Yikes! that was a long post title! I always struggle with post titles. I wanna summarize what the post is about and not come off entirely lame yet pay attention to SEO hocus-pocus, etc.. but you be the judge. Now, if you don’t care for that sorta thing, I mean, blog post titles… and you want to instead try something really cool and awesome in the kitchen, today is a fortunate day. Both passion for cooking sous vide and my renewed passion for home fermentation come together here in the nicest of ways. If you’ve been paying attention, I’ve posted about hot sauces recently. About a month ago I changed my approach and stopped using vinegar all together for making hot sauce, switching my attention over to lactic acid instead. Lacto-fermentation not only preserves foods in an acidic environment that welcomes good bacteria and good yeast even good molds, it also has a tremendous impact in flavor and texture. I figured I could take advantage of this and combine it with a popular sous vide preparation: Garlic Confit.
Venezuelans like their tender cuts of beef lean and medium rare. No fancy seasonings or brines, etc… just salt, maybe pepper. A great golden crust is a must and that’s pretty much it. When it comes to side dishes… delicious fried yucca is pretty common and so are a few fresh sauces. We like guacamoles and guasacacas, chimichurris are also pretty standard. Now when it comes to bread, that’s hardly ever there. Instead we have mini arepas which are a traditional staple of steak houses back home. Always deep fried and always paired with a cool bowl of natilla which is similar to crema latina. Depending on where you live you might easily find natilla/crema latina or not at all. Sour cream is a close substitution.
First of all, happy new year guys! I’m loving it so far. Got my mom and aunt visiting and it’s raining outside. I haven’t been doing a lot of cooking, at least not the kind of cooking I usually do for the blog. Cameras, flashes, all this sous vide stuff… I think I would freak my mother out. So that will have to wait and in the meantime I’ll stick to the things they’re more comfortable with. But today’s recipe ain’t one of those. This is something I cooked a few weeks ago before they showed up and I wanted to share with you. It was my first time cooking farro and I will definitely be introducing more farro into my future food adventures. It’s has an awesome sweet taste, the texture is rather unique and a nice change from using rice all the time.
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.
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.
I love eggs and I love cooking them. They have been a constant in my cooking even before I took on cooking more seriously later on. Since I was little I loved cooking eggs. I remember hard boiling eggs with my mom, making omelettes, etc. Today… on a skillet, eggs have to be cooked as gently as possible… I love walks on the beach and sunsets and all that and I also love egg whites with no browning at all and egg yolks runny but not cold. It’s a fine balance and a fun challenge when making eggs for breakfast. My house could easily be an all-day breakfast joint. I love breakfast and I mostly it at non-breakfast times because either I’m too late for work or I feel way too lazy until about noon on weekends. Although… that’s not true… but some would disagree.
Do you need boiling water to cook eggs?
The terms hard-boiled or soft-boiled are a bit misleading. Specially at sea level 🙂 Eggs don’t need to reach 212F (100C) to get cooked. They cook way below boiling temperature but for the purpose of this post, let’s assume we’re using boiling water to cook them eggs which is what we’re all most familiar with. We can get into sub-boiling temp egg cooking at another time. Sous vide time can wait. You sous vide enthusiasts out there are familiar with the concept of waiting, so let’s wait.
The 10 minute egg.
Cooking soft boiled eggs can be tricky. There are way too many variables. Specially temperature-related variables which are difficult to control if not impossible, but let’s just say that within a reasonable margin of error they can be controlled. The more we know about the variables we wanna control the better. Let’s for now only focus on 2:
- Temperature of the egg.
- Temperature of the water.
What’s the internal temperature of an egg?
Cold eggs? room temperature eggs? somewhere in between? yeah.. I’m overwhelmed my self thinking about it and it’s not like we can stick a probe thermometer into an egg. Some people are ok with surprises and would “wing” it being ok with whatever outcome… sometimes, soft boiled eggs will be there, sometimes, overcooked rubbery HARDboiled instead…yay. Some people like you and me… we prefer to predict the result. Just like roasting or baking… it’s all the same. Controlling the outcome.
This shrimp stir fry is very simple to make and delicious. I didn’t want to get the peanut oil out and add some soy sauce, etc… I love asian cuisine but I don’t have peanut oil… and I was feeling like using the ingredients I had at hand. In my previous post about chicken marsala, I mentioned I would try to use the marsala wine in a seafood preparation because it just made sense. This was a pretty good opportunity to test my theory (shows how little I know about italian food). Shrimp and pork can dance together on a plate beautifully so I added pancetta. Not a lot, just enough and that pancetta provided all the needed fat to cook everything else on this dish. Cooking seafood in pork fat is the bomb.
The Wings of Change! Miso Glaze….. Never thought it would come to this but here we are, game day, chicken wings. I officially joined the other 3 trillion food blogs featuring wings today in America. Nothing wrong with that. I love those marvellous things so why not make my own wings my own way. I have to be honest. I don’t know anything about football. I plan to keep it that way too. I’m more of a soccer guy… like every 4 years for a couple of weeks and then I’m left with ZERO interest in watching sports again. But we’re here to show off these little sticky guys not to talk about sports, so hang in there. Who won this Super Bowl? The correct answer. I don’t give a S###.
This recipe like any other wings recipe is simplicity in itself. Wings are the fattiest part of the chicken. They only have a bit of meat and a delightful amount of awesome fatty chicken skin. They are packed with flavour and make the best finger food when prepared correctly which like I said, it’s really really simple.
A little bit of unofficial chicken wing anatomy. The whole wing is rarely served whole (don’t ask me why). The tips are removed since they’re mainly only bones. The drummette or drummy (my favourite) is the arm (the humerus bone is in there), which is connected to the shoulder and hence the breast. And there’s the flat or flapper. That’s the forearm. Couple of bones in there… the radius and the ulna. I just did a massive google search to come up with all this info. I didn’t go to chicken wing school. Let’s continue.
Ingredients: (makes about 20 units of awesomeness)
The Wicked Wings:
10 whole chicken wings. Or buy 20 of your favourite parts already cut.
1/2 Tbsp Garlic paste.
1 Tbsp Miso Paste (yellow or red should do)
2 Tbsp Hot sauce of your preference. I used Tapatio.
1/3 Cup brown sugar.
1/2 lime (juice only)
The wings. Brine them overnight in a pot with salty water. You know, like pasta-water salty.
This will season the wings and maybe increase the chances of adding a little extra juiciness… but anyways. You can skip this step but then you have to adjust the saltiness of the glaze. The miso paste at this point is providing the needed saltiness for this recipe. Ok, so you woke up the next days, hopefully it’s game day and now you can get going. Discard the water and dry the chicken wings with paper towels. Don’t cut them wings just yet. Less surface area, less water loss. In a cookie sheet lined with tin foil or parchment paper (It will be easier to clean when you’re done) add the wings. I brush the tin foil with vegetable oil. I do the same with the wings.
Everybody here needs to be super oily. If you’re making chicken wings, fat consumption shouldn’t be an issue…. Bake the wings in the oven at 450F for about 30 mins. Keep an eye on them. You can run the broiler for 5 to 10 mins or until you get the desired golden browning level of your dreams. Remove the wings from the oven. And allow to rest. Make the glaze. At this point I’m eating the wings without the glaze. They’re too awesome. Oh, you can also cut them up now, I almost forgot. Drummettes over here, flappers over there. The tips… I ate them, I won’t lie.
The glaze. The simplest thing. Mix all the ingredients. Over medium heat cook until a syrup forms. Don’t let anything burn. Just be patient and stir constantly. It will take about 10-15 mins. Let the color deepen as the sugar caramelizes a bit. Take your time. Don’t bother straining. If you don’t have garlic paste. You could use garlic powder or just get some exercise and work actual garlic cloves to a paste with your chef’s knife. It’s worth the practice.
Putting it all together. The moment of truth. Check the glaze. Make sure it’s nice and sticky but not too dry. Add water if you think it’s too thick. A little bit at times until it’s the proper consistency. Add the wings to the glaze pot and mix it all up real well. This is ready to go now. And they better be ready or you will be dismissed from your chicken wing cooking duties. Football fans don’t wait for wings once they’ve smelled them.
Chop some cilantro and green onions, cut some lime wedges and decorate that wings platter like you mean it. Good luck out there. 1st down? who’s down? who knows. See yah!
Having been away from my kitchen for about a month the craving of home cooked meals is tremendous. I’ve been fantasizing about making all these new recipes and the second I get home, my mind goes blank. I can’t even put together a decent sandwich… ok I take that back, mayo and toast is a pretty awesome sandwich and it does qualify. it’s not exactly a cuban sandwich but you can check that out if you’re feeling industrious. Anyways, I will have to put off my cooking for a few more days until I figure out what to make.
A few more days passed. I have a jar of squid ink in my fridge and a renewed disposition to wash dishes and sharpen knives. Finding a beautiful piece of sturgeon at the local grocery store seldom happens and must be seized. I have never worked with sturgeon. I’ve only consumed the eggs and the fish itself at nice restaurant once. I bought 3 fillets. I figured I would get a crash course on sturgeon pan frying at least.
The first thing I learned. The skin is extremely hard to crisp up without burning it. So yes, I burned the damn thing, besides, nobody has ever learned a thing by being perfect. Quickly adjusted turned off the heat let the fish cook in the covered pan by its own steam for a minute or so.
Second. This fish need to be cooked to maybe a little above rare but not as far as medium. I’d say stay around 125F-135F. It doesn’t do well raw. It’s too chewy. At least the fillets I got at the market maybe the belly would be a different story. Maybe I’ll find out one day when I’m rich. In my photos my fish went a bit over medium rare. Next time I will just get it done right in the sous vide apparatus. A little trial and error cements knowledge better than looking at a temperature table.
Third. When you sear this fish, you could almost think of it as steak. The color, the redness of the juices, the texture to the touch. It’s amazing. This is one robust fish so I wouldn’t be afraid to pair it with flavourful things.
Fourth. The texture. Once I got it right and got the fish to medium rare, that’s when the magic started happening. The skin I sadly couldn’t get to cook properly and was too rubbery (I still ate it because I love the taste of fish skin and its nutritional super powers) but would not serve to a guest. The flesh right underneath the skin is the prime rib of the underwater world. Trust me, it even tastes a bit like it. It’s incredible.
Fifth. The flavour. I should have started with this one. I mean, I really love tuna, specially Toro. Sturgeon is in its own category. Once gently cooked the texture is very similar to that of tuna belly. There are very delicate notes of tuna in there but also a pretty distinct sturgeon beautiful proud flavour that reminded me of sablefish.
Ingredients (serves 2. Cooking time: 15 mins)
2 surgeon fillets
6 shimeji mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste
Maldon salt to fish it up.
Broccoli florets for garnishing.
Squid Ink Cauliflower Puree (makes about a pint of it, store the leftovers)
1 whole cauliflower
1 Tbsp squid ink
1/2 Cup heavy cream
This is gonna go down quite quickly because one of the good news about cooking fish is the fact that it is extremely easy and fast.
Start with the squid ink cauliflower puree. Trim all the green bits off. Steam a whole cauliflower in pot with about a 1cm of water. Lid on. About 10 mins. I used my pressure cooker pot just because the lid seals better. I don’t pressure cook it but it cooks more efficiently. The cauliflower shouldn’t be overcooked and falling apart. Just soft enough to be easily cut into cubes. Add the cubes to the blender. Add some cream and try to get traction inside that blender. I stop adding cream the moment I the blender gets going and all of its content is happily blending away. Add a Tbsp of squid ink to the blender and keep on blending. Total blending time about 10 mins. You can go longer if you want smoother. No need to add salt as squid ink already has been preserved by loads of it, but check the for taste and adjust if necessary. Set aside. For a super silky puree, sieve away.
Now the sturgeon. Salt generously and set in the fridge for at least 10 mins, letting some of that salt permeate the fish. I rested mine for 1 hour. Add some almond oil to a nonstick pan over high heat. Lower to medium high don’t let the oil burn. Stay right around 400F. Place the fillet skin down first and sear for about 3 mins. Remove the pan from the stove. Add a little splash of water (watch for oil splatter obviously) and cover the pan with a lid right away. Allow the fish to get steamed this way. Takes about 3 mins if the fish is fridge cold. less than 2 if the fish is closer to room temperature. I like the flavour of almond oil. It pairs really well with fish in general.
The little shimeji mushrooms. After removing the fish from the pan and setting it aside to rest and letting the carryover heat to finish the job get those beautiful mushrooms ready. Make sure there aren’t any dirt on them. Place the pan with all those wonderful fish juices back on the stove over high heat. Once hot… again…. around 400F. Get those shrooms in there and get a little color on them. About 2 mins. They will get coated with delicious fish stock and almond oil. Yes. Sounds good, I know.
The plating. Up to you. I made a mess on mine. Just make sure all those preparations make it on the plate and you’re good to go!