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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Woodberry Kitchen

There are two places that stand out in my mind when I think of the my best meals, Woodberry Kitchen and Momofuku. I got to eat at Woodbery Kitchen two years ago I was in Baltimore doing research at Hopkins over winter break. This meal and the restaurant holds a special place in my heart for many reasons. First, it really changed my view of dining out. That the setting and ambience of a place really adds to the dining experience. The restaurant has an open kitchen with a wood-fired oven at it’s center. I was seated facing the kitchen which made me feel ever so happy inside. One wall of the restaurant you will see jars of pickles and sauces that the restaurant produces when ingredients are available and stores year round. So they act as a kind of decoration and storage. Second, I learned to appreciate the ingredients. It had never occurred to me how quality, freshness, and seasonality of ingredients mattered until I tasted beets and radishes at their peak. Woodberry Kitchen prides itself on using only ingredients from the state of Maryland. If I remember correctly, the only thing they source from out of state are lemons. The restaurant also does meat curing in house. I’m not sure if I would call this a farm-to-table place but it definitely has the qualifications. The excellent food and setting was only made better by my company at the time. I’m really looking forward to visiting this place again.

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Cabra la mancha. A soft-ish goat cheese. Quince jam. The bread basket was pretty cool. I don’t exactly remember what they were but there were 3-4 of them.

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Beet salad. This was the first time I have had beets and no beet I have eaten have ever matched in terms of sweetness and tenderness.

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Simmental-Angus feef tartare. Another first.

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Radishes with ranch. These were milder than the sliced radishes you can get in grocery stores.

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Beef heart and celery root. Another first with celery root.

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Wood-fired pizza.

hey guys i made a turkey

So my roommate and I had a few friends for Thanksgiving dinner last night. He made Minnesota wild rice which are actually really good. I really like the texture and flavor of the rice. I think it will definitely be a staple in my diet now. Other people brought roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, chicken bruschetta, ham, stuffing, mac and cheese, pies (pumpkin, apple, blueberry), ice cream, and a brownie cake. I also made green bean casserole but that was made from canned green beans and cream of mushroom soup .

For the turkey I followed the braise and roast method recommended by Michael Ruhlman. Normally I don’t like turkey as it is usually dry but this method makes it flavorful and moist.

Basic steps as follows:

Saute some carrots, onions, celery with 2 TBSP tomato paste. Add 1 quart chicken/turkey stock, 1 quart vegetable stock, and 1 bottle of white wine. Add salt to taste. You can also add some herbs here, we had some bay leaf, sage, parsley, and tarragon.

Bring this to a boil. Meanwhile clean out your turkey (remove the giblets and neck) and stuff it with a halved lemon, leftover herbs, and an onion. Put the turkey in a roasting pad and add the braising liquid. Make sure the liquid comes up to the legs or about midway. You can add more water to the braising liquid.

Preheat an oven to 450 and throw the pan in there (don’t actually throw it in because you will get hot liquid all over you and the kitchen). Lower the heat to 350 and cook until the breast temperature hits 150F or ~3hrs for a 12 pound bird. Baste the turkey with butter every half hour or so. I did it every hour. You can also check on wolframalpha for a good estimation of how long the turkey should cook based on it’s weight and oven temperature. It uses the heat equation and assumes the turkey is a sphere.

Then take out the turkey and remove the legs, thighs and wings from the body. Place these in the braising liquid and continue braising for another 15-30 minutes. By this time the breast should have rested and cooled so remove the breasts from the body. Shred the rest of the meat that is left on the turkey and add these to the braising liquid. Then place the breasts on top of the rest of the meat so that it is not in the braising liquid.

Broil until the skin is crisp. Then carve and serve! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving too (whoever still reads this).

Burmese food part 4: Mohinga

Mohinga is the national dish of Burma and one of my favorite soups. It’s a fish stew that is thickened with ground rice (not the same as rice flour which is very fine). The best part of this soup are all the condiments you can put on it like all sorts of fritters, youtiao, eggs, pork blood, etc.  You can also put the stem of the banana tree in here. It has the texture of a celery and essentially no flavor. The inner parts of the stem are very tender almost like an artichoke but the outer parts are more crisp like the celery.

mohinga

mohinga - burmese fish noodle soup

ABC Seafood Restaurant (St Petersburg)

This is one of the places my family goes to for good Chinese food. It’s a half hour drive from where we live but we really don’t have a choice since there are a lack of good Chinese food options in Sarasota area.

fish tanks (ABC seafood)

Salt and pepper calamari

salt and pepper calamari (ABC seafood)

Salt and pepper shrimp (See how to make it here)

salt and pepper shrimp (ABC seafood)

Seafood pan fried noodles

seafood pan fried noodles (ABC seafood)

Pipa Tofu

special braised tofu (ABC seafood)

Red bean soup dessert

red bean desert soup (ABC seafood)