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The New Sushi: Nigiri

9 Nov

        While North Americans appreciate regular sushi rolls and Temaki Sushi, a special branch of sushi has spread its popularity in East and Southeast Asia: Nigiri Sushi. Fortunately, I had a chance to try such delicate I during the summer of 2010. After shopping in the city, my friends and I went to the “Little Tokyo” in Taipei.

“You are going to see the most epic food,” said one of my friends; and left me wondering, “What else can it be? It’s just sushi!”

 While approaching the restaurant, I saw a line starting from the entrance of the restaurant to the end of the block. We waited for two hours outside of the restaurant just to get a table. I was surprised because we were assigned with a chef who will make all the sushi for us. After few seconds, the first nigiri was made and my friends insisted that I have the first one.

“This is not just sushi,” while I put the ball of rice in my mouth. The softness, the freshness, and the spiciness were all at the level of perfection.


The friends laughed loudly just looking at my expression, not to mention I had the next five nigiri served to us. While eating, the chef introduced the qualities of nigiri. Basically, the chef needs to shape the rice into a sphere, and put on fresh fish (Sashimi).

“It may sound easy, but it took my just five years to learn,” said the chef.

From choosing the correct rice, fresh fish, correct sauce to actually making the nigiri, every steps must be monitored carefully. The experience of the chef is especially important. With such precision, no doubt nigiri can rise as the most popular dish in East Asia. It represents delicacy and precision when making the food.

It was the only food I kept thinking while on the flight back to Canada.

“I am coming back for this,” I said to myself.

OCT 23 garden update

23 Oct

looks great on the house side.

the transplanted plant doesn’t seem to work out too well.

Garden status on Oct 16 Saturday

19 Oct

Sorry, I forgot to upload this to the blog.

The Myth of Moon Cake

19 Oct


    On the Chinese traditional (farmer’s) calendar, August 15 is when people celebrate Mid-Autumn’s festival. The efforts and hard works of farmers are harvested usually around this time. It is a festival that all family member must celebrate together. Therefore, in the evening of festival, people would bring out moon cakes, pomelo, persimmon, and sugar cane. Everyone will sit under the moon light not only to enjoy the happiness of harvest but also compose poetry to embrace the good will.

     There is a myth about why Chinese eat moon cake on the festival. When one of the seven angels returns to heaven from ordinary world, she accidentally left a child with an ordinary person. However, many other children teased and laughed at him because he had no mother. The child cried and another God herd his cry. The God brought flying shoes to the kid and informed the seven angels that they had a kid in the ordinary world. The kid flied up to heaven and met his mother. The seven angels were surprised but happy. They used honey, peanuts, and walnut kernel to make the stuffing; then they make the cake circular just like the moon.

     However, this incident was discovered by the emperor of the Gods. The God emperor punished the seven angels to live on the moon forever and returned the kid back to ordinary world. Later, the kid became a government official. He commanded the citizens to make the cake and put in under the moon to express the long for family reunion. The citizen thought the cake’s shape is similar to the moon, and so the name “Moon cake” was born and passed on from generation to generation.

Garden Update Oct.9th

10 Oct

Looks alright after transplanting…it was abit hot, but they hid under the shade.

Experience “the” Chinese food

28 Sep


    What exactly does Chinese food has that makes it one of the most delicate and enjoyable food in the world? Aside from the exquisiteness of Japanese food and the classics of European food, Chinese food has a long history of development; but how exactly does “traditional” Chinese food surprise the eaters?

    Due to its long lasting refinement of food, China has finally established its reputation in food. Every single piece of rice and every piece of chicken have its unique method that makes them perfect. In fact, each dish in the regular Chinese restaurant should take at least one hour to prepare and actually be ready to serve. When you bite the Chinese food, you can definitely feel the effort of chef. Moreover, certain dishes such as roasted Beijing duck takes even up to four hours to cook and half an hour to serve. The delicacy and long history of refinement are what make Chinese food “magical.”

    One of my favorite foods in Taiwan, where I grew up, is the Formosa Beard Chang. It is one famous restaurant in Taiwan that mix well cooked hashed meats and rice. The hashed meat is typically stewed about five to six hours for it to serve. When I had it the first time, I was deeply in love with the smell and the taste. The smell just simply burst out in my mouth and it stays even after I finished. Moreover, I didn’t even have to chew the rice to swallow. The well mixed dish is done so soft that I can simply relax and enjoy the delicacy. Unfortunately, when I arrived at LA, there are no “real” Chinese foods that I once enjoyed.

   – Patrick Lee

Foodies Never Turn Back

15 Sep

   In Fukuoka Masanobu’s words, the modern dining habits are simply unacceptable. His notion of dinning is to fit “food with souls.” In his words, people should be eating the pure, not articulated, food. In this way, can people be closer to the nature. Unfortunately, it is basically impossible to establish such habit nowadays. In any cities, or even towns, many different restaurants can be found: Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mexican, and even Mongolian. However, these restaurants’ foods are nowhere near the requirements of Fukuoka. Since the foods are somehow changed from the “pure” states. Especially in LA, where all the master chefs in different cuisines can be found, it is much easier to go astray from the conditions described by Fukuoka.

    Due to the extravagance of food, many people have become “foodies,” as Fukuoka said. The foodies are the people who belief that they understand the art of dinning, and are able to distinguish bad food from good ones; more importantly knows how to enjoy eating food. However, Fukuoka states, “modern people have lost their clear instinct and consequently have become unable to gather and enjoy seven herbs of spring.” (The One –Straw Revolution pp.136) He believes that the “foodies” don’t understand the art of eating food fully, where “Food and the human spirit are united.” (The One –Straw Revolution pp.136)

    Meiji Era was an important era for Japanese food culture. They started consume beef and many foreign restaurants started to operate in cities of Japan. Before that, the Japanese people refuse to eat beef because they think cow are animals that help with farming. Interestingly, after the Emperor ate beef in the public, the Japanese people accept the notion and it was the period when Japanese cuisine goes astray from what Fukuoka suggested. It is also an era when the modern people will never turn back to enjoy “pure” foods.

A Twist in College Living

7 Sep

    During the time I live in North America, I have noticed that the Chinese food in North America is absolutely disastrous. The rice is simply unacceptable. The side dishes are extremely out of the taste that they suppose to be. Strangely, many of my American friends actually love to have meals from stores like Panda Express, a restaurant that I never went after first try…After I struggle through many other North-American-Chinese restaurants, I decided to cook for myself. Interestingly, many of my friends just gave up food like French Fries, Hamburgers, and Pizza and my house is always full of people when it’s dinner time.  

    Unfortunately, when I arrived at USC’s dorm, there are no cooking supplies in the whole building. I suffered through the first week dining in the school restaurants. However, I did borrow a steaming machine from my friend that can basically heat up food without it becoming too dry. Later, due to shortage of supplies, my roommate and I came up with many methods to reduce as much cost as possible. For example, the water that washed rice can be reused to wash the dishes stead of using dish washer which consume too much energy and produce to much chemical wastes. After a week of practice, we discovered, after calculation, cooking by ourselves can greatly reduce the cost of dining either outside or inside the campus, and we can be part of the Earth-Saving Team.

Pin Hsein (Patrick), Lee