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Fried Roman Jewish Style Artichokes

These fried artichokes are especially pretty because they are pressed so that their leaves open up and resemble flowers. The leaves are crispy like chips and the hearts are meltingly soft. Either regular artichokes or baby artichokes can be used. Regular sized artichokes have a nice big heart and big leaves. Baby artichokes are cute; they have a very small heart so they will be mostly crispy leaves but are faster to prepare since they don’t have a choke.

Since there is no batter, these are very simple and easy to fry. The frying is done in two steps–the first frying is at a low heat to cook the artichokes through, and the second frying is done quickly at a high heat to brown and crisp them.

Source: “Carciofi alla Giudia — Crisp-Fried Whole Artichokes” from “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marcella Hazan. Marcella Hazan’s recipe is written for whole artichokes; for baby artichokes, I used the timing for baby artichokes from “Baby Artichokes, Jewish Style” from “Vegetable Love” by Barbara Kafka.

Fried Roman Jewish Style Artichokes

  • Servings: Serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer
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Ingredients:

  • 12 baby artichokes or 2 regular artichokes, as fresh and pliable as possible (the artichokes at farmer’s markets are often very fresh)
  • 1 lemon, to rub on the cut parts of the artichokes so they don’t turn black
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • oil with a high smoking point (such as peanut oil) for frying, enough to fill a deep pot with several inches of oil
  • Lemon wedges or slices
  • Dipping sauce (such as a flavored aioli, ranch dressing, or Sriracha mayonnaise*)
  • (optional) herbs (such as parsley, basil, sage, mint, or other leafy green herbs) to use as a fried garnish (Basil is my favorite.)

Clean the Artichokes:

Trim the artichokes by snapping off their brittle leaves until you uncover the tender leaves which are half yellow and half green. Slice off the fibrous green tips, and then use a paring knife to shave off the fibrous portions at the base of the snapped off portions and on the stem. The green parts of the stem should be shaved off (the green outer parts of the stem has tough strands, the inner white part of the stem is tasty and edible. As you clean the artichokes, rub the cut parts with a lemon half to help prevent them from turning black. See here for more detailed information on how to trim baby artichokes.

Regular artichokes are trimmed similarly, except that the choke needs to be removed and the inner purple leaves with a thorn on top should be plucked out. It is easiest to remove the choke and inner purple leaves after the artichokes after the first frying stage has softened them — this is the method suggested in the recipe. If the artichokes are very fresh, it is also possible (although it takes more work) to remove the choke when the artichokes are raw, by pressing open the leaves until the choke is revealed and then using a spoon to scrape out the choke.

Low Heat Fry to Cook to Cook the Artichoke Hearts Until Soft:

Heat the oil to 250 F in a large heavy pot with tall sides (e.g. cast iron dutch oven).

Add a several artichokes (you can add however many fits as long as there is some space between them and the temperature doesn’t drop too much, but you shouldn’t overcrowd the pan). Cook for about 5 minutes for baby artichokes or about 15 minutes for regular artichokes (or until they can easily be pierced with a knife; they shouldn’t get browned yet), turning occasionally (if your baby artichokes are bottom heavy so they would only float right-side up in the oil, you can gently hold them down in the oil for a few seconds with a slotted spoon or frying spider to help the tops cook through instead of turning them).

Remove from oil with a slotted spoon or frying spider. Let the oil drain back into the pot and then place on a drying rack. Repeat with all the remaining artichokes.

The artichokes are very hot when they come out of the oil. Let them rest for several minutes, until they are cool enough to handle.

If using regular (non-baby) artichokes: Gently spread their leaves apart until you can see the inner purple leaves; try not to detach any of the green leaves from the artichoke. Pluck out the inner purple leaves and discard them. Use a spoon to scrap out the choke; discard the choke.

Gently open their leaves even more and press their tops on a cutting board to press them flat. Press them gently but firmly (using your fingers, a spatula, or spoon), since their delicate inner leaves will tend to fall out if they are pressed very forcefully. Salt and pepper them. The artichokes can be prepared to this point up to a few hours ahead of time.

High Heat Fry to Crisp the Artichoke Leaves:

Heat oil to 350 F.

Add several artichokes to the pot (you can add however many fits as long as there is some space between them and the temperature doesn’t drop too much, but you shouldn’t overcrowd the pan) and fry for 30 seconds for baby artichokes or a couple minutes for regular artichokes until they are browned and crispy. Fry them until they are golden brown and the leaves have no (or almost no) green on them. If the leaves are green or yellow, then the leaf will be too tough to eat whole and they won’t be fully crispy.

Remove the artichokes from the oil; hold them upside down over the oil for a few seconds until most of the oil drains off of them. Place them upside down on a rack to let the oil drain. Salt them on the top and bottom sides. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.

Serve immediately while they are still hot, preferably on a plate lined with some paper to absorb the oil (you can use a cut out piece of brown paper bag). Optionally squeeze lemon juice over, or serve with lemon slices to squeeze over and dipping sauces (such as a flavored aioli, ranch dressing, or Sriracha mayonnaise), and garnished with fried herbs (recipe below).

Note: It is also possible to remove the choke while the artichokes are raw, but it is much harder than removing them after they are softened by cooking. Very fresh pliable artichokes must be used, so that their leaves can be pressed open and so the heart is tender enough to scrape the choke out. Gently spread the leaves of the trimmed raw artichokes as far apart as you can without breaking them. Pluck out the inner purple leaves and discard. Use a round tipped knife, such as a butter knife to scrape out the choke. This works best with very fresh artichokes, since they are more pliable and less brittle.

I like to use fried herbs as a garnish for this dish. They add even more crispiness to the dish and are easy to make since you’ll already have the oil heated to 350 F. You can fry almost any herbs, however, you should only fry a small handful of leaves at a time, since leaves contain water inside of them. Capers can also be fried; first soak them in some water until they are less salty, drain and then lay them on a paper towel to dry them well. Fry them similarly to the herbs; they will take about 30 seconds to fry (fry them until most of the bubbling goes down). Capers are unopened blossoms — if you are lucky, when they are fried some may open up and look like pretty little flowers.

Fried Leafy Herbs (e.g. parsley, basil, sage, mint, or other leafy green herbs)


Make sure that your herbs are very dry (do not wash); any water on the leaves will cause the hot oil to violently splatter. Pick leaves off them stems until you have about 2 cupfuls.

Heat several inches of oil to about 350 F in a large pot with several inches of space for the oil to bubble up and increase in volume. Place a rack or plate lined with paper towels near your frying pot. Fried herbs have a tendency to be oily; the spreading them out on paper towels helps to absorb some of the oil.

Start with just one small half handful of leaves, and use this first batch of leaves to test the moisture content in the leaves. Stand an arm’s length away from the oil and use a long-handled spider or mesh strainer to over turn the leaves into the oil so that your hands aren’t above the oil. Since they are light you can drop them into the oil from several inches above and they won’t splash. Quickly stand back away from the oil; the moisture inside the leaves will cause the oil to immediately bubble up, steam, and possibly splatter until the water evaporates. If you fry too many leaves at one time, the water in the leaves can cause the oil to violently steam and splatter–if this happens greatly reduce the amount of leaves that you add. As soon as the bubbling subsides (it should take only a few seconds for basil, sage needs a little longer) remove the leaves with a slotted spoon or spider. The quicker that you remove the herbs, the more vibrant green it will be. Let the excess oil drain back into the pot and then place the herbs on a paper towels set over a rack. The leaves should be very crispy, dark green, and have a mild taste. If they are dull green or brown then they were cooked too long or at too high a temperature.

If the moisture content of your leaves is low and they don’t bubble up much or splatter, you can increase the amount of leaves up to a couple handfuls that you fry in each batch. If you are comfortable, you it is okay to use your hands drop herbs into the oil, as long as you quickly remove your hands away. Repeat until you have fried as much herbs as you’d like. Regulate the oil temperature to maintain a constant temperature.

Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the crispy herbs.

* The sauce in the picture with the whole fried artichokes is Sriracha mayonnaise. I sometimes use this as the dipping sauce since it is quick and easy to make and I often I have the necessary ingredients in my refrigerator–Sriracha and mayonnaise, which I mix in approximately equal proportions. Either Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise or American style mayonnaise can be used. To make, see the recipe here. It is also possible to make your own Sriracha mayonnaise from scratch.

Trout Amandine

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I had a trip to Yosemite planned when the federal government shutdown cause the park to be closed. So I visited the area close to the park boundaries instead. I mountain biked to a small waterfall and also took a fly fishing lesson. I didn’t catch anything. But since we were practicing catch and release, even if I did I wouldn’t have been able to eat it.

After spending four hours knee-deep in river water learning to cast and scrambling along slippery algae-coated rocks, I suddenly had a craving for trout, specifically trout amandine. It is a classic French dish of trout topped with almonds and is often served with green beans or asparagus. Amandine indicates a garnish of almonds; it derived from the French word for almonds (“amandes”), though it is sometimes misspelled as almondine in American restaurants or cookbooks since this is more recognizable as relating to almonds to English speakers (wiki).

I choose the recipe for “Truite aux Haricots Verts et Amandes” (Trout with Haricots Verts and Almonds) from “Bouchon” by Thomas Keller since the recipe has been on my todo list ever since I read about it on DinnerALoveStory.com. The key to this dish is getting the green beans perfectly cooked and the trout to be just barely cooked through.

Cooking the trout is done by an interesting technique–the trout is seared only on the skin side for just a couple minutes and is taken off the heat before it is fully cooked through. The trout finishes cooking from the heat of the green beans and the brown butter sauce that it is topped with. In order for this to work, the trout must be butterflied or in fillets so that it will cook quickly. Trout, like most fish, becomes dry if it is over-cooked. This technique helps to ensure that the trout is cooked perfectly; the fish is served just at the moment it becomes cooked through, moist and just barely beginning to flake.

The green beans should be cooked until they are just barely softened and still very crunchy (almost squeeky) and vividly green colored. Be sure to taste them as you cook, and especially after you salt them. In my experience, green beans always need more salt than I expect; to me, green beans taste best when they are slightly salty since salt really brings out their flavor. For me the green beans, topped with brown butter sauce and almonds is the stand out part of the dish.

The recipe can be made from either whole butterflied trout or from fillets, with the skin on. It’s quickest and easiest with prepared fillets, but since I didn’t catch a fish (and couldn’t have kept it even if I did), I wanted a whole trout. The trout was already gutted when we bought it since there are enzymes in the gut which will cause the fish to go bad faster if they aren’t removed, but William scaled, deboned, and butterflied the trout; he isn’t squeamish. Although butterflying is a little more complex than using prepared fillets, it didn’t take him that long.

My trout was a beautiful and very tasty fish–a McFarland Springs Trout from TwoXSea’s Trout farm (available at Bi-Rite in San Francisco). I liked that this trout has pink meat, just like salmon (trout are actually related to salmon; they are in the same family); the trout’s color is from being fed red algae. It had a delicate sweet flavor and firm meat and wasn’t fishy at all. Almonds, brown butter and green beans are classic accompaniments for trout, so everything tasted perfectly together in the way that combinations that have stood the test of time often are.

Source: Modified from “Trout with Almonds and Green Beans” from DinnerALoveStory.com and “Trout with Haricots Verts and Almonds” from Bouchon by Thomas Keller

Yield: Depends on the size of fish or fillets. A whole trout weighting 1.4 lbs before being butterflied and the green beans and almonds can be finished by two people if there are no other dishes; if a starch (such as potatoes or bread) is provided, this could probably feed four. 1 lbs of fillets should be enough to feed 4.

Trout Amandine


Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lbs green beans or haricots verts, both ends cut off and sliced in half (the segments should be about 2 inches long).
  • one 1.4 lbs whole trout (measured with head and bone-in) or 1 lbs of deboned trout fillets with skin on
  • salt
  • pepper (either white pepper or black pepper)
  • oil with high smoking point (such as grapeseed or canola)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter *  **
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp minced Italian parsley

Special Equipment:

  • A heavy pan, preferably cast iron, that is large enough to fit the fish or fillets. If the trout is very large, you may need to cook it on a large flat griddle pan (preferably cast iron) which covers two burners (e.g. I cooked my 1.4 lbs trout on the flat side of this reversible grill pan since the trout was longer than my largest skillet. Since the grill pan covers two burners, it needs to be preheated for a long time so that there isn’t a cold patch in the areas between the burners). If you don’t have a large enough pan, then you could cut the fillets in half.
  • A serving platter or several plates large enough for the cooked trout or fillets.

Prepare the Trout:

If using a whole trout: Descale the fish. Leave the skin on. Debone and either butterfly (this webpage on honest-food.net shows how) or fillet. Remove the head and tail and save for making stock or discard.

Rinse the butterflied fish or fillets. Thoroughly pat dry, especially the skin so that it will get crispy when pan-fried (if the skin is wet, it will steam the skin and the skin won’t get crispy).

Season the fish on both sides, inside and out, with salt and pepper (preferably salt at least 5 to 10 minutes before you cook the fish, so that the fish has time to absorb some of the salt). Place the fish skin side up so that the skin will air dry.

To Begin Cooking:

It is best to cook the trout, green beans, and almonds in brown butter sauce all the the same time so that everything finishes cooking at approximately the same time.

Place three pans on your stove (one for the trout, one for the green beans, and one for the almonds/ brown butter sauce). The pan for the almonds / brown butter sauce should be is large enough for the butter to only fill the pan halfway (the extra space is needed since the sauce may bubble up). Heat the pan for the trout on medium-high and heat the other two pans on medium. Turn on your fan.

For the almonds/brown butter sauce: Add 6 tablespoons butter and a pinch of salt in the pan for the sauce. When the butter begins to brown, add the sliced almonds. Stir occasionally to help them brown evenly.

For the green beans: Add 1/3 cup water and 2 Tbsp of butter into its own pan. When the butter has melted and the water comes to a boil, add the green beans. Stir occasionally.

Cook the Trout:

Immediately begin cooking the trout after you have started cooking the green beans and almonds/butter sauce.

Pat the trout’s skin with a paper towel to make sure it is dry.

Coat the pan for the trout with a light film of oil that has a high smoking point.

Lay the trout in the pan, skin side down, carefully so that the hot oil doesn’t splash on you. Don’t move the trout after you place it on the pan so that the skin will get crispy.

Stir the almonds and green beans occasionally while the trout is cooking, and monitor their progress to make sure they are not overcooking. The trout cooks the quickest, so it will most likely be done first.

Cook the trout for about 4 minutes (the time depends on the size and thickness of the fillet or butterflied trout), until the bottom and middle of the trout has cooked through, but a thin layer of the surface of the trout is still raw (the trout should be about 75% cooked through; the hot ingredients that will top the trout will finish cooking the raw parts). As soon as the trout is cooked, place it on a serving platter (use a flat spatula to loosen the crispy skin from the pan before moving it so that the skin doesn’t stick to the pan).

To Finish:

Cook the green beans until they have softened slightly and cooked through but still have some bite to them (“al dente”); it should take just a few minutes, though older beans take longer to cook. Most of all of the water should have evaporated and the green beans should be glazed with butter. Salt to taste. Green beans taste best when they are on the salty-side. They should be salted enough for you to notice the salt. If the green beans finish first, keep them warm but try not to overcook them.

Cook until the almonds are a rich golden brown (it might take 5 to 10 minutes); the butter will have browned and foamed. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley (reserve a small amount of parsley for the final garnish); the sauce may bubble up from the moisture in the lemon juice but the bubbling will subside quickly. Carefully taste the sauce (be careful it is hot), and add more lemon juice or salt if necessary; the sauce should have a barely noticeable bright acidic tang but it shouldn’t overwhelm the sauce. If the almonds finish first, keep the sauce warm but don’t burn the almonds while the other components finish cooking.

Use a slotted spoon to drain the green beans from their sauce, and top the trout with the cooked green beans while the green beans are hot. Discard any sauce left after cooking the green beans (putting it on the fish will dilute the brown butter sauce, and make the sauce cloudy.)

Spoon the almonds and brown butter over the green beans and trout and around the edges of the serving plate(s).  Garnish with the reserved minced parsley. Serve immediately.

* The recipe looks like it has a lot of butter in it (1 stick), but don’t let that scare you. Most of the butter is used for a brown butter sauce; most likely you’ll only eat the sauce which clings to the trout, green beans, and almonds and most will be left on the serving platter.

** I prefer to use unsalted butter in this dish. Since different brands may use different amounts of salt in their butter, you will have to carefully taste and adjust the amount of salt you add each time you make this dish if you switch butter brands. If you use unsalted butter and the same type of salt, then it will be easier to consistently salt this dish every time. If consistency doesn’t worry you, feel free to use salted or unsalted butter in this dish as long as you add additional salt to taste.

Japanese Pickled Ginger (Gari)

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Pickled ginger is well-known as an accompaniment to sushi. It is it known in sushi shop jargon as “gari” (otherwise it is called “beni-shōga). It refreshes the palate, has antiseptic properties, and goes well with grilled items, such as grilled fish (especially oily fish since ginger helps to cut the oiliness) or grilled beef. It is easy to make at home if you can find young ginger.

Young ginger can be found sometimes at Asian farmer’s market stands in the spring through early fall and sometimes at Asian markets. It is distinguishable from the brown-skinned mature ginger by its pinkish stems and tips, very thin translucent skin, and creamy white color. Often it still has all or part of the green stem still attached. The best young ginger has tender bright green sprouting leaves and long slender stalks with a pink blush at the bottom.

My recipe below is for a very small quantity of pickled ginger, about 1/2 cup (1 small jar) made from 1 large clump of ginger (2.75 oz, measured with the stalks removed — about the amount of ginger shown in the picture above). This quantity is good for those that want to try making pickled ginger at home and want to be able to eat it up quickly. Hiroko Shimbo’s recipe on her website lists the ingredient quantities to use for a large batch (14 oz of young ginger).

Source: Modified from “Japanese Sweet Pickled Ginger (Gari)” from “The Sushi Experience” by Hiroko Shimbo. Also referenced “Vinegared Ginger (Sushōga or Gari)” from “Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art” by Shizuo Tsuji and “Japanese Pickled Ginger (Gari) Recipe” by Andrea Nguyen from VietWorldKitchen.com.

Japanese Pickled Ginger (Gari)

  • Servings: Makes about 1/2 cup (1 small jar)
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Ingredients:

  • 2.75 oz young ginger (1 large clump or a few small ones) or substitute mature ginger (see Additional Notes)
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp rice vinegar (komezu)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2-1/4 tsp water
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt

Special Equipment:

  • Japanese mandoline or the ability to make paper-thin slices using a knife or other tool
  • Heat-proof small jar with a tight-fitting lid

Bring a pot of water to a simmer and keep it at a simmer.

Have a heat-proof jar ready. Mix rice vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a small sauce pan. Set aside.

Use a knife to separate the knobs of ginger so that they are easy to clean and slice. Young ginger does not need to be peeled since the skin is very thin, but you should remove any loose papery pieces of skin by grabbing them between your thumb and a spoon and gently tearing them off or using a hard brush to scrub them off. Rinse any dirt off the ginger. Slice lengthwise (along the grain, not across the grain) with a Japanese mandoline into paper-thin sheets about 2 inches long. They should be nearly see-through.

Bring the rice vinegar mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Turn off heat.

Add the ginger slices all at once into the boiling water. Cook for 20 seconds (over boiling will make the ginger limp). Drain the slices in a colander. Shake to remove as much water as possible.

While the ginger slices are still hot, place the ginger into the heat-proof jar. Reheat the vinegar mixture if it has cooled — it needs to be hot when you add it to the ginger. Pour the hot vinegar marinade into the jar. Submerge the ginger slices in the liquid (if there isn’t enough liquid, then add an additional tablespoon or two of rice vinegar or you can double the quantity of the marinade). The ginger may immediately turn a faint pink (not vividly pink –vividly pink-colored commercial pickled ginger is dyed) due to the anthocyanins in young ginger reacting with acid. Though this doesn’t always happen. It may remain pale yellow; the flavor is not affected and it will taste just as good.

Let cool uncovered, and then cap and refrigerate.

It tastes best after it has marinated between overnight and 2 days, though you can eat it at any time. It keeps in the refrigerator for to three weeks to several months. It can be frozen for longer storage. You can keep the marinade almost indefinitely; add new blanched ginger slices to the same liquid to replenish your supply. The marinade can be used to season other dishes.

Additional Notes: To substitute mature ginger, boil sliced mature ginger for 40 seconds or until the slices are translucent.

Hawaiian Luau! Oven-Roasted Kalua Pork

I like Hawaiian food for many reasons. It is a meld of many types of cuisines: Polynesian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, American, Portuguese, and more–many of which I like to cook. Hawaiian food also has retro and vintage flair. Tiki first become in style in the mid-century, possible because American soldiers brought stories back about Polynesia and the South Pacific when they returned home after WWII and the commercial airline industry made travel more accessible. The bright colored (and often over-the-top) Hawaiian prints and rum drinks make tiki fun, and the tropical climate, flowers, and warm waters are something to long for. And it makes me reminisce about relaxation, a slow-paced small town life, and vacations (particularly the vacation that my parents surprised my sister and I with as a Christmas present years ago and the vacation that William and I took in Hawaii about a year ago).

Kalua literally means “to cook in an underground oven” in Hawaiian (wiki). It is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method which uses an imu, a type of underground oven made from a dirt pit which is lined with hot rocks to provide heat. Meat, fish, and vegetables are added, often salted and wrapped in wet ti leaves or banana leaves, and then the imu is covered with wet burlap and a layer of soil to retain heat. The imu cooks by slowly roasting and steaming for several hours. Real Kalua pig is a whole pig cooked in an imu but you can make a similar version in your oven using pork shoulder. It won’t have the same smokey flavor but it will be quite tasty. The best part of the recipe for oven-roasted kalua pig is that it only needs a few ingredients and it is very easy.

You will need a large roasting pan which can fit a large cut of pork shoulder (such as ahalf-sized hotel pan), hold several cups of liquid, and be covered tightly with aluminum foil. A piece of bone-in pork shoulder with a fat cap on one side that is 3-2/3 to 5 pounds (or larger if it fits in your roasting pan) is perfect (see the pictures in “Oven-Roasted Kalua Pig & Cabbage” from TastyIslandHawaii.com); the fat will partially melt while the pork cooks and flavor the meat. The pork will give off liquid as it cooks, so you need to use a roasting pan which is large enough to hold several cups of liquid.

The pork is rubbed with salt. Traditionally alaea sea salt (wiki) is used, which is sea salt mixed with alaea (baked Hawaiian red clay), but you can substitute nearly any type of the salt. Substitute an equal weight of salt (not an equal volume) since types of salt differ in how salty they are by volume due to the salt crystal shape and grain size (see here). For example, for 3-2/3 pounds of meat you could replace 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp (26 g) medium-grained Alaea Hawaiian salt with 2 Tbsp 1 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt since it also weighs 26 grams.

Many recipes for oven roasted kalua pork use liquid smoke to mimic the smokey taste that the pig gets when cooked in an imu but I left out the liquid smoke since I wanted a natural flavor. See “Oven-Roasted Kalua Pig & Cabbage” from TastyIslandHawaii.com if you would like instructions on how to use liquid smoke.

The pork is wrapped in either a banana leaf or several ti leaves and then in aluminum foil, and placed in a tightly closed container with some water to provide steam, and cooked at a very low temperature (220F) for 8 to 10 hours in order to make it meltingly soft. An easy way to cook it, is to start just before you go to sleep and then take it out of the oven when you wake up.Since kalua pork needs to be cooked for many hours, this dish needs to be made ahead of time; luckily this dish reheats well, so it can even be made a day in advance.

Banana leaves are easier to find; they are often available in the frozen section of Southeast Asian grocery stores. Ti leaves can somtimes be found in Hawaiian grocery stores, and I have read that they can be ordered from florists, though I haven’t personally tried this. The leaves infuse the meat with a subtle flavor, but they are optional, you can just use aluminum foil if you like. The meat is served shredded, to allow the melted fat to mix with the meat and to make a uniform consistency and flavor (wiki).

The picture at the top of this post shows kalua pig & cabbage with lomi lomi salmon.

Source: Modified from “Oven-Roasted Kalua Pig & Cabbage” from TastyIslandHawaii.com

Oven-Roasted Kalua Pig & Cabbage

  • Servings: 3-2/3 pounds pork shoulder with the bone-in will serve 6 to 8 with rice and cabbage
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Ingredients:

  • pork shoulder, 3-2/3 to 5 pounds (or larger if it fits in your roasting pan), bone-in is preferable
  • alaea Hawaiian salt, use about 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp (26 g) medium-grained alaea Hawaiian salt for 3-2/3 pounds of meat to 2 Tbsp for larger pieces of meat, or substitute an equal weight of another type of salt
  • 1 banana leaf
  • (optional) 1 small green cabbage if serving kaula pork with cabbage
  • (optional) serve with freshly cooked Japanese rice

Special Equipment:

  • aluminum foil
  • large roasting pan large enough to fit the meat, hold at least 4 cups of liquid, and be covered with a lid of aluminum foil.

Preheat oven to 220F.

Wash the banana leaf and rinse the meat. Shake off the excess water, but do not completely dry it since the moisture will keep the meat moist. Salt the meat on all sides. Note which side is the fatty side–you want to roast it with the fatty side up so that the fat melts down onto the meat. Wrap the meat in the banana leaf (banana leaves can be large; mine encircled the meat about 3 times) and then wrap tightly in aluminum foil, completely enclosing the meat. It is okay to refrigerate the salted and wrapped meat overnight if you want to wait to cook it.

Place the wrapped meat, fatty side up, in the roasting container or a heavy pot large enough to fit the pork with a tight fitting lid and pour in 2 cups of water. The water will surround the bottom of the meat. Cover the container tightly with aluminum foil (use several layers) or the lid. An imu cooks by roasting and steaming; the water and the tight cover on the pan mimics the imu’s steam and moisture.

Cook at 220 F for 8 to 10 hours. Then turn off the heat and without opening the oven, let the meat sit in oven with the heat off for 1 to 2 hours longer, while it cools down.

Now you have a choice. You can either shred the pork when it is warm or you can refrigerate it (still wrapped in aluminum foil) before you shred it. The advantage of refrigerating it is 1) you can shred the meat whenever it is convenient for you 2) the rendered fat will solidify and this will allow you to control exactly how fatty tasting the dish is (though you should keep much of the fat–without this the pork will be dry and bland). If refrigerating, then drain the juice into a container and put the pork (still wrapped in aluminum foil) into another container; unroll a little corner of the wrappings and check that the pork is soft enough to shred easily, and then rewrap the pork. If not, then the pork needs to be cooked longer. Once refrigerated, the rendered fat will solidify on top of the liquids; spoon the fat off and reserve it for use in heating up the pork.

Reserve the liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan; there should be several cups since the pork gives off liquid as it cooks. If you refrigerated the dish, then heat the juices until simmering. Unwrap the pork and discard the banana leaf and aluminum foil.

Use two forks to shred the meat. It should shred easily (if not then it needs to be cooked for longer). Include some of the fat in the shredded meat. A common mistake is including too little fat. You can remove large pockets of fat but be sure to keep some fat–it has lots of flavor. Don’t be afraid of leaving in fat; without it the meat will be dry and dull tasting.

If you refrigerated the meat, then heat the meat, some of the rendered fat, and perhaps some of the fatty pieces of meat and add the hot juices to taste; otherwise if you just finished cooking, then everything should still be warm or hot and you can simply mix everything together to taste.Flavor the shredded kalua pork, to taste, with the pork juices. A common mistake is making the dish too salty so taste carefully as you season it; the juices are very salty so don’t add all of it (if for some reason they aren’t salty enough to flavor the pork, then you can also use additional salt). You should add the juices until it tastes good to you, when can detect the salty flavor but it isn’t over salted. If you plan to eat the pork over multiple days and feel unsure about how much salt to use, you can slightly under salt it now, and use the excess juices to finish salting it in small portions when it is rewarmed.

Reserve the excess salty juices, rendered fat, and solid fat. They are very flavorful; you can use them to reheat the pork, to make kalua pork with cabbage (recipe below), or even in other recipes.

Kalua Pork is a good party food since it keeps for several days and reheats well, so if you have time to make it ahead of time, it can make several great weeknight meals. It also freezes well; place individual or meal sized proportions of the shredded and seasoned pork (with no cabbage) in ziplock bags or storage containers. Freeze extra salty juices in small ziplock bags or containers in case you need to more for seasoning or to make kalua pork and cabbage. Defrost the pork before stir-frying to reheat (the frozen juices can simply be heated in a small pan to melt).

Serving Suggestions: You can serve this on its own or with Japanese white rice. In Hawaii, they often use an ice cream scoop to measure and scoop out the rice–“plate lunches” often come with “two scoops of rice” (wiki) . You can also serve it on soft rolls (such as hamburger, potato, or Hawaiian rolls) as a sandwich. You can also sauté it with cabbage (see below).

I like kalua pork best when sautéed with cabbage, which how I had it at Local Food in Lahaina (yelp), which had the best kalua pork that I had in Maui (most other versions I tried in Maui were way too salty). I like the contrast of crunchy cabbage against the pork, and the cabbage also offsets the saltiness and fattiness of the pork. This is also a great usage of leftover kalua pork.

To make Kaula Pork and Cabbage:

Cut cabbage into strips about inch wide and two inches long.

Heat a pan or large wok on medium to medium-high. Add the prepared shredded kaula pork (that you made in the recipe above). It should have enough fat to grease the pan; if not use some reserved solid fat or reserved rendered fat to oil the pan (this also adds flavor). Cook stirring frequently until the pork shreds become somewhat separated (there will still be some clumps) and are heated through.

Add some chopped cabbage (the amount depends on how much meat you have and what you want the meat to veggie ratio to be) and some of the reserved salty juices, to salt the cabbage and meat to taste. There should be just enough liquid to steam the cabbage for a few minutes (it should lightly coat the pan); you can add water if the reserved juices are too salty to provide enough liquid.

Cover the pan with a lid in order to steam the cabbage, stirring occasionally (add more liquid if necessary). After a few minutes the cabbage will have wilted, but it should still have some bite to it. Uncover and stir. Taste and add more of the reserved juices if it isn’t salty enough. Cook a minute or two more if there is still liquid in the pan to mostly dry the juices. The dish is done when most of the liquid has evaporated, the pork is warm, the cabbage is wilted but still has bite, and it tastes salty and fatty enough.

Serve with rice.

Lomi Lomi Salmon

Even though salmon don’t swim close enough to Hawaii to be caught in its surrounding waters, early European explorers, missionaries, whalers, and the armed forces exposed Hawaiians to salt salmon (and many other types of salted, dried, or canned meats, such as Spam). It has become so integrated into Hawaiian cuisine that lomi lomi is a traditional luau (wiki) dish.

The salt salmon needs to be made at least 1 day ahead, so start this recipe a day before you want to serve it.

Food Safety:

Use only very fresh high quality salmon, preferably sashimi/sushi quality, since the raw salmon is only lightly cured (see here for more information about what types of salmon can be eaten raw and also this wikipedia article on raw fish). I used sushi salmon (from Super Mira Market in San Francisco) to ensure that it was safe to eat raw because it has been commercially deep frozen to remove any parasites (home freezers are not cold enough), very fresh, and had a great texture. If you can’t find sushi salmon, then you could consider using farmed salmon but don’t use wild salmon. Since wild salmon swims in fresh water, it can pick up parasites and should only be eaten fully cooked. The diet of farmed salmon is controlled, so it is less likely to have parasites.

Source: Modified from “Capt. Mike’s Lomi Lomi Salmon” from FishMaui.com

Lomi Lomi Salmon

  • Servings: Makes about 1-1/2 cups, which should serve 3 to 4 as an appetizer (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup per person)
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lbs sushi salmon
  • 1/2 Tbsp alaea Hawaiian salt (10 g), or substitute 1 Tbsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Iodized table salt cannot be used.
  • 1 small tomato, preferably a flavorful meaty type since it will be deseeded, such as Early Girl.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 of a small sweet onion, preferably a Maui onion
  • 1 green onion, thinly minced
  • (optional) taro chips, or substitute a different type of compatible crisps or chips

Make the salt salmon 1 day ahead:

Cut the salmon into pieces no thicker than 1/2 inch. Mix with 1/2 Tbsp alaea Hawaiian salt. Layer the salmon in a wide container with a tight fitting lid; the pieces can be overlapping or stacked in a thin layer. Cover with plastic wrap and then cover tightly with the lid. Refrigerate for 24 hours or up to 3 days (I did 24 hours). A longer salting period will result in a saltier and more heavily cured fish, and more water will be pulled out of the salmon.

Mix the lomi lomi:

Thoroughly rinse the excess salt off the salmon. Cut off a small piece of the salmon and taste it. It will be salty, but if it is too salty, you can soak it anywhere from 3 hours to overnight, changing the water occasionally; however soaking will also remove some of the salmon flavor. (I only needed to rinse mine really thoroughly.)

Dice the salmon into small cubes about the size of a pencil eraser. Finely mince the onion; the pieces should be half the size or even smaller than the salmon (if the onion is very bitter, you can soak it in water for a few minutes and then drain it to remove the bitter juices). Finely mince the green onion. Deseed the tomato and dice it into cubes which are slightly smaller than the salmon.

Place the diced salmon in a mixing bowl. Reserve a small pinch of green onions for garnishing; add the rest of the green onions into the bowl with the salmon. Gently mix in the tomato and onion to taste (lomi lomi means “massage” in Hawaiian). You might not use up all of the tomato and onion; I like my lomi lomi to be mostly salmon with a little bit of tomato and onion since the salmon is the good stuff, though some people like it to be half salmon and half tomato and onion. This mixture can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for several hours or overnight in a covered container.

Serve very cold. In hot places like Hawaii, this is often served over ice or even with a few cubes of ice mixed into the lomi lomi (the melting ice also makes the lomi lomi have a wetter sauce; you can add a small amount of water if you prefer this consistency). Garnish with the reserved minced green onion before serving.

Optional Variation: Mix in a few drops of Hawaiian chili pepper water. I didn’t add any Hawaiian chili pepper water to mine, but I assume this would be a nice addition. See “Capt. Mike’s Lomi Lomi Salmon” from FishMaui.com‘s recipe for how to make chili pepper water.

Optional Serving Suggestion: Serve on its own as an appetizer or with chips. Taro chips would be a good choice since taro is frequently eaten in Hawaii since it was brought to the island more than 1,500 years ago by Polynesians (wiki). A recipe to make taro chips is here. Or substitute another type of compatible crisp or chip, such as yuca. Yuca, which is also called cassava (but isn’t the same as yucca (article)), isn’t commercially grown in Hawaii, though it is found in Hawaiian gardens as a decorative and edible plant (article)). The picture below shows both taro chips (the white chips with purple lines) and yuca chips. An innovative alternative is to serve it with lightly salted fried shrimp chips.

Germany

For our fourth of July vacation this year, we went to Germany. There were lots of sausages: in restaurants, beer halls, and even sold on the street.

In Munich, we went to beer halls. They pour huge beers (William and I usually shared the liter of beer) and serve large plates of very filling, heavy food (e.g. roasted pork shoulder, pork knuckles, sausage, and grilled mackerel “fish on a stick”).

We stayed one night in Rothenburg ob der Tauber (a well-preserved medieval town) and also made a quick stop in Nuremberg the next day.

Finally, we went to Berlin. Berlin has lots of graffiti and street art. There was a mix of old and new buildings and lots of repurposed warehouses decorated with street art.

In modern times, Germain people eat all sorts of cuisines on a regular basis. I suspect that many Germains eat traditional foods as often as Americans eat hot dogs or hamburgers, which is to say that it is probably only eaten on occasion, though some eat it more often than others. However on our trip, we mainly ate traditional Germain foods, since that is what we were most interested in. So we had lots of schnitzel, pork shoulder, bread dumplings, sauerkraut, sausages, simple green side salads with lots of vinegar, and spätzle.

A famous Berlin street food is currywurst, which is a sausage topped with a curry tomato sauce and fries. We tried some from Curry 36.

Berlin has a large Turkish population; doner kebab stands are all over the city. We had doner kebab at a few places (it ended up being one of my favorite foods), including Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap. The line was very long; the doner kebab was good, but I’m not sure it was worth the long wait.

 

We also discovered the wine shop and cafe, Knaack Raum für Geschmack. It was past dinner time in the neighborhood we were walking around in, so many restaurants had closed, and this was one of the few places still open. It was a lucky find. The shop is also a wine importer, specializing in wines from South Tyrol (northern Italian province) and Georgia. I really enjoyed the pinot that we had there since it had a slightly mineral taste, had personality, and was distinctive. We also had some ravioli that I liked a lot. It had a pine nut filling and was dressed with a fruity olive oil and a grated cheese (perhaps pecorino or parmesan)–simple and perfect!

I had the red current tart from the coffee store, Five Elephant, since I had seen the cute berries in many farmer’s markets and was wondering what they tasted like (the picture of red currents was taken at the market in Munich). The coffee was good but the pastries were even better. The pastry was just barely sweet and the red current provided a nice sour note. The crust was especially good because it was very delicate.

William had a blueberry tart from Five Elephant. I liked how they pressed a few oats into the sides of the crust.

Lobster Sandwich

This lobster sandwich is served on a toasted croissant and is flavored with diced cucumber, tarragon, lemon zest, poppy seeds, mayonnaise, and whole-grain mustard. The tarragon adds a bright herbal anise-like flavor which unexpectedly goes well with lobster. Poppy seeds and seafood are an unexpected combination that works so well that David Chang specifically mentioned this flavor pairing in his Momofuku cookbook. Lobster and butter are also another great combination — this sandwich gets its butteriness from the croissant. This isn’t a traditional Maine-style lobster roll–that’s what makes it unique.

Source: Modified “Boiled Lobster” from “The Art of Simple Food” by Alice Waters. We used “Crab Sandwich” from “Tartine Bread” by Chad Robertson as our recipe for the lobster sandwiches, but we left out the chervil that the recipe suggested, since it isn’t available in our markets.

Lobster Sandwich

  • Servings: 4.5 pounds of lobster gives about 1 lbs of unshelled meat and makes 4 sandwiches
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Ingredients:

  • 4.5 pounds live lobster
  • 1 small cucumber (e.g. Persian cucumber) or part of a larger cucumber, preferably seedless
  • a few tarragon stalks
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp whole-grain mustard
  • (optional) 1 tsp toasted poppy seeds
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 to 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 croissants

Find a very large pot which is large enough to hold a lobster. Fill with salted water and bring to a simmer (a rolling boil will toughen the meat). Immerse one lobster at a time, head first, into the water and let cook for at least 7 minutes (large lobsters will need more time). Use tongs to remove the lobster and cool under cold running water to stop the cooking. Repeat with the remaining lobsters.

Shell and remove the lobster meat once the lobsters are cool. Set lobster meat aside. Optionally you can save the shells to make stock.

Peel, seed (if applicable), and finely chop the cucumber. Remove the leaves from the tarragon stems; discard the stem. Mix the mayonnaise and mustard in a large bowl. Stir lobster meat, cucumber, tarragon, poppy seeds (if using), and lemon zest into the bowl with the mayonnaise mustard mixture. Taste and if the salt and seasonings aren’t flavorful enough add more to taste; if the lobster salad is too mild and under flavored, add 1 tsp of lemon juice and add more to taste to give it a bright acidic note. Sometimes the lobster can taste mild at first; if you give it some time in the refrigerator (an hour or more), it will absorb the flavorings. You can refrigerate the salad for up to 1 day.

Split croissants in half. Heat a cast iron or other heavy pan on medium. Melt enough butter to lightly coat the bottom of the pan (1 Tbsp or so). When the butter bubbles, toast the croissants in the heated pan. Rebutter the pan as necessary and repeat for the remaining croissants.

Spoon the lobster mixture onto the bottom half of each croissant and cover with the top half. Serve immediately.

To make stock from the lobster shells:

This process is very similar to making shrimp stock.

Reserve the tail shell, head shell, claw shells, legs, and white fat after picking out the meat for another usage. Discard the lungs and the green colored tomalley (insides). Lobsters are to be a lot cleaner than crawfish; the shells only need to be rinsed if they look dirty (most likely they don’t need rinsing).

Add the reserved shells and some aromatics (e.g. bay leaf, thyme, a few garlic cloves, shallot or onion). Cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer. Keep at a bare simmer for 1 to 3 hours.

Shrimp Stock

If you buy shrimp with their heads and aren’t going to cook them whole, then you should make shrimp stock. You can also make shrimp stock with just the tail shells, if you don’t have the heads, though the stock will be less rich.

Source: My own recipe, based on generic recipe available from many sources.

Shrimp Stock


Ingredients:

  • Shrimp heads (amount is variable)
  • Shrimp tail shells (amount is variable)
  • cold water, enough to cover ingredients
  • (optional) aromatics, such as onions, parsley stems, garlic cloves, bay leaf, celery, carrots, etc

Lightly rinse the shrimp before cleaning them. Save the heads and tail shells when you are cleaning shrimp (don’t re-rinse). Discard the intestines. The stock should be made immediately after you clean the shrimp, so that the shells are fresh but if you need to you can store them frozen for a few weeks. Add the shells to a heavy soup pot which holds them comfortably. You can add all of the same aromatics and flavorings that you can add to chicken stock, if you have them (they are okay to omit). You can also use many of you vegetable peelings (onion skins, garlic skins, celery ends, tomato skin, etc). Cover the ingredients with cold water.

Bring to a boil, and keep at a bare simmer for 20 minutes to 1 hour (I usually simmer for 30 minutes). Skim any foam that rises to the top.

Strain through a fine meshed strainer and discard the solids. Let the strained stock sit on the counter top for at least 10 minutes so that any remaining particles settle on the bottom. Pour off the clear part of the stock and discard the cloudy portion on the bottom containing particles. If the stock isn’t as strong as you like it, you can simmer it down until it is the concentration you want.

The shrimp stock can be frozen until you want to use it. The stock is unsalted, so you should adjust salt to taste any recipes that you use it in.

Cajun-Style Roux

Roux is a mixture of fat and flour which is used to thicken gravy, sauces, and stews. The flour is mixed into hot fat and toasted until the raw flour taste disappears and the mixture is the desired color. There are several colors of roux that can be made: white, light brown (the color of honey), medium brown (a tan-brown leather color), dark red-brown (a mahogany color), and black. Many cuisines such as French, Italian, and Eastern European make roux but Cajun roux is unique because it is typically toasted until it is at least a deep brown color, which gives it a rich nutty flavor. Several colors of roux are used in Cajun cooking, such as medium brown, dark red-brown, and black*. Roux has less thickening power the more it is toasted; according to Wikipedia, a chocolate-colored roux has about one-fourth the thickening power by weight of a white-colored roux.

Most sources suggest cooking roux at a low heat for a long time, however Paul Prudhomme’s method uses very high heat to quickly cook the roux in 3 to 5 minutes. It is easy to burn the roux using Prudhomme’s method, so I suggest using fairly hot heat but not extremely hot heat and taking about 30 minutes to cook it. Adjust the heat as it cooks–start with a medium heat until the roux begins to brown (increase the heat if it take more than a few minutes for the first signs of browning to appear), and then lower the heat to cook it slower as it gets darker so that it is less likely to burn.

Source: Notes are compiled from a few sources including “Roux” from “Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen” by Paul Prudhomme, “Brown Roux” from “Recipes: American cooking: Creole and Acadian” from the Time-Life “Foods of the world” series, Philipe LaMancusa from Kitchen Witch cookbook store in New Orleans, ChefBuenviaje.com, and Wikipedia.

Roux


Ingredients: Roux uses a 1 to 1 ratio of flour to fat. For example, 8 Tbsp of flour and 8 Tbsp oil (which will make about 11 Tbsp of roux). French and Italian cooking often use butter, but Cajun dark roux usually uses vegetable oils or other fats (such as animal fats, lard, bacon fat, or duck fat) with a higher smoking point than butter. I have used grapeseed so far, but peanut oil or lard is supposed to contribute good flavor (though peanut oil can be an allergen for people with peanut allergies).

Equipment: Use a clean heavy pan made out of cast iron or enameled cast iron, which preferably has flared sides to make stirring easier. Use a large enough skillet that the fat does not fill it by more than 1/4.** Don’t use a non-stick pan since non-stick pans shouldn’t be highly heated. Don’t use a thin metal pan since they encourage the roux to burn because they transmit the heat too well and they also cool faster (which is why they are good for sautéing, but not for roux). Use a spatula or long-handled cooking spoon to stir the roux since that will keep your hand far away from the roux.

Safety: Roux becomes extremely hot when it is cooking. Be very careful to not splatter it. If it splatters on you, the hot mixture will stick to your skin and burn. Don’t ever taste the roux while it is cooking because it will burn your tongue.

Method:
Heat up the pan on medium to medium-high. Add the oil. Wait 3 to 5 minutes for the oil to become hot; the oil should start to ripple and a light haze should form over it. Slowly sprinkle in the flour bit by bit and stir it in; don’t add all the flour at once. When you add the flour it may sizzle and steam since the flour has some water in it.

Keep stirring and scrape any flour that sticks to the bottom of the pan; do not stop stirring while you are making the roux because the roux will burn. Adjust the heat to control the browning process. If it is browning faster than you want it to, adjust the heat lower or move the pan away from the heat. It will take a long time to brown if the heat is too low–if so, you can turn up the heat a little. Keep stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan. It will have a faintly nutty aroma when cooking. If black dots appear in the roux than it has burned and it should be discarded by transferring it to a heat proof container (e.g. Pyrex) to cool, and then thrown away. It should take about 30 minutes to make a roux the color of melted dark chocolate as shown above (the milk chocolate color seems to happen fairly quickly).

You can either use the roux immediately in a recipe or store it for later. I prefer making the night before so I’m not rushed.

  • To use immediately: When the roux is the color that you want, add your chopped vegetables and turn off the heat. Keep stirring for 5 minutes while roux cools down. The vegetables will stop the roux from cooking and the heat will saute the vegetables.
  • To store the roux: The roux will continue to cook until it has cooled down, so when it is nearly color you want, turn off the heat. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes until it cools down a little (this is so that you are less likely to burn yourself when you remove it from the pan and the roux doesn’t burn while it is in the pot). Do not let the roux sit unstirred in the hot pan because you will burn it. Transfer to a heat proof container (e.g. Pyrex) and let cool. It keeps for several weeks in a covered container in the refrigerator. To use, stir briefly to recombine and loosen (make sure you do this–otherwise the roux will clump in the sauce), spoon out the amount you want into a preheated skillet; let the roux warm for a minute and then continue with your recipe. You can also use it when it is at room temperature, but heating it is preferable.

Always mix hot liquid into the roux; cold liquid may cause the mixture to separate. There are two ways roux can be added to dishes: 1) You can gradually add ladlefuls of hot stock into hot or warm roux (with or without vegetables sautéed in roux); stir well after each addition of stock. 2) Or you can gradually add small spoonfuls of roux into stock, stirring until the roux is well dissolved after each addition–make sure that you add the roux in small amounts and stir really well, otherwise the roux will clump.

Alternative Method:
The traditional method is the best, but there is also an alternative method which doesn’t require constant stirring that Philipe told me about. He said that “To insure a well darkened roux, if you’re not going to stand over it and stir constantly, the best way is to put the pan (a heavy bottom pan like cast iron) in the oven at 375 and stir it every once in a while.” I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds useful in certain situations.

* When I tried to make black colored roux, it came out burnt since it made particles that wouldn’t dissolve in warm liquid, so this is something I need to learn. Black roux is a lot harder to make than any of the brown colored roux.

** 8 Tbsp of flour and 8 Tbsp oil fit comfortably in my 10 inch cast iron skillet. It’s a good idea for a beginner to only make a small amount, so that it is less likely to splattering when stirring; 12 Tbsp of flour and 12 Tbsp of oil was the maximum I would do in this skillet for this reason. It is possible to make large amounts of roux at once if you use a large enough pot and carefully control the heat. I was able to make roux from 750 ml of oil using a cast iron dutch oven that was large enough for the oil to only fill it 1/4 of the way.

Cajun Basic Rice

The benefit of using the oven to cook this rice is that it frees up your stove to make other things, and you don’t need to watch it closely.

Source: Heavily modified from “Basic Cooked Rice” from “Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen” by Paul Prudhomme

Cajun Basic Rice

  • Servings: Serves 6 (6 cups cooked rice).
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked rice, preferably converted
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, unmelted
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch each of white pepper, cayenne pepper, and black pepper

Preheat oven at 350 F.

Converted rice doesn’t need to be washed; wash the rice if using any other type of rice.

Choose a pan which is not too wide (if the pan is very wide, then the rice layer will be very thin (0.75 inches or less) and the rice will become too crispy and dry). A 5x9x2-1/2 inch loaf pan is ideal but I’ve had success with a 12x8x2-1/2 inch pyrex glass baking pan pan and a 3-1/2 quart enameled dutch oven with a lid.

Add all ingredients to the pan. Cover with a tight fitting lid or cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until rice is tender. Add some water and bake for a little longer if the rice is too firm. The edges may get brown and crispy; this is fine. Stir rice to fluff it up and separate the grains.

If kept covered, the rice will stay hot for about 45 minutes , and warm for up to 2 hours.

Variation: Use stock instead of water. Preferably use a stock which complements the dish you will be serving it with (chicken stock for a chicken dish, seafood stock for a seafood dish, etc). Stock will make a more flavorful rice; water makes a neutral flavored rice which is appropriate for flavorful sauces and gumbos.

Variation: Add 1-1/2 Tbsp of very finely chopped onions, 1-1/2 Tbsp of very finely chopped celery, and 1-1/2 Tbsp of very finely chopped green bell peppers (or a sub-combination of these vegetables) to the rice before cooking. Paul Prudhomme suggests omitting the green bell pepper if you are making the rice ahead of time, since it sours quickly.

Leftovers can be reheated by stir frying in some butter (you can add a few Tbsp of water too if it seems dry) or oil; you should do this even if you are topping it with gumbo, since the rice gets dry after being in the refrigerator. You can also re-bake leftovers (add some water if it seems dry or if the rice grains are too firm).