Thursday, March 29, 2012

Papaya Vacation

Eat a lot of papaya? I've recently started to.

I am a recent convert to this juicy, sweet, tropical fruit. For years the only papaya I consumed was after two hot dogs at Grey's Papaya.

Now, I'm making papaya salads with mint and fresh oranges. What!

This salad is particularly delicious with grilled meats. Have a nice dollop of yogurt on the side for a nice, healthy dessert. I also found that after I eat this particular salad, I feel really good.

Papaya Mint salad with Oranges

You'll need:
1 1/2 pounds fresh, ripe papaya
Two large naval oranges (cara-cara are fantastic for this)
1 cup fresh mint leaves
One lime
One jalapeno
Fresh cracked pepper

1. Peel, seed and cut the papaya and oranges. Save one half of one of the oranges.
2. Clean the mint and tear the leaves from the stems.
3. Cut the lime in half.
4. You'll only need about half the jalapeno, diced fine.
5. Add all your prepared fruits into a large salad bowl, squeezing the lime and the reserved half orange over the top.
6. Grind some pepper over top and toss everything together.

note; if making ahead of time, you can use less mint, as it will permeate the fruit overnight. Also, make sure you only use fresh, ripe papaya and orange for this salad. Also, if you decide to leave the jalapeno out, you can substitute with more lime juice and more black pepper.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Seasonal Shad Specialty

Shad season is starting, and for those in the know, it's a wonderful season of fishy goodness. As the first grills are taken out from their winter slumber, a whole roe shad offers great escapes from the thick stews and heavy meals of cold months past.  Cut out the roe sacs for a luscious breakfast and grill the fish whole for a fantastic dinner.
photo from Wikipedia Commons

Check out Shad Roe from this Saveur article.

Read The Founding Fish, by John McPhee for a deeper understanding of this seasonal, American tradition.  Almost every person that talks about the wonders and splendors of shad roe, speaks of their breakfast versatility. Break them apart and mix into scrambled eggs, brown them in butter with eggs and toast, or have them sauteed and placed on top of a fresh green salad.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Taco Fiesta

I love tacos. Real tacos. Simple, classic tacos. Gets me every time. Toppings just onions and cilantro. An effortless squirt of lime juice, maybe some salsa verde.

Don't get me wrong. Sloppy Joe style "taco seasoning" tacos with shredded cheese and lettuce have a special place in my heart.

But these tacos? I ate these tacos for breakfast.

Had myself a little taco crawl.

I started out fresh and hungry on 5th ave and 49th st. in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Walked a few short blocks and started at Tacos Ricos. A charming spot that offers outdoor seating.

 I ordered tongue tacos, pictured above, and al pastor tacos (marinated pork) pictured below.

Both were delicious! I would have ordered more than two kinds if I had known the tacos were going to be so good. But there were many more tacos ahead of me and I traveled on.

This neighborhood is full of authentic Mexican food, and the next place, two short blocks away, offered up this platter of one dollar tacos. 

The grilled green onion was soft and lightly charred, delicious. I could eat a plate full of those onions.

The tacos at this spot were good. I enjoyed them. They only cost a dollar each, so I wasn't surprised when the meat was a little skimp.

I was a pleased with my selections so far, but wanted something I hadn't had before. The menu at the next place boasted cabeza tacos, which I promptly ordered. This place was nice, and the tacos were good too.

This is the pig head taco I ordered.

 This taco was so good.

Slow roasted pork, with the cheeks and jowls, fat and meat.

The lime juice was bright and tart, perfect with the fatty morsels and raw onion. 

Of course, I ordered more tongue tacos, because they rock, and dutifully ate them first, knowing they would not disappoint. I thought that the pork taco definitely needed to be shared with you guys first.

Stuffed from my breakfast of champions I strolled to the nearest bakery, got a cafe con leche, a fantastic little guava pastry, and went home.

Friday, March 16, 2012


When the weather starts to warm in early Spring, I get excited for the coming months.  Grills start to make more of an appearance, and with them, the charred and smokey flavors that make me feel like a caveman.

In anticipation of grilling season, I was rooting around for some sauce recipes and some things to keep in mind when the first plumes of smoke drift from my backyard.

I found Saveur's BBQ season article.

The recipes I am most excited for would be Brunswick stew, pickled watermelon rinds, both Carolina sauces, DR. Pepper sauce, and all the RIBS.

Don't worry guys, it will be time before we know it.

For now, enjoy the corned beef and cabbage. (I love cabbage, almost as much as I love corned beef.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bonus Shots

Keep an eye out for posts titled Bonus Shots.
It will be an ongoing series of leftover pictures.
Pictures inside markets of bulk bins, exotic fruits, vegetables and ingredients, buzzing storefronts, or that one sandwich that never made the blog, but lies in my photos, waiting for its moment to shine.'

This first set of Bonus Shots is from a recent trip to Brighton Beach.

 Look at all this candy! This place is awesome.

 This is buckwheat, I thought the shape of the kernels was interesting.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Korean Firsts

Sometimes I think that I post too much about Asian stuff, but quickly dismiss myself because I remember how much I am in love with all of the food (the girls are cute too!)

I went to Koreatown on W. 32nd st. because I had never been. There were several foods on the agenda, Korean Fried Chicken, for one, because I've heard a lot of people buzzing about it, and various other things, including, but not limited to: kimchi, delicious snacks, noodles, and spicy any-thing.

Let's just say, mission accomplished.

Korean Fried Chicken is delicious. Double fried for fantastic crispiness, tossed in a garlic-soy sauce, these wings are really good, and definitely worth repeating, but with plenty of beer next time.
These particular wings came from Bon Chon, but it's not the only name in the game.

There are three places for Korean fried chicken in this short stretch of streets: Kyochon, the L.A. chain and originator of Korean fried chicken; Bonchon, producer of the wings pictured and claim to five NYC locations; at last but not least, Mad for Chicken, which is supposed to be delicious but at least a 30 minute wait for wings after ordering.

The fries at Bonchon were really good too. We also ordered the kimchi coleslaw which had just enough of the characteristic tang and spice of kimchi but rounded out with mayo.  Sweet dance music was playing.

This is definitely a place I will go back to as the bar looked formidable and the chicken was damn good.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Before the fried chicken spot, I wanted to go to a food court to properly whet my appetite.

 I started off with onions and noodles in black bean sauce. This was supposed to be pork and onions in black bean sauce, but there were barely half a dozen stamp size pieces of the protein I hold so dearly. It was good though, and came with pickled daikon and kimchi. I only ate about half of this, as I knew there were many more things to come. The joy of sharing!

Next up, I had to try this "Chinese Tamale," as it was advertised, because I pretty much knew what I was getting, and I like to set my self up for success.
This was good, and had so many things in it that I love! A strip of sweet Chinese sausage, half a shittake mushroom, a shrimp, some roast pork, beans and onions all call this rice-stuffed banana leaf home. I put hot sauce on and chalked it up as a win.

Here's the 'tamale' split open, revealing it's delicious innards. It's pretty much lo mai gai, but bigger, and with beans and peas and such.

If you're going to go to Koreatown, I would definitely suggest going to H Mart, a well stocked Korean and Asian grocery store. This place has all sorts of cool stuff in it, as well as hot snacks and weird sodas!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Handheld Series 4

The Handheld Series is back!

The handheld food item is greater than the sum of its parts. Crispy, fried, baked, cold or hot, handheld food is always welcome. Something to be savored and devoured, it makes you think and makes you feel. It can be a simple pleasure, or a fabulous indulgent delight.

It is; handheld.

As my outside food adventures lend themselves to Chinatown, many handheld foods are devoured in these neighborhoods. The culture is also geared to many handheld items. Just visit a bakery in an Asian neighborhood and you'll see what I mean.

See this leafy gem? Vietnamese spring rolls.
A fantastic contrasting flavor and texture distinguishes these finger-thick snacks from the fat, dumpy egg rolls and spring rolls of less desirable Chinese restaurants.

Filled with diced shrimp, onions, cabbage and pork, these are hauntingly addicting.
Fresh and hot from the fryer, they are served with big leaves of romaine lettuce, mint, cucumbers and dipping sauce. Wrap them up, nestled next to mint and cucumber, dip them in fish sauce and chilies, and enjoy one of the more wonder-filled handheld foods available. Don't skimp on the mint.

I'll tell you where I like to go for my favorites after the next handheld.

This next delight is a play on an old favorite. The pork bun.
This porky, flaky triangle is unlike the steamed or baked buns that I've spoken of before.

With a sweet, flaky exterior, and a savory pork filled center, these are excellent for breakfast with hot milk tea or for lunch with a cold bubble tea.
Also great after a night of drinking!

These are available at most dim sum restaurants and most Chinese bakeries.

Where to get them

For Vietnamese spring rolls, go to Nha Trang Palace in Brooklyn. I love this spot, and they have a number of dishes that are certainly worth ordering. Get spring rolls, of course, crispy fried squid, and any grilled pork. This place rocks.
For Vietnamese spring rolls in Manhattan, I go to Nha Trang One, on Baxter st. near Whiskey Tavern. The dish to order here is the sauteed shrimp with okra, perfect after several crispy appetizers.

For flaky sweet pork buns, I go to Fay Da Bakery in Manahattan Chinatown, which also has my favorite milk tea of almost any place around. Also worth trying is the chocolate walnut bun.