Pandan Durian Crepes

Instagram Post 11/21/2019

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Durian, as you may know, is that much maligned fruit whose reputation is “Smells like hell, tastes like heaven!” But if you’ve never actually tried it, you should, and you might discover that you actually like it; a number of folks I’ve introduced it to on ethnojunkets have experienced that epiphany. Sweet and creamy, you could think of it as the fruit that makes its own custard.

These plush pillows are pandan crepes, filled with durian and cream and might well be another gateway drug to durian devotion: no unpleasant aroma, just a delicious tropical fruit flavor. (IMHO, pandan and durian have an affinity for each other.) I found these at last Sunday’s Elmhurst bazaar presented by the Indonesian Gastronomy Association.

IGA-USA is a non-profit organization whose mission it is to introduce Indonesian culture to people in the US, particularly in New York City. They stage this event which is as much about the culture as it is about the cuisine approximately monthly, so follow them on Facebook or on Instagram @iga_newyork to stay apprised of their schedule. Maybe you’ll get to try these emerald treats too.

(And perhaps this post will satisfy those of you who complain that I don’t post enough greens! 😉)
 
 

Rendang Telur

Instagram Post 11/19/2019

One of Indonesia’s national dishes is rendang, and if you’ve ever sampled the cuisine, you’ve probably enjoyed it with beef as the main ingredient, although there are numerous variations including jackfruit, chicken, and egg. In my experience, egg rendang looks a little like a hard-boiled egg curry so I was surprised to see a package labeled Rendang Telur (telur means egg) at Sunday’s Elmhurst bazaar sponsored by the Indonesian Gastronomy Association looking exactly like a bag of well-seasoned chips.

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Crispy, crunchy, spicy, and tasting of eggs and coconut milk, they’re nearly impossible to stop eating. Trust me. I tracked down a recipe which, greatly simplified, involves making a flour and egg crepe, cutting it into chips, frying/baking the pieces to dry them out, then combining coconut milk, herbs, and spices, cooking that mixture down and adding it to the chips followed by more long cooking to achieve maximum crispitude.


Close-up shot.


The aforementioned package.

IGA-USA is a non-profit organization whose mission it is to introduce Indonesian culture to people in the US, particularly in New York City. They stage this event which is as much about the culture as it is about the cuisine approximately monthly, so follow them on Facebook or on Instagram @iga_newyork to stay apprised of their schedule.
 
 

Khao Nom – Sticky Rice with Taro

Instagram Post 10/26/2019

Quick post about the seemingly simple but deceptively delicious sweet snack, Sticky Rice with Taro (and coconut milk) wrapped in a banana leaf from Khao Nom, 42-06 77th St, just around the corner from their remarkable sister restaurant, Khao Kang; it’s one of the snacks we enjoy on my Ethnic Eats in Elmhurst ethnojunket.

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Before

After

(The *real* After picture, taken scant moments later, was an empty banana leaf! 😉)
 
 

Yi Mei Bakery

Instagram Post 10/21/2019

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

If other Chinese bakeries offer this item, it has eluded me. Called Ox Tongue Pastry (牛舌饼 – niú shé bing) because of its appearance (and similarly known as Horse Ear Pastry), I stumbled upon these at Yi Mei Bakery, 81-26 Broadway in Elmhurst. Although they can be fried like youtiao, these flaky (probably due to the presence of lard), soft white buns, about 7" x 2½" in size, are baked and surprisingly sweet because of their chewy malt sugar filling.

In all honesty, I cut the pastries as shown simply because a cross section best depicted the generous quantity of filling. But I suspect that those of you who are fascinated by pareidolia may perceive something beyond that. 🙃
 
 

Pata Market – Marinated Pork

Instagram Post 9/21/2019

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Just wanted to make you aware of some amazing Marinated Pork sold by the equally amazing Pata Market, 81-16 Broadway, Elmhurst. I’ve written about Pata before; it’s a mini market featuring shelf stable, frozen, and refrigerated Thai snacks and ingredients, but it’s also a mini-café of sorts – very mini, actually, with a just few stools in front of a window-ledge table, a perfect photo-op stage for folks on my Elmhurst ethnojunket.

It’s the prepared food that blows me away every time though: authentic, incredibly delicious, and able to stand up to the cookery from the profusion of excellent Thai restaurants surrounding it. This marinated pork (sourced from UThai Cookhouse in Rego Park) is bursting with Thai flavor, soft and tender, and the perfect snack for meat lovers.

More to come from Pata Market. As always.
 
 

Great Taste Dumpling

Instagram Post 9/14/2019

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

The sign read “Streaky Pork Old Bamboo Shoots Steamed Bun”. Kinda makes ya just wanna drop everything and rush out there and grab some, don’t it? Not me. Kinda made me just wanna drop everything and translate the Chinese characters.

See for yourself:

Here’s what I got:

手工切 = hand cut
五花肉 = pork belly
與筍 = with bamboo shoots
小籠包 = xiao long bao

Well, not quite the xiao long bao soup dumplings most of us associate with those characters, these are steamed buns filled with the aforementioned ingredients and Great Taste Dumpling at 4317 8th Ave in Sunset Park, Brooklyn’s got ’em. $2.75 for 6. And please, don’t ever change that glorious sign!

A quick snack for someone who was just passing through in search of Mid-Autumn Festival Mooncakes. (You did read my detailed “Chinese Mooncakes Demystified” post about that, didn’tcha?)
 
 

Nuan Xin Rice Roll

Instagram Post 9/10/2019

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

While scouting Sunset Park’s Chinatown in search of more mooncake madness for my massive Chinese Mooncakes Demystified post (which if you haven’t read it, please do), I passed Nuan Xin Rice Roll at 5103 8th Ave, one of five locations in NYC. For some time, I’ve been curious about their purple rice fàn tuán (飯糰) so I grabbed one to go.

The décor is targeted to young folks, as is the heavy-handed use of mayonnaise, but I’m not complaining; I absolutely enjoyed it and wished I had purchased a few of the other 14 varieties. As it happened, I was in a rush so I let the phrase “Special Rice Roll” do the deciding for me. Deconstructing it at home, I tasted pork floss (rou song, 肉鬆), shredded lettuce, and tiny bits of pickled mustard greens within the nori wrapper. They also tout Sea Salt Beverages (next time) and an ocean of other tea-based beverages. Good stuff.
 
 

Feijoa

Instagram Post 7/12/2019

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

One of the things I love most about doing ethnojunkets is introducing my food tour guests to international treats they’ve never tasted but soon won’t be able to live without. (That’s what puts the junkie in ethnojunkie 😉.) So I was unusually pleased during a recent jaunt through Brooklyn’s Little Odessa when a participant whose birthplace was Colombia gleefully recognized a favorite fruit in the gourmet produce section of Gourmanoff, an upscale Russian market, that she hadn’t seen locally elsewhere – feijoa. She happily instructed the others in her technique for selecting a ripe one as well as consuming it – which made my job easier!

Also known as “pineapple guava”, “Brazilian guava”, “fig guava” and “guavasteen”, the fruit’s flesh is soft in the center growing firmer and a bit grainier (a little like a pear) approaching its thin green skin. In the same family (Myrtaceae) as the guava but not the same genus, the aroma is almost perfumy. Its flavor is full-bodied and tropical, intensifying nearer the skin which itself can be eaten but has a decidedly different character, floral in nature.

So what was the connection between my exultant Colombian guest and this posh Russian market? Turns out that the feijoa is native to two regions of the world: Colombia (and other parts of South America) and Russia (and former Soviet Union countries)!

🎶 Reunited, and it feels so good! 🎶
 
 

Santol

Instagram Post 6/14/2019

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

There are few moments more rewarding than stumbling upon some sort of food that I’ve never experienced. (Okay, so it takes all kinds, I guess.) Consequently, I was delighted to find santol (you might see santal) in the refrigerator case at Pata Market, 81-16 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens.

The fruit hails from Southeast Asia and according to my research looks a little like a peach-colored mangosteen before preparation. Fortunately, the troublesome work of removing the thick shell-like rind and carving the edible part into delicate slivers had already been accomplished. I separated the seeds (don’t swallow the seeds!) from the slices; it had a flavor I found mildly sweet and a little tart, and a soft, pulpy texture like a pear that’s not quite ripe.

It’s sold with a sweet, very spicy sauce made from palm sugar, fish sauce, shrimp paste, pounded dried shrimp, and chili along with a little cup of roasted coconut and peanuts plus a touch of cayenne.

Dressed with its accoutrements, it was a pleasing change of pace. If you secure one of these, be forewarned about the spice level of the syrup; it won’t assault you, but the taste of the fruit is subtle and you don’t want to overpower it. It’s a righteous complement, however.

<rant> In researching santol, I found a number of videos on the web that were actually embarrassing to watch (sorry, that’s the only word that fits) with more misinformation than I could countenance based on my own limited experience. I do understand that YMMV regarding specific cultivar and degree of ripeness, but really. If so many people in that part of the world consume and enjoy these, maybe you’re missing something and should consider giving it another go? </rant>

Have a nice day! 🙂
 
 

Doña Fela’s Tamales Peruanos

Instagram Post 5/6/2019

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Oh, the myriad food puns I could do about this marvelous treat – but fear not, I won’t. (Feel free to contribute your best in the comments though, if you’re so inclined.)

These are anticuchos, skewers of tender, grilled marinated beef heart that hail from Peru, typically served with papas a la huancaína, slices of boiled potato slathered with a creamy, spicy, yellow pepper (aji amarillo) sauce, shown here with a spibble of spicy salsa to the right of the luscious meat. The name has its roots in Quechua, the indigenous language of the Peruvian Andes: “anti” refers to the Eastern region of the Andes, “kuchu” means cut.

But the best part is that you don’t have to travel to South America to indulge – simply head for Doña Fela’s Tamales Peruanos cart at Roosevelt Ave and 90th St right on the border of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, Queens on weekend afternoons. They serve up other authentic Peruvian delicacies and antojitos as well, like picarones (deep fried doughnuts, only better) and more, but I’m not going to provide a long list here because I want you to focus on their mind-blowingly delicious anticuchos – especially if they’re new to you. They’re one of my absolute favorite street foods and if you like grilled meat, even if you’re not a fan of organ meats, these will win you over.

Okay, just one pun since you saw this one coming anyway: I ❤️ Anticuchos!