kruizing with kikukat

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kung Hee Fat Choy. . .The Year of the Water Dragon

KAG's La Femme Nikita
Kung Hee Fat Choy!!!  Happy New Year (again)!!

Today's post is dedicated to Niki, the most loveable Brittany anyone could hope for.  Sure, you had your moments. . .you got me & Mr. Dependable kicked out of obedience class (We were asked not to return  It was strongly suggested to us not to return until you were older.), you smeared shit all over the back seat of gramma's new car, you flew shit at dr. rodrigues when you boarded there.  Oh, where was I?  Oh yeah, but you helped us train Rain & Sammy and you kept the ete birds and kitanai male kats away from the back yard.  It was a great 16 years.  R.I.P. Niki. . .you will be missed by all of us.

I already made a resolution a few weeks ago, so I'm going to hold strong to that one, which was to take better care of myself. . .eat right, get enough sleep, exercise.  The eating right went out the window last weekend when I took a short trip for the day to Honolulu.  The getting enough sleep and exercising went out the window last week when I had to drive to Naalehu every day for a team audit .  No time to exercise, and when you need to be on the road at 5:45 daily, there is no way any amount of sleep would be enough.

The 4-day long stint at Naalehu came on the heels of a fantastic (fantastically short) trip to check out the Chinese New Year festivities in Chinatown, among other things.  The trip also included a few firsts:  first meal at Morimoto and first meal at Liliha Bakery (Yes ,yes, I know. . . I lived in Honolulu for over four years and NEVER had a meal there).

Morimoto was good, but I still prefer Nobu.  Of course, I made my usual stops:  Nordy Rack, Tumi Store, Manuheali`i, and Goma Tei (wanted to try the ban ban ji).  The Help went to look for a new ride at Porsche of Hawaii, but left empty handed, muttering something about he'd "rather die than buy a tiptronic".  Whatevers.

Here is a slideshow of my Chinatown adventures.  If you care to skip it, thats fine; you can scroll down for an awesome recipe for gao. . .actually better than the one I bought in Chinatown.  If you do decide to brave the short slideshow, please be sure your speakers are turned on!

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As you can see from the slideshow, Chinatown was packed.  Maunakea Street was closed off to vehicle traffic, and food booths lined both sides of the street.  While I saw numerous booths selling gao, I was shocked at the number of booths selling popcorn/kettlecorn.  Since when is that a Chinese thing?  I managed to force my way through the throng of people packed into Sing Cheong Yuan.  I needed to get my gao, Chinese mochi.  I noticed they had a carrot gao this year, but I didn't want to take a chance, since I don't always enjoy carrots.  Ended up getting the gao I normally get.  The courtyard at the Chinese Cultural Plaza was also full of booths selling everything from Year of the Dragon t-shirts to dragon whiskers candy.  This was the first time I saw dragon whiskers candy, but I didn't try any because I didn't want to be saddled with a whole tray of it.  I was fascinated watching them make the whiskers portion. . .fine candy filaments, almost like cotton candy, but totally impressive because the pulling was done with hands. 

I was still full from breakfast at Liliha Bakery, but I forced myself to order some of my favorites:  fried shrimp, pork shumai, and mango pudding.  The Help insisted on ordering char siu bao but passed on the joong and black bean spareribs.  He also kept asking me if I wanted lo bok gao. . .not sure why because I know he doesn't particularly care for that.  I was going to order blanched kai lan, but I just couldn't eat any more.  A happy surprise was bumping into CG and her family.

The four days at Naalehu went by surprisingly fast.  I got to see my two favorite Oregonians and enjoyed collaborating with some really neat fellow educators (and a "poseur" too).  Everyone behaved.  Shhhhhh, but I think those Oregonians like me . . .they allowed me to raid the snack table anytime I wanted to and they gave me the best Effectiveness Indicator to present.  Thankfully, I managed to survive without breaking down (mentally) and without eating school lunch.  I know we should patronize the school cafeteria, but I just cannot bring myself to eat school lunch.  I caved a few weeks ago when I was at Ka`u.  Batter fried fish was on the menu.  Big mistake.  It tasted worst than the dog biscuit I sampled when I was nine.  In fact, I was knee-deep in Effectiveness Indicator 2 (fyi, Instructional Program) at Naalehu when I got the call about Niki.  I told my partner I had to go outside to cry by myself for a little while, and she was nice enough to oblige.  She identified herself as a "dog" person so she understood.  I think I managed to keep it together . . . it wasn't entirely unexpected, especially since I returned home on Wednesday to find Niki in a pool of her own pee, unable to stand up and walk the few feet to the yard from the patio.  I'm getting a little sad now so I need to re-focus.

After recovering all my lost sleep, I rolled up my sleeves and spent the weekend making gao. Made 3 batches altogether:  steamed batches on Saturday and Sunday and a microwave batch on Sunday.  Nice to have a neighbor willing to trade gao for ti leaves!  In fact, Sunday was a crazy day of cooking.  It was Dad's birthday, and I had opened my mouth and invited him over for dinner, so I needed to be sure everything was ready at 6:00 pm.  The menu was tossed green salad with balsamic dressing (eventually the balsamic dressing will become a post), twice-baked potatoes (done lazy casserole-style), steak with herb butter, and peach pie (thank you, Claim Jumper).  Featured wine was a merlot-blend from Gundlach Bundschu.  I also offered miniature blueberry muffins (made Sunday morning at D2's request) and gao. 

kikukat's steamed gao

In honor of the year of the water dragon, I'm posting a recipe for gao.  This must be a common recipe because I saw it in the newspaper a few years ago (long after I've been making it) and a friend gave me the same recipe (tastes better when someone else makes it, so I asked her for the recipe.  I was shocked to see the same ingredients/proportions I use).  I'm bringing a platter of this (microwave version) to my meeting today!

 click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb wong tong
     2 1/2 c hot water
     1 lb mochiko
     2 tbsp vegetable oil
     2 tsp sesame seeds
     hung jo

Break wong tong into tiny pieces and dissolve in hot water.  Using a whisk, gradually add to mochiko.  Add vegetable oil.  Whisk to incorporate.  Pour into pan(s) and sprinkle sesame seeds over top.  Place hung jo in the middle and cook as desired.

Microwave:  Grease a Tupperware microwave pan (w/center cone).  Sprinkle sesame seeds.  Add hung jo if desired, but since the center will be open, I usually leave off.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes at 50% power, 5 minutes at 70% power and 5 minutes at 100% power.  This is how I do it in my microwave (1300 watts).

Steam:  Grease pan(s).  Grease ti leaves.  Line pan with ti leaves, making sure ti leaves extend beyond top of pan.  Pour batter in pan(s) and steam.  Here are some guidelines.  I like to make small gao to give away.  I make these in ramekins, which hold about a scant cup of batter each.  My steamer holds 4 of these ramekins in a single layer, which leaves me over half the batter to use.  I use a 1-quart souffle-type dish to steam the remaining batter.  The ramekins steam for 90 minutes, and the 1-quart dish steams for 3 hours.  If I were to use all the gao batter at once, I'd use a 1 1/2-quart dish and steam for 4 hours. . .hope these "popo" guidelines help.

The gao pictures above were cooked by steaming.  Sadly, I'm not very good at doing the ti leaf layer.  The pictures here (notice how I saved this for the bottom, in case ADHD/boredom kicked in for some of the readers) are of gao cooked in the microwave.  In spite of lacking serious curb appeal, microwave gao actually cuts better than steamed gao.  Because all pieces will be identical (or at least thats what I strive for), its easy to lay in a platter.

wong tong


  1. Sorry about Niki. What's a wong tong? -lance

    1. Hi Lance! Thank you. Niki was a good girl, and I miss seeing her when I open the patio door in the morning. Wong Tong is Chinese brown sugar shaped into slabs. They are sold in packages ranging in size from 14-16 ounces. I'll try and take a picture.

  2. Thank you for sharing -lance