Saturday, May 22, 2010

Homemade Thai snack: Curry Puffs

When I was in Thailand, my favourite nanny was gracious and patient enough to teach us her infamous curry puff recipe.  Curry puff is a traditional, yet fusion, thai pastry.  The filling is made of ground pork fried with diced carrots, onions, potatoes, seasoning, and curry.  I guess it is a Thai version of samosa.
The curry puffs my nanny makes are amazing in so many ways.  First, the pastry has many layers of crispy and is very flaky.  Next, the filling is a burst of flavours.  It is an intense blend of sweet and savoury with a perfect caramelized texture.

The first two tries were challenging even with her coaching me.  I also discovered that I am handicapped at folding the dough to make the twists at the end.  Now that I am back to Canada, I decided to give it a try and do everything on my own.  It turns out that making curry puffs is a 2 day process for me.  The filling is the easiest part, while the pastry is the hardest, and let me tell you why.  There are two types of dough you have to make in the process.  Eventually you wrap one type of dough which is more dry, over the more moist one.  Then, you flatten the dough and roll it together like you are making a croissant.  Afterwards, you flatten that rolled up dough again then repeat.  

After chopping up the rolled up dough, this is what it looks like.

Then, you flatten that slice of dough again and put in the filling, close up the end by twisting around the edges.  That is something I learned I can never do correctly or perfectly.  I almost feel somewhat handicapped when everyone else around me has no problem doing it.  Also, another problem is my dough is too dry so the pastry keeps breaking apart when I try twisting the end together.  As a solution, I used a fork to press around the edges instead.  So some of them are half twisted, and some look like chinese dumplings.  You can probably also tell that they come in all shape and sizes.  

Finally, the finished products.  The pastry turned out crispy! Sure each looks different,  and could have been more seasoned with salt and sugar.  Same goes with the filling, no lustrous caramelization like my nanny's.  I guess you should never be afraid of over seasoning, especially in Thai cooking.  Anyways, they are not perfect but for the difficulty level and first trial, I'm pretty happy with the result.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cheap and good places in Tokyo

When you're in Japan, you can pretty much walk in anywhere blind folded and they will serve good food.  Finding bad tasting food in Japan is like winning a lottery, it doesn't happen to the most people.

I haven't blogged on here for a while after my Japan/Korea trip and have been feeling a little bit lazy.  So for a recommendation for drinking spot in Japan as already mentioned in my other travel blog, the "270 Yen Kinokura Jr.".  All of the dishes and drinks (quite an array of selection) are less than $3.  Food is awesome, drinks are good size, it just seems almost too good to be true.  The best thing is, these joints can be found all over main areas in Tokyo, so it's real convenient.
Another convenient fast-foodish restaurant I really liked was the Tempura Tendon Tenya.  It may be a chain restaurant but the one we went to at Nippori really captured my heart.  For something that was simple and good, the prawn tempura there were fresh crispy.  Best of all, it is served with plenty of sauce (and a bottle at your table if you want to really drench it), a poached egg, the addition which makes the dish for me.  The set comes with miso soup, and udon soup for around 750 yen.  So if you are looking for something that is convenient, cheap, and good, I recommend this one as the way to go.

One night while we were lost in Ueno, we stumbled upon an alley of street food and restaurants.  It was a hard pick, but we decided to walk in to a conveyor belt sushi joint, Heiroku, instead.  It was initially the 100 yen per plate that sealed the deal.  We were seated around the conveyor belt table where we were free to grab any sushi plate as they come by.  Everything on the menu was in Japanese and, eventually, we learned how much each different coloured plate cost.  

The sushi pieces were large size as fresh as they come.  Most of the dishes were 100 - 280 yen, with the most expensive being around 580 yen. 

While on a shopping spree at Shibuya 109, we were getting tired and hungry.  Then, we stumbled upon a delightful cafe called Ma Maison on the 7th floor.  Aside from desserts, they also offer cafe meals such as Omnisu rice and Doria.  The only downside was to tolerate the smokers right by your table.

The beef stroganoff sauce definitely brought the usual Omnisu rice up with a touch of sophistication.  It was rich, flavourful and very tasty.

The Doria was creamy and cheesy.  Much like a risotto, it was warm and comforting dish.