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Adam Balic

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Posts posted by Adam Balic

  1. What is the composition of a Hershey bar? The F.D.A. requires 15% and 10%chocolate liquor by weight percent for sweet and milk chocolate respectively. Obviously most of the % of chocolate given on a chocolate bar includes the total of chocolate liquor, cocoa and cocoa butter. However, if you are comparing something like a 75% bar and a 15/10% bar I think that you would notice a big difference. Most "chocolate" eaten doesn't contain that much chocolate at all.

    As FG says, I have tastes some pretty terrible "premium" bars, this isn't the final word on quality.

    Even premium bars of the same chocolate %, there is a huge range in flavour and textures, the ones I prefer taste of plums and raspberries, given the range of producers, bean types, locations etc this makes sense.

  2. Loosely based on salt cod examples I have had in Spain and Italy, these are pounded Scottish smoked haddock held together with Béchamel sauce, flavoured with a little lemon zest and parsley. I used panko for the crumbs as they were in the pantry and better then regular bread crumbs anyway. I found that using a couple of spoons to make the quenelle and droping this onto a plate of panko was the easiest way of making these.


  3. I saw Hervé This give a lecture/demonstration a year or so ago. He is a great showman and the presentation was very interesting, but one thing that he did say was that he was a scientist not a chef, it was his role to demonstrate what is possible and it was the role of a chef to make things taste good.

    I'm not fussed about the pre-soaking of pasta, I have 12 minutes to spare to cook from scratch. If I was interested in efficient pasta I would cook it in huge batches, freeze it and microwave it when I needed it.

    Legumes are different issue, they don't take 12 minutes to cook and a reduction in cooking time would be welcome, but I pre-saoked anyway.

  4. zaatar is the arabic name for the herb Majorana syriaca, which is also sometimes referred to as wild marjoram. it was my understanding that this is also referred to as hyssop.

    after doing a little research, i see that this is not accurate. according to wikipedia, hyssop is one of the following herbs:

    Hyssopus ambiguus (Trautv.) Iljin

    Hyssopus cretaceus Dubjan.

    Hyssopus cuspidatus Boriss.

    Hyssopus ferganensis Boriss.

    Hyssopus latilabiatus C.Y.Wu & H.W.Li

    Hyssopus lophanthoides Buch.-Ham. ex D.Don

    Hyssopus macranthus Boriss.

    Hyssopus ocymifolius Lam.

    Hyssopus officinalis L.

    Hyssopus seravschanicus (Dub.) Pazij

    Hyssopus tianschanicus Boriss.

    this is commonly referred to in Jordan at least as zaatar Khlat, and is eaten only as a green herb, and as part of a salad (typically with onions, olive oil, and lemon juice). it is never part of the mixed herb mixture known as zaatar, and i have never seen it sold dried.

    sufficiently confusing?

    So Zaatar is a type of marjoram how interesting. The Syrian version of the herb looks quite different to the types I have, but the flavour makes more sense then the minty flavour of hyssop. Thank you for the detailed information.

  5. Further to my point about international haute cuisine not being particularly French, I'd like to make a few examples:

    Carpaccio of blue fin tuna, eggplant caviar and mozzarella underneath, osetra caviar on top,

    Chatham cod with braised fennel, raw fennel and fennel essence

    Duck liver terrine with mission figs

    I would argue that the only dish that seems connected to France and French cooking is the last one.  The first two could easily have come from fancy restaurants with an Italian name.  But they're sort of not Italian either.  Which is to say that they don't seem like they are "from" anywhere except being out of the kitchen of a very expensive high-end fine dining restaurant.  For some reason, however (probably because they more or less invented it) we don't have any difficulty calling dishes like these "French" when they come out of a restaurant with a French name on the door, but many people would have some difficulty calling the same dishes "Italian" -- despite the fact that I don't see either of those two dishes as being any more connected to France than they might be to Italy.  It's this sort of thing, I think, that can bias people against the idea of Italian restaurant cuisine that moves as far away from Italian cooking as these dishes do from French cooking.  For some reason we're more protective of Italian cooking in our minds -- or less protective of French cooking, take your pick.

    Actually the dishes all look/sound modern "American" to me? Not sure why this is true.

    These are good points, I wonder if it is type to stop calling haute cuisine "French" by default and to avoid national/regional classifications all together at this level where possible?

    People/consumers/individuals, whatever, may be protective about "Italian" cooking simply because they don't automatically link it with "haute cusine", in the same manner as the term "French". If you changed the scale slightly and looked at French food at the regional level, I would imagine that people would get just as protective about what is "real/authentic" etc. If diners in NYC or London had a very stong idea about the identity of the cooking of Picardie, then they would react negatively to a restaurant identifing itself with this region, but serving dishes full of tomato, garlic and olive oil.

  6. I like "COCK (on the mountian top) brand" and Tra Chung for their clear fish flavour, but mostly use Squid brand as this is more common. I'm not tempted by Three Crabs given the ingredient list, but I also haven't tried it.

  7. In terms of the herbs rather then the herb mixture, is "Zaatar" a generic name for a group of aromatic plants or does it refer to a specific plant in some regions? I have many plants what include "Zaatar" in the name, not just Hyssop. For instance one plant I grow Satureja thymbra (Thyme-leaved savory) is traded as "zatar parsi" and tastes nothing like the flavour profile of Hyssop.

  8. Very interesting. I notice that the interest is directed towards ensuring that prized fish manage to remain on Japanese menus, rather then any conservation angle?

    Bluefin Tuna are a top order predator and obviously have a great impact on other fish stocks. From what I have been told on this thread, I quite suprised that Japanese individuals have little interest in fish stocks other then as a indication of how much they should concern themselves with eating is much as possible while the commercial wild stocks remain?

  9. The Japanese consume about one-fourth of total tuna caught worldwide, and keep on receiving warning messages from the mass media.

    We can't stop consuming tuna in a day or two (for the same reason why people cannot stop consuming beef simply because of cattle burping), and efforts are underway to culture tuna.

    I would be very interested in knowing what the awareness level of the average consumer in Japan regarding tuna stocks, or even "foodie" Japanese :smile: .

    To my knowledge tuna is ranched, which means that young wild fish are raised in pens, rather then being bred? If this is the case it still isn't contributing that much towards wild stocks?

    It's hard for me to answer your question. I know no average Japanese; all Japanese I know are unique individuals. We may be unable to eat tuna within a few decades, that's about all most Japanese, including me, know about this crisis. Some do nothing about it, and others like me try to eat as much of it as we can while it's still available.

    Given the likelihood the consumption of tuna by unique individuals in Japan is likely to occur while any remaining commercial stock remain, I wonder if the technology for culturing tuna to adulthood will ever develop? Unlikely I would guess.

  10. The Japanese consume about one-fourth of total tuna caught worldwide, and keep on receiving warning messages from the mass media.

    We can't stop consuming tuna in a day or two (for the same reason why people cannot stop consuming beef simply because of cattle burping), and efforts are underway to culture tuna.

    I would be very interested in knowing what the awareness level of the average consumer in Japan regarding tuna stocks, or even "foodie" Japanese :smile: .

    To my knowledge tuna is ranched, which means that young wild fish are raised in pens, rather then being bred? If this is the case it still isn't contributing that much towards wild stocks?

  11. Not to put too fine a point to it, but we are talking about a country and a culture that still continues to hunt and kill endangered whales under the guise of "research"

    Cite that Japan is hunting endangered whales? As far as I know, the only whale they hunt is the minke which is currently not listed as endangered.

    BBC News: Japanese whalers hunt humpbacks

    It has also been well documented that other species have been targeted. One famous example was a DNA documented fin-blue whale hybrid that was found in a Japanese supermarket.

    Getting back to the Bluefin tuna, another thing to consider is that much of the bluefin tuna is actually the Southern Bluefin tuna species. Also in trouble.

  12. A final, unrelated point: one of the early modern books on this regional cuisine was the 1950's "Fes vu par sa cuisine" (Fez, seen through its cooking) by Mme Zette Guinaudeau. Its available quite cheaply in paperback english translation as "Traditional Moroccan Cooking: Recipes from Fez". Its cited (IIRC) by both Wolfert and Roden - classic, ever so authentic, and interesting (if not terribly useful!)

    Why not "useful" the recipes are well written and straightforward.

    Personally I have a great deal of difficulty with the idea of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia as the "Middle East", it is a loose definition at best, but I'm pretty sure that these North African countries have never been part of it and their food traditions are sufficiently different to group them seperately. And I'm note sure that shared culinary traditions are a good basis to define "Middle Eastern" cuisine either. However, I am damn sure that a food website is not the place to debate this either.

    So in the spirit of the original question, some cookbooks that I use on the foods of the Near- and Middle-East, North Africa, non-European Mediterranean region and even the Empire d'Orient if you like are:

    Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food

    Claudia Roden's Arabesque

    Margaret Shaida's The Legendary Cuisine of Persia

    Ozcan Ozan's The Sultans Kitchen

    Ghillie and Jonathan Basan's Classic Turkish Cookery

    Greg Malouf's Arabesque

    Anissa Helou's Lebanese Cuisine

    Paula Wolfert's Good Food from Morocco

    Nawal Nasrallah's Delights from the Garden of Eden

    Mme Zette Guinaudeau's Traditional Moroccan Cooking: Recipes from Fez

  13. Its the bloody customers, they are hungry for new descriptions, i am toying with putting "cooked" in place of every adjective on the menu tonight! You have to use "caramelised" when you have "glazed" on the line above.   I (well my boss is!) am even guilty of using the term "pot roast" to describe so called caramelised items.

    my personal annoyance is the good food guide (mainly) saying "well timed" in reference to fish cookery.

    Aaaargh! Don't get me started on roasting.

    We used to have roast potatoes, roast lamb, roast bloody monkfish and roast beef. For chrissake, according to the French 'Rosbif' is our defining national characteristic. But it wasn't enough. Some pewling tit with temporary power over menu typing and with literary ambitions exceeding his skills started referring to 'roasted potatoes' and it was suddenly all over the place like a fungal rash at an orgy.

    Recently I was offered 'pot-roasted chicken' at some mercifully forgotten shitehole. It is but a short, miserable and inevitable slide from pot roasted to pan-fried.

    And that way madness lies.

    Was the chicken pot roasted though?

    "Among all other lessons this should first be learned, that wee never affect any straunge ynkehorne termes, but to speake as is commonly received … Some seeke so far for outlandish English, that they forget altogether their mothers language"

    The beauty of english is in it's flexibility, words are added, words are discarded, new meanings develop. People got upset about inkhorn words (for example "revoluting, ingenious, capacity, relinquish, frivolous, verbosity"), now they are dead and forgotten.

    Ultimately writing is about communication and food writing in the UK is about communication, entertainment and selling papers. Received pronunciation is now a turn off for many people and is used less and less, so is highly refined and technical correct writing. There was a prior discussion on eG about macho writing, what I thought was interesting is that some of the examples of popular new wave, macho food writing were actually not that well written. Writing that I would consider to be good, was considered effete, due to style and due to subject. Another eG discussion was on words that people disliked in food writing, interestingly many of the words were technically correct and had a genuine role in the right context. In fact it seems that many terms that people dislike are words that they feel are being in the wrong context (and used far to often).

    I think that "mouthfeel" is one of these words. I think that it is a very good word when discussing beverages as "texture" isn't quite right. In discussing food, in most cases "texture" could replace "mouthfeel", but not all cases. "Texture" describes sensations caused by the external surface of objects, but not the chilli heat, liquids, tannins, acid, sugar etc and not the overall impression of a combination of these.

    Almost nobody in the UK actually roasts anything anymore. If it is cooked in an oven it is "baked", not roasted. Roasting was a seperate technique. However, I will not be the one to inform 99% of the population that historically and technically their Sunday Roast is actually a Sunday Bake.

  14. If 'Flavour Profile' is intended to indicate something more complex than simple flavours then we have the perfectly acceptable English 'taste'.

    But unfortunately there is more. 'Flavour Profile' implies a sort of graph or visual tool which, in some way tames the unruly sensations of the mouth into a measurable and exchangeable absolute. It implies that the complexities of mixed flavours can be quantified and passed around like so much filthy currency.


    I'm not sure that "flavour" and "flavour profile" are the same thing at all. The former should isn't specific the latter is, it implies an outline, which should mean less information, not more.

    The "flavours" of Pumpkin pie spices could be "nutmeg, clove, cinnamon etc" or it could be a number of other things, whereas the "flavour profile" of Pumpkin pie spices would just mean sweet spice mix associated with pumpkin pies, without identifing the specifics?

  15. The similarity of East v West coast is interesting. One might expect that as the West Coast is obviously much closer to China then the local American-Chinese cuisine would be more heavily influenced by migration in the last few decades. That fact that this isn't the case, suggests to me that American-Chinese cuisine is a pretty solid entity in its own right.

    Regarding "General Tso's chicken" Fuchsia Dunlop gives some background into the dish in her "Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook" and she interviews Peng Chang-kuei. He indicates that he developed the dish sometime in the 50's in Taiwan, but it's fame really developed after he opened the 44th Street restaurant in NYC.

  16. I think Chinese-American cuisine, like most cuisines, contains several elements. I'd point to three main ones, historically: first, traditional Chinese regional dishes prepared pretty much the same way as back home with perhaps very minor variations; second, dishes modeled after traditional Chinese regional dishes but adapted on account of ingredient availability and economic circumstances; and third, dishes adapted to Western palates.

    I think -- based on what I've read and on eating Chinese food in nine provinces of Canada -- that Chinese-American and Can/Chinese cuisines are nearly identical, with the variations being not sufficient to justify a distinction (no greater than the variations among US states). I do think there are commonalities among the hyphenated Chinese cuisines of all the English-speaking countries but I think there are enough differences to say that Chinese-American is not the same as Chinese-Australian. I haven't done historical menu comparisons on that point, however. Certainly, though, most of the other hyphenated Chinese cuisines -- like Cuban-Chinese or Bombay Chinese -- are distinct in significant part from Chinese-American cuisine.

    I also think a lot of this depends on when you date it. Chinese-American cuisine dates back to the 1840s. All three of the components I mentioned above would have seemed quite different -- perhaps unrecognizable -- back then. What arose much later, post-Immigration Act, is basically a different Chinese-American cuisine in every respect. Indeed, we speak of chop suey but today it's difficult to find it in a restaurant. Meanwhile, all this stuff like General Tso's chicken was popularized in the 1970s. Nor were the Chinese people who came in the 19th Century necessarily from the same parts of China as the ones who came in the 20th.

    I think this is a very good summary. From what I have read, in the 19th-early 20th century there was a lot of movement of Chinese men between the USA and Australia, this link is an interesting interview with a Melbourne based Chinese restaurateur. From this I would say that the American style Chinese restuarants were hugely influencial in Australia, yet I don't recognise many (even most) of the popular dishes on your list.

    Obviously the cuisine is changing all the time, but I wonder when the modern "American-Chinese" restaurant developed? 1900? 1920? 1950? 1970?

    Another question I have is if there are distinct differences between West Coast and East Coast American-Chinese restaurants?

  17. Another factor in boar taint apart from androstenone is skatole. Skatole is a bacterial break down product that smells stinky and accumulates in fat like androstenone. Skatole levels are usually higher in un-castrated, compared to castrated male pigs.

    Only about 50% of the population (in the USA) can perceive androstenone, which depends on the OR7D4 receptor. Depending on how many copies of the gene you have and what form of the receptor you have changes your ability to perceive androstenone. That's why people describe with such a wide range of descriptions (unpleasant BO, pissy, sweaty, a woody leaf litter smell, or even a nice floral smell

    Androstenone is also what makes truffles smell like sex, so about 50% of people that try truffles will not smell much at all, some will hate the smell and some will love it.

  18. Yeah, I saw the MoVida book at Readings (and as Lamington posted, it's $45).  And as you've posted, the book itself feels quite flimsy and there's this very earthy smell to the paper (oddly, I kind of like the smell  :shock: ).

    Flimsy? I have two hundred year old cookbooks that look in better condition. $45 is cheap, but I wonder if this is false economy if it falls apart in a few years?

  19. FG - The point that I was making was that is that I don't think that Chinese-American cuisine can be considered a part of the main regional Chinese cuisines, such as Shanghai, Sichuan, Hunan etc. It isn't a question of authenticity and legitimacy, it is more a question of classification.

    My thoughts are this:

    1) There are a number of distinct cuisines present in China.

    2) There is a huge Chinese diaspora, which have resulted in:

    - the developement of distinctive new cuisines

    -changes in the development of non-Chinese cuisines

    -changes in the parent Chinese cuisines.

    For me I guess the central question is "How distinctive is American-Chinese cuisine, and what is it?".

    I have not doubt that there is a legitimate and authentic "Chinese American" cuisine, but how distinctive is it? There seems to be some minor differences between Canada and the USA, but essentially you mention that they are the same. Is it distictively different from Australian-Chinese food? Or Anglo-Chinese food? Should American-Chinese, Australian-Chinese, Anglo-Chinese be considered to be same cuisine group in that they are distinct from Chinese-Venezuelan, Chinese-Norwegian, Chinese-Mexican, Chinese-Malagasy etc? Is American-Chinese (et al.) actually distinctive or is is a variation on Guandong cuisine or even Toi Shan cuisine?

    Until I can see how "Chinese-American" cuisine is actually defined in this way, I can't see how it can be grouped as part of the with main regional Chinese cuisines. It is too much of an unknown for me.

    n.b. Chop Suey: As far as I know we don't have chop suey as a common item in Australian Chinese food, but I note that in my 1948 edition of the "YMCA International Cookery Book of Malaya", a recipe is given in the Chinese section. I wonder if this came to Malaysia via the USA or through another route.

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