Posts tagged asian
The Chirba Chirba Dumpling Truck just pulled up outside my office, and I couldn’t resist the charm of its mascot. Painted on the side of the yellow truck, the smiling, plump, cartoon dumpling seemed to say “please eat me… I am so scrumptious and cheerful.”
Chirba Chirba’s menu is short and sweet, featuring three types of dumplings – two meaty, and one vegan. Called “Veggie-lings,” the vegan dumplings are moist and savory, containing seasoned mixed vegetables, mushrooms, and soy sheet. A pineapple salsa tops off the dumplings, adding a sweet complementary flavor. The truck also offers a vegan side item, máo dòu, which is your typical salty edamame appetizer. Several complimentary self-serve sauces allow you to customize your meal.
I spoke to Chela Tu, one of the truck’s four co-founders, about the beginnings of Chirba Chirba. She said the truck was the brainchild of her group of friends, all of whom have strong ties to China and a love of dumplings. They chose the name “Chirba Chirba” because it means “Eat, eat!” in Mandarin Chinese, sort of like the expression “Mangia, mangia!” in Italian. The truck is only about ten weeks old, and the Durham-based group is still getting the hang of things in the food truck world, but already has plans to expand the menu. The next addition will be a gluten-free dumpling option, Tu says.
Last night, I was really craving some deep fried Chinese food smothered in sauce. I almost broke down and got take-out, but I am way over my grocery budget this month – and it’s February, the shortest month of all, so I have no excuse. I’d been wanting to try out the Orange-Battered Tempeh recipe from the Skinny Bitch Ultimate Everyday Cookbook by Kim Barnouin; however, I didn’t have the main sauce ingredient – oranges. So I decided to roll the dice and substitute some apple juice for the orange juice and orange zest. Clearly, I was desperate.
This recipe had two main tasks – 1) covering the tempeh in beer batter and deep-frying, and 2) making the sauce. The deep-fried tempeh came out fabulous. The recipe yielded too much batter, but the fried tempeh (pre-sauce) was so good, I put the unused batter in the fridge and I’m planning on making tempura veggies with it sometime this weekend.
I used SoyBoy brand 5-grain tempeh, which I had never tried before. Not everyone is a fan of tempeh, but I think it’s sort of like tofu in that you can’t rely on it for flavor – you really need to sauce it or season it well. And my sauce was weird. But I was expecting that because of the whole apple juice thing. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a good meal, but next time I will gather up my nickels and go to the grocery store like any sane person would.
Aside from my ridiculous apple juice substitution, this recipe was a winner. It was surprisingly fast, considering you need to make batter, dredge, and deep-fry the tempeh, plus make a sauce. I know I’ve said this before, but I love this cookbook.
I’ve been reading the blog Poor Girl Eats Well quite a bit lately, and the author reminded me to think outside the box when grocery shopping. I’m pretty good about saving money at the grocery store, and I’m always looking for a better deal. But what really inspired me to go to Grand Asia Market in Cary was the outrageous price of coconut milk at my usual supermarkets. Kroger, Food Lion, and Harris Teeter sell coconut milk for $2.50 a can. The cheapest I’ve seen it at Kroger was $1.69, on sale. So I dragged my dad to Grand Asia today and he pushed the cart while I shopped. Thanks for being a good sport, dad! There were a few different brands of coconut milk, and I found one for 99 cents a can. Plus, you wouldn’t believe how varied their selection of tofu, wheat gluten and soy products is. I got all this food for under $20:
- Mung Bean sprouts
- Red pepper
- Baby bok choy
- Black rice noodles
- 6 cans coconut milk
- Frozen soy beans
- Soy “chicken” cutlets