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Everything posted by mizducky

  1. Ever since I moved to San Diego three years ago, I have been randomly exploring little cheapo dining experiences in and around this burg. What with recent topics inquiring about such things, I thought it would be fun to start sharing some of my nicer finds with the board (and also to find out if others have tried any of them). Here's a few random finds from just this past two weeks: New Manila -- 8979 Mira Mesa Blvd. (Mira Mesa) -- I had some brief exposure to Filipino food back in Seattle, but recent topics on the cuisine inspired me to renew that exploration. This place is a storefront in a large shopping center anchored by an huge and intriguing ethnic market called Seafood City Supermarket--have to check that out the next time I dine at New Manila. New Manila itself is a no-frills space with worn but serviceable formica tables; you order at the counter from the "turo-turo" steam-table full of goodies. The very friendly guy behind the counter offered me samples of several dishes, plus a free serving of soup with my combo order (two-item combos, with two scoops of steamed rice, cost five bucks and change). In addition to the yummy soup (sinigang, chicken and veggies stewed in a tart broth), I had a lovely paksiew na pata (braised shredded pork knuckle meat, again with that pleasing slightly tart flavor--I really like how Filipino cuisine use sour flavorings) and a bracing serving of pinakbet with lots of bitter melon in it (an acquired taste, that stuff, but I like it in smallish doses). Aparently this joint turns into a karaoke party den on Friday nights, but otherwise it's mainly open for lunch. I'm definitely going back--there's a whole bunch of other things in the steam-table I've yet to try! Arirang House -- 4681 Convoy St # B (Kearny Mesa) -- there are a number of Korean joints in the Convoy Street multi-culti nexus, but I've gotten rather fond of this one, partly because they offer a lunch buffet so that I can sample a variety of dishes for one cheap price (just under six bucks, before tip). It's a pretty generous spread for such a small place. Last time I went, the offerings included a nicely tender and flavorful braised short ribs; small whole deep-fried fish; a variety of vegetables, including spinach seasoned with sesame oil and seeds and steamed-but-still-crunchy soybean sprouts seasoned with red pepper flakes; and of course a couple different kinds of kimchee (napa cabbage, and I think the other was cubes of daikon); and a bunch of other things I'm forgetting. You are also served a simple bowl of miso soup to go with your meal. In the evenings this place switches gears to serve Korean style barbeque; I haven't tried theirs yet, because I'm still too enamored of their lunches. This joint is tucked into one of the smaller of the gazillion strip malls lining Convoy--it's easy to drive right by it, so look for it just south of the intersection with Engineer Rd., on the east side of the street. Taco Motion -- 1313 Garnet Ave. (Pacific Beach) -- this is a rather unpreposessing storefront in yet another tiny strip mall, on a non-glamorous stretch of Garnet a couple blocks away from all the action closer to the waterfront. But behind that storefront is a terrific little place that passes one of my Rules of Thumb for Authentic Taqueria Detection--they have offal meats on the menu. I got a burrito de cabeza as take-out, got home with my prize, and discovered I had a wealth of savory tender meat in a rich brown sauce filling a very generous burrito, with just some sliced raw scallions as the only ornament needed. I gotta go back and taste their menudo. Roberto's -- 4403 Convoy St (Kearny Mesa) -- I don't know whether this Roberto's is an offshoot of the original local (and celebrated) taqueria chain, or a copycat, or what--I just know it's good. The place is a stand-alone building, a basic glass-box fast-food joint with no atmosphere whatsoever, but the menu is large, the prices are cheap, and they serve lengua as well as cabeza. I had some of each as soft tacos, and got nice portions on good corn tortillas with garnishes of chopped tomato, onion, and cilantro, with lime wedges on the side. The meats were wonderfully tender and flavorful, with the occasional lovely crunchy bit from having just been hotted-up on the griddle. I hadn't checked out this joint until now because I'd been so distracted by all the Asian restaurants for which this neighborhood is much better known, but now that I know I can get my offal fix so close to home (I live about a mile away), I shall be back. Okay, that's enough for starters ...
  2. mizducky

    Those danged energy drinks

    I'm not sure how the hell it started, but I've developed a bit of an energy drink habit. Even though I've looked at the figures online (scroll down for the table) and seen that such drinks usually don't have any more caffeine per volume than a cup of regular coffee, somehow there's a weird attraction there. Maybe I'm simply more of a marketing fool than I'd like to think I am. Maybe I'm just bored with the usual round of soft drinks. Whatever it is, I keep buying the damn things. Anyone else? (For what it's worth, my current favorite is Rockstar, the sugar-free or no-carb versions.)
  3. mizducky

    Feeding a crowd

    Ahah ... found the website I was looking for: Razzle Dazzle -- Cooking for a Crowd. Despite its name, the majority of these recipes are pretty basic, to even simplistic. And you probably won't find a specific recipe for the dishes you're planning. But I've used the quantities of ingredients given in these recipes to give me an idea of the quantities I need for whatever dish I was thinking of making. For instance, I realize of course that it's not Boston baked beans you plan to make, but this recipe that serves 32 at least gives you a ballpark for the amount of dried beans you might want to start with. (i.e. this one says 4 pounds).
  4. mizducky

    Feeding a crowd

    Hi Melissa--I think your menu choices sound great, and that you don't need to offer any additional protein choice since you have the pork and the beans (plus the shredded cheese garnish--I'd recommend having a good supply of this). A concern about the rice--while the pork and the beans are relatively forgiving about being cooked in large batches, rice can sometimes be a bit more fussy. Was this going to be just plain rice, or some sort of seasoned Mexican-style rice? I'd suggest giving the recipe a test run if you've not done it before, and cooking it in a couple of small batches instead of one big one. Or maybe borrow one of those large-capacity automatic rice cookers, which will cook the rice perfectly and even hold it at serving temperature for a good while. Even with the beans, another thing I've discovered with large-quantity cooking is how much longer things can take to cook. Bringing a big pot of water up to temperature to cook or reheat something like beans can take what seems like for-freakin' ever! I've learned some big lessons on planning ahead accordingly. Also, unless I clean missed it, I didn't see any mention of beverages. Is someone else providing those, or are you on for those as well? Oh yeah--is this a pre-game meal, a post-game meal, or a general social-gathering-feed-the-hungry-athletes kind of meal? To my mind, that would somewhat influence whether the athletes are looking to eat lighter or to carb out. ;-)
  5. mizducky

    Smoked Salmon

    Just for grins, I Googled "fried lox" and found some very peculiar things. Nothing worth reporting here, though. :-D Others have already suggested my first thought--a cream sauce over pasta; I've had that with the other type of smoked salmon (the flakeable alder-smoked stuff) and the flavors match terrifically. I bet using the salmon in a risotto would also work great. I was going to suggest making sushi rolls, seeing as how lox is one of the favorite go-to fish ingredients for people who want to try sushi but are noodgy about the "raw fish" thing. But if your husband is computing lox as "raw fish" anyway, I guess that doesn't really help matters. Another thought: I've purchased frozen lox before, and as long as it hasn't been thawed you can keep it frozen for a reasonable amount of time without harm. So maybe you could just stash it away for a more opportune moment (either with more lox appreciators present, or when your husband has forgotten about its existence? )
  6. Great question! I think I was going for the Tweet/elevator speech/SEO mindset when I came up with the handle "The Tightwad Gourmand" that I sometimes use to describe myself. Current fiscal realities have made me even more of a tightwad than before--and recent constraints on my time have forced me to become a bit of a time-miser as well--but I still manage to have fun making fun and interesting food. In fact, it's become my favorite form of cheap recreation to go sleuthing out budget markets and meals. This frugality also intersects well with my interest in ethnic cuisines, especially the Asian ones, as these food traditions tend to be a lot kinder to people who don't have a bunch of money with which to sustain themselves. I mean, yeah, you can of course go all luxury with 'em when and if you want ... but you can go low-budget and still have an interesting, fabulous meal.
  7. mizducky

    Turnip Vs. Korean Turnip?

    I've seen those in my local Korean market. My understanding is that it's either a variety of, or a very very close relative of daikon. As a matter of fact I bought one recently and its taste and flavor were indistinguishable from daikon as far as I could tell. Which means it's rather closer to Western radishes than turnips. It'll still be great simmered in a soup, but--again in my random experience--it'll cook a bit quicker than a turnip, so take that into account.
  8. mizducky

    Broiling Fish 焼き魚

    Just an interjection here: if you're getting a teflon pan so hot that you can smell the teflon "burning," that's a pretty good sign you're overheating it. Teflon-coated pans are really meant to take no more than moderate heat. If you're going to go that hot, I'd suggest using a non-teflon pan instead.
  9. Oh yeah, I'd come across Tsuji's opinion on frozen fish already. I just decided "oh well, guess I'll be ignoring that one ..." And yeah, it would have been nice, if they went to the trouble of putting together a 25th anniversary edition, that they'd at least footnoted specific changes in info, like the business about the sake grades. Even when I think a cookbook (or any reference book) is terrific, I almost always seek out second and third opinions, because every authority has their blind spots and hobby-horses. So -- many thanks for the heads-up on all those points of concern, Hiroyuki.
  10. My copy of Tsuji's "A Simple Art" arrived the other day (it's the 1980 edition, in near-perfect shape). I've only had time to read/leaf through it a little, but it's already got me excited--though a little daunted; I immediately got entranced by the process of making rice bran mash pickles, but somehow, with my load of classes plus part-time job, I fear I won't have the attention span to keep up with them (plus I wonder how my roommate would take to the frangrance of a little pickle-vat in our household ). But no worries, I see lots of other things I can tackle that I could fit into even my crazy schedule. And just the sheer amount of background info has got the cookbook-reader-geek in me excited. Thanks for the recommendations, folks!
  11. mizducky

    The 3 best mass-produced sweets

    I'm going to list cookies and candy separately, for the self-serving reason that it allows me to list more items. Cookies: Pepperidge Farm Milanos--I am dangerously compulsive around these things. I can inhale an entire bag of them in the blink of an eye. Fig Newtons--when they're fresh and soft, I find them really satisfying. When they're stale, forget it. Entenmann's soft chocolate chip cookies--I may be imagining it, but these seem not quite as good as they used to be. But when I first became addicted to them, they were the next best thing to scarfing raw cookie dough. Candy: Yeah, people are right that, compared to gourmet-quality chocolate, American mass-market candy bars are pretty danged mediocre. But I still had a few Old Reliables with which I could satisfy myself: 3 Musketeers--I think I got into this one more because it was substantial in size than anything else--the light-weight filling meant the bar could be bigger and still come in at the standard (puny) weight of vending machine bars. Plus I liked the softness of the filling. Junior Mints--a texture thing again: the soft little mint patties. Plus the mintiness somehow made the chocolate coating seem a little more chocolatey. Hershey's Special Dark--As a kid I'd go through those bags of Halloween miniature chocolate bars and pick out all the Special Darks. It was my first escape from milk chocolate to the wonderful world of dark chocolate.
  12. mizducky

    Duck hearts

    How about preparing them yakitori style? Chicken hearts and gizzards are standard yakitori ingredients; I bet duck hearts would taste great prepared the same way.
  13. I too remember those plastic cups from community meetings in church basements rather from any home setting. As a matter of fact, I have a trace memory of my paternal grandmother drinking tea from Russian-style tea glasses ... she even owned a samovar, which fascinated me as a little squirt, but it sat on a sideboard unused; for everyday tea drinking she used Lipton tea bags.
  14. mizducky

    Chicken Chunks in White Sauce

    You could duck the whole issue of what color the sauce winds up by topping the dish with a gratin. (sez she who is such a huge fan of mushrooms that she doesn't much care what effect they have on sauce color )
  15. mizducky

    Southern Food Cookbook

    Though I second the recipe-solicitation technique of shopping for classic southern ingredients in markets whose demographics support the odds of running into a seasoned cook who might be moved to drop hints on a newbie.
  16. I think the one repurposing thing I do that I haven't seen in this topic so far is my hoarding of those soup flavoring powder packets from packages of Asian noodle soup (ramen, udon, etc.) I usually find them way too strong and salty for a single serving of soup noodles, so I just use half a packet per serving -- or one packet per two servings if I'm either famished or want leftovers. Either way, I slowly accumulate extra soup packets, which get used on noodles that come without soup packets, or for other random seasoning purposes. I also do the plastic bag hoarding thing. One of my favorite plastic bag brainstorms: you know all those dried ingredients that come in little non-resealable plastic packets? Like chilies, or sea vegetables, or shiitake mushrooms, etc. etc. Well, I must confess that a lot of the time I just can't be bothered to hunt down containers to transfer all these little bits of stuff into, so what I do instead is to slip a bunch of them into a large plastic supermarket bag and tie the whole bag closed. No, it's not super-airtight, but it keeps them protected enough, and it also organizes them all in one place. I've also been known to slip big bags of rice, flour, etc. into plastic supermarket bags to try and shield them from bugs 'n' stuff.
  17. Another vote for not being too fussy about getting every shred of pumpkin guts off the seeds before roasting. I don't bother to wash them, just rub off whatever rubs off. The remaining shreds of pumpkin guts caramelize really nicely. Okay, I knew the craving for pumpkin seeds was already starting to build, but now y'all have just put me over the edge.
  18. mizducky

    Rice - to fluff or not to fluff?

    I've always fluffed my rice, whether white or brown, whether steamed in a pot on the stove or steamed in a rice cooker. As others have observed, it releases excess steam moisture, so the grains are more separate. In fact, I've found that fluffing brown rice, especially pot-steamed brown rice, really cuts down on the gloppy texture it can otherwise have (the mediocre hippy-brown-rice syndrome). I actually have a batch of brown rice cooling off after having been cooked (and fluffed) in the rice cooker just now, which I need to package up for the rest of the week's lunches.
  19. mizducky

    "White tuna"

    Hmmmm ... according to this page, there are apparently two different species that get called escolar, one of which has a more pronounced GI distress side-effect than the other. Just to make things even more confusing.
  20. mizducky

    Celery dicing technique

    I have my own self-taught celery-dicing method that goes pretty darned fast, if I do say so myself. 1. I trim the stalks, and cut them crosswise into easier-to handle lengths (4 or 5 inches). 2. I flip a chunk of stalk concave-side up, and run the tip of a small sharp knife lengthwise down the interior multiple times, slicing it into the narrowest julienne strips I can manage. 3. Then I just bunch up the julienne and slice them crosswise into tiny dice. 4. Repeat until all the chunks are chopped. I don't bother with removing the strings, as they've never bothered me, but there's no reason you couldn't do so before taking this approach.
  21. mizducky

    Beans, beans, they're good for your

    Both the smoked duck and the lop yuk sound like excellent ideas.
  22. I am experiencing a major jag of renewed/intensified interest in Japanese cookery (no doubt at least partly due to my enrolling in a college-level beginning Japanese class), so I'm finding this forum in general, and this topic in particular, very helpful. Based on the recommendations here, I went hunting on Amazon, and was able to score a used older edition of Tsuji's "A Simple Art" for less than what it'll cost for it to be shipped to me.
  23. mizducky

    Microwave Cooking

    Many many moons ago, when I was a budding foodie just out of college, my more-advanced 20-something foodie roommate discovered a technique for cooking a live lobster in a microwave. You took the crockery insert to a crockpot, put about an inch of water in it, crammed the lobster in, put the crock-pot's heavy glass lid on top, slipped the whole contraption into the microwave, and nuked the sucker. You of course had to have a crockpot lid that was 100% microwave-safe materials (i.e. no metal rim like my current one) and a microwave big enough to hold the assemblage, but it worked like a charm. No, I have no memory of where my roommate got this technique from. But it does underline that you can get away with adapting a lot of steam-cooking/simmering techniques to the nuker with a bit of ingenuity. And in the case of the lobster, the nuke technique had definite advantages over wrestling a huge pot of boiling water around in a miniscule urban apartment kitchen.
  24. mizducky

    Burnt tongue. Any quick remedies?

    What is it about frozen pizzas that make them so prone to burning the tongue? I haven't eaten a frozen pizza in many years, but I still have vivid memories of multiple tongue burns caused by them. On reflection, I think it's true that both home-made pizza and frozen pizza present tongue-burn hazards straight out of the oven--rocket-hot melted cheese is dangerous that way regardless of quality or pricetag. However, I have a couple of theories about why it may seem like burns happen more frequently with the frozen pies: 1. When it's a freshly hand-made pie, you're more likely to pause to admire your beautiful handiwork before inhaling it, giving the pie those crucial couple of moments to cool down a little; and 2. Loss of judgement, and raging munchies, due to typical late-night and/or altered states of consciousness often associated with consuming frozen pizza.
  25. I have fallen in love with karaage, and have decided that's what chicken nuggets dream of becoming when they are reincarnated with superior karma.