After work drinks

Most chefs need a drink after work.

If you are wondering why. Ritchie explains.

While a good 800 people line up to get into our work place after our dinner service.

We the cooks can't wait to get the hell out.

Usually staff drinks are held in front of the local 7-11 but thanks to Chef Shaggy and Chef Dan we have found the delights of frozen beer.

I know when you come come to Thailand you think it is cool to drink the local beers but trust me they are shit.

As shit as Heineken. So freezen the contents only adds to the pleasure. Especially as we build up to the end of the hot/dry season.

It's really hot here.

Bring on Songkran.

Spring madness

Fertility festival at Tagata Shrine, Aichi, takes place every year on March 15 when you can encounter phallus-shaped snacks.

In case you are wondering, they are chocolate-covered bananas.

...and okonomiyaki-coated frank.

source: さぁいばぁーきっず

I hope it is not about cannibalism.

Happy spring!
Fashion designer Karen Walker enjoyed her candlelit dinner at home, and TV3 newsreader Samantha Hayes spent an hour in the dark, thinking about the impact of her lifestyle on the climate.

Really NZ Herald?

...naked egg slice rolls get hip. Kind of attractive but unappealing I'm afraid. Below is possibly the scariest looking marzipan bunny I've ever seen. (All items pictured @ Rewe supermarkt, Brüsselerstrasse, Cologne)


Plain Rice and Pickle Misery

"Maki Itoh of Just Hungry shares advice for vegans in Japan—first off, to be careful because many traditional Japanese dishes use dashi, which is made with dried fish. "Just about the only things that are fairly sure to be dashi-free are plain rice and homemade pickles," she says (although she does share a recipe for vegan dashi). Looking towards non-traditional Japanese cuisine for vegan dishes may not be much easier. She suggests cooking for yourself if your stay is long enough (she shares recipes on Just Hungry and Just Bento), eating brown rice and whole wheat bread, and shares links to other vegan resources in Japan. Don't miss the comments from her readers for more suggestions on where and what to eat."


I'm sorry but I just find this really really sad and's just plain miserable. Vegan survival in Japan? Only vegans would go to Japan and have to think in survivalist terms. That one would end up cooking for themselves while on holiday in Japan is equally abhorrent. It makes me want to weep
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Bobby Jindal's Republican Response
Daily Show Full EpisodesEconomic CrisisPolitical Humor

Enormous Yuba

MySpace Codes

An old workmate of mine who goes by the Twitter pseudonym of MerceDeath posted the following update yesterday:
("Enormous Yuba, Dammn~!")

You know how milk sometimes gets a skin on top when it's heated - well, Yuba is the skin skimmed off the top of hot soya milk, containing the soy proteins in a concentrated and easily digestible form. When served fresh it is warm, a little bit slippery-soft, chewy, and savoury and can be eaten plain with a light dipping sauce. When dried it can be used in dishes both sweet (e.g. a mille-feuille made with strawberries and papery flakes of yuba) and savoury (e.g. as dim sum wrapper).

Yuba is delightful.

MySpace Codes

(By the way, the etymology of the name 'Yuba' seems strangely similar to the legend of Mapo Dofu: both are soy-derived dishes supposedly named after the skin conditions of kindly old ladies who offered the dishes to road-weary travelers. But the skin analogy is easier to understand in the case of Yuba than of Mapo Dofu, which consists of cubes of tofu simmered in spicy mince...)

I'm a big fan of Yuba, enormous or otherwise... and I trust the taste of MerceDeath. When we were colleagues, he told me he ate soymilk-nabe (hotpot) for dinner every single night, with or without kimchi flavouring. A true soymilk devotee. That's classy.

The key to his enormous yuba is simply to use a wide, shallow cooking surface: here's the recipe.

Basically you pour 400 ml of soymilk (unsweetened) onto a big flat electric hotplate surface with a rim such as the one below, and then heat it to 80℃. When a skin forms, you tug it off with chopsticks and eat it with a dipping sauce of your choice.

I'm not sure if making yuba in a fry pan would work just as well - I don't see why not? There must be some art to it, since most yuba is still made in Kyoto with what the Shunju cookbook calls 'time-consuming handwork'. Maybe the heat needs to be very even and the temperature very exact.
Using a fry pan, your yuba wouldn't be so enormous, either.

MySpace Codes

Only available at Shin-Chitose airport, Hokkaido.

And bento's from other airpots throughout Japan.

Sushi Anomaly #4: furaisu

I saw them years ago in Tokyo, and alas, the Furaisu closed its doors in 2002.

What I remember is Ebi-furai (deep fried breaded shrimp) in a hand-roll, but seems like they also had Hire-katsu (deep fried breaded pork fillet) version as well.

Maybe it's better be called a mutant onigiri (rice balls) than hand-roll rushi... since it's probably rolling regular plain steamed rice, not sushi rice (with vinegar & sugar).
But surely the idea must have come from hand-roll sushi.

The name Furaisu comes from furai (deep fried stuff) and raisu (rice), of course.

Quote of the Day

"Students eating dinner in college were given a basic ration of a joint of meat and a glass of beer, but Darwin was apparently quite fastidious about forking out a further 51/2d per day for vegetables."


Doner Kebab Noodle Remix

Every innovation in noodle technology brings us one step closer to souvlaksa: the ultimate Greek-Malaysian fusion food. Jay Rayner spots doner kebab flavoured instant noodles. His thoughts:

There was a moment, a taste echo, that reminded me of belching half an hour after having eaten the real thing – stop grimacing, for god's sake; this is a doner kebab flavoured Pot Noodle we're talking about. What did you expect? Proust? – but it was soon gone. Instead all that was left was that sickly-savoury, chemically-enhanced indeterminate flavour that all of them have.

I'm never sure if the aftertaste is a flavour or just salt and umami overload.
Sorry for bad quality pictures... it was very dark and my camera sucked.

Brown rice & veggie nigiri:

Also, tofu quiche.

Both from Gaya-Aoyama, Tokyo.

I've been there in good old days when they were still a regular (i.e., not claiming "organic") izakaya.

It was a pleasant surprise when they turned into a healthy beige food capital.

They actually have both strictly macrobiotic veggie and non-veggie menus, so it's actually quite handy. A good variety of shochu and sake too.

You can also smile at the Japangrish introduction:
Since The GAYA restaurant originated in Yoyogi-uehara in Jun.28 1987,we've been struggling for our wishes that all guests get full of vitality and more healthy day and night.We've been branching out having hope to offer Delicious cuisine,Good drink, and Pleasant talk.

What is the TRUE TASTY?
What is real necessary for vitality of guests?

Since mad cow disease problem occured,we've thought of safety of food seriously and considered what our restaurant should be like.In truth,we had made an effort to purchase ingredients as low price as possible and hardly thought about the environment in which vegetables and meat grew.We started to concidered the importance of food deeply and we must change the stance of our restaurant.

We resolved to try opening up ORGANIC IZAKAYA!!

“All dishes the guests have build their bodies.”We'll always keep this in our mind and decided all ingredients and seasonings are natural. We call this “REAL FOOD".
Please have dishes,drink happily and laugh heartily.
Both a healthy mind and healthy body are true vitality.All of us try as hard as possible to help all guests with their vitality from now on.

My favorite line... What is the TRUE TASTY?

Sushi Anomaly #2

Brown rice sushi roll with tofu & veggie filling:

From a macrobiotic conference in Vermont a few years back.

Quote of the Day Pt 2

I will not apologize for ordering a melted cheese-topped shrimp tempura roll; I have no patience for sushi purists. Wrap some seaweed around some pork floss and birthday cake, sprinkle salmon eggs and glitter on top: you have made legitimate maki. A "cheese-topped shrimp tempura roll" sounds good; this partially-combusted slice of wanksta petroleum loaf was just a carcinogen. It tasted like ashes.

America's Next Top Model alum Elyse Sewell continues to eat adventurously in HK & Mainland China

Quote of the Day

MySpace Codes

While I cheer the return of a first garden, I do have some concern that Mrs. Obama was shamelessly (and publicly) goaded into it by Alice Waters, Michael Pollan and others, and that like many a neophyte gardener, she may be a tad naïve about what lies ahead.

There’s the expectation that the first family (including the president) is going to be pulling weeds, “whether they like it or not,” she insists. Really, now, who could not like pulling weeds?

Let me tell the Obamas something that they are soon to discover for themselves. Gardening is weeding. In fact, I don’t know why we even call it “gardening”; we should just be honest and call it “weeding,” for that’s how you spend 90 percent of your time in the garden. The president has all of 15 minutes a day of leisure time, and his wife wants him to put down the basketball and weed? If you’re wondering why Michelle Obama is the first first lady to have a vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt, here’s your answer: it’s hard work.

Still, I wish the Obamas and their garden well. Maybe this really is Mrs. Obama’s idea. She is exactly right when she says, “A real delicious heirloom tomato is one of the sweetest things that you’ll ever eat.” To which I’ll add, a garden makes a house into a home. And if there’s anything this country needs right now, it’s a sense of place, of home.

- William Alexander in the NY Times

Kabocha no Miso Shiru


By now, many of us have heard of Harumi Kurihara: Japan's own 'naked-shufu' and multi-franchised answer to Jamie Oliver crossed with Martha Stewart. Got to give her kudos for her monthly magazine with its hundreds of stylish apron patterns and easy-to-make dishes like tofu with gorgonzola and pesto.

But in my opinion, the most reliable English language authority on Japanese cookery is Hiroko Shimbo. This NYC-based author & consultant doesn't have her own line of crockery. She's pretty obscure compared to Harumi - I suppose she's unknown in Japan. But her book, The Japanese Kitchen, contains 250 well-curated recipes that would be an asset to any home. If you were going to have just one Japanese cookbook, this one would be it.

Erik & I have given this book a few years of heavy usage, and we still come across recipes we never noticed before: classics like quick salt-pickled cabbage with shiso & umeboshi, bamboo shoots tossed with sansho leaves, Senbei crackers, or wobbly black squares of sesame Goma-dofu. (Making senbei sounds like a challenge...I'm quite sure my results would be as bad as if I made a cake in a rice cooker. but Hiroko's never let me down, so maybe I'll give it a shot).

There're plenty of drawings demonstrating how to prepare sole (butterflied to fry and serve with ponzu sauce) or slice sashimi, and the book contains instructions for many varieties of comfort food, from spicy carrot&fennel itame, to fisherman's mackerel soup, eel burger or Nihon-style ratatouille (with miso). Hiroko even tells you how to make Satsuma-age fish cakes: very useful for all kinds of simmered dishes or cut up in stir fries (try them with kimchi, garlic chives, konnyaku slivers, sesame oil, sake, shoyu and pork mince). This book is truly indispensable, especially if you do not have ready access to packaged versions of favourites like the aforementioned Goma-dofu.

If you've ever been to Japan, y'all know what I'm talking about.

Today I'm posting Hiroko's pumpkin soup recipe. Pumpkin soup in its western incarnations is usually thick enough for a spoon to stand up in. Hiroko's bright orange kabocha-miso soup is different, swirling and delicate with nutmeg, chives, cinnamon and a dash of milk.

This soup takes me back to lunchtimes in Meguro, where we used to frequent a place called News Café by the station that had checkered tablecloths and a big blackboard with chalked-on specials. We'd spoon up bright coloured liquids - tomato, pumpkin, corn - quickly from ladylike white soup tureens, while the secretary from our firm blinked a lot and hummed disbelieving noises at her food.


11 ounces kabocha or butternut, seeded not peeled
One 4-inch square kelp soaked in 3 cups of water for an hour (or powdered kelp stock in 3 cups water)
One leek or naganegi, white part only, sliced
Fresh ground nutmeg
2-3 tablespoons Saikyo miso (sweet white miso)
1/2 cup unflavoured soy (or cow) milk
1 tbsp minced chives

Have a bamboo or metal steamer with plenty of water at high steam production. Steam squash until soft, circa 20 min. With a soup spoon, discard any stringy bits or remaining seeds, then scoop out all the flesh and reserve.

In a medium pot, combine kombu stock and leek. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce to low and cook until soft.
Blend the pumpkin with leek & stock to a smooth puree.

Before serving, warm the soup base over medium heat. Add a little ground cinnamon and nutmeg. When heated through, add the miso and stir til it dissolves. Add the milk and heat without boiling (to avoid curdling).
Serve in bowls, garnished with chives.

(4 servings)

Flavour wave or Desperate Lonely Emptiness?

Is it Mr. T? Is because its 3.30 am and I am still awake and watching infomercials?

Is it because I am alone? Is it because my studio apartment only has a kitchenette?

Either way, Mr. T has almost convinced me that I need to buy a flavour wave...i feel vulnerable


So mostly we're all about proving our culinary bravado. People these days, myself included, like to brag about what they will anything except frog. Hock, anything except badly cooked offal, which doesn't really appeal to me either.

But as Phil mentioned a while back on Phnomenon and this post on Delicious Coma argues, we are most conservative at breakfast. Delicious Coma mentions how confronting oatmeal can be to foreigners, Phil had an amusing post a while back on grapenuts. I've heard stories of Cambodian distaste for hummous. All these foods seem to fit into a similar category, bland and grainy. Which sums up most week-a-day Western breakfasts.

You don't want to be challenged in the morning. Well I don't. I'm a simple half-cast (or double, as someone was telling me is the term in Latin America these days)....I like toast, muesli and congee when its available. In the weekends I'll venture eggs or pancakes or other anglo-breakfast fare. I'm into the idea of English kippers for breakfast. I don't know why. When doing my research in the provinces of Cambodia, I could never even stare down a plate of pork and rice or even those soupy breakfast noodles. Baguette, maybe an omelette, and when available a dough stick, which is called patongo in Thailand and I can't remember what they were called in Cambodia now.... and coffee. That was me, that was it. I asked for borbor sor (congee) a couple of times but it was always a 30 minute wait.

Reading the Delicious Coma post, made me realise that my breakfast capabilities can definitely extend to warm soy milk, more fried dough a steamed pork bun. That appeals, that does not challenge me. I find that idea instantly comforting....I wants to go there. Badly.

So now can anyone tell me where I can get a mainland Chinese breakfast in Canberra?

Globalized teff

Maybe the injera I ate in Boston was made of the teff grown in Idaho...

The Teff Company founder, Wayne Carlson, first became involved in Ethiopian affairs during the early 1970’s. In the course of his work there Wayne lived as a guest of the local farming folk. The farmers were eager to show their guest their farms and crops and he became devoted to the local food. The farmers have a wide variety of crops including barley, wheat, sorghum, maize, finger millet and now even potatoes. But they prefer to grow and eat teff even though the yield is much less than that of barley or wheat. Since all the work is done by muscle power, Wayne wondered why they didn’t devote themselves to that grain which would grow the biggest return.

Later, in Idaho, Wayne was fascinated by the geological and climatic similarities of the Snake River region and the East African Rift. Both are the result of major dynamics in the earth’s crust, resulting in massive basaltic lava flows and tectonic movements. And both are subjected to hot summers with intense sunlight. The idea came that it may be possible to grow teff in the Snake River Valley. Why not change the direction of cultural influence? Rather than exporting “development” practices to Ethiopia, why not take some wisdom from an ancient culture? From there it was a small step to contact Ethiopians living in the American metropolitan areas and re-establish the relation between the Ethiopians and their favorite grain.

The Teff Company has been supplying the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities for nearly twenty years with American-grown Maskal Teff. With the fertile fields and ecologically sensitive farming methods some of the best quality teff in the world is produced in Idaho.

As word of the superior nutritional properties of Maskal Teff spread it has become available nationally in health food stores and by direct mail.


The assumption that the cultural influence is unidirectional and the bits about "ancient culture" sound a little cheesy, but how else can you put it, to keep a faithful face to this endeavor?

Hopefully they won't get into patenting the hybrid teff, like RiceTec that made Indians furious for patenting hybrid basmati rice.

Besides, it is a bit disappointing that they don't have a recipe for injera in their recipe page, where they only suggest mostly Western style recipes:
Mocha Tofu Apricot Teff Pie
Cook Teff with Other Grains
Millet and Teff with Squash and Onions
Mocha Teff Scones
Apple or Pear Crisp
Tofu Vegetable Quiche
Teff Polenta
Teff Banana Pancakes
Peanut Butter Cookies
Dessert Pie Crust
Apple Teff Crumb Pie
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
These recipes are interesting by itself, but do they assume teff flour buyers already know how to fix their injera?

I'd be curious if Ethiopians would taste test the Idaho teff and Ethiopian teff.

Sheep Art

....and you can eat them.....

why is this not New Zealand's national sport?

Link courtesy of Hock

Ethiopian recollection

No they are not hand towels...

Fish goulash with injera, that is.

Ah yes, Ethiopia.

A couple of years back I had a week in Ethiopia.

After the anglophone part of deep East Africa, Ethiopia felt a bit like Europe.

One of the reasons is that their lovely Italian style macchiato... not to mention Ethiopia's superb coffee.

I know there are plenty of bad things about colonization, but like French style café's and baguettes in Laos, the Europeans have left some yummy trails.

But the huge greasy spaghetti that came with a pile of fries was less European... was more African, for their love of carbo and fries.

After a couple of tries of European style dishes and having learned that they are huge carbo-grease bombs, I started to stick with Ethiopian food.

I was trying to de-meat my diet while in Ethiopia, having felt I had so much meat in East Africa.

Fish goulash was one of the few choices on regular days.

But on vegetarian days - the Ethiopian orthodox church sets two days a week as vegetarian days - the restaurants have nice vegetarian specials.

I had this in Lalibela. Several bean stews and salad.

I was in Lalibela for the Ethiopian Christmas. I sat down with a French photographer staying at the same lodge, who ordered himself some meat stew dish, but kept stealing my bean stew... I thought French men were nicer.

I had this deluxe one in Addis Ababa. I wish the vegetarian special was available seven days a week!

Adopt an Olive Tree

The Angelina Jolie of Olive Trees

If you have an extra $90 sitting around and a long-standing desire to tell people at cocktail parties that you own an olive tree in the Italian countryside (and, really, who doesn’t these days?) then this site is for you. For just under a hundred bucks per year, you can adopt an olive tree in Italy. There’s no word if the tree will send you letters telling you about its progress, but you will get some of its goods—two liters’ worth


ummmmm....speechless this supposed to be a selfless act as opposed to growing your own olive tree? please explain


"Aminetou Mint Ely, a women's rights campaigner, said girls as young as five were still being subjected to the tradition of leblouh every year. The practice sees them tortured into swallowing gargantuan amounts of food and liquid - and consuming their vomit if they reject it.

"In Mauritania, a woman's size indicates the amount of space she occupies in her husband's heart," said Mint Ely, head of the Association of Women Heads of Households. ''We have gone backwards. We had a Ministry of Women's Affairs. We had achieved a parliamentary quota of 20% of seats. We had female diplomats and governors. The military have set us back by decades, sending us back to our traditional roles. We no longer even have a ministry to talk to." Mauritania has suffered a series of coups since independence from France in 1960. The latest, in August last year, saw General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz seize power after the elected president tried to sack him."


Yet another example of a traditional practice gone haywire. I like the idea that a women's size indicates the amount of space she occupies in her husband's heart. That on its own is a cute comment that fat married women should probably rejoice over to some degree (given they are not morbidly obese). But it shouldn't count if you are force feed and threatened with the prospect of eating your own vomit. That is not a show of love through food, that is just sick.

It's not a PhD, it's just BBQ

I've been quiet on the blog lately, by my standards I suppose. Thesis deadlines.

But today I post, today Hock sent me a pdf of a honours thesis about American BBQ. Entitled "Why Barbecue Matters in the South" it appears to be written by someone called Anoop Desai as his honours thesis in American Studies. The pdf was wrongly labelled bbqphd.pdf.

Having been grappling with a very long chapter of my thesis now and being thoroughly sick of the sight of it, the topic and of everything I study my surly response was

"it's not a PhD its an honours thesis. The guy from the PhD workshop I attended the other day said that he considers one chapter of a PhD the equivalent to an honours dissertation. Looking at this, I feel like he is right. This is 60 pages. Mine is 300. Fuck, its not a PhD its just BBQ"

so now I go back to staring at my chapter about horticultural development in Cambodia......southern bbq... pft

Blogger Templates by Blog Forum