Sunday Family Dinner

A Late Family Dinner Recap….and Where I’m Currently At

September 2016
Ok gang, I know I’ve been MIA lately and I’m long overdue to recap our last Family Dinner.

The delay started with me misplacing the SD card with all the photos I took from dinner. Don’t ask….no clue where it is. But how does a food blogger publish a post without food pics?? Yes, between the sibs and I, we had snapped some on our phones but I was determined to find that freaking memory card. But—-I didn’t. So then I started drafting the post using the pics from our phones.

And then last Tuesday happened.

I generally haven’t used this space to discuss things other than food. But the truth of the matter is, I am shaken to my core. It wasn’t just an election. It’s that the outcomes have supported a movement to lead by instilling fear and panic, to further widen the gap between gender equity, to continue to target those of historically marginalized races and religions and to regress not progress. It’s not a question of political parties but of basic human decency. I’m heartbroken, angry, frustrated, tired–and quite frankly, I’m afraid. Why? Because I’m a person of color, daughter of refugee parents, advocate of marriage equality, non-Christian, and a woman who believes that I alone should be the one who should make decisions regarding my health and body. I am the embodiment of everything that the new majority “leadership” has fought against.

What now? So where do my beliefs and I belong come 2017? Where do we start again? How can we keep up the strength and fight?

It’s these questions that have me deeply troubled and walking in a daze this past 10 days. It’s been difficult to focus in the office and even harder to get things in order for the whirlwind of family activities I’m about to embark on for the next 9 days. 9 days that include my cousin’s wedding, 2 family dinners, Thanksgiving, and lots and LOTS of time with the nieces and nephews.

September 2016
Yes, you read correctly–that’s two family dinners that are scheduled. We wanted to take advantage of the time since all five siblings would be in town for our cousin’s wedding. As hectic and chaotic that I know it’ll be, I need it. I think that lots of time with my siblings and their fam while we cook will do us some good. And as much as I hurt, I need to still be me and do what I do–even if it’s a bit clunky for now.

So here’s that recap of our last Family Dinner I owe you.

September 2016
Thanks to R’s fresh yellowfin catch, we made Shoyu Poke and my niece–Nini, made her infamous Spicy Tuna Hand Rolls.

September 2016
Sis N took on the main course– Tamarind Dungeness Crab.

September 2016
L made stir-fried Garlic-Lemon Broccolini to give us some greens.

September 2016
T made Garlic Noodles and the Soju Cocktails.

September 2016
And lastly, for dessert, I made the Mango-Macadamia Nut Cheesecake.

September 2016
Gang, I know this isn’t my normal kind of post—far from it. But to write in my “normal” tone would feel disingenuous. And quite frankly, we need less of that in the world. So thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.

And until next time, let me leave you with a picture of this fedorable face….she’s been my steadfast cuddler and best comfort of late.

Fedorable

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails:  Grapefruit Soju Cocktails
Appetizers: Spicy Tuna Hand Rolls, Shoyu Poke
Entrees: Tamarind Dungeness Crab
Sides: Garlic Noodles, Lemon Garlic Broccolini
Dessert: Mango-Macadamia Nut Cheesecake

Sunday Family Dinner

The Pacific Northwest and East Asia Blend at Family Dinner

April 2016 Fam Din
We’ve got two birthday boys in April — Lucas and Curtis! And as Family Dinner protocol dictates, when it’s your birthmonth, you call the theme for the menu.

Now with our Lucasaurus, he’s pretty laid back. If there’s something yummy and he gets ice cream at the end, well–he’s all set. So it was up to my BIL, Curtis, to give us some direction.

April 2016 Fam Din
Curtis
is all about seafood and generally loves Japanese cuisine. He mentioned that he wanted crab and the next thing I knew it, we were in crab boil planning mode. We’ve done crab Boils quite often. Remember this time? Or how about this time?

Can you blame us? Seafood boils are freaking D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!!

But this time, since we wanted to use dungeness crab (they’re back in season–YAHOO!), we thought we’d take a different spin. We ditched our beloved spicy Cajun seasoning packets and headed for the Pacific Northwest for inspiration.

April 2016 Family Dinner
But first–one small order of business.

A few months ago, we decided that while we were prepping/cooking/enjoying Fam Din, everyone would stay off their cellphones or tablets and spend some QT with each other. Only exception? You could use it briefly to snap pics of food or family.

The girls even made a sign for our “docking” station that would rotate from house to house each month.

April 2016 Fam Din
So what did we do while off our phones?

We play tennis of of course! Well….Wii Sports but that’s nearly as good.

The pics below may not be as clear as I’d like but I love them. Look at their intense facial expressions.

GAME ON!

April 2016 Fam Din
Speaking of GAME ON–check out Lucasaurus. One moment he’s all “sweet face” and the next “100% slugger”.

He’s such a playah’ that he even squeezed in a fast T-Ball game with the homies before dinner was ready.

Stud.

April 2016 Fam Din
And what did my seestrahs and I do in between the cooking?

Drank some draannnnkkks of course!

Our cocktail of choice was a concoction that seester T had with her friends one night – Pomegranate Soju with Sparkling Korean Grapefruit Rice Brew.

What does a “sparkling rice brew” taste like? Think of a less sweet, more carbonated wine cooler but a gazillion times better. The whole thing was floral, fruity, and went down dangerously smooth.

April 2016 Fam Din
At this point, you may be wondering how this cocktail fits the Pacific Northwest theme.

Well…..that’s where the East Asia meets the Pacific Northwest. At least, the first time for the night.

April 2016 Fam Din
Oh–and of course we took a minute or two to snap a few pics.

April 2016 Fam Din

CHEERS!

April 2016 Fam Din
Meanwhile, Lucas had come back from his game, showered and then decided to show his uncle some of his badass roundhouse kicks.

Did I mention our little man just passed his Tae Kwon Do black back examination?

Yeah…I keep him around as my personal security these days.

April 2016 Fam Din
Then at some point throughout the shenanigans, big sis whipped out some appetizers – Shrimp Crostinis!!

April 2016 Fam Din
And then we got down to some serious cooking.

How serious?

So serious we had to break out the step stools.

#ShortPeopleProblems

April 2016 Fam Din
And then the girls started getting all kinds of silly.

Not sure if they were getting hypoglycemic from all the waiting or if it’s just their true nature.

You’re right….. it’s the Aliens.

April 2016 Fam Din

Grab the bibs, refill the drinks, plunk yourselves down in a chair because it was finally DINNER TIME!!!

April 2016 Fam Din
Sweet dungeness crab, prawns, clams, corn, new potatoes and crusty bread. The “boil” was made from crab stock, lemons, garlic and an insane amount of fennel and coriander seeds. Very, very aromatic.

Oh–and tons, and I mean TONS of garlic butter to dip it all in.

LET’S GET SEAFOOD WASTED!!!!

April 2016 Fam Din
And you bet we sure as heck did! Totally natural–birthday celebrations and all.

Though no matter how full we are, there must be dessert! And with two birthday boys, we had to have TWO desserts. One made specifically for each of boys’ favorite flavors.

April 2016 Fam Din
With Curtis, we went for the East Asian flavors because the man loves him some green tea! And after all these years, it’s become quite the challenge to make him a different green tea dessert. We’ve done Matcha Green Tea Icebox Cheesecake, Green Tea Souffles, and Matcha Green Tea Layered Cake filled with Matcha Mousse and the list goes on and on.

Hey–at least he’s consistent.

April 2016 Fam Din
So after squeezing my brain to the core, I decided to make him a Green Tea Tiramisu–also known as a Matchamisu!

I used this recipe to make the fantastically easy and light dessert. I took packaged lady finger cookies and dipped them in a mixture of honey and a strongly brewed green tea. It was then layered with a fluffy filling of whipped mascarpone cheese, egg yolks, sugar, clouds of whipped cream and of course, matcha powder.

Oh! Did I mention that I threw in a few splashes of Grand Marnier? It is a type of tiramisu after all.

April 2016 Fam Din
It was a WINNER!

Not only was it crazy easy to pull together but it was so well flavored and light. Birthday boy gave me the stamp of approval! So much in fact, that I’m making a bunch of individual sized Matchamisus for his big birthday bash this weekend.

PHEW!

Better start thinking about his next year’s green tea dessert!

April 2016 Fam Din
As for Lucas’ dessert – my nephew being MY nephew, LOVES ice cream — mint chocolate chip ice cream. And like me, if it’s isn’t green mint chip then we want nothing to do with it.

So as a nod to the “Pacific Northwest”, I made our little guy a Baked Alaska — something I’ve never attempted before. And guess what? It was really easy too!

First off, I used store bought ice cream (I know, I know–but I was short on time!) and let it set out for about 30-45 minutes to soften. I lined a large metal bowl with plastic wrap (for easy removal) and packed the ice cream in it. Then, I pressed a layer of brownie on top to form the base.

Lukey doesn’t like cake—we’re all a work in progress.

April 2016 Fam Din
I covered the top with more plastic wrap and then let the whole thing freeze for several hours. When it was about time to serve, I took the bowl out of the freezer and set it on the counter while we got to making the meringue.

In a stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment, I whisked up 2 large egg whites, 1/2 cup sugar, 1-2 pinches cream of tartar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and until stiff peaks formed.

We then inverted the bowl onto a plate, piped meringue rosettes all over and then brought out the torch.

April 2016 Fam Din
Most Baked Alaskas, well—are baked. But instead of placing the whole thing in a high heat oven, I opted to use a kitchen torch. I felt more comfortable with this method for a more even browning.

I think it all came out beautifully well. Fluffy-marshamllowly meringue, VERY green ice cream and a chocolately brownie base.

April 2016 Fam Din
It got a thumbs up from this adorable birthday boy….

And if you follow me on Instagram, then you would have saw a video of Lucas face planting into his dessert plate–on his own volition!!!

Silly boy.

April 2016 Fam Din
Another delish and FUN Family Dinner in the books!

Happy Birthmonth Curtis and Lucas!

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu
Pacific Northwest – East Asian

Cocktails: Pomegranate Soju with Sparkling Korean Grapefruit Rice Brew
Appetizers: Shrimp Crostini
Entrees: Pacific Northwest Dungeness Crab Boil with Prawns, Clams, Sausage, Potatoes & Corn
Sides: Toasted Ciabatta and French Bread
Dessert: Matcha Tiramisu and Baked Alaska with Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream and Brownie Base

Pastas/Noodles · Seafood

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Dungeness Crab

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Dungeness Crab
More times than not, you’ll find me rummaging around my pantry and fridge without a plan in mind of what to cook.

Odd for a food blogger?

Well friends, if you’ve been with me for awhile—my quirkiness must have seeped through the screen by now. So there’s really no hiding my “offbeat” approach to things.

Flashback to yesterday night when I was on the verge of turning into a gremlin from hunger. A full blown GREMLIN I tell ya! And I knew I only have a few minutes to pull something together before I passed out on the kitchen floor.

I needed a quick pasta — STAT!!!

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Dungeness Crab 2
In dire moments when I’m short on time (or just lazy), pasta aglio e olio is heaven sent! It’s a staple pasta dish from Naples where you infuse good quality olive oil with tons and I mean TONS of garlic and a bit of red pepper flakes. After your pasta is cooked, you toss it in the infused oil and add some herbs and maybe some grated cheese. I do versions of pasta aglio e olio all of the time –sometimes adding a bit of anchovy paste or capers or even a bit of chorizo.

But imagine my utter glee when I remembered that I had some leftover Dungeness crab from the weekend. I seriously squealed “YAYYYYY!” when I saw it in the fridge and did a little dance…… yeah, it doesn’t take much to get a happy dance out of this gal.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Dungeness Crab 3
I proceeded with my standard steps for pasta aglio e olio and at the end, tossed in some of the sweet crab meat and just a few pinches of grated parm. I piled a huge mound on the plate, sprinkled some more pepper flakes on top, fresh lemon zest, chives and to add that extra level of decadence for a Monday night–a drizzle of white truffle oil.

HUMINAH! HUMINAH! HUMINAH!!!!!!

It was fantastic! The wonderful sweet and sea flavor from the beautiful Dungeness crab mixed with the garlic punch and bright freshness from the lemon zest—along with the earthy oil. It was all somehow hearty and light at the same time.

Considering I was on the verge of turning into a ravenous monster before/during the cooking process, I hadn’t bothered to take step by step photos to blog about it. But once done, it looked, well–damn sexy! So I took about 37 seconds to snap a couple of pics before inhaling it.

Not only did I manage to suppress the gremlin from emerging but I rocked out a pretty awesome dish in about 15 minutes. That’s a rather successful Monday in this gal’s book.

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Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Dungeness Crab
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

kosher salt, divided
5 ounces dried spaghetti noodles, or other long strand pasta
3 tablespoons quality extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to garnish
½ tablespoon grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
4-5 ounces cooked Dungeness crab meat
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh chopped chives
white truffle oil to finish*

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the spaghetti noodles and boil for 8-9 minutes or until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta boils, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes to infuse the oil. Swirl the skillet often to ensure that the garlic does not burn. Add the red pepper flakes and infuse for another minute. Carefully pour in the reserved starchy pasta water, turn the heat to medium-high and bring it to a boil. Whisk the items together and then toss in the pasta. Stir and toss for about a minute and sprinkle in the cheese and 2-3 generous pinches of salt.

Remove the skillet from the heat and gently fold in the crab. Plate the pasta between two dishes. Sprinkle the tops of each serving with lemon zest, chives and drizzle with white truffle oil. If you do not have truffle oil, drizzle with some additional quality extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy!

 

Pastas/Noodles · Seafood · Side Dish · Vietnamese

Roasted Garlic Dungeness Crab with Garlic Noodles


Roasted Garlic Crab with Garlic Noodles

Well over 15 years ago when I was still living in LA, my family and I took a trip to San Francisco to visit my sister. Somehow or another we ended up at Thanh Long to try their infamous Roasted Garlic Crab…..and that was it for me. I was in “garlicky-finger licking-good” love.

I am fully aware that I’m not the only one. With throngs of followers, Thanh Long and their other Crustacean locations have been wooing people for over 3 decades with their roasted garlic crab, prawns, garlic noodles and even their shaking beef. Top that off with the knowledge of their “secret kitchen” (an enclosed area within the main kitchen that is off limits to all employees except An Family members) and who can resist?

But here’s the thing. A dinner for two will easily set you back 100 bucks–and that’s playing it minimal. And with the tough economy and this gal’s expensive food habits, I had to take matters into my own hands. Yes….I’m talking about a Roasted Garlic Dungeness Crab knock-off was in order…..fully equipped with Garlic Noodles. The method below is an adaptation of how my family prepares Cua Rang Me (Crab with Tamarind Sauce). However, with that particular preparation, I like to take the tamales from the crab and incorporate it into the sauce. So good.

Sure, I am well aware that I may be totally off base with this Garlic Crab –probably missing several key ingredients from the original. But since the chances of me getting into the An Family Secret Kitchen are slim to none—this will have to do. And “do”, it sure did! Utterly garlicky, buttery, decadent and fairly easy too. And at a fraction of the cost (dinner for two was way under $20), our bellies were completely happy with moola still left in our pockets.

And that dear friends, is a “Nguyen-Win Situation“.

ENJOY!

Garlic Noodles

Ok–you caught me. I also made GINORMOUS Roasted Garlic Prawns, too.

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Roasted Garlic Dungeness Crab with Garlic Noodles

Ingredients:

Roasted Garlic Dungeness Crab (Serves 2)
¼ Cup Fresh Garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons Shallots, minced
1 Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
½ Tablespoon Cracked Black Pepper
8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Fresh Dungeness Crab, about 2-3 pounds
Lemon Wedges and Chopped Scallions, optional

Garlic Noodles (Serves 6)
1 Pound Chow Mein Noodles*
2 Tablespoons Fresh Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1-2 Tablespoons Maggi Seasoning*
½ Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Crab: Carefully clean the live Dungeness Crab. Drop into a large pot of salted boiling water. Par cook for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the pot and let cool. Once the crab has cooled enough to handle, remove the top shell and quarter the body. Using a kitchen mallet, crack the legs and claws but do not remove the meat.

In a dutch oven, heat up the butter and olive oil. Once the butter has almost melted, add the garlic and shallots. Lightly sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add sugar, chili flakes, fish sauce, and black pepper and cook for an additional minutes. Add the crab to the pot and stir well so that the crab is fully covered with the mixture. Cook on medium heat for an additional 2 minutes. Shake the pot to even the crab into one layer and place in the oven on 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until crab is completely cooked. Be careful not to overcook or the crab meat will be very dry. Transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle scallions on top of the crab.

Noodles: Cook the noodles according to the direction on the package. Drain the noodles, reserving a few tablespoons of the starchy water. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic but not browned, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar and Maggi. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly toss the noodles into the mixture. Add the cheese and toss the noodles ensuring that it is thoroughly covered. You may add a tablespoon of the pasta water as needed to loosen the pasta.

The noodles can be boiled before preparing the crab. However, I highly suggest waiting until the crab is roasting in the oven before staring the final steps of the garlic noodles.

Serve both the Garlic Noodles and Crab warm with lemon wedges.

*This recipe has been edited since its initial post. I now use chow mein noodles but in a pinch, you could substitute with spaghetti or linguine noodles.

**You will find that I use a lot of Maggi Seasoning in my recipes. Growing up, my family used it in lieu of traditional Soy Sauce. In fact, we grew up calling Maggi “Xì dầu” (soy sauce), although it technically is not and has a unique flavor of its own. If you don’t have Maggi on hand–run out and buy some! 🙂 But in the mean time, you can substitute with a light soy sauce–though I must reiterate that the flavor will not be the same.