Certain ingredients can be misunderstood, others, I just simply don’t like. Swordfish I basically hated. But it was all nothing but a big misunderstanding. Understandably so. I still remember the first time somebody grilled swordfish steaks at some party and offered me a piece. It was like eating really densely packed sawdust and pretending to love it. For years, that remained to be how people cooked this fish and offered it to me. I wasn’t into cooking then but I did love attending bbq parties. The two things I knew at a bbq party were: stay away from grilled chicken breasts and definitely stay away from grilled swordfish.
Years of hatred. Almost 2 decades actually. That all changed in 30 minutes. This morning at 5:30am to be precise. I’m not an early bird but I often have the inability to sleep for more than a few hours on a regular night. I’m fully awake after that, simply staring at the ceiling until it’s time to get ready to go to work. It’s Saturday so I didn’t have the work problem. I knew that Ralphs on Olympic opens 24/7. Yeah, got some fish. Also learned that by California law you can’t buy alcohol before 6am. It was 5:55am by the time I hit the checkout and they made me wait. I took a six pack of beers with me in the end.
A week ago I cooked swordfish at a dinner party at my girlfriend’s house. I remember putting extreme care and attention over that skillet. Guess what… dry sawdusty steaks. Ok, they weren’t that bad, but come on! I thought I knew what I was doing in the kitchen! Well, obviously not. And definitely I haven’t figured out this swordfish technical cooking issue. If there’s anyone out there that can claim being able to pan roast or grill or simply warm up this thing on a skillet without it going dry, call me.
Ok, so you think you can cook? I don’t mean to deter you from that cooking obsession thing we’re all too familiar with (quite the opposite actually) but omelette-making is a true test for any cook. Tortilla española is not exactly an omelette but similar enough and the skill set is the same basically. I admit I have messed up my fair share of omelettes and tortillas españolas. It’s not easy and if I’m not focused on a given day I will very likely screw it up no matter how many times I practice.
If there was ever an ingredient that required gentle and precise cooking that is the beloved egg. Sous vide could come to the rescue here and take away all the fun but I like a challenge and when it comes to cooking challenges, tortilla española is a real fun one. This spanish omelette is originally and traditionally cooked with only potatoes. It’s also known as tortilla de patatas or potato omelette. The are a few variants out there and my favorite one has yellow onions. Don’t use red ones, trust me.
If there is such thing as purpose in life, the purpose in the life of chicken would definitely be becoming fried chicken. Hmmm, that was probably a bit harsh, but hey, it’s my honest assessment of what happened to most chickens I’ve met. If you like eating chicken, fried chicken is one of the most delicious things you can do with it next to roasting or sous vide cooking it. I have tried sous vide AND frying combined. Freezing the cooked meat and then deep frying it just to get the proper crust with a perfectly cooked inside… it’s all great but a lot of extra work and to be perfectly honest, a waste of time . You can check out my first standard fried chicken post here. And some sous vide/freezing experimentation here.
I will stand by it. Making fried chicken doesn’t really need any fancy sous vide technique or careful temperature control. The problem is, chicken skin takes forever to brown and so do flour coatings, so unless you up the frying temperature by a lot, no matter how you approach the cooking, the meat will overcook. You’re thinking liquid nitrogen, I know.. (ok, maybe you aren’t) well good luck finding that stuff and living through the pain of using it. Don’t despair though. Like I said, a great fried chicken is attainable with your stove, some flour and oil. Juiciness and crispiness achieved by conventional and simple cooking techniques.
This will be another quick post for there is nothing complicated about cooking sous vide. Flank steak has a wonderful texture and flavour. Bison flank steak is probably more tender and more delicate in flavour as well. I rolled up the flank steak and tied it up like a small roast. Then cooked it sous vide for 1 hour and deep fried it for about 1 minute at 375F. I had previously seasoned the meat with just salt before vacuum sealing.
I’ll go over this quickly, because I don’t want to forget how to put this dish together while the experience is still fresh in my head. I will add that salmon prepared this way easily rose to number 1 in my short list of salmon preparations that I love.
This is a quick one. Two main ingredients. Eggs and Steak. There were other components on the plate but I chose to leave those out and focus on what I thought mattered… my devoted consistent passion for steak and eggs. Specially eggs.
This blog is no stranger to steak and eggs in fact, one of my most popular instagram posts was a photo a took for my article on steak and eggs. This time I come back with a little twist. Sous vide’ed yolks… if you’re into sous vide cooking you’ve probably already spend some time experimenting with cooking eggs. It’s a great exercise to get familiar with the technique. Yolks set at about 70C and whites set at about 80C. This 10 degree difference is what makes cooking eggs a challenge, specially if cooked sous vide. Specially when we introduce long cooking periods….but I digress… It’s a complex subject and right now I don’t have the time or the patience to get into it. Next post!
Ah, the lovely egg. Wait… the lovely 7 minute egg. Yes… Borderline soft-boiled. Borderline perfection. Soft-boiled egg is perfection. But not because of its imperfect status it means it isn’t perfect for perfection in cooking is borderline subjective too.
7 minutes in boiling water is probably as far as I would ever go about cooking a room temperature egg. After that, the sexiness levels start to drop rapidly. Chucked in ice water, the shells should come off rather easily. Served immediately, the egg should retain its elasticity and be extremely soft to bite into.
Pisto for those who don’t know what it is… it’s not a weapon, let’s start there. It’s not pesto either (although the french make pistou which is basically pesto). Ok, pisto is more closely related to ratatouille. It’s pretty much the same ingredients and preparation process and just like anything else, there are ton of variations and interpretations. Ingredients include tomatoes, bell peppers, courgettes, onions, garlic, I’m sure even eggplant makes the list. Everything is cooked in olive oil, slowly and gently sautéed and carefully fine tuned with sherry vinegar and salt.
Tonight I decided to leave out a few things and focus on a winning combination that I’ve known since I was little. Onion, garlic and bell peppers. Why would anyone leave tomatoes out of the equation. Ok.. so firstly, I didn’t have any and secondly… have you ever tried pisto with no tomatoes. If you haven’t you’ll be happily surprised. If you never had pisto before then you have only but winning chances here.
The summer pasta kick hasn’t stopped. My supply of homemade bacon keeps on giving. This bacon by the way, for those of you who haven’t been heard, was made with the belly of a pig featured in my butchering lesson post. Yes! I attended a butchering lesson and I have pork meat in my freezer to last me for a few more weeks. I have blood sausages, 2 different bacon slabs seasoned differently, a ton of pork fat, etc. July 4th was met with an impressive roasted pork shoulder also cooked with the same meat. So yeah, it’s been kind of a porky last month and a half.
Today I decided to try something different this time. I love cooking pasta but I find myself repeating the same 2 or 3 recipes I love. Pasta bolognese, seafood pasta and pasta al pomodoro. Sometimes I go crazy! and make carbonara or some random thing involving leftovers in my fridge… which by the way, happen to be usually pretty incredible… cooking with leftovers is one of my favorite things plus the freedom! Ok.. so back to this pasta. This can of sweet peas has been sitting in my pantry for weeks. I love sweet peas. I really do but they usually don’t scream pasta. I use them in cold pasta salads, in paella, as a side with mash potatoes, etc… but never pasta. But if there’s anything true about pasta is the fact that it can be paired with pretty much any ingredient I can think of… oh wait… just like bread, or rice, etc. Starches happen to be extremely friendly and super accommodating.
Not the first time this has been featured on this blog but why not blog about it again. This has to be one of the most underrated preparations of all time. I’m almost inclined to suggest it might be better than leaner tenderer cuts like loin meat. The process is long. It takes about a week to make but so does bacon. And you know how meat lovers feel about bacon… correct! So this 5-7 day curing/cooking adventure will definitely yield something that might far exceed your expectations. I mean… it’s chuck meat. Cheap, tough, you have to boil this thing for hours to make it edible. The magic of sous vide never shined this bright before. Chuck roast. So simple and a powerful statement about getting misunderstood ingredients to steal the show.. I mean this thing even dropped the mike.