Tuesday, September 29, 2009
A couple of weeks ago, I was craving green onion pancakes. I was ordering them everywhere I went, as evidenced by my visits to A&J Restaurant, Chin's, and Yi Mei Chinese Pastries. Then I kind of forgot about my craving, until I read the weekend challenge for Serious Eats. The challenge is pancakes. Initially, the first image that popped into my mind was the traditional, fluffy stack of American pancakes served with syrup. I thought that maybe this weekend I could finally try out that blueberry pancake recipe sitting in my recipe pile. But I didn't have any blueberries…As I continued reading about the weekend challenge, the post suggested that we didn't need to limit ourselves to traditional American pancakes and even provided a link to other regional pancakes.
I clicked on the link and read about all different kinds of pancakes. What I was surprised about was that for Asia, they talked about this type of crepe. When I think chinese pancake, my mind immediately thinks of green onion pancakes. No green onion pancakes were referenced in this wikipedia article. So I decided I was going to make some green onion pancakes.
Green onion pancakes are a savory treat. It's basically a circle shaped dough that contains chopped up green onions. Usually the dough has a few layers. They are usually pan fried. They are also usually quite big in size, and will be cut into pieces like a pizza.
I'd never made green onion pancakes before so I called up my mom. She told me it was too much work, and why didn't I just buy the frozen ones at Ranch 99? I eat the frozen ones a lot. They are pretty decent. You simply heat them up on the frying pan. While they temporarily satisfy my cravings for onion pancake, I really wanted a good, homemade type of green onion pancake. One that is doughy and fresh tasting, like the ones my grandma used to make from scratch.
So then I found this recipe from gaga in the kitchen. The recipe seemed simple enough. I even went out and bought some green onions so that I could make it. But then I ran out of time. So instead, I settled for an in between. I didn't buy the frozen ones at Ranch 99, but I did buy the "fresh" ones found in the fridge section at Ranch 99, which tend to be more like restaurant quality ones. They are a lot doughier and have all the pretty layers. I heated them up on my frying pan, and had myself a nice bunch of crispy, flaky green onion pancakes.
I still want to try making them myself though. I will definitely try out gaga in the kitchen's recipe.
Monday, September 28, 2009
A while back ago I did a lot of experimenting baking with matcha green tea powder. This weekend I started up again. When I made my almond tofu, it occurred to me that I should be able to make a green tea flavored agar jelly, since the almond tofu one is basically agar jelly with almond flavoring.
I bought a box of agar jelly mix at Ranch 99. I followed the directions written on the back of the box, and then added 2 tablespoons of matcha green tea powder and a cup of milk. It didn't come out exactly as I had hoped. I would have preferred a different shade of green, instead of the dark, diluted green. I think maybe next time I'll add more milk to try to get a brighter shade of green. Also the green tea powder didn't dissolve completely in the agar jelly, no matter how much I mixed it. So when it was hardening, the undissolved green tea powder settled at the bottom of the molds. It ended up having a pretty next effect with the darker green tea and it still tasted fine.
For my molds, I used my mini bundt pans. The jelly tastes just like agar jelly with a green tea flavor.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
A couple weeks ago, one of the readers of my blog, Faye, recommended that I try the Da Ru Mian at Chin's. I've been to Chin's several times, but have never tried the Da Ru Mian. You can read my previous post on Chin's here. So after her recommendation, I really, really wanted to try it. She was even sweet enough to find me a coupon for a b1g1 free lunch entree.
Boyfriend and I went for a late breakfast a few weeks ago. Surprisingly, there was still a wait when we got there. Normally, when we come near the end of weekend breakfast hours, there is no wait at all. It appears that they were having some difficulties that day because the food ended taking a long time to arrive, and all the customers were experiencing similar problems, and that also led to backlog of guests.
We ordered the Da Ru Mian, Niu Rou Mian (beef noodle soup), green onion pancake, eight treasure rice, and wine brew soup with sesame glutinous rice balls.
Our Da Ru Mian arrived first.
I have to confess, I've never heard of Da Ru Mian, and had no idea what it was supposed to look like or taste like. What was presented to me appeared to be a noodle soup with a mix of everything: vegetables, egg, shrimp, meat. I think I would have enjoyed this combination, but I didn't like the way Chin's made the soup base. It might be that it was just the day I went, since it does seem they were having kitchen issues. There was a lot of corn starch so it was barely a soup. Also the soup base tasted a lot like the Americanized chinese version of egg drop soup. I think if they had used just a simple chicken broth, I would have liked this a lot more.
Next came our beef noodle soup (NRM)
After eating the NRM a few weeks ago at A&J in Irvine, the NRM at Chin's no longer seemed as good as I remembered. It was still alright, but the broth wasn't as rich in beef flavor. However, it appears they changed the noodles in their NRM. Before, the one thing I didn't like about Chin's NRM was the noodles, which were like spaghetti. This time, the noodles used were flatter and chewier.
Next came our onion pancake.
This was a bit disappointing. While it didn't taste bad, it didn't taste homemade either. It tasted like the frozen ones I buy from Ranch 99. Too thin and not doughy enough.
Next came our eight treasure rice.
I've always enjoyed the eight treasure rice at Chin's. Eight treasure rice is made with a sweet, glutinous rice and contains different "treasures" like red bean paste, candied cherries, canned pineapples, and some other sweet stuff. I was surprised by how small this one was. In the past, this dish was large enough for a group of 5-6 to each have a few bites. This one was tiny though. Boyfriend and I easily polished it off.
Finally, our rice wine soup with sesame balls arrived.
I love the use of small sesame glutinous rice balls in this soup. It seems this dessert has shrunk in size as well. While the bowl was still big, there were not nearly as many sesame balls. Normally, I have a hard time finishing the sesame balls because there are so many and no one is helping me. But I easily finished all the sesame balls in the bowl.
The service was still pretty good. Hopefully the kitchen difficulties was a one time thing.