By now, many people who have at least a half dozen bookmarks devoted to food websites on their browser are at least casually aware of David Chang and his Lucky Peach quarterly magazine. Recently, Lucky Peach added an online presence leading with a nice feature on the regional ramen which was featured in Issue 1, but has been otherwise unavailable. I have been tinkering with ramen throughout the winter, but I had just traded emails with one of my favorite stateside ramen cooks when I read the bit on tsukemen in the regional ramen piece. Continue reading
After experimenting by making stock from a smoked lamb’s head and bones in the style of ramen, I found it to be too lamby and really, really rich – far richer than typical tonkotsu. Trying to save it, I thought adding heat might balance the stock, so I looked to make a chili oil. Wanting to stay in the same lane as I stock, I looked to Japan and the chili oil, rāyu. After looking deeper, I found a slight variation. This is the “chunky peanut butter” version of chili oil. Continue reading
In the wise words of Jennifer McLagan, rillons are “a big brother of rillettes and less work.” Knowing the wise words from her blog would likely be detailed in one of her great cookbooks, I went to my kitchen cookbook cabinet and guessed it would be in “Fat“, I had guessed wrong. The recipe for rillons was in “Odd Bits“. One of the only ways to describe Jennifer’s books is with paradox. Her books are simultaneously approachable and adventurous – albums of hits and deep cuts – and Odd Bits was right along those lines. It doesn’t EPCOT-ify offal or off cuts. Continue reading
Paging through one of the most beautiful cookbooks I have seen, I came to a version of my takeout Indian dish of choice. The photo in the book was inspiringly beautiful, especially compared to the ruddy, red stew served in a pint deli container with a paper takeout box of rice I receive. As I looked down the recipe, it looked familiar. Meat, lamb in this case, stewed in chilis, spices and vinegar. With the exception of the lamb, this looked a lot like chorizo to me only from across a giant sea. Continue reading
Over much of the fall and early winter, I’ve been working on building a cold smoker made from a bullet smoker, chimney pipe and cinder blocks. I am 90% there and the smoker is fully functional. The first step was testing the dosage of smoke provided by the new smoker. I started with something I wanted lightly smoked, chicken livers, and something I wanted heavily smoked, some extra sharp cheddar cheese.
As my sister and I sat at dinner at Ardent in Milwukee (its fantastic, go now) the weekend before Thanksgiving, we discussed our family holiday. Each year, we plan a relatively gluttonous dinner – Italian sausage cook-offs, barbecue, that type of thing. This year we talked about turducken. We talked about that as a possibility, execution-wise, but not a possibility on the side of consumption. We can eat, but a whole turducken is madness for a group our size. Continue reading
The hardest parts of making turducken (and the reason they are so spectacular) are not even present in this taré. That is not lost on me. Taré is typically roasted chicken-infused soy sauce/mirin/sake cocktail and can be found seasoning ramen or coating yakitori in the final moments of cooking. David Chang refers to it as “kind of like BBQ sauce”. Turducken is a bird, deboned stuffed with cornbread/crayfish stuffing, then stuffed in another deboned bird and repeated inside another deboned bird. This wonderful monstrosity is then roasted and sliced. This is not that. Continue reading
It was damned cold outside, I was home alone for a weekend and with giant cans of bodega hominy staring me in the face, I was ready for an afternoon cooking pozole. Looking for something new, I paged through Diana Kennedy’s “The Art of Mexican Cooking’ I found a recipe for Pozole Verde and I glommed onto it. I modified it to my tastes and what I had on time. Even as I modified the recipe by adding some smoked turkey parts, the final results could not have been different from what I expected.
Odd ramen needs more spotlight like I need another hole in the head. Around Chicago where a year ago ramen was nowhere, crafty ramen is hard to avoid. For a guy with quarts of frozen ramen broth in my chest freezer, I need to find other uses.
I had accidentally made roasted squash/shoyu ramen soup, which was pretty delicious with a beguiling flavor when all you expect is squash with maybe a little curry. With a couple turkey legs, I wondered if you could take a specific soup, a heavily seasoned, bone broth like tonkotsu with enough gelatin to outwiggle even the most lurid canned cranberry sauce, and use it as a braising medium. Hell, you can do it with stock, beer, wine, or tomatoes, so why not ramen? I used pho to braise beef years ago. And why not others like chili? Continue reading
Much of my dwindling free time is spent looking for the long cut. It is easy to buy mustard seeds. It is easy to buy vinegar. Growing huge and beautiful mustard plants, letting them go to seed, drying the pods and harvesting the seeds. That is interesting to me. Taking a soda and souring it into vinegar. That is interesting to me. With that information, it should not be a surprise how, when I looked in the pantry to find some home harvested mustard seeds and then in the fridge to see 4 bottles of Cheerwine vinegar, I decided to use them together and make mustard. Continue reading