This past August I had the chance to go to Hawaii. I had been there when I was five years old but I barely remember anything but the blue waters. While there I got to eat A LOT of good food. The food of hawaii is heavily influenced by asian cuisine (asians are the majority over there after all) and it just resonated with my taste buds and blew my mind.

One dish that I tried for the first time was called garlic chicken. I had it twice, one as a bento take out from Mitsuken and another from Aiea Bowl (not bowl in the sense of teriyaki bowl, but bowling alley bowl) under the name of “tasty chicken”. I apologize if the tasty chicken is actually different but from my memory and novice tongue the flavors and textures were the same in essence.

Garlic chicken seemed to be deep fried boneless chicken pieces topped with a type of dark sweet garlic sauce. After searching online for recipes it seems that the basic ingredients in the sauce are:

  1. soy sauce
  2. sugar
  3. chopped garlic

I decided spur-of-the-moment to try making a batch this afternoon. Here is how it went.

chop boneless thighs into small pieces

chop boneless thighs into small pieces

I used skinless boneless chicken thighs. The high fat content helps keep the chicken tender. I chopped up the chicken real small as I didn’t want to use a huge pot of oil and wanted it to be more snack bite size. The garlic chicken I had on the island were bigger chunks.

coat, and fry

coat, and fry

I rubbed garlic salt on the chicken, then coated it in a blend of flour, corn starch, and more garlic salt. Deep fry (I don’t really like deep frying and probably used too shallow oil, but it turned out ok)

the sauce!

mix soy sauce, sugar, and garlic for the sauc

For the sauce I mixed 1 part soy sauce, 1 part sugar, and a bunch of chopped garlic. I also added 2 parts water to dilute it down a bit. In the future I’ll probably experiment with the ratios and adding extra flavors like green onion but this is the essential base.

After frying, dip the chicken in the sauce and let dry on a wire mesh

After frying, dip the chicken in the sauce and let dry on a wire mesh

All the recipes said to dip the chicken into the sauce and let it dry. Some of the pieces were not as crunchy as I would have liked – not sure if it is my deep frying method or if it was the sauce dipping. Next time I’ll try a few variations to maximize the crunchiness.

time to eat!

time to eat!

It was really good – not that my cooking skills is tops but it is hard to go wrong with the combination of deep fried + sweet & salty + garlic. Something about it just turns on the “EAT” button on my brain.

Next time I’ll try to maximize the crunch factor in the chicken and try adding a few things to the sauce.

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I decided to make a cooking post today after being referred to some food blogs and being tempted by delicious looking pictures. I was also inspired by my friend, who also made a post in her experimental blog.

I’ll start by addressing the question that is probably on your mind: What the heck is 123 spareribs? This is a dish that my mom has been cooking forever and in Cantonese is called “numbers sparerib” (when translated of course) If going the route of describing the dish by it’s taste or ingredients, it would be something generic like “sweet sour spareribs” or “sugar vinegar spareribs”. I didn’t want to evoke images of deep fried pork/batter covered with a over-cornstarched red sauce so I’m calling it 123 Spareribs.

Why “123” or why “numbers” sparerib? It is because the main seasoning of this dish follows a simple 1-2-3 proportion:

  1. part black vinegar
  2. parts sugar
  3. parts soy sauce

It’s that simple! Of course, everyone has their individual taste and it would be wise to take the rough estimates and adjust it to your own taste.

The spareribs we’ll be using is an Asian cut that you can get at most Asian-markets. You’ll want to cut the spareribs into chunks.

spareribs before & after cut

Gather your main 3 ingredients: black vinegar, sugar, and soysauce

The pack of spareribs I got was 1.33 pounds. Based on the amount I chose a pot that would just fit the meat and measured out the seasoning using 1/4 cup as the base unit. Thus, I used 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 cups sugar, and 3/4 cups soy sauce. After mixing it I added the meat to the pot.

combine the ingredients in the pot and add water to cover

combine the ingredients in the pot and add water to cover

I added enough water to cover. The amount of water is roughly the same as the other 3 ingredients combined ( for this example roughly 1 1/4 cups water)

Now simply turn on the heat on high until the pot boils, then turn it down to a low simmer and cover for 20-40 minutes. Of course, the longer you let it simmer, the more the flavor will soak in.

spareribs cookin!

spareribs cookin!

There you have it! The basic 123 spareribs! Note that it is very easy to modify and add to this recipe. Some basic additives that go well with the flavor are ginger, star ainse, 5-spice, etc. Simply add it in in the beginning.

the finished product

the finished product

I’ve always wanted to garden and grow my own food, even before all the green hype that came these last few years. With barriers such as school, work, and plain laziness and indecisiveness I never got started.

Things changed this summer as I decided to finally do some work on my neglected small yard (I’m sure my neighbors hate me.) I was thinking to set up some low maintenance landscaping but a trip to the nursery netted me a little seed starting tray and dreams of an edible garden.

hard earned lesson #1 - moisten soil BEFORE filling the tray

hard earned lesson #1 - moisten soil BEFORE filling the tray

From reading some gardening blogs I realize there is a whole world of mail order seed companies offering all sorts of exotic and unique varieties of veggies. Surprisingly I was able to shrug off the temptation and just buy the off-the-shelf varieties knowing I would do a bunch of research but never planting anything until its too late.

seeds in their new home

seeds in their new home

That was a few weeks ago and now I have some seedlings. Now I have to learn about hardening them off to move them outside. Already I’ve learned many lessons and hope to learn many more.

So looking forward to that first bite into a juicy Tomato!

lesson #2 - too much heat + too little light = leggy seedlings

lesson #2 - too much heat + too little light = "leggy" seedlings

starting to look like tomato!

starting to look like tomato!

watchdog makes sures no one messes with the plants... I just hope she doesnt like salad...

watchdog makes sures no one messes with the plants... I just hope she doesn't like salad...

Life sucks… or at least it seems to be when you’re down. Fortunately it just takes a little tickle in the right spot at the right time to get the smiles rolling again. I’m going to start documenting those little moments in the day that brings me joy.

I hope it does the same for you.

cup of love

cup of love

My experience of learning about new topics always seems the same. In the beginning, you are absorbing every bit of information about the topic and processing them all, not knowing which ones are key and which ones are minor. Slowly, the main concepts become more apparent as the same points keep coming up over and over again. By the time you are fairly comfortable with the topic you have at least a basic “map” of all the important and not so important points of the topic and how they relate to each other.

I like to also think of the complexity of  each topic in a tier system. Depending on your application or who you are discussing the topic with, you move up or down the tiers. A high-level (high meaning simple) tier treatment of taking a photo of a subject with the sun behind them would be “use flash because your subject is not lit” Moving down a level might include discussion on proper flash power and distance for proper exposure.

For any topic it is possible to boil it down to a few simple points. This might be at a high level and explain the entire topic adequately – but would be extremely useful to give the learner a “map” of what is important regarding the topic and with what importance each facet of the topic is to be treated with.

Scott Adams has a similar theory that he calls the “Rule of Twelve” and suggests a book listing the key concepts for a bunch of different topics. There might not be 12 key concepts or there might be more, Adams himself says he chose twelve because it sounded good.

As I have time I give a shot at simplifying some topics that I’m familiar with and also topics that I’m in the process of learning about.

Hi – I’m a 20-something living in Seattle who quit his job about a month ago. I’ve been doing a bit of this and that and thought I’d savor the memories and experiences in a blog.

Thanks for dropping in