"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Dahl Bhat with Chicken

    The recent Winter Storm Stella has me going in an entirely different direction. Like straight up … As is straight up a mountain in the high Himalayas. When on thinks about what you see in all the mountain movies about the Himalayas. Himalayas, gurka’s, Curry and rice

    Dhal (Lentil Curry) is usually a soup, this time made with our Asian chicken stock. But as always, we’ll look at some dried red peppers, or maybe serve with a hot pepper / vinegar finishing sauce on the side…

    One could forgot the rice and serve over orzo, or perhaps riced potatoes, or even just with a couple of slices of crusty ciabatta.

    Background

    Dahl bhat is a traditional South / Central Asian and staple dish which is essentially rice (bhat) and lentil soup (dal). This is a very common food in South Asian countries specially Nepal. In general eaten twice a day with another (usually spicy, maybe hot /sour) dish called tarkari which can be either vegetarian or non-vegetarian..

    The recipes vary by locality, ethnic group, family, as well as the season. Dal generally contains lentils (different types are used according to taste), tomatoes, onion, chili and ginger along with herbs and spices such as coriander, garam-masala and turmeric.

  • Thai Chicken Stock

    As the great storm stella barrels down upon us, bringing heavy snow, high winds and low temperatures, I feel a need, a need for stock, chicken stock, rich, spicy, liquid gold for the production of good soups, gravies, noodles, just about anything. This is a twist on my standard stock that adds an Asian taste to the stock. This would be a natural for the Chicken and Coconut soup, or as the broth component of a chicken curry, or as a broth for Thai noodles, or as the liquid for Dhal …

    From Wikipedia:

    Stock is a flavored liquid preparation. It forms the basis of many dishes, particularly soups and sauces. Making stocks involves simmering animal bones or meat, seafood, or vegetables in water or wine, adding mirepoix or other aromatics for more flavor.

    Traditionally, stock is made by simmering various ingredients in water. A newer approach is to use a pressure cooker. The ingredients may include some or all of the following:

    Meat
    Leftover cooked meat, such as that remaining on poultry carcasses, is often used along with the bones of the bird or joint. Fresh meat makes a superior stock, and cuts rich in connective tissue such as shin or shoulder of beef or veal are commonly recommended, either alone or added in lower proportions to the remains of cooked poultry, to provide a richer and fresher-tasting stock. Quantities recommended are in the ratio of 1 part fresh meat to 2 parts water. Pork, although a popular base for stock in Chinese cuisine, is considered unsuitable for stock in European cooking due to its greasiness[citation needed](although 19th-century recipes for consomme and traditional aspic included slices of mild ham), and mutton was traditionally avoided due to the difficulty of avoiding the strong tallowy taint imparted from the fat.
    Bones
    Veal, beef, and chicken bones are most commonly used. The flavour of the stock comes from the cartilage and connective tissue in the bones. Connective tissue has collagen in it, which gets converted into gelatin that thickens the liquid. Stock made from bones needs to be simmered for longer than stock made from meat. Pressure cooking methods shorten the time necessary to extract the flavour from the bones.
    Mirepoix
    Mirepoix is a combination of onions, carrots, celery, and sometimes other vegetables. Often, the less desirable parts of the vegetables that may not otherwise be eaten (such as carrot skins and celery cores and leaves) are used. The use of these parts is highly dependent upon the chef, as many do not appreciate the flavours that these portions impart.
    Herbs and spices
    The herbs and spices used depend on availability and local traditions. In classical cuisine, the use of a bouquet garni (or bag of herbs) consisting of parsley, bay leaves, a sprig of thyme, and possibly other herbs, is common. This is often placed in a sachet to make it easier to remove once the stock is cooked.

    I am known to reserve chicken bones from spatchcocked chickens for the purpose of reenforcing my stock. (The addition of chicken feet will also add to the gelatin content)

  • Thai Noodles with Herb Pesto

    The Bad Wolf herb garden is in full swing, providing Sweet Basil, Cilantro, Rosemary and many more succulent, fragrant herbs for enjoyment. The rain and heat have done wonders for them, but not so much for my willingness to cook.

    We have a few peppers, chili and bell just beginning to bear. Young bell peppers have a mildly bitter taste that may go very well in my Asian balance for this dish.

    Some salt, some palm sugar, garlic, ginger, chili’s for a bit of heat and of course those lovely herbs for a Asian flair pesto.

    Time to do a bit of that. But I really don’t want to do too much involving heat, so perhaps Noodles or pasta as a “flavor carrier” to get that gorgeous fresh pesto into my mouth.

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  • Tea Eggs (Cha Ye Dan)

    Tea_Eggs

    Here is a little number that has fascinated me for quite some time. I first experienced, these fantastic looking marbled eggs with a light fragrance and outstanding taste, in a surprising hole-in-the-wall in Chinatown, and they have been twisting my imagination ever since.

    As the execrable advertisement said. “Quick… To the cloud!”. Time to do some research..

    Wikipedia says:

    Tea egg is a typical Chinese savory food commonly sold as a snack, in which a pre-boiled egg is cracked and then boiled again in tea, sauce and/or spices. It is also known as marble egg because cracks in the egg shell create darkened lines with marble-like patterns. Commonly sold by street vendors or in night markets in most Chinese communities throughout the world, it is also commonly served in Asian restaurants. Although it originated from China and is traditionally associated with Chinese cuisine, other similar recipes and variations have been developed throughout Asia.

    The process is, as all elegant things, fairly simple. Eggs are hard-boiled, then cracked, but not peeled, rested, then simmered in a steeping mixture. (I have so many side comments in the vein, of “A hard-boiled egg, please. Cracked, but not peeled… All in a Sean Connery brough)
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  • Chicken with Cheriyaki Glaze

    cheriyakichicken

    Memorial Day week end, and the start of the grilling season, time to examine a number of the offerings from the grill / smoker.

    Today, one of Madam Bad Wolfs all time favorites. The sweet / salty / tangy taste of the sauce melds so well with the juicy (umami) flavor of the chicken.

    Teriyaki is a cooking technique used in Japanese cuisine in which foods are broiled or grilled while being basted in a marinade based on soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Fruit may also be included to enhance favor and increase the natural sugars.

    Fish – yellowtail, marlin, skipjack tuna, salmon, trout, and mackerel – is mainly used in Japan, while meat – chicken, pork, lamb and beef – is more often used in the West. Other ingredients sometimes used in Japan include squid, hamburger steak and meatball.

    The word teriyaki derives from the noun teri, which refers to a shine or luster given by the sugar content in the teri, and yaki, which refers to the cooking method of grilling or broiling. Traditionally the meat is dipped in or brushed with sauce several times during cooking.[2]
    Chicken teriyaki.

    The teri is traditionally made by mixing and heating soy sauce, sake or mirin, and sugar or honey. The sauce is boiled and reduced to the desired thickness, then used to marinate meat which is then grilled or broiled. Sometimes ginger is added, and the final dish may be garnished with green onions.

    In North America, any dish made with a teriyaki-like sauce (often even those using foreign alternatives to sake), or with added ingredients such as sesame or garlic (uncommon in traditional Japanese cuisine), is described as teriyaki. Uncanned pineapple juice is sometimes used as it not only provides sweetness but also bromelain enzymes that help tenderize the meat. Grilling meat first and pouring the sauce on afterward is another non-traditional method of cooking teriyaki. Teriyaki sauce is often used to glaze chicken wings or used as a dipping sauce.

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  • Cast Iron Chef – Pepper Steak

    After mastering yet another vendor proficiency test, (one could say I am now buzz word compliant), I decided to chuck the rest of the afternoon and go visiting clients.

    Sitting in an office high overlooking a major intersection, and chatting with a client as he reviewed my missives posted here, a slow cooked pepper steak produced by his wife, was mentioned. As he went on to describe the mouth watering lusciousness of the meat, the contrasting colors of the stop-light peppers and the richness of the gravy produced I knew I HAD TO HAVE that recipe.

    Also remembering that I had made the lady of said clients house a gift of a 18″ Bad Wolf special chef’s knife, I decided that my usual brash tactics might not work, and that a bit of kitchen research would be the better part of valor…

    The real key here is low and slow cooking in a moist environment….

    Collagen, the predominant protein in connective tissue, is quite tough to chew, and is found in abundance in tougher and cheaper cuts of meat. (Almost the tougher / cheaper the better). At 150 degrees it starts to melt and become gelatin-like as the temperature climbs. At 150 the muscle tissue will have tightened fully and the bonds between individual protein molecules become stronger and tighter. These bonds become so tight they drive water from the meat back into the braising liquid!

    IF REMOVED AT THIS POINT, THE ROAST WILL BECOME TOUGH AND DRY.

    Once the internal temperature of the meat reaches 170 degrees, a second process begins as melted collagen makes meat seem tender and moist. Further heated, the collagen in the muscle will break down progressively into soft gelatin as the tightened muscle tissue strands continue to separate.

    Because collagen won’t melt completely until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 200 degrees, the meat must be cooked to this temperature and held there for an hour to take full advantage of this phenomenon.

    The meat fibers will swell to take on the liquid surrounding them, and with the collagen will turn to gelatin, so that the meat becomes a wonderious tender, moist, taste treat seasoned with all the goodness of the various peppers, onions and garlic that have simmered with it.

    Do note:
    I’ve not used high priced sirloin, or tenderloin, but have used chuck steak which is quite economical that produces glorious flavor and a worthy texture when cooked properly. And properly is low and slow.

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