Spending time in airports lately, I have been thinking back to our trip to Japan. After an hour waiting for a plane, the thoughts invariably go to the ramen we had. One of things that has been eating away at me is how the use of aroma oil, whether is be the black and bitter māyu or the light scallion oil, most places we visited had house oil which along with the tare would create bowls unique to their makers. The oil also works to keep the bowl near a boil. Continue reading
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
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.
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
The weeks following our return from Japan proved to be a somewhat rocky re-entry. First, it reminded me how life does not wait when you are away, but rather piles up like the newspapers on your front step. Second, our jet lag combined with our girls’ new middle of the night loneliness made days next to impossible. Finally, after a week of eating better than maybe any other week of my life, what were our options when we got home? (I guess make everything out of koji.)
After the shio koji finished fermenting, I had a few ideas on how to use it. The initial idea was sausages. I was going around and around trying to find a way to make a sausage with enough simplicity to taste the shio koji which still being interesting enough to want to eat. After filtering through ideas, this sausage was based in the skewered chicken eaten while in Japan. Continue reading
I am a sucker for the milky, porky tonkotsu ramen broth which is super-charged with porcine collagen. It is one of the few opportunities one gets to drink gravy without being scapegoated, and let’s be honest tonkotsu broth and gravy are not terribly different when either are done well. You could understand my surprise when, upon trying both tonkotsu and shoyu ramen at a new local shop, I favored the shoyu. Had I overlooked shoyu ramen just because it was not the John Bonham of broths that tonkotsu is? Continue reading
It is the time of year where I remind myself by reminding you how this is not a recipe blog. The most noteworthy thing about our dinners is how positively uninteresting they are. Protein, green vegetable, non-green vegetable, and pickles/condiments. This year, the annual reminder that I am not an interesting recipe provider comes after tinkering with our weekly roasted chicken.
Time after time, I noticed the copious schmaltz at the bottom of our cast iron pan after roasting the chicken and wondered how to best keep the fat with the chicken. It is incredibly tasty but, while it is useful when reserved and reused, why not use it to make the bird better, so I stuffed absorbent pumpernickel crumbs under the skin. Continue reading
Most parents I know talk about their kids (at least a little – maybe a little too much at times, amirite?) and, when their kids are not around, they talk about their favorite moments which may be embarrassing or offbeat. I love being a parent – it is my favorite role – and I take pleasure in seeing my girls have their own kind of fun, but it is particularly special when we find a common bit of fun. Continue reading
After tasting the sunflower seed risotto made by Alex Talbot of Ideas in Food this summer here in Chicago, I said to my lovely wife, “I am going to go home and order a pressure cooker immediately.” In the heat of the moment, it sounded like a great idea, but like some of those, it was lost by the wayside. A pressure cooker did, if fact, make it onto my wish list and I received one over the holidays. Continue reading