Nov 25, 2013

Japanese Egg Salad Sandwich Topped with Smoked Salmon (Tamago Sando)

Once in a while I get an urge for bread, especially those milky toasts with croissant like crunchy and buttery crust. The toast used for this recipe was purchased from a local Japanese market. If you can't find milk toast around your area, a simply light and fluffy white toast will be a good alternative.

As for the smoked salmon, I used the ones sold at Costco. It comes pre-sliced and in three different flavors - traditional, pepper, and dill, which is ideal for adding different flavors to this sandwich recipe.

Japanese egg salad sandwich topped with smoked salmon -




Ingredients (for two)?


  • 6 slices of milk toast
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of Japanese mayonnaise
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • Small pinch of black pepper
  • Some smoked salmon slices
  • 1 small cucumber (optional) 


How?

Remove the crusts from the toasts. I usually just toast the crust and eat it as a snack, especially for the croissant-like crust. You can also bake an egg till about 70% doneness or till the yolk is semi cooked. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Just dip the crust with the yolk. For sweets lovers, nutella can be a good choice.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add in the eggs. It'll be wise to transfer the eggs with a spoon instead of dropping them in the water directly. The egg white will start bursting out if there is any crack on the shell. Wait till fully cooked through then remove the eggs from the boiling water. You can either wait till the eggs get cool enough to handle by hand or speed up the process by putting the eggs in icy cold water. Remove the shells and chop them into smaller pieces.



In a bowl, add in chopped eggs and Japanese mayo along with 1/8 teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. The ratio for the egg salad is about 1 egg: 1 tablespoon of Japanese mayo. Mix gently.

The use of cucumber is optional for this recipe. It just adds more crunch and nutritional value to the sandwich. Just chop the cucumber into tiny cubes and add to the salad mix.

Cut the toasts in half so you get two rectangle shaped bread. Slightly toast them before putting the sandwich together. Scoop some egg salad onto one of the rectangular toast and top the salad with another toast. Add more egg salad on top and layer some smoked salmon slices. 



I put the last toast layer on the side. If the toasts bear slightly brown colored toast marks, make sure to keep them facing outward.



The egg salad can be made ahead and store in the fridge for couple days. For lunch box or picnic basket, simply pack all the ingredients separately and assemble the toasts, egg salad, and smoked salmon right before eating.



However, do not use the cucumber if the egg salad sandwich will be not consumed right away. The salt used and the mayo might draw out the liquid from the cucumber and will turn the egg salad into a watery mess.

Nom nom nom.

Nov 18, 2013

Seafood Madness at Son of a Gun Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA

Son of a Gun was crowned as one of the 99 essential restaurants 2013 by LA Weekly. On top of that, the chefs behind this everything about seafood establishment, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, were named as 2012 Chefs of the Year by the Los Angeles magazine. In fact, Son of a Gun is the second baby of these two chefs and the very first one is the Animal restaurant just blocks away. Both places were instant hits for the Los Angeles foodscape.


I got my first taste of these two talented chefs' cuisine back in 2012 at the Animal restaurant. Like the name suggests, the Animal was more of a meat lovers' paradise with a majority of the dishes using 2 legged or 4 legged animals. As for Son of a Gun, it's more like refined seafood joint. It's not the basic dip everything with clarified butter or cocktail sauce kind of seafood restaurant. Instead, every dish here has a twist, either by chefs' implementation of modern cooking techniques or their own interpretations of some of the classic seafood dishes.


Just like the Animal, Son of a Gun doesn't have a clear signage so it is very likely to drive pass it - make sure to have your GPS handy.


The restaurant can basically splits into three sections. There's a long 20-seat communal table and a 5-seat bar. These two areas are for walk in customers.


The other section contains spacious dining tables for reservations. Beware, the communal table can be elbow bumping sometimes depend on who you are going to sit with. In the case of an intimate date night dinner, make sure to call ahead and reserve your spot early.


Below is Wild Irish rose in the back, which is cocktail made with Irish whiskey, lime, pomegranate, and soda. I got a glass of rosé, 2012 "Guilhem" Vin de Pays d'Herault, Moulin de Gassac Aniane, $10, which should go well with the upcoming seafood madness -


Main menu -


Most of the items here come in small/tiny portions, which is good because that way even for a party of two can still get to try a wide variety of food. Of course that's never a concern for me and Mr. K especially I eat like a man. A hungry man.


Today's oysters on the half shell, condiments $3/each oyster -


Sweet and succulent, perfect way to start the meal.

Side track: It's amazing how my iPhone takes way better pictures in the dark than my Canon with standard lens. Perhaps it's time to invest in a new lens?

Amberjack sashimi, serrano, fish sauce, vinaigrette, herbs $7 -


Did I mention about small dish earlier? Meanwhile, you'll see a lot of Asian influences on Son of a Gun's dishes.

Dungeness crab, daikon, melon, yuzu $10 -


Lobster roll, celery, lemon aioli $8 -


I considered this one of Son of a Gun's signature dishes. You can see servers keep bringing out these mini lobster rolls from the kitchen. Don't get fooled by the zoom in picture, these rolls are actually quite tiny, about the size of half of the palm. It is wise to order one for each person because the lobster rolls were too good to be shared. Especially the bread, it was toasted to perfection, soft and fluffy on the inside with buttery crunchiness on the outside.

Shrimp toast sandwich, herbs, sriracha mayo $12 -


It's about the size of a squared tofu. We shared this dish but soon regret the decision. The toast itself was moist yet crunchy at the same time. The sriracha mayo just burst in your mouth and the flavors simply spread all over. Make sure to have one full toast all for yourself.

Next drink, good old whiskey -


Spirits menu -


Getting ready for 2nd round of food -


Boquerones, pickled quail egg, asparagus, crispy ham $12 -


Chips & dip: pimento cheese, potato chips $6 -


Server will bring out more chips if needed.

Our largest dish of the night, skate wing, baby broccoli, mascarpone, pancetta vinaigrette $15 -


The pancetta provides a fuller body for this dish while the acidity from the vinaigrette cuts through the grease. Well balanced and every ingredients really help others shine. 

Smoked steelhead roe, maple cream, pumpernickel $16 -


The saltiness of the roe works really well with the slightly sweetened maple cream. I personally like to take the chips from earlier dish and spread the maple cream all over, especially the chips with pimento was way too salty for my taste. 

Can't think of a better way to end the night, it's time to satisfy my second stomach for dessert -


Italian hamburger: ginaduja, brioche, caramel, maldon $7 -


Another highly recommended dish here. I mean, how can you not fall in love with a dessert that looks like a burger? 

It's a sweet hamburger with the patty made with hazelnut/chocolate ice cream. Surprisingly, it's the first time that a brioche overtakes the never failing place of hazelnut chocolate combo in my heart. Son of a Gun really knows how to bake those buns. The slightly burned edges creates even more layers and flavor densities for the brioche.

Our bill for the night -


Told you I eat like a man. However, the 4 people group sitting next to us ordered about the same amount of food so the average price per person fluctuates.

The bill was put on top of the tin cap for canned anchovies -


Some of our dishes were heavily seasoned with salt that night, perhaps a little bit too much, not even for bar food. However, Son of Gun's lobster roll and shrimp toasts are just too good to be true. Especially the buns they made for the roll and the dessert burger, hands down my favorite "element" of the night.

Must Order:
Lobster roll
Shrimp toast
Italian hamburger for dessert


Cindy's rating: 7


Son of a Gun
8370 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 782-9033
Son of a Gun: http://sonofagunrestaurant.com/
Animal: http://animalrestaurant.com/

Lunch: Mon - Fri 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Sun - Thu 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Fri - Sat 6 p.m. - 12 midnight

*Valet parking available not for the restaurant, for the entire 3rd street section
*If you don't mind walking, the valet parking just 2 to 3 blocks away from Son of a Gun is about $2 cheaper. Might as well save money and burn some fat to stuff even more seafood in the tummy right?

Nov 11, 2013

Chinese Cold Dish with Beef Tripe, Kombu, Daikon, and Bean Curd in Spicy and Sour Dressing - 攪和攪和

This popular Chinese cold dish is not only good for late night munchies, but also serves as a perfect beer food. The ingredients used were stewed in my reserved Shao Hsing rice wine sauce, so the base flavor was already well covered. To add even more punch to this cold dish, there were also homemade chili sauce for the spicy kick, aged black vinegar for a refreshing touch, and of course some freshly chopped scallion to brighten up all the heavy seasonings.


Its Chinese name says it all, 攪和攪和, which literally means mixed up and stirred together. This is exactly how the dish was made. You take whatever cooked ingredients and mixed them up with all the flavorful Chinese seasonings. Let me show you the way I made the 攪和攪和.

Ingredients?

  • 1 beef tripe
  • 1 Japanese radish/daikon
  • 6 seasoned bean curd squares 豆干
  • 3 strips of thick seaweed (I used kombu instead)
  • 1 slice of ginger
  • Some garlic cloves
  • Some scallion
  • Some cilantro
  • Some black vinegar
  • Some soy sauce
  • Some black sesame oil
  • Some Chinese chili sauce
  • Small pinch of granulated sugar
  • Some reserved Shao Hsing rice wine sauce, or any kind of Chinese soy sauce stew base

How?

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the beef tripe. Bring to a boil again then drain out the water. This step is just for cleaning the tripe. Usually I would add some scallion and ginger slices in the water when preparing organs. However, the Shao Hsing base that will be used for cooking the tripe is already packed with flavors so I omit the aromatic ingredients here.


Bring a small pot of Shao Hsing base to a boil. Add more water if not enough stew base is available. In that case, add one more stalk of scallion and a small chunk of ginger for more flavors. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to keep the pot simmer for about two hours. Make sure to scoop out brownish colored floating bits if there's any. Transfer the tripe to a cutting board and cut into thick strips once cool enough to handle by hand.

Chop the bean curd into strips and "clean" with boiling water just like the beef tripe. Drain well and transfer the bean curb into the stew base and cooked till desired texture. Took about 20 minutes for me. Transfer to a container for later use.

Peel and chop the daikon into bite size chunks. Take a scissor and cut the kombu into strips. I cooked these two ingredients last in the stew base. The reason is that both of these ingredients take a while to turn soft. In addition, kombu tends to make the stew base sticky so it's better to cook the kombu in the end. Again, bring the pot to a boil then lower the heat to keep it simmer, about 2 to 3 hours or till the ingredients reach desired texture.


Take a big container, add in some chopped scallion, chopped cilantro, peeled and finely chopped garlic cloves. Pour in some soy sauce and black vinegar. Drizzle just a little bit of black sesame oil. Add a spoonful of chili sauce and a pinch of granulated sugar. Mix well and give it a taste, see if more seasonings are needed. 

Don't be shy on the scallion and garlic, the more the merrier. There were at least 8 garlic cloves and 1 big stalk of scallion for this bowl of mixed up ingredients. As for the dressing, I used almost equal amount of soy sauce and black vinegar for a slightly sourish taste.


Add in all the cooked ingredients and mix well. This dish can be served warm, but usually people like to eat it cold or in room temperature. Besides eating as it is, this cold dish also serves as a good side dish with dry or soup noodles.

Nov 4, 2013

Braised Pork Shoulder with Chinese Aged Shao Hsing Rice Wine

First time using aged Chinese Shao Hsing rice wine (V.O. rice wine) and it was an instant success. At first, I was worried about the wine's strong aroma and high alcohol content of 16.5% will overpower other ingredients. However, all the alcohol got cooked down after hours of braising. What's left is the prolong aroma from the fermented rice well integrated with the soy sauce and permeated into the pork.


The truth is, this pork shoulder might be the best Asian braised dish I've ever done. Now it's time for you to give it a try.


Ingredients?

  • 3.5 lbs of pork shoulder (preferably bone-in, skin-on)
  • 7 cups of water
  • 2 cups of soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup of aged Shao Hsing wine
  • 1/4 cup of crystal sugar
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 5 ginger slices
  • 2 stalks of scallion
  • 2 red chilies
  • 2 star anise
  • Some corn starch
  • Some bak choy (optional)
  • Hard boiled eggs (optional)


How?

Prepare a big pot of water, add in 3 slices of ginger and 1 stalk of scallion. Turn to medium high heat and add in the pork shoulder when the temperature rises, but not boiling yet. Once the pork is in the pot, bring the water to a full boil so the dirty foamy bits start to surface.


Drain out the water and rinse the pork to wash away any remaining dirty bits.

Make sure to use a pot that is big enough to hold up the pork shoulder as a whole and lots of liquid. Add in 10 peeled garlic cloves, 2 chilies, 2 star anise, 2 ginger slices, 1 stalk of scallion, 7 cups of water, 2 cups of soy sauce, 3/4 cup of aged Shao Hsing wine, and the pork shoulder into the pot. Make sure the pork is completely submerged under the liquid.


Bring to a boil then lower the heat to keep it simmer, or just slightly bubbling for 5 hours. Yes you heard me right, 5 straight hours. Make sure to skim off any grayish foamy bits flowing on the top for the initial one to two hours. You'll see a lot of it when you first bring the pot to a boil.


If you're adding hard boiled eggs. Removed the shells and add the eggs to the mixture about half way through.

Add some crystal sugar towards the end. Do not substitute with other types of sugar. The chunky semi-clear colored crystal sugar does balance off the saltiness of the dish. However, this type of sugar also adds a slight sheen to the meat, making it even more luscious and alluring.


Turn off the heat after hours of braising. Wait till the pot cools down to room temperature, cover with lid, and store overnight in the fridge.


Just heat up the whole pot using medium low heat before serving. I moved the pork shoulder into a clay pot after heating it up. In addition, I also scooped out some sauce to a smaller pot and turn up the heat a bit to reduce it. Depending on how thick you'd like the sauce to be, for a "sticker" and slightly gravy-like texture, add some corn starch/water mixture into the sauce while heating up and stirring at the same time. Add a little bit at a time till the sauce reached desired consistency. Drizzle this condensed sauce all over the pork shoulder.

On the side note, the blanched bak choy is just there so I won't feel as guilty devouring this gigantic chunk of meat.

Make sure to save the remaining sauce, which can be a perfect base for noodles. It can also serve as a stew base for your next batch of ingredients, kind of like the old dough used in fresh dough for bread and pizza.

Stay tuned. The next post will showcase how I utilize the leftover sauce for another all time favorite Chinese dish. 


Other Chinese braised/stewed recipe:

Taiwanese style stewed pig's feet - 滷豬腳
No fuss onion and black pepper beef stew
My version of langue de boeuf à la bourguignonne