Friday, June 26, 2009

Fish, Sauce, Home

On my move to Boston, I was sure to bring one item that any self respecting Vietnamese could not live without – fish sauce! I was afraid of not being able to find the right brand at the American supermarkets. I triple wrapped the glass bottle and put it in a box filled with Styrofoam and flew with peace of mind knowing that when I got to the new apartment, my fish sauce bottle would turn it into a home.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Squid, Plating, Marriage

For the past month I’ve felt imprisoned and can hardly breathe. This is because my choices of plates and bowls were limited to 1 of each! Can you imagine it? Living with just ONE choice of plates? Oh the criminal offense! Luckily, my mom finally sent over my CB collection from home and saved the day.

Food to me is an art. The shopping, the chopping, the grilling and broiling, all precursors to that pivotal moment of robust flavors exploiting every pore of your tongue and building up to the final gratification of heighten taste buds. This crucial moment however can be easily ruined regardless of the excellence in your flavoring, or texture if your presentation lacks appeal. Much like a good song played on scratched record; no one wants to experience the buzz kill of a delicious meal on a messy and thoughtless plate.

Regardless if you are a young college student, a single man in his early twenties, an aging recently divorcée, or a bachelor on the prow, or even a nerdy engineer who can’t get some, the best thing you can do for your sex appeal is to get a set of white plate settings. Pricing is no excuse. If you have the bling for a set of Williams Sonoma , cheers to you, but if your current financial state is less than glorious, Ikea sells amazing and modern plates ranging from $2.00 - $6.00 (link). Please throw away your plastic, floral print, burnt marks covered, washed out, scratched up tableware now.

White tableware will accent your food and make it look like you’re a mature adult – even if you’re a monkey. Any ladies coming over for dinner will surely be impressed and when this happens, you’ll be glad you took my advice. Please send any wedding invitations to

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pizza - Best Way to Get "Some"

Have you ever forked over more than $20 for a pizza? Especially at one of those fancy, brick oven baked pizzerias? God knows I’ve paid for more than my fair share of such ridiculous bills! Tonight I decided to save some cash and made my own!

The ingredients and directions are really simple: pizza dough (or puff pastries if you don’t have time), spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard, cover with chopped shallots (sweet onions), and grated cheese (can be any of your choice but I prefer Gruyere), sliced cherry tomatoes, and top it off with some salt, thyme or dry basil. Half an hour and 375 degrees later, you have a tasty meal.

The thing I love most about this dish is not only how easy it is for an inexperience chef and how devilishly delicious it is for anyone, but also how impressive it looks on a plate. Best to use if you’re cooking for a dinner date under the clock. Trust me - it’ll take you along way if served with a glass of Carbonet. And by a long way, I mean the next room over.

Happy cooking. Cheers.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Comfort Eating

When your insides are blue, when the sky is gray, and when you’re all alone, what is the one dish that can bring you endless comfort? For me, it’s rather simple - spaghetti! Nothing is as warm as a plate of hot served, extra mushrooms, over loaded meat, carbs bonified spaghetti!

The reason why spaghetti is so comforting is because our moms made it for us when we were sick as kids. They made it when they came home late from work and had no time to prep a proper meal. They made it out of a jar, they made it out in under 15 minutes, and they made it with no shame!

Today’s entire menu, because it’s raining outside in Boston and because I am in need of that extra comfort, is dedicated to a few of my most comforting ingredients/foods – bacon, eggs, tomato sauce, spaghetti, vanilla bean ice cream, and ANDES MINT!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Salmon Reminisce

In college we use to buy frozen packaged salmon by the bulk from Costco. Along with a handy dandy Gorge Foreman Grill and a bottle of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, we were never afraid of hunger or a poor meal. This is how my roommates and I got through our last few years at UCLA. Anyone who came over was served Salmon, every mid afternoon conversation, every late night study session, regardless of time or whether you like fish or not, Salmon was to be had!!!

Needless to say, after a while, we were forced to find ways of making this fish interesting without spending the big bucks. We flirted with other types of fish a few times, but nothing was as easy or clean, or convenient as the Salmon from Costco. The result was this, Salmon with pasta and sesame oil.

This meal is a dedication to that special time with those special people who helped me every step of the way through my awkward cooking stage of my undergraduate degree. Every time I see Salmon, I am reminded of such sweet times. I truly miss you all.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Peachy Time

Walking down the produce isle, I noticed that the peach carton had triple in size compared to last night! Is it peach season right now? Either way, I love peaches and the increase in variety, size, and crunchiness is great news! It inspired me to make a peach salad I had once at Citizen Cake in San Francisco, especially because I had goat cheese left over after making the beets and raspberry salad the other night. I have to admit this is one of the easiest and best salads I’ve ever made.

I also bought some soft plums and made myself a little fruit tart! This is also a very simple recipe. Readymade puff pastries can be use for both sweet and savory dishes and is great for making any kind of dessert.

I suggest you go out and buy yourself some fresh peaches now!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Meal Déjà Vu

Have you ever been on a trip where you had a random dish at a random restaurant but years later the thing that you remember most about your expensive vacation is how deliciously special that first random bite was? This happens to me all the time.

I try to go to the market every other day here in Boston, buy small portions, fresh produce, and allow for the opportunity to change it up from night to night. The fish market here closes at 7pm and last night, I made it right on the dot. Tilapia was the only viable option and all the other choices were either sold out or put away. Although I came looking for salmon, walking home with the white flesh of tilapia reminded me of a very special getaway I had in Seattle. I tried to imitate a dish from Café Campagne in Pike’s Market – Tilapia with almonds and lemon zest. While my attempt could not compete with that of the cute restaurant, it brought back vivid memories of my experiences during that genuine time.

What is your favorite dish from a weekend getaway and what special memory does it remind you of?

This ice-cream is the best! Made only with 5 ingredients, no crazy chemicals!

A special memory from Seattle.