[Recipes]Stuffed Bell Peppers

It was my first time making it — my mom makes a Chinese version; she uses bitter melons cut lengthwise, and it’s filled with grounded fish instead… you know, I think Chinese people are so smart because of all that omega-3 fatty acids they eat so much of.

Funny, when I was younger, I was always so ashamed that in our fridge we had only boiled water, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and a live fish that was just gutted by the fish mongers — while my friends had Hamburger Helper for dinner. It’s so crazy how ignorant I was to my own culture and the commericalism of this country; all because the TV always made it seem as if making food that came in packets or out of a box was better; meanwhile my mother cooked with fresh ingredients for every meal. — But I digress!

Recipe below, people!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the tops off the peppers. Remove and discard the stems, chop up the tops.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add ground beef, season with salt and pepper. Add onions, garlic, and the chopped pepper tops and continue cooking.

I had a zucchini, like, just one zucchini in the fridge; so I chopped that up and threw it into the skillet too. I browsed my fridge to see what other stuff I had in there that I needed to use before it went bad — I chopped up thyme, scallions, cilantro, green olives with pimento, and roasted red peppers — it all went into the pan.

Fill the peppers with the cooked rice (I had leftover rice from the previous dinner), and top each with a sprinkle of shredded cheese (I had a bag left over from when I made chili). Butter on the bottom of the baking dish, drizzle the peppers with a little olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes.

2017 Easter Menu

Happy Easter everyone (and a good Passover to all my Jewish readers). ♡

Ever since my Captain and I got engaged, I have been packing, donating things I don’t want anymore, and hosting holiday gatherings. I’m (finally) leaving Iowa, and the holidays are a perfect time for me to do one of my favorite hobbies — hosting dinners.

Last Thanksgiving, I hosted dinner for seven people (for Easter this year, I’ll have nine). Since my menu is a light spring dinner, I don’t have to suffer through an 18-pound turkey and ham to cook at dawn. I am not a fan of pork, even though Easter usually consists of ham (I would have made a great Jew!), so my Easter menu was:

  • Petite sirloin steaks (recipe below)
  • Bowtie pasta salad (recipe below)
  • Garden salad
  • Corn-on-the-cob
  • Antipasto tray
  • Fruit tray
  • Chocolate-mint cake (this was store bought since I don’t know how to bake)

With steaks you can pan-fry, grill, oven-roast, or use a broiler. Take it out from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking, and salt both sides immediately.

When ready to cook, brush olive oil and season on both sides. Use tongs to turn over the steaks so that you don’t puncture the meat (this releases the juices). The method I used was broiling.

Grease the broiler rack, and place the pan about five inches above the bottom of the oven. Cook for 5-7 minutes, turn over with tongs, and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil for 10 minutes and serve.

With my bowtie pasta salad, I like serving it cold (but it can be served warm too). Cook the pasta according to its direction, drain and rinse with cold running water; in a skillet heat olive oil, sauté grated garlic, add spinach and cook until wilted, add halved cherry (or grape) tomatoes and cook until soften, add mozzarella (cubed in mini bite-size, don’t use the stuff that comes in shaker bottles, get real cheese!), turn heat off and add cold (drained) pasta to mixture. Toss and put in fridge to make cold before serving, add ranch dressing to pasta if you want it creamy.

Happy Easter everyone! ♡

Ribeye Steak Recipe

I had felt bad the other day when the mister came home during lunch and I had forgotten to make lunch. That is, I started to make lunch, but then I forgot all about it because I started playing with my phone. To make it up to him, I cooked him steak for dinner.

So here’s the thing about me… I actually know how to cook meat. Ssshhhhh — it’s kind of a secret though. See, the thing is, I don’t really eat meat at all. I’m definitely not a girl you would want to take to a steakhouse or anything, but most men love meat. Well, the guys I’m always with tend to be meat lovers anyway. I’m particular when it comes to meat though, I like meats with the bone attached. I guess because it’s easier to grab on to (eating with your hands is kind of fun!), but also because with my cooking methods, I eyeball everything (which means I don’t measure and I don’t time). The bone is one way of telling me if the meat is cooked thoroughly or not. I know some people like their steaks rare, but not me. I’m the person that is always very self-conscious of that asterisk at the bottom of menus telling you to always have your meat cooked to a certain temperature.

With steak, I never use steak sauce. If you cook it good enough, you don’t need sauce. Steak sauce is to add flavor to a steak that’s been overcooked and dry. If your steak is juicy, you don’t need any sauce to compliment it. I do marinate with herbs and spices though. The mister’s spice cabinet was lacking, I made-do with what he had. I rubbed both sides with dried rosemary, black pepper and salt, soy sauce and sesame oil. And some other stuff I found in the cabinet. I marinated the steaks for about 3 hours (I started cooking at 5PM).

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In a cast iron skillet, I pour extra virgin olive oil to pan sear it first before transferring to the oven to finish cooking (hence the cast iron). When the oil is hot, I add my finely chopped garlic and onions, and sauté for a few seconds. I then put down the two steaks on the skillet for about 3 minutes on high heat, then I turn them over for another 3 minutes, and finally I put them in the oven at 375 degrees. (Sorry about measurements, I never measure anything, which is probably why I’ve never baked anything!) Cook in oven for about 10 minutes, more or less depending on the size of your steak and how cooked you like it.

As already stated, I don’t use steak sauce. No steak that is done correctly needs it, but I do add things to the steak though. I forgot to buy parsley, so I didn’t have that to plate the steak with (but mint, parsley and related herbs like that are good to get that beefy taste out of your mouth after dinner). I sauté onions, garlic, scallions and fresh mushrooms in a separate skillet. That took about 2 minutes on high heat. Then I pour that on top of the plated steaks.

Oh, and I made homemade mash potatoes. I saw a bag of potatoes in the cabinet and knew that they would start going bad soon because they were starting to lose their firmness. I decided why not, steaks with mashed potatoes. Every guy’s perfect dinner to come home to.

Peel the potatoes, quarter them, and put them in cold water to be boiled. Boil them until they break easily with a fork. Drain them and put them in a bowl to mash them. I had the mister mash them when he came home. Pour a bit of milk to make it fluffy, add half a stick of butter, and whatever else you like in your potatoes (I put black pepper and finely chopped scallions).

I wish I had a picture to share… but he ate it all before I could take a picture of any of it!

Nami Japanese Restaurant Review

Nami Japanese restaurant is located on S. Fort Hood Street, in the shopping center area that also has O-mart and Verizon Wireless. There’s parking available in the shopping center lot. I went here for lunch for the first time last November with my friend Greg, and I went here for dinner recently too.

The restaurant has three hibachi tables on the right side of the bar, and regular dinning tables scattered about, but mostly on the left side of the bar. They do have a full bar. The menu is the typical Japanese restaurant menu. I think the menu prices are reasonable for that kind of restaurant. They were busy during dinner service.

The food was good, but mine took a long time to arrive. They didn’t bring our food out at the same time though, so by the time my entrée arrived, the mister already finished with his. Our waitress also forgot my soup and salad that came with my entrée, but by that time I didn’t want to stay at the restaurant any longer and was ready to go, so we didn’t even bother saying anything to her about it.

I do want to say though, the sushi chef personally came over to our table and he gave us some sort of yellowtail fish that was very fancy prepared. This was about 15 minutes after we sat down at our table, I’m not sure if he thought we were on a first date or something. I thought it was very nice and sweet. He probably thought it was our anniversary or something because I had a dress on… but anyone that knows me, knows that I love wearing dresses, especially in the summer. The mister thinks he did that because the chef probably thought I was pretty or whatever.

The dinner service was a bit disappointing, but the restaurant was very busy, and I have eaten there during lunch service before, and it was better when they’re more slowed paced. I didn’t mind too much, except when you’re paying $25 for an entrée you should get everything that it comes with! But, don’t let this one slip-up deter you from going. Mistakes will be made in everything in life. I still highly recommend it.

The Day of the Crabs

Today I went to Walmart to develop a picture and to get the mister a wok. He’s a white guy with a Chinese girl — c’mon now! They have a cheap brand at Walmart for $5, so I bought it. Next I went to O-Mart (a very popular Asian supermarket in Killeen, located on S. Fort Hood Street; they specialize in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese foods) for live crabs. I got 3. I poked them with the tongs to see which ones were moving and still feisty, as some of them appeared to be dead (they weren’t moving). I got 3 that were snapping each other with their claws.

So for tonight’s dinner, it only cost me a total of $6.40 at O-Mart, no kidding! I got 3 live blue crabs, a huge piece of fresh ginger, and 3 baby bok choy stem batch; the crabs were only $5.03. Using fresh ingredients and cooking homemade dishes is not only healthier, but more affordable too. Even buying the wok at Walmart with my groceries at O-Mart, everything came out to like $10 (can’t beat that price!).

Here’s some pictures (I was told they can say a thousand words, ha!)… and for a video tutorial on how to cook Cantonese style blue crabs, check out the video below! (Oh, and I also made the baby bok choy tonight too.)

Washing then with cold water in the sink to wake them up a bit and to clean them.

Washing then with cold water in the sink to wake them up and to clean them. (One of the other crabs tore another one’s leg off! They were fighting in the paper bag!)

I couldn't bear to kill them, so I had the mister do it. I showed him how: put the crab on its back, with a cleaver or sharp chef's knife, cut it in half by going down the middle of its body; but leave the shell intact. Pull the body apart into 2 separate pieces by ripping the halves off the shell. Crack the claws with the blunt side of the knife for easy opening when eating.

I couldn’t bear to kill them, so I had the mister do it. I showed him how: put the crab on its back, with a cleaver or sharp chef’s knife, cut it in half by going down the middle of its body; but leave the shell intact. Pull the body apart into 2 separate pieces by ripping the halves off the shell. Crack the claws with the blunt side of the knife for easy opening when eating.

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The actual cooking time is only about 10 minutes.

I added cilantro at the end on this one... because I had a bunch, and it's one of my favorite herbs.

I added cilantro at the end on this one… because I had a bunch, and it’s one of my favorite herbs.

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A picture of the knife set the mister got online. I love it!!!

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The mister got the awesome culinary knife set on Amazon.com, I love it! Check out my previous post on how to cook bok choy!

Here’s a video tutorial on making the blue crabs… now go eat!

Carolina Ale House Review

Carolina Ale House is a chain bar/restaurant. This review is for the Killeen, TX location.

They weren’t busy when we went, but there was no hostess at the front, so we waited a few minutes until one showed up.

The menu has a nice selection. (I asked him beforehand if he gets ID at places, and he said no, so I said they’ll ID him because of me — he thought I was joking, but everywhere we went they ID him when he ordered alcohol. Ha!) The thing was, I wanted their Seared Ahi Tuna Asian Salad… but the waitress comes back to tell me they don’t have any tuna. (An episode of Kitchen Nightmares flashes through my head, with Gordon Ramsey screaming.) So I ordered their grilled salmon instead. It tasted good, but I can’t really taste anything anyway.

I did not like their chicken soup. It was very salty. The waitress kept coming up to us like every 5 minutes asking us if we’re doing okay. I hate when they do that.

I told my Ranger, I usually don’t finish my food — he said, I know. So since his dad is a pediatrician, he had went to China to one of the rural villages to do some humanitarian work, and he said that his dad thought it was polite to finish his plate, but that they kept putting more food on his plate each time he finished his food — so he realized that in Chinese culture, leaving food on your plate is actually Chinese etiquette (versus American etiquette, where it’s polite to eat all your food). I told him I was very impressed that he even knew, ha!

I think if they had the tuna I would have liked it better. The Ranger being a guy, doesn’t care. Guys (especially military guys) are happy eating anything that isn’t a MRE. I give this place 3 out of 5 stars… the worse thing for a restaurant is to not have something on their own menu!

P/S. We went to Cracker Barrel despite the Cracker Barrel Tinder girl — I put my spoon into the bowl of gravy and ate it. He said, Are you eating gravy?! He laughed at me. Haha. ♡

Religion, Culture, and Fishy Fridays

Jews and Arabs have very similar beliefs (it’s so ironic that they are so politically against each other), and really it’s Christians who are the lone man out.

Christians don’t follow the laws of circumcision or dietary restrictions that the Jews and Arabs believe in, especially the ban on pork (which they both abstain from, according to the laws written in Exodus and Leviticus). If we’re going to be historical about it, the followers of Jesus were Jews. Jesus was a Jew. During the Jewish diaspora of the Roman Empire, many men gave up their traditions to assimilate with the Romans, who themselves are very similar to the Greeks. I mean, common sense says that you can’t tell a bunch of people who live on a peninsula that they can’t eat shellfish. But if you’re going to be eating lobsters and crabs, you might as well eat pork too! So Christianity is actually a very lax religion compare to Judaism and Islam.

In Catholicism, Catholics do abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. One of the symbolism for Christianity (besides from the infamous cross) is a symbol of a fish. During the Jewish diaspora of the Roman Empire, you obviously didn’t walk around with a crucifix, which is the strong association of Jesus in the modern era; so other Jewish followers that believed Jesus was the Christ (and therefore called Christians) would draw a symbol of a fish to let others know that they were also followers, to avoid persecution.

Why? Because most of Jesus’ apostles were originally fishermen. They were to become “fishers of men” for God. Catholics believe in missionary work because that’s what the apostles did, but the Catholic Church sends men off to Africa or India or some place like that; to help the poor, the sick, the heathens… not like the Mormons or Jehovahs that come knocking on your door when you’re in your pajamas — but I digress, so back to the fish!

During Jesus’ ministries, thousands gathered to hear him preach. From a few loaves of bread and fish he fed thousands, so fish is a very important food in Christianity (I mean, the man walked on water, didn’t he?). And after his resurrection, he cooked fish for his apostles. I’d say back in the day Jesus and Peter were seafood lovers like me.

Did you know that the Catholic practice of abstaining from meat on Friday was the reason for the creation of McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish sandwich? Because hamburger sales dropped off noticeably on Fridays, the owner of the franchise in Cincinnati introduced the new offering, and sales picked up again. Sadly, many Catholics are not aware that the Friday abstinence rule is still in effect. The post-Vatican-II modification in Church law only allowed the consumption of meat if some other sacrifice or good work was substituted in its place. (This is not even a problem with me at all. I am definitely not a meat lover.)

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I’m not religious, at least not anymore; but I do believe that our religious beliefs provide us the moral compass of our values. Like confessing sins for absolution (the truth shall set you free), and penance for redemption (do to others as you want done to yourself). Lent is actually an awesome 40 days because I LOVE fish.

My favorite fish dish is very simple. Cantonese whole steamed fish. A steamed whole fish with ginger, scallion and cilantro is a big favorite on any Chinese table, and it’s almost always served at holiday meals and special occasions. This is definitely true for Cantonese families at formal wedding and Chinese New Year banquets, but also for family gatherings at home. (For those from Shanghai and other parts of China, you may get a braised fish instead, which is also a great meal.) There are many whole fish recipes that vary in cooking methods and flavors depending upon where you are in China.

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So I know most people think their mom is the greatest cook ever, but my mom really is. Like, seriously, my mom cooks better than yours. It’s just a fact. ♡ My mom is currently in Hong Kong with my uncle. They left after Chinese New Year for a month. We still have land in China, and each year one of my uncles or aunts, or both, goes to make sure our homestead is being maintained by whomever they left in charge.

My mom is a first generation American, so I’ve been really spoiled when it comes to food. Even now, in her 60s, she still doesn’t know how to use a microwave or the washer! My brother bought her a washing machine and she basically uses it as a shelf to stack things on. But now that I’m older, I realized how spoiled I am with all her cooking. (She’s the reason men go broke buying me lobsters!) Nothing I ate growing up ever came from a can, package, or a box; everything was fresh and made from scratch. I didn’t grow up eating processed foods, sugar, junk, soda, etc.

I remember weekends from my childhood of going to Chinatown with my mom to buy food. The best was getting crabs. The fishmongers would have barrels of live crabs, and I get to choose them. They were then put into a big, thick brown paper bag. On the train, I’d keep looking inside the bag and poking them to make sure they were still alive. When we got home, my mom would dump them in the sink, and I’d continue to poke at them with a chopstick… sometimes I tried to race them, or have them fight each other. (Once, one of them clamp on to my forefinger and it hurt so bad!)

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I’m going to show you how to prepare a whole fish (including how to serve it at the table!), so you can impress your friends (or perhaps your Chinese in-laws)… authentic Chinese food is extremely healthy (have you ever seen a fat Chinese person??? — and my people live until they’re in their 90s at least).

You can steam just about any whole fish that comes in good eating sizes (1 to 2 pounds). Sea bass is a common fish used for steaming in Chinese cooking, but I’ve found the meat is not as delicate as striped bass. Flat fish like flounder, fluke, or grey sole are also very good for steaming as well. I grew up by the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s what I miss the most — fresh seafood. (I don’t like freshwater stuff, especially catfish.) For those of you who cannot easily access whole fresh fish, using fish filets are the next best thing and usually easier to prepare.

If you can get fresh fish, don’t be intimidated by this dish. The hardest part is simply figuring out how you’re going to steam it. Once you have your steaming arrangement worked out, it is really easy to prepare and will impress your family and guests.

YOU’LL NEED:

whole fish, cleaned
fresh ginger, finely julienned
scallions, finely julienned with green and white parts separated
fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

After you get your fish home from the market, it’s important to cook it as soon as possible. The fishmongers in Chinatown sells live fish, so it is super fresh. (Some restaurants also sell fresh fish from live tanks, but be prepared to pay a ridiculous price.) At Chinese restaurants, fish is often sold by the pound since they vary in size, and it is not unusual for a 1 ½ pound striped bass to cost $30 or more. By contrast, we purchased a fresh fish to cook at home for $8, I think the most my mom ever bought one was for $13. The fishmongers usually does all the messy work of gutting and scaling it for you too, for free.

There is always some work to be done to process your fish before cooking, no matter how good your fishmonger is though. Of course, you can ask him to do all the steps below. I’m going to get pretty detailed, so if you’re squeamish, you might want to just head over to the steamed fish recipe right about now.

PREPARING THE FISH

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1. Remove any scales from your fish using a sharp knife. The areas to look for are the belly and the edges of the fish including the top, near the dorsal fins, and the head.

2. Cut off any fins with kitchen shears. They are pretty tough, so be careful with this step. Leave the tail and head intact for presentation.

3. Look at the cavity, and you should see the backbone. You may also see a membrane that you should pierce and cut, revealing a blood line near the bone. Run your finger or a spoon across it to clean it thoroughly.

4. Check the head and gills. You should not see any gills left, and if there are, remove them with the kitchen shears and rinse the area clean. (Folks who like dining on the fish head will appreciate this step, like my mom!… Ever since I was a kid, my favorite part of the fish was the eyes, ha!)

5. Give the fish a final rinse, shake off the excess water (no need to pat it dry) and transfer to a plate for steaming. No salt, seasoning, or wine should be used on the fish before steaming. (Repeat. Nothing on the fresh fish before steaming!)

Ok you’re ready to cook the dish!

For steaming, I used an elongated plate. It’s simple enough. I used a wok and metal steam rack… I can’t think of any Chinese person without a wok (no matter how Americanized they are!).

Steam for about 10 minutes (more time if you have a fish that’s bigger than 1.5 pounds). Next, carefully pour out all of the liquid accumulated on the plate from steaming, and spread half of the ginger, the green portions of the scallion, and the cilantro over the fish.

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Heat oil and the other half of the ginger in a saucepan until the ginger begins to sizzle, and add soy sauce. Once simmering, add the white portions of the scallion and stir until the liquid begins to simmer and sizzle once again. (Sorry about measurements, I just eyeball everything — it’s probably why I can’t bake!)

The fish should look spectacular, so you’ll want to present it whole (it should definitely be the last dish prepared so you can serve it right away). Once everyone has oo’ed and aahh’ed at the table, you could just dig in (many Chinese families do), or you could remove some of the bones and prepare it for your guests at the table. It’s like carving the turkey at Thanksgiving, you can bring it back to the kitchen and prepare it there as well. ♡

Periwinkle (sea snails)

Periwinkle are edible sea snails. It originated in Europe (specifically in coastal countries like England) as delicacies, and are eaten in France, Italy, Scotland, England, etc. In areas of China that has a large European expatriate like Hong Kong, there is a lot of Asian-fusion in its cooking. Hong Kong is a Cantonese region, and has a large English population from China’s 100 year lease of the area to Britain.

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China has the world’s largest population, but different areas have completely different dialect and customs — the difference between Spanish and Portuguese (Mandarin is completely different from Cantonese, so it’s not very “politically correct” to ask a person if they speak “Chinese”).

My family is from the Canton region of China, therefore they speak Cantonese. In China, the largest city with a Cantonese culture is Hong Kong and Macau (where the people speak Cantonese and English, and Cantonese and Portuguese, respectively). These two areas have cuisines that combines the influences of foreign cultures to traditional Chinese customs; English in Hong Kong, and Portuguese in Macau.

One of my favorite seafood dishes is periwinkle, Cantonese style (of course). My pen-pal of almost 15 years is actually from England. (I love his accent!) In England, they sell them in food carts like how New York City sells hotdogs, shish-kebab, sausages, etc. (Well, if you’ve never been to NYC, I just don’t know how to explain it to you!) My UK pen-pal says the English like to eat it by boiling it and usually with butter. (That is not how the Chinese eats it, as most Chinese are lactose-intolerant and diary products like butter are never use in authentic Chinese cooking… probably why you’ll rarely see an overweight Chinese person.)

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My mom always makes this for me when I go home (that and my favorite, whole steamed fish), and my kids love it because it’s fun when you eat food that you kind of have to work at — they like sucking it out of the shells! Of course, there’s always the few occasional ones that they just can’t get out, so I get it out for them — reminds me of a mom bird feeding worms to her baby birds, ha!

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This is my mom’s recipe. (You’ll probably never get to eat this unless you’re in a coastal state, you’ll definitely never find it in Iowa!) Periwinkle are sea snails, it’s a fancy way of saying it, kind of like escargot. Although, you should know that periwinkle and escargot are different though. You’ll find them at fish markets. They’re not very expensive, usually like $3.50 a pound, (definitely not more than $5 a pound). A bag full is usually around $8 or so.

First, you have to clean it to get all the sand out. (They are found on seashores.) Wash them until the water runs clear. Then boil them covered. This insures that they are thoroughly cooked and any sand or dirt is removed. Drain your periwinkle.

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Chop up finely garlic and red/green chili peppers (I like using cayenne, jalapeños, or serrano). In a wok (or a large skillet), heat oil (my mom uses vegetable oil) and add the finely chopped herbs. Stir for a few seconds, add the periwinkle, add soy sauce, Hoisin sauce (it means “seafood” in Cantonese… you’ll find all this stuff in the Asian aisle next to the soy sauce); oyster sauce, salt, black bean sauce, and a bouillon cube (the brand that my mom uses for all this stuff is Lee Kum Kee — it’s a Hong Kong company that specializes in Chinese cooking sauces). Stir-fry for about 5 minutes, add a few tablespoons of water, cover and steam for about 2 minutes, and you’re done! (If you haven’t quite gotten how to get the meat out, use a toothpick, it’s what I tell my kids to do.)

Seafood Boil

Okay people, I’ve decided to step away from the Candy Crush for a bit to make sure my brain is still functioning! I have a few draft posts that haven’t been published yet, and I usually get around to them when I find the time to. I saw this one in my draft post and decided to finish it up today.

I love the ocean. It’s one of the biggest thing I miss about being in the Midwest, it’s nothing but landlocked states — that is extremely difficult to adapt for a woman who grew up by the Atlantic Ocean and who loves seafood.

One thing that really makes me feel like “summer” is eating seafood. Now, people call foods different names depending on where in the states they are. For example, I call subs “heroes” (like every other New Yorker I know… well, at least the ones from NYC anyway — I honestly don’t even consider outside the 5 boroughs to be a part of New York, we call them Long Islanders and Upstaters instead).

I digress! One of my favorite summer seafood feast is a seafood boil, also called a Maine lobster bake, a clambake, a New England clambake, etc. It’s absolutely delicious for seafood lovers, and it can be pricey on the menu too… definitely not something to be eaten every day, but great for a summer celebration like July 4th, Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, Labor Day, etc.

The traditional method of cooking this seafood in the Northeast that us Yankees do, is on the beach in a stone-pit fire. The seafood used depends on what is popular in the area; in the Chesapeake Bay area blue crabs are often used instead of lobster, and in the Louisiana area crawfish is used instead — it includes other varieties of shellfish like clams and mussels, and is often supplemented by sausages, potatoes, onions, carrots, corn on the cob, etc. Since many areas outlaw building fires on beaches, and in order to accommodate the dish in homes, this is kind of a seafood “barbecue”, so to speak; as it’s often a backyard event. This is known as a New England Clam Boil, or seafood boil… whatever you want to call it.

This is super easy to make, in my opinion. The only real challenge is finding fresh seafood, which isn’t a problem is you’re in a coastal state (this is where I tell you how much I miss the Fulton Fish Market, which has since moved to the Bronx from its original historic location on Fulton Street).

The things you will need! Lobsters, clams, mussels, baby potatoes, corn on the cob, onions, garlic, sausage, lemons… you substitute these things for what you like though, by all means don’t follow someone else’s taste if it differs from your own! (Even when I’m cooking from a recipe, I always tweak it to my taste.) Some people like to add beer into the mixture, I never had a taste for alcohol — I always figured beer probably taste like piss.

Start by boiling water in a very large stock pot. Add a few handfuls of salt to the water. (Now, some people put their clams together in something like a cheese cloth, but I never do that — oh, by the way, don’t forget to clean your shellfish by scrubbing their shells first, and clean your potatoes too!)

Add a quartered onion and a bulb of garlic sliced through the center. Add potatoes and cook for about 8 minutes. Add the sausage (use whatever kind you like); then add the lobsters and cook according to the average weight of your lobsters, NOT the total weight of all your lobsters (it’s generally 7 minutes per pound, for those of you who don’t know). These 3 items are the ones that require the most cooking time, that’s why they go first. Do not cover the pot.

A few minutes before the lobsters will be finished (it’ll turn bright red when cooked), add the clams and mussels into the boil (they’ll open up when they’re done); add the corn (cut the corn, sausage, and potatoes into halves or quarters… you don’t have to, of course, but it does take up a lot of room if you don’t — besides, who eats a whole cob anyway!). Strain the boil and let cool, serve with lemon wedges and melted butter… cover the table with old newspapers, this is one of those meals where no one has time for clean up!

Linguine with Clams

Haven’t wrote a new post in a while — I’ve recently discovered Candy Crush and I’ve been like a crack addict with those Facebook games (I’ve sunk a new low in life!). Like, seriously I haven’t left the house in 3 days people!

But I digress! Okay, so my son is half Italian — split right down the middle. His dad is fully Italian, and I (his mother) am fully Chinese, so he really is 50/50. Italians and Chinese have a lot in common, both are very ethnic cultures, with strong family values and traditions, and very similar cuisines… hey, it’s no coincidence that next to every pizzeria is a Chinese take-out! (Not to mention Little Italy being right next to Chinatown.) My son’s paternal grandfather didn’t even get his American citizenship until a few years ago, the man is like fresh off the boat Italian.

My son LOVES clams. I honestly think he gets his love of seafood from me because that’s what I always ate (when I was pregnant with him, I use to crave fruit bowls all the time though!). One of my favorite Italian pasta dishes is linguine with white clam sauce. I also think it’s easy to make, but a bit of a challenge in getting fresh clams if you’re not by a coastal state (which I’m currently not, so the clams in the can will do too).

Every time I go visit the mister, I buy pasta and never cook it. I always mean to, but I usually end up dragging him to the nearby Red Lobster instead (I really wish they have a Joe’s Crab Shack or Sizzler’s nearby Killeen, TX)… but back to the clams!

Linguini-With-Clam-Sauce

The things you will need: clams (if you can’t get fresh, get frozen, if you can’t get that either, then get the canned crap), garlic, olive oil, white cooking wine, butter, salt, crushed red pepper flakes, and parsley… and cheese if you like it (some people don’t like it with a seafood dish, but it goes well with pasta foods though).

If you’re getting the fresh clams you’ll have to clean them first. To clean them use a toothbrush to scrub the shells — you can buy the “food scrubbers”, but really for like $1 a toothbrush does the same thing. After scrubbing let them soak in cold water while you’re cooking your pasta… follow the directions on the box if you don’t know how to cook pasta (it’s basically just boiling it in water).

If you’re using the canned/frozen stuff — after the pasta is cooked, in a large skillet heat up olive oil, with a few garlic cloves and crushed red pepper flakes, add some white cooking wine (sorry about measurements, I never measure anything, I always eyeball everything — which is probably why I never bake!), and add the clams into the skillet and let it soak for about 3 minutes or so. (Remove the cloves afterwards if you want.) Add your pasta into the mix and sauté for a few minutes longer. Finish off with some chopped parsley and grated cheese.

To cook fresh clams, you would first make it almost the same way as a Drunken Clams recipe — in a pan heat up olive oil, add a few garlic gloves and crushed red peppers, and add half a stick of butter. (Remove the cloves after the oil has been heated if you want.) Add your clams, pour in the white cooking wine and sauté for a few minutes; add in some water, cover, and steam the clams until they open up.

Add your pasta to the pan, toss it around a few times, add your chopped parsley (and cheese if you want) — now EAT!!!