Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Japadog meets K-pop

A nice couple weeks, it's been. Lovely weather, lots of delicious cooking, but nothing really noteworthy that I can think of. I guess I could show you the nettle risotto I made, but I've already blogged that (though this time I made it with ham instead of lemony chicken or artichokes or somesuch). Besides, everyone blogs risotto-y things this time of year. Steaks with roasted tomato mac and chee is also all well and good, but not anything new.

The weather has been so nice that I've been in the garden nearly every free minute. Free minutes, though, are relatively rare these days, as Zeph fussily teethes and his naps have become somewhat longevity-challenged. Therefore, I'm a little ashamed to admit that we eat the odd hot dog and tots dinner (washed down by either root beer or beer beer). And since I still have that pile of Korean pickled things staring me down every time I open the fridge (but no pickle relish or sauerkraut, oddly), I figured, why not make some Korean relish? It'll be kinda like those Japadogs Scott and I had in Vancouver that one time. Besides, if people go nuts over those bulgogi tacos why can't I bastardize someone's culture with a hot dog?

I coarsely chopped doraji (that spicy balloonflower root) and oijangajji (those spicy cukes) and added a little furikake for some seaweed and sesame kick. Relish done. And for the coup de grâce, I made my new favorite condiment: gochujang mayo. I got the idea from Japadog's Misomayo, but since I was going Korean with this I used gochujang instead. I did also add a little shiro miso for sweetness, and smeared on thick, this is the best hot dog I've eaten in memory. The hot dog was a Nathan's 100% beef (like we care!), but I wouldn't kick a kurobuta frank outta bed either. Daikon sprouts woulda been lovely, too, but I didn't miss them too badly as I shoveled this into my maw while standing over the kitchen sink. Manidŭseyo!

Serve with a crispy wheat beer (I really like Rogue's Morimoto Soba Ale these days) and rice crackers.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Bibimbap, revisited

Just a shorty today, to show off some delicious bibimbap I threw together from ingredients I didn't make myself. I did cook the rice and arrange everything, but unless you ferment your own doraji and kimchi (I didn't), all you're really doing is arranging bits on a bowl of steaming white rice. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I don't even have a stone bowl to make this a proper dolsot bibimbap. In fact, I only made this because I didn't have any bread for the intended roast beef sandwich and realized I had a fridge full of Korean pickled things and a sack of Calrose rice. I warmed up the roast beef with some sesame oil and nestled it among the banchan I had on hand (clockwise from the top): kimchi, a crunchy seaweed salad, pickled cucumber (I had two kinds: a spicy Korean oijangajji and salty-sweet green Japanese aokappa) and doraji (balloon flower root). I guess I did saute some shiitake mushrooms in soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Top with an egg and gochujang. I usually use an egg fried over easy, but tried it raw this time. I prefer fried.

Whaddaya know, I cooked after all.

Serve with a glass of soju and since you already added Japanese pickles you may as well sprinkle with some shichimi togarashi.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Beef Pot Roast

Oh my toe-curling god, am I ever loving my pressure cooker right now. Pot roast, in an hour (well, 90 minutes counting prep). Are you fucking kidding me?

Believe it or not, I am still somewhat a n00b when it comes to preparing hunks of beast. I've only been cooking meat for about 6 or 7 years, and although I can really do some damage with slow-cooking in dry heat (I mean, who can't put a big chunk of meat in a 200 degree oven for 4 hours?), wet heat always fucks me up. It always hits a boil and turns to leather. Enter the pressure cooker: it's going to boil anyways, so why not let 15 pounds psi pulverize that connective tissue until it's butter?

The thing is, I only have a giant 23-qt pressure cooker that I bought for canning. It's a beast (the other kind), and I've used it for cooking only a couple of times - giant vats of beans in most cases - and it's a real bitch to get clean after that. This one's just not meant for everyday household use. So I came up with this neat trick that allows me to cook a 2 person-sized dinner in an army-sized pressure cooker. I make a sort of double-boiler by filling the large crock with a few inches of water, into which I insert a smaller pot that contains dinner. Works a dream.

So the rundown: I hit a 2lb chuck roast with a bunch of freshly-ground pepper and kosher salt, then browned it on all sides. Remove the roast, add two cups of mirepoix (1 part onion to half parts celery and carrot) and a bay leaf and thyme, saute until the veg is browned and the moisture from it deglazes the pot. I didn't have any beef stock so I added some homemade chicken stock (brown, from last week's roasted chicken) with a spoonful of beef bouillon paste, a glug of red wine, and a few squirts of Worcestershire sauce (I added enough to cover the roast). Put the whole shebang into the pressure cooker and let the flame rip. Once it hit my desired pressure (between 10 and 15 psi is my safety zone), I turned down the heat to around medium-low to keep it there. After an hour, I turned off the burner and got the side dishes ready while the pressure cooker wound itself down.

Simple sides are best for pot roast, and mine were boiled new potatoes and some mustard-glazed carrots and Brussels sprouts (glaze: spoonful of stout mustard, a few pinches of mustard seed, a scant spoonful of sugar and a knob of butter, add a splash of water to combine everything then let it reduce back down). When the pressure cooker simmered down enough to remove the lid without garnering third-degree steam burns, I pulled out the pot of roast and strained the jus into a hot pan to reduce. I whisked in a flour slurry and let it simmer into a rich gravy.

Serve with a nice Pinot Noir (hey, it's springtime - no need to go too big) and enough soft wheat rolls as needed to sop up all that gravy. Yes, all of it.