Tag Archives: Houston Chowhounds

Eclectic Houston – “To Touch Your Heart”

你好 (nee-how) and welcome to the Susitna Cafe’!  “Eclectic Houston” is our monthly chronicle about the unique and international aspects of Houston, TX USA.  Today we’re discussing oh sooo delicious dim-sum…

The culinary art of dim sum began in China hundreds of years ago.  Some believe that it started along the Silk Road at tea houses where travelers often stopped to relax and eat…

Silk Road and Related Trade Routes, Courtesy of Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education

These loud and lively tea houses became very popular.  Since the 10th century, this popularity has resulted in over 2000 different types of dim sum having been created.  Now there are typically over 100 different kinds of dim sum served in large restaurants around the world.

Dim sum translated from Cantonese means “To Touch Your Heart”.  Well, it’s no wonder that something that touches your heart (and is sooo tasty) is so popular around the world.

My own introduction to dim-sum began in Seattle, WA USA in Seattle’s China town when I was very young.  I was mesmerized by all the noise, talking and people eating tasty dumplings.  Thereafter, “R” and I have been on a lifelong mission to find the tastiest dim sum.  Our mission has taken us to China and most recently, Hong Kong, where dim sum is a way of life.

However now, lucky for us, we no longer need to travel far and wide to experience oh sooo delicious dim-sum.  We can make our own or visit our friends at Cafe Chino in Houston, TX USA.

We owe a special thanks to the Houston Chowhounds and Cafe Chino, since it is with them that we learned to master dim sum.  Our cooking class was oh sooo special!

We were fortunate to have had skillful chefs who served as our instructors…Chefs May Chan…

and Eddie Chan…

But that’s not all…the master Chefs’ sons, Randall and Bryan, and Cafe Chino staff were all participants too…

So with 2 award winning chefs and their skillful staff, we just got all equipped and donned our chef hats!

All the Houchies started cooking since there was no time to waste…besides, all of us Houchies wanted a taste!

So, shiitake mushrooms and fresh vegetables we did fry…

Followed by Cantonese eggroll rolling and sealing…Oh Me, Oh My!

After rolling and sealing that we all did try, all of a sudden there were lots of egg rolls to fry!

But wait!  That’s not all for us Houchie chefs to do…onward we went to make pork potstickers too…

We Houchies are an enthusiastic bunch and we wanted more to do…so we thought, why not make some Har-Gau dumplings…say at least one or two?

Next we made Sui-Mai,

with a knife trick I’ll never forget…

Smile, you’re on Susitna Cafe’s website!  Are we hungry yet?

After Sui-Mai dumplings, there was something even better yet!  Cafe’ Chino scallion pancakes!  Will we ever forget?

But before we share the recipe, Chef May cooked her special way…

While us Houchies were ready to eat…”Oh! Can we, can we Chef May?”

It was all so wonderful and delicious…

We all had a great day!

Cafe Chino on Urbanspoon

Cafe Chino Scallion Pancakes

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 cup hot water

1/2 cup green onion (scallions), sliced

1/2 cup canola oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Sift flour into a large bowl.  While stirring, add hot water until a dough ball is formed.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to relax for 30 minutes.

To begin making the pancakes, dust your pastry board or work surface with flour.  Roll out dough into a thin rectangle.

Brush the rectangle with canola oil.  Next, sprinkle the rectangle with scallions and season with salt and pepper.

Roll up one end of the rectangle (lengthwise) and fold to the middle of the rectangle.

Now roll up the opposite end of the rectangle (lengthwise) to the middle of the rectangle.  Brush the top of the folded rectangle with oil.

Now roll up the rectangle again lengthwise and fold into a coiled ball.

Turn the spiral side face up and flatten with a rolling pin or your hand.

Pan fry the pancake in hot oil for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Cut into quarters and serve with hoisin sauce on the side.

Cook’s Note:  You may wish to substitute olive oil for the canola oil in this recipe.

Foodie Note:  Do try Cafe Chino’s “Chilean Sea Bass with Asian Pesto”…You’ll really like it!  Oh, and don’t forget Cafe Chino’s special Thanksgiving Dim Sum Brunch on Sunday, November 21, 2010, 11-3 pm.

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Filed under August 2010

Eclectic Houston – “Little India”

Houston, TX USA…this city never ceases to amaze me…it’s sooo international…it’s sooo eclectic…it’s sooo tasty!

The Mahatma Ghandi District

Hi!  Welcome to the Susitna Cafe’!  We’re sooo glad you’ve stopped by for a visit.  Today we’re talking about one of Houston’s many ethnic enclaves, the “Mahatma Ghandi District”.  The ” Ghandi District” or “Little India” comprises the area around Hillcroft Avenue, Harwin Drive, Fondren Road and Westpark Drive.

Map of Mahatma Ghandi District, Houston, TX

Little India is identified streetside in Houston by temple-shaped street signs.

Photo Courtesty of Wikipedia.Org

There are more than 76,000 people of Indian descent who live in the Houston area.  Therefore, residents and visitors alike have the opportunity to enjoy the diversity offered amongst the Houston Indian community.  One of these opportunities is the ethnic enclave of Little India.

So, the Susitna Cafe’ hit the road and embraced what Little India has to offer, and we did so on a very hot India-like day in July.  In fact, our car thermometer read 109 degrees Fahrenheit!  Lucky for us, we did so amongst friends!

We ventured forth with approximately 30 adventurous members of the Houston Chowhounds group on “A Big Tour of Little India” led by Shubhra Ramineni, cookbook author of “Entice with Spice”.

Our first stop was Shri Balaji Bhavan, a family run restaurant specializing in southern Indian vegetarian food.  As soon as we entered the restaurant, I knew it had to be good!

The exotic aromas in the restaurant filled the air with all kinds of wonderful tasty possibilities…and a peek into the kitchen window revealed some very busy ladies cooking…

and smiling…

Of course, happy cooks means happy food and happy food means tasty lunch!  Ohhhh, the decision on what to order was very difficult…dosas?  samosas?  curry?  Oh my!

Thank goodness that Grace, our friend and official taste tester at the Susitna Cafe’ Chronicles, was along and ready to order–afterall Grace “was hungry!”  So, order we did!

Soon enough, along came an assortment of dosas, green coconut chutney and pigeon pea soup…

The dosas were sooo beautiful…i just had to take a peek inside…

The food all smelled sooo delicious.  So, we all had to Chow!

All the tasty bits were Chow Hounded in an instant…

Shri Balaji Bhavan on Urbanspoon

After laughing, talking, and eating….together, Shubhra led us to our next stop, Laxmi Sarees…

This was a place where we could all try on some beautiful Indian clothing…

So we did and, as you know, sometimes the clothing fits…

While at other times, it doesn’t…

Well, since the shoes didn’t fit, we didn’t wear them (ha-ha!), so Shubhra led us to our next stop, India Grocers…

Oooh,  i really like grocery stores!  Shubhra gave us a tour of the store and we learned all about Indian food and various tasty ingredients.  We even stocked-up on some yummy spices…

and veggies…

Once loaded with all of our goodies, Shubhra led us to our final stop, Bombay Sweets…

another delicious stop where we enjoyed an assortment of Indian pastries…

and some relaxation…

Bombay Sweets & Pure Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

We all had such a nice time!  We hope you’ll discover and enjoy a little of India too!  Or, at least join us at the Cafe’ for some tasty bits…

Okra with Onions

(adapted from Shubhra’s recipe in the India Herald article “Entice with Spice”)

Ingredients

1 pound fresh okra, cut into 1/4″ pieces and prepared

2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil*

lemon juice from 1/2 lemon

1 small onion, sliced thick*

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

cilantro, chopped for garnish

* Our preference at the Susitna Cafe’ is to use olive oil (vs. vegetable oil) and red onion in this recipe.  In addition, we’ve added some chopped cilantro for garnish and flavour.  However, it’s important to use the ingredients that you enjoy eating yourself!  Don’t forget to experiment some too!

Heat the oil in a non-stick saute’ pan til warm.  Add the okra and lemon juice and saute’ and stir for approximately 5 minutes.  Add the onion and spices to your pan and saute’ until the onions are transparent and the okra is tender (approximately 15 minutes).  Enjoy!

Cooks Notes:  Shubhra has some excellent tips on how to prepare Okra.  Check them out at:  \”Entice with Spice\”.  In addition, note that we added a little extra lemon juice to the okra and onions at the Cafe’–delicious!

Traveler’s Note:  Don’t forget to tour Little India when you’re in Houston.  Be sure to contact us at the Cafe’ if you find something tasty to share.  You may leave a comment on this post or email us at SusitnaCafe@gmail.com.

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Filed under July 2010