Friday, January 29, 2010

Fuyu/Doufu Ru Pork

Otherwise known as fermented bean curd. Fuyu or doufu ru, as the Chinese call it,  has a very pungent aroma and a strong, cheesy flavor. There are several types but the most common are red or white bean curd. The white version is often used as a condiment or used to flavor soups and vegetable dishes. Fermented red bean curd is primarily used to cook with meats.

Originally from China, tofu is an excellent source of protein, iron and calcium. The pickled bean curd are cubes of tofu that have been fermented in rice wine combined with sesame oil, salt, vinegar. The version I used was enhanced with chiles to give it a spicy flavor.  

Two pounds of country-style ribs were marinated for about 10-15 minutes in mixture of rice wine-soy sauce-sesame oil-cornstarch. I sauted them in a small amount of oil for a few minutes to brown the outside then I added garlic and ginger.

The pickled bean curd was added and mixed together. After about a minute, I added a little sugar, more soy sauce and rice wine, and added 2 cups of chicken stock. I brought it to a boil and simmered on low for about an hour. The cooking smells were fueling my hunger.

Meanwhile I cooked some rice and roasted some beautiful baby bok choy.

The result was very satisfying. The chile in the bean curd added a little heat while the rice wine-soy sauce-sugar added a slight sweetness. The braise made the riblets very tender and juicy. Use the leftover braising liquid from your wok to pour over the rice.

At first impression, the fermented bean curd was a little different giving off  a  pungent odor but after fusing it with the pork, garlic-ginger and braising liquids, I would make this over and over. Honestly, I ate the whole load.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sunday Gravy

Traditionally, Sunday was a day of rest for Italian-Americans. The entire family gathered at someone's house preparing and cooking food all day long for a festive dinner at night. Meat was the central ingredient, it was affordable on a blue-collar worker's wages.

Any type of meat can be used, mostly pork cuts/sausages combined with beef or veal. I used Country-style Pork Ribs, Hot Italian sausages, and Pork Shoulder Steaks. Country-style ribs have just the right amount of fat and the bone can easily be fished out after the cooking time.

The gravy refers to the slow-simmering of tomatoes flavored with tomato paste/sauce and red wine.

Sunday Gravy brings the family together and it is a easy and basic dish to make that is loaded with flavor.

I used the slow-cooker to cook all the flavors of the meat and gravy together. Eight hours of slow-roasting and braising and simmering makes this version unbeatable. Here is how you do it.

1. Brown the Italian sausages. I used Hot sausages but a combination of hot, mild, or sweet would suffice as well. Set aside.

2.  Chop up shallots and garlic and mix it in the pan with the juices/fat of the sausages. You can use onions but I think shallots have a better flavor. Saute until tender.

3. Add tomato paste and cook until the color turns a little darker. Add a half cup of dry red wine. Stir well to pick up the flavorful bits on the bottom of the pan.

4. To prevent a watery gravy, I drained a large can of diced tomatoes in a colander.

5. Set up the slow-cooker and add the drained tomatoes and the shallot/garlic paste. Mix well together.

6. Prepare the meat. Trim a little fat off of the Country-Style ribs and pork shoulder steaks. Don't be shy on the amount of meat that you add to the gravy, the more the better!

7. Time to layer the meat into the pot. Gently place the ribs, pork steaks, and sausages into the cooker. Cover the meat with the tomato mixture and add a can to tomato sauce. The sauce adds more flavor and body to the gravy.

8. Cover tightly and leave it alone for 8 hours.

9. Serve over your favorite type of pasta.

The Sunday Gravy was definitely meat-filled flavored. The pork shoulder steak and country-style ribs really gave it a rounded taste. The Italian sausage was knife-tender, smooth as butter. The juices of the sausages added to the meaty taste.

I added fresh shaved Parmesan-Reggiano and basil leaves. It really gave it a real nice final touch. The fettucini pasta held the gravy well together.

Sunday Gravy is an easy meal to conduct and it will please a large crowd. You won't be dismayed and you should pound as much meat and sauce into it as you like. A true pork drunk dish!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Leftovers and Scraps II

The Pork Mac & Cheese was so tasty I wasn't done with the experimenting. I had some leftover deli ham and Telera buns. So I fried up a few slices of deli ham until it had a nice char and toasted the telera under the broiler. Add a few dashes of Mexican hot sauce and I came up with a carb-packed lunch of Ham, Pork, Mac & Cheese, Telera bun sandwich.

Again, this is not a ground-breaking idea, just tossing a few leftovers and scraps together to generate a meal. But it turned into a true Pork Drunk creation.

The combinations of textures: creaminess from the melted cheeses and pulled pork, crispiness from the panko, charred ham and bread, were an excellent match. It reiterates my need of having to have some sort of crunch in every meal.

Take those scraps out of your fridge and get creative. Indulge yourself, you've earned it!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Leftovers and Scraps - What to do with extra Pulled Pork?

After cooking up a big Pork Butt last weekend for the NFL Playoffs, I had a bunch leftover after a few friends couldn't make it. Not wanting it to go to waste and not wanting to eat pulled pork sandwiches all week, I came to a solution. Enhance a simple and traditional comfort food dish.

I combined my love for cheese and pasta with Pork!
Scrap Pulled Pork & Mac & Cheese!
Not ground-breaking stuff but a tasty endeavour and a true self-indulgent, stuff-your-face meal.

To refine the classic Mac & Cheese, I used Fontina and Parmesan-Reggiano with Radiatore pasta. A little pricer than your average shredded Cheddar and elbow mac but definitely worth it. I also added Non-Fat Cottage Cheese to give it a little more body. The carmalized onions added to the creamy touch to the interior.

Panko breadcrumbs mixed with shredded Parm-Reg and olive oil was sprinkled on for a crispy top.

I used a cast-iron skillet to host the Mac & Cheese. This is an important part of this pork-cheesy creation. It created a nice crisp along the sides of the skillet, crisp on the outside and creamy goodness on the inside.

The pulled pork worked perfectly for this dish. It didnt go to waste and the flavors of the pork married well with the pasta and cheeses.

It is a perfect dish for late wintery nights or for eating while watching more Playoff Football games.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Gyoza - Japanese-style Dumplings - Ryoko, Guest Chef

Known in the U.S. as Potstickers, this type of dumpling has its differences between the Japanese and Chinese version. In China, the Jiaozi has a thicker, chewy skin which is differs from the much thinner skin, sphere-shape Wonton wrapper. The ingredients of the dough also differ from the jiaozi and wonton.

Gyoza have a more intense garlic flavor than jiaozi. Traditionally, the filling consists of a ground meat, vegatable, or shrimp. The filling is tucked into the dumpling by crimping the edges and served with a dipping sauce.

The Japanese use the preparation method of yaki-gyōza (焼き餃子), it first fried on the flat side, creating a crispy skin. Then, water is added and the pan sealed with a lid, until the the gyoza is steamed.

I brought in a guest chef, my girlfriend, Ryoko, to prepare the Gyoza. She is a Master at the art of Japanese-style dumplings.

We start with the filling of ground pork, green onions, garlic, cabbage, and ginger.

The preparation is a difficult task which require dexturous hands. Ryoko is so fast it is hard to keep up. Prepare the wonton with busted egg yolk to seal the edges. Place the filling in the middle.

Crimp the edges together to seal the filling into the dumpling. This particular step is hard for me due to my “sausage-size” fingers.

This is what a professional Gyoza dumpling should look like before cooking. Great job Ryoko, it’s beautiful.

In America, “potstickers” are usually served as an appetizer but they are just as suitable and fulfilling as a main course.

Make as many as you desire but beware, what you think is enough, isn’t!!! Ryoko’s Gyoza are so good, they don’t remain on the plate very long.

While Ryoko was preparing the Gyoza, I made the dipping sauce, which my non-dexturous hands could handle. Made of thinly-sliced red-green chiles, green onions, vinegar, soy sauce, and a touch of sugar, it provides a great accompaniment to the Gyoza.

Ryoko’s gyoza consists of the crispy bottom. Sear over a hot pan until a brown crust has developed. Then it is time to cover the pan, add some water, and steam until they have become slightly transparent, a few minutes.

The gyoza was/is absolutely amazingly tasty. It takes some practice to crimp the edges well and present it in a beautiful way. I am truly lucky to have Ryoko in my life to make such a delightful traditional Japanese dish.

Dōmo arigatō Ryoko!

Served with Rice, Chile Pepper Soy Sauce dip, Sriracha sauce.

Enjoi !