Well, the year of the Dragon did not waste any time fulfilling its promises of change. A lot of old things in my life finally broke, ended, or just plain died this year. It started promptly on January 1st with my ex (a dragon himself) moving out, marking the death of a relationship that had been broken for a long time. The next thing I lost was any sense of routine. Regular blog posting was definitely not a priority, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t keeping a visual journal of the year on my phone. Conveniently, my first generation iPhone died a couple weeks later, so I promptly upgraded to the 4S. What was a clean slate is now filled with photos from this year. And what a year it has been.
I spent the better part of January mourning my old life. Fifteen years is a long time to spend with someone to just forget one another. We were trying to figure out if we could still have a place, or play a different role in each others’ lives, but any contact at all just created confusion and unease. So I tried to distract myself by keeping occupied with things that I was sure made sense. I took long walks with my dog. I continued my obsession with testing recipes for home made pantry items such as bacon and granola. I also made an effort to reconnect with old friends, and amazingly enough, several of them invited me to get out of town and stay with them for a while.
The upheaval of my home already had me reflecting on how much of my personal life I had sacrificed to my work, and how much more I was actually willing to sacrifice in the future. At the time I was working my ass off as a sous chef in Brooklyn. I had been working 12-hour days, 60-72 hour weeks, and hadn’t taken a vacation in years. This was one of the things in my new routine that didn’t seem to make sense anymore. I came to realize that your work should serve your life, not the other way around. A leave of absence was just what I needed, to travel and get some perspective. I planned trips to visit friends in New Zealand and Portland, Oregon for February. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to return to my current job after my leave, but my chef and executive chef agreed to hold the position for me if I decided to return.
While I was preparing for my trips, I still struggled with the ghosts of my past and finding a new routine here at home. I was waking up every night at 4AM with anxiety, unable to fall back to sleep. I was unable to focus at work, and found myself going through the day like a zombie, just going through the motions. I couldn’t let myself feel anything or I would fall apart and not be able to accomplish any work at all. So I started seeing a therapist new Union Square to help me cope. Every Monday morning I would stroll through the Union Square Greenmarket, then I would go to Hill Country Chicken for breakfast and coffee before my appointment. What I didn’t realize until later, was that this became the anchor for my new routine. I started looking forward to seeing what was new at the market that week, then spending fifteen or twenty minutes sipping coffee, nibbling on my Eggs Armadillo, and writing down my thoughts and the things I wanted to talk to my therapist about that day.
So for about an hour each week, under the watchful eye of a clinical psychologist, I just let everything spill. Sure, I was surrounded by supportive friends and family, but being connected to me and my life, they could not be expected to be completely objective. It was necessary to have that unbiased person to listen to what I was going through, let me go through it and not judge or try to fix things for me. What I needed was the space to fully experience all the thoughts, issues, and emotions, rational and irrational and just get through them all. Just having that one hour to clear some of the cobwebs from my head helped to keep me focused and present the rest of the week.
One big issue was letting go of what I thought my future would look like now that my relationship had ended. I realized how imbalanced my life had become. I had felt so trapped by my work, my relationship, that when I started reconnecting with friends and loved ones, and other parts of my life again it felt great, but uncertain at the same time. I didn’t know this side of me and was afraid of charging into my new life only screw it up by repeating the same mistakes all over again. This was exactly why I chose to get away for a while. I needed an adventure, I needed to learn to trust myself again, hoping I would see things a little differently, a little more clearly when I returned. I flew out on January 31st and landed outside of Auckland, NZ on February 2nd. I didn’t know it then, but this trip would turn out to be just the first leg of a journey through even more unexpected and uncharted territory I would encounter in 2012.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
We’re all pretty familiar with your standard Eggs Benedict: two poached eggs over a slice of Canadian Bacon or ham, on a toasted English muffin, luxuriously topped with Hollandaise sauce. Well here is a fresh take that makes use of leftovers from Saturday evening’s pork loin roast. Combine them with with farm fresh organic eggs and produce, and crusty sourdough bread to make an elegant Sunday brunch.
This recipe also uses a number of techniques that are good to have in your repertoire.
Rosemary Pork Loin Benedict
INGREDIENTS, serves 6:
For the Orange Hollandaise:
2 egg yolks
2-3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
1 cup warm melted or clarified butter
1-2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
a few drops of Tobasco sauce
salt to taste
For the Benedict:
12 slices from a loaf of crusty French or Italian sourdough
good extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 dozen large eggs
white distilled vinegar
1. Make the Orange Hollandaise: Combine the yolks with the orange juice in a heatproof bowl and whisk together. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and continue whisking until it is thick and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Take care not to cook the yolks or they will curdle. Remove the bowl from the heat, and slowly whisk in the butter. Add lemon juice, tobasco, and salt to taste. Return the bowl to the pot of water, but off the heat to keep warm as you prepare the remaining ingredients (see How to Make Hollandaise Sauce).
2. Toast the bread and warm the Pork Loin: Preheat the oven to 375°. Arrange the slices of bread on a baking sheet. Brush each one with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toast in the oven just to crisp the edges, about 4 or 5 minutes. Lower the oven to 250°. Cut from the roast 12 slices, each about 1/4″ thick. Arrange a slice of pork loin on each slice of bread and return the baking sheet to the oven to keep warm while you poach the eggs.
3. Poach the Eggs: Fill a 10″ shallow saucepan with water and a splash of vinegar. Bring the water to a bare simmer and poach the eggs in batches of 3 or 4 (see How to Poach Eggs). Blot cooked eggs on a paper towel. Arrange two pieces of warm pork loin and toast on each plate and top each with a poached egg. Top eggs with the warm Hollandaise sauce and garnish with Wild Arugula Salad.
Wild Arugula Salad
INGREDIENTS, serves 4 to 6:
1 large bulb of fennel
1 Tbsp. of fresh squeezed lemon juice
2-3 navel oranges
2 large bunches of arugula (or one of those prewashed boxes)
good extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & pepper
1. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut the fennel into paper thin slices, and toss it in a large bowl with the lemon juice. The lemon juice will keep the fennel from turning brown.
2. Remove the peel and pith from the oranges and cut the segments into the bowl of fennel. Squeeze any remaining juice from the cores and add the juice to the bowl as well.
3. Add the arugula to the bowl, sprinkle with a little salt and fresh pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Gently toss all the ingredients together.
Used in the making of this recipe:
Nature’s Promise Organic Pork Loin from Stop & Shop.
Organic French Sourdough from Bread Alone Bakery.
Butter from Organic Valley.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
Why bother to brine a pork roast, a turkey, or a chicken? Well, there are two reasons. The first is that all three of these meats generally don’t contain a lot of intramuscular fat and therefore tend to dry out when you roast or grill them. Brining helps the meat to retain its juices, even if it’s slightly overcooked. The second reason is flavor. A basic brine is made up of water, salt and sugar. Soaking a roast, a bird, or even chops in this liquid allows the meat to become seasoned all the way through, not just on the outside.
Lately one of the things I like to keep in my larder is a pork loin roast. A 1-1/2 to 2 lb. roast is the perfect size for my little household of two plus dog. I brine it for about 2 hours, then sear it off, and roast it. The whole process takes about 3 hours, largely unattended. Properly cooled and left whole, the cooked roast with keep for about 3 days tightly wrapped in the fridge. Then I just slice off pieces as I need to make grilled sandwiches or to have with eggs and toast.
Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin
INGREDIENTS for a 2 lb. pork loin roast:
1 quart (4 cups) water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. table salt or fine sea salt
or 1 Tbsp. plus 1-/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
salt and freshly ground black pepper
neutral cooking oil, such as canola or grapeseed
1. Prepare the brine by combining water with the salt, sugar and rosemary in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove the pan from the heat allow the brine to cool completely (it should be cold to the touch) before using.
2. To brine the roast, simply put it in a non-reactive (i.e. plastic, glass, or stainless steel) bowl or container, cover it with the brine, and weigh it down with a plate so it stays completely submerged. Instead of a container I like to use a ziploc freezer bag. The roast fits perfectly inside a gallon size bag, and if you are able to squeeze out most of the air before you seal it, you will find you only need about 2 cups of brine to keep the roast completely submerged. Refrigerate the roast in the brine for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
3. Remove the roast from the brine and discard the brine. I prefer to tie the roast before cooking. This will help the roast to keep a uniform shape and cook evenly. The simplest method is to use a few lengths of twine and tie the roast in three places about 1-1/2 inches apart. Tie it only tight enough so that it holds its shape.
4. To roast the loin preheat the oven to 350° F. Meanwhile pat the roast dry with some paper towels and season the outside with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a 10″ ovenproof skillet, and when the oil is shimmering, brown the roast on three sides, and the ends. Flip the roast onto the fourth side and pop it in the oven, skillet and all. The fourth side will continue to brown in the oven.
5. Roast to an internal temperature of 135°, about 30-45 minutes. Then pull the roast from the oven and let it rest at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes. The internal temperature will continue to rise a few degrees as it rests, and should reach 140°. It is also important to let the meat rest before serving so that the juices in the center of the meat redistribute to the outer parts which have dried out during cooking.
6. To store the roast for later use, transfer the roast whole to a plate or small tray and let it cool completely in the fridge. Once it is completely cooled all the way through, wrap it tightly in plastic, and keep it refrigerated. Use within 3 days.
Use thinly sliced pork loin in place of ham for your ham and cheese sandwiches.
Use thick sliced pork loin instead of Canadian bacon or ham for Eggs Benedict.
Try brining and roasting a boneless turkey breast instead of pork loin. Omit the sugar from the brine and substitute thyme or sage in place of rosemary. Brine for about 1 hour per pound. Then roast to an internal temperature of 160° and let it rest so it reaches 165°. Cool and store as you would the pork loin.
Make a big batch of brine and keep it in your fridge for whenever you need it. After all, it’s only salt, sugar and water so it should keep for some time.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
I ordered a pork shoulder through Basis Foods a couple months ago. The online store estimated each one at about 8 or 9 lbs. But when it arrived from Mountain View Farm it was a whopping 13 lbs, and…it was frozen. So I popped it in my freezer because unless I had a special occasion or a plan to make use of all that pork, there was no way the Buddy and I were going to be able to eat all of it.
Last week I finally thawed it out. The boneless half I sliced into steaks which I used to make Char Siu, and Tasso Ham. The bone end, which weighed about 7 lbs. became the easiest pulled pork ever. I looked up David Chang’s recipe for his Bo Ssam in the Momofuku Cookbook, and was truly surprised at how basic his recipe was for marinating and cooking the pork: Rub pork with salt and sugar and marinate overnight. Cook pork, in a covered pan at 300 degrees until fork tender.
That was it. I cooked the pork in a covered dutch oven overnight. You don’t need to add any liquid to the pan because the temperature should be low enough, and a typical pork butt should release enough pan an juices to keep the roast from drying out. Just make sure your butcher has left a good layer of fat on to keep the meat from drying out. I set my alarm for 6 hours, and awoke to find a perfectly cooked pork but that was falling off the bone. The sugar caramelized over the covering of fat, making it wonderfully sweet, salty and crispy. How’s that for cooking in your sleep?
Easy Pulled Pork Shoulder
Adapted from David Chang’s Momofuku Cookbook
6-8 lb. bone-in pork shoulder (a.k.a. boston butt):
1 cup salt
1-1/2 cups sugar (substitute a portion of brown sugar if you like)
Mix together the salt and sugar. Rub the pork shoulder with the mixture and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate and allow it to marinate for at least 6, but no longer than 24 hours.
After marinating, take pork butt out of the fridge and place it in a deep baking dish or dutch oven. The meat should fit rather snugly. Let it rest at room temperature about 1 hour. Meanwhile adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position, and preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Cover the baking dish completely with foil, or put the lid on the dutch oven and cook for about 6 hours or until the meat pulls easily with a fork. There should be a good amount of fat and juices in the bottom of the pan. Let the meat rest for 30-45 minutes before pulling it. After it has been pulled, mix in some of the fat and juices, to taste.
The neutral flavor of this pulled pork makes it perfect for a variety of preparations. Serve it as pulled pork sandwiches, with soft potato rolls, pickles, and cole slaw , or try substituting it in this recipe for pork belly tacos.
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Bacon, oh delicious bacon. There is no other food I can think of that inspires people to the same degree of epicurean lust. In one Jim Gaffigan standup routine, he spends a good two and a half minutes extolling the joys of eating bacon in its many forms. One waiter at work shared with me that having described a dish as containing bacon, he has had even more than one customer grunt “Yeah, bacon!” Bacon is equally delicious and dirty. It is salty, sweet and smoky all at the same time, not to mention luxuriously fatty. It is a guilty pleasure that connects us to an older more primal way of life. Since modern refrigeration has eliminated the need for us to even make bacon or other cured and smoked meats, it is something we do for the pure enjoyment of flavor.
A couple years back, we bought a Brinkman smoker for the house at an end-of-season sale. And a few weeks ago I got my hands on an entire slab of Berkshire pork belly, so naturally I decided to try making bacon at home. I consulted three different books on the matter: Jane Grigson’s Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery (originally published in 1967), Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn’s Charcuterie, and Hugh Fearnsly Whittingsall’s River Cottage Meat Book. What I learned was that making bacon is really easy.
First, there’s the Cure:
First you dry cure the belly in a mixture of salt, sugar, and whatever flavorings you may choose. Salt is the only essential ingredient, since it is the primary preservative. Beyond that, sugar and other flavorings are added to balance the salt, and a small amount of curing salt (a.k.a. pink salt, saltpetre) though not essential, is added to maintain the rosy pink hue of the pork and as a precaution against botulism. All three books vary greatly on their suggested ratios of salt to sugar. Ruhlman/Polcyn’s cure is a ratio of 2 parts salt to 1 part sugar, plus 10 percent of their combined weight in pink salt. Grigson’s cure calls for 2-1/2 lbs. of salt to only 1 oz. sugar, and 1 oz. pink salt. Fearnley-Whittingsall’s cure falls somewhere in between. I decided to try two recipes: the River Cottage one and the Ruhlman/Polcyn one. The basic process is pretty much the same. Once you mix the cure, you just slather the belly with enough of the cure to evenly cover it, and set it in a container or ziploc bag in the fridge. The River Cottage recipe says to pour off any liquid that is released and rub the belly with fresh cure each day, Ruhlman/Polcyn directs you to simply turn the meat to redistribute the cure and the liquid. A 1″ thick piece of belly will usually be ready in about 4 to 5 days. Then you just wash off the cure and you have what is commonly referred to as salt pork. Before smoking, let it dry in the fridge for a day or two. Drying creates a tacky surface on the meat known as the pellicle, which allows the smoke to adhere to it.
Then there’s the Smoke:
Bacon, as commonly understood in America is then just smoked salt pork. The River Cottage recipe calls for cold-smoking the bacon, at a temperature of less than 100 degrees F (ideally 75°-86° F), for 24 hours continuously, or up to a week, intermittently. Ruhlman/Polcyn, call for a hot smoke, at 180° F to 200° F until the internal temperature of the bacon reaches 150° F. So again, here is a matter of personal preference. The longer the smoke time, the smokier your bacon will be. A cold smoke takes longer, but it is more difficult to maintain the proper temperature without special equipment. A hot smoke can be done in a charcoal grill in a matter of a few hours. Since I didn’t have the proper equipment (or time, for that matter) for cold smoking, I decided to just go with a hot smoke. The difference is that hot smoking slow cooks the meat as it smokes, resulting in a final product that is essentially ready to eat.
To hot smoke meats, you can use a charcoal smoker, like the cylindrical kind, or a charcoal grill. The technique simply involves building an indirect fire, which roasts the meat rather than grilling it. The meat is not placed directly over the coals, but a distance above or to one side. In a cylindrical smoker, the meat is held on a rack a couple feet above the coals. In a charcoal grill, you would build your fire on one side of the grill, and place your meat on the other side, away from the coals. In both cases, the grill is then covered, trapping the heat and smoke inside so that the meat slow roasts the same way it would in an oven. If you use hardwood charcoal, you will get the smoky hardwood flavor without having to use wood chips. However, hardwood charcoal burns hotter and faster so you will probably have to keep a close eye on your fire. Using lump charcoal and wood chips is definitely easier. First soak your wood chips in water for about half and hour. In the meantime, light the coals. When they are glowing red, spread the wood chips over them so that they smolder and create the desired smoke. Then just place your meat away from the heat source, put the lid on, and slow smoke until the meat reaches the target internal temperature of 150º F.
So How Did it Go?
As luck would have it we experienced a warm spell last week – just as my bellies had just finished curing and drying, and were ripe for the smoking. It was 60 degrees outside and everyone was walking around t-shirts. Looking around, it was hard to believe we were still in the middle of February. So I went digging around in the basement for our smoker. I opened up the package, and what did I find inside but two copies of the complementary recipe book, but no assembly instructions. Thankfully, this was not a problem. After working in a futon shop in my post college years (thanks Lou and Lorrie) and having to assemble many a home furnishing product, I found the smoker was not much different. Charcoal, on the other hand, was a problem. As in, I didn’t have any, and my car was in the shop. If I had had an electric hot plate, I could have rigged the smoker to work like the Big Chief electric smoker we use at work, but I didn’t have a hot plate either. It’s moments like these when a close-knit family of pack-rats is a definite blessing. I called my aunt and uncle who live down the street to see if they might have an electric hot plate or some charcoal kicking around. They couldn’t find their hot plate, which they were sure they had but would have to go rooting around their basement to find. They did find an old 20 lb. bag of charcoal they had no use for, since they were grilling with propane nowadays.
By the time I got started smoking my belly it was close to dark, and we don’t yet have lights out in our backyard, so I was out there with the belly, a pair of tongs, a bag of charcoal, a roll of newspaper, a butane torch, applewood chips soaking in a bowl of water…and a flashlight. But it was worth it. The hardest thing about the whole process was just getting the fire lit. But once I got the coals glowing in the bottom of the smoker, I just sprinkled the applewood chips over them, set the belly on the top rack of the smoker over a pan to catch the drippings, and closed up the smoker . Aside from checking the coals from time to time to make sure they hadn’t burned out there was not much else to do. I think the temperature inside the smoker was probably higher than 200°F, but in about 2-3 hours, the belly had reached an internal temperature of over 150 degrees so I took it out and let it cool. It had turned an amber color from the smoke, and was glistening and smelled amazing too.
Today it snowed again, and it’s hard to believe that just a few days ago it felt like Spring. We reminded ourselves by making some of the best BLT sandwiches ever. As I unwrapped the parchment package, the aroma of smoke was released into the air from the slab of homemade bacon. I cut a few 1/8″ thick slices off the slab, arranged them on a parchment lined baking sheet and set them in a 350° F oven. In about 15-20 minutes they had rendered just enough fat, and were just beginning to crisp. I let them drain on a paper towel. Hmm-boy did they make some killer sandwiches. There are two things about homemade bacon that really make it stand out from the supermarket stuff. First it’s drier, so it doesn’t shrink and curl nearly as much. Second, its flavor is so far superior, and it is so easy to make, I don’t think I can ever go back.
Even though the package of wood chips I had said that you could use them dry, this method ends up creating flare ups that cause the temperature to get too hot, and create undesirable charring on the meat.
The hot smoked recipe I used said that the bacon would keep up to two weeks in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.
I have a confession to make. Despite my Asian heritage, I don’t know much about cooking Asian food. Sure, I know how to stir-fry and know how to use the more common Asian ingredients, but Mom’s home cooking was nothing like restaurant food. After years of cooking for myself, then going to culinary school, I can make Bechamel sauce for mac and cheese, French Onion Soup, and Chipotle and Chorizo Chili without blinking an eye, but ask me how to make Chinese standards like Red Cooked Pork, Sweet & Sour Sauce, or Kung Pao Chicken, and I wouldn’t know where to start.
So last weekend when Chef and I were batting around ideas for a special using Black Sea Bass, and he said “Why don’t we go Asian?” I felt my heart sink. Um, anytime my family went out for say, Chinese, we ate family style and had giant fish steamed whole, head on and everything, with a simple garnish of ginger and garlic. The waiter would cut the fish open and remove it’s spine and ribs tableside. Then my mind went to all the restaurants in Chinatown with succulent roasted meats hanging in their windows, beckoning hungry patrons from the street. I thought of my favorite Thai joint in Astoria, and the hot stone bowl casseroles and seafood pancakes at my favorite Korean restaurant. Still, I didn’t know how to cook any of these dishes, much less how to adapt them to western style fine dining.
I took this as motivation to get back in the kitchen – my home kitchen – and further educate myself on how to use new ingredients and new methods. I thought I would start with one of my favorite comfort food items, and a Chinese staple: Char Siu, or Chinese roast pork. It always reminds me of working summers at my Dad’s office in Chinatown, where I would regularly have a simple lunch of Char Siu with white rice and fresh stir-fried greens. So I decided to consult the country’s leading authority: Martin Yan. I copied down the ingredients from my autographed copy of Martin Yan’s China and drove down to my local Asian grocery. The budding chives and Chinese broccoli looked really fresh, so I picked up some of those too and stir fried them with some fresh garlic and chili sambal. I know that Siracha Sauce is all the rage right now, but I prefer Chili Sambal as a spicy condiment.
By the way, a thousand pardons for the recipe drought. I’ve been cooking a lot, just not at home, and nothing I can share. I finally got some time this week to cook for Boyfriend and myself. This recipe for Char Siu is for oven roasting, but I’ll bet grilling over hardwood charcoal would be smoky and delicious too! Enjoy.
Char Siu (Chinese Roast Pork)
Adapted from Martin Yan’s China
Notes: Mr. Yan’s recipe was just like my memories of Chinatown, except for a couple things. First, it called for sugar in the marinade, which I found unnecessary. Also, after cooking, his instructions were to simply bring the marinade to a boil and brush over the pork before serving. I found the resulting sauce was too sweet and thick for my taste. After bringing it to a boil, I diluted the marinade with some hot water and that seemed to do the trick.
INGREDIENTS, serves 4
(3) 1/2 lb.well marbled shoulder steaks or 1-1/2 lbs. pork butt
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp. rice wine or dry sherry
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. ground white pepper
1 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder
1. If you are using pork butt, slice the meat into three pieces of equal thickness.
2. To make the marinade, mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the meat, cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours. (I only had time for 4 hours, but if you marinate longer, you’ll get more flavor, and an attractive red ring around the meat when it’s sliced).
3. To cook, preheat oven to 400°F. Place a rack over a baking dish (you may want to line it with foil for easy cleanup). Pour about 1/4″ of water in the baking dish. Arrange the meat slices in a single layer on the rack and roast, basting with the marinade every 15 minutes until they are cooked through. (For 1″ thick shoulder steaks, it took about 45 minutes). Let the meat rest for about 15 minutes then slice it against the grain.
4. Combine the marinade with any pan drippings in a small saucepan and bring it all to a boil over high heat. Dilute with hot water if you want a thinner, less sweet sauce, or simmer and reduce if you want a thicker sweeter sauce. Brush over the pork and serve.
Spicy Chinese Broccoli with Budding Chives
Notes: Chinese broccoli can be braised whole, but the stalks stay very crunchy long after the leaves are wilted. By separating the leaves and floret from the stalk, then slicing the stalk into smaller pieces, everything will cook more evenly and be less work to eat.
INGREDIENTS, serves 4:
one bunch (about 12 stalks) of Chinese Broccoli
one bunch (about 1/4 lb.) Budding Chives
1-1/2 to 2 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. Chili Sambal (adjust to taste)
1. Wash the Chinese Broccoli thoroughly in a large container of water. Separate the large outer leaves from stalk and trim the florets to 2″ long pieces. Thinly slice the thick part of the stalk. Cut the Budding Chives into 2″ long pieces.
2. Combine oil and garlic. Heat wok over high heat. Pour oil garlic mixture into the wok and swirl around a few seconds. Add all the Chinese broccoli and Budding Chives to the wok. Saute for about 5 minutes over high heat, stirring continuously, and adding oil as needed to lightly coat the vegetables.
3. Add enough water so that after any steam clears, there is about 1/4″ of water at the bottom of the wok. Simmer over high heat until most of the water has evaporated and the broccoli is cooked but still bright green. Season with salt and Chili Sambal to taste.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
I’ve been getting quite the education on Mexican food and culture at work, since many of the kitchen staff and runners are from Mexico. Every Sunday, during their break between brunch and dinner, one of the runners picks up tacos and tortas from a nearby Mexican joint for the staff. My favorite is carnitas, or slow roasted pork, with a simple traditional garnish of lettuce, onions, cilantro, lime, and a choice of red or green salsa.
At home, I like to make soft tacos with braised pork belly. Yes, pork belly has become almost a culinary cliche and it seems every day another restaurant in the city jumps on the bandwagon. But it is a wonderfully forgiving and flavorful cut of meat and slow braising pork belly makes it ultra tender and moist. It is the cut of pork that bacon is made from, so there is a lot of fat, but slow braising renders out a good deal of it anyway. The acidity of salsa verde, pickled onion, and lime juice, and the bright citrusy flavor of cilantro balance out the rest. This recipe is adapted from a demonstration given by Aaron Sanchez at the French Culinary Institute while I was a student there.
You will note that the recipe calls for annatto paste. Derived from the seed pods of the achiote tree, it is commonly used in Central and South American cooking to add color and flavor. I find it adds more color than flavor so you can omit it if you don’t have any on hand. Incidentally, annatto is also the pigment that gives Cheddar cheese it’s orange glow.
Link to the full Recipe: Braised Pork Belly TacosRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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