And we’re back with some more sous vide cooking! A few things about pork tenderloin. It’s delicious but only if cooked properly otherwise is just boring. Cooking this cut with traditional methods requires some practice and a thermometer but if you’re looking for that medium rare finish and a pasteurized product then going sous vide is the easiest (and possibly the only practical …) way of getting there.
I don’t know about this title but I had to start somewhere and it is in fact related to how I feel about what I’m about to cover here. I have basically redefined the way I eat over the years of cooking which pretty much landed me in the sous vide cooking world. That taught me many things about food and what heat does to it. It also changed the way I see cooking in that now I do my best to applying the least amount of heat possible still placing all of my attention in flavor and texture. Each ingredient and preparation has therefor a very specific cooking time and temperature, etc, etc. You know all about that sous vide stuff, let’s move on.
My previous swordfish taco test.
If you have been tuning in lately you probably noticed my post about sous vide swordfish tacos from a few weeks ago. Well, I couldn’t let it go. I did more research and found that on average the cooking temperature suggested for cooking it was a couple of degrees lower. Now, if you’re not familiar with sous vide cooking, a few degrees can mean the world. Yes, that applies to traditional cooking as well but it’s a lot more difficult to quantify or even reproduce. But sous vide cooking is all about precision and it is fairly easy to experiment with different cooking temperatures, take notes (the whole purpose of this blog 4 years ago, not recipes, not food photography, cooking notes) and compare.
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.
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.
Before we go any further I want to warn you. I just participated in the killing of a pig. I also documented it with pictures. I will do my best to avoid excessively-graphic imagery but as you may know, the process of butchering an animal is a dramatic event so if you’re not comfortable with this kind of content kindly skip this post. I will stick to the facts and present this subject as mindfully and respectfully as possible and only to show and share my love and appreciation for food, cooking and all that it entails.
As a meat eater, I was feeling compelled to witness and participate in the butchering of an animal. I felt that without doing so… eating meat was just a convenient luxury, far removed from the harsh reality of taking life to feed people. I also wanted to participate out of respect for the animals and the butchering craft that I know so little about. I thought If I were to continue to eat meat, I needed exposure to the entire story. And not the theory which we can all look up somewhere. I needed to see what was really involved. There’s drama in the act of killing no matter how “humanely” the killing is carried out. Our butchering instructor minimized suffering and worked as swiftly as possible.
I chose the wrong time of the year to roast a 15 pound pork shoulder for sure. The heat wave that’s hitting southern California right now probably contributed to the amazing quality of the crackling I got. I mean, it is HOT and DRY in here! But that didn’t stop me. I wanted to make pork tamales really bad and starting with a perfectly roasted pork shoulder is what I consider key… ok, I don’t know if that’s how most traditional recipes approach it but that’s how I make pork tamales. I’ve found many recipes suggesting boiling the pork, which is fine, but roasting develops more flavor complexity. Guess what…. I love complexity sometimes. Sure, it will take longer, but it is SO WORTH IT.
This pork piece could be served as is, carved at the dinner table and you would definitely impress your dinner crowd. It looks amazing, extremely elegant! and it smells amazing as well. Whether you’re thinking of serving the roast straight or using the meat for far more ambitious applications let me break down the process of making this roast in 3 very easy steps.
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.
One of the beautiful things about using stainless steel cookware is the fact that food can stick to it.
I know, it sounds weird but this is not a bad thing. Before I got into cooking a bit more seriously, all I ever used were nonstick pans. It felt safe! A pan to which food would stick to was the equivalent of game over. Impossible to clean pans. Destroyed food. Burnt bits etc, etc, etc… horrid.
Today, I don’t think I have a single nonstick pan at home and I actually look forward to using pans to which food can stick to… sticky pans.
The little bits of food that stick to the bottom of a pan (fond) as they brown are the key to some really cool flavour development techniques. All that beautiful browned stuff can be deglazed by using any liquid and the result is pure delicious edible gold, but I will dedicate a post to talk about that. in the future Today’s post is about the opposite. How to make your stainless steel pans nonstick.
So how should we cook something that shouldn’t stick to my “non-nonstick” pan, something simple like an egg?
Things can go south pretty quickly. Trying to retrieve that egg can very easily end in disaster with half the egg glued to the pan and the other laying shredded all over your counter and some of it on your spatula.
The pasta in the picture isn’t fresh pasta nor is it cooked. It’s basically dry pasta that has been reconstituted. These dry noodles have been soaked in water before cooking. But why would anyone do something like this? well, I personally find it very useful. Here are my top 5 reasons! check ’em out:
- I don’t need boil a lot of water in a big pot which takes, as you know… forever. Once the pasta is hydrated it will be soft and fit smaller pots. Water and time saver right there.
- Another advantage is to have even hydration of the noodles which helps even cooking. Not that critical but still cool.
- Less salt is needed to season the water since you’re using less water. Salt saver. Yes. You can even hydrate/reconstitute pasta in salty water saving even more salt. Brining dry noodles, pretty much.
- The residual pasta water after cooking the noodles will have a higher starch concentration. Which makes it a better thickener for your pasta sauces.
- And probably my favorite one. It cuts the cooking time considerably.
So here is how:
Fish can scare some cooks away. They scare me too for sure, specially underwater but cooking fish is actually pretty easy and this post is about getting it all done in one skillet in one go. There are many other ways of cooking fish but let’s focus on skillet cooking today.
Cold fish. I like handling and cutting/slicing fish when it’s cold out of the fridge/cooler/ice bath. And I do not enjoy working with fish that has been frozen in a regular freezer. The poor fish is literally destroyed. The flesh is mush and the skin can’t even stay on it, the poor fish just falls apart. So if you can help it try avoiding freezing fish or buying frozen fish. Flash freezing is different but controversial so maybe a topic for later but there’s that option for buying frozen fish that’s not mush.