New Character Chinese Bun

Rilakkuma Sweet Bun with Chocolate Cream Filling

Available from Lawson stores in Japan, the price of the new sweet is 200 yen (tax included).

Louisiana-style Sandwich with Shrimp and French Roll

Ingredients

1-1/2 pounds medium shrimp (about 36), peeled, deveined
1 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
4 (8-inch long) French rolls, split horizontally
mayonnaise
shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes, dill pickles
hot pepper sauce (optional)

Spice Mix

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Method

  1. Mix the ingredients of the spice mix in a small bowl.
  2. Heat about 2-inch deep vegetable oil in a heavy wide pot to 350ºF.
  3. Place shrimp and 2 Tbsp spice mix in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Pour buttermilk into another medium bowl. Whisk flour and cornmeal in another medium bowl.
  4. Dip seasoned shrimp briefly in buttermilk, then coat with flour mixture. Working in batches, fry shrimp, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  5. Open rolls and spread cut sides with mayonnaise. Top with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and shrimp. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Bon Appetit

Street Foods of India

Vir Sanghvi wrote . . . . . . . . .

At Gaggan, voted Asia’s Best Restaurant for four years in a row, the signature dish is called Yogurt Explosion (shown above). Visitors to the two Michelin-starred Bangkok restaurant are always taken by surprise when they first see it. The dish consists of an oval shaped dollop of yogurt in a silver spoon.

The magic begins when the yogurt enters your mouth. It turns out that it is not an ordinary blob of yogurt at all, but a little fully formed pillow, with a delicate membrane which bursts on contact with the heat of your mouth. Once the yogurt pillow explodes, it hits your palate with a burst of sweet, sour, spicy and savoury flavours.

For most foreigners, the dish is a marvel of technique (it is made using a molecular cuisine technology called “spherification”) and, of course, the flavours are delicious.

For Indians, however, the dish evokes a very specific taste memory: paapri chaat. This is a street food staple in North India made from deep-fried sheets of flour, yogurt and spicy chutneys. Within the trade, where the name Yogurt Explosion seems a little fancy, Indian chefs simply call it a Paapri Chaat sphere.

Anand invented the dish seven years ago after working with the Adria brothers of El Bulli in Spain and it is now the defining dish of modern Indian cuisine. Most Indian restaurants, where the chef understands the technique of molecular gastronomy, will offer some variation of Gaggan’s dish. And Gaggan himself jokes that the Yogurt Explosion is the dish that made him rich.

But here’s what I find interesting: the defining dish of modern Indian cuisine is not a variation on some haute cuisine speciality or even, a riff on home cooking.

It is a dish that derives its flavour – and therefore, its power – entirely from the cuisine of India’s streets. You will find the original paapri chaat all over India. And at street corners, you can buy it for only a few rupees.

Two factors have marked the unstoppable rise of Indian street food over the last three decades. The first is that top Indian chefs, all over the world, have rediscovered the wealth of flavours available on the Indian street and have taken these flavours global, winning Michelin stars and rave reviews. Gaggan was one of the pioneers. But now, street food obsesses most Indian chefs.

The second factor is that even as great chefs offer up their own riffs on the food of the streets, the Indian street is rapidly changing the nature of the food it serves. Oh yes, you will still get paapri chaat. But you will also get many dishes – some with Chinese, Italian and American flavours – that have been recently invented.

As, I imagine, is true of most street food all over the world, India’s street food tradition grew out of necessity. India has no grand restaurant tradition. Most people ate at home till the middle of the 20th Century. If they ate out, it was usually because they had no choice. And because vendors paid no rent and had few overheads, street food was always the cheapest option.

Historically, there are two broad street food traditions in India. The first, which is national, covers all cuisines and most dishes. This was cheap food made for migrant labourers and people who wanted quick meals. This tradition continues to flourish all over India and probably accounts for more than half of all of India’s street food.

But there is a second tradition, one that originated in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). It probably had the same genesis (quick, cheap meals cooked by people who could not afford to own a restaurant and so, set up stalls on street corners), but it quickly developed an identity of its own.

Its distinctive characteristics were that there was always an element of crispness; deep-fried wheat items (as in paapri or round, hollow pooris) usually found their way into it. There were spicy chutneys and yogurt was often used to temper the tang of the chutneys. (For most people, the mix of yogurt and chutney is the real flavour of street food – hence the success of Gaggan’s Yogurt Explosion.)

Enterprising vendors from Uttar Pradesh travelled East and West, taking their street food with them in the early part of the 20th Century. One lot went East, first to Bihar and then to Bengal. In Calcutta, they tinkered with their recipes to add the sourness and chilli-hotness that the local market craved.

Another bunch went to Bombay where they set up stalls on the iconic Chowpatty Beach. Their UP-style dishes were popular but they soon realised that the Gujaratis of Bombay were keener on texture than the good people of UP.

Out of that realisation came Bombay’s greatest dish, bhelpuri, a mixture of puffed rice, crisp vermicelli made from chick pea flour, boiled potatoes, onions, the signature deep-fried wheat puris and at least two chutneys – a sweet-sour version made from dates or tamarind and its hot, spicy counterpart.

The dish was such a hit that an argument still rages over who really invented it. Was it the UP vendors, responding to local demand? Or was it the Gujaratis who picked up the basic flavours of UP-style street food and refined them?

Uttar Pradesh remains the centre of chaat-style street food. Each city has its own distinctive version and even today, in UP’s cities, chaat will be made with any vegetable. It will be lightly battered and fried till it’s crisp before the chutneys and yogurt are added.

The basic tenets of UP chaat have now spread all over India. You can now call anything chaat if you add chutneys and yogurt. There is even a pre-packaged spice mix called chaat masala that captures the flavours of chaat.

But street food in India has now spread beyond chaat. Just as the UP tradition morphed into something else when it went to Calcutta and Bombay, today’s street food combines a variety of origins and influences, all tweaked to cater to popular tastes.

When the Tibetans came to India in the 1960s, they brought their momos (a kind of rustic dim sum) with them. Now, you can buy momos with various spicy sauces (the equivalent of chutneys in the chaat tradition) at street corners. The dosa, a South Indian rice-pancake, spread all over India in the 1970s. Now, roadside vendors throughout North India will make fresh dosas because they are cheap, filling and delicious.

Current trends suggest that street food is moving into newer territory. Each year, the National Association of Street Vendors organises an annual street food fair in Delhi. Over the last three or four years, the overwhelming trend has been the adoption of the flavours of Indian-Chinese food. These flavours are basically chilli-umami in that they combine chilli sauce, soy sauce and tomato ketchup.

A decade ago, street vendors began offering Hakka Noodles, a dish of noodles stir-fried with chilli and soya with a little shredded cabbage and onion added for texture. (The majority of India’s Chinese are Hakka in origin but this dish was created by Indians in Bombay.)

Now, that so-called Hakka Noodles turns up everywhere. I have had noodle omelettes, noodle sandwiches (Indians love carb-on-carb), noodle dosas (I kid you not) and even noodle pizza (not made entirely from noodles but a pre-packaged pizza base with noodles on top).

Another street food standby is Manchurian, the name given to the most famous dish of Indian-Chinese cuisine. Chicken Manchurian was invented in Bombay in the mid-70s by placing deep fried, battered chicken balls in a gravy comprising Indian flavours (chilli, garlic, ginger, pepper etc.) with the holy trinity of soya-chilli-ketchup that forms the backbone of Indian Chinese cooking. You get everything made Manchurian style on India’s streets, though a particular favourite is Cauliflower Manchurian.

This year, at the street food fair, I was intrigued to note that white bread has now become an essential component of street food. There has been a bread tradition in Indian street food since the 1960s but there was always a logic to it.

Pav bhaji, a Bombay favourite, was created to feed cotton traders who would leave from the old Cotton Exchange late at night and early in the morning after the New York Cotton Prices had come in. The roadside vendor mashed potatoes with the cheapest vegetables of the day, added masala and copious quantities of commercial yellow butter. The resulting buttery mush was served with white bread buns. It was cheap (the butter was the most expensive ingredient) and filled up the hungry traders.

Similarly the vada-pav, consisting of a potato patty, smeared with spicy chutney and put inside a hamburger-like bun became a favourite in the 1970s with commuters on Mumbai’s local trains because it was cheap and packed with carbs that filled up harassed and hungry train-travellers. And the Bombay sandwich, which comprised salad vegetables between two slices of white bread (the flavour was in the chutney that was brushed on to the bread) was also cheap and easy to make.

But now, street food vendors will make a sandwich with the spicy cooked potato mixture that goes into a masala dosa, coat it in batter and deep-fry it. Or they will throw raw eggs on a slice of bread in a wok and as the egg solidifies, will add chutney and ketchup before finishing the dish off with grated processed cheese.

Purists are sniffy about these recent innovations. And to be frank, I would rather eat UP-style chaat than “Hakka Noodles”.

But that’s OK. The point of street food is that it morphs and shape-shifts. If the UP chaat vendors had not been willing to adapt, we would never have got the Calcutta puchka (a hollow wheat puri filled with a thin watery chutney), a classic of the genre. And there would be no bhelpuri in today’s Mumbai.

The early transformations in chaat were based on greater mobility within India as the country integrated. The newer innovations come from internationalisation and the easy availability of such prepacked ingredients as commercial sauces, white bread and processed cheese.

Each generation of street food vendors has its own dishes. These dishes reflect the flavour and tastes of the India they have grown up in. And often, even great chefs can’t better the street versions. Many fancy restaurants offer their takes on the vada pav. None of them is better than the roadside version.

But no doubt, one day, some chef will crack it. And just as his paapri chaat sphere helped make Gaggan Anand one of the world’s greatest chefs, haute cuisine versions of the new food of India’s streets will win a new generation of chefs their own Michelin stars.

From today’s streets come tomorrow’s classics.

Source: SCMP

We All Carry a Personal Cloud of Germs, Chemicals

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

You might feel squeaky clean after that morning shower, but you carry an invisible cloud of bacteria, viruses, fungi and chemicals every day.

That’s one of the lessons from the first study to take a deep dive into the human “exposome” — the collection of microbes, plant particles and chemicals that accompanies people as they move through the world.

In fact, if your personal exposome was visible to the naked eye, the researchers said, you’d look like the “Peanuts” character Pig-Pen.

In the study, a small group of volunteers wore monitors with a special filter that trapped particles from the air around them as they went about their normal day.

When researchers did a genetic analysis of those samples, they found that each person carried a diverse cloud of bacteria, viruses, fungi, plant particles, chemicals and even “microscopic animals.”

But the exact makeup of that exposome varied substantially from person to person — even though they lived in a fairly narrow geographic region (the San Francisco Bay area).

“This is a very interesting study,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, chief of medicine at South Nassau Communities Hospital, in Oceanside, N.Y.

It’s no secret that humans live in a world chock-full of invisible organisms and chemicals, said Glatt, who is also a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

But this study offers a detailed look at individual exposomes, he said. And that could be a first step toward understanding the ways in which various environmental exposures affect human health, Glatt suggested.

“That’s what we believe,” agreed senior researcher Michael Snyder, chair of genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine, in California.

“Health is totally dependent on genes and environment,” Snyder said. But it’s clear that genes explain only a portion of a person’s vulnerability to various diseases, he added.

There is still a huge amount to be learned about the effects of environmental exposures, Snyder said.

As an initial step, his team gathered detailed information from 14 people who wore matchbook-sized monitors on their arms for anywhere from a week to a month. Snyder, himself, wore the device for two years.

The devices contained filters that captured particulate matter from the surrounding air. Those samples were brought back to the lab for genetic analyses and chemical “profiling.”

In general, Snyder’s team found, people’s exposomes were diverse in the types of micro-organisms and chemicals they contained — although the chemical DEET, an insect repellent, was ubiquitous.

“It was everywhere, which kind of surprised me,” Snyder said.

Otherwise, the makeup of the exposome seemed to depend on factors like weather, travel, pets and household chemicals, for instance.

Snyder said his own home exposures turned out to be “very fungal, rather than bacterial.”

He connects that to the use of “green” paint in his house. The paint lacks a substance called pyridine, which seems to keep fungus levels down. Snyder also discovered he was exposed to eucalyptus in the early spring — which, he said, offers some clues to the culprit behind his seasonal allergies.

Several known carcinogens turned up in most of the chemical samples, according to the researchers. However, they only know the chemicals were present — and not the amount of exposure.

If the idea of carrying around a cloud of bacteria, fungi and chemicals makes you cringe, Glatt made this point: Many of those exposures would be harmless or even beneficial.

It’s known, for instance, that while some bacteria make people sick, many are “good” and necessary for human health.

Snyder agreed. For the most part, no one knows yet which components of the exposome are “good” and which are not, he said. And that may vary from one person to another, he added.

Complicating matters, a person’s exposome is not static. It is “dynamic,” Snyder said, and constantly shifting over a lifetime.

That will make it challenging to study the ways in which the exposome affects human health, Snyder said. “But I also think it can be done,” he added.

He said his team plans to study larger groups of people in more-diverse environments. They also want to simplify the technology used in the study so that one day, people might be able to use the devices themselves, to track their own exposures.

The findings were published online in Cell.

Source: HealthDay

Stiffening of Blood Vessels May Point to Dementia Risk

Arterial stiffness among people with mild cognitive impairments could put them at higher risk for progressing to dementia, which may include Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study exploring the connection between the brain and vascular health.

The French study, published Friday in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, looked at data on 375 elderly people with mild cognitive impairment such as memory issues and slight declines in abilities. Within 4.5 years, about 28 percent of the patients developed dementia.

Researchers considered several factors for the progression and found that higher pulse wave velocity, which measures the elasticity of arteries, was a likely culprit. Arteries carrying oxygenated blood from the heart into the body can become stiff and lose elasticity with age, and the issue can be exacerbated when the vessels have plaque buildup.

“The identification of potential preventive strategies is crucial at early stages,” said clinical pharmacist Laure Rouch, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at Université Descartes in Paris. “Identifying (mild cognitive impairment) patients at higher risk of dementia using non-invasive techniques such as pulse wave velocity is a very interesting finding and also means that arterial stiffness may be a therapeutic target to delay or prevent the onset of dementia.”

In addition to pulse wave velocity to measure arterial stiffness, the study also looked at the thickness of the inner layers of the carotid artery to detect the buildup of fatty plaque. None of the other variables was associated with incidence of dementia.

Rouch said pulse wave velocity appears to be a unique vascular biomarker that identifies patients with mild cognitive impairment who are at higher risk for dementia. But she stressed that needs to be confirmed by future studies.

Arterial stiffness could expose the brain’s blood vessel system to fluctuations in pressure and flow that cause tiny injuries, according to the study. Blood vessel stiffness has been related to atherosclerosis, or fatty buildup along artery walls. It’s also been linked to arteriosclerosis, the thickening of blood vessels that can restrict blood flow and lead to stroke.

About 48 million people worldwide live with dementia, a figure predicted to nearly double every two decades until 2050.

Most people think of dementia as one condition and vascular disease as a separate one when there’s actually “tremendous overlap and interplay” between the two, said Dr. Karen Furie, the neurology chair at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Furie, who wasn’t involved in the new study, said the research provides a robust premise and conveys a compelling message.

“Controlling things like blood pressure and preventing vascular disease may not only prevent stroke and heart attack, it could also help prevent dementia,” she said. “It’s very important for people to realize that there is that relationship, and what they do to keep their heart and brain healthy may prevent or (slow) the development of dementia.”

The study should remind people how important it is to lower risk factors that are controllable, such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly and ditching cigarettes.

When many people think of the aftermath of a stroke, a potential consequence of untreated risk factors, “you picture the older person who is paralyzed and not necessarily the person who can move all their limbs but has dementia,” said Furie, who chairs the AHA’s stroke council. “But in fact, that may be one of the manifestations of this interplay between vascular disease and other forms of dementia.”

Furie said that while scientists don’t have a way to treat neurodegenerative illnesses yet, the diseases can be slowed down by controlling risk factors. And done well enough, it could be the closest thing to a cure, she said.

“It’s amongst the possibilities, particularly if you intervene early enough, before damage is done. You could potentially have a significant effect in modifying the disease.”

Source: HealthDay


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