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.