Oxtail Summer Stew: must eat it with your fingers!

Image from: Dictionnaire Universel de Cuisine et d’Hygiène Alimentaire
—Joseph Favre  1894—


In the the late 19th century French nomenclature for beef cut classification
(see picture above), beef tail ranked as PREMIÈRE CATÉGORIE (first category) — for the top of the tail— &  CINQUIÈME CATÉGORIE (fifth category) for the rest of it, which makes sense as the top of the tail is meatier than the  end.  Ox tail dishes can still be found on the menu of ethnic restaurants: Cuban, Chinese, Korean, but not so often in main stream place. To buy them your best choice will be  a supermarket with  any of the ethnic presences cited above, though personally I avoid any “industrial” meat and stick with grass fed. Yes, it is more expensive, but I rather eat less & avoid the hormones, antibiotics, and lousy treatment of the animal.

oxtail"

So I was thrilled to find some beautiful grass feed oxtail cuts at the Park Slope Food Coop,  not only because I love it, but also because it is cheaper than any other cut: $4.63lb. The farm provenance: McDonald Farm in the Finger lakes Region of Upstate NY.  I knew exactly how I was going to  cook them because I surveyed the fridge before going shopping & noticed that a few veggies required immediate use.  So below is my recipe with what was left over in the fridge and would make the dish great.

oxtail"

The only imperatives are:
1- Very long slow cooking
( 6/7 hours minimum)
2- Once fully cooked let the dish rest and eat it the next day, reheated.
3- Eat the tail bones with your fingers, other wise you will be missing all the best parts!

Recipe:
for 2 with a little left over:
2
lbs 1/2 of oxtail
1 onions
3 red pepper
1 green pepper

oxtail"1 zucchini
2 celery rib
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of small porcini mushrooms
1 ripe seeded tomato
—all of the above chopped fine—
1/2 cup of Shitake tails
1 cup of white wine
1 cup of red wine
Salt & lots of freshly ground pepper

Warm 2 tablespoon of duck fat, back fat or olive oil in a skillet; when it is hot, brown the  pieces of tails thoroughly.
Set aside, keep the fat in the pan and sauté the onions, once melted add the red & green pepper, zucchini and celery. Sauté and let sweat for a few minutes. Then add the mushrooms, let them sweat a little ,then add the tomato and the garlic. Mix well, add the tail bones, mix well again, add wine, salt & pepper ,mix. Once the liquid boils, turn it down to a low flame and let simmer for 5/6 hours or more.
You know the meat is perfect when it comes undone easily and falls off the bone. If you can let is rest over night and eat it the next day it will taste even better. Look at Pierre above licking his fingers before he said: “This is absolutely delicious, and you can quote me!”



Voilà 2010!

We sure started the year “en fanfare”…that is: not so discretely! Our new year’s eve  adventures started at 6:30pm for hors d’oeuvres & cocktails at the house of good friends. Thanks god I passed on the very tempting Campari martinis and settled for white white.  The tasty and nurturing Zabar’s appetizers (great chicken liver paté), provided the healthy layer for the boisterous night to come!
Next stop was Pocha 32 —32th street in Manhattan— a quite exotic Korean drinking establishment decorated with fish nets and soju bottle caps. Soju is the Korean national drink. The main ingredient of soju is rice, almost always in combination with other ingredients such as wheat, barley, or sweet potatoes. Soju is clear-colored and typically varies in alcohol content from 10% to 25% proof. It was first known to have been distilled around 1300 A.D and believed to have been brought over to Korea by the Mongol invasion.  I have  a serious problems with Soju:  I have a tendency of drinking it at the same pace as wine and forgetting the alcohol content!


Fishnets and Soju bottle-caps decorations at Pocha 32 (32nd street NYC)

Expertly counseled by our daughter in law we also tasted a very refreshing —and treacherous— beverage: Mak Gul Li (막걸리). This traditional fermented, unfiltered & milky looking liquor is brought to the table in a tin tea kettle and served in bowls. We tried two kinds: one was made with rice and the other  with millet. The rice one looked, and tasted, like carbonated fermented sweet rice milk. The intense yellow/green millet one was a touch more bitter, richer with a more complex finish.

What can be better than spicy tripe and octopus dishes to enhance these potions? Maybe more soup? I got a taste of the fish cake soup (어묵탕), then came Seafood Pah jun (해물파전), spicy stir fried tripes (소곱창 볶음) , followed by spicy baby octopus with pork belly (쭈꾸미 삼겹살 볶음). Overall the food was decent but as I was in a party mood I might have missed some subtleties—though I did noticed the horrible mushy over cooked rice!

After a few hours of jolly time at Pocha, we felt the need to move and one of us had heard of a rooftop bar next near by. We had no trouble finding it and that is were we comfortably settled to toast the new year. The 14th Floor Roof Top bar of the La Quinta Hotel looks up to the Empire State Building —for which I wrote and recorded the French audio tour, and last I heard it is still on! To our surprise the place was not crowded at all but boasted the kind of eclectic bunch of people  only New York City can bring together. So it was with a motley crew of Puertoricans, Mexicans, Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese, French, Germans —and even a young man from Luxembourg,  to Pierre’s astonishment! — that we celebrated well into the night with bubbly clear fermented grape!

It was hard to wake up the next day,  and our stomachs felt a little unsettled, but we showed up right on time to set up my crêpes station at St. Mark Church for the 36th Annual Marathon Reading. Pierre read first and didn’t get my act together to film him —sorry!— The crêpes got sold out pretty quickly. It was really nice to have blog readers stop by say hello —Merci! The place was packed through out the day and despite much of my time spent in the back I got to listen to some very nice reading and music. Voilà! and let’s start the year with a touch of  Gascon language:

Bona annada, plan granada, e de hèra d’autas accompanhada!


Chili or not Chili?

Chili or not chili?

Well, it might be disappointing to you but I will not enter the polemic of what is a “real” chili and what is not. Beans? no beans? If you are a purist just reading now!
This *chili* has beans, Korean black/purple beans. My Korean daughter-in-law’s mother send a shipment of this year’s crop. Called
Suh Ree Pae (서리패), these purple/black beans –with purple flesh- were harvested at a family farm. I was presented with a couple of pounds and I am very thankful to my Korean family. Their chestnut flavor and their buttery texture is exquisite. My daughter-in-law mixes them often with rice. I had no more rice in the house (don’t let the in-laws know that) but a pound of ground beef that needed to be cooked, so I decided to make a bean stew, sometimes called a *chili*. It turned out to be one of the best chilis I had –besides Pierre Joris‘ venison chili.

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Suh Ree Pae 서리패

This recipe is very simple & quick. Leftovers can be brought to work for lunch or can be frozen.One thing though, I like to reheat my beans in a double boiler. The microwave dry them up, I don’t like microwaves oven anyway and at this point I don’t even have one.

Recipe
(for 2 with leftovers)
1 lb Korean black beans(available at Korean Markets, but you can substitute for any kind of black beans)
1 large onion,
diced
2 diced carrots
1 lb grass fed ground beef
3 cloves of crushed garlic
1 or 2 tablespoons of Korean chili flakes (any chili powder can be used, I just wanted to stay in the Korean mode)
Salt to taste
Scallions for garnish

Soak your beans overnight. Cook them al dente and reserve.Coat a skillet with olive oil or duck fat under medium heat ( I still have some duck fat leftover from the Lovy Ducky ) .
Sauté the onions and the carrots. Add the ground beef and sauté thoroughly until the meat has rendered its moisture. Add the chili flakes, salt, beans and mix well.
Add a little water, but remember: your beans are almost cooked so they will not absorb much water. I put just enough to loosen up the ingredients, until the consistency is that of a very thick soup.
Simmer over low flame for 1 hours.
Serve with rice or homemade tortilla chips. That’s what I did; I fried the dough of the tortilla in peanut oil.


Very Healthy Dinner



A toothache plus a little too much sweets and rich food over the holidays prompted this menu. My mouth is healing really well thanks to the care of Jerome Pindell, our family homeopath for 15 years and his referral to Sandra Senzon, a real Tooth Fairy, who is taking me on the path to save seven of my teeth from extraction! After the time to feast, voilà the time to nurture! Life is a question of balance, isn’t it? This dinner is very satisfying and tasty, not austere at all & it might even fit macrobiotic requirements!

Vegetable Soupe with Miso & Seaweed
Brown Rice & Kim Chee
Baked Apples with Cinnamon & Maple Syrup

Green Tea

Vegetable Soup with Miso & Seaweeds
1 Small Onion
1 Carrot
1 Clove of Garlic
1 1/2 Cup of Cabbage
1 little piece of Ginger
1/2 cup of seaweed (like wakame, soaked and cut small)
All veggies are chopped very small
2 Tablespoons of Tamari
Do not add miso until ready to serve. (Miso looses it’s power when overheated/boiled)
1 Tablespoon of Miso (I like hatcho or red miso)

Coat a pan and sauté the onions & the carrots. When the onions are translucent add the cabbage, the garlic & the ginger. Sauté for a few minutes. Add 4 cups of filtered water, add the seaweed & the tamari. Bring to a boil, lower the flame and simmer for 20 minutes or until carrots & cabbage are soft but not mooshy. When you are ready to serve, mix in the miso and make sure you don’t leave any lumps.
Serve with a cup of steamed brown rice and some kimchi.


Baked Apples with Cinnamon & Maple Syrup
Core the apples, place them in a baking dish with a little water on the bottom. Pour 2 tablespoons of maple syrup on top. Bake for 20/30 minutes depending the kind of apple you get. I had forgotten how good these are! (for another occasion you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream!)

Cap it all with a good Green Tea & good health to you!

たらこスパゲティー Tarako Spaghettis


photo by Chiaki Matsumoto

Though Tarako spaghettis are part of Yoshoku food (Western influenced Japanese cuisine) it is interesting to note that this dish also has Korean influence.
Tarako is salted Alaskan Pollock roe, most of the time referred to as cod roe. Pollock and cod are member of the Gadidae family, but different genus & specie. The confusion comes probably from the fact that in Japanese, tara (鱈) means cod. Tarako spaghettis is often made with Mentaiko, the spicy marinated roe, and that is were the Korean influence comes into play. Mentaiko originated from myeongran jeot (명란젓) and was most likely introduced to Japan after World War II. Jeotgal or Jeot (명란젓) is used as a condiment in pickling Kimchi and has it’s origin in Chinese cooking. Tarako spaghettis is a transcontinental dish, just the way I like them.


Plain Tarako pix source from Wikipedia

The recipe is pretty standard and simple, depending where you live the most challenging might be to find the Tarako. Korean and Japanese market carry it, just make sure to avoid the ones with MSG and coloring.

This is the recipe I chose from: http://www.recipezaar.com/135630

Ingredients

  • 2 fish roe, see note 1 (must be Japanese salted cod roe called tarako or karashi mentaiko)
  • 6 ounces spaghettini noodles (or finer)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (or less)
  • 1/4 sheet nori, cut into tiny tiny strips

Note 1: a) Tarako comes in sausage-looking pieces
b)you can choose either the spicy kind (karashi mentaiko) or just plain tarako
c)you can find tarako at the Japanese grocery store, often it is in the freezer.

Directions

  1. Cut open the casing on each piece of tarako and gently scrape or squeeze out the roe.
  2. Discard the casings.
  3. Start your water to boil for the spaghetti.
  4. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and add roe, stirring until the color of the roe changes to a pale orange.
  5. Stir in about half the heavy cream until well blended and heated through. As necessary, you can add the rest of the heavy cream.
  6. Turn off the heat and keep the sauce just warm.
  7. Don’t ask me why, but a friend stirs in a spoonful of Kewpie Mayonnaise before tossing this dish together (I love Kewpie mayo, but I haven’t tried this addition).
  8. Cook the pasta to al dente.
  9. Drain pasta and toss with sauce (sprinkle on the nori over the top just before taking the plates to the table) to serve.

Thank you Chiaki and Kenji to introduce me to Yoshoku cuisine!

Short Ribs & 콩나물국 (kong namul guk)

Last night we were invited to dinner at the home of Joseph & Yoori. Joseph Mastantuono is my older son, and two years ago he and Yoori Kang got married. I am so blessed to have such an incredible daughter (don’t like to say in law, daughter in love would be better!). Yoori came from Korea to study art about 10 years ago; she is a very accomplished cook and I must say that she enchants me with the flavors of Korean food. Joseph and I immigrated from France in 1987. He learned how to cook very young from being with me in restaurant kitchens, It feels like Joseph always knew how to cook, and when he went off to college he cooked for himself very competently and economically. When Joseph and Yoori invite us for dinner usually she or he cooks, but last night it was a combination of both their cooking.

Joseph made Hoisin and Honey Pork Riblets (Gourmet, 1992), a recipe handed on by his good friend Pedro. They were excellent, the sweet & sour marinade & the perfect crispy broiling make for almost addictive morsels: you can’t stop eating them! The contrasting texture of Yoori’s rice & beans opened the palate to subtlety of the ribs. I noticed that the black beans where unusual, Yoori told me that they came from a family farm in Korea, and were sent by her mother. Their Korean name is: 서리페 (suh ree pae). I am curious to find out more about these beans that have a black skin, are greenish inside and have a chestnut like taste.

But what upgraded this meal from excellent to brilliant was 콩나물국 (kong namul guk), a fish & vegetable broth with julienned bean sprouts served cold. A little sip of broth between mouthful of the ribs & rice allowed th palate to reset & refresh for the next one, an experience similar to the concept of pickled ginger between sushi or sashimi.

I ate the salad at the very end as I was so enraptured with the ribs, the rice and the broth. But I do like the salad before desert, this is a French way of having it. For dessert Yoori cut up some nice & crunchy watermelon and while the guys had Armagnac I had green tea.

Merci Joseph et 감사합니다 Yoori for a blissful evening.

PS: Joseph is an online editor and a post-production manager also one of the 4 editors of funnybookbabylon an online podcast on comic books.