June 23, 2014
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The thing about Iceland is that I had such high expectations in everything – and these expectations were exceptionally met – except for its food. Well, that’s not exactly true. More like, I didn’t know what to expect, except for a lot of fish and seafood, maybe. I had taken the time to research about the city of Reykjavik and the natural wonders of Iceland, but I didn’t really pay much attention to the food. It was more of a eat-as-you-go scenario, or so I thought. It seems that Iceland really is a perfect place, as the food was a very pleasant surprise. You go on Tripadvisor or other review sites and every restaurant in Reykjavik has a 3.5/5 rating or higher. So as it turns out, the food was pretty darn good. Add “culinary delight” to the ever-growing list of things I love about Iceland.
The first night I was in Reykjavik, I stopped by a restaurant close to the guesthouse, named 3 Frakkar Hja Ulfari. Apparently the name of the restaurant means either “3 overcoats” or “3 Frenchmen” in English. I sat down and ordered the “Gratineraður Plokkfiskur með rúgbrauði”, or “Hashed fish with black bread “Icelandic specialty””. Icelandic specialty…why not. (I had really contemplated getting the hakarl and was later relieved that I didn’t. The real hakarl experience will be shared in another post.) Don’t be fooled. The yellow blob is not an omelette, but hashed fish covered in some sort of sauce. I couldn’t make out what the sauce was in the hashed fish, so I asked the waitress. She didn’t know either, so she asked the chef, and told me that it was Bearnaise sauce. HUH. That was the strongest Bearnaise sauce I’ve ever had. The one I’ve had before was more on the sour side where as this one was really potent, really…fishy. Or maybe it was just the hashed fish. Good stuff 😛
August 11, 2013
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Within the past few months, I’ve realized that I like to cook more than usual. As the thesis-writing and defense season draws near, I find that I generally prefer to cook at home rather than eat out. True, I get lazy sometimes and I don’t want to cook EVERY day, but I am cooking a lot more than I had anticipated before I entered the “thesis dash”. Even if I get home late, I’d prepare some home-made goodies and enjoy it with a bowl of rice. After all, what’s better than a freshly made Chinese meal served hot on a plate? Sometimes when I’m very tired, I just make something very simple that would be ready within half an hour. No complicated procedures or recipes, simple is the best!
Of course, I am living alone and almost always cooking only for myself, unless I invite friends over. The advantage is that my experiments are allowed to NOT work, and I’ll figure out what’s wrong and make it right when I DO invite my friends over! And I do love doing that. Watching friends enjoy eating food that I’ve prepared is one of the most satisfying feelings ever. Actually, two of my bucket list items involve cooking, one of them being “Cook a full dinner for my family at home” and the other “Invite my university friends to my house and cook a meal for them”. Europe, then, has certainly been my chance to hone my skills and prepare for the big days when I complete these challenges!
Well, without further ado, let’s get onto part 4 of this series. Interested in the previous posts in “The art and science of cooking” series? Check out PART 1, PART 2, and PART 3. And now, à table!
Spicy chicken is one of the typical dishes in Sichuanese cuisine. When they say spicy, they’re not kidding – the chicken should literally be buried in the chili peppers so that you’d have to dig out the meat. One day I spontaneously decided to try making this chicken dish as part of a dinner invitation. I knew my Hunanese friend would appreciate it and might even challenge the spicy tolerance of the Sichuanese, so I decided to give it a try 😉 My recipe involved marinating, deep frying, re-frying, and a final stir frying. Seems complicated, but much less work than I had anticipated. Though I didn’t bury the chicken in chili peppers (although I already put as many chili peppers as I thought I could tolerate without burning my stomach), I gotta say my recipe worked out quite well!