A blade shines in the darkest of the nights
After months of hesitating to join Daring Cooks, I decided to take the plunge. I'm excited but at the same time scared - what if I can't meet up the challenges?
For my first Daring Cooks Challenge (the November 2009 one is brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen), we are asked to make sushi from scratch. Lucky me, I love sushi!
After a bit of researches, I found that the traditional form of sushi is fermented fish and rice, preserved with salt. The fermentation of fished and rice produce vinegar which breaks the fish down into amino acids. This results in 1 of 5 basic tastes (along with sweet, salty, etc.) called umami in Japanese (a.k.a. glutamates). Narezushi, the oldest form of sushi in Japan, still resembles closely to this process and it has evolved into Oshizushi, and finally Edomae Nigirizushi to which the world knows today as Sushi
Although sushi in various forms has been around for fourteen centuries, the modern version was invented in Japan by Hanaya Yohei (1799-1858) at the end of Edo period in Edo. An early form of fast food where a 'hand-formed' sliced fresh fish and vinegared rice ball could be eaten with one's hand on roadside or in a theatre. This sushi was known as Edomae zushi because it used freshly caught fish in the Edo-mae (Edo Bay or Tokyo Bay). Nowadays, sushi is made with various seafood, meats and vegetables, raw and cooked.
There are 4 parts in this challenge and I will show you how to make each of this in separate posts for easy reference:
It's really fun making your own sushi. I challenge you to do make some! But first, let's learn how to make Sushi Rice, the process is somewhat long but not as complex as it looks.
Total Preparation time: 1¾ hours
Sushi vinegar dressing
Preparing the Rice Vinegar Dressing
Turning out the rice
The rice turned out perfect and deliciously good. It's worth making your own sushi vingear as you will taste a big difference. (I did not add sake or dashi konbu to my rice)
Sushi is easy and cheap to make at home. Best of all, you do not need to use any special equipment to make this and it is fun to make together with family and friends.
To maximize your time in preparing sushi, prepare your rice vinegar dressing, sushi fillings and toppings while rice is draining and soaking.
If you cannot get sushi Rice, replace it with short (round or pearl) or medium grain rice. Do not use Arborio, long-grain, or parboiled white rice.
For rice vinegar, make sure there is no salt or sugar added in it. You can substitute it with apple cider vinegar, and if you don't have apple cider vinegar, use mild white wine vinegar or mild red wine vinegar. Do not use normal white vinegar - it's too harsh.
Dashi konbu - or ( dashi kombu) - dried kelp, it looks like broad, leathery, wrinkly greenish ribbon often coated with a white powder. The darker green the leaves, the better the quality of kelp. Dashi konbu adds a refreshing light ocean taste to sushi rice.
Keeping the rice moist
Cover with a damp, lint free cloth to prevent the rice from drying out while preparing your sushi meal. Do not store sushi rice in the refrigerator. Leave it on the counter covered at room temperature. Sushi rice is best used when it is at room temperature. Cooked sushi rice can be placed in plastic bags and frozen for 3 months, microwave when needed.
My sincere apologies to my readers for my lack of posts lately. I promise to do better and get back on the wagon on things - it just seems my routine has been shattered after moving house.
Little One was ill with flu and cough (so did Pierre). She seems to have made a fast recovery but she still coughs a bit now and then. Now the super bug has caught up with me and I'm sick again. It seems that as a girl born and raised under the equator, I'll never get used to winter !
Now back to food, while going through my documents, I realized that I have not posted this interesting dish that I made some time back. Who would have thought a combination of pork with dried fruits stuffing would turn out this delicious. Oh... please avoid making the same mistakes as I did.
Making the crispy rind strips
Making the sauce
Although my roast didn't have enough fats to cover it and keep it moist, it still turned out good and tasted fine on its own without the sauce. The taste of it...how shall I describe it? Imagine taking a bite of the roast, you get the tasty taste of meat and fruity flavoured rice - salty, sweet and a bit acid (from the prune) all in one. Pretty interesting tasty combination isn't it. Hmmm... roasted pork !
Shame on me: I didn't make the crispy rind as my pork roast came with a small layer of fats only.
I sliced the meat on the wrong side. Instead of length wise, I cut it width wise as you can see from the photo. Duh!
I bought the meat prepackaged from the supermarket that had hardly any fats. So if you are buying a prepackaged one like me, do ask your butcher for extra skin fats. It would make a difference to the roast as it would keep the meat moist and prevents it from drying out.
After spending a week in Paris with the public transport on strike, we were lucky enough that the TGV (bullet train) decided to resume work over the weekend and we were able to get home without a hitch 2 weeks ago. Last week it was Air France's employees turn to stop work - in a big way on La Toussaint's holidays. Thousands of peoples ended up as hostages, stuck at the airport with no flight to return home for their work the next day or worst ... some found themselves spending their holidays at the airport going nowhere. Thank goodness, we didn't planned any trip. My friend, Bee Ean posted some funny caricatures about this whole mess.
It seems like November will also be a worthy month for strikes: I just heard on the news that EDF (electricity company), SNCF (trains) & other public transport are threatening to go on strike (again) next week. The fishermen, in difficulties because of rising oil prices, are also demonstrating and threaten to block the petrol supplies. Looks like it will be a fun month for the French and Mr Sarkozy.
Anyway, as I was saying, we got back from Paris to find a day old expired bottle of milk in our fridge. We decided to salvage it by turning it into a all time delicious and favourite French dessert, Gateau de riz or Rice Pudding.
As I was pressed for time, I did a simple version of it - just the pudding without fruits and the meringue (we covered it with home-made strawberry jam instead). It still tasted as good but I have to admit that the fruits and meringue version (which Michèle normally makes) give this pudding a special taste and kick. The meringue is soft and creamy - it's like you are eating a coating of melted marshmallows. It's a rather filling dessert that'll keep you from going hungry too soon.
Bibimbap (literally means "mixed rice" or "mixed meal" ) is one of most popular dish in Korea - a simple yet highly nutritious meal incorporating a variety of different vegetables along with beef and egg. In many parts of Korea, they also serve a vegetarian version, as well as another variation called dolsot bibimbap ("dolsot" meaning "stone pot" ) - served in an iron or stone pot or bowl with a raw egg on top of it. The bottom of the pot is then coated with sesame oil making the layer of the rice touching the bowl golden brown and crispy.
My Korean friend Sol-Yi, who introduced me to Gochujang Bulgoki, also prepared Bibimbap for my Japanese friend Yumi and I for lunch in her tiny student apartment. It was simple yet filling, nutritious and delicious. Both of us loved this dish immediately. Since then, I have made it a few times at home and as I change the ingredients, each time the taste of my Bibimbap is unique and different.
Hehehe... when you mix it up, it really doesn't look that appetizing but it is truly delicious. Normally I always put some bean sprouts in my Bibimbap but this time, I decided to try out with the bell pepper. It gives a different taste but still delicious. I have yet to try it with mushrooms and other chinese vegetables.
What I like about this dish is its versatility - you can use any type of vegetables. You can turn this dish into totally vegetarian or you can include some meat. Some of the vegetables commonly used in bibimbap include julienned cucumber, zucchini, carrot, mu (white radish), mushrooms, doraji(bellflower root), and nori, as well as spinach, bean sprouts, and gosari (bracken fern stems). Dubu (tofu), either plain or sauteed, or a leaf of lettuce may also be added, and beef can be substituted with chicken or seafood.
Pineapple - a good source of manganese, rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin B1, exotic in fragrance and tangy in taste - my family's favourite but strangely not mine. Frankly tried as I might to like this lovely fruit, I'm still not a big fan of it ... perhaps it's the strange juicy mix of sweet and sour that just doesn't please my palate.
Pierre has been asking me to cook pineapple rice for him ever since he had this dish when we were in this Thaï restaurant in Los Angeles 2 years ago but somehow it has always slipped off my mind I wonder why ...hehehe. Then at the supermarket recently, he casually remarked that the big wagon of juicy delicious pineapples would certainly make a delicious plate of pineapple rice... huuu, what, where, which pineapples?
(taken from Thai Cooking)
If you like pineapples, you'll certainly like this one. And even if you are not a big fan of it like me, it's in fact quite nice. Sweet and salty at the same time, and it goes well with any spicy meat dish.
The book said that it is important that the cooked rice be refrigerated overnight before making fried rice and I forgot about it. So I cooked my rice early in the morning, letting it cool down before putting it in the refrigerator and cook it later that evening. It still works. The rice is easy to cook and separate well in the hot wok. Never try to cook fried rice using freshly cooked steaming rice: I have tried that before and the result I get is a big ball of fried rice.
Reduce the quantity of chilies if you are not used to spiciness or simply leave it out. It still tastes good.
Pineapples are chill-sensitive so do not store them in the refrigerator.
(Taken from Indian - Shehzad Husain & Rafi Fernandez)
Serves : 6
It was good but it wasn't as fragrant as I thought it would be. Everyone seems to enjoy it though. I have an empty pot at the end of dinner.
Perhaps this is because I used the rice cooker instead and I put a little bit too much water -the rice wasn't fluffy and loose. Unfortunately yesterday night I was rushed for time to prepare dinner so I didn't try out their method.
And also the book asked for green cardamom pods but I didn't have any so I used white cardamom instead. I don't know whether this has any effect on the final results or not. Will have to try this recipe another time and let you know the differences.