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February 24, 2008

Tom Yam Gung

I've made a fantastic tom yam gung twice in the past week, and I'd like to share the recipe I use for this spicy Thai staple soup.

I use Austin Bush's recipe, but I modify it a bit, since some of the ingredients are difficult to find in America.

So, just follow along with Austin, but feel free to use the following substitutions.

  • Galangal: Use ginger root but only about two-thirds of the suggested "thumb-sized piece".
  • Lemongrass: It's difficult to find in American supermarkets, so if you can't find it, you could try a paste, which is what I use.
  • Coriander: Use cilantro, and for the coriander root, use plenty of cilantro stalk.
  • Straw mushrooms: Any small type of mushroom should work well, as long as they're not the ridiculously common white kind.
  • Chili peppers: For two servings, use two medium-to-large jalapeño peppers plus a couple teaspoons of crushed red pepper.
  • Kaffir lime leaves: I just omit these because I don't know what would be a good substitute. Just use lots of lime juice, instead! The juice of two whole rolled limes seems to work well.

Beautiful soup. Read Austin's recipe and enjoy thoroughly!

February 21, 2008

21st Century Engineering Challenges

Today, Slashdot links us to an article at Network World about the 14 greatest engineering challenges for the 21st century. An interesting assortment of people, including my buddy Bob Langer at MIT, came up with this list, and it sounds like they hit the nail on the head in most respects. "Engineer better medicines" must have been one of Bob's entries.

The most reasonable of these goals, I think, is to "make solar energy affordable." We've come leaps and bounds in the past 10 years in this field, thanks to generous venture capital funding and some really bright guys who, incidentally, are also mostly graduates of MIT.

The most vague of these goals must be "engineer the tools for scientific discovery." I suppose that probably means building better microscopes, telescopes, and tweezers (not kidding), but perhaps its wording could be somewhat more definite?

Overall, setting goals like these is a Good Thing. I can only hope the NSF is actually going to form task forces and invest heavily in achieving these goals.

February 19, 2008

Under the Weather

According to WebMD's cold and flu symptoms comparison chart, which I have bookmarked, I have a bit of a cold. It started Sunday night with a sore throat, and it's blossomed into wondrous aching and general grossness since then. I'm also blaming it for a wild dream I had last night, in which Arin was a tabby cat (think a gray Puss in Boots from Shrek the Third, complete with huge eyes but without Antonio Banderas), and he and I were having coffee outside a café before heading off to catch a flight.

In other news, I would like to thank everyone for their enjoyable comments on my video with Dorian from the weekend, both on this blog and on YouTube. I showed the video and comments to Dorian, and, based on his new critical acclaim, he now thinks he will be the next Puss in Boots. He doesn't seem to understand he needs to work on that sexy Antonio Banderas voice first!

February 17, 2008

YouTube Debut

Dorian and I are on YouTube now!

February 13, 2008

Kim Chi in Space

I love kim chi, South Korea's spicy pickled cabbage staple, and so does Ko San, South Korea's first astronaut. Kim chi starts off with the fermentation of cabbage, a process that produces a number of bacteria that would potentially be harmful to have aboard the International Space Station, however, and to combat this, scientists have devised a version of kim chi that does not include those "necessary" bacteria. Read more about Mr. Ko and his sterile kim chi at the BBC.

Also, check out this photo of an amazing kim chi market stall. Mmmmmm...

February 08, 2008

Super Tuesday Redux

Every American who reads this dusty old thing is familiar with Super Tuesday and the fact that it happened this past week. And, if you aren't, well, you should come out from under that rock for a while and read the news.

Mitt Romney dropped out of the Republican race after spending $35 million and getting a few doughnuts and cups of coffee for it. John McCain is the comeback kid at 71, according to the BBC, and Mike Huckabee probably really wants to be McCain's vice president. Ron Paul, the grassroots campaigner from Texas, didn't fare too well, but nobody really expected him to fare well, anyway.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are roughly tied, and, well, are there really any other Democrat candidates?

Since the 2004 presidential election started heating up, Andy Tanenbaum has run a lovely election prediction site at electoral-vote.com, which I use to keep an eye on various interesting elections around the country. It's worth keeping in your bookmarks or on your del.icio.us page.

February 02, 2008


I've often wondered when the Internet would be mature enough to allow people to save their own content in an easily accessible and globally usable way. We're getting to that point, and one of the shining examples of the personal content evolution, if you will, is del.icio.us.

This service allows people to save web bookmarks, share them with friends, and even recommend bookmarks to other people. I started using it yesterday after exploring its capabilities and deciding it was exactly what I was seeking: bookmarks I can use anywhere!

I've added a link to my del.icio.us bookmark index at the top of every index page on my blog. If you ever find yourself at work, wondering what you bookmarked at home, or if you simply would like to share links easily, it's definitely worth checking out. Meanwhile, go have a look at my bookmarks!