Posted in Experiments

Experiment: Fake ‘Oyster’ Sauce

Fake 'Oyster' Sauce

I began experimenting quite a while ago, attempting to make a sauce something along the lines of the standard Chinese Oyster Sauce. Essentially, an oyster sauce is the essence of oyster extracted through long simmering and then sweetened and thickened in various ways. I was aiming for the basic taste, except, for my experiments thus far, I used shellfish ingredients other than oyster…

In the inset in the above picture, you can see the brown, viscous, and thick sauce I produced, along with a simple stir-fry dish I cooked using it (It was pork, green pepper and onion as best as I remember). I made the sauce almost two years ago (and the stir-fry a few months later), but I shelved the project for the time being and only resurrected it recently. I still had a jar of the sauce in the fridge and I was a little amazed to find that, not only had the sauce maintained very much the same consistency and viscosity (and not dried out as I might have expected), but it also had preserved its original taste to an amazing degree.

My method was to boil some cooked lobster shells, a little leftover lobster meat, and some dried shrimp in water, reducing it until the ‘broth’ was quite strong. I then cooked this once again along with soy sauce, unflavoured corn syrup, and a little sugar, once again reducing everything until the consistency was like a commercial oyster sauce.

In actual oyster sauce, the flavor is sweet and salty with a vaguely shell fish background; It is oyster-like to a certain degree, but really, any suitably sweet,  marine type flavor would work, and my lobster-shrimp concoction managed to reproduce the essential taste quite well. In any event,  I want to keep working at this and reduce the process to a simple ‘recipe’ in the near future, and I will certainly post my work as it develops…

Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Salted Char

Salted Char 1

The picture above shows my first attempt at salting fish for preservation. To date, my only experience with salted, dried fish is salt-cod, which I have purchased and used but never prepared for myself. In these of almost universal freezer-ownership, salting and drying fish in order to keep it is not really necessary but the process changes the texture in pleasing ways and intensifies the flavor. I didn’t have cod, which is a bit rare these days, but I had just purchased two large Arctic Char from a guy selling them door to door and I kept back a couple of fillets for this experiment… Continue reading “Salted Char”

Posted in Experiments

Broccoli Rabe with Sausage and Peppers

Broccoli Rabe with Sausage and Peppers 1

A while ago, I saw a picture of a vegetable dish comprised of Broccoli Rabe sauteed with red pepper and garlic that looked interesting and I mentally filed away the idea for latter use. Later, when I was researching Broccoli Rabe for my post of two days ago, I saw a note in the Wikipedia entry for Rapini (by which name the vegetable is also known) which mentioned that it is sometimes sauteed with garlic and chili and then served with sausages in a sandwich. Today’s dish is a vaguely Italian preparation inspired by both of the above…

To make today’s dish, I first baked some sausage (Hot or Sweet Italian ones would be great but I just used some Bratwurst I happened to have on hand), and then I sliced them after letting them cool.  Then I sauteed a little minced onion in my Homemade Garlic Oil and added some blanched Broccoli Rabe. The sausage slices came next and, once heated through, I put in some slices of my own Spicy Pickled Bell Pepper. Finally, I rounded out everything with just little tomato sauce and served it all hot with some grated Parmesan. This was a great lunch…

Posted in Experiments

Experiment: Pork Belly Appetizer

Pork Belly Appetizer 1

Today’s post actually features two permutations of an idea I am working with for a little appetizer dish (although it would also work as a larger plate offering as well). The inspiration for these experiments came from an appetizer called Pork Belly with Kumquat I had in Ottawa some time ago, and which I thought could be improved upon. I begin with chunks of pork belly roasted so as to produce a nice crisp skin (using my Perfect Roast Pork Crackling method) and, instead of using parsnip puree as a base, I have tried two other ways of preparing the vegetable. I also replaced the kumquat with a sauce based on cranberry… Continue reading “Experiment: Pork Belly Appetizer”

Posted in Experiments, General

Experiment: Tea-Fried Squid

Tea-Fried Squid 1

Somewhere, in my Chinese cookery book collection, I have a recipe for Shrimp that are prepared by poaching in green tea (complete with reconstituted tea leave shreds). As yet, I haven’t tried it but, not long ago, I saw a picture of squid that had been fried after dusting with greenish fragments that weren’t identified. It was clearly an Asian preparation (I forget where I saw the picture), and I suspected the green ‘bits’ weren’t any common herb as might be used in the west. I wondered if, perhaps, it might be powdered tea. Anyway, the idea sounded interesting and so I put together the little appetizer you see pictured above. The idea is still rather a ‘work in progress’, but the first attempt was interesting enough that you might like to try something along the same lines yourselves… Continue reading “Experiment: Tea-Fried Squid”

Posted in Experiments, General

Beef Tataki with Horseradish Sauce

Beef Tataki with Horseradish Sauce 1

The little appetizer you see above is made with the Japanese style rare beef, which I have already introduced to you as Beef Tataki, and pairs it with a Horseradish Sauce and a little salad garnish made from lightly salted shreds of cabbage. If you look at my post on Horseradish Root, you can see the basic sauce I made from it in the last picture. The sauce here is essentially that, although I blended it to be a little smoother and added some finely minced scallion and parsley. The combination that results here is something of an east-west fusion, although the spirit is mostly Japanese as the horseradish is very similar to Wasabi and shredded raw cabbage is the standard accompaniment for Tonkatsu. Anyway, although I found the beef needed a little salt at the table, this was a very nice little light lunch…

Posted in Experiments, General, Recipes

Experiment: Roast Brussel Sprouts

Roasted Brussel Sprouts 1

Well, as you can see from the above picture, there is quite a lot going on here besides Brussels sprouts. Indeed, the combo here includes potatoes, parsnips, onion and, although it is not apparent in the picture, all of these ingredients were roasted alongside some beef ribs as a further experiment in the series beginning with my Meat and Veggie Roast  post from a couple of weeks ago.

If, like me, you have been curious about how Brussels sprouts might turn out after being roasted, you needn’t roast them with meat, or even include other vegetables, but you can certainly follow along with the rest of this post and get some ideas from the way I did things… Continue reading “Experiment: Roast Brussel Sprouts”

Posted in Experiments, General, Recipes

Experiment: A Meat and Veggie Roast

Meat and Veg Roast 1

I almost can’t credit the fact that it has been over four years since I first wrote a post about Roast Vegetables. Since then, I have revisited and played around with the basic technique scores of times but, of late, I been combining meat and vegetables in the same roasting pan so as to produce ‘one dish’, full meal combinations. As with stews, or ‘slow cooker’ meals, the idea is to capitalize on the melding of flavors but, here, we get to exploit the unique caramelization effects of cooking using a dry, and high, heat…

I don’t have an actual recipe for you today… rather my post just details one particular combination I put together for a particular meal one evening.  In future posts, I want to develop the idea and document my experiences but I am really interested in this style of ‘one-dish’ cookery so I would really love to get feedback from readers in the form of dishes they have tried themselves.

Anyway, read on to see what I did here… Continue reading “Experiment: A Meat and Veggie Roast”

Posted in Experiments, General

Smoked Mussel Appetizer II

Mussel Appy II

It has been over three years since I posted my appetizer recipe for Smoked Mussels with Cream Cheese but the post still receives a fair number of hits and I have long since enjoyed playing around with the basic idea. I have always meant to combine sea-food with my homemade Bacon Jam at some point and, after a bit of experimenting, I came up with the smoked mussel appetizer you see pictured above.

Rather than crackers, I used circles of Cantaloupe for the base as I thought that both the fruity flavor and the color would work nicely. I cut the cantaloupe into rounds and then smeared over a dollop of my bacon jam. I next used some chiffonade cut basil over the jam and then added a smoked mussel. For a little additional flavor and garnish, I added a drop or two of lemon juice followed by just a ‘dot’ of chili paste.

The taste of these was pretty good, actually, but I think the cantaloupe rounds need to be improved a bit. I just cut them by hand with a paring knife and the result is a little clunky and amateurish. I suppose this can be improved somewhat but it may be that some other ‘base’ would be better… any ideas?

Posted in Experiments

Experiment: Lemon Marinated Flank Steak

Marinated Flank Steak 01

For many years, I worked at the Regional Hospital in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and, despite the general reputation of awfulness for hospital food, the meals served at the staff cafeteria there were mostly pretty good. One item they did from time to time was a pan-fried flank steak that was cooked with, if not also marinated in, lemon juice. It was served under the rather spurious name ‘London Broil’ but was always nicely tender and delicious.

For those unfamiliar, a London Broil refers not to a particular cut of steak, although this mistake is often made, but rather to the fact that the cut, usually a tougher one like flank steak or top-round, is first marinated and then served in slices after grilling or broiling. The version served at the hospital in Fredericton failed to meet these criteria in a couple of ways… it was pan-fried and served in one piece… but it was definitely a flank steak, which is very fibrous and can often be very tough if not carefully prepared. Today, I am going to try and reproduce the general effect of the dish I enjoyed all those years ago… Continue reading “Experiment: Lemon Marinated Flank Steak”