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Everything posted by engberson

  1. This blows. I mean, I'm happy for you guys, and all, but this does nothing for folks like me in San Francisco. It's all just one big tease. Even the picture, jeez, was that really necessary? On the other hand, I've already got a bag of peppercorns. But I'm worried about the day I run out. Don't you feel it, now, too? It's a good sized bag for a buck, sure, but do you really want to be invested like this? You're making a dish you love that does great with a really big pinch of the peppercorns (neatly discovered after a dozen or so recipes and halfway through the bag), and you hold back a little, thinking that if you drop a couple back in the bag the dish will probably be just as good, and you may be able to stretch this dish, this habit, out a couple more months? Instead of cooking you're managing resources. Putting off the inevitable. Envisioning putting Dunlop's book in a plastic bag and throwing it in a closet or something. Or giving it away, it doesn't matter. All you got is your memories. And your wok that no longer smells of sichuan pepper. But it's ok, Cantonese food is, you know, all right.
  2. Good info, here, guys ... thanks muchly. I'm not familiar with Virginia Lee -- I'll have to find her book -- but I've got a big sealed jar of the peppercorns and they're starting to go downhill. I don't know when they were harvested, but I bought them earlier this year (they were in good shape, until recently), and only in the last month or so they've started to lose their oomph. I suspect pj is right -- maybe they dry out, and once they do they remain in that condition indefinitely. So you use more of them? There's got to be something here, if you use a Tb in a Dunlop recipe where she specifies a tsp, it would be overwhelming, doncha think? One author uses small amounts of the freshest stuff and another uses large amounts of old sitting-around stuff? And age aside, pj, it sounds like you bought a bag of stems-and-seeds rather than buds.
  3. Mamster -- a while back you wrote a nice piece on Thai curries, in which you said you thought one was better off buying prefab Mae Ploy curry paste than pounding one's own (for reasons that seemed legitimate, for Americans, at least). Do you still feel that way?
  4. This may sound a little stupid, but ... A chinese restaurant here in San Francisco sells Fujian Fried Rice; it's delicious. So I tried to find a recipe, which was very difficult. I found a recipe in Yan Kit So's Classic Food of China (not published in US), but it wasn't very good. Earlier this year, I found a recipe in -- ready? -- Martin Yan's last book. Apparently he made it on his tv show that was broadcast by food network canada. This recipe was close to what I've bought, and I (finally) understand the basics and so can make a good version at home. (the sauce is what I was hung up on, and it's basically stock reduced and flavored with soy and oyster sauces and so forth -- now, I could figure that out, but I couldn't at the time). Also, Yan adds tomatoes, which surprisingly doesn't suck. I've been through an awful lot of Chinese cookbooks, American publications mostly, and Fujian cuisine gets precious little attention. In restaurants, too, right? You can't purchase pre-fab sediment paste, which I gather is a high-profile ingredient in Fujian cooking. What the hell? And right here, this thread has produced only one Fujian restaurant? Thanks to trillium for the Fukien/Fujian/Hokkien breakdown. I was curious about that.
  5. When I first started looking for these guys, about four years ago, I did find an imported jar of ground, roasted peppercorns. It was nothing like what I make at home now, roasting and grinding my own. This homemade ground pepper, as alanamoana said, holds up pretty well. But that storebought stuff wasn't very nice at all. Very finely ground (powdery) and insipid in scent and flavor. But you can't even get that these days, can you? Does anyone have a source for the "roasted and ground in China" variety? Everyone knows where this is going, right? The "egullet © Underground Sichuan Peppercorn Railroad."
  6. Amazon lists it as released in June 2003, and that's when I bought my copy from them. Weird.
  7. Thanks, Jason, but I think an American editor or someone who owes favors put together the sources. As a whole, they suck. When I got this book (upon u.s. publication) the two sources you cite did not have the peppercorns. They were mediocre sources, in general. That was, what, June? I'm in San Francisco, and "she" gives two general sources here. One, May Wah, is famous, and deservedly so. The other is a joint in chinatown, and I hadn't heard of it so last week I hiked up there and it's your basic chinatown import shop. Not a grocery at all, though they had some foodstuff imports downstairs. wtf? Sadly, I conclude that whoever put the reference in the book (not Ms. Dunlop, no way) hadn't actually visited this store. I mean, it's San Francisco, we've got really great Chinese markets all over, and I'm directed to this junk shop? Ok, maybe it's nice stuff. But it ain't any sort of food store. On the other hand, I walked past the Wok Shop, where I picked up a new steamer. Pretty sweet store, right there. Thanks again for bringing up the book. This baby is a gem. Stupid stuff, like Kung Pow, is _stunningly_ good. You think, I'm not gonna make her Kung Pow, I've done that a thousand times. Then you make it, and it changes everything. This book should be a pinned topic. But you can't make anything without the peppercorns! Has anyone tried freezing these peppercorns? Are they still available via ebay (I can't find them)? Some months back it was mentioned in the food section of the sf chronicle, and a fda guy was quoted as saying the ban would never be lifted, it's too dangerous, and it would be decades before anyone was sure the bug was, well, safe.
  8. Ya, mamster's. I have several hot and sour soup recipes I'd call great, but since mamster published this it's the only one I've made. And I make it all the time. It's sort-of blasphemous, but goddamn, it's good: http://www.egullet.com/?pg=ARTICLE-mamster021003 Two notes: mamster recommended Kong Yen vinegar, which I find significantly better-tasting than Marukan, which I always used before, and which mamster properly disparages. It'll make a difference in the finished soup. Also, make some really good stock. Mamster's article has some tips (I make mine a little differently, mainly in that I use two whole chickens, breast meat removed, and two pounds of wings).
  9. One other thing: you're going to need szechuan peppercorns (not so easy if you're in the states, but really, you need 'em) and preserved vegetable (tianjin). Have fun, it's a terrific book.
  10. Red cooked pork belly! Actually, you might want to spare your friends on that one, depending on how adventurous your friends are. Dunlop's recipe for Dan Dan Noodles is good, and won't offend anyone. I've also made dry fried beef, and beef in fiery broth, and those turned out good, too.
  11. Soup! Lots of pastas so far, here ... little soup. Specifically -- Tom yum, or Chinese hot & sour (depending on whether or not lemongrass is in the kitchen, kinda hit or miss at my house).
  12. Last I read, years ago, P&G was on their second version of this synthetic oil (Olestra --> Olean). What changed, such that the FDA no longer requires the warning? Is there a new version? I mean, FDA didn't just change their collective mind, right? P&G must have improved the product ... and someone here must know. You folks with stories of pain ... I don't get it. I have a simple understanding of the "Olean" molecule, and I can't fathom how it could possibly cause _pain_. Is there a nutritionist in the house? ps -- Steingarten's first book has a swell article on Olestra/Olean.
  13. Michael Pollan wrote a piece on this subject that was published in the New York Times Magazine, March 31 2002, titled "Power Steer." http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html...DAA0894DA404482 It'll cost you a couple bucks to read it, but I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is even remotely interested in the subject.
  14. Fat Guy wrote: Acme Chophouse in San Francisco serves grass-fed. I haven't been, but its reputation is stellar. Traci des Jardins, the big cheese there, was nominated for Best Chef/CA by the folks at James Beard this year. The restaurant was reviewed, coincidentally, in last week's SF Weekly. The link will likely be good for only a few days, but here you go: http://www.sfweekly.com/issues/2003-07-02/...ml/1/index.html
  15. Thank you, thank you. This article makes my day. For the last several years my wife and I frequently visited a Korean/Japanese place in town -- it was Korean with a sushi bar, and miso soup was included with all the condiments, that isn't normal Korean, is it? -- and she would always get the kimchi chigae. It was awful, awful good. Pretty spicy, that's where my brother-in-law came up with his joke about the ring of fire. But clearly he was a sissy, and shouldn't have applied. Anyway, the place went bust and they took our soup away. It never occurred to me to make it myself. Questions: Have you made this with pork stock? Is it significantly improved? What's the difference between chigae and gae jang? And does anyone know what "son" kimchi is? I can't find a translation (I've tried www.kimchi.or.kr) and I'd like to know what's in it before I buy it.
  16. Ok. I did. No one actually put the letters "N" and "O" together, so I originally thought a more emphatic response was warranted. I thought writers were being too kind, a little soft. For example, you wrote: ... and that's about as decisive as it got. Then again, you also wrote: I apologize. By the way, Pan, thanks muchly for your contributions to this thread, which is a gem. It was fun reading it the first time, and it was fun reading it again.
  17. Man, Fat Guy is pushing me, hard. ... c'mon, now ... 1. The original piece was presented as an article of facts. 2. I expressed an opinion. I thought the piece sucked. It was poorly researched and poorly written. 3. Number two was probably a little harsh, but well, ya know. 4. Fat Guy asked whether or not readers thought the piece should have been published, remember? Sorry if I coughed up the wrong answer. I thought we were, you know, just talking. 5. The Bob Herbert analogy is misplaced. Bob Herbert writes op-ed pieces. A better comparison would be Gina Kolata. 6. Oh, I see slkinsey already broke that down. 7. off-topic -- fresco, I am still cracking up over "fresh frozen." Man, that's funny. 8. You did address it all already; thus my apologies for waking the dead, here. But no one came out and voted "NO" in your poll. I thought there should be at least one hash in that column. 9. I deep-fried chicken tonight, for the first time. It came out pretty good. Did the flour/egg/flour routine. But it's hard to make Foster Farms chicken taste like anything besides crap. 10. Then again, I cooked it in duck fat. 11. Mmm, duck fat.
  18. I should have added a smiley, like Fat Guy did, but I don't know how to work those yet.
  19. Note from hypothetical editor: 1. Identify sources. Use footnotes. 2. Document your assertions. 3. Avoid cliches. 4. If, when pressed for a source -- any single goddamn source -- you point to a crackpot "doctor" who doesn't practice medicine or pursue research but travels the country doing seminars, all about a diet book he's trying to sell, well, reconsider your hypothesis. 5. Document your assertions, no foolin'. Anything, throw me a bone, here. This reads like a piece on UFOs. Or something from the American Spectator. 6. Maybe #4 is too subjective. But really, reconsider your hypothesis. I'm not kidding. 7. Don't wake dead topics. Get in when it's current or just keep your fool mouth shut. -- Sorry, Fat Guy, but this piece was a bummer. "Morris doesn't like it, and I don't like it either." But thanks for making fun of me; that was all right. And if you have to publish garbage to get an inspired discussion going, I wholeheartedly approve. Oh, oh! And you know what? This experience has made me an msg booster. I like it, and I cook with it, but now I'll go out of my way to defend it. Pretty neat, huh?
  20. Oh man, Ms. Planck is gonna be pissed at this latest maneuver by the "soy lobby." Those bastards ... ps -- I don't want to wake a basically dead topic, but I came late, and I want to express that which so many seemed to dance around. I don't think you should have published the piece. For reasons previously discussed (and some not), I don't think it would fly with your basic high school journalism teacher. First semester. A teacher wouldn't even grade it; he or she would reiterate some elementary principles and ask the student to resubmit it. That said, I look forward to the next submission from Mr. Blair, uh, shoot, I mean, Ms. Planck.
  21. Hi, D. It's encouraging, knowing someone else feels as I do. I agree that CCA's placement program appears to be very valuable; their enrollment people are a little flaky but it seems the placement people are serious, and good at what they do. And it's reasonable that placement out of the management program is as high as the culinary program. So we'll jump, and we'll see. Oh, to answer your original question -- Yes, you're crazy. (And please call me Bob ... maybe I should change my ID ... And yes, you should call if you come to SF, that would be fun ... you can get my email address from egullet, right?)
  22. I'm in a similar position, D. I'm 34, and I've worked in IT since I was a kid. Well, when I was a kid I programmed video games, and in my twenties I managed a software wholesale company, then started a software development company, then -- two years ago -- got laid off from a job where I was making low six figures. I should mention that I spent a lot of time at that job reading cooking websites and so forth. Didn't know about egullet, then. There was a writer there who had cooked professionally, so we'd talk that up a lot. Anyway, two weeks later, my wife and I found that we were preggers (our first). Since she has a job she actually likes, we decided that I would stay home for a year or two taking care of the little bugger, so I didn't even look for a job. Didn't want one, really. I am absolutely sick of computers and selling crap products I don't believe in. No more sales! Wanna do something creative, right? Was moving towards writing, professionally (I've done lots of technical writing). Watched all the cooking shows. Am I the only one who feels he's learned all he can from Food Network? I mean, before they trashed the schedule with, well, whatever you call the new shows. Has anyone seen "Lighten Up?" Man, oh man. Anyway, after all these months of making fancy dinners for my employed wife she says, "you should go to California Culinary Academy." So I'm starting in two weeks. Originally I was thinking about food writing. I wasn't interested in restaurant work. Then, we were working on a personal chef/catering idea, like these gigs that invite folks to cook in a professional kitchen and make a bunch of decent food to take home and freeze, then I started thinking that maybe I _would_ like to work in a restaurant ... the point is that I came to believe that cooking school is an end to inself. I'm in it for the education. I feel the itch, and school seems right. I'll almost certainly make a career of it, one way or another, but I'm not going in with a precise idea of what I want to do, and where. For many, certainly, it's part of a career program (I think you're thinking this way, yes?). A counselor at CCA was accommodating when I said I didn't know what I want to do after school, but he was emphatic that they "create executive chefs." I think it was the company line. And while it's bullshit, CCA claims to place around 99% of graduates into the business, in one field or another. I mean, once when I was touring the place I was examining the post-it board that lists ads for externships. One was for Tra Vigne. C'mon! What are you gonna do, not go? What else are you going to do with forty grand, buy a truck? Dump it in a few years and buy another one? When I was researching cooking schools and so forth, I found a Usenet post from a guy who went to cooking school (I don't remember which one, but it was high-end, J&W maybe) and absolutely hated restaurant work afterward. Someone asked what he's doing now and he's managing an insurance office or somesuch silliness. But he said he's glad he attended cooking school, and he's the king at the annual company pot luck. (Everyone seems to agree that you can't get into this for the money, so why is there so little emphasis on the education for the sake of the education? You're gonna be in debt even if you don't, so just do it -- it'll be fun!) I got lucky -- I'm still at home taking care of our 10-month-old son during the day, and CCA is starting evening classes in July. It wouldn't have worked otherwise. I live in San Francisco so it's close and I have the time. I think. I plan to handle him during the day then hit the school every weeknight for five hours. I'll just have to carry a picture of my wife so I remember what she looks like. And of course, I can afford to do it this way. If I were single and childless, say, I'd probably need to work, in which case I don't know how school could be afforded. In that case, I'd look for work in a restaurant. During the day. Then do school at night! Ta da! I'm intrigued by your idea of attending the management/hospitality program. I've never really considered it. CCA's is unproven, I think, because it's new. You know, they're building a "casino" there for that program. Have you been there, for a tour or orientation? They have pitch programs every couple months. No, cancel that. The pitch program is a dud. Skip it and make an appointment with an enrollment counselor instead. On the other hand -- if you're serious about management (strictly), you can probably get into it with your experience; if you need school, attend a general ed. program. City College probably offers one, for a minimal investment. I bet the guys in charge on cruise ships don't know diddly about cooking. Why pay the big bucks for cooking classes? Unless it's cooking you want to do ... The most important thing I have to add to this chat is that I encourage, heartily, career change. You obviously want it, and now you've gone public with it. The previous comments have focused on the details, so I'm going general, and saying, "Dump it! Do something entirely different!" C'mon, it'll be fun!
  23. engberson

    salted radish

    Goddamnit, Mamster. I should have expected a correction from you. (there should be a smiley here) Pretty smart, though, and I certainly appreciate it. Also, I'm new here and I want to thank you for your articles. I really enjoy them. You know what? I've got stock on the stove right now, because I'll be visiting a friend with a brand new baby and I'm taking her your hot and sour soup! And, man, I've made a lot of hot and sour soup (both Chinese and Thai iterations) and that's a terrific recipe. (I've already got stock, but if I'm gonna make soup for her, I've got to make soup for me, yes?) And on top of that, I'm going through a bunch of Chinese recipes I've collected the last few years, having put them on hold because I couldn't obtain a certain peppercorn ... online auctions didn't occur to me. It was very frustrating (it took me years to learn about the ban, folks in the Chinese markets just stared at me blankly, leaving me to wonder why I can't find for purchase this seemingly necessary fruit that every decent book considers essential). Thanks very much. Very much. ... And so to return this to topic ... I keep salted radish tightly wrapped, in its own plastic package, then in a ziplock bag with most of the air sucked out. Seal most of the top, put a straw in the the end, suck out as much remaining air as possible, and so forth. Or just seal the top, it won't be long before you're in there again, will it? I keep it in the cheese drawer in the refrigerator. Right next to the dried shrimp (which don't last so long). And I think the radish will last a long, long time. I've had multiple bags sitting around and it doesn't seem to degrade. But I'm not keeping the radish as long as say, Suzanne is keeping her vegetable.
  24. engberson

    salted radish

    Pad Thai. ... which is pretty regular at my house, so we go through a lot of salted radish. Also, I have a chinese cookbook by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo in which she often calls for something called Mustard Pickle, or Szechuan Preserved Vegetable. You know what? It's basically the same thing, except it's has (mild) chili powder in it, and is used to the same effect. Oh, and it's much more colorful, reds and greens and so forth. The point is that she uses it in many "classic" Chinese dishes, and having tried a couple of such recipes of hers, I find I'm open to using the radish in lots of things I wouldn't have otherwise considered. Dumplings, for one, sounds pretty good. Thanks for the tip on that one.
  25. I have a Viking gas range, and they say their broiler hits 1500 degrees ... In my experience the result from cooking a steak under the broiler, top rack, about two inches from the broiler array, is roughly the same as the sear-in-skillet, finish-in-oven method. I should add, I suppose, that this broiler has sold me on this type of range forever. It's awesome. It's responsible for the rusty pile in the yard that used to be a gas grill.
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