Wednesday, April 24, 2013

If it's worth doing, you do it yourself

It's funny that we come all the way over to the other side of the world for me to post about our home life, but it can't be dining out and fancy food all the time. That's how you get spoiled. Anyone that knows Deb and I well, know that we appreciate the notion of doing things ourselves. Deb likes replicating the food we like to can get outside in the home kitchen, so this post will be dedicated to these creations.

Bonus Round: Something I cooked

 The simple things

I have fond memories of weekend lunches at home with mum and dad, and this is something mum would often make. It's just a simple normal day food, but it's satisfying in ways fancy foods often aren't. Now that I've grown up I'll have to make it for myself, and I did. The soup is just chicken stock and a little pepper. This is about the standard of my cookery so I'll get to the main courses now.

Steak? Really?

Yes, really! We both love our steak, and when you go out to have steak, firstly it's expensive, and secondly you're always at the mercy of the chef. Go to a nice steak place you say, and then problem number one compounds. Learning to cook a simple steak is easy. Cooking a steak well is the hard part, but as long as you don't forget about it while it's on the stovetop, you can't really go too far wrong. Obviously if you buy the cheapest meat you can find it will not taste nice, if you over-season, if you over-cook, these are all things to avoid when cooking steak. To truly have a steak that's done to your taste, you just have to do it yourself.

Look ma, I can pickle!

Here's something that I can claim to have helped with. When you get takeaway from Hill Country BBQ here, they serve your drinks in genuine pickling jars (which we later found at a dollar shop on 33rd st.), but hey, why not put them to use. We both like our Japanese food and we like the pickled radish appetiser, and thanks to Jeanne, we had Adam Liaw's cookbook "Two Asian Kitchens" that she gave us as a housewarming gift back in Australia. So we had a recipe. Unfortunately we messed up the proportions a little, it's what happens when you deviate from the recipe, they ended up being quite salty, so it looks like we need some practice. We did eventually try again, and they came out too sour, but this was with the correct proportions. We haven't tried again but when we do, we'll know to dial back the vinegar.

 Here's a classic

To anyone that knows Chinese food at all, they know Hainan Chicken. Authentic, chinese food is difficult to find in Manhattan, because all the chinese establishments have been here far too long to remain true to their roots. It's just a matter of fact, and because of that it's been difficult to find this around here. So Deb resolved to cook it herself. She cheated a little and just used two thighs instead of a whole chicken. Unfortunately she forgot to adjust the cooking time accordingly, so it came out a little overcooked. The ginger/scallion/shallot was delicious though. Overall the tastes were all there, the execution just needs a little work.

The rice had won the battle, but we eventually won the war

If you equate my taste in food to home style, you can see clearly that Deb's taste lies towards Cafe style (this only makes sense in Hong Kong chinese context). Baked Pork Chop Rice is another dish that she craves once in a while, and even though you can find this in Hong Kong style cafes here, this was a personal Everest of hers. Unfortunately it was missing Worcestershire sauce because she thought it could do without it. As a result it was missing an extra layer of flavour. Another one to try again, such a big pot lasted us for ages though.

The pièce de résistance

Through this tumultuous journey, I bring you to the peak. BBQ Pork. There's a huge variance in the quality of BBQ Pork that you get in Chinese Butchers these days, so the only way to guarantee quality is to make it yourself. If you remember the Chinese New Year post this is the second time that Deb has made a BBQ Pork thing. This one was a resounding success, with the skin crackly and fragrant, and enough of the seasoning having found it's way into the meat. It goes without saying, it was devoured very quickly.

Plated up for you less barbarous folk out there

So that's it, a short recount of the more special foods on Deb's repertoire, as you can see it sits clearly on the asian end of the spectrum, but hey, you do (cook) what you love (to eat). It's been a very tasty journey if I do say so myself, now excuse me as I get a snack. I've made myself quite hungry...

Fire up the stove again will you? Deb?