China Eats

Wondering where I've been? I have spent the last two weeks exploring China! 

Like any normal person, my favorite part of travel is food. I will admit, I was nervous about China since I absolutely hate what I know as "Chinese" food here in America.... and I'm really not a picky eater. Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, yes, loves it. But Chinese? Meh.

Well it's a good thing that food in China is not like American Chinese food. 

The best thing I ate were these little dumplings filled with hot broth and pork meatballs. It's a feat of science. How did they get the soup inside the dumpling!?!?! I learned the secret and I plan to recreate these here at home (just minus the pork).

That's another thing. SO MUCH PORK. And I really try to avoid pork... China consumes half of the world's pork supply. The average Chinese consumes 39kg or 85 lbs of pork per year. (sourced) Imagine my horror. I love pigs, I don't want to eat them.

Well I probably ate a whole pig in China. Sorry, future pet pig. 

Other pro's: Noodles (oodles!), tons of veggies, tofu tofu tofu!, cheap beer, watermelon!!, international selection

Con's: when shit got spicy, shit got spicy. (i.e. hot pot), and mystery meat

mall noodles 
candy selection in a department store

lunch at Ericsson canteen in Beijing

lunch at Taiwan Airport

my favorite meal on the trip, post great wall. So many dishes! So little tummy space! This egg and tomato business on the right was a favorite.

when in china? no.

mystery street food=preventative pepto

yin and yang mcdonald's sandwiches

stretched noodles!

fresh and delicious

for all the tea in china...

tea ceremony

cute, but non-delicious dumplings

again, nothing delicious


a face?

hot pot pain.

sushi in shanghai! 

pho in shanghai, unfortunately disappointing.

food safety ratings reflecting how my tummy felt in china. 
It was an adventure for the taste buds! China has changed my mind on Chinese food, though I think it will be difficult to find authentic Chinese here in Ventura County. But for a bit I am going to reward my tummy with my American food.

I missed cheese.


Family Secrets

This could go 1 of 2 ways.

I could be:
A) exiled from the family for sharing trade secrets
B) adored and revered for flattering the chef

I'm rooting for B.

Whenever the fam bam gets together for any sort of shindig, 80% of us make it a point to pressure Mike & Alayne, my mom's cousins, to prepare baked mussels. If you could taste these, you'd know why. Something magical happens under that broiler and creepy mussels and weird mayo come together to create a genius taste treat delight. 

These are a very rare treat. You can order them in most sushi restaurants now, but it's never the same as when they are had at a rare family gathering. Awww... feelings!

While Mike's magical ratio for the sauce is a mystery to me, the ingredients are not so secret. I made them with light mayo, which may seem like a terrible idea, but really makes a minor difference if you choose your light mayo brand carefully.

Also, we got out mussels from the frozen section of an asian supermarket. If you can get them fresh, KUDOS to you. But frozen is great. I think these are from New Zealand.

Here goes.

Baked Mussels
makes one metric shit ton

a lot of mussels... like two dozen?
1 c. reduced fat olive oil mayonnaise
1 tbsp sriracha
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds

First, defrost the mussels and rinse well. Get any dirt off and rinse out any freezer sauce.

Remove mussel from shell. They pop right off without tools - just use your hands. That leftover part is a muscle, leave that there.

If you're a barbarian, leave the mussel whole and simply replace it in the shell. If you take lady like bites or want each mussel to go further, cut into bite-size pieces (2's or 3's). Replace in shell.

Line em all up on a foil lined baking sheet.

Mix together mayo, sriracha, and sesame oil.

Taste! You want it spicy to your liking, with sesame flavor behind it all. If you like it hotter, make it hotter!

Spoon 2-3 tsp mayo mix on each mussel. Health food!

Then sprinkle all with sesame seeds.

Broil for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and brown, but without burning the edges of the mussel shells too much.
I would have taken a picture of the golden goodness, but a camera died and I had priorities. Like eating these suckers. 

It's not health food, but it's delicious. And this amount easily serves a ravenous group of 8. 

I suggest these as an appetizer, or as a side dish with something healthy, like cucumber salad

Please don't exile me for sharing family secrets!!

PS I'm going to China for a few weeks, be back when I'm back!


Easy Relleno Bake

If you know anything about me, you know I have a thing for cheese. I also not so secretly wish that I were allergic to cheese, so I would stop eating it. I'd probably drop 5 pounds in a week. Sarcasm? You be the judge.

Today we're making chile rellenos... kinda! I used to make this dish all the time in high school. It was easy and delicious, and figure friendly when you need a good mexican-style cheese fix. This is about as white-washed as any mexican dish can be, so don't expect authentic mexican cuisine out of this one. In other words, lower your expectations, cuisine connoisseurs. Come down to the ranks of we lowly comfort-food-eaters.

This is a great side dish to grilled fajitas. It also makes a great burrito filler if you are into the chile relleno burrito thing. Make a dish of these and eat all week. It's a good one!

Chile Relleno Bake
8 servings

cooking spray
1 large can whole green chiles
1 pound shredded light mexican style cheese (i.e. jack blend)
1/2 c. egg substitute
1 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 can nonfat evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 350F.
Spray a 9x13 glass baking dish with cooking spray. (I made two smaller dishes)

In a mixing bowl, combine egg substitute, evaporated milk, flour, and salt. Whisk well. 

Layer half the chiles.

Half the cheese.

Remaining chiles.

And remaining cheese. Then pour over the egg mixture.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until bubbly, brown, and set!

It kind of looks like mexican lasagna for cheese addicts?