Tasty Thai

tasty thai gang dang

What’s this? Another Asian restaurant post? But of course! This Thai restaurant is just on the Southwest corner of Liberty park and is quite affordable and delicious.

Cort, as per usual, ordered Tom Kha. It was delcious, of course. I decided to try something new and went for the Gang Dang or Red Curry with  coconut milk, bamboo shoots, zucchini, string beans, egg plant, bell peppers and basil. It was EXACTLY what I wanted. It was creamy and tropical but with that subtle background heat so common in curries. The flavours were full and varied. I near gobbled it up.

Ramen at Koko Kitchen

koko ramen

What a dreary day I was having. Just one of those what-is-the-point-of-getting-out-of-bed days full of mopes and sighs. And then one of the blogs I was reading through talked about homemade ramen. I thought, what a brilliant idea? Is there any better food for lifting one’s spirits than hot Asian soup? I think not.

So I did a quick google search, and praise the gods that be, there was a ramen shop right down the street from me.

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Thai Sapa

thai sapa pho My first bowl of pho in Utah! Notice I say Utah and not Salt Lake… that would be because is was actually in Springdale, UT right outside Zion National Park (literally starts where the park ends). Cort and I went for a midweek spontaneous camping trip. Because we can because we are still unemployed. So we packed our bags and drove for 4 long hours. And after google maps directed us to the WRONG DEAD END entrance (aka Kolob Canyon) we finally made it. And it was a lovely day. Blue skies with scattered clouds. Not too hot, fairly windy.

We hiked up the three Falls right across from the Lodge. I unfortunately had a severely hard time due to elevation acclimation (or lack thereof) and we had to take many more rests than usual. But we made it to the Big Falls and took a nice long relax on some boulders, staring through the trees, tuning out the HORDES of people and children.  And since it was a particularly strenuous hike we took it easy the rest of the evening and went for THAI!

I ordered a pot of delicious green tea and of course the pho.  Cort ordered Tom Kha and thai tea. It was all delicious. The pho was delicately seasoned and had a decent amount of vegetables (though it could have used more chicken.) It was rejuevenating and refreshing and filling. The perfect meal for a first day of hiking.

Kongnamulguk and Gamja Jorin (AKA Soybean sprout soup and potato side dish)

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And thus begins my adventures in Korean cooking. I will master this delicious cuisine. This post is dedicated to my attempt at recreating a delicious soup and one of my favorite banchans.

The recipes for both of these come from maangchi – a great and plentiful source for Korean recipes!

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I didn’t do much modifying, if anything I just left out the kelp (seaweed) from the soup and forgot to buy the sesame seeds for the potatoes. So here are the recipes if you’d like to try it for yourself: Potatoes and Soup.

These were both relatively simple, though the potatoes took much longer than the stated 10 minutes. Though that could be attributed to me getting used to my new stove. And they turned out well!

The soup was hearty but light. Not quite as rich as I remember my friend’s mom’s soup being. I definitely will add the seaweed for the next batch. The potatoes could have had a little more sugar, but I did eyeball the measurements. But we still ate them all. No leftovers for either dish.

In other ethnic cooking adventures, I made jjajjangmyeon again. This time it turned out SPLENDID. The exact perfect consistency and flavor. I mixed the techniques and ingredients from three different recipes just by feel. The next time I make it I will take notes of what I do so you can recreate this.

Overall I believe this is an excellent start to my mastering of Korean dishes. Healthy and delicious meals, here I come!

Sloan’s N.Y. Grill

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Look at that delicious cheesy goodness. Makes your mouth start watering just at the sight.

This delicious bowl of French Onion soup can be found in the teensy city of Oneonta, New York. If you want more of an exact location but are too lazy to Google it, it is about an hour west of Albany (the capital of New York.)

It is out in the middle of rolling hills, trees, farms and sleepy little villages. Yes, there still exist locations officially labeled “village.” And these little towns have just as many varieties of restaurants as you might think.

Sloan’s is a relatively new addition to Oneonta, run by the owner of several other restaurants in the area.  It is, as the name suggests, a grill focusing on steak, chicken and, surprisingly, fish. The menu is relatively short, but there is a little for everyone – red meat, white meat, poultry, seafood and even vegetarians!

As is generally done in these kinds of restaurants, a basket of bread and butter was brought to our table. Nothing to really write home about. And though the butter was supposed to taste like apple, it didn’t seem much different or sweeter than normal sweet cream.

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But then there was the Baked French Onion Soup. This magnificently cheesy and rich soup was the highlight of the dinner for me.

It was full flavoured, definitely had a heavy beef broth base, the onions were caramalized to perfection – they were sweet, buttery, soft and had an ever so slight bite so as not to be mush – the bread was chewy and mild flavoured, and the swiss and provolone cheese melted on top nicely balanced the rest of the soup. It was not overwhelming though it seemed like a lot of cheese at the time, but it added a nice nutty and tangy contrasting flavour palette.

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Finally we have the main dish: New England Cod in a lemon butter wine sauce and crumb topping. It was actually surprisingly SWEET. I am not that familiar with cod, but this one seemed to be cooked nicely – very flaky, not dry at all, and mild flavoured. The crumb topping and the sauce came out extremely sweet. This fish seemed more like a dessert to me than a savoury dish. Normally I wouldn’t complain, but coupled with the rich onion soup, and the nutty fall vegetables of acorn squash and carrots, it was just all too much.

Each component was well executed on its own but combined it was simply an overwhelming and imbalanced dish.

It was an interesting experience. And the service here in the countryside has repeatedly been slow as molasses with sub-par to decent results. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about eating at these limited restaurants for another year or so!

Pho-tastic Adventures in Vietnamese Cooking – CHALLENGE

Can you guess from the title what I’m making? No? I’m sure the pho-to gave it away though!

This week my friend and I decided to do a challenge with each other!

The terms – make a chosen recipe within a week. The stakes – a satisfied tummy or a frustrated burnt pot of nothing.

The recipe – Ready, set, pho! (It is just too much pho-n using all these puns and homonyms. I apologize if you are groaning. But I don’t really care because it’s a blast to write!)

I love Pho. It is one of my top favortie Asian soups. It’s warm, spicy, comforting, refreshing and cooling all at the same time. Plus you simply can’t beat the price per serving ration. Usually around $8-10 for a GIANT BOWL that will give you leftovers (usually two more meals’ worth!)

I was excited to try making it on my own. But HOO-HEE. The authentic from-scratch method takes over 3 hours and the use of beef knuckles and leg bones… and I’m really just not familiar with nor comfortable with using such new ingredients in such a new dish. (This recipe at Steamy Kitchen seems very easy to follow though, if you are daring enough!)

I briefly researched a vegetarian version, correctly assuming it would be easier. But the recipe makers themselves often said the flavor just isn’t as rich. There really is NO replacing the scrumptious heartiness of a bovine’s bones and flesh boiled into your soup.

So I looked for the cheater’s version.

After much research (okay only like 3 different sites. I get bored and HUNGRY easily!) I decided I’d combine a couple recipes together. This is mainly a mashup of the long version from Steamy Kitchen and the cheater’s version from Tale of 2 Kitchens.

IMG_2016(2)So. This soup wasn’t actually quite pho.,,

It was really good! It had the definite trademark flavors of pho… but it was too sweet and rich. The broth is obviously too dark. And I left out the beef because I am too lazy and fail at grocery shopping.

This pho-inspired soup was rich and warm and spicey – but in a full of spices way. I think I used too much of the seasoning packet. Or maybe I used the wrong one?

Finding the proper ingredients for a new recipe in an Asian supermarket is RIDICULOUSLY hard. I will chuckle at my bewilderment and overwhelmed searching in a few years… I’m sure. Once I’m more experienced and confident in my recipes and ingredients. (Vietnamese is really difficult to figure out. Thank gods that there is always a transliteration with “phò” boldly printed on anything having to do with… well, pho.)

I’d write out my recipe, but suffice it to say I’m not sure it’s replicable or worth replicating. I definitely DO want to try this again though! Maybe more closely following a legit recipe. Perhaps I will do the whole multiple hour long process someday soon after all.

But in the meantime, if there were winners, I think it would be Nikki. At least hers LOOKS like pho should. XP

(She will shortly be having a blog to which I will link this post! Check back for updates!)