Posted in Equipment, Notable Nosh

Equipment: The Joyce Chen Wok

joyce chen wok 1

For a number of years now, I have had an induction stovetop in my kitchen. It is nice in many respects, but a traditional, round-bottomed wok will just not work properly with it. After way too long with disappointing results I purchased a flat bottomed wok in cast iron… this was a nice piece of cookware, and may have had some practical uses in other ways, but as a wok it was just too damn heavy and didn’t allow for easy heat control. Accordingly, back this past May, I purchased the Joyce Chen 14 inch flat-bottomed wok you see above. Sadly, though I have purchased quite a few Joyce Chen products that were well worth the money, this $50 item that I purchased here at Amazon, was a bit of a disappointment … Continue reading “Equipment: The Joyce Chen Wok”

Posted in Technique

Pan-Frying Good Quality Steak

Pan Fried T-bone 1

There are countless recipe book entries and web-pages promising to reveal the secret for cooking the perfect steak. Most involve complicated preparations and procedures and generally repeat certain ‘wisdoms’ which, for the most part, are largely nonsense. In my experience, most seasoning and ‘special’ techniques are mere window-dressing and, really, all that is required for a great result is choosing a good cut and avoiding over-cooking.

I love to barbecue but, often, pan-frying is the only practical method available. Some people pooh-pooh this as an appropriate cooking method for steak at any time, while others grudgingly suggest it may be okay for lesser cuts. In truth, however, as long as you are careful, you can begin with a pricey, top-quality piece of beef and produce some excellent results just using a pan… Continue reading “Pan-Frying Good Quality Steak”

Posted in Foodstuffs

Foodstuff: Mirin

Mirin 1

I think I can safely say that rarely a week goes by that I don’t use Mirin in the preparation of at least one meal. It is invaluable as a marinade component and a glaze, as well as being a great addition to steaming mediums, broths, and stir-fry and dipping sauces. Indeed, I have listed it as an ingredient in so many recipes published on my blog that is high time that I gave this useful foodstuff a proper introduction…

Essentially, a true Mirin is a brewed rice ‘wine’, similar to the Japanese beverage Sake, wherein the starch rice is converted into a sugar by a Koji mold (Aspergillus oryzae) and, during this same process, fermented to produce alcohol. In Sake, the fermentation will consume all, or most, of the sugars but in Mirin, a good deal remains and thus it may be described as a ‘naturally sweet rice wine’.

Products sold as Mirin that destined for the kitchen (as opposed to being purely potable) may be ‘true’ Mirins, but they may also be artificially sweetened Sake, or else non-brewed concoctions that have the taste, and usually not the alcohol content, of proper Mirin. The three products we will look at here are chosen because they provide a pretty good illustration of the range of purchasing possibilities…  Continue reading “Foodstuff: Mirin”

Posted in Book

Review: Mexican Cooking Made Easy

by Diane Soliz-Martese

1992   Wei-Chuan Publishing   ISBN-13: 978-0941676298

I have to say that I bought this book on something of a whim. I don’t eat Mexican food very often and my library only contains 5 other volumes devoted to the cuisine. However, I really like the Wei-Chuan series of cookery books and I was curious to see how a Chinese Publisher might handle the subject. As it happens, though, I was ultimately disappointed with this publication on a couple of counts… Continue reading “Review: Mexican Cooking Made Easy”

Posted in General

The Wife Cooks …

When I am away, my wife usually will cook up a huge batch of something or other that will last her for several meals over many days. It could be spaghetti sauce (a time honored favorite), or maybe a substantial curry, but on my last trip away she used a basic set of ingredients to cook three different dishes. The ongoing process built upon itself, somewhat like my Sunday Gravy project, and (without any prompting from me) she recorded what she did with her camera. The results were complex, not to mention tasty, and I thought they might make an interesting guest post for my readers… Continue reading “The Wife Cooks …”

Posted in Book

Review: The Food & Cooking of Cambodia

by Ghillie Basan

2008  Aness Publishing   ISBN-13: 978-1844763511

Almost all of my experience with Cambodian cuisine comes from trying the odd recipe from books broadly focusing on Asian, or somewhat more particularly, Southeast Asian cookery. There is no shortage of books on Vietnamese or Thai food, of course, but Cambodia has thus far received short shrift and it is not easy to get a sense of the cuisine of that nation from those generalized cookery books in which Cambodian dishes are not widely featured. As such, it was indeed a pleasant surprise when I came across this very nice little volume… Continue reading “Review: The Food & Cooking of Cambodia”

Posted in General

Naughty Cooking Tips

Today’s post definitely falls within the category of : ‘and now for something completely different…’

A couple of weeks ago, Madam Weeble over at Fear No Weebles (a blog I follow and urge you to check out) posted a little piece entitled The Obligatory Search Term Post in which she lamented that none of the search terms bringing people to her site were ‘dirty or really demented’. Getting hits from sexually bizarre search terms is, apparently, a common experience for bloggers, even though their subject is not remotely pornographic, and many have written posts describing the experience.

My WordPress ‘stats’ page lists all the search terms that people have used to find my blog and, thus far, all have been strictly food related. One of the comments to Madam Weeble’s post read: ‘put the words “naked, nude or boner” in your posts and you will see some freaky ass search terms’. This got me thinking… It would, it seems to me, be a very interesting experiment to do a post on, say, useful cooking tips, and work in as many ‘naughty’ words as possible. Now, I realize that this is a totally cheap, not to mention utterly shameless, way to drive up blog ‘traffic’, but it might provide an interesting subject for a post a few months down the road…

By the way, my introductory picture is reproduced with kind permission of Jess over at Naked Vegan Cooking (yes, such a site exists). I very much hope that the picture hasn’t caused any of more sensitive readers to immediately cancel their subscriptions and I should say, before going on, that if naughty words and pictures aren’t your cup of tea, you may wish not to read on… Continue reading “Naughty Cooking Tips”

Posted in Book

Review: The Chinese Kitchen

By Deh –Ta Hsiung

Publisher:St. Martin’s Press;
Publication Date:2000
ISBN-10: 0312246994
ISBN-13: 978-0312246990

Although this book does contain a good number of recipes, it is not a cookery book, as such; rather it is nice little introductory reference to many of the ingredients used in Chinese cuisine. At one time, I used to own two other books by the same author, Chinese Cookery Secrets and Chinese Cooking Made Easy,  but both were so mediocre that I eventually gave them away during a cull of my library. This one, however, is a definite keeper. Continue reading “Review: The Chinese Kitchen”

Posted in Book

Review: How to Cook and Eat in Chinese

By Buwei Yang Chow

 ISBN-10: 394717031
ISBN-13: 978-0394717036
Publisher:  Vintage Books
Publication Date: 1972
Note: First Edition published in 1945

This book was written during the Second World War and is thus, I believe, the oldest in my Chinese cookery book collection. The author, Buwei Yang Chow, was a medical doctor who studied medicine in Japan and, after a brief return to her native country, came to the United States before the Communist takeover. She developed a serious interest in cookery and, at the insistence of a friend, wrote this classic little book. Her husband helped her in this endeavor and, as noted in the Foreword, the pair of them are to be credited with coining the term ‘stir-frying’. This alone marks the book as something of a collector’s item as does the fact that the preface was written by Pearl S. Buck, Nobel Prize winner and author of  ‘The Good Earth’. Continue reading “Review: How to Cook and Eat in Chinese”

Posted in Book

Review: Land of Plenty (Sichuan Cookery)

by Fuschia Dunlop

ISBN-13: 978-0393051773
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: 2003
NOTE: First published in Britain by Penguin books under the name ‘Sichuan Cookery’.

Fuschia Dunlop is a chef and food writer who also publishes a blog I follow regularly and which is listed in my blog-roll. During a trip to China in 1992, Ms. Dunlop became fascinated with the language and food and subsequently enrolled at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine in Chengdu where she mastered the complex science and art of Sichuan cookery. Indeed, she was, I gather, the first westerner to complete the program. This book, the first of three she has written to date, is a very in-depth look at the cuisine of that province and it has won her both awards and justifiably favourable reviews from critics around the world. Continue reading “Review: Land of Plenty (Sichuan Cookery)”