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Homemade Chinese-Style Preserved Pork Belly (五花臘肉)

Homemade Preserved Pork Belly 1

When I featured a commercially produced Chinese Preserved Pork Belly in a ‘Foodstuff’ post some time ago, I made a mental note to do a home-made version for you at some point. Unfortunately, whenever pork belly has appeared in our stores it has, until now, always been sliced and the slices are, as I discovered in a test recipe, just too thin to produce a decent result. A few days ago, however, I saw two one pound slabs of unsliced belly in our local store and I grabbed both of them. It is a shame that the rind has been removed but you can’t, as they say, have everything.

Many recipes for making preserved pork belly are quite complex and employ quite a variety of spices to flavor the meat. Some, especially recipes from Hunan, cold smoke the meat as well as salt-curing. Sichuan pepper is often used, as are Fennel, Cinnamon and Star Anise, but I don’t much care for the sweeter aromatics in this type of preparation and the version I will be making for you here is very straightforward and simple indeed…

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Review: Hakata Ramen – Montreal

1216 Rue Stanley, Montreal – 514-759-6688 – Website

Hakata Ramen 1

Date of Visit: January 16, 2014

I wasn’t initially attracted to Hakata Ramen by the name as it suggested a fast-food ‘noodle joint’ sort of place. However, although it does make Ramen bowls a specialty, the menu is quite extensive and very good…  Read more

Notable Nosh: Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu - Izakaya

Not long ago, I featured a rather unusual preparation called ‘Oyster Katsu’, which, I noted, was a culinary offshoot of a very popular Japanese dish known as ‘Tonkastu’.  Traditionally, a ‘Tonkatsu’ consists of  breaded  pork cutlet that is fried and  then served over a bed of thinly slice white cabbage alongside a unique Worcestershire based barbecue-type sauce and the version you see pictured above, and which I enjoyed recently in Ottawa, cleaves to the basic idea with a few unorthodox twists thrown in…

First, the plain cabbage bed in this interpretation was replaced with a mix of white and red cabbage that had briefly been cooked and then tossed in a spicy-sweet chili based sauce. This was a novel addition and I rather liked it. The pork cutlet, however, was rather thickly cut and not pounded out for the tenderness you should really expect with this dish. It was also a bit too vigorously fried in this particular case with the result that it was just a little bit dry and overdone.

The biggest deviation from the basic theme was that the cutlet was slathered (a little too liberally, perhaps) with a Teriyaki style sauce and Japanese Mayo. The effect was actually not that bad but to then serve the typical katsu sauce alongside was really overkill to my mind. As it happened though, I actually preferred the topping blend and, after the first few bites, didn’t bother with the dipping sauce again. Possibly, purists might claim that the dish I was served can no longer be properly called a true Japanese Tonkatsu but I generally enjoyed this approach and may try something similar myself at home…

Ginger Hoisin Pork with Bok Choy and Red Pepper

Ginger Hoisin Pork 1

Today’s dish is a really simple stir-fry production. Other than Bok Choy, which is becoming increasingly more commonly used these days, and Hoisin Sauce, all the ingredients are very easy to come by and there are no difficult techniques involved… Read more

The Yummy Food Competition

Yummy Food Entry 1

Today’s post is my entry in the Yummy Food/Canarias.com Recipe Competition in which the best article featuring a recipe or some other aspect of Mediterranean Cuisine will be awarded a Kindle Fire HD as the grand prize. As I am travelling, I am posting links to two recipes for Paella that I published some time ago but the competition deadline is not until February 7, 2014 so there is plenty of time for all of my regular readers to hustle something up and try their own luck. All the details can be found here ate Yummy Food.

It struck me a while ago that all my favorite dishes are rice-based and, aside from a whole range of Biryanis, pilafs, and Asian fried rice dishes, I have a special love for Risotto, Jambalaya and (of course) that quintessential Spanish dish, Paella, in all its glorious permutations.

I actually have a bucket list of foods I want to try in the country of origin and a Paella in Valencia is just about at the top of that list. Maybe someday Canarias.com will be able to help me on the first leg of my culinary world tour, but until then I have to make do with the efforts in my own kitchen. My entry (really entries) for the competition are:

Anyway, good luck to all my fellow bloggers and followers

(although, I am keeping my fingers crossed for myself, you understand)…

..

Canarias Recipe Competition

Review: Oyster Shack Restaurant – Montreal

1242 Rue Bishop, Montreal – 514-395-1888 – Website

Oyster Shack 1

Date of Visit: January 16, 2014

I came across the website for this place a couple of years ago and made a note of it as somewhere I would like to try. In past trips to Montreal, I never managed to make it for one reason or another and I ended up forgetting about it. Just recently however, during a brief visit to the city, I happened to stumble across it while strolling in the area around my hotel and I stopped by for a leisurely lunch…  Read more

Foodstuff: Soy Sauce – Lauriat™ Brand

Soy Sauce - Lauriat 1

Aside from a few North American varieties, most of the soy sauce used in my kitchen is either Chinese or Japanese. I have tried a couple of Indonesian brands but, to my recollection, this is the first Filipino product I have ever come across …  Read more

Beef Jerky

Beef Jerky 1

My wife often buys those packages of factory-made jerkies that are almost ubiquitous in super-markets and convenience stores now. I’ll eat the odd piece occasionally but, to be honest, I am not terribly keen on any of them. I find they have very artificial, chemical tastes to them and the texture is very often very poor.

Years ago, before I was married, I used to buy some terrific beef jerky at our local farmers market. It was very simply seasoned and the thick, foot-long strips were cut lengthwise along the grain of the meat making them robust and chewy (unlike the thin, friable industrial varieties commonly available these days). It took a good 30 minutes or so to gnaw away at one of those suckers and that’s what made them so darn satisfying. Today, I am going to make some good thick pieces in the same manner, keeping the ingredients light and simple so as to leave the original taste of the meat and not completely mask it with hydrolyzed-soy and high-fructose corn-syrup…  Read more

Notable Nosh: Crab cakes

Nosh - Crabcake

For most of my life, I have always been a little ambivalent when it comes to either fishcakes or crab cakes. Mostly, my disinterest stems from the fact that I find fish, and especially shellfish, to lose its richer tastes and sweetness when it is chopped or minced to finely before cooking. In the Northeastern US, they take their crab cakes very seriously and I have recently seen quite a few television cooking shows discussing the various types in loving and graphic detail. Many looked really good and I decided that maybe I should give the dish another try.

I recently sampled the ones you see pictured above at Vineyards Restaurant in Ottawa and, while I wasn’t exactly blown away by the experience, I did find them better than I expected.

The menu described the cakes as being herbed, but, while I could see green flecks in the center, I couldn’t actually pin-point any particular flavor other than, perhaps, parsley. The Garlic-Lemon Aioli that came on the side was actually quite tasty but it was bit too robust for the dish and tended to mask the delicate taste of the cakes. Just plain lemon juice might have been better. As for the cakes themselves, while somewhat tasty, the meat was ground much too finely which not only gave them a rather textureless, paste-like consistency, it also robbed them, as I have often found, of the natural sweetness. Many of the ones I saw on the aforementioned cooking shoes used much chunkier pieces of crab and I am sure this is the way to go…

Anyway, I should like to try making these myself sometime but before that I would be very interested to hear from my readers as to what particular qualities and techniques they think are essential for a top-quality crab cake…

Lobster Risotto with Saffron and Truffle Oil.

Lobster Risotto 1

Before getting to any actual recipe today, I have to point out that what I call a Risotto is a type of rice dish I learned from my father and differs in a few significant ways from the strictly traditional. Essentially, a ‘true’ risotto is based on short grain (typically Arborio) rice that is first sautéed and then is cooked with stock added a little at a time until a creamy, although not quite soupy, consistency is reached. Indeed, rather than being cooked ‘al dente’ a proper risotto is said to be ‘al’onda’, or ‘to the wave’ meaning that, when the pot is tipped, or struck on the side, the surface of the rice should ripple.

My form of risotto is based on long grain rice and is, in culinary parlance, more of a pilaf. The rice is sautéed first, but I add the stock in one go and cook by the absorption method to achieve a somewhat drier result. In any event, whether you call this a risotto, or an Italian-style pilaf, with the inclusion of saffron and truffle oil and in addition to the lobster, today’s dish is going to be truly decadent… Read more

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