We got back from Seattle fairly late in the evening. I had the following day off, but the Missus had to work some pretty long hours early the next morning. I'm the one that usually goes straight back to work.....we got home after midnight from Japan and I was off to sleep at 3am, then at the office at 6. So I guess I shouldn't have felt as bad for the Missus as I did....She did get a whole night's sleep and all; yet I still felt guilt to have the day off. The Missus had requested, "something good to eat for a change...." She wanted Smoked Shio Koji Chicken, just not wings. She also wanted me to try it prepped three different ways.
While out grocery shopping I had an idea; since the chicken would be a two step process; smoking then deep frying; why not start everything in the smoker, then prep/cook them in different ways....I had all afternoon......
Of course everything started off with the chicken, marinated for in my Shio Koji Marinade for three and a half hours; then smoked for 1 1/2 hours over cherry wood.
While the chicken was going, I sauteed some hickory smoked bacon lardons...removing the crisp bacon and setting my trusty cast iron pan aside. A half hour before the chicken was done, I started some baby white potatoes in a pot. These were done in about 15-20 minutes and immediately plunged into ice water for 5 then drained. I then used a skewer to prick several holes in each potato and set aside.
I removed the smoked chicken from the smoker; recharged some of the charcoal, added one piece of hickroy; I wanted a more assertive smoke flavor for what was up next.
It would be potatoes and cauliflower..... The cauliflower was simply seasoned with coarse Maldon Sea Salt, fresh ground pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.
These I smoked at a pretty high temp for an hour and a half. Meanwhile, I had some brussel sprouts on hand so I sliced a good number of them in half and finely shaved a couple.
I then divided the chicken into three "groups", the first got dredged in some potato starch.
I then removed the potatoes and cauliflower from the smoker....man, it really took on a nice smoky taste. I took a small piece and tried to match it with some flavors....I settled on mint and white balsamic....so I made a sauce.
I threw the sliced brussel sprouts into the smoker, I figured the Missus could use them in salads or other dishes.
I started the oil on my Big Kahuna, almost ten years old and a little worse for wear, but still going strong. First, I fried up the shaved brussel sprouts, it takes a few seconds; then the plain chicken, then the potato starch chicken. The last set was just plain.
I then removed the wok with the oil and put my cast iron pan on the fire to heat up that bacon grease. We'd just had some delicious smashed smoked potatoes at Sitka & Spruce and I wanted to get something close. I put a couple of potatoes in the pan, smashed them down and got both sides nice and crisp.
The rest was just plating. Chicken three ways, smoked cauliflower with a white balsamic-mint sauce, topped with fried shaved brussel sprouts, smoked, smashed potatoes with creme fraiche, bacon, and scallions. And a couple of smoked brussel sprouts and some Japanese pickles.
The Missus just loved the cauliflower and potatoes......
It's been a while since I've done one of these..... so why not on a quiet Saturday night.
The Missus loves Her Brussel Sprouts, whether grilled with a balsamic glaze....
Roasted....or with one of those whole stalks brushed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, then finished with a bit of "local style barbecue sauce".
We used some of our Duck Confit, to make a version of Parmentier de Canard Confit....think of it as a duck confit Shepherd's Pie.
The Missus wanted no cream in Her potatoes, so I used duck fat and the liquid from a saute of greens (kale and chard) to moisten the potatoes. Topped with panko and browned in the oven, this was delicious....though super rich. We used the last bit to make croquettes......hoooo man....
Here's the random sausage sandwich shot.
Here's one of the ways I ate watercress growing up.....found some nice watercress at Nijiya.
I think this is kind of "local" thing......shoyu and mayonnaise for watercress. Anyone else ate it like this?
And then, here's the Missus version of Butashiso....nice flavor, but a bit to tough. Nice try though!
A few night back, I met my good friend Candice for dinner....she had been wanting to check out Iron Pig Alehouse in PB. It was a decent meal, hopefully I'll get around to doing a post, but in case you're wondering, Kirbie pretty much hit it on the head in her post, the wings were our favorite item. I brought some home for the Missus who thought they were good....however, She also said, "I think you can do better...." So guess what I did this afternoon? Anyway, I tried three versions of smoked wings, one with a simple seasoning, the other with my "chicken rub", and for the last....well, I decided to go outside the normal playbook a bit and used my Shio Koji Chicken marinade.
Guess which one won out?
It was a pretty simple and quick smoke in my WSM. I used a combo of cherry with a bit of pecan. When the wings were done, they looked quite similar, but the shio koji wings had a very pronounced savory fragrance, think miso-wine.
I decided to give the wings a quick deep-fry....for the shio koji wings, it was about 90 seconds....the sugars cause it to turn black fairly quickly. I'm going to try to figure out how to get these a bit more crisp without burning.....
In the meantime......
The Missus said this was maybe some of the best wings She's ever had. The shio koji adds that amazing savory flavor, a touch of salty-winey-miso like flavors, and also sealed in the juices. It's also got me motivated to start cooking new stuff........thinking a bit, trying different things again.
The best compliment....."I'd pay money to eat this....ummm, not from you of course, but I would....."
Shio Koji Marinade:
1/3 cup shio koji
1 Tb grated garlic
1 Tb ginger juice
3 Tb mirin
1 Tb hoisin
- Marinate 4-5 hours
- Remove from marinade and smoke at 250-275 for 1 1/2 - 2 hours
- Remove from smoker and deep fry in 350 degree oil for 1 1/2 minutes
Grab a couple of cold one's....this is great beer food!
It's quite strange....or maybe not. Since our return from Japan, the Missus has been wanting me to make Japanese food. Some things, like Nishime are a pain. The Missus has requested Sukiyaki the last two weekends.......not super hard; a bit of prep. I was taught to make it a certain way and I still stick my guns...if you get Sukiyaki for less than $15-25 pp, it's not going to be very good.
Anyway, I really wasn't going to do this post, but Frankie needed some emergency dental surgery, so I've been kind of preoccupied this weekend. So how about something short and sweet like this? It's still the same as what I posted on in 2006....some things just don't need to be changed.
It's about understanding all the facets, the prep, how flavors work, and timing. I always make the sauce; the Warishita, the night before.
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce 3/4 Cup Mirin 1/2 Cup Sugar 1/4 Cup Water 1/4 Sake 1/4 tsp Dashi No Moto(optional) 1 clove garlic smashed (optional)
Combine Warishita ingredients(except for dashi no moto) and bring to a boil while stirring, turn down heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes to burn off alcohol. Remove from heat and add dashi no moto, if desired. Remove from heat and cool. Let the sauce "rest" at least 20 minutes, or over night.
Nowadays, I always make a double recipe. The Missus will occasionally ask me to change the recipe and I do....knowing perfectly well She'll say to change it back the next time. The warishita may seem sweet, but the flavors of the meat and other ingredients will buffer that. The flavor of the tofu is not the same without that much mirin.
1 lb Thin cut rib eye or sirloin 2 Medium Round Onions sliced 2 Packages Shirataki(Yam Noodles), open packages and place in a colander. Pour boiling water over Shirataki to remove the "smell". 1 Block Tofu drained well - I wrap a paper towel around the block of tofu to drain then place a plate on it for a few minutes, and cut into 1 inch cubes 1 Can Bamboo Shoots - If the smell bothers you, pour boiling water over Bamboo Shoots, drain, then cut into slices lengthwise. 8-10 Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms 1 Bunch Enoki Mushrooms (optional) 2 Bunches Watercress, or 1 bunch Shingiku (Edible Garland Chrysanthemum) 1 Bunch Green Onions(green parts only), cut into 1 inch lengths 4-6 Eggs or quail eggs
1. Lightly oil the bottom of a Tetsunabe (Iron Pot),do not use a donabe(earthenware pot). You can also use a large heavy bottom skillet. Place on a tabletop stove.
2. Arrange items in a single layer on the bottom of the skillet.
3. Heat skillet over medium heat. Pour half of the Warishita over ingredients covering the meat.
4. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 3-5 minutes.
5. Add ingredients and sauce as they are depleted.
6. If you desire, pick out ingredients and dip them in lightly beaten egg right before eating.
Quail eggs seem to work well for us nowadays.....
Oh and we even tried out that Wagyu from Japan in addition to our wagyu sirloin. We have a marble slate that we often use to keep meat cold for grilling and such.
We just dipped this into the warishita as it boiled....not too long or it'll disintergrate.
And as before, I take inspiration in one of the few items I still have from my Mother. This little booklet was published before I was born and has such charming little sections as how to properly wrap your obi, 'The Japanese Smile", flower arranging, the furoshiki, New Years customs....quite a bit for a tiny 69 page booklet. It was written by "Fumiko"....just one name.
As for when it was published....I'd say before 1959....
Definitely before I was born....... The recipes are dated, which means it was based on what was available in Hawaii at that time....mirin for instance, was very hard to get. Anyway, just flipping the pages gives me inspiration....it's part of my roots, my heritage.
As for Sukiyaki, it's all in the prep and presentation....I've made it for 2 and a few years back for 30, it's all the same. If you haven't made this, I hope you give it a try...
In retrospect, I shoulda thought of this when I made Gobo Salad back in 2008. We bought a bag of the stuff in one of the market in Kuromon Market in Kyoto. I really loved it and just ate it plain, though I think it was intended as a garnish for salads and other dishes.
The Missus requested that I make this when I got back....and She loved it so much that I've made it four times so far. Nothing fancy here........
All you need is a single, firm stalk of gobo.....the best way to peel it is to use a spoon to peel. I usually worry about how quickly gobo discolors, but don't worry in this case as since you'll be deep frying, you won't have to worry about that.
Once the gobo is peeled....I usually do a half at a time. It's much more easy to manage.
Anyway, you can give it a quick rinse, pat off excess moisture and fry in 370 degree oil.....the Missus oil du jour is Avocado Oil.......you need about two cups.
I fry in batches, it takes about 2 1/2/ - 3 1/2 minutes, depending on how crisp you like your chips.
I remove from heat, then lightly salt with Himalayan Salt....but I'm sure good number of flavor combinations will work.
The frying really brings out the mild sweetness in the gobo, it's good fiber, you can control how crunchy you want the gobo.......... Plus, I'm sure you can find a number of ways to use these.
So why call this Carne Guisada? Well, I didn't quite know what else to call it.....
I could have named it "what to do with that block of Achiote seasoning in the cupboard", but that would be a bit too long. This is actually the Missus' idea....She basically requested that I come up with something. So far I've made it three times with prime sirlion, pork butt, and a combination of dark and white meat chicken. The amount of meat is the same, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds. The process is the same.......brown the meat, then braise. The winner by far is the pork.....which is kind of a pain; trimming it down to size and keeping just the right amount of fat. It's typical browning, season with salt, pepper, ground cumin, and granulated garlic, then if it's beef or pork, drain the fat and start the aromatics. If it's chicken, keep most of the fat since it's much leaner. The fundamentals are the same; help to seal with parchment and braise in the oven. If you ever get the chance, check out Molly Stevens' book, All About Braising, it has some rally great fundamentals, I love the first 36 pages or so of the book. Beer really helps the flavor and I thought it would be a nice touch.....I realize that two cups is 16 ounces and two cans of Tecate, which is what I used is 24. I'm sure you'll, ahem, find some use for the other 8 ounces....
We have celery growing in the yard. The Missus isn't fond of celery, but I've convinced Her that using the leaves almost as a herb is wonderful and She has bought into it.
As always, you know your preferences....we should treat these type of recipes as a palette for your palate. I basically use what I have on hand. I like to garnish with cilantro, onions, and lime....topping it with an egg is very nice. The Missus doesn't eat much rice anymore and we have no tortillas in the house, but those do well....I'm thinking enchiladas would be really good as well. The Missus likes Hers with slices of avocado.
It seems like a lot of steps, but is really pretty simple.
2 1/2 - 3 pounds of cubed chicken (a combination of white and dark meat), pork butt (trimmed of excess fat), or beef
1 Tb ground cumin
1 Tb granulated garlic
3 Tb Avocado Oil s
alt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 3 1/2 ounce block of achiote seasoning
2 - 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce
5 Cloves of garlic
1/4 cup soy sauce (I used Aloha Shoyu)
1/4 cup Worchestershire Sauce
1-2 Habanero Chilies (optional)
3-4 Tb Agave Syrup
1 medium onion sliced thin
1/4 cup celery leaves roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ground Cayenne Pepper (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves roughly chopped
1 Tb Mexican Oregano
1 Tb Ground Cumin
1 Tb Granulated Garlic 4
bay leaves 2 cups beer (I used Tecate)
2 Tb Red Wine Vinegar
- Preheat oven to 325
- Combine sauce ingredients in a blender and blend into a sauce
- Combine Meat with 1 Tb ground cumin, granulated garlic, salt and pepper
- Heat pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil and brown meat in batches. Do not crowd. Remove meat to a large bowl or pan when browned.
- If using pork or beef drain excess oil from pot, keeping about 1-2 tablespoons. Add onions, celery leaves, cayenne pepper (if using) and saute until onions are translucent.
- Add oregano, ground cumin, granulated garlic, and bay leaves. Allow spices to "bloom". - When nice and fragrant, add beer to deglaze.
- When liquid is simmering, add sauce into the pot. Bring to a simmer add Red Wine Vinegar.
- Add meat. It should be in almost a single layer completely covered by the sauce. Add cilantro.
- Place a layer of parchment paper, just enough to touch the food and extending over the edges of the pot. - Cover and place in the oven.
- Check after 30 minutes. If the stew is simmering too vigorously lower the temp by 10-15 degrees or so. I also have a taste at this time and adjust my seasonings.
- Check every hour until your desired texture of the meat is reached. If you will not be eating on the same day, stop a bit earlier. Carry-over cooking will take care of the rest.
Well, it's 730pm and still super hot and muggy, so I thought I'd do a quick post as a follow-up to having dinner at Wrench & Rodent. Yep, that swordfish spinal fluid was still on my mind, so on my visit to Catalina Offshore the following week, I asked Tommy about it. Now I knew about Vesiga, the bone marrow of the spinal cord of the European Sturgeon....basically because, my mind being that cesspool of useless information, I recalled reading that it was served during the last meal on the Titanic. I asked Tommy about some background.....he explained that Norwegian fisherman used to consume the stuff to give them "energy".....well at least he didn't tell me, "no worry....it make YOU STRONG!"
Which is how I ended up unwrapping the spine of a swordfish on my counter.....
Harvesting the stuff was totally brainless....I took a heavy knife; a cleaver actually and sliced through the seam of the spinal column. I then proceeded to scoop the wonderful gelatinous stuff out.
And by golly if it didn't taste wonderfully refreshing; slightly of the ocean, with some very faint sweet hints to it. Still, the flavor alone felt a bit incomplete....I felt it could use the most gentle touch of citric acid, so I added two drops of fresh squeezed lime juice.....which just made it perfect. It just kind of slides on down.....
The Missus watched me removing the gelatinous material from the psinal column and had Her doubts...until She got Her first "shot".....and then She was hooked!
And I think you would be too.......get your hands on a fresh swordfish spine and have at it!
Poor Hana Mart. I recently heard from two very reliable sources that the former U Mart will be changing hands again soon.
I find this kind of sad. Even though I believe the produce, meat, and other items are better than what Zion Market sells, the place just can't seem to get any traction.
Bummer. I did ask if the place was going to go through another name change, but no one knew..... I hope they eventually find their way. Competition is a good thing.
Hana Mart 4611 Mercury St San Diego, CA 92111
We're growing mutant okra:
Our recent crop of okra kind of freaked me out.
We let them go for a couple of extra days and they went crazy. The plants that we're using drip irrigation on are doing much better than the ones being watered conventionally, in size and flavor as well.
These were a bit tougher, but super sweet and moist. Here are a few photos to give you some perspective.
It's been mostly lighter fare.......
On the top is a pork-jalapeno sausage topped with a stir-fried okra - ghost pepper relish on top of lettuce from our yard. On the bottom is a smoked scallop "roll". I quick smoked some smaller scallops from Catalina Offshore, finishing with a quick sear. I made a stir-fry for the Missus (see below), and put the rest in the fridge. The next day I chopped up what was left over, added in some scallions and celery from our garden, mixed in some mayo, and seasoned to make a nice refreshing dinner.
And then of course, we're really enjoying our latest batch of Utopenci. Nice and refreshing with a beer on a hot day.... which seems to be everyday over the last couple of weeks....
I'll readily admit it; I've been in a bit of a rut with regards to cooking lately. The combination of dietary limitations, hours of work, and plain having to come up with something new had made me a bit weary. It was much easier just cranking out stuff I've made over the last nine years or so than making the effort to make something new.
Then into my life walked....or should I say swam some White Sea Bass......whole fish; something I'm really not too thrilled about working with. This is also fairly lean, something I was also not to thrilled with....."the other white meat". The Missus simply said, "why don't you make it like what we had at Godoy."
I dug thru my cabinets and came up with this:
I went through my cookbooks and found a simple recipe from Rick Bayless'sFiesta at Rick's for Pescado Zarandeado. Instead of using the Guajillo Chilies, I went with the achiote seasoning and (of course) made some adjustments......
A bit more garlic, a red habanero from the yard, no salt, everything tasted salty enough...and slightly bitter so I added a touch of agave syrup.
I butterflied the fish, something I hadn't done in forever. I then severed the backbone and removed it from the fish, making for easier pickins'.
A well oiled grill basket is a must.
1.75 Ounces(half a block) Achiote Seasoning
1 - 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
2 Tb grated or finely minced garlic
3 Tb soy sauce (of course I used Aloha Shoyu)
3 Tb Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tb Agave Syrup
1/4 tsp Chipotle Powder Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 Red Habanero Chile (optional)
- Combine all ingredients in a blender, puree to a smooth paste.
Use for a fish weighing about 3 pounds or so. I'm sure you can also use with filets, perhaps half the weight of the whole fish.
When charcoal is hot brush fish with sauce - this will probably be more than enough sauce. I understand that you shouldn't "marinate" the fish as it will change the texture.
When you're ready to go, place a grill basket over charcoal grates. When hot, brush with an oil with a high smoke point. Place fish in basket, close basket and grill, turning every 3-4 minutes until cooked, about 15 minutes or so.
When done carefully open the basket and transfer to a platter.
If you noticed the somewhat conspicuous presence of soy sauce and went, "what the heck?" Well, you aren't alone. According to Rick Bayless, many Chinese settled on the West Coast of Mexico after helping to build the railroad in the late 19th century and their presence can still be found....
I served this with a nice, spicy pico de gallo, lime, and thinly sliced red onion.
The Missus really enjoyed the flavors.
Though to be perfectly honest, She enjoyed the grilled chicken I made the next day with the leftover sauce. It was wonderful with a nice refreshing salad.
I really needed something different to get my juices flowing again. To make me open all those books, to look at an ingredient and really want to do something a bit different...... this was the dish that did it for me.
On one of my trips to Catalina Offshore, I noticed two different trays of what was called "Yellowtail", which really didn't resemble Japanese Amberjack or Greater Amberjack (Kanpachi) which I'm familiar with. In fact, the two fish, which I was told are of the same species, did not even look related at all. One tray was the "wild", which was/is running at the time, the other was farmed in from Baja.
I mentioned this to Tommy, which also made it clear what kind of Amberjack this was when he told me the Japanese name....Hiramasa. Since there was a large price difference between the two, I asked him what the real difference was? His response? "You should get some of each and compare...." Which is what I did.
They were nice enough to wrap each piece separately for me.......even telling me which was farmed and which wild.
So, tell me....do these look like the same species?
The farmed sample, on the top, felt like it had more fat, the wild version seemed a bit more firm, but the only way was to actually cook the two the exact same way.
So, simply seasoned, salt, pepper, oregano, smoked paprika, granulated garlic......
Then sauteed in the same pan.....
The difference was quite striking, as you could predict, the farmed fish, being much more fatty, was more delicate, it started flaking off. The flavor was really mild, though it was quite moist....this means, as a cook, you have bit more leeway. This was more of a fish for folks who don't like the flavor of fish....if you know what I mean. In other words, it will take on the flavor of how you season. It's not very flavorful.
As I figured, the wild version was much more dense. You need to be on top of it because it will dry out. The flavor is a much more pronounced "white fish". With mild brine tones, you know you're eating fish.
What is interesting right now is; wild Yellowtail Amberjack goes for half the price of the farmed version! Of course, the season only lasts about three months. As it stands, if I'm cooking, I'll probably go with the wild.......though I'd probably enjoy a good, moist, fresh, sahimi grade Hiramasa at the sushi bar.
This was actually a nice little "project", Tommy comes through with the best suggestions as usual.