31 January 2012

Bo ssäm (pork brûlée)

Okay, so our Momofukubinge has reached its apex. Bo ssäm, baby. We've made this before, but we were inspired by the recent New York Times article to do it again.

Bo ssäm is the Korean equivalent of a pulled pork sandwich. It's got the slow-cooked, fall apart pork. It's got the crispness of the cole slaw (kimchi). It's got the acid bite of a tomato chili sauce (ssäm sauce). The parallels are almost perfect, and the combination of acid, fat and crunch is nearly perfect. Delicious.

We've modified the recipe a bit from Momofuku.
1 whole bone-in picnic ham (8 to 10 pounds)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons brown sugar
Picnic pork

Mix 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of kosher salt. Rub it all over the pork.

Rubbed picnic pork

Put in the fridge overnight. Fire up your smoker, to a nice temperature of 225°F. We smoked for four hours at this temperature, with wet hickory for smoke, then transferred to a 300°F oven for another 3 hours to finish. I'd like to say that was by design, but the snow was falling too fast to keep the temperature in the bbq. vaporizing snow takes a ton of heat out of your bbq.

Smoking in the snow

While baking, prepare your accompaniments:
2 cups plain white rice, cooked
3 heads bibb lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried
1 dozen or more fresh oysters (optional - we skipped this time, but for the last time)
Kimchi (available in Korean markets)
Ginger-scallion sauce
Ssäm sauce
Smoked, baked pork

When done baking, remove the picnic ham from the oven. This final step is what takes this recipe to the next level. We're talking pork brûlée. Caramelized sugar, all over greasy, delicious pork. Wow. Ok, mix the last tablespoon of salt with the brown sugar. Rub all over the hot picnic ham, and heat the oven to 500°F. That's right, you're going to melt sugar onto your pork. Yes. Transfer the pork to a fresh cookie sheet and place in the oven.

Pork brûlée

Okay, so if we'd had a slightly better fan, we would have left the pork in the oven about a minute longer (the sugar on the cookie sheet was starting to burn), but this was nearly perfect. This takes less than ten minutes to start melting the sugar all over the pork. Remove from oven when it's perfectly melted and caramelized, or when the smoke starts to overwhelm your smoke detectors...

Pork brûlée

Tear apart the pork, into little pieces. I use forks to pull them apart, you want small chunks of beautiful pork brûlée.

Pulled pork

Okay, now you assemble your little bo ssäm, a lot like a burrito. Take a leaf of bibb lettuce, and place some of the pork, rice, kimchi, ginger-scallion sauce and ssäm sauce in there. Curl it up like a burrito, and take a bite. Oh. My. Gawd. The heavenly mix of fat, spice, acid and crispy kimchi is mind-blowing. One of the best bbq tricks ever. This might replace pulled pork as our Superbowl favourite. Yum.

Bo ssäm


26 January 2012

Ssäm ssauce

Ssäm sauce

And now, a quick post, to add a bit more Momofukuto your life.

A sauce that will go well with pork. Pulled pork, even. The ingredients are available at your local Korean market (I use H-Mart in Burlington, MA).
2 tbsp fermented bean-and- chili paste (ssämjang)
1 tbsp chili paste (kochujang)
½ cup plum vinegar
½ cup grape-seed oil
Mix the kochujang and ssämjang together. Add the grape-seed oil, and mix well until they're properly emulsified. Add the vinegar.

Serve, with pulled pork. Yum.


24 January 2012

Ginger-scallion sauce

Ginger-scallion sauce

We've stepped away from our good friend Momofuku for a while. Momofuku, by David Chang, preaches pork. It preaches Japanese/Chinese/Korean/American fusion, where kelp is served with bacon. And my favorite message, it preaches against authenticity as a principle. Authenticity matters not. It's taste that matters. Is it delicious? It has to be delicious.

Momofuku is always in my heart (we now use it frequently as an expletive while cooking - think Bruce Willis whispering "Yippy kay yay, Momofuku!"). But sometimes it takes a reminder to cook delicious Momofuku flavours, like this relish, published last week in the New York Times. I've adapted it slightly, in favour of deliciousness:
2½ cups thinly sliced scallions
½ cup peeled, minced fresh ginger
¼ cup grapeseed oil
1½ teaspoons light soy sauce
1 scant teaspoons plum vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Mix all ingredients. Leave in the fridge for a few hours. Serve as a relish.

More Momofuku coming up...


22 January 2012

A lazy Saturday calls for...

...a Mandarin margarita.

Mandarin margarita

I was inspired to create this cocktail for our New Year's Eve party. We started off the night with:
3 oz Herradura reposado tequila
2 oz Absolut mandarin
½ oz fresh-squeed lime juice
1¼ oz fresh-squeezed orange juice
¼ oz agave nectar (or simple syrup)
Rim a glass with tequila, and a mixture of white and dark salts. (The salts don't create any different flavor, but they do make it more beautiful to behold). Mix the above ingredients and pour over ice.



19 January 2012

Beef tongue with arugula, salsa verde and caramelized onions

Raw beef tongue

I'm happy to start this post with the above photo. That's a 4 lb cow tongue. You won't find that served in your average steak house. I first had cow tongue at Chris Cosentino's Incanto in San Francisco. It was a genius dish, served on top of a bed of arugula. The bitterness of the arugula played well with the meatiness of the tongue.

Well, how to re-create it? Mr. Cosentino's new book Beginnings looks to include little or none of the more challenging meats (like tongue). So I'm left to throw together something myself. I poked around the internets, and found several recipes.

I've thrown this recipe together, tweaking the braise from Edible Seattle, and the salsa verde from Chef's Under Fire. The result is simple and delicious:
1 beef tongue
1 yellow onion cut in half
1 whole bulb of garlic cut in half
5 black peppercorns
2 dried ancho chiles
½ cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons salt
There must be a real run on beef tongue right now, as we paid $5/pound for this tongue. Right. So, combine all of the above ingredients into a heavy stock pot. Add enough water to cover the tongue, and simmer for three hours.

Braising beef tongue

Make sure the tongue stays mostly submerged. Turn it periodically over the three hours of cooking.

Braising beef tongue

The broth will darken, and the outer layers of the tongue will spice up. Meanwhile, prepare the salsa verde:
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch cilantro
½ bunch fresh mint
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp capers
2 anchovies
¾ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper
sea salt
juice of 2 limes
Combine all the salsa verde ingredients in a food processor. Pulse into a light paste. Set aside in the fridge.

Also, prepare:
Sweet-sautéed onions

When it comes time, you'll dress the arugula in salsa verde, and place the caramelized onions on top.

Alright, here comes the fun part. At the end of three hours of cooking, fish the tongue out of the broth.

Braised beef tongue

You're gonna have to peel that tongue while it's still hot. Tastebuds should be tasting, not tasted. Right, so keep the squeamish out of the kitchen for this next bit.

Braised beef tongue

So, make a shallow incision in the outer layer of the tongue, and pull it off the tongue.

Peeling the beef tongue

It actually comes off very easily. I think it's fascinating that you can see the shape of the tastebuds in the underlying muscle. Right.

Peeled beef tongue

Once you've cleaned off all the outer layer, wipe off the outside of the tongue.

Peeled beef tongue

Starting at the end of the tongue that was attached to the base of the mouth (that doesn't have any of that skin on it), slice the tongue into ¼ to ½ inch steaks.

Beef tongue steaks

Heat some oil in a pan over high heat. When the pan is screaming hot, sear the steaks on each side, to give them a nice caramelized cover. Place the salsa-dressed arugula on a plate. Set one to two steaks per serving onto the arugula, place some caramelized onion on top and a dollop of extra salsa verde on top.

Beef tongue steaks

Serve while hot. The bitterness of the arugula, the brightness of the salsa and the deep richness of the tongue comes across as a pretty amazing combination. Next time, I might reduce the braising broth into a sauce of its own, but for this time, dinner was enjoyed by three out of four dining companions. (Mrs. Dude was very polite).



17 January 2012

Lime-basil sorbet

Lime basil sorbet

Way back in the distant past... 2009 to be exact... Dr. Ricky and I prepared a gigantic feast for our friends in San Diego. Between courses of sea urchin and gailan, we palate cleansed, leading to the quote of the evening:

"I could cleanse my palate all night!"

Well, we had a pretty meat-heavy menu here on New Year's Eve, (and the author of the above quote was a return guest), so we decided to serve another palate cleanser. A wee serving of lime-basil sorbet.

I modified the recipe from a citrus sorbet in The Perfect Scoop:
2¼ cups water
¾ cup sugar
zest of 2 limes
¾ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp vodka
1 large bunch fresh basil
Combine the water, sugar, and zest in a pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Crunch up the basil bunch to break the leaves, then toss into the pot. Cover the pot and remove from heat, allowing it to cool over an hour or so.

Add the fresh-squeezed lime juice and vodka, and pass the syrup through a fine sieve. Reserve the syrup in the fridge covered, overnight. I also placed small shot glasses on a tray, and set them in the freezer overnight.

Shot glasses

The next day, run the syrup through your ice cream maker. With the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker that means that you chill the ice cream maker in the freezer for two days, then add the syrup to the ice cream maker while it is mixing at low speed.

Churn for 10-30 minutes, until it reaches a desired consistency. Scoop the sorbet into the frozen shot glasses, cover, and chill in the freezer covered for at least 12 hours before serving.

Lime basil sorbet

When you serve, treat this as a light palate cleanser between heavy, flavourful courses. The bright acidity of it will reset your guests' palates, readying them for more.


14 January 2012

A lazy Saturday calls for...

...a vodka martini.

vodka martini

Simplicity at its finest.
4 oz. vodka
Shake vodka over ice, strain into a glass. Rub the wax off the lemon (or if you're lucky to live in southern California and have access to fresh lemons, use that). Peel as along a strip as you're able to from the lemon. Drop into your chilled vodka.

Serve. Ahhhh...


12 January 2012

Lobster bisque

Lie lobster

In May of 2011, we were trying to decide whether or not to move to New England, leaving San Diego. Do we give up fresh lemons and avocados for lobster and rhubarb? Well, lobster and rhubarb won. So it's strange, then, that we've only had lobster twice since arriving in the Boston-area. How do we solve that? For New Year's, our friends from the great state of Maine brought down three 1½ lb lobsters.

We gave those lobsters the royal treatment, and turned them into my favourite lobster dish - lobster bisque. This recipe is modified from Gourmet.
3 1½ pound live lobsters
2 medium onion
1 celery rib
2 carrot
2 vine-ripened tomato
1½ head garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaf
12 black peppercorns
¾ cup brandy
½ cup dry Sherry
¼ cup Port
6 cups fish stock*
½ cup tomato paste
¾ cup heavy cream
2 ¼ tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
The little ones in the house (Bbq Jr. and his friend), were both intrigued by these crickets-of-the-sea. There was a tiny bit of concern for the lobsters' ultimate ends by Bbq Jr.'s friend, Lego quickly distracted her. Get your biggest pot full of water, and bring the water to a boil. I keep the lobsters on ice or in the fridge during this period. It makes them sleepy and less frisky when you toss them in the pot.

Drop the lobsters into the pot headfirst. Continue boiling them at a screaming boil for 5 minutes. Fish the lobsters out of the pot, and set in a bowl to cool. Save 3 cups of the cooking liquid, and discard the rest.

Cooked lobster

Now crack open the tail and the claws, using nut crackers or kitchen shears. This is messy work.

Dismembering lobster

Remove all the meat you can salvage, in as large pieces as you're capable. Reserve tomalley (the disgusting green paste).

Lobster meat

Chop the meat coarsely, cover and place in the fridge. Meanwhile, get the oil screaming hot in a pot over high heat. Toss in the lobster shells. Stir occasionally, cooking until shells darken slightly, and the smell gets incredible.

Lobster shells

While cooking, coarsely chop the vegetables, and cut the garlic crosswise through the head. Add the vegetables, garlic, brandy, sherry and port to the bisque. Continue stirring while most of the liquid evaporates. Before it all evaporates, add the reserved lobster death juice, the fish stock and the tomalley. Lower temperature. Stir periodically while the mixture simmers for about one hour. Your house will now officially smell amazing.

Lobster shells

Sieve the broth to remove all the chunks. Mix in the tomato paste, and continue to simmer until the broth has reduced to a little over one quart (4½ cups).

Lobster bisque

Add the cornstarch to the 3 tbsp of water to hydrate it. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the soup, and watch it thicken over a few minutes. Add back the lobster meat, stirring constantly. Now you have to be fast. You want the lobster meat to cook through, but not overcook (this takes not more than a minute or two). Serve immediately, piping hot. Be sure to be ready to catch anyone who swoons.

Lobster bisque


10 January 2012

Dates with goat cheese and bacon

Dates with bacon

Planning a large meal can be tricky. How do you ensure that 10 or more courses all come out at the same time. It's important that you have a few dishes that you can make entirely in advance, and a few dishes that are quick and easy to make and assemble. As part of our appetizer round for our New Year's extravaganza, we whipped out an old standby. Dates with goat cheese and bacon.

This is a simple dish that has only three simple ingredients. That makes it critical that you find the highest quality ingredients you can. Dates in particular, which can readily be found in high quality in southern California, can be found stale in stores in Boston. They should be juicy and sweet. If they're dry or bitter, get new ones.
goat cheese (like Bucheron)
bacon (I prefer to use homemade)
Execution is simple. Pre-heat the broiler in your oven.

Slit the dates lengthwise, and pull the date pits out. Schmear as much goat cheese into the dates. Wrap the dates with half-strips of bacon, and pin them closed with a toothpick.

Place on a cookie sheet, and bake in the oven. It takes only a few minutes for the bacon to crisp up, the cheese to soften and the dates to soften.

Serve hot.


05 January 2012

Poblano chili

When I first moved to Texas in 1997, I had never experienced peppers beyond the green bell pepper and the canned, pickled jalapeño. Imagine my surprise to discover stores like Fiesta that have a pepper section. My Ph.D. supervisor's husband loves to bbq, and would have us over frequently for brisket. And every meal would include a side of roasted poblanos. I learned to love these rich and sweet peppers. Their flavour is so fabulous.


Imagine how I reacted, when I discovered a recipe for poblano chile in Meat. Yeah. Well, on a cold, winter's night. We had to make it.
8 poblano chiles
3 lb boneless chuck beef
5 bsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 lb canned tomatoes
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
sour cream

Put the poblanos on a cookie sheet and place them under a screaming hot broiler. Broil until they're nearly black. Turn them over and cook the other side. Really, it's hard to overdo these. You want them to look like this:


It's the only way to get the skin off, and trust me, you don't want the skin moving on to the next step. Having poblano skin in your chili is about like finding bits of saran wrap floating around in your stew.

Place the chilis in a paper bag, and allow them to steam in the bag a few minutes. Then, peel off the skin, and chop and seed the peppers. Set aside.


Chop the beef into nice mouthsize pieces.

Raw chuck

Season all over with salt and pepper. Heat the oil.

Hot oil

Sear the meat on all sides to give them that delicious caramelized outside. You want that to travel into the chili.


Remove the meat from the oil and set aside. In a chili pot, sauté the onions and garlic until clear. Add the browned meat, the tomatoes, spices and stir well. Simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat starts to fall apart.

Poblano chili

Add the poblano pieces, stir in. Simmer another 30 minutes. Serve in bowls, with sour cream and cilantro to garnish.

Poblano chili

Perfect meal on a cold winter night.