Wild Neighbourhood Eating
Suburban eating has never been better in Auckland and our firends Jay and Toko took us to a new rather secret location hidden away in the industrial weird wonder land that is the North Shore.
Ha Ka Seafood Restuarant is worth the drive -check it out!
Dining with a vege and very limited meat eater always means you need another visit in order to get the full story but we were pretty happy with what we did have. Feeling like I was sitting somewhere in Malaysia or Taiwan, looking out to the oddity that is the split level industrial meets housing complexes of William Pickering Drive, I did enjoy fantastically plump Har Gow-no complaints at all as to their texture and crunch. Prawn and coriander dumplings and a magical prawn toast that I have to say was golden brown with cruchy delight from the deep fryer.Their Char sui boa could have been a little less chewy but I wont hold that against them at all.
Super friendly and welcoming, I will be making that trek back to Ha Ka soon.
Monday, 25 February 2013
I wonder some days if having all the choices is necessarily the best option when you arent quite feeling on top of things....
My toast topping choices this morning have left me with toast quarters due to total inability to make a decisionthat resulted in strawbery jam, honey, vegemite and peanut butter all appearing on the bench
Monday, 25 February 2013
Cheese filled Onigiri
NOOOOOooooooooo! Oh that fake cheese, of that crispy ricey chargrill yummmmmm, oh the pickles.....this is one naughty delight
Monday, 28 January 2013
Homemade Sausage Roll
Who says a sausage roll can be well crafted and delicious?
I have to admit cheating a wee bit by using my friend Guillaume's amazing sausage meat mix. A true Frenchman his love of charcuterir goes with out mentioning but the range sausages he sells under the name of L'Authentique are something to be coverted.
So mix a pack of his sauasge mix (a simply affair of pork and little else) with toasted fennel seeds, some cooked red onion and a few cloves of garlic , plenty of pepper and salt and done!.
Pop onto some homemade puff pastry and roll up to create a giant sausage that I had to bend to fit onto the oven tray. Glaze and garnish with sesame seeds.
Cook for a good 45-60 mins and serve with a homemade tomato relish -best ever Sunday lunch !!
Monday, 28 January 2013
Udon in Nagasaki
I had never been a fan of udon until Nagasaki...well actually just before Nagasaki actually . Fukuoka once again gave me something to blow my mind and regret that I may have spent years missing out on something delicious!
All udon I have ever tried has been gluey, uninteresting and flavourless so I had out of habit by passed it for far more delightfully delicious options that were none of the above. But stumbling into a tiny place run by the coolest old sensei udon made me feel that yes indeed...I had been harsh on the old udon and had some making up to do for lost time.
Nagasaki-last night in town and found this place where he was keen to be closing up for the night. With very limited langauage interaction we managed to get two different bowls if his udon -the one below with beef and whole tempura soft boiled egg and my own was a beautifully fragrant fish broth with tempura veg on top. We assertained he made his own udon each day -a vigorous process I had found out that requires standing on the dough to help give it the elasticity it has.
I was wishing it wasnt out final night in Nagasaki all of a sudden.
So my quest for perfect udon is on with it beginning at home at least to the get the right broth and maybe using frozen udon. Im hoping they will at least have a better texture than the awful packet ones -Ill let you know how I go
Sunday, 6 January 2013
Favourite Dish of the Moment
liang pi ...that is it..simple amazing and something Im currently so obsessed with I think of nothing else. It is keeping me awake at night .
Monday, 31 December 2012
Christmas Day Eating 2012
Just a few pics from Christmas Day. It is always amazing when I go back as I think Ive taken heaps but realize that as usual the food has gotten the better of me and I have nothing!
I was keen this year to do some new dishes ...things I have been working on for book number 2 and thought it was a great time to do them and get feedback .As xmas for us as a family is very low key and certainly not a turkey or ham affair, Im free to cook up whatever I like.
I started the day off with a few skewers to wet everyones appetite. Classic Vietnamese skewers rich in lemongrass and kaffir lime with that wonderfully firm bitey texture that pork gets when minced well and the air is worked out. Beef marinated with chilli and a load of fermented bean curd and pork and ume balls.?
Course 2 followed about an hour later with a giant salad . Drunken chicken is a classic but one I keep playing with in the hopes I finding another new way to make an already delicious plate a better one. Chicken slow poached for 2 hours in a broth of very rich aromatics and Shaoxing wine. I used wood ear fungus, bean sprouts, fresh cooked bamboo shoots and water lily root with some shelled edamame for colour and served it all with crispy baby cos leaves. Tart, sour, sweet and salty ....really crunchy and toothsome!
Final course was slow cooked pork shoulder. I popped it in at about 8pm the night prior and cooked it till 4am . The smell drove me mad and kept me having to jump out of bed to check it every few hours!! By next morning it has cooled enough for me to chop off any dry pieces , remove the skin and roughly chop it to pop it into cook again with fresh tomatoes , more garlic and shallots and coriander to make a stewy type creation that cooked till dry again and easy to handle when popped into yeast buns with cucumbers soaked in black vinegar and toped with crispy piggy skin!!!! AH! sweet, crunchy, sour and meaty deliciousness!?
I hope everyone had a great xmas day with family and enjoyed way too much food as we did! I hope your food nightmares weren't to outlandish.
Monday, 31 December 2012
Sunday Malay Laksa Nov 2012
A windy day in Auckland city and a not much to do Sunday leads us to KK-one of Auckland's most beloved Malaysian resturants on Manukau Road that never seems to close or have a moment of down time.
A wee lunch of Chicken Laksa for me, deep fried silken tofu with crushed peanuts and chilli sauce to share and a giant plate of Nonya fried rice for Chris......soooo full right now.......
As I much as I enjoy the richness of a good laksa with appropraite tart to sweet, it can make you feel like you may never have room to eat again.
I guess KK's big appeal is the casual quality of all -you could be anywhere actually in Asia which I appreciate. I's fast, clean and tasty. I have to admit to enjoy my Laksa with touch more tart but I can not complain at all.
Its a winning spot-check it out if you havent already and you will want to retunr in order to try everything on the menu
Sunday, 18 November 2012
Spring Salt Cucumber Pickling Nov 2012
You all know that I LOVE kimchi and pickles of any variety especially when I get to make them myself.
After three weeks in Japan enjoying homemade pickles galore I felt compelled to make my own as soon as I got back home.
In Japan they go by the name tsukemono and this refers to really anything at all pickled so that makes it easy to just ask tsukemono when every you want them. My friend's Jay and Toko were telling me all about a place they had been to in Kyoto where they feasted on pickles and rice but unfortunately we did not quite get there -possibly delayed by our own feasting.
So I did take photos of every meal we ate while we were away -way too many for posting but at last I thought I could start with some pickles of any variety.
Cucumber pickles were my fav this time around and I could not get enough of them. Ordering them every opportunity possible gave me a good variety of tastes, crunch and textures to compare and I still love the fresh as ones that have been done just that day. Still with good crunch and cucumbery taste they beat the really fermented Korean ones that can be quite soft . Back home I made up a batch that is now a week old and they are pretty good I must say. A wee heavy on the salt but still tasty as.
Simple too and even though my search for good Asian cucumbers came up empty the telegraph cucumbers we have right now are nice and thin . Maybe too much rain and not enough sun has given us a lower grade cucumber this season but they are perfect for pickling !
All you need is ...
salt-I use a nice New Zealand harvested sea salt flakes o they break down easily as not as hard as rock salt
Korean dried red pepper-available at any good Asian supermarket these red chillies are pretty mild and sweet so you can use a lot without fear to get good colour
Cucumbers-I dont peel my telegraph cucumbers unless they are big and old. Right now they are nice, small and thin and sweet
Spring onion or leeks-your choice and if you are lucky enough to find them the best are the baby spring onions that are very mild and not near as sharp and oniony
Slice your cucumbers diagonally and place in a large bowl. Rub into the cucumbers 1 tablespoon salt and allow to stand for a good ten to fifteen minutes then rinse well.
Add 2 -3 tablespoons of red chilli pepper powder (to your taste really -I like 2 at least) as well as 2 -3 sliced spring onions.
Mix well and that is it! Cant be easier.
Pack into a jar or container and they will keep at least 2 weeks if not longer. They change from day to day so sample and see when your favourite texture and richness marker is for next time.?
Kimchi is already posted for you to try as well and if you are working on these I try to do three of four pickles at a time while I am in the mood so on the same day I did a small kimchi batch as well which again changes so much as it matures. Im looking forward to a egg pancake of nice spicy kimchi as it is week two now so it starts getting quite funky indeed.
The only thing I do find that I tend to skip as a step when I have been making my kimchi in the past but wont from now on is the overnight soaking in salted water of the cabbage laves. It does really help give a better texture to the end result so simply laying all the leaves into a big bucket or pot in salted water overnight is the way to go .
Here so pictures of some wonderful pickles I sampled while in Japan recently
Here in Okayama at a Korean Barbecue place that had the best ever pickled soy beans and kimchi-actually the whole lot was the best ever with fine quality meats to be had -yyyuuummmmmmm -and the lovely owner gifted us 1.5 litres of shochu on our departure-super nice !
Korea Town in Osaka -a real rabbit warren of stores under a train station that I reckon you could get quite lost in. Some good looking treats to be had though
More Korea Town ...
Nagasaki...shame the rest of the meal wasn't up to the same amazing standard as these suckers....bonito shavings and soy beans ...arggghhhh sooo good
A while a go I posted info on salt pickling and pickles so check out that one if you want info more on different varieties of pickles rather than simple old salt pickling you could feast on other varieties of pickles !!?
Sunday, 11 November 2012
That is one Lucky Kitten -Signage in Japan
One thing I love in Japan is signs and sure you can find cool signs where ever you travel but the charm, the quirk and cute is all rolled into one in Japan. I like to make a point of capturing as many as I can so a collection to inspire you as follows....
This one was in Fukuoka pointing the way to yet another of the cities finest ramen spots
Or more ramen this way too .....
Or some Daruma action to indicate how delightfully yum their chicken was....
and we have all had this face at some stage whilst holding a pint of beer and I definalety did while I was in Takamatsu as well
and who woudl not want to be served or cooked by this handsome fatty in Fukuoka?
We all know that Tanuki loves liquor and this one was encouraging you to come to his flrst floor lair to join him in Fukuoka
These very happy pigs were happily being sliced and served with hot coals in Kyoto
While at this very very amazingly delicious Korean Barbecue resturant called Vege-Teji in Kyoto they seemed to be trying to tell us that they were all about vegetables but really they were all about pigs-very delicious ones too. 100% vegetable doesnt really indicate the high proportion of meat that was seen moving between tables but nover the less we had a fine meaty time. They had a great selction of pickles and to make life better on the grill plate an area that held enough oil to slowly fry galric cloves ..genius. We hope to for future oddities such as oursleves that our waiter will pass on the words that he wanted to knwo for us ..the names for spring onion-negi in Japanese and seaweed-that one he was more confused by when you explain that it is weed...yes like a plant , a weed from the sea. It doesnt really give the reverence to this amazign plant thatit deserves does it.
The shared love of pork is outstanding in Japan as it is in China...here beautifully honored in Takamatsu
As you can see Korean barbecue joints are a hit in Japan -this one had flying pigs and wine-yeah
Tasty chicken in Takamatsu
or all night gyoza -plate after plate of delicious glistening gyoza
Or just down the road a fish restaurant with a hand painted sign and a front garden that smelled of the ocean
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Noodle time ! Bowls of steaming and mouth numbing hand pulled noodles-perfect for cold winter days. I said a final good bye to my brother who is back off to London and this was my choice of good bye dishes for him.
Tasty Noodle is one of my favs in Auckland. situated at the end of Dominion Road-far far end...not city end so a wee trip out but well worth it for the fantastic spicy chicken noodle soup at $7 for a small bowl. Don't be thinking this is a small bowl-its a massive bowl of hot and spicy mouth fun that is rich in Sichuan peppercorns to the point of causing you to dribble.
Hand pulled noodles are an extra $1 but the fantastic texture make them well worth it.With a side of shredded potato also in a nice spicy vinegar marinate its the ideal lunch to heat you up. Today we were unfortunate enough to not get our usual topping of roasted peanuts but we have to make do.
I do suggest wearing only black to this fine establishment as you get a little covered in red tinged soupy goodness that does match very well with the red plastic bowls and utensils.?
Monday, 2 July 2012
Sunday Night Noodle Night
I have to say I have loved having time over Easter to cook!
Sunday Night we had family over to share in big bowls of noodles with dumplings to start.
Pork Loin was butterflied out and a mix of sichuan peppercorns, fennel, caraway and cumin seed mashed up in a mortar and pestle and lined the flesh of my pork loin with. Re rolled up and roasted 220C for 20 mins to get that skin going and then dropped to 200C for an hour.
Perfect! I have to clean the oven now but it was worth it!
I sliced the pork loin, lay it up on alkaline noodles in a rich pork and chicken stock broth, some blanched choy sum and mung beans , roasted peanuts, finely chopped chillies in a wee bit of soy. Naturally I had to also throw a drizzle of my fridge oil over the lot for additional flavour (see lamb and cumin wrap post for that recipe).
Sigh-noodles are that super filling, make you happy and roll on the floor in fullness sort of food so enjoy.....
Sunday, 8 April 2012
Cheese Brain Sunday
t was to be a mere nibble, a wee taste, a moment of cheese and wine. It was to be all done by 5ish and then onto a movie and a quiet night in but it lasted hours longer than expected and was more of a celebration from all on why we love cheese and how when we eat too much of it we get cheese brain. That mushy, wonderfully dreamy feeling from mass cheese intake. It can be dangerous Im lead to believe -dont operate heavy machinery, don't drive or even consider cooking after that one. Its all about allowing that cheesey goodness to just wash over you.?
Perfectly ripe unpasteurised camembert, St Marcellin, a baby munster, something Im not even sure of the name of but was a pasty washed creation of goat, an an aged basque wonder that my friend Gilles has been caring fro tenderly for the past 15 months.
Hipster shots thanks to Emile . Eating thanks to Gin, Emile and Chris. Beer and wine matches frivolously done but worked so we aren't complaining.Hand modeling by Gen....oh and ring stylists own.
Sunday, 10 July 2011
Beef Osso Bucco-perfect winter eating June 2011
Beef shin is such a great winter meat cut. It sounds that more glamorous too when called Osso Bucco which is usually veal shin but at a fraction of the price. So today it is my casserole dish cooking away quietly as I type this.
With the bone still in, you are getting all of that marrow goodness when it cooks, slowly dissolving all that tissue and muscle to be so soft that I simply mush it all up with a fork. I really love the lemon addition as well as the white wine as this makes it a little lighter than with red wine and tomatoes. The lemon helps to cut the fatty mouth feel better too.
When I have the time I make gnocchi to serve it with-that soft on soft works really well, especially with a pile of grana padano over the top but otherwise Im equally happy with a good quality short pasta.
1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 chunks beef shin weighing about 700-900g
4-5 good quality anchovies
2 tablespoons capers
1 lemon, skin removed with a potato peeler in strips
4 cm piece of leek-white part only, very finely chopped
chunk pumpkin, peeled and chopped roughly
at least 1/2 bottle white wine
salt and pepper
Large handful Italian parsley, washed and finely chopped
Brown off your onions and garlic till softened in a little grape seed oil
Add the capers, anchovies lemon rind and leek. Mix well making sure is coated in oil
Add the beef and lay the pumpkin over the top ( you can brown the beef first if you like but I have found it doesn't seem to make a massive amount of difference to the taste at the end)
Pour in at least half a bottle of white wine and top up to cover the beef with water.
Place a lid on the dish and cook very slowly and gently either in a preheated oven at 170C for 2 hours or on the top of the stove for around 2 hours.
Test to see how soft the beef is after this time and if yielding easily, remove the lid and allow some of the excess liquid to evaporate off.
I like to simply mush all the ingredients together well, checking for seasoning.
Add in the Italian parsley and serve on pasta or gnocchi
Monday, 13 June 2011
Fox Face Sweets
The fox or kitsune is a symbol of stealth, craftiness and wisdom in Japan.
Visit an area such as Fushimi-Inari just outside of Kyoto, you will find the honoured fox standing guard with a bushel of rice or a key in its mouth at the temple and through out the temple grounds, often lovingly adored with a red bid.
These sweets are fox face shaped and filled with red bean paste-they look way to beautiful to eat
Sunday, 17 April 2011
Just Outside-not even inside!
Lined up outside the restuarants of Kyoto is the fare of the day. This intrigues and thrills me ever tiem Im in Kyoto. Its like and invitation into someones kitchen...look how fresh our offerings are. The fact that no one touches them let alones steals them is also small wonder.....
Sunday, 17 April 2011
Department Store Delights-Japan
The Japanese relish food as much as myself so it is like being heaven when I am there.
Magazine after magazine full of food porn, TV shows about small producers, traditional culinary arts not lost to convenience and the most unbelievable selection of food where ever you go.
You couldn't go hungry in a country that caters to all moods of eating. Snacks are one of my favourites and as some friends and I were saying the other day, you could eat a different snack a day and still never eat them all. You may die of sodium overload but it would be a good way to go.
One of my favourite free things to do (never free in reality after you just have to have one of those and one of these...) is visit a good department store food market,. Usually in the basement , they are an expensive way to shop but the sheer variety and display is simply incredible.
Fresh fruits and vegetables lovingly merchandised, fresh fish and meats, all manner of dried goods, teas, tofu, coffee, honey, miso pastes and even more prepared foods ready just to take home and recreate. These possibly intrigued me the most. Cabinet after beautifully managaed cabinet stuffed full of onigiri, prepared tempura, bento boxes and piles of dressed salads. Just imagine-you may never need to cook again.......?
Sunday, 17 April 2011
Shanghai Steam Boat in the Winter Cold
I cant deny it wasn't so cold that my hands hurt but a welcoming hot pot in the cold of Shanghai seemed like a good idea to at least be inside for an hour or two.
Walk down a back street in the Muslim area of shanghai in particular and you smell charcoal burning, steam rising from twenty or more steam boats set up the road side ready to go for hungry and cold diners about to start arriving.
A simple but such effective idea, stock or even just water is heated and then ingredients added to be cooked in the simmering liquid. Each addition adds flavour and more depth to the stock that is getting richer with each swish of finely sliced beef (not a piggy insight obviously) tofu and vegetables. I don't mean to sound mean to beef at all but I prefer a sliver of pork myself-gives that stock a better flavour.
On a cold day there is such magic in watching this all unfold about as a ritual to be enjoyed of this town.
Sunday, 17 April 2011
Unagi on the street
Quite possibly the most tender and lovingly prepared unagi (eel) I have ever taster. Just off the train at Fushimi-Inari. This restuarant-well remodelled to its state now-had been there for some mere several hundred years providing temple goers with crispy birds (traditionally sparrows) just off the charcoal grill and eel richy flavoured with their secret sauce -they still it in those little wee bottles there right in front.
Sunday, 17 April 2011