Learning How to Make Thai Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

Growing up there’s always one thing I look forward to in April, and that’s Cambodian and Thai New Year. Temples are filled with food stalls selling a variety of street food, and the one food I look forward to the most is Papaya Salad. I grew up with authentic Thai Papaya Salad after living near a Thai Temple for majority of my childhood. One thing that always surprises the elders is that my sister and I would order our papaya salad with everything in it, including the salted crab. This salad is sweet, sour, spicy, and savory, which is perfect for spring and summer. So to celebrate the upcoming New Year, I’ll be sharing my attempt in making a Thai Papaya Salad – the nontraditional way. Please note this is not a recipe post, since I’m still learning how to make this dish. It’s not perfect, but hey, practice makes perfect.

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What I Ate in a Week | Food Diary

This year, I’m trying to eat and cook more healthy meals without giving up bad food completely (e.g. my ramen and fried chicken). That’s why I’m excited about writing a food diary to log what I have been eating. For the week of March 5-11, I didn’t really do a good job of taking photos of my food, so here are some of my lunches and dinner throughout the week.

Monday

Lunch: Wingstop – Mild, Garlic Parmesan, and Louisiana Rub boneless wings with a side of veggie sticks (carrots & celery), and seasoned fries well-done.

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Favorite Japanese Snacks & Drinks

As I’m getting older, I’m learning about the importance of eating healthy and taking care of my body. During my college days, I used to be able to eat A LOT – not exaggerating. Every meal, I ate large portions. And I can’t even explain how my sister and I were able to eat all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ every other week, and eating fast food and instant noodles almost every dinner. Now, I can’t eat as much as I did before. My portions sized decreased, and I’m always leaning towards healthier options. But every now and then, I do have the urge to indulge in something sweet and savory. These are a few of my favorite (healthy & unhealthy) snacks and drinks that I like to purchase at my local Asian market.

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Ramen & Potted Plant Macchiato

Sunday is usually my stay-at-home day – cleaning, watching shows, and cooking. But on this day, I had a strong craving for Japanese ramen – probably from watching so many ramen videos on YouTube.  So, when a friend asked in our group chat if we wanted all-you-can-eat sushi, most of us were unavailable. So, I suggested ramen since it would only be us two going out to eat. Of course, planning last minute we went to our usual spot, Shinsengumi Hakata Ramen.

I ordered my ramen with extra bean sprouts, a soft-cooked egg (onsen tamago), and spicy miso paste.

After we went to Macchiato in Monterey Park. We were lucky enough to get the last open table – there are many high school and college students studying in this cafe. I ordered my favorite Potted Plant Macchiato, which is made of coffee and cream, and topped with whipped cream and Oreo. This is one of my favorite drinks, and I always recommend this when I bring my friends.

My dog is the most tired on Sundays. He had a long weekend at my parents house barking at all the neighborhood cats. When we’re back at my apartment, he’s instantly a couch potato.

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– Cindy

My Comfort Food: Easy Tuna Mayonnaise Rice

After a long day of work, it’s easy to just buy take-out food on the way home. But knowing that I have a fridge full of food at home, my conscience tells keeps telling me, “don’t spend money on food.” When I got home, of course my sister, dog, and I are already acting like couch potatoes. Usually, we’re active, but we have days when we’re extremely lazy.

After skimming through a few cooking channels on YouTube, I came across a Tuna Mayonnaise Rice recipe and decided try it. Thankfully I had all the ingredients, and all I to do was cook rice.

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Saturday Lunch: Vongole Udon, Takoyaki, + Almond Milk Tea

Lately, I told myself that I should try new dishes instead of always ordering something that I’ve had many times. When I went to Midoh Japanese Kitchen, I wanted to order the Tonkatsu or the Hamburg Steak. But ultimately, I decided to try one of their udon dishes because life is too boring to not try. I ordered their Vongole Udon made with white wine, butter, garlic, clams, and black pepper. This dish is good! I’m really glad that I took the chance to try it out. The seasoning was perfect, and it doesn’t feel heavy or greasy, despite all the butter. The clams had the most flavor, and I’m surprised with the number of clams that was in this dish. I would definitely order this again.

The udon comes with a side of miso soup or corn soup, and salad. Out of habit, I asked for Miso soup, but the waiter asked me, “have you tried our corn soup?” and I haven’t. Going with what our waiter said would be a good soup choice for the udon, I ordered their corn soup. I’m being adventurous by trying something new haha. The corn was very smooth, not too sweet, and not too milky. I liked it, but it’s not something I prefer.

On the side, I ordered Takoyaki! One of my favorite Japanese snack/street food. ‘Tako’ means octopus in and ‘yaki’ means to fry or grill. It’s a popular ball-shape snack made with wheat flour batter, and usually filled with diced octopus, pickled ginger, and green onions. Topped with Japanese mayonnaise, takoyaki sauce, green laver, and dried bonito flakes.

After, my sister, her boyfriend, and I went to Cha for Tea to for Almond Milk Tea. This is the only place where my sister’s boyfriend and I like Almond Milk Tea. We’ve tried this drink at other boba shops, and we have yet to find a good one other than Cha for Tea. Also, this drink taste even better when it’s hot. We look like idiots walking out with hot drinks into 90 degrees Fahrenheit weather (32 degrees Celsius). He also has blog, so check it out: Traveling with Tech, he’s great at photography.

– Cindy

Another Sunday: Cooking & Eating

Sunday is a day where I like to relax and be lazy before the start of the work week. With the exception of grocery shopping, I don’t like going out too much on Sundays. It’s a day where I get to lounge around my apartment all day in my pajamas, cooking and spoiling my dog. I usually try to do all my errands, and catching up with friends on Saturday. Now that I’ve done all that, it’s time to relax.

Having to wake up Monday thru Friday at 6 am everyday can be exhausting. This past Saturday, I also woke up at 6 am because my dog’s grooming appointment was at 7 am – I don’t know why I chose that time. Today, I finally slept in until 9 am. I woke up with my stomach growling as well as a Maltese sleeping on my stomach haha. So, for breakfast I decided to make some eggs, sausages, rice, a small salad, and miso soup.

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