12/07/2009

12-07-09 - Food

We've made some exceptional food recently; some reminder notes for myself on how to reproduce things :

Lamb burger with Za'atar, fried egg, caramelized onions, and curried chickpeas. (plate also contains kale, coucous, and favas).

IMG_0090

The key thing is the spicing of the lamb burger; put ground lamb in bowl and add lots of crushed garlic and za'atar, maybe a tiny bit of barbecue sauce (*). (never add shit like eggs or bread or onions to burger - this is a burger not a meat loaf, that shit all adds too much water). Stir with your fingers thoroughly, form patties, sear, cook a bit more than you would a beef burger, medium - medium/rare instead of rare - medium/rare. (* = bbq sauce and garlic will caramelize much faster than meat would, so beware of burning the surface, and don't use too much, maybe 1 tsp per pound). Dress with mayo and hot sauce. The curry and onions and fried egg were just about perfect toppings; all the greasy parts and egg yolk and mayo and curry run together and form the most delicious sauce known to man.

Oxtail Chinese/Taiwanese soup bastardization :

IMG_0102

also contains soy sauce egg (*) (which is the wrong culture, I know, and then I added thai basil and sriracha flavoring on the table which is another no-no, but delicious), kabocha squash, pickled vegetable.

I did the "Chinese/Hawaiian" thing to do with oxtails, which is to blanche them first in boiling water, rinse them off thoroughly, then brown them in a hot pan, then deglaze and make your soup from there. Supposedly this initial blanche and rinse removes "impurities" and makes the soup have a cleaner beefier taste without some of the more funky flavors you can get from blood and such. I have no idea if that holds any water, but it turned out damn good.

Oxtails take 3-4 hours simmering on low or braising. You basically start the soup just like any other braise - brown the meat thoroughly, add some onion, garlic & ginger, brown it a bit, then deglaze with rice wine or sherry, add some spices (star anice, clove, fennel seed, etc), add water to just barely not cover the meats. Simmer very low or in a 300 degree oven.

When the meat is about to fall off the bone, remove all the oxtails and set aside; once it cools, then take the good meat morsels off the bones. While waiting, pour off the soup and strain it to remove all the solid aromatics. Return the broth to the heat and cook the kabocha chunks (10-15 mins) or whatever else you want at this point (turnips, carrots, bok/ung/pok choy, what have you). Once kabocha is nearly cooked, remove it so it stops cooking, don't leave things in the broth.

Boil noodles and assemble soup bowls on demand from separated parts like they do in asian restuarants.

One thing I would do differently next time is trim some of the fat off the oxtails before cooking. It's too hard to skim out of the soup, and it was just a bit too greasy.

(*) the soy sauce egg was a real joy on its own. A few weeks ago when we went to Vancouver we had some amazing ramen at Benkei, which looks like this : 1 or 2 . They serve a superb soy-sauce egg that's hard boiled with just the perfect glassy gelatinous yolk, then soaked in soy which gives it a salty funky depth. I used roughly this technique to reproduce it.

Boil egg for about 7 minutes. Remove, run cold water on it for a minute or so, then plunge in ice bath. Put ice bath in fridge and let cool completely (about 30 minutes). Once fully cool, peel egg and place in soy marinade (*). Let soak 3-5 hours. Yum. (* = I used just soy sauce and a bit of water for the marinade, but that was a bit too strong; I'm not sure what Benkei uses, but I'm guessing it's got some Dashi in it or something, maybe a bit of sherry would be good too, a little something to balance and cut the soy). I think my egg was in 3 hours and you can see it's only just browned; to get the super brown egg you see in other pictures I guess requires more like 8 hours; so do the prep in the morning to have it for dinner. I think the vinegar in the ice bath is a total red herring.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

We wanna come over for one of these tasty-looking meals someday.

old rants