Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dorilocos: Tostilocos with Doritos

This all started when my coworker shared with me her secret to a happy marriage: on Sundays, she would share a plate of Nacho Cheese Doritos with her husband while they watched television. They always have them served like papitas preparadas, sprinkled in hot sauce and lime juice but with Doritos instead of potato chips. She brought in this snack on a busy day at the office, and offered me a bite.

I was hooked, line and sinker. I have a huge affinity for antojitos, literally "little cravings" or Mexican street food. Except my cravings certainly aren't little by any stretch of the imagination. I've waxed poetic about downtown Los Angeles and the influence of Mexican street food with my L.A. Street Dog post. The same coworker that inspired this recipe was the catalyst for my chile mango candies when she brought in vero mango lollipops. I even used Mexican chocolate and dried chiles for my Christmas gift of caramels.

Now the Doritos are amazingly delicious served the way my coworker introduced me, with lime juice and Valentina hot sauce. But the idea that was planted in my head was something a little more epic: tostilocos with Doritos, or as I named them, Dorilocos.

Tostilocos are a newer antojitos to hit the street food scene. Tostilocos were spawned in border towns like Tijuana around the 1990s, a crazy mixture of salty, sweet, and sour. It's one of those dishes that on paper sound ridiculous, only making sense when you try it yourself. Cucumber, jicama, pickled pork skin (called cueritos), Japanese-style peanuts, hot sauce, chamoy sauce, and even tamarind chewy candies are poured on top of Tostitos chips for a dish that is aptly named loco or "crazy." Here in Orange County, you can find tostilocos at fruit juice shops, or even at swap meets.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Reito Mikan (冷凍みかん)

Exciting news! I am visiting Japan this spring! I can't wait to share the experience on my blog! This is my first time visiting, so I am absolutely thrilled to finally be going! It's going to be a bit of a budget trip, so expect a lot of pictures of 7-11 bento boxes.

One of the places I will be visiting is my family's ancestral home on Shikoku (四国). Shikoku is the smallest of the four major islands of Japan, and is considered the most rural. Most tourists never set foot there, I guess you could say it's kinda like visiting Wyoming instead of New York here in the states.

Within Shikoku, I will be heading specifically to Ehime Prefecture's Yawatahama city. Ehime Prefecture (愛媛県) is the largest producer of citrus in Japan and Yawatahama (八幡浜市) is especially known for its citrus as well as its harbor.

Shikoku island in brown*
I find it slightly hilarious that my Japanese side of the family lives there, since I hail from Orange County, CA and grew up surrounded by a citrus grove.

One of their biggest crops is mikan (蜜柑 or みかん) also known as the satsuma mandarin. These diminutive fruits resemble clementines (marketed here as "Cuties") in their small size, but their bumpy loose skin with large pores make the mikan look more rustic. I love these seedless wonders, especially their lack of pith and easy-to-peel skin.

So until I finally set foot in the Land of the Rising Sun, I'll be trying to share some Shikoku specialties! First up is a fun quick snack, reito/reitou mikan, which is actually popular all over Japan. There's even a crazy song about reito mikan.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Katsu Sando (カツサンド)

I know that Japanese cuisine is famous for it's use of unadulterated white rice. Donburi, onigiri, curry rice all use plain white rice. At nearly every meal, white rice is a star player.

However, the Japanese do eat bread, especially in modern times. They even make sandwiches very similar to ours, albeit with some Japanese flair, called "sando" (サンド). Some popular fillings include egg salad or ham, but you may be surprised to see even varieties like fruit sandwiches.

Marukai's Katsu Sando
The best bread for making a sando is shokupan (食パン), which is a soft pillowy bread that is slightly sweet, and manages to be soft while still having a very tight grain that has some stretch and spring to it. Honestly it's kinda like the mochi version of sandwich slices, soft but stretchy. I also like it because it's perfectly square, and you can get it cut thick. I used it in my Milk Toast post; I like it in this recipe because it doesn't compress down into nothingness like regular sliced bread here in America will, but if you don't have access to shokupan and don't feel like baking, I have some alternatives and suggestions for you down below.

Here's a hearty sando using tonkatsu, one which is a snap to make if you make a whole bunch of tonkatsu at once and freeze the extras. This is also good for those of you who don't have a rice cooker, or you too have your own version of Mr. Mochi breathing down your neck while you edit a blog post. (Hence the less than stellar photography, and I actually only had some pretty wimpy cheap white bread around.)

Monday, January 13, 2014

So-su (ソース)

So-su is the Japanese version of Worcestershire sauce, most people here in the states probably know this as "Tonkatsu Sauce" or even just "Bulldog Sauce" as a proprietary eponym (definition). I've heard that it is most similar to HP sauce or A1 Steak Sauce. I haven't tried either of those so I can't personally vouch for those claims. However, it kinda makes sense that HP sauce would be similar, because all of so-su is derived from British influence on Japanese cuisine. Japanese Worcestershire sauce is consider "youshoku" or an item of western-influenced cuisine cuisine.

Where do you usually find so-su? On top of okonomiyaki, tonkatsu, Japanese-style hamburger, yakisoba, and takoyaki, to name a few.

There's actually several different types of so-su, based on how thick it is. "Usuta so-su" is thinnest and most similar to the Worcestershire sauce that the British invent and Americans are familiar with, and the "tokuno or tonkatsu so-su" is very thick and is sweeter and less tangy than the usuta variety. The third is "chuno so-su" which is almost like a blend of the two styles: viscosity in between the other two styles, with a mix of tanginess and fruity sweetness. The type most familiar around the world would be the thickest sauce, the tonkatsu sauce.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mexican Chocolate Chile Caramels

I don't really do New Year's resolutions, the whole "new year, new me" doesn't really hold with a person who would rather go back in time.

But I am trying to floss more, so there's something.

Mr. Mochi was kind enough to let me pick out my Christmas gift this year. I normally hate this practice, because I love surprises and I think gift giving is an art. But he wanted to get me a Le Creuset french oven but didn't want to get the wrong size.

I'm way too practical to let him spend the money on buying one at full retail, so I found a used one on eBay. After all, my favorite color is orange and it's not exactly the most popular color, so I had a hunch there's some clueless bride who got a giant heavy pot in neon orange for her wedding and has no clue what to do with it.

It's a little more beat up than I would like, nothing major but I'm a food blogger: that pot is going to have a lot of close-ups. However I'm proud to say we got the deal of a century.

Yes, I haggled for my own Christmas gift.

Speaking of Christmas gifts, once this baby arrived I couldn't help breaking it in by making a recipe that requires some even heating, so I made some caramels for Christmas gift-giving of my own: Mexican Chocolate Chile Caramels.