Flushing Ethnojunkets Are Back!

Snacking in Flushing – The Best of the Best!

I resumed Exploring Eastern European Food in Little Odessa about a month ago and Ethnic Eats in Elmhurst more recently – now Flushing is stepping up to the plate! (And Bay Ridge is just around the corner.)

Ethnojunkets FAQ:

 
Q: What’s an ethnojunket anyway?
A: An ethnojunket is a food-focused walking tour through one of New York City’s many ethnic enclaves; my mission is to introduce you to some delicious, accessible, international treats that you’ve never tasted but soon will never be able to live without.

Q: Which neighborhoods do you cover?
A: My most popular tours are described on the ethnojunkets page but there are always new ones in the works. For the time being, I’m only scheduling Little Odessa, Elmhurst, and Flushing.

Q: When is your next ethnojunket to [fill in the blank: Flushing, Elmhurst, Little Odessa, Little Levant, etc.]?
A: Any day you’d like to go! Simply send me a note in the “Leave a Reply” section below or write to me directly at rich[at]ethnojunkie[dot]com and tell me when you’d like to experience a food adventure and which ethnojunket you’re interested in – I’ll bet we can find a mutually convenient day! (Pro Tip: Check the weather in advance for the day you’re interested in to facilitate making your choice; we spend a lot of time outdoors!)

Q: I’ve seen some tours that are scheduled in advance for particular dates. Do you do that?
A: Yes, in a way. When someone books a tour (unless it’s a private tour) it’s always fun to add a few more adventurous eaters to the group – not to mention the fact that we get the opportunity to taste more dishes when we have more people (although I do like to keep the group size small). You can see if there are any openings available in the “Now Boarding” section of the ethnojunkets page. Subscribers always get email notifications about these.

Q: What will we be eating in Flushing?
A: On this ethnojunket, we’ll choose from a seemingly endless collection of authentic regional delights from all over China: Heilongjiang, Shandong, Henan, Shanghai, Shaanxi, Guangzhou, Hubei, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and Japan and Taiwan as well. And as if that weren’t enough, we’ll finish with some amazingly rich Chinese influenced American ice cream! If you’re into cooking, we can also check out JMart, a sprawling Asian supermarket. All this within four blocks!

Here are just a few of the delicacies we usually enjoy on this ethnojunket. (Not that I’m trying to tempt you to sign up! 😉)

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

Dim Sum and Dumplings and Buns – oh my!


Dan Tat – Hong Kong Egg Custard Tarts


Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken


Xiao Long Bao – Soup Dumplings


Oodles of Noodles


Jian Bing – Chinese Crepe


I hope you’ll sign up and join us! The cost is $85 per person (cash only, please) and includes a veritable cornucopia of food so bring your appetite: you won’t leave hungry, and you will leave happy!

For more information and to sign up, send me a note in the “Leave a Reply” section at the bottom of this page or write to me directly at rich[at]ethnojunkie[dot]com and I’ll email you with details.

I’m looking forward to introducing you to one of my favorite neighborhoods!
 
 

Elmhurst Ethnojunkets Are Back!

Onward and upward!

I resumed Exploring Eastern European Food in Little Odessa about a month ago (a big thank you to all my guests!) and now Ethnic Eats in Elmhurst is joining the lineup; Flushing and Bay Ridge are just around the corner.

Ethnojunkets FAQ:

 
Q: What’s an ethnojunket anyway?
A: An ethnojunket is a food-focused walking tour through one of New York City’s many ethnic enclaves; my mission is to introduce you to some delicious, accessible, international treats that you’ve never tasted but soon will never be able to live without.

Q: Which neighborhoods do you cover?
A: My most popular tours are described on the ethnojunkets page but there are always new ones in the works. For the time being, I’m only scheduling Little Odessa and Elmhurst.

Q: When is your next ethnojunket to [fill in the blank: Elmhurst, Little Odessa, Flushing, Little Levant, etc.]?
A: Any day you’d like to go! Simply send me a note in the “Leave a Reply” section below or write to me directly at rich[at]ethnojunkie[dot]com and tell me when you’d like to experience a food adventure and which ethnojunket you’re interested in – I’ll bet we can find a mutually convenient day! (Pro Tip: Check the weather in advance for the day you’re interested in to facilitate making your choice; we spend a lot of time outdoors!)

Q: I’ve seen some tours that are scheduled in advance for particular dates. Do you do that?
A: Yes, in a way. When someone books a tour (unless it’s a private tour) it’s always fun to add a few more adventurous eaters to the group – not to mention the fact that we get the opportunity to taste more dishes when we have more people (although I do like to keep the group size small). You can see if there are any openings available in the “Now Boarding” section of the ethnojunkets page. Subscribers always get email notifications about these.

Q: What will we be eating in Elmhurst?
A: We cover a lot of geography on our Ethnic Eats in Elmhurst adventure! We’ll savor goodies from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia and parts of China. And if you’re into cooking, we can explore a large Pan-Asian supermarket along the way.

Here are just a few of the delicacies we usually enjoy on this ethnojunket. (Not that I’m trying to tempt you to sign up! 😉)

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

Thai Pork & Peanut Dumplings

Taiwanese Pineapple Cake


Nepali Momos


Zaab Chicken Wings


Malaysian Silver Noodles


Pandan Tart Cake


I hope you’ll sign up and join us! The cost is $85 per person (cash only, please) and includes a veritable cornucopia of food so bring your appetite: you won’t leave hungry, and you will leave happy!

For more information and to sign up, send me a note in the “Leave a Reply” section at the bottom of this page or write to me directly at rich[at]ethnojunkie[dot]com and I’ll email you with details.

I’m looking forward to introducing you to one of my favorite neighborhoods!
 
 

Don’t Let This Happen To You!

Because it’s ’tis the season, I recently found myself in a harried shopping frenzy running from one store to another in disparate parts of town overwhelmed because I was trying to fit too much into one day when I suddenly became aware that I was famished since I’d been at it for hours so I grabbed a quick bite from whatever was closest at the moment and got halfway through it when I abruptly realized that the worst had happened.

I had neglected to take a picture of my lunch.

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

So here’s what was left of my karaage from Shokusaido in Industry City’s Japan Village, 946 3rd Ave, Brooklyn.
 
 
This one goes out to all of my fellow food freaks who obsessively photograph and post pictures of everything they put in their mouths. (Well, almost everything.)

Ring any bells, friends? (And I don’t mean the kind that jingle.) Your comments, please!
 
 

Kuromame Natto

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)
“Do you eat natto?” asked my friend. She had some extra and generously offered to share with me. I answered in the affirmative and the next time I saw her she handed me a little bag containing black natto from NYrture, a New York based company. (Note: this is not a sponsored post.)

For those of you who are unfamiliar with natto, it’s a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans and eaten for breakfast, a side dish or a snack, often with rice. Aside from its health benefits, its claim to fame (or perhaps infamy) is its potent aroma and flavor along with its notoriously slimy consistency. (Look up “acquired taste” in the encyclopedia and you’ll see a dish of natto.)

From NYrture’s website: “No description of natto would be complete without mentioning its uniquely sticky texture. Neba-neba is a Japanese word to describe the sticky, stringy, wispy film that coats natto beans. In Japan, the more “neba-neba”, the better the natto. In fact, standard practice is to vigorously stir natto before eating to increase neba-neba!”

Indeed. Natto has been known to give okra an inferiority complex.

But the company described this kuromame (black soybean) natto as “gateway natto” and I couldn’t have said it better. For starters, its flavor is significantly milder and slightly beany with, believe it or not, notes of chocolate. And although turbulent natto is soybean’s answer to an Instagram cheese pull, in defiance of “standard practice” I decided to forego whipping it into an unphotogenic web of sticky threads: personally, I don’t find it to be particularly appetizing and if your mission is gateway natto, you want appetizing.


In Japan, it’s served in numerous ways; I decided to go simple and put the artsy effort into the pickled ginger rose.

So I put it to you: Do you eat natto?
 
 

Goblin’ Futomaki on Halloween

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

Halloween is just around the corner and I wanted to indulge in something that didn’t involve Reese’s Cups, M&M’s, or Kit Kats, so I’ll be goblin’ futomaki that’s decked out in an All Hallows’ Eve costume – I guess that makes it both a trick and a treat. (But, not gonna lie, I’m waiting for the post-holiday sales: just as leftover Thanksgiving dinner tastes better the next day, so does leftover half-price Halloween candy.)

In obeisance to the official black and orange Halloween rubric, the black monstermaki (futomaki means thick or fat roll) is wrapped in nori, its conventional costume, and its orange sidekicks are swathed in soy wrappers that come in five flavors/colors: original soy, sesame, spinach green, turmeric yellow, and paprika orange.

I filled them with kani (krab sticks), avocado, cucumber, strips of sweet kanpyō (dried gourd) and most important, eel because – in keeping with the holiday spirit 👻 – it’s only one letter away from EEK!

And in case you’re wondering – no, I’m not handing out these spookomaki on October 31; the kids are supposed to scare me, not the other way around!

Happy Halloween! 🎃 🍣
 
 

July is National Ice Cream Month! Celebrate Globally!

The story began here:

Every August, as a routinely flushed, overheated child, I would join in chorus with my perspiring cohorts, boisterously importuning, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” Little did I realize that rather than conjuring dessert, I was conjugating it and probably laying the groundwork for a lifetime of fascination with foreign languages and world food.

We lived in close proximity to one of the best dairies in town; it was known for its wide assortment of locally produced natural flavors, certainly sufficient in number and variety to satisfy any palate. Perhaps my obsession with offbeat ice cream flavors is rooted in my frustration with my father’s return home from work, invariably bearing the same kind of ice cream as the last time, Neapolitan. Neapolitan, again. My pleas to try a different flavor – just once? please? – consistently fell on deaf ears. “Neapolitan is chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. That’s three flavors right there. If you don’t want it, don’t eat it.” Some kids’ idea of rebellion involved smoking behind the garage; mine was to tuck into a bowl of Rum Raisin….

There’s lots more to the story, of course. Click here to get the full scoop! 🍨
 
 

Smorgasburg, Prospect Park

First pre-post-pandemic (because it’s not over till it’s over) foray into an open-air food market. If such events proliferated like chain stores, ten year old Smorgasburg would be the archetype; last weekend, we visited their outpost in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, currently open from 11am to 6pm on Sundays.

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

“Lobster Garlic Noods” from Lobsterdamus called out to me the loudest from among the 35 vendors. Legitimate lobster, not surrogate surimi; had I noticed the “Add extra lobster meat $4” sign, I would have gone for it. Destined in the stars to be the first pick of the day, I predict you’ll like it too.


“Rooster Nuggets” from Rooster Boy; umami-rich koji marinated karaage fried chicken bites. You can choose from among six sauces, but for me the flavorful chicken didn’t need any help.

 
 

Japanese Curry

👨‍🍳 Cooking in the Time of COVID 👨‍🍳

It’s been a minute since I posted any homemade Japanese food but since I cooked up this Japanese curry and it wasn’t bad, I thought I’d share. Actually, the word “homemade” might be something of a stretch: the sauce comes from a package, specifically the quick ‘n’ easy, rather ubiquitous S&B Golden Curry Sauce Mix, the hot variety – and for “hot”, read medium.

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

Yes, Japanese curry is a thing; as a matter of fact it’s considered to be one of the country’s top two national dishes (the other being ramen) which are only then followed by sushi and miso soup. From The Japan Times: “The spice mix known as curry powder and curried dishes were most likely introduced to Japan via the Anglo-Indian officers of the royal Navy and other stalwarts of the British Empire. They were among the first Westerners the Japanese came into contact with, after Commodore Matthew Perry landed his Black Ships at Kurihama in 1853, opening the country to the world after hundreds of years of isolation. Since this new dish came from the West, as far as these Japanese travelers were concerned, it was classified as yōshoku (Western food)….”


After years of tinkering with flavor profiles and targeting them to local tastes, Japanese curry came of age, a countrywide comfort food that exhibits little similarity to the Anglo-Indian dishes that gave rise to it. Inside the box, you’ll find blocks of curry sauce mix, essentially an instant roux packed with all the typical flavorings. The instructions couldn’t be simpler: stir-fry chunks of your protein of choice (I used beef) along with some vegetables (onion, carrot, etc.) in oil for 5 minutes, add water, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Now if you do any cooking at all, you will immediately recognize that there’s no way red meat is going to tenderize during that meager interval, so put your optimism back in the pantry, take out your patience, and let the dish simmer covered for a good deal more time until the meat is actually tender. Then turn the heat off, break the curry-roux bricks into pieces, add them to the skillet, and stir until the sauce mix has dissolved completely. Simmer and stir for another 5 minutes or so.

I kicked up mine with some yuzu shichimi togarashi (seven spice mixture) that includes dried yuzu peel and red chili pepper and topped the rice with furikake. Raw scallion is a good foil for cooked beef and more important, I had some on hand, so why not?

 
 
Stay safe, be well, and eat whatever it takes. ❤️
 
 

Winter Squash: Quashing Questions – Orange Kabocha Squash

👨‍🍳 Cooking in the Time of COVID 👨‍🍳

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

Not merely an alternate color scheme, the orange kabocha squash is actually a red kuri/kabocha hybrid. This one was about six inches in diameter, conforming to the rubric of petite proportions I settled upon at the outset of this project. Japanese pumpkins are often described as tasting like a cross between pumpkin and sweet potato; this was no exception.


Since I simmered the other kabocha, I decided to give this one a straightforward oven roast treatment. Certainly tasty as you’d expect and falling along the dry/satiny-smooth side of the texture continuum, it did not disappoint. I suppose I should have done more with it, but my kitchen has essentially transmogrified into a culinary cucurbita laboratory of late and I wanted a baseline experiment. (Perhaps there’s a reason why chef’s whites look a little like a lab coat. 😉)

Next up, sweet dumpling squash.
 
(For those who are just joining us, the saga begins here.)
 
 
Stay safe, be well, and eat whatever it takes. ❤️
 
 

Winter Squash: Quashing Questions – Winter Sweet Kabocha Squash

👨‍🍳 Cooking in the Time of COVID 👨‍🍳

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

I know kabocha as a dark green, firm-fleshed squash often reputed to taste like a blend of pumpkin, chestnut, and sweet potato, and it’s another of my favorites (most Japanese squashes garner high marks from me). But one crate at the farmers’ market bore a sign that read “winter sweet kabocha” and another was identified as merely “winter kabocha” so I inferred that they were two different varieties. I bought one of each (see the pair side by side in this photo) and decided to pass on the standard green variety – I mean really, how many kabochas can I use? Since the pair tasted pretty much the same (I suspect it was a labeling issue), I’m pretty sure in retrospect that purchasing both winter versions had been unnecessary and it would have been wiser to compare winter sweet kabocha to the more common green one (which I didn’t do) or the orange variation (which I did do).


Since kabocha of any color holds its shape commendably when steamed or simmered…


…I couldn’t resist making Kabocha no Nimono (かぼちゃの煮物), a classic Japanese treatment that simmers chunks of kabocha in dashi (Japanese soup stock) seasoned with sake and/or mirin, soy sauce, sugar and salt; the garnish is fresh ginger sliced into matchsticks. Very satisfying.

Next up, the aforementioned orange kabocha squash.
 
(For those who are just joining us, the saga begins here.)
 
 
Stay safe, be well, and eat whatever it takes. ❤️