Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Club Bamboo

<-Photo is one of the fellow kitchen helpers and my lunch.

I started volunteer work at Club Bamboo yesterday. Club Bamboo belongs to ACRS (Asian Counseling and Referral Services) in Seattle and serves lunch to the employees and guests.
I arrived at ACRS around 9:00am. At the Club Bamboo, I met two ladies who were bit older than me. I introduced myself to them and joined their conversation until Chef Alice arrived. The kitchen at the Club Bamboo was new and clean. Chef Alice showed me around the kitchen and told me where things were kept. She announced that today’s lunch menu was Chinese style spicy chicken, roasted root vegetables and cooked rice. She told us to start peeling and chopping root vegetables. We peeled and chopped carrot, sweet potatoes, celery roots, and parsnips. There two ladies were Filipino and I am Japanese. All of us saw celery roots at some store before, but we didn’t know what they were. They smelled like celery but don’t look like celery. We wondered if celery roots were Asian vegetable. According to wiseGeek website, celery roots are from Europe.
After all roots vegetables were chopped, the two ladies chopped ginger, garlic, and chilies. I cut chickens to small pieces with another helper who came later and spoke Vietnamese. Chef Alice set a rice cooker ready for rice after she started roasting large portion of the roots vegetable in oven.
All chicken ingredients were chopped. Chef Alice told me to mix corn starch with the chicken. She heated large Wok to fry oil and all spices and took out all spices from Wok. Then she added more oil and fried the chicken until done and added egg white to the chicken. Meanwhile, rice was cooked and vegetables were roasted. My job at this point was to wash and to sanitize all bowls, knifes and cutting boards.
The first guests arrived. Chef Alice dished up the spicy chicken on a piece of large lettuce leaf, roasted root vegetables and cooked rice. It looked colorful and nice. She told the guest to add some pine nuts and chopped green onion over the chicken if she like. Several guests arrived and had their lunch. Around 1:00pm, Chef Alice told us that it was our lunch time. I dished up my lunch as other guest. The chicken was spicy, little bit hot and was good with rice. The root vegetables were sweet and tender. The meal included protein, vegetables and carbohydrate. It was healthy. After filling my stomach, I washed more dishes.
I left the club bamboo around 3:00pm. I had fun working with interesting ladies and helping Chef Alice.
Fortunately Tuesday was not busy day at Club Bamboo. It was good for me to start today instead of Thursday which is supposed to be busy. I am planning to work two days a week for three months and hopefully Chef Alice let me try out my Japanese recipes to the customers before my three months term ends.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Making Tamales

Last month, I was invited to a tamale party. I didn’t know how to make Tamales before this party. The party was fun and tamales were very tasty. I took video and learned how to prepare tamales. I practiced making tamale at the party. I wrapped cooked and minced turkey and cheese on corn paste into corn husk. I made much tamales.
The following week of the party, I bought all ingredients for my first tamale and roasted whole chicken. It was not as good as the ones made by tres Tamarelas at the party. When the corn husks are unwrapped from cooked tamale, the center parts which are meat or vegetable and cheese should be completely wrapped with corn paste. In my first tamale, cheese was out of corn filling and stuck to the corn husk. I realized that I was wrapping tamales wrong way.
I made Tamale with ground pork with cheese 3 days later. At this time, they looked perfect and were delicious.
Please view the YouTube video of Tamale Making Party to learn how to make your Tamales.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Japanese soy sauce company near Seattle

The other day, my elderly Japanese neighbor told me about a local Japanese soy sauce store in Bellevue which is a 30 minutes drive from Seattle. I love to have Japanese soy sauce from a small producer. I asked her to take me to the store. The maker is Kamada Soy sauce or Kamada America. Unfortunately we found out the store portion was closed. I decided to knock the door to the office to find out if we can order the soy sauce today. A Japanese lady opened the door for us. My neighbor told her that she learned about their soy sauce from her friend who owned a good Japanese restaurant and used to buy their soy sauce before. She loves their soy sauce and was disappointed to find out the store was closed. The lady from the Kamada America was apologetic that orders need to be made by fax or internet. She gave us order form. I asked if we can fill the order information and pay it today. She was kind to accept my proposal. I ordered Koikuchi Soy which includes 7 small boxes(200ml) of original soy sauce and Gourmet set which includes Dashi soy, Ponzu and Salad soy. Dashi is concentrated version of Japanese soup, Ponzu is generally made of citrus fruit, vinegar, Japanese soup and soy sauce, and Salad soy seems to be soy sauce based salad dressing. It is costly ($15.75 +shipping for Soy sauce set 1400ml ) comparing buying soy sauce (less than $10,for 1000ml) made by major company at the grocery store. My neighbor told me she only uses this soy sauce and Dashi for the special occasions.

My orders were arrived yesterday. I poured Dashi soy sauce over my fried tofu and made teriyaki fish with original soy sauce. Kamada's koikuchi soy sauce or original soy enhanced the tofu taste and fish was delicious. Only thing that I may warn some people is that Dashi soy sauce contains MSG as most Asian soup does. Kamada’s Original soy sauce is darker brown than one made by a large soy sauce maker. Its ingredients of the soy sauce are Soybeans, wheat, water, salt, and alcohol. According to the box, it was made of organic soybeans and produced using Japanese traditional method. Although I need to test this fancy soy sauce for my various recipes, so far I love using Kamada soy sauce and convenient Dashi to my cooking.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fresh tofu

I recently found Tofu factory with Chinese restaurant near my house. I drove in front of the place often and have never known I could buy such a delicious freshly made tofu there until someone mentioned to me that she always buy tofu when she was near by. It was much inexpensive than buying tofu at any other store. I wrote my review with photos to Yelp. Then I realized someone else posted his review of the same place with different name. So there are two review pages for the same Northwest Tofu inc.:

I decided to buy tofu every Monday morning after I drop off my son at his school one block from the Tofu factory. Yes. I will be there 7:50am in Monday morning.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Left over of pumpkin pie filling and mashed potatoes

I had no pumpkin pie filling and mashed potatoes leftover this year. I made pumpkin cookies from pumpkin pie filling. They didn’t look perfect but tasted good. I made potato pan cake and potato bread from mashed potatoes.
Here is my premature version of recipes which probably needs to revisit and test:
Pumpkin cookies made of pumpkin pie filling

1/2 cup pumpkin pie filling left over
1/2 cup butter melted
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup unbleached flour
½ tsp baking powder
Cooking Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 425 degree
2. Mix all ingredients
3. Drop dough with 1 inch diameter to the baking pan
4. Bake for 7-8 minutes.

Potato bread made of mashed potatoes
2 cups Mashed potatoes
1 cup water
3Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 ⅓ Tbsp sugar
1 ½ cup bread flour
½ cup Whole wheat flour
2tsp active yeast
Cooking instruction using bread maker
1. Add all ingredients to bread maker
2. Set dough setting and start bread maker
3. After dough is done, punch the dough down and flour the dough to prevent to stick to the hand.
4. Divide the dough to two and make elongated or round shape
5. Set on loaf pan or pan and final rise until the loaf is double about one hour
6. Preheat oven to 375 degree and bake 30 minutes or until done.

In addition to these left over, I had large portion of ham with bone. I created soup stock and made blackeye bean and ham soup. Soup was full filling and delicious with home made bread.