Consuming the world's food supply one enchanting mouthful at a time.
Many months ago, I went on a pierogi-making kick. I was obsessed with making them for myself and friends and my office because it’s sort of therapeutic to able to make something from scratch. I was also missing New York and my Polish and Slovakian friends enormously (I am the most Slavic Asian girl you’ll ever meet) so I guess this is my comfort food.
Anyway, I took any old dough recipe from the web (here, for instance) and for the filling, I modified it to reflect what my Slovak friend Jana taught me. It’s easy: Skin, then boil the potatoes (maybe two good-sized ones), and when it’s soft enough, mash them up good. Put in salt for taste, chopped onions that have been fried, and shit tons of Philly cream cheese. Mash mix mash mix mash mash mash.
The most time-consuming part would be the rolling out of the dough. Make sure it’s flat (fat-skinned pierogis are just soooo undesirable) and then use a glass or like a cookie cutter to cut out circle shapes.
Then take a dough circle and scoop some potato/cream cheese filling in, and use your fingers to press the edges together. Do it until you’ve run out of dough… or filling. Press press pinch pinch press. (If you’re a real cooking network freak, you can use a fork to press upon the edges so it looks all nicely ridged.)
I recommend them fried (I recommend all things fried, honestly) so after you boiled them until they’ve floated up, flip them onto a hot frying pan and fry up these babies.
Wait til they’re gorgeously brown, then they are ready to be eaten.
For it to really be perfect though, you should make a “dressing” for them. Just chop up bacon bits, caramelize some onions and throw it in with a melted stick of butter. This may be a heart attack waiting to happen, but at least I can say I died happy.
I mean, this is basically happiness in a bowl.
PS. If you have extra filling (you will probably most definitely have more filling than dough. always.), you could make a calzone with it! It’s just an Italian-sized pieorgi! However, this is only possible if you have an Italian chef-friend who is able to whip awesome wonderful magic like this together in 10 mins. He also added bacon into the filling!
Fun Eaters is back! After our accidental 2012 hiatus, we’ve decided that despite being in different locations, this will still be a great way to write about what’s delicious. I’m still in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Etanbomb is now in San Francisco, that farking hipster; and Rachizzle is in wintry Minneapolis. The three of us, being in such diverse culinary environments, should be able to bring you lots of fun eating. Rachizzle has even started cooking, amazingly, so she should have some recipes as well.
So, being in Cambodia, I’m just gonna jump straight into the weird shit. Fried Baby frog legs!
I went to a party at a colleague’s farm on Saturday, and while there was a lot of other more normal food (like grilled pork, beef and squid — yum) I know y’all are expecting weird stuff from Cambodia. Luckily, my friends bought three plates of baby frog legs off a street vendor.
"But denesteak, aren’t baby frogs tadpoles? Those are clearly frogs."
Well, you are wrong, sir! (You have no idea how many people said that whole “tadpole” thing to me when I told them about it. Know-it-alls.) These frogs are smaller than the adults, so I guess to satisfy whatever semantics deity, these are actually prepubescent frogs.
Anyway, we were supposed to eat them whole, bones and all. Ever had frog legs? Tasted exactly like ‘em, except with more of a crunch. The frogs were also grilled/fried in some kind of grease, which obviously added to their delicious-ness.
I think I ate like eight of ‘em. They were really good.
It was only after we arranged them into a tableau of horror did I then start to feel a little bit bad about eating the baby frogs with so much relish. I mean, look at that one trying to leap-frog over his compatriot to get out of the plate:
Summer in NYC wouldn’t be complete without getting some frozen treat from some random ice cream vendor selling fruity concotions from his lost in Williamsburg. Consider my summer done.
Even though Union Ice got pretty mediocre reviews all around, especially from Yelpers, my partner-in-rhyme suggested getting the lingonberry ice flavor. Sound familiar? Remember those horribly long trips to IKEA where the only reprieve were those meatballs and that weird, red Swedish softdrink? That’s this, in frozen form! Really tart and sweet. Super delicious, kudos. And screw you Yelpers.
Usually we post about awesome food but since my stomach hate me this morning, I had to inquiry, “oh beautiful stomach, why?” It’s Crif Dog’s fault. Drunk me asked for the Good Morning which is a hot dog wrapped in bacon wrapped in a fried egg wrapped in a pile of cheese and nestled in a toasted bun.
The Khmer dish that I’ve probably eaten the most here is fish amok. It’s served in basically any nice-ish restaurant here and it’s delicious, but my favorite part about eating it in different places is to see how a restaurant prepares it. No two places seems to do it the same, but the basic elements of fish amok are fish coupled with a curry-like sauce. Sometimes they have a coconut savory sauce over it, but sometimes they don’t.
Fish amok from Rabbit Island in Kep
This dish might be the closest approximation to the very first time I tasted the dish (which was actually at Garden Shade in Phnom Penh.) I got this on Rabbit Island, which is an island off the beach town of Kep. The place I went to was literally just a hut by the beach. This version had a lot of curry ladled over the fish, and it is the soupiest fish amok I’ve ever had. Usually, the curry is a little thicker. It wasn’t very spicy but the fish was very fresh. It also had the distinct fish amok taste, which I think might come from a specific spice that is used.
Fish amok from Khmer Surin
Khmer Surin, a pretty fancy restaurant in Phnom Penh, serves their fish amok all partitioned out in pretty plateware. It was delicious and quite spicy, but it did not feel like a lot because of it being all broken out. I think I would have liked it better if it was just in a big chunk.
Fish amok from Frizz
Here, the fish amok is covered in some sort of coconut sauce and it comes wrapped in a banana leaf. Though I looked at the sauce kind of skeptically, Frizz’s version was actually delicious. Frizz is a Khmer restaurant in Phnom Penh that basically serves Khmer-lite cuisine for Westerners. I think their fish amok kind of reflects that because it was a little chunkier, and was more sweet than spicy. It also had peanuts in it (which I thought was bizarre. That was not a cool surprise.)
Here is a look underneath the sketchy-looking coconut sauce:
I think it was while eating this fish amok that I had the revelation that the dish is very similar to otak. I used to eat otak as a kid in Singapore, and it is basically a cake of mashed-up fish, wrapped in a banana leaf, and then I think they cook it over a fire. Fish amok doesn’t look like otak, but there are parts of the dish that sometimes have the same texture and taste.
Fish amok from Laughing Fatman
This was by far the weirdest fish amok ever. EVER. It was very chunky, and had an eggy quality, as you can see, and it also had sliced carrots in it. CARROTS! How’s that for a variation. While it was very good, I just could not identify it as fish amok because it didn’t have that distinct amok taste.
My point, which I hope you got, is that fish amok can really vary from place to place. I’ve eaten more fish amok than I care to say (let’s just say twice a week, and I’ve been here about 3 months) and have just been lazy to take photos, but my favorite version of the fish amok usually comes wrapped in a banana leaf and is a little chunky, but also quite saucy. I also like when the fish tastes like otak (because I love being reminded of Singapore) but there must be some fresh, unmashed fish in the mix as well. So far, the best fish amok (by those standards I just listed… not by any real Cambodian standard) is at a restaurant called Khmer-Thai Restaurant. No photos from there, but the next time I go, I’ll take one for y’all. Promise.
I’m probably the least fancy person to ever enter Balthazar. Instead of getting oysters, a cave-aged gruyere sandwich or steak tartare, I got a motherfucking doughnut. It was pistachio covered and completely chill with me being so raggedy.
A cakey doughnut covered in vanilla frosting and then powdered with pistachio. Powdered with pistachio. I like the sound of that and believe everything should be. The doughnut itself was a wee bit dry but it was excellent overall.
I really have to stop eating doughnuts. Every time I pass a doughnut shop, my hands start shaking, my knees buckle and I start convulsing on the pavement. The only cure is for me to snort some confectionary sugar off a sweet, puffy glazed treat.
I happened to be near Doughnut Plant when my most recent attack happened and I was saved by their new Creme Brulee doughnut. Sweet custard in the middle, yeasty doughnut on the outside and all topped with caramelized sugar on top. Totally ridiculous. It’s pretty tiny which made me want to get like 23 more but at $3, I’d be out of food stamps.
Whoa! Chinatown! In NYC! Craaaazy! I’ve never explored this area before! Besides my steaming pile of sarcasm, I thought I’d post my lunch with my sister. After she graciously spent 3 hours with me picking out pants (what are chinos? and what the hell is the trend with carrot shorts? they’re like Chinese finger traps for your legs), we relaxed with getting some Banh Mi and dumplings. Or I got a bunch of food and my sister looked on with disgusted amazement.
(Classic Pork Banh Mi)
(“Peanut” Green Papaya Salad)
(Banh Deo Dau Xanh “Horrible Chinese Dessert Fun”)
I hadn’t had a Banh Mi in ages so going to Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli was definitely a treat. The pork was sweet and succulent. The pâté was savory. All the vegetables were freshly cut so they weren’t soggy or drenched in oil. The daikon was tangy. And the bread stale…I guess you can’t have everything.
Even though the papaya salad had the word “salad” at the end it was more just papaya. Shredded. For $4. They did give me fish sauce and peanuts which I kind of just ate separately. Then we (I) got the weirdest dessert the girl behind the counter recommended which was a “mung bean soft cake”. It tasted more like a Chinese experiment with sugar and bananas gone awry. The texture was fun though.
(Special of the day: Duck filled pancake)
(Chive and pork dumplings)
Prosperity dumpling is my jam because I can go in with $3 and come out with loads of delicious food. Last time I came here, the sesame pancake was dripping with oil and was super floppy. This time, they crunched up the pancake (they obviously read my previous review) and it was filled with the day’s special which was duck. The filling, which consisted of roasted duck, shredded carrots/daikon, and something mysterious, was perfect with the fluffy, crunch pancake. Unfortunately, the filling only came up to about 2/3 of the pancake so once the duck was consumed, I threw the rest of the unneeded stuff out like a white Li Po. Dumplings were good. Oily, savory and coated with Sriracha. Overall: mouth happy, bowels not.
Hi! I promised Etanbomb that I would post something tonight so here I am! Posting from Phnom Penh, Cambodia! I haven’t taken as many food pictures as I’d like, but I have eaten out a lot. An enormous amount, actually. They have all kinds of food here in Phnom Penh, but that’s not to say they are all done well. Burgers, for example, are now a New York City delicacy to me. So are bagels. I made the mistake of eating a bagel here and it was awful. Also, they don’t do pesto so well here.
Look, I know you are thinking, “She’s in Cambodia… why is she eating Western food?” Yea, but I live here. So I eat Khmer food, all types of Asian food and Western food. Girl’s gotta have a balanced diet yea?
I’m currently in the middle of preparing a giant fish amok post (it’s a traditional Khmer dish) but it will take some compiling of images before I get a nice-sized post. So you’re just gonna have to be patient with that.
Until then, I do have some Cambodia-related food stories to tide you over, dear blog reader (there’s only like one of you besides the three of us, as far as I can tell. Hi Noah!) A couple weekends ago, I traveled to Kep, a beach town 4 hours outside of Phnom Penh. It is a quiet, sleepy town that is just incredibly beautiful and lovely. They are also known for their crab.
In the downtown area of Kep (insofar as Kep has a “downtown” area), there is a row of restaurants that are perched atop the water called Crab Market. As I and my awesome dining companion, Emily, sat looking out to the water, we could see the owners of the restaurants pulling crabs back to shore in the crab traps.
Our meals are in those things they are dragging in.
Then later, the crabs end up on our plates!!!
This is the infamous green pepper crab. Those little green balls you see are the actual peppers, and they are amaazzziinnnggg (or “amaze-balls” as my Australian friend says.) And the crab is really succulent and thick, and slathered with some sort of green pepper-y, salty gravy. You just wanna keep sucking on the shells for that green pepper taste even though you can’t really ingest the shells.
How can you ever get sick of crab? So Emily and I got another crab dish. The grilled crab!
Which, ordinarily, would probably have been amaze-balls, but after the green pepper crab, this just paled in comparison in terms of flavoring. But it was still delicious.
How much for two good-sized crab dishes, you ask? Well in Kep, they were about $6 each. We also got loads of beers and sat there for hours and hours—and our total was probably about $18. With tip.
What is that sound I hear? Oh right, Rachizle and Etanbomb exploding with envy. That’s why you guys should come visit me yo.
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