25 April 2011

A Herring Evening

I managed to get out of cooking for my folks on Easter. I believe it was about 9 years ago that my mom had transferred cooking responsibilities to me for family occasions: those being mostly Christmas and Thanksgiving. Although I got out of Easter cooking, my mom made it understood that she was having Wienerschnitzel for Mother's Day next month; that is, a proper breaded veal cutlet mit Pommes.

After a lunch of pulled pork sandwiches and salad at my folks, I found myself contemplating what I should have for dinner. I immediately knew I'd be having the pickled herring that I joined in making at a couple-friends' house from Saturday. It worked out to be a nice assembly line starting with Eva gutting the herring from the Russian market in West Sac. It moved onto me, as I pulled the large stray bones out of the filets and rinsing them. Mark finished the deboned filets by slicing them into smaller ca. one inch chunks. For each herring the following was called for by the recipe:

1/2 onion
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1/4 olive oil
2 tsp sugar
2 tbs fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried dill)

The ingredients are combined, jarred, and look like this:

In addition to the herring, I paired it with something that I'd been wanting to make for about a week now--korokke or Japanese croquettes. I basically followed the steps in this video from Cooking With Dog with the exception of changing the ground beef component to the ground turkey already in my freezer. It's basically a croquette with ground meat and sauted onions spiced with raw sugar, pepper, and nutmeg and then battered and fried.

While preparing the korokke, I kept trying to remember what the sauce is that is normally served on them and recalled that it was something like HP, which after some short Internet browsing is basically what tonkatsu sauce is: what with the catsup, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, black pepper, and mustard powder.

I can fry food okay, but I often opt for pan frying as opposed to deep frying simply out of cooking oil costs and lack of a Fry Daddy and as a result, I tend to avoid frying food, but this turned out quite nicely with the batter frying up crispily with a fluffy meat and potato mash.

The entire meal turned out to be nice and light fare after a porky lunch. After seeing the simplicity of combining fresh fish with simple ingredients, I'm encouraged to experiment more with the pickled fish recipes in my Scandinavian Time Life book.

Happy Easter Monday, everybody!

06 April 2011

Ga Xao Sa Bánh Mì Ma Ma Ma Ma

I was reminded that I've been wanting a bánh mì sandwich last week when I was Southside in Sac going to the Vietnamese market to pick up pork belly to transform into bacon for a friend's birthday last weekend. Instead of going down to Huong Lan, I just bought a bag of bánh mì rolls.

It'd be a long day and a half of translating paperwork from 25 page divorce settlement, so when it came about today that I'd suddenly had nothing to do for a couple hours at midday, I decided to do something with those week old rolls sitting in fridge, which keep quite well. Don't leave them out on the counter--they will mold.

The first step to making this sandwich is making the do chua or rather pickled carrots and daikon, so I went to the link my friend Joe Tyrone sent me. Pretty easy, but instead of doing the prescibed root vegetable massage, I just tossed the matchsticked veg in the salt and sugar and let it sit for 30 minutes before leaving it for an hour in the salt, sugar, water, vinegar brine.

On Sunday while waiting for the greens from the last post to simmer, I went to marinated some lemongrass chicken à la my ma's marinade:

2 stalks lemon grass
4 clv garlic
1/4 c fish sauce
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs black peppercorns

I blended this in my bullet-like mixer and tossed 1 lb of chicken thigh meat in it and let it marinate for a few days.

Once skewered, it got grilled with my toasted bánh mì roll.

I combined it all onto the roll with the fermented/pickled fresno peppers from last autumn that are to this day still edible and a delicious condiment.

I like cilantro when a recipe calls for it, but I really have to have it light on a lot of things other than those that just don't taste right without (e.g., salsa). This is one of those food items that I feel can do without, so I didn't feel the need to go out and buy a bunch on my two hour lunch to garnish this bad boy.

I declare this guy a win that kept me satiated from 130 pm nearly throughout trivia nite tonight, 8 pm.

04 April 2011

You're Kaling Me

I've had a running experiment going on to see how long my farmer's market produce would last when I keep them in those green bags you see in the produce section. It turns out kale and beet greens hold up quite well in the green bag. Normally they would have wilted and been in need of cooking by the third day in the icebox, but they lasted a good 9-10 days in the green bag without wilting. By last Sunday though, their wilting had called for a short bath in water with a splash of vinegar, which I read somewheres helps the water flow back into leafy vegetables and gives them another day or so before having to been finally tossed away.

Sunday was a lazy day of reading and print mounting, so I wasn't in for anything elaborate concerning these green, so K.I.S.S. it was: keep it simple stupid.

Half a head of minced garlic and four small chopped dried cayenne chilis went into a quarter cup of oil to flavor for about a minute. Then in go the "reconstituted" greens, two cups of prepared Better Than Bouillon and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.

When it comes to cooking greens, a lot of recipes call for cooking the hell out of them at a simmer for an hour. I've had barbecue joint greens that are heavily flavored with ham hocks or bacon that make up for the paste-like texture and the unappetizing grey color. I never cook them for this long myself due to one hour results, so I keep it to a limit of 30 minutes.

Otherwise they wouldn't turn out like this.

Blurry and tender yet still with something substantial to masticate, but more significantly, they remain a pleasant green. If I were to simply prepare greens like this again, I'd probably cut back a chili or two. For now, it was a bit spicy with a strong garlic flavor, so it was just o-kale.