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Everything posted by alwang

  1. Believe it or not, the best place I've found for pho in Manhattan is Pho 32 & Shabu in K-Town. You'd think authenticity would be an afterthought in a pho/shabu-shabu joint run by Koreans, but it's fairly solid. That's not to say it's great- just that the standard for Vietnamese food in Manhattan is that low. If you're up for a hike, Brooklyn chinatown has great bahn mi at An Ðông.
  2. I believe the Lauda heater in your eBay link is thermostat-controlled, which means it will also suffer from large temperature fluctuations. To get a PID-controlled circulator on ebay, you'll probably have to spend closer to $150-$200.
  3. Depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Some of the benefits of sous vide center around being able to maintain relatively low temperatures for extended lengths: those are benefits that are tough to realize without a water bath. However, there are other benefits that are mainly just around sealing the food to prevent loss of juices/flavor into the heating liquid: often these are things you can get without a water bath. In my experience: SV applications which don't require a water bath: - Lots of vegetables work well sous vide, and need to be cooked at relatively high temps anyway. This is a great way to cook veggies and maintain a vibrant color. Carrots, for example, are great when vacuum sealed with some butter and aromatics, and then cooked in a saucepan of water held just below simmering. - Similarly, I like to poach fruit sous vide, as it keeps the flavors from leaching out into the poaching liquid. I'll do pears with vanilla bean and some lavender honey, and I've done them on a stovetop. (I've also done them in a water bath at lower temps and longer times, and the result is also tasty, though the texture is firmer) - Thin fillets of fish can be done stovetop if you have a $20 probe thermometer. Your options are A) cook it at a relatively high temperature, and follow Nathanm's time tables very precisely to achieve your desired core temperature in a relatively short time, or B) cook it closer to your desired core temp, but be anal about adjusting the heat and moving your pot to maintain the right temp. (A) requires some trial and error, (B) requires a lot of patience, but because the cooking times are relatively short, it's doable for fish. - Similarly, the slow-cooked eggs that everyone does these days can be done on a stove. It's quite a bit of work to monitor the temp for an hour, but it's doable, and I haven't found the temperature requirements to be *that* exacting. If you keep it somewhere between 63-65C, the results are pretty good. - If you're looking for long, slow cooks, this is doable by placing the sous vide bag in a heavy cast iron pot of water and cooking it in an oven. This won't work for low temps where temperature stability is more important, but there are still a lot of good applications for this technique, particularly with cuts where you're trying to break down connective tissue: pork ribs, hocks, etc. Cuts suitable for braising, though the results can be different from a braise. You can also do confit this way, as described in the duck confit thread on eG. SV applications which do require a water bath: - Heating red meat to medium rare: there is a very perceptible difference between 53C and 55C here, IMO. Plus, the cooking times are usually in the multiple-hour range (particularly when you're trying to keep it medium rare AND break down connective tissue), making monitoring it on your stove more trouble than it's worth. - Heating pork and poultry to a "just done" level. Pork and poultry overcook so quickly that temperature precision is important.
  4. alwang

    Water Baths

    Hi, Check out this thread: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=60181 I think you'll find most folks buy their equipment used on Ebay. I got my circulator for about $200. The new ones run for about $1000. You can get them from JB Prince, or a couple of other culinary vendors, but you can also buy them from lab equipment vendors. -al
  5. Hmm, that's interesting. I certainly haven't noticed any seasoning effect on my Staub cookware. It seems roughly about as non-stick as the day I bought it, which is to say, better than Le Creuset, but less than a seasoned cast-iron skillet.
  6. Yeah, I don't know why the going price jumped so high, except that I guess everyone figured out all at once that they're incredibly kickass woks. Right now it's actually listed by Amazon as "Currently Unavailable": hopefully when they get them back in stock they'll offer it at the very reasonable price I bought it at. I'm pretty sure that's *not* correct: a Le Creuset or Staub with a matte black enamel interior should not be seasoned. I have a matte black Le Creuset roasting dish, and it is one of the worst pieces of cookware I own: everything sticks to it, and it's impossible to clean. On the contrary, I have a Staub roasting dish and a Staub dutch oven, both with black enamel interiors (though smoother than the LC), and they are exceptionally easy to clean and use. However, they still should not be seasoned.
  7. Here would be my go-to list: not that each item is an absolute necessity, but that I know I'd use each of these pieces with great regularity. BTW, I cook a pretty balanced mix of Western and Asian cuisine. - 10" cast iron skillet: good for too many things to mention - 14" stainless steel saute pan: for larger dishes, dishes where I'm making an acidic pan sauce, or dishes where covering the food is useful - 12" nonstick pan: I like them cheap, because they'll scratch eventually, and I like them a little large because it makes working with eggs easier. - 5 qt enameled cast iron dutch oven: you could probably save some bucks by going ordinary cast iron, but I think the enamel really does make it much more versatile: I do a lot of wine-based braises and tomato sauces in my dutch oven. - two stainless steel saucepans with covers: a 2 qt and a 4 qt. - 14" cast iron wok. I bought my Lodge Logic preseasoned version for just $25- it seems the price has gone up dramatically since then - 8 qt stockpot with a pasta insert That's about it. I don't bake much, but a heavy baking sheet is always useful for roasting vegetables and such. I'm sure others would have a much more informed recommendation on bakeware...
  8. Personally, I think a lot of the vegetables described (broccoli, string beans, etc.) are better served doing a saute-steam, which is almost the default chinese way to cook vegetables. Stir fry the veggies quickly in a little oil with your seasonings, then pour a cup or so of water in the pan, cover, and steam for a few minutes. I find it easier, quicker, and tastier. The only things I regularly steam are whole corn and certain root vegetables when I'm making purees. I find my pasta insert for my stockpot works pretty well, since there's a few inches between the bottom of the insert and the bottom of the pot.
  9. I have mixed feelings about The Silver Spoon: as an encyclopedia of Italian recipes, it's got fantastic breadth and solid depth. However as a reference to Italian cooking, I wish it went more into techniques and background material: e.g., important principles in making risotto, how to pick various Italian ingredients, etc. I find the cookbooks I like best strike a good balance between specific recipes and general advice (the French Laundry book, the Zuni Cafe cookbook, Fuchsia Dunlop's Sichuan cookbook, etc.) -al
  10. In addition to the below advice, I think for steaks, sous vide works much better with thicker cuts, where the consistency of a medium rare texture is impossible to get with any other means. For the thin cut that you had, you're right, I probably would have just seared it on a grill or stove: all that pre-SV and post-SV searing would essentially have cooked the meat anyway. For thicker steaks though, if you already have the sous vide equipment, I think you'll find the results are much preferable to microwaving. Just replace that microwave step with a couple of hours in the water bath, and then follow the rest of your process. Note, this reasoning doesn't necessarily hold true for all meats: fish I think works better sous vide when it's a little thinner.
  11. Looks awesome. We made mushroom polenta as well over the weekend, though didn't think to add a slow-cooked egg. We did add a healthy dollop of mascarpone to liven things up... You mean 63.8C, right?
  12. If you're anal (like me) or have a lot of time on your hands, or both, there's nothing stopping you from: 1) take a steak out of the freezer 2) SV for a few minutes to partially defrost (you can go at a higher temp if you want) 3) immediately remove from bag and sear 4) put back in bag, and SV to fully cook 5) take it out again for final sear It sounds like a lot of steps, but it really isn't much extra work. You just have to cut your vacuum bags a little large to allow for the reseal.
  13. Anyone have any pointers on crisping up fish fillets after sous vide? The problem is in drying the skin properly: it's so delicate after cooking that you can't really use the squeegee technique to draw off water. I just blot it with paper towels as well as I can, but the skin's not crisping up as much as I'd like. I sometimes resort to dusting it with flour or corn meal, but once again, not optimal. -al
  14. I forgot to mention I do dry the strips thoroughly with paper towels after pre-cooking them, but I like the sound of the microwave idea... -al
  15. I recently was inspired by a thread on eG to make some bacon-wrapped enoki, which, surprise suprise, were pretty tasty. However, the bacon didn't quite crisp up as much as I liked. The enoki were done in the oven, at around 400F. Anyone have any good general pointers on wrapping stuff with bacon? Broiler vs. oven vs. skillet? What kind of skillet, and what sort of technique? Two things that I've found important: 1) Obviously, if the food you're wrapping cooks quickly, you should pre-cook the bacon. I've been pre-cooking it sous vide, so that it stays soft, but the fat renders a bit. 2) I know it's tempting, but if you want the bacon to crisp up, you really shouldn't wrap in more than one layer.
  16. Hi all, Just wanted to bump up nakedsushi's question: does this stuff ever go bad? I always seem to have a store-bought jar of it lying around, and I think the one I have right now is at least a year old. There's nothing obviously off about the appearance or odor... -al
  17. Red beans (aka azuki beans) are definitely used, particularly in Chinese desserts, such as red bean soup: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...dpost&p=1026180
  18. alwang

    Very slow braising

    Looks great. I've also often wondered if there's any real downside to going as low and slow as possible (if you don't mind the extended cooking time). As far as I can see, there's only two possible concerns: 1) If the temperature is too low, the interior of the meat may be spending too much time at a temperature which will promote bacterial growth. Someone more knowledgable than me could probably comment on the risk here. 2) Those who've done 72-hour sous vide cooks can attest that it is possible to over-tenderize a protein, to where it's so tender it's unappealingly mushy and has no texture at all. I don't think you're in any real danger of hitting that threshold with a traditional oven braise. I always adjust any braise recipe I follow to a lower temperature and longer cooking time. This also reminds me of Heston Blumenthal's recipe for a 24-hour steak, where a rib roast is left in a 50C oven all day with the door cracked open. There are a set of amusing videos on YouTube of a British home cook attempting this. -al
  19. One thing that I saw consistently on menus when I was in Shanghai that I rarely saw in other parts of China (or in the US) was this great dish that consisted of slices of lotus root where the holes had been stuffed with glutinous rice. It was sticky and sweet, of course. Don't know if this is more restaurant-style than home-style, but it was certainly very tasty. If someone has a recipe, I'd love it... -al
  20. Wow, that is a pretty great video: thanks, Octaveman. So if I understand correctly, the Western and Japanese versions of a fillet knife seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum: - A Western fillet knife is thinner and more flexible than your average chef's knife (in order to be able to work around the backbone? Or is it for skinning?) - A Japanese deba is thicker and stouter than your average chef's knife or gyuto (to be able to work through bone without harming the blade?) Both of these lines of reasoning make sense to me. Which one do I want? Or should I just split the difference and stick with my gyuto? -al
  21. Hi all, I'd like to learn to prep whole fish by myself, and I'm wondering how critical it is to have a fillet knife with a more flexible blade, or if I can just use my everyday knife, which is a pretty sharp 8" gyuto. If I do need a fillet knife, any reasonably-priced recommendations? Thanks, -al
  22. "dee toy" (Cantonese "gee choy") and "hoi dai" are not the same thing. The former: purple in color, small and curly. The latter: green in color, shaped like the leaves of plants. "gee choy" is more used in savory soups. "hoi dai" is more used in sweet dessert soups (e.g. mung beans). The green shreds that they serve in Japanese sushi restaurants (mixed with sesame oil and sesame seeds) are one kind of "hoi dai" I think. "Gee choy" (or one specie of it) is the kind they used to wrap sushis, I think. ← Hmm, interesting. So the problem, it sounds like, might be that I'm using the wrong kind of seaweed? I've never noticed this purplish seaweed in the stores, but I'll keep an eye out. The dried hai dai that I buy comes in large sheets, not really leaf-shaped. Thanks, everyone! -al
  23. Anyone have any good recipes for hai dai (aka kombu)? I love the stuff, and I particularly love it in home-style soups, like with pork spare-ribs. However, as those who have made Japanese dashi will attest, if you let kombu boil, it turns the broth slimey. Do people soak the seaweed beforehand? Do you add it at the very end of cooking? Or do you just keep the soup at low simmer the whole time? Thanks, -al
  24. I would go lighter than normal with the garlic, but I've used all of those flavorings regularly with great success.
  25. alwang


    Hot damn, is that good news. My omakase at Fuji was considerably more memorable than any other Japanese meal I've had in the area, including Morimoto. Now all I need is an announcement about StudioKitchen reopening.
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