Archive for the 'Year in Review' Category

The Year in Delicious: Top 10 Recipes of 2013

Bun Bo Hue

Bún Bò Huế – Vietnamese Beef & Lemon Grass Noodle Soup

The most magical part of making bun bo Hue happens around hour three when the beef, pork, and lemongrass broth is transformed into the familiar fiery orange soup. A sizzling mixture of vegetable oil, scallions, fish sauce, and paprika imparts the broth with its characteristically bright hue and rich, umami flavor. A heavy dose of fermented shrimp paste, along with a touch of sugar and salt, add the finishing touches to the broth.

Ruth Reichl's Dangerously Delicious Apricot Jam

Ruth Reichl’s Dangerously Delicious Apricot Jam

After procuring two pounds of apricots and setting aside an evening without commitments, I set out to make my first lazy man’s jam. First, I pulled apart the fruit using my bare hands, leaving the skins on and removing the pits, then I made a simple syrup and macerated half the fruit in it. More fruit, a whole vanilla bean, and a squeeze of lemon juice later, I had a dangerously delicious apricot jam on my hands. I couldn’t believe how awesomely simple it all was.

Sườn Nướng - Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops/Ribs

Sườn Nướng – Vietnamese Grilled Pork Ribs

Comprised of just five ingredients—fish sauce, sugar, salt, black pepper, and shallots—this easy marinade treats pork to a sweet, salty, and wholly umami bath. Soaked overnight, then grilled over hot flames, the ribs’ exterior caramelizes beautifully, while the innards remain tender and flavorful.

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The Year in Delicious: Top 10 Sweets of 2013

The Year in Delicious: Top 10 Sweets of 2013

2013 was most definitely The Year of the Doughnut on Gastronomy. Old school rings, new school thangs, and everything in between—I was an equal opportunity deep-fried dough lover these past 365 days. Thus, it should come as no surprise that nearly half of this year’s 10 best sweets were served up golden and glazed. Without further ado, here are the 10 best sweets that I ate this year…

Salt & Straw Ice Cream - Portland

Sea Salt Ice Cream with Caramel Ribbons from Salt & Straw in Portland, Oregon

When salt and caramel collide, the result is usually more sweet than savory, but here, the scales tipped in favor of all that is good and salty. My first lick brought a rush of perfectly salted cream, followed by a deep and intense pull of caramel.

Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee - Costa Mesa

Huckleberry Doughnut from Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee in Costa Mesa, California

With bits of real berries embedded in the dough and glaze, the doughnut tasted genuinely fruity through and through. The cake doughnut, light as ever, really delivered. Sidecar’s signature flavor is astonishingly great.

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The Year in Delicious: Top 10 Savories of 2013

The Year in Delicious: Top 10 Savories of 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect upon the dishes that defined my year in delicious. The City of Angels fed me well, as always, contributing to half of the list—Eastside, represent! Travels to Shanghai, Tokyo, Chengdu, and Portland rounded out the top ten. While last minute trips to Las Vegas and Charleston provided some solid contenders, all were ultimately shut out this year—it’s tough competing for my noodle-loving heart.

Thank you for reading Gastronomy, and without further ado, here are the 10 best savory dishes that I ate this year…

Sushi Kanesaka - Tokyo

Ikura from Sushi Kanesaka in Tokyo, Japan

Impeccably fresh salmon eggs do not pop when bitten into. Instead, each orb smoothly unleashes its oily sheen with the gentlest of pressure, flooding the palate with oceanic bliss. Topped with grated yuzu zest and served over warm rice, the ikura was unforgettable.

Ha Tien Quan - San Gabriel

Bun Mam from Hà Tiên Quán in San Gabriel, California

An anchovy-laced brew brimming with pork belly, chunks of catfish, shrimp, Japanese eggplant, and chives won my heart completely with its heady, unabashed funk. Hidden beneath the dark broth were smooth and slippery rice noodles.

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The Year in Delicious: Top 10 Recipes of 2012

Pho Bo - Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

Phở Bò – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

This recipe for my grandmother’s pho bo has been adjusted ever-so-slightly to reflect the sensibilities of modern cooks like myself. While I’d love to have a drainage ditch dedicated to soup scum in my backyard, our current one-bedroom in Pasadena doesn’t allow for such luxuries. Additionally, I’ve swapped out the tin can for a flame-licked grill in order to char the aromatics. While I finessed some of Grandma’s cooking techniques, the soul and flavor of her pho hasn’t been fiddled with one bit. After all, perfection shouldn’t be messed with.

Braised Rabbit with Noodles

Braised Rabbit with Pappardelle

After bathing in an aromatic brew of onions, garlic, orange zest, cinnamon, and red wine, the meat was fork-tender while the sauce was deeply savory with mellow citrus notes. The flavors whisked our taste buds away to the Mediterranean. Dinner was served outside on our picnic table, with snappy asparagus on the side and glasses of red wine to sip.

A-Frame's Furikake Kettle Corn | Hurricane Popcorn

Furikake Kettle Corn

This recipe comes from Chef Roy Choi of Los Angeles’ A-Frame restaurant. I couldn’t keep my hands away from the bowl the first time I tried this Hawaiian-style popcorn. Every fistful of buttery kernels brought a hit of sweetness from Corn Pops, sourness from dried pineapples, savoriness from bacon, spiciness from cayenne pepper and chili flakes, and a whole lot of umami-ness from furikake. This unlikely combination of big, bold flavors had me hooked at first bite.

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