Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!

On behalf of Lucy and I, we would like to wish that everyone has a great year. May all of your hard work pay off. ...That kind of sounds like something you'd expect to read in a fortune cookie. That was not my intention.

This year is the year of the ox. Lucy is an ox. What I mean is that she was born in the year of the ox. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Laptop Having Issues

Actually, it's more like Safari is being retarded. It could be both. The thing is that I've been trying to upload a new slideshow for everyone to see, but everytime I try, Safari randomly closes on me JUST before I get the code thing. Stupid, no? I tried it twice today alone. I had all my photos uploaded and captions written both times when it closed on me. Ugh. I'm going to try it once more with Safari tomorrow and then if that doesn't work, I'll try it on Firefox. Stupid Mac...

To cheer some people up (including myself), let me post this funny picture I took in December. Check out the creepy person in front of the Spadina street car. He/she is just looking at me. At least that's what it looks like. It's kinda creepy because when I zoom up on the person, you can barely see facial features. Why is there no information on his/her face? I have no clue.

In case you aren't seeing what I'm seeing... 
Still can't? Wow, someone needs glasses.. and it's not me. Let me zoom in for ya. *Cue horror music*

Hahaha.. too funny!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Making of Xiao Long Bao: Take Two - January 7th, 2009

Unlike the first post, I took plenty of pictures. Some are a tad bit blurry and the white balance is a bit off on some. Just a heads up.

The first time my mom and I made soup dumplings, they turned out really tasty. I was craving it since then and knew that I had to have it once more before I left for Toronto. 'The Making of Xiao Long Bao: Take Two' began on a day when my mom didn't have work...

The filling I made was the almost the same as last time (pot sticker filling with shrimp) featuring some beef balls. I noticed that we had some fresh beef balls in the fridge and thought that it might be tasty in the dumplings, so I chopped some up and threw it into the meat mixture.

I made the soup over two hours before we started to wrap the dumplings, but it didn't fully congeal. I'm not sure if it was the agar agar (gelatin made from seaweed and not err.. how should I say this.. organic material) or if I just didn't do it properly. I used a different brand of agar agar than I did the last time I made it, and well, it barely congealed. Luckily my mom remembered that we had some leftover congealed soup in the fridge. Tada!

My mom quickly whipped up the dough by adding boiled water to the flour...

Room temperature water...

And a bit of oil to bind everything together.

Here's my mom wrapping a soup dumpling.
This is a dumpling-in-the-making (without the soup).

This is a dumpling-in-the-making with soup, in a small dipping dish. (It was easier to put the soup that failed to congeal into the dumplings this way. Less of a mess.)

Steamer # 1, loaded and ready to go in the steamer. The nice ones are my mom's. The ugly ones that don't look like traditional XLB (xiao long bao) are made by yours truly. Notice how my dumplings are bulging? That's because of the cubes and cubes of soup. Muhahaa!
Steamer # 1, loaded and ready to eat.

I got really greedy when I was making these. You can tell by looking at the dumplings with the piece of green onion on top, that I tried to pack the dumplings full of soup. Unfortunately most of them leaked while in the steamer. I was trying to make bombs of soup here. I wanted to see the soup spray out, just like the 'explosive pissing beef balls' did in the God of Cookery. Watch the funny clip. (Skip to 7:09 to see it spray if you're that impatient.) I had a blast wrapping these dumplings. Just imagining how an unsuspecting victim would react when they set off the dumpling. *Cue evil laugh* Muhahaha!

Nah, my dumplings didn't explode on anyone. These were good. The other ones were better, just because we made them too large this time. The first time we made them, they were small enough to fit on your soup spoon. Those were the best soup dumplings - so far. These ones were still good though. There was about a whole spoon of soup in the biggest dumpling (that I made) and, on the other end of the spectrum, there was no soup in the dumpling because either the skin ripped when we tried to take them out of the steamer, or because I stuffed them too full and the soup leaked out when it was steamed. Note to self, oil the wax paper before putting the dumplings on.

"Don't stuff them too much with soup or they'll pop. Then you won't have anything to eat, so just put a bit of soup. If you want more, just warm up the soup and have it on the side." My mom is so wise. "More meat and less soup or you'll just fill up on carbs." The moral of the story, children, is that if you're greedy, you'll just end up eating carbs and getting fat.


Friday, January 16, 2009

First Trip to Chinatown of 2009

Like I said in the previous post, I went to Chinatown two nights ago and stuffed myself silly. We arrived at Spadina Station pretty early and decided to kill some time in Kensington Market. We went to a cute candy store (I forget the name) and a couple of cheese stores. In one particular one, the gentleman behind the counter offered us a sample of a really soft and light cheese that was made in France. The cheese was creamy but light at the same time. The flavour didn't hit you right away. It's a light cheese taste. I don't know how to describe it any other way. It isn't tangy, like cream cheese is or bold in flavour, like old cheddar is. The sad thing is that I brought the wrong cheese home. *tear*

Back to the House of Gourmet of blah, blah, blah. We ordered the same things, the braised beef noodles with wontons, my noodles and the sizzling beef in chef's special sauce. This time, my friends, I took a lot of pictures of the bowl of noodle soup.First came the bowl of braised beef noodles with wontons. I asked our waitress if we could substitute the shrimp wontons for the pork ones, because my friend disliked them, but she told us we weren't allowed. It's funny how we did last time...  

The braised beef melts in your mouth, oozing with the flavour of star anise and other spices. My mom makes a dish that has the beef coming out tasting almost exactly like this. It's with hard boiled eggs and chunks of fatty beef. Anyone know what I'm talking about? Anyway, they gave us a lot more noodles than they did last time so we left some noodles and pieces of lettuce, while devouring everything else. I would like to mention that the huge shrimp wontons that I remembered have changed. These shrimp wontons were the same size as the pork ones. I was kind of sad, but then our sizzling beef tenderloin in the chef's special sauce arrived.

Just like last time, the sauce was already poured onto the cast iron plate. Booo! We noticed, right away, that there wasn't as much sauce as we had last time. They gave us more small slabs of beef this time, as opposed to the larger slabs of beef we were given last time. Despite these changes, the dish was very good.

My noodles came shortly after the sizzling plate. If you look closely at the picture, you can actually see that my noodles were made more smokey. 

Strain your eyes and check out the darker bits on the noodles. 
That's physical evidence that my noodles were made smokier. The disappointing thing is that they didn't give us extra sauce, even when I asked for "more sauce." (I found that when I asked for "extra sauce," the person taking my order would usually mistake it for "XO" sauce. Why? I have no clue. I make sure I enunciate every time I sauce "extra." That's my little story on why I ask for "more sauce" instead of "extra sauce.") Because the noodles itself were smokier, the flavour was stronger than the little sauce we had. That made the plate of noodles crappy. It didn't help that there wasn't a lot of sauce from the sizzling plate, either. Bah! I shouldn't complain. 


484 Dundas St W
Toronto, ON

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Last Noodles of 2008 - December 1st, 2008

I was very excited to venture out to Chinatown this time, because I vowed to show my friend the authentic version of the nasty 'sweet and sour pork.' The last time I had this pork dish was back in the summer and I definitely missed it. I HATE the sweet and sour pork that most places serve. They use frozen pieces of battered pork, at least that's what they claim. I think that they throw in pieces of cardboard into the pork sometimes. Nasty. Okay, so the REAL version of the dish is served on a sizzling plate. There's REAL chunks of pork and ZERO traces of cardboard matter.

My friend and I went to the House of Gourmet blah blah blah restaurant, of course. It was going to be the last time I would get to have my noodles this year. We got there at the beginning of the dinner rush and were seated right away, more or less. We ordered 3 dishes to share between the two of us because we were starving. We ordered a bowl of stewed beef and wonton noodle soup, my noodles and, finally, pork in chef's special sauce on a sizzling plate. The soup came first, as it came from the front of the house. Okay, their shrimp wontons are pretty much huge siu mai. Seriously. Anyone who's had them there knows that I'm not lying. It's awesome! They're HUGE shrimp siu mai disguised as wontons. Sneaky ninja dumplings. Despite their skills, the shrimp 'wontons' failed to get ordered by us. My friend is sadly a
 shrimp hater and so I just go the pork wontons which are relatively smaller. I was sad. I took a picture or two of the bowl and thought they were fine, at the time, but I found out that they were blurry when I uploaded them onto my laptop. Boo... This is a picture of my brother's bowl of stewed beef noodle soup (without the wontons). The soup is there.. somewhere. The bowl that we got had more soup. Their soup kind of tastes weird. I remember when I tried my brother's bowl of soup two years ago, I thought the soup was kinda nasty. It grew on me this time. The meat is heavenly. It melts in your mouse and is sooo tasty!

I made sure to explain that the sizzling pork dish appealed to most of the senses. You can hear it sizzling as the waitress brings it over to the table, you can smell the sweet and smokiness of the dish, you can see the steam trail of the dish as it's carried to the table, you can see the bubbly sauce and  you can finally taste the tender pork with the sweet sauce. 

The sizzling pork dish came next. The kitchen already poured the sauce on the beef, so there sadly wasn't a huge spectacle. It smelt sooo good and I couldn't wait to dig in. It was really good. The pork was tender and the sauce was smoky and not too sweet.

My noodles came next. The only thing I can remember about it was that it wasn'
t as smoky. Oh, my friend, who I was with, commented that there wasn't "... as much sauce as we usually get." I had to tease him about it, because at the beginning of the semester, he only ate Canadian-Chinese food. Gotta love how one semester of Chinatown trips can turn someone really white, more asian than some asians are.

I'm going with my friend tomorrow and we're probably going order the same things.. I'm excited! Woot!

Enjoy the winter everyone! Make sure you bundle up so you don't freeze.

484 Dundas St W
Toronto, ON

Monday, January 12, 2009

Photog Dim Sum Outing - December 5th, 2008

I wanted to get a bunch of us together since the middle of the semester but because we were always working on assignments, we didn't really have time to do so. Then came the first week of exams... there's an opportunity!

There were 4 dim sum noobies along with 4 dim sum pros, so there was going to be a lot of food. We needed to make sure everyone left full and happy, so we ordered a bit of everything. It was around 2:30 by the time everyone arrived at the restaurant and the dim sum ladies, rolling the carts, started to stop coming out. We just gave the manager-guy a list of what we wanted to order. The good thing about when the food came was that it didn't all come at once. I hate when that happens, cause everything gets cold so quick. We also ordered a plate of noodles with beef, soy sauce and bean sprouts. The plate of noodles were gone in no time at all, which is why they're MIA from the pics.

Anyway, nothing stood out so it made for an average dim sum outing - yummy!


888 Dundas Street East
Mississauga, ON
(905) 566-1886


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