Heyyyyy girl heyyy. It’s been a minute, I’m very well aware. I wonder how many times I’m going to start my posts with some sort of apology & a haphazard explanation for my absence. Probably forever until the Zombie Apocalypse hits to be honest, but let’s hope it doesn’t get to that. But in case any of you need a safe haven for food, my house in California is stocked for the next 2 years for about 6 people. Shout out to my mom for being a hoarder. Why would anyone need 7 bottles of fish sauce? I don’t know, man, don’t question an Asian mother who finds a good sale. Not exactly down with the 2nd amendment though, so don’t come here thinking you’re going to find guns to defend yourselves. Plenty of great Global knives though. Should I invest in a katana? Maybe. Enough of my aside, let’s get to the point of this post. It’s Friday & I’m hanging out with my fam in California. Instead of working on things for my future, I’m editing pictures from months/years ago. When are you ever going to see my cousin’s wedding photos? I don’t know, check back in 3 years. For now, y’all can salivate over these photos of food my friends & I ate while we were in Montreal for my birthday this year! Pretty sure editing these photos just inspired me to plan another trip to Montreal next year when the Biodome is open.
I’ve had this post queued up for almost a year, but I guess I forgot to post it. Whoops. A couple of summers ago, my family & I went on a trip to Thailand & Vietnam. At the end of our trip, we volunteered with MEMO in Vietnam. We offered scholarships to children to help keep them off the streets & stay in school, raised money for open heart surgery for young children, played with orphans, & gave thousands of strangers free healthcare. It was an amazing experience. We were exhausted, always full, sweaty, itchy from being victimized by mosquitos, & of course, many of us got food poisoning. Yay.
Our trip started off with riches–5 star hotels, white cloth dining, fully functioning air conditioning in our hotel rooms, real showers, deliciously decadent buffets–to rags. There were hotels we stayed at that simply had a drain in the middle of the bathroom floor, a non-existent shower. That’s right. There weren’t showers in some of these hotels, there was simply a shower head attached to a wall next to the toilet. The contrast was an unforgettable experience. I don’t think I’ll ever forget when my MEMO roomie Katie & I were thoroughly entertained by our eclectic neon ceiling lights in a hotel in the middle of nowhere. It dawned on us as we fumbled with the normal lights with the neon ones that the hotel we were staying was the type you’d take your escort/mistress to. It could’ve been worse, but after seeing hair & stains on the bedsheets & pillows, I decided sleeping on the ground was somehow more hygienic. Don’t question my logic, it helped me sleep that night. Nevertheless, we made it out alive, sans contracting an STI too! We all experienced a rollercoaster of emotions, but I think all of us walked away humbled, yet proud of the good we did. We helped positively change people’s lives, many of whom don’t even know our names nor have any ties to us. We were just a bunch of MEMOers helping out complete strangers.
» Continue Reading «
After traveling around Thailand for a week, my family collectively grew tired of eating Thai food. I thought I loved Thai, embracing papaya salad everyday, but I think the endless buffets (thanks to the pre-booked tours) quickly bored our palates. I never tired of mango & sticky rice though, but it never really occurred to me that Thai cuisine isn’t as diverse as Vietnamese cuisine. SHOTS FIREDDDD. Jaykay. Such a first world problem, right? It wasn’t until flying into Hanoi did I truly appreciate the cuisine of my peoplez. It’s exponentially more diverse than Thai food, especially due to its influence from its colonial French past & its Chinese neighbors. We’ve got similar desserts based in coconut milk & then we have these amazing cakes & pastries thanks to the French. We have dozens of various noodle soups, while Thailand only has a handful. While most other Asian countries embrace soy sauce in nearly every dish, Thai & Viet food is similar in that both cuisines embrace fish sauce, a highly pungent & salty fermented fish sauce. It’s often mixed with sugar, water, salt, & vinegar as a dipping sauce or dressing. Fish sauce (concentrated, not mixed) has always been my mother’s secret weapon in enhancing any meal whether it was spaghetti or Banh Canh Cua. Also, MSG. She used a lot of MSG, but the point is, whenever her meals needed a major kick in umami, she pulled out a bottle of fish sauce & measured out a tablespoon of it into her dish. Never fails.
We were excited to finally get our hands on some Vietnamese food, exciting our tastebuds with new combinations of flavors & spices we grew up with. I learned that Hanoi’s goi cuon tom (aka summer rolls) is made with a much thinner sheet of rice paper & honestly, it’s more annoying to eat & make. I love summer rolls. I make them at least 3 times a month, no matter the season, because it’s so healthy, fresh, filling, & low in calories. While Hanoi’s (Northern Vietnam) cuisine is much lighter than Saigon’s (Southern Vietnam), it still has some of my personal favorite dishes: Bun Cha & Cha Ca Thang Long. See all of our eats & travel photos below!
» Continue Reading «
If you’ve never heard of this delicious Sichuan dish before, now you have & you’ve seen a picture of it. Of course my rendition of it errs on the traditional meat & tofu dish, but this is still an amazing Chinese dish, which pretty much is a party in your mouth. Probably might even make you sweat a little if you can’t handle the heat. This would not be the greatest recipe to try if you’re in, oh I don’t know, California or Florida right now–the states that completely avoided the Polar Vortex because they defy the laws of Seasons–but if you’re in any of the other 48 states with the exception of parts of Texas, this dish is right up your alley. Autumn is happening & it’s slowly getting chillier with each passing week, so if you’re one of the strange individuals who doesn’t like soup–& apparently I know about at least 3 of you–mapo tofu is a nice solution. This dish is the perfect embodiment of Sichuan cuisine with its usage of their spicy peppercorns, reminiscent to the heatwave that is hammering a drought stricken California or the ever humid Florida. So, eat up this recipe & experience the heat before venturing out to the chilly autumn wind. Even if you’re not a fan of tofu, the sauce is so distinctive in flavor that the tofu won’t even bother you one bit. Not a fan of mushrooms? We’ve already talked about this.
» Continue Reading «
Summer is nearly, kind-of-but-not-really almost over, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy a refreshing ice pop on a bright & hot sunny day. At the peak of the season, I went on a bit of a fruit binge, so I got a tray of nectarines & peaches to use in my morning smoothies alongside blueberries, raspberries, & strawberries. We got a new blender over a month ago, so I’ve been utilizing all the fruits within my reach to whip up–or blend up, rather–some refreshing & healthy smoothies. You know how it is, gotta get that “daily 5” in somehow! This recipe is simple, healthy, & absolutely kid-friendly, but if there aren’t any kids around I’ve got a solution for that too. Add an extra zing to it by adding peach alcohol – 4-5 shots should be fine. No one will get drunk off the ice pops, don’t worry…that is of course, unless you eat all 10 ice pops in one sitting.
Moving past the lugubrious notion that summer is coming to an end, cheer up with a wonderful smoothie with some seasonal fruit!