Thursday, March 31, 2005

Lindsi's World-Famous Mochiko Chicken

Now that I have her recipe and have successfully recreated the delight that is her mochiko chicken, I can finally discontinue my sham of a friendship with her. I kid about being her friend just for this recipe, because it is that good.

We prepped this on Tuesday night and ate it on Wednesday night. The prep time was about 10 minutes to cut up the boneless chicken thighs to the right size, another 5 minutes to throw the marinade together, and 5 minutes to clean up the cutting board and knife. I put the marinade together in a gallon zip-lock bag, keeping post-cleaning down to a minimum and sanitation to a maximum. We let it sit overnight in the fridge, per Lindsi's instructions.

The next morning, Seppo set the timer on the rice cooker to finish cooking by 7pm, a brilliant move on his part. Deep-frying the chicken pieces took about 30 minutes in a 12" skillet, in something like 4 or 5 batches, so each batch was pretty fast. It was hard not to snack too much when the hot little pieces came out. With some salad, we were eating within 45 minutes of coming home. Seppo's friend Dave came over for dinner, and he liked it so much that he asked for the recipe right away. I used my GoodLink-enabled Treo 600 send it to him immediately before I forgot. Heh.

The marinade forms a very very light batter on the surface of the chicken, so it is slightly crispy, but not overwhelmingly so. It's not a traditional fried chicken texture or taste. The predomininant flavor notes are soy sauce and sugar, but overall flavor is not harshly salty or sickly sweet in any way at all. It's all very subtle, but addictively tasty. The worst part of it is that the pieces are deceptively small, so you can easily pop down a dozen without realizing how much you've eaten. The best part of it is that everytime I eat it, I think of Lindsi and the happy times we have had and continue to have together. I'm really glad she's in my life.

Thanks, Lindsi!

Addendum: It looks like the exact recipe that Lindsi gave me is available on the web; it was the first one I found when I googled "mochiko chicken", so I think it's ok to give out. Here it is:

2 lbs. chicken (thighs or breasts) cut into bite sized morsels
4 Tbsp. mochiko flour
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
4 Tbsp. sugar
5 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 Tsp. salt
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 beaten eggs
2 cloves minced garlic
oil for frying

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl (except for the oil) and add in chicken. Mix well and marinate chicken overnight. Fry marinated chicken in oil until golden-brown. Drain oil from chiken on paper towels and newspaper. Eat!

Lindsi advises all mortals to double the recipe because you will want leftovers. I should have listened to her. :D

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Food + Friends II

We had some peoples over to the house this morning, and decided to have breakfast. Bacon & pancakes. Ei-Nyung made the pancakes (which for some reason, I instinctively type as pankakes) from a mix she got at JT's store, and they're consistently the best pancakes I've ever had. I cooked up some bacon on the griddle, and this lead to two observations:

1: If you've tried to wrap a scallop in a slice of bacon last night, but didn't, it needs a really through washing before cooking, even if it was only touching the scallop for a moment. There were only a few pieces that were "contaminated," (the ones that were cut in half), but they tasted *really* odd. Fortunately, I think only Klay & I had those pieces. :P

2: The griddle can only *properly* hold about as much fat as what runs off of about five slices of bacon. We ended up cooking something like seven or eight slices, and the fat ended up catching fire as it pooled at the edges of the griddle. An overturned skillet put it out (three times), but just a cautionary note, that the griddle needs to be wiped down in between each round of bacon-cooking.

Like last night, it was just a great time, eating and hanging out, and definitely one of my favorite things in the world.

Later today, Max came over for dinner, and I made a recipe I got off - some sort of spicy shrimp recipe by Rick Bayless, who was on the first regular episode of Iron Chef America. Basically roasted some tomatoes, garlic, and onions, pureed them, then fried the puree with some chipotles in adobo sauce, then added the shrimp, and served it with rice & a garnish of cilantro. We ended up having about 10-12 shrimp each, with for 18-22 count shrimp, is a pretty substantial amount of shrimpage.

I have no idea how to properly taste while cooking with peppers, as the first bite is never really a proper gauge for how utterly burninated your mouth can get after say, the tenth mouthful, and as a result, made the dish a little too hot for my liking. Still, it turned out pretty reasonably, with the roasted quality of the onions, garlic and tomatoes adding a sort of smokey richness to the sauce.

I wish I could say that the hanging out was as good as it was in the morning, but I can't. Maybe it was for Max & Ei-Nyung, but I'd taken an Actifed while cooking, 'cause my allergies had been hammering me all day, and fell into a deep sleep immediately after dinner. Alas!

bacon-wrapped scallops

Seppo cooked dinner for the two of us tonight. It was supposed to be a surprise, but I overheard him on the phone by accident. I love scallops, but I don't recall ever having cooked it at home. Seppo and I are both a little fearful of cooking seafood, but it seems like he's gotten over it to great results.

I'm not sure what the entire process was, but it involved wrapping bacon around the scallops and putting it under the broiler for a short period of time. It was accompanied by green and yellow squash, sauteed in the new Calphalon Commercial Hard-Anodized 12" Everyday Pan, and a nice salad w/ EVOO & reduced balsamic. The scallops were perfectly cooked. Any less, and they would have crossed into the raw territory. Any more, and they would have become rubbery. These were quite succulent and reminded me a little of perfectly cooked lobster, with a nice smokiness added by the bacon. The squash was a good accompaniment because the delicate flavor was not too assertive in a way that would overwhelm the main dish, while also providing a little bit of a crunchy texture, a nice contrast to the delicate bite of the scallops. The colors were pleasing too. Well done, Seppo! :D

Oh, I almost forgot about the spicy mayo sauce for the scallops. I think it was mainly that Sriracha sauce mixed with some mayo, which is basically the same sauce as you might have in a spicy tuna roll or something. The spiciness and the slight tang combined with the creaminess of the mayo was strangely delicious with the scallops. I know it sounds strange, but it was really good. I finished my plate of 5 big scallops and wished I had another half dozen.

Uyen, Charles, Lindsi, and Dara joined us for dessert afterwards. They had apparently just gone to Angelfish -- heh. U & C brought a tub of homemade strawberry ice cream that was pretty astounding in its strawberry flavor. From the color, you could tell that they used a reasonable amount of strawberries, but the flavor was really intense and bursting with strawberriness (ok, so that's not a word -- so sue me). We had that with leftover hot chocolate pudding cake, and chatted about the most random things in the world, having in general the most awesome kind of Saturday night: sitting around with good friends and eating and telling funny stories.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Ei-Nyung and the Forty Cloves

Seppo's birthday dinner consisted of the following:
  • Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
  • French bread
  • Salad
  • Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (courtesy of Seppo's mom)
  • Hot Chocolate Pudding Cake (or whatever the name is)
The chicken was pretty easy to make, once I was able to disassemble the chicken into eight parts from the whole carcass. That part was pretty arduous, especially since it was my first time doing so. The unpeeled garlic was roasted with shallots tossed in olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper, separate from the chicken for a while so that it has time to roast enough to take out any lingering bite, while the chicken was browned slightly on the stovetop then finished in the oven on top of the garlic. The sauce is really simple: some chicken broth, some vermouth, a bit of fresh herbs, cooked along with the chicken in the oven, followed by a little time on the stove top with some of the garlic smooshed (ha, I accidentally typed "smooched" the first time around) into it, finished off with some cold butter.

The garlic was truly fragrant and creamy, with no harshness or bite. It was perfect spread onto the bread, dipped into some of the sauce. The sauce retained some of the flavor of the rosemary and thyme, even though the herbs were not a part of the cooking process for very long. The salad was just a bagged salad, but it was tossed in some reduced balsamic vinegar and fairly good olive oil.

The best part of this dinner, from the preparation end of it, was that only the entree and dessert needed any work at all. The bread and salad rounded out the meal, but were totally work-free, saving me the time it would have taken had I chosen to go with a side vegetable or rice/pasta/potato to accompany the chicken. The thing I would do next time is just pick up some chicken parts (with skin on and bone in) instead of cutting up my own. It's cheaper to cut your own, but it is very time-consuming, unless you are already an expert.

I was going to take a pic of the food, but I, er, forgot to. I did take a pic of the pudding cake after we had already started to dig into it. We served it with some Dreyer's Vanilla ice cream. The cake is utterly hideous, but it is supposed to be, so I will post a pic of it soon. The pineapple upside-down cake was delicious, but it was very sweet, so a small piece was enough to satiate me.

I got Seppo a bunch of cooking-themed stuff (along with some other things), so I'll let him post about them if he wants. :D

I give this meal a 3.5 out of 5.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

All-Clad 12" Skillet

It is a fantastic pan, and my favorite cooking tool in the kitchen. (I say that as though I have other favorite cooking tools out of the kitchen. But I digress.) Because most of my cooking life up to this point involved nonstick pans -- with the exception of my favorite heavy aluminum pan that was consumed in the Philly house fire -- I had been wary of using this awesome pan for more than searing meat. Before I go any further, it is amazing for searing meat and producing a great simple pan-sauce. You simply can't develop the kind of fond that is necessary for a good pan-sauce in a non-stick skillet.

Being from a non-stick background, I was sure that all sorts of things would stick to it and that it would be a real pain in the rear to clean. But the only thing that seems to stick is eggs (I tried again today during lunch but ended up with a gloppy mess yet again). This morning, I made Seppo pancakes for his birthday breakfast in this pan, and they just slid right off. If you don't properly pre-heat the pan (or if you over-heat it), then you might get the kind of chicken thigh stickage that I got a few weeks ago, but otherwise you'll be fine.

I swear that I will never go back to non-stick, except for eggs. Hmm, and maybe baking pans...

Cleaning is simple. If you are making a pan-sauce of some sort by deglazing, then you are 90% of the way to a clean pan already. If you don't want to make a sauce, that's fine. Just put some water in the pan (to cover the bottom) and act like you are deglazing, except you are taking all the bits off to chuck. If you are too lazy to do this, stick the pan in the sink while it's hot, run some water on it as you swish a scrubby around in it with a little soap, and it's all clean in a matter of seconds. If you wait, it takes longer, but soaking also helps, so either way, it's still a snap.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


So, the Yang to Angelfish's Yin, Geta's the local cheap take-out sushi joint that we frequent when we're not rolling around in $$.

While the selection is limited, there's no ambience to speak of, and the seating's limited to maybe four tables, for a take-out weekday sushi experience, Geta can't be beat. The fish is quite good, the rolls are tasty, and the ever-expanding menu is finally starting to include some of what I consider to be "staples" of a sushi restaurant.

A rainbow roll (CA roll w/ maguro, salmon, avocado & shrimp on top) runs you $4.95, and two rainbow rolls is almost enough for a full meal. Contrast that with the rainbow roll at Angelfish, which is 25% larger, but costs $10, and the value becomes apparent. Quality-wise, Geta's 85% of Angelfish, but it's 40% better than anywhere else that even comes close, price-wise. And yes, those are statistics pulled straight out of my butt.

But my usual Geta meal is a rainbow roll, a spicy tuna roll (the sauce they use varies from the traditional Korean hot sauce to a creamier mayo-based sauce similar to Angelfish's, though Geta's contains some wakame, which is a pleasant addition), and a chicken kara-age appetizer. That combo runs about $12, if I remember correctly. If you want the onigiri, $1.95 buys you two giant rice balls, one with a tart pickled plum paste in the center, the other with a small slab of grilled salmon fillet. One order is enough for a lunchtime meal, making it the cheapest, best quality, best value lunch I've ever seen.

If you ever need sushi for many people for cheap, Geta is your answer, and the only answer that's even worth considering.

Angelfish, Part Deux

Hirame, Suzuki, Shiromaguro, Hamachi, a Spicy Tuna roll, a Negihama roll, and an Ume-Shiso-Kyu are always mandatory.

My favorites are Shiromaguro and Hamachi, then Suzuki, Hirame, Saba, Unagi, Ika, then Maguro and anything else.

Stuff they have in particular that's tasty:

Tuna salad - this is actually a regular green salad with a particularly tasty dressing, and small slices of raw tuna and some tobiko.

Spicy Lobster Hand Roll - it's deep fried bits of lobster in their spicy tuna sauce, which is strangely subtle compared to most other place's spicy tuna sauce. The lobster is tender, crunchy bits of fried-ness... Yum.

Tuna Salsa - imagine salsa, but with the tomato replaced by raw tuna, and a dash of sesame oil, served on deep-fried wonton "chips." Sounds weird, but is surprisingly tasty, and a very interesting way of eating tuna. It's one of those dishes that I didn't expect would be good, but would be interesting. But like everything at Angelfish, the flavors are beautifully balanced, and the dish both focuses on the tuna, and enhances it in a way that's different than anything else on the menu. Not something I get very often, largely because I like other things better, but it's worth trying at least once.

Unagi - so, almost anywhere has Unagi, and it's often pretty unremarkable, because it's usually the same prepackaged eel, with the same prepackaged sauce. I have no idea whether they're using the same stuff or not, but it's perfectly caramelized, and the texture is better here than anywhere else I've had it. The first time I had unagi at Angelfish, I didn't even realize what it was, because it tasted so different. Different in a really excellent way. Whether it's a figment of my imagination or not, I genuinely don't know - but at least that first time, it was *mindblowing*. Subsequent tastings have been very, very good, but only that first time was totally extraordinary.

There's flashier food to be found. But in terms of quality, and more importantly, *balance*, I have yet to find Angelfish's equal. Every flavor feels perfectly crafted, every combination of flavors works harmoniously. The owner is extremely personable, the waitstaff is attentive and quick (though one girl pretty consistently gets orders wrong, so if you know to watch out for her, you're set), and the ambience is simple and elegant without being overwhelming.

Hands down my favorite sushi restaurant, and one that's actually made me think about how flavors can complement one another.

White Castle

Just like the tide, so go our brows. High to low in the blink of an eye. Today, Seppo and I watched "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle" (which was hysterical and definitely worth watching -- during one of the scenes, I laughed until I couldn't breathe and actual tears streamed down my face), resulting in me having a massive White Castle craving, just like H & K, except I wasn't high so I have no real excuse except that I grew up in the Northeast. :D

Seppo and I picked up some small rolls (definitely not of the WC variety; they were heartier sourdough ones), boston lettuce, onions, and some ground beef, and went to town. Lindsi came by for a while, so we shared some of the 20 patties we made. Definitely not haute cuisine, but satisfying nonetheless. We still have 6 patties left. Hahahah.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


No, this doesn't relate to food we've made, so much as food we've eaten. We found out about Angelfish through a friend early last year, and it rapidly became my parents' favorite sushi joint. And mine - the food they serve there is consistently excellent, and though their selection isn't say, as broad as a lot of the sushi joints that have a huge variety of bizarre combinations, every single thing they serve tastes extraordinary.

Subtle, too - their strength is in the quality of their fish, and most of the things that they make are subtle enough to showcase that the fish is extremely fresh. Even in things as "out there" as a raw tuna "salsa" served on fried wonton "chips," it's always clear that the fish is the main player, and everything else just serves to support it in a slightly different way.

It's quite stunning, and though it's noticably more expensive than most other sushi places we frequent, it's worth it. Between Angelfish and Geta (<- a later post), our top-end and bottom-end (price-wise - I wouldn't get crap sushi) are perfectly covered.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Chicken and chocolate

Not together though. Seppo made a pan-roasted chicken with shallot & vermouth pan sauce and I made a hot pudding chocolate cake for dinner last night. We invited Seppo's parents over and employed his dad as a sous-chef. :D By that, I mean that we had him cook up broccoli, which was perfectly done. Yum.

The sauce on the chicken was really fabulous. It had just the right balance of flavors, and I was left wanting more. I even used my broccoli to sop up little remnants. The chicken was quite good, but in our desire to see the skin crisped up, we decided to pop it in the broiler for a few minutes after it was done, which we shouldn't have. But the brining had done its job, and it was still very tender and moist. I ::heart:: brining.

The hot pudding cake was surprisingly delicious. It looked terrible both going into the oven and coming out of it. It uses a brownie-like batter, and is sprinkled with cocoa and sugar, then completely covered with a liquid (we used thinned out coffee, per America's Test Kitchen's recipe, but some recipes use water). Out of this muddy concoction comes a moist chocolate-y cake with a slightly crusty (with sugar) top, floating in a pool of self-made chocolate sauce. It was quite good with strawberries. I sent Seppo's dad off with a take-home pyrex bowl of it. I think Seppo was disappointed that I gave away all the leftovers, but we can always make more. :)

All in all, quite a success!

The Unveiling

Ta-da! Our new food blog.