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.
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.
We always return from our trips having learned a little something....about ourselves, our tastes, there's always a new wrinkle. While in the Czech Republic, we fell in love with this "hospoda" (pub/tavern) specialty; Utopenci, literally "drowned man". There's just something about these tart-sour-porky sausages that really refresh when you have it with a cold one.
Why "drowned man"...well, we heard two stories, typical of the rather dark, ironic, humor we found in the Czech Republic,....the "Czech twist" we call it. The first is that the inventor of this dish, a pub owner, got drunk one night and drowned to death, hence the "drowned man". The second story is that these pickled tubular meat items look like drowned bodies bobbing around in the jar......
We tried Utopenci wherever we saw them on the menu in the Czech Republic and even bought a couple from markets when we went shopping. The Missus could be heard exclaiming "I really am craving a drowned man...." in the airport....luckily, we were in Prague so other than the tourists, everyone else knew what She was talking about.... I think.
These are knackwursts from Tip Top Meats, smoked forcemeat type sausages. If you buy an uncooked sausage, you can heat them in the pickling liquid before bottling.
Couple of key points, it is important to make that slice two-thirds of the way through. It ensures that the sausage absorbs all of that pickling goodness. Second, as with the Pickled Onion recipe, this is a "starter" type deal. Make adjustments to your taste, this uses a 2:1 ratio of vinegar to water...add celery, chilies, garlic....smoked pork!
Main thing is that those little "men" floating around in your fridge hit the spot......
Utopenci - The Drowned Man:
3/4 Cup Water
1 1/2 Cup White Vinegar
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp Whole Peppercorns
1/2 tsp Whole Allspice Berries
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 Onion sliced 1
1/2 lb Smoked Sausage - kielbasa/smoked knackwurst, or whatever sausage tickles your fancy.
- Combine water, vinegar, and salt in a pan and bring to a simmer.
- Add bay leaves and simmer for 5 minutes. Add in peppercorns and allspice
- Once liquid cools slice sausage 2/3 way through - if using kielbasa cut down to size first.
- Place a slice of onion in sliced part of sausage. Place a couple of slices of onion at the bottom of a sterilized jar.
- Pack sausages in the jar
- Cover with liquid, seal jar and leave 5-7 days before eating.
There you've a set of drowned men you can call your own!
Meet our latest "staple", something the Missus says we should always have on hand......
Basically, duck legs, cured, then cooked at a very low temperature covered with fat (oil poached) for hours, which produces and amazingly flavorful, juicy, and tender product. It can then be stored in it's own fat for rather long periods of time. Most folks hear "duck confit" and think it;s something difficult to make; but at its core it's basically a preservation method, with animal fat used as a barrier to the elements. It is amazingly easy....basically prep, cure, rinse, dry, poach in oil, cool, put in the fridge.
Prepping them for a meal is also easy; the most basic method being putting in a 400-425 oven and baking until heated through and the skin is crisp. I prefer doing this on the stovetop, starting with a cold pan and under low heat. The fat renders out...which we later use for eggs or potatoes. The idea is to heat through slowly while crisping up the the skin. I usually raise the temp a bit near the end.
This one had a simple pan sauce where the duck fat is poured off into a bowl for later use, shallots are softened, since we're still not doing cooking with alcohol at home; I used veal stock to deglaze and reduce. When reduced I add a touch of Date vinegar, and creme fraiche, since it's fermented and allowed. This one is served with a version of stoemp, made a bit more creamy with the cooking liquid from the sauteed vegetables and some duck fat. It is, in a word, quite the meal.
All you really need for curing the duck is really salt....but of course, the Missus needs that little "Chinese touch", because She believes all duck should have that flavor profile, so I use Five Spice powder.....from QingDao...where you actually go to a herbalist/pharmacy to have them mix up for you. The duck legs I order from Bristol Farm, I pick them up, usually the day it is delivered....it's never frozen and quite fresh.
Duck Confit - mmm-yoso style
Seasoning per duck leg:
3/4 Tb of coarse sea salt - we use Maldon Salt because it's pretty easy to get
several grinds of black pepper
1/4 tsp Chinese Five Spice
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
Duck fat to cover/submerge duck legs. About 6 cups or so. (you can supplement with pork fat, or other neutral oil - not too much)
- Rub seasoning into duck and place fat side down in a single layer in a pan
- Place in the fridge overnight
- Put duck in a single layer in a pot and submerge in duck fat
- Cook at a low temperature, preferably 180-190 degrees....the lowest in our oven is 200, which I measured at 210, so I make due.
- Cook for 4-8 hours. We're usually at the low end.
- When a skewer goes easily into the duck legs remove from the heat- the tricky part is to stop before the duck start breaking down. It will keep cooking as it cool.
- Cool, and remove to a container, cover with fat and place in the fridge.
Once you've finished eating your duck, you can reuse the fat for confit a few more times before it gets too salty.....
It's a getting a bit too warm in the hallway for fermentation. Yet we've kinda caught the bug. So why not play around with pickling? I love pickled onions and I'm thinking about using those Ghost Peppers, or maybe Red Habaneros to make some spicy pickled onions.
So I thought I'd go with a starter recipe for pickled onions, like we used to make "back home". The recipe has been scaled down for a single jar and can be doubled, quadrupled, etc as desired. You can add more salt, less salt, soy sauce, etc..... My original recipe had sugar.....equal to the amount of salt. No bueno here since the Missus is on Her "diet". I added a couple of cloves of garlic and three serranos.
Anyway, here's a decent base recipe. It's a nice start; you can make adjustments as you desire....
This is good with any rich meat...or fried chicken...or fried whateva'.
Easy "Local Kine" Pickled Onions:
3/4 cup bottled water
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 medium onions quartered - but not cut all the way through
1 1/2 Tb Kosher Salt
1/4 red bell pepper cut into strips
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
A couple of chilies, garlic, etc.....
- Wash a sterilize Ball jar - Combine water, vinegar, and salt. Stir until salt dissolves - Pack Ball jar with onions, bell pepper, etc.... - Add peppercorns - Pour in pickling liquid - Cover and seal. Leave in a dark place for 1-2 days shaking occasionally - Then refrigerate for at least 5 days before eating
Way back in November when I posted on our Thanksgiving Duck two people emailed me asking about rendering duck fat. So......the Missus has been craving duck and asked me to make duck confit this past weekend. We didn't have much duck fat leftover from Thanksgiving....duck fat lasts forever....even with what I had from our previous confit. So it was a perfect time to order a duck....I get a duck from Bristol Farm. I order it from the poultry guy since I don't want one of the frozen ones. He places his orders to Mary's on Fridays and Wednesdays.....I do the Wednesday order thing, it arrives on Friday, I pick up early Saturday morning, along with two extra legs. Why? Well, unless you see any four legged ducks out there.....
The process is simple.....you take Ducky....pat the poor fellow dry.
The Missus was amazed that I could break this baby down in less than 10 minutes. Actually, you know that's a lie....She would never be impressed because "it's just a duck, it's already dead, there are no feathers........2 minutes max!"
I then trim the fat from the carcass, I follow-up by trimming the portioned legs and breast. I then cleaned up the skin and fat by taking off excess bits of meat and other "stuffs".
We are then ready to go. I slice the fat into thin strips and put into a heavy bottomed pan. I turn the heat to medium and add a half-cup of bottled or filtered water.
You may ask "water???" But yes, water. It helps to keep the skin and fat from burning during the rendering process...really!
When things start getting kind of exciting....lot's of bubbling, I turn the heat down a smidge.....
After about 35 minutes to 45 minutes you start getting something that looks like this going on.
A few minutes later you're ready to strain the whole thing. And you end up with this.
Yep, duck cracklins. I dropped a small packet off for our good friend "YY" and the rest we used as salad toppings. And heck, I just read that duck fat might be a healthy alternative to butter. Anyway, a little goes a long way.....folks have used duck fat to preserve food...as in duck confit. I used what I had in the fridge and about 2/3 of a cup of the recently rendered fat, leaving me with a cup for other stuffs.
I mean really, this duck and parts ain't cheap, like over $40...however, 2 meals from breasts, bones for soup, 4 legs confit...duck fat and cracklins.....priceless.
Trying to figure out how to do the duck breasts within the limits of the Whole 30 was interesting......
We settled on slowly searing the breasts, crisping the skin while rendering the fat, draining periodically. While the duck finished in the oven. I used some of the rendered fat to saute vegetables, some of which, like the padron peppers came from our garden, flavoring with a natural Date Vinegar with no added sugar we bought in Ghent. I then took the rest of the rendered fat from the breasts and made a sauce of sorts with the vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Oh, and you can't forget that these had been seasoned with five-spice from QingDao....after all, according to the Missus, duck is not duck without that flavor profile.
As we were heading on to the tail end of our trip, the Missus told me She was going to do something called the Whole 30 Program. I didn't think much of it until I read about the foods She would need to avoid for 30 days....you might recall, I do almost all the cooking in our household and would have to adhere to these rules when cooking. Basically, no sugars of any kind - real or artificial (that would include honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, coconut sugar), no alcohol even for cooking (forget about the Shaoxing in the stir fry or mirin for that matter), no legumes or beans (No soy sauce - why don't you just stab me in the heart and get it over with, no peanuts, peanut butter, all forms of soy - you need to check for lecithin), no grains of any kind (including quinoa, no starches for thickening, nothing battered, no breads, no bogus gluten free stuff), no dairy (forget the cheese, except for clarified butter and ghee), no MSG or sulfites (gotta read those labels), basically, NO FUN.
I promised the Missus I'd do a "Whole 7" in support....I'd already lost 17 pounds on my trip. I always lose weight on vacation, I even joked with Kirbie during our dinner that Villa Manila, calling our upcoming trip my annual visit to the fat farm....I can eat anything, drink anything, and I will lose weight. So if you've wondered why my posts were kind of sparse for a while that's it....along with the fact that even though I waited a whole 7 days before popping open that beer, we're still doing the Whole 30 when we eat at home....in case you've been wondering why the Missus has been absent in my restaurant posts....first thing I had...noodles....oodles of noodles.
Basically, food looks like this everyday. You know, the thought of having steak every night might sound like fun.....but I need variety....
I've been grilling a couple of nights a week....I've gotten pretty good at Weeknight grilling over the years, but man, not being able to use soy sauce, any sweeteners, and the like makes things tough and I'm having to rely on doing basic rubs. Salads are basically vinaigrettes, I guess vinegar (so long it has no sugar - you end up reading labels like crazy, and oh, malt vinegar has gluten so no bueno) is ok. This itself can get pretty old, think about sauces.....you can't really use anything you don't make yourself.
So here's one the Missus really enjoys - very simple......oh, and one of Her latest things is Avocado Oil. Sauces like this makes this diet survivable.
I've made this a couple of times and She enjoys it. Though it doesn't totally take the "die" out of diet. I'll post some other stuff I've been making at home later on.
2 bunches cilantro - stems removed
1/2 cup Avocado Oil - plus more in necessary
5 cloves garlic
1/4 small onion choppped or 2-3 shallots chopped
2-3 Serrano Peppers chopped
3 Tb pepetas - toasted and crushed
juice from 2 limes
Chipotle Powder, Salt, and Pepper to taste
Water as needed
- Tear up cilantro and place in food processor, along with the garlic, serranos, onion/shallots
- Add 1/4 cup of the avocado oil and lime juice
- Turn on food processor and slowly add the rest of the avocado oil.
- If too thick you can add more oil and water as necessary
- Taste and add the pepitas, Chipotle Powder, Salt, and Pepper - pulse several times and taste again
This tastes great with grilled chicken (skin on please - since fat seems to be a virtue), burgers, and even some fish.