Supersize My Croissant

I’ve decided to start another Supersize Me experiment in the lab, this time with a croissant from Safeway. Before you condemn me for wasting food for the sake of my scientific endeavors, let me just say that this poor croissant was left over from a meeting on Monday, then sat in an open box in the computer room where nobody touched it for several days, next to some left over rotting fruit that started attracting a massive buzz of Drosphila of a neighbouring lab. It then turned into a piece of hard, inedible flaky rock (still very greasy to the touch). I felt compelled to rescue it.

Croissant Day 5

The croissant thus ended up in another plastic box. (On a side note: I did attempt to put it in a jar, but it was bigger than the mouth of the jar. The croissant was also too damn hard I couldn’t have stuffed it through without breaking it.)

One look at Safeway’s nutrition facts will tell you why most of my coworkers have a lot of confidence that this croissant will “last forever”:

Croissant nutrition

If you remember, a typical HK-style pineapple bun has 3.5g trans fat per 100g of bun, which is 3.5%. The croissant has 4g of trans fat per 64g of croissant, which equals 6.25%, nearly twice that of the pineapple bun. Seeing that our Supersize Me pineapple bun is still doing good at 10 weeks, I’m sure that doubling the trans fats will carry this croissant pretty far. We’ll see!

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Dense Matter: Bagels from the (one and only) GC Bakery

I was recently told by a friend at work that the only Jewish bakery in Richmond is Garden City Bakery. (He is Jewish, and lives in Richmond, so I believe him. If you know better, you can make me believe otherwise.) Now, I have also eaten a lot of their awesome apple strudels in the past. My mother, who has been an avid visitor of this bakery for years, claims they have the best bagels. For many years this is like that little nothing-special bakery in my neck of the woods… until I found out they were the only Jewish bakery in Richmond. I now see them in a different light. (Well, kinda. It still doesn’t look like much from the outside. You might just think it’s some extension of the dry cleaning place next door and not really a bakery as you pass by.)

To tell you the truth, before I developed a liking for bagels, I have never eaten bagels from here. Now that I have set out on my bagel quest, and found out that this bakery is a bit one of a kind, and getting into a debate with my mom about who makes the best bagels, I had to try some.

They look like bagels, they’re called bagels, but they’re a little different. These are almost half the weight of typical bagels of comparable size (a typical bagel weighs approximately 4oz. The ones from GC Bakery weigh about 2oz). Right away I knew they would be airier. And this was just slightly disappointing as I have become used to the fact that great bagels are dense, doughy bagels, feeling much heavier than they look. This gives them that sense of substantiality, and a fulfillment that comes with simply holding a heavy bagel in your hand. GCB’s bagels also lack that egg wash, so the surface doesn’t have that typical glean to it. I like bagels that glean.

I bite into one, and a few seconds later realize why my mother likes them so much: It tastes like a chewier version of 豬仔包*! Not the salty kind, but not sweet either. I guess somewhere between the two. (No wonder! My mom really likes 豬仔包.) It wasn’t as chewy as I would have liked my bagels to be though- just a bit bready to me. It wasn’t like they were fluffy, but they were definitely not dense enough, or had that hard exterior crust. The softness of the crust almost made me wonder if the bagels were actually boiled before being baked. (They must be, they wouldn’t be called bagels otherwise, but I wonder, I really wonder.)

They pass, but definitely aren’t the best in town. Says my palate anyway. Solly’s bagels still on top!

* 豬仔包: Literally translated as “Little Piggie Bread”, 豬仔包 is a Hong Kong-style bread. It is small and oval-shaped, and looks like a soft mini-baguette, or a cross between a dinner roll and a hot dog bun, or to some a little pig, hence the name. The crust is soft and often topped with sesame seeds. 豬仔包 can be sweet or salty, and is a chewy bread but not super dense. It is a plain bread but sometimes comes stuffed like a hot dog, or is slathered in condensed milk. There is a picture and a recipe for the salty kind here.

 

Garden City Bakery
In the Garden City Shopping Centre (corner of Blundell and Garden City Rd, Richmond)
A few stores down from Rogers Video

雞蛋仔 (Mini-egg)

mini egg

雞蛋仔 (Gai Daan Jai,  “Mini-egg”)

Ah, 雞蛋仔 (Gai daan jai ), one of my all time favorite Hong Kong street foods and childhood snack. Gai daan jai originated in the 1950s, as a way for small grocers to make use of broken eggs they didn’t want to waste. Apparently, back then many were made with duck eggs, which imparted more flavor. Decades later, 小販 (street food hawkers) made and sold gai daan jai from their mobile road-side carts, and that was how I remember getting them as a young child. Today, Hong Kong street hawkers have moved into street-side stalls.

Gai daan jai is made from flour, sugar, eggs, and milk. They are like crunchy thin waffles. But instead of the small honeycomb-shaped waffle irons, they’re made in irons with rows of little ovals, resulting essentially in a large, round waffle made up of 30 little “eggs” all stuck together. The outside “shell” is thin and crunchy; nearly half of the inside is empty, while the other is filled with batter. When finished cooking, the entire waffle is laid out on a metal rack where it is briefly cooled by fanning, then served in a cheap paper bag. You then break each “egg” off from the waffle to eat it. This is a freshly done batch rolled off the waffle:

Mini egg iron

Nowadays, one of the best mini-egg stands in Hong Kong is a little shop on King’s Road in North Point (I have passed by often, and there is not a time in the day where you don’t see a long line up all the way down the street. Their mini egg are pretty good). In Vancouver, mini-eggs can be found at food courts of Asian malls. My favorite is the one at the Crystal Mall food court in Burnaby. I haven’t been there for a while though. The ones at Parker Place and Yaohan Centre are pretty bad: Both places are really inconsistent; their mini-eggs are either burnt, or soggy, or have too thick and icky a batter. These ones at Aberdeen Centre are quite good: crispy shell, eggy and chewy insides:

Mini Egg

Steamed Tilapia on the Fish Plate

Steamed Tilapia

One of my favorite fish dishes- Steamed tilapia, Chinese-style: Buy fresh tilapia. Put fish on plate. Drizzle soy sauce, vegetable oil. Steam 15-20 minutes. Throw in generous amounts of scallions, ginger, garlic, cilantro. (There was umeboshi paste in this one but that was an experiment and optional. Tasted great though.) Moist, soft, delicious fish. Now how simple is that?!

(And now you see why I bought the fish plate? :-D)

Moofia – Dairy Toys

Hmm, how did we get here, let’s see. I was Googling images of “mozzarella” one day, and came across the Mozzarella vinyl toy by tokidoki. Kawaii! On the website I also discovered the rest of Mozzarella’s Moofia that come in cute little milk cartons. I had wanted to buy Mozzarella but it also costs 30 bucks (minus the shipping)! Disappointed that I was not that crazy, I gave up on the wishing. Then, while browsing at Paper-Ya, I came across a Moofia milk carton! Unfortunately they didn’t sell Mozzarella. Not about to be disappointed again, I bought the milk carton. I was hoping to get the Japanese Milk, but I got the Baby Bottle, which was quite cute anyway. 😀 I don’t know why it’s crying though:

Moofia

I still want Mozarella!!

Wheat Thins My Way

Although my first attempt at crackers yielded quite perfectly edible ones, I was of course not satisfied with my results (as usual). I thought my last batch of Spelt crackers were crunchy, but a tad on the hard side. Seeing that the Spelt crackers consisted only flour, water and salt, I decided to improve on this simple recipe. I haven’t yet created the perfect cracker, but a few minor tweaks yielded a significantly improved one (which landed me a commission from W to make her a giant batch so she can stop buying boxes of Wheat Thins). I used whole wheat this time instead of Spelt, and so they do kinda remind me of Wheat Thins.

ww crackers

The crunch and hardness factor was considerably improved over the Spelt crackers, and overall they tasted better (possibly due to a bit of — oooh — fat). I had thought that by adding baking powder the crackers would be poofed up and thick, this didn’t happen, but I am guessing it did give the crackers that lighter consistency. W thinks they were a bit saltier than required, though I thought they were OK. Kinda look like nachos with this roasted red pepper dip I had:

crackers and dip

Wheat Thins My Way
Makes about 100 triangular crackers

Materials:
180g (about 1.5c) Whole Wheat Flour
90g (about 1/4c) Water
1T butter, or margarine
1t baking powder
1t salt, plus more for sprinkling if desired
2t vegetable or chicken stock powder

Protocol:
1. Mix all ingredients well, and knead for a few minutes. Depending on humidity, you might need a bit more water to hold the dough together. Don’t add too much; the dough should be fairly dry.
2. Divide dough into two pieces and wrap with plastic. Let rest at least 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 375F.
4. Use a rolling pin, roll out into a flat sheet about 1/8″ thick. Put on a piece of parchment. Score with wheel pastry cutter or knife into desired shapes (I did triangles).
5. Sprinkle with salt if desired, and roll over lightly to make it stick.
6. Pierce each cracker several times with fork.
7. Place on baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes or until golden. (Watch carefully!) Cool on a wire rack.

Whimsy Baked Tofu Jettison

There is almost always some tofu in the (Chinese) fridge, but last week there was a surplus of supermarket proportions. Packages of soft, medium, firm tofu, silken, organic, reduced fat tofu, fresh, in a box, as a tube tofu. (All except the pre-marinated, ready-to-eat kinds – I don’t buy those. Those are for the tofu-clueless. And I’m Asian, dammit.) I am guessing they were all on sale at some point and stocked up mindlessly to this point of tofu-overload. To assuage this situation (and unclutter the fridge), I decided on a whim to make a tofu appetizer before dinner. Hence my Whimsy Baked Tofu Jettison. Essentially it is miso-marinated tofu baked to a crisp. I whipped this up quickly but if you have more time it’s definitely worth taking it to create a better product. Nevertheless, these turned out just fine. They were quite chewy, though I personally prefer them to be crispier. And maybe less salty. (And I already used reduced-sodium soy sauce!)

Tofu bake

Recipe follows…
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