lunch from Bun Mi

For the past semester I’ve been rotating between sushi, Panda Express, and Chick-fil-A at the union for lunch but the union was closed for the break. I had to trek over to (almost three blocks in the cold!) Bun Mi for lunch.

I got the vermicelli salad with lemongrass chicken and eggroll. Usually their chicken is not this charred but this time it was. Love it.
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New year’s resolution: stop eating out every day for lunch!!!

grillin’

I don’t want to admit this but I am not good at grilling. This was a last minute get together on a 4th of July weekend. We had decided to take inventory and grill up whatever vegetables and meat we had on hand. Between Avijit, David, Joe, and I wen ended up with a pretty good portion of food.

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This probably shouldn’t happen. Too much lighter fluid! Need to get me a chimney starter one of these days.
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In case you didn’t know…

…I LOVE tacos. The Twin-Cities are kind of lacking in the taco department but the best I have found are the ones from Taqueria Los Ocampo (though they are still no match compared to La Tienda in Gainesville <3). They have multiple locations but I have been to the Lake St one which is more of a fast casual place that is usually always busy and the one in St Paul which is more like a sit down restaurant. I usually always get the Al Pastor taco which is my favorite style.

These are from the Lake St location. The Al Pastor here tends to be a tiny bit dry but still enjoyable.
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These are from the St Paul location. I would say these are a grade above the ones served at in the Lake St location.
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shrimp curry

This is kind of like my secret recipe (shhhhhhhhhh). It’s my variation on shrimp curry that is traditional in Burmese cuisine. Some versions have tomatoes but mine doesn’t. The key to the rich flavors in this dish is that I get whole shrimp with the head on. When you peel the shell and carapace, save the guts inside the heads aka shrimp mustard (or crab butter or lobster tamale in the case of other crustaceans). This is what gives the really creamy flavor and red color to the dish.

Start with caramelizing some onions with some oil. Add some peppers (whatever you have on hand) for some heat if you’d like. Keep everything on low-med heat.
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I think I also put in some garlic as well. Not entirely necessary. Stir frequently so that the onions don’t burn. Sometimes I put a teaspoon of shichimi togarashi (japanese spice mix) spice which is untraditional in this dish but I like the heat and color that it gives. If you don’t have that some paprika or cayenne pepper will do to add some color.
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Once the onions are well caramelized add the shrimp, the shrimp mustard, and let it chill. Do not stir!
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You’ll see that the shrimp will turn on the bottom side and once it is about pink halfway through body. Turn the shrimp over. Add some cilantro. Turn off the heat and let the residual heat finish cooking the shrimp so you don’t overcook them.
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Punch pizza

Punch is the local pizza chain in the Twin Cities that serves up Neapolitan style wood-fired pizza. Because the oven is so hot the pizza comes out pretty fast and there is nice charring on the crust that I love. I would go there more often if it wasn’t so expensive compared to other options available nearby campus.

Their box is pretty cool.
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I got the Siciliana which has prosciutto, artichoke, picholine olive, and basil.
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This wouldn’t be a pizza post without some upskirt action. Look at dat char! ❤
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braised tofu

I don’t really know what to call this tofu dish. It’s not really a stir fry. The tofu is sort of braised in the sauce but just barely so I guess it is a braised tofu dish. The key ingredients that go in this are the mushrooms that give the sauce a nice earthy mushroomy taste and not bland. So here’s how to make it.

Cut up some tofu into square pieces about 1 cm thick. I like to use medium firm tofu for this because that is the softest tofu I can handle without crumbling it. Some people like firmer tofu which is fine but I like my fried tofu to be soft in the center. Blot the pieces dry with a paper towel so that hot oil doesn’t splatter on you when you fry them. Add 2 tbsp of oil to a non-stick pan on medium-high heat and add the tofu. Get them brown on both sides.
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Take out the tofu and set them aside. To this new pan add some chopped garlic (however much you want), mushrooms, and whatever leftover vegetables you have in the fridge (carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, broccoli, etc). I’m using fresh shiitake mushrooms and oyster mushrooms here because those are my two favorite. You can use any kind you like. Who am I to tell you what to do? (I may silently judge you from afar) Oh I should also tell you sometimes I add a few drops of sesame oil at this step if I’m in the mood. Sesame oil is such a strong flavor that a little goes a long way and sometimes I’m not always in the mood for that shit.
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Add a little salt to taste (not too much because you will be adding chicken stock later) and then splash in some of this Shao Xing rice wine. This part is crucial because Shao Xing rice wine has a really nice flavor that I haven’t found in other cooking wines.
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Add a teaspoon or so of oyster sauce and add enough chicken stock to come up to the top of the vegetables. Everything up to now has been vegan so if you want to go that route, use vegetable stock and skip the oyster sauce.
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I think I added some leftover broccolini at this point. Who knows exactly what I did? This dish is a little different every time I make it.
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Add the tofu back to the pan and turn things over so the tofu can braise in the delicious liquid.
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At this point you can thicken the sauce with some cornstarch/tapioca starch in water (1tsp starch/2 tbsp water) or just let the sauce reduce by itself.
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