Monday, February 17, 2014

Alternative Methods For Pho

Now that I have a pressure cooker, I've been revisiting soups like tonkotsu ramen broth and pho, since the pressure cooker drastically reduces the time and upkeep necessary to render stocks and broths. I last wrote about pho a long while back, using Andrea Nguyen's recipe, which appears to be the base recipe for every other recipe online--it is the mother of all pho recipes online, so to speak.

Well, this time around, I found a couple other recipes, including this one, which references both Nguyen's and Steamy Kitchen's (which also is based on Nguyen's) to look at, and did things slightly differently. As mentioned above, of course, I used a pressure cooker instead of the stove, which sped things up. The other big thing, though, was that I used my broiler to char the onions and ginger instead of a gas flame. This was much more convenient to do and very effective in getting a thorough char. By using a baking sheet/pan and broiler, you don't have to individually hold and turn each piece of onion and ginger. Actually, I no longer have a gas stove/oven, but the electric's been working just fine, and better yet, I actually have a broiler now, which has been very useful.

Lovely! Charred onions and ginger smell amazing.

Look at that beautiful color. Intriguingly, though, this time around the soup was much less rich than last time (which was too rich).  Maybe it had to do with the type of bones I used.* I didn't have thigh or knuckle bones this time, and made the soup with neck and toe bones.There was plenty of gelatin, and the toe bones had deliciously softened cartilage after pressure cooking (thank you, new toy). I just wish the richness was somewhere between what I had this time and last time. I'll have to play with it some more.*

*UPDATE: It wasn't more richness I was missing! I was forgetting to add the sliced onions for the final broth, which is critical in rounding out the flavor. Don't omit the onion!

Mmmm, cartilage...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pressure Cooker Risotto

Holy crap, if you have a pressure cooker and haven't yet tried making risotto with it, do it. Do it naaow! It cooks the rice perfectly: done through al dente without a chalky core. Best of all, though, no need to stand over your rice and stir forever.

Check out Hip Pressure Cooking's breakdown. Pazzaglia makes the intriguing assertion that actually what makes for the creamy texture of risotto is the toasting of the rice before the broth is added. As she also notes, Bittman also finds constant stirring not necessary.

The recipe at Hip Pressure Cooking is aimed at stove-top pressure cookers. Electric ones are different, and whatever kind you have, it all depends on the pressure your cooker can achieve. Rather than the 7 minutes Pazzaglia's recipe calls for, my electric one needs 10 minutes on high pressure.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Pan Fried Sticky Rice Dumplings

Huh! So I've previously written on pan frying sticky rice dumplings. Last time I used a non-stick pan, but this time used stainless steel and still had no problem with any dumplings sticking to the pan. The starch "skin" released with no trouble, either. Also, last time I noted that they seemed to come out too sticky with the skin taking too strong a presence in the final product. Intriguingly, I found that this time that was not at all the case. There was a nice play of the crispy bottom with the sticky sides, without the skin's being too strong a presence. I think I probably made the skins thinner this time, making it so that the pan frying approach worked just fine.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Under Pressure

Pressure cooker, this is the beginning of a great partnership.

Getting a pressure cooker opens up new horizons. Chicken stock, done in just one hour without having to watch it! Pork shoulder tender in just one hour!

The quick and quality stock making capabilities are particularly appreciated. I can pick up chicken backs for cheap and make a batch of chicken stock that is cheaper and better tasting than the store-bought stuff without too much trouble. But also, I'm excited to revisit pho and tonkotsu soups, now that I won't have to watch the soups for so long.

Also intriguing was that the carrots I threw in with the pork shoulder had more concentrated and different flavors than I've ever tasted in carrots before. There was an almost floral quality to them, a little bit like with parsnips, though not quite so distinctive. Also, because pressure cooking prevents fluids from boiling, potatoes and carrots don't fall apart as they cook, and chicken bones don't release a lot of residue making the resulting stock relatively clear.

Anyway, looking forward to learning to use this new tool.