Everyone once in a while I find a recipe that grabs me and calls to be made immediately. It happens every few months and it sends me running to the grocery store to gather all the ingredients if I already don’t have them on hand.
The sauce is a modified version served at Momofuku. It’s an infusion of ginger and scallions concentrated in a oil. It’s extremely salty so a little goes a long way.
I forget exactly when I saw the recipe for ginger scallion sauce but I remember having a conversation with Leanne of Three Dog Kitchen about it. (To my delight, our conversations always revolve around food. Or dogs. Or purses.) She had made it on several occasions and instead of using peanut or corn oil as listed, she recommended substituting it with grapeseed oil for its high smoke point. In addition, it gives it a cleaner taste.
The great thing about this sauce is its flexibility. I used it as an impromptu sauce for dipping bread, swirled into noodles or mixed into plain rice, I’ve also used it as a marinade for fish. I always have it available. Apparently it’s also a great addition to eggs, according to Francis Lam who posted this recipe on Gilt Taste.
It is my favorite condiment hands down. In recent incarnations, I’ve also added red pepper flakes if I want a little heat.
Ginger Scallion Sauce
Adapted from Gilt Taste
Makes 2 cups
2 bunches whole scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 ounces ginger, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons salt
Garlic, one head, cloves peeled
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Using a food processor, add the scallions and shred until scallions are minced. Place scallions in large heatproof bowl that can accommodate hot oil.
Mince ginger (and garlic if adding) until it’s the same size as scallions. Place in bowl with scallions. Add salt.
In a medium pan, heat grapeseed oil until it just starts to smoke and pour into bowl. (Sizzling is normal.)
Cool and store in refrigerator.
It was 2011 and I was head deep in work because I had two jobs at the time: my regular newspaper job AND I was also maintaining the food channel for the now defunct Tree.com. Although I was stressed out trying to find balance between the two, they’re both a part of what I love to do: newspaper design AND writing about food. My job at Tree.com was great. Though the time we worked together was short, I met a lot of people whom I now consider friends.
One of the highlights of working at Tree.com was meeting Giada De Laurentiis. The opportunity was actually offered to me by Katie Dillion aka La Jolla Mom who passed on it. And instead of writing about the meeting for this site, I decided a better venue would be to feature it on Tree.com.
Giada De Laurentiis was at the guest of honor at the Sicilian Festival in Little Italy and was on hand to sign copies of her new cookbook as well as promote Belle Serra Wines. Before the book signing, I had exactly 15 minutes to interview her, which is time for only a few questions. You can read the entire interview here, but behind the scenes I was nervous wreck: laughing uncontrollably with Paul recording the entire thing with an iPhone. There was only one snippet that worked out: her mispronunciation pet peeves.
If you’ve ever watch Giada’s show, she tends overemphasize Italian words. BIZ-Chochi. LEE-Munh-CHELL-oh. You get it. It was one of my favorite projects and I learned a lot from the experience (mostly not to interrupt while interviewing someone and that an external microphone is a absolute necessity).
And despite what people say about her head to body proportions, she looked fine to us.
Attending comic conventions aren’t new to me. For nearly two decades I’ve been both an attendee and exhibitor in San Diego as well as around the United States. I know the difference between Marvel and DC characters and on geekier level, pre- and post- Crisis continuity. But when confronted with anything anime-related, it’s all Greek to me.
So it’s no surprise that I usually dismiss Anime Conji, a annual convention dedicated to all things anime (held April 12-14 at the Town & Country Resort this year). But I quickly changed my tune when I saw a maid cafe as one of the side events.
An extra $13 allows you entry to Mochi Cafe. (Regular admission to Anime Conji was $25 for one day and $45 for all three days.) Mochi Cafe is a take on the traditional maid cafes seen in Akihabara, Japan, where patrons are waited on hand and foot by cosplayers. Women are usually dressed up as French maids — and if you’re thinking this is all just for the men, there are also butler cafes with, you guessed it, men dressed up as butlers. So in theory, there’s essentially something for everyone.
The menu consists of your choice of drink (water, black or green tea and lemonade), one of two entrees (chicken katsu bowl or vegetable yakisoba) and a cupcake personally designed by your maid or butler.
Service lasts for approximately an hour, then they rush in another group of anime-loving attendees. Halfway through the service it appeared that something was off. Where was the food? The group at my table had already played three board games and were starting a round of Apples to Apples. The catered food provided by an outside vendor was late. What’s a maid to do? Serve dessert first of course!
Instead of a cupcake as indicated on the menu, everyone received a slice of cheesecake. Every slice was hand-decorated by the maid/butler servicing your table. Each one was decorated with pieces of Kit Kat, Pocky and syrup; you could also add M&Ms if desired.
With sugar surging through my blood waiting for the main entree to arrive, I was amused with spurts of sporadic dancing and tamborines/crystal microphones being handed out to willing participants if they weren’t already clapping.
The entrees eventually arrived. Servers busily created the bowls behind the counter. The chicken katsu was mediocre with almost no seasoning. Even the generous pour of soy sauce by the attending maid didn’t help out and left me a tad uncomfortable as she hovered over my bowl. But she (as well as everyone else) was helpful and very sweet wanting to make my meal as pleasant as possible.
Looking back on Mochi Cafe, my illusions of quality meals made on the premises was asking for too much. It seemed like many people were going for the “maid cafe experience” and not the food. It’s a unique, if not overwhelming, meal that works all of your senses. Mochi Cafe has a few events throughout the year in San Diego as well as Los Angeles; be sure to check out their website.
Some stray observations:
- Out of the six people at my table, only two of them (one of them me) used chopsticks. With everyone so invested in wanting to experience Japanese culture, it’s weird to see so many requests for a knife and fork.
- Apparently maid cafe = Hello Kitty decor.
- Just how cool are these Finger Tentacles?? No manicure needed!
Check out Abby Denson of City Sweet Tooth’s account of a butler cafe in Shibuya here.
Back in 2008, one of my resolutions for the year was to use less plastic shopping bags. There was a growing movement to reduce the amount of disposable plastic shopping bags. In addition, some grocery stores were offering incentives when you brought in your own bag, like refunding 5 cents.
Fast forward to 2013. I now have a growing collection of reusable shopping bags given away during special events, store openings, etc. Some bags are useful, like the insulated ones. The added insulation gives me peace of mind that the milk sitting in the car won’t spoil while I’m biding my time over the produce on the third stop of my grocery rounds.
But others, while pretty, are useless because they’re made of recycled paper or plastic with a flimsy handle. In comparison, my trusty Baggu stores neatly in my purse and has proven itself to withstand holding two gallons of milk — a feat that has impressed many a store cashier and it’s still going strong with nary a hole in it.
Upon last count, I have 9 reusable shopping bags (some not pictured). So when I saw a few for sale at Albertson’s, I couldn’t help but wonder if people actually bought them. Further, how many reusable bags do you own?
The Easter season is coming to a close, and many fast food establishments will start to take their seasonal fish sandwiches off their menus. But you can always count on a few restaurants — McDonald’s in particular — to always have a fish option on their permanent menu. I’ve avoided giving a review of the Filet-o-Fish because it’s so… moot? Hasn’t everyone had one by now? The Filet-O-Fish is the industry standard fast food fish sandwich (it turned 50 last year) and I was at a loss as to how to produce an interesting review.
Working off an idea from Serious Eats San Diego correspondent and friend Erin Jackson, I decided to build a Franken-fish sandwich/burger mash-up. I first tried to assemble one myself after ordering one Big Mac and one Filet-O-Fish. That not only didn’t work but it left me with discarded beef patties, buns and weird condiment mixtures. Plus, it cost more than $8 for the two sandwiches. I could only take two bites before pushing it away. Darlene suggested we have McDonald’s build it for us behind the counter… but would they do it?
“Give me a Big Mac without the beef patties but replaced with fish patties. Instead of the special sauce, use tartar sauce. Got it?”
Well, they did it. The cashier seemed confident I could get a Big Mac with fish instead of beef, and tartar sauce instead of special sauce. The manager came over to key in the price changes and customize the order for the kitchen crew. And a couple minutes later, I had a monstrosity that would’ve made Carl’s Jr. blush.
I figured out what was removed, replaced and added to this sandwich, which I call the Big Filet-O-Fish. Here’s a graphic showing all the ingredients.
First thing worth mentioning: The Big Mac sesame seed bun was either too weak or too stale to hold this behemoth together and it crumbled throughout the eating process. Flavor-wise, it was like a supreme Filet-O-Fish. It tasted exactly like you’d expect — a jumbo Filet-o-Fish with Big Mac notes, or a Big Mac with fish and tartar sauce. Regardless, I liked the added lettuce and pickle. Two fish patties in one sandwich were pretty difficult to eat; if you can split this monster sandwich with someone, do so.
This sandwich clocked in at $7.77 (I was charged full price for the Big Mac, plus $1.20 per fish quadrangle). I think that’s bogus, considering the $4.79 Big Mac had lost all its meat. But whatever. Also, if you try this yourself, price-compare various McDonald’s first. There’s an $0.80 Big Mac price discrepancy between two local McDonald’s (this one was at the more expensive one).
I think the best solution to replicate this experience would be to ask for lettuce and pickles on your Filet-O-Fish. It probably won’t cost you a dime, and if you go on a Friday, the Filet-O-Fishes are $1.49.
Read other Friday Fast Food Fishtacular posts here.
If you haven’t already guessed it, I’m a donut fiend. A trip to a new city isn’t complete until I check out their donut scene. While Portland, Austin, Beverly Hills (the now defunct but fabulous Fritelli’s) and San Francisco all have amazing artisinal donuts, I’ve been longing for San Diego to have a donut scene of our own. Mary’s Donuts, Stardust Donut Shop and V.G.’s are all worthwhile donut places but Donut Bar deviates from the pack by being the only shop located downtown and they hand form all their donuts.
Donut Bar opened their doors on Saturday, March 25 and quickly sold out their inventory to a lot of people’s dismay. (All donuts were specially priced at a dollar each for their grand opening.) By the time we arrived, the chocolate espresso donut was sold out and we only managed to try what few varieties remained. My favorite was the blueberry cake donut with meyer lemon glaze — fresh blueberries with a sweet-but-slightly-tart glaze is a nice contrast to the usual varieties I’m used to. The salted caramel raised donut came in a close second with its lighter than air texture and bites that swing between sweet and salty.
By the time they reopened on Monday, they increased their inventory and selection but they still managed to sell out a few varieties before we arrived at 9 a.m. The blueberry cake was unavailable (they plan to rotate their donuts on a daily basis) but they had plenty of other choices. The creme brulee donut was masterful with its crunchy top and custard center. It was well worth the $2 price tag considering each one was hand filled and individually blow-torched. The birthday donut can be overwhelming for those sensitive to sugar and no new ground was broken with the maple bacon donut. I’ve seen a few complaints online about inconsistent sizing but I think that’s an issue that goes hand-in-hand with pastries not machine created. Once Donut Bar gets settled, I’m hoping for great things for this place.
If you happen to be there to check it out for yourself, look for the comic on the wall. It’s a never-published Paul Horn strip. You can even pick up a copy of The Girl with the Donut Tattoo available for sale at the counter (while supplies last).
631 B Street
San Diego, CA 92101