arabic, ginger extract, dandelion root extract.

…Wha? What is all this stuff doing in water? Water should not contain that many unpronounceable ingredients, nor should it contain xanthan gum or corn starch! (And it even dares to call itself a “natural health product”?) I was a bit hesitant to buy it after reading this, especially seeing the use of a non-sugar sweetener (I don’t trust any sweetener other than sugar, even if they say it’s an natural extract), but it was either this fancily-packaged and potentially tasty concoction, or a bottle of tap water. Let’s just say, there was little competition.

At first, I thought it tasted okay. Maybe I was just thirsty. Or maybe it did taste good. In any case, I could taste some kind of fruit flavour. However, after a few more sips, I began to recognize the off-taste that the artificial sweetener gave. Sure, it’s not asparatame, it’s not Splenda, but the sweetness just didn’t taste right. It left an odd aftertaste. I didn’t really want to finish the remaining half of the bottle, but I was thirsty. Although I was beginning to question whether the drink itself was causing me to be thirsty once I drained the bottle — why did I feel almost thirstier than before?

The label recommended that people 12 years and older should drink a bottle one to two times a day. I’m thinking, “Why should I fill myself with weird chemicals to get my vitamins, when I can eat real food?” Granted, a bottle of Aquafina plus+ does provide quite a lot of vitamins for very little calories, which is good for our weight- and health-conscious society, but how much of these vitamins do we actually absorb from such enhanced waters? A Google search yields conflicting results. What articles tend to agree on though is that we absorb nutrients better from real, solid food.

But I suppose this is a good substitute for those downing three Cokes a day, AND don’t mind the unusual taste of artificial sweeteners. After all, since you’re going to put so many man-made substances into yourself anyway, why not drink something that will somewhat nourish you instead?

My homemade kimchi! :D It's oh-so mouthwateringly tasty that I'm starting to feel hungry now!

Why buy kimchi from your local supermarket when you can make your own? You can never be sure if it was made hygienically and with quality ingredients, nor can you be sure that it suits your taste. Moreover, supermarket kimchi is insanely overpriced! A small container of kimchi (about a pound, or 454 g) can set you back $3 or $4. With that much money, you could easily make triple or quadruple that amount of kimchi yourself! Yes, it’s time-consuming, but it’s fun, especially if you are a foodie or are interested in experiencing a bit of Korean culture first-hand — after all, making kimchi seems to be a very common activity in many Korean households, not to mention that kimchi is one of the representative dishes of Korean cuisine.

Either way, once you learn how to make your own kimchi, you will never return to the generic supermarket kimchi! There is no turning back from homemade kimchi. Trust me.

Here, I teach you how to make the most common form of kimchi — napa cabbage kimchi. I developed this recipe by taking elements from various other kimchi recipes I found on the internet, and by doing a bit of experimentation myself. Once you’ve mastered napa cabbage kimchi, feel free to experiment with other vegetables, such as Korean radishes, cucumbers, broccoli — the list never ends!

Napa Cabbage Kimchi (배추김치) Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 head napa cabbage (about 4 lbs)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp fresh garlic, finely diced (less, if you don’t want your breath to stink as much after you eat kimchi)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp fresh ginger, finely diced (amount is also to your preference)
  • 1/4 to 3/4 cup Korean hot chili pepper flakes, or 고추가루 (you must use this; if you substitute this with another type of chili pepper powder, then you must figure out the proper amount yourself, as they may be much more/less spicy)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (if vegetarian, just omit; you can replace it with a dash of salt if you like, but that’s not necessary either)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and finely diced (choose a sweet apple, like the Red Delicious; we’re adding it for some natural sugars, as well as its flavour; you can substitute this with a pear, or a teaspoon of sugar)
  • salt, as needed

Special materials

  • A nonreactive pot to salt your cabbage leaves and mix them with sauce. By “nonreactive”, I mean that the material that the pot is made of must not react with the salt. High quality metal pots are usually okay, but to be safe, always use glass.
  • Clean glass jars with lids. I use old jam or pasta sauce jars, washed thoroughly. It takes about 3 to 4 jam jars to store all the kimchi you’re going to produce with this recipe.
  • Clean plastic gloves. Do not use the ones that you wear while washing clothes / mopping floors / cleaning dishes. Just, no. You’re making food here. Buy a new pair of gloves if you have to, and rinse them before sticking them into your kimchi!

Instructions

  1. Separate the cabbage’s leaves, one by one. Cut off any parts that are brown or have holes in them — these leaves aren’t as fresh, and won’t make for great kimchi.
  2. Submerge all the good cabbage leaves in a large container — a clean sink or large pot will do fine — filled with cold water. This is to help the salt draw out water from them later. You could skip this step and go straight to salting, but then it would take longer to salt. Up to you.
  3. Take all the leaves out and drain them. Rub some salt onto each leaf, as if you’re marinating meat. You only need to salt one side of the leaf though, since they’re so thin. Put more salt on the thicker parts of the leaves than the thinner parts. About two teaspoons of salt should be enough for one fairly large leaf. Stack the salted leaves in a large glass bowl.
  4. Now, you wait. You wait for the salt to work its magic. Leave everything alone for two hours. Then, drain off any liquid that accumulated at the bottom, flip the stack of leaves over (so that the bottom leaves aren’t soaked in liquid all the time), and let everything sit for another two hours.
  5. Rinse your cabbage in cold water three or four times. For the first two times, I usually just pour cold water into the pot of salted leaves, shuffle the leaves around, and drain. On the third time, I actually take each leaf out and rinse it in water; I do this because a lot of salt gets trapped between the compressed leaves if all you do is shove the stack of leaves around in a pot of cold water. On the fourth wash, all the leaves just get a quick rinse in the pot.
  6. Lightly squeeze the leaves to get any excess water off.
  7. Stack your cabbage leaves neatly. This should be easy to do, since they’ve shrunk in size and are not as stiff as before. Cut the leaves into 1-inch wide strips. Put them all back into the now-empty pot. *If you try a piece of the leaves now, you should find that they’re not really that salty, despite having been sitting in salt for four hours. They should only taste slightly salty…but not as salty as the fries you find at McDonald’s.
  8. In a bowl, mix the hot chili pepper flakes with enough water to make a smooth paste. It should be about as thick as ketchup — you don’t want it too runny. Add the finely diced garlic, ginger, and apple; fish sauce; and sugar. Mix well.
  9. Add the spicy paste to the pot of chopped cabbage leaves, and give your leaves a nice aromatic massage! I suggest you wear a pair of clean plastic gloves to do this, to prevent the chili pepper from burning you. Make sure all the leaves are well-coated with the paste; if you feel that you don’t have enough paste to go around, add a little bit of water to it. *At this point, feel free to try a bit of your kimchi! While fermented kimchi is good, fresh kimchi is just as good. Yum yum. Just make sure you don’t eat all of it, because you do want to let some of it ferment!
  10. Pack your kimchi pieces into clean glass jars. Press the leaves down as you go, to make sure there is as little air in between them as possible. Remember, when fermenting foods, oxygen is your enemy! It will allow bacteria to grow and kill your tasty project. Also, pour any liquid that collected at the bottom of the pot into your kimchi jar. This is kimchi brine — it can be an excellent soup base, but at the moment, it fills up any remaining air pockets between the leaves and prevents bacterial growth.
  11. Important: Do NOT fill the jars all the way to the top though — leave about one to two inches of extra room. More juice will continue to leak from the cabbage leaves during the fermentation process, and you do not want your kimchi jars to be overflowing.
  12. Put the lids on the jars, but don’t screw them on tightly. You want to let the carbon dioxide escape the jar; otherwise, the jar will explode. No oxygen will get into the jars as long as you don’t open the lids.
  13. Leave the jars at room temperature for one to two days, to speed up the fermentation process, before transferring them to the fridge. They’ll continue to ferment in the fridge, but much more slowly.

And that’s all! Feel free to eat your kimchi at any time! I find that it’s best after three or four days of fermenting, but it really depends on the temperature.

A piece of kimchi wrapped around a piece of rotisserie chicken = heavenly. As is kimchi fried rice. And kimchi sushi. And…

I’ve discovered that eating cookies with creme filling always requires some sort of work.

For example, eating Oreos requires pouring yourself a tall glass of milk and getting your fingers wet as you dip the deliciously unhealthy cylinders of sugar/flour/shortening into it. One should never eat Oreos without milk. In fact, I actually dislike Oreos without milk — they’re way too sweet that way.

But today, no milk or dunking was needed, as I was eating Fudgee-os. For those who don’t reside in Canada, these are basically Oreo cookies, but with a chocolate filling and a more chocolatey cookie. I find Fudgee-os awfully good…once the filling is scraped off. I’m not sure why I find the filling so disgusting — maybe it’s because of their stiff texture, or their mutated “chocolate” flavour, or the shocking amount of oil they leave on my fingers after touching them. Or perhaps it’s because it’s actually possible to peel the filling off the surface of the cookie with your fingers neatly, so that you have an almost dent-free perfect circle of sugar, shortening, and artificial flavour to…uh… Well, to throw away, in my case. I’m not sure what one would want to keep that stuff for, anyway. The fact that this “creme” can keep its shape so well proves that it’s not what it claims to be.

But then again, we can’t expect real, quality ingredients when we buy cheap, commercial cookies.

In any case, once the filling is removed, the Fudgee-o cookies actually taste wonderful — a crumbly texture matched with a slightly bitter chocolate taste. Sure, they’re no match for a bar of Lindt Excellence 70%, but they’re not bad when you just need something to nibble slowly on.

%d bloggers like this: