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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cod and Prawns, Pan-Asian style

After nearly a week of eating that smoked corned beef in one iteration or another, it was time for a change. I decided something Asian was good, and Salt and Pepper prawns sounded like the ticket. Then at breakfast, the idea of Vietnamese Pork Chops came up. Well...hmmm....Pan-Asian then.

Pan-Asian Cod and Shrimp

First off, the green beans, I wanted dry-fried style green beans but with my own riff.

1/2 pound green beans
1 teapoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon scallion, white part, chopped
1 tablespoon Red Boat fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Hoisin saice
1/4 teaspoon coarse turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chile powder

Mix the last 5 ingredients and set aside. Saute the green beans in a well-seasoned wok, no oil. The beans should cook until slightly wilted. Remove from pan and add aromatics and one teaspoon of high heat oil. Fry briefly until aroma is released, do not burn garlic. Quickly add reserved liquid blend, then add beans and heat through. Serve hot.

Bean aromatics

Lovely Beans

For the main protein of the meal, I ended up going with the cod and prawns I planned for salt and pepper preparation, but, added a few more flavors that would be reminiscent of Vietnamese pork cooking, minus the caramelization. So, fish sauce, palm sugar and lemongrass found it's way into the marinade.

Cod and Prawn-Pan-Asian flavor

Feesh and shreemp:
1/2 pound wild prawns
2/3 pound true cod

2 stalks lemongrass, tender center only, 2" sections
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon garlic
2 tablespoons scallions, white parts only, in 2" sections
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon olive oil or other oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon palm sugar syrup
4 tablespoons Red Boat fish sauce
1/4 cup white port
1/4 cup water

Clean shrimp and make sure cod is boneless and cut into chunks. Reserve. Taking just the tender parts of the lemongrass, the white part of scallions, peeled garlic and ginger (peeling not really necessary) and crush in a bowl. Add all other marinade ingredients and muddle.

Add 1/2 of marinade into plastic bags, add cod and shrimp separately into each bag. Marinate for at least 2 hours. The meat will dehydrate due to salt in the marinade, then draw in marinade, this takes at least 2 hours.

Crushed garlic and ginger

Lemongrass, Scallion

In the marinade

3 tablespoons pastry flour
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, chile powder, salt

Frying Stuff:
1/4 cup high heat oil, safflower or sunflower seed, peanut, what have you
1 teaspoon of garlic, ginger and white scallion
1/2 teaspoon or more sliced serrano or Thai red chile (you will note I forgot to buy these)

Remove fish and shrimp from marinade, they will feel a little dense, this is fine. Dredge in coating, then shake loose. The meat should be barely coated. Heat oil in wok, place shrimp in first, then fish, fry until crisp. Smaller woks mnay require more than one frying session. No worries. Once fish and shrimp is fried, add a little more oil, fry aromatics until aroma is released, add fish and shrimp back in, toss to heat. Serve immediately.

Cod filets

Out of the marinade

Coated Fish and Shrimp

The Close-up

 This was all served with white rice, even though the ingredients echoed throughout the two dishes, the flavors really took on distinct flavors as the beans, cod and shrimp each flavored the supporting flavors independently. This was the goal of marinating seperately, making quick cook changed and not really frying things all together. I really need to make shopping lists, as the chiles were missed. Even some jalapenos would have worked.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Smoked Corned Beef Sushi?

I decided to make some corned beef smoked in the kettle as an early celebration of St. Patricks Day. Plus, a little pseudo pastrami is always tasty. I have to give a shout out to my friend Thirdeye at Playing with Fire and Smoke, his blog has some great recipes and tutorials on cooking over live fire. I borrowed liberally from his blog to cook the corned beef.

Soaked Corned Beef

I started off with a couple of pieces of commercially available corned beef, which I soaked in clean water for 2 days. I ended up changing out the water 4 times during that period of time. The final soak ended with the water having almost no detectable pink color, which I took to mean the curing salts had leached out as much as possible.

I prepared a rub using the packet of spices from one of the corned beef packages, which I ran through the grinder on a medium setting. I added medium grind black pepper, ground allspice, ground cloves, ground mustard and palm sugar. To be honest, I did not measure them all, but, black pepper was probably 2/3 of the total blend. This was rubbed onto the soaked and dried corned beef chunks.

Rubbed Corned Beef

The corned beef was put onto the kettle, which was running along at 225F, in the rain, so moisture inside the kettle was not going to be a problem. This ran for 3 hours at 225F until the internal temperature was 150F. I decided to put the meat on a rack in a shallow pan, this was to provide a little bit of heat shielding during the unfoiled portion of the cook.

Meat at 150F

The meat was then wrapped in foil, and some moisture was added to keep things from burning or getting too dry inside the foil. The liquid ended up being 1/8 cup each of Red Boat Fish Sauce and liquid amino acids and 1/4 cup of water. My hope was to add some additional flavor and get that umami punch from the fish sauce and amino acids.

Raining, who stops cooking

In the foil
The meat cooked in the foil for 1 hour at 225F, then I shut down the cooker and let it coast to a rest for 30 minutes. The meat was then pulled and allowed to rest without the steam. Initially, there was a whiff of the fish sauce which was a little concering, but, it dissappated and was replaced with the aroma of apple smoke and pastrami.

Sliced Smoked Corned Beef
Here is a shot of the sliced corned beef, showing the pink color and the breakdown of the connective tissue. This was looking good. But, I forgot to buy bread. Problem, solved since I love rice with corned beef, why not with smoked corned beef?


Why not a deconstructed pastrami sandwich, with rice instead of bread. I did make a nice mustard sauce, with a little mayo, hot sauce, sauerkraut juice blended in. It has a nice mustard and chile bite. The sauerkraut was added in, some steamed rice and the smoked corned beef. This was a good plate of food. Then it hit me...

Really? Sushi?
Only a lunatic would think this was a good idea, but, it seemed like a little quick work with some coconut infused white balsamic vinegar would give the necessary sugar and sour bite to make some sushi rice. Then a little mustard sauce on the rice, some slices and then a drape of the same mustard sauce. A little sauerkraut in place of grated daikon and there you go. Weird, yes, indeed, but it tasted really good.