A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.
~David Hume

The proof has been divulged, and thorough knowledge should follow, right?  Seems logical and quite simple, almost acutely rational.  Sometimes or always, though, or really are we constrained by our psyches or basic instincts or neural circuits or are we harnessed and have visions or dreams or torments which guide us?  Or does humanity deal with prompts, insights, anxieties, kisses, primes, embraces, seductions, or even prefrontal cortices? Should we judge by, discard, or empathize with others’ conscious or subconscious or unconscious or neural thoughts? Or should we cognitively assay or attempt reason at all? What to do?

Don’t know, yet, but perhaps should…in any event, both beef arm and pork butt, alas not tri-tip (the bottom of the beef sirloin), were cooked this week.  Apparently, the kiss principle.

Chuck arm roast comes from the muscular shoulder of the beef steer, a slightly leaner cut of pot roast.  So, not unlike pork “butt,” the cut is sublimely delectable, tender and proves likewise inexpensive — not in the least faraway from succulent Santa Maria tri-tips even though it does come from a different part of the animal.  Although pork shoulder takes longer to shred depending upon poundage, in each beef event, you can both cook slow and low in the oven (2-3 hours @ 300 F), braise in stock and/or water over the stove top simmering calmly for a couple of hours, grill over the barbecue (20-25 minutes or so) or finish at high heat (something like 400 F+) in the oven after ‘cuing, if necessary to bring to a close. No doubt there are other approaches to this rather thick flesh.

Comme d’habitude, my preference is to grill with soy sauce only – that rich umami concept with the presence of glutamate and five ribonucleotides and so on, and it doubles down for prompt home chow, especially when it is somewhat chilly outside. But, that never means that marbled arm roast should not be whirled at by other methodologies.

Perhaps, more stubborn than first intuited, but now it may be overly belated to psychoanalyze me.   Too late.

GRILLED ARM ROAST

Arm roast, about 2-3 lbs, room temperature
High quality soy sauce, preferably shoyu

Have your butcher cut a fresh arm roast.  Spread the beef with shoyu all over, somewhat sparingly, and massage then allow the arm roast to sit in the spare umami juices for just a couple of hours.  In the interim, light the coals until they are medium to medium high (around 3-4 seconds to the hand test). Grill roast to desired doneness, as cooking time will vary upon thickness of the meat and the heat of the grill.  Medium rare is preferred, but to each her or his own, no judging or empathizing.

Allow the meat to rest, somewhat amply, before serving.  Serve with olive oil slathered veggies, such as mushrooms, chile peppers, asparagus, etc. and a toothsome red.

Advertisements

I know the human being and fish can co-exist peacefully.
~George W. Bush

About time to return to the laptop.

Too often undervalued, even maligned and disparaged in American kitchens, anchovies are another super food, brimming with protein, calcium, vitamins E and D, and a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. For shame to the naysayers, as given their ambrosial and versatile traits (from oh, so subtle to slightly audacious) as well as their nutritional potency, anchovies should approach an obsession. Think Caesar salad, puttanesca, tapenades, piedmont eggs, nước mắm Phú Quốc (fish sauce), salade niçoise, to name just a few.

Omega-3 fatty acids refer to a group of three polyunsturated fatty acids termed α-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is rooted in walnuts and some vegetable oils, such as soybean, grapeseed, canola, and flaxseed, as well as in some green vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and salad greens. EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish. They are essential nutrients for human health, and research has suggested that omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides, control blood clotting, help build neural cell membranes, combat depression, and reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and other autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

From the fish family Engraulidae, small and delectable anchovies are commoners who reside in salt water — oily skinned, foraging creatures with some 144 species scattered throughout the world’s temperate oceans and seas.

They are greenish fish with blue reflections due to a silver longitudinal stripe that runs from the base of the caudal fin, ranging from a tad less than 1″ to about 16″ in adult length. The body shapes vary with more slender fish found in northern climes. The snout is blunt with tiny, sharp teeth in both jaws and contains a unique, bioelectric rostral organ, believed to be sensory in nature, but whose precise function is unknown. This organ does however allow the anchovy to flourish in murky, troubled waters. The mouth is larger than that of herrings and silversides, though anchovies closely resemble them in other respects. Anchovies dine on plankton and recently hatched fish, known as fry.

When shopping, choose anchovies packed in glass where their now reddish-brown bodies are visible, rather than those packed in tins. They should also be packed in olive oil rather than lesser quality cottonseed or soy oil but should be patted dry before use.

The salt packed versions are whole little fish preserved in layers of sea salt which need to be boned before using — a simple finger pull on the skeleton. Then, they should be soaked in water, whole milk or buttermilk for 10 minutes or so to remove some of the salt and afterwards patted dry. They take an extra step or so, but most chefs and avid home cooks prefer sardines of this ilk.

In either event, these deified dainties are a far cry from the low quality, off flavored, unbalanced, pungent anchovies that reek on carry out pizzas in the states.

ANCHOVIES ON TOAST

Thick slices of artisanal bread, such as ciabatta, toasted and cooled
Unsalted butter, room temperature
Anchovy filets (superior quality), prepared as above

Toast sliced bread and allow to cool, so the butter does not melt. Rather thickly slather the room temperature unsalted butter on one side of each slice of toast. Arrange anchovy fillets in a diagonal on the toast with amounts to your tasting. Then, savor.

CHILE AIOLI

2 t chile powder
2 pinches of cayenne pepper
1 C mayonnaise, homemade (see below)
2 anchovy filets
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced

Combine the spices, mayonnaise, anchovy and garlic in the bowl of a blender or a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Blend in bursts on high speed until smooth.

Mayonnaise

4 large organic egg yolks, room temperature
2 T Dijon mustard
2 t white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 t sea salt
Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper

1 1/3 C canola or grapeseed oil

Separate egg whites from yolks. Egg yolks contain a natural emulsifier, lecithin, which helps thicken sauces and bind ingredients.

With a balloon whisk, whip together the egg yolks, mustard, wine vinegar or lemon juice, salt, cayenne pepper in a medium glass or metal bowl. Do not use a plastic vessel.

Add a few drops of oil while whisking; then pour in the oil slowly, in a very thin stream, while whisking vigorously with the bowl tilted at an angle on a folded towel. The emulsion should become thick enough to hold its shape and appear voluptuously creamy. Be patient because if you add the oil too rapidly the mayonnaise will break and turn soupy.

Magical Miso(s)…

March 15, 2012

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.
~Albert Einstein

Salty and complex, a revered Japanese staple — umami laden.

Miso (味噌) is a traditional, thick paste produced by fermenting rice and soybeans, with salt and the fungus kōjikin. White miso (shiromiso) which is preferred in the western Kansai region encompassing Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe is milder than the red version (akamiso) which finds favor in the eastern Kantō region that includes Tokyo. The lighter hue is often due to the inclusion of white rice during a notably shorter fermentation period. There is also yellow miso which is made from soybeans that have been fermented with barley and a smaller percentage of rice, and black which is crafted entirely from soybean.

Mysteries abound about miso’s Japanese origins. Some posit that miso developed from fermented foods found in China over two millennia ago which arrived on the Japanese shores along with Buddhism in the 6th century. Others trace the origins to the northeastern provinces of Japan where archeological digs suggest an early mastery of fermentation processes. According to Japanese mythology, miso was bestowed by the gods upon mortals to assure longevity and happiness.

Many find it tasking, even enigmatic, to classify the rich flavors of miso — definitely salty, a tad sweet, not quite bitter or sour, yet chocked with that fifth taste: subtle and exquisite umami. From a Nobu inspired cod forward, versatile but often underutilized miso runs the culinary gamut.

COD WITH MISO

1 1/2 lb. fresh black cod fillets

1/2 C sake
1/2 C hon mirin
1/2 C white miso
3 T raw sugar
3 T honey

Peanut oil

In a small saucepan, bring the sake and mirin to a gentle boil. Whisk in the miso until dissolved. Then, add the sugar and honey and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until fully dissolved. Transfer the marinade to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Reserve some of this marinade for plating.

Gently but thoroughly pat the fillets dry with paper towels, place them into a glass baking dish with a fitted top or a ziploc bag and pour in the marinade. Seal tightly and allow to bathe in the refrigerator overnight or preferably for 2-3 nights. Turn them occasionally to encourage an even coating.

Preheat oven to 400 F

Carefully wipe off any excess marinade clinging to the fillets but do not rinse under water. Place the fish in a lightly oiled heavy skillet over medium high heat and sauté on both sides until just lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the fish to the oven on a large, rimmed baking sheet and bake until flaky, about 7-10 minutes.

Arrange over greens of choice on serving plates. Dabble some drops of marinade on the fish and plate, then serve.

Pourboire: black cod is also known as sable fish and has large pin bones, which are curved little bones that run along the fish’s centerline which need be removed with needle nose pliers.

MISO & SESAME VINAIGRETTE

1/2 C white miso
2 T fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 plump, fresh garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
2 T unseasoned rice vinegar
4 t white sesame seeds, toasted
2 t sesame oil
2 t honey

6 T grapeseed or canola oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together miso, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, sesame oil and honey in a medium glass bowl. Slowly whisk in grapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

MISO COMPOUND BUTTER

8 (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
4 T white or red miso
Freshly ground white pepper

Cream the butter and miso together with a fork, while adding white pepper.

Use immediately, or roll into a log in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for cutting into slices later.

Pourboire: Potential additions to the compound butter could include chopped scallions or chives, minced garlic, ginger or chiles, or citrus zest. Gently melt over freshly grilled or roasted meats, sautéed vegetables, etc. For red meats, choose a red miso which is much more rich and savory.