<![CDATA[Food Catalogue - Blog]]>Fri, 11 Dec 2015 12:00:14 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Ramen Rocks!]]>Fri, 04 Dec 2015 23:37:20 GMThttp://foodcatalogue.weebly.com/blog/ramen-rocksRamen is a cheap and easy meal to make, but it can get boring after eating it a million times. As a lover of ramen, I've come up with ways to spruce it up over the years so that it's not the same, boring thing every time. Here are a few different ways I like to enjoy my ramen.

1. Poach an egg in it.
Just crack an egg into the pot during the last 1-2 minutes of cooking time. Once you serve the ramen, you can pop the yolk, which will make the broth much richer.
2. Add a slice of cheese to spicy ramen
This will give the broth a creamy look and flavor. It will also make the broth seem a little less spicy.
3. Add hot pepper sauce
Try different hot sauces to see what you like. This one is my favorite. It will make your ramen spicy and flavorful.
4. Garnish with meat and vegetables
Throw whatever extra vegetables or meat into your bowl. I usually like to put bok choy and sliced chicken breast or sliced Chinese sausage. 

What's your favorite way to enjoy your ramen? Let me know in the comments below! I always like to try new things!
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<![CDATA[Thanksgiving Dinner]]>Mon, 30 Nov 2015 16:59:50 GMThttp://foodcatalogue.weebly.com/blog/thanksgiving-dinnerThis year, I spent Thanksgiving in Boston with my sisters. Usually, my mom does the majority of the cooking, so this year, all of the work was up to us. We went shopping the day before for all of our supplies. We made plans to make some turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, salad, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie. On Thursday morning, we made a list of everything we needed to cook during the day while watching the Macy's Day Parade. For first time Thanksgiving chefs, I think we did a pretty good job.  Here are our results! Hope you all had a spectacular Thanksgiving full of gratitude, family, and food!
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<![CDATA[Dumplings: A Shared Tradition]]>Tue, 10 Nov 2015 03:39:35 GMThttp://foodcatalogue.weebly.com/blog/dumplings-a-shared-tradition
If you visit any Chinese restaurant in the U.S., dumplings are one of the items that you can be sure to find on the menu. They are beloved by many people, both those who are familiar with Chinese cuisine and those who are new to it, and for a good reason. Dumplings are delicious and easy to eat. In addition, they are a great dish for people who have never tried Chinese food before and are unsure of what to expect. In fact, I have so many friends that love dumplings, that many of them have asked me to teach them how to make their own dumplings at home. The recipe you'll find below is the recipe I have given to all of my friends and is a recipe that has been shared with people all over the world.

On the surface, dumplings seem like a very simple dish, just some meat wrapped into a tiny piece of dough, right? Wrong! Dumplings have a long and interesting history that is rooted in Chinese culture and traditions. Dumplings, or 餃子 (Jiaozi), originated in Northern China where the diet is much more flour based than rice based, as it is in Central and Southern China.  Traditionally, they were eaten only during Chinese New Year because most Chinese peasants could not afford to eat such rich and delicate foods year-round. People now eat dumplings throughout the year, but they are still specifically prepared for the Chinese New Year because they have traditional tidings of good luck and riches.  Eating dumplings during the New Year are thought to bring good fortune for the coming year for two auspicious reasons. First of all, the shape of a dumpling is similar to a golden ingot which was used as currency in China until the 20th century. Secondly, the Chinese word for dumpling, 餃子 (Jiaozi), has the same pronunciation as the Chinese word for ancient paper money,  交子 (Jiaozi). As a result, Chinese families like to prepare and eat dumplings at the beginning of each year as tidings of prosperity for the rest of the year. 

My dad has a lot of memories of helping his mom make dumplings for dinner guests. My paternal grandfather was a diplomat for the Taiwanese government. As a result, my father spent many of his childhood years moving around the world with his family on different diplomatic assignments. From the age of 8 to the age of 18, my dad and his family spent time in different African countries like Sierra Leone and Milawi as ambassadors. During this time, my grandfather would spend the day with government officials in the office and would then invite them over for dinner to experience authentic Chinese cuisine prepared by my grandmother. The opportunity for African officials to experience homemade Chinese food during the 1960's was rare, so my grandmother always made sure to prepare delicious and easy to eat dishes. Dumplings were one of these dishes. My father has told me that he would always be recruited to help my grandmother make the dumplings because it is such a labor-intensive dish to make from scratch. While my grandmother prepared the meat filling for the dumplings, my father would be at the other end of the table mixing all of the ingredients needed to make the dough. When they were both finished with their respective duties, they would begin wrapping. Together, the two of them created a little assembly line. While my father rolled small chunks of dough into perfectly round wrappers, my grandmother would fill and wrap a dumpling. They would repeat this process until hundreds of dumplings had been made. The dumplings that my grandmother and my father made together were always a hit with the government officials and were made on many occasions.

Dumplings can be made in a number of different ways. Traditionally, the filling for Chinese dumplings is made from pork and/or beef. Additionally, vegetarian dumplings can be made with a tofu, vegetable, or egg filling. The wheat-based wrapper is also traditionally handmade from dough. However, many companies now make packaged dumpling skins that are available in most Chinese markets and even in some American grocery stores. These skins are what my family now uses to make our dumplings on Chinese New Year because they are much more convenient and just as tasty.

The actual wrapping of a dumpling is probably the most difficult part of making a dumpling for someone who has never done it before. However, the process is very easy after you do it once. There are multiple ways to seal the edges of a dumpling. The easiest way is to simply fold the wrapper in half and press firmly down around all of the edges until the dough adheres to itself. As a child, I was taught to use a crimping method that keeps the dumpling in a pretty crescent shape. However, this method is a little more difficult. If you want to see how I wrap a dumpling, please watch the video below. Regardless of how you choose to wrap your dumplings, the secret to making sure they don't fall apart is to "paint" the outer ring of the dumpling wrapper with a raw egg mixture, to create a natural glue.
Credit: tastypursuits

My family uses the same dumpling recipe that my grandmother used when they were in Africa with the exception of store bought wrappers. For the filling, we combine ground pork, ground beef, thinly sliced scallions, diced water chestnuts, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, sesame oil, and an egg. My grandmother used scallions instead of the more traditional Chinese garlic chives because they were not available in Africa. 
If you would like to make your own dumplings, check out my family's recipe below! Once you become more confident in your skills, you can put your own spin on the dish or try out different variations of the filling like substituting scallions with napa cabbage. 

Chinese Dumpling Recipe

Chinese Dumplings

·         1 package dumpling wrappers

·         1 lb. ground pork

·         ½ lb. ground beef

·         2 eggs

·         15 stems of fresh scallion

·         1 can of water chestnuts

·         3 cloves garlic

·         2 tablespoons of finely chopped or grated ginger

·         1 tablespoon sesame oil

·         3 teaspoons salt

·         ½ teaspoon pepper

Wash and clean all of the vegetables. Slice the scallions as thinly as possible. They should be almost translucent. Mince the garlic. Dice up the water chestnuts so that they are very small, yet large enough to provide some crunchy texture. Whisk the eggs (scrambled sounds like you cooked them) and then set aside 1/3 of the egg mixture. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix everything thoroughly. Don't be afraid to use your hands to ensure that the filling is mixed evenly. 

Once everything is mixed, you are ready to start wrapping. Use the egg mixture that you set aside earlier to line the edges of the dough to ensure that your dumpling won't fall apart later. If you need assistance wrapping, please refer to the video above. Place each wrapped dumpling on a well floured board, ensuring that none of the dumplings are touching one another to avoid sticking. 

When you are finished wrapping, fill a large pot half way with water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, cover, and wait for the water to boil. When the water is at a rolling boil, use a spoon to stir the water while adding dumplings. This will keep the dumplings from sticking from one another. Do not add more than 15 dumplings to the water at a time. Wait for the water to come to a rolling boil again. Add 1 cup of cold water and wait for it to come to a boil again. Repeat this with one more cup of cold water. When the water comes to a boil for the third time, use a slotted spoon to remove the dumplings. Drizzle them with sesame oil as soon as they come out to avoid sticking. Repeat this process until you have cooked all of your dumplings.

Tell me about your experience making your own dumplings or your favorite restaurant to go to for dumplings in the comments below. I'd love to try what you guys love if I can!!

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<![CDATA[My Actual Food Catalogue]]>Tue, 10 Nov 2015 03:25:17 GMThttp://foodcatalogue.weebly.com/blog/my-actual-food-catalogue​There are a few cities in the U.S. that I have either lived in or frequented many times. Over time, I've had the awesome opportunity to try many restaurants in these cities. Here are some of my favorite places to eat out at in these cities.

Rochester

I was born and raised in Rochester, which is a mid-sized city in Upstate New York. Rochester is mostly populated by Irish, Polish, and Italian Americans whose families arrived in America in the early 1900's. However, there is also a decent amount of Asian immigrants who moved to Rochester when companies like Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch & Lomb were growing in the late 80's. There are tons of family owned restaurants that are delicious in the area. Here are some of my favorites:
  • Cantonese House - a great spot to go on the weekend for dim sum. In Rochester, this is the best dim sum joint and usually gets just crowded enough to take on the exciting and magnetic spirit of a dim sum restaurant in Chinatown. The venue is also great for large banquets and parties if you're looking for a place to hold a traditional Chinese banquet. Try the deep fried cuttlefish at dim sum and the Hong Kong style pan-fried noodles with seafood. Delicious!
  • SEA Restaurant - my favorite pho joint. This used to be a hidden gem a few years ago, but has recently gained popularity as more people realize how amazing it is! But don't worry, it hasn't lost anything in taste or quality as its popularity increases. I love this place because their pho is really well made and authentic. In addition, service is always great and it is very well priced. My favorite thing to order here is the brisket and rare steak pho. 
  • Yummy Garden Hot Pot - I love hot pot and I was absolutely overjoyed when a hot pot restaurant opened up in Rochester. Hot pot here is always a hit with any crowd and the flavor profile of the broth here is incredibly deep. The only word I can think of to describe the taste of the chicken broth is "umami" and I think that speaks louder than any other description. Try the Herbal Chicken Pot with the Seafood Combo.

Los Angeles


Although I grew up on the East Coast, all of my extended family lives on the West Coast, so I spent much of my childhood vacationing in Los Angeles and San Diego to visit with my relatives. Los Angeles has been dubbed the world's first "ethnoburb" which is a relatively new geographical concept, so allow me to explain. In it's most simple form, an ethnoburb is a suburb that has both residential and business areas mixed within it and that features the large presence of a particular ethnic minority. In Los Angeles, many large suburbs within the San Gabriel Valley like Arcadia, Pasadena and Monterey Park, fit perfectly into the "ethnoburb" model where the residential and business areas are dominated by many Chinese immigrants. My family lives within this area, so I spent many summers and Christmases in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Over time, I became familiar with the many delicious places to eat and eventually gained a taste for my favorite joints. Here are some of the best in my opinion:
  • Mandarin Noodle Deli: This restaurant makes food unlike anything I've ever tasted before. I visited this place for the first time probably about 10 years ago now and since then, this place is my number 1 place to visit when I'm in L.A. This is a family owned business and the owners are super friendly. My family has gotten to know them relatively well over the years and they never fail to treat us very well. Sometimes, they even bring out a surprise dish on the house for us to try. It's really hard for me to pick my favorites off of their menu so you should try it all if you have a chance, but get started with their green onion pancake beef rolls, cold cucumber salad, and pan fried dumplings. Scrumptious! 
  • China Islamic Restaurant: Have you ever had Chinese Halal food? Well now you can! This is a very unique and interesting restaurant as it serves Chinese food that abides by Halal dietary restrictions. You won't find any pork on the menu here and the meats are butchered according to religious specifications. All of that aside though, this fusion restaurant is delicious and has been a long-time favorite among my family, especially my grandfather. This specific restaurant specializes in northern Chinese food. So, you'll want to try the sesame bread and the lamb stew. 
  • The Boiling Crab: This is the only chain on this list, but that should speak to how much I like this restaurant. This seafood restaurant's claim to fame is how they make steam their crab legs. They toss your seafood inside a bag with a whole slew of cajun spices and then steam your meal directly in the same bag. This leads to a hot meal that is bursting with flavor. As a precursory warning, if you go, get ready to get dirty! This restaurant is no joke. I like the Dungeness crab legs with all of the spices with corn and fries. ​

Binghamton

I go to college at Binghamton University, which is one of New York's state schools. I did my undergraduate work here and I chose to return again for a graduate program, so I'm currently in my fifth year at Binghamton. While Binghamton is a relatively small American city, it still has tons of great locally owned places to eat. As a broke college student with a penchant for good food, I still wanted to try everything that Binghamton has to offer. So, through a combination of mooching off of my parents when they visit and finding out which restaurants have student discounts or specials, I've been able to try everything that I've wanted to check out. If you're a student in the area, it never hurts to ask if there's a student discount. Most of the owners of these places are super friendly and accommodating of students!
  • ​Remlik's: I ate at Remlik's for the first time with my family because I found a groupon online and I wanted to try it out with the people I love. This restaurant was an instant hit with my family and I! The food here is upscale and the dining atmosphere is extremely pleasant. And, since it's an oyster bar, there are tons of great seafood options on the menu. Since our first visit, I've been back almost every time my family has visited Binghamton for the weekend. My favorites are the carrot ginger soup, the Chilean sea bass, and the beef on weck. Fun fact, Remlik's is "Kilmer" spelled backwards, which is the name of the building in which this restaurant is located. 
  • The Old Union Hotel: I only recently discovered this restaurant, but what a discovery it has been! I first heard about this place from friends who told me that their wings were the best in town. Like a fool, I put off visiting this restaurant for a whole semester, telling myself that the wings probably weren't that good...boy was I wrong! Since my first visit, I've been to this restaurant almost weekly because their wings are only $.50 on Mondays! I love this place because their wings are perfectly cooked and crispy and there's 10 different sauces to choose from. My favorite though is the medium, which is just spicy enough to give you a kick without killing you. Also, their eggplant fries are incredible for a side!
  • Tom and Marty's: So this isn't really a restaurant, but this is my favorite bar in Binghamton that also serves some kick-ass bar food. Tom and Marty's is well known among the students in Binghamton. The owners, alumni of Binghamton themselves, cater directly to the students. Prices are great and they have tons of game nights where you can win free food and drink while enjoying a fun night with friends. If you ever visit, go with a group of friends and split a beer tower with a plate of nachos, some wings, and a couple of baskets of fries.  

New York City

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<![CDATA[Popiah :  A Family Tradition]]>Tue, 27 Oct 2015 01:02:49 GMThttp://foodcatalogue.weebly.com/blog/popiah-a-family-traditionPoPiah Filling

One of my favorite memories from my childhood is eating PoPiah during large family gatherings and special occasions. Making PoPiah is a huge deal in my family because it takes so much time and effort to make. Because of this, whenever we made it, we would make a lot of it and we would eat until we were bursting. 

PoPiah is a fresh spring roll that originated in Fujian Province in China, but over time, the popularity of PoPiah has spread to other countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Taiwan (Chin). According to my mother, one can find the original version in the city of Xiamen which is located on the southeast coast of Fujian province. The name itself is an Amoy word that is a direct translation of the Chinese word 春捲 (chunjuan), which means spring roll in English. As the name indicates, PoPiah is traditionally eaten in the Spring and around the time of the spring harvest. It is also eaten during Chinese New Year to represent tidings of a bountiful harvest. 

My mother has often told me about her memories of eating PoPiah as a child many. For her, eating PoPiah has always reminded her of her childhood because making and eating PoPiah in her home was always a large, family occasion. Her family was not wealthy when she was young, so it was an even bigger deal if her parents had enough money to buy all of the ingredients for PoPiah. Usually, this would only happen once a year during Chinese New Year. They would savor PoPiah together to celebrate the New Year and also to welcome any relatives that were visiting for the holiday. My mother’s job was to help with chopping all of the vegetables. My mom, her sisters, and my grandmother would sit in the kitchen for hours, meticulously cutting up pounds of vegetables so that they were tiny enough and delicate enough to be used for PoPiah. If the pieces were not small enough, my grandmother would send her back to the cutting board to re-do everything until it was perfect. In addition, my mom always got to crush up the fried milkfish to create the fish bits. She would sit outside with a stone and the fish inside a bag and pound away until all of the pieces were tiny enough to be sprinkled into the PoPiah. When everything was ready, her whole family would sit together with all of the PoPiah ingredients laid out and everyone would make their own PoPiah.  While they were eating, my grandparents would tell my mom and her siblings about their own memories of eating PoPiah from street vendors in Xiamen.

In general, PoPiah is a bit like a Chinese burrito in that it consists of a main filling that is rolled into a soft wheat-based skin, along with a wide variety of condiments and extras. The ingredients of the filling and the types of condiments and extras vary depending on what type of PoPiah you are trying to make. My family has always made PoPiah in the style that is popular in Xiamen because my maternal grandparents lived in Xiamen before they immigrated to the Philippines in the 1950's. 

Traditionally, PoPiah skin is made by rubbing a ball of wet dough made of wheat flour, salt, and water against the surface of a hot pan. The excess dough is then removed by dabbing the surface of the dough with the wet dough ball. This creates a thin film of dough that is thin enough to be delicate yet elastic enough to hold the contents of the PoPiah when fully cooked (Chin). However, my family just purchases store bought spring roll wrappers because it is much easier and more convenient.

The filling that my mom makes consists of very thinly sliced snow peas, cabbage, carrots, fried tofu, jicama, and leeks. In addition, my mom adds tiny shrimps and ground meat. After everything is all chopped up, they are stir fried together. The making of the filling is the hardest part because it takes a several hours to slice everything up. 
















Along with the filling, there are several condiments and extras that go into a PoPiah. In my house, we add lettuce leaves, fried seaweed flakes, steamed bean sprouts, shredded omelette, parsley, dried and fried milkfish bits, and crushed peanuts with sugar. In addition to the dry condiments, there is also an array of sauces that can be added for flavor. In my family’s recipe, we always use Hoisin sauce, Sriracha sauce, and ketchup.​

If you are familiar with traditional PoPiah, you might have noticed that some of the ingredients my family uses are a bit unconventional. The fried seaweed flakes are a condiment that is used by people from Xiamen specifically. The addition of the seaweed is so unique to the area that my mother has never been able to buy this form of seaweed in any Chinese store outside of Xiamen. So, whenever a relative goes back to Xiamen, they bring some seaweed back for the family that can be used during PoPiah parties. The dried and fired milkfish bits are also unique to my family recipe. Traditionally, dried and fried fish bits are added to PoPiah, but since my mother grew up in the Philippines, milkfish was the most available type of fish. Milkfish is not as commonly eaten in the United States, but in the Philippines, where it is the national fish, it is commonly consumed in various types of dishes. As a result, my mother grew up eating milkfish in her PoPiah, so it is now the type of fish we use in our PoPiah recipe. The last ingredient that is slightly unconventional is the use of Ketchup as a sauce. My family started using Ketchup as an optional sauce when my sisters and I were young. Sriracha sauce was too spicy for us, but we still wanted to use a sauce. So, my parents started giving us ketchup to put inside our PoPiah and it worked well. Even now, everyone in my family likes adding some Ketchup to their PoPiah. 



Regardless of whether you're trying PoPiah for the first time or if it's a beloved family tradition that your own family has adapted to their preferences, eating PoPiah is always a fun and delicious occasion. 
If you want to make your own PoPiah, check out my family's recipe below!

PoPiah Recipe



PoPiah

The filling:

·         3 tablespoons vegetable oil

·         1 box soft tofu

·         1/4 cup bamboo shoots, julienne

·         2/3 carrots, julienne

·         1 cup jicama, peeled and julienne

·         1/4 cup leek, julienne

·         1 1/2 cup snow peas, julienne

·         2 1/2 cup cabbage, julienne

·         1 lb ground meat

·         1 lb small salad shrimp

·         1 tablespoon minced garlic

·         6 tablespoons salt


The extras and condiments

·         5 tablespoons vegetable oil

·         1 lb fresh Romaine lettuce leaves

·         2 eggs, beaten

·         1 lb mung bean sprouts

·         1/4 cup parsley, minced

·         6 tablespoons peanuts, chopped

·         4 tablespoons sugar

·         1 cup Xiamen style dried seaweed

·         1 dried Milkfish


Additional necessities:

·         1 package fresh spring roll wrappers

·         Sriracha sauce

·         Hoisin sauce 

·         Ketchup


For the filling: In a large saute pan, heat the oil. Add the garlic and tofu. Cook for 3 minutes until one side has a crisp fry to it. Flip the tofu and cook for another 3 minutes so that the other side gets fried. Remove the tofu from the pan. Pat all of the vegetables dry to eliminate as much moisture as possible. Add more oil to the existing pan and add the garlic, cabbage, jicama, snow peas, carrots, bamboo shoots, and leek. Add the and salt. Continue to cook over medium heat until the vegetables are soft and thoroughly cooked, about 20 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan. Add more oil to the existing pan and add the ground meat and the shrimp. Stir fry the meat until it is cooked, about 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and tofu back into the pan and mix everything together. Add salt to taste if necessary.

For the extras: Wash the Romaine lettuce and dry it with a towel. Set aside for later
Heat a large nonstick pan over medium high and spray with cooking oil. Pour a very thin layer of the scrambled egg into pan and move it around the pan while it is still runny to create as thin of a layer as possible. Remove the egg from the pan when it is fully cooked.  Roll the thin layers of egg up and cut them into thin shreds. Set aside for later.
Steam the mung bean sprouts in 1 cup of water until it is cooked but still crisp. Remove from pot and set aside.
Mix the sugar and the peanuts together until they are well mixed. Set aside for later.
Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a heated nonstick pan. Pour the seaweed flakes into the hot oil and stir-fry until they are crisp and fragrant. Remove from pan and place on top of a paper towel to drain. Set aside for later.
Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a heated nonstick pan. Place the dried fish into the oil and fry on each side for 3 minutes each. Remove from pan and place on top of a paper towel to drain. When the fish is clean of excess oil, place it into a plastic bag and pound until it is completely crushed and can be sprinkled onto the PoPiah. Set aside for later.

To wrap the PoPiah: place 1 wrapper on a large plate. Put 1 leaf of lettuce in the middle of the wrapper, situated diagonally. Squeeze the PoPiah filling with 2 spoons to rid the filling of any excess liquid and place as much as you would like on top of the lettuce leaf. Garnish your PoPiah as you would like with all of the different extras and condiments. Spread a thin line of sriracha and hoisin along the sides of the wrapper. This will act as a "glue" that will hold your PoPiah together. To wrap the PoPiah, fold two opposite corners toward the middle of the wrapper with your pointer fingers. With your thumbs, fold the corner on top of the PoPiah down over the other two corners and roll the PoPiah towards you while using the sauce around the outside of the wrapper as glue. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and ingredients.

If you make this recipe at home, comment below and let me know what you think!

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