Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Short Story on "Dim Sum and the Racetrack"

As part of the 27th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), "Family Portraits," a compilation of short stories revolving around the theme of family and kinship, includes a 6 minute short story on "Dim Sum and the Racetrack". Directed by Sulima Rodriguez, the story is described as follows:

"Attempting to understand and remember their late father, Suilma and her sisters sift through their father's worldly possessions in hopes of giving meaning to memories of dim sum and Sundays."

I'm several time zones away but I am intrigued by this piece as well as others in the short stories collection. I wonder if a screening of Family Portraits would be possible for those in the East Coast or if a DVD release is in the works.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chicken Feet a.k.a Phoenix Claws – A matter of Skin and Bones

Image by niznoz
Phoenix Claws is prepared by first frying and marinating chicken feet in a variety of seasoning and spices like the star anise, chili, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce and black bean. Then, it is steamed and ready to serve. Devour it however you like, but just spit out the bones in the end.

I enjoy cooking for the meatatarians but I never understood why it’s such a savored dish. While in some circumstances, the unconventional use for skin and bones can turn the ordinary food into awesome appetizers, like potato skins, even on my pescatarian terms, chewing on say salmon skin just doesn’t make sense. I guess our Chinese ancestors desired a better use for chicken feet other than for making stock. Nevertheless, I’m open to cool and unusual food experiences (or cruel and unusual, depending on your preference) and I dedicate this post to my husband and the brothers (my own brother and my brother-in-laws) who go gaga for chicken feet.

Here’s a recipe I use from Betty Shimabukuro.

1 pound chicken feet
2 quarts oil
2 quarts water
1 ounce fresh ginger
3 pieces star anise
2 ounces Chinese parsley roots
2 ounces maltose sugar – a syrup used for cooking and brewing beer.

2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 ounce chopped chili pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon black bean sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame seed oil

Wash feet and remove nails and any traces of scaly yellow skin. Cut into quarters.

Heat oil to 350 degrees. Mix the chicken feet with maltose and fry until it turns golden brown (about 7 minutes.) Remove and drain.

In a separate pot, boil water and add ginger, star anise and parsley roots. Add feet. Bring to boil again, then reduce heat and simmer 90 minutes. Drain.

Combine the marinade ingredients. Marinate the feet for about 24 hours. Before serving, steam the feet and marinade for about 15 minutes.

Serves 3. Approximate nutritional analysis, per 2 ounce serving: 300 calories, 18 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol,greater than 1,100 mg sodium.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Don't Touch Our Food!

Recent posts on Grub Street and NY Times warns of the rapid gentrification of Chinatown (See "Chinatown is threatened by ‘Trendy’ restaurants" and "Special-District Zoning Is Urged for Chinatown")

A report released by 2 community organizations (the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center and the Chinatown Justice Project of the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence) shows that in 2008, longtime tenants were pushed out and replaced by new condos and hotels and high-end boutiques and cafés. "The survey includes a map of 'trendy' restaurants, meaning those with English menus, non-bilingual staff, and above-average prices that target wealthy clients."

My thoughts? There's enough room for everyone in lower Manhattan. For one, move to on over to Wall Street. There's no need for the fancy schmancies to encroach upon the hole-in-the-walls.


Dim sum at Chinatown Brasserie

Dim sum at Chinatown Brasserie
Originally uploaded by goyumcha

Fried- shrimp swans a swimming. Pretty and yummy!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hot Chili Oil

Hot Sauce
Originally uploaded by box of lettuce
I love dumplings and noodles with a side of hot chili oil. They're incredibly simple to make. I used this recipe from About.com.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yields about 1/2 cup

  1. 10 - 12 small dried chilies (1 - 2 inches long) to make 2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped chili flakes
  2. 1/2 cup peanut, canola, or olive oil
  3. 1 tablespoon sesame oil, optional
  1. Cut off the stems of the dried chilies and remove the seeds.
  2. Chop the chilies into coarse flakes (it's easiest to do this by processing them in a blender for about 20 seconds).
  3. Place the chili flakes in a heat resistant jar with a seal.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high to high heat until it is starting to smoke. Continue heating the oil for 20 - 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat. Wait 3 minutes, or until the oil has cooled to 225 - 240 degrees Fahrenheit (107 to 122.5 degrees Celsius.
  5. Pour the oil over the flakes. Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil if using.Cool and strain the oil. (If you like, save the chili flakes to use in other recipes).
  6. Leave the chili oil for at least 1 hour to give the flavors a chance to blend (longer if adding sesame oil). Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, chili oil will last for at least one month.
Handle chili peppers with care - the oil in capsicum can be very dangerous for your skin and eyes. You may want to wear plastic gloves when handling the chili peppers. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterward.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sunday Brunch - Takeout Dim Sum from Rice and Tea

Dim sum
Originally uploaded by goyumcha
After a good run at the gym on Sunday mornings, we always like to treat ourselves to takeout dim sum from the Rice 'n Tea at Great Wall (in Elmhurst, Queens). It's crowded and at most times, dealing with the lines is super-stressful, but it's definitely worth it. It's also cheaper than going to a sit-down restaurant.

The must-buys are the har gow (shrimp dumplings), har cheong (rice noodles w/shrimp filling), lo bak gao (radish cake), char siu bao (BBQ pork buns), and the wu ti (fried pork dumplings). Other great buys are the stir-fried beehoon (thin rice noodles), not pictured and fresh-made buns in the pastry section. Don't forget your coffee or tea to go.

The second choice for takeout dim sum in Elmhurst is the Century Cafe located inside NY Supermarket on 45th Avenue and Broadway. They also serve the same great dishes but for some reason, R 'n T at Great Wall is just that much better - worth the drive and worth the stress.

Note that there's another R 'n T located on that same corner as NY Supermarket (in fact, right next door). I usually don't go there for dim sum, but rather, for "pick 3" takeout lunches/dinners - i.e., you pick 3 main dishes + rice. It's a good deal, but that's for another time, another post.

(Update: From a quick Google search, I found that R 'n T at the 45th Ave location has been cited for 4 violations, resulting in 31 violation points. See here. Tisk tisk. R 'n T at GW is also on the brink. A little mess in the kitchen usually doesn't deter me from my need to satisfy my dim sum cravings but I do hope conditions improve. For more info on NYC DOH restaurant inspections, click here.)