What is Bitter Melon?

Have you ever seen a warty looking cucumber in the supermarket or Chinatown and wondered what that was?

Bitter melon (also known as bitter gourd in some parts of the United States) is a gourd used in Chinese cuisine and known as “Foo Gwah," as well as being used for a variety of medicinal purposes. The taste is fairly bitter but pairs well with beef, pork and chicken. My favorite way to have  bitter melon is over a mound of steamed white rice.

Let me share a moment for preparing a bitter melon dish with you.

First the melon is cut into two inch segments then the orange seeds in the middle are scooped out. Next I put them into a colander for blanching. The ingredients I use are fresh ground pork, minced shrimp, diced mushrooms, diced green onions, chopped water chestnuts, and then wet and dry seasonings.

A generous spoonful of the filling will fill each piece of melon. When a plate is full, I top it off with a black bean garlic sauce. Now it goes into a large pot to steam with three other dishes that are separated with chopsticks. An original one pot kettle meal!

If you have a chance to taste this unusual dish please do so, though I bet you will either love it or hate it. At least you’ve tasted something new. This is truly an authentic Cantonese dish.

Dim Sum and Then Some

Being The Chinese Lady, I often think about my favorite childhood foods. Guess you can say I have to visit my hungry Chinese roots from time to time. Right now, I am referring to some Dim sum and lots of it!

Specifically, I’m thinking about some gelatinous chicken feet, tender pieces of tripe and scallions, sticky rice with chicken and my favorite, shrimp dumplings with garlic chives.

But first I need a friend that will accompany me and won’t wince when my favorite food hits the table. After a few calls I found Kelly who will eat all the food that I love with the same kind of enthusiasm and gusto. Now I’m looking forward to sipping my favorite chrysanthemum tea, eating whatever we want and bowing with gratitude for every tasteful bite... My mouth is watering just thinking about my dim sum lunch.

Turkey Loaf in My Freezer

If you ever find yourself standing in my kitchen as I happen to open my freezer, you might comment on what you see. Then you might ask why I have so much food. My answer would be “why not?” I think of my freezer as a friend that contains all the good stuff that I need in order to create new dishes then store my leftovers.

I must admit that I love to have access to my favorite foods, day or night. But before I continue my tale of a stuffed freezer, let me share what happened to me a few weeks ago.

One evening as I leaned against my kitchen sink, I felt a little dizzy and short of breath, so I sat down. Why did I feel so lousy?  After a visit to my local hospital, it turned out that my body was lacking food. I thought to myself, "OMG! I am a person who eats all day long, how could this happen?" So I thought of a way to solve this. I now wanted to create food that was loaded with all kinds of super nutritional ingredients to fuel my body.

I had an "a-ha!" moment and made a knockout, to-die-for turkey loaf. One that was healthy, had lots of protein and was absolutely delicious. Available for me 24/7 in my good ol' freezer.

Here is my take on a Turkey Loaf you might love, as well.

  • 1lb. ground dark meat turkey
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 raw egg                                     
  • 1/2 cup each, round onion, red bell pepper
  • 3/4 - 1 cup panko
  • 1 tsp. tarragon, kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. ketchup

Mix well, bake 350º for 45-50 minutes.

P.S. Bake it free standing on a cookie sheet so it browns all over. When cooled, slice it into thick pieces. Wrap individually so you can just grab a slice from your freezer bag. Voila! Worth it!

An Evening with Tyler Florence for "No Kid Hungry"

I usually don’t attend celebrity functions but recently I made an exception for Tyler Florence, the Food Network star. This event was to benefit the "No Kid Hungry" fundraiser at Williams Sonoma.

I arrived early so I could find a seat up close and as I was waiting for the class to begin,Tyler is prepping with his team. My first thought was to sit back and really enjoy the evening with a well known chef and to find out what I could learn from him. For me it’s always about watching a chefs’ hands and how he executes his skills. Will he be at ease when he talks while demonstrating his famous fried chicken, and at the end of the class would I be licking my fingers?

"YES," was the answer to all these questions. He proved to be an engaging chef in every way and I was very, very impressed!

I bought his beautiful cookbook, Fresh, because the illustrations were fabulous. He signed it for me; he was charming, easy on the eyes and his manner so authentic. My evening turned out great and I’m glad that I went, glad I bought his book and glad to have met a truly talented guy. What a treat!

But most importantly, I liked that I was there to be supportive for the No Kid Hungry event.

Organic Tacos at Papito

I feel so fortunate to live in San Francisco where food is available everywhere. There are casual, fine dining, and three star restaurants within reach. 

Since I think of myself as an adventurous gal, I am totally into trying all kinds of food. I like to discover delicious food, so I'm always on the lookout for those unexpected surprises!

Just last week I found myself on Hayes street, near Civic Center,  I began window shopping and I smelled aromatic food. I followed my nose to “Papito,” a brand new restaurant. I had discovered my first organic mexican restaurant. The owner showed me to my seat in the brightly sunlit room with an open kitchen. It was noisy but hey, it was noon. Most of the tables were taken with people sitting, laughing, smiling and enjoying their food. Happy sounds...

I was starving so I decided to order the large taco platter thinking that I would have some leftovers for later. 
When the taco platter slid in front of me, I noticed how beautiful they were garnished with edible flowers!! So of course I pulled out the camera (like everyone nowadays) and shot a few pics. The tacos were so scrumptious, flowers and all that I had none to take home.