Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Char Siu: Vietnamese Roast Pork Shoulder

Every Sunday, I try to find time to cook a large meal with enough leftovers so that I get to skip out on cooking dinner at least a few nights during the week.  During the cooler months, my go to Sunday night meals tend to be braises.  In the warmer months, I go for roast meats, and my absolute favorite roast meat is char siu, a Vietnamese dish consisting of strips of pork shoulder strips that are marinated in a sweet soy sauce mixture, then roasted at very high heat so that the pork on a beautiful reddish brown color.   Crispy on the outside, with a healthy dose of juicy pork fat interspersed throughout the meat, absolutely no other roast meat beats char siu.  Best of all, unlike the usual monotony that comes with leftovers, leftover char siu lends itself to a wide variety of uses; I have tried it by itself, mixed in with fried rice, and over a bed of noodles.  Each preparation reminded me why I love the dish so much. 

Char Siu
Adapted from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen

  • 2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, well trimmed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 3 tbsp Hoisin
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp double black (thick) soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  1. Quarter the pork lengthwise into 1 1/2 inch thick strips.
  2. Combine all of the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the pork to the marinade and cover.  Refrigerate overnight, turning the pork a few times as it marinates to ensure that all sides are well-covered in marinade. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 475F.
  4. Place a flat roasting rack on a baking tray lined with foil.  Place the pork on the roasting rack and place it in the oven.  
  5. As the pork roasts, baste it with the marinade every ten minutes and turn the pork.  Roast until the pork begins to char on the outside and is cooked through, about 35 minutes.  
  6. Remove the pork from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Using a sharp knife, slice the pork strips into very thin slices.  Serve the pork as desired. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Jambalaya for Gulf Oil Spill Relief

Cajun food isn't something I usually consider cooking.  Don't get me wrong--I absolutely love the cuisine--but I associate Cajun food with huge rambunctious gatherings.  I'm thinking bowls full of gumbo, heaping plates of shrimp etouffee, a pot of steaming crayfish, and bananas foster all washed down with loads of Abita and some Professor Longhair tunes.  Slurping down gumbo in a small studio apartment by myself while watching a ballgame just doesn't come to mind when I think Cajun.  So forgive me for the "Gulf-inspired dinner" I cooked for the Significant Eater and myself.  It may just be a few servings of jambalaya, but thanks to the good folks at Foodbuzz, this dinner is so much more than just a plate of jambalaya; by cooking and blogging about it, $25 is donated to the Greater New Orleans Foundation's Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund.  What better reason to start cooking Cajun than this?

Adapted from Food & Wine

  •  1/4 cup olive oil
  • 12 oz. andouille sausage, slice into 1/4-inch thick pieces
  • 1 celery rib, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 1/4 cup white rice
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning 
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 oz. lump crab meat
  • 8 oz. small shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Tabasco, for serving
  1. Heat a large saute pan over high heat.  Add the olive oil and sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is browned on all sides, about 3 minutes.  Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and reserve.  
  2. Add the bell pepper, celery, garlic, and onion to the olive oil.  Stir the vegetable so that they are coated in oil.  Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. 
  3. Add the rice and Old Bay and stir to coat the rice with olive oil.  Cook until the rice is opaque, about 2 minutes.  
  4. Add the stock, water, and thyme to the pan.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and bring the liquid to a boil.  Reduce the heat to very low and cover the pan.  Cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is reduced, about 15 to 25 minutes.  Fluff the rice with a fork.
  5. Stir the shrimp, crab meat, and scallions into the rice and cover the pan.  Continue to cook until the shrimp is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Taste the jambalaya for salt and pepper.  Serve it in bowls, topped with a few drops of Tabasco. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Soft-Shell Crabs with Corn and Chorizo

I'm not sure what got into me this weekend, but when searching for a recipe to for some soft-shell crabs I had purchased, Chanterelle was the first cookbook I pulled off my shelf.  Normally, this cookbook from the late Chanterelle, arguably the first restaurant to bring New American cuisine to the Manhattan, is the last cookbook that comes to mind when I am in need of a simple summer recipe.  Even the simplest  recipes in the gorgeous book require require several pans and a few hours of prep time, making them nearly impossible to pull off in a small kitchen.  Up until this weekend, the cookbook had been relegated to use only for inspiration, so I don't know what made me do it, but I am sure glad that I took the book for a spin with this recipe for soft-shell crabs.  Not only is it fairly easy to make, but the crispy crabs served over a sweet creamy corn with a touch of spicy chorizo present a beautiful combination of flavors, textures, and colors.  This recipe makes more than enough corn and chorizo oil for one dish, so reserve each for another use; both are delicious.

Soft-Shell Crabs with Corn and Chorizo
Serves 2

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 link uncooked chorizo, chopped into 1/4 pieces
  • 1/2 tsp hot Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sweet Spanish smoked paprika
  • 3 tsbp butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp flour, plus more for dredging the crabs
  • 2 cups chicken stock 
  • kernels from 2 ears of corn
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 soft-shell crabs, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  1. Place the olive oil and chorizo in a saute pan and cook over medium heat.  Cook until the oil becomes reddish-brown and the chorizo is crisp, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the paprika.  Remove from the heat and remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and reserve.  Pour the oil into a small bowl and reserve it as well.
  2. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle 1 tsp flour over the onions and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring the entire time to prevent the flour from burning.  Pour in the white wine and bring it to a boil.  Add the stock and corn and let the mixture come to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.  Season the corn mixture with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove 1/3 of the corn to a blender and blend it until it is creamy.  Stir the creamed corn back into the original corn mixture and set it over very low heat.
  3. Place the chorizo oil over very low heat to warm it. 
  4. Head the vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat until it is nearly smoking.   Season the crabs with salt and pepper and dredge them on both sides with flour.  Place the crabs shell-side down in the hot oil and cook until they are crisp and browned, 4 to 5 minutes.  Flip the crabs and cook until the other side is crisp and browned, 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove the crabs to a paper towel-lined plate. 
  5. Spoon the corn sauce over each serving plate.  Top the sauce with two crabs .  Drizzle a tsp of the chorizo oil over each plate.  Top each plate with the chorizo pieces and serve immediately. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Although I am still suffering the ill effects of a meat hangover, this weekend's Meatopia on Governors Island proved to be all that I had hoped.  An outdoor event on a beautiful day that brings together some of the city's top meat-centric restaurants, locally raised meats, bluegrass music, and one of my favorite breweries (Brooklyn's Sixpoint) is sure to please me, but the event beat my expectations.  Not to say that the event was flawless-- most vendors ran out of food well before the event's close and the organizers gave up on their futile attempt to force anyone drinking beer to stay in a segregated area away from any of the food vendors-- but assuming that you arrived on the Governors Island well before the food ran out, you easily got your money's worth on some excellent food. 

NYC favorite Hill Country brought their trailer onto the ferry to Governors Island: 

More importantly, Hill Country also brought some of their brisket:

Porterhouse NY made skirt steak sandwiches:
The soon to open Hurricane Club brought some succulent honey-glazed baby back ribs with Thai basil and mint:

After those three courses, it was time to sit back and listen to some music:
And also drink some of that Sixpoint Beer (this wasn't my personal consumption):
Then it was back to the meat.  This time, I went with I-Que BBQ's pork shoulder.  Not bad for bbq from some Boston boys:

As if I needed more meat, look at what Smokin' Joe's True-Blue Texas Barbecue had on offer:

Sue Torres of Suenos dished up some duck tacos, a nice change of pace from the beef and pork:

Brooklyn's The Smoke Joint grilled some chicken sausages:

Finally, every good Meatopia needs some meatballs (even if they are chicken meatballs, ahem).  And who better to bring some than Manhattan's Meatball Shop:


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