Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sauteed Shrimp with Bean Sprouts Braised in Shrimp & Black Pepper Fume

My grandparents and I used to frequent a small sushi restaurant in Manhattan. There was a dish on the menu I had never seen, seemingly simple and yet so packed with flavor as to set the idea of simple cooked bean sprouts on its head. At first I couldn’t place the rich, vaguely sweet and mildly brackish flavor the chef braised the sprouts in to give them such an addicting quality. It wasn’t until one day when we asked them to make it with shrimp that I finally understood the flavors matched, more or less. The quality that gave them their amazing taste was a concentrated shrimp stock; a fume. Sweet and spicy black pepper plays up to the sweetness in the shrimp and complements it in a delightful way. Mildly onion-y and earthy spring onions helped complete the flavor profile.

In this post I’ll try to recreate this dish. Because I loved it with sauteed shrimp I’ve added shrimp. This will help make it more substantial. Get the best shrimp you can, sushi grade, if possible. This dish has so few ingredients they need to be the best of the best.

Sauteed Shrimp with Bean Sprouts Braised in Shrimp & Black Pepper Fume

Makes 4 large servings

12 ounces unpeeled shrimp
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces bean sprouts
3 spring onions
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon neutral oil
Soy sauce, to taste

1. Clean spring onions and chop off the dark green papery upper portions and set aside. Cut the rest into 1 inch segments.
2. Remove heads from shrimp and devein without removing the shells or legs (slice along back of shell to remove veins).
3. In a wok heated to medium high heat, add half the neutral oil, a small dash of soy sauce and a small pinch of pepper & saute shrimp in shells until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove shrimp from heat and set aside to cool.
4. When shrimp are cool enough to handle, remove peels and legs. Add shrimp heads, peels, legs & green papery parts of spring onions to wok over medium heat. To this add sesame oil, 2 cups of water, more soy sauce (to taste) and remainder of pepper.
5. Bring to a gentle simmer and reduce for approximately 30 - 45 minutes (depending upon how much time you have to devote to dinner). Strain stock into a bowl and set aside.
6. Add the remaining oil to the wok and saute the green onions until they begin to soften and caramelize, about 3 minutes. Flip the onions over and saute for another 3 minutes, add bean sprouts and after 1 minute, stock. Cook for another 6 or so minutes, until the sprouts are cooked through completely. In the lastinute, reintroduce the shrimp.

Serve alongside rice or make it an accompanying hot dish the next time you make sushi at home.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

100 ideas for the next 100 blog posts!

So, below is a complete list of the 100 ideas I've thought of that could be next for the blog, as mentioned in the previous post. I'll admit some of them may be rather challenging and some too simple, so I'd love to hear your thoughts, dear readers. Anything you'd like to see go up sooner rather than later?

You may recognize a couple of them from the previous post.

1. tiramisu cupcakes
2. char siu & roasted broccolini congee
3. venison, wine & berry gravy
4. gorgonzola & pan fried homemade gnocchi
5. moist apple ginger spice bread
6. five spice roasted pork belly
7. smoked trout salad with citrus vinaigrette
8. molasses & black garlic teriyaki sauce
9. peach, ginger & black tea jam
10. lychee, raspberry & jasmine tea spread
11. french toast casserole sticks
12. spicy beef mac n cheese bites
13. spicy soy & honey glazed salmon
14. layered veggie baked ziti
15. pan fried garlic chicken
16. best fruitcake
17. niku dango
18. avocado toast with miso aoli
19. spicy sausage and cabbage in cream sauce
20. german potato salad
21. gourmet hot dish (Greek style)
22. choux pastry waffles
23. traditional aji de gallina
24. linguini alla vongole
25. authentic Italian meatballs
26. minestrone
27. bubble and squeak croquettes
28. chicken cacciatore
29. curry bi hon
30. budin azteca
31. enchiladas de jaiba
32. guava filled churros with lime glaze
33. bean sprouts sauteed in shrimp dashi with black pepper
34. butternut squash ravioli in brown butter with gingersnap sand
35. White peach, arugula & smoked mozzarella pizza
36. french peas with escarole
37. mom’s perfect zucchini bread
38. grandma’s zesty roast chicken
39. mexican style sloppy joe’s
40. quick pickled red onions
41. pickled cauliflower
42. brussels sprouts, chevre, walnut and sherry caramelized shallot turnovers
43. bagna cauda
44. crispy pan fried trout hollandaise with haricot vert
45. chicken katsu w/ pineapple teriyaki sauce
46. mom’s tofu pot pie
47. okonomiyaki
48. pan seared salmon, balsamic reduction and baby leeks in cream
49. maple candied bacon and salted peanut donuts with maple sugar glaze
50. turkey, root vegetable & white bean soup
51. honey candied apricot tsimmes
52. stuffed cabbage
53. Italian style lasagne
54. traditional arancini
55. matzoh ball soup
56. garlic fried rice
57. peanut butter cookie cups
58. takoyaki
59. flat bean and zucchini squash soup
60. coq au vin
61. cheesy roasted mushroom veggie burger
62. aji y pesacado causa
63. lomo saltado
64. cheddar stuffed soft pretzels
65. artichoke eggs benedict
66. shrimp al arrabiata
67. Linguini alla marcella with mozarella
68. shrimp grand marinier
69. pork sticky rice
70. coconut milk khao soi “soup”
71. garlic miso tonkatsu
72. scallion pancakes
73. pad see ew
74. crab samosas
75. burmese glass noodle salad
76. banana nutella french toast casserole
77. potato latkes with roasted apple sauce
78. whiskey & pheasant sausage
79. boudin
80. chicken apple sausage
81. moroccan chicken tagine
82. gulab jamun
83. lobster chowder
84. cioppino with roasted fennel & tomatoes
85. lamb chops with berry jam glaze
86. chicken & baby bok choy with white garlic sauce
87. new england clam chowder
88. curried chicken salad with spicy sweet toasted cashews
89. deep fried avocado with crab salad
90. pork soup dumplings
91. spicy roasted corn & cotija salad
92. sea bass with tomato, green onions & serranos en papillote
93. clementine infused roasted yams
94. beet & goat cheese kugel
95. chicken with green jade vegetables
96. coffee cinnamon truffles
97. enchiladas de suiza
98. chicken & biscuits
99. green bean casserole from scratch
100. carnitas & hoisin on steamed buns

100th blog post! Curry Bihon: stir-fry curry noodles with shrimp & roasted pork belly

Guys! I've made it to 100 blog posts! This milestone really crept up on me. I can hardly believe it, but I actually didn't realize it was coming up until I looked at the previous post and suddenly it hit me: post number 99, which means next post will be 100! I wanted to do something special, so I'm sharing an incredible recipe today. Ok, two incredible recipes! More on that below. But first I want to mention the other special thing I'm doing for this post (an idea a friend helped me cook up - no pun intended. really. - when I mentioned it would be my 100th blog post and that it had snuck up on me): giving my readers a sneak peek at what I'm thinking about for the next 100 blog posts. Check out the list here

What makes Curry Bi Hon so special? Well, it is unbelievably delicious, for one! And not offered on many restaurant menus for another. To make it at home is a bit time consuming, even labor intensive. But it is a labor of love. You will have it confirmed with your first bite. Where does this dish come from? Well, Bihon is the name in Singapore of a certain type of thin rice noodle which you may have heard referred to as Mei Fun or rice vermicelli noodles. They are thin and very long as well as slightly gritty. Their mildly starchy taste is a perfect vehicle for complex, aromatic curry powder, succulent shrimp and fatty, sweet roasted pork.

I prepared the pork in char siu style (roasted with five spice) and it really helped make the dish not only authentic, but extra delicious. Even though it takes a couple of days to make the roast pork I highly recommend it. Most of it is downtime anyway while the pork marinates (overnight) or does its thing in the oven. I used Momofuku's cooking method (found on Lucky Peach), but not their seasoning recommendations. Instead I made my own five spice powder. This will make enough pork for three to four separate dishes, depending upon how much char siu you like in your stir fries or fried rice. I cut it into roughly 1/4" slabs and froze them separately, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

Five spice roasted pork belly (char siu)

Makes 3 lbs

For the five spice powder:
2 teaspoons ground cloves
6 star anise
4 teaspoons toasted szechuan peppercorns*
2 Tablespoons ground anise seeds
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

1. Grind star anise together with toasted peppercorns.
2. Pass through a sieve and mix with all other spices. Pulse in the spice grinder until everything is smooth and incorporated.
3. Transfer to a spice jar. It is now ready to use in cooking!

For the pork belly:

3 lbs pork belly
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons five spice powder
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Score the pork belly skin in a diamond shape. Salt and pepper both sides.
2. Combine sugar and five spice and rub one half of the mixture on each side.
3. Cover and marinate overnight.
4. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and lay the pork belly skin side down.
5. Roast at 425 for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 250. Cook for another 1 to 2 hours (I found 1.5 hours to be perfect to render down enough fat and still keep the pork tender).
6. Allow the pork belly to cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Let it chill for at least a few hours before cooking with it, to allow the fat to solidify again so it will sear perfectly. Slice lengthwise as needed.
7. Reserve the rendered fat in the baking sheet and strain it into a freezer safe container. You’ll use this not only to saute your ingredients for curry bi hon, but also as a fat in any dish you’re going to use the pork belly in.

*toast them for about 3 minutes in a dry pan over medium heat

Curry Bihon (curry noodles with sauteed shrimp and char siu)

Makes 4 large servings

1 Tablespoon curry powder
7 scallions, sliced on the diagonal
1 ounce (approx 1 large carrot) julienned carrot
1 ounce (approx 2 stalks celery) julienned celery
1 ounce bean sprouts (mung beans)
2 eggs, beaten
1 package rice vermicelli noodles
2 Tablespoons rendered pork fat
1 thick slice char siu (five spice roasted pork belly), chopped
12 ounces shrimp, deveined
1 teaspoon neutral oil
Soy sauce, to taste
(optional): pepper, to taste

1. Assemble your mis en place: gather vegetables and heat your wok over medium heat. Use oil to cover the bottom of the wok, or spray with a nonstick spray. Pour beaten eggs into the wok, then twirl to spread eggs into a thin layer like an egg crepe. Lift outer edges of egg crepe and pour the excess raw eggs underneath. Do this all around and when there is little to no loose raw egg on top, flip the egg crepe and cook for another minute, or until it is not raw. Cool eggs and roll egg crepe up. Slice into ¼ inch slices. This will complete your mis en place.
2. With the heat under your wok still at medium, add 1 Tablespoon pork fat and ½ Tablespoon curry powder. Toast curry powder for one minute. Add shrimp in a single layer and cook for about 3 minutes, or until they begin to curl. Flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Cover to keep warm.
3. Fill a large bowl with hot water (hot, but not boiling) and soak the rice vermicelli according to package directions.
4. When the noodles have been soaking for about 2 minutes, add remainder of curry powder and pork fat to the wok toast the curry powder for 1 minute. Add carrots and celery and cook for about 3 minutes. Add scallions and cook for another 2 minutes. Add char siu and bean sprouts and cook for another 1 - 2 minutes. Add noodles and eggs, stir well to combine thoroughly and cook for another 2 minutes.
5. Serve topped with shrimp.