My First Caviar and Surprising Best Way to Enjoy It

I don’t do my grocery this week to buy Russ & Daughter’s Paddlefish caviar. It is my first caviar and I did researches to find the best way to enjoy it. I tried it plain – salty, funky, gelly, tangy, savory, rich – I like it. I tried it David Chang’s way to, using a fried chicken – I don’t like it because both are rich though in different layers. Finally, I tried it with a bowl of white rice and fried shallots…. Don’t hate me. How could I come to this combination? I don’t know, it just came across my mind. BUT IT’S PERFECT. It’s like yin and yang. The salty and sharp caviar presents itself on top of the humble white rice. The combination of texture is also amazing: the gelly caviar slides around in your mouth while the white rice becomes a smooth base on your tongue – sometimes you get some little pops. The fried shallots (use it only a litle bit, like a piece per spoon) add a crispy texture with a light accent of its flavor, making layers of crispy-smooth-gelly texture with each’s flavors.

Inspiring Crab Cake from Sycamore, Newtown, Pennsylvania

This meal justified the turned-down tubing during the long weekend’s peak. The crab cake was literally crab meat formed into cake. Shredded moist crab cake was formed into balls with some breading before fried until golden. It was served with potato buns, french fries, and coleslaw. The taste was absolutely crab-meat-y, but concentrated thus very rich and tangy, bursted in my mouth. A dash of remoulade sauce underneath gave a complimentary freshness along with the coleslaw, while the buns dragged the flavor bursts back to the balance with its starchiness.  It was best with a pint of local craft draft beer, which was very smooth, light, and sweet. 

NYC Culinary Trip: Still – Katz’s Pastrami Sandwich

A type of food that I would always go back for: cultural, barely impossible to make by myself, and exceptionally delicious. Not much to say, go taste it yourself – the moist, crumbly, spiced-crust, bright red, striking cuts of beef. It would make you doubt all the beefs you have eaten before or wonder how possible that it’s the same part of the same animal you’ve been eating all this time. Currently still on top in my NYC food list.

Culture: historical jewish immigrant-brought food preservation technology (such as brining, corning, etc.), ingredients (spices and herbs for meat crust and breads), American classic food stall.

Almost impossible to make: weeks of brining, bulk portions of beef, industrial grade of equipment to make the brisket-like char, hard-to-guess recipe.

Exceptionally delicious: melts and kicks in your mouth like no other beef.

Edible Gems of Bali: Suckling Pork Rice “Nasi Babi Guling” Sari Kembar

Suckling pork rice is a meal with almost all parts of a whole pork cooked and seasoned in different ways. It is a Balinese signature dish that resembles its traditional ceremony to cook a whole pork and also the ways Balinese construct their flavor preference from what is available in nature. I would say this is one of Indonesian cooking styles that would make your eyes glare widely and say ,”I never imagined such flavors exist”.

This specific “Sari Kembar” suckling pork rice is what I always crave outisde Bali for 16 years, not moved by the others. This is my favorite because it has whole rounds of dishes which none of them is too greasy: roasted and yellow-seasoned pork meats and fats, pork spiced satay, pork fried lungs, pork fried chopped ribs, crispy pork skin, and pork bone soup with banana stem. The side dishes are usually stirfried cassava leaves, a mixture of stirfried jackfruit-haricot-papaya meat, and sambal.

The whole meal provides a wide range of flavor variations but rooting to one typical character, which Balinese calls it a “full seasoning”: shallots, chili, ginger, kunci (fingerroot, Boesenbergia rotunda), galangal, turmeric, kencur, lemongrass, cloves, citrus leaves, and could be many more depending to each region.

Putu Cake / “Kue Putu”

Let’s take a moment to appreciate how artsy Indonesian putu is. Putu cake is aa steamed rice flour cake filled with coconut sugar and topped with shredded coconut. The seller usually carries the whole container and steamer on his/her shoulder, followed by the distinct whistling sound out from the small whole used to steam the cake. Putu seller usually has “klepon” as well, a chewy and round cake with similar ingredients, but with sticky rice flour instead of the regular one.

What’s In My Backpack

I’m spending this winter holiday in Indonesia, where family and friends are billing my promise to cook after watching my posts this whole time. This is what I carry almost everyday from kitchen to kitchen.

The Duck (Confit) & Waffles – Food Experience, United Kingdom

The first I learned about this restaurant, I thought the food would be overrated by the interesting 40 level-high view setting over London. However, I would definitely recommend this even if you have had confit de canard in Paris’ La Fontaine de Mars!

I needed to book the table before the day, and dedicatedly went there before 7AM to enjoy my 1 seat reservation. With the view over London as the main thing in mind, I ordered the restaurant’s name on the menu and lowered my expectation.

Only 15 minutes later then my focus was completely taken away from the view. The dish came with a piece of whole duck confit leg, a sunny side up with a dash of kosher salt on the yolk, a 1/4 circle of waffle, and a small cup of maple syrup with spherified mustard. The egg was perfect – no burnt parts, runny yolk. The waffle was mild with an accent of buttery. It seemed that the other components let the duck played the main chores.

Then I tasted the duck. It turned out speechless. The skin was crackling without to many oils, and right after you penetrated the layer you will find 1.5 milimeter layer of duck fat with no burnt region at all. After that second layer then you have the moist and very tender duck leg meat, easily pulled into fibers or cut down with your knife. The taste was incredibly rich without too much fat or salt as I could taste the distinct duck meat flavor, still with its juices trapped inside the skin and fat layers. It was quite incredible how they set the timing and temperature of using the duck fat that was used as cooking oil.

I was already satisfied with the perfect duck leg, but the sauce brought another side of the story. The maple syrup with the spherified mustard gave the sweetness depth and a kick, accompnying the duck meat’s savory, meaty, fatty; the waffle’s starct, buttery; the egg’s savory and umamy. Altogether, you also have layers of textures dancing your mouth – crackling, melting, fibrous of the duck meat; flaky, and a bit of crispiness of the waffle; a gelly and melting of the egg; and the syrup of the sauce with kicking granules.

The Fish & Chips – Food Experience, United Kingdom

Another worldwide-known food from the UK. After investing my time googling the best fish and chips in London (ended up with Poppie’s in Aldgate), my heart was actually left at an unpredicted pub in East London.

Poppie’s fish and chips was amazing. You would notice that they use a mixed-flour batter, giving its crispy, savory, and rich bite wrapping the fresh flaky cod. A cup mushy peas marked the original taste of English fish and chips I guess with a bit of ‘greenish’ flavor. The only set back was the fries were not freshly fried.

Surprisingly, I like the fish and chips at The Fox (ExCel, London) better. Accidentally went there after Food Matters Live, the whole pub shaped the whole experience. The fish itself was delicious. The batter was crispy but lighter and porous, wrapping the fresh and flaky cod. The french fries were just out of the oil. The tartar sauce gave a rich texture and eggy flavor with some sparks of relish, while the sharp mushy pea finished the whole combination with its distinct flavor. A pint of cider and guiness, an Arsenal game on screen, the live music, and the whole pub turned all my senses on.

The English Breakfast – Food Experience, United Kingdom

“What are you going to order?”, a stranger asked me during the 1 hour waiting in the line. “The full monty”, I answered, “No way, you shouldn’t!”.

Alright, here it is, the famous calorie bomb English breakfast (though I still see the beautiful cultural story behind it). I got a sunny side up egg, a poached egg, a pink pork sausage, a black pudding, a whole sauted mushroom, a pair of butter-toasted bread, a slice of roasted tomato, a slice of pink twisty bacon, a cup of beans, slices of fried potatoes, and a glass of English breakfast tea with milk. 

It was actually my first meal in the UK, as you can see the expression of the will to experience UK to the fullest. I skipped breakfast, hoping that would justify eating the whole portion. 

Anyway, you could probably imagine the tastes of most components. But the black pudding, the sausage, and the bacon were quite unique. The black pudding was obviously a new thing for me, having its savory, bitter (in a good way), and rich flavors. It kind of holds back the dominant fatty flavor from the other components. The sausage was different than American sausage or German bratwurst. Its fatty flavor was not as striking and I tasted a slight ‘brined’ and/or ‘cured’ taste shomehow. The bacon was different than American bacon, this one was more chewy and still got the texture of meat fiber. Again, the fatty was was not as striking as the American ones.

Overall, this meal just answered my curiosity to get as close as I could to know the English breakfast I always find everywhere. I would probably not have another anymore without sharing with some other two people. And don’t think the Brits eat this everyday, in fact the people whom I talked with said they only eat such meal during holiday especially when they stay at hotels.