Tag Archives: Sriracha

Date Night in Albany

A very sweet and generous friend of mine offered to babysit Future Foodie, so we took the opportunity to indulge in some culinary delights in Albany for our date night.  First, we headed to TJ’s Cafe, which has the best fried ravioli in town. Hands down. I don’t even know how the rest of the food tastes.  We went to TJ’s a few years ago, I got the ravioli and have never forgotten them.  We plunked ourselves down at the bar, I ordered a dirty vodka martini and promptly ordered my ravioli.  They came out perfectly fried, nice and golden brown.  They are filled with a blend of ricotta and mozzarella, with some chopped jalapenos.  They are served with a marinara sauce and a raspberry sauce, which I thought was totally weird but was absolutely delicious when I tried it.  Poor J got maybe three of the ravioli and I kind of inhaled the rest of them.  YUM.

We then headed over to Van’s Vietnamese to get our Pho fix.  The place was pretty packed, which we were glad to see.  We waited about 10 minutes for a table.  Once we were seated, we both ordered the Pho Chin (Noodles with well done beef brisket) and J ordered the shrimp summer rolls.  He absolutely loves them (I don’t eat shrimp).  According to J, the shrimp are fresh and perfectly cooked and the flavors in the roll itself are perfectly balanced, and then combined with the awesome peanut sauce, he was in summer roll heaven.

When you order the noodles, they always bring out a plate of accoutrements to go  with the dish.  We had a heaping dish of bean sprouts, a few sprigs of cilantro, sliced fresh jalapenos, lime wedges, and a little dish of plum/hoisin? sauce and Sriracha.

Our steaming bowls of noodle and broth came out.  We added in all of those delicious things and dug in.  The Pho was delicious, with a beautiful beef flavor with hints of sweetness, and the vermicelli noodles were just delicious.  The beef itself was really good, and wonderful when dipped in a combination of the plum/hoisin and Sriracha sauces.  We finished the noodles fairly quickly but ended up taking the broth home so we can cook some more noodles up and enjoy another helping of deliciousness.

 

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Recipe: Vegetable Lo Mein

My favorite thing about my husband is that he takes our family recipes and makes them taste even better. He just has this knack.  One of the dishes he really makes well is vegetable Lo Mein.  It’s the opposite of what you get at Chinese restaurants, all the vegetables are crisp, the noodles are al dente, and the dish isn’t dripping with oil.  It’s pretty healthy too. You can add any veggies and proteins you want to the dish, it’s very versatile.

Ingredients

Carrots

Snow peas

Mushrooms (mostly Baby Bellas and a handful of shitakes)

5 Eggs

Chinese Noodles

2 Scallions

1 garlic clove

Sesame Oil

Rice wine

Soy Sauce

Instructions

Julienne carrots and snow peas.  Chop scallions and garlic.  Slice the mushrooms.

Cook noodles (use a good handful) like you would pasta, until the noodles are al dente. Make sure to rinse noodles with water when they are done so that you remove the starchiness.

Scramble eggs in a pan or wok. Add a dash of salt and white pepper.  Cook and place in separate bowl.

Change to high heat.  Add some vegetable oil to the pan and cook the mushrooms until they start emitting some liquid (about 5 minutes). Add some soy sauce, cook for another 1 minute and a half.  Set aside in a separate bowl.

Add a little bit more oil to the pan, add carrots, and cook for 5 minutes.  Add snow peas, scallions, and garlic. Stir all ingredients frequently so that garlic doesn’t burn. Add noodles, mushrooms, and eggs. Mix everything together. Add a generous amount of soy sauce, but add in small batches so you don’t overtake the dish with soy sauce.  Add a 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil.  Add 1 tablespoon of rice wine.  Keep mixing and add soy sauce until you achieve a flavor/saltiness level that you want.

Serve. Add Sriracha for additional tastiness.

 

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Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dogs

I’m not sure how loudly I have proclaimed my love for hot dogs in the past, and I’m going to keep on proclaiming because I had one of the most delicious hot dogs of my life in Denver.  I was lucky enough to go to Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dog stand on 16th and Champa.  Anthony Bourdain is supposedly a big fan and now, so are J and I.

It’s a food cart, and they sell hot dogs for $5, but the catch is that these are no ordinary hot dogs.  They serve elk, boar, and buffalo hotdogs along with all beef hot dogs. It seemed like a popular place because there was a line of hungry looking but patient people.

J ordered the Elk jalapeno and cheddar dog.  I went crazy and ordered two different dogs, the veal hot dog and the Louisiana Red Hot (all beef dog).  You can get the option of cream cheese and caramelized onions (cooked with Pepsi) on the dogs.  I was not sure about this but I went ahead and did it anyway and am so damn glad I made that decision.

My other favorite part of this food cart was the variety of toppings they offered:  fresh chopped onions, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, sauerkraut, Sriracha, etc.  It was wonderful!

Let me tell you, when I bit into that Louisiana Red Hot, I was amazed by the deliciousness going on in my mouth.  It was spicy, not too salty, popped with flavor.  The cream cheese and onions really added to the entire experience.  My mouth is watering thinking about it right now.  The veal hot dog was really good but not as transcendent as the Red Hot.  J loved his elk, I found it a little dry. I probably could have eaten at least one more Red Hot, but I held back and I was thinking it’s probably not the healthiest thing to down three hot dogs in ten minutes.  Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t so reasonable but I am so happy that we got to taste that little slice of hot dog heaven.

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Recipe: Cold Sesame Noodles (Warning: You will become addicted to these)

Okay think about the sesame noodles you get at Chinese take out places. The noodles I’m going to tell you how to make are about 1000 times better than those.  With these noodles. you might not be wowed at the first bite. But keep eating and you’ll see, they’re kind of ninja like in how they sneak up on you and then all you want to do is keep eating them.  You won’t stop until you’ve stuffed every last bit of noodle into your mouth.  And then you’ll want more.

Cold Sesame Noodles (recipe courtesy of my mother, one of the greatest cooks of all time)

Dried Chinese Noodles

Kikkoman Soy Sauce

White Vinegar

Sesame Oil

Scallions (1 piece or more depending how much you’re making)

Sriracha (only for those who can take it)

Cooking Instructions:

Boil water for noodles.  Just like you’re making pasta, have enough water to cover the top of how ever much noodles you’re making.  Once water boils, take a handful of noodles (again adjust to your preferred amount) and throw them in the water.

Turn heat to medium high.  Stir the noodles around, make sure you’re separating them in the water so they don’t stick together.  Let noodles cook for approximately 8 – 10 minutes.  Check around that time to see if the texture is right.  Should be a little chewy, and not too mushy.

Drain noodles in a colander. Rinse noodles with cold water.  Stash noodles in fridge to cool. Can be made a few days ahead of time.

When noodles are sufficiently cold enough, take them out. You can dress them now.  Start with the sesame oil first.  Drizzle oil onto noodles, making sure you’re not drenching the noodles but just about coating them.  Mix the noodles around (I like to use chopsticks, they seem the easiest tool to use to mix the noodles around) Then drizzle the noodles with the soy sauce.  Again, don’t drench them but use enough soy sauce so that the noodles are a nice brown color.  Pour 1 – 2 capfuls of the white vinegar onto the noodles. Mix.  Taste.  If you like it saltier, add more soy sauce. If you want more tang, add more vinegar.  But ideally you should have a nice balance of salt and a slight tang to the noodles.

Chop up 1/2 – 1 stem of scallions. Mix them into the noodles.

Add the Sriracha. The Sriracha really kicks up the flavor of the noodles so I highly suggest it.

Voila! Dive in!

Just a note. If you put the dressed noodles in the fridge, just make sure to add more of the 3 sauces whenever you’re ready to eat them again because the noodles tend to soak up the sauce.

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Home Cooking, Chinese Style

I had a friend from India who I used to work with and one day, she asked me how Chinese people stay so slim. I said I didn’t know.  She said she was surprised at how Chinese people managed to stay thin when all we ate was fried food like Sweet and Sour Chicken, and Egg Rolls.  I laughed and told her that was the American version of Chinese food and that I didn’t know any Chinese people who cook that type of food at home much less eat it at a restaurant.

So in recognition of real Chinese food, I thought I would share a favorite Chinese recipe of mine that I got from my mom. When you want a freakishly good Chinese meal, you go to my mom.  She can put a bunch of seemingly disparate ingredients together and 95% of the time end up with a fantastic meal.

Without further adieu, I give you Shanghai style Chinese Rice Cakes.

Ingredients:

1 bag of Chinese Rice Cakes (if frozen, empty bag into a big bowl and thaw in water)

1 large head of Chinese Mustard Greens (buy at the Asian Market)

1/4 bag of Baby Bok Choy

1/2 cup Fresh bamboo

1 – 2 shiitake Mushrooms

Some type of meat: chicken, beef, or pork – 1/2 lb

2 cloves Garlic

1/2 Tablespoon Ginger

Soy Sauce

Chinese Rice Wine

Kosher Salt

Canola Oil

Sriracha Hot Sauce (Bright red sauce with a green cap)

Cooking Instructions:

Prepare the mustard greens 2 days in advance by first cleaning them thoroughly. Spread open a leaf, layer it on the bottom of a large container, sprinkle liberal amounts of kosher salt on the mustard green. Repeat the process until no leaves are left.  This step tenderizes and breaks down the mustard greens.  Cover and place in refrigerator at least 2 days in advance.

Mince both the garlic and ginger and set aside. Slice the meat into 1/4 strips.  Marinate meat with all of the ginger and garlic, add a 1 tablespoon of rice wine and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce.  You can do this the night before.

Squeeze the mustard greens of any liquid (handful at a time).  Chop the greens into small pieces.  Set aside.

Clean bok choy, rough cut and include white stems.  Set aside.

Julienne fresh bamboo. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in the wok/saute pan over high heat.  Add meat, cook for 3 – 4 minutes max. Stir constantly.  Transfer meat to a separate bowl.

Return wok/pan to heat, lower heat to medium high heat.  Add mustard greens.  Stir frequently, cook for approximately 10 minutes or until greens are cooked.  Add 1/4 cup of water during the cooking process as necessary.  You don’t want leaves to dry out.  After 10 minutes (regardless if leaves are cooked or not) add bamboo and shiitakes. Stir together.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Add bok choy.  Keep stirring, cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Add meat back in and place rice cakes on top (if thawing, make sure to strain all the water out from the rice cakes).  Cover the wok/pan.

This will steam the rice cakes and soften them.  Check the consistency of the rice cakes after 5 minutes.  Should be soft and chewy.  Cook longer if needed.  Once cooked, mix all ingredients together in pan.  Add soy sauce to taste.

Serve.

For the brave ones out there, add Sriracha (makes everything taste 100x better).  Promise.

Also – the key to Chinese cooking, at least with this dish, is that you can be flexible with the ingredients.  Add more/less depending on what you like.

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