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v. gautam

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  1. 3.5 kW is extreme, for professional use, the electric induction equivalent of the monster gas burners in restaurants. There is even a 5 kW version in the pipeline. These have massive current draws, and work best on 220/240 Volt/3phase lines, not usually available in US homes. The ampere draw is huge, 1200-3000 amps at 110v. This is rugged professional equipment that will deliver destructive heat for stir-frying at the same level as a gas burner without the fuss, for those who fancy a "professional result" in their kitchen. that was the point being made. Not at all necessary for the normal, sane home cook!! Most good flat induction surfaces upto 1.8kW will deliver high heat. You pay from USD 60-1000, Chinese to US manufacture for moveable cooktop, flat or curved. The difference is in the quality and longevity. A mid-range product, as you suggest, is indeed the best [even the only feasible] solution for most normal households and budgets. Restaurant supply stores have good deals from time to time. GALA SOURCE used to have excellent heavy duty triple ply SS frying pans for around USD 40-50, one of the best kept secrets in a world of Cuisinart & AllClad. I mention this here because these are some of the best home stir fry utensils possible. I do not see them around any more. But these below are the next best and not a bad price for the quality: http://www.galasource.com/carlisle--kitche...1014-49245.aspx For the genteman who is advising his friend, electric + the patio or large steel table Tarhong wok stove, copper being my preference below, at $80, is another option: http://www.galasource.com//thunder-group-t...S003-33465.aspx Such a wokstove adds flexibility and fun to cooking "Chinese Style" inasmuch as it satisfies the romantic imagination of some and gives doctors and firemen something to look forward to, in their otherwise humdrum existence. Good just as the wok stove is, one can tweak it with a 0-30 psi gas regulator + 10-14 feet metallized gas tubing purchased separately, distancing the propane cylinder well away from the business end for extra safety. Similar supply stores located nationwide for are good for deals on cleavers, cutting boards, woks and most other things. Find the best prices on the net & ask them to match.
  2. In the Indian Himalayas, Nepal etc. roasted Perilla seeds are made into a paste with or without roasted sesame, crushed garlic, a long-cooked decoction of the wild Himalayan Citrus jambhiri called chook [something like thick pomegranate syrup or balsamic vinegar, very tart and aromatic, used to preserve the huge crop], crushed green chillies, combined to dress sliced boiled potatoes. Excellent!
  3. Electric is fantastic for stir-frying and so is a flat bottomed thingie like a pressure cooker bottom. A cheap aluminum one, 6 qt, may be bought in a junkyard, perfectly serviceable, for $2-5. I hesitate about Aluminum because of the acidic wine & sauces. A 6 qt stainless steel cooker is not very expensive these days, even $30 or less in sales. A flatter, wider shape raher than deeper is one to look for. It is better than a wok ON flat-coil ELECTRIC in the right hands. Plastic handles, high sides, great stability, good thick bottom, non-reactive, convenient puorability when dish finished, rinse/wash fast and ready for new dish. People says it sticks, not really true, just scrape a little with spatula, wash while hot, wipe with towel. I wish I could come and show you how to cook well with one! Some immigrant Chinese families I have known cook with pressure cooker bottoms to superb effect, which is where i learnt this trick!! They steam with pressure cookers as well & make broth! I have cooked in a professional Thai-Chinese-Lao take out restaurant on the master blasters for long, with the professional pressures of long lines in a college town, 3 pm-10 pm, day in and out, multiple dishes, switching from Thai to Chinese to Lao, wet to dry, rice, noodle, curries, wetter Lao dishes, so I think i can speak from a wide range of restaurant and home experience, equipment, technique, prep work etc. The thing with a flat coil stove is to leave it on high, and move your cooker on and off the coils to a cold coil not in use.Your mise en place needs to be perfect, and work space uncluttered, and no one bugging the cook. If one starts small, like 1 stir fry, 1 soup, rice and then slowly move up as confidence is gained, then things become manageable. Forget about the round and flat Chinese spatulas in a pressure cooker. Get high quality stainless ladle type things that fit your hands, about $7 at Target. These are not round, bow shape, but sort of like the cupped palm of your hand in outline; they move well within the coninesofthe cooker and wok for that matter. And maybe 1 good SS spatula with thin edges, fairly long stem, wood handles, similar price. But as with everything YMMV. For grating ginger, a simple flat steel grater with large and small holes: small holes grate, large ones make larger nice shreds for sushi pickles, Thai & Chinese dishes. Don't waste money on fancy stuff. Cleaver = Dexter Russell carbon steel. Not necessary. Some will disagree vehemently, but this could be tried as an experiment: 1. Velveting in simmering water: excellent with chicken breast that many Americans love; avoids frenetic activity, heat and one element of stir frying, so you just need to focus on the vegetbles and sauce 2. Slippery coating: another technique where only the vegetable component is stir fried, usually vegetables like cauliflower that take a slightly longer time to cook than, say, leafy greens. Thinly sliced meat that has been marinated is scattered over the veg, during the covered steaming phase. They both finish together, the coat sealing the meat, making it very tender plus adding thickening to the veg./liquid. Finish with seasoning sauces or not. Quite low-fat & healthy everyday home-style, far removed from restaurant greasy glop. People really have little idea just how much oil goes into their favorite take away Chinese or Thai items. By contrast, home cooking may taste pallid at first, lacking that typical restaurant taste. Gradually, a new appreciation might dawn on how that food SHOULD taste like. Even Ms. Dunlop occasionally is not shy with deep frying as a preliminary and with using fats with a generous hand; but for most of history, being able to afford much cooking fat was difficult on an everyday basis for most people.
  4. v. gautam

    DIY Chai

    You are NOT a weirdo! At least 1 billion of the 1.2 nowin the subcontinent will applaud you for being an intrinsis spiritual genius, latching on to the innate qualities of AMRUT TULYA Chai. Read all about it here!! http://www.gourmetindia.com/Amrut-tulya-te...356.html&p=8478 "...the “bad bitter” things from the tea. But what do you know ? - so called these bad things, plentiful in Amrut tulya tea now appear to be the “magical compounds” for our health ....Most of the information people have followed from the books regarding "how to make a perfect cup of tea" reflects the English taste and is not relevant to us Indians, Secondly, they do not reflect about our current scientific knowledge about benefits of tea. Moreover, all the emphasis is on the value of flavor and taste; today, we should drink tea not for its taste alone, but because it is good for you. [!!!!, mine]......" And here's the clincher, besides Indian innate spiritual omniscience: their innate ability to glom on to SCIENTIFIC TRUTH, no less, just as PP did!! "And snobbish so called “civilized” people looking down on "Amrut tulya" tea should be reminded of that Amrut tulya is as good and perhaps more scientific than other methods." !!!! BTW, if you are preparing chai in a saucepan your way, since you have it on boil, it will not hurt to cool bit to drinking temperature. Let it stand in the pan. More yummy tannins might seep out, but the leaf, ctc, spice, gunk etc. will fall to the bottom. Now carefully decant. With a little wristwork, you can get 97+% of the chai into your mug(s) or in separate teapot in a swift decisive motion. There will be very little liquid left behind, a worthwhile sacrifice compared to the horror & angst of cleaning wire strainers. What do you think? And the best part is, the few ctc or cardamom that do get in to your mug, make a delightful addition. Between sips one may chew or nibble on abstractedly (or thoughtfully) on the little bitter explosions or the chewy contrast of the cardamom, alternating it with tea and ruminating about much. But then I am someone who enjoys chewing upon and even eating the spent Orthodox tea leaves after they are softened by multiple infusions. I love their taste and can undersand why the Maungs and Burmese prize preserved tea leaf in their type of "salad'' [ not really a salad but what is called an upkari in India].
  5. If investing in a chopping board, consider the heavy, somewhat expensive but hygienically sound SANITUFF rubber board used in foodservice. Will last for years, can be laid over sink in approprite sizes, wash and cut as you work. http://www.mul-t-mat.com/cuttingboards/bdsanituff.htm For a rice cooker, a small inexpensive $20-35 one works just as well for an ordinary family with ordinary needs as the fancy $100-200 ones. The microwave is a supremely wonderful rice cooker used in conjunction with corningware-type 2 or 3 quart covered baking casserole; 1000 watt machine set to half power to avoid boilovers. Some brands even have a rice setting. Wash rice, use quite a bit less water, 1:1.2, go up as you feel your way/rice type, punch in 2222 or 3333 [4444 for converted], and come back. I cook rice with it 365 days. If money is not an issue, and the wiring is up to it [please check with electrician, heavy amperage draw on 110v], the COOKTEK induction standalone wok is excellent, professional quality, 3.5kW. Will support 14 inch wok. No flames, no fuss. Countertop & portable, no installation cost. c. $1500 With this one, you will have NO problem with great temperatures AND superb temperature control PLUS you do not heat up your kitchen too much. What you should try to avoid is wok hei, flaming the food in the wok [to the extent restaurants do; a little flame contained within the base of the bowl is fine] . That requires special wall shielding and fireproofing, and really is overkill. http://www.cooktek.com/product_info.php?c=3&s=24&p=10 What is needed in Chinese cooking or Asian where there is frying of whole fish or fish parts, or any frying and sauteeing of spices, especially in temperate lands where homes are shut during winter is a VENT better than what is normally supplied in most kitchens, ideally coupled with an air-to-air heat exchanger to prevent energy loss. Asian cooking strength vents go up from 1200 cu.ft./min. I am not an expert here, but an indoor air quality consultant would be the best person to advise. How many air changes does that house or living space have per hour, how tightly is it sealed dring winter, how much is it used for entertainment, these are significant issues. For example, if your friend is a professional, and the house is used as an entertainment space that has professional repercussions, then cooking smells that linger or pervade are a very bad idea. These are factors that need to be taken into account. Similarly, grease splatters on walls and into vents. That is why the Cooktek is favorite of mine because it can be moved and areas around it thoroughly cleaned. It doubles as a great sukiyaki, mongolian whatever, ca be moved into a dning space without much hassle. OR, a FLAT induction surface + the DEMEYERE FOOTED ROUND-BOTTOMED WOK created FOR INDUCTION is definitely a cheaper solution but the Demeyre metal has an upper temperature limit of 450C. Is that enough? The experts here can weigh in. A FLAT induction surface gives you many more options than a dedicated woksurface.
  6. v. gautam

    DIY Chai

    One could experiment with this method: it releases fewer of the bitter, stronger tannins that boiling together with milk does, and seems to preserve a few more of the delicate tea aromas [maybe just my imagination] : scald or infuse your milk, milk/water fraction, with gently pounded WHOLE green cardamoms, not too many! Do this low and slow: boiling and hurrying evokes weird cardamom notes from Guatemalan cardamom, the kind we ususally get here, and also gives you caramelized milk flavors, cherished by some but not by all. In a separate activity, bound to delight Richard, infuse your tea. That way you may control your mix, whether or not to use any CTC, or blend Assam + Darjeeling leaf, or drop in a bit of leaf Pu-erh of the cheaper sort [btw, Yunnan has a dramatic Pu-erh glut these years owing to overplanting, $3-4 kg for new & for many years to come, so the astronomical prices here seem astonishing]. You can control infusion time and any variable you choose, including water temperature. Plus, there is the possibility of re-infusion and clearing one's palate at a later time. Strain A + B into your favorite drinking vessel, to your desired tea/milk proportions. Sweeten or not but NEVER with STEVIA, that completely destroys tea flavor [at least to my taste buds]. The other thing I dislike is straining milky tea leaves or CTC. It wreaks havoc on any metal strainer, in the sense that I am never sure of getting all the milky residue out of every hole. In the method above, tea stays with its own strainers, that are easily cleaned and are no bacteriological hazard. The milk, by not being cooked hard, leaves less of a hard protein film on the vessel's bottom (so no clogged-up sponges). With no powdered spice, I do not need to strain that either. I am just a lunatic; others need not share my phobias about these things and about the relative ease of clean-up. Mind you, tea boiled in milk to release the bitter edge is called "kadak" or amruttulya chai in Maharashtra. Making virtue out of necessity, incompetence or brass taste buds & stomachs, it now has fierce proponents, much like the Fried Slice does in the traditional Cockney breakfast. Never to let something alone, Indians must always justify everything by its secret, intrinsic goodness, in this case, alleged health giving properties, and congratuate themselves for instinctively homing in to such things!! Some clown who imagines himself a great scientist by virtue of being located in the US and holding down a high-paying job in an electronic firm wrote such a paean to this boiled tea. The man canot understand that it is boiled for the excellent reason that those tannins subdue hunger, just as tobacco and coffee do. In India, Afghanistan, even the British working classes late in the 19th century, tea had become an important food because of its ability to stave off hunger. Strong tea, that is, NOT Darjeeling!! The Assam-Burma region, where one form, the BIG LEAF, used in Yunnan Pu-erh, orinated, long has used the leaf as food, pickled, in salads and as adjunct to savory food. This forms a class of a great variety of forest leaves eaten here, incuding citrus leaves, another plant that originated and was domesticated here. We can imagine the evolution of tea drinking, along with the spread of the iron culture of this region, moving steadily north into colder regions and the pickling turning into pickling + drying, fermentation + drying. PS. YP, wrote you a detailed [long!!] reply right on receipt, but mislaid the file inside another and am scrambling to find it. Strange but true. Will eventually get it out. Sorry for the delay!!
  7. I see how industrial fructos-rich corn syrups etc. have become almost a staple in many traditional cuisines like Korean, replacing perhaps honey, millet syrups and amazake type sweeteners. What the health effects might be of excessive, prolonged use is debatable, given how much or how little is consumed. For any interested in pursuing further the roles of ructose, glucose and other dietary sugars, some interesting studies: Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006 Jul;9(4):469-75. Metabolic effects of fructose. A Review Lê KA, Tappy L. Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland Abstract:..... Fructose/sucrose produces deleterious metabolic effects in animal models. This raises concern regarding the short-term and long-term effects of fructose and its risk in humans.... In humans, short-term fructose feeding increases de-novo lipogenesis and blood triglycerides and causes hepatic insulin resistance. There is presently no evidence for fructose-induced muscle insulin resistance in humans. The cellular mechanisms underlying the metabolic effects of fructose involve production of reactive oxygen species, activation of cellular stress pathways and possibly an increase in uric acid synthesis. SUMMARY: Consuming large amounts of fructose can lead to the development of a complete metabolic syndrome in rodents. In humans, fructose consumed in moderate to high quantities in the diet increases plasma triglycerides and alters hepatic glucose homeostasis, but does not appear to cause muscle insulin resistance or high blood pressure in the short term. A more current update: The American Society for Clinical Investigation Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans http://www.jci.org/articles/view/37385 ".. compared with glucose, dietary fructose induces dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. ...These data suggest that dietary fructose specifically increases DNL, promotes dyslipidemia, decreases insulin sensitivity, and increases visceral adiposity in overweight/obese adults." corr. to: Peter J. Havel, Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, USA. Phone: (530) 752-6553; Fax: (530) 752-2474; E-mail: pjhavel@ucdavis.edu. http://www.jci.org/articles/view/39332 Dietary sugars: a fat difference Susanna M. Hofmann, Matthias H. Tschöp Published April20, 2009
  8. v. gautam

    DIY Chai

    One perrpective from a Indian: chai is not a flavored tea, but milk flavored WITH tea PLUS cardamom and other spices, perhaps ginger, and maybe some or or not. Flavored hot milk is the UR idea, with saffron and/or cardamom, as the original drink. Black Tea fannings & such became a Heaven-sent gift to northern India. Coffee-flavored milk already had had a long innings in Southern India before this, in the form of Filter Coffee, a strong decoction added to boiling milk. So, one perspective may be to appreciate the smoky flavor of the milk, even better in clay drinking vessels, accentuated by the flavor of tea & heightened by not more than one or two other flavors. Milk used to have very rich taste and a definite aroma in India. It was easy to distinguish the evening milking from the dawn milking, and the two specific butters made from each. Specific milch breeds were renowned for particular milks for particular uses, drinking milks, for making Bengali sweets, saschanaka, cows, various buffaloes: riverine buffaloes, montane buffaloes, etc. etc. No more!!!
  9. Elsewhere I have noted with surprise at the number of places where glucose turns up unexpectedly in large quantities in ordinary, innocent ingredients in Japanese cooking: instant hon-dashi granules for example, and also mirin. As so many wonderful Japanese foods, from mochi, to her specific rice varieties, her unique white breads and rice & wheat noodles have such high glycemic indices, when added to certain American eating patterns, there can be a reason for making informed choices. Fructose is slightly less wild to the Glycemic Index initially, compared to glucose ingestion [say, with regard to diabetics], though not without its own risks. Since I have a bee in the bonnet about mirin, i tried to do some research and found that a certain company, Takara Shuzo, for reasons quite removed from GI and nutrition, has created a mirin that is fructose-rich by treating it with the enzyme glucose isomerase. http://www.takarashuzo.co.jp/english/produ...nings200809.pdf contains a list of their many mirins and mirin-like products, including a low alcohol type. However, I am unable to determine which is the high-fructose mirin. Unlike High-fructose corn syrup, here is an example of biotechnology being potentially very valuable for one's health. The research was undertaken at The Alcoholic Beverages Research Laboratories, Takara Shuzo Co., Ltd., Seta 3-4-1, Otsushi, Shiga 520-21, Japan. by Dr. T. Takayama Nanryo-cho 2-1-58, Uji-shi Kyoto 611 & Dr. Oyashiki Takuo Sakai Dept. of Food Science Faculty of Agriculture, Kinki Univ. Nakamachi 3327-204, Nara-shi, Nara 631.
  10. If you use cherry, plum & grape tomatoes mixed[uS], whole peeled garlic cloves, drizzled with just a bit of olive oil and roast them all [bake in hot oven in pizza pan] until juices exude, and tiny areas begin to brown and scorch, then take out, get the rest of the juices to dissolve those areas, and crush and strain if you want a seedless sauce. This is a bit better than any other cooked sauce, even better if you have the Turkish sun dried tomato paste to add in a tiny amount of that Turkish pepper paste. Since you are in Italy you should have even better tomatoes than the US: pendolino, [lini?] from the Napoli region can go into the mix; these are small, high-solids plum types. Plus the cherry + grape types are also higher sugar higher Dry Mass than bigger beefsteak, although Italian Red Pear, Franchi Sementi & Tomande Hybrid, ditto, can also be baked as above in the mix, very juicy, let juice evaporate and concentrate a little, caramelize a little as well.
  11. Kristin, You may need to ask your family to adjust their eating times quite a bit. Penang can be uncomfortable as in warm & humid. Therefore, the night markets become a time of eating. So with your excellent hotel breakfast, if there is the possibility of resting or sightseeing in the afternoons with relatively light noshing, e.g. coconut water and flesh [plenty], safe fruit, try out the many bananas and other fruit, take a serious nap and get ready for the evening feast. It might be asking the kids a bit too much, BUT many of the EXCELLENT NYONYA market dishes have a not insignificant amount of fat. The Japanese stomach generally has been brought up with an avoidance of fat, and quickly gets satiated. So, the keener the edge to their hunger, the better will they be able to enjoy themselves. The same food will taste ghastly between 12- 2 p.m., guaranteed when the sun and the strong light is doing a number inside your skull. In April-May, the sun “seems” to be more directly overhead in these latitudes. But come dusk, although you cannot see the colors of what you are eating, an important consideration to the very aesthetically aware Japanese palate, the air turns softer, and the whole atmosphere suddenly changes. Your appetite revives. Take another shower [2 showers a day, 3 if need be], stroll out, purchase some Jasminum sambac garland from South Indian sellers (if they are to be found) thread them in your hair and in your daughters, and you will see how refreshing that is. Many thousands of years of experience handed down from very hot tropical regions. BTW, if the vendor-language interface work out, please try coconuts of both red & green types and of different stages of maturity. Tell them you want very very young coconut, where the flesh is very, very soft and very thin. Taste that water. Then taste water from coconuts with NO flesh --blander. As the flesh, (endosperm really, the liquid being liquid endosperm) begins to solidify, the liquid begins to turn sweeter and take on a distinct edge that you can taste, a sharpness. You should take plenty of coconuts because they are a very significant diuretic, and in that hot climate will help keep all of you properly hydrated. In times gone by, the young coconut was used as a blood plasma substitute. Being sterile, it was straight from the coconut into the vein! So it is the ideal GATORADE! Another fruit to watch out for are the numerous species of MANGO, in adition to the Mangifera indica. You are entering a center of diversity for that genus with over 35 species known a harvested. Artocarpus lakoocha, is another very interesting fruit related to the Jackfruit, that is intriguing, tasty and will not upset stomachs. Here is a site where Julia F. Morton’s masterpiece, Fruits of the Warm Climates is made available online: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/index.html The children can make this a project, to study about and identify all the exciting new fruit they are going to see and eat! Be sure to sample a little of ALL the different cuisines jostling in the Penang Night Market: Nyonya, other Chinese, South Indian Muslim, South Indian including vegetarian, Malay et al. Our friend Teepee, of course, is a huge expert about Penang, and I guess she has already weighed in with her choices!! Wishing all of you a very safe and happy holiday. Gautam.
  12. Awassi belongs to the large group of fat-tailed breeds centered around a particular center of origin quite likely in Iran, radiating out. Karakul is another well-known breed, as are the "dumbas" further east. Both the milk & fat are very delicious. As KA mentions, diet adds another important component. Israel Awassi, especially the NEGEV Awassi browse a lot, including on a number of introduced Australian acacia and other shrub. I do not know the mix of forages for Israel Awassi, but the National Academy of Sciences publication here will give you an idea: there are photos of Awassi : http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/Publica...j.htm#TopOfPage Note the difference between GRAZING sheep like Southdown etc. in temperate, well-watered regions and Browsing sheep: most of the Near-east and the Subcontinent will see sheep with a larger part of their diet from woody perennials and transient forbs as opposed to grass. Browse contains high proportions of phenylpropanoid metabolites. For example, Cordeauxia edulis, a Somali browse legume, stains the bones of ruminants a bright orange [see above publication]. The unique quality and flavor of the sheep of the Deccan plateau in India depends directly on the types and quality of their browse. BTW, goats too are very selective browsers, taking plant tips, which naturally have the highest nutritional content. The canard: goats will eat anything, is founded upon ignorance. The transient forbs are often seasonal, or at least their palatable parts are. They may be very aromatic e.g. fennel, thyme, many others. These too lend a very special quality to the meat/fat not found in grazed/corn fed animals. So not just Awassi, the whole group of fat-tailed sheep is treasured for the taste of their fat. Many cultures relish the taste of fat. The fat has many liquid crystal & membrne properties dependng on where it comes from:tail, shoulder, neck, breast etc. Each is used to a particular effect, and to a particular degree of cooking to effect a particular transition phase in the liquid crystal and change in the mouth feel: from pronounced "crunchiness" to softness. Fat is interspersed with muscle for kebabs etc. The science of meat cutting is highly developed in these countries and entirely different than that found in Western butchering techniques.
  13. ZenKimchi, Thank you very much for your input. Great to see you back here. I enjoy your zany blog a lot, and miss FatMan ceasing his culinary adventures. Liked the write-up for the Daktorijang and hope you manage one on JD soon, including "why "steamed" is claimed to be the preferred mode of cooking. All the cultural context and the history make the food exciting, because through that you enter into a sort of kinship with the culture. That, to me, is the most significant part of reading food writing, and the reason why I enjoy your blog so much.
  14. I don't know whether they would classify KK with Assam type teas or under black teas in general. Following the success of KK, another agrobusiness is in the process of becoming certified organic, and by next year they will probably focus on the domestic Bangladesh market where their brand has excellent recognition in many farm products: TATKA, meaning fresh. They are much smaller than KK, 100K kg vs KK's 240K kg and Bdesh total is 60 million odd kg to give you a frame of reference. My ballpark guess is that KK teabags, the most expensive form in which it is sold, probably runs to a taka per gram, retail in Bdesh. So approximately Taka 1000/kg, a bit more than USD 10. Whether this is the exact same export quality OR, being bagged tea contains a substantial quantity of fannings & dust [i would suspect], I have no idea. Do not forget Nepal, Sikkim black teas; even Himachal Pradesh green teas though that is becoming very rare. I have walked amidst abandoned plantations among beautiful knee high bushes laden with fruit, literally going to seed. The tea from such ancient, gnarled wind-swept plants is of impossibly high quality IF care is taken. Very laborious to pick, very difficult to maintain some of these naturally bonsai-ed, widely spaced bushes. Since they are not well- known, none will pay USD1000/lb. Anyway, this ws in the 1971, when the economic climate was also very topsy turvy. The Japanese might be among the very few who might appreciate this quality of green tea, but that could be a very touchy subject with the them: foreign green tea. With the war clouds gathering apace in the nearby Yol camp, a staging area for the war to begin soon that winter, one of the happiest memories of my life was caressing those lichened, gnarled, small-leaved tea plants bravely keeping their heads up among the crisped and sere grass that chill autumn afternoon. Tea in these areas has a history dating back to the time in the 2nd century BCE-2nd century CE, when the Kushan emperor Kanishka had a huge central Asian empire and brought back a Chinese prince as a permanent hostage. The latter's entourage brought some esentials to keep their royal charge happy: among them, tea, and pears, which in fact went by the name cinarajaputra: chineseprince! Hence, the local custom of GREEN TEA. Tibetans drink a type of brick pu-erh. Kashmiris types of salt or fruity, flavored green and black teas made pink by a number of unrelated devices :quite different end results too. Only here do they drink green tea like the Chinese do, plain. Bangladesh tea prices taken from the Daily Star, Dhaka, to how you a typical price movement on 7/7/08, from the Tea Traders Association of Bangladesh (TTAB): Retail, packaged tea, various ordinary brands: Tk 180-190/ kg Wholesale: Tk 170-180/kg Chittagong auction level: Tk 135-145 http://www.teaboard.gov.bd/index.php?option=Market Richard asked me about some cheaper brands: I have no idea about quality! "Some of the teas are also sold at estate level with prior permission of Bangladesh Tea Board either directly to overseas buyers or to the internal traders." http://www.teaboard.gov.bd/index.php?optio...rectoryBlenders http://www.teaboard.gov.bd/index.php?option=DirectoryBulk HRC is the largest exporter of Bdesh tea: The other major exporting companies are: Elite A Kabir Consol Duncan Ispahani : brand Mirzapur tea Haji Ahmed Shaw Wallace Unilever :Lipton?? Monir Shah AMCL-Pran Azad Enterprise Mukut. A word of caution: Bangladesh teas are not some magic waiting to be discovered. There is a lot of poor stuff out there as well, not value for money. We started down this path only with respect to a particular line of reasoning. As far as ordinary tea is concerned, African or Vietnamese tea may provide overall better quality at roughly USD 2.50/kg auction level.
  15. Richard, I reported exactly what the owner, Mr. Kazi has confirmed he receives per kilogram, as of this year, USD9/kg, when he sells to his Japanese principals, who then do something with it and sell it in their outlets. I am not sure exactly what happens at the other end. The Bangladesh end I am sure about, including the unbranded wholesale auction prices. There is a lot of very poor quality there as well, because most of it is for the domestic market. There are just a few thoughtful entrepreneurs who can see that Panchagarh and various districts in the north are separated from Assam, Meghalaya, Duars, Siliguri [home of much spurious Darjeeling!], Jalpaiguri etc. by a nominal political boundary, a line on a map not understood by tea plants. Only a very few have created the organic plantations and strict quality control to ensure the consistent product that can be branded. As far as I know, there are no specialized online sellers carrying Bangladesh tea, although Kalustyan's in Manhattan is owned by a Bangladeshi and would probably be able to secure these teas should there be the demand. Those concerned about Fair Trade and Living Wage issues should ponder the spreads of $72, $9, $1.65, all obviously earning profits, and reflect on the situation of the worker at the bottom of this value chain. Why is this relevant? Bangladesh is well on its way to becoming the next extraordinary debacle on the US and European foreign policy plate. Those of us who have anguished over the cropping systems and crop research issues there and elsewhere on the subcontinent have given up hope now. Why the fate of the Bangladeshi laborer is tied to that of the US is because money will be drained from the treasuries here to staunch problems that by then will have become irreparable, especially by military interventions. Pakistan is a prime example of a dysfunctional agricultural political economy that needs change at that level before any improvement can ensue, no matter how many dollars are thrown at it. P.S. In my earlier post, when I wrote, "sold in Japan for USD9/kg", I failed to clarify that it was the price received by the exporter, NOT the retail price. Mentally, I was so indignant at the low prices for Bangladeshi [i am Indian!] vs. Assam estate, that I forgot about the retail end of things! Only the auction prices remained in my mind. Sorry if I mislead a lot of people. That said, retail WITHIN Bangladesh will be a lot more reasonable, even of the quality teas. There, one's connections matter in getting quality, so YJ need not despair. Her friend needs to tap into the mamu-chacha network, & voila, free (or almost) Kazi & Kazi.
  16. Actually, excellent Bangladesh teas, equal to some of the best Assams is sold unbranded in Bangladesh auctions for a wholesale of $1.65/kg!! I laugh when I read all the pretentious estate names and especially the pretentions that have become the fashion in certain circles. One of the best branded Bangladesh is organic Kazi & Kazi sold in Japan for $9/kg, but retailed under a Japanese brand. None but a professional tea taster would be able to pick it out from a set of related high priced Assam estates. What a rum joke! 9 of 10 online tea dealers in the US and Canada are having a fine time making fools of their customers. Like "Italian" olive oil, there is not so much tea in Darjeeling as is sold as Darjeeling tea. Even Siliguri and Jalpaiguri tea becomes Darjeeling, that then stretches to far corners of north Bengal, at elevations of 100 feet!!!! Likewise, Tiger Hills Estate in the Nilgiris surely must encompass ranges more extensive than the Himalayas and the Andes combined!!
  17. The Green Label was around $8/lb in a 1 lb box and now may be up a bit. I am selecting a few that I like and feel are very good value for money. For more black teas, you can go to my favorite vendor: http://www.silvertipstea.com/fusionecommer...owse/Black_Tea/ The AUTUMN FLUSH below is my Go-To tea: if you brew it light, with just-below boiling water and small qty leaf, it becomes a Chinese sipping tea, aromatic, wonderful for second and thirds. If you mix with CTC/Red Label or lower grade leaf like Greeen Label, you can use boiling water and use milk. Depending on how much 1 person drinks, 8 oz. can last a year, cut with 1 lb. Green Label. So $20 total/12 months does not seem too bad to me. Organic Makaibari Estate Autumnal 2008 - Fair Trade Certified - 8 oz. 1130-8 $12.11 Organic Makaibari Estate Autumnal 2008- Fair Trade Certified - 16 oz. 1130-16 $22.00 http://www.silvertipstea.com/fusionecommer...rade_Certified/ If you go for Nilgiris, they are mising the floral notes of the Darjeeling, so milk is ok, you are not killing something. The first one is very nice, you can do it by itself, mix with Autumn Flush & GL for a brisk tea, very lttle milk. My bias shows, because, I like to brew very mild + light andw/o milk/sugar, & re-steep. Darjeeling is China tea and benefits by this treatment. Tiger Hill Estate OP - 8 oz. 1200-8 $11.85 Tiger Hill Estate OP - 16 oz. 1200-16 $22.00 Organic Korakundah Estate FOP - Fair Trade Certified - 8 oz. 1201-8 $12.77 Organic Korakundah Estate FOP - Fair Trade Certified - 16 oz. 1201-16 $24.00 Here is a great Assam: Organic Assam TGFOP - Fair Trade Certified - 8 oz. 1002-8 $12.77 Organic Assam TGFOP - Fair Trade Certified - 16 oz. 1002-16 $24.00
  18. Dick, Worth a look: 1.Natural Import Company 9 Reed Street Suite A Asheville, NC 28803 1-800-324-1878 / 1-828-277-8870 Contact: Crystal Macdonald info@naturalimport.com http://www.naturalimport.com http://www.mitoku.com/distributors/index.html#unitedstates 2."Sumiya's grandfather was able to produce a mirin that was rich and delicious beyond everyone's expectations. It was named Mikawa Mirin, literally "three-river mirin," in honor of its birthplace....Authentic and organic mirin, such as the Mikawa products, contain only sweet rice, water, rice and rice koji (natural rice culture)." http://www.qualitynaturalfoods.com/recipes2.html Quality Natural Foods PO Box 16391 Hooksett, NH 03106 Toll Free 1-888-392-9237 sales@qualitynaturalfoods.com 3. http://www.simply-natural.biz/Mirin-Info.php Mitoku Organic Mikawa Mirin 5 oz Glass Bottle $4.79 Mitoku Organic Mikawa Mirin 10 oz Glass Bottle $8.99 Mitoku Organic Mikawa Mirin 32 oz Glass Bottle $26.65 Mitoku Organic Mikawa Mirin 1 Gal. Plastic Jug $99.92 No salt, I think. Now my question for you: What is the brand name of this CA jug sake, please? Thanks. Gautam.
  19. Where meat etc. is involved, even for veg. okonomiyaki, sauce may have non-veg components [anchovy/worcester, dashi etc.]. By dietary restrictions, I also meant religious and/or other non-medical issues like Halal, kosher, and anything else that the teachers might be aware of. Better to touch bases with them on this score [to prevent last minute confusion]. Things are so complicated nowadays!! Osembei and wasabi green pea snack!!
  20. Teriyaki drumettes as a side portion? maybe this is getting too complicated? But you an buy these frozen drumettes, part of the wing portion that is not messy, and just fry them in a non-stick pan, and when browned add Kristin's teriyaki formula or just a bit of Kikkoman's teriyaki sauce? Can be made the night before. Finger food. A little Green Tea for a hot beverage? Has your son asked how many of the 34 have dietary restrictions or what they WILL NOT EAT? meat, fish, nuts, eggs etc? Important to keep a note and maybe work around this. You may, for example, have to sacrifice authenticity, and go for avocado/ cucumber sushi. Just a thought experiment, mind you, if dietary restrictions/dislikes hedge you in with respect to fillings.
  21. Re: Chayote greens taste: this thread is a good place as they are very much an ancient Yucatan and Guatemalan food, one of those fantastic plants like Amaranth, tomatillo,tomato, nopales etc. that these central Americans refined to the Nth degree and gave to the entire world. MAIZE!! The whole plant is edible, fruit, root & leaves, making it extraordinarily valuable wherever it grows. To discover such a plant in its wild, not-so-giving state and then nurture it to its present state is the work of great genius. The same is true of peanuts, tomatoes, chiles and maize. Every Mesoamerican food crop, in fact. Regarding its taste, it is very much like LAGENARIA greens, the bottle gourd. They are used in any way you might care to employ greens: African type "green soups" are an excellent device for these. Balinese stuffed duck, where sweet potato or tapioca leaves are employed, is another brilliant vehicle. I am sure you will know many more Mesoamerican dishes where squash greens and tips or quelites find a place: YOUNG chayote leaves and tips can be substituted to good effect here. Even for dolmates! But the main benefit is to excite curiosity and knowledge about the Mesoamerican food plants with scant effort: just by buying a single pear, and supplying a foot-wide strip of garage wall. The kids are already becoming multi-cultural thanksto Dad's cooking. Now if they can see some of the plants in action, they will have great talking points at school. Great thing to show neighbors, too. Bet no one has seen one in MD! No worries either, just let it grow up a narrow strip of wall on a trellis or panel or stake, if you are only going to cut the greens.
  22. Perhaps you could experiment with what many Indians do: mix CTC [cut, torn, curled] and orthodox [leaf] tea. CTC [e.g. Red Label type, or Assam, Nilgiri, Nepal, Sikkim] primarily is a one-shot tea, you pull out all the goodies even by just pouring OVER near-boiling water: this is the good news, as not much particulates, and heavy tannins will get out. I mean to say, you can control the strength of extraction directly into the thermos by quantity of CTC x water temperature x rate of flow; plus there is the additional geometry of infuser; get the Starbucks gold-coated frustrum shaped tea infuser, about 4 inches high. Now add another factor, 2 factors: 1. Added Impedance 2. Flavor in the shape of orthodox leaf tea. You may experiment with a cheap leaf tea like Lipton Green label, $8/lb. The CTC goes in first, to have the least steeping time, in this POUR-OVER DIRECT experiment. Then add Leaf, say 2 per every 1 or less of CTC. Then pour on Boiling water. You are making a Thermos Jug, Alladin size, out of 1 Starbuck infuser loosely packed with enough space for water to flow through quickly. Taste to your satisfaction. Shut flask close and taste at 90 min intervals to see how the flavor has deteriorated. Repeat with only orthodox tea. Repeat experiment with brewing infusion letting infuser sit in some vessel like saucepan or letting tea leaves float free in saucepan and infuse freely for time apropriate to that leaf. Then strain brew into flask, and proceed to withdraw over 90 min time intervals, comparing side by side with the Pour-over experiment. Check would be fresh infusions. P.S. I am the greatest admirer of the thermos, especially the unbreakable steel Alladin type. However, tea develops a characteristic "steamy" flavor when sitting inside a bottle for a while; less noticeable in steel or stronger, dark liquor, very much apparent when milk is present. Now this is NOT necessarily a bad thing, as generations of Indians, myself included, have come to treasure this altered flavor for several reasons. One, it usually signifies travel or a special occasion like a cricket game or picnic, happy events celebrated with friends and family. There is this power of positive association. Then, like Asians loving hot dogs and Spam, some have fallen for it.
  23. If you are in the Midwest other than in the Dakotas or Colorado, the potatoes your neighbor farmers are growing probably will not be the best for fries. Please check what varieties they grow and then check again with the nearest State University Extension service AND the Crop Science department. You may also contact a specialist potato breeding program, e.g. Cornell University, for their advice on varieties for fries AS WELL on what geographical locations those should be coming from. The quality of starch depends on many factors, including day and night temperatures, and humidity during the growing season. This is one reason why the Mountain West produces a "better" quality for certain purposes. Even Canadian Prince Edward Island Russets are not as good as the Idaho for many purposes. Since you are aiming for the best quality in every thing, these are some pitfalls to be aware of.
  24. Friend, Please keep an eye on the price point. The break even cost is very important. Price out the lettuce: whether leaf, romaine or iceberg. Many people may prefer the last! A very important point is being made here : http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/dining/11cashew.html I hope you take advantage of the accumulated experience & lessons from this story. Regarding tomatoes, the SO-CALLED heirlooms packed in clamshells in the winter are garbage. There are the very expensive Florida Marmande-type tomatoes at better than $4/lb retail. Note that they will crush and deform very easily when sliced, so that when prepped on a mandoline, they they tend to disintegrate in a holding container. This is very important because you cannot be prepping onions & tomatoes during service. Regarding MAYO, please try ADMIRATION BRAND Product: GM100 Brand: ADMIRATION Unit: 4 - 1 GALLON CASE Per Case: $41.00 Per Piece: $11.30 4 GALLON TUB $25.50 / cs http://www.chefswarehouse.com/Catalog/Disp...px?prd_id=GM100 Thicker than Hellman's, will hold better with tomato juice etc.
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