Spicy Rainbow Noodles

If there is one dish that each culture can relate to, it’s noodles! They really are the universal language amongst foodies. Our favorite part about making noodles is the simplicity, efficiency, and numerous ways you can customize them to your liking.

Coming from a Japanese and a Vietnamese family, we are very accustomed to a delicious bowl of ramen or pho. However, we wanted to step out of our comfort zone and make our own noodle dish that doesn’t fit into any particular category.

Fun fact: Noodles originated from a desert region in central Central Asia, the Tarim Basin in China’s Xinjian province. It is believed that Marco Polo brought noodles from China to Italy in the 13th century – the origins of the beloved pasta!

During our weekly shopping trips at the asian market, these multicolored vegetable noodles immediately caught our eye. We knew right away we had to make a dish with these noodles as our base. The vegetables used to make the noodles include: potatoes, carrots, amaranth and spinach. You don’t taste much of the vegetables when you’re eating the noodles, but they are extremely delicious nonetheless (similar to egg noodles). We added some of our favorite proteins (shrimp and ground pork) along with our favorite type of eggs to cook with – quail eggs! If you haven’t cooked or eaten quail eggs, we highly recommend them. They are bite sized (equivalent to a grape tomato), the perfect texture and taste very similar to chicken eggs. We added chili paste to give the noodles that extra zing, but feel free to substitute or leave out if you’re not feeling spicy.

Ingredients:

1 bag of Safoco Vegetable Noodles (can be substituted with ramen/egg noodles)
0.5lb deveined and peeled shrimp
0.5lb lean ground pork
Minced garlic
0.5 sliced onion
1tbsp of ghee
Quail eggs
Sambal chili paste
Soy sauce
Rice vinegar

Steps:

1. Boil noodles according to package instructions
2. Mix chili paste, soy sauce, and rice vinegar and set aside
3. Pan fry garlic, onions, pork and shrimp, and quail eggs in ghee
4. Mix cooked noodles and pan fried items together and drizzle sauce mixture over it
5. Enjoy

If you’re looking for a quick meal that can bring your friends and family together, make sure to try our spicy noodle recipe and feel free to make it your own. Let us know what your favorite type of noodle is!

Pork & Shrimp Gyoza

A few years ago, we went on a bike tour in Kyoto, Japan and the tour leader took us to his favorite gyoza shop in his neighborhood. It was hands down the best gyoza we have ever had. This inspired us to make our own homemade gyoza with a twist – gyoza with green spinach wrappers!

Gyoza is a dumpling filled with meat and vegetables, wrapped with a thin envelope of dough. Think of it as a delicious envelope filled with meat and veggies. Originating in China, these dumplings are immensely popular in Japan. During World War II, Japanese soldiers were exposed to jiaozi (Asian dumplings) in Northern China. The Japanese loved the dish so much, they recreated it. In fact, gyoza is the Japanese pronunciation of jiaozi!

Fun fact:
There are three main types of gyoza with Yaki Gyoza (pan fried) being the most popular. Yaki Gyoza are pan fried on a skillet, giving it a crispy bottom while maintaining the soft, juicy-ness within. Sui gyoza are boiled and often served in a light broth. Age gyoza are crispy deep fried gyoza found mostly at Chinese and specialty gyoza restaurants.

The green spinach wrappers we used are infused with spinach puree. It doesn’t taste different in our opinion, but it’s nice to know that there are added nutrients. And we just love the color!

Ingredients:

For gyoza:
0.5 lb lean ground pork
0.5 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
1 cup of minced green or napa cabbage
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Spinach gyoza wrappers
1 tbsp ghee

For dipping sauce
Soy sauce
Sambal chili sauce
Rice vinegar

Steps:

  1. Combine pork, shrimp, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a little bit of pepper and salt and pulse in food processor
  2. Microwave a tsp of the gyoza filling for about 50 sec to taste. Add more salt or pepper if necessary
  3. Place a tsp of gyoza filling into the center of the gyoza wrapper and use your finger to wet a line around half of the gyoza wrapper and fold it over. You can either pleat the ends or use a fork to seal the gyoza
  4. Heat a pan up and coat it with ghee
  5. Place wrapped gyoza into the heated pan and flip once one side is brown
  6. Then place 1/4 of a cup of water straight into the pan and close a lid over it.
  7. Remove lid and let water evaporate
  8. Flip gyoza over to brown both sides
  9. Enjoy with gyoza dipping sauce

Tips:
-Using less water is better than more water when making gyoza because the wrapper can break with too much water
-Smaller amounts of filling is better for gyoza to ensure a good seal
-You can use vegetable oil instead of ghee. We just wanted to try frying it with ghee because we like the buttery taste it adds to the gyoza

Gyoza is always a good compliment to any main dish, but really shines as one of our favorite bar foods. A good beer and gyoza will always put us in a state of nirvana – maybe that’s more the beer, but who knows. Let us know your favorite type of gyoza!

SF Eats and Treats Pt. 1

San Francisco (i.e. S.F., The City by the Bay, The City, Fog City – but not San Fran as local friends have educated me on), has some of the most delicious and diverse food in the United States.

Fun Fact: According to the last census bureau available, San Francisco has the most restaurants per capita of any city in the U.S.

Our favorite thing about being a food in San Francisco is the diversity, quirkiness and commitment to standing out from the crowd. Your options aren’t limited to cookie cutter chain restaurants you can find on any block. If you want to have a simple home-style cooked meal at a hole-in-the-wall or if you want to dine like royalty, you certainly have limitless options to chose from.

Tip: Anytime you’re planning to go on a trip, make a list/bookmark which restaurants you want to visit. If you’re planning to go to a few on the same day, try to group the ones that are close together or in the same vicinity so you don’t waste time traveling back and forth to different locations. Also be mindful of days open, hours, attire, if reservations are available, etc. so you come well prepared to have the best experience as possible.

To satisfy our asian cuisine cravings, we went to Dumpling Time in the Design District. Ironically, it was right across of a Thai massage place I had taken Lisa to a couple of years ago. This isn’t your typical dumpling restaurant like Din Tai Fung in L.A., but a more of a modern interpretation. Dumpling Time can get very crowded, so make sure to go when they first open or during an odd hour if you don’t want to wait.

Watching our dumplings being made

We got to the restaurant when they opened and we were seated right away. We ordered the Tom Yum Goong Xiao Long Bao (6pcs/$9.50), Pork Bao (3pcs/$6) and Seafood Gyoza (5pcs/$10). This was the perfect amount of food for the both of us.

The Tom Yum Goong Xia Long Bao is one of their most popular dishes. It’s a soup dumpling with pork belly, shrimp and coconut milk, wrapped in “beet skin.” I know what you’re thinking…beet skin?!? I was shocked as well, but I think the beet skin would be Dwight Schrute approved. The beets give the dumplings a vibrant red color. The dumplings were delicious with the mix of pork and shrimp and the beet skin was not overwhelming at all. They’re not quite as juicy as the dumplings you will find at Din Tai Fung, but we would certainly order them again. Make sure you try it with the vinegar sauce included!

Tom Yum Goong Xia Long Bao

There are two varieties of Pork Baos you can order, steamed or seared. We went with the seared option because we wanted to try something different than your typical steamed bao. The bao was light and fluffy on top with a crispy bottom. The pork was savory and delicious. Not the best bao we’ve ever had, but we’d give it a solid 4/5 stars.

Seared Pork Bao

We saved the best for last. Our Seafood Gyoza was the last dish to come out and I would have waited another hour if need be. The Seafood Gyoza has crab, scallop, shrimp with spiced chili butter, wrapped in a spinach skin. Again, something we would normally be slightly hesitant to order. After eating some of the best gyoza in our lives in Japan, this was an immensely pleasant surprise. The seafood was juicy and cooked to perfection, but the skin was the star of the show. The spinach skin provided the gyoza with an exotic green appearance and was lightly fried without giving you the grease fingers. If we could only order one item, we’d order this again in a heartbeat.

Seafood Gyoza

Dumpling Time will certainly be on our list of recommendations to friends and family visiting San Francisco. We’ll be returning on our next trip back to the bay to try the rest of the menu. Stick around for pt. 2 and let us know your S.F. food recommendations!