Tuesday, May 31, 2011

pork sung-wich

After a 3-day weekend, going back to work makes for a rough day. I was cranky. I wanted pork fried rice. But I also knew I had lots of fun stuff waiting for me at home from a recent visit to an Asian grocery store. Considering my pork craving, I knew I had to include Pork Sung into my dinner. Pork Sung is dried, shredded pork, also known as Rousong, pork thread, and (my favorite) Pork Wool. Appetizing, right? :)

Pork sung is sweet and porky... kind of like barbecue pork. It looks kinda hairy, but it is not... it almost melts in your mouth... but still keeps a nice meaty chew. The only way I've ever had it was just simply on some rice. Pork Wool on white rice does not a blog post make, however. I wanted bread (I crave crusty bread... mmmmm). Boom. Sandwich.

This is inspired by Banh Mi sandwiches... well, loosely anyway. Lightly pickled fresh vegetables, crusty french bread, meat, cilantro, fat. The "pickled" vegetables get a bit of flavor from another fun Asian grocery item: sae-wu-jut... tiny shrimp brined in salt and water and fermented. Apparently these are a main ingredient when making kimchi. They are adorable, stinky, and add great flavor.

And yes, I'm aware that this sandwich jumps all over Asia... Chinese pork, Vietnamese-inspired sandwich, Korean shrimp sauce... fusion, baby.

Pork Sung-wich

-1/2 thinly sliced cucumber
-2 thinly sliced or shredded carrots
-1 Tablespoon Sae-wu-jut (salted shrimp sauce)
-1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
-6-8 inch piece French Baguette
-1 Tablespoon butter
-Sriracha sauce
-about 1/2 cup Pork Sung

-Place the cucumber and carrot in a bowl. Add shrimp sauce and vinegar, then water to just cover (there will be enough vegetables for 3-4 sandwiches). Stir gently and refrigerate while you prepare everything else. Heat bread up in the oven until the crust is nice and crisp and flaky. Use a knife to split the bread lengthwise. Spread butter on the top and bottom. Squirt some Sriracha sauce on the top half. Drip dry the vegetables and place them on the bottom half of the bread. Top with pork sung and a nice handful of cilantro. Sandwich it up and eat.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

green garlic risotto

I was very excited to find green garlic at my local Farmer's Market this past weekend. You may have guessed that I am a big fan of garlic... and I have the tattoo to prove it! I had heard of green garlic, but this was my first time trying it. I wanted to do something simple that would let it be the shining star. At first I thought a simple pasta, but then I realized I don't make risotto nearly enough, and I had some good homemade chicken/smoked turkey stock in the fridge begging for a good use.

The Risotto turned out well. You always hear how hard it is to make risotto... well it's not. It does require attention, but there is nothing at a ll difficult about it, and it really doesn't take very long. The result was creamy, fresh tasting (thanks to the green garlic), slightly smoky (from the stock) and nutty. A perfect little weeknight dinner (had some fresh farmers market radishes sprinkled with salt on the side... springy!)

Green Garlic Risotto

-1 Tablespoon butter
-1/2 tablespoon olive oil
-1 shallot, chopped fine
-1 cup Aborio rice
-3-4 cups chicken stock
-1/4 teaspoon dried basil
-3 stalks green garlic. chopped, green stems and all (not the woody parts or leaves, though.)
-1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
-1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
-zest and juice from 1/2 a large lemon
-salt and pepper
-olive oil to serve

Melt butter and oil together in pan, add shallot and cook until soft. Add the rice and cook for about 2-3 minutes, careful not to burn the rice. Add one cup of stock. Stir until the liquid is fully absorbed. Add another cup of stock and continue stirring (you can take small breaks, but the more you stir the creamier the risotto will turn out). Add the garlic with this round of liquid/stirring. Keep adding liquid a cup at a time until the rice is cooked to al dente. Turn off heat and add the pine nuts, cheese, lemon zest and juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm with a bit of olive oil drizzled over the top.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

pine nut tart and tuna bruschetta

When I come up with things to cook for this blog, I usually have an ingredient or flavor in mind. This week I started by looking in my fridge for anything that needed to be used before it went bad. And I realized I have a crazy stockpile of all kinds of mis-matched goodies in there that HAD to be used. Between camping, parties and changes-of-mind, I seemed to have amassed a very random collection. I decided I needed to challenge myself to use as much of it as I could, and only allowed myself to buy bread... the rest of the meal had to come from what I already had.

So, I had half a tub of ricotta and a sheet of puff pastry left from when I made this morel tart. So I made another tart... only I didn't have a topping... but I pine nuts! So, inspired by one of my favorite spreads, pine nut ricotta spread, I made this tart. What a treat!

Ricotta Pine Nut Tart
-1 sheet puff pastry
-1 cup ricotta cheese
-1 egg
-1/2 teaspoon of garlicy seasoning mix, or mixture of granulated garlic, dried basil, onion powder
-salt and pepper
-handful of pine nuts
-Shredded Parmesan cheese

Combine the ricotta, egg and seasoning. Fold pastry sheet in half and roll into a rectangle, about 11" x 7". Use a fork to dock the pastry, leaving about an inch on all edges un-poked. Spread the cheese mixture over the docked area of the pastry. Sprinkle the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake at 425º for about 20 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese starts to brown. Serve warm.

I also had some grilled tuna from a camping trip. The tuna was cooked in a foil pack with garlic and butter. I also had assorted small tomatoes that I meant to use for something else but changed my mind. I decided to combine these to make a bruschetta. Very tasty, and a great way to make leftover fish go a long way... this made a bowlful that could easily have served as appetizers for a good-sized dinner party.

Tuna Tomato Bruschetta
-2 cloves cooked garlic (I used the garlic that was cooked with the fish)
-1 tuna fillet, cooked and chilled
-1 lb. cherry tomatoes
-1 Tablespoon olive oil
-1 Tablespoon chopped sun-dried tomatoes
-1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
-salt and pepper.

Chop up the fish and tomatoes and combine all the ingredients. Serve on slices of baguette that have been rubbed with olive oil, toasted then rubbed with a clove of fresh garlic.

Related posts:

chanterelle tart
asparagus tart
green tomato tart
bruschetta x3
roasted veggie bruschetta
old lady bruschetta
pepita pesto

Friday, May 13, 2011

turnip cakes

While sampling the array of deliciousness at my favorite buffet, Ryce Oriental buffet, I found something surprisingly tasty in the dim sum section. Surprising because it was simply called "turnip cake," and while I'm a big fan of turnips, "turnip cake" doesn't sound all that appetizing. But, oh man, as soon as I tasted it I knew I had to try and recreate it.

So last week, while eating at another new favorite place, Lucky Spring, my Chinese-speaking friend asked the chef how to make turnip cakes. The chef sent me home with some rice flour, another white flour that my friend couldn't think of the word for in English (almost positive from tasting it that it's potato starch) and a big Chinese radish, along with some direction and a recipe written in Chinese. I supplemented these with a trip to the Asian grocery store and some research online.

Thanks, Lucky Spring Chef!

This is what I came up with. Success, according to a Chinese dude who loves to eat. I liked them, too. Next time, though, I will use less dried shrimp, as they impart a pretty strong flavor, and I will chop everything up even finer.

Turnip Cakes

3 cups rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
8 dried shitake mushrooms
2 ounces dried shrimp
6 ounces pork belly, chopped fine
1 large Chinese white radish or 2 large turnips, cut into matchsticks
vegetable oil
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoons salt

Combine the flours with 2 cups of water. Stir until smooth. Set aside

Soak mushrooms and shrimp in water for about 15-20 minutes to soften. Squeeze out excess water and chop both mushrooms and shrimp very fine. Cook the shopped pork belly in a skillet until it just starts to crisp up. Add the mushrooms and shrimp, adding some vegetable oil if necessary. Add th rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and salt. Cook for about 4 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.

In same skillet, add another tablespoon of oil and stirfry the radish for about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of water, cover and let the turnip steam for 15 minutes or so until just cooked.

Add the hot turnips to the rice flour batter and stir well. Add the mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Pour mixture into a large cake pan, or some smaller cake pans.

Bring some water to a boil in a pot big enough to hold your cake pan/pans (I used a stock pot that has 2 different size colander inserts, with a small rack on the bottom, so it was 3 stories of steaminess in one big pot). Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let cake/cakes steam for 1 hour, until they are set. Remove cakes from steamer and let cool a bit.. at least 15 minutes. Turn the steamed cakes out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch slices. Pan fry until golden brown on both sides. Serve with soy sauce.

Shrimp & Shitakes soaking

Rice flour & (I think) potato starch batter

Radish matchsticks

Turnip cakes fresh from the steamer

Slice for frying




Friday, May 06, 2011

street corn off the cob

Yesterday was Cinco De Mayo, so you may be saying..."well isn't it a day late for a Mexican food post?" Heck no!! It's never too late for Mexican food posts. Tacos are timeless. For real. My newest place to eat here in St. Louis is called Milagro Modern Mexican (also, get the Horchata martini and thank me later). They have this "Street Corn" which is completely off the hook. See, Mexican street corn usually consists of grilled corn on the cob with mayonnaise, cheese and chili powder.

Milagro's version is off the corn, but has the rest. It's addicting, and I am a known mayo-hater. So when I decided to have a few people over for carnitas tacos, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to copy this perfect side dish. It's simple enough, right? While mine isn't exactly like Milagro's, it's the same basic concept, and my guests loved it.

Mexican Street Corn Off-The-Cob

Kernels from 7 ears of sweet corn
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 pablano pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (I made my own...basic egg yolk, oil, and I used lime juice for the liquid)
1 1/2 cups chihuahua cheese
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

combine the corn, garlic and peppers. Roast in a 425ºF oven until corn starts to brown a little, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix mayo, cheese, cayenne and salt and pepper to the corn. Serve warm.

You can find my carnitas recipe, along with my other favorite taco recipes in this post. For more Mexican food fun, check out this Food Blog Mafia Cinco De Mayo round-up and this old skool Iron Stef Mexican round-up.