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Do pregnant Japanese women eat sushi?

Yes, they do. However, I seem to remember there being some odd traditional restrictions on food while pregnant (like dairy and fruit).

In the US, most sushi has been flash/deep frozen at some point, which would kill parasites. If not, the fish I would worry most about would be salmon, which is not a traditional sushi item, and as it spends part of its life cycle in the river, is more likely to contain parasites than the usual deep cold water fishes used.

Bacteria wise - if you're getting sushi from a decent restaurant, I don't think it's any more risky than eating at restaurants in general. You can get food poisoning from a side salad if the restaurant isn't practicing safe food handling.

Mercury wise - the warnings aren't any different than for cooked fish, and sushi fish tends to be eating in small quantities for each type.

Raw *shellfish* on the other hand, are a more serious risk, as they are filter feeders, and can easily pick up contamination that way.

Fish in general can actually be very healthy for pregnant woman, if the amount of large fish like tuna is watched, but there's a tendency for people to go overboard and cut all seafood, cooked, raw, small, big, from the diet during pregnancy.

FWIW, I'm in Taiwan, and the advice pregnant friends got from their doctors was to avoid alcohol and tobacco, and to check medications. And that was it.

Throwing a party with no oven...suggestions?

Definitely doable.

With subs, I'd be inclined to go with a veggie tray plus chips with dip, hearty salads, and soups. So, for example

- subs
- veggie tray with dip
- tortilla chips with salsa
- hearty vegetable rice soup
- creamed broccoli soup
- garden salad
- rice salad
- ice cream with fresh fruit

If you're all eating at once, you could heat the soup in big stock pots and serve from there. If it's spread out, you could replenish crock pots from pots on the stove.

Dishes to go with pasta (not a side!)

I'm assuming a basic tomato meat sauce - onion, ground meat, tomatoes, garlic, herbs, maybe some mushroom or celery. It's usually made with ground beef, but I use ground pork myself, because it's way cheaper.

For simplicity, why not roast some chicken legs, bone in and skin on, with salt and pepper. I like the Italian sausage idea too - you could also sautee them with onions and peppers.

Can I substitute instant pudding mix for sour cream in cupcake recipe?

What is the leavener in the cupcakes? If it calls for baking soda (rather than powder), you might need the acidity of the sour cream to make it rise properly.

The pudding mix will contain sugar, so it will make the cupcakes much sweeter than otherwise.

If I were trying it, I'd mix up the pudding according to directions, and use 2/3 of a cup of it. I'd add a bit of lemon juice, and decrease the amount of sugar in the recipe a bit to offset the extra sugar in the pudding mix.

Or, I might use yoghurt, but decrease another liquid in the recipe slightly to compensate for the fact that yoghurt is runnier than sour cream (and maybe adjust the sugar slightly for flavoured yoghurt).

There are three things to consider - the amount of liquid (subbing 2/3 of a cup of milk, for example, will make the batter runnier), the flavour it adds (sour cream adds tartness, pudding will add sweetness), and the acidity (which can affect rising).

Ketchup on Eggs? Not in my House!...Yours?

Ketchup on scrambled eggs, mustard with fried eggs.

That's actually one of the only things I use ketchup for; scrambled eggs, hotdogs and hamburgers, and spicy fries (regular fries get vinegar).

What makes a good host ?

- A clear description of the event when issuing the invitation. Don't invite people for dinner, and after they've accepted tell them to bring a main course and a salad, or fail to mention that you're having an outdoor barbecue in January.

- A clean, comfortable environment. Appropriate seating for the number of people and type of event (standing and mingling is okay for a cocktail party, not so good for a dinner or all day event). A clean bathroom with soap, tissues and towels.

- Food that is edible (preferably tasty!), prepared in a safe manner, in sufficient amounts, and served in a reasonable time frame.

- Attentive to the guests' food needs, within reason. This varies depending on the needs and type of party. Inviting a vegetarian to a small dinner party and serving steak, bacon loaded potato salad, and lard fried chips is ungracious, but you don't need to bend yourself into pretzel satisfying everyone's food whims at a large party. Don't direct attention to what a guest is/isn't eating; let people avoid things discreetly if they want to.

Then there's the hard to describe aspect of being a gracious host - greeting people warmly, helping the conversational flow, being able to invite a good mix of people, offering to top up drinks, etc.

Some things I would list personally - make sure to offer some sort of non alcoholic beverage (and always have water available). And don't assume that your guests enjoy being mauled by your pets (or children, for that matter) as much as you do.

As far as the OPs case - if you sent an invitation saying "Come over at 7, dinner will be served at 9" you'd be in the clear, because guests would know what to expect, and could plan accordingly. If you can't predict when dinner would be ready, then you really do need to do something to fix that. A fairly safe option is to plan a menu that can be prepared before the party starts, with a mix of cold dishes and things that can quickly be heated up.

For example - for an Italian meal, you could prepare an appetizer tray of cheese/salami/olives, assemble a lasagne ready to be put in the oven, have a salad ready to be dressed, and have a room temperature vegetable side dish and a pre-made dessert. Set table before people arrive.

You put the lasagna in the oven timed for 15 minutes before you want to serve dinner. You put out the appetizers, pour some wine, and people can chat while the lasagna finishes cooking. You pull the lasagna out to rest, dress the salad, and set out the other dishes. Slice the lasagna and serve, and you've got dinner on time. When the dinner is done, your guests can digest a bit while you make coffee and serve the dessert.

Chicken nuggets

I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be appropriate for someone celebrating passover (dairy + meat).

If you're deep frying, you might try sweet potato starch, as it gives a beautifully crispy coating - I discovered this in a Taiwanese cooking class.

Changing Eating Habits b/c of Foodborne Illness Risk

I definitely pay attention to food safety - when cooking at home, I'm careful about cross contamination. I avoid U.S. ground meat when possible. I have a meat thermometer, to check larger poultry cuts and pork.

Eating out, when I eat street food, I stick with cooked and popular, and avoid things like night market sushi. I avoid things like ground meat or blood unless they're well cooked.

Other than that, I don't fret too much. I'm definitely more relaxed than the average Canadian or American when it comes to refrigerating stuff, or leaving food at room temperature for a while. I also buy meat and seafood at the (unrefrigerated) traditional market, and when in Japan I tried raw chicken sashimi.

But when travelling in places like India, I drink bottled water only (bought from a reputable source and checking the seal carefully), and avoid raw fruits and vegetables, and ice.

In the past ten years, I've had two serious bouts of food born illness. One was likely the result of raw oysters, the other was definitely contracted at a restaurant meal (reasonably fancy restaurant, and I wasn't the only one who got ill from it).

I do find that people don't necessarily have the best intuition about *what* will make them sick. For example - cross contamination can make salad more risky than cooked meat, so the person who gets the chicken pasta is fine, but the vegetarian gets sick from uncooked salad that picked up salmonella or e. coli from a contaminated cutting board. Or that to make eggs completely safe from salmonella they need to be hard cooked - a raw egg has risk, but so does a soft boiled one.

To be extremely safe, the simplest thing would be to eat only food you've prepared yourself, following appropriate food safety methods, to cook everything to safe temperatures (avoiding raw food in general), and to refrigerate leftovers immediately.

Do either of these sound like good ideas for a potluck?

I think you'd be okay without rice if you made the tikka masala fairly dry - so the sauce is just coating the meat. That makes it easy to eat without rice or bread to soak up the sauce.

Do baked goods including milk and eggs need to be refridgerated? If I brushed them with cream before cooking to brown them, does this also mean they require refridgeration?

No worries.

Baked goods are usually fine at room temperature for at least a few days, often much longer.

Baked buns are fine until they go stale or mouldy (and you can tell that very easily). Cookies can last weeks. Fruitcake can last years....

I generally refrigerate custard based items, or things with a lot of fresh fruit after the first day, as they'll go off faster.

As an aside - eggs can stay fresh for quite a long time at room temperature - where I live they are sold unrefrigerated (which, in the market in the summer is quite a high temperature). Pasturized dairy can last a while too, depending on the temperature and level of fat (cooler temperatures and higher fat lasts longer). Milk straight from the cow in warm temperatures, without a method of chilling it, does start to spoil fairly quickly (and would traditionally be turned into butter/cheese/yoghurt etc before that point).

Anybody trying to start eating dinner? I haven't for years.

I found that my cooking habits changed a lot when I got married. I cooked dinner before that, but it leaned much more heavily on one pot meals, days of leftovers, and salads.

My husband and I take turns cooking, which makes a big difference too. One night one of us cooks, and the other cleans up after dinner, so on a given night I either get to relax a bit after work before dinner, or am free after dinner.

One option is to combine lunch and dinner cooking. So you can eat a very light dinner while your SO has a substantial one, and then you have food left for lunch the next day, when he has a lighter meal. My husband eats a light dinner (for him - so about the same as I eat), and then has a substantial leftovers breakfast the next day.

You can prep stuff on the weekends for dinners, and freeze it, which gives you flexibility when you just want a snack and he wants dinner. Freeze portions of spaghetti sauce, lasagna, meatballs in gravy, pesto, stew, chili, coq a vin, hearty soups, curries. Roast meat, slice, and drizzle with a bit of gravy of pan juices, and freeze in one meal portions. Freeze fried rice, or rice and beans. Have frozen veggies on hand, and some convenience foods. Get bagged salads, if you can afford them. Pre-make pats of herbed butter for on veggies.

So a lightning fast dinner could be a pre-made salmon burger, fried rice from the freezer, some frozen green beans, microwaved with a squeeze of lemon juice and herbed butter, and bagged salad. Or spaghetti sauce from the freezer, with some quickly boiled pasta, with salad and green beans with sesame dressing.

Homemade Baba Ganoush Dip Help?

I find the long Asian style eggplant pan fry well.

Cut them lengthwise into small enough segments that they fit into the pan. Heat the pan to medium high, and put in a bit of olive oil. Put the eggplant segments into the pan, and cook, turning once or twice, until they are soft and squishy. Let cook a bit, then cut them into smaller pieces (I just use a pair of kitchen scissors), mash and add your other seasonings.

This give you a nice, soft roasted eggplant texture without an oven. The skin is in contact with the pan and oil, so it doesn't absorb too much oil (like when you pan fry slices). And long Asian eggplants don't need to be seeded at all.

Taiwanese Cookbooks

The blog page has some very, very Taiwanese dishes listed - the kind of things you'd buy at stands in the night market, like the pork belly buns, chive pies, meat rounds, even tea eggs, which are the signature scent of Taiwanese 7-11s.

Has anyone ever tried weighing flour to test the weight vs volume relationship?

I do notice a difference in baking in very humid environments, but it's smaller than the difference produced by variations in flour gluten content between countries.

For reference, though, I'm currently living with the kind of heat/humidity levels where paprika goes mouldy, and we get mildew on the ceiling of our apartment in summer, and I moved here from Southern California.

Selecting a good Taiwanese green tea

If the labels are accurate, anything marked Alishan tea should be from a single region (Alishan = Ali Mountain), so generally higher altitude teas.

I don't really associate matcha with Taiwan. What Taiwan tea really specializes in is oolongs. Oriental Beauty (Bai Hao or Dongfang Meiren) is a Taiwan specific oolong, from a specific region and altitude.

Ten Ren tea is a Taiwan based company with a good variety, but they don't seem to have much on Amazon. They do have international stores, and an online store, though.

!!! I just looked at the Ten Ren online store, and they want *how* much for the tea!? It's literally five times as expensive as what I buy in Taiwan. So yeah, I can see why you want to be sure.

garbanzo beans

Those are two of my favourites.

I did a very nice soup last weekend with chickpeas, water spinach and pasta shells with a bit of pesto, topped with some crispy fried garlic and grated parmesan.

Hot Pot Sauces

I tend to go fairly simple and a bit sharp for dipping meats, with black vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a bit of crushed garlic. Then I might do something thicker with a chili paste or sesame paste base with green onions base that's better for things like mushrooms and tofu.

Extracting duck fat from Chinese Roast Duck?

Most of the duck fat will have melted off as the duck was cooked (which is what gives that lovely crispy skin). With what is left, you can make stock, chill it, and skim off the congealed fat, but it won't be a whole lot.

If you have duck fat that's rendered out and is well strained (ie, you've just got fat and not bit of duck in it), it will keep for a very long time in the fridge. But if you have duck or duck broth sediment in the bottom, that part can go off.

Help! I need low salt, low carb recipes

For salt, you can leave out added salt. You basically need to cut out most pre-prepared/packaged/convenience food, which are generally very high in sodium. You also need to watch things like soy sauce, miso, etc. And Asian noodles (like udon or ramen) are surprisingly high in salt.

You do get used to lower sodium amounts, taste wise. You can compensate with higher levels of other seasonings. Fresh lemon or lime juice adds zing to a lot of dishes, or herbed vinegars. Spices and herbs, of course (be careful of seasoning mixes, which can have added salt). Hot chilis, in moderation. Onion, garlic and ginger add lots of flavour. And look for 'no sodium added' stock and broth (there is some natural sodium from the meat, which is why it isn't called sodium free). Be careful with things like chicken breasts, which often have salt water injected (which is not always on the ingredient list).

For low carb, does your doctor mean ultra-low carb diet, or just cutting back - the average Western diet tends to be very high carb, so they might be asking you to cut back on bread/pasta/rice/potatoes.

For some basic ideas - salads with oil/vinegar/lemon dressings, or yoghurt based dressings (flavoured with lemon, herbs, spices, diced onion, etc). Not just lettuce salads - diced vegetables, beans and so on can be used. Sauteed vegetables, steamed vegetables, roasted vegetables (the latter really brings out the flavour). I'll do roasted vegetables like beets, carrots, daikon, with whole cumin or caraway and maybe a splash of wine vinegar.

Use things like spaghetti squash or cauliflower as a base for tomato or cheese sauces.

You can make your own pickled vegetables without salt - pickled onions with garlic, vinegar and pickling spices, thinly sliced cucumber marinated with dill and lemon, daikon and carrot vinegar pickle, etc. You can also make things like barbecue sauce or hot sauce yourself, to get more options for low sodium condiments.

Another idea - mixes of toasted, ground spices to use as a condiment, on baked meat or grilled meat, or salads. Look for chaat masala recipes as an example (leaving the salt out, of course).

My mom's on a low sodium/potassium diet for kidney issues, and it's the potassium that's particularly hard - it's intrinsically in so many disparate things, plus low sodium versions of seasonings tend to use potassium salts instead of sodium salt.

Should vindaloo be sweet?

The recipe I use has a very small bit of sugar added at the end. It definitely doesn't come out sweet, but it does improve the flavour.

I would also expect 4/5 star heat to be a lot more than mildly spicy...

Rice Cooker Fail!

I find that adding a tiny bit of oil helps the texture as well - a trick I learned from a Chinese restaurant owner.

Short grain rice tends to be more starchy, so it helps to wash the rice well before cooking, or soaking in a few changes of water. Longer grain rice will be less starchy, and less likely to be sticky.

As an aside - the higher end department stores where I live sell $1000 (US) rice cookers. As in, multiple models and brands at that price point. I'm kind of curious about what those actually do.

Mar 12, 2015
tastesgoodwhatisit in Cookware

How to improve intensity of flavour in chili con carne?

I agree that five onions sounds like a lot for a pot of chili. I'd typically use one large onion.

I'd add diced garlic, and powdered cumin - commercial chili powder is typically made with cumin, garlic and oregano, as well as dried chilis and salt. I think I'd also lightly roast the dried peppers, then grind them, rather than boiling and pureeing. I usually use canned tomatoes, as well, which add a lot of flavour. If you're just using onions, meat and spices, you will definitely need enough spices, and in the right proportions, to get chili rather than meat with brown sauce.

Dark beer or cocoa powder are sometimes added to intensify the flavours, but that's more of a subtle effect.

Chicken stock isn't gelatintous?

Gelatin comes from the bones, skin and tendons in the meat, so it sounds like you've got a good start with the ingredients.

The two things I can think of are the strength - if you make jello with too much water, it won't gel properly, and if you have too much water in your stock, it will be more liquidy. The second is the cooking time - it takes time to render out the gelatin. I do stock by sloooowly bringing the pot to a simmer (a large pot takes at least 45 minutes to heat up) to extract as much flavour as possible, and then simmer (not boil) for a couple of hours.

Oh, and dump those pan juices, fat and all, into the stock pot! It will help make the stock thicker, and make it taste better too. That pure delicious flavour is what you want in your soup. You can skim the excess fat off after the stock cools.

Newly Vegan and travelling with Family

I'm thoroughly omnivorous, but also a very adventurous eater who regards eating as an integral part of travel. My solution when travelling with people whose eating habits are wildly different than my own is to split up for meals - they can go to Subway while I eat something interesting, and then we meet up afterwards. Not necessarily for every meal, but enough that I don't resent travelling with them. You can prepare by researching restaurants in the park itself, and other areas you'll be visiting.

For restrictive diets, one option is to eat what you can at the restaurants, and augment your meals with other food. Shelf stable snacks are one option, or food that can be managed with a small cooler in your room - hummus and pita, salads with nuts and beans, silken tofu, sandwiches with vegan fillings. Before you go, locate a grocery store near the hotel.

FWIW, I couldn't exist on vegan Subway for more than a day, given that their vegan option is a Subway sandwich without the meat or cheese.

It sounds like you aren't particularly strict, which will open up restaurant options. Being a strict vegan at restaurants can be difficult, given the large number of foods that can contain unexpected animal derived products.

Raw Fish: How do you like to eat them?

There's Hawaiian poke as well.

I generally eat raw fish Japanese style, as that's what's most readily available. I've has ceviche (Chilean style) as well, which I also enjoyed.

10 ways to 'fix' McDonald's (if it needs fixing, that is)

I don't think McDonalds will make much headway in turning itself into either a healthy choice, or a fast-casual restaurant. People don't go there for salads, or espresso, or gourmet burgers, or pizza - they go for Big Macs, fries, and nuggets.

It would be nice to have them go back a couple decades in cooking quality, and I would absolutely love it if they offered their old lard cooked fries again. Stick to the classic menu items, with a rotating menu of McRib and mint shake specials. I'd also be happy if I could find a McDonalds that offered both corn soup and vinegar for the fries.

I do think that McDs gets a bad rap in some ways, ending up as shorthand for bad-for-you fast food. Their food is by no means healthy, but it's no worse than a lot of what is offered at a lot of sit down restaurants, and the latter are much more likely to be regarded as a healthy eating choice. But McDonalds is such a large consumer that in some ways it can have more power than the government to push change. I saw in the news that McDoanlds is moving to antibiotic free chicken. They one of the largest purchasers of chicken in the US, so they actually have the clout to do this.

Using pork instead of beef in stir fry -- tips?

Pork works very well in stir-fries. It will taste a bit different, but the cooking style is very similar. I wouldn't use a very tough cut of meat for a stirfry without marinating, for texture reasons, but pork chop slices shouldn't be a problem.

If you do want to use a tougher cut of meat, very thinly slice it (doing so while partially frozen works well), and marinate for a few hours with a bit of cornstarch and rice wine, which gives a lovely texture to the meat.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

I'm fond of flavoured sparking waters - the kind that just add flavour, no sugar or artificial sweetener. A dash of bitters in sparkling water is nice as well (see note below regarding alcohol content).

For variety, try different types of iced teas. In the summer, we drink a lot of Japanese barley tea, which is toasted barley steeped in hot water, and served hot or cold. It's got a light, slightly nutty flavour, and is caffeine and calorie free. I'm also partial to variety in iced tea. Jasmine + mint makes a very refreshing tea, and iced oolong tea is very good as well (both without sugar).

A mix of green tea and fresh squeezed fruit juice is also quite refreshing - grapefruit, cranberry and passion fruit mix well.

When you want something with dinner that isn't iced tea, juice or soda, I like Chinese sour plum juice. It's a very *different* flavour, but has depth. It's similar in sugar content to juice, but you don't need as much of it.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

They're high in alcohol, but you use so little in the water that, for health purposes rather than religious, it comes out basically a non-alcoholic drink. Angostura bitters are 45% alcohol - if you use half a teaspoon in a 400 ml of water (which is about what I do), that works out to 0.3% alcohol, similar to de-alcoholized beer.

Kimchi: Can I eat it like vegetables?

That's a good point - kimchi was developed as a way of preserving vegetables for winter - they'd do a kimchi making marathon, and store it in big jars buried in the ground to keep it cool. It's also one of the few preservation techniques which doesn't destroy vitamin C.