01 January, 2011

Help For An (Un)Happy Holiday Hangover

The quintessential hangover helper - the Mamosa, Courtesy of chow.com

Yes, it is true; I, like so many people on New Year's Day, woke up with a hangover (I will never drink Fernet Branca again, or at least not mixed with cheap champagne!) and I am cursing my turncoat willpower that cheerfully agreed to continue on with the drinking even though it bloody well knew better! Oh well. Thankfully, there are a plethora of resources out there with advice on how to make this hangover somewhat more bearable.  

Courtesy of skimkim.3dcartstores.com
If you, like myself, require super spicy foods to feel better in this situation, or if fighting a hangover hair-of-the-dog style is more your thing, then read this write-up by Tasting Table about a New York gal named Sam Kim who has a business called Skimkim that makes Korea's staple vegetable dish, kimchi, as well as other fermented goods. Even better, there is a kimchi-based cocktail mixer that with a name like Bloody Kim Jong-il Mix turns a plain Bloody Mary into the politically tinged center of conversation. Skimkim also sells kimchi butter, "Asian Green Goddess" marinade/dressing that gets its green from chives, lime, and kiwi, and she even makes ready-made smores. Kim also has a fun blog here, and according to Tasting Table has plans in the works "to launch a citywide delivery service in 2011 that will include an option for a singing kimchi-gram (featuring an a cappella group doing a rendition of a Hall & Oates tune)!"

Courtesy of chow.com
From chow.com we have a handy collection of both food and drink that are guaranteed to ease your suffering, or at least make you think you're better with a good placebo effect that will turn that wince into a smile as you curl back up under the covers and sleep off your food coma. The photo to the right of the eggs baked with Irish bangers and cheddar cheese  falls completely in my hangover comfort-food zone. All it needs is hot sauce and I'm home! Below is a French concoction whose name says it all: Côte d'Azur Cure-All Soup. With ingredients like garlic, egg yolks, herbs, and broth, it will equally erase sickness caused by either too much bubbly or the common cold.

Courtesy of chow.com

Sweet Potato Poutine, Courtesy of cookingchanneltv.com
Next we have several recipes from a show called Bitchin' Kitchen on the new, quality cable food network, Cooking Channel. Admittedly I tuned into this show out of pure, voyeuristic curiosity the way one is drawn to stare at a car crash on the freeway: the premise and hostess (Nadia G) seemed like a train wreck waiting to happen. Anyway, if you can ignore Nadia G's over-done Jersey accent, Sun-In-streaked blond hair, canned humor, and leopard-print mini-dresses, you might actually find her attempt to combine Ali G, The Sopranos, and Pee Wee's Playhouse into a cooking show, a refreshing, educational entertainment choice. In a recent episode entitled Rehab Recipes, Nadia G made two things that satisfy both sides of my hangover food cravings  - food/drink that is healthy, nourishing, and cold, versus greasy, salty, and warm! For the first one she made a Celery-Pineapple Smoothie that makes my dehydrated skin cells tingle just thinking about it! For some more cool and beneficial recipes, check out Chow's Post-Holiday Recovery Menu. The not-so-healthy option made on this episode was Sweet Potato Poutine, a slightly more nutritious version of the savory invention of Québécois French-Canadians. I first sampled poutine while in Vancouver, British Columbia years ago and instantly was hooked. On their own I'm a huge fan of cheese curds anyway, so add them to crunchy french fries and slather on some brown gravy and you have a work of art in the eyes of someone who has over-done it on the booze the night before!

Courtesy of cookingchanneltv.com

Courtesy of chow.com
Last, but not least, I thought I would offer an alternative New Year's Day ritual for those who see this day as an opportunity for new beginnings and good luck, not recovery from stupid, "amateur" behavior. In Japan many people observe Oshogatsu, which is a celebration lasting several days and involves prescribed food and drink. One of the stars of this table is mochi, glutinous rice that is pounded to form flat cakes of dough, and prepared in both sweet (like the ice cream balls in the photo above), as well as savory dishes. 

I found a tasty, pre-made, Westernized adaptation of these at Trader Joe's in chocolate, mango, and coconut flavors and that are made with dairy-free, coconut milk ice cream, which is easier on my partially lactose-intolerant digestive system. Here is a nice blog called appropriately enough, Japanese Ice Cream that explains how to make the proper recipe. Taro (root) is one of my favorite mochi flavors - more info on it here from the Cambree Notes blog. 

The other defining feature of Oshogatsu is the opening of a cask of sake, the gorgeous, Japanese rice alcohol. We here in the Bay Area are very fortunate in that we have True Sake, the first store outside of Japan to be dedicated solely to the beverage.  In addition to selling every kind of sake imaginable, they offer tasting workshops and an emailed newsletter, sponsor community events, and provide educational sake information on their website as well as links to other interesting resources. I prefer the drink chilled and unfiltered but it is more commonly available hot. Beware the latter preparation as restaurants usually warm it to mask the flavor of poor-quality sake and if it is too hot, that means that it was boiled and some of the alcohol is lost! Either way, every single time I drink sake I get rosy-cheeked and perma-grinned, and I am happy as can be. Sounds like a nice way to start 2011, but maybe tomorrow. Today I am still nursing my dizzy head, sour stomach, and lack of energy. Damn that faulty willpower of mine! Auld Lang Syne indeed!

Courtesy of truesake.com

For more information and recipes for Oshogatsu, go here.


  1. Hi Erica, I absolutely love the coconut milk mochi too!!! Did you know Trader Joe's is discontinuing the Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Mochi? I wrote and they confirmed it but it's fairly recent. I started a petition to possibly help bring it back since it's soooo good and as someone who doesn't have dairy, it's the best thing ever. You can add to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-trader-joes-coconut-milk-mochi/ as well as feel free to share the link. Thanks so much! I hope this works!

  2. Great idea!! Thanks for the link - I'll sign it right now!


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