One of my favorite Food Network shows currently running is the hit series “Chopped”. They’ve totally taken the “Iron Chef” concept and ran with it.
The “Chopped” format really pushes the chefs to take their creativity to the next level, where instead of having to base every dish on just one “secret ingredient”, they have anywhere from 3 to 5 different main ingredients in their “mystery basket”, with each course (app’, main and dessert) having a fresh new set of key ingredients the chefs must incorporate in their dish. And typically those main ingredients inherently do not instinctively compliment each other.
Aside of the main ingredients in the mystery basket, the chefs also have access to a main pantry filled with kitchen basics, including spices and seasonings, baking essentials, fruits and veggies, dairy, eggs, and so on.
Host Ted Allen did note in one interview that the Food Network staff stocks the kitchen pantry with “basics” that are counter to whatever is in the mystery basket at the time. So say there’s asian-inspired ingredients in the basket? Then they won’t fill the pantry with items such as shoyu and oyster sauce, but instead put stuff like ketchup and dijon mustard in the pantry, so that each round is as challenging as possible.
“CHOP CHOP” ROUND 1
That said, let’s have fun and play our own island style version of “Chopped” called “Chop Chop”, using foods popular in Hawaii as the featured ingredients.
FYI, “Chop chop” is actually a slang term rooted from Cantonese that means “Hurry! Hurry!”
3 KEY INGREDIENTS in TODAY’S APPETIZER MYSTERY BASKET
For this first round of “Chop Chop” for the appetizer course, we’ll start easy with just 3 ingredients in the mystery basket. That would be Lup Cheong…
Lup Cheong (Chinese style pork sausage)
Remember, you also have access to a pantry of basic kitchen ingredients to put your dish together.
KITCHEN PANTRY, ISLAND STYLE
Dry Seasonings, Spices & Herbs
- Salt (Hawaiian, kosher & iodized)
- Black Pepper (from grinder)
- Coleman’s Mustard Powder
- Togarashi Shichimi
- Ceyenne Pepper
- Star Anise
- Bay Leaves
- Goma (sesame seeds)
- Curry powder
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Sazon Goya
- Chicken & Beef Bouillon
Bottled Condiments, Sauces & Seasonings
- Shoyu (Aloha, Kikkoman, Silver Swan & Yamasa)
- Oyster Sauce
- Hoisin Sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Tobasco Sauce
- BBQ Sauce (hickory smoked, American style)
- Liquid Smoke
- Kojujang Sauce
- Miso Paste
- Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water
- Fish sauce (Filipino Patis and Thai Nam Plas)
- Shrimp paste (Harm Ha Chinese style and Bagoong Filipino style)
- Mustard (yellow, course deli style and Dijon)
- Hot (yellow) Chili Peppers
- Vinegar (white, apple cider, red wine, balsamic and rice)
- Jelly (Guava, Pineapple, Hawaiian Chili Pepper & Strawberry)
- Tomatoes (whole, stewed, sauce and paste)
- Kidney Beans
- Corn (kernel)
- Mixed vegetables
- Stock (chicken, beef and vegetable)
- All-Purpose Flour
- Corn Starch
- Baking Powder & Soda
- Corn Meal
- Vanilla Extract
- Sugar (granulated white, confectioners, Hawaiian cane and brown)
- Chocolate Chips
- Grated Coconut
- Rice (white short grain premium grade, white medium grain calrose, brown calrose, long grain and Jasmine)
- Noodles & Pasta (saimin, ramen, somen, chow mein, chow funn, wonton wrappers, pancit, long rice, spaghetti, penne, angel hair and lasagna sheets)
- Bread (white sandwich, dark rye, Sourdough, French & Portuguese Sweet)
- Tortillas, fresh local-made (flour & corn)
Fresh Produce & Aromatics
- Lettuce (Iceberg & Manoa)
- Tomatoes (regular and cherry size)
- Cabbage (green, purple and Napa)
- Onions & Shallots
- Potatoes (Idaho & russet)
- Cucumber & Zucchini
- Green & Red Bell Peppers
- Jalapeno Peppers
- Green Beans
- Bean Sprouts
- Mushrooms (white)
- Green onion
- Chinese Parsley (Cilantro)
- Lemon Grass
- Lemon & Lime
- Heavy Cream
- Whipping Cream
- Sour Cream
- Cheese (Cottage, Philidelphia Cream, American, Swiss, Mozarella, Cheddar & Monterey Jack)
- Oil (Canola, Peanut, Sesame & EVOO)
- Spirits: Lager Beer, White & Red Wine, Brandy :-), Vodka, Tequila, Whiskey and Sake
As for the panel of judges, that would be, um, um, um…. Me, Myself and I! ;-)
Since this is the first time trying this, let’s play it by ear. As soon as submissions begin to slow down (if there’s any at all for that matter), we’ll end round 1 of this “cook off”.
Since we can’t taste the dishes over the internet, judging will be based purely on how it sounds in your words creatively, as well as feasibility from a culinary aspect.
To make it even more exciting, Yours Truly will actually prepare the winning dish of each round and present it when the winner is announced. Can’t wait to try your dish!
There will be a special Hawaii “foodie” prize for the winner of all three courses (three rounds), to be determined. Yay!
HURRY HURRY & WIN!
In the comments box below, submit your “Chop Chop” appetizer dish that you’d create using Lup Cheong, Hurricane Popcorn and Lychee. For example, “My appetizer dish is Lup Cheong Hurricane Pops. Skewered Lup Cheong sliced on the bias, crusted with crushed Hurricane Popcorn, deep-fried in Peanut Oil and served with a Lychee Butter Aioli dipping sauce.”
If you actually make the dish and submit a photo, that’s MAJOR bonus points!
So let’s see how creative you “keyboaord chefs” out there are and submit your idea in comments here for “Chop Chop Round 1”! Have fun!
To help get your creative “think outside the box” juices flowing, here’s a few dishes to inspire you…
Alan Wong’s “Poke Pines” – raw Ahi cubes tossed with Shoyu, Ogo and Onion, encased in an ornately-cut wonton wrapper, and platted with very thin slivers of fresh avocado and an ever-so-slight drizzle of wasabi sauce
Alan Wong’s Kalua Pig & Guacamole Wontons
P.S. I finally got my hands on the new iPhone 6 Plus last night while at the Waikiki Ho’olaulea (the tail end of it, anyway), over at Apple’s Waikiki store in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.
Speaking of which, an interesting fact the girl at Apple shared with me is that the Apple Store in Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is the CLOSEST TO THE BEACH than any other Apple Store in the world. Pretty cool.
Anyhow, upon holding the new iPhone 6 Plus side-by-side with my Galaxy Note 3 – the 6 Plus’ current most direct competitor – I found the differences in quality “feel”, physical size and overall display quality pretty much negligible.
While the Note 3 has a slightly larger display screen at 5.7″ diagonal (vs. 5.5″ for), the 6 Plus overall body is slightly longer (taller) due to having wider bezel areas on the top and bottom of the screen.
Looking at the screens side-by-side in person, the 401ppi LCD screen on the 6 Plus appeared just a tad brighter and vibrant than the 386ppi Super AMOLED screen on my Note 3. While color contrast, balance, saturation and blacks looked pretty much the same between the two. Pixel density is so high on both phones already that I personally couldn’t see any visible difference in details looking at photos, icons and the OS GUI interface between the two. I think screen pixel density has already reached its full maturity in small devices, unless humans somehow develop better eyes.
Supposedly Apple added a feature to the 6 Plus’ glass that makes the display easier to see in bright sunlight, which obviously is impossible to test in the store. If that is the case, that would certainly a be plus for me, being I’m at the beach a lot, and my Note 3’s screen isn’t that great in bright, bright sunlight.
Regarding adding new features, I’m actually disappointed most that both Apple and Samsung didn’t bring better built-in loudspeakers to the table, as HTC did with their stereophonic dual front-firing speakers on the One M8. Particularly in Apple’s case, where they just acquired BEATS audio, it would have been nice if the iPhone 6 series had an innovative new audio system, which hasn’t panned out.
I am looking forward to seeing how the new Galaxy Note 4’s screen will look side-by-side in person with the 6 Plus, being the Note 4 will be packing an industry first ‘Quad HD’ display, with a resolution of 2560×1440, with a spec-topping 515ppi, all covered in ‘2.5D glass’.
The 6 Plus’ all-aluminum build didn’t feel as “premium” as I expected it, and in some ways I thought the Note 3 actually felt “richer”, even with its faux “pleather” plastic back. I think part of what took that “premium” feel away from the 6 Plus was the fact that it’s so LIGHT in WEIGHT. Some say that’s a good thing, however I feel to the contrary. I like a gadget that has some heft to it, not only because it feels more “expensive” and substantial, but also because I know it’s THERE IN MY POCKET. I think all you folks who tote your phone in your pocket and have LOST YOUR PHONE know exactly what I’m talkin’ about! Been there, done that!
Speaking of losing or breaking your phone, upon holding it myself, I can definitely say without a doubt, you’d be a FOOL to own the 6 Plus without a “grippy” and protective case. Its “this isn’t an important device” light weight, combined with the smooth finish of its unibody aluminum back and rounded edges has “BUTTER FINGERS” written all over it. While I keep a Spigen case (highly recommended brand!) protecting my Note 3, I took it off to compare it “naked” with the 6 Plus, and side-by-side, and in comparison, the Note 3 is a champ as far “grip factor”, with its sharper knurled faux chrome outer edge and its textured “pleather” back.
One thing funny was, the batteries in both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus that were on display at the Apple Store in Waikiki were all pretty much DEAD when I got there just before closing on that busier-than-usual Ho’olaulea night. The iPhone 6 and Plus display models just never got enough time sitting on the charger port, spending most of its time in people’s hands, eager like me to get their hands on it.
That said, until the Note 4 is released in October, based on first impressions, I’m way more than happy with my Note 3 (particularly its S-Pen, expandable memory and replaceable BIG battery), not inspired enough by what the new iPhone 6 Plus has to offer to want to trade in for it. And just for the record, I’m not a “fan boy” of either Android or iOS.