Graduate student who hails from a family of Chinese restaurant owners and likes to eat just about everything in sight.

  • Location: Texas/California

Chinese Velveting 101: Stir-Fried Chicken With Mushrooms and Oyster Sauce

I agree with @cg_ups - these posts are very informative and I learn a lot about the techniques with the step-by-step photos. I really enjoy these Asian technique series and do hope to see more because my parents aren't physically around to show me how to make my childhood favorites.

Giveaway: Win a Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer

Red...and I'd probably start to venture into candymaking.

Keep Austin Weird: 12 Unique Foods Found in Austin

Agreed with @carriebwc and @joydreamz. As someone who divides their time between Houston and Austin, the rest of the country's idolization of Austin as this wonderfully "weird", diverse, progressive utopia while simultaneously condemning Houston (and other Texas cities) as some kind of oil-baron-driven Republican hell hole, I'm pretty baffled.

Anyway, good food to be found in other Texas cities. Personally I think Houston food rivals Austin food any day!

A Sandwich a Day: Pastor and Marinated Pork Torta at Mexico's Deli in Houston

Your links to the Mexico's Deli website is broken. Also, this place is freaking delicious.

We Try the new Cinnamon Roll from Starbucks

I remember enjoying their espresso brownies and cinnamon coffee cakes back in the day. They weren't OMG-DROOL-WANT, but tasty enough. Overpriced. But tasty.

Thoughts on Swiss I the only one?

I'm with @AnnieNT...erasers. All the way.

How to Make Real-Deal Tortilla Soup

Does it lose a lot if I don't use the corn flour or sub in all purpose flour?

10 Instant Noodle Flavors That Are Actually Spicy

@PSFam - Thanks for the tip. I'll try to check out Hmart sometime soon.

10 Instant Noodle Flavors That Are Actually Spicy'd think Asian markets in cities like Houston that have large Asian populations would have more of these! I think I've only seen the Shin Ramyun (original?) and two varieties of Indomie (which I love beyond words).

A Guide to a Chinese Vegetarian Dinner with Many Faux Meats

@ag3208 - The vegetarian kidney is the best! It tastes nothing like real kidney, but it's so tasty with some chili oil.

What was the first thing you ever baked?

Betty Crocker brownies in a convection oven. I was too scared to turn on the actual oven because I had never used it before. Still turned out delicious!

AHT Giveaway: Omnomnomnivore T-Shirt from Threadless

Not sure if I want to buy frozen lobster tails

Thanks everyone. I think I'll pass on this based on everyone's advice. Saved me some money :)

Weekend Baking Project: Dark Chocolate Cherry Fudge

Ooh...I have a surplus of dried cherries and everyone's tired of my cherry chocolate chip oatmeal cookies by now. Looking forward to trying this out.

Scooped: Vegan Banana Coconut Ice Cream

The bottom recipe link is broken; but the very first one works.

What is this Chinese loaf called??

Haven't seen it with nuts before, but I don't think it's out of the question. They taste a little sweet, but also just a smidge sour because of the fermentation process. Very glutinous and chewy.

This one is decorated with sesame seeds, and is in rectangular form:

Want: Savory Bread Pudding Recipe!

Baking Inspiration

Food inspiration sites:

You may not use the recipes that are posted with the photos, but the pictures can often inspire you to go look for a good one recipe, and you have an idea of how to present it, which is half the battle when selling.

Peeling eggs

I know you've had poor experiences with ice water baths, but that's the method I always turn to, and it hasn't failed me yet. I do let them sit in the bath for a good 2-3 minutes (possibly longer, my memory is poor and I haven't done hardboiled eggs in a while) and the shells always have no problem coming off, regardless of the age of the egg.

Mixed Review: New Williams Sonoma All-Natural Cupcake Mixes

Edit: WM = WS....for Williams Sonoma...

Mixed Review: New Williams Sonoma All-Natural Cupcake Mixes

Yeesh...$15 for mix...who is supporting the WM business model again?!

Worst thing you ever ate?

@PlumGaga - you sure that wasn't sea cucumber? I'm Chinese, and I'm not aware that we serve sea urchin that often at weddings.

@Kenji - aww...I like balut. I never eat the embryo (mental block), but the yolk is tasty dipped in some salt and pepper.

Guacamole yay or nay?

What? Mayo in guacamole?!

Fast Food Onion Ring Roundup: Burger King vs. Hardee's vs. Jack in the Box vs. Sonic

Also a fan of BK's onion rings and zesty sauce. Maybe not as "real" onion rings, as some people are already claiming, but they're still pretty tasty as a junk food snack.

I'm in TX, but haven't tried Whataburger's onion rings yet. I'll have to give them a go now, after the ringing endorsements here.

From the Freezer: Uno's Artisan Crust Frozen Pizza

Rare strains of premeditated laziness come out in college students around finals time. I stock up on all sorts of premade, terrible-for-you, and terrible-tasting food during late April and late November.

But I could also see myself making frozen pizzas after I graduate. I am all kinds of lazy.

Not sure if I want to buy frozen lobster tails

Frozen Brazilian lobster tails at 4.99 each at my local market, originally 9.99 each. Good deal? I usually eat lobster at Asian restaurants, where we usually point and pick out some unlucky guy in the tank (so he's fresh), so I don't have much experience with frozen lobster. This appears like a good deal, but I don't know anything about whether the quality is affected significantly by being frozen, or the fact that it's a Brazilian species...or anything. Advice or tips or recipes appreciated.

If it's worth it, I'd probably pick up ~4 tails and hope to have a nice little dinner for two. They're not terribly large (about 6" long?) and so we'd need at least two, or I'd have to supplement with a steak or something.

Pronouncing "macaron" (rant?)

I don't like coming off as a dunce, so I've figured out how to say it the "French way," if you want to call it that. It just kind of irks me when people correct me with "macaroon" as if I'm the one who's misinformed (and I kind of look retarded, because they're just like "WTF is this girl smoking, WTH is a "macaron"?). I don't argue, just raise an eyebrow, because, really, no one needs to get into a tiff right before diving into a pastry.

They're so popular now, why do people still call them "macaroons," ala "racoons" - or is this just a Texas thing that I'm running into? I don't believe there are two different pronunciations. Macarons and macaroons are two completely different cookies. Also, I believe that restaurants and bakeries serving such cookies should know what they are and how to pronounce them!

I rue the day when I encounter a bakery that serves both cookies. Woe for both for its staff and its customers.

P.S. - I'm not in an angry blind rage. I will continue ordering and eating them happily regardless of how many times I appear like a fool.

Questionable bar etiquette?

I like taking part in happy hour specials in restaurants all the time. The only problem is, a lot of restaurants seem to limit their happy hour items to the bar area, which is fine, but I'm not a big alcohol drinker. More than that, I don't like the taste of it. Can I safely assume bartenders are unused to, and maybe even dislike, people like me sitting at their bar, not ordering drinks, and thus, not increasing their tip jar?

When I go out with others who drink, this isn't an issue, but sometimes, I don't. I am more than happy to tip generously for nonalcoholic drinks (soda, coffee, tea, milkshakes, etc....) and food, but I'm just wondering if this is generally bad etiquette at the bar.


Trying to replicate a cookie...

Has anyone tried Harry & David's raspberry galette cookies? I'm trying to replicate it, since I'm not into paying an arm and a leg for my cookies.

I assumed the cookie part is made with a soft sugar cookie, but I've read on Google something about it being made with butter cookies, or perhaps shortbread. Having never had a butter cookie (at least, I don't think I've had one), and finding my usual shortbread cookies crisper than the cookie I want to replicate, I wanted to see if any of you guys have tried Harry & David's galettes. Or even know of a comparable recipe!


What to do with poor quality meat

The boyfriend purchased some flash frozen pre-formed hamburger patties awhile back that have been sitting in his freezer. In short, the quality is really poor, and it seems that a good percentage of it is fat. It's also this grayish-pinkish color too, and he tells me its kind of precooked or parcooked (seems pretty raw to me, but the color makes me want to believe him). It's also presalted, as I found out the hard way.

I hate wasting food, but the question is, what can I do with it to hide the mushy texture (or make it better)? Also, what can I do to extract the excess fat out of it?


Homemade ranch dressing

I'm looking to try making this, and want some advice from others who've already tried it. I notice a lot of online recipes call for mayonnaise and buttermilk or sour cream. Can I use store-bought mayo and still get good results? Which kinds of recipes are better - those that use buttermilk or sour cream? some winning recipes you guys want to share? Thanks!

What are some great blogosphere/foodie-tested recipes?

I had a lot of success with the Rick Bayless Enchiladas Especiales Tacuba Style recipe from a while back, based a lot off of what SE-ers told me. I also had wild success with the NYTimes Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe as well (involving several people I rarely talk to hunting me down for the recipe, and inappropriate sounds being made while cookies were being ingested...)

So I want to know, what are some recipes that are extensively tested out by the blogosphere? I find looking at the photos of what a lot of people have tried, their various methods and approaches really helpful. I also trust (perhaps misplacedly so?) regular bloggers more than the average reviewer on Bloggers often note what went wrong, what they did differently from the original, ingredient brands, and tips. It's just very useful information that a short blurb of a review might not have - and they almost never have pictures on allrecipes (or other recipe sites) connecting the review with the recipe.

So...any thing that has caught like wildfire through blogging sites recently? Or in the past? I read SE and TheKitchn, but my lurking waxes and wanes, and I don't follow any blogs religiously. I assume some segment of population at SE does, and has a better finger on the pulse than I do.

Gifting a dutch oven

What's a good size dutch oven to start with? I'm hoping to buy a Lodge one and want a generally useful size to gift to someone who's never had one before (but wants one!).

Said person likes cooking in large quantities to eat over the week, and likes making curries, jambalayas, sauces, and stews. He also likes to cook for others as well. I'm not much of a cook myself (more of a baker), so I don't have any kind of reference point. 3 qts? 5 qts? 7.5 qts?

I've heard generally good things about Lodge, but I'm open to other suggestions as well. Thanks SE community!

Basic chicken

I was just browsing through SE, when I stumbled upon Rick Bayless' Enchiladas Especiales Tacuba Style recipe (yes from that "What's the Best Thing You've Learned from SE" thread). I would love to test this out on my boyfriend/guinea-pig. The thing is though, I don't really have left over chicken lying around, never really have. I also notice a lot of recipes that for plain cooked chicken as a vehicle to showcase the other ingredients (take for example, the enchilada recipe, chicken pot pie, chicken salad, etc), and I kind of shy away from them because they really don't provide directions on how to prepare the chicken.

I'm fairly new to cooking, and I've had my fair share of tough, stringy, tasteless chicken. Should I brine a few chicken breasts and toss them onto a skillet? Should I poach the chicken? Should I poach it with herbs or just plain stock? Should I just buy a rotisserie chicken from the local grocery store and shred it up (I get a feeling the boyfriend will laugh at me for this, but I'll live :P)?

Please provide recipes (with simple ingredients, preferably), and some directions. Thanks so much!

Bringing fried food on a plane (help!)

So, I'm going to be traveling in a bit to hang out with my relatives, and my dear, pregnant cousin asked that I bring beignets with me when I visit her. Well, beignets and napoleons (aka mille feuilles) from some local shops she sampled when she was last in Houston. I would love to, of course, but I don't want people shooting me dirty looks on a 3 hour flight.

How should I pack it? How should I keep it fresh (as from my experience, fried foods tend to get soggy with grease if not eaten quickly after preparation)? Can i even bring it on the plane? I'm not packing the beignets into my check-in luggage as I'd prefer not to smell like donuts for the entire week that I'm there.

Much thanks!

Deveining shrimp.

I have usually assumed that people who did not devein their shrimp just didn't want to do it. In other words, they were too lazy, or didn't want to be bothered, or didn't care. I always took it out because (1) the black stuff looks unappetizing, and (2) I always felt like I was eating shrimp poop (it is the intestine after all).

I was reading a blog earlier today which mentioned the possibility of keeping the vein intact for flavor reasons. Anyone else heard of this?

Mooncakes online...

I've been specifically looking for Hong Kong brand Maxim's/Mei-xin snow-skin ones. They are, quite simply, the best mooncakes I've ever had. While I live in Houston, which has a large Asian population, it can still be hard to locate specialty items so I've resorted to hunting for these mooncakes online. I've been able to find the normal mooncakes, but have had a hard time finding the snow-skin ones.

Anyone know where I can find these online? Better yet, in Houston?

How to Make Peepshi = Peeps Sushi

Continuing in the grand Peeps Week tradition, here's our offering for any occasion that calls for awesome and fun all at once: "Peepshi," or Peeps sushi. (Note: no fish or seaweed involved.) This lovechild of Easter and Japan takes inspiration from Masaharu Morimoto and Rice Krispies Treats. More