All about Food. B:9 Most of the blog will be about my various cooking experiments with some reviews of local restaurants thrown in once in a while. Reviews/food experiences from other place will be included also.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ippin Nyukon

Yesterday, while everyone else went fishing, for lunch Wid and I went to Ippin Nyukon in Kuta because I've been craving ramen (been watching too many Japanese shows on Asian Food Channel). The funny thing about Ippin Nyukon is the sign says "Chinese restaurant" but it's more like a Japanese's take on Chinese food so it doesn't taste like the Chinese food that I grew up with. Our fellow food lover friends brought us here for the first time months ago, and they were introduced to the place by their Japanese expat friend. When we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by the waitresses and the person we assumed to be the chef/owner, who reminds me of Inoue Takehiko because of the bandana and the beard.

Instead of sticking to our plan of sharing a bowl of ramen and some appetizer (the pan fried gyoza with red vinegar is really, really good), Wid was intrigued by the mapo tofu so we ended up getting the mapo tofu lunch set and a bowl of noodles with slices of roasted pork (叉燒麵). It ended up being a very delicious yet very filling decision since the meals are unusually generous in portion.

The noodle soup was excellent as usual with its very thick, flavorful broth, juicy chunks of roasted pork, seaweed, seasame, chopped scallions, and an soft boiled egg. What was surprising was the mapo tofu. The taste is very different from the mapo tofu that Wid makes, yet it was very delicious. The hint of sweetness is one of the distinctive features. The dish consisted of rice (which soaked up the sauce nicely), tofu, minced meat, white pepper, and chopped scallions. I wondered if it's only sugar that made the dish sweet or it's something else, like tian mian jian, because the sweetness is pretty complex.

We were so full that we couldn't eat dinner though it was well worth it. The noodles and the mapo tofu were soooo good.

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Friday, October 27, 2006


Last night Wid's parents requested sukiyaki for dinner so we could use up the chunk of imported beef that we bought from Makro before Wid's bro takes it. I did the preparation (cutting the vegetables and making the cooking sauce) while Wid did the actual cooking. This batch we had large green onion, shiitake mushroom, another kind of mushroom whose name escapes me right now, bok choy, shirataki threads, and tofu. I parboiled the shirataki threads and soaked the shiitake mushroom. What made the sukiyaki turned out so well this time is Wid figured out how to cook the dish properly. He used medium heat during most of the cooking process. Once the meat and vegetables were added to the pan, he covered the food with some of the cooking sauce. After the cooking sauce boiled down a bit, he added the remaining sauce (and the tofu and the shirataki thread) and let the dish boil again. We might need to get a smaller pan because we didn't have enough sauce to cover the ingredients. It would be nice if we can find a real sukiyaki pan so we can cook this on the table instead of in the kitchen.

Besides the main dish, we also made nasu miso (trial number 3) and a new dish which consisted of shiitake mushroom and cabbage cooked in the mushroom soaking juice. I think the nasu miso turned out better this time because I didn't boil the eggplant until it was mushy. We were surprised how much Wid's dad liked the nasu miso because in the previous attempts, he didn't make any comments. This time he scarfed down most of the dish. The mushroom and cabbage dish was pretty good, not too salty and full of mushroom flavor, but I think the cabbage wasn't cooked long enough. At least it's pretty tasty and very healthy.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Massimo and the Ravioli

Last night the entire family invited our doctor friend and his family to dinner at the Italian restaurant Massimo in Sanur. We've gone there quite a few times in the past few months already because the food is just as good, if not better, than the more expensive The Village, which is just down the street from this restaurant. Apparently, Massimo, the chef and owner of the restaurant, was the chef of The Village before he took all of his recipes and opened his own place. This restaurant has very good value because the price is very, very reasonable and the food is very good. Oh, the complementary fried dough and super thin bread sticks are always good and fun!

Last night we ordered tons and tons of food (from appetizer all the way to gelato). Many were very good, but I'll just mention what I ordered instead to save some space in the blog. For appetizer we shared salmon on toast (I think they were calling that bruscetta but it's not really), pizza, caesar salad, and sausage with blobs of ricotta on toast. Wid and I had the salmon on toast before and it was really fresh and full of salmon flavor. Caesar salad was surprisingly light because it's not drenched in dressing. My favorite part of the salad was actually the thin slices of parmacean cheese. The sausage and ricotta on toast wasn't that awesome because they kind of skimp on the sausage. I'm not a big fan of ricotta anyway. The pizza was good, and we expected to be good because when I saw the cooks making the pizza at the front of the restaurant, they put generous portion of quality cheese on top. This is something you don't very often in Indo. Most of the cheese sold here are tasteless, smelly (in a bad way) crap.

For entree, I ordered the spinach and ricotta filled ravioli in tomato sauce. I was pleasantly surprised by the dish because the huge amount of spinach stuffed in each of the ravioli. Each bite was so full of spinach flavor that I think they made the mixture and stuffed the ravioli right before cooking it. I would definitely get this dish again.

For dessert I got the strawberry gelato. It was almost like a sorbet. The taste was decent, but it had a strange after taste. I think the other flavor I tried in a previous time was much better (chocolate kiss).

Overall we all ate way too much but everyone seemed to have a good time.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

The Return of Croquettes

Last night I made croquettes again. Instead of using the same recipe as last time, I tried the recipe posted on the official website of the Japanese drama/comedy show Kuitan. Overall the recipes were quite similar (about the same amount of potato, onion, and meat), but the details are a bit different. I also made some modifications of my own to, hopefully, improve the taste. Instead of boiling potatoes, they were steamed with their skin on to make the potatoes less soggy. I stir-fried the onion in oil and butter before adding the beef. Salt and pepper were added to the meat and onion for flavoring. The potatoes were mashed, seasoned with salt, and combined with the meat mixture before milk and finely chopped parsley were added. Then, patties were formed and coated with flour, egg, and panko before deep frying. We had to get one of the eggs from the offering stand because we ran out of eggs in the fridge. Hahaha. I had a couple of potatoes left so I mashed those and added chopped parsley, salt, and milk. I then added a piece of cheese in each patty to make cheese croquettes.

Widhy and I both thought the croquettes were much better than my last batch, but we wondered why his parents didn't make any comments. I guess the Chinese food we had overpowered the taste of the croquettes. Oh well. We'll have more croquettes today~

Next time we should have some finely shredded cabbage too.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Japanese Dinner (udons and more)

Wid's mom requested that we make udon and sushi. Initially, I planned to make croquettes, but I forgot to get onions. Instead I made "fluffy boiled potatoes" (Jagaimo no Tosa-fumi) that consisted of potato, soy sauce, sake, salt, and bonito flakes. This dish tasted better than my last attempt. I think it's because I used a lot more bonito flakes. I also sprinkled a bit of parsley on top to give it an extra flavor. It would be nice to get light-colored soy sauce so it doesn't make everything brown looking, but I can't find it anywhere here, even at my favorite Japanese grocery store.

Nothing too exciting with the udon and the broth that went with the noodles. One thing I did change this time was I didn't use bonito flakes as part of the soup stock (only used dashi powder), but Wid's mom noticed. She liked the broth with the bonito flakes better. Other than that, the soup consisted of soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and salt. I cooked the shitaki mushroom in the broth. Wakame seaweed was added right at the end when I reheated the broth. I poached eggs in the water that I cooked the udon. I just realized that I forgot to add the chopped scallions to the bowl because I had so many thing going on at once. Oh well.

Once again, I made inari for Wid's dad and Wid made his now famous spicy tuna roll. His latest batch was tastier than his previous attempts because of the nice balance of tuna and spicy sauce flavors. Also, the tuna mix was just more flavorful than before. Wid's mom loved it so much that she kept saying how tasty it was.

The in laws requested that we cook Japanese food again this Saturday, which I'm fine with as long as Wid's mom doesn't invite more uninvited guests at the last minute.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Beijing-Style Noodle Soup (麵疙搭)

Last night for dinner I finally had the opportunity to try out a recipe from my new Chinese Rice and Noodles cookbook from Wei-Chuan. This dish is called "home-made noodle soup with green onions," but its Chinese name (麵疙搭) is actually more descriptive and interesting. This dish is Beijin cuisine. What makes this dish interesting, I think, is the shape of the home-made noodle, which is basically bits of pulled dough.

First, I made the dough for the noodle by mixing flour and water. While I let the dough rest, I prepared the broth which is used to cook the noodles. The sections of scallions were stir-fried in oil before the dried shrimp and pork were added to the mix. Once the meat changed color, I added some soy sauce and lots of water. I brought the stock to boil before adding the bits of dough teared off from the big chunk of dough. I actually saw this method of cooking on a show on Discovery or National Geographic and I thought it was something fun to do. Wid joined in the fun and threw in bits of dough. To flavor the broth, salt, pepper, and sesame oil were added. Then, right before serving, some chopped scallions were added.

The taste was surprisingly light even though it was a bit oily. The cooked sections of scallion were surprisingly sweet and flavorful. The slices of pork was too large so next time I'll try to cut smaller pieces. The noodles were good too, but Wid's dad wasn't too keen on it. I guess it's because that's not what he expected of noodles.

Wei-Chuan cookbooks are awesome. They haven't failed me yet!

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Nasi Campur

Yesterday Wid's mom got all of us some Balinese-style nasi campur. The "mixed rice" has no real name and it came from a place with no real name either. Wid thinks it's a food stall/shack in a banjar. I'm normally not a huge fan of nasi campur, but this one was so good. The toppings are separated from the rice itself so that way you won't get what Wid called surprise--the unexpected blob of hot chili paste. The topping consisted of small pieces of egg omlet and chicken, fried coconut shavings (orange color thing in the pic), a bit of noodle mixed with veggies, some meat that tasted a lot like the Chinese-style beef jerky (the dark brown chunks), and braised beef (the light-brown, shreded meat). Everything is all wrapped up nicely in a banana leaf.

Widhy likes this dish so much that he always gets double portion. I can only eat one portion, but it is very enjoyable. I also love the fact that this dish came from a place with no name.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Bon Odori

On Saturday (10/7) Widhy, his family, and I went to Bon Odori that was sponsored by the Japan Club Bali. I'm assuming it's the Japanese version of Mid Autumn Festival. Normally, they have the festival outside by the beach, but because of the second Bali bombing (one of the targets was Jimbaran which is the beach), the organizers decided to have the festival at the Westin in Nusa Dua. The place was super packed with people. Lots of Japanese and surprisingly many locals. Many, many people wore kimono or yukata. I even saw two or three Muslim women wearing their head covering and yukata. Interesting thing was that most of the Japanese who married local were woman, unlike the rest of the island where the white guys are the ones who married local women. The place was packed with people, and I think the convention hall was too small to fit all these people. In the center of the hall was a dance stage where people were dancing traditional dances. Along the walls were game stations and food/drink stalls.

Many of the local Japanese restaurants were selling foods. We did get a bunch of stuff, like pannacotta (custard-like dessert that has a hint of almond and cheese flavor with a bit of strawberry sauce as topping), croquettes with some sort of stirred fried vegetables with lots of ginger taste (it was already cold), Korean style pancakes (it was cold but still tasted good), zaru soba, takoyaki, and okonomiyaki (??). Widhy wanted sushi, but because the lines were too long, he gave up. Eventually we did eat some sushi, which were bought by Wid's parents. The sushi from Take were quite good, but Hana still makes the better sushi (tuna~). When we had about 4 coupons left, Wid gave them to me to find something to use up the remaining coupons. I was going to get ice cream from the Papaya stall, but the lines were too long. I then looked down at the table, and I found "American dogs" (corn dogs) each costing 2 coupons. I snatched up two sticks and headed back. It was surprisingly good and warm. The sweetness of the fried batter complimented the salty hot dog. The best foods we tried were the zaru soba from Yakiniku Sama-sama(?) and okonomiyaki from Kai/Hai(?). I wanted candy apples but we didn't get the chance to try that. Overall we ended up a lot more stuffed that we thought we were.

The dancing was amusing to watch, but eventually they repeated the dancing and the songs that accompanied the dances. I think there were about three songs/dances. The drumming part was quite fun to watch too. We met one of Wid's parents' friend whose wife is a Japanese who makes and exports kimonos for 30,000 to 50,000 USD.

Overall, the event was pretty fun even if it was a bit clausterphobic. It was a lot like the cultural festival that Wid, Yanwen, and I went to back at University of Michigan a few years ago. What's good is that it got Wid's parents to think about going to Japan next year. We convinced them to see the cherry blossoms. :D

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Full Moon and Pura's Birthday

On Saturday (10/7), according to the Balinese lunar calendar, was full moon. For some reason this meant that it's an extra auspicious day. It was also the pura's birthday so we had a big ceremony for it. From what I gathered, the ceremony was a lot like our wedding ceremony, but the chants and the offerings were different. I couldn't participate this time, so I ended up taking pictures of Wid's newphew and niece.

After the ceremony, we had suckling pig (babi guling) for lunch. Too bad this time they didn't bring the whole pig so I didn't get a nice picture of it. According to Anthony Bourdain (on the Indonesia episode of No Reservations), the Balinese makes THE best roasted pig in he world. If I remember correctly, the meat inside of the pig is taken out and cooked separately and flavored with lots of spices. Then, the meat is shoved back into the pig, and the pig is roasted slowly over a fire for hours. The pig is bathed with coconut water regularly. The end result is super crispy skin and the meat is soft and flavorful.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Tsao Bing (燒餅)

Earlier this week I tried to make tsao bing (燒餅), which is a delicious pan-fried or baked breakfast treat that is often stuffed with meat floss or Chinese crueller and washed down with a nice, steaming bowl of soy milk. I made one attempt before when I first got my awesome Chinese Snacks cookbook from Wei-chuan, but it failed miserably (bad flour, bad cooking technique). In order to learn the proper method of cooking tsao bing, again I relied on my mom's example.

To make the tsao bing, I had to make the roux first, which is basically flour cooked in hot oil. While the roux cooled, I started on the dough. Like the "hot dough," I first mixed hot water into the flour, and then cold water was added to the dough mixture. Once the dough was rested and the roux cooled, I tried to assemble the bing. First, the dough was rolled out and roux, salt, and flour were poured on top of the flatten dough. Then, everything was rolled up jelly roll style before cutting into small pieces. I tried to pinch the ends before each cut, but the roux still spilled out of the dough, which made the counter, the hands, rolling pin, etc. oily and gross. I still don't know how to fix this problem, but even though the result wasn't very pretty, the bing was edible. Once I folded all the dough pieces, dippd the pieces in sesame, and rolled them flat, I pan fried them. I had to make sure the pan and the oil were hot before adding each piece. Once the bing was placed on the pan, the temperature was lowered. The tsao bing was done once each side turned slightly translucent and golden brown. Like I said before, the tsao bing wasn't pretty but it tasted really good so I guess mission (sort of) accomplished.

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Pot Stickers (鍋貼)

After the third attempt, the pot stickers (鍋貼) finally looking and tasting more presentable. I never had any problem making the dough or the pot stickers themselves. The problem lie in the cooking. A couple months ago, when I tried to make the pot stickers for the very first time, they got stuck to the pan, and we had no idea why that happened. When Wid and I were visiting my parents, Ma showed us how she cooked the potstickers, and I wanted to see if I can try out what I learned. Thursday night we made some pot stickers. The filling consisted of pork, Chinese chives, a bit of sesame oil, salt, water, and soy sauce. I wanted to have some shrimp added to the mixture, but we didn't have any in the house. The dough was the so called hot dough which consisted of flour, boiling water, and cold water. Making the pot stickers was time consuming but relatively easy, but when it came to the cooking, things started to go wrong. The pot stickers were stuck to each other before going into the pan. I though the dough was too wet and others suspected the juice from the meat mixture seeped into the dough making everything stickier. Too much oil was added to the pan, and someone kept moving the pot stickers during the cooking so the bottom didn't get to brown. Then I added the flour/water/sesame oil/vinegar mixture, but it was thought that not enough liquid was in the pot so more water was added. In the end, while the pot stickers didn't get stuck to the pan like the first time, the texture was not correct either. The bottom was not crunchy and golden brown enough and the top was too soggy.

I had some dough and meat mixture left over so I tried again next day for lunch. This time the plate holding the pot stickers were coated with plenty of flour to prevent the pieces sticking to each other or to the plate. I tried to lessen the amount of oil this time, and I laid the pieces in a more orderly manner once the oil and the pan were hot. I waited until the bottom started to brown, and I checked to make sure the pieces were not sticking to the pan before adding half a cup of water and covered the pan. The pot stickers were allowed to cook for about 6 minutes, and then I made sure most of the water evaporated before taking the pot stickers out. In the end the pot stickers were getting a bit stuck to the pan, but we were able to remove all of them from the pan without the bottom getting fixed on the pan.

Wid made the dipping sauce which consisted of soy sauce, water, vinegar, and ginger. The end result is the following:

Wid suggested to add a bit of minced ginger into the meat mixture, and I think that'll be quite good. I'll also add shrimp to the mix. I think the lack of shrimp made the meat filling tasted a bit too dry. Wid's mom was telling me about the time she saw a dumpling master making dumplings/pot stickers. She seemed very impressed, and I wouldn't mind seeing a professional do it.

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中秋節 and 月餅!!!

Happy Mid-Autum Festival!!! Today is the 15th day of the eight month of the lunar calendar, and people are supposed to go out tonight to look at the full moon and eat moon cakes. I already had my share of moon cakes (月餅) when I was in US. Ma made some really good moon cakes. Unfortunately, because of the dough and the fillings were a bit too soft, the cakes didn't look as good as usual (Ma said so), but it was still very tasty and much healthier than the ones found in stores. Whenever I tell my friends my mom can make moon cakes, they're all very impressed. Heck, I'm impressed by her skills too. This time she made two different types of mooncakes. One is a flaky crusted version filled with mung bean paste and a bit of 肉鬆 ("rho-song" which is dried meat floss). Another type is the Cantonese style. This version the shape of the cake comes from a mold. My mom uses the really cute one of a bunny pounding rice with a mortar and pestal. One version she made was filled with pineapple paste, and another version was filled with red bean paste and a piece of water chestnut in each cake. I'm glad she didn't make the lotus paste version because I find that one too sticky and sweet for my taste. Good times.

I can give you the whole history and the folktales/myths behind this holiday, but I won't.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

喰いタンSP 香港

In the department of no one cares except me and Widhy, the food detective show (喰いタン)that we watched back in August has a brand new, special episode that was aired a few days ago on NTV. I hope they'll have more episodes in the future. Nine original plus the new one make too short of a series.

The live action series in some ways is better than the comics that the series is based on because of all the awesome views of foods in all their full-color glory (pics from the official site):

Makes me hungry just looking at those pictures.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

False Advertisement

I was at the grocery store yesterday, and in the noodle aisle, I found a package that said 臺灣新竹米粉 (Taiwanese Xin-Tzu Rice Vermacelli). In Taiwan every town, every city has a food specialty (名產), and in Xin-Tzu (my childhood home) is famous for its vermacelli. I then looked at the package more closely and it said "made in China." I was so insulted that the company tried to pass off its vermacelli as the special vermacelli from Taiwan. BAH!! I don't want bootlegged noodles.

I got an awesome Chinese rice and noodles cookbook while I was in US. I'm hoping that I can find the ingredients here so I can try some of the dishes out. My mom flipped through cookbook, and now she wanted it too because of all the dishes she recognized.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Spring Roll (潤餅/春捲)

The last weekend I was at home in PA, Ma made some Taiwanese egg rolls (潤餅/春捲) for us. I actually like it a lot more than fried egg rolls because it has a bit of sweetness and it's fairly rare to get this treat. Restaurants everywhere sell fried egg rolls but if we want this other kind of egg roll, we have to wait for my mom to make it.

Ma actually made the skin for the egg roll from scratch. Traditionally, the skin is made with a thick, gooey dough, and the way you apply the dough onto the pan is to hold the glob of dough in hand and in a circular motion, you wipe pan with the dough. You can see this if you watched the film Eat Drink Man Woman. Ma modified the recipe so it's easier to apply the dough onto the pan. It's still very tasty and impressive though. She started by mixing a watery batter with a blender and then let it sit for a while. To make the skin, she brushed the batter onto a lightly oiled hot pan. Because the sheets were so thin, they cooked really fast. As soon as the sides started to pull off, she flipped it over and let the other side cook.

She toasted peanuts in the oven, and then Ba grounded the peanuts and added some sugar to make the sweeten peanut powder. While Ba was dealing with the peanuts and I was separating and folding the cooled skins, he told me that in my mom's hometown there's a shop that made the spring rolls and the staff there could work really, really quickly while cooking the sheets on multiple pans. I would love to see that and eat the product. For the filling, Ma prepared many different dishes so we can customize our own egg rolls. There were boiled bean sprouts, shredded carrots, stired fried eggs, celary, shredded chicken, etc. Instead of just using hoisin sauce straight out of the jar, she cooked the sauce a bit.

Each of us got to roll our own spring roll. Ba, sis, and bro were making ones that were so big that the filling burst out of the paper thin skins. Ma, bro's girlfriend, and Ma made smaller ones that didn't spill out as soon as we bit into it. Ba and I of course used lots peanut powder because it's so good. I don't think I'll be able to make this on my own because the skins are so delicate and I don't have the skills to do that.

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