Friday, July 31, 2009

Home Plate: Pea Shoots & Boiled Coke with Ginger and Lemon

Boiled Coke w/ Ginger and Lemon

Like the song says, you can't always get what you want. When I go out to a restaurant and find something really special, delicious, and unique, the rational part of my brain says, stop and enjoy this while you're eating it. Live in the moment and have a nice meal. Instinctually, however, I'm thinking something else, and it's always the same question: how soon can I have this again? Unfortunately, in some cases, the answer is "not for a long time," especially when a restaurant is nowhere near my home.

Take for example the pizza joints I mentioned in yesterday's post, like Just Pizza and Bigg's Roadhouse. As I was writing that post, I found myself craving a slice of Just Pizza's Jamaican Jerk Chicken Pizza, and a cup of Bigg's Roadhouse's Chicken Enchilada Soup. I have fond memories of eating both, and both are definitely comfort foods for me as a result. I don't think "comfort food" has to mean simplistic or unhealthy (as most traditional American foods considered comfort foods are)--rather, it's food that makes you feel those familiar pangs of nostalgia and a familiar satisfaction as you're eating them.

In "Home Plate"-titled posts here at Beach City Cooking, I'll recount foods I've had elsewhere, in other parts of the country, with accompanying pics. Further, I'll attempt to recreate these dishes (and sometimes beverages) at home, with hopefully delicious (and aesthetically pleasing, for those of you playing along at home) results. For this first edition of Home Plate, I'll be discussing two menu items I had the pleasure of trying during my trip to San Francisco in March of this year.

Ton Kiang

At Ton Kiang in Inner Richmond, San Francisco, the restaurant is cozy and clean--attributes I wouldn't normally expect a Dim Sum restaurant with cart service to have. Along with foil-wrapped chicken and har gow, the best small plate we had was the pea shoots, studded with thick flakes of grated ginger and slightly salty. The soft leaves were addictive and I was predictably eager to try making the dish at home.

Pea Shoots

As you can see from the above picture, the results were pretty satisfying. The ginger was a little overpowering compared to its expert usage at Ton Kiang, and the leaves had a little bit more of a bite to them than they had at the restaurant. For the most part, though, the dish was a success. The pea shoots were blanched and then sautéed with a simple oyster sauce/soy sauce combination and the ginger. The whole thing took very little time to put together, and made for a delicious side dish to our salmon that night.

Kowloon Tong Cafe

Also in Inner Richmond, and open until 1 AM weeknights and 2 on Friday and Saturday, is Kowloon Tong Dessert Café, where we tried boiled coke with ginger and lemon for the first time. A cursory search of Google shows that this is a well-known Chinese drink, but this was the first we'd heard of it. Our waiter at Kowloon Tong told us that it's commonly used to alleviate cold symptoms. We found it remarkably delicious.

Boiled Coke w/ Ginger and Lemon

We recreated the drink at home with relative ease. The trick in making the drink is to use an appropriate ratio of ginger:lemon:coke. We found that for two regular mugs' worth of the warm, comforting drink, 5 thin-to-medium slices of lemon and 3-5 small, 1-inch chunks of ginger (depending on how much you like the flavor of ginger) works well.

Boiled Coke w/ Ginger and Lemon

At the same time, it's important that you put the ginger and lemon in with the coke while it's boiling, to better allow the flavors of both to release and intermingle with the super-concentrated coke flavor of the boiled liquid. It's remarkable how different coke tastes at a high temperature, and without the carbonation. This is a very quick and simple drink to make at home, and satisfyingly soothing.


Thanks for stopping by BCC, and I'll see you very soon for more posts. Stay tuned, and stay cool.

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