NSMH’s multicultural cooking demonstration

Last Monday night was a fantastic night to me. One of my friends told me that the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality, was going to hold a multicultural cooking demonstration at Marriott Hall. They provided food and drinks! So I went there with no hesitation with my friend. Facts have proved that my choice was correct, the event was very interesting.

The cooking event had invited the chefs from three local restaurants.

  • Ake Waratap Pasayadai, our first chef from Essence and Basil Thai.
  • Omar Williams and Jordan Mirick from East End Grill. They cooked something looks really fancy (this dish was on their daily menu as well).
  • And the last chef, Carl Conway, was from the John Purdue Room. He’s dessert was simple but super cute.

Latea also came to the event as one of the sponsors. They provided every participate a free house milk tea. I really love Latea’ s milk tea because some of their products remind me of the milk tea that I have had in China.

Click the video below and see what did the chefs make for us in the cooking demonstration!

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Balance the bitter with sweet

What would you like to eat when you drink a cup of green tea or latte? I always choose something sweet to help balance the bitter flavor of the drinks, such as a piece of cheese cake, a small plate of Taosu (a kind of cookie); or maybe some cute wagashi.

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Wagashi (和菓子) are traditional Japanese sweets that are typically enjoyed in combination with green tea or matcha. The most incredible thing about wagashi, is not only about their flavors, but even more, is about their ever-changing shapes. I always describe wagashi by saying that “There are many different results under one same subject.” They are creative sweets contain so many imagination and inner peaceful of the confectioner, who give life and vitality to the dessert.

Wagashi is a collective title of lots of different types of Japanese snacks. They have a diverse ingredients and preparation methods. Some are popular across the country and around the year while others are only available regionally or seasonally. Wagashi is also very popular as tourism goods and gifts. Its exquisite and beautiful appearance and high quality of flavor often attract a large number of consumers from different places around the world.

Sweet azuki bean paste (anko) is a central ingredient in a large number of Japanese sweets. Boiled azuki beans are sweetened with sugar and mashed to create either smooth anko (koshian) or chunky anko (tsubuan). Other common ingredients for wagashi include rice cakes (mochi), rice flour, Japanese agar (kanten), sesame paste and chestnuts. Dango and Taiyaki are very popular snacks in spring, especially when people go to see the cherry blossom with family or friends.

T2 Namagashi (生菓子)


Namagashi (lit. raw sweets) are traditional Japanese sweets that are most often associated with wagashi. They are made of rice flour and a sweet bean paste filling, and are delicately shaped by hand to reflect the season. Namagashi are served at the tea ceremony.

T2 Daifuku (大福)

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Daifuku are made of soft rice cake (mochi) wrapped around a small round of smooth, sweet bean paste or other fillings. They are covered with a light dusting of potato starch to keep them from sticking together. Popular daifuku variations include strawberry (ichigo), beans (mame) and ice cream. Daifuku should be eaten quickly as they become hard if left exposed.

T2 Dango (だんご)

Dango are chewy, small, steamed dumplings made of rice flour. They are typically served skewered three or four to a stick and topped with a sweet sauce or bean paste. The dumplings are also added into other desserts like anmitsu and oshiruko. Like daifuku, dango are best eaten fresh.

T2 Taiyaki (たい焼き)

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Taiyaki are fish-shaped snacks made of batter similar to pancake batter and filled with sweet bean paste, although alternative, modern fillings include custard cream, chocolate or cheese. Taiyaki are best eaten hot off the grill when the batter is still crispy.

T2 Monaka (最中)

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Monaka consists of a wafer shell filled with sweet bean paste. The wafer shells come in different shapes and sizes from simple, round shells to more intricately designed ones. A popular modern variation of monaka is filled with ice cream. The wafer shells tend to go stale once exposed to air and should be eaten as soon as possible.

Most of the wagashi are hard to find outside Japan, if you are interested in these cute desserts, Daifuku, Yokan and Dorayaki are easy to be found on Amazon and Yamibuy.

Preserved Egg

Preserved egg is a unique Chinese food. Japan and South Korea serves this special egg in some local restaurants as well. What is interesting and makes me what to write about this food is because of my dad. My dad’ s working environment is always surrounded by people from different countries. When they went out for food together, my father said most of his international friends were having a hard time accepting the preserved egg, and many of them thought it was the weirdest Chinese food they had ever seen.

The history of preserved eggs can be traced back to the Ming Dynasty, which was found to be recorded accurately in 1504. According to the traditional Chinese medicine records, preserved egg is not only delicious food, but also contains certain medicinal value. It can be used for relieving toothache, high blood pressure, and also dispelling the effects of alcohol.

Even though I am a Chinese, I didn’t like preserved egg, either, when I was in my high school. First, preserved egg is in a dark gray color or sometimes is black with light pine needles pattern. As an egg, this kind of color is really a bit strange. And, when I know that preserved egg is made by preserving duck or chicken eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months, I always tried to avoid eating this food on table.

However, what made me change my opinion on preserved eggs was one of the most popular porridge in China – preserved egg porridge with minced pork (This serves as regular food on KFC’s breakfast menu in China).

Usually, the preserved egg porridge tastes salty. Lots of people will cook the porridge until the rice comes viscous. The preserved eggs and pork will be cut into small pieces, which helps the rice absorb the aroma of those two foods and make the rice more mellow.

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I have found a very detailed recipe of preserved egg and pork congee for you. It is very simple, and most of the ingredients can be easily purchased in West Lafayette area (C&T Market/ Better World Market). You will love the preserved egg after you try one.

Instructions:

  1. Wash the rice; soak with clean water for at least 1 hour. Transfer out and drain.
  2. Marinate rice with salt and oil. Rest for around 15 minutes. And then marinate minced pork with cornstarch and pinch of salt.
  3. In a pot, bring water or stock to a boil and then add rice. After 10 minutes, turn down the fire to simmer for around 40 minutes or until the rice is almost broken. Stir several times to prevent rice stick to the bottom.
  4. Place pork and century egg in. Continue simmer for around 5 to 8 minutes over medium fire.
  5. Sprinkle salt and mix well.
  6. Transfer to serving bowl, top with spring onion, coriander plus preserved Sichuan mustard (optional) before serving.

For more information about the recipe: http://www.chinasichuanfood.com/chinese-congee-with-pork-and-century-egg/ 

If you feel not confident in cooking, the China One restaurant also serves preserved egg porridge. However, I’m not highly recommending this method because the porridge there is expensive.

Attention: Do not eat too many preserved eggs, especially children, because they may contain a little lead (like popcorn). Certified lead-free preserved eggs are available.

Journey in Peppercorns Kitchen

One of my friends, who had transferred to UIUC one year ago, came back to Purdue last weekend. She always said she missed the foods in Peppercorns Kitchen (巴国演义) here in West Lafayette. So, me and she, with another friend of us, went to the Peppercorns Kitchen during the early lunch time on Saturday. Since it was 11:30 in the morning, so the restaurant seemed way more empty than usual (I used to wait nearly 40 minutes for a table there).

We ordered four dishes, three meat cuisines, and one vegetable. Some were the famous dishes recommended by many of my friends, and some were the new dishes on the menu. The tip in Peppercorns Kitchen was a little bit expensive, but their service was good. It’s a nice place to have delicious Sichuan cuisines with 3 or more people together. And if you love spicy food, you wouldn’t want to miss this restaurant.

Click the video below and see what we’ve got! The basic information of Peppercorns Kitchen is at the end of video.

 How much sugar would you use based on the recipe?

Yesterday afternoon, I went to Starbucks with my friend. Maybe it’s because of the weather was still a bit cold, I really wanted to have something could make me feel warm.So I ordered a cup of coconutmilk mocha macchiato. I knew this drink might be sweet, but I had never thought it could be in such a sweet taste. And I even didn’t ask for half sugar when I made my order. But my friend, who knew so well about macchiato and her own taste preference, ordered a half sugar coconutmilk mocha macchiato, which made me feel much better after I tried a little of it.

In fact, this experience reminds me some interesting differences of the cooking recipes in China and some Western countries. Because I know that there are many Western recipes have a very precise limits on the amounts of ingredients. Just like the coffee in Starbucks,  the taste with half sugar is different with the one with normal sugar. But Chinese have no very accurate amount requirements within their recipes, and they always change the amount of ingredients based on personal preferences. This could be very obvious when compare restaurants between the China and western world.

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When Chinese chefs are cooking dishes, they may tell you that they will add some soy sauce, a little bit sorghum wine, or an appropriate amount of sugar into the dish. Some of the top chefs would use only one huge truner to do everything during cooking. When I learnt cooking at home, my parents would use the exactly same words as those chefs do. In a nutshell, the reason why they never say an accurate number of amount is that Chinese recipes rely more on experiences and personal feelings. Therefore, when the restaurant changes its chef, the dish may change its taste as well.

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However, in some of the Western countries, like France and Italy, some chefs will have electronic scales on their cooking table. When adding red wine or oil in the dish, they may use specific tablespoons with exact quantity scales on them. The recipes will tell them how many grams of sugar do they need, or how many milliliters of oyster sauce should add into the dish. Such an accurate cooking style can perfectly control the taste of food and keep it staying in a stable level.

20140603171554_JFgURO0xHowever, since the global communication and interaction have brought many changes to eating habits in various countires, I can’t make a 100% statement that all the people in China or in Western world will completely follow the rules I wrote above. However, it could give you a general idea about how does Chinese cooking differ from the America or other Western ones.

 

Regina Kim: I have a restaurant helps me remember Purdue

People always say that they love foods. However, they seldom shared the reasons why they love foods so much. One thing can be used as an answer to this question can be easily found in everybody’s life: foods can help a person to remember a place – they contain our memory. This idea was exactly what Regina Kim, a Purdue student from South Korea, shared with me in our conversation about her favorite East Asian Food Restaurant at Purdue.

“I would recommend Rice Cafe cause it’s not a food to eat alone for one person, and the Shrimp with Chili Sauce and the General Tso’s Chicken is so good,” Kim said when she talking about which restaurant was her beloved one, and how would she introduce it to the people who were new on campus.

Rice Cafe is a small restaurant located next to the Rawls Hall and Harry’s Chocolate Shop on the Pierce Street. It is a made-to-order Chinese restaurant and will deliver food to nearly anywhere in the West Lafayette and Downtown Lafayette areas.

“I really like the taste of the General Tso’s Chicken there. The chicken is not that spicy and salty as some of the other restaurants,” Kim said. And the General Tso’s Chicken is a very popular sweet, piquant, deep-fried chicken dish that is almost served in all kinds of Chinese restaurants in North American.

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“I always eat their foods with friends. Because they offer a lot of amount of food, so you can not eat them all by yourself,” Kim explained. She described this situation by sharing a short daily conversation: “My friends and I always saying ‘Do you want Rice Cafe?’ ‘Oh yes, I do.’ And then we will make the order.” She also added that the food served best for 2-3 people. This could be a good chance for peers to share fun things together during the meal.

“Rice Cafe reminds me about exams, ” Kim laughed when she shared her most memorable thing related to the restaurant. “Because I always study late during the dead week, and I usually order Rice Cafe with friends at that time in the library or home. The best thing about this restaurant is that it delivered until 4 a.m.,” said Kim. She then explained that this probably meant that if you were hungry at 2 a.m., although most of the restaurants were closed, you could still order anything you like in Rice Cafe. It’ s a super convenient restaurant seems designed specifically for those who always stay up late at night.

“It (remind her about exams) is not a very good thing maybe. But I think whenever I eat it, it reminds me of those nights,” said Kim. “If I graduated, it may remind myself of the college life I had at Purdue.”And when she left campus, she might also talk about the tasty General Tso’ s chicken and shrimp which she used to spend so many time with them with her friends.

  • Rice Cafe’s official website: http://www.ricecafe.net/; or you can make your order on Hungry Boiler app on smartphone.
  • Fun fact about General Tso’s Chicken: the dish’s name comes from a famous statesman and military leader, Zuo Zongtang (formerly romanized Tso Tsung-t’ang), from Hunan province in Qing dynasty. However, there is no recorded connection to him nor is the dish known in Hunan. The chef, Changgui Peng, who was said to be the first person made this recipe, randomly chose this name for the dish.

Shinya Shokudō (Midnight Diner): A drama can warm the spring up

Any plan for spring break? I will travel to Washington D.C. for several days with my friends. At first, I was super excited about the cherry blossoms because the National Park Service said the flowers would be fully blooming three weeks earlier than normal this year. But yesterday, the NPS claimed that the blossoms wouldn’t reach their peak until March 19 since the temperature would go down next week. Anyway, I will find some really nice food and excellent museums to help release my sadness of missing the cherry blossoms.

Some of my classmates said they planned nothing special to do during the whole break. Well, staying at home and doing nothing is also a good choice – that’s exactly what I have done in my first spring break here at Purdue. But you still need to do something, right? So I prepared an excellent TV series about Japanese food for those who may need something fun to kill time.

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Shinya Shokudō (深夜食堂), literally means the diner serves at midnight. It is a very simple, relax and warm drama that you do not even need to think too much when you watch it. All the stories are shared as conversations during the meal time. People in the drama will tell you their stories. Some of the stories are so realistic that you may find lots of examples in your own life; some are showing the love and inclusiveness among people, which can make the audience feel being cured after they watching it. Such as the confusion from a gangster boss; a transgender female who admire the gangster boss; a young generation who tries so hard to earn money but still can not afford their own life; the wife who is trying to maintain her broken family; the love story between two customers who are firstly met in the midnight diner. Sounds a bit sad, but the show will give very rational and mild answer of those problems or issues at the end.

The chef, but also the owner of the midnight diner, he will calmly listen to people’s stories and serve their favorite foods. There is no specific menu in the diner because the requirements from the guests are the only recipes. Some characters even crying when they eat something has the similar taste with the dish they used to eat long time ago that contains so many memory or their early dreams inside.

Shinya Shokudō can be divided into a special category of Japanese film and television work which is named as food and cure type. The food in the movie is not limited to Japanese cuisines, but also foreign cuisine that has certain Japanese dietary characteristics.

I love watching this TV series during the warm winter afternoon, at the quite midnight, or when sitting in the soft sunshine in spring. Because only the warmest things can be commensurate with such a gentle drama. Put down all the unhappy things but enjoy the kindness of the humanity. There is a very popular internet phrase in China says: “Only food and love can not live up to.” This sentence is exactly what the drama wants to express.

Since I’m going to enjoy my most precious spring break time, I will continue updating my blog after the spring break week. Maybe I can share you guys some nice East Asian food restaurants in Washington at that time. The weather report said that the temperature would also go down in Lafayette area, so I hope my recommendation will warm your spring up a little.

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See you after the break and enjoy your time!