We’ve got ourselves a Mexican fiesta!

Happy last weekend of July and start to the 2020 Olympics! I watched the opening ceremony on Friday night. The Japanese do not disappoint! My peeps; my motherland. So proud! Go Teams USA and Japan! Wishing all the athletes the best of luck!

On Saturday night I witnessed the men’s street skateboarding athletes from the US, Japan, Peru, Brazil, and France showcasing good sportsmanship to one another. Hugging, encouraging, and supporting each other. It brought a warmness to my heart. The world coming together.

I recalled my very first trip to Japan in 2015. Tokyo was already underway in preparing for the Olympics. A lot of construction building those extraordinary infrastructures. Amazing! They were already selling Olympics merch, too. I bought some hand towels as souvenirs. I remember thinking about wanting to be in Tokyo when the Olympics occurred. Who knew that we’d experience a global pandemic in 2020. So glad I didn’t buy tickets. I hope all who did were able to get a refund. Sending good energy that cases don’t soar out-of-control during these next couple weeks in Tokyo and amongst the athletes and all who are involved in making the Olympics happen. I’m looking forward to watching my favorite sports: gymnastics, swimming, and diving.

We’re highlighting on two dishes I made: rice pilaf and Mexican pinto beans, aka frijoles de olla. I was extremely nervous to make the rice pilaf on the stove. Every time I used to make pilaf on the stove, my rice would turn out mushy. Thank goodness for rice cookers! It’s a staple in almost every home in Hawai’i and especially amongst Asians. I learned over the years that a rice cooker can be very handy in cooking all sorts of foods, besides rice. There’s a Buzz Feed article I came across years ago. I’m glad the link is still active: https://www.buzzfeed.com/melissaharrison/rice-cooker-recipes

As suspected, my first attempt at making the rice pilaf turned out mushy. Ugh! While my taste testers enjoyed the texture, I certainly didn’t. I had another go at making it. This was unacceptable to submit to my instructor. The second time, I didn’t follow the recipe to “the T.” I added in less liquid than the recipe called for and hoped it would be enough to create a “just right” texture and consistency. Phew! Thank God it worked! My second attempt turned out perfect! And boy, was it delicious! Or should I say, addicting! It was buttery, light, fluffy, and somewhat chewy (in a good way). The dish included butter, chicken broth, and onions (brunoise style cut 1/8″ x 1/8″ x 1/8″). I didn’t know rice pilaf required baking for 18-20 minutes after boiling on the stove top. Whaaaat? Yep! It helps the rice absorb the liquid and creates that fluffy texture. Ooh whee!

Onto the frijoles de olla. That was pretty simple and self-explanatory. I soaked the pinto beans overnight. Any dried beans needs to be soaked overnight before cooking. Also, they’re to be seasoned last, after the beans are fully cooked. If they’re seasoned before they’re tender, the beans won’t cook properly. I learned something new! The Mexican pinto beans included the following ingredients: sliced onions, and chopped garlic and jalapeños. All ingredients are thrown into a pot, covered in water. They’re to be brought to a boil and then to a simmer until the beans become tender. Once the beans are tender, lard, or white fat from pig, is added. Lard can be substituted for butter, which is what I used. Bam!

Have a marvelous new week ahead!

Stay safe,

FS x

Hot Potato!

Hello! I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. I spent it in one of my favorite places- the kitchen. Yesss!

This week in school was all about potatoes. Here are some interesting takeaways I learned from my reading.

  • Did you know potatoes are both a vegetable and starch (Gisslen, 2018)?
  • To prevent oxidation, the potatoes from turning brown or gray, soak them in cold water immediately after cutting them (Gisslen, 2018).
  • Did you know there are many different colors of potatoes? Blue, purple, pink, red, brown, and yellow (Gisslen, 2018)?
  • If there are any green areas on the potatoes, it should be cut off. It contains a substance called solanine, which has a bitter taste and is considered poisonous (Gisslen, 2018).

I learned four different knife cuts: bâtonette, brunoise, julienne, and small dice. The bâtonette is a 1/4” x 1/4” x 2” cut. I had to first cut the potato into a rectangular block. Then use a fancy culinary metric ruler to cut the block into 1/4” slices. Then cut again into 1/4” sticks. Next, I took the bâtonette sticks and cut them into 1/4” cubes, aka the small dice cut. I cut another potato into a rectangular block to prepare for my next cut, julienne. The measurements of that cut are 1/8” x 1/8” x 2”. After cutting the block into 1/8″ slices, the final cut I performed was the brunoise cut, which is cutting the julienne sticks into 1/8” cubes.

It was an exciting experience to learn and master these new knife cuts. The culinary ruler was a huge help in measuring the potatoes precisely. That tool will come in handy going forward.

The featured dish is a pommes purée, which is similar to mashed potatoes. It’s a bit more fluid and translucent. It’s not fluffy as mashed potatoes, but still has that whipped, smooth, and creamy consistency. The purée had minimal ingredients and steps, but was a difficult dish to make. The first attempt at making the dish resembled a mashed potato texture. That wasn’t what I wanted. Fortunately, I had extra potatoes to try again.

I analyzed what I could do differently as I remade the dish. I cooked the potatoes a little longer. They needed to be tender, but not to the point of disintegrating. After the potatoes are strained from the boiled/simmered water, they are to dry for a bit before they are put into a food mill or mesh strainer. I let the potatoes dry for about five minutes, compared to 10-15 minutes in my prior attempt. The initial endeavor led to difficulty mashing the potatoes through the mesh strainer (I don’t have a food mill [yet]). They were probably too dry and had hardened. During the second try, the potatoes weren’t entirely dry yet, and therefore, it was a bit easier to mash through the strainer. Yay! I know that using a food mill, which was optional, would have made the mashing process a lot easier. Unsalted room temperature butter and warm heavy cream were added to the mashed potatoes. I mixed it as lightly and quickly as possible to avoid over-mixing that would create a “gummy” texture. The dish is seasoned with salt and pepper.

Phew! I’m glad the dish was better the second time around. You might have wondered what I did what all that extra potatoes? I made mashed potatoes and used it to make shepherd’s pie. Yum! It was a busy and tiring weekend in the kitchen, but worth every second. I enjoy cooking very much and am so glad to have this opportunity to learn more about culinary arts in an educational setting.

Happy new week,

FS x

References

Gisslen, W. (2018). Professional cooking, 9th ed. Wiley.

Carrot Craze

It’s finally happening. Culinary school. This week, I began my first course of my culinary program. I was excited, yet nervous. Watching the live and prerecorded videos and reading the material helped prepare me for the new cutting technique I learned, as well as the lab assignment I had to cook.

I learned about the oblique/roll cut this week. To accomplish this technique, one cuts the carrot in a 45-degree angle and then rolls the carrot 180-degrees and repeats the process again. The purpose of this cut is add dimension and to evenly cook the carrots since they will be cut at relatively the same size.

The featured dishes I made for this week’s assignment were carrots vichy and carrots purée. I started with the carrots vichy first. The dish entailed: carrots, sugar, unsalted butter, salt, and water. It was a very simple dish to make. The carrots are barely covered in water and are brought to a boil. Once they’ve reached boiling point, they are to be brought down to a simmer until the liquid nearly evaporates. The carrots should then become tender and soft. The liquid will form into a glaze. The dish can be garnished with fresh parsley. Black pepper is a must. And then the best part- tasting. It was delightful!

Moving onto the purée. It required the same steps as the vichy; same ingredients as well, minus the sugar. After the carrots are tenderized, they are to be strained. Save the boiled carrot water. The cooked carrots are put into a food mill, mesh strainer, food processor, or blender to purée. I used a food processor. To create a smooth purée texture, pour some of the boiling carrot water to the mix. The purée tasted excellent. It was smooth, creamy, and velvety. Yum!

I’m excited to share this journey with y’all. Stay tuned for next week’s dish.

Be safe,

FS x

A Grand Turkish Meal

Happy Fourth of July! Wishing you all a safe celebration.

I have a few days until I begin culinary school. I’m super excited to start this new journey. From next week, I’ll be highlighting my weekly posts on dishes I’ll be making in my classes. If time permits, I’ll post additional blogs about new restaurants I’ve dined at or exciting dishes I’ve made.

This week, I’d like to share about Turkish cuisine- one of my top five faves. I’m so happy to say that Istanbul Hawai’i has finally opened their restaurant! I remember ordering a lamb-beef doner from their food trucks at Night Market years ago. I would always get excited whenever I saw their food truck. This is a long time coming and I’m so ecstatic to have finally dined at their restaurant.

My friend and I were so excited. The restaurant was packed! We had a late reservation. There were reservations all through the evening. It was busy the entire time we were there. Even near closing, the place was filled. I was so happy to see how busy it was. It shows that the food is spectacular and that business is a success.

The menu was pretty overwhelming. A lot of dishes were very foreign to both my friend and I. I’ve been to Turkey twice; had authentic Turkish food there. I’ve also had Turkish food in Japan as well. My experiences eating Turkish food in its native country to Japan, and at home, have all been very different.

We used our helpful friend, Yelp, for suggestions on what to order. We honestly didn’t have a clue on where to start. We also took my friend’s friend’s suggestions and ordered what she thought was really delicious. Great recommendations! We shared the meze platter, which seemed like a popular dish. The meze platter (top right image) contained the following: fresh pita bread to accompany the three hearty dips: hummus, muhammara, and babaganush. I liked all three dips equally. They were fantastic! I’ve only had hummus before. The muhammara was made with roasted red peppers (not spicy). I’ve heard of babaganush before, but never had it. I didn’t know it was made with eggplant. It was delicious! The other dishes on the platter were: su borek, spanakopita, and peynir and karpuz. The su borek and spanakopita were pies, very similar to each other, but tasted completely different. The peynir and karpuz dish was very interesting. It was watermelon with feta cheese and Turkish olives, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Not my favorite on the platter because I’m not a huge fan of watermelon, but it was very fascinating to try. The balsamic vinegar made it easier to eat. We ordered the iskender doner dish (bottom right corner image), which was lamb/beef combo with rice pilaf, and a refreshing toss salad, with my fave, tzatziki sauce- whoo hoo! We had to order more pita bread at this point to eat with the tzatziki sauce. So, so good! We chowed down our delicious dishes with some very refreshing drinks: a caffeine-free organic hibiscus lychee iced tea (bottom left image) and a saffron lilikoi sorbet with prosecco. My friend ordered the latter and welcomed me to try it. I am getting that drink next time! Last, but not least, dessert. We saw a lot of images on Yelp of the hatay kunefe dish (top left image). From the looks of it, you wouldn’t think it’s a dessert. It looks like crispy noodles. It’s actually shredded phillo, which is a like a flaky pastry. Underneath the phillo, is glorious cheese, mixed with a honey syrup. Oh, goodness gracious! The shredded phillo is topped with crumbled Turkish pistachio and kaytay, which is a kind of thick whipped cream. Hatay kunefe is a small dish, but don’t let that fool you. It is super filling and rich!

What a meal! Everything was beyond fabulous! I can’t wait to dine there again to try more dishes. I love lamb! Istanbul Hawai’i is the perfect place to go, as there are a lot of lamb dishes on the menu, for both lunch and dinner.

To the land of the free… Happy Independence Day!

Stay safe!

FS x

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Papa’s Day to all the fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and father-figures! Hope you had a chillaxing day, doing absolutely NOTHING! We appreciate all that y’all do for us. Thank you, thank you!

My family and I are celebrating with my dad. My sister and I cooked steaks, seasoned with garlic pepper, and rack of lamb, marinated with teriyaki sauce. We’re using the Instant Pot air fryer combo we got my dad for Father’s Day last year. It has all kinds of cool features: air fry, bake, broil, and roast. We’re using ALL the features. So exciting!

I made a Greek yogurt sauce to complement the meats. Yum! That’s my favorite part about eating red meat, which I’m so excited to eat because I don’t have very often anymore. Red meat is a delightful treat. I was introduced to this delicious pairing when I went to Turkey in the summer of 2010 for a world conference.

The yogurt sauce is similar to the Greek tzatziki sauce. It’s very simple to make. I add my own simple touches to it to make it my own. I used plain Greek yogurt and seasoned it with garlic pepper, minced dried garlic, and dried dill. Voilà! All done! The sauce is so good, I can eat it by itself. Uh huh! You heard right!

Now, gotta have them veggies! We made green beans and brussel sprouts, cooked with garlic balsamic olive oil, onions,and garlic. Scrumptious! Now, that’s how you get people to eat their vegetables, haha!

We also had Portuguese sausage, the best sausage there is, in my opinion (I’m not a huge sausage fan) and shrimp tempura. The tempura was already pre-made, thanks to Costco. My dad cooked oysters in a buttery garlic sauce. Oh my! I was in heaven! I love oysters. We don’t eat it all the time. Whenever we do, I savor every bite! It’s a wonderful treat!

For dessert, my dad requested a haupia pie, which my sister bought. Haupia is a Hawaiian coconut dessert.

Time to grind all the delicious foods! Ciao!

Have a great week. Happy belated Juneteenth, now a federal holiday (yay!), and Happy Summer!

FS x

Hearty and satisfying. It’s mmm, mmm, good!

Annyeong haseyo! “Hello” in Korean.

We’re approaching the end of April and heading into May. We’re inching closer and closer to mid-year. A lot has occurred this year and sometimes it feels like a continuation of last year. However, I continue looking forward and focusing on the light that’s ahead. Focus on the positive and not dwell on the negative. Things are improving whilst in this pandemic. “April showers bring May flowers.”

This week’s featured dish is one my favorite Korean dishes, soft tofu stew, or kimchi soondubu jjigae. I HEART this soup/stew. I love tofu, especially soft tofu. And the tofu in this soup/stew is extremely soft. It hits the spot every time. Oh, and that soup base- it’s so good! It’s the fish-base that makes the broth so tasty.

One of my favorite things about Korean food is dining at all-you-can-eat (AYCE) Korean BBQ restaurants. Cooking your meal amongst great company is the best! And eating the yummy food with others is simply fabulous. Korean BBQ always makes me excited. I love the meats- the kalbi and beef tongue are my faves. I look forward to the side dishes, such as the various types of kimchi, and finally, that tofu stew. Mmm, mmm! It’s a hearty and satisfying meal, every.single.time!

I found this recipe: https://www.koreanbapsang.com/kimchi-soondubu-jjigae-soft-tofu-stew-kimchi/. Looks simple and delish to make at home.

Make the most of April. May is coming. More sunshine and flowers to look forward to.

Jal Itsuh (“Be well”),

FS x

Local Kine Grindz

This week, we’re exploring the local grinds on the island of Maui, one of my favorite islands away from home. Maui holds a special place in my heart because my mom was from there. I have lovely memories staying at my maternal grandparents’ house in Wailuku and visiting with relatives whenever I’d visit. As a child, we got our second dog from Maui. His name was Charlie. Boy, was he a menace. But he was a good watch dog. Always protecting us and our family home.

Several years ago, I got to try the famous Sam Sato’s in Wailuku. It’s a small, family-owned business. The restaurant gets pretty crowded, but the wait is worth it. They’re known for their dried noodles. This week’s featured image has a variety of popular dishes from Sam Sato’s: dried noodles, saimin (similar to ramen), cheeseburger, and BBQ beef stick. Can I say, ahhh-mazing? Loved all the food. It was so yummy. It hit the spot.

These days when I visit Maui, I like to play tourist. My favorite places to visit are:

  • Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
    • It’s a beautiful and peaceful place, full of zen and nature.
  • Maui Ocean Center
    • I always love going to an aquarium.
  • MauiWine
    • Mmm, wine! Can you say wino? MauiWine is not too far from the lavender farm.
  • Sightseeing in Lāhainā/Front Street
    • I love Lāhainā and walking through Front Street. I love seeing the largest Banyan tree in the U.S.
  • Tasaka Guri Guri
    • My childhood favorite snack. This is a must have every time I visit. Guri guri is a dessert that’s between an ice cream and sherbet. Tasaka’s has two flavors: strawberry and pineapple. Both are quenching, but my favorite is the strawberry. Strawberry, all the way!
  • Whaler’s Village
    • A beautiful shopping mall in Lāhainā, with yummy restaurants, like Leilani’s on the Beach. Have a meal and a drink while watching the sunset fronting the beach.

My friend and her family recently visited Maui and told me about her visit to the goat farm. She shared how fun it was. That’s on my travel list the next time I’m in town again. Surfing Goat Dairy|Maui Goat Farm. I LOVE goat cheese and can’t wait to try them fresh. Yum!

Next time you’re in Maui, visit all these cool places, including Sam Sato’s:

1750 Wili Pa Loop
Wailuku, 96793
808-244-7124

Travel safely! Wear your mask!

FS x

Meditating on Escargot

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend! We’re midway through the first month of the year, and what a month it’s been so far! I hope you’re taking care of yourselves. Brighter days are coming. There is a glistening light at the end of what seems like a very long and dark tunnel.

Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to apprehend the practice of meditation. I have to admit, meditating is plain hard. It takes a lot of focus and discipline to really master this exercise and reap the benefits from it. I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near understanding this. I’m still in the very beginning stages. Maybe even in the pre-beginning period. One day soon, I’ll get there…

I found this article on the web and I hope it’ll help with becoming proficient in meditation and mindfulness. https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate/

I’ve enjoyed the following apps that have meditation features:

  • Calm
  • Insight Timer (there’s a lot of free features on this app)

Onto this week’s cuisine: French. I loved dining at these three restaurants that have now all closed: Café Miro, Le Bistro, and Le Guignol. So sad that these places closed, but happy to know there’s still some French places remaining on O’ahu that I’ll one day try.

My favorite dish I always order at a French place is escargot (featured imaged)- cooked land snails. Sounds gross (I’m not a fan of snails in general), but it’s so delicious, especially when cooked in garlic butter and pesto. Yum! Our family friend’s relative once gave us a bag of escargots. Not sure where he had gotten them from. Nonetheless, we were so thankful and excited! My dad cooked them with some garlic and butter, and oooh, lala, it was onolicious! Tasted like fine dining restaurant quality! It was a special treat for us. Once in a lifetime.

Wishing you a great week ahead. Be safe and stay healthy.

FS x

Twenty of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded + Sashimi

Happy NYE! It’s the final day of 2020. We made it! We survived this incredibly tumultuous year. We conquered!

I wish everyone a safe celebration tonight and a fresh start to 2021 tomorrow. We’re so privileged to have a new beginning every year. In fact, everyday, we’re able to start anew. We learn from our past and move forward to live a better life, and to do better.

Here is the final lesson 2020 has taught and reminded me.

20. It is ok to feel frustrated, sad, annoyed, and angry.

We’re human. We feel and go through all kinds of emotions. Allow those feelings to come and go. Recognize them and reflect on how you will overcome and change those reactions into more optimistic feelings overtime. That’s how we overcome and grow.

I allowed myself to feel all the emotions that came my way- pleasant, unpleasant, and the in-between. Recognition and reflection helped me get through the dark and grey moments. My support system and positive self-encouragement helped me rejoice during the brighter days.

It’s been a blessing reflecting upon the year and recognizing what 2020 has taught me. I’ve enjoyed sharing my life’s lessons here.

Sashimi (featured image)! One of the local and Japanese New Years staples. It’s bite-size pieces of raw fish, usually dipped in shoyu, or soy sauce, and wasabi. Every year, we have ahi (tuna) and hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi. Yum! Hamachi is my ultimate favorite fish. I love how oily the fish is. It’s so tasty. This year, I also bought chu toro ahi, which is the belly area of the fish. Yea! Get that in my belly!! Can’t wait to dive into the sashimi tonight.

I’m ready for 2021. Bring on the new challenges and changes. I’m ready. I’m stronger and more resilient than ever before. I see a lot of good change coming in the new year, not only for myself, but for this world.

Please be safe in celebrating tonight. Catch me here for more blog posts in the new year! Looking forward to it!

Cheers! Happy New Year!

FS x

Nineteen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Chicken and Waffles

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve! The week has flown by so quickly! It’s been super busy. I’m looking forward to relaxing during the next holiday weekend, and welcoming in 2021.

We’re onto the 19th fact that 2020 has taught and reminded me. Let’s get to it!

19. Listen to your gut and body.

This has been a constant mantra for me. Trust my gut. It knows best. Most times, when I listen to my gut, I tend to be right about certain situations. I feel like it’s a way God’s connecting with me; speaking to me, guiding me, protecting me…

I live with my body and my body lives with me. I need to listen and take care of her too. If I’m in pain or am exhausted, I listen. My body is trying to tell me something. I’ve had history of overworking my body countless times and that results in negative consequences, like sickness, pain, weakness, and exhaustion. We’ve only got one body. It’s important to give him or her TLC, tender-loving-care.

I was first introduced to chicken and waffles (see featured image) when I was in college in Southern California. My resident assistants took my dormmates and I to Roscoe’s in LA at the end of my first semester. I dined there again years later with friends. That place is bomb! I wanted to make my own chicken and waffles at home. I love the strawberry Eggo waffles. It’s my number one favorite. I had baked chicken thighs. Seasoned it with garlic pepper. It was very basic and simple. I served the dish with some good ol’ green beans, tossed with olive oil and garlic pepper. Yum!

Last post for 2020 tomorrow. See you here.

FS x