Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wagyu Soba

After a trip to Liang Court, I came back with lots of Japanese cooking goodies. I decided to make some cold soba, as I got tired with the recipes served by Shimbashi. Although I think their sobas and soup are the best, they don't offer a huge variety of cold soba dishes.
I purchased some beautiful wagyu beef and decided to use that as the main ingredient for my soba, paired with some mountain enoki mushrooms.

These soba (pictured below) seemed like the best compromise in terms of price/quality ratio. This is what I bought from Liang Court for this meal:
  • Jo-Karubi ($16.40)
  • Enoki Mountain ($2.90)
  • S&B Yuzu Kosho ($6.60)
  • Yosedofu ($3.20)
  • Daikon ($0.70)
  • Nissin Hachiwari soba ($4.90)
  • Maruai katsuobushi 3gx8 ($3.65)
Also, I used the following ingredients:
  • Spring onions
  • Soy Sauce
  • Mirin
  • Kombu (dried kelp)
I started off making the dashi, by putting about 800ml of cold water with a square of kombu (20g) on medium heat. Just before the water reaches the boil, remove the kelp, bring it to the boiling point and add about 20g of katsuobushi (bonito flakes), then turn off the heat and add:
  • 200ml dark soy sauce,
  • 80ml (5.5 tbsp) mirin
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
Bring the sauce to a boil once more, then add 30g of katsuobushi, remove from the heat, wait for 10 seconds and strain. Let it cool and refrigerate until cold. Unfortunately this needs to be made a little in advance as it needs to be cooled. I accelerated the process by cooling it down within a pan of ice water, and then placing it in the freezer for 30 mins or so. It's worth noting that this sauce can be kept refrigerated for several months, so you won't have to do this every time.

Wash the mushrooms and blanch them in boiling salted water. Chop some spring onions, wash the daikon and grate it finely to make a good amount of oroshi.

Cook the noodles. Put them in boiling water and let boil for about 4 minutes or until cooked. Drain the water and wash the noodles under cold running water. Put them on a bed of ice and turn them now and then to keep them cold throughout.

To sear the beef, I re-assembled the slices as the beef I bought was pre-sliced. I created 2 "packets" of slices by matching them in diameter and sticking them together, then i sprinkled them with salt around the outer surface. Heat a frying pan and put the "parcels" of beef on top, turning them half way through to sear both sides. I like these fairly rare, as they come out with a thin, crispy and savoury layer of cooked beef that contrasts the inner juicier part.

Finally, you are ready to serve. Assemble the noodles into bowls filled with the cold broth you prepared, then top with the mushrooms, the slices of beef, oroshi and spring onion. I love yuzu kosho, so I added that on top of it all. Serve with wasabi on the side.

I also purchased this phenomenal yosedofu, which I prepared with the ingredients I had. It came with its sauce, so all I did was top it with some spring onion and katsuobushi, and serve it with some yuzu kosho and wasabi on the side. I think I will go back to Liang Court more often, as I have a soft spot for such delicacies!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Linguine Gamberi e Zucchine

I purchased this "Fara S. Martino" linguine pasta at the basement of Central Clarke Quay, by the pasta counter. They have quite a few western products, including a good range of good dry pasta brands. "Fara S. Martino" is well known in Italy for its quality, and it's quite inexpensive.

Linguine are best suited for seafood sauces, so I decided to test them with a simple and classic recipe. I purchased the following ingredients from cold storage (for 2 people):
  • Clams
  • Peeled prawns
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • Italian flat leaf parsley (packet)
  • 1 Lemon
For the preparation, blanch the two tomatoes in boiling water for 20 seconds, cool them in running cold water and remove the skin. Slice into 2, remove seeds, then chop into cubes, arrange them onto a foil placed into a baking tray and bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Chop the parsley, peel 2 cloves of garlic and squash them. Peel a couple of shallots and chop them finely. Wash the zucchini and cut them into julienne strips. Grate a pinch of lemon zest. Wash clams and lightly salt the prawns.

While you bring a saucepan of water to the boil to cook the pasta, heat up a skillet and start preparing the sauce. Put a good amount of olive oil into the skillet, then cook the prawns for less than a minute maintaining their juiciness (depending on their size) and put aside.

Put the linguine into the salted boiling water and stir regularly while you start making the sauce. It is important that you don't let the pasta or the sauce sit aside for too long. Linguine take about 10 minutes to cook, and it should take no longer than that to cook the sauce.

Add the garlic cloves and shallots into the oil, bring the color out and add some optional chili flakes. Pour the clams into the skillet and cover.
When the clams start to open, pour some white wine and let evaporate quickly on medium-high heat. Add some fish stock if you have it, the parsley and a pinch of the grated lemon zest together with a pinch of salt. Cover again and continue to cook and shake the skillet until the clams are wide open. Add the zucchini and the chopped tomatoes, stir while cooking for about 30 seconds or so (depending on the thickness of the strips) and remove from the heat.

When the pasta is ready, put the sauce back on the heat into a large frying pan, pour a few tablespoons of the pasta water into the sauce, drain the pasta (but not too thoroughly) and saute' with the sauce until the juices are partially evaporated to the right consistency.
Be careful at this stage, as you don't want to overcook the pasta nor evaporate too much of the sauce or else you will end up with an overcooked, sticky pasta. Arrange on a plate and top with the prawns.

I found these linguine nice and firm in texture. They hold well the cooking time and they are ideal for olive oil based seafood sauces.

Mafalde Saffron Pork

I bought these "Mafalde" Garofalo (a notoriously good Italian brand) from Culina, and I decided to make them with whatever I had in the fridge or freezer. This is what I pulled out of my fridge/freezer:
  • Japanese shabu shabu pork
  • peas
  • some frozen beef stock cubes
  • pecorino cheese (you can use Parmesan)
  • garlic, shallots, spring onions
  • capers
  • saffron (also previously bought from Culina)
  • 2 eggs.
This is what I made out of these ingredients...

I soaked the saffron into hot water for 15-20 minutes, in order to release its aroma.

I prepared a base by frying the pork in olive oil with the chopped shallots, a squashed clove of garlic and a little dry white wine. I then added the fish stock, salt, the peas and capers and the spring onion towards the end (I like this ingredient to remain fresh).

I then prepared an emulsion with 2 yolks (for 2 people), a dash of wine vinegar and the saffron water. As usual, to prepare the emulsion whisk the yolks within a pot with a handle, holding the pot on the water you use to boil the pasta when it reaches boiling temperature. While whisking the yolks, add some extra melted butter/olive oil and keep whisking. Add in some hot water if the mixture becomes too firm. Make the emulsion light, dense and bubbly, then add the pecorino or Parmesan and give it one last whisk.

Finally, boil the Mafalde in salted water, drain them and saute' them for about 30 seconds into the pan where you prepared the base of the sauce. Finally arrange on a plate with the pork and pees on top, and top up with the emulsion and freshly grated pepper to taste.

I like the firm and curly texture of this pasta, which well combines with "rustic" sauces such as this one. I would definitely think that this style of sauce is better suited for this pasta than a tomato sauce. As a variation, I would pre-grill some tomatoes in the oven, chop them and add them to the sauce base, in order to add an extra layer of sourness. I might try that next time!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Epicurious - Ladyironchef food gathering

Thanks to ladyironchef, we had a wonderful food gathering this afternoon and the venue of choice was Epicurious.
The company was very enjoyable and the event was a success, with about 40 people attending. It was the first time I attended such an outing, and surely it won't be the last. Brad arranged a menu catered for the event, priced at $25 dollars for the dishes pictured below. He also organised a lottery, with vouchers for free dishes or 1-for-1 offers at Epicurious.
Most importantly the company was great, as we enjoyed a very pleasant conversation particularly around food! Well done ladyironchef, we all really appreciate the effort you put into this to make it successful!

Mushroom soup with cheese-topped bread

Asian salad with bacon-wrapped chicken

Mini burger with spaghetti Vietnamese bolognese

Apple crumble with french toast

See you all at the next food outing. Hopefully Brad will organise more of these!
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