Monthly Archives: July 2011

Best Sealing Stick

Sealing Sticks – Best New Invention for Storing Food 

Unless we’re really hungry (or really depressed), we usually don’t polish off a bag of potato chips or a package of cookies in one sitting.  It’s the same thing with a bag of dumplings or a sack of rice.  In fact, most products come in bags that are designed to hold more food than you can handle (or should handle) in one sitting.  So what to do with the leftovers to keep them from going stale or prevent them from becoming spoiled?  No clip is big enough to seal a ten-ounce bag of tortilla chips or a fifteen-pound bag of rice.  And even if you’re lucky enough to find a clip big enough to seal these plus-sized bags, it takes Herculean strength to open these mega-clips.  Plus, if the clip is metal, you worry it might rust in the refrigerator.  No one wants that orange, rusty residue smearing their precious food.  So instead of using a metal clip to seal your bag of dumplings, you need to transport your dumplings, one by one, from their original packaging to a zip-lock bag in order to freeze them.  It’s enough to make you lose your appetite—almost!

Sealing Sticks – Best Solution To Seal Any Bag of Food

There are all kinds of clips on the market, but no clip compares to the Sealing Stick I discovered while strolling the night markets during my last trip to Taiwan.  I didn’t go to the night markets expecting to find a perfect product for storing food.  Like most people in Taiwan, I go to night markets to eat and then to walk off the food I just ate.  But more often than I’d like to admit, I end up going home with many novelty products I didn’t know I needed until I saw them.  The Sealing Stick was just such an item.  As I watched the vendor demonstrating all its different uses, as I observed the ease with which even difficult-to-close bags were sealed with a simple zip, I realized this was the gadget I’d been looking for.  Leave it to the Raohe Night Market to make life easy.

Since this product hasn’t yet been introduced to the US, there’s no official English name for it.  So I came up with my own name: the Convenient Zipper Sealing Stick I Always Dreamed Of, or, to save breath, the Sealing Stick for short.  The Sealing Stick is designed to seal all kinds of bags.  It’s made of lightweight plastic and comes in three sizes, small to large.  Each stick has a small handle at one end that looks like a slightly-crooked pointer with a small ball.  What you do is fold over the bag you want to seal, insert the small handle under the folded area, and slide the stick over the entire bag.  Voila!  The job is done.  To open the bag, simply slide the stick off the bag.  It’s completely effortless and you can seal a bag or open a bag in, literally, a second.

As I said, the Sealing Stick comes in three different sizes – 11. 8 1/2 and 7 inches.  You select the size that’s best for your bag.  I use the small sticks for my 0.25-pound bags of tea and the big sticks for my hefty rice bags.  They’re great for storing bags in dry areas and for keeping bags in the refrigerator—no metal means no rust.  And they always keep my food fresh and delicious.  If you’ve been searching for the perfect clip, search no more.

How To Use Sealing Sticks

1.  Fold the bag and place the crooked pointer with the ball under the fold

2.  Start sliding the stick across the bag.

3. Slide it all the way to the other side until the bag is sealed.

4. To open, slide the sealing back towards the crooked pointer.

Buy Sealing Sticks

The Best Asian Hot Sauces – Lao Gan Ma

When it comes to Asian hot sauce, you probably think Sriracha.  It’s the most common brand in US supermarkets and it does the job when you want to add bite to your bites.  But every condiment comes in many shapes, sizes and tastes and there are some fine alternatives to Sriracha if you look hard enough.  For me, the best hot sauces are rich, chunky, flavorful and, of course, hot.  My favorites also share another characteristic—I can actually see the ingredients in the sauce, whether chili peppers, hot oil, pieces of garlic, onion bits or soybeans.  Lao Gan Ma fits all my criteria.  It has complexity.  It has bite.  It’s an outstanding hot sauce.
I first experienced Lao Gan Ma in Tina’s Long Island home the day after Thanksgiving.  Turkey is a very dry bird to begin with and leftover turkey breast tastes just a little bit better than unsalted cardboard.  Tina must have seen my face as I tried to swallow each bite of this foul fowl.  She handed me a jar of red sauce and said, “Here, add this to your turkey.”  Tina is a first-generation Taiwanese whose parents immigrated from Szechuan, China, which means she grew up eating spicy food and lots of hot sauce.  I knew instantly that her sauce would be a fine addition to my dry turkey.  Indeed, all it took was half a teaspoon of Lao Gan Ma and in no time I had miraculously cleaned my plate.  Wanting more of her hot sauce, I asked Tina for more of her turkey.  She smiled and said, “I know you don’t like the turkey.  Do you want some Taiwanese egg-pancakes instead?  You can add the hot sauce on the pancakes too.”  I was nodding my head before she finished the sentence.

Lao Gan Ma has a long history and the company, which started as a one-woman business, has been perfecting this hot sauce for eighty years.  Already a very popular brand in China, the Chinese community in the US started to discover its appeal just a few years ago.  This unique sauce includes crisp red chilies, garlic, onions, soybeans, canola oil, tree nuts and, its most distinguishing ingredient, peanuts.  I use Lao Gan Ma as a both a dipping sauce and a cooking sauce, adding it to flavor many meals: dumplings, fried rice, noodles, hot pot, fried eggs and stir fries.  And on nights when I’m too tired to cook and want something quick and tasty, I simply boil some noodles, mix them with Lao Gan Ma, some light soy sauce, a half-teaspoon of black vinegar and two drops of sesame oil.  It’s delicious.