Spicy Chinese Eggplant

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while its been pouring buckets outside, i’ve been inside cooking. (well i’ve been outside too, but that’s another story.) the theme this time was chinese.

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shandong stir-fry soup noodles

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spicy eggplant

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sizzling singapore chili shrimp

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chinatown roast duck

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daikon with bean thread noodles

here’s the recipe for the eggplant:

1/3 cup chicken broth
1 T hoisin sauce
2 t soy sauce
2 t lemon juice
1 t plum sauce
4 chinese eggplants (1 lb)
vegetable oil
2 t minced garlic
1 t minced ginger
1/2 jalapeno chili, sliced into thin rings
basil leaves
sliced green onions

1. prepare the sauce: stir the chicken broth, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, and plum sauce in a bowl until blended.
2. cut the stems from the eggplants, then cut them lengthwise into quarters, then cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces.
3. pour enough oil into a large saucepan to come to a depth of 2 inches. heat over medium-high heat and deep-fry the eggplant until tender. remove and drain on paper towels.
4. heat a wok over high heat until hot. add 1 tablespoon of oil and the garlic, ginger, and chili and stir-fry until fragrant, about 20 seconds. add the sauce and bring to a simmer.
5. add the eggplant and stir to coat. scoop onto a serving platter and garnish with basil leaves and green onions.

Sweet Potato Simmered with Kelp

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sunday evenings are always a bit naaraahat konandeh because they signal the end of yet another fantastic weekend. this time around the boy and i made up for not being able to spend valentine’s day together. (i know its a commercialized holiday and all, so i guess its not so bad that we still haven’t been able to spend one together.)

but i’m still trying to play blog catch-up, so i’ll make sure to write about my last two weekends in my next entry. for now i’ll make do with the japanese food i’ve been cooking as of late:

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burdock root and fried tofu soup

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chilled sesame-miso noodle salad

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octopus salad with radish sprouts

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toasted rice and salmon flakes in green tea broth

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sweet and sour lotus root

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sweet potato simmered with kelp

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soy-stewed beef

Here’s the recipe for the sweet potatoes:

Ingredients:

20 square inch pieces kombu (kelp)
1 sweet potato, cut into one-inch chunks with skin intact.
4 1/2 cups cold water
1/2 cup loosely packet katsuo-bushi
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablesoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons mirin

1.  Place the kombu in a pot with the water. Let soak for 15 minutes, then place over medium heat. Remove the pot from the heat as soon as small bubbles begin to break the surface. Add the katsuo-bushi, scattering the flakes across the surface of the water. After 5 minutes, strain the broth with a fine sieve. Reserve the kombu pieces and slice into thin strips.

2. Place the potato chunks and kombu in a pot with the reserved stock and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes and kombu are tender. Add the sugar, soy sauce, and mirin, distributing evenly. Simmer for five more minutes and then remove the pot from the stove.

3. Allow the vegetables to cool to room temperature in whatever cooking liquid remains in the pot, and serve.

Tehrangeles

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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.