Posts from the ‘appetizers’ Category

Kim Chee Tako Poke

I am on a appetizer kick lately and was jonesing for some good ‘ol Hawaiian style pupus. Poke is without a doubt the biggest thing I miss about the islands and unfortunately have a very difficult getting my hands on any decent Ahi or tuna that would do the dish justice. If you are ever on Oahu and want to try what I consider to be the best poke on the island I strongly suggest you check out JJ’s Seafoods on Kamehameha Highway in Kaneohe. It is run by an elderly couple and these people know their poke. If you stop by tell them Cole sent you and they might just hook you up with a free bag of boiled peanuts, another island specialty. The coolest thing about poke is that there really aren’t any rules. I’ve seen poke made out of ahi, marlin, salmon, mussels, octopus, scallops and even tofu! Normally the main ingredient (any of the above) are cubed into 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch pieces and then mixed with a wide range of ingredients (ie. ogo or limu (crunch seaweed), green onions, sweet onions, sesame seeds and/or oil, cukes, soy sauce, chili peppers, hawaiian salt, kim chee base, etc.). Poke is truly indigenous to the islands and couldn’t go any better with a cold brew. Ahhh…I can almost feel the ocean breeze.

While persuing our local Asian market, Lee Lee’s, I found whole frozen octopus or tako if you are in Hawaii…not to be confused with a taco…big difference. The great thing about tako is that freezing it doesn’t jack it up like freezing ahi does. In fact freezing tako improves the chewy flesh and helps make it a little softer. There are tons of web based suggestions ranging from boiling it in beer or sake to adding a few wine corks to the boil. After deliberating I decided to soak it in some salt water for about 4 hours (changed it 3 times).

Tako Time

After the soak I put it on cutting board and proceeded to give it pretty good pounding with my meat mallet. This is supposed to further break down the chewy flesh. In Hawaii some of the locals that catch plenty tako actually have cement mixer that which they use solely for the purpose of tenderizing the tako. Others place it in a five gallon bucket with some Hawaii salt and use their hands to tenderize it.

Pot 'o Tako

After a 45 minute boil session

After the pounding I put it into a pot of salted boiling water and boiled it for about 45 minutes until it completely changed colors and took on a reddish type color.

Off with 'ya legs!

After removing from the water I wiped it off and began disassembling the legs from the body.

Chopped Tako

Next, I sliced the legs into thinn slices and did the same with the head and body and placed them in the bowl.

Kim chee base, sweet onions and green onions

Then I assembled the ingredients that I was going to add to the tako for my poke. I had some kim chee base which is traditionally used to make Korean style Kim Chee (spicy fermented/pickled vegetables), some green onions and sweet onions. Later I decided to add some sesame seeds and a tablespoon of sesame oil.

Kim chee tako poke...bring on the brews!

After I mixed my ingredients together I added it to the tako and tossed until thoroughly coated. Voila…Kim Chee Tako Poke. Give this dish a shot and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Pickled Garlic Sausage

The Super Bowl is quickly approaching and I thought it would be a fun to try and replicate a classic Mid-West dive bar specialty to go along with my pickled eggs…none other than the pickled sausage. I fondly remember my grandmother’s bar off Route 4 in Ohio where pickled eggs sat on one side of the bar and pickled sausage on the other. Since leaving Ohio back in 1998 I have often thought back on those little delicacies and wished I had a big fat jar of them in my fridge. Well, I decided to take the bull by the horns and take a crack at making my own. I did quite a bit of research on pickling recipes that I thought would come closest to what I remember and finally ran across one that sounded good. Next I began thinking about what type of sausage to pickle and saw the Fresh Garlic Sausage recipe in my Charcuterie book. I already had some pork shoulder on hand and decided that this would do the trick.

I gathered the other ingredients and prepared to proceed with the pickled sausage project.

The fresh garlic recipe called for:

5 pounds pork shoulder, diced
40 grams kosher salt (3 tablespoons)
10 grams ground black pepper (1 tablespoon)
54 grams minced garlic (3 tablespoons)
1 cup good red wine, chilled

After grinding the pork I mixed it with the spices and wine and mixed for about 3 minutes (until the paste looks sticky). Again, I cannot stress enough the importance of temperature. Cold is the key and I like to refrigerate/freeze my grinder blade, plate, stuffer, pork and wine to ensure all remains nice and frosty.

Next, I decided to stuff the garlic sausage into sheep casings which are much skinnier and would pickle much quicker than a sausage stuffed into a hog casing.

After all of the garlic sausage was stuffed I hung it in the smoker at 180 degrees and hit with about 2 hours of hickory smoke and smoke cooked until the internal temperature hit 160 degrees.

Once the garlic sausage was cooked I transferred it to an ice water bath so that I could quickly cool it down and prevent shriveling from occurring.
Last I cut the garlic sausage sticks into the exact length of the jar where they are going to pickle in.

Meanwhile, I prepared my pickling liquid which consisted of:

4 cups White Vinegar
2 cups Water
2 tablespoons Salt
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper seeds
1 tablespoon Tabasco

I brought the pickling mixture to a boil and then chilled it in the refrigerator. While the pickling liquid cooled I stuffed the jars with the garlic sausage sticks and then filled with the cooled pickling liquid.

I waited for about 3 weeks and tried a stick and saw where the potential was there however, disappointed that the pickling liquid had not fully penetrated the sausage stick. I decided to remove all of the sausage sticks and use a needle to thoroughly poke the sausage. I returned them to the jar for another 3 weeks and am happy to report that the pickling liquid had worked its magic. With that said, I am not sure that garlic sausage is the right sausage to use and will try again with something else…most likely a beef sausage style.

On a final note I am excited to report that I finished two batches of what will be my first dry-cured salami. I did a 5 pound batch of the Peperone and a 5 pound batch of the Tuscan Salami from Charcuterie and have it in my curing chamber as we speak. It is only 2 days in and I was happy to see nice solid coating of white mould on each of them today…for those who don’t know that is a good thing! I will put a post up in a few days.

Traditional Dill Pickles

I continue to work my way through Chapter 1, Salt, and decided to tackle the Traditional Dill Pickles recipe. I found some decent Persian cucumbers at our local Asian market. Ruhlman specifically tells you that the quality of the vegetable is imperative. He suggests only pickling when they are garden fresh or abundant at your local famers market. If you do not the likelihood of producing a crisp pickle is not good. While the Persian’s I purchased looked pretty fresh I will confirm that they were not crisp however, they still where pretty darn good. So good that I would definitely do it again. I did some research and there is quite a bit of debate on additives to consider for making the pickle stay crisp. Pickle Crisp (which is calcium chloride) marketed by the people who make Ball jars is one option that appears to be popular.

Pickle Time

I gathered all of my ingredients necessary to make the pickles, recipe follows:
The Brine
5 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon dill seeds
½ cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon Pickling Spice
5 cups water
3 Serrano peppers, sliced in thirds (not in Ruhlman’s recipe but I couldn’t resist)

1 bunch fresh dill
10 pickling or baby cucumbers

Boil the brine

Once I had my ingredient assembled I combined all of the spices with the water to create the pickle brine. I brought the brine to a boil and let it go for about 5 minutes.

Let's get pickled!

Next I took my cucumbers, fresh dill and Serrano pepper and layered them into the jar.

Into the fridge for a about a month

Once the brine had completely cooled I filled the jar of cukes with it and refrigerated for about a month before giving one a try. Wow! The Serrano peppers came through loud and clear! If you don’t like spicy pickles I do not recommend using the Serrano’s. Next time I make a batch I think I will add some garlic to see how it goes.

Not too long ago I had the distinct pleasure of trying some fried dill pickles at Hooters. While the jury is still out on their wings I will tell you that their fried pickles are the best I have had to date. With that in mind I set out to make a batch at home for myself less the hooters.

I tried a recipe that I found on the web which used a beer-type batter which I didn’t particularly care for. Hooter’s brand uses more of a flour type breading and possibly some corn meal added as well. I found another fried pickle recipe from Bobby Flay and the Food Network which were much closer.

Pickled and Fried

This recipe called for an egg wash and then flour dip. The egg dip called for 2/3 cup of pickle juice, 1 large egg, a few dashes of Tabasco and tablespoon of flour. To the flour I added a teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika, Habanero pepper, garlic powder, black pepper and kosher salt.

Next, I sliced my dill pickles on my handy dandy Matfer mandolin which has a waffled blade. I think the ridges give the flour a bit more surface area to grab on to.

I added my sliced pickles to the egg wash and then transferred them to the seasoned flour and coated lightly, giving them a tap on the side of the bowl as I removed them.

Fry until GBC

Lastly, I heated my vegetable oil up to 375 degrees and proceeded to fry the pickle slices until golden brown and crispy.

Fried Dill Pickles

The redneck in me said ketchup and so it was…nothing fancy but these guys could make you the MVP of the upcoming Super Bowl party.