Juggling Academics and Appetite — A Few Tips

We all have experienced that hungry moment: After long hours of homework, you suddenly crave a snack — something handy, tasty, and ideally, somewhat healthy.

Here are a few tips and suggestions for quick snacks that will boost your energy and satisfy your appetite during stressful times:

Avocado Toast: This simple snack is one of my favorites: avocado on any type of toasted bread, and topped with whatever you’d like! This version I made has sliced avocado with smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes, and drizzled with olive oil. The salinity and smokiness from the salmon adds a different dimension with the creamy avocado. You can also try with different breads, toppings, and smashed avocado.

Avcado Toast

Yogurt Parfait: Simple layers of yogurt, granola, and berries make a really fulfilling and tasty snack!

Yogurt Parfait

Kale Chips: Kale chips are pretty simple to make, simply bake small pieces of kale in the oven for 20 minutes at 250 to 300 degrees. They should come out crispy and crunchy!

Kale Chips

Smoked Salmon Spread with Crackers and Crudite: Smoked salmon dip can be made with cream cheese, minced smoked salmon, and herbs. Served with (just about anything!) crackers and sliced raw celery and carrot, it’s a good way to have some raw vegetables in a tasty combination!

Vegetable Dip

There are many ways to make a snack that fits your appetite and diet. Open up our mind (and mouth) and you’ll be surprised at how well you can juggle your academics and appetite.

Juxtaposition

Same ingredients, different looks Same taste, different expressions

Same ingredients, different looks
Same taste, different expressions

When I made a cupcake with mango, raspberry, nasturtium, and matcha, I happened to have some extra ingredients. I had an idea.

Using the same ingredients, I made the dessert on the left side of the plate. Suddenly, the ingredients that made up the cupcake became vivid and vibrant.

There are countless ways to combine ingredients. There are endless possibilities to explore creativity, even with the same resources. And many times, a little ingenuity will lead to surprisingly transformative results, just like the juxtaposition on this plate shows.

Wish you a creative 2017!

Seared Sablefish in Yogurt Sauce

There is a famous proverb about cooking fish: “Fish, to taste good, must swim three times: in water, in butter, and in wine.”

Today, I defied this tradition by cooking a sablefish fillet without butter or wine. I tried to cook the fish with something new—plain yogurt.

Seared Sablefish in Yogurt Sauce

 

Sablefish, scientifically known as “Anoplopoma fimbria” and commonly known as black cod, Alaskan cod, or butterfish, is a deep sea white-flesh fish famous for its flaky texture and mild flavor. To preserve the tender taste of the fish, I figured it might be a good idea to try a sauce base that does not contain a buttery or oily flavor, such as plain yogurt.

To compliment the natural taste of the sablefish, I used freshly diced celery and carrots along with unsalted pistachio seeds. I also used a little ground chicken to add some excitement 🙂

Ingredients:

- One sablefish fillet (1/3 to ½ pound) - One fresh lemon - 1/3 cup of freshly diced celery - 1/3 cup of freshly diced carrots - 1/4 cup of unsalted pistachio seeds - 1 to 2 cups of plain yogurt - ½ to 1 cup of ground chicken (optional)

– One sablefish fillet (1/3 to ½ pound)
– One fresh lemon
– 1/3 cup of freshly diced celery
– 1/3 cup of freshly diced carrots
– 1/4 cup of unsalted pistachio seeds
– 1 to 2 cups of plain yogurt
– ½ to 1 cup of ground chicken (optional)

Procedure:

Add the sablefish fillet to a heated pan, and turn heat to medium-low. Cook for about 5 minutes or when both sides turn golden brown.

Add the sablefish fillet to a heated pan, and turn heat to medium-low. Cook for about 5 minutes or when both sides turn golden brown.

Place the yogurt-based mixed sauce on the plate, and add the fillet on top of the sauce. Ready to eat!

Place the yogurt-based mixed sauce on the plate, and add the fillet on top of the sauce. Ready to eat!

My experiment turned out to be quite delightful: the plain yogurt added moisture to the fillet’s texture, and celery and carrots permeated the yogurt sauce with a garden fresh taste—all have nicely preserved the tender flavor of the sablefish.

Another famous saying flashed over my mind: “Better to be happy with the cod fish in your plate now, than to linger for the taste of a tuna that is still swimming in the sea.”

I am happy with my black cod today. Perhaps next time, I’ll try something new for tuna.

Matcha Green Tea Lava Cake with Caramel

Matcha – powdered green tea – is popular because of its stress-reducing and immune-boosting benefits as well as unique flavor and is central to Chinese and Japanese traditions. It is most often used as a drink ingredient.

How about using matcha to make a dessert? Health benefits aside, matcha’s emerald color will add an interesting personality to any dessert plate. It is the perfect combination of Asian flavors with a traditional dessert.

Today I tried making a well-known dessert, a lava cake, with matcha. Below is the completed dish, served with mango sorbet, caramel sauce, and fresh raspberries.

Matcha Green Tea Lava Cake with Caramel

Ingredients:

- Matcha green tea - White chocolate - Butter - Sugar - Flour - Egg - Milk - Raspberries

– Matcha green tea powder
– White chocolate
– Butter
– Sugar
– Flour
– Egg
– Milk
– Raspberries

Procedure:

 

Caramel is ready.

Caramel is ready in a few minutes.

After about 15 minutes in the oven, the matcha cake puffed in the ramekin. Take out of oven.

After about 15 minutes in the oven, the matcha cake puffed in the ramekin. Take out of oven.

Flip the ramekin -- the matcha green tea lava cake is here!

Flip the ramekin — the matcha green tea lava cake is ready!

The matha green tea and raspberries provide a healthy balance to the sugar and butter in the dessert. They also add great colors to the plate. Best of all, they deliver a unique taste. Top it off with ice cream or mango sorbet, as I did!

Enjoy your weekend!

Snapshots from the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Alice Waters, the chef credited for pioneering the California cuisine’s “farm-to-table” philosophy, once said, “My Saturday morning trip to the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market is one of my most beloved rituals.” Today, I visited the famed Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco.

Located at the center of tourist actions near the Embarcadero, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is renowned for the diversity of its fresh produce, most of which are certified organic food. It is operated by the Center for Urban Education About Sustainable Agriculture, a nonprofit organization aimed at developing a healthy food system through farmers markets. Every Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, small local farmers show off their freshly-produced organic vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers, meats, and eggs to local residents and tourists alike. They also sell a variety of artisan specialties such as jams, cheese, and snacks. There are also a few prepared food options.

Through chatting with a few farmers, I learned that their regular buyers include not only local residents, but also a large number of local restaurants. More and more restaurants are enhancing the quality of their food by using locally-produced fresh ingredients, which drives the need for more local organic farm products. This creates a healthy cycle for local farmers to engage in more small-scale, sustainable farming.

About a year ago when I wrote about sustainable farming on an urban farm in Fremont, I wrote the following lines. I’ll say the same about the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco:

Farming with nature, farming with pleasure
Small-scale farming keeps us healthier
Farming with nature, farming for the future
Small-scale farming preserves Mother Nature 

Buy fresh, buy natural. You’ll not only be helping yourself with a healthy, tasty meal, but also be making your share of contribution to sustainable farming.

Enjoy your weekend!

Ready-to-Make Meals — A New Trend in the Food Delivery Industry

Have you ever craved the convenience of a delivery meal but was concerned about its freshness?

Today, I tried Munchery, a San Francisco based on-demand food service that delivers professionally prepared meals to homes. It offers customers the option of ordering a ready-to-cook kit which contains pre-measured ingredients along with cooking instructions (Munchery also offers the option of pre-cooked meals). The idea of delivering ready-to-make meals, as opposed to ready-to-eat meals, is quite refreshing. When a meal is not cooked yet, the freshness of the ingredients can be best preserved. Meanwhile, consumers get a chance to make sure that their meals come from fresh and healthy ingredients. In other words, the idea of delivering ready-to-make meals combines convenience and confidence for the consumers.

Somen Noodle & Salmon Teriyaki -- I made it with Munchery's ready-to-make meal kit in 15 minutes. A fast, easy, and fun experience.

Somen Noodle & Salmon Teriyaki — I made this tasty meal with Munchery’s Ready-to-Make meal kit in 15 minutes.

Divide the noodles and vegetables between 2 serving plates. Top with the salmon. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds, and pour the remaining teriyaki sauce over the salmon. Done!

Divide the noodles and vegetables between 2 serving plates. Top with the salmon. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds, and pour the remaining teriyaki sauce over the salmon. Done!

As we become increasingly aware of the health factors of food, we are witnessing an interesting development in the food delivery industry: food vendors compete to reinvent their meals with niche ideas aimed at adding health benefits—less calories, organic ingredients, and in Munchery’s case, ready-to-heat meals designed by professional chefs. This has prompted and will continue to prompt innovations for delivering fresher food in a more convenient and cost-effective way.

Convenience and quality aside, we’ll be excited to try the next food idea, because we humans, by nature, are always prone to new concepts.

Enjoy your eats and indulge your imaginations. Maybe one day, you can come up with your own munchy idea.

 

Munchery also delivers cooked meals. This is the ready-to-eat meal I ordered today: Korea BBQ Bavette Steak.

Munchery also delivers cooked meals. This is the ready-to-eat meal I ordered today: Korean BBQ Bavette Steak.

Crispy Duck Breast with Sunchoke Purée, Charred Onion, and Rainbow Carrots

Crispy Duck Beast

While scanning through online news today, I came across an interesting proverb: “A man who waits for a roast duck to fly into his mouth must wait for a very, very long time.” The adage mocks those who always sit around waiting for good things to fall upon their laps without taking any real action. It evocatively reminds me that whatever we hope to achieve must come from our own initiatives and hard work.

It was dinner time, so I set about to cook. As it so happened, I had duck breast in the fridge. With sunchokes, onions, and carrots, I created the following dish—and put a tasty duck piece into my own mouth.

Ingredients:

– About one pound skin-on duck breasts
– 1 pound sunchokes
– Two onions
– A couple of rainbow carrots
– One cup of milk
– A few garlic cloves
– 1/2 potato (optional)

 

Procedure:

Plating time! Use a little watercress for garnish.

Plating time! Use a little watercress for garnish.

I really enjoyed the crunchy crispness and savoriness of the duck meat, the silky texture of the sunchoke purée, the rich fragrance of the charred onion, and the fresh smell and sweetness of the rainbow carrots.

After all, I created my own duck dish.