Beijing Sesame-Fried Chicken

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Who doesn’t love fried chicken? No one, that’s who. This dish is every bit as delectable as traditional fried chicken but without the guilt of deep-frying. By encasing this chicken in cornstarch and shallow-frying it, the results are just as crispy and juicy but significantly healthier. The Chinese-style marinade adds an extra kick of flavor for good measure.

Five spice fried chicken with pepper salt

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces

3 T soy sauce
3 rice wine
1 1/2 T cornstarch
1/2 t chinese five-spice
1/4 t pepper

1/2 c cornstarch
1/2 c panko
2 T toasted sesame seeds
1 egg white, lightly beaten
cooking oil for frying

1. combine marinade ingredients in a bowl. add chicken and stir to coat; let stand for 10 minutes.

2. combine cornstarch, panko, and sesame seeds in a bowl; set aside.

3. place a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. add oil to a depth of 1/4-inch. dip chicken in egg white and then dredge in cornstarch mixture. add chicken to pan and fry, covered, turning once, until meat near bone is no longer pink and chicken is golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. remove and drain on paper towels.


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i’m back from yet another quick weekend trip to southern california. like the last, i spent a considerable time stuck in the notorious los angeles traffic. this time around, however, i played tourist. i didn’t take nearly enough photographs; in fact i only snapped a few on saturday afternoon.

on friday i took the scenic route down along highway 101, and although it meant spending a couple extra hours in the car, it was nice to look out of the window and see san luis obsipo and santa barbara as opposed to endless overcrammed herds of cows. by the time i reached the hotel, i had just enough energy to have dinner at california sushi roll in west la. i’d been (and still am) craving authentic japanese food, but i willingly obliged and went with japanese-california fusion instead. i was pleasantly suprised. my house special maki of salmon wrapped around seaweed, rice and fried fish cake was pretty good, and the beef gyoza’s offbeat hint of lemon was a good match.

the next morning i set out for lunch at the infamous roscoe’s house of chicken and waffles. my fried chicken was seasoned well and the syrup-laden waffles were yummy too, but i’m sure my arteries were begging me to stop.

afterwards i set out with a friend to the museum of contemporary art to check out their new exhibit, ecstasy: in and about altered states. to my dismay photography was not allowed, but i was really impressed. in particular i enjoyed olafur eliasson’s, erwin redl’s, and fred tomaselli’s pieces.

Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art

i spent the early evening in santa monica along the beach, and continued along to the third street promenade.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

that evening i ate at korean char-b-que with a friend. i mistakenly ordered naengmyon. i’d accidentally ordered it a few weeks ago at another korean restaurant and found it to be anathema to my favorite flavors prominent in korean cooking. to my misfortune, the menu we ordered from on friday night didn’t have english translations, only pictures. i ordered what looked good yet recieved something quite different. the slushy ice water, flavorless beef and rubbery noodles and slices of pear made me wish i had ordered something else.

we redeemed ourselves by going to westwood to grab a mango hookah and mint tea at habibi cafe. i was in awe most of the time; almost everyone was iranian. i’d never been around so many iranians in public outside of iran at the same time. i don’t quite know how to say this politely without generalizing, but a lot of iranians i saw were, how should i put this, special. glitzy clothing and makeup, glitzy cell phones, glitzy attitude. everything seemed a bit overdone. i wondered if any of them had ever been to the iranian countryside, to ramsar or tabriz, to isfahan or shiraz. it seemed so far-removed. still, i had a great time people-watching. the music was great, as was the hookah, but the tea was a sorry mug of lipton with a couple of crushed mint leaves thrown in.

sunday was spent having lunch at farmer’s market. we met up with another friend for brazilian at pampas grill churrascaria. little did i know how delicious brazilian food is. the hearts of palm and cucumber salad, fried bananas, okra stew, and grilled garlic steak were all mouthwateringly perfect.

after a quick stop for shakes (i had banana flavor), it was time to say goodbye to los angeles and its sunny weather. tony toni tone was right; it never rains in southern california.

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akhareh taabestaan

this week’s cooking:

black-bean-stuffed plantain croquettes with tomato sauce

veracruz-style shrimp over tortillas in pumpkin seed sauce | coconut, caramel, and rum flans

creamy tomato soup with buttery croutons | mushroom dumplings in parmesan and sun-dried tomato sauce

warm soba in broth with spinach and tofu | garlic chive and beef potstickers

hawaiian-style butter-coconut mochi

i finished reading life of pi last night. i loved it. its brilliant, but i’m still not sure if i understand the end properly (or at least which version to believe).

i also saw promises last night, and i highly recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in the israel-palestine conflict. the special features were just as interesting as the documentary itself, namely the updates on the children.

here’s the recipe for the mochi (this one is super easy and yummy):

1 lb mochiko
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
5 eggs
1/2 stick melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. preheat oven to 350F.
2. whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. mix together wet ingredients in another bowl. add coconut mixture to flour mixture, whisking until batter is combined.
3. pour batter into an ungreased 13-by-9-inch baking pan, and bake until top is golden and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 1 hour and 25 minutes. cook cake completely, about 2 hours. cut mochi into squares before serving.

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vaay dahanam aab oftaad, eshtehaa’am raa oftaad

this evening i saw the house is black, a 1963 documentary about life on a leper colony, by the legendary iranian poet forugh farrokhzad. poetically narrated, it was extremely sad and moving. both mohsen makhmalbaf and abbas kiarostami consider this short documentary to be a major influence on their work. the dvd also included an interview with pooran farrokhzad (forugh’s sister), as well as two short films by mohsen makhmalbaf – the school that was blown away (1996) and images from the qajar dynasty (1992).

i’ve been cooking a lot these past few days (suprise suprise):

thursday night: cucumber shrimp rolls with spicy peanut sauce and wonton noodle soup

friday night: artichoke and spinach phyllo swirls and roasted chicken with orange-brandy glaze

saturday night: green salad with citrus vinaigrette and eggplant parmigiana