Categories
New York reviews

wd~50

WD50

Our New York trip started with a bang at wd~50, Chef Wylie Dufresne’s Lower East Side playground of science and food. Dufresne’s reputation as the mad scientist of American cuisine is well deserved, but what matters at the end of the day is the food, and wd~50’s tasting menu, despite one small unexpected bump, simply rocked.

The meal started with basket of super-addictive, paper-thin sesame flatbread that was great sans any adornments.

Sesame FlatbreadSesame Flatbread

Our first course was the Cobia with mustard seed, mung bean and cucumber. This is probably the first time I’ve eaten a mung bean that wasn’t in mungo, a Filipino mung bean stew. This was a nice light way to start off the meal.

CobiaCobia

The next course was a take on the classic Everything Bagel, except in this dish, the bagel is actually ice cream made with everything bagels and is served with smoked salmon threads, pickled red onions and piece of crispy cream cheese. To understand the origins of this dish, watch Dufresne break it down at Metromix.com.

Everything BagelEverything Bagel

The third course was Foie Gras, a terrine of foie gras filled with passion fruit puree served with Chinese celery. This was the only real disappointment of the night. No one at our table enjoyed the combination of passion fruit and foie gras. As separate entities, they were fine, but if chocolate and peanut butter exemplifies “two great tastes that taste great together,” then this was the exact opposite.

Foie GrasFoie Gras

The Scrambled Egg Ravioli was next and served with charred avocado, kindai kampachi and fried little bits of potato. Breaking open the egg “ravioli” cube reveals a perfect, steamy, slightly runny scrambled egg, and combining all of these elements in one bite was a great combination of flavors and textures.

Scrambled Egg RavioliScrambled Egg Ravioli

The table was split on the next course, Cold Fried Chicken with buttermilk ricotta, tabasco and caviar. My friend Teresa didn’t like the fried chicken because she thought the texture resembled processed meat, and I think she would have preferred it if it chicken was warm. She did agree with us on the other elements of the dish, especially the awesome Tabasco honey, which tied it all together.

Cold Fried ChickenCold Fried Chicken

If there was one perfect dish of the evening, it was the Eggs Benedict. It’s not on the tasting menu, but we added it as a supplemental course. English muffin-crusted cubes are filled with an incredibly smooth and delicious Hollandaise sauce and fried. When you cut open the cubes, the Hollandaise spreads all over the plate. They were served with paper-thin Canadian Bacon strips and poached egg yolks. This was easily the best course of the night.

Eggs Benedict (supplemental course)Eggs Benedict

The next dish was the beautifully plated Perch with kohirabi, “dirty grape” and cocoa nibs. This wasn’t the most memorable dish, but I remember the fish being perfectly cooked and pairing nicely with the grapes and coco nibs.

PerchPerch

The thinly pounded duck leg with popcorn pudding, kalamansi, and lovage resembled a tuna dish we had a couple days later at Le Bernardin. I always love seeing kalamansi represented at high-end restaurants, but the popcorn pudding was the talk of the table. Its flavor was weird but familiar, almost like the buttered-popcorn flavored Jelly Belly the first time you tasted it.

Duck LegDuck Leg

The last savory course was the Lamb Loin, a perfect piece of seared meat served with a black garlic romesco, pickled ramps, and dried soybeans. The lamb and romesco were great together, especially if you got bit of seared fat in the bite.

Lamb LoinLamb Loin

The first dessert course was vanilla ice cream filled with aged balsamic vinegar reduction and coated with raspberry streusel. Aside from being really pretty, the marriage of vanilla ice cream and the sweet balsalmic was really nice while the streusel added a little texture.

Vanilla Ice CreamVanilla Ice Cream

The chocolate hazelnut tart was perfect and our favorite dessert of the night. It was topped with a little salt and served with a chicory foam some coconut powder.

Hazelnut TartChocolate Hazelnut Tart

The last dessert was the caramelized brioche with apricot, buttercream and lemon-thyme sorbet. The brioche and the buttercream were really good, but I wasn’t really into the lemon-thyme sorbet. I also don’t think basil should be an ice cream or sorbet flavor so that might explain it.

Caramelized BriocheCaramelized Brioche

The meal doesn’t really end until you get the chocolate shortbread and cocoa packets. The shortbread was really the coating for a small piece of milk ice cream and was kind of like an Oreo bonbon. The cocoa packets look like ketchup packets, but they’re edible and filled with cocoa. I think the coolness factor outweighs the flavor factor with the packets, which was enough for me since we were all really full at the point.

Cocoa Packets and Chocolate ShortbreadChocolate Shortbread and Cocoa Packets

We took a little tour of the kitchen after dinner, and they were in the process of cleaning up for the night. Teresa was so full that she had this strange look on her face and Dufresne asked her if she was “in pain” (she was, but in a good way). The coolest part of the kitchen was what I dubbed the “Wall of Magic.” If you look carefully on the top shelf, you’ll see a bottle of Sriracha up there, along with other interesting things. :)

The Wall of MagicThe Wall of Magic

Of course, no kitchen should be without a disco ball…

Every Kitchen Needs a Disco BallThe Disco Ball

…and say goodbye to the Wylie Care Bear on your way out.

The Wiley Care BearThe Wiley Care Bear

The cool thing about wd~50 is that unless they have other engagements, both Dufresne and head pastry chef Alex Stupak are working the line every night. This is the best way for chefs to ensure that their culinary vision is presented accurately, and it comes through loud and clear at wd~50. There are plenty of oddities on the wd~50 tasting menu, and it’s easy to see how their food might not be for everyone. For the most part, we had a lot of fun both eating and enjoying these dishes.

INFORMATION
wd~50
50 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002 map
212.477.2900
Web site

Categories
barbecue beef Korean recipes street food

Korean BBQ Tacos

Kalbi Tacos v2.0
Kalbi Taco (actual size at 1440×900 MacBook Pro resolution)

Korean BBQ tacos have been a street food phenomenon since LA’s Kogi BBQ trucks started drawing hundreds of hungry Angelenos to street corners around Southern California. Kogi’s popularity spawned a blatant knock-off, inspired others to start their own mobile food ventures, and compelled other Korean establishments to add Korean tacos to their menus, such as SF’s Seoul on Wheels, Namu, and John’s Snack and Deli, and NY’s Seoul Station). For food bloggers, creating our own version of the dish we don’t have easy access to becomes a fun little project.

Seoul on Wheels - Korean Tacos
Seoul on Wheels’ Korean tacos at Oakland’s Eat Real Fest 2009.

I set out trying to emulate the famous Kogi taco, and this led me in several directions. I focused specifically on kalbi tacos since I’ve always been a big fan of grilled Korean short ribs. In the past, I’ve relied on jarred marinades, but this time I wanted to make one from scratch. I put out a call for recipes on both Twitter and Facebook, and my friend Kevyn came through with an excellent kalbi marinade. Feel free to use your favorite kalbi recipe if you have one.

The question of corn v. flour tortillas doesn’t exist here because tacos should ALWAYS be on corn tortillas, but tortilla size is an important issue. I used 4-inch tortillas because it makes the tacos easy to pick up and eat one handed. However, the smallest tortilla that is carried by most mainstream American supermarkets is 6 inches in diameter, which I generally find too big and unwieldy for taqueria-style or street tacos. If you have Mexican market nearby, 4-inch tortillas shouldn’t be hard to find.

Figuring out the rest of the taco required a lot more research. I started at SteamyKitchen.com and Jaden’s recipe for Korean-style Kogi Tacos, which includes a BBQ sauce recipe developed for her by Kogi Chef Roy Choi. The Kogi BBQ sauce is intended to go with pork or chicken, but I think it works really well to balance out the rest of flavors in the taco. Tasty Eats at Home did her own version of Korean tacos, and I used her cilantro-red onion relish for this recipe. I like the color and flavor that the red onion provides over brown or yellow onions. The last major topping is napa cabbage/romaine slaw dressed with a chili-soy vinaigrette that I lifted from the New York Times.

I ended up making the tacos based on the recipe that follows three times, and by the third time, we pretty much had all the logistics down. I also made some other Korean taco variations a few days ago, and you can see those at the end of the post.

INGREDIENTS AND RECIPES
4-5 pounds of flanken-style short ribs
4-inch corn tortillas, 1 bag (at least 40)

Kalbi Marinade
adapted from a recipe by Kevyn Miyata
(for 4-5 lbs of short ribs)

1½ cups soy sauce
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
¼ cup sesame oil
8-10 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed
6 large green onions, roughly chopped
1 Asian or Korean Pear (½ roughly chopped, ½ sliced then mashed by hand)
Toasted sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients except meat in a bowl and mix well. In a one gallon ZipLoc bag, combine meat and marinade. Let sit for 24-36 hours, flipping over the bag every 12 hours or so to ensure the marinade is distributed evenly.

Kogi BBQ Sauce
adapted from Steamy Kitchen
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp gochujang (Korean fermented hot pepper paste)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
Sriracha to taste (optional)

Whisk together all the ingredients. If desired, add Sriracha a few drops at a time to the sauce until it’s hot enough for ya. :) If you have one, put sauce in a squeeze bottle to make taco assembly more efficient.

Cilantro-Onion Relish
adapted from Tasty Eats at Home
½ red onion, minced
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch or two of salt

Add onions and rice wine vinegar in a bowl. Allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Add rest of ingredients to onions and stir to combine.

Napa/Romaine Slaw with Chili-Soy Vinaigrette
dressing recipe from The New York Times
2 cups Napa cabbage, shredded
4 cups Romaine lettuce, shredded
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 small jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger

Whisk together the soy, vinegar, garlic, jalapenos and ginger and set aside. Combine Napa and Romaine in a bowl until mixed well. You should have a nice green/white color contrast. For best results, divide slaw into batches and dress each batch as needed so that the greens don’t get soggy.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Grill short ribs about a minute per side on a really hot grill.
    Grilling Kalbi
  2. Separate the kalbi meat from the bones and gristle. Cut the meat it into strips lengthwise, then turn 90-degrees and dicing the meat into a “brunoise” of kalbi, if you will. :) If you like the gristle, I’d separate that from the bones and dice it up too. Set the meat aside in a bowl until there’s enough meat to start making tacos en masse.
    Kalbi "brunoise" :P
    Kalbi “brunoise”

    OPTION: After all the meat is diced up, you can either use it straight away or refry it to caramelize the meat so that each piece has a little crunch to it. This extra step is also good if you’re going to use the gristle since it lets it break down a lot more. I’ve done it both ways, and the extra caramelization is really nice.

  3. Heat a lightly oiled cast iron skillet over medium heat. Toast tortillas 30-45 seconds on each side and set aside. Working with a partner or two in an assembly line works great here so tacos can be made right after toasting.
  4. Start assembling the tacos by putting a little meat in the tortilla, then top with a bit of the cilantro-red onion relish, a little slaw, a little more cilantro-onion relish, and then drizzle a little BBQ sauce to finish. We eyeballed all of these amounts, but don’t overstuff the taco or else it will too hard to pick up and eat. You can arrange about eight tacos per plate.
    Kalbi Tacos

VARIATIONS

  • Replace the cilantro-onion relish with a pickled radish/carrot salad (known colloquially as “mu,” if anyone knows what this is actually called in Korean, I’d love to know.) This was my second-favorite version of the taco that we made.
    Bulgogi Tacos 2.0
  • To go even more Korean, I stole an idea from my friend Euge and blended up a jar of kimchi to make a Korean salsa that replaced the Kogi BBQ sauce. I’m not a big kimchi eater, but I liked this a lot. If you like kimchi, this is a great alternative.
    Bulgogi Taco

I’m not sure how many tacos this actually makes because we’ve never had to use all the meat for tacos, and it’s never a bad thing to have extra kalbi around. :) I do know that you can get at least 40 tacos out of 4-5 pounds of meat. You can easily scale this recipe down for your own needs, but I was cooking for parties and needed a lot of food.

Categories
French reviews Southern California

Ludo Bites at BreadBar

Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s pop-up restaurant experience known as Ludo Bites ends its run at BreadBar tonight. If it weren’t for some prior obligations, we would have been in LA this weekend for one last meal. (We actually had reservations this weekend but had to cancel when I was reminded of a prior engagement.) We only went to Ludo Bites once, but the meal was so good that we became instant Ludo fans and can’t wait to see where he sets up shop again.

Menu

Ludo’s food may be rooted in French tradition, but everything on the menu is playful and inventive. Of course, this means you might not like every dish, but you still come away respecting what Ludo was trying to accomplish.

We started with a Porcini Veloute that featured porcini ice cream, egg, crispy sage, tobacco powder. My wife wanted this one because she loves mushrooms, while I’m just starting to get over my disdain for them. The combination of the veloute, ice cream and egg made for luscious and rich starter, but I still found it a little too mushroomy for me. My wife loved it and probably would have finished it, but she couldn’t get past the flavor of the tobacco powder.

Porcini VeloutePorcini Veloute

Next up was the Foie Gras Black Croque Monsieur, a play on a traditional croque monsieur that uses squid ink bread and adds a piece of foie gras to the mix. I’ll let the picture speak for itself. :)

Foie Gras Black Croque MonsieurFoie Gras Black Croque Monsieur

The Creamy Polenta and Oxtail might be one of my favorite dishes of the year. It’s such a simple dish and doesn’t look like much when it’s brought to the table, but after the first bite, we were hooked. The polenta, with Cantal cheese and bits of black truffle, was great on its own, but it’s the oxtail that brings the dish home. This isn’t the most appetizing picture, but it still makes me yearn for the dish.

Creamy Polenta and OxtailCreamy Polenta and Oxtail

Another one of the evening’s highlights was the Pork Belly with Frisee and Mustard Ice Cream. That’s right…mustard ice cream. Basically, the savory mustard ice cream was just a frozen dressing for the frisee, so while waiting for that to melt a bit, we worked on a perfect piece of glazed pork belly.

Pork Belly with Frisee and Mustard Ice CreamPork Belly with Frisee and Mustard Ice Cream

If you saw Fried Chicken in Duck Fat on menu, you would order it right? I knew you would. It was accompanied by some perfect roasted fingerling potatoes, tapenade and are really good red pepper ketchup.

Fried Chicken in Duck FatFried Chicken in Duck Fat

At this point, both of us were pretty full, but dessert was on the horizon, so we buckled down. Our first dessert was the Chocolate Cupcake, but this was no ordinary cupcake, featuring candied bacon-almonds, maple syrup, and a foie gras chantilly frosting. If foie gras frosting sounds intimidating, it is. We ate around it for the most part because it was way too rich and savory for our taste. The rest of the cupcake was really good.

Chocolate CupcakeChocolate Cupcake

Our second dessert was the Vanilla Panna Cotta, another challenging but ultimately successful dish. It was served on a pool of caramel and topped with caviar, which may seem odd, but when its briny saltiness was combined with the caramel and the panna cotta, it works perfectly.

Vanilla Panna CottaVanilla Panna Cotta

The last dessert, Strawberry Cream Pop Rocks, intrigued me when Ludo first mentioned it on Twitter (follow him @ChefLudo). It was simple concoction of with strawberries, whipped cream and that old childhood favorite, Pop Rocks. We were so full that we weren’t going to order it, but Ludo’s wife Krissy brought some out for us, since I had expressed so much interest in it already. It was the perfect way to close our meal.

Strawberry Cream Pop RocksStrawberry Cream Pop Rocks

Most of you probably know Ludo as the intense, cocky, foul-mouthed French chef on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters who lost to the show’s eventual winner Rick Bayless. But in person, Ludo is a really cool guy who loves cooking. We had a nice discussion about food and blogging, and I found out that Ludo loves Korean food when I told him about the Korean BBQ tacos I was making the next day. (It’s my next post…I swear).

Both Ludo and Krissy take the time to greet all of their guests and make sure they’re enjoying themselves, and overall, Ludo Bites was just a fun place to eat. Ludo told me that he worked in fine dining most of his career and after the Ludo Bites experience, he never wants to work in a fine dining environment again. I think this suits his personality, his food, and the City of Los Angeles, just fine, and I can’t wait to see where Ludo pops up next.

Categories
beef recipes sandwiches

The Pastrami Project

Short Rib PastramiPastrami made with a short rib slab. (second attempt)

Pastrami is one of my favorite things to eat in the whole world, but it never occurred to me that I could actually make it myself until I read Asian Jewish Deli’s Pastrami Reuben post. What caught my attention was that AJD used a slab of short ribs instead of the more traditional brisket or beef plate that is used to make pastrami, and short ribs are my favorite part of the cow.

Pastrami (brisket)Pastrami made with brisket.

A couple months later, I was reading through Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio and in the chapter on brines, I saw a recipe for corned beef with an additional pastrami variation. I decided I would give that version a shot, especially since the dutch oven bread I made previously from Ratio turned out to really well. Ruhlman recently posted his version of short rib pastrami using regular boneless short ribs, but I kinda took the wind out of his sails a bit when I mentioned AJD’s version to him on Twitter a couple days before it went online.

Pastrami (short rib)
Short rib pastrami made with a standard cut of boneless short ribs. (first attempt)

The pastrami-making process is broken down into three steps: curing, smoking, and steaming. Curing is basically how you make corned beef. When you smoke and steam corned beef, you get pastrami. In fact, if you bought a prepackaged corned beef at the market, you could easily make this into pastrami, but I’d bet that doing it yourself will yield a better result.

Curing takes four days and is usually done with a wet cure, i.e. brine. Ruhlman prefers brining, especially for larger cuts of meat like a brisket. I also saw some examples on other Web sites where a dry cure didn’t penetrate all the way to the middle of the meat, so I decided to stick with a brine. After brining, the meat is rinsed, dried and then coated on all sides with a ground pepper/coriander rub before it is smoked and steamed.

Pastrami (brisket) sandwichBrisket pastrami sandwich (first attempt).

The first pastrami I made used a brisket point, and it was good, but not as salty as I expected it to be. I also had a couple pieces of boneless short ribs that I threw on the brine, and those smaller pieces of meat were closer to the flavor I was looking for. Upon reviewing the recipe in Ratio, I found a typo in the recipe that affected the ratio of water to salt. I guess I could have figured out the math since tere is a specific ratio for brines, but math was never my strong suit. ;-) I mentioned the discrepancy and verified the correct ratio with Ruhlman via Twitter and proceeded to make a second pastrami a couple weeks later.

Since my goal at the outset was to make short rib pastrami, I set out to find some a slab of short ribs for the second attempt. I found one at Baron’s Meats in Alameda, but if you can’t get your hands on one, you can simply use boneless short ribs since these are easy to find at your market or butcher. Also, since boneless short ribs are smaller, they’re much easier to handle than a short rib slab or an unwieldy brisket.

PASTRAMI RECIPE
adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio
This version of the recipe corrects the typo in the first edition of Ratio and converts the corned beef recipe into dedicated pastrami variation.

INGREDIENTS
1 4-5 pound brisket, short rib slab, or boneless short ribs.

Brine
2 liters water (half gallon)
25 grams of pink curing salt* (1 ounce or 5 teaspoons)
50 grams sugar (1¼ ounces or scant ¼ cup)
100 grams kosher salt
10 cloves garlic, flattened with the flat side of a knife
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon whole allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick, crushed or broken into pieces
3 bay leaves, crumbled
1 teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon ground ginger

* The key to preserving pastrami’s familiar red color is using pink curing salt (i.e. sodium nitrite). You can order it online at butcher-packer.com. You can omit it, but the pastrami will be brownish gray instead of red.

Dry Rub
Equal parts ground pepper and ground coriander, preferably freshly ground (enough to cover the meat)

DIRECTIONS
In a pot large enough to hold the entire piece of meat, combine all the brine ingredients in a large pot. Simmer and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before refrigerating. When the brine is completely chilled, place the meat in the pot. Use a plate to keep the meat submerged, if necessary. Refrigerate for four days.

Remove the meat from the brine and rinse well. Dry the meat and then cover completely it in the pepper/coriander rub. Smoke the meat until the internal temperature of the meat is 165F. This will take a couple hours or so. After smoking, steam the meat for a couple more hours until tender.

If you’re eating the pastrami right away, you can remove it from the steamer and start slicing it up. If you’re not serving the pastrami right away, you can let it cool and then wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate it. Cooling the pastrami also makes it easier to slice thinly if that’s how you like it. Whether you keep it whole or slice it up, steam the pastrami for 5-10 minutes to warm the meat and give it a bit more moisture before serving.

I normally prefer a traditional New York-style sandwich of pastrami on rye bread with brown deli mustard or a pastrami reuben with melted and sauerkraut (as pictured above).

Beef Pastrami on Foodista

Categories
Northern California pork

The Porky Delights of PigEat Fest 2009

Pigtail!

Last Saturday, I attended the fundraiser known as PigEat Fest at San Fransisco’s Lake Merced. Benefiting the SF Food Bank, PigEat Fest is the brainchild of my friend Euge and is the fourth fundraiser he’s organized for the SF Food Bank over the years. Every dollar raised equals $9 worth of food, and PigEat Fest raised more than $2,500 ($24,500 in food). In total, Euge’s fundraisers have raised $11,500 for a whopping $103,500 of food. Good job, Euge!

*drool**DROOL*

Of course, the stars of the day were two Clark Summit Farm pigs that were alive two days before the event, so they were extremely fresh. They were cooked in La Caja Chinas by AJ, who had previous experience roasting pigs in the Chinese boxes, including a stint in the kitchen at Ad Hoc for their Swine & Wine dinner in March. You’re in good hands when AJ is in charge.

The pigs took around five hours to cook and were definitely worth the wait. I’ll just let the pictures roll by now. :)

Open-face PigWhen we arrived at around 12noon, the pigs were well on their way.
Scored Skin (before)When the pig reaches temperature, it’s flipped over and the skin is scored.
Scored Skin (after)Look how pretty the pig is when the skin crisps up.
A little piece of brain...Brains…
The Bootyand booty!
Puffy EarsThe puffy ears were prized delicacies.
Beautiful SkinGimme that skin!

The pigs were served with three delicious sauces, all courtesy of AJ: a mojo made from the roasted pig’s juices, a rich Filipino lechon sauce, and a North Carolina-style vinegar sauce. One pig was more than enough to feed the approximately 100 people in attendance, which meant that many of us took some of the second pig home with us. A lot of us, myself included, hovered around the table like vultures as the smaller more delectable pieces of meat (i.e. cheeks) and crispy pig skin were made available to us. (I should note that there was plenty of other food available since attendees were encouraged to bring food and drink to share with the group.)

To say that PigEat Fest was a success for both the eaters present and the SF Food Bank is a mild understatement. Can’t wait to do it again soon!

Categories
beef Filipino recipes

Making Tapa with Dad

Ready to broil...

Tapa is Filipino cured beef that is similar to beef jerky, and when I was home last weekend, my dad was raving about the homemade tapa he started making recently. He was eager to show me how it’s done, so I pulled out my camera and followed him step by step.

  1. Dad uses three pounds of thinly sliced sirloin tip steaks that he gets at the local Mexican supermarket and cuts it into equal-sized strips with scissors.
  2. Cut into Strips
  3. Next, he marinates it for 10 hours in a basic mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and sugar.

    Tapa Marinade
    ½ cup soy sauce
    ½ cup vinegar
    6-8 garlic cloves, chopped
    1 Tbsp. sugar

  4. Marinated for around 10 hours
  5. After marinating, the meat gets layered in a food dehydrator that will run for 12 hours. A dehydrator simplifies the process of making tapa, but if you don’t have one, you can always use Alton Brown’s box fan method, which Burnt Lumpia did when he made his tapa. I don’t have a dehydrator, but I do have a box fan, so I’m going to use this method next time.
    Dehydrate for 12 hours
  6. After 12 hours, the tapa looks like this…
  7. All dried out...If Lisa Lisa saw this, she’d say it was “all dried out.”
  8. My dad is insistent on broiling the tapa for two minutes a side because I think he’s averse to frying in general, but frying the tapa in a little oil is a great way to finish it off before serving. One of the most popular ways to enjoy it is for breakfast in tapsilog (tapa, garlic fried rice (sinangag) and eggs (itlog)), which is how I like to eat it.
  9. Homemade TapsilogTapsilog with Dad’s Homemade Tapa.

Last weekend I was home attending my high school reunion, so I’m not going to be home for Father’s Day this year. When I was a kid, it was my dad’s garlic fried rice that woke me up on Sunday mornings, and when I was out on my own, trying to replicate that simple dish was one of the reasons I started cooking. My mom had a stroke five years ago, and dad has been responsible for taking care of her—cooking all the meals, making sure she’s exercising and doing her therapy, and more importantly, keeping her smiling and laughing.

So this post is for you, dad. Happy Father’s Day, and I can’t wait to hear more of your culinary secrets.

Categories
Ad Hoc Foodbuzz fried chicken reviews Thomas Keller waffles

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Fried Chicken and Waffles

When the prospect of participating in Foodbuzz’s monthly 24, 24, 24 arose again a couple weeks ago, the first thing that popped into my head was throwing a chicken and waffles party. Fried chicken and waffles is one of my favorite meals in the whole world, and being from Southern California, I was first introduced to this combination at the world-famous Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Hollywood. Personally, I think Roscoe’s waffles are much better than their chicken, and the real secret to Roscoe’s greatness is in their amazing syrup.

thigh and waffleRoscoe’s Chicken and Waffles

When I moved up to the San Francisco Bay Area 10 years ago, it was hard to find a decent substitute, and the Roscoe’s that was in Oakland at the time was a substandard knock off of the L.A. original. Over the last few years, chicken and waffle options in the Bay Area have improved, especially when the Home of Chicken and Waffles, which was originally slated to be an official Roscoe’s franchise before the owners decided to do their own thing, opened a few years ago in Oakland’s Jack London Square. It still isn’t Roscoe’s, but it satisfies the craving.

A classic combinationHome of Chicken and Waffles

The most decadent versions of chicken and waffles I’ve had have been at Sunday brunches at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville. Ad Hoc’s fried chicken is so popular that it has developed a cult following and is the featured entree at the restaurant on alternating Mondays. The recipe was first published in Food and Wine magazine a couple years ago and my post about making the fried chicken is one of the most visited pages on this site.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken and WafflesAd Hoc Fried Chicken and Waffles

On a recent trip to Williams Sonoma, I stumbled upon a display featuring the Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit, a recent expansion of Thomas Keller’s exclusive line of products for the retail chain…

Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit

…that also includes the Bouchon Bakery line of products.

Bouchon Waffles

When I saw the Bouchon Bakery Yeasted Waffle mix, I decided that this 24, 24, 24 event was going to turn into a throwdown: the Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit v. Ad Hoc fried chicken from scratch and the Bouchon Bakery Yeasted Waffles mix v. the Best (and Easiest) Yeasted Waffle by Sheryl at Crispy Waffle.

I met Sheryl on Twitter after she started following me, and her blog immediately got my attention because I had been looking for a good waffle recipe since inheriting a Krups Belgian Waffle Maker last year from a friend. Her “Easiest, Crispiest, Yeasted Waffle” recipe really lived up to its name and it’s the recipe I always turn to when I get a waffle craving. (See my Crispy Waffle post from March.)

Chicken Showdown
I deviated from both recipes instructions by cooking the chicken sous vide before dredging and frying. I do this because I’m paranoid about undercooking chicken, and cooking it sous vide for an hour at around 140F/60C ensures that the chicken is cooked and helps keep it juicy. This allows me to focus solely on the color of the fried chicken when it’s frying in the oil.

Water bathVacuum sealed chicken taking an hour-long, 141F/61C(ish) “bath”
Post-Sous Vide chickenIt doesn’t look that appetizing fresh out of the water bath, but after dredging and frying, it’s heaven.

On the surface, both batches of fried chicken I made looked identical, but on flavor, the scratch recipe beat the kit by a mile. The main difference between the scratch recipe and the kit is in the brine. The scratch recipe’s brine calls for fresh herbs and spices, honey and lemons, and these flavors really come through in the final product.

Fried ChickenThe “scratch” batch of fried chicken.

The fried chicken kit relies on a brine packet of dried spices and seasonings instead of fresh, but the most glaring omission was the lack of lemons. As a result, everyone who tried the kit’s fried chicken said it had a strong pepper flavor. I wonder if lemon powder could have made a significant difference, but I think the inclusion of fresh lemon zest and juice into the brining liquid would have been a pretty simple step for most home cooks.

Waffle Throwdown
Although we were dealing with two yeasted waffle recipes, there were a couple differences in how they’re put together. Sheryl’s recipe uses dry instant yeast and calls for a refrigerated overnight rise, while the Bouchon mix uses active dry yeast that is proofed for 10 minutes before mixing the batter and has a rising time of 90 minutes. Sheryl also adds a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract to her batter.

The Bouchon Bakery mix produces waffles that are incredibly light and more delicate than Sheryl’s waffle, which can be good or bad depending on your preferences. Personally, I found them to be a little too airy, but I was still astonished at how light and crispy they were.

Bouchon WaffleBouchon Bakery Waffle

That doesn’t mean Sheryl’s waffle was heavy by an means. It was still light and crispy but had just a little more weight and texture (dare I say gravitas?) than the Bouchon Bakery waffle, as well as a creaminess in the middle that every good Belgian waffle should have.

IMG_0677Sheryl’s Crispy Waffle

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Belgian waffles, preferring the thinner traditional waffles like the ones they serve at Roscoe’s. I even picked up a traditional waffle iron to test out some buttermilk and cornmeal waffle recipes to serve along side the yeasted waffles, but I couldn’t find one that I liked enough to feature alongside the fried chicken. Sourdough waffles are generally served at Ad Hoc, but I didn’t have a sourdough starter on hand (or the time to start one), so I tabled that for another time.

If there’s one thing I learned during my research, it’s that I really like Belgian waffles now, especially the yeasted variety, and I am now in the market for a better Belgian waffle iron, preferably one that flips. I think I’ll save the traditional waffle iron for moffles.

Thanks to Foodbuzz for helping to make this event possible. I had a lot of fun researching and cooking one of my favorite meals for my friends. Plus, we generally have a hard time getting this group of friends to come up to Ad Hoc with us, so this was a way that I could bring a small piece of our favorite restaurant home for them to experience. But most of all, I hope it inspires you to seek out fried chicken and waffles wherever you live, or better yet, make it yourself! :)

Categories
Ad Hoc reviews The French Laundry

Memorial Day Maine Lobster Rolls at Ad Hoc

Yeah, yeah…another Ad Hoc post. I know. I’ve been meaning to write about some of the cooking I’ve been doing, including baking my first brioche or my thoughts on liking traditional waffles more than Belgian waffles, but when Ad Hoc’s daily menu email update arrived in my inbox yesterday morning, the words “Maine Lobster Rolls” jumped out at me.

Maine Lobster RollsThis was the full portion for two people.

Ad Hoc recently started doing barbecue nights on non-fried chicken Mondays, but for Memorial Day, they decided to offer the Maine Lobster Rolls to give dinner more of a picnic vibe. Now, I’ve never had an authentic New England lobster roll, but I think I may have spoiled myself by having this one, which features lobster from the same purveyor that supplies The French Laundry, a custom sweet roll from Bouchon Bakery, shaved celery, red onions and garlic aioli.

Maine Lobster RollsThe sweet, housemade pickles were excellent, too.

The meal started off with fried French Laundry chickpeas that were like fried, salty edamame—an amuse bouche of sorts, but they don’t use words like that at Ad Hoc. :)

French Laundry Fried Chickpeas

The leek salad featured more French Laundry vegetables and some crispy Jamon Iberico, what Bac-O’s aspires to be when it grows up.

TFL Leek Salad with Jamon Iberico

The cheese course featured Rogue Creamery’s aged and creamy Caveman Blue, raspberry-vanilla jam and beer flatbread.

Rogue Creamery's Caveman Blue with raspberry-vanilla jam beer flatbread

The toasted lemon pound cake with chantilly cream and macerated blueberries ended the meal on a surprisingly light note.

Toasted Lemon Pound Cake

I was content to spend Memorial Day chillin’ at home and watching Game 4 of the Lakers/Nuggets Western Conference Finals battle, but since the Lakers ended up playing poorly and losing, I’m glad I spent my time up in Yountville enjoying the sublime comforts of a great meal instead of stressing out at home yelling at the TV.

Categories
bread Korean musings

Inuyaki Gets Mentioned on Smithsonian, LA Times Blogs

It’s been an interesting week at Inuyaki. It started on Tuesday when I noticed an interesting trackback on my previous bread entry that led me to a post written by Amanda Bensen on Smithsonian.com’s Food & Think blog. Ratio-based Bread Baking details Amanda’s varying degrees of success trying to make the basic bread recipe in Michael Ruhlman’s latest book, Ratio. Her second attempt was more successful than the first, and in the last paragraph, she says:

The result? A delicious success (though browner on bottom than top, which I blame on my strange little oven — the Inuyaki blogger got much prettier results)! I feel like doing a cartwheel, but, well, one thing at a time…

I’m always amazed that people read this blog in the first place, but the Smithsonian? That’s too cool. I guess it helps that Amanda and I are beginning bread bakers that were exploring Ruhlman’s new book at around the same time.

Then yesterday, I got a direct message on Twitter from fellow food blogger Burnt Lumpia about the LA Times Tech Blog using my picture of some Kogi BBQ sliders on their Around the Web column for May 18. They found the picture on my Flickr account, where I house most of my food porn, but you can read all about my Kogi BBQ experience, as well.

Kogi Sliders

The picture accompanied a link to an Ad Age article about small businesses that use Twitter to promote themselves, and Kogi is one of the Twitter pioneers for mobile food vendors.

Where will Inuyaki end up next? It’s hard to say, and I’m not expecting a huge surge in traffic to the site because of these sightings. But it’s always nice to be recognized. :)

Categories
bread recipes

Ruhlman’s Basic Bread (Dutch Oven Method)

I’ve avoided working with dough because I’ve had bad luck with it the past, but I think that’s going to change after my success making this basic bread recipe from Michael Ruhlman’s new book “Ratio.”

Cross section

Ruhlman’s Basic Bread Dough recipe is a lean dough, which means there’s no fat it in it, and has a ratio of 5 parts flour to 3 parts water. It can be shaped into almost any type of bread, from a basic boule to a baguette to ciabatta. Once you get the hang of making the basic bread, you can use it as a foundation for tons of other recipes, which Ruhlman also discusses in the book.

Since I’m a bread baking noob, I stuck with the basics, but one variation I wanted to try was Ruhlman’s Dutch oven method. Professional deck ovens use a system that injects steam into the oven to help develop a bread’s crispy crust. A covered Dutch oven replicates this effect by trapping the water vapor that’s released as the bread bakes. After mixing together the dough and letting it rise, I kneaded again to expel gas, shaped it into a boule and let it proof directly in a Dutch oven for an hour. Ruhlman prefers proofing directly in the Dutch oven because “you don’t disturb the structure you’ve created in the final rise and it results in bread with a light, airy crumb.”

Just before scoring and baking

Ruhlman recommends a 5.5-7.5 quart enamel cast iron Dutch oven in the book, but our trusty non-enameled Lodge Dutch oven worked great. Per the book, I left the lid on for the first 30 minutes and then removed it for the final 10 minutes it took to get to temperature (I pulled it when the internal temp was 204F).

Fresh out of the oven...

I probably should have let the bread sit for a while before cutting into it, but I just couldn’t wait. The crust was really crispy and the bread was steaming hot…and it was so good. Here’s a closeup of the crumb:

The Crumb

The next morning, I cut a few more pieces of bread and toasted them for breakfast. I topped them with Chez Pim’s Royal Mandarin and Ceylon Cinnamon marmalade…a great way to start the day.

Toasted with Pim's Royal Mandarin Ceylon Cinnamon marmalade

I must admit that I really didn’t know how to shape a proper boule until after I made this, but I will next time. All things considered, I’m still ecstatic about how my bread turned out and am eager to make more.