For those who've never had the opportunity of exposing your taste buds to lap cheong (Chinese sausage) I think you should do so if you ever get the chance. No...it isn't like the Sabrett hot dogs you find peppered on every street corner..although those are quite good when you're famished and in the middle of nowhere (like...Yankee stadium). Chinese sausages are a mixture of pork and pork fat, and what gives them their fragrance is a grain alcohol. They're dry-cured and you can find them hanging on colored strings at china towns dry good markets. My favorite is actually the duck liver lap cheong, which is ..I'm not quite sure how to explain it..it's a tad sweet, mildly salty, and bursting with a fragrant alcohol scent. My descriptions are probably not doing it justice..but really..it's good stuff.
At home we usually make lap cheong claypot rice, basically rice cooked over the stove top in a large claypot with the lap cheong placed on top to infuse the rice while steaming. Another addition to the lap cheong is salted duck which is similar to duck confit but not cooked submerged in fat...the baby bok choy is also steamed on top of the rice for the last five minutes of cooking. Anyway, as much as I love the sausages..I actually go directly to the bottom of the claypot scraping the burnt and crunchy rice...(and as I write about this..I begin to reminisce 12 of my family members gathered around fighting to the last grain).
Living overseas has its perks... great weather..being away from parents (im kidding...) ..and a diverse range of food. One of its pitfalls would be the inability to have every type of cookware..yeah..I know I really love kitchen gadgets. I didn't invest in a claypot..but I did invest in a rice cooker! Let me tell you..not only does it cook toothsome rice..it even has a cake option! Whaat!?? but I haven't explored that far yet. Anyway..it really does make your life easier.. And so I was able to throw everything in and let it cook away. I chopped the sausages into small pieces, and diced the dried shiitakes. I didn't include the edamame since it was already par-cooked..only at the end did I mix it in to keep its bright green color. Traditionally white rice would be used, but I like the nuttiness brown rice has and it's healthier too!
Once everything is done..simply splash some soy sauce..the sausages have quite a bit of salt in them already so go light with the seasoning.
This is the perfect meal really.. you've got your carbs, protein, and vegetables! I love one pot meals....
= less cleaning.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
A friend of mine... Mr. T used to make frequent trips to the big apple, I dedicate this post to him due to his unconditional love for korean fried chicken..or in precise terms..his love for bonchon. He can never end his trip without heading over at least once... I mean.. it's just fried chicken ..right?! I guess it's no Ordinary fried chicken.. I honestly think this guy would kill for his bucket of crispy yet succulent wings.. (and guys..he ain't black either..)
On one Saturday evening.. Mr. T was claiming of how "bored" he was and since it was around dinner time we decided to do some brainstorming..or at least I tried. He knew what he wanted.. a belly full of beer..and crispy fried chicken.. Mmm.. How tasty..(i am being sarcastic) being the nice friend that I am ..I agreed. So off we went on foot towards the 30's, Mr.T eager in his step, while I begged for him to slow down. We passed by k-town, bombarded by bright lights, and blaring jargon...interesting and entertaining. As we rounded the corner he stopped .. I was like.. hah? We're here?.. we stood in front of a newsstand and an office building with a sad glass door. Mr. T's like..yeah this is it! Kyochon just happened to be right across from us..and I asked him.. are you sure it isn't that one across the street? I turned around and he was already making his way up the narrow staircase to what I will soon come to know of as fried chicken heaven..
It was more of a cheap nightclub scene, the bar took majority of the space and the dining area was unheard of. It was dark and loud..with a cheesy array of colored lights dancing on the walls..the space was claustrophobic and on top of that.. a 30 minute wait.. -_-'' ... Thank god for the bar..cause that's where I headed straight for. We were finally seated and I was almost knocking elbows with my neighbor. I gave Mr.T the liberty to do all the ordering and sat there thinking if I should've made previous dinner plans.. (just kidding.) He orded half spicy and the rest honey glazed.. it arrived promptly, fragrant and piping hot. Mr. T...being the gentleman he is... offered me to choose first. I swear..as soon as my fingertips were barely on the hot wing he smiled with chicken in his mouth.. sneaky..
The chicken was good. Flavorful and I was amazed by how crisp it is.. You can hear a crunch as soon as your teeth sink in and the meat inside was tender and juicy. The skin was so crisp that it actually released itself from the flesh.. i don't know how to explain it..but it was almost like a peking duck..where the skin and the flesh is separated to create a crisp skin (yeah i even thought of that..).. anyway.. being the culinarian I am.. my mind got to thinking.. how is this possible!? i wonder if they double deep fried it...? could they have double battered it!? I dont know how they did it then.. but I do now... and the best part is.. Mr. T doesn't even have a clue..
I knew the key to anything fried and crispy = 350-375 F... and the important ingredients to create a crisp batter are cold soda water, and corn starch.. I just didn't know how much of each had to be incorporated into the batter.. So I played around with many different things.. and it came down to .. yes you need freezing cold water..but you dont have to use soda water.. corn starch is important.. but the secret ingredient was baking powder.. who would've thought huh?
The batter is good for everything you want fried (try fish and chips!)... the chicken has been sitting at room temp for an hour and it's still crispy.. I am very pleased..
Im not talking about chicken eggs guys.. or how I made the best scramble in the world..(but I just might sometime soon..) I'm talking about Uni, Ikura (salmon roe), and quail eggs. I can't fathom how much I adore uni, and I think ya'll know that I can't live without them.
One of my favorite combinations are uni and ikura. The uni at first bite, is firm then immediately melts in your mouth bursting with sweetness with just a touch of salt. The ikura are small sacs of fishyesque salty liquid that coats your mouth and is utterly refreshing. When eaten together.. just imagine the qualities each of them exude..so it's sweet and creamy and then pops of saltiness mixed in..I think its just the perfect match. I bet you're wondering how the quail egg fits in.. I'm just about to get to that now.. It's quite apparent that we eat uni and ikura in its raw state..but it's not always the case when it comes to poultry eggs.
I will always remember my middle school home ec. class and the lessons that were instilled upon us... I think salmonella was our biggest enemy... In asian cultures (especially the japanese) raw eggs arn't going to get us worried..or think twice about what bacteria we'd contract. FYI..there's chicken sashimi in Japan.. anyway..I think it's because the eggs that get to us were literally laid that morning, and usually the salmonella bacteria is on the outer eggshell and never in the embryo itself. Okay..enough of this salmonella business...
At Annisa, we have this dish composed of grilled scallops ladened with uni butter.. Omg..uni and butter?! what can be better... so I thought of an uni butter cappellini with ikura and a raw quail egg yolk. I made the uni butter first..simply by mixing uni and butter together..(yeah..im serious) then once the cappellini was done I placed it in a bowl with the uni butter allowing it to mix together thoroughly. (the heat of the pasta will melt the butter so there's really no use for a saucepan.) I added a few splashes of pasta water as well just for a little saucy consistency..(be sure to season as you go.) After the cappellini is well coated in the velvety uni butter.. I plated it with left over uni roe, dotted it with ikura and placed the quail egg yolk on top. The quail egg yolk is like a binding agent.. bringing everything together when you mix it all in! I couldn't wait to dig in with my chopsticks while it was still nice and hot.. but I had to hold off for the pics.. it was still good nonetheless.
So, I know this is a lil'... I mean long overdue.. yeah yea.. I was busy okay!? But I'm finally going to post about my extremely successful and fun turkey filled evening. ..this is going to be quite a lengthy narrative...just wanted to let you know.
One of my best friends from intermediate school..(lets call her K,) decided to spend thanksgiving with me this year! K and her boyfriend C took a bus 4 hours away from beantown and little did I know..lugged a suitcase full of potatoes, green beans, yams..and you know.. turkey stuff. I assured them days before the 25th that I'd be buying most of the bulk of what we'd be cooking..the turkey, potatoes, bread.. etc etc.. but I really appreciated them for bringing it anyway. Thanks K and C!
On the day itself, we had to pick up a few more ingredients.. We brainstormed in our awesome sleeping drab early in the morning of what to make.. K, gleefully knew and blurted out green bean casserole, C decided on making his take on his grandma's candied yams, and pumpkin pie! I on the other hand had too many ideas going on and so I couldn't really decide.. So off we went to Whole Foods still unsure of what else I'd be making..so I just grabbed literally everything I came across.. sweet potatoes, cranberries, butter, marshmellows, cream, carrots, leeks, celery,...etc oh, and pecans too..
An hour or so later we were back in my apartment eager to begin. I got a text from my friend P saying that she'd be dropping in with our other friend N..... (P and N love food, and love eating more! but too bad they had dinner plans..however they came for supper afterwards!)
..moving on... C started making his pumpkin pie batter and he insisted of following the cans recipe for the pie crust... I had no comment.. I thought.. hell no! we are making Evvverything from scratch! Luckily during culinary school I acquired an easy peasy recipe for a crust.. it's so versatile and you can pretty much use it for anything..(except for pizza crust that is.) All it is, flour, water, and butter. C was a little hesitant but I assured him.. "just wait till you try it! you'll never ever want to forget this one." Anyway, after that slight tiff, I made a sweet sausage, cornbread and challah dressing. I decided not to stuff the turkey since it'd take longer to cook. After that was done I made cranberry sauce (with fresh cranberries) with a cinnamon stick, cloves, a knob of ginger, a squirt of orange juice, the zest, and pear cider. Bring it to a boil, then to a simmer..trust me, it's lightyears better than a can.
Since time was a factor, I had to start on me turkey! Turkeys are such a lean bird.. it barely has any fat since its allowed to run free on pastures.. or within a contained barn I guess..but nonetheless its still running around. So I had to make sure that the turkey is kept moist when cooking in the oven.. the best way to do that is with...butter of course! I carefully separated the skin from the flesh and stuffed way too much butter in. I seasoned the cavity and stuffed crushed garlic cloves, and a whole bunch of herbs. I then seasoned the whole bird, placed it on the roaster with carrots, celery, and splash of chicken stock. C told me that his grandma places a paper bag over the turkey in the oven (it keeps it from burning and cooking too fast which means succulent turkey.) I went with it and didn't mind trying it out...
So anyways..while the turkey was in the oven I proceeded on my other offerings..(oh and K finally got off her fanny and made her green bean casserole) It took her about 15 minutes to prepare it and since she wasn't as busy..I told her to clean up a little..(she managed to throw the pecans that I wanted to make pecan pie with...oh K.. haiyah) anyway....that's when I decided on making sweet potato pie (marshmellows included, with sweet vanilla bean whipped cream), and on a whim decided to cook brussel sprouts and red cabbage..which I had sitting in my fridge..oh and not forgetting garlicky mash potatoes too!
It was already 8 when C's sister and roommate arrived, thankfully the turkey was out and C and I proceeded to make the gravy. Remember when I mentioned the carrots and celery being in with the turkey? Well, it makes a lot of difference with the gravy, making it more flavorful and rich.. just thought I'd add that little tip.. We laid out the food in a somewhat buffet manner, and gathered around my very small rectangular coffee table in front of the TV. C's sisters' roommate was extremely excited after discovering I had cable..and on demand and insisted that we watch Boardwalk Empire..and so we did. ..digging happily into my turkey and cabbage..I glanced on the screen and saw the detective sticking his hand into a mans slashed open belly..guts and all... (what a memorable night.)
To be honest... everything was perfect...but I'm kinda kicking myself in the butt for failing to take more pictures of everything else that we made! But whatever I have documented I shall put up anyway.
fresh herbs and garlic see?
yep..that's a lot of butter..
*trussing the bird is the key to cooking the bird
evenly and keeps it in a nice shape too
dressing consisted of, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage,
sweet sausage, carrots, leeks, celery, challah, cornbread, nutmeg,
chicken stock...oh and butter!
at this point the cranberry sauce had been simmering
for 25 mintues.. it was ..amazing
for the sweet potato pie..I had K peel them first..then
I boiled them till they were tender. I glazed them with butter
maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a tiny pinch of clove.. it was
thanksgiving in a bowl..
Mussels... what do you do with mussels... or any other shellfish for that matter? A lot of people don't buy clams or mussels because they think It's either difficult to prepare..or they really don't know what the hell to do with them. I think the best way to cook them is by steaming them in a wonderful aromatic base of herbs and a good splash of lager..(or pretty much any type of alcohol you like..) ..and add them to a steaming bowl of pasta with a nice heaping dollop of garlic and parsley butter..ohh yeah.
I bought about a pounds worth of mussels a couple of days earlier thinking I'd make them for dinner..turned out I had dinner plans that I nearly forgot about..oops.. Anyway, I had time this morning to make something out of them before heading to work (and before letting them go bad)...
When you buy mussels they've all got to be closed.. closed mussels = live mussels.. (very important!) If your mussels are closed but have a broken shell, throw it out! You don't wanna take chances with mollusks and seafood..trust me.. I would know. To clean them, it's a fairly simple task..all you've got to do is remove it's beard (the fuzzy dangly thing on one of the sides..just pull it down and out.) The beard is just where the mussel attached itself on in the water..i.e, a rock..wooden dock.. you get the picture.. So, that's pretty much all the preparation that you need.
I chopped up some shallots, garlic, and chilli and threw them in a pot of heated olive oil. I threw about 10 sprigs of thyme too..(i like herbage.) I let them sizzle and pop for a few minutes being careful not to let the garlic burn! or it will be bitter as hell and you probably wouldn't want to eat it.. I dropped the mussels in at this stage and splashed some of my half opened bottle of beer and put a lid on to create steam within. The mussels took about 3-4 minutes to open up and yes....they're ready to eat! mmm...
If you want something quick, easy, and satisfying..give mussels a go. I would definitely recommend it..especially on a rainy morning...just imagine.. a hot steamy bowl of garlicky mussels.. yummm...!