Tag Archives: Spicy

The 900 Degree Oven

Gangadin, MyLastBite.comMy favorite Indian restaurant is currently featured on the cover of “Studio City Lifestyle” magazine. I wish I could find an online version of it, so I could share the entire article with everyone, but here’s a paragraph from the cover story printed on page four.

Gangadin Indian Cuisine is owned by Manmeet Singh Sahni and family. Manmeet takes pride in serving home style cooking. Every dish is cooked from scratch with no MSG, preservatives or animal fat added. “We specialize in outstanding, flavorful Indian Punjabi cuisine,” says Manmeet, “including homemade and exotic curries, fresh baked breads from the hot tandoor and meats marinated in delicate spices and herbs.”

Peter and I have been regulars at Gangadin for years, and we even served their food at our wedding back in 1996. Our favorite dishes include: Chicken Korma (tender pieces of marinated chicken, spices, onions, yogurt, and assorted nuts), Saag Paneer (cubes of homemade cheese, spinach and spices), Chicken Tikka (boneless chicken marinated in homemade yogurt and spices, grilled in the tandoor) and the most flavorful Garlic Naan bread (garnished with freshly chopped garlic and also baked in the tandoor).

Gangadin Restaurant, MyLastBite.comLast week we stopped in for dinner with David Gussin (executive sous chef at Akasha) and his roommate, Dan. It was their very first visit to Gangadin and we were so pleased that they loved the food as much as we do.

After dinner, owner Manmeet and his son Sangmeet let us check out the tandoor clay oven in the restaurant kitchen. It’s amazing how quickly the naan bread bubbles up and cooks along the super-heated oven wall.

I’ve never made Naan bread at home but definitely plan on trying it soon. While researching various recipes, I came across a great “Learn To Make Naan Bread” video by Manjula Jain (link below).

Gangadin Restaurant, MyLastBite.com Gangadin Restaurant, MyLastBite.com
Photos: Naan being made in the 900 degree tandoor

Gangadin Restaurant, MyLastBite.com
Gangadin Chef Kamaljeet Singh making the naan

Gangadin Restaurant, MyLastBite.com

Gangadin Indian Cuisine
12067 Ventura Place
Studio City Ca 91604
818-509-0722

Website (with menu)

More Gangadin

Video: Naan Bread Recipe by Manjula

Manjula’s Kitchen

Related:

Anyajit: A Chef in the Making

India Sweets & Spices

Gangadin on Urbanspoon

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Canned Joy

Nothin’ says lovin’ like a case of SPAM. I’ve loved it ever since I was a kid in Okinawa, and for my birthday this year, my adoring husband got me a case of assorted (I call it “gourmet”) SPAM. Peter also got me a pair of green, platform sandals that I’d been pining for, but I was more excited about the SPAM. Flavors in the case include: Hot & Spicy, Cheese, Smoked, Garlic, Turkey and BACON. That’s right… bacon flavored SPAM!

Birthday Spam! MyLastBite.com

Most of the expiration dates on the tins read “Mar 2012”, so it’s safe to say I won’t be powering through them anytime soon, and I wouldn’t want to. For me, these are high sodium childhood memories that mustn’t be eaten regularly, only as an occasional treat. I’ve learned my lesson in the past, so moderation (however difficult) is an absolute must.

This morning I set up a “wall of SPAM” behind my huge chopping block in the kitchen. It sort of reminds me of a tiny “Warhol Pop Art” installation and it just makes me smile. Now all I have to do is come up with some new spam-a-licious recipes!

Birthday Spam! MyLastBite.com
After unpacking the case.

My Mini Wall of Spam, MyLastBite.com
Part of my mini wall of SPAM


SPAM in my childhood

SPAM.com

Warhol

Me and Andy (on my birthday in 1986)

Pretty SPAM

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Sri Siam Café [4]

My friend Laur invited me to lunch yesterday and suggested we go to Sri Siam Café, our favorite, local Thai joint. She wanted me to meet her niece Sherry, an intensive care nurse visiting from Chicago. I was totally fascinated with all of her exciting hospital stories, especially about the time she got to hold someone’s lungs during surgery (she said they felt “spongy”). Obviously it wouldn’t be appropriate lunch conversation for everyone, but for three gals with iron stomachs (sitting there filling ourselves with fiery Thai goodness), it was perfectly lovely.

Spicy Basil Seafood at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com
I ordered the Spicy Basil Seafood with pan-fried Squid, Mussels, Shrimp, Sole, Peppers and Chilies. The dish came with rice and an eggroll and is not on the regular menu. Look for it on the “All Day Special” menu. $11.50

Succulent Grilled Chicken at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com
Sherry ordered the Succulent Grilled Chicken over Egg Noodles. $5.95 (#91 on the regular menu)

Panang at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com
Laur ordered the Panang Chicken cooked with Red Peanut Curry Paste and Coconut Milk. $6.95 (#66 on the regular menu)

Thai Chili at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com
Beautiful Thai Chili Sauce on the table

On each visit I’m trying to taste a new dish, but the one thing I have to order EVERY time is the Crispy Rice Salad with Sour Sausage (Nam). It’s tangy, spicy deliciousness!

Sri Siam has over 100 dishes listed on the regular menu, plus ten dishes on the “Specials” menu. If none of those delights interest you, then you can always check out the “Off Menu” items listed here (you may need some help with the translation).

Sri Siam Café
12843  Vanowen St.
North Hollywood, CA 91605
818 892-6262

All my Sri Siam Photos on Flickr

Sri Siam Café  Website

Dining Date: 2/26/09 (Visit #4)

Visit #3 to Sri Siam (with photos)

Visit # 1 & 2 (with photos)

Sri Siam Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Sri Siam Café [3]

For my third visit to Sri Siam Café, I invited my good friend Bob for lunch. This time I was determined to eat Thai food the way I’ve always eaten Thai food… very HOT and very SPICY. Not all food has to set my mouth on fire to be pleasurable. There’s just something about Thai food that doesn’t quite taste “authentic” without the extra heat. I think it’s because when I first tried it (twenty years ago) the dishes were always extra hot and spicy.

Crispy Rice Salad at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.comFor lunch I suggested Bob and I start with the Nam (crispy rice salad), which has Thai sour sausage mixed with roasted peanuts, ginger, green onion and crispy rice. The unusual sour sausage almost tastes like it was soaked in lime juice, and the crispiness of the individual rice kernels are a surprising, savory crunch. The spicy Nam had been my favorite bite from lunch the week before, so I wanted to share it again with Bob, and he LOVED it.

When I asked for “very hot and spicy” on my first two visits, the waitress smiled and brought me what I thought was a medium heat, which is totally understandable since I was a new Sri Siam diner. She probably assumed I didn’t understand how hot and spicy Thai food could be, and didn’t want to throw out perfectly good food just because I ordered incorrectly.

On this visit I asked our server (a waiter this time) which dish was the “spiciest” on the menu. He pointed directly to “Poh Tak” (spicy seafood soup). It’s a hot pot filled with mussels, shrimps, crab, fish and squid in a sour spicy broth. I ordered the Poh Tak and made sure the waiter understood that I wanted it extra spicy. I made a point of saying that my food wasn’t spicy enough before and to please ask the chef to make the soup extra HOT and VERY SPICY. The waiter then raised an eyebrow and was probably about to ask me “are you sure?”, when I butted in and pleaded “I need my food to be very, very spicy PLEASE!”.

When my hot pot of spicy seafood soup arrived, I gave the waiter a look of “hmmm… this looks a little spicy, but we’ll see if you succeeded here”. He graciously scooped out the first little bowl of soup for me and then I went ahead and started in on the beautiful (and delicious) green mussels. Bob ordered the Panang Chicken lunch special, which came with steamed rice, soup and a vegetable egg roll. After I took a few sips of my soup, Bob asked me a question and it was the strangest thing… even though I was trying to answer him, my mouth wouldn’t work. Right then my eyes started blinking and I sat there with my mouth open, struggling as I mouthed “OH MY GAWD”. This was the hottest (and spiciest) thing I had ever tasted in my life, and it was truly a whole new level of fire in my mouth.

I know spice and heat are all relative, but I just want to note that I can easily handle blazing habanero chilies (even with the seeds intact). One of my favorite spicy treats I make at home, is a dessert I saw on tv a few years ago called “Fire and Ice”. It’s half of a habanero chili filled with lemon sorbet. The fire and ice gets under your tongue and it’s sort of paralyzing (in a good way) for a second.

Back in my 20’s I read (in some glossy, fashion magazine) that rubbing a slice of jalapeno on my lips would make them plump… a cheap alternative to lip injections. On the morning I decided to try this “natural” method, I was also scheduled to meet my new boss, who was flying in for the day to check on his photo gallery. Following the magazine instruction, I cut a dime-size piece of the jalapeno and pursed my lips while I rubbed the chili round and round. At first, nothing… then came the screaming and crying. NOTHING took the pain away and I ended up with a large, uneven, red outer ring that looked like “double” lips. If you can remember “Wax Lips” candies, then you get the picture.

Later in the day, when my new boss shot me a strange look, I just laughed and said my lips were overly chapped and did my best to hide in the office. I never admitted that I’d purposely rubbed jalapenos on my tender, perfectly fine, natural lips.

Currently, I have my fridge stocked with habanero stuffed olives that I order online from Primos Gourmet. The habaneros are perfect little, painful explosions that make me do the “happy eating dance” around the kitchen.

Just how hot are habaneros? Chili peppers are rated by Scoville units. As noted on Wikipedia: “The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present. Capsaicin is a chemical compound which stimulates nerve endings in the skin”. For example, on the Scoville scale, a bell pepper would measure 0 (that’s zero, zilch, nothing). Jalapeno peppers would measure from 2,500-8,000.

The hottest chili pepper I’ve ever eaten is the habanero, and it would measure approximately 100,000-350,000 on the Scoville chart. Culinary Masochism? Well, if that means I’m getting intense pleasure (go endorphins!) from intense pain (gastronomically speaking), then fine, I admit it…. I need a little C&M in my life.

Sri Siam’s spicy seafood “Poh Tak” soup felt like it was OFF the Scoville chart, and at first I thought it was way too fiery for me. After the initial shock wore off in my mouth I absolutely LOVED the broth, and from then on it was a heavenly seafood feast of squid, crab, shrimp and those delicious green mussels. Poor Bob had to watch me wipe the sweat off my brow, and he laughed as I dashed to the restroom several times to deal with a heat-induced runny nose. This meal was the perfect Thai experience I’d been after.

When we finished lunch, I went back to the kitchen and thanked the chef. He gave me a little smile and looked a little baffled, so I wasn’t sure if he understood what I said to him. I can’t imagine it, but maybe it was the first time he’d ever heard, “Thank you, thank you… thank you for making me hurt so good“.

Spicy Seafood Soup at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.comSpicy Seafood Soup, Poh Tak: Mussels, shrimps, crab, fish, squids in a hot pot and sour spicy soup.

Panang Lunch Special (chicken) at Sri Siam Cafe, MyLastBite.comLunch Special Panang Chicken: Served with steam rice, soup, vegetable fried egg roll, and fresh fruit.

Egg Roll & Soup at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com

A few photos in the Sri Siam Kitchen, and the wonderful crew.

Lovely Pork at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com

Sri Siam Cafe Wontons, MyLastBite.com

Sri Siam Cafe Wontons, MyLastBite.com Sri Siam Cafe Wontons, MyLastBite.com

Sri Siam Cafe Kitchen, MyLastBite.com Thai Eggplant at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com

Sri Siam visit #4 (with photos)

Previous Visits to Sri Siam (with photos)

All my Sri Siam Photos on Flickr

Sri Siam Café  Website
12843  Vanowen Street (at Coldwater)
North Hollywood  91605
818 982- 6262

Primos Gourmet Foods (Habanero Olives)

More about Scoville Units

My Friend Bob

Dining Date: 1/16/09

Sri Siam Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash

A super EASY recipe for Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash. If you don’t like things spicy then simply leave out the Cayenne Pepper. I served it with grilled flat iron steak and dipped the steak into the butter bowl… DELICIOUS!
Sweet and Spicy Squash, MyLastBite.com

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded

2 teaspoons butter

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Freshly ground pepper

Fleur de sel (or any crunchy sea salt)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cayenne pepper.

Set the two butternut squash halves a large bakin, making sure the flesh side is facing up.

Place 1 teaspoon butter in the middle of each squash. 

Sprinkle brown sugar/cayenne mix over each squash, then rub into the flesh.

Season with black pepper. 

Roast 25 minutes, or just until the flesh is fork-tender.

Top with fleur de sel while still hot. 

Enjoy!

Sweet & Spicy Butternut Squash on Foodista

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Fusion Sushi 313

by Jo Stougaard

Stripmall sushi joints. Aren’t they always the best finds? Even the original Studio City Katsu-Ya (my regular haunt) is better than the newer, larger outposts.

Yesterday was my sister Janet’s birthday so we went to her favorite sushi place (in Glendora, CA) called “Fusion Sushi 313”. A tiny little place in yet another dreary looking stripmall. Joining us for dinner was my husband Peter and Janet’s three kids; Chace, Kindal and Cody. Her husband is a firefighter and was working at the station.

Janet ordered her favorite sake, Sayuri (smooth & creamy unfiltered sake). I was thrilled to find they imported Orion beer from Okinawa (where Janet & I grew up before moving to California). Not many Japanese restaurants carry Orion beer, so this to me was definitely a good sign.
Fusion Sushi313 OrionBeer SayuriSake
The restaurant looked pretty boring from the outside, and was tastefully simple on the inside… but when the food came the energy completely changed. It was simply awesome!

My nephew Chace is 12 and is the least adventurous eater in the family. There’s nothing wrong with that. He just likes good old Teriyaki steak, and will only go so far as to eat California rolls. His twin sister Kindal and big brother Cody (19) will try ANYTHING. Kindal happily ordered Crunchy Spicy Tuna & Seared Albacore. Cody was in charge of ordering the “fusion” dishes off the extensive three page menu.

We were all so excited to share the multiple plates of rolls & sashimi, reaching over each other, that one delicious piece was dropped into a glass of water (more on that later).

The Salmon Tataki (salmon sashimi, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fried olives, avocado and garlic chips)… this was incredible… so elegant to look at… something you’d see on an Italian Crudo menu. That was my sister & husband’s favorite dish.

Fusion Sushi 313 Salmon Tataki

Cody and I loved the “Heart Attack”. When Cody suggested it I said “I don’t even care what it is… with a name like that I know I’ll need it!” It was just wicked good! A Jalapeno stuffed with cream cheese, spicy tuna and of course… DEEP FRIED.

Fusion Sushi 313 HeartAttack1

The Dynamite baked seafood dish was terrific too. I don’t think I’ve had it with such FRESH clams before.

Fusion Sushi 313 Dynamite

At the end of our meal, I noticed that the dropped sushi roll was still in Chace’s water glass. The ice had melted so it was a bit cloudy and well…. just really gross! I jokingly said to Chace “Twenty bucks if you drink that sushi water”. He didn’t hesitate for a second and just started sucking down the sushi-infused water! Now, this is the kid that ordered Teriyaki Steak because he isn’t really “into” sushi yet! I was shocked at first… then thrilled and handed over the $20! The next time we go to Fusion Sushi 313, I know he’ll be brave enough to try Uni (sea urchin) and I don’t care if it costs me another $20!

Chace drinks Sushi!

Cubaks Fusion Sushi 313 Fusion Sushi 313 is located at
1758 S Grand Ave
Glendora, CA 91740
(626) 335-4033

Lunch: 11:30am-3:00pm (Mon-Fri)
Dinner: 5:00pm-10:00pm (7days)

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