February 4, 2015

Taking a stab at making... phở ?

Sometimes, L and I will go out to a meal and think to ourselves, "We totally could have made that." And we go home and try. And if we can actually pull it off, it's terrific because we're usually able to do it at 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of a restaurant.

Well, one of our favorite things to eat is phở. But wait. Phở seems like the kind of thing that takes years to perfect. Proof? All of the disappointing phở places that exist. But 1 out of 10 has broth that takes to the next level. Super rich flavor. Velvety, substantial texture full of melted and integrated collagen. The perfect combination of spices to highlight pure beef flavor.

And then there's the cost. When you do find a go-to phở joint, you can get a steaming bowl of your favorite for $7-8. Would it be worth the cost and effort of going through the lengthy process to extract that amazing elixir from a batch of beef bones?

February 1, 2015

Easy Super Bowl white chili with chicken

It's Super Bowl Sunday, and that means it's time for something hearty and delicious. But with a super busy week and everyone in the household getting over sickness, we knew we'd be keeping things pretty low key. We needed something super easy to make, but where the shortcuts wouldn't sacrifice the most important thing: flavor.

That calls for white chili with chicken.

This is a perfect dish for a cold winter's day--and even better when the game of the year is on. It's a combination of fresh and canned ingredients, with layers of flavor from the different types of peppers. If you've got 20 minutes to work with, you'll be good to go. Another great recipe from the folks at Serious Eats. The only changes I made from their recipe were the addition of the tomatillos for flavor and thickening, cutting the amount of beans in half, scallions, and holding the cilantro for the end.

January 11, 2015

crispy bass, oxtail "carnitas"

Spent the weekend experimenting with a simple fish soup made from beautiful freshwater bass, ginger, tomatoes, shallot and thai chili--simple, rich and soothing nourishment for a foggy, drizzly weekend. I was simultaneously working on a big batch of pho broth, oxtails and marrow slowly melting into an epic pot of liquid collagen.

January 4, 2015


The 2015 edition of the month of frugality is underway, and that means a lot more cooking is happening in our home. Day 1: Dungeness crab risotto, spencer cut rib eye. Day 2: Pizza. Day 3: Hainanese chicken rice. Day 4: Gnocchi with oxtail ragu.

I'm also trying to make at least one new dish each week, every week, this year. We'll see how long this lasts...

For this week, the humble sardine. An appropriate ingredient for the month of frugality, but also one that is packed with flavor. The attempt is to replicate the grilled sardine appetizer from The Walrus and the Carpenter.

January 1, 2015

tasty bites from 2014

It is a bit of a tradition to put out a top 10 list of dishes from the year, but with a young child, there just isn't as much time to get out and about. I'm not really even blogging anymore. But L made a good point -- if I put up just one post a year, it should be this one. Well, I don't know about a thoughtfully composed "top 10", but there were definitely some memorable bites. Here are some of them, in no particular order:

Squid ink spaghettini. Il Corvo, Seattle, WA. Spicy, briny, savory, and just awesome. This is why Seattle is lucky to have Mike Easton.

Crispy young goat shoulder. Komi, Washington, D.C. One of the most delicious and pure meat preparations ever. Simultaneously crispy, tender, unctuous, substantial, and somehow light. The gem of an otherwise unjustifiably expensive meal.

Strawberry gazpacho with sardine. Aragona, Seattle, WA. The most unexpected dish of the year. Nothing about this should have worked, but the most precarious of balances was achieved, resulting in a stunner. In a way, it was the opposite of Aragona itself, where everything should have worked, but ultimately didn't.

Mushroom and cheese in different forms. WY, Brussels, Belgium. This was just an amuse bouche, but it was exhilarating. The entire spectrum of flavors and textures possible out of a grouping of wild mushrooms and aerated cheese. I can remember a lingering taste of roast duck. Really impressive.

50-day aged beef tartare, olive bread, beef boullion. WY, Brussels, Belgium. Another stunner from this lunch. The most delicious beef tartare preparation I've ever had.

Toast. The London Plane, Seattle, WA. It makes no sense. These toasts are so simple... 2-4 ingredients. Avocado, tuna and olive oil. Hazelnut butter and honey. But they're better than what you'll make with the same ingredients on your own. So weird, but I'm sold.

Pork and clam. A tucked away restaurant whose name I can't remember now, Paris. I can't believe I can't find my reference for the restaurant where I had this meal. It was a whirlwind day trip to Paris from Brussels, and so worth it. Pork and clams is a winning combination, but this dish was bound by a buttery bonito foam--an inspired addition.

Fried oyster. Rose's Luxury, Washington, D.C. I'd been wanting to try Rose's for over a year, and finally had an opportunity to go. It did not disappoint. Any of the dishes we tried could have made a top 10 list, so I'm putting the fired oyster, which ended up being the perfect start to the meal of the year. Two months later, Bon Appetit named Rose's their Restaurant of the Year. Deserved.

Uni pasta with truffle. N/Naka, Los Angeles, CA. An exquisite bite of pure umami. Decadent, luxurious, spectacular.

Matsutake mushroom congee with dungeness crab. La Toque, Napa, CA. A lovely dish prepared with a light hand, accented by the intoxicating wafting aromas of Thai basil.

Wine of the year: 2001 Hundred Acre. Finally opened this bottle with a gathering of good friends. At its peak, but still so fresh and vibrant. Seamlessly integrated, incredible polish. What a treat.

And just like that, 2014 is over. There's going to be a lot of new cooking going on in this household in 2015, and perhaps that will boost the number of posts. We'll see!