the past few weeks i've visited just about every asian supermarket within the vicinity: boston c-mart, boston ming's market, allston super 88, reliable market in union square, and now malden super 88. what's kind of infuriating is i'll see the same things at the different stores, but the prices are always different. even if they're supposedly the same chain, prices can still fluctuate depending on which location, which makes me think they all operate independently. so if you're a bargain hunter like me, if you really want to get the best prices, you'll need to visit a bunch of stores. for example, at the malden 88, mei gui hua sweet rice was $9.99, but it was $7.99 at the allston 88. however, maldem 88 had kikkoman tonkatsu sauce for $2.99, while the allston 88 sold it for $3.99.
we arrived at malden super 88 at 11:30am and left an hour later. they don't offer free bags anymore and we forgot to bring ours, but fortunately there was a pile of empty boxes by the entrance and we packed our stuff into the boxes before wheeling the shopping cart to the car. we got to belmont by 1pm.
my mother made some mantou sandwiches with pickled greens and pork floss. earlier my father had fried the chicken feet (after he soaked them briefly in sugar and vinegar yesterday), and we were now boiling them in some spice broth.
later in the afternoon - when the rain had stopped - my father helped me bring some plants outside so i could spray them with neem oil. these includes some small potted jasmines, thai chili peppers, thai basil, and the toothache plant. i like to spray outside so the neem oil doesn't get everywhere.
the chicken feet were finally ready to eat. texture wise they were perfect, but i felt the sauce wasn't strong enough, too oily, not enough salt. still, it was a good proof of concept for the next time we want to make chicken feet. my father said the key is to fry them first, because it puffs up the connective tissues and the skin, making them not only more tender but easier to eat.
good news today: trump has finally directed his team to cooperate on president-elect joe biden's transition. trump still hasn't conceded (doubtful if he ever will), but at least he's facing the reality that he will no longer be the presidency in less than 2 more months, and his multiple legal challenges to block votes and change the election results are just political theatre with zero changes of victories. our national nightmare is one step closer to being finally over.
after dinner my father gave me a ride back to cambridge along with two trays of flan ramekins. it wasn't raining but the temperature was dropping. by tomorrow morning it'd be in the 30's.
the monday before thanksgiving is traditionally the day i make my annual flan. last year i tried something different and used coconut milk instead of whole milk. the consistency was thicker, but i couldn't really taste the coconut, and i think people preferred my old recipe, so this year i'm returning to the classic. i needed a few simple ingredients and it wasn't worth it braving a trip to market basket just to save a few dollars, so i went to star market instead. i had plenty of sugar back at home, but i needed milk ($3.29), eggs ($2.79), and vanilla extract ($9.99). when i returned, i discovered i still had vanilla, so i'm going to return the unused vanilla tomorrow.
i used the bathroom and took a shower first before i finally started making the flan around 9:30pm.
i worked while watching an encore broadcast of netflix's gilmore girls: a year in the life on the CW network. there was also a monday night football game between the las angeles rams and tom brady's buccaneers. i was making 16 flan servings, the same as last year. my mother wanted me to make more (20 at least), even though usually she's always telling me to make less. i would've made more but i couldn't find my large size aluminum baking pan (which can hold 12 ramekins), so i had to use a smaller baking pan and my largest glass lasagna dish, each holding 8 ramekins maximum. i brought back all the glass ramekins from my parents' place, where they've been since last thanksgiving.
by 10pm i was pouring the caramel layers into the ramekins, already in their hot water bath, and with the oven preheating. it didn't take long for me to pour in the flan mixture, the portions were exact that i didn't have any left over. into the oven went the two trays at 10:20pm, to be baked for 2 hours, with a tray switch at the 1 hour mark.
at 12:20am the flan was supposed to be finished, but only the flan on the top rack had turned brown. i took out that tray and left the other tray to bake for 20 minutes minutes to brown it a bit more. browning is an unnecessary step, since it's actually the bottom layer of the flan, but i like to do it anyway just because it looks better.
i removed all the ramekins from the trays and let them cool over a rack. later i put them back into the trays, covered with plastic wrap, then put them into the refrigerator. they need 2 days for the caramel layer to melt and fuse into the flan, so they'll be ready by thursday.