Hello. This is Butternut Squash. Since I was picked up from the farmer’s market on Saturday, I have been sitting in the kitchen… listening. The kitchen is a very popular place and I’ve been hearing lots of talk about “best holiday ever” “gorging on food” “butternut squash soup”. It’s the last one that has my attention. Especially since the words “boiling” and “pureeing” have followed closely afterwards. Butternut squash soup. That does not sound like something I want to be a part of. So, I’ve been attempting to hide.
We had our friend, Cathy, come over to show us how to make yummy Korean food! We made bi bim bap, japchae, and kalbi. Um, deelish. The keys to Korean cooking: lots of garlic, lots of chopping, and lots of time. Cathy probably came over three hours before our “scheduled” dinner time to prep. Yowsas.
Today is the Lunar New Year, also known as Tết in Vietnamese. Being an American born Vietnamese, having visited Vietnam only once in my life, I’m still learning new things every year about this holiday. This year, I learned that it’s good to eat duck the day before new years, but not the day after. Good thing I got my duck fix last night in the form of a Thai appetizer!
For me, the holiday is often about frantic house cleaning before Tết hits (I like to assume that the Lunar New Year follows whatever time zone I’m in), and eating lots of symbolic food the day of. All debts should be paid off. There is to be no fighting on Tết, no throwing out of trash on Tết, and no working (unless, in my case, it’s symbolically a good thing). Adults hand out red envelopes (lì xì) to children and wish them fortunes for the year. Children say thank you and wish fortunes in return. My memorized Vietnamese saying would wish health, happiness, and everything you desire.
In the end, for me, the best part of the Tết is being with the family, playing games, and eating the special foods. I’m sad to not be with my family and relatives this year, but my sister is making up for it by making delicious foods.
Let’s go Year of the Tiger! Rawr!
Bun Thang, the “Ladder Soup”. Means you’ll be climbing the ladder in life.
Banh Chung. My favorite. Just like Moon Cakes in the Mid Autumn Moon Festival, you don’t find these unless it’s Lunar New Year. So good!
I’m not sure if Chả Cá has anything to do with New Years, other than that it’s special and not commonly made. I’m not complaining though. YUM.
In continuing with the cooking theme, my mom (an amazing cook), also made fried fish. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Coat fish in potato starch
Step 2: Fry
Step 3: Plate with mango strips
Eat up with Nước chấm (a fish sauce based dipping sauce) and enjoy. Yup, that’s all there is to it.
During my trip back to Maryland, my mom taught us how to make Chả Giò, Vietnamese egg rolls. In the end, we were there for just the assembly of the rolls. The good stuff, the filling inside, is still a mystery to me.
The assembly line, breaking down because Mommy and Grandma are focusing on Baby Yohan!
The final product, Cha Gio, Vietnamese Egg Rolls
As a thank you to those who helped him move out, a friend took us out to dinner at his favorite Japanese restaurant, Yakuza. The food at Yakuza isn’t your generic Kobe beef or California sushi food. It’s Japanese bar-style food, or the Japanese version of tapas. The food was delicious and gorgeous, I had to take pictures.
“Kobe”: Kobe beef tartar, jalapeno lime oil, crispy poached egg, grilled baguette
In the background, “Kyuri”: Japanese cucumber & avocado, toasted sesame seeds, togorashi
“Carpaccio”: Tuna, yellowtail, & salmon sashimi, cilantro, thai chillies, tobiko
Beet Martini. Tastes exactly how it sounds, like beets, which is great for me, because I LOVE beets!
I don’t think I mentioned this, but when I was out sick from my wisdom tooth extraction, I was on antibiotics and muscle relaxant (for the trismus aka friend of lock-jaw) that were very strict about no alcohol during or several days after consumption. To play it safe I waited an extra two weeks.
Now, I’m not much of a drinker, but when someone tells you, “You’re not allowed to have any candy,” what do you want? Candy. A few nights ago, after dinner with friends, we ordered dessert and fancy drinks. It was such a momentous occasion, I had to take a picture!
Drinks from NW 23rd’s Jo Bar
Family and I went to Bethany Beach to take Yohan to his first experience at the beach! We had Jumbo Maryland Blue Crabs and Boardwalk Fries. Yum!
Yohan waves hello
Boardwalk Fries, yummmm
Jumbo Maryland Blue Crab, extra yummm!!