The characters on the package for Nong Shin Shim Ramyun Noodles suggest the product might be Chinese. The package says “Made in U.S.A.” by Nong Shim America of Rancho Cucamunga. I didn’t know that Rancho Cucamunga was a noodle capital. Well, Nong Shim is really a well-known company in South Korea, and their product is an international favorite. When they say spicy, they mean it. Unless you are adding a lot of vegetables, you might not want to use all of the little packet of dehydrated fire, but I do. I put Shin Ramyun in the noodle elite.
Here we are at Apple Hill™ in the Sierra foothills east of Placerville, California. This is where Californians go to discover apples in their natural habitats. Over the years I’ve discovered that there is more to apples than it seems. Different types of apples are harvested at different times. A visit in late September, early in the apple season, feature Gravensteins, the favored apple for apple sauce, but no Winesaps, one of my favorites. In early November I obtained my Winesaps, but also an opportunity to sample some varieties new to me. Splendid Mutsu and Cameo apples were standouts.
Modern flavor technology permits recreating almost any flavor. So a novelty company might have the idea of selling regional flavors in candy to tourists, like baked-bean flavor in Boston or sourdough flavor in San Francisco. Only the company that had the idea happened to be in Japan, which has strong traditions of regional specialties like stuffed squid in Hokodate and a kind of noodle soup in Hokkaido. Thanks to the internet, I was able to try some of these out. The flavors are genuinely interesting, and offer great potential for Trick or Treat.
America has given the world Twinkies™ and Hamburger Helper™, so it’s only fair that we embrace convenience foods from other cuisines. Indian food is a prime candidate for me because making anything beyond curry is a mystery. I frequent Indian markets from time to time to buy bulk spices like the aforementioned curry, cardamom for roasting lamb, and cumin. Recently, I found myself staring at shelves full of ready preparations for busy cooks, a gold mine for untutored cooks and eager eaters like me.
I firmly believe that love of smokey flavors is genetically encoded from the days of cavemen. In any case, it works for me. Barbecue is hot smoked, which means the food is cooked at oven temperatures in the presence of smoke from wood chips. Cold smoking is more difficult. Cold smoking is done between 80 degrees F and 100 degrees F, with smoking times from four hours to four days. The process relies on smoke to cure food instead of heat. Cold smoking is used for salmon, cheese, and … butter.
Mountain apples are common in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. I didn’t know it, but there are several different fruits called mountain apple. We encountered the variety shown above at the ‘Imiloa lunch buffet, where they were served cold with a pinkish brown spice as a dessert. It is delicately flavored, crisp, and juicy, but not very sweet. Fans of mountain apples, scientific fans, that is, know this variety as syzygium samarangense, Note the exaggerated pear shape, which explains why it also sometimes called bellfruit. They are a beautiful bright red.
‘Imiloa is the Hawaiian word for seeker, and it is the name for the attraction in Hilo, Hawaii that features a fine planetarium, astronomy and cultural exhibits, and gardens. We happened to be seeking lunch, however, and found that at the Sky Garden Restaurant in the ‘Imiloa complex. The restaurant provides delicious inexpensive buffet-style Hawaiian food suitable for space, and other, travelers. The buffet is a short course in Hawaiian specialties.
At a glance, Chinese pork strips look like bacon. Upon close examination they still look like bacon, albeit in long strips having an inch-square cross section. One difference is that they are very well cured, so well preserved that Asian markets may have a box of the strips left at room temperature like so much kindling. The flavor is distinct, with sweet spices along with allure of redundant pork fat. What more could a person want?
Yoshinoya is a chain of Japanese fast food restaurants, having more than 1400 locations worldwide. There are over a thousand locations in Japan where the beef bowls are an established institution. The one-hundred-plus US locations are mostly in California, but there are outposts in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and New York City. The chain is still most famous for its beef, onions, and sauce served over rice, but they also serve up chicken, shrimp, and combo bowls, and now soup, bento boxes, chicken wings, and other dishes. I think the beef bowl is good, but the sesame chicken wings and miso soup are fast food standouts.
Cod roe are the eggs of codfish. The egg sacks are sold fresh, frozen, or canned. The fresh sacks may be burst and the eggs eaten fresh or salted and preserved as a type of caviar. The simplest preparation is to boil the sacks, and just slice it up and eat it. It is a very rich food, which I guess is what one would expect from a plate of eggs. The cooked flavor is mildly fishy, not as strong as some other fish roe. Cod roe is enjoyed from Scotland to Korea, and many places in between. I think it is a treat.
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