Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Streaming My Cooking Consciousness

I’m starting a Tumblr blog for my cooking and food musings since I’ve long liked the simple, abbreviated posting that Tumblr encourages. I’ll often come across something, an article, a dish, or make something that I don’t feel like merits writing a full blog post on. But I like the flexibility Tumblr offers over the super terse Twitter posts. Just right for what I’m looking for, I think.

For the time being, I’ll keep my recipe posts here on Escapades. We’ll see how things evolve, but you can check it out over at Will's Plate!

I'm also going to start another Tumblr blog analogously named "Fail's Plate", too, for short posts about the inevitable fails I have when experimenting. Really struggled between that and "Failscapades". I think it can be even more helpful to hear from people what not to do and why, rather than just what to do to get a certain result. Should be fun and educational. :)

Happy holidays, everyone, and see you in 2015!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Heavenly Duo: Fried Smelt and Kimchi Fried Rice

This is really eclectic, but a really great harmony of flavors. Pictured above is fried smelt on the right, dredged in corn starch, salt, and white pepper, drizzled with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and a bit of sliced chiles, and kimchi fried rice on the left (and some steamed broccoli tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, but that's not what we're here to talk about).

I know, not super commonly seen together, but if you've got a chance, trying pairing them--their flavors sing together! Something about the rich oiliness of small fry smoothly marries with the stronger kimchi flavors.

A fried egg on kimchi fried rice is fantastic, too, but y'all probably already know that. Similarly, the rich smoothness of the egg blends with the stronger kimchi flavors really well. I'll be writing up my kkakdugi (radish kimchi, and from whence this kimchi fried rice eventually came), probably next.

I went through the trouble of gutting the smelt (it's really easy), but noticed the guts looked like eggs--and they were! D'oh! I should've just left the heads on and eaten them whole! Totally was going to do it from the get-go, but the recipes I saw all seemed to have the smelt gutted and beheaded. Should've stuck with my Asian instincts. Next time, time.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Shirasu Tiny Dried Sardines

Had a very northeast Asian dinner last night. Besides the kimchi and kkakdugi (radish kimchi), I also prepared a little stir-fried shirasu (dried baby sardines in Japanese cuisine, but smaller than niboshi). The humble nature of this meal--small fry and fermented veggies--gives me a certain satisfaction. Doesn't mean it's not super flavorful, though!

I had shirasu a fair amount growing up at my grandmother's, though just plain (dried and salted, as they come in the package) on rice. Salty savory goodness.

Here's a handy link describing niboshi, shirasu, chirimen-jako, and iriko, all dried small sardines of varying size and dryness.

Or are they anchovies? There seems to be some confusion about this...anyone know for sure?

There's also an analogous dried baby anchovy/sardine in Korean cuisine called myeolchi. And when you stir-fry it, the dish is called myeolchi-bokkeum.

Here's the spicy-sweet-savory stir-fry I did:

Spicy Sweet Shirasu Stir-Fry

4 oz. shirasu
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, sliced or minced
4-6 Chinese dried peppers, cut in half, seeds shaken out (called tien tsin peppers by some transliteration? In any case, the kind you see in your gongbao/kungpao chicken dish)

1 TBS soy sauce (gluten-free if desired)
1 tsp brown sugar
1 TBS rice wine

  1. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet or wok over medium heat until it flows quickly over the surface. Add sliced shallot, garlic, and chiles and stir-fry until fragrant and beginning to brown.
  3. Add shirasu to the pan/wok and pour sauce over everything. Stir-fry to distribute the sauce evenly, and continue cooking until the sauce has dried out. Remove from pan/wok and serve over freshly steamed rice.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Buckwheat Crêpes Encore

Much prettier than last time! Basically, you just need to cook the crepes on medium-low heat rather than medium heat. This keeps the crepe skins from cooking too quickly and wrinkling up.

Hmm, looks kind-of like injera. But these aren't sour and are less thick and spongy.

I've edited my recipe to incorporate what I've learned, included at the end of this post (and edited in my previous post).

(Also, I have plates finally!)

Above, a savory crepe filling and a sweet one, sautéed chicken liver and hearts with vegetables and sautéed banana slices with honey and cinnamon, respectively. I have to say, I find savory fillings to work better with buckwheat crepes than sweet fillings do. The earthy flavor and stronger texture of the buckwheat crepe just melds with savory fillings better than with sweet fillings, where the flavors don't mesh as well.

Simple Allergy Friendly Buckwheat Crêpe
makes batter for 2 crepes

You can actually scale this recipe up to maybe four times its current proportion while sticking with the one egg. As it stands, the crepes cook up a little thick because of the egg and flour to water ratio. Increase the amount of water relative to the flour and egg for a thinner batter and thinner crepes. [UPDATE: it doesn't work! Keep the flour:water ratio unless you have a stand-mixer or a motor arm and want to go for the gelatinized buckwheat described here.]
If the crepes are very thin it’ll be easier to flip and release from the pan if you have an actual flat crepe pan with its low edges. I don't have such a pan, so it's easier to work with if the crepes aren't so delicate. And because I'm usually cooking for one, it's easier for me just to use one egg and have thicker crepes rather than make too much batter.

50g (about 1/2 cup) buckwheat flour
100g water
1 egg
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
vegetable oil

  1. Thoroughly whisk together ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup for ease of pouring.
  2. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes to bring the pan to cooking temperature. Use a paper towel folded over several times to wipe a thin layer of oil over the surface of the pan. Pour half the batter into the skillet and tilt the pan around to allow the batter to cover the surface in a thin layer. Cook until the crepe has set (about a minute). Slide a metal spatula underneath the crepe to release it and flip to briefly cook the other side.
  3. Add your filling, fold, and plate, or remove crepe from pan and fill afterward.