Wordless Wednesday: Did Someone Say Dim Sum?

Hot & Sour Soup

Coffee Walnut Bun

Sweet Rice Tamale with Meatless Chicken, AKA Zongzi

Dim Sum

Big Lantern
3170 16th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103

Long Noodles For Long Days

In January it’s so nice
While slipping on the sliding ice
To slurp hot chicken with long rice
Slurping once, slurping twice
Slurping chicken with long rice

Perhaps that’s not quite how the original children’s book begins, but it’s close enough. Closely linked in my mind to the earliest days of childhood, sitting in my Papa Sam’s lap as he read to me from the colorful pages, the lilting cadence of that simple poetry instantly takes me back. Memories of pillow forts and story time, footie pajamas and a bed full of stuffed animals bubble up like a pot simmering on the back burner. It’s fitting that this particular tale is all about comfort food, since that’s the hunger it satisfies in my soul.

Of course, the real story is about soup, but there’s room for more than one home cooked source of solace. Chicken long rice is basically the brothless equivalent.

What is chicken long rice?

First introduced to me by a friend living on Oahu, chicken long rice features thin vermicelli noodles interwoven with shredded chicken cooked in a savory broth spiked with ginger. It’s a cozy dish that satisfies all those wintry cravings, but also brilliantly light and easy to eat in the heat of summer.

The name itself is a bit of a misnomer; while rice noodles are acceptable, it’s most commonly made with mung bean threads (AKA cellophane noodles, glass noodles, or saifun) which are resilient, chewy, and great for soaking in all of that flavorful liquid.

Adapted from Chinese cuisine, it’s now a Hawaiian staple that turns up at luaus, potlucks, and everyday dinners across the island state.

What makes this the best recipe for chicken long rice?

I’m so glad you asked! Naturally, it’s plant-based like everything else I make, putting it firmly within the grasp of hungry vegans and vegetarians at last. Additionally, the starch-based noodles open up the possibility of catering to gluten-free eaters; just use wheat-free tamari instead of soy sauce, and double-check that your meatless chicken follows suit, too.

Do yourself a favor: Bookmark this page right now. Just like in the children’s story, there’s no bad time for a bowlful of comfort. You’re going to want this one for the months ahead.

Continue reading “Long Noodles For Long Days”

An Everyday Kinda Birthday

Happy Belated Birthday To Me!

What does it say that I’m late to my own party?

The law of diminishing returns would suggest that I’ve passed peak celebratory years, jaded to the passage of time. While there’s a good dose of truth in that statement, it’s far from the full picture. Let’s turn the concept on its head for a moment.

Cupcakes with "Happy" Candles

What if, instead of reserving the festivities for a single calendar date, we lived every day a little bit more like a celebration?

  • Instead of saving the best bite for last, we dug right in and savored it along with the rest?
  • Instead of keeping prized collectables pristine in their packages, we tore them open and played without restraint?
  • Instead of saving cake for special occasions, made the act of eating cake a special occasion in and of itself?

Becoming an adult requires you to do one of two things: Give in, or give it your all.

So here I am, another year older. It doesn’t feel significant because, quite frankly, it’s not. It’s one birthday of many, not the greatest but absolutely not the worst, with many more to follow. It’s special precisely for the reason that it’s not.

I’ll be out here living everyday a little bit more like it’s my birthday from this point forward. Who’s with me?

Unholy

Fresh herbs wait for no one, which is a pressing issue when you’re prone to over-purchasing. Some can be preserved beautifully through drying or freezing, but others perish through the process. There’s a reason why dried basil and dill taste nothing like their original glory, aromatic and herbaceous, reduced down to straw-like hay at best. That’s why a treasure like Thai basil must be cherished immediately, given the opportunity.

What is Thai holy basil?

Distinct from Italian basil, Thai holy basil is more pungent and peppery, sharp and bright, unlike anything else on the market. Despite the misleading name, it’s in fact an entirely different plant, with no relation to other types of common basil. While you could substitute one for the other, you might as well use cilantro instead, since the taste would end up being equally disparate.

What’s the best way to use Thai basil?

Pad Krapao, AKA basil stir fry, is an ideal way to clean the excess fresh herb out of your fridge. It takes almost no prep, comes together in 10 minutes or less, and has an invigorating if not downright addictive flavor. The most common variety you’ll find is Pad Krapao Gai, made with ground chicken, but the beauty of this concept is its versatility. American restaurants tend to favor whole cuts, but you could easily use any protein you prefer.

What are some ideal protein substitutions?

Naturally, my chicken is plant-based. If you’re craving something lighter, heartier, or simply different, you have plenty of choices:

Want to veg out?

I like to keep this prep fast and streamlined, focusing on just one featured vegetable for the sake of simplicity. Go ahead and add a full rainbow to bulk up the meal, especially if you have a frozen stir fry vegetable blend you can effortlessly toss right in. My favorite vegetable additions or substitutions include:

  • Bell pepper strips
  • Snow seas or snap peas
  • Shredded carrots
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Baby corn
  • Sliced zucchini

If you should be so lucky to have access to fresh Thai holy basil, don’t let a single leaf go to waste. There will be no such thing as “too much” when you have this easy, crowd-pleasing recipe in your repertoire.

Continue reading “Unholy”

Radicalized Radicchio

I do not like radicchio.

Full stop.

Maybe that’s not the most enticing way to start a post about a radicchio recipe, but I’m nothing if not honest here.

Radicchio, miniature heads of tender red leaf lettuce, have a delicate, feathery appearance. They seem ethereal, soft as if they could float away, yet eye-catching for their molted mulberry hue.

Bitterness is not a bad thing in itself; it’s essential for contrast and balance in a dish, to fully appreciate sweetness when it rings true. The bitterness in radicchio, however, is something else. It’s bitter like a freezing rain whipping in a cold wind. It’s bitter like Ebenezer Scrooge before his encounter with three spirits.

Radicchio macro

How can you tame the bitterness of radicchio?

All is not lost when radicchio darkens your vegetable crisper. The secret is really quite simple:

  1. Cut it into thin strips or finely shave it.
  2. Soak it in ice water for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Drain and thoroughly dry.

That’s it! Like magic, the once biting acridity has been de-fanged. Now the question remains…

What’s the best way to cook radicchio?

Actually, that’s a trick question. While it is suitable for stir-frying, sauteing, braising, and roasting, I happen to find the milder version quite pleasant raw.

Radicchio Purple Potato Salad

Allow me to introduce: The Purple Potato Salad.

Unlike conventional takes on the concept, the potatoes are roasted with autumnal herbs and spices for a warm finish and crispy edges. It’s still all about contrasts here, with fresh radicchio providing a tender-crisp bite against the creamy flesh of purple sweet potatoes. More floral and fragrant than their orange brethren, they’re worth seeking out for a truly showstopping magenta masterpiece. Nutty, buttery roasted chestnuts round out any remaining sharp edges to the radicchio, coupled with the crunch of toasted pine nuts. Like any thoughtful salad, it’s not just a random pile of leftover ingredients, but a carefully assembled composition.

How can you make this recipe your own?

Think seasonally and you can’t go too far wrong. Other complimentary additions could include:

Radicchio Purple Potato Salad

Still think radicchio is beyond redemption?

Take it from a reformed hater: It’s all about proper prep. Anything can be made delicious with the right care and attention. If this Radicchio and Roasted Purple Potato Salad doesn’t change your mind, I don’t know what will.

Continue reading “Radicalized Radicchio”