Update: New Project

You may have noticed the recent calm in post frequency. To explain this, I’ll offer you a tease of my new project: falafel is involved.

Meanwhile, you may feast your eyes on this photo of a future post. If you can guess my source of inspiration for this picture, I’ll offer recognition in a future post.

Mozzarella with Dates

 

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Porchetta

Porchetta, pronounced “porketta” is a boneless pork roast originating from central Italian cuisine. Traditional porchetta is made from deboned whole pig and roasted on a spit. As you may see, I did not roast a whole pig; in my opinion, rolled pork belly is an acceptable alternative.

Three of my favorite aspects of this recipe are:

  1. Crispy, salty, fatty, flavorful pork skin.
  2. The flavor of sage, which reminds me of my breakfast sausage recipe.
  3. Impressive presentation.

This dish was inspired by a lunch I had at The Factory Kitchen in Los Angeles, and realized by this recipe from Epicurious.

Porchetta Whole

Ingredients

  • A 4-pound, skin-on pork belly
  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried sage
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Coarse salt

Equipment

  • Cooking twine

Directions

Heat the fennel and red pepper over a medium flame in a small skillet with no oil. Toast for up to 5 minutes, until the fennel smells strongly and have turned brown.

Allow spices to cool for a few minutes, then pulverize in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Add the sage and garlic to form a spice mixture. Set aside in a small bowl for later use.

Begin the pork belly preparation by scoring the meaty side of the belly with 1-inch-wide diagonal criss-cross cuts, about 1/4-inch deep. Poke the skin with hundreds of 1/4-inch-deep holes. Liberally salt both sides of the meat, then rub on the spice mixture, working it into the holes and score cuts.

Now comes the difficult part for a solo cook. Tightly roll the pork belly, skin-side out, and tie every cross-sectional inch with twine. You may need to have another person hold the rolled belly tight while you tie it. Alternatively, rubber bands will ease the solo tying process. Rub some salt and extra spices on the ends of the porchetta.

Place the pork on a roasting v-rack and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least a day. The humidity gradient between the pork and the refrigerator’s interior will cause moisture evaporation from the skin, improving the skin’s future crispiness after roasting.

Two hours before cooking, remove the porchetta from the refrigerator to a room temperature environment. Although this step is optional, doing so will allow the meat to cook quicker in the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit to be ready after the 2-hour rest period is over.

Roast at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. The high heat will crisp the skin without burning. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and roast for about two more hours, until the internal temperature of the roast reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Allow about ten minutes of cooling time, cut and remove the twine, then slice the meat into bacon-thin pieces for serving alongside an Italian feast.

Serves at least 6.

Porchetta

Categories: Meats | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

TuroK Explores the Bay Area

Last weekend, I visited the Bay Area. This post summarizes my food and other worthwhile experiences.

My flight from Orange County to San Francisco was delayed. I missed out on dinner at Limon Rotisserie. In a daze of disorientation caused by the plane flight, BART ride, and my emergence into the Mission, I remember my friend Jake ordering two pork pupusas from a street vendor on the way to his apartment. Without thinking, I quickly scarfed down one pupusa. Before I ate the second one, I remembered that Jake asked for some cabbage to go along with the pupusas. In my delirious state, I could discern that adding the cabbage to the pupusa balanced out the greasiness. Light-up bocce ball, rum, and large rats in Dolores Park occupied the rest of the night. As our bocce ball game progressed, I found myself thinking that I could eat two or three more pupusas. Finally, sleep overcame my infatuation for more pupusas and I woke up the next morning ready to explore the city.

Our first stop of Saturday morning was Tartine Bakery in the Mission district. Famous for long lines and croissants, Tartine delivered with a fantastic almond croissant, an acceptable pan au chocolate, questionable pan au jambon, and pleasant 10-minute line. After breakfast, we took advantage of the sunny day by walking through Clarion Alley and admiring the murals that blanket both sides of the street.

I soon realized that two pastries for breakfast, no matter the quality, would not keep my stomach occupied until lunch. A friend mentioned that he wanted to meet up for lunch, and he decided on 4505 Meats, a butcher shop that serves local animals. 4505 Meats has more than one location; geography caused our lunch meetup failure. Slightly discouraged, we (Jake, Rachel  [Jake’s girlfriend], and I) ate mediocre locally-sourced hot dogs from 4505 Meats since we were already there. I also bought a duck stick. More on this later.

4505 Meats

4505 Meats publicly displays the tags from the lots they receive.

Now is later. It was time to see some landmarks. Jake and Rachel tourguided me to Land’s End, where the land ends at the Pacific Ocean. After some time hiking, I was hungry and discovered the duck stick that I purchased earlier from 4505. I ate the spicy concoction of pork, duck livers, and duck hearts and was fueled for the remainder of Land’s End exploration.

I am a ship captain.

I am a ship captain.

On the hike, I reminisced about pupusas from the night before. Jake told me the restaurant is called Panchita’s, and the late-night pupusa lady is famous. Looking back, I imagine that many a successful night concluded with pupusas on 16th Street.

We had Saturday dinner with one of Jake’s college friends at Monk’s Kettle. Twas chilly while we ate our dinner on the patio. I ordered us tasty corned beef and hash mushy croquettes and odd cornmeal-fried oysters. My main course was not-the-best burger of my life, but I left satisfied.

Sunday’s breakfast was at yet another bakery, Thorough Bread and Pastry. I ordered an almond croissant from the cleverly-named pastry shop. We ate breakfast early because one of Jake’s friends planned a hiking trip to Hood Mountain, located near Santa Rosa. For those of you unfamiliar with geography, Santa Rosa is north of San Francisco, about an hour’s drive north over the Golden Gate Bridge. We ate lunch on top of a rock near the peak.

Model for the camera

Following our hike, we drove to the final destination on our mini-trip: Old Redwood Brewing Company in Windsor, CA. Jake’s friends were part of the brewery’s beer club where they score a case of beer to split every month. Possibly caused by exhaustion from the 7.5-mile hike, the first beer I tasted went down easily for a guy that doesn’t like beer. I think I like wheaty beers best.

Not-gross beer

I shared Sunday dinner with a college friend at Namu Gaji, down the street from Mission San Francisco. Pickled beef tongue, wagyu tartare, mushroom dumplings, and okonomiyaki made for a quality dinner. Next door to Namu Gaji, I found a Bi-Rite ice cream shop, where I ordered fantastic basil ice cream.

On Monday morning, I said goodbye to San Francisco by eating breakfast at Craftsman & Wolves, a super-hip bakery recommended to me by my former coworker, Gordon. I tried the Rebel Within, a mindblowing savory muffin with a soft-boiled egg inside, and a morning bun, while listening to Spanish music.

The Rebel Within

The Rebel Within

The remaining morning on Monday was spent taking BART to Berkeley. I had a date at 11:30, but since I had time to kill, I perused a used bookstore on Telegraph and picked up some books in which I’d been interested: The China Study, The 4-Hour Body, and Foundation.

My date at 11:30 was with myself at Chez Panisse, Alice Waters’s famous restaurant. Jake used to work as a wine runner at Chez during college, and he recommended that I eat at Chez Panisse Cafe for lunch. I luckily scored a reservation for 1. I had a pleasant experience at the original restaurant of California cuisine while surrounded by well-dressed older folks and a professional wait staff.

Chez Panisse

Unobtrusive frontage

This is for real.

This is for real.

First course: butter lettuce with smoked salmon and dill.

First course: butter lettuce with smoked salmon and dill.

Entrée: Bucatini alla matriciana, one of the best I've had.

Entrée: Bucatini alla matriciana, one of the best matriciana dishes I’ve had.

Dessert: overpriced lemon curd with cream and fruit sauce.

Dessert: overpriced lemon curd with cream and fruit sauce.

Monday afternoon, I took BART to CalTrain from Berkeley to Palo Alto to meet up with my sister Michelle, a PhD student at Stanford University. After eating my first non-restaurant meal since Friday lunch, we decided to watch The Hundred-Foot Journey in the theater across campus. The movie left me with an inspired feeling. Charlotte Le Bon is beautiful.

CalTrain

Me gusta public transportation.

A trip summary: I ate at bakeries for breakfasts, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a much better movie than Hot Tub Time Machine, and my sister is smart.

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Decadent Oatmeal

Yesterday, I returned from Scottsdale, AZ after a scorching weekend of ultimate, which included an apocalyptic dust storm, flooded streets from a record amount of rainfall, dinner at a restaurant named Chino Bandido, a sketchy hotel next to a Waffle House, Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj bumping on repeat, and a kitchen tour with a pig’s head followed by credit card roulette at downtown Scottsdale’s Citizen Public House gastropub.

Decadent oatmeal is a TLF (TuroK Like Food) original, created out of necessity caused by a lack of eggs for breakfast and a taste preference for creaminess. Relatedly, I love the buttery texture that differs substantially from sticky-sweet oatmeal. Decadent oatmeal feels more substantial than any instant oatmeal you may eat regularly.

The addition of honey disqualifies this recipe from appearing in my savory oatmeal post.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup water
  • A pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Cook the oatmeal however you prefer, incorporating the salt with the oats and water. After the cooking is complete, Mix in the coconut oil and honey, stirring to combine. Pour or scoop the oatmeal into your serving vessel. For presentational purposes, don’t mix in the butter; place it on top.

Decadent Oatmeal

Categories: Breakfast, Grains | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

I remember eating fish sticks as a child. Remember those? The frozen pieces of pre-fried fish, which, after popping into the oven would turn into crispy, buttery, non-fishy fried sticks. They were great. These beer-battered fish tacos remind me of fish sticks. (No South Park jokes, please.)

Initially, I was leery of frying because I’m great at making messes, yet I dislike cleaning. Ultimately, frying fish is actually easy. To minimize the batter falling off while frying, dredge the fish in flour before battering. This is key.

This post marks another step in my journey. What journey? The one that led me to great recipes for all these Mexican dishes.

This recipe and many others on TLF were adapted from Saveur.

Ingredients

Fish and batter:

  • 1 pound mild, flaky, and white fish, such as snapper, halibut, grouper, and sea bass, cut into about 16 taco-sized pieces and seasoned with salt and chile powder
  • 1 1/2 cups bleached wheat flour, plus 1/2 cup for dredging
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon coarse salt (or chile salt! Thanks sister!)
  • 12 ounces beer
  • 1 egg

For frying:

  • Much canola oil

To assemble:

  • 16 tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage, green or red, mixed with juice from 1 lime and 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Thinly-sliced red onion
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Cored and chopped fresh tomato
  • Sour cream or crema Mexicana
  • Lime wedges for squeezing
  • Hot sauce

Directions

Prepare the toppings and set aside for easy future accessibility. Mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, beer, and egg in a medium-size bowl and stir until uniformly combined. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup flour on a plate for dredging.

Pour oil into a large saucepan until the level reaches 2 inches. Heat on the stove until the oil reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Hold the temperature mostly constant at this level by adjusting the flame height. Do remember that adding the fish will slightly decrease the oil temperature.

It’s frying time. Here’s the process for one piece of fish. Fry two or three pieces at a time, in batches, until you’ve cooked all the fish. Dredge the chile-powder-and-salt-seasoned fish in flour, dip it in the batter to coat all surfaces, then place in the hot oil. Fry for about 3 or 4 minutes, flipping once, until the batter is golden brown and crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm in a 200-degree Fahrenheit oven.

To assemble, place a piece of fried fish in a tortilla. Top with cabbage, crema, and additional garnishes as desired.

Makes enough for approximately 16 tacos. I ate 3/4 of the batch in one sitting. Yikes.

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

So artistic.

Categories: Latin American, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment