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Mahjong Food

July 31, 2010

Hello readers!

A couple of weeks ago, Caitlin and I invited a couple friends over to spend an evening playing Mahjong with us. For those that don’t know, Mahjong is a highly entertaining (and highly addictive) game, sort of similar to what Gin Rummy would be like, if Gin Rummy were played with small plastic tiles instead of cards, four people instead of two, and Chinese words for all the moves. I know, it sounds weird, but I promise you it’s wonderful.

And how did we convince two of our friends to come over and play such a weird game? By enticing them with food, of course! And apropos to the occasion, Caitlin and I chose to prepare a couple delectable Asian dishes for our dinner. Coincidentally, both are dishes that I first fell in love with in Japan even though they both originated in China, in much the same way that I first fell in love with Mahjong in Japan even though it’s really a Chinese game at heart. Anyway, you’re surely here to see the food, not to read my rambling recollections. So without further ado, here’s our first dish—Mabo Tofu:

Mabo Tofu is about as simple as it gets: it’s just lots and lots of tofu, simmered in a spicy sauce. I’ve tried making the sauce from scratch before, but this time we decided to take it easy and just use a packaged version (this one, if you’re interested). Making this from a box makes it mind-numbingly simple (you just fry your tofu a bit and then pour in the sauce), but the taste is still all there. I love it!

Accompanying this dish, we made a heaping pile of Gyoza (note that this photo is only half of all the gyoza we made):

For those that don’t know, gyoza are fried dumplings, variously filled with either vegetables, ground meat, or anything else you can think of. For our gyoza, I whipped up a nicely sauteed mix of vegetables, combining cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, spinach, and some other things I can no longer remember. Caitlin placed this filling into the little dough circles we bought and then folded them up in proper gyoza form. We then fried them in oil until they just started to brown. The result: deliciousness. Seriously, we made over 50 gyozas (gyozai? or is it just gyoza?), but had no problem whatsoever devouring all of them between the four of us. Gyoza are just that good.

Finally, our friends brought some cupcakes with them to share, and although they weren’t at all keeping with our Asian theme for the night, their amazingly wondrous deliciousness more than made up for it. Check out this delectable box:

These incredible little treats were from Sweet Avenue in New Jersey, and they were wonderful. Our flavors, starting from roughly 12 o’clock and moving clockwise, were: Lemonade Iced Tea, Sexy Sadie (red velvet), Tiramisu, Cinnamon Sticky Bun, Lavender Lemon (it actually tastes like flowers!), and in the center was Peanut Butter Cup. Whoa my gosh were these good (and, of course, very very rich). I would definitely recommend Sweet Avenue without reservation—if you’re close by, you must must must try them out.

And that’s all for today. Enjoy your weekends, everybody!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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