Dear Kiyo (The Makanai) & Seafood Soup

Netflix’s algorithm showcased your story on my Recommended feed. I didn’t even hear of the anime series that you were based on until researching what the ‘Makanai’ translated to in English. Nonetheless, you have a beautiful story of friendship with Sumire/Momohana, food and Japanese culture. Actually, you reminded me a lot of my younger self. So much so that your effervescence inspired me to cook a comforting seafood soup for these cold winter months! 

There was a time when all I wanted to do was go to the markets, cook and eat. The vibrant energy of meeting new people, learning about new ingredients, food histories, figuring out how to cook them and seeing people’s faces when an idea comes together. All of this still happens, but it’s different now. Food is one of my passions, and all that comes with it. Even the dirty dishes and waiting for stocks or broths to simmer away. I’m not the most patient person, but for some reason, it always feels worth the wait. Maybe the sweet smell of sauteed onions in butter carried me through the waiting period?

Thank you for staying true to who you are, doing what you love and finding purpose in your disappointment.

bowl of seafood soup

This is not a recipe, but a prompt to feed your curiosity with a meal that brought me joy and comfort.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • Mussels
  • Shrimp
  • Clams
  • Sweet or white onion
  • Garlic
  • Lotus root
  • Spinach
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • Water 
  • Salt & pepper
  • Spritz of lime juice (¼ lime)

I would also include kimchi for flavour variation and canned beans for added protein. Paired with warm rice or vermicelli noodles to make it more fulfilling. 

Always, 

K

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Re: 4 Kitchen tools I use everyday

From left to right: Scraper, measuring spoons, Microplane grater, rubber spatula

If you’re an OG follower of my blog over the years, you’d know that I started in the blogging world with a food blog. Well, it has been around a decade and if you’re still here, thank you. For those recently joining, welcome! In many ways I’ve grown up with this blog amongst other creative writing ventures. Today’s post is continued encouragement for fellow home cooks and new home cooks who have been inspired during this longer COVID season. Below are the top 4 kitchen tools that I use on a daily basis for savoury and sweet cooks: 

  1. Microplane grater – I love this tool! Yes, I know there are other zesters and graters that have the same function. And yes, I’ve used those too. But I love Microplane graters specifically because they’re durable, versatile and beautifully designed. The rubber handle has prevented quite a bit of fingertip grating and knuckle scrapes every time I looked for it in my drawer. The versatility when using the tool between ingredients is also really convenient, grating fresh nutmeg to ginger. 
  2. Small rubber spatula – When I bought this spatula, I initially thought it was meant for kids and maybe it is. I love using this tool when cooking with different cookware materials because it doesn’t damage the surface of the pan, e.g. cooking on stainless steel and non-stick surface pans. It’s also the perfect size when cooking scrambled eggs and sauces to get every ounce. 
  3. Measuring spoons – Most of the time, I don’t actually follow a recipe so measuring something may not be top of mind. However, I’ve gotten the habit of using measuring spoons when experimenting dishes in case the outcome turns out really well. I may still ballpark the measurements when recreating at a later date but at least it would be easier than racking my brain for the ratios. Of course, for baking this tool is a must. 
  4. Scraper – This tool lessens the mess I have to clean up when transferring ingredients from the cutting board to the pan/pot. Whether it’s chopped herbs, onion, garlic or other ingredients cut in brunoise, it’s a great tool to add to your counter for easy access. Also, this tool can be used when handling doughs for pasta, pastry, bread or pizza. 

I hope you’re all having a blast cooking and baking at home! There’s nothing like a warm meal to comfort the soul. 

Always, 

K

P.S. Signing off with one of my favourite tunes when cooking. 

Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars (video retrieved from Vevo Mark Ronson YouTube channel)

Kitchen Fails

1I’m not afraid to admit that not every recipe or dish I made has gone smoothly. Even if I put thought into which flavours to combine, the measurements I should use when baking or even the amount of time I should cook certain food, there are some dishes that are complete fails. And you know what, I’m okay with that. It doesn’t make me any less passionate and motivated to cook/bake. When I think about it, it actually encourages me to keep doing it. Every professional chef or incredible home cook will tell you that cooking and baking takes practice. Experience helps you understand which boundaries you can push and which ones you ought to stick to.

As much as cooking and baking is an art, it is an edible science. So for those feeling like cooking is a daunting skill to learn, just think, even Julia Child needed to learn how to whisk before making a meringue. Take it one spoon at a time.

 

Always,

K

Why do I still cook?

I started cooking when I around 7 years old (I think I mentioned that before somewhere). My grandmother was visiting and wanted to teach me how to chop vegetables for the dish she was preparing. After a while my parents would let us stand on a stool and let us mix whatever they were making. My dad was and still is pretty meticulous about how to do certain things so we had to listen or else we couldn’t keep stirring the pot. Tasting was fun too. I was a chubby little Asian girl with the plump cheeks and the infamous bowl cut, probably tasting way more than I needed to. When I smiled, my eyes disappeared (ok they still do).

Back then I started cooking to help around the house. Whatever I was cooking was my contribution. I hated washing dishes so it was a good exchange. During high school and university I didn’t get to cook or bake as much, only on holidays and summers when I didn’t have a course to take. And frankly, cooking can be such a chore sometimes. I know I’m not supposed to say that being a food blogger but it can be chore. I’m just being honest! Why do you think we write reviews on restaurants too?

But sometimes I just really need to cook. The past couple of weeks have been tough. Job hunting as a recent graduate in liberal arts is tough. There are transferrable skills that can translate very well in multiple fields but there’s always a qualification you might not have. How are we supposed to gain work experience when you won’t give us a chance? Just a thought. Waiting for replies started to get me frustrated so I cooked.

braised pork empanadasI still cook because it keeps me calm. It helps me realize that there are some things in the world we cannot control. I can’t make my over heat up faster. I have to wait until it’s done preheating. I’m waiting on empanadas to cool down right now because if I didn’t I would burn myself. I still cook because it keeps me hopeful. I know when those empanadas are ready to eat, they will have a crispy crust and a rich braised pork filling. I still cook because it’s incredible to see someone enjoying something you made. That first bite followed by another and another until silence around the table hits.

Cooking restores my positivity. I still cook because it makes me happy.

Always,

K