Cooking in the Time of COVID – Cornbread

Instagram Post 4/27/2020

 
👨‍🍳 Cooking in the Time of COVID 👨‍🍳

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Continuing my freezer excavation, I unearthed some coarse stone ground yellow cornmeal which inspired me to whomp up a batch of my tried and true cornbread. It calls for finely chopped jalapeño peppers, cilantro leaves, and scallions (the green bits you see in the top chunk), whole corn kernels, grated cheddar cheese, buttermilk, eggs, butter and more, of course. The first photo represents an attempt to show all three facets of the calorific comestible: the top chunk displays its fluffy, super moist interior, the bottom flaunts a crispy edge and a peek at the golden top.


The cast iron skillet (which has been in my family for years) just out of the oven.


A perfect release. Upside-down orientation shows the crispy bottom: GBD, golden brown and delicious!
 
 
Stay safe, be well, and eat whatever it takes. ❤️
 
 

Cooking in the Time of COVID – Bean Curd Sheet Rolls

Instagram Post 4/20/2020

 
👨‍🍳 Cooking in the Time of COVID 👨‍🍳

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Still working on spending down the freezer and the pantry before venturing out to go shopping; I’m trying for three weeks between shopping trips and even then only to replenish perishables. This time, the freezer yielded bean curd sheets, aka tofu skins, aka yuba, and enough other aliases to give a Most Wanted felon an inferiority complex. They can be found dried (to be reconstituted) or refrigerated/frozen, and their size and thickness dictate their use, sometimes for wrapping dim sum, sometimes for shredding into “noodles” either supple or crispy, sometimes as an ingredient in a stir-fry; they have myriad uses throughout Asian cuisine.

In addition, the freezer furnished lap cheong (Chinese sausages, 臘腸) and the pantry provided dried shiitake mushrooms and sticky rice, pretty straightforward. These specimens were steamed first, then fried, and napped with lightly thickened, seasoned chicken broth.

More experiments in the name of desperation to come!
 
 
Stay safe, be well, and eat whatever it takes. ❤️
 
 

New Kam Man – Bean Curd Skin

Instagram Post 3/19/2020

Continuing my posts about Chinatown favorites:

In addition to all the great restaurants that are open for takeout and delivery in Manhattan’s Chinatown during the COVID-19 crisis (see a detailed list updated daily here), please remember to patronize the markets that are eager to serve you too.

The venerable New Kam Man at 200 Canal St has everything you’d expect in a celebrated marketplace including a complete line of Asian ingredients and kitchenware along with all the necessary cookies and sweets to help us all get through this together. Of course, the sidewalk window displays tempting siu mei (燒味) – barbecue/roast meats like roast pork, roast pig, soy sauce chicken, and ducks galore, but since I’ve posted a lot of duck photos recently, here are two treats from the prepared food section worthy of your attention, especially if you’re a vegetarian.

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Both are made from bean curd skin. When soymilk is boiled to make tofu, a skin forms on top, it’s skimmed off and dried and when it’s reconstituted, it has dozens of delicious uses from dumpling wrappers to “mock” meats. These two examples are unassuming but tasty. The first simply consists of layers of bean curd sheets, rehydrated with water, soy sauce, and sugar, then pressed together and sliced; it’s as much about the texture as it is about the flavor. The label reads “NKM Stewed Bean Curd Pastry”. It’s a little saltier than

these rollups which are similar but a bit sweeter. The package was identified as “NKM Braised Gluten Stick” although I don’t think gluten figures into it and I see rolls rather than sticks, mislabeled perhaps. Either way, yum!

I bought a bunch of stuff from New Kam Man for some COVID-19 cooking. Will post photos ASAP. So grateful that they’re there and open for us; please help them continue to thrive!
 
 

Ameer Bakery

Instagram Post 3/6/2020

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My dining buddy and I were on our way between hither and yon in Paterson, NJ when we passed Ameer Bakery at 243 Buffalo Ave. We ventured in at a particularly fortuitous moment as trays of these Middle Eastern pies (manakish, مناقيش) were just emerging hot from the oven. Two types of cheese were meltingly evident; when I inquired, I was told “mozzarella” and “Arabic cheese”. The vicissitudes of helpful linguistic interpretation being what they are, I’m going to speculate that the bottom layer was akkawi (a bit like mozzarella) and the random plops atop, puffy and a bit salty, were nabulsi – but I’m guessing. No guesswork was involved, however, concerning how delicious these Palestinian pies were. My gratitude to the management for comping us these savory treats.
 
 

Upi Jaya

Instagram Post 12/2/2019

Outside of the (approximately) monthly Indonesian Food Festivals I’ve written about, Elmhurst, Queens also plays host to a number of Indonesian restaurants. Upi Jaya at 76-04 Woodside Ave has been doing an admirable job of dishing up the cuisine for locals as well as visitors (they’re a stop along my Ethnic Eats in Elmhurst Ethnojunket) for 15 years. Here are four items from the Appetizers section of the menu, each a tasty starter or a snack in its own right and all with universal appeal.

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Risoles (you might see rissoles) – a snack assembled from a crepe rolled around seasoned chicken and diced vegetables (not unlike a Chinese egg roll in structure), covered with breadcrumbs and deep fried.


Lemper Ayam. Lemper is a snack made from coconut sticky rice compressed with any number of fillings, in this case ayam (chicken) that’s been lightly seasoned, rolled into a banana leaf and steamed.


Batagor: a portmanteau of bakso (a meat or fish paste), tahu (tofu), and goreng (fried), a specialty of West Java. Fried fish cake with peanut sauce; the crispy topping provides the contrast to the soft, chewy fishcake.


Arguably the best known Indonesian dish outside of Indonesia and a popular street food there, satay (or sate) is seasoned meat, skewered and grilled, often served with peanut sauce. An international favorite.

Main dishes in a future post.
 
 

Pandan Durian Crepes

Instagram Post 11/21/2019

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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.

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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.

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Before

After

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

Yi Mei Bakery

Instagram Post 10/21/2019

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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

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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.