Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Morning Quickie

I just got back from the farmer's market, more specifically the SF Ferry building farmer's market, which I make it an emphasis to try to attend every Saturday morning. It's a good glimpse of what farmer's are doing and what the current season has readily available. I've gone to many markets in many cities and have found exceptional things, but what makes the Ferry building market great is that it often offers the best of the best. There is enough competition and demand for a product that it becomes very easy for someone to buy from one farm this week and go with a different farm the next week, therefore ensuring the farm will bring the best product and ensuring that I can pick the best product. Of course, building relationships with your friendly farm vendors is key, but the main point of going there is to ensure you are getting the best of the best that week. Or at least that is how I understand it. In terms of basic quality, would you rather have a tasted tested and hand picked apple or would you rather have one come from a box at your doorstep? Or better yet, would you rather have a waxed one, coated with ethylene. Not making a moral stand here, but there's a point of reference for anything.

I just looked through Ryan's Best By Farr blog and he's got a awesome post of making hot dogs. Check it out here. I'm boofing his beans and wieners pic to show you what I'm referring, too. Hmm.. phallic.


Ryan told me his wife was looking forward to seeing this Hot Food Porn come to life. So I only thought it be appropriate to put something of this nature out there from Ryan. Sausage party galore.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rockstar Duck Propaganda

Just found this from Serious Eats. It's paste magazine's Obama propaganda poster maker. It is awesome. I decided I should dress up my duck:

I was thinking about having the bottom say HOPE instead of DUCK, but then again, who needs to hope that duck tastes awesome? PETA? Exactly.

I LOVE DUCK - Fluffy quacky fingerlicking bloody duck.

Now I love bacon and the pig as much as anyone, but I am far from being a super fanatic about it like many chefs that I know. Truth be told, the duck is my beast of choice. I will gladly eat duck and duck fat with almost anything. Taters: better with duck. Veggies: better with duck. Sandwiches: better with duck. Cereal: better with duck. Hell yeah. Oddly enough, I made this little blog logo from a simple pig diagram and filled out the rest with a little graphical prowess (actually quite pathetic prowess, I suck at Photoshop - it says it all when you use an editor called a Gimp). The other logo picture that I had debated about using, was this picture of a duck that I added some text to and edited. I found it on freefoto.com or something, but it was perfect. Much like a nice duck dish, not much needs to be done to make it awesome, it is awesome all on its own. See for yourself. Don't tell me that that doesn't get your morning going?

Random stuff from my Pork & Sons book. Sexy.

Oddly enough, the book has eerily similar drawings and illustrations as my Au Pied De Cochon book, which is also another favorite of mine. Pork & Sons is not my newest piece of my food porn collection, I just got my hands on A Day At El Bulli. Though the pig drawings of the Anatomy of A Pig here are probably one of my my favorite spreads amongst all the cookbooks I own. Felt I just had to share it. People need to buy this book. It rocks.






Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Arguments about fish

Last night, I made fish. More specifically it was a swai fish that I found at Safeway, which I really never ever buy fish from. Normally I find a clean and respectable fish market and I often buy something wild (flavor issue, but I will tackle this later). The only reason I bought swai from Safeway was because I had a very good experience with the farm-raised southeast pacific fish a little while back. I first saw it on the east coast and it made its first appearance when it was poached in my bowl of rice porridge for breakfast. The fish, poached in porridge is perfect - likens itself to a the texture of a softer slightly denser black cod. It is often known as a Vietnamese catfish (because of whiskers) or even thought to be a shark (head shape). It tastes like neither. Thinking the fish would hold well on texture, I decided to sous vide the fish.

So I seasoned it with smoke chile rub along with julienne fresh ginger and chive sprigs. I vac-packed everything and set it in the immersion at 61C or so...which I still always feel is too high for fish personally, but there is that 60C (140F) bacteria killing border to think about. I then prepped a blood orange fennel lillet reduction with roasted fennel leaf garnish. See below:


Finished product above, immersion below:

I would love to tell you how great perfectly tasty the fish was, but honestly, this was a complete disaster. the fish did not seem to hold up well against the spice and the fennel lillet reduction was much too strong. I figured I could have played it safe and did some sort freaking pure vegetable consomme, puree or some type of veggie water, but hell, I'd rather go out in a blaze of glory. The dish is certainly pretty, probably qualifies for food porn, if it didn't leave such a bad taste in my mouth, literally. I probably should have exercised a little restraint with the lillet. I knew I should have went riesling dammit and maybe more juice.

The only redeeming item here obviously was the fennel garnish. Crispy sweet and subtle. Texturally, the sous vide fish is compressed and often packs a fish into a denser form. This can really affect the texture of the fish. The "airiness" of it becomes sorely lacking - something a poached or steamed fish will always have. I may have to evaluate packing the fish with other items or changing the setting on vacuum pressure. The whole process lead me to to the following questions or thoughts about fish density and sourcing fish.

Basically, I can read a stupid fish fat chart and look at different types of fish all day. I know how most fish taste because I've practically cooked or worked with most common types of available fish, pacific and atlantic. But a big problem issue that I normally contend with uncertain fish types is trying to guess the texture of the fish. The taste can be indicative of the fat content and water/sea the fish comes from, but I feel that texture is the second primary component of what makes a fish great. And the primary component for fish texture is density of fish. I haven't seen too many resources discuss much of anything about this, but this is something to consider as it often seeps into my consciousness when I purchase whole fish. Exactly, how dense or packed is the protein/flesh of the fish and what affects on texture does it have when you factor in fat content? Sometimes, it seems fat content may factor into flavor profile, but not always texture. e.g. Low fat cod can be very flaky, soft and brittle, but cooked tuna would be dense, packed and elastic. This may just be random jib-jab, but density of fish is defined by the density of the water it swims in, or so science says. So aside from fish fat and activity, when thinking of cooking with fish, a fish's body shape and density is a big question. Moving on to that all important taste/sourcing conundrum...

Now, I have not read every philosophical argument on wild or farmed fish, but ambiguity seems to be the only consensus regarding the issue. Harold McGee argues for and against both in On Food and Cooking and I have not read a critic of one source without meeting a critic of the other. Basic argument topics for and against both include, but are not limited to, environmental effects, genetic alteration, "organic", sustainability and taste. Even the recommendation of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which offers the local "Seafood Watch" guide seems to almost imply, "yes, buy farmed if you can go there and see how they are farming it." But how the hell is someone at a market supposed to know? We can listen to a fishmonger spin what the distributor/seller says, but that's 3rd party source of information at best. Ever have a 30 minute conversation with a fishmonger at 5:30 pm when you're cooking for 3 kids? Here's the somewhat useful and useless resource argument from the aquarium. You can find the oft ignored Seafood Watch guide on the site too.

For all the blind "organic" selecting hippies, organic always means "farmed" and sustainability sometimes means the population of the fish isn't farmed to a dangerous level - well, not yet, because no one runs a survey until its too late. There's more mud at both tail ends of the argument. Even I'm practically clueless. I guess we need to start visiting fish farms or we can grow our own fish. Yea, eat Nemo.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hot Food Porn - Get Some Action

Welcome to Hot Food Porn, a fun site about random gastronomic phenomena, food porn (yours, mines or anyone else's) and a lot of basically questionable opinion from myself.

Disclaimer: Hot Food Porn contains no actual real smut porn unless you have a fetish for animal blood. Hot Food Porn is not responsible for anything that may actually be true in the event that you learn anything from reading this blog. I take no responsibility in disappointing anyone that is not aroused by photos of massive piles of meat and or suggestively shaped vegetables. I definitely take no responsibility for all those offended by massive consumption of tasty animals of all shapes and sizes. In any case, feel free to send me any thoughts, commentary or suggestions to:

thoughts@hotfoodporn.com or hotfoodporn@gmail.com