Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Potluck Dilemma

I enjoy what can generally be considered, at least for the majority of the US, non-traditional foods. In particular, fishing cultures are my favorite.

The problem is that I also want to share my appreciation with others, while at the same time others do not want to eat strange foreign grub (literally or otherwise).

Potlucks in particular can be a useful tool. A "potluck" is a gathering of people at which everyone brings some form of food (a 'pot' of their own)- what you end up eating, as a whole, depends greatly on 'luck.' In Oklahoma, nopales (cactus, Mexican cuisine) will go over rather well, whereas bringing cooked insects (Native American, Asian, et. al.) will often be sampled poorly.

I try to balance between what locals will actually be willing to sample, and the interesting and wonderful flavours/textures I hope to introduce.

Here is my solution to The Potluck Dilemma: Instant Jellyfish Stirfry

-Another nice thing about the Potluck is that labels are often not present; the following potluck dish looks sufficiently like vegetables and [perhaps] noodles that people do not hesitate to try it.


At least 2 pkts of Instant Jellyfish (available for less than $1 apiece at most Asian food stores)
Instant Jellyfish is different than preserved jellyfish. The latter requires sequential soaking to remove the salt in which it was preserved. The Instant form also comes with its own seasoning packets.
A variety of vegetables:
I normally use Cabbage, Carrots, & Bean Sprouts (In the following demonstration, I replace bean sprouts with snow peas)

A small measure of canola or safflower oil.

A sprinkling of Sesame seeds.
& a Pan/pot with mid-tall sides.


1. Slice/shred Carrots. Slice Snow Peas. Combine all packets of Intant Jellyfish (but not the included spice packets!).

2. Place pan/pot on heat. Add small measure of oil; also add one of the oil packets that was included in the Instant Jellyfish package. Add Carrots, then Cabbage.

3. After Cabbage & Carrots have begun to wilt a bit, add the Bean Sprouts/Snow Peas.

-You might also add Sesame Seeds.

4. After the vegetables have been well and truely cooked/ stir-fried, add the Jellyfish.
At this time, add half of the flavouring packets that come with the Instant Jellyfish.

5. Only allow the Jellyfish to warm. Overcooking jellyfish can make it 'difficult to eat.' The warming of the jellyfish will release an amount of fluid. Strain the resulting mixture, place in plastic container, take to potluck, and serve.

5b. I also print out a small warning label: "Do not eat this if you are allergic to any form of seafood."

Enjoy. Most people find the dish agreeable, even enjoyable.

You can tell them what it was later.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Yatsuhashi in Japan

One of my favorite features found within the Japanese Stroll Gardens (Edo) is the Yatsuhashi.

As can be seen in the above picture of Shohinken in Yatsushiro, Kumomoto Prefecture, the yatsuhashi takes the form of a bridge composed of 8 planks wandering through a bed of iris, though not finishing very far from its beginning. The iris found in Shohinken are a special variety known as Higo Iris (肥後花菖蒲), and were blooming earlier than when the pervious photograph had been taken. (For better pictures see more images at

The yatsuhashi would seem to be a recognizable symbol from Japanese literature, specifically "The Tales of Ise," depicting an 8-channeled river.* However another attribute with which it has been imbued is the philosophy I especially enjoy- "It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end."†

The final picture of a yatsuhashi traversing rather symbolic iris beds comes from the large stroll garden of Okayama. In the short period I spent in Okayama (and not being able to read much kanji), I found only 3 things that would have made the visit worth the trip... one was closed, another was small, underground, but very interesting, and the third was the garden. If you ever find yourself going past Okayama, stop and stroll through the garden- it is very much worth it!

*Keane, Marc. Japanese Garden Design. Charles E. Tuttle Publishing Co., Inc. Boston, MA. 1999.
†Japanese Gardens and Japanese Garden Design. Online: Accessed 13 May, 2004. (Link provided for bibliography only- no longer goes to referenced content. You may visit archived content via:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I always have Phởn...

Have you ever wondered where to find a really good bowl of Phở in Oklahoma City?

There are quite a few places that serve the soup, and many of them quite good, but I generally go to Mr. Phở. Located in the Super Cao Nguyen Center (the large glass and brick building attached to the Super Cao Nguyen Supermarket) at 1133 NW 25th St, this shop is always busy at lunchtime.

Two entrances: inside & outside the Super Cao Nguyen Center

As the name would suggest, they serve Phở. They also serve Hủ tiếu (rice noodles), Mì (egg noodles), and various rice dishes. For those who do not come for the Phở, they also serve a range of specials that include choice of rice, etc. I go for the soups:

On the left, delicious phở; on the right scrumptious mì.

Prices here are very reasonable, and most of the soups are available in three sizes (the pictures above show the large, which tends to be enough for my lunch). In the background of both images, you see the plate of herbs... sometimes they give you saw-tooth herb (Eryngium foetidum). ^.^
The menus are bilingual Vietnamese & English (well translated), the staff is very friendly, their front window opens on the giant teapot fountain, and the food is great. They open at 10 am.

There! You've no excuses not to visit!

Many appologies if my computer refuses to use the correct characters. And again, I have no affiliation with this shop (besides the fact that I eat here quite often indeed).

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dim Sum in Oklahoma City

If you like traditional Chinese cooking, Grand House is the restaurant for you! Located at 2701 North Classen Blvd, in Okc, it has been a good food standard for years. Every weekend from 9 am to 3 pm, Grand House serves an amazing array of Dim Sum to their adoring fans.

Standard Fare
Ahhh, Grand House, let me count the ways: 1 squid curry; 2 steamed pork buns; 3 delicious dumplings; 4 roast duck; 5....

In reality, it's hard to find something about Grand House I don't like... No, wait, I don't like their chicken feet. I think they're steamed, then batter deep-fried, then stewed...? If it weren't for the bones, I'd be hard pressed to identify them as chicken feet at all. Not at all like Duk Hing's chicken feet (more on them in a later post).  2010 CORRECTION: I had not tried the chicken feet at Grand House for several years, having disliked this dish the last time I tried it. On January the 3rd, 2010, I tried it again, and was surprised to find that it was different from my memory.  Thought still unlike Duk Hing's fare, Grand House's chicken feet are no longer battered and stewed, but rather simmered in a mixture of garlic and broths; it was quite unexpected and fairly tasty.
...I can now say in all honesty that Grand House serves nothing I don't like.  (PS: Try their congee!)

If you decide to sample of Grand House's wares, try to aim for before noon, as around that time the mob begins to form and you can expect some wait. You can make a reservation too. Lots of birthday balloons do not seem to be a problem either.

Did I mention the desserts? Sure there's the Dessert Cart (I highly recommend the flan), but there's also the desserts you can buy at any time:

Just inside the door, on the left.
Drop in and buy a chocolate mouse for that special someone in your life, or cheesecake and tiramisù for those that do not like mice.

I am in no way affiliated with Grand House, I just love eating here.