Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cooking in Bamboo Tubes

I hope I can entice you to make this delectable dish. So straightforward in flavor, so prehistoric in cooking method. And dare I say rather stunning in presentation? In Cambodia and Thailand I think it's called kao lam. Versions exist throughout Southeast Asia, sometimes with beans or other ingredients. First you need a pole of freshly cut bamboo. Grow it yourself or find a friend who grows it. Saw it into sections about a foot and a half long. Saw below the nodes so one end is open and the other closed. Then soak some sticky rice in water for about an hour. Drain and add coconut milk. Add some unrefined sugar (salt too) and chopped bits of dried fermented sausage. I thought this was lap cheung when I pulled it from the cave, but the fennel said otherwise. No matter. Fill the tubes 3/4 way up and add coconut milk almost to the top. Then take a patch of banana leaf, which you can buy in a SE Asian grocery store and tie it to the top opened end. You can use a strip of the leaf or string works even better. Then make a good roaring fire and prop the tubes up against it. I think an iron bar running above the fire would work best. Not directly in the flame, but pretty close. They will char on the outside and maybe even catch on fire. Don't worry, just turn them around and continue cooking. After about 45 minutes remove and split them horizontally with a sturdy machete. Serve right in the tube. There's a lovely bambooish aroma and a little smoke. I made this for the first time at a party yesterday and I can't wait to go tell the lady at the Cambodian gorcery store how they came out. She was excited and perplexed that I was trying it, but I think her good luck wish hit the target.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Feed Yourself

What's more fun than cooking? (No, not that, but yes it is.) I mean FEEDING other people. I brought a mess of odds and ends to class to today, a huge honking bread, some very fresh cheese and some old stinky salame from the back of the cave. And my students devoured most of it. But sometimes, you just have to feed yourself. I mean cook something you love even though you know no one else will dare eat it, for no good reason whatsoever. It's not guts, just some simple beans for heaven's sake! They look familiar, but no, they're really young favas, not phaseolus. Cooked pods and all with olive oil, grated tomato, basil and some water so they don't burn. I can't remember the last time I found favas this young and tender, but if you see them, please promise me you will feed yourself first and don't worry who else will eat it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Another Coteghino

If you can believe it, this was an accident. About a year ago I made a coteghino (aka skin sausage) and wasn't planning on doing it again. But I just a got a new knife, a lovely curved Buffalo Skinner from J. Russell & Co. which I am told is not stainless steel. So I needed something with skin to remove, hence some slabs of pork belly now curing into bacon. The skin came off easily. And a tongue is curing too. (Long story, but a tongue that was impossible to peel went into an Olla Podrida the other day in Fullerton, and so I'm into the tongue thing.) Anyway, the finely chopped skin was mixed with pork and went into this wonderfully baroque middle, which curved right around itself into this remarkably obscene form. Lots of fennel. I think I will bring it Darrell Corti's next weekend. I also baked a few monstrous breads for my class, made a little cheese, who knows what else. Every day should be such as this.

Monday, April 9, 2012

One Bunny on a Bun?

It aint Louisiana Back Bayou Bunny Bordelaise a la Antoine. But Easter comes, and goes, and then I think of rabbit. Little time to spare. And I think, Asian cooking must have rabbit. India? Tandoori was suggested to me. Maybe. No stir fry. Not BBQ. SO how about a good SE Asian marinade? Fish sauce, lime, galangal, shallots, chilies. A touch of tomato paste for fun. Then on the grill. These were really delightful. This combination would taste great with a hunk of shoe leather. Next time I'll try that. In the meantime, I encourage you to embrace rabbit. OK, cuddle up first, then eat him for heaven's sake!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Gefilte Fish

For those of you poor souls who sufferred the jarred gefilte the past two nights, you know, the kind with a little wad of snot attached and some equally jarred horseradish, here's a step up. Ideally you want to find fresh pike or carp. Not in Stockfish, CA. So I tried basa. Why not? The key is to make a good stock with bones, aromatic vegs, shallots, tarragon and goodly salt. Then pound the fish in a mortar. Seriously, a food processor will cut the fish, you want everything pounded and gummy. I have to admit I departed in a heretical way, as usual, by adding a drop of sesame oil and a pinch of dried ginger, but otherwise these were gefilte, not Asian fish balls. Three big filets held together by one egg, and a half cup of matzoh meal. Then form into torpedos with two spoons and drop gently into a little pot of barely simmering fish stock. Let them chill thoroughly in the stock. Serve with ABSOLUTELY freshly grated horseradish with a touch of salt and white vinegar. Be sure to cover the horseradish after grating or it will lose the lovely heat. These were devoured, two nights in a row. I adore them.

Friday, April 6, 2012

University of the Pacific Spotlight

This is a fun promotional piece from the university, including still shots and video from all over the place, including my current freshman food policy seminar. I have no idea how they got all this footage!