Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kogi's Sriracha Bar Clone

After tasting the Sriracha Bar from the Kogi Korean BBQ truck, I knew I had to try and recreate it at home. It was so good yet so seemingly simple! Pure genius! A base of rice krispie chocolate a la a Crunch Bar gets topped with caramel and sriracha infused chocolate ganache. Throw in some peanuts and shroud it all in chocolate for the most addicting candy bar ever. I am not a huge hot and spicy fan, but even I loved the fruity warmth of the sriracha combined with the bittersweet chocolate.

With all the different textures and layers, this seemed like a challenge for Miss Mochi! I have never made caramel before, and I wanted this to be easy enough that I could whip this up on a whim, as well as give friends outside Southern California an opportunity to try this. 

Firstly, this undertaking required some Food Lab-like thinkage. I broke down the bar into sections: Crunch base, sriracha ganache, caramel with peanuts, chocolate covering. The peanuts and chocolate covering were no-brainers...

So how hard could caramel and the rest be?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tsukemono & Furikake Don (丼の振り掛けて漬物)

As you can see, I am working on my Japanese. I am not very good at it, because I rarely have an opportunity to practice. It took me a while to find all the symbols in kanji and hirigana for the title, let alone try and make sure I got it grammatically correct (or close... any Japanese language buffs feel free to correct it).

This dish is what I make when I don't feel like cooking. I guess you could say it is a hapa girl's version of PB&J, but it always surprises me how much I enjoy it.  Tonight, we only had leftovers enough for one person, so Mr. Mochi ate the leftovers and I threw this together for myself.

I have pontificated at great lengths about how much I love shiso katsuo ninniku so it is just as well that I am using it in a dish for this blog. Usually tsukemono like the pink pickled garlic are used as a garnish on or next to the main dish, but here I use them as star players. Also returning to bat is furikake, which I used in an earlier blog post to create the furikake chex mix. This is a much more traditional application of furikake and assuredly just as delicious.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Kogi BBQ Truck: Hapa Food

One of my favorite puppy friendly venues are food trucks, because they are always outside and a perfect way to get your dog used to dining with you. Since you can eat standing, even disobedient dogs can't snab food! Of course, there's no dog menu, so bring some biscuits or snacks unless you want your pooch drooling on your feet...

As my next feature for Dog Days of Summer, I picked to review my fave hapa truck, Kogi. Okay, I may be using the term "hapa" loosely here, but I think Kogi is pretty hapa. It takes something Asian and mixes it with a different culture, in Kogi's case, Mexi-American Southern Californian food.

Kogi started around Thanksgiving in 2008, and basically became one of the ambassadors of the new food truck craze, where "roach coaches" have been elevated into a culinary art form, and chefs can create delicious meals on wheels. In fact, Kogi received a Bon Appétit Award in 2009 and "Best New Chef" for chief chef Roy Choi by Food & Wine in 2010, proving that just because you chug around Southern California in a truck doesn't mean your food is going unnoticed.

Adventures in Little Tokyo: Fugetsu-Do and Shin-Sen-Gumi

Here in Southern California, there are a lot of Japanese markets, but I still love making the trip to Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles for the history as well as the shopping. Even better is when my cousin is in town and she wants to go see some Los Angeles sights.

Nestled in the heart of Los Angeles, next to the police station and close to Union Station, what is left of Little Tokyo can be found in roughly five large city blocks. It is bounded on the west by Los Angeles Street, on the east by Alameda Street, on the south by 3rd Street, and on the north by First Street, but also includes a substantial portion of the block north of First and west of Alameda, location of the Japanese American National Museum, the Go For Broke Monument, and a row of historic shops which lines the north side of First Street.

Little Tokyo used to be much bigger, and with a lot more residential areas. Unfortunately, a lot of Little Tokyo was lost during the Japanese American Internment, when many of the Japanese American shop owners were forced to leave their businesses. Still, some businesses managed to reopen after the Japanese Americans were let out. One of my favorites is Fugetsu-Do, the confectionary shop on First Street.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Shichimi Togarashi

While I was reviewing my earlier posts, I realized I mentioned shichimi togarashi but didn't discuss it, even using it in my katsu-karē and spam musubi.  Like shiso and shiso katsuo ninniku, it is something that I consider pantry staples but might not be as ubiquitous as I think it is. Sounds like a perfect blog post to me!

My bottle of House brand
Shichimi togarashi (七味唐辛子) is a common Japanese spice blend, commonly made out of ground red chili pepper, black and white sesame seeds, ground sansho (Szechuan pepper), orange peel, nori, ginger, and sometimes hemp seed. The name shichimi togarashi means "seven flavor chili pepper" because traditionally it contains seven ingredients, as opposed to ichimi togarashi (一味唐辛子), which is just one ingredient: ground red chili pepper ("ichi" = "one").

Saturday, June 16, 2012

KFC Katsu Karē Donburi

WARNING! Japanese food purist will hate this post!

As mentioned in my Uomoto curry post, Mr. Mochi's favorite Japanese dish is katsu-karē (カツカレー), where tonkatsu (a deep fried pork cutlet) is served with rice and a generous portion of karē sauce poured over both. He loves to sprinkle shichimi togarashi over it and dig in whenever we go shopping at Mitsuwa. Unfortunately, I don't have a fryer and anyone who has deep fried anything knows that it is messy business trying to do it in a pot.  So when I make it at home, its a rare occasion. I will someday have to make it for this blog, but that will be when I am feeling more ambitious. Having just made some desserts for this blog, namely the Okinawan sweet potato haupia pie and an upcoming treat, I am out of funds and energy.

I needed something cheap, easy, and tasty.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Yōkan Jellies with Chestnuts and Anko

Whenever one of the Japanese relatives would visit, presents would always be exchanged. In Japanese culture, gift giving has its own sets of rules. For instance, it is considered rude to visit a house without a gift for the host. And of course, to be polite, there would be gifts for our relative visiting us from Japan. Another rule is that perishables and foodstuffs are the norm for gift giving, because giving something like decor would be implying that the person has bad taste, and you need to help them with decorating.

As a kid, I was totally down for the foodstuffs. Sometimes our relatives would also bring toys, which were cool too. But most commonly, it would be mochi, daifuku, or yōkan. 
Kanten powder

Yōkan (羊羹) is a Japanese confection made with agar agar, a seaweed gelatin, called kanten in Japanese cooking.  My mother loves the stuff, but I never was as fond of it as the mochi.  It is usually made with anko, azuki bean paste, or matcha, ground green tea, and can have things like persimmons, gingko nuts, or chestnuts suspended in it. Unlike jello, it can be stored at room temperature for long periods of time, so it is perfect for gift giving.  It is commonly served with tea, just like daifuku.

Having made daifuku, I decided to try to make some yōkan.  As previously stated, I saw Rice N Roti's recipe and it looked easy and fun to do. It is surprisingly easy, but I have some ideas for next time (see below). I made mine in an heart-shaped Ikea silicone ice cube mold, since I don't have any fancy molds.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Shiso Katsuo Ninniku: Pink Pickled Garlic!

In my ongoing attempts to share with you my favorite ingredients, I would like to talk about my favorite food of all time

Good thin crust pizza is up there, but I have to say this is indeed my favorite food ever: Shiso Katsuo Ninniku (紫蘇にんにく) or as I call them, pink pickled garlic.

My grandmother would give me a couple garlic cloves as an after-school snack, and for as long as I can remember I've been obsessed. 

Now this may sound crazy of my grandmother--handing me cloves of garlic to eat straight--however, let me explain a little bit about the Japanese and their pickles below.

On a side note: my grandmother is totally crazy, but the best sort of crazy and I love her.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Haupia Pie: Hapa Food

Since I am on a budget, sometimes I have an ingredient that I want to make several things with, but have to choose because of monetary concerns. For instance, I picked up some Okinawan sweet potatoes from Mitsuwa market. And thus the torment began. Do I want to make sweet potato mochi? What about sweet potato pie? Or Hawaiian sweet potato and haupia bars? The choices!

Not that the sweet potatoes are that expense ($1.99 a pound) but the other ingredients add up. I can't very well blow our food budget on sweet potato tartlets! Usually I decide what to make based on what I can make, for instance: tartlets are out because I don't have a tart pan, let alone mini tart pans.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Shoutout to Blogs I love! Plus Pictures of Tiara!

Serious Eats: I have mentioned them before. I love the attention to detail, the overturning of every stone that they go through before they post a how-to. I also love the community on there. Have a question? "Talk" is as unpretentious as you're gonna get in the foodie world, and you have friendly people ready to share recipes and give advice. My soda cracker bark is from this site, and if you want to find a well tested well written recipe, this is the place. Check out the food lab for in depth discussion for cooking techniques.

Hungry Happenings: Talk about mixing art with food! Everything on here is so styled and beautiful. For someone whose spam musubis are even less than perfect, I could do with adopting some of this blog's showmanship. Some of the posts are obviously geared towards people with kids, but I will never tire of happy faces on everything. I want to make the crown pastries in honor of Tiara, who is after all named after a princess crown. And yes, I would make pastries in celebration of my dog.

La Fuji Mama: This blog has tons of great hapa food, and I can't believe I haven't discovered her beforehand. Check out these avocado bacon yaki onigiri! Can you say "Yum!" I like how she feels comfortable taking traditional Japanese food and putting her own Southern California twist on it. I feel people get so fussy about being by the book they forget to have fun in the kitchen! For instance, take her avocado mango donburi: Traditional? No. Tasty and f'ing inspired? Absolutely!

Roti N Rice: Amazing Asian American food is featured on this blog! I love all the Asian baking, because I am not a very seasoned baker. Check out the Japanese Castella Cake, called "Kasutera" (カステラ), she even has a Neapolitan three colored one! I am SO making her yokan agar agar candies, my mother loves when relatives bring those from Japan, like these, so it would be awesome to make them here. Her blog has great organization, dividing recipes by dessert, grain type, breads, and even vegetables.

All of these blogs make me realize how much farther my own has to go until I am satisfied. I want to learn how to get mine as beautiful and browse friendly as theirs.

And because no post is complete without pictures of Tiara, and her puppies:

Some of her gorgeous pups posing! They are now over 2y/o!
She's 6 years old, but don't tell her that!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tea Party!

My mother was the California state coach for the 4-H stock show nationals in public speaking this past year. She's been doing it for a long time (my brother and I both competed and won with her coaching) but since we are way too old she has turned to warping the minds of younger children. I mean shaping. Heh.

Jessie is not so interested in tea...
So in celebration of all this 4-H coaching, the girls she coached threw her a tea party. I made a lot of food, and to be honest I will have to edit a lot of this tomorrow, because tea party food is heavy. You may not think it at the time, with the tiny bite sized portions, but you put away several tea sandwiches and you will fall into a food coma.  Couple that with having to do a full shift of veterinary technician work after downing enough smoked salmon to satisfy a grizzly, and you have a sleepy Miss Mochi.

The spread! Cupcake recipe coming soon!
I do love tea parties. I was probably the only 18 year old that threw her 18th birthday party bash at a tea house. Original Gansta material, obviously.

After the jump I have six recipes as well as some tea party cheats for you!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Breakfast Grilled Cheese with Hash

I guess you could say I am a canned meat aficionado. I love spam, deviled ham, and canned corn beef hash.  Now I love deviled ham and hash made fresh, but canned hash is definitely a comfort food.  My mother first introduced me to hash when we were staying up in a cabin in Big Bear to go snowboarding.  Since it wasn't much of a kitchen in the cabin, she had canned hash and other such easy prep items for us on vacation. One chilly morning, she took a can of hash and fried it up until it was nice and crispy and a love affair was born. My eyes were like saucers as I proclaimed,

"Next time bring TWO cans!"

The way I said it, it sounded like toucans. Why I wanted a fruity cereal loving bird was beyond my family, but once I exclaimed, "Not toucans, two cans! More hash!" they got that I was just being a fatty.

Now I can't pick up a can of hash without going "heh... toucans."

It's funny how family memories work. Now my boyfriend has been introduced to hash (it's a gateway drug, people, now he loves spam too), and he requested a hash sandwich. He loves breakfast sandwiches, and I was more than happy to give it a try.

Uomoto Style Karē

Karē (カレー), or curry, is something that surprises a lot of people about Japanese cuisine. When most people think of curry, they think of India.  But karē, as the Japanese call it, is so ingrained in Japanese society, its considered a national dish. One of Mr. Mochi's favorite dishes when we go to Mitsuwa's food court is katsu-karē (カツカレー), which is a pork cutlet with curry and rice.

Karē came to Japan in the Meiji era (1868-1912) via Britain. Since Britain at the time was occupying India and stealing their spices, the British Navy introduced Japan to curry. That's why Japanese curry is more stew-like and sweeter than most curries as it's an adaptation of Britain's adaptation. Ironically, since it was introduced by the British, karē is considered "yoshoku," a western style dish despite it's eastern roots.

Now of course Japanese Americans have brought it here to America, where we tinker with further like we do all good hapa food. I called the title of my post "Uomoto Style Karē" because this is how my grandmother made it before my mother got a hold of it, and then of course, myself.  The beauty of Japanese curry is that it is traditionally not made with any seasonal ingredients so you can make it at any time.  Those traditional vegetables are potatoes, onions and carrots, but you can experiment with throwing in any sort of veggies you feel like, to give this recipe a seasonal spin.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lazy Dog Cafe: Dog Days of Summer

Lazy Dog Cafe was our first stop in our blog series focusing on dog friendly venues. My boyfriend heartily recommends Lazy Dog, he likes the variety of the menu as well as the big screens to watch his sports. He and his father go there for outings. 

I like the comfy Adirondack chairs for lounging outside with my dog, as well as their enthusiasm for my dog. Love me, love my dog. Fawn over how adorable my pooch is, even better.  But really, you can tell that the servers actually do like dogs, even remembering my dog's name when they returned to refill our drinks.

Dog Days of Summer

The Dog Days of Summer are here! In celebration, and because I am slightly obsessed with my dog, I'm doing a blog series on some So Cal dog friendly restaurants.

Now, I look at just about any restaurant that has a patio as fair game as long as the restaurant is happy with it. Tiara loves Knowlwood's and In-N-Out, but its hard if you're alone because you have to tether your dog outside while you go in and order, and then again to pick up your order.

But first, some tips on bringing your dog to a restaurant after the jump: