On Pasta / Noodles

On Pasta / Noodles

TL;DR Oodles and oodles of doodles of noodles. I use the words “noodles” and “pasta” interchangeably. I remember being teased in middle school at an Italian classmate’s house for asking for more “noodles” at dinner. We were eating spaghetti and meatballs. I felt embarrassed back then.  But now I’m an adult and couldn’t care less what you think of my noodly vocabulary. Pasta was likely invented in China anyway, which means pasta = noodles. Without further ado, a discourse on noodles. A Quick History of Noodles: The world’s oldest known noodles were discovered at an archaeological site by the Yellow River in China, and carbon-dated to be more than 4,000 years old (can you say yum). Marco Polo was likely the source of introducing noodle/pasta to Italy. Early Spanish settlers were among the first to bring pasta to America Types of Flour: Pasta/Noodles can be made from many types of flours, here are the most common ones. Wheat Soft, may be eggy, potentially yellow due to alkalinity Wheat noodles are the most popular type of noodles in China and definitely in Italy The Chinese usually eat pasta/noodles in broth, while Italians prefer pasta boiled, strained, and tossed with sauce Dishes to Note: Beef Noodles, Spaghetti Bolognese Rice Very soft, white Typical in the cuisines of Southeast Asia More delicate than wheat noodles, rice noodles require less cooking time and can usually be added to soup dishes in the last few minutes Can also be stir-fried after boiling – be sure to undercook the noodles a bit if you plan to do so Dishes to Note: Pho, Pad See Ew Sweet Potato...
On Eggs

On Eggs

TL;DR Exploring one of the most magical and versatile ingredients: Eggs. Eggs as Eggs Scrambled: Mixed eggs in a pan, sometime with cream or milk added, cooked either soft or hard Fried/Sunny Side Up: A whole egg cracked into a pan and cooked to desired doneness Hard-Boiled: A whole egg cooked in boiling water until the white and yolk are both fully cooked Soft-Boiled: A whole egg cooked in boiling water until the white is cooked but the yolk is still runny Omelettes: Mixed eggs in a pan, sometime with cream or milk added, cooked either soft (french style) or hard Deviled: Eggs boiled, the the yolk separated and mixed with mayo, mustard, and other flavorings Poached: eggs cracked into simmering water to cook with a set white and runny yolk Egg Salad: boiled egg made into a salad mixed with mayo, mustard, and other flavorings Frittata/Quiche: eggs baked with other ingredients Pickled: Boiled egg preserved in salt, vinegar, and other flavorings Salted: Boiled eggs preserved in a egg brine Steamed (Chawanmushi): Egg steamed to a custard consistency with flavorings such as soy sauce Eggs as Supplements Batters – Eggs used to hold ingredients together (See: Fried Chicken) Coatings – eggs (specifically whites) used to had a light coating to food (See: Chili Relleno) Emulsions – egg yolks used to mix fat and other flavors together to get a creamy sauce (See: Hollandaise) Stabilizers – egg whites used to hold ingredients together (See: Foams) Thickeners – Eggs used to had viscosity to dishes  (See: Egg...
On the Secrets of Miso

On the Secrets of Miso

TL;DR A friend of ours over at Ngo Your Meal helps us out on learning about Miso–the yummy, umami, fermented soybeans thats good for more than just Miso soup. What’s up, everyone! I’m Jon Ngo, and I’ll be writing for Bicoastal Cooks in this guest post. Today, we’re going to learn about miso. Why? Well, not only does it have a cute name, it is also a tasty, multi-faceted superfood! Miso is usually in paste form. It is a fermented mixture of soybeans, sea salt, and koji (a fungus/mold). Miso is made in a two-step process. First, the koji is made by inoculating steamed grains with the bacteria Aspergillus oryzae. Once aged to perfection, the koji is added to cooked soybeans, water, and salt then placed in a large container and fermented anywhere between 6 and 18 months. The koji will break down the soybeans’ complex carbohydrates and proteins into amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars. The acids released by the breaking down of carbohydrates and proteins produce an intense, deep umami flavor that we all adore. #bae FUN FACT #1: Koji is also used in the sake-making process. Rice is mixed with koji, which breaks down the carbohydrates in the rice. The leftover product is fermented by yeast to produce alcohol. YES. THANK YOU, SCIENCE. FUN FACT #2: Miso’s ancient relative is considered to be soybean jiang (or doujiang), which appeared around 300BC. Upon jiang’s arrival in Japan, it was pronounced hishio and later mutated into misho (mid 700s) and miso (late 900s). Jiang was so old that it was even mentioned in the Analects of Confucius… on a scroll....
On Spices on the Beaten Path

On Spices on the Beaten Path

TL;DR There are so many spices, many of which we can find in the average kitchen. In this post we cover eight common spices that work together to make everyday food flavorful. Simple spices are so intrinsic in every meal that they are taken for granted sometime. As long as the ingredient is fresh, simple spices are all you need to create something amazing. Here, we introduce the six essentials that I always keep in my kitchen. Salt – the humble NaCl is found in almost every dish, even desserts. Salt brings out flavors in foods, especially sour and sweet, and downplays bitterness. There are many different types of salt, from table salt, to pink Himalayan salt, to truffle salt – with different mineral contents and infusions. Generally, I find that table salt and kosher salt are enough for everyday cooking. Table salt for flavoring stews, stir fries, and marinades; kosher salt for rubs for meats for its larger grain size. Taste: Well…salty. Uses: Everything! Black Pepper – Often paired with salt, black pepper comes from the fruit of the Piper nigrum plant. Different varieties of pepper have different aromas and tastes, such as citrus or mustard. It is super worth it to invest in a pepper grinder to make pepper fresh from peppercorns.   Taste: Tingly, citrusy, slightly spicy Uses: Stir-fries, marinades, anything that calls for a mere hint of spice. Cumin – Originating from India, cumin is the seed of the Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. These rain soul seeds can be used on their own, or ground into a fine brown powder. Cumin is pungent, musty, and a little bit spicy,...
Wine Pairing Tool: Version 1

Wine Pairing Tool: Version 1

Tl;DR We are working on a tool to help people pair wines to their meals. Take a look! We have a supplementary post dedicated to alcohol here in which we briefly discussed pairing alcohol with food, but it focused more on a simple overview of alcohol types. We decided to take this a step further and create a more convenient tool that would help people pair to a more granular level wine to their food. Below is our first version of this tool (in Excel) which allows the user to enter their meal (types of meat or seafood) along with sauces, spices, and acidity. The tool then is able to calculate the optimal wine across red, whites, roses, dessert, etc. Wine pairing is both an art and a science, so we would love to get as much insight as possible on how we can make this better or any changes that would be helpful for your use. Please leave us your comments! Features we are looking to add: Expanding to different alcohols More level of detail and options Any other requests? Take a look and let us know! Bicoastal Cooks Wine Pairing Tool...
On Spanish Cuisine: A Cuisine Of Good Times

On Spanish Cuisine: A Cuisine Of Good Times

TL;DR This is a research post on getting a base for Spanish Cuisine. If you told me that someone can enjoy eating paella every single day for the rest of their lives, I would only be slightly doubtful. I had the great fortune of visiting Barcelona in 2013 along with West Coast, where for a full week, we dined on tapas, paella, and lots and lots of red wine at every meal. And you know what? It was amazing. Upon returning to the East Coast, I resolved to learn more about Spanish cuisine. Here I present the result of my learning. Meal Structure: The Spanish eat much later than other culture I’ve encountered, with lunch typically taking place between 1-4pm and dinner from 8-11pm. This is because the Spanish usually have 5 little meals/snacks throughout the day, as compared the the American 3-meal structure. Breakfast #1 is a pastry/yogurt, with coffee and some fruit. Followed by breakfast #2 – a sandwich type light meal. Lunch is usually the heaviest meal of the day, with multiple hot and cold courses. This meal is so heavy (hello food coma), that the Spanish people will shut down all activity and take a siesta afterward. An afternoon snack is usually enjoyed around 5-6pm to tide people over until dinner. Dinner is another multi-course hot meal that lasts into the night, with plenty of stories, laughter, and the clinking of glasses around the table. Major Ingredients: Olive Oil – as essential as butter is to Paula Deen, Olive oil is the base to start of many Spanish dishes. A quick discourse on olive oil grades: Olive...