Monthly Archives: January 2013

Manchurian Cuisine

东北人家
东北人家 (Dongbei/Manchurian People’s Home)
Restaurant Chain in China

Dearest NYC readers, this post is going to be somewhat irrelevant for your weekend restaurant search. This post is less of a review but an introduction to northern Chinese cuisine. Dongbei, previously Manchuria, is the most northeastern region of China. It shares a border with Russia, Mongolia, and Korea. The cuisine is rarely talked about in the US and I think that should change. Here in NYC you have your Cantonese, Shanghainese, Sichuan and maaaybe even Yunnan food. All are very different, by the way. Dongbei or Northern or Manchurian food is another major type of cuisine that is probably one of the least pretentious ones. Because the weather can get extremely cold in the region, the cuisine is very substantial, hearty and uses LOTS OF GARLIC. Northerners also eat a lot of delicious carby foods, aka. my kind of foods. Pictured above is the waiting area of the Dongbei restaurant we were at where you get free sunflower seeds and are encouraged to toss the shells on the ground. Love China.

东北人家    东北人家
Chinese cornbread. It’s denser, grainier, and less sweet than what we think of as “southern” cornbread in the US. My dad hates eating it because it was the only carb he had growing up during the Cultural Revolution in China. I, a first world child, grew up eating jasmine rice and so relish the meals where we have cornbread. This is a panfried version.

东北人家
Wo Wo Tou, or directly translated as “Nest heads” … go figure. This is a steamed version of the corn bread. Often sweeter, and chewier because of its shape.

东北人家
Crispy “Hand-Pulled” Pancake. It’s like a scallion pancake with more layers and no scallions. Greasy, crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside, this pancake is addicting as hell.

东北人家This is a classic one. Braised Pork with Vermicelli. The pork is cooked until extreeeemely soft, giving the soup a nice porky flavor. Wilted winter cabbage adds sweetness to the soup. Fat clear noodles soak up the soup. You eat the pork, cabbage, and vermicelli, AND drink the soup. Continue reading Manchurian Cuisine

Prima, seafood and cocktails on first and first.

PrimaPrima
58 East 1 St
New York, NY 10003

Seafood, seafood, seafood. I often crave great seafood but rarely find places worth going to a second time. I’m not too sure I would go to Prima again but the food was pretty amazing. Prima is a tiny restaurant hidden on 1st and 1st. The space is tiny. The seats are tiny. The food is tiny too. But the food is deelicious and incredibly fresh. Think Upstate but with a nicer ambiance. And instead of beers at Upstate, you order cocktails at Prima. I ordered the Prima Mimosa ($10), with Little Blanc, Raspberry Puree, Yuzu Juice, Rose Water, and Prosecco. The drink was light, sweet, and slightly tart, like a grown-up sweet tart.

Prima    Prima
For our apps, we shared the crab cakes ($14) with radish, pickles, and tartar sauce, and the octopus ($14) with aromatic oil, nicoise olives, feta, and preserved lemon. The menu said crab cakeS so I left it that way in my description, even though in my photo it clearly displays a singular crab cake. Sure, the cake was good and filled with way more fresh crab meat than flour but $14 for a tiny tiny cake is a bit too much, don’t you think? Particularly because the crab cake wasn’t anything special. I can get that at any decent seafood chain. The octopus, on the other hand, was worth trying. Octopus is often too rubbery but when made right, is chewy and tender. The preserved lemon, a common Indian condiment, added more than just a slight acidity, as a fresh lemon would. Preserved lemons are intensely lemony, almost like a lemon syrup without the sweetness.

Continue reading Prima, seafood and cocktails on first and first.

Homemade Purple Yam Mochi

Purple Yam MochiI’m so sorry I’ve disappeared off of the world wide web. I’ve been traveling for the past month, making stops in Moscow (a nine hour layover where I sampled watered down borscht, cold meatballs, and limp crepes), Beijing, Hong Kong, Cherating Beach in Malaysia, and Ho Chi Minh City. I’ve also gotten a little lazy. Not lazy in that I haven’t been eating of course. Almost every meal I’ve had in the past month was delicious and planned (Moscow aside). I’ve also learned a few new things from Mama Shi. Purple Yam Mochi is one of them. It’s a great simple little dessert to make and share. If you haven’t had a purple yam before, you have to go get some. It doesn’t taste particularly unique, but its color is so purple and saturated that it seems unreal. I didn’t add any food coloring to my play-dough-looking dough up there. Like most purple foods, it’s also very good for you. It’s high in potassium, B6, vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants.

Purple Yam MochiIt’s super duper easy to make. Buy a few purple yams, remove the skin, and steam for 15-20 minutes until soft. Mix in with water, a tiny bit of sugar, and mochi powder, which you can buy at any Chinese supermarket. I only add a tiny bit of sugar because I like to make the filling a little sweeter. The filling I used this time is a black sesame filling. I always have a ton of black sesame soup (芝麻糊) packets lying around so just used that, mixed in some sugar, flour, and oil, and sauteed until super fragrant. Trust me, the whole house will smell great. You can also refrigerate any extra filling for future use. Add a bit of filling to a small handful of the dough, roll into a ball, and squash flat between your palms. Mochi powder is great because it doesn’t stick to your hands.

Continue reading Homemade Purple Yam Mochi