Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Party Like It's 4708!

Well, not until February 3rd but I need to start planning my Chinese New Year foods. Why? Procuring ingredients might require a trip to DC Chinatown or getting a care package from my parents. Do we have any requests for a recipe pictorial?

I want to make gao so I can pan fry slices of it in butter after it becomes hard (I also like fried mochi tossed in kinako and sugar). I think it would be difficult to get DBF to eat jai. Honestly, I don't like jai but my mother made me eat a little bowl every New Year when I was growing up so part of me feels obligated to have jai...same thing with ozoni. Pot stickers? I like pot stickers and it would be useful to have some in the freezer. Jin deui? Maybe if I had help consuming them because they're terrible cold/reheated.

Do you celebrate the lunar new year? Do you have a menu planned? Maybe I should just order take out from the local Chinese joint. Nah...what's the fun in that?

Warm Wishes,

Monday, January 10, 2011

What do you do with a burdock root?

I was teasing this all Saturday on Twitter and here's the answer...konbu maki. It's my father's favorite New Year's food and one of my contributions to the cooks guild meeting that I attended on Sunday. I was unable to find kanpyo at the local Asian market so I had to secure these little flavor bombs with toothpicks.

But what's konbu maki? Seaweed wrapped pork rolls.

Konbu Maki
8 oz. nishime
1 lb pork butt
1 package kanpyo
1/3 c shoyu (soy sauce)
1/4 c sugar
2 T mirin
Gobo (burdock root)

Soak the dried konbu in warm water until it becomes pliable. Cut into 5-6" long strips. Soak the kanpyo in a separate dish.

Scrape the skin off the burdock root and slice into sections the width of the konbu. (I tend to quarter the thicker pieces and half the thinner ones). Par boil the gobo and pork butt (in separate pots) until the pork is cooked through (this is my timer). Slice up the pork so you have enough pieces for the konbu (the goal is to have one piece of gobo and 1 piece of pork in each maki).


This is where you would tie the roll with the kanpyo (or use a toothpick if you don't have any kanpyo).

Put konbu maki in a sauce pan, add enough water to cover (use hot water to speed up the process), and cook until tender (2-3 hours).

Drain out water. Add shoyu, sugar and mirin mixture and simmer for another 30 minutes (or until reduced to a syrup).

Some notes:
  • My grandmother (and other people I know in Hawaii) swear that Okinawan konbu makes the best konbu maki. All the people surveyed are Okinawan so we might be biased. The package of konbu I used was purchased in Okinawa.
  • The original recipe does not call for soaking the konbu, I soak it to reduce the cooking time.
  • The original recipe does not call for par boiling the gobo and pork butt, I do this to reduce the cooking time.
  • Tie the kanpyo around the roll and secure with a knot (I use a square knot) then cut off the ends. I have seen recipes that call for pre-slicing the konbu but I think cutting as you go results in less wastage and a nicer presentation.
  • My father suggested using tofu instead of pork...experiment at will.

Babs: "Honey, that smells so good...pork allergy be damned. Nom nom nom..."

Warm Wishes,

Friday, January 7, 2011

Why start a project if you don't follow through? (Project Update)

Penguin date 7th of January 2011...the not eating out part of the project is not going well. This is mostly due to poor health and general laziness at Blackbird Tavern. But I want to focus on the accomplishments:
  • Boxed mac-n-cheese has been eradicated from the pantry.
  • Same for muffin/bread mixes (1 pouch of brownie mix and 2 pouches of taro pancake mixes remain).
  • We are generating less trash because our food comes in less packaging.
  • The holiday baking supplies have been put away.
  • All the baked good bomb boxes have been mailed and delivered.
  • The New Year's Eve food was well received and we're almost done eating the leftovers.
  • I have the fixings to make a big batch of Japanese style curry this weekend.
  • Thanks to The Kitchn I have a much better method for storing said curry.
  • The green onions that I'm growing from the bunch I purchased at the store are almost ready to plant.
How's your January going? I'm going to make a pilgrimage out to McCutcheon's tomorrow so I can restock my parents' pantry with orange marmalade and strawberry jam.

Best Wishes!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

SiO2 or Al?

I was cooking up the last box of mac-n-cheese on Monday night and I started to think about how I'm going to need to make more things from scratch. Then I started to think about my freezer and batch cooking. I posed this question on Twitter but I thought I'd repeat it here with some detail:

What do you think is more environmentally friendly: using glass (Pyrex) containers or disposable (recyclable) aluminum containers for freezer to oven cooking?

Glass Pros:
  • Reusable.
  • Easy to clean (dishwasher safe).
  • Microwave safe.
Glass Cons:
  • Potential for thermal shock.
  • Expensive.
  • I will eventually have to move and/or sell/donate these containers when I return to Hawaii.
  • Requires storage space.
Aluminum Pros:
  • Inexpensive.
  • Recyclable.
  • Take up little storage space.
Aluminum Cons:
  • Generally a one use item.
  • Not microwave safe.
  • Not sturdy.
Does anybody know how to calculate the amount of energy used to create a glass pan vs an aluminum pan? I did a cursory search and couldn't find anything useful. I imagine that the actual manufacturing energy is less for the aluminum but what about production of the raw materials? Yes, I can buy my glass pans used...but it's hard to find tight sealing lids for the older pieces and I will want lids for freezer storage.

What do you think? Do you have any additional pros and cons? Suggestions?

Warm Wishes,