Artsy Photo of the Day

Pirhana Vietnamese Summer Roll

I’ve always loved sushi, but ever since I worked for a sushi restaurant during college in my early 20s and got used to eating it on a daily basis, I’ve been even more obsessed. I crave raw fish. One thing I don’t really like? All that rice. I usually pick off most of it, to the disgust of my dining companions.

Anyway, this leads me to search for rolls with little to no rice so I can pack in the protein. I found my new favorite sushi roll at Pirhana Killer Sushi in downtown Austin. It’s the Vietnamese Summer Roll: salmon, tuna, crab, greens, mango, and asparagus wrapped with rice paper. Tons of fish, tons of fruit and vegetables, and no rice! Sushi heaven.

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‘Lite’ At the End of the Tunnel

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I’m faced with a dilemma; I live in a land of unbelievable bounty and choice, where an unlimited supply of fresh, affordable and tantalizing food options are available to me 24 hours a day, every day. My car has been transformed into an International Travel Pod, where once exotic and labor-intensive meals and delicacies are now just an arms-length away from my driver’s side window. I merely have to voice my meal mandate out loud in front of a brightly colored menu board full of photographic representations of my deepest food desires. Why, I can even ‘supersize’ my choices, all while sitting comfortably behind the wheel listening to the harmonic melodies of my own choosing.

Up ahead a smiling face awaits at an open window delicately holding my expertly prepared and lovingly wrapped meal, which they conveniently stowed in a festive paper bag. After a quick monetary exchange I’m handed my culinary travel clutche and a tall, cool waxed paper vat of sweet, sweet liquid. “Adios” I reply to my Spanish compadre-in-white. And even before I can merge into traffic my fingers are seeking out one of those golden fried sticks of masterly salted carbohydrates and starch.

Ah, yes. What’s a fat bastard to do?

Man, I am pathetic! I don’t remember what happened to me and my relationship with food but at some point I totally bought in to the  slogans and catch phrases that tell me I deserved it, I’m worth it and that it tastes soooo good! A 1220-calorie Deluxe Breakfast? “I’m loving it!” A 1090-calorie Mesquite Chicken sub? “Mmmm…toasty!” A 590-calorie pack of French fries? “It’s Way Better Than Fast Food!”

I’m to the point now where I call my bib overalls my ‘skinny jeans.’

So it’s back to the lighter fare in this column. I know that it’s not what you eat but how much you eat, however that doesn’t help when I’m making a meal and it turns out so good that before I know it I’m eating it right out of the serving dish and I look up to see my dinner guests sitting around the table staring at me in disbelief. (My friends call it ‘Dinner and a Show!’)

So here it is ESers; a tasty low-cal meal that’s healthy and good for you. Just remember, this serves 6. That doesn’t mean dinner in 6 acts, it means dinner for 6 people or 6 different meals. Just do as I say and not as I do and you’ll be squeezing back into your XXLs in no time! Enjoy.

Katt’s “Now That’s Using Your Noodle” Udon bowl

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Japanese Quinoa Salad

I know quinoa has been somewhat of a divisive subject here on the ol’ Simmer, but that only makes me want to write about it more. So, here’s this! A recipe that my roommate Dayna actually whipped up and I have stolen from her, because it is sooooo good. Healthy, light, and packed with protein (edamame plus tofu plus yep, quinoa), this has become one of my favorite post-workout snacks and a lunch-on-the-go staple. It’s super easy to throw together and keeps well in the fridge for up to about a week.

JapaneseQuinoaSalad

Japanese Quinoa Salad

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Artsy Photo of the Day

Earlier this week, Mexico met Japan in an artsy cocktail, and in round two, Mexico meets Japan in this artsy ramen:

ESKChickenTortillaRamen

This  Chicken Tortilla Soup Ramen hybrid is made with bacon dashi, chicken-tortilla-Tom-Yum paste, shrimp paste, chicken thigh, soft soy egg, avocado, corn, fried casino online tortilla, pickled yellow onion, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic, and lime. Talk about fusion.

It”s from East Side King at Hole in the Wall, Top Chef winner Paul Qui”s newest Austin venture (for now–He”s working on some other new exciting projects too, so expect a stream of PQ food pics from me in 2013-2014, you”re welcome).

Oh, by the way, it”s amazing.

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Breaking it Down: Deconstructed Sushi Salad

Sushi is one of my favorite foods in the world. Sometimes, though, it can be a real pain to procure. If I’m not in the mood to hit up a restaurant, what am I supposed to do? Roll my own sushi at home? A fun activity, but pretty time-intensive for the average American. Who has a sushi mat, anyway? So I came up with the next best thing—or maybe even better: sushi salad!

That might sound a little weird, but let me explain. All you do is break down all of your favorite parts of a sushi roll—rice, seaweed, fish, and fun condiments like soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger—and serve them over spicy Japanese greens, and there you have it: a beautiful and fun-to-eat plate! Sugoi!

While sushi used to be super exotic, these days it’s pretty easy to find most of the more unique ingredients in mainstream grocery stores. Pickled ginger and wasabi paste are readily available in the Asian section, and even seaweed has become pretty accessible; for example these seaweed snacks by Annie Chun’s even come in non-intimidating packaging and cool flavors (like wasabi—perfect for this salad).

Deconstructed Hot & Cold Sushi Salad

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The Endless Road Trip: Porklandia

Portland, Oregon may seem like the type of hippie-dippie place that knows its silken tofus from its seitan (and it is). But as I recently discovered, these hipsters also know their swine, from head to tail. Oregon is a serious pork-producing state, and Portland chefs get crazy/creative with pig parts of every variety. I ate my way through Porklandia so that you don’t have to.

At Tasty n Sons, nearly every dish, from salads to kimchi to chicken, comes with an egg on top (as god intended). It climaxes with this perfectly golden-brown, intensely crispy fried pork cutlet, served over spinach, with a soft fried egg for a crown.

The Woodsman Tavern is the first place I have ever been served a ham plate and then told the proper order in which to eat the hams, as if this was a fancy wine tasting—from most delicate to heartiest. Each one was prosciutto-thin, but with the full salty taste of a good ol’ Virginia-style baked ham.

Don’t forget the ears! At Whiskey Soda Lounge, a casual spot from acclaimed Pok Pok chef Andy Ricker, they’re stewed in 5-spice and deep-fried until crisp, served with a black vinegar dipping sauce. They’re crusty on the edges and chewy in the middle, with the texture of…well, ear.

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