Breakfast in Hawai’i

In NYC, my first meal of the day follows a simple formula: tea + something sweet. 

But in Hawai’i, breakfast is a complete, sit-down affair with the whole family. It can consist of anything from dumplings (cooked in that

…to taro cakes. I’ve written about

…it’s made from a whole grated taro mixed with egg, nuoc nam, and pepper.

She steams the whole thing and drops it off to our house. And all we have to do is slice and panfry till it’s crunchy and browned on the outside. You know that turnip cake you get at dim sum? Picture that, except made with taro.

Weekend breakfast is more involved.

Dad makes all different types of noodle soup and today it was a mix of ho funn (wide, flat rice noodles), napa cabbage, pickled Chinese vegetables, and sliced beef.

All in pork broth and with plenty of cilantro and black pepper. Thanks, dad ^_^

Take Me Home…

…to Hawai’i!!!!!

Mom and dad picked me up from the airport yesterday and we went straight home for a shabu shabu dinner. Home-cooked meals are the best, aren’t they?

Dad’s in charge of the “pineapple,” aka laying out the vegetables and dumplings in a bowl until it vaguely resembles the shape of a pineapple. Choy sum, napa cabbage, sliced daikon, broccoli, and pork and chive dumplings.

Mom’s the sauce mixer. Everyone has a preferred blend, I do the satay + chili oil + sriracha + scallions + tons of chopped raw garlic combo.

Steak, gizzards, and shrimp.

Tofu pouches…

…and two types of noodles (we like the chewy ones from the Korean supermarket).

A client dropped off this poofy lemon meringue pie from Zippy’s, so that was dessert.

So happy to be home ^_^

One Pound of Veal Sweetbreads

Sweetbreads on the menu today ^_^

Have you ever felt these raw?

I can’t stop touching them. So plush and silky, cloud-light and cool to the touch. This is a single lobe of veal sweetbreads (about a pound) from Ottomanelli’s on Bleecker.

Put the entire lobe in a bowl and run a steady stream of cold water for 30-minutes. This is to get out all the blood and impurities.

The sweetbreads turn from this pinkish color to a pale white.

Then poach for 2-minutes. Remove the veins…

…and separate the glands into bite-size chunks.

Flour (even better if you use Wondra), cayenne, salt, and pepper.

A light toss, and then fry away!

The outside should be golden and all crisp, inside creamy. Sweetbreads are all about the texture. I sprinkle salt and pepper on top and then eat with rice. Keep it simple.

P.S. Couldn’t stop thinking about sweetbreads after this post, so ordered piri-piri sweetbreads for lunch at

Jack’s Wife Freda

today, heheh. They coat, deep-fry and pour on a spicy piri-piri sauce. Served with baguette.

Lamb, Spices, and Chickpeas

Lamb, spices, and chickpeas. Hard to go wrong. Especially with a bowl of rice. I had this recipe for slow-cooked lamb bookmarked for months and finally made it last week. I bought the lamb from Ottomanelli, my favorite butcher in the city. The apricots are from Russ & Daughters (no clue who they source apricots from, but they are amazing).

Mix together cumin, coriander, salt, fennel seeds, cayenne and black pepper in a big bowl. Add the cubed lamb shoulder and toss to coat.

Brown the lamb in a large skillet and then remove and set aside.

Add chopped onions and tomato paste to the drippings in the skillet.

Sauté till the onions are soft, then add chicken broth, chickpeas, dried apricots, chopped tomatoes, minced ginger, grated lemon peel, and cinnamon sticks. Bring it to a boil and make sure to scrape up all the brown bits (all that flavor!)

Add the lamb back in and simmer till the broth is all saucy and thick. The lamb should be so tender that you don’t even need a knife, it just melts. Spoon over a big bowl of rice and finish with cilantro. Makes me wish it was snowing outside ^_^

A Good Rib-Eye Steak

Now and then I cook a dish and wonder, why don’t I do this more often? That’s often the case with dishes that look impressive but require little effort.

I’ve been craving steak for the last week so the first thing I did after arriving home from Spain was visit Ottomanelli on Bleecker Street. Knowledge butchers, moderate prices, high quality, and all sorts of wild game. I only have two (minor) quibbles:

  •  the cuts can be a bit uneven, thicker on one side and thinner on the other side
  •  your credit card always comes back slicked in fat or blood (often both!)

This is a rib-eye for two. I use this formula/recipe when the meat is over 1 1/2″ thick. Rub both sides with canola oil, then salt and pepper it.

Stick a cast iron pan in the oven, preheat the oven to 500F. Once the oven is ready, remove the pan from the oven and put it on the stove. Turn on the stove to high heat.

Put in the rib-eye in the pan. Sear for 45 seconds, flip it over and do 45 seconds on the other side. Remove from heat. Put a tablespoon of butter on top of the rib-eye. And put the whole thing in the oven. Keep it there for 3 minutes at 500F, remove and flip the rib-eye over, and do another 3 minutes in the oven. We eat our steaks rare.

Take it out of the oven and tadahhhh.

Pierre’s in charge of slicing. Let it rest for a minute and then slice, slice over a plate of hot rice. We eat everything over hot rice in Hawai’i so steak with rice makes more sense to me than steak with potatoes. And oh man when the rice soaks up all the drippings. Sheesh!! A glass of red (we’ve been drinking this ) and that’s dinner.