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Mangalitsa Belly, Part II

The second preperation of the mangalitsa belly is going to be a confit. Confit by definition is a cut of meat cured then slow cooked in it’s own fat. It is then stored in the fat as a method of preserving the meat.

Bought the last of the rendered lard from flying pig farm. No... on TwitpicIt’s a very simple preperation. The difficult part is getting enough of the animal fat to cover what you want to cook. Since your meat are going to be soaking in the fat for a good few hours, the quality of the fat is very important. Michael from mosefund farm offered me some leaf lard for rendering. As good as it sound, the thought of leaving my oven on 350F overnight or having my tiny tiny apartment smell like bacon for the next three days doesn’t sound too appealing. Luckily, I found the next best thing from Union Square farmers market: rendered leaf lard from flying pig farm.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic I cut the belly in 3 inch x 3 inch cube, pad dry with kitchen towel and covered liberally with the following dry rub and leave it for 48 hours in the refrigerator

1/2 lb of five spice powder
1/2 lb of salt
A few clove of garlic, slice paper thin

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic After 2 days in the refrigerator I washed the rub off, pad dry with kitchen towel and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180F. I heat the lard on the stove in a thick saucepan or a casserole to 180 F. Place the belly piece in skin down, covered and place in oven for 7 hours. After 7 hours put the casserole in an ice bath then into the fridge. The ice bath is purely to help cooling the content down to 70F within 2 hours to comply with NYC health code. The belly piece needs to sit in the fat for at least one day. it will keep in the fat in the fridge for a few months. When ready to eat, fish one out and melt the fat to fetch the piece.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic when ready to serve, heat a some lard in a pan to 350 F. Fry the belly piece skin down until the skin is golden and crispy. slice into 1/4 slices. I serve it with some rice flour buns, cilantro, leeks, hoisan sauce and chopped and fried peanuts.

1 comment July 26th, 2009

Mangalitsa Belly (五花腩), part I

About two months ago after hearing Ajit twit about his Mangalitsa dinner at Monsoon, I was determined to find me some this stuff. Mangalitsa is a breed of pig bred for it’s fat traditionally for lard production rather than for it’s meat. Immediately I thought of the pork belly.

Pork Belly (五花腩) has always been a staple in Chinese cuisine. So important that the Chinese government setup a Strategic Pork Reserve to mitigate chances of a national riot due to pork shortage. The name literally means five flower belly, where the word “flower (花)” is often used to describe the pattern on a piece of marble. Five refers to the distinct layer of meat and fat on a belly cut.

Wooly pig is the primary breeder in the US. I contacted Heath to see if they have any retail outlets in New York. He got me in touch with Michael Clampffer from Mosefund farm, who agree to let me participate in the upcoming pig share. The farm had a few pig that’s due in mid July. You speak for the part that you want when the pig is still young, and when the pig grows up you share it with other people. I spoke for half a belly and the jowl. This is pork belly future in its true form.

My cut arrived in mid July. I decided to braised the half of my belly cut in soy sauce and do a confit for the other half. Pork Belly braised in sweet soy sauce is one of the most common way Chinese enjoyed pork belly. It’s long and slow cooking time breaks down some of the fat and makes the meat off the bone tender. I cut the pork belly in 3 inch by 3 inch cube and marinated them overnight in the following sauce. This will give it a nice brown color

  • 4 table spoon dark soy sauce
  • 4 table spoon water
  • 2 table spoon grated ginger
  • 1 table spoon raw sugar

Soy sauce taste test.I taste tested two different type of soy sauce and decided to used both. Soy sauce is brewed from fermented soy beans using bacteria and aged in wooden barrels. The Chinese one on the right has a deeper and more earthy taste, less salty but with a slight aftertaste possibly from preservatives. The Japanese one to the left has a floral note, tasted much brighter but with a higher salt content. Because salt content varies a great deal, alway try before you use it for braising.

soy sauce and spices

Preheat oven to 175F. Toast the star anise and sichuan peppercorn in a casted iron cassarole. Add the rest of ingredients to the cassarole. Add the prok belly pieces in. Add water until the bellies are covered all the way by the braising liquid. Take out the belly pieces and brin the liquid to a boil. let the braising liquid cool to 180F. Place the belly in the cassarole with skin facing down. Weight down with pie weight if you have them. Place in oven for 24 hours. Check periodically to make sure braising liquid is between 160 to 170F. Make sure the liquid never falls below 140 at any time.

After 24 hours you should see a layer of fat floating on top. Save them for stir fry or as topping for steamed rice or noodle with dried shrimp eggs. Remove the belly carefully from the pot. By now they should have shrunk quite a bit. Leave the belly to cool in the fridge overnight.

just had a piece of braised pork belly that beats foie gras. When ready to serve, I sliced them in half inch slices and put them in microwave for 10 seconds. If you have reserve about the microwave, you can use a heat lamp as well. But since it contains little water, this is the best way to warm it up without disturbing much of it’s texture. At this point you should see the fat just starting to ooze out of the warm belly slice, giving it a nice shiny glaze. I served it with a bowl of steamed rice and Chinese mustard green. I slowly took a bite into the piece. At first the soft and gelatinous skin give a tiny bit of resistance, before letting my teeth penetrate throught to the warm soft flesh. The fat is silky smooth, with a much finer and delicate texture than any belly fat I have had. Just when I was savoring it the piece melts in my mouth into this intense liquid that’s every bit as good as seared foie gras but without any of the organ after taste. It was havenly. When I finished the belly pieces the rice is coated with the same flavor that reminds me of the two tiny pieces of heaven I just had.

2 comments July 21st, 2009

There’s low heat and there is low heat.

My friend Ronnie in Hong Kong was complaining to me the other day that he always burn his creme anglaise (ice-cream base) on the stove. I was puzzled cuz I would always leave mine on low heat unattended for minutes at a time. Then I looked this up: Share photos on twitter with Twitpic This is the lowest end of some of the gas ranges you can get in Hong Kong. It cost about $150 USD but is capable of providing almost 18000 BTU, the equivalent of what a Viking can produce. So unfair.

See my other post about electric range here

Add comment July 5th, 2009

Burbon night

Went to a bar with 150 burbon called char #4.  The barman recommended 4 of them and when I describe one of them as fishy and salty like a Islay malt,  he’s totally confused.  Then I realized the term “fishy” that I have been usign to describe whiskey I was actually referring to a Chinese food item “preserved salted fish” that few people in the state knows about.

Add comment April 26th, 2009

Storing macaroon

I like macaroons, but they have such a short shelf life that I can only get one or two at a time.  Put some macaroon and a wet sponge in my wine fridge last week.  They are still good ;D  I think they will prbably last a few more days too.

Add comment April 19th, 2009

Electric Range

I had to shop for an electric range for my mom’s place over the weekend.  We went to Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Best Buy; and I asked the sale the same question: “Which one of these is more powerful?”  Asian cooking requires a higher temperature so the ingredients can be cook in a shorter amount of time before the cellulose structure breaks down making the vegetable soggy.  It also help to seal the juice inside those bite size slices of meat using only one round of cooking.

I would think that’s a pretty common question.  After all, gas range do tell you that information in the form of BTU.  BTU stands for British thermal unit, and it represent the amount of energy need to raise the temperature of 1 lb of water by 1 degree.  Simply put, heating or cooling power.  As it turns out, measuring power is pretty simple for gas range.  Gas range produce heat by burning natural gas.   A working range will burn the fuel completely, meaning there will be no wasted unburned part that stick to the bottom of your pan or dissolve into the air.  Assuming we don’t do any mixing or pressurizing of the fuel, how much power the range can produce is directly related to the flow of gas regulated by the range head.  The bigger the head, the more powerful the range.  Heat is then transfer to the pot to cook our food.
Electric range generate heat by passing electric current through the coil element.  The resistant property in the coil element will heat up and glow red.  Heat is then transfer from the coil to smooth surface, then to the pot to cook our food.  The higher the resistant, the greater the heat being generated, the higher the current draw.  In theory we can measure the current draw in watts and assess the power output of the range.  So I am surprise that makers of electric ranges don’t make that information.

The reality is these numbers are a little bit more complicated.  The efficiency in which the coil covert electricity into heat is different in different brands and model.  The heat tranfer ability of the glass or ceremic cover is also different.  There is no standard of measuring how much of that wattage is being transferred to the pot, and how much is being used to heat the coil, the air around it and the smooth top.  That makes comparing gas vs electric range virtually impossible.

What consumer advocate group should do is to test the different makes and model of ranges in the market for efficiency and speed of heating 1 gallon of water at a controlled environment.  All I want to know is which model within my budget can boil a pot of water at the shortest amount of time and what my energy cost is going to be !!  

1 comment August 28th, 2008

Tempura Bar

NYC has it fair share of authentic edo style sushi and kansei kaiseki; and until recently an almost authentic ramen place and soba place.  But we still haven’t had an authentic tempura bar.  In Japan tempura is a specialty like sushi usually served in tempura bars.  Item and batter are freshly made, fried in low temperature into a light and fluffy cloud.  There are couple of palces that has good tempura, but none of them sepcialize in just that.  As it turns out, there was one near Soto called FryBar that opened for about 8 months.  It folded due to lack of demand :(   too bad I didn’t get to try it before it closes.

Add comment August 23rd, 2008

Tofu ice-cream

Tried making tofu ice-cream this weekend.  I was experimenting with both store bought American made tofu made for smoothie and homemade tofu from Japanese soy milk.  The store bought tofu is a lot whiter, has a lighter texture and a chalky after taste; where the home made one from Japanese soy milk has a yellowish color and denser.

According to this paper , a higher concentration of calcium chloride solution in the tofu making process will yield more tofu mass.  So commercial process tofu will likely to have a chalkier taste.  Next time I’ll probably do 100% home made tofu, reduce the sugar and no eggs.

3.5 cups of Japanese soy milk

4 tbl spoon or nigari

1/2 cup of heavy cream

1/2 cup of sugar

2 egg yolk
Bring 3 cups of soy milk to 165 degree, stir in the nagari.  Let stand for 10 minutes, do not stir.  Strain with cheese cloth, blend in blender and return to pot with the rest of the liquid.  Beat the sugar and egg yolk in a seperate bowl.  Bring liquid to boil, and temper the egg by adding the hot liquid slowly.  Reutn the mixture to the pot, bring it to rudding consistency usign low heat.

Refrigerate overnight and follow the instruction of your ice-cream making machine.

Add comment July 26th, 2008

two and a quarter seat

Went to Del Posto this past Monday for dinner.  The pasta were great, but the coolest thing was that the restaurant has these little seats for the women’s handbag.  They are 1/4 the height of the chair and come in matching style with the chairs: mohargony legs and overfilled top cushion covered in French styled fabric.  It make a lot of sense as the bag don’t have to take up a seat or sit on the floor or hung around the chair.  The handbag seat but the bag at a height that the diner can reach the content easily.  Next time you go there remember to ask for them.

Add comment November 16th, 2007

NYC Sushi

I went to blue ribbon for the first time last Thursday. I was surprised I’ve never been there after all these time. Partly because of the review that I’ve been hearing about is not about the blade work or the quality of the fish, or the innovative use of traditional ingredient, but instead that the piece of fish is very big.

Fish comes in season just like vegetables. Every year between the end of October to the start of December the variety of fish increases dramatically. And that’s the time to hit the good sushi restaurants in NYC. Most of them usually import their fish directly from Japan and the west coast, and when the supply is abundance, it make economical sense to get the more interesting items.

It was an awesome treat. My friend and I had two type of uni in the shell–one from Santa Babara and another from Maine, orange clam on the shell, cherry sea bream (madai), ice fish, golden sea bream, wild horse mackerel from Japan, sweet river shrimps and the best of all, yuzu pepper sea eel.
Of the many high end sushi restaurants in NY that I’ve been to, my favorites (if not considering budget) are: Sushi Zen, Jewel Bako sushi bar, Blue Ribbon, Sushi Yasuda, Sushi Seki, 15 East sushi bar, Jewel Bako main dinning room, Matsuri, Ushiwaka Maru and Sushi of Gary.

Hm… Where should i go next?

1 comment November 11th, 2007

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