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Black Cod Skin and Tails

The fish skin and tails are oftentimes the forgotten parts of the fish. Usually the first to get sliced off and tossed into the trash, they rarely make it past the chopping block and are scarcely ever seen on the dinner table.

I was excited to see that Chef Shirley Cheng, professor at the Culinary Institute of America, chose to use black cod skin and tails as her main ingredient for her winning recipe this past Saturday at the Japanese Ingredient Culinary Challenge at the Restaurant Show.


Shirley Cheng demoing her Black Cod Skin and Tails alongside emcees Ron Hsu and Jenna Zimmerman

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Sri Lankan Ambassador Dinner at Bownie Restaurant

Bownie Restaurant
A stack of idiappams with mutton curry, coconut chutney and Sri Lankan-style sambhar.

Just one short bus ride away from the bustling satellite Chinatown of Flushing, Queens is Bownie restaurant, a modest Sri Lankan eatery that has been owned and operated by Nanthini and Sri Kandharajah and their family for 11 years now.

While there are plenty of appetizing traditional Indian dishes on the menu, you’ll find that the Sri Lankan specialties really stand out. That night, dinner at Bownie was one in a continuing series of ambassador programs organized by Jeff Orlick, and Joseph Aranha of the Asian Arts and Cultural Alliance was our ambassador for the evening.  So, how exactly does an ambassador dinner work?  According to Jeff, this is what goes down: a guide (ambassador) “will order for the table and discuss what we are eating and why we are eating it. Not a classroom experience, but more of a familial gathering centered around the food.”

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Soup Dumpling Secrets from Nan Xiang Dumpling House

Soup dumplings

Shanghainese soup dumplings are a culinary phenomenon: a bite of pork and a spoonful of soup all within a neatly pleated wheat wrapper.  You’re probably curious: how does the soup get in there?  Over the years, I’ve come up with a fair share of outlandish theories – at one point I was convinced the dumplings were injected with a soup-filled syringe. But all my conspiracy theories were finally laid to rest two weeks ago when the high priestess of Nan Xiang Dumpling House, Chef Huang Jian Ping (黃建萍), came over to make soup dumplings from scratch.  In anticipation for Asian Feastival, an epic culinary event in Queens on September 6th Labor Day Monday (check out asianfeastival.com for the complete rundown), we decided to put her off-site dumpling-making capabilities to the test and invited some friends over to witness her pork and dough sorcery.
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Duck Embryos for Dinner

Balut, an Asian delicacy popular in the Philippines, is a fertilized egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. It is traditionally made with duck eggs, but balut also comes in the chicken variety. While I have an undeniable love for eggs — fried, boiled, scrambled, cooked any and every way, I had never considered eating an embryo until my Filipino friend Louie sang praises about balut. The idea of slurping a duck fetus straight from its shell both intrigued and frightened me.  Sadly, during my summer in Asia, I never got to try any balut. But all of was not lost. My chance arrived two years later, in an email from Chef King of umi NOM.  I clicked open the email and read:

“Duck Balut tonight @ umi nom!!!”

And just like that, I was headed to Brooklyn.

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A Spicy and Tasty Sichuan Lunch

fish cooked with sichuan spices

Back from London and tired from bland British food, Hope had only one request when I asked her where she wanted to go out for lunch.  “I need some SPICE!”, she pleaded.  Somehow I managed to convince Hope and Davis to wake up early on a cold day and venture into the inner depths of Queens for a taste of Sichuan cuisine.

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Thanksgiving, Posh Nosh & Teatime at Podunk

I’d typically be brining and prepping a 10 pound flightless bird right now, but this year my parents made the executive decision that our Thanksgiving dinner will be a sans turkey endeavor.  I know, this is quite sacrilegious for a holiday where the turkey usually plays a starring role. But, rather than wrestling with over-sized poultry, our efforts will be spent preparing a meal with a smattering of international fare, including Hainanese chicken, Scallops with Tomato-Onion Relish, Hamachi tartar, Cauliflower and Leek Soup, and a slew of Mark Bittman’s 101 simple Thanksgiving dishes, especially prepared by yours truly.  Will these whirlwind of flavors work or will it be a Thanksgiving catastrophe?  A full post-Thanksgiving progress report is to come, complete with accompanying recipes, so hang in tight.

In the meantime, while you lucky ones are wrestling with your turkeys at home, I recommend taking a break from basting to watch a few episodes of Posh Nosh on Youtube — a British TV program on BBC recommended to me by Elsapeth, the nicest bonnet wearing, bespectacled lady and owner of Podunk, a homey little nook of a tearoom in the heart of the East Village.

Podunk is where butter is used unsparingly and cookies are sprinkled with love..and sugar.  Like a cross between an antique store and a cozy country house kitchen, a varying assortment of tea pots and children’s books populate the shelves, which sit beside the brightly painted wooden furniture and a sundry of knickknacks.  Entering the tiny tearoom, I was transported from the dark, rainy streets of New York City into a warm, familiar place.

tea and cookies

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A Slow and Simple Tonnarelli Alla Marinara

Spaghetti alla Marinara
Typically when I make Spaghetti Alla Marinara, it usually involves roughly chopped tomatoes, garlic, random vegetables from the produce drawer, and a handful of Barilla pasta —all thrown together in two pots and ready to eat in 20 minutes.  When my friend Josh suggested that we make spaghetti for dinner, I had no idea I was in for an authentically lengthy Italian experience.

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Pizza Tasting: Motorino in Manhattan

After reading the rave reviews about Di Fara pizza, my sister Kelly and I prepared our descent to Brooklyn to brave the hungry lunch crowd.  We were going to go witness the painstaking arugula-cutting and finally get a taste of Dom DeMarco’s legendary pizza.  We set a date, penciled it in our calendar, and eagerly waited for our anticipated afternoon of pizza.

margherita

The next day, while my cousin Wesley was over at my apartment, we told him about our grand lunch plans.  “So, why are you going all the way there to get pizza?” he asked.  Kelly then went on to explain, concluding with “…he then slowly cuts the arugula with his scissors.  Want to come?”  We didn’t have to do much more convincing after that; the three of us set our lunch date.  Later the next day, while reading some more reviews online, I stumbled across an online review titled “Sink Your Teeth Into $14 Motorino Pizza, Skip Brooklyn Commute”.  The title alone challenged the need to venture deep into Brooklyn for pizza. We did our own investigating, and upon evaluating the time it’d take to commute to Di Fara’s in Brooklyn versus Motorino in Manhattan, our trip to Motorino would require less transit time.  After extensive deliberation, we made the executive decision to go to Motorino.  Did Motorino live up to the glowing review?  Well, we won’t know until our trip to Di Fara.  In the meantime, here’s an idea of what you can find at Motorino if you’re hungry in the East Village on a weekday afternoon.

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Kindai Tuna Demo and Tasting

Early last week, I was lured into the French Culinary Institute in SoHo by sweet promises of freshly sliced sashimi and a chance to witness a masterful dissection of a tuna.  Curious and hungry culinary students and professional chefs evidently fell for the bait too, filling up the seats in the small auditorium to witness the artful slicing and deconstructing of Kindai tuna by Chef Toshio Suzuki of Sushi Zen, Chef Noriyuki Kobayashi of Megu and Chef Kazuhiro Sato of Poke.

Kindai tuna is born and raised at Kinki University in Higashi-Osaka, Japan.  Born in the laboratory and hand fed wild catch, they are raised in better conditions than other farm-raised tuna and offer a more sustainable alternative to wild bluefin tuna.

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Look Mom, No Ricecooker!

homecooked chinese dinner

Hello World (to-Table fans). My name is Kelly, and I’m writing to you from my home away from home, Poughkeepsie, NY. My real home is actually in an apartment with my sister Veronica, creator of this blog. But I currently live with three friends in a house near Vassar College, where I am a student.

That’s enough about me. What about FOOD? Like my sister, I have acquired quite a refined palate, which is a blessing and a curse, as the dining hall that “nourished” me for four semesters is not cutting it anymore. Good-bye meal plan and hello kitchen!

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