Monday, June 27, 2005

Pork Belly

For all you gluttons ou there


Pork belly and glass noodle braise (approx 2 large portions)

1 lb lean pork belly in one piece
1 package tofu knots (20 or so), soaked in water until soft
4 coins ginger
1 small can pigeon brand sweet pickled cabbage (including liquid)
1 tsp sugar (rock sugar preferably)
4 Tbsp Chinese soy
water as needed (about 1/2 cup)
2 bunches glass noodles

Gently boil the pork belly in water to cover for 1/2 an hour, remove and slice widthwise into 1” thick dominos. Gently fry the pork belly until it is well browned, draining the fat as it is rendered (you can do what you want with the fat, I throw it out, probably not the most economical thing to do). Add the rest of the ingredients except for the glass noodles. Add enough water to cover the solids half-way. Cover and simmer until the pork belly is extremely tender (around 1 1/2 to 2 hrs). While it cooks add more water as needed. Taste and correct the seasonings if need be.
At this point you can let the braise cool and refrigerate it overnight or…. Soak your glass noodles in warm water until soft. Drain, remove the little strings (if present) and cut two or three times into smaller pieces. Add the noodles to the pork belly and and cook on low heat until the noodles are soft ( a few minutes).
The tofu knots were a new discovery, essentially tofu skin tied in knots and dried, from PRC. You could probably use a firm tofu in place of them, or some other dried tofu.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

south indian cabbage

I love fried cabbage almost as much as I love mustard seed.

South Indian Savoy Cabbage

1 small head savoy cabbage (or 1/2 large head)
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
1 1/2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp mustard seed oil
2 pinches fenugreek seeds
1-2 Tbsp dried yellow mung beans (or lentil of similar size)
2-6 dried red chillies
5-10 curry leaves
2 Tbsp shredded dried coconut
salt and sugar to taste


Remove the core from the cabbage and cut into strips (thick julienne).
Heat a large frying pan on high heat and add the mustard seeds and the two oil. Cover the pan and let the seeds pop. When the popping has subsided, quickly add the fenugreek, mung beans, chillies, and curry leaves. Stir until the chiles are scortched a bit and the mung beans are nicely toasted, around 30-45 seconds. Add the cabbage and reduce the heat to med. Stir –fry the cabbage to colour it a bit, around 2-3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water, the coconut, salt and sugar to taste. Reduce the heat to low and cover, cooking until all the water has evaporated and the cabbage is al dente, anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on how your cabbage is. Add more water as needed and stir the cabbage from time to time as it cooks. Be careful as the coconut can burn easily.
Check the seasonings and serve.
This is a great, inexpensive side dish, you can add shredded carrots for colour or turmeric if you like.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Neng Myun

As the hot weather begins again I feel the yearning for cool foods, in both senses of the word. Salads, sandwiches, even burgers, but especially cold soups. Nothing kills a heat wave like an ice cold dinner fresh from the fridge, and few meals are a suited to this temperature as soup.
Shelly, my friend from high school, used to go on and on about this soup her mum made with noodles and ice cubes. For those of you that don't know, Korean mums are some of the worlds best cooks, right up there with Filipino mums and a few other select ethnic groups. You kids are so lucky. Anyhow, I never had the chance to try this soup until two weeks ago. I had attempted to order it on two occasions, only to be brick walled by the language barrier. On both occasions I got cold noodles minus the soup. The waitresses on both occasions explained that they thought cold soup was too wierd for me. So whatever you do make sure you ask, nay, demand, that this be soup, the noodles by themselves come with gochu jang (sweet hot bean paste) and they are just too stodgy (trust me, I have respectfully tried to choke down two bowls of these noodles).

So, if/when you do get Neng Myun, you can expect a vinegared beef broth with ice cubes floating in it, some chewy Korean noodles, a hard boiled egg, and some julienned cuke or daikon, oh , and a few slices of beef. I always ask for hot sauce on the side, with everything.

So far I have only had Neng myun at Restaurant Seoul (5030 Sherbrooke W. & Claremont) but they must be out there somewhere else.. if you find them elsewhere please let me know!

Monday, June 20, 2005

warwick cheese festival pt1

So after my mandarin class , we headed off to the annual Warwick cheese festival, we being; myself, Val, and Sean. I think we all had these visions of some haut-gastro event; bespecatcled european men with foulards and big noses, nibbling discerningly on artisanal raw milk curds. Well.... when we got to Warwick they were gearing up for the parade.. yes a cheese parade. Actually it seemed like an excuse for the town to party, and everyone was out on their remarkably similar lawn chairs drinking beer in the main street. The parade was pretty much what you would expect, some local industry and shops, some tractors, a marching band, some big horses, and some really cute dwarf ponies drawing their own miniture sized wagon.. to die for. Oh and two giant mascot type swans... I have no clue what the swans were all about, they might have had something to do with the large fiberglass bull that followed, but by then we had lost intrest and were wandering towards the cheese.
We had been told at the cheese factory that there was only junk food available so we hunkered down to a nasty cheese burger and an even nastier poutine. I did discover that vinegar and black pepper make poutine much more interesting, for me at least. We later found the SAQ bistro which kind of pissed us off.
The cheese festival itself was, I guess a little bit of a let down for us, due in large part to the atmosphere. There were however some really interesting products, which we can divide into three categories:
1) alcohol (wine, cidre, beer.. beer was a popular one)
2) cheese (I should hope so)
3) other (fudge, emu and all its derived products, emu eggs are beautiful by the way, and other stuff)

There were two sections, an outside tent and an off season hockey arena, both full of people hawking their products. You had to buy tickets (20 for 5$, this, after the 12$ admission fee) and then trade them in for the product samples. 10 minutes after having been told that 20 would be more than enough, I was back in line for 20 more.
The general atmosphere was pretty raucus. People were pushing and trying to get in line for beer and cheese, the problem being that no lines actually existed so it was pretty much luck of the draw. Most of the stalls were puny, and the people staffing them were chatty and nice, which in these circumstances really didn't speed things up. After 2 hours of josteling for the chance at a toothpick or two of cheese I was, a) cheesed out, b) just fed up. That, and a few really nasty products, and we just traded our tickets in for more beer and stopped. Somewhere between the emu and the nasty cheese we lost Val, so me and Sean just sat in one place, and tried to spot the gay people. For some reason this is always fun.
More posts on products later.. including a cheese I found just beyond nasty, a surprisingly good late harvest wine from (gasp) Laval, and some pictures that Sean was kind enough to take.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Wawel coriander bread

Another day, another fabulous product. This is bread my grandmother would have loved, she wouldn't have been too sure about the coriander seeds all over the top, but otherwise this bread would have been allright by her. She used to make her own bread, a diffrent generation.
i first found this bread at Bucharest supermarket on Decarie, and then discovered that Wawel (who bake a label into outside of the bread, ensuring you know where the bread is really from) had a concession right outside my boyfriends house. They also have one in the newly renovated Jean Talon market.
Anyhow, this bread is a rye bread, it is a bit wet (actually gran wouldn't have like that) so that the slices stick together a bit, but the flavour is all quality. I mean I could, and have, eaten half a loaf of this bread in one sitting with some mustard and smoked fish.. or just with butter.
This is not french bread in any way, it reeks of northern europe and german or slavic extraction. Germans would probably put caraway on top and make it way more dense, the coriander seeds give it away as eastern european. Anyhow, if you love good bread BUY THIS BREAD.

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Friday, June 17, 2005

Nablusi Cheese

I am a confessed cheese fanatic, and when it comes to cheeses that you can pan fry, well, what could be better than fried cheese I ask you. From the lovely people at Lait D'Antan ( www.laitdantan.com ), purveyors of tons of sexy dairy products, Nablusi cheese, a haloumi studded with kalonji (black onion seeds). This is actually an edible cheese, compared to the haloumi from Phonecia which you have to soak in water before using, so salty it is.
I also, apart from loving cheese, happen to love kalonji, A Bengali friend used to bring me rusk cookies flavoured with this lovely little seed, and if you've ever wondered why your nan bread tasted great and why it had mouse shit in it, well, that wasn't mouse shit it was kalonji. I wouldn't know where to begin describing the taste except to say that it is maybe vaguely celery like.
So take this cheese, slice it, fry it in a bit of olive oil until it turns goldenm then just eat it off the paper towel, or use it as a meat substitute, like a paneer, or a vastly superior tofu. Also nice to serve with a bit of homemade tomato sauce as part of a mezze meal, or just with some sliced tomatoes. You could probably use it raw, but fried is better.
Love this cheese, love these lait d'antan people.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

ark land water

straight from Armenia (probably from an Armenian tap) to you comes Arkland Water. Not only do they have a funky packaging concept... somewhere between Tokyo and Bratislava.. but their water is actually half decent. The carbonation is not overpowering, quite subtle. The taste is slightly minerally, a little salty but in no way unpleasant. It might taste fishy a bit but I couldn't tell because I had just eaten half a smoked herring, so everything tasted fishy. The only real surprise about this water was that it had a nice little chunk of scale in the bottom of the can which I obviously only noticed after I crunched down on it. Why I was tempted to chew my water i don't know.
Cost around $1.25, if you are in montreal and have to try this, you can buy it at Capitol in the Marche Jean Talon.
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