Friday, February 20, 2009

An Open Letter to - Posted 3:50 pm


I am a big fan of your blog since I stumbled upon it. I am sending and posting this open letter on my site as well. I also boofed your title logo as my blog entry pic, let me know if that's a problem.

My site name is Hot Food Porn @ and I have actively tried to present pictures of food that I feel could possibly be featured on your fantastic fatty food porn photojournalism blog. It is a real goal of mine. I will say my first submitted entry (duck in duck fat) was rather plain (maybe even undeserving) and my second entry was not even my own creation (chili cheese fries burrito from Wienerschnitzel, my own pic), but I'm miffed as to why my spam terrine did not make the cut. I mean it's not everyday that a chef lays out 1 lb of thick bacon, 1 lb of spam, 1.5 lbs of braised duck and roast chicken into a brick terrine and gets turned down on the basis of not being fatty or gross enough. Was my terrine too pretty...I could see that as a fatal flaw. Too pretty, no fried junk and or no mystery saucy gravy goo? Is that the problem?

I would love some criteria so I can make a more disgusting plate for the viewing pleasure (or displeasure, depending on how gross it is) of the fantastic readers of your blog. I guess at this point, I can only continue to strive to make something that is known to be gross (to probably everyone, but the morbidly obese), but also legendary.

Thank you for your time.
Hot Food Porn

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday Night Test Kitchen - 2/19/09

Last night was a good night, here was the list of items from my test kitchen night:

Seared Carp with Ginger Confit and Green Onion Consomme
Seared Carp with Smoky Bacon Crab Bisque
Cured Wild Mackerel Duet with Fresh Grated Tumeric and with Smoked Mirasol Chile, Olive Oil, Fleur De Sel
Cara Cara Orange and Meyer Lemon Ricotta Biscuits
Spam & Bacon Terrine with Braised Duck, Roasted Chicken and Black Cherry

Some basic notes:
I'm a fan of carp, but plucking the damn bones out is unbelievably painful. It's a very popular Chinese dish because we prefer the bone to remain in our fish. The green onion consomme and ginger confit was a little bit of a playful modern interpretation of the classic steamed carp dish - minus the soy. I didn't try to compare the two cooked fish dishes, because there are very few things that are as satisfying as smoky bacon crab bisque. It's not even an argument.
Cured mackerel was a perfect 2 day cure. The mackerel was about 2.5 lbs. I found fresh tumeric at the market and thought it would be a fun earthy profile to go with the fish, and it was. The smoked mirasol chiles actually seemed to add a creamy sweetness to the fish. These were a couple of fun and relatively more exotic ingredients that I played with this winter, so I thought they'd be fun with such a clean tasting cured mackerel.
Biscuits were crack-good. I ate 3 mini ones and called it a night. I'm definitely getting the folding technique down with the biscuit and adding the ricotta really didn't affect texture much. I tried to keep my liquid ratio pretty close to even, thought I'm tempted to kick up the ricotta portion. Citrus makes it a very "breakfasty" item is the feedback I got and I agree. Tasty.

Enough mumbo jumbo, onto the pics:

Biscuits Big and Wittle.

All Alone.

Cured Mackerel Duet- earthy flavors

A More Traditional Plate - Fleur De Sel, EVOO, Pickled Ginger

Up Close.

Searing Fish, Hot Stuff.

In Green Onion Consomme with Mizuna Arugula

In Smoky Bacon Crab Bisque & Black Pepper Dispersed By Kitchen Vent. Boo

FINALLY, introducing the Spam Terrine:

Lay that sweet thick cut bacon down baby.

Slice that tasty salty spam.

Fill it with globs and shreds of meat, fruit and herbs.

Alternate layers of meat and spam and then finish with a layer of spam

Seal and wrap that badboy with a few strips of mo' bacon.

2 hours in low heat oven water bath and 5 hours in refrigerator later...

"Meaty, sweet, salty, gooey." That's what she said.

Officially a high end affair, now that its on a white plate. Fin.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It's Stir Fry Stupid, Not Sit Fry.

Much like James Bond 007 declares, "I've got an itch on my bum." Of course, it's not literal (at least not this moment), but what I mean to say is that there is a cooking-related pet peeve that really chaps my ass. And, I realized this weekend that pet peeve happens to involve stir frying.

I really enjoy stir frying, but often enough, it is excruciatingly painful to watch many others do so. For some reason, this happens much too frequently because so many people simply have no understanding of the basic concepts of stir frying. I've been to dinners with friends and watched in horror as chicken, beef, shrimp, fish or pork sit overcooked and stewing in a wok/pan of sauce. The meat has already been slaughtered, please, SHOW MERCY.

Having grown up in a very classic Chinese family-style-oriented cooking, I will offer and show you a few basic rules to successful stir fry.

Some basic rules:

-DO NOT FEAR USING OIL, it is the most necessary and essential part of stir frying. There are no cutting corners with using oil.
-Do not be stupid and use extra virgin olive oil, they do not make that in China and I do not want the taste of burnt rancid olive oil in my Chinese cuisine. Veggie, peanut, corn or canola please.

-Mis en place, mis en place, mis en place. Yes, even the Chinese have this very basic and all encompassing concept. Just because you are cooking in a style from another hemisphere, it doesn't mean your brain should go there as well. Be setup to go. That means, make your cuts, set your sauce, marinade your meat, blanche your big veggies.

-Listen to your wok/pan, love your wok/pan. You can hear the stir fry happening, it's an intense ocean rumble and sizzle.
-Account for the right proportions for the items comprised in your final dish. This means that you probably shouldn't have 3 times the amount of broccoli than beef. Also, it is very important to understand how much sauce will be needed to completely and properly season/coat the dish. Rookies often season improperly.
-Under no circumstance, do not throw everything into the pot in one session and let it sit in a pan of sauce. That is a sit fry, not a stir fry. Cook items of different cut sizes separately as necessary and combine them in the proper order at the end to finish the dish.

-There is no need to flip the wok ten million times. You only need to do so when you are trying to distribute heat, coat or mix the food. You can always use a wok shovel or chopsticks to do the same thing. Constant flipping will just cool off your wok/pan.

-When everything has been thoroughly stir-fried or seared, add the sauce and incorporate the blanched veggies. This final step should take no more than a minute or two at most. What you see is a dry stir fry finish. You can always add more sauce by reserving some, thinning it with water, adjusting seasoning and thickening with a starch slurry. This all goes into a sauce-pot (or the wok after you are done with your cooking) and heated, then ladled on top of the finished dish. Chinese cooking also does not incorporate the usage of a roux, so don't bother with that.


McRib - Part 1 History: the Sandwich, the Mystery, the Legend

Part One of a Two Part Feature:

Dubbed recently as "Senor Macho Solo" the McRib was America's symbol of bold innovation and desire to bring forth a great vision and solution of a tremendous problem of our time. How can we create a bbq rib sandwich without the hassle of stripping the ribs? How can we recreate the convenience of a remote control into our mouths by ultra-processing of one of our favorite foods?

Let me walk you through some history:

McRib was first introduced in Nebraska in 1981. A legend was born, but in 1985 McDonald's decided to pull the McRib due to lackluster international sales. More specifically, sited countries like Pakistan and Germany did not each very much pork therefore, McDonald's was forced to shut down the McRib - please note, this is the only time Germany has won a war of consequence. (I know, bad joke.) McDonald's then decided to bring back the McRib in 1989 to a month-long trial in hopes of it becoming a staple on the permanent menu, but it was all for nothing as the McRib disappeared once again. Since then, the McRib has made Zorro-esque appearances, coming in and out of our lives every few years. Recently, the McRib may have been spotted nearby...

McRib ingredients according to

McRib Pork Patty

Pork, water, salt, dextrose, BHA and BHT and propyl gallate and citric acid (preservatives).
McRib Bun
Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, yeast, high fructose corn syrup, contains 2% or less of the following: yellow corn meal, salt, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils, canola oil, soybean oil, dextrose, sugar, calcium sulfate, cultured wheat flour, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate, ammonium chloride, cellulose gum, diastatic malt, calcium carbonate, soy flour, deactivated dry yeast, dough conditioners (may contain one or more of the following: ascorbic acid, enzymes, sodium stearoyl lactylate, azodicarbonamide, calcium peroxide, guar gum, distilled monoglycerides, DATEM, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, calcium stearoyl lactylate), calcium propionate and sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin.
McRib Sauce
Water, high fructose corn syrup, tomato paste, distilled vinegar, molasses, natural smoke flavor (plant source), food starch-modified, salt, spices, sugar, soybean oil, xanthan gum, onion and garlic powder, sodium benzoate (preservative), caramel color, beet powder, corn oil.
Pickle Slices
Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate (preservative), natural flavors (plant source), polysorbate 80, extractives of turmeric (color).
Slivered Onions

Miscellaneous McRib McHappenings:

The McRib was on Esquire's Best Sandwich List of All Time:

NYorkers can't get no McLovin with McRib.
Ha! So you can't get EVERYTHING in NY:

All important McRib locator, I will test it out this weekend:

A little McRib commercial love:

N ational Mistress Day - UPDATE!

As you may well remember, National Mistress Day was unofficially Friday, February 13th. I also blogged about it (scroll down below) and offered suggestions on what to do with your mistresses for dinner. While this is totally unrelated, I felt I could justify a completely food-irrelevant story with a picture of Angelina Jolie eating another strawberry from a different angle. Clever food tie-ins is totally my forte.

Read and enjoy this sordid story of a man and his 5 mistresses:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Would You Rather Be Great For 1 Thing for Very Good At A Lot of Things?

As you see above, I recently made a beautiful batch of cannele. I've been tirelessly testing and making cannele every few weeks for almost a year now - testing and researching all aspects of cooking this finicky pastry item, including different batter consistency, batter sit times, high heat oils/wax blends, heating temperature, mold placements, ingredient selection, and cook times. I have to say that as of recently, I have really felt that I have mastered the craft and consistency of making a cannele. When I finished the other night, I looked at my work and I thought to myself, how many people would ever go through all this pain and work just to make a batch of these little custard cakes that take more than 2 days to make and can't sit out for more than 8 hours? Why would a bakery ever devote that time and effort to learn to make a great cannele (only 1 place in SF that I know of, plenty of mediocre ones)?

When I speak of greatness, I am not just talking about trying to make a fantastic dish. I am talking about a full lifetime commitment to doing one thing that is simply divine. It's part technique, part craft, part ritual and part obsession. For many people in the culinary scope, including distillers, winemakers, noodle makers, chocolate makers, etc., it feels like there is that time validated process of truly perfecting a craft - whereas for many restaurateurs and menu driven chefs, that is often an afterthought. Restaurants aim to create menus and offer variations of very high quality items, but very few restaurants will ever acknowledge or even have a signature or a crafted item.

Are we moving into an era where true craftsmanship is becoming lost amongst our smorgasboard of fancies and trends?