Posts Tagged ‘tofu’
It was a pleasant May in Seattle. I did not feel sodden as I did last spring and we were blessed with many glorious days as a prelude to the northern summer. On a pleasant Saturday we enjoyed apéritifs at Tavern Law and sauntered down to Momiji (紅葉) for dinner with a group of Australian expats and tourists.
With the exception of the wide street frontage, the layout of Momiji is the same as Umi’s. A corridor opened to a spacious dining room. The counter had a prime view of the sushi chefs deftly slicing sashimi and shaping nigiri.
At the centre was a serene Japanese garden.
We ordered an array of dishes among the seven of us. First was ahi pokē. Diced ahi tuna and cucumber were tossed with onion slivers, shichimi (Japanese seasoning), soy sauce and sesame seeds. The first time I ate pokē was at a Flying Fish cooking class. A Hawaiian salad, it had a luscious contrast of textures.
A plate of prawn and vegetable tempura was coated in a lumpy batter and pleasingly crunchy.
Poached beets, and a mound of arugula and shiso were drizzled with lemon vinaigrette.
Portions of grilled king crab was paired with ponzu dipping sauce and mixed greens. A generous serving, the crustacean was charred and meaty.
Soft shell crabs were pan fried to golden brown. The spindly morsels were sweet and succulent.
Wrinkled and charred, the half dozen prawn and scallop gyoza were juicy parcels of seafood encased in a thin wrapper.
Buckwheat noodles were stir-fried with cubes of tofu and an assortment of vegetables. Garnished with green onions, pickles and nori, the triangular bowl of yakisoba was a symphony of flavours.
With casual ambience and quality ingredients, Momiji is a delicious addition to 12th Avenue in Capitol Hill.
I had a sandwich for lunch every day during secondary school. It was a utilitarian meal of chicken or tuna with mayonnaise, Kraft Singles, tomato slices and iceberg lettuce. Weary of soggy bread, limp lettuce and mealy tomatoes, I avoided sandwiches in my university years and I still rarely them.
A recent highlight was Fusion on the Run‘s coconut ginger chicken bánh mì at last year’s Mobile Food Rodeo. Naomi suggested Sub-Sand (潛水艇) for a weekday lunch. Located next to Fuji Bakery, Sub-Sand specialises in bánh mì style sandwiches.
Coral walls and a black menu with orange print was the backdrop for the sandwich counter. An illuminated light box displayed photos of dishes.
A shark motif decorated the dining room. Shark shaped lamp shades were on the ceiling and a hammerhead sharks mural was painted by the owner.
We ordered two sandwiches to share. The ingredients were layered in crusty baguettes and pinned by a toothpick. Both were garnished with batons of pickled carrot and cucumber, slivers of red onion, shredded lettuce, sprigs of coriander and jalapeño.
Aromatic and succulent, the lemongrass chicken was a delicious contrast of meaty, crunchy and chewy textures.
I had expected the salt and pepper tofu sandwich to be stuffed with cubes of deep fried bean curd, instead they were marinated slabs smeared with mustard. A curious combination in a sandwich, the silky tofu was pleasingly savoury.
I had spotted egg waffles (雞蛋仔) displayed in the window and was delighted that they made my favourite traditional Cantonese street food. I devour a bag a day when I’m in Hong Kong!
A thick batter was poured into a pockmarked waffle iron and rotated for even cooking. The sweet scent perfumed the air, so much so that a guy asked us what we were eating as we exited the restaurant! Crispy edged and spongy inside, the bubble wrap lattice was a light dessert.
Priced between four and six dollars, the generous portions were excellent value!
Posted Monday 23 April 2012on:
I have a fading memory of my uncle making dumplings (餃子). I don’t remember where or when the family gathering was and I don’t recall eating them but there is a faint image of his nimble fingers deftly pleating the wrapper, patiently making dozens for the dinner party. An exchange of emails with my father confirmed my uncle’s dumpling skills.
The lovely Kimberly was my companion at the Handmade Asian Dumplings class at The Pantry at Delancey. I had intended on snacking on a Jersey salad at Delancey prior to the cooking class but had forgotten the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Instead we perched on the azure stools on the deck at The Pantry and chatted.
Located behind Delancey, The Pantry has a herbs and vegetables garden.
A custom made timber table is the centrepiece. The space is practical and welcoming, a celebration of countryside kitchen and communal dining.
Blushed tulips in a mason jar, bottles of olive oil in a vintage crate and local jams, preserves and jellies (Deluxe Foods) were some of the provisions for sale.
Dumplings mise en place prepared by the volunteers.
A glass of sparkling Rosé was a refreshing apéritif.
We munched on crispy wonton skins and spongy tofu cubes (豆腐泡) as appetisers.
In America via Malaysia and Australia, Kathleen Khoo was our teacher. She was an affable lady with an cheerful persona. On the menu were ‘water dumplings’ (水餃), Japanese gyoza, deep fried wonton (炸雲吞) and siu mai (燒賣).
Kathleen demonstrated how to make a basic dough and an egg dough. ‘Just like pasta’, a dumpling dough is formed with flour, water, egg and a pinch of salt. Once combined, the dough was kneaded quickly and firmly until silky and pliable. The dough was then rested before flattening into wrappers.
We paired up to make a basic dough and an egg dough.
Kathleen explained some of the Asian ingredients such as shredding only the green parts of the Napa cabbage as the whites have a high water content.
A tray of condiments included hoisin sauce (海鮮醬), mirin, sake, sweet chilli sauce, sesame oil (芝麻油) and Shaoxing wine (紹興酒). A splash is enough as the condiments are pungent.
As our dough rested, we emptied the various containers of the mise en place and stirred the components together for each of the fillings.
You can buy packets of dumpling wrappers from Asian grocery stores and supermarkets but it is easy, economical and healthier to make fresh ones.
Water dumpling wrappers can be made in a tortilla press. We learnt to do it by hand with a narrow rolling pin. The egg dough was rolled in a pasta machine.
Being organised is essential to successful dumplings. The surface should be lightly floured, spoons or chopsticks to portion out the fillings, corn starch for dusting the wrappers, a basin of water to seal the dumplings, and cotton tea towels to cover the wrappers and dumplings to prevent them from drying out. The rested dough was rolled into a sausage shape and cut into inch wide lumps.
A vibrant green, sprigs of coriander were roughly chopped as garnish.
Sauces in earthy shades were poured.
My first handmade dumpling!
The water dumplings were crescent parcels of minced pork, shredded Napa cabbage, aromatics and seasoning. They were boiled, tossed in a store bought spicy dumpling sauce and adorned with coriander. Thick and doughy, the slippery dumplings were meaty.
The crimped edges of the Japanese gyoza were fun to make. These sturdy morsels of minced pork and prawn chunks were seared in a non-stick pan and steamed in stock. Golden bottomed and translucent, the juicy and robust gyoza was my favourite.
Wontons were folded into nurse’s caps, deep fried and served with sweet chilli dipping sauce. I prefer wontons boiled in a broth ladled over noodles.
Siu mai, an open dumpling that is a staple dim sum (點心) at yum cha (飲茶), were a dexterous challenge. Traditionally made with twelve pleats, I maxed out at seven! The siu mai were plump bites laced with the distinct flavours of shiitake mushrooms.
Bunches of Chinese cabbage were quartered and steamed as a side. The first bamboo basket was too wilted but the second was just cooked, the stalks crunchy and the leaves tender.
Dumpling making is the perfect rainy weekend activity!
I missed the Seattle Foodies First Friday Lunch Club in November as I was home in Australia. The food lovers sampled every dish on the Revel menu and then some! This whetted my appetite and I was keen to return to Revel for Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi‘s fusion of Korean, French and American flavours.
The metal clad facade of the restaurant was a welcomed sight after a windy walk to Fremont on another bleak day.
A modern design and minimally furnished, Revel is stylish and spacious. At its heart is the kitchen and a long, wide counter. Our huddle of three sat at a table for cosy conversations. The low overhead lights were a hazard for those seated on the bench!
I had a prime view of the open plan, stainless steel kitchen where salads are tossed, pancakes flipped, dumplings seared, noodles stir fried, rice bowls assembled and cookies sandwiched. The chefs shuffled quietly around each other and efficiently between stations.
A tray with four glass containers of condiments was presented at each table after ordering.
We shared two appetisers. The first was pork belly, kimchi and bean sprout pancake. Cut into quarters, each piece had a thin slice of marbled pork and a crispy edge.
The short rib dumplings were pressed together in a row and served with a mound of shallots and scallions. A spoon separated the dumplings easily. Each morsel was dense and firm, and in a scrumptious sticky sauce.
My dining companions both had the short rib rice bowl with sambal daikon, mustard green and a raw egg yolk.
I also had a rice bowl. Blackened tofu, king oyster mushroom confit, Chinese broccoli and a raw egg yolk were piled on top of a large serving of rice. It was a delicious combination of crunchy greens, pillowy tofu and meaty mushrooms.
The restaurant was lively and full for weekday lunch, and we left warmed by the heat of the kitchen!
I walked to Chinatown-International District on Chinese New Year this year. My first visit to the neighbourhood, I was expecting a festive atmosphere, maybe hear the rhythmic echoes of drums, cymbals and gongs of a lion dance performance. Or at least red and gold banners wishing me happiness and prosperity.
There was none of that. It was eerily quiet and I counted two other people on the main street. The leaden sky blurred into the drab buildings, the entire area washed in shades of grey. Dilapidated and grimy, I left disappointed and a little homesick for the vibrant Sydney Chinatown.
I have since returned several times, mostly to frequent Uwajimaya. There are also a handful of non-Chinese eateries that justify the hyphenated neighbourhood, Chinatown-International District.
Expectations are clear in the succinctly named Thai Curry Simple! Located opposite a public transport hub, Thai Curry Simple is busy but efficient during a weekday lunch service. Many nearby workers order take-away, others seat themselves in the small dining room.
There is an extensive list of hot and cold drinks available, a good selection of classic curries on the menu, and daily specials, all colourfully chalked onto blackboards and prominently displayed.
The meals are a bargain, priced at five and six dollars. A rotation of tofu curries will satisfy vegetarians. I’m intrigued by the Thai roti desserts, each combination illustrated with a photo of delectable sweetness.
I was contemplating a curry until I spotted the pad see ew as one of the daily specials. I love flat rice noodles and I paired it with tofu as an alternative protein to chicken.
Some of the tables were laminated with Thai scripts with writing instructions and drawings.
No star or chilli symbols are used to indicate the spiciness of the curries, each table has a jar of fiery chilli sauce for individuals to increase the heat level of the dishes. My tolerance is improving but I did not open the lid on this warm day!
My pad see ew was speedily served. It was a perfect lunch portion, fresh from the wok. Silky ribbons of rice noodles were entwined with Chinese broccoli, fragments of fried eggs and cubes of tofu. Stir fried in a sticky soy sauce, the pad see ew was homely and delicious.
With the lunch crowd dispersed, the owner said hello to me as he went to speak with one of his regular customers. He suggested I stay a while as it’s cool inside.
I read the details of each of the roti, and was surprised to find two savoury options. My tastebuds would get really confused eating cheese and scrambled eggs drizzled with condensed milk. It would be like a Thai breakfast burrito!
I retreated to the safety of roti with condensed milk and sugar. A thin veneer of condensed milk is spread on the roti, sprinkled with sugar, rolled and pan fried. The flaky log is served sliced into bite size morsels. Simple and scrumptious, I was tempted to eat a second one of these.
I will return with Mr S and friends to sample their ‘real Thai food’ Saturday lunches!
Whether it’s slow food or organic, farm to table or nose to tail, local produce and goods have evolved from being a movement to the mainstream. We shop at farmers markets and buy sustainable seafood. There is immense interest in the origins of ingredients, and where and how our food is grown.
At FareStart, it is as much about what is being cooked as it is about who is doing the cooking. The FareStart motto is ‘Great food. Better lives.’, their culinary job training and placement program offer the homeless and disadvantaged an opportunity to learn the skills to pursue a career in the restaurant and hospitality industry.
The FareStart restaurant is open for weekday lunch and hosts Guest Chef Night dinners on Thursdays. In the entrance foyer is a feature wall of plates decorated by donors and sponsors, and framed and autographed black and white photos of past guest chefs. A long communal wooden bench is prominent in the middle of the dining room, there is a mezzanine level and the open plan kitchen is visible from the main part of the restaurant.
I had a mid afternoon appointment and knew that I would be having a light supper so I decided on a three course lunch! On the specials menu were Chef Chieu’s crispy tofu nuggets with sweet chilli dipping sauce. The three golden wedges had a crunchy batter and paired well with the not too sweet sauce. To my surprise, firm tofu was used and it was squeaky like haloumi and a little dry. This was easily remedied by extra dips in the sauce.
Listed in the FareStart favourites section of the standard menu, the blackened salmon sandwich was served on a local artisan roll with a side of lemon caper aioli and with a choice of fries, soup or salad. I opted for the daily house made Thai chicken peanut soup. It was thick and creamy, and full of chicken pieces and toasted peanuts. Unfortunately it was too spicy for my palate.
The wild salmon fillet was seared with a blackening spice and it had a lovely caramelised crust to it. It was a generous portion, about double the size of the brioche bun it was resting on.
The lunch rush had emptied and three wait staff asked separately if I would like dessert – yes please! The crème caramel was oddly presented with sliced strawberries. I love crème caramel – the slight wobble on the plate, the intense caramel layer tempered by smooth custard and how the caramel drips from the inversion.
Students were among the kitchen and wait staff and the revenue from the lunch service goes directly to the FareStart programmes. Winner of the James Beard Foundation 2011 Humanitarian of the Year award, I’m proud that FareStart is part of the Seattle community.