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Posts posted by Sqwertz

  1. Two more notes. It's important to "fry" it up in the oven not too hot an fast. Otherwise it can be slightly tough. My pani fries have nto turned out as tender. There can also be some silverskin hidden in those breasts. Some website out there mentioned how to remove it. I haven't hit any in this batch yet, but I did on the former batch. And FWIW, I did zero research on making lamb bacon until AFTER I started this thread. I like to cook first, and ask questions later if need be.

    Also, you just don't want the fat to start seeping out too much when you smoke it. A little fat is OK. The unsmoked version was baked in the oven for 2 hours at 200F to "loosen it up" some. So 225F shouldn't be too hard on it. Bacon is pretty dense stuff and not a lot of water to evaporate.


  2. Yous should do OK. Maybe just smoke it for an hour to flavor it lightly. The lamb should be as dry as possible and at or near room temp (take it out of the fridge 1.5 hours earlier). Use as indirect heat as possible.

    My first take on this the lamb wasn't smoked at all and it was still great stuff. Lamb shouldn't be heavily smoked anyway. I don't know anybody that had tried it and wants to try it again. There's nothing to stop you from trying it before you decide to smoke it or not. I would even SUGGEST doing that as there's still time to leach some salt out of it at that stage - if it's too salty.

    Here's some pics of the unsmoked version. Sandwich is with avocado and ranch-mayo.

    (And no, I don't own any sort of shop - that was just a figure of speech for a theoretical French market street)


    Lamb Bacon Stacked.jpg

    Lamb Bacon - Sliced.jpg

    Lamb BLT 1.jpg

  3. Bread? Pbbbt. I'm strictly cured meats, terrines, and pickles in my shop. Cheeses and breads are the shops adjacent to mine on either side.

    And no, I didn't toast the bread because that's not how it works in my house. And I've already taken a beating for that in another forum. You already have crispy bacon and crispy lettuce. You need fresh, squishy white bread for texture contrast. It should stick to the roof of your mouth. Save that toasted white bread for your peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


  4. I use the Brinkman "Gourmet" (charcoal version). It runs about $60 at Home Depot/Lowes. Any smoker will do, the trick is getting to know it and use it properly. This was done with just a small bit of lump, replenished a few times and with raw pecan wood on top of that to smoulder. It was 104F outside that day so 165F was as low as I could possibly get. And that fluctuated quite a bit. This is not a unit for cold smoking but with patience, you can keep it pretty low and "almost cold smoke".


  5. This sandwich took me a few days to make but it was well worth it. Plus I have enough lamb bacon left to make another 8 or 10 of these. And plenty of lamb bacon fat for whatever tickles my fancy.

    Raw, bone in lamb breast, halved, for $.99/lb.

    Lamb Breast - Raw

    (Forgive me, I don't know how to intersperse photos and text and this site so I used links)

    This was cured in the "basic cure" using the salt-box method with a head of fresh-pressed garlic for 2 days in the fridge. Then wiped down and smoked over pecan for 3 hours at about 165F.

    Lamb Breast - Smoked

    The lamb was then deboned, sliced, and cooked in the oven at 250F for about 30 minutes (that's about 1/3rd of a boned slab's worth of lamb bacon you see here). Lamb bacon can be tough and rubbery but slow cooking in the oven on a half sheet pan solves that.

    Lamb Bacon - Cooked

    Then assembled into a Lamb BLT with thin sliced red onion, cucumber, cheese, and mayo (as well as the lettuce and campari tomatoes). Served with garlic olives and peperoncini.

    Lamb BLT

    It's going to be hard to top this at dinner time.


    Sandwich - Lamb Bacon Onion Cucumber Cheese 2.jpg

  6. I've bought four watermelons in the last 3 weeks all of which were excellent. 2 of them came from Sprouts in Sunset Valley ($2/each, seedless 12 pounders), and the two last week come from Randall's(*) (14.5 pounds, seedless $3.50/ea). You may not have Sprouts but I would assume you have a Randall's somewhere near there. All were grown in Texas but I don't remember which Podunks they were.

    Is good watermelon really that hard to find? <shrug> Maybe I'm just lucky, but my method is to choose the ugliest watermelon they have - the underdog that nobody would bet on. Lopsided, white covering 1/3rd of the melon. No thumping required. The 2 14-pounders netted me 2 gallons of finely strained watermelon juice - no pulp at all. Smooth as water. Ask the produce guy if they're good, and if they don't have samples, tell him to cut one open. If I ever bought one that wasn't red or dark pink I would take it back. Nearly white? That would be downright fraudulent.

    Just don't be surprised what happens after you drink a two gallons of watermelon juice in less than 60 hours. It's purely aesthetic with no ill effects. And nobody but you will know.


    (*) It's the only thing I've bought at Randall's in probably 5 years. It is, by far, my least favorite store.

  7. Both of the HEB-stocked Elgin sausages, Meyers and Southside, need to be at least grilled preferably smoked at 200-220F for 1-1.5 hours (which can be hard for teverage smoker)(. A large portion of their ingredients is tripe, which doesn't have much flavor. That still doesn't explain 100% why they suck so bad when cooked indoors, IMO. I think they're just naturally bland and need all the help they can get. I remember one brand was slightly better cooked indoors than the other, but it was still not significant. The third and fourth (and last time) I did them outside on the grill, then smoker per above and they were much better, but still not great,but...

    Disclaimer: I have never eaten at Meyers or Southside and I tend to like my smoking sausage overspiced compared to many if the recipes I've seen and some that I've tried.


  8. My first and favorite Vietnamese restaurant burned down as well - Huong Truc in San Jose. That's where I discovered mam nem, for starters. And the rest of the Vietnamese cuisine. The staff there was always happy to give me an extra *pint* of it with my to go orders. I guess it impressed them that a barely 20 year old White guy loved something that some Vietnamese people won't even touch. They specialized in Bo Mon 7, but had everything from frog legs to curried snails. It was a hugely popular late night restaurant with the Viet crowd - so you wanted to avoid it at those times (I've never been too fond of the Vietnamese language - especially with a table full of 8 mildly drunk 20-somethings all talking over each other at the same time).

    Since I lived right across the street, I walked by there every night on my way home. On several occasions they invited me and gave me a container of something to-go for me to try. They would write the name of the dish on the box and try and explain what it was, but I could never really understand. But I always ate everything with glee, even if I didn't know what it was. I would take the empty box to work and sometimes my Vietnamese co-workers never even heard of the exact dish. but I would take often those box lids back and just hand it to them and they would give me more (this time as a paying customer). I was a very adventurous eater.

    Which brings up another question about what I was eating. We called them "naturally stuffed intestines". They were a sausage of some sort made out of whole intestinal sections (liek real liverwurst). The insides had some bits of vegetables you could see, but the the rest of the mixture was a a mystery. It was mildly flavored, but had the color of ... poo. And a very odd texture. Anybody know the name of this sausage? I always figured it they force fed pigs before slaughter, and this was the result. Hence the nickname, "naturally stuffed intestines".

    My first attempt to figure it out 13 years ago:



  9. We only had four people this time: franktex, future eGullet member Anthony, my girlfriend, and me. We still managed to order nearly everything we've gotten in the past.

    I haven't been reading the forum very often, but when I heard you wanted a limit of 8 I figured I'd have to sit it out. Otherwise I would have shown up. I'm a pretty hard-core Asian foodie, and I think Frank could have vouched for me in the that respect :-)

    Sorry I missed it. Next year....


  10. I had pork this way (3 lbs of shoulder) browned and plopped in a pot with the broth et al. Cooked for 2 hours until very tender, serve over rice with cucumber, mint, cilantro, green onions. Broth poured over............

    OMG, so VERY good that after I ate the entire bowl I got more rice and broth.............

    I may eat this every day for a week !


    I used to hate semi-sweet stewed meats, and ESPECIALLY licorice, but if you can hack it the importance of star anise in this dish is, I think, sublime.


  11. Steve~

    welcome. Maybe we DO need to hear how you make your caramel sauce (nuoc mau)?

    In a nutshell, take a cup of sugar and a half cup of water and heat over medium/medium high heat until it smokes. Then take it off the heat and let it cook further using the heat of the pan another 45-60 seconds until it smells like a meth lab (don't worry if you don't know what a meth lab smells like. I don't either, but you'll see what I mean). Then add another 1/2cup cold water to the mixture and heat it again to dissolve the caramel into a usable syrup. That picture I posted is probably on the light side. It should be slightly darker. That's probably my 8th batch of the stuff.

    Or you can read the LA Times article: The Taste of Tet, here.

    Once you taste that resulting liquid, you'll see why nuoc mau and kecap manis are not interchangeable.


  12. Welcome to posting, Steve! Tell me why you use both nuoc mau and kecap manis, which seem to have somewhat similar flavors (though the kecap manis is sweeter).

    If you think they have similar flavors, then you're not burning your nuoc mau long enough. They're totally different., IMO. You would never get the flavor of kho without nuoc mau and with only KM. NM is bitter more than sweet, and KM is just sweet.

    I would have used just regular soy with some palm sugar but I needed to get rid of this bottle of KM.

    I had been searching for that flavoring that is used in pork banh mi fillings and grilled pork chops for years, and just kepcap manis didn't even come close. Nuoc mau to the rescue. I don't know it eluded me for so long. Until I read about kho.

  13. Ever since I discovered the coveted nuoc mau, AKA "caramel sauce", or what I call burnt sugar sauce, I've been on a nuoc mau binge. Today was Thit Kho - pork belly ribs cooked in caramel sauce with spices.

    The making of nuoc mau is simple once you get the hang of it, the making of which is is beyond the scope of this particular post. It's simply burnt sugar cooked until it starts smoking and looks like this:


    It's really nasty tasting stuff on it's own. It bears no relation to what we normally consider "caramel".

    I used pork short ribs for this dish, trimmed of skin and the top layer of fat. These are also known as pork "karubi ribs", I believe. Traditional thit kho would still have skin on and be boneless. This was a good compromise between fat, lean, and flavor.


    These are browned over high heat, then I add 3-4 cups of weak chicken or beef broth for those 5lbs of ribs (in this case, reconstituted Minor's soup base), 3 tablespoons the nuoc mau above, 2 star anise, 2 tablespoons nouc mam (bottled fish sauce), 2 tablespoons kecap manis (or soy sauce + palm sugar), one onion, a few cloves of garlic, and about 2 inches of smashed ginger. Lemongrass can be used as well. This then simmered for about 2 hours until pork is fork-tender.


    6 hard-boiled eggs were added after that shot.

    Skim off most of the fat (make sure to leave some) and then serve in bowls with lots of broth, cilantro, chiles, bean sprouts, mint, chopped peanuts, whatever floats your boat. I was out of most of that so I just served it over jasmine rice with chiles and green onions. And I spooned a bunch of sauce/broth over this after the picture was taken.


    Kho is a super rich dish full of flavor. These were no exception. The pork is done perfectly and they don't taste fatty at all. I can't get enough of it. It gets even better after it sits in the fridge for 2 days. I've never had it in the restaurants, but I can't imagine it can get any better than this.

    Next up - Bo Kho (beef short ribs) from last week.


    Steve Wertz - Austin, Texas but who owes his love of

    Vietnamese food to San Jose, CA. And I don't do Pho.

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