About Nate @ House of Annie

Nate is the Techie / Barbecue-y half of the House of Annie team. Born in Hawaii, his favorite hobby is surfing...WEB surfing that is. Visit my Google+ Profile
Website: http://www.houseofannie.com
Nate @ House of Annie has written 453 articles so far, you can find them below.

Okinawan Sweet Potato

Fall is the season for harvesting sweet potatoes. I’m not just talking about the yellow and the orange sweet potatoes you normally see showing up in pies and casseroles. There is also the Okinawan sweet potato, which is purple like a yam but has almost none of that stringy fiber or gritty mouthfeel.

We picked up these Okinawan sweet potatoes for a good price, about a doller per pound at the Asian grocery these days. Just wrap in foil and bake until cooked through. I love the amazing purple color and the delicate, sweet flavor. There is nothing that can compare.

You can eat them plain like this or mash them up to make haupia sweet potato pie or use them as a filling for spiral pastries (that’s another post).

Have you had these beautiful and delicious sweet potatoes before? Try them!

Aloha, Nate

Secret Garden Korean Restaurant (Sunnyvale)

I love Korean food. Growing up in Hawaii, we had our favorite Korean restaurants (Gina’s comes to mind) to get our fix of meat jun, bbq chicken, and kal bi. Here in the Bay Area, there is a high concentration of Korean restaurants in the Sunnyvale / Santa Clara area. Too many to try all by ourselves, so we asked some of our Korean friends to recommend a place to go for lunch.

They recommended Secret Garden Korean Restaurant. It’s in a little strip mall in Sunnyvale on El Camino Real near Lawrence Expressway, across from the Starving Musician shop. When we arrived at 12:30, there wasn’t much of a crowd and we were seated right away.

Typical of Korean restaurants, they loaded our table up with pan chan (side dishes). Here is the won bok kim chee. This wasn’t sharp or overly salty like others I’ve had. It’s definitely been fermenting for a while – the won bok cabbage is quite soft. I also liked their daikon kim chee.

Annie ordered the Soon Dubu Jigae, a tofu hot pot. It comes to the table boiling hot. There’s pieces of pork mixed in with the soft tofu and green onions. The dish was really wonderful – I loved the bonito flavor in the broth. It wasn’t too light or too heavy – just perfectly balanced.

For the kids, we got the fried mackerel fillets. It’s not like the normal grilled mackerel you get at Japanese restaurants. This one looked like it was breaded in rice flour and then deep fried. The crust was crispy but yielded to a spoon to reveal moist white flesh. The fish was fishy as mackerel should be but not masked by salt. The kids were not the only ones who enjoyed this dish ;-)

I got a bi bim naeng myun. Thin, chewy buckwheat noodles (different from Japanese soba-style noodles) served cold and mixed with julienned slices of radish and cucumber, thin slices of Korean pear, a couple of slices of beef, and half a boiled egg, swimming in a sweet and tangy Korean chili sauce. It’s not as spicy as it looks, though I did start to sweat a little. I almost didn’t want to let Annie have some of my dish.

This was the best Korean food I’ve had in a while and, while the prices are slightly higher than what we’re used to, the quality and flavor are worth coming back for.

Any favorite Korean restaurants in your neighborhood?

Aloha, Nate

Korean Pancake

Pancakes come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in lots of different flavors – blueberry, banana, etc. But what about pancakes with meat and veggies? I’m not talking about bacon and potatoes on the side, but actual meat and veggies inside the pancake!

Our friends gave us this package of Korean pancake mix. You’re supposed to mix the batter, then add various veggies and meats to the batter before frying. Annie sliced up some bell pepper and green onion, and also added some shrimp to the mix.

Beggar’s Chicken

Annie’s been meaning to make Beggar’s Chicken for a while. Legend has it that a Chinese beggar stole a chicken and cooked it by wrapping it in clay and tossing it in a fire. The chicken, sealed in the clay, came out moist and tender.

She got this modernized recipe from “At Home with Amy Beh”: Marinate a whole chicken in some salt, pepper, sesame oil, and a little Chinese rice wine. Stir-fry some ginger, carrots and mushrooms and add a sauce made from soy sauce, sugar, cooking wine, salt, thick soy sauce, and sesame oil. Stuff into bird.

Wrap chicken in lotus leaves, aluminum foil, and finally a salt dough. Bake at 200*C for 1 hour, then reduce to 190*C and bake until the dough is dark brown.

Crack the dough and split open the package.

The chicken is very moist, tender, and flavorful. The aroma of the lotus leaves added to the dish. The downside to this is the hard work making the salt dough and wrapping the bird. It may be easier to do in a clay pot.

Aloha, Nate

About Us

My Photo Annie is mistress of the kitchen while Nate is the master of the grill and smoker. We cook the homestyle Asian and Hawaiian foods of our younger days while also exploring the wider worlds of Western foods.

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