Sunday, March 11, 2007
Ok maybe we need a bib for this one. The damned good dish above is called Pai Gwat in Cantonese, and it simply means pork ribs. It's a very simple dish. It's just pork spare ribs that have been chopped into really tiny bite size pieces, and then have been steamed with predominantly black beans and/or black bean sauce, and occasionally oil, salt, pepper, starch, onions, or other small ingredients are added to heighten the taste. It's a nice slightly salty dish, a tad oily. Usually the pork ribs are swimming in the flavor of all the combined tastes and ingredients, and often the pork is a bit fatty too, adding to that oh so indulgent taste. They're so bite sized, you'll jsut keep on eating them til you realize you're going to have to order another batch.
So what do we have here? It's white and puffy. Is it salty or sweet? Is there anything inside? Is it just bread? ACTUALLY, these are known as Char Siu Baos. Basically these are roast pork buns. Char Siu meaning roast pork, bao meaning bun. Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant where they have various cooked meats hanging in the windows? There's usually a red one, which is usually pork shoulder thats been roasted with a special Cantonese marinade of seasonings that turn it red. It's got a nice sweet honey roasted taste to the meat, except it's distinctly chinese. That's what's stuffed in these suckers. That roast pork is stuffed inside these buns often with onions, and often have a sweet and savory taste to it because of the unique combination of flavors. This tends to be especially a favorite among kids. The outside bun is basically a very airy bread that has a tinge of sweeetness to it. All of this has been steamed and is now ready to be ripped into and eaten. =)
Friday, March 9, 2007
More goodies from Chinese Dim Sum. This is Shrimp Cheong Fun, another often ordered dish. What is it? You ever get those really broad noodles often called Chow Fun on most Chinese restaurant menus? Well its the same noodles, except it's left intact as one big sheet. The noodles are made from rice, and the whole thing is steamed, making it very soft to the touch, very pure in taste. The noodle sheet is then wrapped around whole pieces of shrimp, and then steamed to delicious perfection. It comes usually in 3 pieces per order, and then doused in soy sauce after it's delivered to your table.
With no additives except the soy sauce, it's an incredibly clean taste and incredibly refreshing. A favorite a many people, dont be surprised if you order more than one plate of this after trying it. I usually get two or three. =)
Another favorite of mine. Sin Chet Kuen, which are basically Bean Curd Skin Rolls. The rolls are composed of a filling consisting of usually pork and vegetables like bamboo and mushrooms. One alternative filling that's sometimes used is chicken instead of pork. The outer skin is a thin but strong wrapping made from bean curd. The whole thing is then steamed and served drenched in a very light delicious gravy.
Like many other dishes that are served at dim sum, the sheer fact that this dish is steamed makes it feel incredibly fresh and cleansing to the palette because it lacks the a lot of oil and heavy additives. It's refreshing, more light and airy than an overwhelming savory, and sure to delight you.
Give them a try, and then eat some more!
Thursday, March 8, 2007
That yummy little treat up there is called Shu Mai (or shao mai in Mandarin). Probably the most often ordered dish at any dim sum, these are basically small pork dumplings wrapped in thin flour wrappers similar to wonton wrappers. The top is left open, and is usually topped off with crab roe, which is that little orange dot you see on top. Often thrown into the mix with the pork are mushrooms, and sometimes shrimp.
Shu Mai is basically a great savory treat that comes out piping hot, letting that aroma add to the sensory experience of eating. The wrapper is barely noticed and mixes right into the taste of the pork filling, which is deliciously savory and has a great bouncy texture to it. The mushrooms make for a great combination too. I often find myself ordering 2 orders of shu mai just because I love them so much.
The only other thing I love as much as shu mai is this. Har Gow, which are these translucent shrimp dumplings. It's basically made up of large chopped pieces of shrimp, and often times, have a little bamboo in it. It's wrapped in a starchy skin that becomes transparent when steamed. The skin is just a teeny tiny bit chewy, giving it a great texture, and when you bite into it, you'll find that the shrimp filling is very fresh and solitary in its taste. There's really nothing else like seasonings or additives that are used to enhance its taste, and you realize that immediately. It's nothing but fresh steamed shrimp, and it's got almost a pure taste to it. It tastes amazing and very relaxing because of that.
With har gow and shu mai, alot of people find that the spicy chinese mustard that comes on the tables make a nice addition. Remember to only put on a little bit of it, as the mustard has a rather strong kick to it. The mustard often works to complement shrimp based dishes quite well.
You'll often find shu mai and har gow in the same carts, and their names will usually be called out one right after the other by the cart servers. These two dishes always go together, and no dim sum experience is complete without them.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Chinese food is definitely one of the most popular cuisines around, yet it's so diverse because of the vast regional differences in China that most people have a very limited exposure to it. We thought we'd give everyone a quick overview on one of the more popular dining experiences in Chinese culture, which is Dim Sum. Surprisingly, it's a word that thrown around very often, yet most people haven't had a chance to experience Dim Sum.
Well, what is Dim Sum? It's a dining experience where you can order small appetizer like dishes a la carte. Dim Sum is part of Southern China's Cantonese fare, and Dim Sum in Cantonese can be essentially translated as "small snack". It's often eaten in the afternoons as a meal for lunch or brunch, and is extremely popular with Chinese families and group meals.
There's no menu to order from, but rather the dishes are rolled around the restaurant on carts, where the dishes are usually stacked on top of one another in bamboo steamers. The servers will come up to each table, lift the covers off the steamers and show you their selection, and then if you want to order it, you simply tell them. The dishes are categorized as small, medium, large, and special dishes. Cost is based on these categorizations, and will usually run from about $2-$4 for small to large. Special dishes cost around $6 and up. They'll then tick off your order on your bill based on the categorization of the dish.
The dishes usually have about 3-4 pieces of whatever you order. Usually they'll consist of various dumplings, buns, rolls, and other items. Dim Sum is meant to be shared, and with a piece or two of every dish, you get to sample a very wide variety of food.
The other important part of dim sum is tea. Dim Sum is meant to be eaten with tea, and is often referred to as "yum cha" as well. Yum Cha means "with tea." Most dim sum restaurants will offer jasmine or chrysantheum tea as the norm. Sit down, eat, drink some tea, and just gab the afternoon away with friends. Dim Sum is really just one great big enjoyable social experience.
So go ahead, give it a try if you've never before. In the next few days, we'll be introducing some of the more commonly ordered items from the dim sum carts. Yum Yum!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Unlike the last two dishes, Fried Rice cakes may seem somewhat odd and unfamiliar at first. It's not really normal rice and not really noodles, then what is it? Well it's made of glutinous rice (sticky rice), is somewhat chewy, and has a texture almost like the thick noodles used in the noodle soups at Joe's
The fried rice cake dish includes some greens, mushrooms, bamboo, and beef. The beef can be substituted with Pork, Chicken, Vegetables, Shrimp, Seafood, or Subgum. I prefer the beef or the pork. It's also a little more expensive for the shrimp, seafood, or subgum.
The texture from the rice cakes combined with the seasoning and the other ingredients creates a very fulfilling dish that you will not regret. The dish may look very strange and different from what you may usually think of when you think of Chinese food, but its nothing more then rice in a different shape. So give it a try!
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Whenever I'm craving a good noodle soup from Joe's
If you don’t know what
One of the reasons why I love Joe’s
Friday, February 16, 2007
Well if you're in NYC, you're in luck. There are plenty of places for you to go.
So you just finished a great night out in the city clubbing, bar hopping, or just strolling around times square and your starving and youre craving some good Korean food. Here are some places that have good food and open 24 hours
Kunjip is arguably the best and most authentic Korean restaurant in NYC. It's located on:
9 W 32nd St, between 5th Ave & Bway.
Won Jo is another restuarant I would recommend. This is located on:
23 W 32nd St, between Bway & 5th Ave
Kum Gang San is also great! They have 2 locations, both open 24 hours:
138-28 Northern Blvd, between Union St & Bowne St
and also on
49 West 32nd St, between Bway & 5th Ave
These are just a few places you may want to check out. Other locations you may want to check out is St Marks place or Northern Blvd between Main and 165th St
Monday, February 12, 2007
Usually two things come to mind when anyone thinks of Chinese food. Rice and noodles. For today’s entry, we’re gonna talk about noodles. Noodles are cooked in a variety of ways in China, from stir fried, fried, boiled, to even being made an integral part of soups. Noodle soups are great and simple meals, especially on a cold winter’s day.
Joe’s Shanghai offers a great selection of noodle dishes, and they’re all extremely delicious. One simple dish tends to often stand out for me, and is full of very standard ingredients often used in southern Chinese cuisine. It’s a noodle soup with pork and salted vegetables.
First off, it’s in a clear soup broth. The ingredients are of course the noodles, which tend to be of a thick variety, which become very soft and absorb the water and flavor from the soup. Accompanying the noodles are slivers of pork, which have been marinated and tenderized so that they remain very soft and have an almost springy texture to it. The vegetables are what seem to give this dish most of its flavor. Small slivers of bamboo are used, and if you’ve never had bamboo before, it’s a very unique taste. It’s often firm and crisp, but is also very sweet in its flavor. The salted vegetables are the dull dark green olive colored additions to the soup. They’re often small pieces of pickled radishes or other cucumbers, and are called salty vegetables for a reason. They’re really salty! It’s not advised you eat them alone, or you might not like it. They’re often eaten paired with rice or noodles, or often placed into soups to add a unique flavor to the soups like it does in this one.
To get the full amount out of this dish, you need not eat each element just by itself, but you need to take bites with all the ingredients placed juxtaposed next to each other. Use your chopsticks and get a nice amount of noodles into that soup spoon, and then sink it into the soup to get some of those vegetables, bamboo, pork, and most importantly, the soup itself. With it all nicely wrapped up in one nice package, go ahead and sink that sucker into your mouth and let the party in your mouth begin!
Spicy Beef Tendon Noodle Soup
Thursday, February 8, 2007
These little jewels are pork dumplings(the pork filling is heaven), wrapped in a nice thick chewy dumpling skin. Inside the skin, marinating and bathing the filling is a nice hot soupy mixture that gives the Soup Dumpling it's name. It' usually pools at the bottom and causes the bottom of the dumpling to splay out like you see in the picture. There's really nothing else like this, and I've had this at other restaurants, but nobody comes even close to making it like Joe's Shanghai does.
Now there is a proper way that this needs to be eaten, or else it can be a painful and burning experience, or a very sloppy and messy one. Too often I've seen people burn their lips, the roof of their mouths, and other parts because they weren't prepared for how hot the soup inside was and weren't prepared for it to squirt out of the dumpling like a nicked artery when they eat it wrong. Other times, if it doesnt squirt into their mouths, it ends up all over the table, or on other people's plates, or even on other people. That's not preferable, not because you're making a mess, but you'll be losing the soup, which is what makes the dumplings delicious.
So how do you eat it??(you can skip this if you think it's silly, but come back to it if you end up spilling the soup or burning yourself)
The first challenge comes in grabbing a dumpling for yourself. The dumplings come in a bamboo steamer, steamed on top of cabbage leaves. Many people just scramble for them, using chopsticks or forks, tear them apart, and watch the precious soup ooze out all over the lettuce. Then a look of disappointment comes over the entire table. The right way of grabbing these guys is to take the tongs that are provided, grab onto the TOP of the dumpling, where it the skin makes a little knob. This is the thickest and strongest part of the dumpling that hasn't been weakened by the soup, and will prevent tearing. You then SLOWLY lift the dumpling up, to see if it's stuck to the skin of another dumpling, so you can avoid tearing either, and thenif it is stuck, you gently use your soup spoon or chopsticks to slowly nudge away the skins from each other. You then place the dumpling in the soup spoon as much as possible.
You'll notice that the Soup Dumplings come with a little condiment. A sauce. What's in this sauce? It's basically soy sauce mixed with Chinese vinegar and a healthy addition of ginger. The ginger is an important part of the sauce because it's the ingredient that basically gives the sauce its unique taste and brings it to life. Without the ginger, it's just a salty and bitter mix of soy sauce and vinegar. With the ginger, it's a perfect complement to the dumplings. Take a small spoonful of this sauce, with some ginger, and just glaze it across the top of your soon to be eaten dumpling. Don't use too much, or the vinegar can be overpowering to your sense of taste and smell. Make sure u get some ginger on the dumpling as well.
Now you're ready to eat it. To avoid the soup spilling out as you eat it or burning yourself or anyone else, this is a two handed coordinated feat.You use your non dominant hand to bring the soup spoon up towards you, and your dominant hand will use chopsticks to grab hold of the dumpling and tilt the dumpling up towards you while it rests on the spoon. Then you can take a nice bite out of it. That first bite will give you a good taste of it, let steam out of the dumpling so u dont burn yourself in the same way if you took the entire thing in one bite, and also allow any soup if it leaks out, to leak into the spoon. Most likely the soup will not leak out much because the dumpling is tilted back, and the soup has pooled towards the part of the dumpling where the skin still remains intact. Good first bite, but the second bite is the best. Now that everything is settled, you can jsut take the spoon, and shove the entire rest of the dumpling in your mouth, soup and all, and savor a little taste of Shanghainese paradise.
These soup dumplings also come in a different variety, where the filling is pork mixed with crab meat. A little more expensive, with a bit of a seafood twist, they're just as delicious. Go ahead, and next time you're in New York City, give these guys a try.
NEXT UP - Pork with Salted Vegetables Noodle Soup
Monday, February 5, 2007
Ahhh...Chinatown, where else in overpriced New York City can you get CHEAP and incredibly good, authentic food for just a few dollars. If you're ever hungry and a bit short on money, take a ride down to Chinatown, and be prepared for great eats.
I realize that alot of people think of Chinese food as what you can get from Chinese takeouts all across the country. General Tso does not live in real authentic Chinese kitchens. (General Tso's Chicken is actually a dish invented in America and is not known anywhere in China.) So what to do if you want to eat or try REAL chinese food, but simply don't know what to order? Well that's what we're here for.
Chinese food is diverse. Don't forget that China is HUGE, with over 2 millenia of history. Thanks to this, many different subgenres of Chinese cuisine have evolved, ranging from noodles, to rice dishes, to dumplings, and more. With distinct cuisines coming from several different provinces, it can be hard to navigate all these dishes.
We're gonna start with a restaurant that has become an institution in New York City's Chinatown. It's a great little place called Joe's Shanghai.
Joe's Shanghai is a staple in Chinese food in New York City, serving up some great dishes that you'll be hard to find anywhere else. It cuisine is as you guessed, primarily from Shanghai, a coastal city on the eastern border of China. Now the bustling financial hub of China, Shanghai still boasts some food that can't be missed. We thank Joe of the eponymous restaurant for bringing it to us over on this side of the world so that we can get nice and fat on it. =)
The first thing we'll be talking about is what Joe's Shanghai trademark dish is. Whenever you think of Joe's Shanghai, you think of this dish, and vice versa. Learn how to order it, and learn how to eat it, on your next visit to New York City.
UP NEXT: Soup Dumplings
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Now this is personally one of my favorite Korean dishes, Dolsot Bibimbap. It’s a variation of Bibimbap, which is a bowl of rice topped with an assortment of sautéed and seasoned vegetables, fried egg, ground beef, and gochujang (which is a sweet and spicy red sauce) to pour on top of it all. Instead, Dolsot (which means stone bowl) Bibimbap is made in sizzling hot stone bowl, like soondubu
Assortments of vegetables are used, which makes up most of the dish. Usually, they include: carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, mu, spinach, soybean sprouts and gosari (bracken fern stems). This is all put on top of the rice with the ground beef and an egg.
A raw egg is actually put in the hot bowl after all the other ingredients are put in. The bottom of the bowl is coated with oil, usually sesame or olive. The bowl itself is so hot, that when the egg is put in, the heat from the bowl cooks it, and the rice touching the bowl turns golden and crispy. The crispy golden rice only adds to the texture and taste of the dish.
As I was taught by a friendly waitress, you take your utensils and mix the ingredients together so that you get a taste of everything in every bite. But don't forget about the gochujang sauce. It adds a rich flavor to the dish, so be generous with it. Also, it's not extremely spicy, so even if you are sensitive to spice, you can still enjoy splashing some of it in.
Honestly, I'm not a big vegetable fan, as I suspect most of you aren't either, but even though Dolsot Bibimbap is made up mostly of vegetables, its still one of my favorite dishes. I encourage everyone, even those of you that hate vegetables to try this dish.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
What could be in this red boiling cauldron? It's definitely not the Weird Sisters boiling toil and trouble. (It's from MacBeth if you're scratching your heads...) What this is, is one of the greatest things Korea has bestowed upon the world.
Soon Doo Bu Jigae. What is it? Unless you're Korean, I'm pretty sure you have no idea. Also, if you were Korean, I doubt you've read this far into this blog. Soon Doo Bu Jigae is a spicy tofu casserole with seafood.
When you order it, it comes piping hot, boiling and bubbling in a stone casserole bowl. The stone bowl keeps it hot for the duration of your meal. I'm gonna repeat that it's piping hot, so don't touch the bowl except at those side handles! When they set it down, the entire broth will be boiling. It's the perfect environment to cook something actually. If only there was only something to cook in there. Luckily, there is! SoonDooBu is usually accompanied by a raw egg, which most people crack and drop into it. The egg cooks softly in there, leaving the yolk runny, and the added egg brings the temperature of the dish down so that it eventually remains very warm, but no longer boiling.
So what's in this red boiling treasure? Besides the egg, it's main constituent is tofu. But its not a firm tofu, bu a very very soft silken tofu. The consistency of the tofu is very delicate, to the point where it can flop around and break very easily under its own weight. The beauty of that is the tofu can seemingly just melt in your mouth when you eat it. It's an incredibly light almost nonexistent texture because of that. The bowl is also full of other little ocean treasures if you dig around. It is also a seafood dish, so most often accompanying the tofu is squid, shrimp, clams, and mussels still in their shells.
SoonDooBu is served with rice, and it's hard not to eat it with rice, because the broth is rather spicy. You can ask for the spiciness to be toned down, but dont ever ask for it to be unspicy. An unspicy SoonDooBu is incredibly flat and lacks the kick and flavor that real SoonDooBu delivers. Beginners though, should often ask for the spiciness to be toned down, because if you're not used to Korean cuisine, the initial spiciness can be very sudden and strong. Tolerance does need to be built up.
I personally love SoonDooBu, and one particular thing I love is the egg. I love runny eggs. And it's really a treat to have the egg break over the rice at the end and eat that with the rest of the tofu and seafood. SoonDooBu also a great dish especially if you're working out in my opinion because its mostly tofu and seafood, essentially a great tasty stomach filling bowl of protein.
A personal favorite, dont be afraid to order it. You'll be really surprised by how good it can be. Just be prepared to handle the spiciness, or if you need to, remember to ask the restaurant to tone it down as you build up your spice tolerance.
Next time, I'll be talking about another great starting dish for the newly intiated, a rice based dish called BiBimBop.
UP NEXT: Bi Bim Bop
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
That's the Banchan. It's not really an appetizer, but it definitely works as one. They're more like small communal side dishes for the entire table that can be shared and eaten throughout the entire meal. For the hungry eater though, its a great start to a great meal. Alot of these dishes consists of pickled and fermented vegetables, with an absolute Korean necessity always included. I'm going to highlight a few specific ones.
Kimchi. What most people think of when they think of Korean cuisine. It's basically a spicy fermented cabbage. It's salty, spicy, and gives a bit of a bite. It's really great when eaten with rice, or even by itself. It's a very regularly eaten staple side dish for Korean meals, whether eaten by itself, or used in other dishes. It's also boasts health benefits too!
Oi Kimchi. It's basically the same as regular kimchi, except instead of using napa cabbage, cucumbers are fermented using the exact same seasonings and chilis. It's nice and refreshing, crisp, and works just as wonderfully as kimchi. Not as strong as regular kimchi, this might go easier on the palette of someone trying Korean cuisine for the first time.
Kongnamul. Cooked and chilled bean sprouts in sesame oil. Once again delightful, very light. It doesn't have any significant tastes that overpower the palette. It simply has a very light and airy taste and texture, with the bean sprouts' taste staying very intact while being subtly complemented by the sesame oil. This particular restaurant added the hot chili seasoning to it. Not too bad.
Steamed Egg. I unfortunately don't know the name to this great dish. I love eggs and this couldn't be better. It's a steamed egg, seasoned with soy sauce, sometimes with pieces of seafood cooked right into it. It's got a very light texture, but at the same time is very firm. And best of all it's eggs! I haven't met one person who doesn't love this dish, except one person, but that's only because he's deathly afraid of eggs.
Korean styled potato salad. I definitely don't know the name of this dish in korean, but it's definitely not mom's potato salad. It's even better! It's potato salad, with various vegetables, and a thick dressing that gives it a very sweet taste. This particular one was accented with raisins, giving it an even sweeter punch. It's hard not to have your eyes widen and smile after taking a bite of this. Sometimes a sweet potato variety is used instead of just regular potatoes.
So instead of bread, you get this giant array of side dishes to be eaten throughout your meal, given to you as soon as you're done ordering. Sounds better than bread to me! You'll usually get 8+ different banchan dishes at any restaurant, giving you a small taste of everything to get you started. I'd take that over bread and butter any day. People don't realize this, but you can always ask for more, and most restaurants are more than willing to oblige. Best of all, it feels like you ordered an appetizer sampler, but its not. It's absolutely FREE with the meal!
Besides these dishes, there are dozens more different banchan dishes. Many of them will consisted of kimchi'd vegetables, seasoned or marinated vegetables, tofus, japchae(clear yam noodles), different meats, and seafoods. Every restaurant will dole out different ones, changing it up every day. To be honest, the banchan is my favorite part of the meal. It's definitely worth the trek into a Korean restaurant.
Next we'll demystify a dish that many people don't know about and don't know how to order.
UP NEXT : Soon Doo Bu
We thought we'd start off the blog by giving you the info on a great ethnic food culture that's a mystery to most people in this country. There's a big soft spot on our palettes when it comes to Korean food. Most people think of Korean food involving mostly Kimchi(a fermented cabbage), but there's so much more than that!
Korean food is dominated by a combination of rice, vegetables, and meat dishes. Rice is the staple food of Asia, meat dishes are always great to any carnivore, and the vegetables are often fermented or pickled for side dishes and other various dishes. At the same time, Korea is also a peninsula dominated on three sides by water, so seafood can play a heavy role into certain dishes. With a wonderful unique taste to its food, Korean food can always be light, delightful, and expertly satisfying. At the same time, it is dominated by a variety of seasonings, from soy sauce, garlic, soybean paste(called doenjang, it's really quite good), and chili pastes. Because of these, Korean food can often be spicy and pungent, but never overbearing. Korean food never leaves you wanting, but only wanting for more.
We're gonna take you on a walk through a simple Korean dinner you can order at any Korean restaurant that you won't regret. There's nothing exotic to it, nor is it something only for the brave. They're standard dishes anyone would be willing to try, but few know about it unless they're versed in Korean cuisine. So get ready for some damned good Korean food!
UP NEXT : Banchan - The Side Dishes
Monday, January 29, 2007
So if you're looking for something new to eat or don't know where to go for lunch, or do want to go somewhere and just don't know how to order, stay tuned for some damned good food!