Waffles with Ice Cream, Fruit, Whipped Cream and Syrup

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cocohodo1There’s something about the crispy bite of waffles, with its crunch with soft center, that seems to be universally appetizing across all nations, color blind.  I had a taste of pancakes, but the complex and varied texture of waffles does elevate it to something rewarding and self appeasing.  A dry bland waffle, which you may find in ordinary unrated cafes, like the recent one I had at Long Beach, may leave you parched, but a nicely dressed waffle seems as self adorning and self pampering more so than a nice massage at a spa or parlor.  The cool creamy ice cream blended with a bite of waffle mixed cool and crunchy with sweet entry, with fruity mix of strawberries and bananas, such as I had at Cocohodo on Beach Bl. at Buena Park, puts those textures and blend of tart and sweet in a nice palatable combination with whipped cream and syrup that elevates it to a pleasant combination without over indulgence of any one specific flavor.  A waffle is a simple recipe, with baking powder and a waffle griddle, and slight variations, something I found daily as street food in Pusan, S. Korea, and sometimes at continental breakfasts.  I make mine chewy with syrup dipsters, but sometimes like a self rewarding sunday, it’s sure worth the bite.

The Smell of Kimchi – my grandmother

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kimchi jarsMy grandmother, Harmoni, walked in pendulum motion—left, right, left, right—in a pace that was soft and matched with time. As she walked next to me, I looked up to see the sun shine on her silvery gray hair and her dark skin that was patterned with deeply formed lines and brown spots. As we matched our walking rhythm, she began her tale once again about how I should have been born a boy. Her deep voice, interspersed with occasional laughter, accompanied our ritual walk to church on Wednesday evenings along the dirt ridden paths of Busan, Korea. As we walked back home in the cool summer evening, Harmoni reached into her pocket and pulled out a small bundle rolled up in her handkerchief. As she unwrapped it, I could smell from a distance the sweet sour smell of kimchi pancakes.
(read more in Asian Blues)

available in Amazon as 2013 Issue

Ba Bao Ya Chinese Duck sure ain’t no Dummy!

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duck1Ba bao ya in Chinese, or dummy in Korean, is a duck stuffed with diced chicken, ham, shrimp, chestnuts, bamboo shoots, scallops and mushrooms stir fried with undercooked rice, soy sauce, ginger, spring onions, and rice wine. This sounds like an Asian version of the popular Southern dish, jambalaya, but baked in the oven. Try some with lettuce and hoisin sauce as a delicious healthy wrap. Perhaps being a dummy, like a baby in Italian, or naïve means bliss in China that leads to 8 treasures.

Hot Chili Peppers with capsaicin signaling HOT!

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peppers1Hot Chili Peppers… gave their intensity when ingested with capsaicin and several related chemicals. When consumed capsaicin bind with pain receptors in the mouth and throat responsible for sensing heat. Once activated by capsaicin, the receptors send a message to the brain that person has consumed something very very hot. The brain responds to the burning sensation by raising the heart rate, increasing perspiration and releasing endorphins. Dried chili peppers are often ground into powders. Dried whole chiles may be reconstituted before grinding to a paste used to flavor soups and stews with bean paste. The leaves of the chili plant, mildly bitter and nowhere near as hot as the fruit, are often pickled with kimchi. Local markets are never without peppers, stocked well in various sizes, in fresh and dried form. Hot sauces and stews found in many foods are made with gochujang paste.

The Tradition of Gochujang Pepper Taste

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gochujang1Gochujang… is a hot pepper paste made form red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. It was believed to have been first used in Korea in late 18th century after chili was introduced from Japan in the 16th century. It was originally made by adding powdered red chili peppers and rice powder to soybean paste, then aging this paste under the sun in a clay pot or earthen jars. A small amount of sweetener such as sugar, syrup or honey is also sometimes added for a rich pungent flavor. The hot pepper paste is used to flavor stews, marinate meat, and as a condiment. Gochujang is one of the three indispensable condiments in a Korean home along with soy sauce and soybean paste. It makes dishes spicier but also somewhat sweeter.

Memories of Hot summers in Busan, South Korea

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hotJuly was the hottest month, with the sound of hungry mosquitoes at night and buzzing flies in the day. Cockroaches became more uninhibited during this month and poked out of the hiding to mingle with our food in open places. The smell of crispy crickets frying in hot sesame oil flowed through the stalls, and able children devoured everything that was and could be edible. The heats of fresh fruits piled high in the market wagons made me so hungry, I wished there was no bottom to my stomach.ladybug

from my memoir and article in Asian Magazine

The Tradition of Thanksgiving

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harvest basket

thanksgiving harvest

The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621 with the Natives. The feast lasted three days, and it was attended by 90 Natives and 53 Pilgrims, per a historian. The New England colonists continued this tradition annually known as a day celebrating “thanksgivings”—thanking God for the harvest, and blessings of victory or the end of a drought.  Turkey was more abundant than chickens such that Ben Franklin wanted to make turkey the national bird instead of the Eagle.  Turkey made its way onto the table over ham or game, with side dishes more known for comfort food such as mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and cranberries.

Celebrate this year with this tradition and review the past year of blessings and a wonderful harvest as you feast your eyes on the meal on your table and your family around you.