Brainless Butterfly Shrimp [recipe]

IMG_3808I used to not eat shrimp. Ever. Which is funny because I’m Cantonese and Chinese, and shrimp is a staple seafood of the cuisine. Growing up, going out to eat dim sum was a frequent family event on the weekends. We’d order xiā jiǎo (shrimp dumplings, a.k.a. har gow), and I’d peel out the shrimp filling, plop it on one of my parents’ plates, and only eat the starchy rice flour dumpling wrapper. My parents joke that I missed out on “the good stuff.”

seafoodIt wasn’t until our family took a trip to Hong Kong when I was nine years old that I began eating shrimp. There, we rode a ferry out to the tiny island of Cheung Chau, which is restricted to motor vehicles. I remember biking along the water front and seeing fisherman laying out their freshly-caught scallops and shrimp to dry in the sun. Our host simply walked up to one of those fisherman and purchased seafood. She only had to go a few feet away to a restaurant where she handed over the fish and shrimp. That shrimp was the juiciest, sweetest shrimp I have ever tasted and I have yet to experience shrimp that matches that standard. Continue reading “Brainless Butterfly Shrimp 

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Really Good Oatmeal Cookies [recipe]

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Ah, oatmeal.

It seems that people either love it or hate it with a passion.

I’m a fan, but oatmeal can be a divisive subject within my family.

Dad: OK, I’ll eat it because it’s a fresh, hot breakfast.

Mom: This is so healthy for you – it’s whole grains and is good for lowering your cholesterol

Younger Sister #1: Eh, not oatmeal again. It’s not my favorite.

Younger Sister #2: I think I’m going to eat waffles with whipped cream for breakfast instead.

My grandma: (nodding her head) I love oatmeal. I eat it with salted egg and dried fish for breakfast and it’s almost like Chinese rice porridge.

So, you see, even within my family everyone has their own reaction when they see a pot of oatmeal sitting on the stovetop in the morning. To each their own, I suppose.

I might do a future post about some of my favorite *healthy* oatmeal toppings, but for now, here’s an oatmeal cookie recipe that can please everybody except those people who really can’t stand chocolate, dried cranberries, raisins, and sugar. Continue reading “Really Good Oatmeal Cookies 

Tasting My Way Through Taiwan (Part 2)

This is the second installment of my travels in Taiwan. For part one, go here.

Thinking back to the trip makes me realize on how I marked each day by what we ate. And, really, that wasn’t a bad decision because, if anything, that soupy noodle soup or that hot bread from the street vendor are worth talking about.

As we looped around the southern tip of the island and started driving back up north, we passed through an area where a lot of tropical fruit flourished.

We stopped along the way at a stand that sold a local variety of dried mango. I sampled the fresh mango, and it had a richer, more complex flavor than the varieties from the Philippines or Mexico that get imported to the U.S. This little road-side shop had many different dried fruits and little cakes (and lots of samples).

Pineapple fields, semi-reminiscent of a past visit to the Dole Pineapple fields in Hawaii

Continue reading “Tasting My Way Through Taiwan (Part 2)”

Tasting My Way Through Taiwan (Part 1)

This post chronicles what I ate on a recent trip to Taiwan. Hang on as I share some low-quality photos and high-quality memories. 

Moments after stepping the plane at approximately 5:34 a.m., we walked out to the curb where we were greeted by our driver in a white Mercedes van. After a 14-hour red-eye flight, we (I, my parents, two sisters and grandma) weren’t the perkiest version of ourselves. Sick of watery, tasteless airplane food, we craved something juicy and fresh.

We headed to an open-air fruit stand on the corner of a busy intersection. I could hear the blaring sound of traffic — bikes, mopeds, cars, and taxis.

 

Cherimoya fruit

 

Being on an island meant I got to try some fruits I’d never seen before because exotic fruits thrive in Taiwan’s tropical climate. One of them, cherimoya, tasted stringy and almost pungently sweet. We also ate wax apples a couple times, which, true to their name, are like a watered down version of apple — crisp but rather bland. We also tried mango, pineapple, and bananas, and the Taiwanese varieties proved to be sweeter (the mangoes and pineapple) and creamier (the bananas).

The first day, we headed into Taipei. As a highly populated city, Taipei boasts smoggy air, mad swarms of people riding mopeds, and lots of face mask-wearers. During our trip, we planned to get a survey of the island, starting from the northern part of the island, driving along the eastern coast to the southern tip and through the middle of the island back to Taipei’s in a week’s time. Therefore, every night we lived in a different hotel — the constant, on-the-g0 nature of our trip was exciting yet exhausting. Continue reading “Tasting My Way Through Taiwan (Part 1)”

Egg Roll Cookies

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My family has a semi-strict rule against purchasing kitchen appliances that only serve one purpose. For example, a cherry pitter or a kiwi knife or a panini maker are absolute no-goes because they take up valuable cabinet real estate. If the device or appliance has only a single capability, we believe that more multi-purpose paring knife or just a good ol’ frying pan can do the trick. Continue reading “Egg Roll Cookies”

Weekend Cheesecake [recipe]

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Let’s talk guilty pleasures.

Okay, yes, in reality there should be no such thing as a “guilty pleasure” because we eat decently healthy 80% of the time, leaving us room to splurge about 20% of the time (the 80-20 rule) without feeling an ounce of guilt.

I don’t follow that suggestion to an absolute “T,” but I do try to eat healthy most of the time and save the not-so-nutritious stuff for special occasions.

All that goes to say that I am a dessert connoisseur — probably not in the way you were thinking. Yes, I always consider my options (and who doesn’t love options?), but I look for quality. If I’m going to have dessert, it better be worth it.  I’m not a fan of a low-fat diet food ice cream sandwich with unpronounceable pseudo ingredients. I want the  real thing made with cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla bean.

Continue reading “Weekend Cheesecake

apple banana lemon green smoothie [recipe]

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Green smoothies continue to be all the rage in the realm of healthy food trends. There’s something about drinking your greens in a tasty, cleansing smoothie that makes those vegetables much more appetizing.

In my town, we’ve been experiencing a bit of a heat wave this week. Because I had frozen bananas stocked up in the fridge (confession: I quite frequently eat them straight out of the freezer like popsicles), it was even simpler to whip up this cooling smoothie in a matter a seconds. Continue reading “apple banana lemon green smoothie 

Food Sighting: Gayle’s Bakery

P1060244Aaannnnd I’m back! I’m well aware of the fact that it’s been a long time since my last post. Junior year was crazy, and I do admit that I got lazy and had other things to focus on besides blogging. Never fear, though, because I’ve got lots of new things planned and hope to post more frequently during the upcoming school year. First up, a peek into one of my foodie-related adventures this summer at the renowned Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola, Calif. 

P1060212As I’m sure anyone who’s currently in school or has been in school can relate, I’ve come face-to-face with the brutal reality that summer break is dwindling and school will begin in just four short days.

It’s easy to say, “If I just had one more week of summer, then I’d be ready for school to start.” But then I remind myself of the importance of just living in the moment and being content right where I am. I should appreciate for the fun times spent with friends, the memories made, and the days I got the privilege of sleeping in. The break blessed me with time to relax and rejuvenate before I enter the daunting college application season.

With that in mind, food always plays a quintessential part in my summer, not just because it brings people together but for the way it captures the flavors and spirit of the season.

My family stops by Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola, Calif. when we’re in the Santa Cruz area. I absolutely adore the shop’s ambiance because it provides a space for people of all types — the coffee-drinking and newspaper-reading customers who lounge by the large windows, the tourists who gaze in awe at the case of buttery pastries, the parent whose child needs a quick bite after school, and everyone in between.

Continue reading “Food Sighting: Gayle’s Bakery”