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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Yaki Onigiri

makes 16 pieces
prep time: 15 min / total cook time: 1 hr

rice cooker
* these come in a variety of sizes and shapes, see picture above

4 c uncooked short grained rice
2 sheets nori, cut into strips
4 c shoyu
2 c mirin (sweet cooking wine)

• Cook rice.
• Mix shoyu and mirin in a bowl, set aside.
* If you want your marinade to be sweeter, add a teaspoon of sugar.
• Tightly pack rice into the onigiri mold.
• Heat non-stick pan until hot. Place molded rice onto the pan until it gets a lightly crispy skin, then flip to crisp the other side.
* A cast iron pan or grill would work better. Be sure to lightly oil the cast iron so the rice doesn't stick.
• While crisping the back side, brush the marinade onto the newly formed skin. Flip and repeat two to three times on each side, depending on how flavorful you want your rice ball to be.
• When the yaki onigri is crispy and brown, remove and let it cool slightly.
• Wrap each yaki onigiri with a strip of nori.

• Yaki onigiri can be filled with various fillings such as salmon, tuna, pickled daikon, even Spam!
• You can add flavor to the rice by adding furikake before molding.



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rhea's Deli

A friend (Hi Galen!) recently posted a comment that made me realize a funny coincidence. I choose the blog name Samiwich because it’s food-related and I like the way it sounds, but coincidentally the majority of my posts are actually about sandwiches (or at least things served between bread)! So here’s another one to add to that growing list:

Rhea’s Deli.

It was like the universe was pointing me in that direction. After seeing it mentioned in 3 different places in 2 days (here, here and one other place I can’t seem to find now), I knew I had to try Rhea’s (it's pronounced like “Ray’s).

You’ve probably driven past it a million times. It’s located inside an inconspicuous corner grocery/liquor store on Valencia & 19th in the Mission. And it’s the place to go for a truly wonderful and unique sandwich that I haven’t found anywhere else.

I’m talking about Rhea's Korean Steak Sandwich ($8.95). It starts off with Acme Bakery’s fabulously light and crunchy organic roll. Then comes sliced rib eye that’s been marinated in garlic, ginger, honey, spices and soy. Then house-pickled onions and jalapenos, grilled onions, lettuce, garlic aioli and your choice of cheese (sounds strange on an Asian-flavored sandwich, but somehow it works). Lastly, your choice/level of chili garlic sauce (medium is plenty hot for me). And that’s it. Sweet. Spicy. Meaty. And just a little bit messy like a good sandwich should be.

Rhea’s menu is pretty intriguing. There’s your typical deli offerings, like roast beef, pastrami and grilled cheese. But you can order 4 different kinds of aioli (garlic, lemon, fresh grated horseradish and red pepper & garlic) and there’s something called a Korean taco (with kim chi chutney) that I’m dying to try. Their deli case also features Cowgirl Creamery cheeses right alongside jars of homemade kim chi (which had kick but was a little too gingery, for my taste).

Other things to note? There’s barely a dining area (like 4 seats) and it takes a good 15-20 minutes for your sandwiches to be ready, so call in your order ahead of time if you’re in a hurry. And the deli closes long before (7pm/8pm) the store does (2am).

On subsequent visits I’ve also tried the Pork Katsu sandwich (fried pork cutlet with spicy coleslaw, house picked onions & jalapenos, spicy aioli and tangy katsu sauce) and the Van Ness (chicken katsu, bacon, melted pepper jack, spicy coleslaw, chili sauce, BBQ sauce and roasted pepper & garlic aioli.) Both were delicious, but the Korean Steak sandwich is still my favorite. It’s the one that I keep dreaming about.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Macarons

makes 2 dozen macarons
macaron recipe adapated from
David Lebovitz

prep time: 35 min / cook time: 15-18 min

1 c powdered sugar
1/2 c
almond powder/meal
3 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, room temperature
5 tbsp granulated sugar
1 c dulce de leche
* I used Farmhouse La Salamandra

• Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
• Have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2 inch) ready.
* I used Ateco Plain Tip #806.
• In a blender or food processor, grind together the powdered sugar, almond powder/meal and cocoa so there are no lumps.
• In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape.
• While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
• Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula.
• When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg whites, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag.
* Standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you're alone.
• Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1 inch circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced 1 inch apart.
* I piped out my macarons into 1 1/2 inch circles.
• Dust cocoa on top of each macaron.
• Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons.
• Bake for 15-18 minutes.
• Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

• Pair up macarons that are the same size.
• Spread dulce de leche on one side of the macaron and then sandwich them together.

* You can pipe out the filling if you prefer.

• To help keep your macarons a consistent size, you can create a template on the computer and slip it under the parchment paper or draw out circles on the underside of the parchment in pencil.
This recipe did not use aged egg whites like most macaron recipes.
• I stacked two baking sheets when baking the macarons.
• If the macarons stick to the parchment paper after they have cooled, put a little bit of water between the baking sheet and parchment paper to help them come off more easily.
• Let macarons come to room temperature before serving. This doesn't take long, about 5 minutes.

Macarons can be stored up to 5 days in an airtight container.



Wednesday, May 19, 2010


TrueBurger did the impossible. Somehow I felt like I had a delicious, high quality and healthy meal, even though my dinner consisted of a burger, shake and fries. And not just any fries. They were the covered in chili, cheese and sour cream kind of fries. It was kind of amazing.

It's all about good ingredients and tried and true techniques. Hand-spun milkshakes. House-ground Angus beef. Custom-made challah buns. Even their mayo is a housemade garlic aioli.Everything is made to feel like you’re getting something truly special (but not fussy by any means.)

Located in downtown Oakland, I came here with some E. Bay folks, including one friend whose last name Gong made giving her a foodie name, Ms. GorGONGzola Cheese, super easy. We started with delicious hand-spun shakes ($4.75) made with creamy vanilla ice cream and your choice of .50 add-ins (I opted for banana and peanut butter - a great combo.) The aforementioned chili cheese fries (though on the thin side - I’m a steak fries fan myself) and the spiced dill pickle were great accompaniments to their burgers, which start at $4.95.

A few weeks ago I blogged about Sam's Chowdermobile. If that was the lobster roll of my dreams, then TrueBurger has created the burger of my dreams. It was sweet and simple: a thick juicy patty on a slightly eggy bun that was smeared with just the right amount of garlic aioli and backed up by crisp lettuce and tomato. I enjoyed it without cheese or tons of condiments so all the flavors came through the way they should. Fresh. Savory. Satisfying. No special sauce or pickles, which can sometimes totally take over your burger. Just the clean taste of quality beef, spot-on seasoning, fresh veggies and one of the best buns I’ve ever tasted.

The staff and service gets an A+ too. If anything I just wished they had a bigger dining space and more tables as we had to shuffle around a bit to accommodate our party of 6. Plus, Ms. G and I were wondering why onion rings weren’t included in their offerings (it seems like such a likely choice.)

I left the restaurant feeling full but surprisingly light, not heavy or grease-laden like some burger joints will do to you. And happy. I can’t wait for my next visit to TrueBurger.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mango Mochi Muffins

Michelle is peachy-keen. Literally. When we ended up with two Michelle Lees in our circle of friends, this Michelle became known as Peachie (part of her email address) which is perfect since it also fits our foodie-naming convention for this blog. (Plus, it is so much nicer-sounding than Michelle #2). Thanks to her, we’ve gotten to try a number of her delicious dishes including her signature mango mochi muffins, a recipe she adapted from a friend’s aunt and has shared with us here. The fresh, tropical taste of mangos coupled with the chewy sweetness of mochi is a total win. MMM. (which also stands for Mango Mochi Muffins).

makes 24
recipe from Peachie
prep time: 15 min / cook time: 40-45 min

4 eggs, room temperature
2 c sugar
* use 1 1/2 c if you want your muffins less sweet
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz can)
1/2 c butter, melted
2 mangos, diced

Preheat oven to 350˚F.
• With a spoon, mix flour, eggs, sugar, baking powder, coconut milk and butter in a bowl.
• Fill the muffin tins half way with batter.
• Place a couple mango pieces into the center, lightly pushing down into the batter.
• Fill the "stuffed" muffin tins with batter.
• Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is yellow and golden brown.
• Let muffins cool slightly in the tins and place on baking rack.

• If muffins stick to the muffin tin, gently remove with a plastic knife.
• If you like plain mochi muffins, omit the mangos. Duh!
• If substituting mangos with other fruits, avoid any fruit that gives off a lot of juice to avoid mushy mochi muffins.



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spam Musubi

I’ll admit it, I really like Spam. So much so that this very blog came awfully close to being Spamantha & Addiecakes. There’s something gratifying, delicious, and a tad bit guilt-inducing about this salty, savory snack. And it’s even better when it’s wrapped in warm white rice and roasted seaweed, with just a smear of sweet teriyaki sauce.

I've never used an official recipe for Spam musubi, but MFM (aka Mark, who insisted on giving himself his own, unprintable foodie name which we've abbreviated to MFM here) and I recently made some for the high school dragon boat team he helps coach on race day. It’s the perfect portable hand-held snack, that can easily withstand a long day of racing. Not that they last that long!

Are you a Spam fan? Or have any other tips/ingredients for musubi making? Please post any comments/recipes below or email us at


makes approximately 40 pieces

total cooking & assembly time: 2 1/2 hrs


Spam double musubi mold/press

Spam slicer (optional)

* both available online or at a Japanese cookware store


10 c uncooked short grain rice

4 cans Spam

2 c homemade or store-bought teriyaki sauce

16 sheets nori

water for sealing the Spam musubi


• Cook rice.

• Heat teriyaki sauce in small pan over medium heat.

• Cut Spam into approximately 1/4 inch slices using a Spam slicer or knife.

• Fry on both sides until lightly browned.

• Remove from frying pan and dip into warmed teriyaki sauce. Spam should be covered in sauce on both sides.


• Let rice cool so you’re able to handle comfortably.

• Place nori smooth-side down on a work surface. Place mold on top of nori. Add about 1/2 cup of rice to bottom and tamp down the press so the first layer of rice is spread evenly.

• Add Spam on top of first layer, then top with more rice.

• Tamp down with press so everything is tight and compact.

• Remove press.

• Fold nori over musubi and seal with a little bit of water.

• Cut into pieces if desired.

** NOTES **

• I’ve tried adding the teriyaki sauce to the Spam-frying stage but found that the sugar in the sauce burns, causing a big black mess. So dipping it in the sauce after frying works a lot better.

• I’ve also seen people use an empty Spam can as a “musubi maker” but I’d suggest buying a plastic one, as the rice doesn’t stick.

• Use a double musubi press, so you don't have to cut the nori!



Sunday, May 09, 2010

Chocolate Nutella Turnovers

makes 12
recipe adapted from bake at 350
prep time: 20 min / cook time: 15 min

1 1/2 c chocolate chips, divided
1/2 c Nutella
1 egg
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp slivered almonds
1 tbsp shortening
* I used butter instead of shortening

Preheat oven to 400˚F.
• Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• Stir together 1 cup chocolate chips with the Nutella.
• On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry into a 12x12 inch square. Use a pizza cutter to cut into 9 squares.
* I was able to cut 12 squares out of one sheet of puff pastry.
• With a fork, whisk together the egg and water. Using your finger, apply the egg wash to 2 adjacent sides of each square.
• Add 1 heaping tablespoon of the chocolate/Nutella mixture to the middle of each square.
• Fold over to make triangles and press to seal edges.
• Brush the top of each turnover with egg wash.
• Sprinkle the tops with slivered almonds.
• Bake for 15 minutes.
• Meanwhile, melt the reserved 1/2 cup chocolate chips and the shortening (or butter) in the microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals. Stir after each interval until melted. Set aside.
• Remove the turnover from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
• Spoon the melted chocolate into a quart-sized freezer baggie (a storage baggie might burst) and snip a hole in one corner. Squeeze over the turnovers in a decorative pattern.

• Thaw puff pastry in the refrigerator for even thawing.
• The filling will burst at the seams if they are overfilled.



Wednesday, May 05, 2010

ad hoc's Blowtorch Prime Rib

For MFM and probably most guys, there's not many better combinations than meat and fire. Especially when the source of fire is a hand-held propane blow torch purchased from Home Depot.

I've always been a fan of ad hoc's owner/world famous chef Thomas Keller. A groupie, actually. I haven't dined at many of his restaurants, but have admired everything single thing I've ever seen or read about him - he's a rock star chef with a humble charm and graciousness.

MFM got wind of this recipe one Friday afternoon, and by Friday evening we were ready to go with a newly purchased cookbook and a $20 blowtorch (Keller recommends getting a propane torch from a hardware store, rather than the butane-fueled ones they sell in gourmet shops.)

I was totally intimidated by Keller's beautiful (but not for novices) French Laundry cookbook, but the ad hoc at Home cookbook is this groupie's dream come true. Mouth-watering pictures, witty stories, and great, accessible recipes for favorites like buttermilk fried chicken, braised short ribs and pineapple upside down cake. I can't wait to try the one for grilled cheese sandwiches.

And the prime rib? It came out beautifully, and was surprisingly easy. The torching, slow roasting and simple salt & pepper seasoning was just an amazing formula. The blowtorching ensured that the outside roasted to the dark, carmelized perfection that only happens when cooked at a high heat, while the center was a juicy, succulent medium rare throughout.

Keller really delivered with this recipe, down to the carving/plating instructions that was a hit with our dinner guests, my mom & sisters, for its smaller pieces and family-style appeal. It was a success, and the first of many blowtorched meals to come, I'm sure.

recipe adapted from ad hoc at Home
cook time: 1 1/2-2 hrs

roasting pan
roasting rack
meat thermometer

1 two-bone center cut rib roast (ours was approx. 4 3/4 lbs)
kosher salt
coarsely ground black pepper
gray salt or coarse sea salt
* we omitted this, and it was still delicious

Let roast sit at room temperature for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 275˚ F.
Put the roast on a roasting rack (we used a v-shaped rack) in a roasting pan.
Hold a blowtorch about 1 inch from the roast and turn to lightly brown the fat on all sides to start the fat rendering. Torch the meat just until the surface begins to turn gray.
Season all sides generously with salt and pepper.
Transfer to the oven, with the meat toward the back of the oven, and cook until roast registers 128˚ F in the center.
Total cooking time will be approximately 2 hours, but begin to check the temperature after 1 1/2 hours. (For a little bit rarer than medium-rare, 1 hour and 45 minutes is perfect.)
Remove from the oven and let rest in a warm spot for at least 30 minutes for medium-rare.

Cut the meat away from the bones.
Separate the bones and put them on a serving platter.
Cut the roast in half through the center, turning each piece cut side down, and slice straight down into slices that are 1/2 inch thick.
Arrange meat on a platter and sprinkle with gray salt and pepper.
Serve with au jus or creamed horseradish if desired.


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