Just as my dream closet is filled with plush velvet and faux fur, so is my dream pantry stocked with gelatins and emulsifiers. There is something so pleasing and feminine about decadent, squishy textures, whether in fabric or food. Read on for a list of the most important squishy foods in my life.
Whoever designed these wonderful candies to look like jewels really knew what they were doing. The sour, chewy outsides burst into sweet candy goo once you chomp on them for a bit. The triple berry gushers were the most luxurious playground currency at my elementary school.
- Soup dumplings
My boyfriend is insane and likes to go on long bike rides all around the hills of San Francisco. The only way he gets me to go with him is by bribing me with soup dumplings at the super cheap, super BYOB Shanghai Dumpling King in the Richmond. Soup dumplings are basically giant, savory gushers. I used to imagine that dumpling artists must inject these steaming pockets of nnnnggghhhghgfjfkjdfh with a turkey baster of delicious soup. The reality is even better. The soup in soup dumplings is actually aspic, or meat jello, that melts into a silky, soupy broth from the heat of steam. It’s like I can’t even believe something this good exists and that I’m allowed to eat it
For a while in college I just ate a six pack of mochi ice cream for lunch. However, the huge ice cream to mochi ratio wasn’t really cutting it for me. Then I realized I could go to the fro-yo place, get a squirt of yogurt and pile on a heap of soft pillowy mochi topping for way cheaper. Mmmm. Mochi lunch.
- Tendon and tripe
My go-to pho order is just tendon, tripe and noodles. The glassy pieces of tendon and studded white ribbons of tripe floating in the fragrant broth are lovely to look at and makes a good, simple hungover brunch. The tendon is chewy, almost creamy, while the tripe is rubbery and tough. Just be careful about not swallowing too much of it at once—it’s easy to choke on a long tendril of tripe in your compromised state.
Once I went to get bubble tea with my friends and realized I only had a quarter. But then I saw that extra boba was just 25 cents and so asked the girl behind the counter if I could just get a serving of extra boba a la carte. She looked at me suspiciously like I was trying to pull a fast one and went to the back to ask her manager. Her manager probably said something like “why do you ask me questions like this, do what you need to, Becky” so she reluctantly gave me my order in a salsa container. Cold tapioca balls taste just as good without the bullshit icee vehicle, FYI.
- Water Yokan
It’s impossible for me to choose a favorite wagashi since nearly all are beautiful, delicious, and squishy (see mochi entry), but a standout for me is the hyper refreshing water yokan Minako Sushi serves at the end of the meal. It’s a small plate of lightly sweetened agar jelly flavored with green tea. Unlike Jello, which is soft and cloying, yokan is firmer and crystalline, with a slightly vegetal taste. It’s so satisfying to break the perfectly smooth surface of the yokan and slowly spoon little bites of the cold jelly into your mouth after having gorged yourself on sushi on a warm Mission night.
- Jarred kimchi baby octopus
My friend Sarah gave these to us once in college while we were all really drunk. I popped one in my mouth and thought I saw god. They’re rubbery and super spicy and they have cute little suction cup tentacles. I have never been able to find them again. I will do some weird things to have a jar of these mailed to me. What are they even called? The internet hasn’t been able to help. Did I hallucinate these??
- Homemade marshmallows
I had a job in high school selling expensive baby clothes to rich people in my bourgie hometown of Los Gatos. The boutique was next door to Fleur de Cocoa, an excellent French bakery that sells cakes and tarts with small pieces of gold foil stuck to even smaller pieces of sugared fruit. But one of the best things I’ve had there was their homemade marshmallows. Unlike the chalky and plastic-smelling store versions, homemade marshmallows are like dreams where if you concentrate on them too hard they’ll melt away. Eat them slowly and without analysis.
Roe is the gusher of the sea. My mom would fry hilsa roe into chewy sweet meats, which is how I experienced fish eggs for most of my life. Then a fancy Russian friend named Katya served caviar with sour cream and crepes on her 10th birthday and I was like, hang on, these things are AMAZING raw. It’s so fun to roll the taut beads on your tongue and then bite down for a burst of salty liquid. I got so into roe that I ordered a huge dish of salmon roe as my main dish for lunch once. Don’t do that though–you’ll just feel like you just drank a gallon of ocean water.
- Rice cakes
If Mission Chinese ever stops serving their thrice-cooked bacon with rice cake, bitter melon, tofu skin, black bean, and chile oil I will be inconsolable. It is addictive in a way your middle school crush was addictive: all encompassingly, almost inappropriately. The fatty, tender pieces of bacon are offset by the bitter melon, which is somewhat bad tasting. BUT! Stir fried with bright orange hot oil and specks of salty black beans, the rice cakes are the true star of this dish. You’ll have to hold yourself back from inhaling the firm, chewy disks all in one go. Or just do it, whatever. They’re so good, fuck.