28 March 2014

Pad Lao from Vientiane Palace. DELICIOUS.

Lo and Behold!! I have identified the recipe for the famed "Pad Lao" from the esteemed Madison, WI establishment Vientiane Palace. It is Khaw mee and the recipe found in this youtube video gets us pretty close. One of the keys here is to cook the noodles until they have absorbed all of the liquid and a few even start getting a little crispy. Also, you really need all that sugar. I'm not sure if they eat spicy food in Laos, but adding chili paste in order to eat it is also important.

This dish is literally served best cold. The leftovers are better than fresh, in my opinion. Something about the spicy sweet flavor being cold really puts it over the top. I also think its important to serve it with rice, in which case, more seasonings should probably be added to the noodles. I made ours with tofu cooked in the same sauce and vegetarian "lamb chunk" made from textured soy protein from the asian market.

From the YouTube video:
8 oz dried rice noodle sticks ( soak in hot water for 30 mins, drained)
2 eggs (beaten)
1 garlic clove or shallot (minced)
2 mid size tomatoes sliced thin ( optional)
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce or seasoning sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar 
1-2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 -2 Tbsp dark soy sauce( for color)
TOP with
1/2 cup beansprouts
1 green onion ( chopped)

1.You may add in slice thinly beef , chicken, pork or shrimp if you desire.
2:Do not set heat too high when you stir frying rice noodles. it'll make your noodle stick together. 
3; When all is done, leave to set cool..so the noodle can be separated..Top with beansprouts and green onion. garnish with cilantro and Enjoy.

*** UPDATE ***

If you want a real Vientiane Palace experience, triple the sauces, add Sriracha or red chili paste, and serve with rice. ALSO, it's seriously a dish served best COLD! The sweet, spicy, cold interplay is divine. 

16 March 2014

New fish, New Day!

Hi all!

I've been keeping goldfish for 11 years and recently lost two of my fish, leaving one sad guy left. I had my comet since 2003, and a common since 2006, so it was rough. But worst of all, Fifi the Fantail that I adopted the same time as the common, was now alone! I thought about adopting out Fifi and tearing down the tank but I really enjoy keeping goldfish, so I thought I would adopt some from ill-informed goldfish owners to prevent them from being flushed! I found someone on Craigslist who was trying to get rid of 9 goldfish he kept in a TEN GALLON tank, and picked them up. They are a mix of commons and comets, and even though my boyfriend made me make a solemn vow to try to adopt some of them out, we all know the likelihood of that happening...

What I hope to do instead is convert to a heavily planted aquarium, maybe with some aquaculture built in, to handle the goldfishes' waste needs. Instead of doing a complete teardown, because I have livestock that is important to me, I hope to introduce a soil underlayer slowly. I've started doing this by introducing peat compostable pots with 1" inch soil and 1" gravel that contain plants. I have submerged other soil so that they do their initial leaching before introduction to the fish (per Diana Walsed's Planted Aquarium). I have layered this soil with gravel in disposable plastic water trays, so that when I am ready to introduce it to the tank, I can cut a flap from the side of the tray and (hopefully) slide the soil/gravel layers intact onto the bottom of the tank. I may also start some plants partially emerged on these trays so that their root systems are intact when I introduce them into the tank as well.

For the aquaculture, I was thinking of buying aquaculture pots and attaching them to the back rim of the tank with hooks. I would then fill these with some leftover gravel I have and hopefully grow lettuce to feed the fish with! In that case, I'll have to take off the lids and turn off the heater. The heater is on right now to boost their immune systems after their introduction to the tank.

120G 60"x16" footprint
Eheim 2215 Canister filter
Aquatop 10W UV Inline sterilizer (only in for the introduction of the fish)
Finnex Ray 2 7000K 48"
Fluval M300 Heater
Currently 1 airstone

Current: Gravel, crushed coral, eco-complete planted aquarium
New soil: Black Gold potting soil

Creeping Charlie
Anubias Nana
Hygrophila salicifolia
Java fern
Eleocharis montevidensis (I think)
Unknown plant with 2mm thin, 2-3cm long willow-like leaves

Basically, I'm looking for guidance as to how to get plants to grow well in a low-tech type environment, with the needs of the goldfish in mind. I think with this number of fish, they should be able to get the CO2 pretty high without adding CO2 but then I start to worry about oxygen deprivation for the fish... which is why I am hesitant to turn off the airstone before I get healthy plants to replenish the oxygen. But then the plants needs more CO2 to grow bigger, etc. I have Excel but do not currently dose at the recommended level. The anubias, java ferns and hygro have survived in the tank for years with zero supplementation but they all reverted to miniature forms it seems like. I am hoping the soil will provide the necessary nutrients to grow bigger without dosing in a bunch of supplements.

Also, anybody have any advice on tricks (or different plants) to prevent the goldfish from uprooting them? They've uprooted three of my newly potted plants today alone! These young goldfish are significantly more vigorous than my senior goldies were!