Monday, September 27, 2010

Mushroom and Tofu Dumplings in Miso-Genmaicha Broth

For lunch, Di and I made simple mushroom and tofu dumplings in a shiro miso and genmaicha broth with bok choy. A fun little project and satisfyingly warming lunch for a dreary, rainy, cold Sunday.

Also a good reminder of how well seasoned dumpling filling needs to be to stand out in a bowl of richly flavored soup.

That's Some Well-Hung Meat, Sir

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Duck Bacon

12 duck legs are in Ruhlman/Polcyn's Simple Cure (recipe here), hopefully I'll get to smoke them on Saturday, when there's more space in the kitchen. The last few Saturday's we've done more elaborate projects for family meal, and I hope to keep that new tradition alive.

On the home front, I've got a few pounds of pork belly I bought at a Chinese market in Rockville curing in the fridge for pancetta. I'll hang it somewhere on Saturday.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


We have an insane amount of duck legs in our freezer. At least 100 pieces. Probably more than 150. I am allowed to use them for family meal, and I have. Am I allowed to cure them and hang them from the ceiling?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Flavor Purism

Just another internal contradiction.

One voice inside of me is obsessed with purity of flavor. Some preparations, at least those that bear the name of a single ingredient, like 'apple puree' or 'chicken stock,' should taste like the concentrated essence of that ingredient, unsullied by other flavors. I want chicken stock to taste more like chicken-y than chicken does, and apple puree to punch me in the mouth with its clarity and force. Flavor enhancers are acceptable: salt, acid, spiciness, MSG are all fine by me. But ingredients that add their own flavors can bother me. I am always hesitant to add mirepoix to my stocks. I don't think a vegetable soup should be made with chicken, or even vegetable, stock. Black pepper has its own flavor: nix it. I am always most impressed when a flavor shocks me with its purity.

On the other side of my brain is a love of dishes with complex, even muddled, flavors. Braises, stews, curries. I love all of them, and I'm much better at making them and other rustic fare than at making clear, simple, bright preparations. Maybe the more complex preparations are inherently easier, or maybe it's just my lack of experience with the others. I've given up choosing one philosophy over the other, but I'm still searching for a balance, or a harmony.