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Posts posted by Toby

  1. Pork belly is great braised. I especially like all the variations of Chinese red-cooked pork belly.

    The reason the recipe above interested me, though, was that I love porchetta and am always looking for new recipes for it. I'd always used pork shoulder, but I really liked the pork belly, plus it was very beautiful looking when sliced in rounds because of the alternating layers of fat and lean with the seasoning paste in the center.

    I found a Mario Batali recipe for Porchetta Sarda (Sardinian-style) in Vino Italiano. He uses a 5-lb. piece of pork loin, butterflied, and I think I could use pork belly instead. He brines the pork overnight in 3 tablespoons salt and 4 cups of water; at the same time he mashes up a big head of garlic and lets the garlic sit overnight in a cup of dry white wine. The next day, rinse the salt off the pork and dry it well. Add julienned sage leaves, a lot of chopped Italian parsley, and olive oil to moisten to the garlic-wine mixture. Salt the inside of the meat and rub the garlic-herb paste over the surface. Roll the pork up, tie with butcher's string at 1" intervals. Put in a roasting pan and brush a mixture of acacia or bitter Sardinian honey with the zest and juice of 1 lemon over the entire surface of the roast, reserving some of the mix for basting. Season with black pepper. Roast in 450 degree oven, basting every 15 minutes with the remaining honey mix. He only roasts the pork for 70 minutes, until the internal temperature is 140 degrees, and then lets it cool for 1/2 hour before serving. (If using the pork belly instead of the loin, I'd probably lower the temperature some after the first hour and let it go on cooking for quite some time more.) While the pork is resting, add the remaining basting mix and a cup of stock to the roasting pan and, over medium heat, scrape up the dark bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to 2/3 cup. Strain and whisk is a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

    Paula Wolfert has a very long recipe for porchetta using pork shoulder. She removes the entire skin and then roasts the pork with the skin draped over the pork for the first half of the roasting time, and then puts the skin under the roasting rack and meat for the last half (5 hours total at 300 degrees). After the pork is removed from the oven, she raises the oven to 400 degrees and crisps and browns the skin. Removing the skin from the belly might solve the problem of a too-thick, not crisp enough skin that I had this time, and also let the outermost layer of fat crisp and cook off some.

  2. Wilfrid, what about the fat? I always put about 4 tablespoons of butter into cornbread. Commodities (on 1st Avenue and 10th Street) sells organic cornmeal (in bulk) that is very delicious and works great in cornbread. (They also have much grittier cornmeal for polenta.)

  3. A schizoid meal, eaten in several stages:

    My nephew arrived after delivering microgreens and mushrooms to various restaurants; his contributions to dinner: a huge box of shiitake mushrooms, a bag of microgreens, a sort of mushroom tart and a container of mushroom soup, both from Bluehill, and a pistachio creme brulee with raspberries from Payards. I sauteed some of the shiitakes, sliced with olive oil, a little chopped shallot and garlic, butter, thyme. We ate the sauteed mushrooms and the sort-of mushroom tart together, with some microgreens sprinkled over the sauteed mushrooms. We didn't eat the soup because the main course, which I'd cooked, was gumbo with chicken feet, andouille sausage, duck and hard-boiled eggs over white rice.

    Then later we ate the pistachio creme brulee with raspberries.

  4. Bruce Cost wrote a column on Asian ingredients for the San Francisco Chronicle food section for quite a while back in the 80s and earlier 90s -- many of the recipes appeared in his Bruce Cost's Asian Ingredients (1988, reprint 2000); both editions are very helpful in identifying ingredients; Cantonese names are given for Chinese ingredients. I used to eat in his restaurant Monsoon in San Francisco -- the food was very fresh, with more western-type desserts that were great.

  5. Toby --

    Could I get the title, author, publisher info from the cookbook you are referencing?  I've been heavily involved in Chinese cooking for over 3 months straight, and have reached the point of needing to purchase further reference materials! 

    Secrets of Nutritional Chinese Cookery, by Ng Siong Mui, Landmark Books, Singapore, 1988. No idea if this is still in print; I got it in a used book store about 10 years ago; the list price was $25.00. Other books I looked at for double-boiled soup were The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen, by Grace Young, Simon & Schuster, 1999; A Spoonful of Ginger, by Nina Simonds, Knopf, 1999. My favorite Chinese cookbook is Chinese Gastronomy by Hsiang Ju Lin & Tsuifeng Lin, Perigree Books (Putnam), reprint 1982 -- don't know if this is still in print or not.

  6. And while we are talking stocks and inferring maybe to soups would you share any insight into Double Boiled Soups.  Where can one fine good soup like this in NYC? I was in Singapore and had some great Double Boiled Soups. Not sure how I can find these here in NYC.

    Suvir, double boiled soups are not so hard to make at home. You can either use a good stock as the base or just water. You put the liquid into a pot that will fit inside a larger pot along with the ingredients you want to use, and cover the smaller pot. You place the smaller pot on a steamer tray or rack and add water to the larger pot just to reach the bottom of the smaller pot and then you cover the larger pot and cook for several hours (adding water if necessary). You're really steaming the soup. You can also buy a porcelain double-boil soup container in Chinatown and do it the traditional way, by placing the closed container into a larger container of boiling water coming halfway up the sides of the smaller pot, which is kept simmering over low to medium heat for 3-4 hours so as to cook the food in the inner pot.

    Some ideas for double-boiled soup are squab and ginseng (believed to be restorative); chicken chopped through the bone with dried mushrooms and/or ginger; chicken feet, red dates, peanuts and dried mushrooms; chicken chopped through the bone with ginger and rice wine; black skinned chicken with slices of dried Chinese yam, ginger, wolfberries, and a little sliced pork.

    I've just dug up a cookbook of nutritious Chinese recipes -- there's a whole chapter on double-boiled soups with recipes for sea cucumber and scallop soup; herbal mutton soup; shark's fin with Chinese cabbage hearts; chicken and walnut soup;,Chinese pears with almonds; turtle soup with herbs; snow fungus soup; chicken stuffed with pomelo; abalone, chicken and ginseng soup; pig's spleen with corn silk; winter melon and duck gizzard soup; pig's brain and chicken feet soup; bird's nest soup; pigeon with fish maw; oxtail soup; dried scallop soup; pig feet and black bean soup; and some others that are kind of too yucky to think about.

  7. More information about Fujian cuisine. In Chinese Gastronomy, a detailed recipe for Popia: The Great Pot, a specialty of Amoy. (Amoy is the hometown of the authors, Hsia Ju Lin and Tsuifeng Lin, and there's a long section of Fujian cooking in the book.) Popia consists of three parts; the first is a great pot of filling (bean curd, shrimp, bamboo shoots, scallions, pork tenderloin, snow peas, seasonings) which are first sauteed and then placed in a large pot and cooked together over low heat for up to 4 hours, so that the ingredients "cook in their own juices, achieving perfection of taste." The second part of the meal are thin crepes made out of flour and water; the third part are various side dishes which complete the flavor: blanched bean sprouts, blanched chinese chives, dried and toasted seaweed, egg slivers, dried deep-fried flatfish, toasted peanuts, chinese parsley, and relishes (hot red mustard, yellow mustard, Hoisin sauce and plum sauce, all eaten with scallion brushes).

    A much simpler recipe in Chinese Gastronomy that I used to cook a lot is called "Rich Glutinous Rice." It's essentially the filling in nor mai fan (glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaves) cooked in a pot, using dried shrimp, pork, dried Chinese mushrooms, and roast duck or roast chicken if desired, cooked with Chinese sticky rice (shorter grained and more sticky than Thai sticky rice).

  8. This is information gathered from several Chinese cookbooks that have sections about Fujian cuisine.

    Aside from the use of red wine sediment paste, Kenneth Lo mentions the Fujianese use of "Swallow Skin" -- a thin dough-skin with a high meat content, as a wrapping for food which is then steamed or cooked in soups. Soups are a specialty; Fuzhou soups are noted for the special way of making broth -- after preparing broth in the usual way, the carcase of a fresh chicken is chopped into very fine pieces and added to the broth, along with some fresh shrimp heads and a small amount of dried shrimp to simmer together for about 15 minutes before the broth is strained. Lo gives recipes for Fujian Shredded Swallow-Skin Meat-Ball Soup; Braised Chicken in Wine Sediment Paste; Quick-Fried Sliced Chicken Breast with Sea Clams in Wine Sediment Paste; and Crisp-Fried Pork Chops in Wine Sediment Paste with Peppers.

    In Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's The Chinese Kitchen, she gives a detailed description and recipes for what she calls the "ultimate feast in a land of feasts, among a people who dearly love festive foods and the traditions that occasion them." The dish is called "Buddha Jumps Over the Wall" (Fat Tiu Cheung) and comes from Fuzhou, in Fujian province. It's a very labor intensive dish, takes two days to prepare , and can contain as many as 30 different main ingredients. She describes it as a kind of "giant pot-au-feu," but much more complex. The traditional way of serving it is in a feast with five accompanying side dishes (some recipes are included). Supposedly the name indicates that even though the Buddha was a vegetarian, the smells of this dish would be so enchanting, that the Buddha would even jump a wall to taste it.

    The main dish contains shark's fin, abalone, dry scallops, quail eggs, bamboo shoots, a chicken, a duck, pork feet, lamb filet, fresh ham, cured ham, fish lips, sea cucumber, fish stomach, pork tendon, pork stomach, duck gizzards, dried black mushrooms, Chinese turnips, carrots, scallions and lots of different seasonings. The ingredients all seem to be prepared separately and then combined in layers between bamboo or lotus leaves for the final simmering in broth. The side dishes are snow pea shoots with steamed mushrooms; choi sum with yunnan ham; mustard green stems in sweet mustard sauce; lotus root with pickled peach sauce.

  9. Charles Smith recently reported on eating porchetta at Lupa. According to Charles' server, "a small organic, nicely killed pig is de-boned, then laid out "flat." The arms and legs are then removed, ground, and made into sausage. The sausage is then stuffed back into the pig, which is then roasted and served in slices. Each round slice is sausage and pieces of the rest of the pig, fat, tenderloin, crispy skin, etc."

    This sounded so delicious that I was inspired to cook a porchetta recipe from Nancy Harmon Jenkins' Flavors of Tuscany that I'd come across some time ago. Rather than using the traditional whole young pig (but not a suckling pig), or the more convenient pork shoulder usually used in recipes, Jenkins called for a 4-lb. square of fresh pork belly with skin attached. I was able to get the butcher in the meat store on Bayard between Mott and the Bowery (in NY Chinatown) to cut me a large square from the end of a 3-1/2 foot or so piece of the belly. The meat was very nice, with not much fat between the layers of meat.

    I made a paste of lots of garlic, rosemary, fennel seeds, some dried Calabrian hot chiles (not called for in the recipe), salt, pepper, bay leaves, olive oil and a small amount of minced pork liver. I rubbed this over the inside (not skin side) of the belly and then attempted to roll the meat up, jelly-roll fashion. I couldn't get the meat to overlap and the pieces of pork liver kept on trying to squish out, but I tied the meat into a nice roll shape, using butcher's string about 1 inch apart. I rubbed the skin with salt, pepper and a little more olive oil and roasted it on a rack at 375 degrees for about 2-1/2 hours, basting with some red wine for the first hour, and then adding small amounts of water to the pan after that. When the meat was done, I let it rest for a while, skimmed off the fat from the pan juices and reduced the rest of the juices until they were syrupy. It looked very pretty, thinly sliced with the seasoning paste in the inside; it was also very tasty and rather more interesting than when I've cooked porchetta with pork shoulder. I think if I make it again, I'll cook it at 375 degrees for the first hour, and then slow cook it at a lower temperature for a longer time. The pig was too old for the skin to be very thin, so while it had a nice flavor it wasn't really crispy anyway, and I would have preferred the meat to be more falling apart.

  10. Pork stomach and tripe are the same. Pork stomachs are probably more like people stomachs and less like the weird and complicated stomach system cows have. Pork stomachs are shaped like a football with an opening at either end; the flesh is smooth and kind of elastic. The taste is a little strong; it needs to be cleaned pretty well before cooking. (I've been meaning to start a thread about stuffed pig's stomach.)

    Pork belly is the paunch or flank, the undercut of the pig. Bacon and pancetta are made from the belly. Pork belly is red cooked and/or steamed in Chinese cooking (Su Tung Po pork is a classic preparation); braised in French/American bistro-style cooking.

  11. The discussion of raw food made me remember the threads on the California board about Roxanne's, the raw food restaurant in the Bay Area, where nothing is subjected to heat over 110 degrees f., although there does seem to be rather intensive technique and manipulation of the ingredients (I also think the no meat is served, is that right?) Raw foodists have whole theories about the health benefits gained from eating raw food, but as a diet it sounds rather dreary.

  12. It all depends on how the food tastes doesn't it? At Daniel they have an aseembly line of chefs preparing artisanally grown products. Is the food artisnal? Having had too many heirloom tomato salads after the season was over, I can tell you that it only meant something while the tomatoes were good. The rest of the time, even though they were artisanal tomatoes it was a marketing ploy.

    But isn't this less a marketing ploy than a result of the consumer continuing to demand heirloom tomatoes after their season had peaked?

  13. Even better than John Cope's corn is drying your own, but you have to do this in the summer when fresh corn is at its peak. Cut the kernels off a lot of ears of corn, spread them out on baking sheets and dry them in the lowest possible oven (140 degrees F) for 6-10 hours, moving them around on the sheet occasionally so they don't stick. When they are completely dry, pour into jars and store (I keep mine in the refrigerator). I make a corn pudding with them -- grind them coarsely in blender or food processor, soak them in milk for a few hours, mix with eggs, brown sugar, heavy cream, a little butter and bake in a round, more deep than flat baking dish until set. The flavor of home-dried corn is much better than the commercial stuff.

  14. Having lived and cooked for long periods of time in New York, San Francisco, and again in New York, the quality of the local vegetables and fruit available almost year round in San Francisco is far superior to that available in New York. I think that produce underlies any good cooking, so I build my meals around it; I was able to get satisfactory to good poultry and meat in San Francisco and excellent fish, shellfish, but what made my cooking completely satisfying to me was the excellent quality of the produce I had to work with there. I've had to completely change how I cook here, and am not very happy about it. Sometimes, as now, when local produce is disappearing for the winter, I'm more unhappy.

  15. I am saying that the market has adopted a similar use of the term "artisanal"  to the way it uses terroir. When they say something  "expresses the terroir," they mean, tastes like it comes from X location.  I am using artisanal in the same manner and saying that the key factor is that it appears to have been made by an artisan. Of course you are not going to find many things that are mass produced that actually taste artisanal. But when something is borderline, it gets decided as a matter of the public tasting it and accepting or rejecting the term based on the characteristics of the product.

    Given that "artisanal" products are obtained in the "market," this makes sense.

  16. The taqueria I used to go to for the pork stomach burritos was on Mission between 21st and 22nd (they owned two on that block, this one was closer to 21st; don't know if it's still there; their tacos were also very good). When I ordered, I called it "buche."

  17. I had a hot sauce business for a few years. We sold them at our stand at a farmers' market. I made six different hot sauces, all different themes on West Indian scotch bonnet peppers. At first I made small batches (around 60 5 oz. bottles at a time), in my licensed kitchen; I washed and stemmed the peppers, and cleaned and peeled large quantities of garlic, onions, carrots and fruits, but used a food processor to roughly chop up the vegetables and a spice grinder to grind the various spice mixes I used, and I used a blender to blend up the cooked ingredients into the hot sauce. I was able to control the final seasoning, consistency and taste, because I could determine how much of the cooking liquid to add to the solids when I blended everything and I could let the sauce sit for a while before I bottled it to adjust final seasoning.

    Because of increased demand for the hot sauces, we decided to do two of the sauces at a co-packer. The way a co-packer works, I found out, was that you bring the co-packer the recipe and they make it in quantity for you. The co-packer charged us 25% of what we were selling the sauce for. To make more money, the co-packer tried to sell us the ingredients as well; really industrial junk, such as pre-peeled dead-tasting cloves of garlic, yucky vinegar. We were using all organic produce, really nice spices, good vinegars (adding cane vinegar to some of the sauces), good dark rum. I had to fight with the co-packer to use my own ingredients. I ended up preparing all the ingredients the night before we went to the co-packer. I also stood there the whole time and told him what to do. (You can bet he didn't like me.) The ingredients got cooked in a great big cauldron-like thing for a long time, but never came up to a boil. I'd cooked mine quickly just to a boil and then taken them off heat. Then I had to fight with the co-packer about straining the sauces before bottling to get rid of the pepper peels and seeds in one of the sauces which I wanted to be very smooth, and I ended up doing it myself.

    The two hot sauces we decided to bring to the co-packer were the best-selling ones I was making. They had a very fresh, sparkling taste to them. But when the co-packer made them, they weren't really very good. They tasted dull and industrial; also he'd dumped in extra vinegar to increase the number of bottles he could charge us for and the batch ended up tasting too vinegary. We always put out sample bottles for the customers. When we started bringing the two sauces made by the co-packer, along with the four sauces I was still making at home, the homemade ones became more popular than those made by the co-packer. There really was a difference, even though the ingredients were the same and it was the same recipe, same proportions, and the customers could tell.

  18. Some people claim they have only to look at the producer of the product to tell the quality of the product. A customer of ours at the market wrote a small book (which I now can't find on my bookshelves) claiming that he had only to look at the farmer at a farmers' market in order to tell whether the produce would be good or not. This is too ridiculous even for me.

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