Friday, July 29, 2011


It is pronounced "joke" in Cantonese.   Most Asian countries have their own variations of jook (a.k.a rice porridge or congee).  It is commonly eaten for breakfast or when one is not feeling well.  Some make it thick and some make it soupy.  I prefer the soupy consistency.  There are many version of jook.  Fish flake, chicken, century egg w/ lean pork, vegetarian, etc.   Plain jook can be served with condiments such as fu yur, salted duck eggs, fried shallots, dried salt fish, youtiao, tianjin preserved vegetables, etc.  The plain version is the foundation of all other versions.  

Plain Jook
1/4 cup uncooked rice
3 cups water
Combine ingredients in crock pot and cook for 4 hours on low.
Bring water to boil.  Add uncooked rice.  Cook over low heat for 1 hour. Stirring occasionally.  Add more water if jook gets too thick.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Grill On! Grilled Oyster Sauce Wings & Grilled Balsamic Bok Choy

Although we haven't been having the heat wave that has swept the rest of the US, last week was a little too warm to be cooking in my kitchen.  I invited some friends over to taste test my latest concoction of Grilled Oyster Sauce Wings and Grilled Baby Bok Choy with Balsamic.  This is a great last minute dinner.  I defrosted the wings in cold water and then whipped together a quick marinade.  I usually just drizzle some oyster sauce over my greens, but my marinade already had an oyster sauce base, I decided to use balsamic to balance out the flavors.  This went nicely with steamed white jasmine rice and chrysanthemum iced tea.  I also made a chilled azuki dessert soup, but it didn't turn out like I wanted.  I will post the recipe for that once I perfect the technique in my crazy kitchen lab.  Until then, here are the recipes for the main course:
Grilled Oyster Sauce Wings
1/2 dozen wings
1/3 cup oyster sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp five spice powder
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Combine oyster sauce, soy sauce, five spice powder and garlic in a medium sized bowl.  Toss in the wings to thoroughly coat.  Refrigerate until ready to grill, tossing about halfway through to ensure even marinading.  Place on hot grill, over medium heat.  Brush on 1/2 of remaining marinade after 15 minutes and flip wings over.  Brush on rest of  marinade and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until done.

Grilled Baby Bok Choy with Balsamic
baby bok choy
grapeseed oil or vegetable oil
balsamic vinegar
coarse sea salt
Split the baby bok choy into halves, lengthwise.  This makes it easier to clean off the dirt that is trapped in between the layers.  Rinse and drain.  Lightly brush grapeseed or vegetable oil on both sides of the bok choy.  I used my handy Misto sprayer filled with grapeseed oil, which really does make my life so much easier.  Place the bok choy on the hot grill just until grill marks start to form.  Sprinkle on sea salt and balsamic vinegar just after flipping.  Don't need to go crazy with the balsamic, just a little splash will do.  Bok choy are done once grill marks start to form on the other side.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cubicle Cuisine: Brats!

Lunch during the work week doesn't always have to be confined to frozen meals, reheated leftovers or eating out.  The office break room can become a pretty decent kitchen if you just modify some recipes just a little bit.  In this post, we will be having brats.  There was a lone survivor leftover from the weekend and I decided to bring that in for lunch the following Monday.  Not a dried out precooked brat to be heated up mind you.  I cooked it at work with the handy dandy microwave. 
I'm cheating a little on this post because there were already microwave instructions on the back of the packaging.  As per the instructions, I placed the brat in a container and filled it with hot water, loosely cover,  1 min and 45 secs, flip and repeat.  DO NOT try to nuke your brat without water.  Best case scenario, you'll be munching on dried out brat jerky.  Worst case scenario, you'll spend the rest of the day scraping off dried out pieces of brat that exploded all over the microwave.
After cooking in the microwave, place the brat link next to the bun in the toaster oven if you have one in your office kitchen. The surface of the link should sizzle up nicely as the bun toasts up.  Almost like it's fresh off the grill :o)  Remember, NEVER leave the toaster oven unattended while in use.  Nothing like subjecting the rest of your office to the smells of your burnt lunch experiments for the rest of the workday...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cubicle Cuisine: Scrambled Eggs

Since working in an office, I've reacquainted myself with the microwave quite a bit.  During my first year as a college freshman, I had gotten quite good at microwave cooking.  Yes, it was real cooking, not just reheating frozen meals and corn dogs.  But, I have not really used my microwave that much since I have moved out of the dorms and learned how to really cook.  My microwave at home is left unplugged most of the time.  I'll use it to melt butter or reheat food, but even then I usually use the stove for that stuff most of the time.  I have been getting some pretty good use out of the microwave in the office break room.  I think I have gotten the microwave scrambled eggs technique down to a science.
You will need:
Microwavable bowl
Salt (optional)
Pepper (optional)
Any other seasonings you want on your eggs (nothing raw)

Crack your eggs into the microwavable bowl.  Use as many eggs as you like, just make sure your bowl is big enough so that the eggs don't spill over whilst cooking.  If it does, clean it up, there is no such thing as an Office Mommy.

Beat your eggs with the fork and add 2 tbsp of water for each egg.  Add the salt, pepper and any other add-ins.  I added about a tablespoon of chives & onion cream cheese that were leftover from bagels once and my eggs were herbaliciously creamy.  I've also used plain half & half from the coffee stash instead of water.  Mix all of that in.

Cook in the microwave at 70% Power for 15 seconds and stir.  Repeat until your eggs are cooked to your desired doneness.  The more eggs you use, the more cycles of cooking and stirring.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Point Loma Pho and Grill

Pho is one of my all time favorite comfort foods.  My parents grew up in Hanoi and I used to wake up on the weekends to a big pot of chicken pho that my mom has prepared for us kids to serve ourselves.  It seems that pho has become the new sushi or thai food.  
Point Loma Pho and Grill opened last year near my work.  That means I don't have to far for a pho fix during lunch.  I usually get the #4 Pho with rare steak, brisket, tendon and tripe.  It's an okay bowl of pho that satisfies my cravings.  The steak is thinly sliced and still pink in the center when the bowl arrives to the table.  By the time my sprouts and basil were mixed in, the steak's completely cooked in the hot broth.  Well-done steak is an option, but the meat would overcook in the hot broth and become tough by the time you mix everything together.  The reason for ordering rare steak for your pho is so it would cook in the hot broth right before you dig in.   I enjoyed the tendon, which is tender and a good amount.  The brisket's nice.  The amount of tripe is always disappointing.  I don't think I've ever gotten more than two small pieces of tripe.  Too bad, I like tripe.  The broth is a little too sweet for my taste and lacks the beefy flavor.  It's americanized vietnamese food.  The shrimp pho is a good start for someone who has never had pho before and is put off about trying things like tripe and tendon.   Although chicken pho or pho with just steak are also good newbie options.
Broken rice dishes and boba drinks are also on the menu.  There is also the sizzling beef platter served in a hot cast iron plate.  Marinated beef, onions, and green peppers with a bowl of steamed rice.  Have you ever seen that commercial with the waiter walking through the restaurant with the fajita platter?  Yeah, it's like that.  
The service is quick and efficient as with all pho places.  The staff is friendly and always makes sure our water glasses are filled.  It's not the best bowl of pho I've ever had, but it's a good place to take your friends for their introductory bowl of pho.  I'd still go back for a weekday lunch time pho fix.

Point Loma Pho and Grill
2788 Midway Drive
San Diego, CA 92110