Archive for the ‘ Las Vegas Food & Wine Shopping ’ Category

Maryland Style Steamed Blue Crabs


Las Vegas might be landlocked and 2,500 miles from the east coast, but thanks to the seafood markets located in our Chinatown, treats like these live blue crabs are only a few minutes away.

The lively crabs you see here came from the Greenland Market in the Koreatown plaza on Spring Mountain, but all of the Asian markets with a seafood department in Chinatown stock them. They might not be as large as the jumbo crabs I remember eating in Baltimore, but for $1.00 each and with a can of Old Bay seasoning, a traditional Chesapeake Bay crab feast in the Mojave Desert couldn’t be easier.

Being a relatively messy affair, a crab feast like the ones folks in Baltimore enjoy is a usually a back-yard event. Large pots of steamed crabs dosed with a hefty coating of spicy Old Bay seasoning (the seasoning of choice on the east coast for this) are dumped in a pile on top of layers of newspaper. Diners use their hands and small wooden mallets to crack the shells and suck the sweet meat from the legs, claws and body. Nothing more than plenty of cold beer is needed to enjoy the tradition.

Since the live crabs we have access to here in Vegas are on the small side, plan on serving 10-12 crabs per person. As with any live seafood, when buying live crabs, choose the friskiest ones in the bin and keep your fingers away from the claws. Tongs are the best way to safely move them from one place to another. If you are new to eating blue crabs, there are numerous videos on YouTube to walk you through the process.
Steamed Maryland Style Blue Crabs

Live blue crabs (10-12 person if they are small)
Old Bay Seasoning

Place a rack in the bottom of a very large pot and add equal amounts of water and vinegar to make a two inch depth of liquid.

Using tongs, layer the crabs in the pan sprinkling a very generous layer of Old Bay on each crab. It’s almost impossible to over-season these, so don’t skimp.

Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, place a lid on the pot and steam for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how many layers you are steaming at once.

Using tongs, remove the crabs from the pan and place in a pile directly on to a table lined with layers of newspaper and dig in.

Wet paper towels or hand wipes for wiping hands and faces are a nice touch. If you insist on serving something with the crabs, corn on the cob is the only traditional accompaniment for a genuine Maryland crab feast.

Budapest Hungarian Market

Budapest Market
You never know what treasures you’ll find in the dozens of little strip plazas that dot the Las Vegas Valley. Small family-owned restaurants, markets, shops, and um, yes, massage parlors and immigration lawyers catering to the needs of the diverse Las Vegas population can be found on nearly every corner. I get excited when I find an ethnic grocery that I’ve never spotted before and am even more keen when it’s a market that is selling the flavors of my childhood. We slammed the brakes on and did U-turn when we spotted this tidy little Hungarian market tucked in an obscure little plaza near McCarran airport.

Lekvar for kipfels, fresh kolbas, genuine old-world style cured meats, and Hungarian paprika so fresh they keep it refrigerated are just a few of the items that make the Budapest Hungarian Market a mecca for the Las Vegas Magyar community. Shelves full of traditional pickled vegetables, fruit preserves, noodles, and teas line the walls. Well-stocked refrigerated cases are packed to the brim with sausages, meats and cheeses you won’t find in local supermarkets. You’ll find the real deal here if you are looking for traditional Hungarian ingredients for that recipe you clipped out of a magazine at this spotless, well-lit market. And, just in case you’ve lost that recipe you’ve been meaning to try, a back corner of the shop has a nice selection of cookbooks to make sure you have plenty of lekvar (prune and apricot) for those cookies you’ve been meaning to make for Easter…as well as the essentials you need for an authentic chicken paprikash or goulash.

The Budapest Hungarian market is seriously well worth a drive across town. We highly recommend the kolbas.

6380 S Eastern Ave
Unit 6
Las Vegas, NV 89120
(702) 798-6647

Valentine’s Day Wine Picks 2013

Fresh and Easy wine

With Valentine’s Day inconveniently falling on a weekday this year, take-out might be on the menu for busy lovers. With so many outstanding choices for take-out in Las Vegas, there is no shame whatsoever with that. With the right bottle of wine, a phone call to a restaurant, and the right partner, a weeknight Valentine’s Day can be as special as an overpriced dinner for two at celebrity-chef joint on the Strip.

To make your weeknight tribute to Cupid extra special, here’s our list of recommended wines and the to-go grub we’ve chosen to pair with it. These outstanding wines from Fresh & Easy are our suggested bottles to make this year’s Valentine’s Day one to remember…..and the prices can’t be beat. If a wine department in a grocery store could be a Valentine, the wine aisle at Fresh & Easy would be ours.

Masse Pere et Fil Champagne ($19.99) Perfectly dry citrusy champagne with enthusiastic bubbles scented with flowery, bready aromas. Would be perfect with any seafood or poultry dish, but we’d suggest it for sushi or Thai food from Stick-e-Rice.

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja 2008 ($6.99) Grab this saucy Spanish wine to go with a Grimaldi’s or Sammy’s Woodfired pizza, or perhaps a Five Guys cheeseburger. The tart, dry berry notes play nicely with cheesy, beefy dishes. This is also very nice with chocolate and strawberries.

El Cotes du Paso Robles 2010 ($8.99)…Full bodied with a balanced hit of oak is very interesting with grilled foods, especially nice with the smoked pork loin or salmon from Las Vegas Grill.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets

It was good while it lasted….real good. We love everything about this chain of local neighborhood markets located in the Southwest, but all good things must end, and the end is near for Fresh & Easy, as we know it.

Owned by the UK grocery giant, Tesco, Fresh & Easy sadly has not met earnings expectations according to reports, and in early 2013 will either close shop, or (hopefully) be sold to the highest bidder.

We’ve grown very fond of the outstanding bargains on wine, the top-notch Italian bread from their in-house bakery, the assortment of high quality heat-and-eat items, and their selection of international grocery staples. Most of all we’ll miss Fresh & Easy’s biggest asset, the wonderfully helpful employees who have taught us everything we know about self-serve check-out (something we refuse to do in any other grocery store, just because).

Our neighborhood will never be the same without Fresh & Easy.

Three Wines Under $10 for Valentine’s Day

While we love a leisurely stroll through a Lee’s or Total Wine here in Las Vegas to pick out an interesting bottle (or three) of special occasion wine, those bottles often cost us $20 or more per bottle. But we don’t always have the time to peruse the aisles. We also love a bargain, two of the many reasons we love our neighborhood Fresh & Easy. Especially when we find a bottle of wine that costs less than $10 and tastes better than similar bottles costing $25 or more.

These wines, two classic and one just for fun, are great choices to go along with your Valentines plans. And all are less than $10 a bottle leaving plenty of cash left over for impressing your Valentine with flowers or in my case, meat.

Ombretta Chianti 2008…a classic, dry Chianti full of cherry and lots of oak. Perfect with pasta, pizza, steaks and cured meats.

Montcadi Cava…an easy to drink, semi-dry Spanish sparkling wine. We love this citrusy, refreshing wine with Thai and Chinese dishes. We drink this all summer long when we grill outside. It also makes a perfect mimosa.

Chocolate Shop…an interesting merlot/syrah blend spiked with chocolate essence. A bit on the sweet side, making it a good dessert wine. This one is guaranteed to be a fun, conversation bottle, especially for chocoholics. The fragrance is like a box of chocolate covered cherries in a glass.


Planning a Vegas wedding and don’t have the time, a wedding planner or an inner Martha Stewart to tend to the details? Albertsons could very well be your next best friend.

Albertsons invited us to meet with them to discuss their move into full-service wedding and party planning, and we were quite impressed. Their competition-level cake designers are now creating outstanding European-style entrement cakes (multiple sponge cake layers with mousse, flavored pastry cream or fruit paste), as well as fondant work, that rival those coming from some of the local specialty bakeries in Vegas. They can create classic or contemporary dream cakes from one of their designs or from your own custom idea. Their certified floral designers will work with the bakery team to coordinate all of your flower needs to match any theme or color. They can also handle your wine & catering essentials at the same time and offer delivery and professional cake set-up, all being very competively priced.

Whether your event is a wedding, a holiday office party, a quinceañera or a birthday party, Albertsons can be a time and lifesaver. For a free wedding or party consultation, contact or (702)838-4322 or (702)336-9309.

Korean Spicy Crab – Gye Muchim

I love taking my time to browse the aisles of the wonderful markets in Las Vegas Chinatown. Often, something new to me will catch my eye that I can’t resist trying. This treasure, from the fresh kimchi deli-counter in the Greenland Korean Market might be the most remarkable find yet.

Blue crabs (the kind used for Maryland steamed crabs) are quartered and marinated in an intense chili sauce fragrant with ginger, garlic and sesame oil. The crabs are sweet, spicy, salty and finger licking good. Along with some plain rice, and an icy cold bottle of soju, a Korean beverage similar to vodka, the chilled crabs made for one of the most extraordinary lunches I have had in recent memory. They are insanely delicious, and I fear, very addictive.


Roasted New Mexico Green Chilis

If you live in Las Vegas, mark your calendar, especially if you are a fan of those celebrated roasted green chilis from Hatch, New Mexico.

On Saturday, August 13th starting at 6:00AM, the Albertsons at 1650 N. Buffalo Drive will be doing their annual Hatch Chili Roasting. Shoppers can buy a 30 pound bag of fresh Hatch chilis for $34.99 and have them roasted on the spot free of charge.

The peeled, roasted green chilis are a staple in our kitchen. We pack them in quart freezer bags and stow them in our freezer for use all winter for our green chili cheeseburger cravings. We couldn’t do without pork and green chili sauce for our enchiladas and scrambled eggs. And then there’s green chili salsa and chiles rellenos….the list goes on!

When these not-too-spicy green chilis are roasted, the bitter peels blister and are easily slipped off the flesh. The seeds and stems are discarded and what’s left are luscious filets of savory, almost sweet, peppery goodness that have made the folks in Hatch, New Mexico world famous

As if having your chilis roasted for you in a traditional New Mexico chili roaster isn’t entertaining enough, from 7:00AM to 4:00PM, there will also be food and wine samples, free samples of favorite Hatch chili recipes, recipe cards, music, and multiple vendor booths.

For additional information, phone the Albertsons store at (702) 562-6079.

Fresh New Mexican Green Chilis

King Oyster Mushrooms

The produce departments in our local Las Vegas Asian grocery stores fascinate me. I’m always finding wonderful things I’ve never cooked before. These super-sized, chubby mushrooms with meaty, six inch stems recently caught my eye during one of my grocery trips to Korea Town. I’ve seen these many times before but this time I decided to grab a package of them to see what I could do with them.

The size of the mushrooms intrigued me, the four of them weighed in at nearly ¾ of a pound. Slicing them into small pieces seemed like a waste of their mass. If I wanted smaller mushrooms, I could just start with smaller ones. I decided to roast them whole, alongside a Sunday roast pork and I was thrilled with the results.

After about 60 minutes they were nicely browned on the outside and still firm to the touch. The interior was firm and meaty. The flavor was very pleasantly similar to porcini. They had taken on much of the flavor of the roast and were perfectly delicious simply sprinkled with a bit of coarse sea salt.

I can think of at least a half dozen ways I plan on using these monster mushrooms. They are begging to be the next victims of my panko breadcrumb obsession and fried to crispy perfection. They’ll definitely be dropped into a simmering pot of beef stew or brushed with garlic oil and grilled alongside a thick rib eye steak but the recipe I’m most anxious to try with them is in a batch of super rich, cream of mushroom soup, the dense stems sliced into thick coins.

Korean Braised Pork Belly

The Koreans love their pork belly. They braise, barbecue, grill and stir fry it. When pork belly is cured and smoked, it becomes Western-style bacon. For this recipe and many other Asian pork belly recipes, uncured, unsmoked, fresh pork belly is used. If you are lucky enough to live in a city with an Asian community large enough to have grocery stores with a fresh meat counter you’ll easily find fresh pork belly, both in slabs and sliced for grilling. Here, in Las Vegas, we are able to purchase fresh pork from highly regarded black pigs at my favorite Korean supermarket, Greenland Market on Spring Mountain at Rainbow.

The marinade and braising liquid in this recipe both contain Korean red pepper powder, a Korean kitchen staple. While it looks like Western cayenne pepper, it isn’t. It’s exceptionally fragrant, fruity and vibrant red. It only contains a fraction of the spicy heat of cayenne pepper and can be used in copious amounts without making food too spicy. If you can’t buy it locally, it can be purchased on-line and is well worth seeking out. I use it in my dry rubs for good old American style BBQ ribs and chicken and receive rave reviews every time. It reminds me a great deal of really nice, fresh Hungarian or Spanish paprika and I often use it in place of paprika.

I prefer cooking this recipe in my pressure cooker because it’s quicker. Oven or stove-top braising work equally well, and I have also included those methods in the instructions below. This is a three-step step cooking process. The first cooking firms the meat up for the braising step. The braising renders the fat into a silky, luxurious mouth feel. The final roasting crisps up the top layer of fat.

This is a luxurious, special occasion dish. Yes, it is fatty, but it is meant to be eaten in small portions, wrapped in lettuce leaves with cabbage kimchi, marinated cucumbers or any other of the endless Korean side dishes know as banchan. The beverage of choice with this is soju, a Korean rice wine, or sake.

Braised Korean Style Pork Belly
2 lbs fresh, meaty pork belly
2 tablespoons Korean chile/garlic/sesame paste
2 tablespoons Korean red pepper powder
½ teaspoon sea salt

Braising Liquid:
2 1/2cups water
½ cup rice wine or sherry
1 tablespoon Korean red pepper powder
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Rub the pork all over with the marinade ingredients. Place in a Ziploc bag and marinate, refrigerated for 4 hours or better yet, overnight.

Place in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes to firm the meat up.

*To cook in a pressure cooker, place the pork on rack in the pressure cooker, add the braising liquid and process for 45 minutes according to your cooker’s instructions.

*To oven braise, place the pork in a baking pan, add the braising liquid and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Cook in the oven for 2 hours at 325 degrees or until the pork is fork tender.

* To braise on top of the stove, place the pork on rack placed in a wok or Dutch oven, add the braising liquid, bring to a boil, cover tightly and simmer for 2 hours or until fork tender.

With either method, at the end of the cooking time, remove the pork to a plate and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Place the pork in a baking pan, fat side up and roast for about 30 minutes or until the fat on the top becomes crisp. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve hot.

Serve with cabbage kimchi, marinated cucumbers and either steamed rice, or whole leaves of butter-crunch lettuce for diners to roll up thin slices of the crispy skin pork burrito-style.

Serves 8-10

One Perfect Bite..crispy, juicy and flavorful


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