Monday, May 31, 2004

Chinatown Chow

Hills are so nice after three years of seeing completely flat land. Here's the view from my home in San Francisco for the next 9 days. Greg is such a gracious host. And he has an awesome house! Kanji, Zed, and Travis... you're going to love it here!

On Saturday night I got together with Greg, Ben, Eric, and Darin, and went out to a great Vietnamese place. I'm sure other tables were wondering what the hell "invulnerability scrapper" and "bf aggro" meant. I was surrounded by gaymers. Damn it was nice. We then went out dancing. I don't remember the name of the place, but it had danceable music, which is enough for me. I even got to stealth-sandwich Darin with Ben. Good times. Oh, and the club was totally smoke-free, so for once I didn't smell like crap after a night of dancing. Sadly, I forgot my camera, so I didn't get pics of our first Boys' Night Out.

I spent Sunday morning in Chinatown. While searching through the aisles of one market, a surprise visitor made an appearance. At first I thought it was a stray that wandered in, then I saw the collar. The cat was very much at ease in the busy store, and even decided to take a nap on one of the boxes while I finished shopping.

The ingredients for the Sunday dinner of Tofu and Eggplant with Black Bean Sauce, Sweet and Sour Walnuts, Chai Pow Yu Spring Rolls, Vegetarian Goose, and Vegetarian Ham.

Here's some fresh yuba (bean curd skin), the film that is formed on the surface of heated soymilk as it cools. Dried yuba is common, but fresh, pliable yuba is not. If anywhere would have it, it would be San Fran's Chinatown, and I wasn't disappointed. My eyes aren't closed in the picture, I'm just looking down at how big the unwrapped sheet really is.

In Singapore and Taiwan, observant buddhists often abstain from meat on certain holidays. A very popular dish, especially on such days, is Vegetarian Goose. For that reason, it can even be found on the menus of some regular Chinese restaurants in those two countries, though in the US it is only found in specifically vegetarian ones. The "goose" is made first by marinating sheets of fresh bean curd skin, which are then rolled over a filling of chopped and marinated enoki and shiitake mushrooms.

After wrapping tightly, the roll is steamed for 15 minutes, then deep-fried.

Vegetarian Ham is another buddhist dish made from bean curd skin, but in this case dried bean curd skin, also known as bean sticks, are used. Here the sticks are soaking next to shiitake, while walnuts are being boiled to rid them of bitter tannins.

The rehydrated bean sticks are minced and marinated, laid out over a cloth (I used unbleached organic cotton fabric), then rolled into a sausage-like link and tied with twine. The roll is then placed in the steamer for 40 minutes. It's supposed to cool down slowly, but I was in a hurry, so I put it in the freezer for 20 min. Badly backlit and no flash... *sigh*

Chai Pow Yu (braised wheat gluten)

Wrapping a spring roll with a filling of minced carrots, celery, and chai pow yu

2 spring rolls met an untimely end due to unraveling before I wised up and clamped down on the seam when lowering them in.

Walnuts in a batter of glutinous rice flour and whole wheat pastry flour

Deep-frying the tofu before starting up the black bean sauce

Ben jumps in on the action after watching from the sidelines.

I love Chinatown!

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