Saturday, August 28, 2010

Seafood Village (Bi Feng Tang)

Seafood Village in Monterey Park is one of my all-time favorite Chinese restaurants in L.A. It's also one of the very few Teochew restaurants in SoCal, and the food reminds me of Chinese food in Singapore.  

Their house specialty crab is deep fried and piled on with garlic fried in butter. 

There's a light crust that coats the shell. Very tasty!

The beef with satay sauce was my husband's favorite dish of the night. 

I've been dying to try the oyster omelette and I was disappointed. It's a perfectly fine omelette but it's nothing like the Oh Chien you find in Singapore. It's just egg and oyster; nothing special. 
The omelette had plenty of oysters.

Green beans is the only vegetable my husband eats, so this is always a staple. 

My dad, a very discerning eater, really enjoyed the Yang Chow fried rice. The rice is nice and fluffy. 


Monday, August 23, 2010

Prima Taste Curry Chicken

I love, love, love Prima Taste's Curry Chicken mix. It's so simple -- just add water, chicken and a couple russet potatoes. It's just the comfort food I need after a hard day at work. now carries Prima Mixes. 


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sour Lemon Scones

My love affair with scones started around my secondary school years. One particular summer, my friends and I made daily treks to Padang, an open field in the middle of downtown Singapore, to watch an inter-regional softball tournament. We'd meet up at City Hall MRT in the morning, pick up breakfast -- scones for me -- and head to the field, where we sat and watched game after game until the sun went down. The field is sandwiched between two busy streets with bumper to bumper traffic, and it was always a crowd pleaser when a foul ball hit a passing public bus.  

I have very fond memories of that summer and those buttery, fluffy scones. 

Sour Lemon Scones
Yields: 12 scones

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
3 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup lemon zest
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger. Whisk to combine. Add chilled butter and rub into the flour mixture. 

In a separate bowl, whisk egg, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and lemon zest. Slowly pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture. (The dough will be pretty wet.) Knead gently. Gather the dough onto a floured work surface. Separate the dough into two disks. Don't overwork the dough. 

Cut each disk into 6 wedges. Place on baking sheet. Brush each wedge with the remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake in the oven (center rack) for 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer scones to cooking rack. These tastes great when served warm, with a cup of tea. 

I love these scones because they're mild and not super sweet. They're really easy to make and lasted about 3 days at my house. 


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Steak Salad

It's one of those summer nights that begs for a good, filling salad. 

Two pieces of ribeye (my favorite cut) -- seasoned with salt and black pepper -- from Fresh & Easy.

Served with arugula, shaved Parmasan cheese, diced avocado and cucumbers. 


Sunday, August 15, 2010

American Tea House in Beverly Hills

My cousin received a gift certificate to a tea tasting class at the American Tea Room for Mother's Day and invited me along. I'm half Japanese and half Chinese, and I grew up drinking both green and black tea on a regular basis. My parents didn't think it was appropriate for young children to drink soda with our meals so we had tea instead. I've always loved tea but it wasn't until today that I found out how little I knew about this ancient beverage. 

All tea -- from the glorious Tie Guan Yin to the humblest Lipton black tea -- came from the Camellia sinensis plant. At the American Tea Room, we sampled white, green, Oolong and black tea, as well as an herbal "tea."

We were told the cup was very special. 

Look at how a pattern emerges when hot water is poured into it. We got to keep the cup. 

This is a very high quality white tea from Fujien, China. It boasts three times the antioxidants of your average green tea. White tea, or Silver Needles, are hand plucked buds of a tea plant. It's very light and has a floral flavor, which lingers on your tongue. A 3.5 oz bag retails for $65.

This green tea from Japan has a very fresh, almost grassy taste. A few tips I learned: Tea should not be steeped in boiling water. 183 is the preferred temperature. And different tea requires different steeping time. 

Oolong is partially (around 10%) fermented tea leaves -- the state between green and black tea. The version we tried is from Taiwan. It's more mild than the Oolongs I've had at dim sum restaurants. 

The Oolong was paired with a cracker with a soft Danish cheese and olives. The olives were really salty and pungent and highlighted the subtlety of the delicate tea. 

Black tea is fully fermented tea leaves. The Maharajah or Assam Black tea is from northern India and has hints of cinnamon and cloves. This full-bodied tea is my favorite of all five teas we tasted. 

The Maharajah was paired with a smoked salmon tartlet. 

The Choco Laté is made with African rooibos, cacao husks and vanilla bean. It brewed for 4 minutes and smelled and tasted like hot chocolate! It was dessert without the sin. Technically, this is not real "tea" since it was not brewed with leaves from a tea plant. 

The matcha meringue dipped in chocolate really complemented the African rooibos. 


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vegetable Garden in Progress

I have an aunt who lives near Chinatown in Los Angeles and she has an incredible vegetable garden. She's a vegetarian and grows most of her own food. She's my inspiration for what I hope my garden would be someday. 

I have basil, Japanese eggplant, sage, rosemary, Thai chili, lemongrass, roma tomatoes and shiso. $1 each from the Hollywood farmers' market. 

Kevin built the planter boxes. 

Look at how big the avocado is getting!!! 


Prima Taste Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hands down, chicken rice is my absolute favorite food in the entire world. I can eat chicken rice every day. It's almost impossible to find decent chicken rice in Los Angeles, so I'm taking things into my own hands. I've experimented with many recipes but still can't figure out the correct way to make the rice part of chicken rice. Until I locate the perfect rice recipe, I'm turning to Prima Taste to satisfy my cravings.  

During her last visit, my lovely aunt Judy brought me boxes of the Hainanese chicken rice mix.  

The directions are pretty easy, and it even comes with the dark sweet soy sauce. 

It is essential to use the freshest free-range chicken you can find. I always go with Healthy Family Farms from the Sunday Hollywood Farmers' Market. Healthy Family Farms' chicken tastes like the way real chicken should, which is important when you're serving something as simple as poached chicken. 

My technique: 
1. Rub chicken with shaoxing wine and salt.
2. Stuff chicken cavity with scallions, knobs of ginger and smashed garlic cloves.
3. Bring a pot of water to boil.
4. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat and submerge the chicken in the water. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. 
5. Remove cover and lift chicken out of the water. Make sure the water drains out of the cavities. Then submerge the chicken again, cover and let stand for another 15 minutes. 
6. Remove chicken from pot. Bring water back to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat and submerge the chicken. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. 
7. Repeat step 5. 
8. Total "cooking" time should add up to about an hour.
9. Remove chicken from pot and dunk it into a bowl of ice water. Let stand for 5-10 mins. 
10. Remove from ice water and cut up chicken. 
11. Serve with soy sauce mixture (from the Prima mix) and sliced cucumbers.