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Renn

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Posts posted by Renn


  1. Talking strictly about the brick noodles themselves...I tend to prefer those that use potato starch.

     

    Back to Nongshim specifically, 2:30 is my personal sweetspot for cooking, and while I know many like to ditch the seasoning packet altogether, if you use it like you would use salt to season a broth, there's a really wonderful complexity hidden within it.  At normal use levels, the spice, salt and MSG blow everything to kingdom come.

     

    For something different, I'm also a big fan of Indomie Mie Goreng Kereting Spesial...Indonesian Dry Fried Noodles.


  2. One of my favorite ways to use it is to take short rib/chuck/pork shoulder etc, flavor, season (generally little or no liquid) and wrap tightly in parchment.  Wrap that whole packet in foil just to keep things neat and in it goes at 325F Covection Bake for 120 min.  Let it sit even after the cycle's done until it's cooled.  throw the packet in the fridge.  Next day, portion/shred and crisp in a frying pan.  The jus left in the packet makes great sauce.

    • Like 1

  3. And what has always been Chef Pepin's messaging? Fundamental technique...so of course, that's what he displays when on TV.

    The only other chef I've seen recently with a focus on fundamental technique (vs. say modernist technique) on TV would be Raymond Blanc.

    But again, we're talking about the fantasy world of TV...how things are in restaurant kitchens, that's a completely different discussion.

    • Like 1

  4. Back to David's original post...I'd say that it's mostly a disconnect between what you want to see in these TV segments, and what the chefs in question are trying to show. You want to see a display of technical skill, but if you sit back and look at these segments for what they are...generally that is not the theme nor intent of them.

    As a further example:

    skip to 5:35

    If we were to judge Grant by just this one video...you could say that he's a total hack. And beyond chopping at celery like a fruit ninja, you could make other observations...why isn't his mise en place in perfect order? Where's his sense of urgency? etc. etc. But I assure you, Grant has ample technical skill. I'd be willing to bet that a pint of fine brunoise from him would pass muster. The key is the context and the intent. This video is clearly about applying a (then unfamiliar) restaurant cooking technique to the home. 'It's not magic, it just makes sense' that sort of thing.

    Similarly, while I can't speak to every chef that ends up in the media, I assure you that Rene Redzepi has knife skills...but for the messages he so often focuses on, a technical focus actually hinders communication. People already perceive him as being "above and beyond," whereas he spends most of his time trying to say "what I'm doing isn't beyond reach of anyone."

    You can always tell in an instant who the strong cooks are when you work with them. And just like the rest of TV...I wouldn't make too many judgements of a person based on what hits the screen.


  5. I also really like the Adria Family Meals book. If you're familiar with El Bulli's cuisine, they've never been afraid to take advantage of ready-made food products. When you have the workload of an El Bulli, you draw the line differently in terms of what you're willing to do from scratch vs. what to purchase ready-made. It's also an additional avenue for their creativity. It's a questioning of an assumption...Of course at home you can draw your own lines of what is acceptable.

    Even more so than the recipes themselves though, that book is the first I've seen that attempts to adapt haute-cuisine restaurant systems of produce management/staff meal to the home context. And in that aspect, I think it's both underestimated and likely under-utilized....but completely useful at home.

    PS, the potato-chip tortilla is delicious.

    My "avoid" cookbook is Aliza Green's "Starting with ingredients" Maybe it's just me, but every time I try to look up something...I can't find it. That, plus it's huge and unwieldy means that I had to get rid of it. This is in stark contrast to all of her field guide books...all of which have been the exact opposite of "Starting with ingredients". Compact, useful, comprehensive.


  6. The Kuhn Rikon Y-peeler is my favorite, even compared to other Y-peelers like Swissmar, and I definitely can no longer use swivel peelers. The key for me is the shorter handle which provides me greater control...necessary when you're peeling baby turnips, radishes and asparagus and still want to keep them nice and round.

    However, I can see the pros of swivel peelers if you mainly peel large potatoes, carrots and the like and the concern is more of having a confident grip.


  7. Light on the science, but definitely a comprehensive meat cook book is the River Cottage Meat book. If you want to go into specific, but different methods of live fire meat cookery, I'd recommend Francis Mallmann's Seven Fires. As for game, there are many books out there, but one I particularly enjoy is Andrew Pern's Loose Birds and game.

    If your focus really is on the science of meat cookery/differences in cooking methods, I don't think anything out there is as understandable and in-depth as Moderist Cuisine.


  8. I think you've hit on an important point about people being easy to see through, and I also think that it's one of the biggest challenges for a server....that's sincerity. The repetitive nature of menus, interactions, steps of service and so on make it difficult, but I think striving for sincerity in your interactions will always build a foundation for excellent service. Regardless of how formal or how casual the restaurant, everyone appreciates honest interactions.

    When the guest sees you as a sincere person, the impact of minor mishaps is dulled, whereas in the opposite situation, it just becomes ammo for them to discount the whole experience.


  9. To get to your original question, there is probably about as much consensus on how a server should conduct themselves as there is consensus on how the kitchen should cook its food....

    Your interest in proper service and the desire to learn is a great asset. What you need now, is to find a restaurant whose service you personally admire. If you find the people who serve the way you want to serve...you can learn from them. That's my take on things.

    • Like 1

  10. I'm sure there will be fans drawn in by the whimsical genius of "Rene" Redzepi, but I came away with a sense that the dishes went to the edge of the cliff--and then fell off. Television doesn't give us the ultimate test of a dish, which is taste, but how many oddball garnishes and tiny little flowers picked off the marsh do you need to add before you stop?

    To speak to an earlier comment about how disjointed and loose the show is...that's pretty much Chang in a nutshell, so I don't predict that that aspect will go away. Also given the show's zero point zero production, the show's style will likely continue to be a loose connection of segments. I'm guessing that if it were really up to them, there'd be no continuity at all, but because this is for an audience...they'll make some practical concessions.

    Specifically when talking about Rene...or any other forward thinking chef, the primary challenge will always be how to best communicate what you do. It's a challenge in any format, and especially in TV form since you don't have the luxury of the printed page to talk on and on about the intent and process of your dishes. For the Spain episode, the Arzaks didn't even address their cooking...and Elena was pretty much a non-entity. They just wanted to focus on "he's a cool and legendary guy who loves to eat good food in his amazing home town." Andoni's story was..."he's a wild and exacting guy, but makes even the craziest ideas appear natural to the diner." Simple messages for some rather complex people. And given the time allotted...it worked well.

    Now we get to Rene...he has a whole episode, more time to focus, talk to Soren, forage, etc. And actually time to cook together...but sometimes allowing for more depth can also make communication an even larger challenge. A perfect example was the "garbage plate." The story is "here are some normally discarded items, thrown together on a plate to make something delicious and fun" and it all seems very casual...he has some "oddball garnishes" and the plate's done.

    What's not said in the episode is that there is a tremendous amount of work and thought and development behind that dish...and nothing is casual about why things go on that plate, or how it got there. You get a hint of it when they have the segment with Soren and the vintage vegetables, you can imply several of the plants are foraged from the beach. But they don't talk about the fact that the milk skin is a very specific and rather difficult to execute recipe...that the wild thyme oil is a 3 day process that usually takes at least 4 people to make, that the watercress stems are picked just for their stems...even "just warm butter" is anything but. In any case, I mention this because, Rene in the media may seem like a "whimsical genius" but he's probably one of the most methodical, reasoned and sincere chefs I've ever encountered. And the end product is something that is more often than not, uniquely delicious. Plenty of chefs go overbard when it comes to adding complexity to a particular dish, I'd argue that Rene is not one of them....His plates' success often lies in the fact that it has been edited to its bare essence. Things are done out of necessity, not just because "he can."

    The problem is that he's also a guy of a thousand profound ideas and he wants to share all of them with you...but he can't. He knows he can't...so he has to pick and choose what he says depending on the venue. Sometimes the message gets a little muddled, but I suppose that success is actually just getting people to think differently about their food.

    "It took 5 hours to gather, 5 minutes to arrange on a plate, and it will take 30 seconds to consume" I think he knows that he can only say so much depending on who he's talking to...and he also knows that to the consumer, it doesn't matter that it took X amount of effort and Y amount of time to make something. All you get are those 30 seconds.


  11. Well, he feels that beef simply is never as good reheated as it is just cooked. And I think he has a point, as vegetables cooked a la minute are almost always better than vegetables cooked before hand and reheated. Just, as in his example, fresh baked cookies just cooled down enough are better than cold cookies reheated in the oven. We always make compromises in the kitchen, it's just natural. Magnus's interest lies in upending some of the compromises that most take for granted.


  12. I'll leave aside your impolite comments just this once, if only because the question is interesting, but don't expect me to do it again.

    Resting and reheating is generally done so that:

    1. The meat is cooked to the proper temperature

    2. The rest allows the juices to thicken and stay in the beef until chewed, rather than spilling out with the knife

    3. It's reheated to serve the beef at a warm temperature.


  13. "I do know that I don't want to be 35 years old with kids and having to work these crazy hours."

    There is your answer right there...based on that, you better get out of restaurant kitchens as soon as possible. The hours definitely do not get better once you have your own restaurant...especially if it is one with any kind of ambition.


  14. To address your Faviken question specifically, and high end restaurants generally, he states in the book that

    1. He prefers to have the range of donesses in a direct cooked steak

    2. He also prefers not to rest and reheat (fresh baked cookie analogy)

    That is why he prefers it to sous vide. He specifically dislikes an edge to edge homogeneous piece of beef, and also dislikes rested and reheated beef.

    Other high end restaurants make use of direct heat meat cookery to great extent, Extebarri, Manresa, Bras, Roberta's/Bianca, even Mugaritz and I'm sure hundreds others. Like every method of cooking, how you go about it and what result you want is a choice. What the dining public may see as a trend/monopoly is only a matter of perception. Restaurants all over the world cook their food in myriad ways...but what's reported tends to skew towards novelty/trend identification.

    I don't have any sources to cite, so feel free to repudiate or challenge, but I feel that in the context of tender beef cuts, skillfully applied direct heat surpasses sous vide in retaining a heterogeneous mouthfeel. Magnus describes it as the range of doneness, but in my experience, there is also a difference in the release of fat and lean on the chew. It is also very much possible to have edge-to-edge "perfect" doneness via direct/oven heat. These are both phenomena that I see little talk of, but that I attribute to public perception more than lack of example. Direct heat, a la minute cooking of beef is a serious challenge, as depending on the cut cooking times are quite long. A 3 1/2" square cross sectional piece of sirloin can take roughly 40 minutes to cook. And if the restaurant chooses to rest/reheat, that can add even more time. This requires a serious amount of timing management, so it's easy to see why many restaurants love sous vide. In the latter case, all of the temps can be set in the prep period, and the portion rethermed for pickup.

    As for why you don't see braises more often in high end fine dining...one answer is that it's simply more difficult to make a braised beef cut look presentable. Diners are very visual, and regardless of the deliciousness in the mouth, the red center/brown exterior will generally be more appealing than the duller brown/grey of braised meat. Another answer is that, if the dining public is sitting down to a "high-end" meal which ends with a cut of beef, the expectation is for a more "high-end" (i.e. rib, loin, etc) cut of beef. Benu has served braised beef, and noma does a wonderful dish of braised beef cheek cooked in hay...so there are definitely beef braises in the highest-end kitchens, but it is far from common.


  15. Honestly, my take on this is that whenever pink salt is discussed at the retail level (i.e. butcher/grocer to consumer) most pretend like pink salt is some kind of contraband...I don't exactly know why, but I think there must be some perception that nitrites are "for professional use only" and that an "ordinary consumer" would poison themselves with it. Additionally, there is a popular stigma to nitrites as mentioned earlier in this thread....

    Never mind the fact that it's a completely common ingredient for any sausage maker/bacon curer. Even producers avoiding nitrites use nitrite-rich ingredients like celery seed to cure "without nitrites." I'm pretty sure that perception is really the most obscuring factor here.

    All that aside, I don't consider pink/curing salts interchangeable with "normal" salt. More than just the pink coloration, the curing salt gives the meat its cured flavor. Corned beef/pastrami just doesn't taste like itself without it.


  16. Thanks for the responses, but I still feel like my questions remain.

    I understand that humidity both keeps a product from drying while raising the wet-bulb temperature closer to the boiling point...but what makes 285F and 80% better for retherming X vs 285 and 100% or 40% for that matter?.

    If I read MC correctly, at temperatures above 175F, there is no practical difference between 35% humidity and 100%.


  17. First:

    So, from reading Modernist Cuisine, all of their programs make use of either 100% humidity or 0%, the former to control the wet-bulb temperature for cook-to-temp applications, and the latter for drying/browning. Further, there's discussion about the general uselessness of humidity settings that are able to be set, but not realized.

    My first question is...are there any practical reasons for selecting partial humidity? If so, why? Sure, there are recipies/programs specified by the manufacturer that suggest step-wise cooking programs where the humidity is decreased as the temperature is increased, but do the results warrant this approach vs the MC approach to humidity?

    Second:

    Delta-Temp cooking...Any interesting applications of this mode? I get its usefulness in large roasts and "Gentle" cooking, but are there other uses for it?


  18. mm, pretty much answered things spot on. Ask yourself constantly why you want to cook and what you want to cook in the future. If you have those answers you can work backwards to figure out what steps you actually need to take. Nothing can replace actually working in a restaurant kitchen to give you what you need to function as a cook. But the quest for knowledge is an important, but almost totally separate excercise.

    If you want to eventually have your own bbq restaurant, work in bbq restaurants, see if you can join an experienced bbq team, read bbq books, eat lots of bbq...

    Fine dining? replace "bbq" above with "fine dining"

    Also, ask yourself why you want to go to culinary school...what do you hope to get out of it? Figure out if you will get out of it what you expect. Talk to people who have walked the path you are considering...see if it makes sense for you.

    Personally, I really got a lot out of Pepin as well as "On Cooking" by labenske and hause. However, today...I might say that Modernist Cuisine might be just the one stop shop of cooking knowledge that you would need.

    Again, regardless of how you seek out knowledge and learn...nothing can replace actually doing it for real every day.

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