Archive for November 2007

Vietnamese Pulled Pork

November 30, 2007 | Chuck
Vietnamese Pulled Pork

A few weeks ago, I had a major craving for pulled pork after seeing this pulled pork sandwich from Simply Recipes. I love any big hunk of meat that is slow-cooked or braised. But after looking at the ingredients in the recipe, I was hesitant to make it because it seemed too vinegary.

I have a low tart tolerance and generally dislike anything with a lot of vinegar. And I have major issues with BBQ sauce, Tabasco and other vinegar sauces that dare call themselves hot sauces, but that's a sore subject for another time. When I have barbecued meat, I make sure the BBQ sauce is on the side. I want to taste the meat first and the sauce second!

Instead of making pulled pork with a traditional vinegar or tomato based sauce, I decided to create a Vietnamese pulled pork with my favorite Vietnamese ingredients. I used the flavors from my mom's braised chicken in caramel sauce with lemongrass and chili peppers (ga kho xa ot) as the inspiration for my pulled pork. My mom's ga kho xa ot is my favorite Vietnamese dish and it's the first thing I eat when I visit my parents.

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Chinese Sticky Rice (Nuomi Fan)

November 27, 2007 | Chuck
Chinese Sticky Rice

I love Chinese sticky rice. It contains several of my favorite ingredients — sticky rice, Chinese sausage and mushrooms. I know I'm going to have Hungry Bear's sticky rice at least twice a year, at Thanksgiving dinner and during Lunar New Year (Vietnamese/Chinese New Year) festivities. It's become a traditional dish for us on these holidays.

I really enjoy the rich flavors from the Chinese sausage, shiitake mushrooms, oyster sauce and soy sauce that get infused into the sweet, sticky rice. Chinese-American families often serve sticky rice in place of stuffing during Thanksgiving. It's great with turkey, roasted duck or just by itself. I didn't grow up eating this dish, but I now consider it a comfort food.

Hungry Bear started making Chinese sticky rice using a recipe from Grace Young's The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen. The recipe has dried scallops and shrimp in it, which takes additional time to prepare. Over the years, Hungry Bear has altered Grace Young's recipe, excluding the dried seafood, in order to save prep time. The scallops and shrimp are a little too fishy for my tastes and I prefer my sticky rice without them.

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Thanksgiving Feast

November 25, 2007 | Chuck
Thanksgiving Dinner Plate

Another Thanksgiving, another feast in San Francisco. All of us SNDsters are transplants from the East coast or Midwest and we avoid traveling during Thanksgiving. Instead, we celebrate Turkey Day by hanging out and cooking at Jane and Mark's place. It's typically an eclectic pot luck with friends who also don't have family in the Bay Area.

This year there were 14 of us and the food was more traditional and less of an East meets West affair. Dinner consisted of...

Savory Dishes

  • Deep-Fried Turkey - brined, dry rubbed and fried (Garry/Chuck)
  • Gravy - made from pan drippings and turkey stock from a roasted turkey wing (Jane/Chuck)
  • Uncooked Cranberry and Orange Relish - chopped raw cranberries and oranges (Stacy)
  • Spicy Artichoke Dip - jalapeno, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise and other heart clogging ingredients (Stacy)
  • Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips - potatoes, parsnips and chives mashed using a potato ricer - (Jane)
  • Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage - sage, thyme, fresh corn, buttermilk cornbread and hot Italian sausage (Chuck)
  • Brussels Sprouts Lardons - brussels sprouts and bacon (Stacy)
  • Chinese Sticky Rice - sticky rice, Chinese sausage and BBQ pork, shiitakes, oyster sauce, green onions and cilantro (Hungry Bear)
  • Spanish Seafood Salad - shrimp, squid, chorizo, sun-dried tomatoes and butter beans on frisée (Garry)
  • Three-Seed Dinner Rolls - poppy seeds, fennel seeds and coarse sea salt (Karen)

Dessert

  • Fruit Salad - cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwis, persimmons and mandarin oranges (Hungry Bear)
  • Yogurt - fresh homemade (Sukhchander)
  • Apple Pie - deep dish pie with pink lady apples (Stacy)
  • Pecan Pie - from Bakesale Betty in Oakland (Ajita)
  • Pumpkin Pie - from Bakesale Betty (Ajita)
  • Chocolate Bouchons - small chocolate brownies (Chuck)

Hungry Bear and I did the majority of our cooking at home. It's more fun cooking together at Jane's place, but it's also more difficult with only one stove top and oven. When we arrived at Jane's, there was a buzz of activity in the kitchen as Stacy, Jane, Garry and Karen were prepping and cooking.

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South Indian Dosas

November 20, 2007 | Chuck
South Indian Dosa

Last month, we had a dosa making party at Jane and Mark's place. Chetana, Jane's friend/co-worker, and her husband, Mahesh, were our dosa gurus. Their mission was to teach us how to make a proper South Indian dosa. We had great teachers and the dosas were the best we ever had.

In case you are new to dosas, they are South Indian crêpes and are considered a breakfast dish, but can be eaten at any meal. The batter is made from rice and dal, blended with water and fermented overnight. To make a dosa, the batter is ladled over a greased griddle and spread into a circle, similar to a French crêpe. Dosas can be served plain, with chutneys or filled with vegetables, eggs and even cheese.

When Hungry Bear and I arrived for lunch, all the prep work was complete and the dosa instruction and eating festivities began. In addition to the dosas, Chetana and Mahesh made...

  • Lilva Kachori Chaat - topped with yogurt, powdered-roasted cumin, tamarind chutney and sev (fried noodle)
  • Sambhar - lentil curry soup
  • Coconut Cilantro Chutney - grated coconut, cilantro, asafoetida, dahlia (lentil), curry leaves, mustard seeds, salt and chili peppers
  • Mulgapoodi - a.k.a. gun powder, a blend of powdered spices and gingelly oil
  • Aamras - mango puree with milk

We started lunch with kachori chaat, which is a small snack consisting of a flour dough ball filled with spiced pigeon peas and topped with yogurt, powdered-roasted cumin, tamarind chutney and fried noodles. The chaat was tasty with great textures from the soft filling, crispy dough, creamy yogurt and crunchy noodles. It also had a nice interplay of flavors from the tangy tamarind, cooling yogurt and spiced filling.

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Deep Fried Turkey – Fast and Fantastic

November 15, 2007 | Chuck
Deep Fried Turkey

I wrote this article for another blog last year. I thought it would be interesting for anyone thinking about deep-frying a turkey. I made a few minor updates to the article. After this Thanksgiving, I'll post about our turkey day festivities.

Every Thanksgiving, we get together at Jane and Mark's place and cook a big feast. It's usually an East meets West affair, with a combination of traditional turkey day favorites along with a variety of Asian dishes. Over the years, we've had roasted turkeys the conventional way, brined and even a Peking turkey, which is a turkey prepared Peking duck style. Several years ago, we deep-fried a turkey and it was spectacular. Now it's our preferred turkey cooking method.

Most of us are dark meat people and think white meat is dry when roasted in the oven. The white meat of a deep-fried turkey is the juiciest white meat we've ever had, and it's not greasy at all. Even better, you don't have to slave over the oven for a couple of hours. It takes less than 50 minutes (3.5 minutes per pound) to fry a 14 lb turkey. There's no way we would go back to roasting a turkey in the oven again.

If you are apprehensive about deep-frying a turkey, it's most likely due to health concerns and/or the potential fire danger. Prior to having deep-fried turkey, I thought the meat would be on the greasy side, which is not the case at all. From an article previously on Epicurious...

Today, though everyone from Martha to Emeril has gotten in the act, fried turkey is still a foreign concept to many, who think of it as a comically large, batter-fried, dripping-with-grease bird. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. When dropped in a vat of boiling peanut oil, the turkey becomes a crispy amber beacon of juicy deliciousness — to put it in technical terms. "The hot oil has a flash-frying effect on the turkey, which seals the skin and all the moisture in it," says Aricka Westbrooks, owner of Jive Turkey, a fried turkey restaurant and distributor in Brooklyn, New York, of all places. Since the high temperature of the oil seals the skin, the result is moist, juicy meat with what Westbrooks describes as a velvety texture.

The high temperature keeps it from absorbing much oil — some studies claim a whole turkey absorbs less than a tablespoon. The key is to keep the oil above 340°F. According to the National Turkey Federation, a 5.9-ounce serving of fried turkey prepared with a dry rub has approximately 383 calories and 21 grams of fat. Compare that to roast turkey's 362 calories and 16 grams of fat. (Calories and fat grams of roast turkey vary according to preparation.)

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