Saturday, October 16, 2010

ode to summer

Fall came so fast I didn't even get to say goodbye to summer. So though it's 3 weeks late, I wanted to pay tribute to the summer by posting some of my favorite photos from this past season.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

yogurt marinated pork chops w/ nectarine salsa

Hi, from San Mateo!

Every day I think, "This is the day I will post about my move to the Bay Area." And goes on. Like it usually does. So while I procrastinate about this post that might never (ever) come, I will post about PORK CHOPS. I live at home (yes, I know its pathetic), and one of my duties is to cook once a week. Little did my family know they would become guinea pigs for new recipes from the interweb. There have been some near disasters, but tonight was a winner. I combined 2 recipes together (this one and this one) to create yogurt marinated pork chops with nectarine salsa.

Yogurt at first glance did not sound very appetizing as part of a marinade, but it made an excellent tenderizer and I couldn't even taste it after it was cooked. Here is what I did and what you can do too!


4 thick-cut bone-in pork loin chops (I used "blade cut")
1 head roasted garlic (cut the top of head off, put in foil with a little olive oil and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 min)
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper

2 nectarines, pitted and diced
1 ripe tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup diced onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt to taste

1. Place the chops in a shallow dish in one layer. In a small bowl, mash the roasted garlic into a paste. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to combine. Pour over the chops and rub into both sides. Let stand at least 30 minutes, turning a couple times to ensure an even marinade.

2. Chop up the salsa ingredients and refrigerate 30 minutes to blend flavors.

3. Grill pork chops over medium heat until done, about 10 minutes per side until lightly browned and juices run clear.

4. Serve pork chops topped with generous spoonfuls of salsa!

I highly suggest marinating the pork chops overnight. It made the meat super tender, and the next day I only had to make the salsa and grill the pork chops. And, it was delightful with a side of whole wheat cous cous and a bed of arugula with a splash of lemon, olive oil, coarse salt and cracked pepper. It also helped that my dad grilled the meat on the bbq, but I'm sure it would be fine grilled in a pan.


P.S. I have an unhealthy crush on KevJumba. He's 20. That's disgusting.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

photoshop wonders

I had the pleasure of taking engagement photos for Richard and Nancy, a couple that I met at Evergreen LA. James was my 2nd shooter, (insert extremely amused and hearty laugh, since he is a much better photographer than I), and did all post processing afterward. So, I haven't really seen the need to invest time and energy into learning Photoshop since I've only taken photos for my personal enjoyment. But after I saw what James did to my photos, I think I might have to drop some dough. Check them out.

He seriously transformed my shots. Thanks, James! Also, big thanks, to Richard and Nancy for being such an easy going couple and following my often haphazard directing. It was fun!

Monday, April 5, 2010

recyclables for haiti

After 5 months I finally cashed in my recyclables for a grand total of $43.25. Again, not much but it's something. This time I donated to World Vision to the Haiti Earthquake Relief fund. Things in the media have died down about Haiti, but it doesn't mean the people have stopped hurting. Thank you to:

Auntie Joy
My roommates - Jenny & Jenny
My co-workers - Gina & Susan
Gus S.
Tina L.
Matt S.
Sam Y.
Win & Melody L.
Greg & Charissa P.

You guys rock.

Friday, March 26, 2010

venice, abbot kinney & sisters

Lauren came down to visit again, and we had some fun at a very cold and dreary Venice Beach and Abbot Kinney.

Which is strange because Culver City was all sun.

A friend once told me that that my sister Megan and her bf remind her of the asian version of the Troy and Gabriella from High School Musical. I totally think it's true. They are good models too.

I'm realizing that my most preferred focal length is 17-5o-ish. Time to research lenses and become even more broke.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

food weekend

Last weekend they came to visit.

I love my sister, Lauren. And I guess Jon too.

And this sister...

...cooked mushroom risotto on Saturday night after performing in a dance program...

...and baked strawberry cheesecake...

...and red velvet cake the next day. She's a freaking beast.

WOW. What a blessed weekend. Except for this goodie that was left on my camera.

I must say that my fascination for taking pictures of food is steadily increasing. I know there's an art to it, and I want to look into learning the tricks and tips of the trade. For now I'm taking a basic digital photography class at Pasadena City College. I want to be a smart photographer. (Don't lie. You were totally thinking of this clip when I said "smart".)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

curry udon

Ever since I tried curry udon in Japan, I've been wanting to make it myself. After a careful Google search, I came across a recipe from Takashi’s Noodles posted on some random lady's food blog. There were several other recipes I found, but it intrigued me that it called for milk as well as curry mix. However, the instructions tripped me out because some of the ingredients weren't converted for the recipe, so I'll show you how I converted the ingredients to make it work...along with some minor tweaks I threw in. Note: You can purchase almost all of the ingredients at an Asian grocery store. Doesn't necessarily have to be a Japanese market.

One of the ingredients for the Curry is Udon Broth, and in order to make the Udon Broth, you need to make or buy Dashi (bonito soup stock). Here are the recipes in order of preparation:

Makes 4 servings

Dashi for Udon Broth
1 piece of kombu (dried kelp), approximately 3 x 6 inches
20 g or .7 oz package of katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
7 cups of water
Fine mesh sieve (A cheese cloth or coffee filter will work. I used a strainer and a paper towel!)
*Notes: These are different proportions than the original recipe calls for. AND, you can bypass making dashi from scratch by buying bonito fish soup stock powder instead. My mom always uses Ajinomoto Hon Dashi.

1. Place the kombu, in a large stockpot filled with the 7 cups of water and let it soak at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.

2. Bring to a boil over high heat, remove the kombu, and decrease the heat so the liquid is simmering.

3. Add katsuobushi and gently mix into the liquid; do not stir vigorously. Simmer for 10 minutes longer, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve.

Optional: Next, I boiled the meat in the dashi for 30-60 minutes to make it tender.

Udon Broth for Curry
5 1/4 cups Dashi (some of the remaining Dashi will be used to thicken the curry)
1/2 cup Japanese soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin (sweet cooking rice wine)
*Please note these are different proportions than the original recipe calls for.

Pour all ingredients together in a small pot and set aside until it's ready to be used for the curry.

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
1 cup peeled and thinly sliced salsify (I didn't use this, and have no idea where to purchase it!)
1 teaspoon curry powder
6 cups Udon Broth (from recipe above)
3 ounces or 4 cubes of medium-hot Japanese curry sauce mix (I like Vermont Curry Sauce Mix)
1 1/4 cups whole milk
12 ounces beef, sliced paper thin (I used a prime beef chuck roll thinly sliced from Mitsuwa)
2 tablespoons of potato or corn starch
1 pound dried udon noodles (comes in packs at an Asian grocery store)

2 scallions, both white and green parts, thinly sliced
8 mitsuba leaves (Japanese wild parseley), thinly sliced (I didn't use this either...)

1. Set a large saute or wide-bottomed pan over high heat and add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil. When the oil is hot, about 30 seconds, add the onions and salsify. Cook for 1 minute, then decrease the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft, approximately 45 seconds longer. Add the curry powder and continue cooking, stirring often, until it has been absorbed, about 30 seconds.

2. Pour the Udon Broth over the onions and increase the heat to high. Add the curry sauce mix cubes and stir until dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and heat for 1 minute. Stir in the beef and cook over medium heat until the meat is cooked through 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.

3. Dissolve the potato or corn starch into 1/4 cup of the remaining Dashi. Slowly mix the potato/corn starch mixture into the curry to thicken it. *I took step this from another recipe since the curry was a little too watery for my liking.

4. Boil the udon noodles following the package instructions. Drain well. Divide the noodles among 4 bowls. Into each bowl pour one-fourth of the curry broth and the beef and garnish with the scallions and mitsuba leaves.


The final results were pretty delicious. Maybe a little on the salty side, so I would suggest using a low sodium soy sauce or 1 less curry mix cube. All in all it was a fun experience. I get a kick of making dishes with complex instructions. And when I made the dashi from scratch I felt like at true Japanese woman. If I have disappointed my ancestors with a lack of desire to learn the language, maybe I can redeem myself by learning to cook the cuisine.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

japan highlights

I finally finished it.

Welcome to the Japan highlights reel! Last September I went on a 13 day odyssey to Japan with my family. We had a blast! After sorting through 1,000+ pictures, I have narrowed it down to the few that depict our trip the best. Hang tight. Here we go.

On Friday, September 11, 2009, we left for Narita, Tokyo. And stayed 'til Sunday.

Next went went to Hiroshima and stayed at a ryokan, kind of like a bed and breakfast.

We had food ready for us every morning and evening. Good home cooking.

We took a ferry to Miyajima, a nearby island.

Got attacked by deer.

Miyajima is famous for making these pastries called momiji (maple leaf) manju.

Then we headed back to Hiroshima to visit the Peace Memorial Park to remember the victims in the bombing of Hiroshima.

This is the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall. One of the original buildings still remaining after the bombing.

This model shows approximately where the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

And this is the Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace, for the A-bomb victims. The stone chest in the center holds the registry of the names of persons who died from the bombing, regardless of nationality. In 2001, total victims were 221,893.

Children's Peace Monument.

We took a break from mourning.

Choco Cro. Probably the best chocolate croissant I've had in my life.

This was the ryokan's dog, Luna. He greeted us whenever we came back to the hotel.

NEXT we went to Kochi and met up with my grandparents. This is where my grandpa's family is from.

Harimaya Bridge, the scene of Kochi’s most famous love-affair, and is the city’s most recognizable landmark.

We were fortunate enough to meet up with distant relatives and see the Higaki grave site and learn more about the Higaki family line. They rented a tour van and even made detailed schedule of our day together!

This sign is on the plot of land that my great grandfather grew up on.

Then our van broke down. In the middle of no where. But we got a new one in an hour. MLIA.

My grandpa's cousin's gravestone.

I like how over every door or in front of peoples' homes they put up plaques with their family name.

Then it was off to Osaka, my grandma's hometown, and home of Glico man.

My grandma's friends took us out for dinner at this shabu shabu place. It was about a 6 course meal. Probably the best dinner I had on the whole trip.

The next morning we went to see my grandmother's side of the family.

Mitsyo, and me with Unknown Named Dog, Tim Tam, and Goma. I loved these dogs.

My grandma's cousin.

The street we think my grandmother might have grew up on...

The sisters got tired of J-food and ordered McDonald's.

The following day we went to a place in Osaka call Matsumushi, where my mom taught Japan for 2 years...

...and where my parents first kissed.

Okonomiyaki! A must try in Osaka.

My mom's friend took us around Osaka. We went to ShitennĊ-ji temple, the first Buddhist and oldest officially administered temple in Japan.

I had kare (curry) udon for dinner. Heaven in a bowl.

That day was also Lauren's birthday, so Megan and I put together a little surprise party for her. Dad picked out a cake for her.

Lauren and Megan departed Japan the following day, and I continued with my parents to Kiryu for a business meeting with a flower grower, the Sakamotos.

Kiryu sounds like "kill you".

The grower's kid seriously did not smile for the first hour he played with me. He finally smiled when he started chasing me around with that truck thing he's holding onto. He was freakishly fast. I was deathly afraid for my life.

Next stop, Nikkooooooo. We were just a couple months shy of seeing the trees turn vibrant orange. It was still beautiful nonetheless.

My grandpa told me to take this picture of him. So I did.

Then we went to another temple. I believe the famous hear no evil, say no evil, see no evil monkeys originate from this wood carving...that is on a horse stable.

Prayers on paper.

Sweet advertising.

And finally, back to Shinagawa in Tokyo. PHEW.

On our last full day in Tokyo, my dad's old grad school friend, Aki took us to Asakusa which used to be one of the cool touristy places to visit. It was still bustling.

Aki introduced us to dojo or Japanese loach. They look and taste like baby eels. Delicious and super expensive. Mmmm.

Later that night, we experienced the most frustrating and yet most satisfying part of the whole trip. After walking in circles around Shinagawa for about an hour we found a kaiten sushi place where they sold sushi plates for 100 yen. That's just a little over a dollar, people. We ate like kings and queens for about $60.
I ate toro to my hearts content. *Drool*

Can't leave Japan without seeing some good engrish.

And like the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. But boy, did it end well. Ever had oyster katsu and kuri gohan? Holy cow. A most excellent last meal.

Good bye, Japan. It was a true pleasure meeting you.

I'll definitely be back!