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Posts posted by Avumede

  1. I guess I'm just not curious enough to care about the answer to the question, especially since the method results in a quality loss. The argument that we could all save water this way seems incredibly weak. Of all the ways to conserve.

    There was some evidence presented in the article that the cold-start technique resulted in a quality loss. But no evidence that merely cooking in less water results in a quality loss. Indeed, as the article points out, it's a gain because you now have some very nice pasta water.

    Saving water is good, saving energy is good, even saving the salt would be nice. However, the big gain, in my opinion, is the time to boil the water. Also, it would be quite nice to not have to haul out the stock pot to more than the usual quantity of pasta.

    All in all, the low-water technique seems like a pretty useful thing to try out.

  2. This article is extremely unconvincing as a rebuttal. The NY Times article is very simple: the bluefin tuna found in sushi restaurants has more mercury that you should eat on a weekly basis. Unless you are in the habit of eating this very expensive fish regularly, there should be little to worry about. The response in this Slate article merely mentions the interesting study that showed that eating fish regularly is not harmful. Not bluefin tuna, just fish in general. I think we can believe both things.

  3. I found that if you can get a crispy skin through pan-frying it, it wouldn't be crispy enough to withstand the inevitable steam and moist salmon underneath, so the nice crisp skin would turn soggy. So, although it is a pain, I recommend taking the skin off completely, and cooking it separately. Otherwise, you can't get it crisp to up enough without overcooking the salmon. And you can cook the skin up to a cracker-like crispness very easily (just leave it in a 350 degree over for about 20 minutes). My wife and kids can't get enough of it.

  4. I have heard everyone claim that one should make tea starting with cold water. Most of the time they claim it is because of the oxygen content of the water. However, once you heat up the water, you'll lose the oxygen anyway.

  5. So, as you may have read, Indian Mangoes are now legal to import, and the first shipment has already come into New York!

    Does anyone know where I can get them? I've been to Patel Bros. in Jackson Heights, but they claim to have no Indian Mangoes and no good idea about when they might get them.

  6. Funny, I always thought the owner Mike is the weakest of the barristas there. However, I've only had his cappucino, so perhaps his espresso is excellent. I know they are religious over there about cleaning and maintaining their espresso machine.

  7. A few years ago in Hong Kong, I picked up an interesting Japanese cooking pot, which was all the rage over there. It it basically a tall stainless steel pot, which fits inside an insulating thermos. The idea is to heat up your stew (or whatever) to boiling, then put the inner pot in the outer insulating thermos. The dish continues to cook at low temperatures because of the good insulation. After 6 or however many hours you have a dish that is cooked even slower than a slow-cooker dish, and without using much power.

    I used this a few times for Oxtail stew, and it is quite good for pre-cooking chickpeas. However, I haven't used it in a while.

    Anyone else use one of these things? What do you use it for?

  8. I thought the food was delicious. However, it's not as good as WuLiangYe or Grand Sichuan (or Spicy & Tasty in Queens). In particular, I didn't detect many or any of the Sichuan peppercorns. However, it may be that the dishes I happened to order did not contain any.

    If you get a chance, go. It's quite solid.

  9. I learned how to make Bolognese sauce in Bologna - after hanging out for a few days at the hotel and restaurant Tre Vecchi in Bologna, the chef invited me downstairs to watch them make it, and I learned a lot of things I'd otherwise not have known.

    Now you've piqued my curiousity. Care to share some of your discoveries?

  10. Oh wait, here's something I remember from another message board I'm on:

    Mono and poly unsaturated fats like olive, corn and canola oils have some unfilled bonds that like to attach to stuff like sulphur and iron oxide, which turns them rancid and they taste bad. So the theory is that using unsaturated oil with cast iron fill all those loose bonds with iron oxides from the pan and the food will taste bad.

    From a thread on the Straight Dope Message Board.

  11. I do remember reading somewhere (from a more scientific-type site) that you should not re-use oil cooked in cast iron. Evidently the cast-iron reacts with the oil, rendering it somehow bad.

    I just spend a few minutes trying to dredge up this information, but without success. If I can find it, I'll report back here.

  12. That is such a brilliant idea to join moist, velvety prunes with jewel-like jujubes! Did you buy them at an Asian market? Do you soak them first?

    Yes, I got the jujubes at an Asian market (they are dirt cheap). I did soak them for about fifteen minutes. I actually would have soaked them longer if I had thought about it ahead of time. I added the soaking liquid instead of water. One thing I forgot is that they have little seeds in them. Next time I'll de-seed it somehow before adding it.

  13. JJ, can you compare taro leaves to any other kind of leaves?

    You can substitute spinach for taro leaves when used in stews. Look for it in Carribean markets under the name of "dasheen" or "calalloo" (although I've seen the wrong vegetables labeled as those on occasion).

  14. Finally, I want to thank you for the education.  Until your post, I thought Jujubes were an American candy.

    For your information, you can get dried jujubes at any Chinatown, where they are known as red dates (hong zhu). In San Francisco, I've gotten fresh jujubes at the farmers market. They taste strange, having no taste at all for a few seconds, then somehow a nice sweet tangy flavor emerges.

  15. Great post, Smithy. Taking what you said farther, I'm going to assume that the reason you want liquid in the pot is to help the heat to diffuse both more gradually (since the liquid will have to be heated up), and more evenly (since the pot is partially filled with liquid, therefore touches more of the clay pot). Perhaps, though, a slow enough heat may obviate the need for liquid. In that case, Bittman's recipe could work if done slowly enough.

  16. The suggestion to re-season the pot after not using it for a while is a great one. Thanks Wolfert and andiesenjie.

    Smithy: I'm not using any diffuser, but now that you mention it, it does seem like a good idea. Thanks!

    Perhaps a combination of all these things (not using it after a while, not using a diffuser, adding extra water during cooking) caused my little clay pot tragedy.

    I'm still curious about some of the issues I raised in the first post, though. Is it in fact possible to cook over an immediate medium heat, with nothing first in the pot, as is done in the Bittman recipe I linked to? If so, why does everyone say not to do these exact things? If not, then did Bittman just err in suggesting this recipe for a clay pot?

  17. I'm not sure if my ingredients made a difference, they were simply rice, water, a cornish hen, black fungus, ginger, soy sauce, and a bit of rum. At several times during the cooking process, I added a slight bit of luke warm water to the pot, which by this time was boiling the water and rice. The cracking did not happen right after I did it, it cracked when being left alone. But perhaps the water addition did have something to do with it.

    I also cannot remember if I cured this or not before use. It was the first time I've used this pot for almost a year, though.

    This was indeed a sandy clay pot. Looks just like this.

  18. All the clay pot / tagine topics in recent months has made me very interested in clay pot cooking. However, I have owned about 3 or 4 clay pots, all of them have cracked. One cracked because I stupidly stored it in the fridge, then warmed it up (very gently, though) on the stove. The latest one cracked just last weekend. I was cooking a Hong-Kong style claypot dish (where there is rice on the bottom and food on top of the rice, all cooked together). I turned the heat on my gas stove to very low, and after maybe 10 minutes turned it to something like medium-low. I wasn't so concerned about heat because I know that clay is fairly good at taking heat, and I have seen clay pot restaurants in San Francisco Chinatown that put clay pots over high heat. So I figured my clay pot can take it. Well, after about 40 minutes, it cracked rather severely, causing water to drip on my gas stove, and sending lots of smoke up in general.

    I'm trying to figure out why it cracked. The rules I know for clay pot cooking are not to heat it without water. Also, keep the heat relatively low, at least at first. And don't subject the clay to extreme changes in temperature. However, two of those rules are broken in this recipe by Marc Bittman, where you start the clay pot on medium heat, and saute some stuff in an empty clay pot. Everything I know says that this will cause the clay pot to break. And perhaps it does, I haven't tried the recipe. But after reading it, I seem more confused then ever.

    So, anyone care to guess why my clay pot cracked? Or to comment on the Bittman recipe? Or to just offer tips on preventing cracking, in either Chinese clay pots or tagines?

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