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By David Ross
Welcome back to our popular eGullet Cook-Off Series. Our last Cook-Off, Hash, took us into a heated discussion of the meat of the matter--should it be chopped, hashed, sliced, diced, or chunked.
Click here, for our Hash discussion, and the answers to all of your questions about this beloved diner staple. The complete eG Cook-Off Index can be found here. Today we’re launching eGullet Cook-Off 59: Cured, Brined, Smoked and Salted Fish.
Drying fish is a method of preservation that dates back to Ancient times, but more recently, (let’s say a mere 500 years ago or so), salt mining became a major industry in Europe and salt was a fast and economical way of preserving fish. Curing agents like nitrates were introduced in the 19th century, furthering the safety and taste of preserved fish.
Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, Native Americans have been preserving fish and seafood for millennia. While we are best known for our ruby-red, oily-rich, smoked salmon, other species of fish found in the Pacific and in our streams are delicious when cured and smoked including Halibut, Sablefish and Idaho Rainbow Trout. And don’t think that you can’t smoke shellfish, alder-smoked Dungeness Crab is a wondrous Pacific Northwest delicacy that evokes memories of crab roasting over a driftwood fire on the beach.
Another method of preserving fish is to bath the beauties in a brine—a combination of water, sugar, salt and spices that adds flavor and moisture to fish before it is dried or smoked. And speaking of smoked fish, you can do it in a small pan on top of the stove, in a cast iron drum, a barbecue pit, an old woodshed or a fancy digital smoker. The methods and flavors produced by smoking fish are endless.
Old-fashioned ways of preserving fish, (while adequate at the time), aren't always the best method today. Today's technology provides us with the tools to create cured fish that is moist, succulent, tender and with a hint of smoke. The Modernist movement has certainly played a role in bringing this age-old craft into the 21st century, so for the avant-garde in the crowd, show us your creative wizardry for preserving fish the "modern" way.
Cured, Brined, Smoked or Salted, the art of preserving fish opens us up to limitless possibilities that transcend the boundaries of cuisine and culture. So let’s sew-up the holes in our fishnets, scrub the barnacles off the rowboat and set out to sea in search of some delectable fish to cure, brine, smoke and salt.
By David Ross
Welcome back to a time-honored, cherished eG tradition, the eG Cook-Off Series. Today were venturing into a new world for Cook-Off's. Member Kerry Beal came forward with a Cook-Off idea we just couldn't pass up--Pork Belly--and inspired a new idea for future Cook-Off's. Knowing we're a community of great culinary minds, we'll be inviting the Members to send us ideas for potential future Cook-Off's, (more information to come later). Take it away Kerry and let's raid the larder and start cookin.
By David Ross
Hello friends and welcome back to a time-honored tradition--the popular eG Cook-Off Series. We're in the heat of summer right now and our gardens are literally blooming with all manner of peak of the season ripe fruits and succulent vegetables. And there's no better time of year to honor a vegetable that is often maligned as not being as colorful or trendy as the chi-chi breakfast radish or the multi-hued rainbow chard.
In addition to not always being recognized for it's looks, every August and September it becomes the butt of jokes at State Fair competitions across the country. If you can get past the embarassment of seeing the poor devils dressed up and carved into silly, cartoon-like farm figures or pumped-up with organic steroids, you'll find a delicious, low-calorie vegetable packed with potassium and vitamin A. Yes friends, your dreams have come true for today we kick-off eG Cook-Off #62, "Summer Squash."
(Click here http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/ for the complete eG Cook-Off Index).
According to the University of Illinois Extension Office, summer squash, (also known in some circles as Italian marrow), are tender, warm-season vegetables that can be grown anytime during the warm, frost-free season. Summer squash differs from fall and winter squash, (like pumpkins, acorn and butternut squash), because it is harvested before the outer rind hardens. Some of the most popular summer squash are the Green and Yellow Zucchini, Scallop, Patty Pan, Globe, Butter Blossom and Yellow Crookneck.
My personal favorite summer squash is the versatile zucchini. Slow-cooked with sliced onion and ham hock, zucchini is perfectly comfortable nestled on a plate next to juicy, fried pork chops and creamy macaroni and cheese. But the chi-chi haute crowd isn't forgotten when it comes to zucchini, or, as the sniffy French call it, the "courgette." Tiny, spring courgette blossoms stuffed with herbs and ricotta cheese then dipped in tempura batter and gently fried are a delicacy found on Michelin-Star menus across the globe.
Won't you please join me in crafting some delicious masterpieces that showcase the culinary possibilities of delicious summer squash.
By David Ross
Welcome back to our reknowned eGullet Cook-Off Series. Our last Cook-Off, Bolognese Sauce, led to a spirited discussion over the intricacies of the beloved Italian meat sauce. Click here for the complete eG Cook-Off Index. Today we’re launching eGullet Cook-Off 58: Hash, the classic American diner dish.
Yet what appears as a humble, one-name dish is anything but ordinary. The difficulty in defining “Hash” is exactly why we’ve chosen it for a Cook-Off—simple definitions don’t apply when one considers that Hash is a dish that transcends regional and international boundaries. The ingredients one chooses to put into their version of Hash are limitless--we aren’t just talking cold meat and leftover potatoes folks.
I for one, always thought Hash came out of a can from our friends at Hormel Foods, (as in "Mary Kitchen" Corned Beef Hash). It looks like Alpo when you scoop it out of the can, but it sure fries up nice and crispy. After a few weeks of research in the kitchen, I’ve experienced a new appreciation for Hash.
So start putting together the fixins for your Hash and let’s start cooking. Hash, it’s what’s for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
By David Ross
Welcome to the 2013 kick-off of our popular eG Cook-Off Series. In 2012, our Cook-Offs ran the gamut from “Hash,” to “Cured, Brined, Smoked and Salted Fish,” onto “Banh Mi” and ending the 2012 season with a discussion of “Gels, Jell-O, Aspic.” (Click here http://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/ for the complet eG Cook-Off Index).
I made a personal discovery during our “Gels, Jell-O, Aspic” Cook-off. I found a little metal Jell-O mold on a dark, back shelf in a kitchen cupboard. That little mold led to a cherished family memory and became the vessel that would hold one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever crafted. (Click here http://forums.egullet.org/topic/143597-cook-off-61-gels-jell-o-and-aspic/ to read about the delicious jiggly dishes we created).
Today we’re going to venture into the depths of a discussion about a sea-dweller that is so scary looking to some they refuse to eat the delicious little devils. The horrors of being presented with a steaming bowl of soup with little appendages peeking out.
Join in and let’s put forth our very best “Squid, Calamari and Octopus” dishes. Knowing your passion for cuisine, I don’t expect to see squid rings coated in gummy batter and deep-fried to the point that they bounce on the floor like a rubber ball. No, I’m guessing we’ll plate some fabulous dishes that showcase the versatility of these unique creatures.
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