Ramen: Pork Belly for Ramen | Chāshū | チャーシュー

Chāshū is my favorite meat ingredient for ramen. Just like ramen, it came to Japanese cuisine from China and transformed into a very different dish. Originally, char siu 叉燒 is a kind of barbecued pork in Cantonese cuisine. In Japan, it is meaty pork belly slowly cooked in a flavorful broth. At the end of cooking, pork belly loses a lot of fat and becomes very tender and soft. Every bite of chashu melts in the mouth. For ramen, chashu os served thinly sliced. A very similar Japanese recipe for cooking pork belly to serve it with cooked rice, hot mustard sauce, and pickled vegetables is called Buta no Kakuni (豚の角煮, “pork cut square and simmered”). For both recipes, pork belly can be skinless or with pigskin, based on personal preferences and availability.

February 16, 2017
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When Life Gives You Lemons Again and Again… Just Add Honey!

During the winter, two our favorite food stores Whole Foods and Centra Market bring a generous variety of citrus fruit to Austin. Some of them a simply better during the season — fresh, juicy and fragrant. Other are exotic and not available any other time of year. Making honey preserves is my way to prolong the pleasure of having them in my kitchen. I do not add pectin or other gelling agents. Instead, I keep the syrup liquid and use it for everything — hot tea, sparkling drinks, cocktails, sponge cakes feed, etc. Honey candied citrus slices are excellent as toppings for other desserts, ice creams, custards, fruit salads. Everything is pure, natural, and beautiful.

February 12, 2017
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Khashlama

I prefer slowly cooked beef shanks for plain khashlama and leg of lamb for festive version. A slow cooker/crock pot is the most convenient device to make this dish. Otherwise, assemble vegetables and meat layers in an iron pot, start on the stove to bring water to boiling and finish in the 300F oven by slowly cooking for another 3-4 hours. There is also a version when meat is cooked first; then it is layered with vegetables in small ceramic or clay pots and cooked in the oven to serve khashlama individually portioned. In this case, it only takes 1-1.5 hours in the oven — just to cook vegetables.

January 27, 2017
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Red Pozole

Toppings are my favorite part of this soup. I think they are what makes this traditional Mexican soup exceptional from the taste and texture point of view as well as its serving and eating experience. I like how some recipe authors refer to pozole as a “soup-salad,” because so many raw ingredients are added to a hot bowl of soup right before eating it.

January 21, 2017
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Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup is one of the most popular Mexican soups. Google it, and you can easily get tons of “classic” recipes and even more variations. The base is always the same — dry red chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, tortilla chips, cilantro, and lime. In some recipes tortilla chips are used to thicken the soup, in other, they are the topping. In central Mexico, this soup flavor is defined by pungent and tangy thin fleshed pasilla, in Michoacan region it’s a fruity and mild ancho, in Puebla a smokey chipotle takes the place. There are also a variety of additional toppings from cooked meat and poultry to avocado, cheese, and cream. Every local chef or home cook features the best regional ingredients in this soup. I often joke comparing tortilla soup in Mexican cuisine to borsch in Ukrainian.

January 20, 2017
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Risotto alla Milanese | Bone Marrow and Saffron Risotto

“Some took courage and tasted, and then another, and another, and in the blink of an eye the huge mountain of yellow rice disappeared: the “Risotto alla Milanese” was born.”

December 15, 2016
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Pho Bo with Beef Tendon and Tail

It’s raining, it’s gloomy and dark, perfect weather to eat a bowl of steamy hot Pho Bo — to warm your soul, to wake up your tastebuds! Last year, I made my the first and the best Pho at home, because it was 100% to my taste. I also managed to adjust the recipe logistics to a busy lifestyle. In other words, no need to stay hours in the kitchen to enjoy a bowl of good Pho Bo at home.

There are many good Pho recipes available online. My version is based on Andrea Nguyen’s Beef Pho Noodle Soup Recipe (Pho Bo), where you can find a lot of detailed information about Pho.

December 4, 2016
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Pumpkin Soup with Shrimp

For years, every season I’ve been looking for a pumpkin which taste would come close to those my parents were growing in Ukraine in nineties. There were so many varieties of pumpkins and winter squashes to try, yet I couldn’t find a single one exciting — too bland, colorless, and fibrous for my taste, especially after cooking. I was ready to give up after my latest disappointment with Sugar Pie pumpkin, when decided to give a try to a larger Cinderella pumpkin I avoided earlier because of the size. Well, so far this variety is the closest to Ukrainian pumpkins I remember. The taste is still not as bright and fruity-sweet as I’d like it to be, but the color and texture are exceptional! Sunny orange and silky juicy, it’s a pleasure to eat it just roasted or cook with its puree. To really enjoy this soup recipe, use your favorite, the best tasting pumpkins and always start from scratch.

October 13, 2016
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Poultry Hearts and Gizzards Confit

Oh, this dish sounds so romantic in French — Gésiers de Canard Confit — duck gizzards, slowly cooked in duck fat. When cooked confit, strong muscle of gizzard becomes a soft and plump morsel, full of flavor, with a hint of gaminess. Gésiers de canard confit is a specialty in South West France that pleasantly surprises many tourists who try it for the first time. Gésiers are respected ingredient in a variety of warm salads, including famous Landaise salad. They are gently fried in a little duck fat before serving. They are also very good with buckwheat, roasted potatoes, or sautéed winter squashes.

October 7, 2016
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Пища наша: Buckwheat with King Trumpet Mushrooms

Buckwheat is mostly unknown in the U.S., or at least in Southern states. Which is one the most mysterious culinary facts for me. Since we are conscious about gluten tolerance and actively discover ancient grains, doesn’t this Eastern European delicacy deserve to trend worldwide?

Buckwheat is one of the healthiest ingredients that makes the most delicious main and side dishes. It is available in bulk sections of supermarkets, sold either unroasted or roasted. Each form requires specific cooking methods and timing and can’t be substituted in recipes. Unroasted buckwheat grain is relatively soft. Even raw and dry, you can bite and easily crumble it with your teeth. It’s flavor is very subtle, and it makes a porridge when cooked with hot liquid. Good roasted buckwheat has darker tannish color and a very hard grain that doesn’t crumble. When cooked, it has fluffy texture and rich earthy and nutty taste.

July 22, 2016
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