Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ten Snacks

It's rare that I try new dishes from Fortune House - I'm pretty set with my General Tso's chicken and an egg roll - but the other night I was in the mood for something new. So I ordered the Orange Beef. I was expecting a dish that I ate several times in the San Gabriel Valley, basically thinly-sliced pieces of flank steak, fried crispy and dusted with orange-ginger sauce. These were much larger hunks of steak, needing to be cut into three or four pieces each. They were not bad, just not what I was hoping for, and I won't be getting this again.

Back in Pasadena, whenever we couldn't decide what to do for dinner, 99% of the time we did one of three things: Subway, In-N-Out, or Del Taco. The latter two don't exist here, unfortunately, and though there is a Subway here - it's actually less than 50 feet from our front door - we don't go there very much. (Sandwiches are pretty ubiquitous here, as you might imagine, so getting Subway is not something I do more than once every three or four months.)

Our fallback joint here is Five Guys. It's one block away, the employees are always friendly, and the two of us can get more than enough food for about twelve bucks. Just the other day, I saw a segment about Five Guys on some show (I cannot remember which; it seems like every cable channel now how its own travel/food show) where the host explained that you can get as much of any one topping as you want at Five Guys.

I'd never considered that before. The next time I went in, I ordered double pickles and double jalapeños - to go along with my mayo, lettuce, grilled onions, steak sauce, bell peppers, and relish. It was outstanding. Messy, but outstanding. Next time I might just go for triple jalapeños.

I mentioned that I'd visited Hong Kong Supermarket in Chinatown, a glorious place where I bought enough food for a week (for $16) should I be so inclined to eat nothing but Chinese food. The instructions for these juicy little pork buns said to steam them for 15 to 20 minutes, but really they were ready in ten. While they will never be confused with the XLB at Din Tai Fung, they were still damn good.

And because I needed something a little more authentic, I cooked these PF Chang's teriyaki chicken spring rolls. Okay, maybe they're not exactly more authentic. Whatever. It's funny, I've written before that PF Chang's is my second-least-favorite restaurant chain in the country, but I still seem to try their frozen foods from time to time. (When they go on sale at Target I usually buy a bag of the appetizers and stick them in the freezer for nights when I don't want to make much effort.)

These spring rolls were my favorite of the PF Chang's appetizers I have tried. They still were not nearly as good as the little dumplings, though.

I'll show you the sauces I made with the dumplings and egg rolls: Chinese black vinegar with cilantro and pickled ginger.

Soy, rice vinegar, sugar, water, and cilantro. 

I've eaten three or four Celeste frozen pizzas lately, and they are better than I remember them being... but not this "Mexican" version. I did not enjoy the flavors.

Funny how things remain dormant in your memory for years (decades in this case). I saw this bag at a local bodega and immediately remembered the Jay Leno commercial from a long time ago. (A search of YouTube reveals the date to be 1990, which seems about right.) I know I ate them back then; I do not remember if I liked them. I liked them this time, though.

I was buying a couple bottles of Pepsi Max at CVS and this can was right by the checkout. Why not? It was a Saturday and I was going home to watch football. I heated the can and poured it over some tortilla chips, adding pickled jalapeños and Trappey's hot sauce. It tasted better than I expected - that's not saying much, my expectations were low - but I don't see any circumstance in which I will buy this again. It doesn't take that much more effort to take a block of cheddar and grate it over some chips.

There is a market two blocks away with a hot buffet counter. Every night after 7:30 PM, everything is 50% off. So one night recently I went down there to take advantage of the discount for the first time. I got brisket, mac 'n cheese, and pulled pork, all of this for a little over three bucks. The pulled pork was by far my favorite of the three things. 

A few nights later I went down there again after 7:30 and really loaded up. This time it was just over five bucks for meatballs, brisket, teriyaki salmon, fried corn, and jasmine rice.

The brisket was fine, but it had not been sliced properly and too many of the pieces were tough.

The meatballs were yummy.

And the teriyaki salmon was really good. I was afraid it would be too dry from sitting out, which is why I only got two little pieces, but it was my favorite of the bunch. 

A few nights later I saw "sweet & spicy sausage" on display, so I spooned some into a container. ($1.35 this time.) It was good sausage, but not at all spicy. So I took one of my Carolina mustard sauces and poured some into the container. They were much better that way.

Sometimes, there is nothing I love more than a turkey sandwich with white bread. On this occasion I used jerk-style turkey breast and added salami as well. With lettuce, a slice of cheese, three of my homemade pickles, and a dollop of spicy honey mustard. I could eat a sandwich like this every day.


Fort des Rousses Comte, a robust French cow cheese. This was on display at the market; Elizabeth took a bite and implored me to do the same. We both loved it and bought a wedge, which we almost completely finished within 20 minutes of getting home. Just trust me, it's delicious.


ania said...

Hi Justin.

I just wanted to take a minute to let you know that while I don't usually have much to say in response, I still enjoy reading your posts.



FauxChinaTastee said...

PF Chang's vs. Panda Express?

Bekah said...

"Beef and chicken patty crumbles" on that pizza confuses me ever so.

We now make our own pickles too. The hubs even tosses a hard boiled egg in to make pickled eggs. It's interesting.

JustinM said...

Ania - I'm glad you like, thanks for saying hi.

Faux - Are you asking which I like more? Panda Express by a wide margin, though I have no love for the place. I haven't eaten there in one year and I'm just fine with that.

Bekah - Yeah, it's not hard to do and you can make them however you like. I prefer pickles with few seeds, so I start with seedless cucumbers.

Anonymous said...

excellent post, pp.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, I love Five Guys and PF Changs. wish I had a PF close but I can walk to a good five guys. I'm gonna try jalepenos on my burger next time.

I love the blog; have you ever considered doing an interesting supermarket foods list but at Whole Foods instead of Trader Joes?

Whole foods is more convenient for me right now, and I would like to see some small reviews of your weekly purchases and so on. Thanks!

JustinM said...

Back in Pasadena I used to visit Whole Foods at least once a week. But here it's less than once a month. It's just not convenient anymore.

Kevin D said...

So your crock pot recipes finally pushed me to purchase my very first slow cooker. I had some frozen chicken breasts laying around so I threw those on some onions with some Mcd's hot mustard sauce (about 10 packs). I let it cook for four hours and shredded the chicken and added more sauce. What came out was actually very very good with just enough of the hot mustard sauce blasting through that delicious chicken! I threw it on a bun with and without cole slaw and in my opinion I think they turned out well! You should do a slow-cooker recipe extravaganza as a post! Would love to follow one of them to the T when I get the proper necessities from Publix

JustinM said...

Kevin, I'm glad you are experiencing how cool the slow cooker can be. Check back Monday for a great sandwich I made with the slow cooker.