Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sous Vide for me, please...

I've fought a long-lasting battle against over-cooked meats, eggs, and burgers...until now.  Alas, I have found just a weapon to win my battle.

Behold!  My ANOVA Precision Cooker...a temperature-controller-water-circulating thingie that I can fit into most pots in my house.  Wondering what those little white ball things are in the picture?  No, I'm not cooking giant fish roe.  Be patient young Padiwan...I'll get to that later.

Hey, I don't have anything against shoe leather for all of you "well-done" folks.  It's just that I'd just rather have shoe leather on my feet and not in my tummy.  My oldest brother, Dean, is a "well-done" man.  Or should I say "If it ain't's too raw" kind of guy.  Ugh!   
I have always been fascinated with the cooking technique used in many a professional kitchen, called "sous vide." Sous...what, you ask?  Sous vide, which simply means "under vacuum" in French.  No, I'm not cooking in a pressure cooker or in my vacuum (ew), but I am vacuum sealing (or putting in zip-top bags) food into pouches and submerging them into a temperature controlled water bath for a certain amount of time.  The results are amazing.  It is truly a blend of science and food.

Here is a perfectly cooked (for 1 1/2 hours) medium-rare (at a constant 136° F) rib-eye steak.  I seasoned the raw steak(s) with lots of fresh ground salt (our million year-old pink stuff) and black pepper and sealed them up using my trusty FoodSaver.  Which I finally replaced with a newer model.  Can you believe the one I had was the first model and I had gotten that in 1999?!  

Anyhoo, back to topic.  You can season your steak however you like.  Olive oil, marinade it (use the FoodSaver for that, it's fantastic!), or anything your taste buds desire.  You then set the ANOVA to the temperature you need (started out with hot tap water), slip the steak(s) in and forget it for the next hour and a half.  You can leave it in the water for up to three hours!  No grill to tend to.  You can actually do other things while you cook perfect (and expensive) cuts of beef.  After it's done, I cut open the pouch and removed the goods.  Then I finish it off (this is a must) by giving it a good sear on all sides of the steak with a butane torch.  Gotta love fire! 

Do you notice how this steak is medium-rare all the way through?  None of that over-done meat with a medium-rare center that you achieve from conventional cooking methods.  Regardless of the thickness, all of the meat will be cooked at that perfect temperature.  
Here is a perfectly cooked egg.  Yeah, I'm one of those that likes their eggs super-soft and creamy.  Just like velvet!  It took me awhile to figure this one out, and after cooking and eating five or so eggs, I got it right!  Good thing I love eggs.   This egg was cooked in its shell at 167° F for 14 1/2 minutes.  I usually gobble these up as soon as they are done cooking, but logic would tell me that I could hold eggs at this temperature for some time.  So you could cook a dozen and have them all be perfect for an Eggs Benedict horde.  I'll have to try it out. 
And here is a perfectly cooked hamburger patty.  This photo is not the best, but your burgers don't shrivel up to hockey pucks and you get a succulent, juicy, perfectly medium cooked burger.  We serve our burgers on homemade Brioche hamburger buns.  I'll post that recipe at a later date.  After you have these, you'll never buy store-made again!  Oh, and that's my special melty Velveeta-like cheese (made from just a few ingredients) on the burger.  I'll save that post for a later date too.
I've cooked chicken breasts using sous vide and I must admit that I will be hard pressed to eat white meat any other way.  I've also cooked chicken thighs using my ANOVA, and they were tasty as well.  I have not experimented with fresh veggies yet, since I've been on a meat kick.
Yeah, this kitchen gadget may be considered one of those shi-shi, luxury items, but if you are truly annoyed by, or just plain refuse to eat overdone food, I suggest that you give it a try.  I bought this on for $179.  It was a reasonable price for me and since a good steak can cost anywhere from 15-20 bucks a one-inch thick slab, then it was money well spent in my opinion.

Oh, those little round things in my pot?  Those are polypropylene balls used to "blanket" the surface of your water as you heat up and cook with.  These simple little orbs help you maintain your heat, therefore saving on electricity.  They also reduce water evaporation, therefore keeping you from having to replenish the water during those hours and hours of cooking.  Hours and hours you say?

Yes, you can cook a cheap, tough-ass cut of meat until it falls apart and it could take hours and hours, but I'll leave that for another time.

Teeny Tiny Korean Food


 My sister, Dori came out to visit me during the Memorial Day weekend, and she came bearing gifts.  My favorite thing!  These little gifts were itty-bitty and highly detailed dishes and pots of delicious Korean food.  What a wonderful gift!  A combination of my love for miniatures and Korean food, these were right up my alley.

I spent the good part of this morning capturing each meal (along with a penny to give you an idea of how small they really are) and had to post this.  I used a little lens set given to me by my other sister, Darcie for Christmas last year (or the year before...I can't recall!).  The macro lens worked very well and you would think that these were life-sized by the fine quality.  "Best qwwalrity"...Darcie would say. 

The thought and care used to paint these are evident and each little detail is near perfect.  There were even tiny chopstick, spoons and chopstick rests.  Each item of food and drink had to be placed into each of the dishes.  My favorite is the Gujeolpan, the octagon shaped serving platter.  Each of those wedges and the middle come out as individual dishes.  Amazing!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Krazy for Kalbi

Wow, I've been away from food blogging for way too long!  Well, I'm back and I've got great recipes and food to share with you.

Korean BBQ has become more popular across the country and there aren't many out there who don't like beef kalbi (ribs).  Dale and I love these savory slabs of goodness.  The cut of meat that I usually use is called L.A. Kalbi style (easily identified by the cross cuts of beef short ribs).  It's not traditional but the most common cut for these BBQ'd morsels and a lot of grocery stores carry these. 

I was given a fantastic and authentic Korean kalbi (Thanks, Chris Yi!) marinade recipe and it took me a long time to get around to making it, but I finally did and loved it.

Authentic Korean Kalbi Marinade
Serves about 4 to 6

1 large Korean pear, peeled, cored, and cut up (if you can't find these you can use 2 Bosch or Anjou pears)
1 large white onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small can of canned pineapple slices (four rings) and juice
30 cloves of fresh garlic (more or less if you want)
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar (you can go up to 1 cup if you want it sweeter)
1/2 cup water
1 Tbl. black pepper, ground
2 Tbls. sesame oil
1 Tbl. peanut oil (optional)
2 lbs. L.A. style cut beef spare ribs

Soak meat in cold water for 20 minutes and rinse with cold water several times until water runs clear.  Lay meat out in a non-reactive dish (glass or plastic).  I like to stand my slabs-o-beef on edge so the meat is upright and the marinade can surround it.  Puree all of the other ingredients in a food processor or blender until all is well blended.  It will be thick like runny apple sauce.  Do not dilute. The idea is to coat the meat to tenderize and flavor it.

Pour the marinade on the meat.  Place a piece of plastic wrap over and press to the surface to keep the air from the meat.  Let sit for at least 48 hours in the refrigerator.  You can move the meat around after the first day to ensure that all of the meat is coated.  Don't be tempted to marinade your meat longer as it could turn mushy.  That's not very tasty now is it?

Remove ribs from marinade and cook on hot grill or Korean BBQ grill and cut up with scissors to serve. I usually keep one bone in each piece.  Serve with hot white rice, lettuce leaves (to make wraps), and a variety of Korean kimchis and side dishes.

These are great to put in a Crock Pot and take to a potluck with a rice cooker full of rice.  Believe me, you won't have any leftovers! 

맛있게 드세요! Enjoy your meal!