Secret supporting ingredient: gochujang. (That’s a horrible Academy Awards reference, for those of you uncultured as I am.)
Thanks to Chow.com, you and I can make a Kogi-style sauce to flavor our food. This post is not my first homage to Roy Choi (but this one is). I’m a big fan of the bold flavors of the Kogi truck, which we mimic in this recipe.
2 cups cilantro, leaves and stems, washed and roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2-inch piece ginger, peeled
1/4 cup gochujang (Korean fermented red pepper paste, also available at an Asian market)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Creating this sauce is not difficult. It’s a matter of adding all the ingredients to the bowl of the food processor and blending until magical aroma and near-uniform consistency are reached. At first glance, the sauce may look like a salsa. BUT IT’S NOT. Aromas of basil, sesame, ginger, and sweetness confuse the senses and result in discombobulation of the eye-tongue connection.
Makes about 4 cups. Slather generously on meats, vegetables, and rice and receive lunch envy from coworkers.
Since it was packaged intriguingly, I decided to buy a chunk of scamorza (“scamortz” in Italian). Trying a piece of scamorza cheese me back to my childhood. Why? I still can’t recall the reason why (and my parents don’t know either).
I’m here to tell you that this stuff is good.
Scamorza is a cow’s milk cheese made originally in the southeast of Italy. Its production process resembles mozzarella and provolone. To transform the cheese from elastic and stringy to its ripened stage, it’s strangled with string and hung for two weeks. Odd pear shape: explained. In the south of Italy, the name “scamorza” shares the same root word as “beheaded”. Name: explained. After two weeks, the cheese can be smoked or not, and then sold as is.
Since the chunk of scamorza I bought had not received the smoke treatment, my observations below only apply to unsmoked scamorza.
The cheese retains the same bright white color all the way through, with a few clear veins spreading from the center.
It’s aromatic, but I hesitate to call classify it stanky cheese.
Scamorza is firmer with less moisture than low-moisture mozzarella
I consider its taste more dominant than mozzarella, yet still on the mild side compared to the world at large.
It’s great for melting.
$10.99 per pound at an Italian market.
Verdict: I dig it. You should explore it for yourself.
I’m reviewing Claro’s Italian Market’s brand of Scamorza. You’ll find many versions of scamorza in the world, and this review of one brand cannot entirely influence your decision when faced with scamorza in, say, Italy.
How to Enjoy
Substituted for low-moisture mozzarella in any capacity.
On Wednesday after a day of snowy skiing, curling, and ice skating (all in less-than-ideal conditions), I was treated to an all-you-can-eat Raclette dinner. What is Raclette? Thank you for asking, reader.
Raclette is both a cheese and a dish from Switzerland consisting of the melted eponymous cheese over potatoes. The name originates from French, where the verb “racler” means “to scrape off” and “ette” refers to a small something. The dish was traditionally made by melting the cheese by radiation from a fire and then scraping the small melted layer onto potatoes. Modern preparation frequently involves an electric Raclette maker, but preserves the original concept. Eat pickled pearl onions and cornichon pickles in between plates of Raclette to balance out the rich tastes in your mouth. The Swiss seem to love paprika; optionally, sprinkle some on the cheese. One more note: according to the Swiss, drink tea or white wine with Raclette (probably for digestive considerations).
Raclette cheese was originally produced in the Valais region of Switzerland. Because it never received the protected designation of origin distinction, current Raclette production is unregulated from a quality perspective. Unless you specifically source Raclette from artisanal producers in the Valais region (like my family in Switzerland does), you’re probably not going to find great Raclette cheese.
Last note: Raclette is stanky. Real bad.
Me scraping Raclette, with vein popping out of forehead because of the overwhelming stank.
Let’s explore a few cultural differences between Switzerland and Southern California. In Switzerland:
They have square push-button light switches. Weird.
Nothing is free. I found essentially zero drinking fountains. I need water, people.
They speak too many languages (French, Swiss-German, Italian, English).
Credit cards never leave your sight. In a restaurant, they bring the credit card machine to you.
Ordering “water” means a bottle of water. The wait staff doesn’t refill water if you order in a carafe. I don’t want to pay for water.
Swiss pop music sucks. I couldn’t imagine ice skating to anything worse.
As I deliriously recline in the lounge of my hotel in the Swiss Alps, listening to John Fogerty‘s most recent album and the performance of Get Lucky from this year’s Grammys, I need to express some grumblings and praises about European Alpine food.
Please diversify your flavors. Yes, you have a rough winter and non-California farming conditions, but you can come up with something more clever than sauerkraut topped with ham for dinner.
Your food is not spicy. Please allow me the option to spice it up.
Note: black or white pepper does not qualify as spicy for this application.
Gravy does not make everything better. Please serve more dishes without it.
I do enjoy eating meat, cheese, and bread every day for a minimum of one meal. (See 1.)
Farmers markets. I went to what is considered a “farmers’ market” in Mürren. I found no produce. What I did find: two old women making $4 waffles, two Swiss German-speaking grumbly ladies selling cheese, and a few kids selling candles. I bought two types of cheese from the unpleasant farmer ladies. Look for a future TLF cheese review to feast your eyes. (See 1.)
Rösti, a variation of hash browns. That stuff is butterily awesome.
I discovered rampon, known as lamb’s lettuce. From what I can tell, it’s a legit salad green.
Let me make something clear. My family in Switzerland is wonderful. I’ll argue that, other than the kids’ affection for hot dogs and juice, the family does food correctly. They don’t serve the boring food towards which I direct my grumblings. Counterexample number one: they’re quite into Sriracha (see grumble #2) . Counterexample number two: they love carnitas. I have no familial complaints in the European Alpine food category.
Since I usually include a picture near the end of the post, here’s a pretty picture that I snapped while skiing today.
This paragraph marks the end of grumbles and praises. Obviously, you can tell that this post originated as a list of complaints. Realistically, I can’t hate too much. The numbers don’t lie. Final score: praises 5, grumbles 3. Have a great day.
Guys (and gals). I found another way to make Brussels sprouts taste wonderful. Admittedly, it’s more involved with my first method (roasted with mustard and lemon). My friend Jeff (or if we want to go with ultimate names, Ghostface) suggested we make Brussels sprouts. We were both inspired by dishes from Josef Centeno at two different of his downtown LA restaurants (Bäco Mercat and Bar Ama).
Secret weapons: homemade pancetta and duck fat. I bought duck fat at the farmer’s market. Alternatively, you can roast a duck and use the rendered fat. If you’re not interested in duck, use an oil that’s good for frying.
TuroK and Ghost made it happen, folks.
Brussels sprouts and garlic
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, washed, stemmed, quartered, and dried
1 head garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
4 cups duck fat (or other fat) for frying
Quick pickled onions
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
1 cup vinegar
1/4 pound pancetta (or bacon, about 3 thick or 6 thin strips), cubed
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Juice from 1 blood orange (or lemon)
Coarse salt, as necessary (gasp! For the first time I didn’t add any extra salt.)
You’ll create this dish in steps. Individually, each step is simple. Frying the Brussels sprouts will take the longest time; plan accordingly.
Pickle the onions by heating the vinegar and onions together in a small skillet or saucepan until boiling. Allow the mixture to boil for 5 minutes and then remove from heat and set aside while you prepare the remaining parts. When ready to prepare the dish, drain the vinegar.
Heat the duck fat in a medium saucepan over a high flame. The solid fat will melt into a golden liquid of deliciousness. Allow it to heat up to the point where a wooden spoon will bubble when placed in the fat (usually around 350º Fahrenheit). Lower the heat to maintain a constant temperature. Important: do not overcrowd the pan.
Fry the Brussels sprouts in 5 batches (fewer batches if you have more than 4 cups of duck fat). You’ll know the Brussels sprouts are perfect when the outer leaves curl back and begin to brown and crisp (8-10 minutes). Remove the Brussels sprouts to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until you’ve fried all the Brussels sprouts. Add in the garlic to the last batch of sprouts.; it will fry until deliciously brown.
Meanwhile, fry the pancetta (or bacon) in some of the excess frying oil. Cook the bacon until crispy. You want the meat extra crispy to contrast the other ingredients in the dish. Remove the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate; daub off the extra fat.
Combine the fried Brussels sprouts, garlic, pickled onions, pancetta, grated cheese, and citrus juice in a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine; season accordingly. Top with more cheese to serve.
Makes enough for 2 hungry 23-year-old dudes as a preappetizer. Maybe it will serve 4 regular humans as a side.