Friday, October 18, 2013

5th Taste Bud: Umami

Let's take a look at our basic tastes: salt, sweet, sour, bitter, and lastly umami. For those that are not familiar with umami, its considered and now a more widely accepted part of our basic taste. Umami is similar to savoriness. 

I got really excited when a restaurant named Umami Burger was located near by and just had to go try it. My order was the original Umami burger and a side of smushed potato. 

The burger I ordered has shiitake mushroom, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, parmesan crisp, and umami ketchup. It was delicious but I wouldn't recall the burger as umami. I did get a chance to try a portion of my friend's truffle burger and it was yummy. I prefer hers over mines.  

The smushed potato was ordered due to my curiosity. It was umami in my opinion, although I am a big fan of any potato dish. It had a layer of crisp and soft fluffy potato in the inside. The dipping cream sauce was the garlic aioli. My initial taste response to the combination was, "oh, this is weird...". After a few more tries, it became a pleasant taste and I enjoyed every bite of it, despite that a little more salt wouldn't have hurt.
Umami Burger, here I am
Even the napkin has a burger stamp
Smushed Potatoes with Garlic Aioli Sauce
"U" for Umami
A slider kinda portion
Look at that medium-rare meat

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

DIY: Vietnamese Spring Rolls

A fool proof DIY that you cannot mess up, except for the shape of it. Spring rolls are easy to make, they can be prepared the night before or even early in the morning. Whether you are a full-time student on a budget or a working person that consists of a busy schedule, this is your lunch rescue.

I regret to say that I did not prepare a step-by-step DIY procedure for those who are visual learners as I am. But, I can give you a run-down of what you need and how to go about preparing your own spring roll.

Ingredients you will need:
Rice paper or spring roll wrap
  • This may be a little tricky to get depending on where you are residing. If you have an Asian market near by, I bet they will have these wraps in stock. They come in variations in packaging and appearance, some are round and some are rectangular. I prefer the round shaped ones.
  • Here's a link of how rice paper looks like: Click here
  • They cost around $2.00 a pack, the price on the link above is outrageous.
What to put inside your spring roll
Necessity: lettuce, rice noodles, type of meat (shrimp, chicken, ground pork/beef, tofu...), dipping sauce (will mention later)
Optional: mint leaves, pickled veggies

  1. Cook your rice noodles to a boil. Drain it and leave it to cool.
  2. Find a plate that holds an inch of water. Fill the plate with an inch of water. Submerge your rice paper in water. What this does is it softens the rice paper. At this point, your rice paper should be translucent, if its not, you may have got the wrong kind of wrap. Take it out and place it on a flat surface. 
  3. With your rice paper on a flat surface, place your meat first in the center. This becomes the top of the spring roll and ultimately what you will see as an end product. Next, comes the greens, pile up those lettuces, and lastly the already cooked and cooled rice noodles.
  4. Wrap it like a burrito.

Dipping Sauce:
Fish Sauce
  • Again, a little tricky but try your local Asian market. They also come in variation but similar product should work fine
  • Should cost about $5.00
Here is an example of how it looks like: Click Here

Hot Chili Sauce
  • Best to use something that have garlic flakes. If not, sriracha sauce (the one with the rooster) will do.
Soy Sauce

  • Add a drizzle or enough for your liking
  1. Mix all three ingredients together, adjusting the amounts to your content. 
Outcome should look something like this:

My version: rice wrap (exactly the one on the link), seasoned chicken breast strips, lettuce, rice noodles

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