Kung Fu Cooking

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Latke or the "classic" potato pancake



crispy on the out side and creamy in the middle this classic dish accompanies many meals well and also stands on it's own served with apple sauce and sour cream.

Ingredients:

3 medium sized potatoes (I used yukon gold potatoes but for a crispier latke use russet potatoes as they contain less starch)

about a 1/4 cup of AP flour (all purpose but really any flour will work for this)

1 large whole egg

1/2 medium spanish onion

salt and pepper

1 or 2 cups of fat for frying (canola or corn oil is fine for this but i prefer to use clarified butter, duck fat or lard)


method:

first peel your potatoes like so:


I prefer this style of swiss peeler for all my peeling needs:


next shred the potato on a common cheese grater (i prefer the box type grater but any thing will work):


now working in small batches squeeze the juice out of the potato and set aside when your done you should have dry balls of shredded potato and a good amount of liquid in the bowl:



discard the liquid and place the flour back in the bowl with the egg, flour, chopped onion and salt and pepper:


Here is a technique video on how to properly dice and onion. Be careful and try not to cut your hand off like i almost did with the first horizontal cut ;)

next mix all the ingredients together in the bowl making sure every thing is well homogenized.

put your lard in a shallow non stick saute pan and heat until it just reaches the smoke point (this means that the fat has the faintest wisp of smoke rising up from it) then add balls of the potato mixture to the pan and smash flat with the back of a spoon. at this point IMMEDIATELY lower the flame to a medium heat setting and allow the pancake to fry on one side until golden brown


flip over and fry on the other side until the same color has been achieved. If your pancakes are particularly thick you can place them in a 350 degree oven after flipping for 5 minutes or so. Just make sure you place them on the FLOOR of the oven. This allows for a more direct heat transfer to the pan and keeps the oil at the right temperature so your pancakes don't end up soaking up too much fat.


once done remove from the pan and drain on a rack seasoning with more salt and pepper. It's important to drain fried foods on a rack and not on paper towels. Draining on towels means your food will sit in the excess grease and reabsorb it as it cools leaving you with a soggy product. When your finished your pancakes should be delicious and crispy and look something like this:


Thanks for reading!

Next up by popular demand is a knife sharpening tutorial! Keep the requests coming and expect to see more recipes from my home kitchen up soon!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Soul Food Dinner

Hello everyone,

so it's been a while since my last post (almost a year) but I do plan on revitalizing this site. This week I'll be talking about a modest dinner I made sunday night based on what I found on sale at my local C-Town.

pork rib tips were $1.99 a pound which is about as cheap as it gets plus the yams at 99 cents a pound and I splurged on the collards which were not on sale but a good veggie addition for what I had in mind.

For the ribs:

First I prepared a flavored liquid to slow simmer the ribs in. Ribs are a tougher cut of meat and require a cooking process known as "slow and low" this refers to both the cooking time and the temperature respectively. For my liquid I used:
1/4 larger spanish onion
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper (about a table spoon of each but season to taste)
some dried red chilis (paprika would also work well here but I was using what I had on hand)
and a mix of dry herbs about a teaspoon each of thyme and oregano
3 cups of water and one beer (PBR worked for me as it was cheap but any type of beer would do fine)

first you will want to bring the liquid to a boil then add your pork. I purchased 3 pounds of tips and this liquid was sufficient. Once the pork is added you will need to bring the liquid back up to a simmer (DO NOT BOIL!!! BOILING MEAT WILL MAKE IT TOUGH AND CHEWY!!) turn the heat down and simmer slow and low for about 1.5 - 2 hours or untill "fork tender" this basically means that you can cut through the meat with a dull object. A fork will work, or a spoon or the back of a knife.


Here is a short video of the appropriate level of simmer. Note the rapidity of the bubbles in the broth.

during the last 45 minutes of cooking you can start your collards and sweet potato puree. I would start the collards first as they take some time to cook fully.

Here I have sliced half and onion and chopped two cloves of garlic and "chiffonade" the collards. which basically means I just sliced the whole bunch into thin strips for ease of cooking and handling.


again I have made a beer / water mixture but this time added about a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper.


then added the collards, onion and garlic


let the greens wilt (meaning they turn bright green and their volume gets drastically reduced like in the picture above) and put a lid on the pan. I have used another smaller pan as it's what was easiest to grab and the gaps will allow the liquid to reduce during the braising process.


Once the greens are wilted you will want to turn the flame way down and let simmer for upto 20 minutes or untill tender. They should look like this:


around the same time you start your greens you should have your already chopped up and peeled yam placed in a sauce pot and covered with water. Add salt to this mix to season the yams while they cook and bring them to a boil and simmer just like the ribs untill tender. I have used 3 medium sized yams for this recipe.


once tender strain off the water, return the yams to the same pot, add 1/4 pound butter a cup of milk or heavy cream and beat smooth with a whisk. After incorporating all the ingredients you will want to season with salt and pepper to taste. There are many ways to get a smoother more refined puree but for "soul food" I find a more textured or "fork mashed" yam is a better fit.


Ok so now your ribs should be just about right. Strain off the cooking liquid and lay the pieces of pork out in one even layer to cool.


Take the amount you plan on serving and place them into a sautee pan on high heat with some bbq sauce (a quick bbq recipe is 1 part molasses, 1 part vinegar and 2 parts ketchup to which you can add any number of flavorings such as chipotle peppers or spices)and toss to coat. Over high heat let the sauce come to a boil and reduce to effectively coat / caramelize your ribs.


Place it all on a plate and ENJOY! Just make sure you don't have too much to do after eating. This plate put me out for a solid 8 hours last night.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rice

There are three major "types" of rice that one might encounter in the world and be interested in cooking with. From the short grain risotto and sticky sushi rice to long grain jasmine and basmati rice. There are also specialty types like the black forbidden rice as well as many many many different cooking methods for each variety. the main similarity is that all rice requires some kind of liquid to cook initially. after that though the possibilities are endless. any way in this edition i'm going to talk briefly about the three types of rice and then move on to the most basic method of making steamed white rice. This is because once you have steamed white rice there are a number of things one can do with it. Such as congee the traditional chinese rice porridge, or fried rice.... or crispy rice pancakes or even the custardy mexican dessert form of rice pudding.

type #1

long grain rice, jasmine is the most common has been hulled and has less starchy than risotto rice or sushi rice which makes it light an fluffy when steamed. This is a great type of rice for classic steamed rice, pilaf, soups and pallea.



type #2

short grain rice, arborio is a very common varity. Short grain rice is used for sticky rice and when stirred vigorously while cooking renders the creamy risotto found in italy.



type #3

wild rice or un-hulled rice. this rice commonly known as wild rice is served mainly steamed or in pilaf. It requires more water and a longer cooking time to produce the same product as type #1



today though were going to start with the basics.

steamed white rice.

Ingredients:

jasmine or basmati rice.... here i have used jasmine
water
salt and pepper (optional)
butter or oil (optional)

step one:

put dry rice in pot. don't worry about how much cause the extra is easily used up the next day in fried rice etc. etc. (cooked food products that are properly cooled and stored will last for 7 days in the fridge) although a cup of rice is probably more than enough for one person.

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next add one and a half times the amount of water as rice... so if you used a cup of rice you will need a cup and a half of water.... or use the chinese method like i do. With the tip of your finger resting on top of the rice add water to cover your first knuckle

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next add any salt pepper or oil you may want to add or just leave it plain. Turn the fire on high and wait untill the water reaches a simmer. Once this happens put a lid on the pot and turn the flame down as far as you can and set a timer for 20minutes.

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once the timer goes off kill the fire completely and let the pot sit with the lid on for an additional ten minutes. If the rice isn't done in 10 minutes just leave the lid on and let it sit for another 10 minutes!

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fluff with a fork and BOOM.... perfectly cooked steamed white rice. Trust me this method is full proof, cheap, delicious and the finished product is endlessly versatile.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How To Roast A "Split" Chicken

Hello all. I know it's been a while since this was updated but i've been busy with the move from my grubby tiny kitchen in the west village to a much nicer better stocked upgrade here in williamsburg. This week were going to cover the basics of taking a whole chicken and turning it into something edible and delicious. Many people say roasting a chicken is one of the hardest things to do properly and i agree but like with all other things of the artistic discipline it just takes practice and experience to master.

today we start with turning your oven on and preheating it to 375 degrees. Next you will need a whole chicken... i have chosen a bell evens air chilled chicken because they are "organic" and of better quality than most standard "perdu" type chickens. one of the things to look for when buying a chicken is the skin color. Most organic chickens and in my experience better tasting chickens have a whiter color to the skin and pinker flesh. Chickens feed on hormones and more mass produced chickens tend to have the more common yellow skin. Also you will want to look and see how the meat it self has been handeled.... are the bones broken? is the flesh torn up or punctured in several places? My chicken looked like this when removed from the package


i have removed the giblets from the cavity and cut the wings off at the joint. the giblets should contain the heart, gizzard, liver and neck of the animal. the neck and wings should be reserved and frozen for making stocks and broths and the heart and gizzard are good for frying in a light flour dust as the Mexicans at work have shown me.

Begin by placing the chicken on a cutting board neck down with the back facing you like so:


tuck your knife under the tail and score down each side of the spine remembering to get between the shoulder blade and the spine.





after the score is made you need to follow the lines again and cut through the bones removing the spine completely. once this is done lay the chicken out flat skin side down and remove the breast bone. Next use your knife to cut the chicken into two pieces slicing all the way through the skin. this is a technique known as "natural seam butchering" this is a process where one butchers portions of meat according to muscle group.... which basically means that you cut an animal into smaller pieces by following natural lines of sinew and tendon without actually cutting into the grain of meat. Once this is done you can cook your chicken or as i like to do it cut the leg away from the breast effectively quartering the chicken and remove the excess bone from the thigh. This last bit can be kind of tricky so i have made a video of the process here:


after this process you should have four neat clean pieces


next coat each piece in salt and pepper and get a pan large enough to accommodate all four pieces very hot. When you add your oil (canola is preferable) to the pan is should begin to lightly smoke from the heat. you will need about 4 tbsp of oil. Next add your chicken. Allow enough time on the burner for the pan to recover the loss of heat from the cold chicken hitting the oil and then place on the FLOOR of your 375 degree preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until all the juices protruding from the chicken run clear. The internal temperature should read around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you find a lot of fat rendering from the chicken don't be afraid to pull it out after ten minutes or so and strain off the excess. Do not turn your chicken. You want to roast it all the way on the skin. This is the best way to get a nice deep golden brown color.



After your chicken is cooked remove it from the oven and place on plate or resting rack. Resting the meat is important. As meat cooks the heat forces all of the juices to the center of the roast. If you cut your meat immediately after removing it from the oven the all the juice will spill out and you will be left with a dry chicken. Let cooked meats set for 5 minutes for every pound of raw flesh. My chicken was a 3.5 pound chicken so i let it set for around 15 minutes before cutting into it. At this point you can just dig in or you can chop your chicken into smaller pieces like I have done.



you can see the chicken in the top left corner..... tomorrow when i have more time i'll go over what i have done with the veggies as well.

thanks for reading and as always feel free to ask questions. feed back helps me make this site better!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ramen Broth and Stock Basics

Hello everyone. This week we are covering the mixed ramen broth of pork and chicken. The basics used in this broth will transfer over into all other stocks as well from duck to veal to pork to brown chicken.

Ingredients:
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 2 medium white onions
  • 1/2 bunch thyme or about 12 sprigs
  • piece of fresh ginger about twice the size of your thumb
chop all your veggies into large chunks like so:



  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • 2 pounds pork ribs or feet



first using a heavy cleaver chop you wings and ribs into small 2" pieces and place in a heavy bottomed stock pot that can hold 5 qts and cover with cold water


turn the heat on high and bring to a simmer. when the water reaches the boiling point the blood, coagulants and impurities in the bones that will make your stock cloudy will be drawn out.


once a boil is achieved immediately strain the bones and rinse the remaining coagulants off of the pieces of meat. Place the blanched bones back into the cleaned stock pot, add the chopped vegetables and thyme (if making a normal stock at this point you can also add black pepper corn and bay leaves) and cover with 1" of cold water. Bring the water to a very slow simmer and allow to cook for 16 to 18 hours. When making a stock with only chicken bones you can reduce the cooking time to 8 hours or when making a stock with something heartier like veal bones you can increase the cooking time to as much as 20 hours.


I like to use a crock pot because i can let it run unattended for long periods of time without fear of burning the house down. Now while your stock simmers remember to come back every so ofter to check on it. Skim any foam that has risen to the top and add water as needed. I do this every 30 minutes for the first 3 hours of cooking and once again right at the end of the cooking process. After your stock has simmered long enough it should have a strong flavor, a slightly tacky feel on your fingers from all the gelatin simmered out of the bones and a good golden color.


now you need to strain the liquid into a large vessel when i do this i pour the entire contents into a large strainer and allow to sit for up to 30 minutes to make sure gravity has pulled all the moisture out of the meat and veggies with out having to press on them. Pressing the solid matter can cause excess impurities from the meat to be pushed into the clean stock below.


after this process you should be left with around 6 cups of nice strong ramen broth or stock!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mission Tampopo

In my honest opinion there are two major factors in creating the perfect bowl of ramen. The broth and the Char Siu. Last week we covered the char siu. Today i have made a simple vegetable broth and will go over the construction of the bowl.

For the vegetable broth:

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 stick cinimon
  • 1 piece star anise
  • 2 piece cloves
  • 5 piece black pepper
  • 3 piece allspice
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 3 stalk celery
  • 2 medium white onions
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 head garlic
  • hunk of raw ginger about the size of your thumb
  • (for a richer earthier broth try adding mushroom stems and black bean sauce)


1. rough chop all ingredients into small pieces


2. place in a pot large enough to accomodate and cover by 1" with cold water (cold water does a better job of extracting flavor than hot water)



3. simmer for up to 1 hour and then strain through a mesh sieve or conical strainer and reserve keeping warm. at this point you may season your broth with soy sauce, miso paste, roasted garlic, kimchee or what ever flavor you prefer. (when i'm in a pinch i like to use fresh ramen soup base. not the powdered stuff but the liquid you get from the good types of instant ramen)



4. next get some water boiling for the noodles and make a couple hard boiled eggs. My hard boiled egg recipie is as follows:
  1. place eggs in pan and cover by 1" with cold water and 1 table spoon of vinegar
  2. bring to a rolling simmer (to rough of a boil will crack the shells and beat up your eggs)
  3. set a timer for 8 minutes
  4. after the timer goes off strain of the water and place the eggs in an ice bath to cool them.... this process will also stress the shells - creating cracks in the shell that will make them easier to peel


5. lay out your toppings. today i have arranged the folowing starting with the charsiu we made last week and going clockwise around the cutting board:
  • char siu
  • hardboiled eggs
  • menma (soy sauce seasoned bamboo shoots easily purchasable at any japanese grocery store. i like sunrise mart which can be found http://www.yelp.com/biz/sunrise-mart-new-york
  • chopped scallion
  • wood ear mushrooms
  • nori (dried sea weed)

6. next i set the bowls out and put 2 tbsp of soy in the bottom with 1 tbsp of sesame oil


7. add noodles and broth and place your selection of toppings ontop of the bowl.... remember the toppings are limitless you don't have to use what i use. anything can top a bowl of ramen. with good broth and good noodles you will have a delicious meal!!