summer

it’s been a busy summer. first there was the move. moving all our stuff by the bagful every night for a few weeks, slowly transferring all our stuff to the house. then organizing things and shifting stuff around so we could buy furniture. it was a lot of work, but now we can enjoy our new home, especially my nice new kitchen :) nice to be out of that tiny apartment kitchen that had only one drawer and hardly any counter space.

also i started working at shokudo this summer. i wasn’t planning on working full-time, but then it was like, well, i guess this isn’t too bad, i’ll just do it. so i haven’t had any days off since i have to work my other job on my two days off. sometimes it’s pretty tiring, but overall it’s been a good experience. i started at the fry/jet station, which is a two person station. that station preps most of the sauces and dressings that are used in the restaurant plus things that we cook at that station, like the mochi gratin, sushi pizza, quesadilla, etc. during service i think it’s the busiest station – most of the lunch bentos, katsu, karaage, pork chop, calamari, mochi, quesadilla, sushi pizza, teri chicken/salmon, dynamite roll/lobster, char siu, etc. it gets pretty crazy during lunch sometimes, but it’s pretty fun getting into that lunch time rhythm. the two people i worked with at fry/jet both have been working the station for two years, so they always backed me up and helped me get the hang of things.

after that i moved to the salad station. salad has a ton of prep – mixing the karaage chicken, boiling and portioning the calamari, butterflying chicken for teri chicken and katsu, prepping the katsu, cutting/frying wonton strips, frying the onions, cutting the thin kalbi for beef sushi, making the pickles for the chicken wings, cutting tempura veggies, plus prepping stuff for the station. during service salad makes most of the salads (spinach, teri chicken, tuna, tofu), doles out the fresh tofu, and makes tempura (shrimp, assorted, tempura bowl, bento). usually it’s not too bad, but sometimes you get like four tempura bowls at once and you want to cry. hahaha it’s a little stressful, but you get through it. the fryer’s not that big, so you can only fry so much at a time. salad has been more challenging since it’s a one person station. if other people have time, they might help you, but ultimately you have to cover the station and prep everything yourself. on the weekends we go through ridiculous amounts of chicken, so i’ve been really working to get all my prep done. i’m starting to get faster at everything, but i’ve definitely been pushed to get faster and more efficient.

overall, it’s been cool just to see what it’s like to work in a restaurant, and also proving that i could work full-time and hold my own. i’ve definitely learned a lot and improved on a lot of kitchen skills. everyone in the kitchen has taught me different things, and i’m really thankful they were all willing to help me. and i’m glad the managers at shokudo gave me this opportunity even though i didn’t have any experience when i applied for the job. it’s been a lot of fun working with all the boh lunch kitchen shift people. it’s been pretty tiring working 60+ hours every week, so i’m ready for my vacation in two weeks! :) after that i might possibly work one day a week and/or during breaks… dunno, we’ll see.

i thought that maybe working in the kitchen full-time would mean i wouldn’t want to cook as much at home, but actually the opposite has been true. well probably having my dream kitchen has helped too. it’s actually easier to come home and start cooking dinner after working eight hours at the restaurant. i guess it’s like well, what’s another hour of cooking? i think i’ve gotten a lot faster too. so i’ve been cooking a lot and we’ve had a few dinner parties too. i just haven’t had time to update my blog. maybe when i go on vacation i can get back to that. this semester i’m taking fundamentals of baking, so i’m really looking forward to that. ready to level up my baking skillz.

home-style bean curd 家常豆腐

this is a recipe from fuschia dunlop’s book revolutionary chinese cookbook. one of our favorites :) this is a hunanese version of this dish so it’s a little spicy.

home-style-bean curd

2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1.25 lb. firm bean curd, drained
3 oz boneless lean pork, cut into fine slivers
1 t shaoxing wine
1 T chili bean paste
1 T chopped salted chiles (we didn’t have this)
1 T finely chopped garlic
1 t dried chili flakes (optional)
1 cup stock
1/4 t dark soy sauce
1/4 t potato flour mixed with 1 T cold water
3 scallions, green parts only, cut into bit-size lengths
1 t sesame oil
1/3 cup peanut oil or lard

1. prep: soak the mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. drain, squeeze, cut off the stems, and slice thinly. cut the bean curd into large squares, then cut them in half across the diagonal to form triangles. the thickness should be about 1/2″. use a paper towel or a kitchen towel to soak up some of the excess moisture in the tofu. put the pork in a bowl with the wine. get the other ingredients ready as well.

1_prep

2. heat your wok or pan over high heat. when hot, add some oil and swirl it around the pan (fuschia says about 3 T). make sure it’s nice and hot. you’ll want to fry the tofu in batches. carefully lay in the first batch of tofu away from you and fry on one side. shake the pan from time to time to prevent sticking.

2_tofu

once that side is golden, turn the tofu pieces over and fry on the other side until golden.

3_tofu

remove the tofu once it’s done frying and place on some paper towels to soak up the excess oil. repeat with the other batches of tofu. clean out the pan in between if necessary.

4_tofu

3. clean the pan if necessary. reheat the pan until the oil smokes. if necessary, add in a little more oil to coat the pan. add the pork and stir-fry until the slivers separate.

5_pork

add the chili bean paste and salted chiles and stir-fry until fragrant.

6_pork

add in the garlic and mushrooms and continue to stir-fry until fragrant.

7_pork

add the chili flakes if you are using them. stir-fry for a few seconds, then pour in the stock

8_sauce

4. add the bean curd back to the pan and pour in the dark soy sauce.

9_sauce

allow the mixture to come to a boil, then let it simmer until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. it tastes better with a thicker sauce. also, the tofu will soak up more of the sauce flavor the longer it simmers.

9a_simmer

5. stir the potato flour mixture and slowly add it while stirring the sauce. taste and season the sauce as necessary. the chili bean paste i used was pretty salty, so i didn’t need to add any more salt.

corn_starch_mixture

toss in the scallions. off the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.

9b_finish_up

time to eat!

bowl

honolulu festival

our dining room class and other kcc students had the chance to volunteer at the friendship gala of the honolulu festival this year. it was a very fun event. over 1000 people came to the event.

here’s the stage as they were testing some of the lights and the sound. “check, check, one, two.”
stage

this year ten restaurants participated: morimoto waikiki, mariposa at neiman marcus, roy’s hawaii kai, ruth’s chris steak house, 3660 on the rise, blt steak, nobu waikiki, shokudo, the cheesecake factory, and la palme d’or patisserie.

i got to help out with mariposa’s station.
mariposa
our yellow tent corresponded to the yellow ticket each guest got (one ticket per restaurant).

here’s what we were serving for the night:
description

ben and i were helping assemble the dish. he put three clams in the bowl, then i put in a small mound of the braised greens, then piseth placed the fish on the greens, and chef marc spooned in the broth and put a small amount of chutney on top. we had the same assembly line going on the other side of the table. after the doors opened, the line got pretty long and we were moving pretty fast, but i don’t think people had to wait too long to get their food.
seafood

the other volunteers at our station were helping to manage the guests and collect their tickets. “one bowl per ticket!”

the entertainment was good, but it got kind of loud because we were near the speakers. the performers included hoku zuttermeister, dai hirai (ukelele + hip hop!), and sugaren.

at the end of the night, we got to eat some of the dishes from the restaurants :)

steamed bun with kakuni (10 hour braised pork belly) from morimoto waikiki – yummy yummy, even when it had been sitting out for a while. the pork just melts in your mouth:
pork

satay shrimp with luau leaf curry from roy’s hawaii kai – also yummy despite sitting out for a while. i heard this is a new item on roy’s menu?
shrimp

godiva chocolate cheesecake from the cheesecake factory – this is super rich and chocolatey. i took a slice home so i am slowly eating it. there may be a thing as being too chocolatey.
cheesecake

ruth’s chris seared tenderloin served with potatoes au gratin – this probably would have been yummy if it was still warm.
steak

lobster miso soup

miso

also had some california rolls from shokudo and lemon tarts, cream puffs, and panna cotta from la palme. it was a fun night.

chinese new year dinner

i haven’t really celebrated chinese new year since i’ve been in hawaii, but i’ve been cooking a lot of chinese food the past few months, so this year i decided to cook a nice chinese dinner to celebrate the year of the rabbit :)

mostly, i’ve been trying a lot of good recipes from fuschia dunlop’s two books, land of plenty and revolutionary chinese cookbook:
land of plentyrevolutionary chinese cookbook

land of plenty has recipes from her travels and time at a famous cooking school in sichuan. revolutionary chinese cookbook focuses on hunanese food. i really like her recipes… they’re detailed, well-written, and have delicious results. she also writes a lot of interesting side notes and stories about her experiences.

here’s the meal:
dinner

marci and craig brought the chinese chicken salad and dessert :)

蔥 姜 鸡 cold ginger chicken:
ginger chicken

香干肉丝 chicken with pressed tofu, bamboo, and chives
chicken tofu

鱼香茄子 fish-fragrant pork slivers with black ear fungus and bamboo
pork

彭家豆腐 peng’s home-style bean curd w/ black beans and pork
tofu

土豆煨牛肉 slow-braised beef with potatoes (spicy)
beef

渔家炒虾球 fisherman’s shrimp with chinese chives and hot peppers
shrimp

菜心 choi sum with garlic. cooked in the pot after the shrimp.
choi_sum

芥兰 steamed chinese broccoli (gai lan)
gai_lan

干煸四季豆 dry-fried green beans with ground pork and tianjin preserved vegetable.
green_beans

overall, all the dishes went pretty well. it seems like i can only buy gai lan in chinatown. gai lan’s my favorite though, so it can’t be helped. i found one place with some frozen pressed tofu, but this brand isn’t that good. next time i gotta find a better brand. it seems like the favorites were the shrimp, beef and potatoes, and the green beans. this is the first large dinner i’ve cooked since starting culinary school. i think the planning and execution went way better. hooray! no disaster! happy chinese new year!

intermediate cookery: saute, sandwich/appetizer, grill stations

behind as usual… this class ended a while ago, but i figure i’d post these pictures before i forget what we cooked in this class.

for saute, we took care of the chicken, calamari steak, vegetables, sauces, and plating for most of the entrees.

under there somewhere, is chicken and polenta (tomato cream vodka sauce)…
chicken

calamari steak was quite good, served with a ginger beurre blanc sauce and roasted garlic kale yukon gold mashed potatoes
calamari

under there somewhere is sirloin steak with wild mushrooms demi glaze and roasted garlic kale yukon gold mashed potatoes
steak

grilled salmon with a miso butter sauce served with okinawan sweet potato mash, sauteed snap peas, and a sesame honey ginger slaw. never had an okinawan mash before. it is quite good and goes well with the salmon.
salmon

for grill, we handled the salmon, lamb chops, steak for entree, steak for the steak sandwich, and chicken for the chicken sandwich.

the lamb was my 2nd favorite dish (1st was the snapper). never heard of poha berries before, but the poha berry chutney was delicious.
lamb

for sandwich, there’s the assembly of the steak sandwich, maple bourbon chicken sandwich, turkey club, and burger. appetizers were the mussels casino and barbecue chicken quesadilla (forgot to take pictures).

steak sandwich was very good. this one and the veg panini were my favorites. the steak goes nicely with that watercress salad on the grilled bun.
steak sandwich

chicken sandwich has a sweet and spicy apple chutney and those fried onions. nice textures in this sandwich. gotta make sure the onions don’t clump when you fry them.
chicken sandwich

a pretty good traditional club.
club

the patty we made for this was interesting; it had some cajun spice, garlic, and basil. a lot of people like this burger. i just like ground chuck with salt and pepper though, so not my favorite.
burger

anyway, intermediate was a very fun class. we got to work at all the different stations, make good food, and learn. i’m glad i decided to take it :)