Lobster Bolognese : Capellini : Porcini Froth : Black Truffles

2 Mar

 

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Lobsters found in Vancouver fly first class all the way from the east coast to the lobster man‘s water tanks and other seafood market places around. Today’s dish was inspired by a recipe from the book In Pursuit of Excellence by Josiah Citrin, Chef and co-owner of the famous 2 Michelin star restaurant Melisse, located in Santa Monica, CA. where my girlfriend Julia and I  had dinner at about  2 months ago.

 

The best meal we’ve ever had for sure. A few weeks later, the night before I was flying back to Vancouver, Julia, disappeared for about 15 mins. She reappeared with a signed copy of the restaurant’s book for me. The Chef himself happened to be at the reception when she showed up at the restaurant and he offered to sign it when she bought it = Best christmas present EVER!

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The book is amazing, the photos and the description of elaborate preparations in detail. This lobster recipe caught my attention and we decided to make it for our cooking club friends on Julia’s last visit a few weeks ago. Can’t go wrong with lobster. I added fennel to this recipe. I don’t even like raw fennel that much but I love what happens when it’s cooked and combined with seafood. It’s simply an amazing pairing.

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Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Chicken : Home Ketchup : Home Fries

31 Jan

 

 

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I roast a chicken every other week on average. I’ve tried  many different techniques and many different combinations and it’s hard for me to choose one method over another. Sous vide equipment aside (which yields the juiciest of chickens, sous vide cooking is almost cheating, seriously), the oven can do a pretty good job as well and it’s simply convenient. Chicken goes in, and about an hour later, chicken is ready. I love chicken and there are so many classic cooking skills involved in roasting one that it’s a great way to fine tune cooking intuition and technique.

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For this recipe I opted for the cold oven approach which is nothing more than simply throwing the chicken in the oven right before starting it. I really like it, maybe it’s all in my head, but the chicken seems to be extra juicy and the skin extra crispy. I’ve also cured the chicken overnight with salt, garlic and rosemary (I’m addicted to this combo of flavors if you haven’t noticed). Curing the chicken overnight imparts flavor into the meat not just on the surface. It also dries out the skin which helps tremendously in getting that awesome golden brown crispy finish. The other thing that I’ve tried here is placing the chicken in my cast iron skillet and adding some vegetable oil. This ensures that the chicken side in contact with the skillet cooks well (fries basically). Otherwise it seems to simply stew away and never develop the proper color. We’ll use this skillet, chicken drippings and brown butter to cook the crispy home fries. Read on!  Continue reading

Boneless Leg of Lamb 8h 130F Sous Vide : Pistachio Puree : Slow Roasted Onions and Shallots

30 Jan

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First post of 2015!  I figured I’d start this year with a lamb recipe. Lamb season is not nearly there yet but I couldn’t wait,  exciting times ahead! Anyways, I also wanted to make a dish that featured sous vide cooking for my friends at our dinner party 2 weeks ago. This recipe is inspired by the modernist cuisine folks. Its preparation takes about 24 hours including prep and curing time but with some organization and planning it’s actually quite simple and totally worth it!

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A roasted leg of lamb is in my opinion, the most delicious lamb cut. The meat is extremely tender, juicy with a delicate flavor that can be highlighted with herbs and garlic. A leg of lamb, bone in, might need 3-4 hours to roast until the core reaches 130F (in a conventional oven), for those of you who like rare lamb (like me!). What happens with oven roasting is that usually, the core will be rare, but the surface will be cooked to medium. Not the end of the world of course and extremely delicious regardless, but if looking for a perfect rare finish across the whole cut, sous vide is the way to go. Sous vide cooking times for this cut were all over the place when I searched online. I went with a short cooking time of 8 hours, that’s short for those familiar with sous vide cooking (I’ve experimented with longer cooking times and the meat tend to dry out), a leg of lamb should be treated like chicken breast, cooked long enough to get the core temperature where you want it, and a bit longer to pasteurize but then stop, otherwise, the meat will dry out. Ok, enough of this sous vide cooking stuff,  let’s get into it while I still have energy to type!  Continue reading

Geoduck Sashimi : Green Onions : Shanxi Vinegar : Chili Oil

27 Oct

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Geoduck. I wish it looked more like a duck, seriously. The process of cleaning and prepping this giant clam is probably what an alien dissection must be like. Its appearance resembles, well… I don’t need to get all explicit here, the photos tell the story pretty well… But let’s talk about the positive aspects of this ugly fellow, or the one aspect that makes this thing totally worth experiencing. It’s simply delicious. The price is ridiculous though. About $30 per pound, and they are around 3 pounds on average, but pretty good yield. One geoduck can make 5-6 appetizer size portions. Requires no cooking and no seasoning. A wonderful savory flavor and awesome texture.

 

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Geoduck can be hard to find and can be seen on menus at some high-end restaurants. Here in Vancouver, I found live geoducks at the t&t supermarket  which isn’t a surprise. If edible, they’ll have it. It’s an insane and wonderful place. Ok, my favorite cooking season of the year is here and this is probably not the right recipe to kick it off with but I work with what I have! There will be stews and roasts coming up soon for sure. Time for some geoduck action! (that just sounds wrong…) Continue reading

Crocodile Tail Steak Sous Vide 55C 3h : Vanilla : Fennel : Pedro Ximenez Vinegar Reduction

25 Sep

 

img_1898_ccCrocodile is the true chicken of the sea in my opinion. I’ve been testing out a few recipes with this ingredient (can be bought at certain stores here in Vancouver, frozen of course). The flavor is fairly unique but if you asked anyone who’s had it before, they would probably say it tastes like chicken and fish at the same time. And that’s a fairly accurate description in some ways. The flavor of a crocodile steak is wonderful and coming from a creature that doesn’t have that many fans out there, is quite remarkable how tasty it is!

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For this recipe I opted to cook the croc steak sous vide. It took a few tries to get a nice texture, and I could probably experiment more. Crocodile tail meat is very lean which usually means, cook it fast! I did what pretty much I do every time I want to cook something new, turn to the internet and google stuff up. I couldn’t find much about how to cook this thing. Maybe one sous vide video recipe, but the information wasn’t clear… I gave up. I researched more traditional recipes,

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I found some stews, and also, some recipes that called for a quick sear and done. Kinda contradicting  really. I figured I’d skip any stewing avenues and focus on the fast approach. The first test was directly over a hot searing pan. The result, was ok… but too chewy, like really chewy. I wouldn’t serve that to anyone. I might have overcooked it. For the rest of my testing I turned to a more reliable approach, sous vide:

My sous vide tests were as follows:

62C 3h. Really dry, dryer than my pan test.

47C 1h. Really chewy, but moist… ok.., getting somewhere.

55C 3h. Tender and moist. Nice texture. I stopped my testing. Ran out of croc steaks. 

But I would like to try 52 3h. I have a feeling it could be better. Anyways, here is the rest of the recipe, hope you enjoy: Continue reading

Pan Roasted Sablefish (from British Columbia) : Asparagus Puree : Saffron Potatoes : Paprika

24 Sep

 

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The weather finally turns cooler around here in BC, and the disposition to cook and write about food and cooking seems to be coming back (It was extremely hot!) but anyways, this is a recipe I prepared a around july, right at the beginning of the horrible hot weather season, which in turn offered some of the best fresh vegetables and fruits I’ve had in a while. The quality of summer produce here in Vancouver is incredible and so is the fish. I can’t get over how good the quality of the fish is here.

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Sablefish is wonderful and like most fish (if not all) require very little hocus-pocus in the kitchen. Salt, and some gentle heat and it’s done. Most fish can be cooked to 50C (around 125F) which is around the temperature of hot tap water. I’ve cooked fish using this hot water in a couple of occasions. Ok, back on track. This time I decided to pan roast it, which I find a lot of fun. Getting the skin crispy and the fish cooked will require some practice but is’t actually fairly easy. Again, the use of a thermometer is highly recommended, or if you have a sous vide bath. Then, that’s a no brainer. But let’s stick to traditional cooking methods on this post. Continue reading

The International Summer Night Market in Richmond

21 Aug

It’s been a few months since my last post. It has been a very hot summer here in Vancouver and perhaps that had to do with my not keeping up with cooking or mainly the blogging aspect of that. The cooking hasn’t stopped  and neither has taking photos or learning new things in the kitchen though, but finding the energy to gather photos and notes.. and do the write ups… and post has been a little difficult (not to mention that I’ve been absolutely obsessed with chess lately). I’m working on a few new recipes, which I will be posting soon. Last sunday, I visited a very interesting place. The International Summer Night Market in Richmond.

 

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There were about 200  food stands (maybe I’m exaggerating but it felt like there were millions of them) and anything imaginably edible being cooked. The food was phenomenal and the place was packed.  I particularly enjoyed the amount of seafood and fish being prepared. The most popular stand in the whole place though was the “rotato” stand. I wish I had taken a photo of it, but it was impossible to get near this thing without getting hurt by the hungry hordes. And if you haven’t seen a rotato (which I hadn’t until then)  It’s basically… potato chips.I love it. Here are some of the photos I managed to take without dropping my phone in a vat of frying oil. It almost happened a couple times actually.  Here’s a link in case anyone is interested in learning more about this market:  http://www.summernightmarket.com

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