Archive for October, 2010

Holy Abalone!

 Boy do I have a treat for you today. Ok, actually it was more of a treat for me, but I’d like to share my experience with you so that if you’re ever in Vancouver and looking for an authentic Chinese restaurant to try, then you no longer need to look any further. If you’ve been reading my last couple of posts, you’ll know that we have some guests visiting from Vietnam, so my parents wanted to take them to Grand Honour Restaurant in Vancouver, BC. The last time we visited, a friend brought us there and we loved it so much we wanted to take our guests. 

Grand Honour Restaurant specializes in shark’s fin, bird’s nest, and abalone, three very popular delicacies in Chinese cuisine. There were ten adults and three children so we ordered the ten people abalone set meal.

Some dried abalone in their display case out in the front entrance.

We started off with this cold platter. On the left rolled up in rose like blossoms we have smoked salmon. In the middle we have jellyfish. On the right we have eel.

On the top and bottom of the platter were these tofu skin enveloped around some chopped up shiitake mushrooms.

Next came the shark’s fin soup. Rather than the usual huge bowl placed in the middle to divide amongst everyone, every person was served their own individual bowl. As you can tell, these bowls were not your normal rice bowl size.

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of shark’s fin as I find it rather bland and overrated.

There were also large chunks of crab meat. Red vinegar is added to the soup to help take away the fish taste.

Next came the star of the meal, the abalone. Once again, everyone had their own individual bowl of abalone.

These suckers were almost the size of my palm 😛

For those who have never eaten abalone, here’s what the inside of one looks like, all meat.

Next came the deep fried pigeons. Yup, I said pigeons. If you like Chinese barbecued duck, you’ll like these. I find them a bit too gamey for my liking…..

….but K seems to disagree.

The next dish was a stir fried enoki and shiitake mushrooms atop snow pea tendrils.

I’m sorry, I don’t know exactly what the ingredients of this next dish were, but I know there were veggies, fish, mushrooms, and ham. What kind of ham, what kind of mushrooms and so forth, I couldn’t tell you 😦 I can tell you it was another delicious dish though.

Next came some rice and seafood pan-fried and then beautifully steamed in this lotus leaf to infuse the flavors from the leaf. Trust me, by the time we got to this dish, everybody was pretty much full.

But there was still one more dish for the meal, a plate of yi mien. This and the rice were practically left untouched, that’s how big the dishes were.

Then finally a taro root, red bean, coconut milk dessert.

Everything from the cold platter to the last spoonful of my dessert was stellar! There wasn’t one thing that I could complain about. The plates were huge, the food was delicious, the service was great, and there was more than enough food for everyone. We even had leftovers. This isn’t a very large restaurant, but with a packed house like this, you’d expect the food to be nothing less than divine. 

Make sure to make a reservation if you decide to give this restaurant a try. Just a little warning though, there is a restaurant called Grand Honour Hot Pot Restaurant that is actually just across the street. So make sure you’re reserving your table at the right restaurant. We almost made the mistake of reserving at the wrong restaurant.

Before I leave, I’d like to ask a favor of you. If you have the time, I’d love it if you could drop by a dear bloggie friend’s blog and put in some supporting words for her. This bloggie friend is Monet from anecdotes and apple cores. Her nephew, baby Ryan fell into the pool just recently and almost drowned. He is now holding onto dear life in the hospital. If you do not have the time to drop by her blog, as I understand we all lead very busy lives, please take a minute or two to say a prayer for Baby Ryan and his family through these difficult times. Thank you in advance.

I leave you with that for this week. Thank you for reading. I hope you all have a great weekend. Until next time, friends and family 😀

Aberdeen Shopping Centre

 Hi everyone! In my last post I mentioned that we’d be visiting Vancouver for the Thanksgiving long weekend, so my next few posts will be posts of things from Vancouver. Now this post may seem long but it really isn’t. It’s mostly full of pictures (that only a true foodie can appreciate) of some neat stuff I found in Aberdeen Centre in Richmond BC. This is definitely the place if you’re looking for some Asian shopping. Enjoy :-D.

It has a marketplace where you’ll be able to find many Asian veggies and barbecue meats such as char siu.

There are a few Chinese herbal medicine stores which you’ll be able to find dried scallops and abalone for my abalone with dried scallops and mushrooms atop snow pea tendrils recipe.

Don’t be fooled, this is not an herbal medicine store, but more of a snack store.

You’ll be able to find dried fruits, squid, beef jerky, and even……

……can you tell what the orange package in the middle is? Not spiders or scorpions, dried baby crabs! I didn’t buy them this time, but I have tried them before. You basically eat them whole, like popcorn. They’re quite crunchy with a slight spicy sweetness to them from the sauce they’re covered in.

Check out the size of that huge teapot. For comparison purposes, I included those rice bowls in the picture.

This was a cute bowl of noodles. The noodles and the chopsticks moved up and down. I know, I’m easily amused.

Games anyone?

Well, boardgames.

I wanted this cute miniature Mahjong (also known as MJ) set. Any of you play? I used to play Hong Kong and Taiwanese style, but I like the Taiwanese style much more. This game can get very addicting, so watch out ;-).

Thought this Chinese Chess set was super cute too. Hubby and I used to play this all the time. Gosh, kids sure do change your life, but for the better of course :-D.

Any Hello Kitty fans out there?

Ok, I thought this was so cool. Don’t know why I didn’t buy a plate or two for my kiddies. Any parents out there trying to get their kids to eat their fruits and veggies? I think this would be the perfect solution. Actually, come to think of it, this does encourage kids to play with their food. So should’ve bought two ;-). 

Kiddie training chopsticks. Sometimes I think I still need a pair of these. I still hold my chopsticks the wrong way (blush).

Cute salt and pepper shakers and grinders.

A wine puzzle. I think you have to solve the puzzle before you can get to your wine. This one would drive me nuts! Gary, don’t you be getting this for me for Christmas lol.

Cute jars with a little person hanging from the lids.

Look at these miniature sushi pieces. Aren’t they cute?

Yes, even fake food gets me excited.

They also have lots of Chinese and Taiwanese restaurants in this centre. I think I saw more Taiwanese restaurants though.

How can I not get a shot of Candyland?

So if you’re looking for some Asian shopping, Aberdeen Centre in Richmond BC is your place. By the way, I don’t work for Aberdeen and never got paid for any of this. Just wanted to share some cool finds with you. Yup, my vacations all center around food :-P. Now you know what I like to look at when I’m on vacation. What do you like to look at and shop for when you’re on vacation? What do your vacations center around?

That’s it for now, friends and family. Hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed posting it. I promise, there’ll be real food in my next post. Until next time :-D.

PS

Doreen, if you’re reading this, this next picture is for you. Doreen had asked me where she would be able to find Laksa paste in Edmonton. I was at the T&T in West Edmonton Mall and found some Laksa paste there. To answer your second question, Doreen, T&T supermaket West Edmonton Mall aisle 8c. Hope that helps :-D.

Freshwater Prawns in Tomalley and Shrimp Paste

The Good:

First of all, THANK YOU so very much for all your wonderful and engaging comments on my last post. It’s really great to know that I’m not the only one feeling those feelings about blogging, and it felt really good to get it out. There’s just one last thing I want to get off my mind and I promise, no more blogging complaining from me.

“Comments”, is it an evil word? It can be if you go about it the wrong way. It took me quite some time into blogging until I finally learned to let go of the “comment game”. I now only comment cause I want to, not because I feel I have to.  I’m sure a lot of you have seen me comment on your blogs even though you have not commented on mine every time I post. The truth is, I don’t comment to get a comment in return. I’m there because I really love reading your blogs. So thank you to those of you who continue to visit me (even if you don’t comment), I really do appreciate it. I believe commenting can be a great way to get to know the blogger. And if you’re like me and am there to learn, ask questions. Most bloggers will be happy to answer your questions.I’ve actually made some sincere friendships through blogging and commenting.  All right, that’s it, that’s the last of blogging complaining you’ll hear from me (at least for a while).

The Bad:

Yup, that’s my shattered iPhone. Had it in my shirt pocket, bent down to help L put on his shoes and the next thing I know, my phone is on the floor. The dumb thing was that I had just taken off the invisible shield too… ARGH!!!!! So I put plastic wrap on it hoping to hold it together till I can get it fixed or get a new one.

And The Yummy:

Now onto something that always makes me happy, SEAFOOD! I’m a huge seafood lover, so when my Mom makes any kind of seafood dish, I watch her like a hawk and I try to learn. The problem with learning recipes from my Mom is that she never uses exact measurements. When I ask her how much of a specific ingredient she puts in, she always replies with, “”Just add in however much you want and then taste it.” That drives me nuts. Anyone else have this problem? Anyways, here is another dish I learned at my parents’ house but haven’t had time to post until now.

Freshwater Prawns in Tomalley and Shrimp Paste:

We used large freshwater prawns . There were about eight frozen prawns in this box. 

Warning: If you’re squeamish about “dissecting” a prawn, you may want to scroll past the next 5 or 6 pictures. 

Each prawn was about the size of my palm.

These guys were already frozen, dead and defrosted, or else I would never have the guts to do what my Dad is about to do. Plus it would just be inhumane.

Start by cutting diagonally downward away from the body at the top of the pointy blade on the prawn.

This pouch you see inside the head, that’s what you’ll want to discard. That’s the waste bag.

Peel the shell off of the rest of the head that’s still attached to the body. Under that, you’ll find this orange stuff, which is the prawn tomalley. If you’ve seen or heard of people sucking the heads of shrimps/prawns (I know, it sounds gross), this is exactly what they’re trying to get out. This is probably the most cherished part of the prawn. Another one of those either you love it or you hate it things. I love it.

Squeeze out the tomalley into a bowl and set aside for later use.

Use a pair of sharp scissors and trim off the front legs.

Once the legs have been trimmed off, peel off the shell from the body.

We left the shell of the tails on for better appearance. You can definitely peel them off if you prefer to. Next, cut a slit down the middle of the back of the body and devein. Repeat with the rest of the prawns.  We also added some shrimp to this dish.

Heat up a wok on high heat. Wait until wok is HOT and add in oil. Once oil is hot, add in garlic. As the garlic is just about to brown, add in prawns. 

Sprinkle a dash of sugar on each prawn and shrimp. Flip and leave to brown for about a minute per side. Add in sesame oil. Give prawns a toss.  

Add in tomalley, shrimp paste, and fish sauce. Give prawns a couple more tosses to mix up the ingredients.

This is the shrimp paste my parents used.

I prefer this brand: (the small can out in front). I find it more flavorful as it has garlic and different spices mixed in. You should be able to get shrimp paste from any Asian grocery store.

Both shrimp pastes have quite a bit of oil in them so if you want, you can leave out the sesame oil or use less of it. Here’s mine and the kiddies’ dish of prawns.

My parents continued with their share and added a dish of leftover belly pork that they had the day before. 

Trust me, you don’t want to be eating this every day. Once in a while I think is okay though. Look at that pork.

I have to admit, their dish does look much better than mine.

Sorry I don’t have exact measurements, but that’s the way my mom cooks. Next time I try this on my own, I’ll get exact measurements. I’d probably also use onions to add more flavor to the dish.

We’re off to beautiful Vancouver with our guests from Vietnam for the Thanksgiving long weekend. Vancouver is one of my favorite Canadian cities to visit, especially for the food. I’ll catch up with all your blogs when I get back because a true vacation to me is time spent with my family not having to worry about anything but eating…teeeheee. I hope all my Canadian readers (and anyone else celebrating Thanksgiving next week) have a very Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy quality time with your family.

If you like seafood, what’s your favorite seafood? I LOVE lobster! Before I leave, I just want to mention that one of my favorite bloggers, Lynn over at The Actor’s Diet has just opened up her new online store with some pretty cool merchandise. The talented artwork on those merchandise were created by Cindy K. Shaw, a fellow blogger and very talented artist over at Miscellaneous Musings.  That’s it for this week, until next time, friends and family :-D.