Monday, October 24, 2016

Old Fashioned Hawaiian Oxtail Soup

     Old Fashioned Rich Dark Broth Oxtail Soup!
     This is the Hawaiian oxtail soup version that is served at many restaurants in downtown Las Vegas.  Las Vegas is known as the ninth Hawaiian island and the Hawaiian food is authentic.  Dining in a Las Vegas Hawaiian restaurant is a laid back experience.  The portion size of the Hawaiian food tends to be large and that creates customer satisfaction. 
     There really is not a lot of cattle ranching that goes on in the Hawaiian islands, but oxtail is popular there.  Oxtail does not come from an ox.  Oxtails are a cattle tails.  Oxtail used to sell dirt cheap and it was a real bargain, because there was plenty of meat on the bones.  Since oxtail has reached new heights in popularity, it now sells for a much higher price than it used to.  Even so, oxtail is still a great choice for a hearty meal.
     There are four major Asian influences in modern Hawaiian cuisine.  Over the years, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese cuisine has fused with Hawaiian style cooking to create unique new recipes.  
     There are two popular modern versions of Hawaiian oxtail soup.  One version is made Vietnamese style with a light broth, mustard greens and plenty of vegetables.  The internet is flooded with recipes for the Vietnamese style Hawaiian oxtail soup and a person might think that this is the only way this soup is made.  The Vietnamese style Hawaiian oxtail soup is rarely served in Las Vegas.  Las Vegas Hawaiian food tends to be old fashioned and traditional.
     The Filipino influence in Hawaiian cuisine goes farther back in history than most of the other Asian cuisine influences.  Traditional Filipino and Hawaiian cuisine has roots in Polynesian cuisine.  This cooking style is completely different than Vietnamese style cooking.  
     Today's Hawaiian Oxtail Soup looks simple, but it is not easy to achieve the signature dark rich broth flavor.  It takes hours of slow simmering to make this soup.  Usually smaller oxtail pieces are used to make this soup, but big meaty pieces of oxtail are a welcome sight.  Whatever size oxtail a cook has on hand is what goes in the pot!
     Many chefs take the meat off of the oxtail bones and display the meat in the broth fine dining style.  That is okay, but customers like to see the oxtail bones in the bowl.  Cooking this soup till the meat falls off of the bones is okay too, but some customers view that as an over cooked oxtail soup.  
     The worst version of this Hawaiian oxtail soup that I have ever seen was published by a chef in the British Isles.  The meat was so over cooked that it was shredded.  The soup looked like a bowl of boneless shredded beef with very little broth.  When oxtail soup looks like that, customers question whether the beef in the soup is really even oxtail.  
     There is a fine line between when oxtail meat is cooked to where the meat is ready to fall off of the bones and when the meat actually falls off of the bones on its own.  Oxtail in a soup is best when it is tender enough to require being handled gently and carefully to keep the oxtail from falling apart.  
     The oxtail pieces should be whole when served.  When the customer touches the oxtail with a utensil, the meat should easily fall off the bone.  This is a good goal to keep in mind when making this Hawaiian oxtail soup.  The meat of the oxtail in the pictures was tender enough to fall off of the bone after being gently prodded with a chopstick.  The oxtail has a classic dark look and that is the color to aim for.  

     Old Fashioned Hawaiian Oxtail Soup:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion of soup!  
     The larger the oxtail pieces, the larger the bones.  Smaller oxtail pieces work best, but large oxtail pieces look impressive in a bowl.  
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.
     Add 7 to 9 ounces of oxtail pieces.  (The weight of the bone does vary.  The goal is to have about 5 ounces of meat.)
     Sauté the oxtail pieces till they are darkly browned on all sides.  Smaller oxtail pieces will cook faster, so remove them from the pot till the larger pieces finish.)
     Step 2:  Remove the oxtail pieces from the pot and set them aside.
     Drain the excess grease out of the pot.
     Step 3:  Return the pot to medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 cups of water.
     Deglaze the pot.  (Scrape the brown fond (suc) that is stuck on the bottom of the pan into the liquid.)
     Step 4:  Add 1 tablespoon of palm sugar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.
     Add 1/3 cup of coarsely chopped onion.
     Add 2 crushed garlic cloves.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced ginger.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Return the oxtails to the pot.
     Step 5:  Simmer and reduce the liquid, till a syrup glaze forms.  Flip the oxtails in the liquid as it reduces, so they become thoroughly marinated and glazed.  (This step adds a lot of flavor!) 
     Step 6:  Add enough water to cover the browned oxtail pieces with 1" of extra liquid.  (About 5 or 6 cups.)
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 7:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer the soup till the oxtail meat is tender enough to start falling off of the bones.  Remove each oxtail piece from the soup as it finishes and set it aside.  (Smaller pieces will become tender faster than large pieces.)
     Step 8:  After the tender oxtail pieces are removed and only the broth remains in the pot, raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce the broth, till only about 3 1/4 cups of broth remain.
     Return the oxtail pieces to the broth.
     Return the broth to a gentle boil to heat the oxtail pieces.
     Step 9:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat and keep the soup warm.  

     The brown rice can be cooked while the oxtail soup simmers.
     Step 1:  Use tongs or a slotted spoon to place the tender oxtail pieces in a large soup bowl.
     Pour about 3 cups of the oxtail broth in the bowl.  (Any extra broth can be saved to flavor noodle recipes!)
     Step 2:  Float 2 to 3 very thin slices of onion on the broth.
     Place 1 small portion of brown rice in the bowl.
     Garnish with a curly leaf parsley sprig.

     The hardest part of cooking this soup is dealing with the long wait.  The rich aroma from the simmering Old Fashioned Hawaiian Oxtail Soup literally causes hunger pangs, so grab a snack while this soup slowly simmers!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Eyeballs In The Trash! ~ Halloween Gourmet Ramen Noodles!

     A Freaky Gourmet Ramen Noodle Creation For Halloween!
     Halloween is a freaky fun time of the year and it is the most popular holiday in modern times.  Las Vegas realizes that adults enjoy Halloween just as much as kids.  Vegas is the place to be for the biggest Halloween party of them all!  
     Eyeballs In The Trash has a weird creepy looking presentation.  Many of the ingredients in this ramen noodle bowl are normal everyday food in Asia.  By western standards, some of the ingredients are considered to be exotic.  The flavor of this creepy noodle bowl is actually quite tasty!  
     Smoked bacon adds a comfortable flavor to the Asian dried seafood ingredients.  The shredded dried squid, dried shrimp and sun dried anchovies give the Eyeballs In The Trash a desired trashy appearance and a pleasant umami flavor profile.  Galangal (Thai blue ginger) adds an interesting flavor to the teriyaki sauce.  The scrappy looking vegetables add a nice touch too.
     Squid ink is a natural black food color.  A simple squid ink cornstarch gel was used to make the black pupils of the egg white eyeball shapes.  The egg yolks were cooked, then added to the pile of trash for that "discarded leftover scrambled egg in a trash can" look that is so appealing to a dumpster diver!
    When presenting Eyeballs In The Trash, the eyeballs have to be peering from the pile of trash in a tastefully eerie manner.  The trash should be loosely piled, so it creates a haphazard three dimensional garbage pile effect. 
    The term "Eyeballs In The Trash" does have many interesting interpretive meanings like; "A homicidal maniac axe murderer's garbage can." ...  "A deranged maniac's paranoid vision of government agents searching through his can of garbage for evidence." ... "A heavy duty bad acid trip flashback from the 1960's." 
     "Eyeballs In The Trash" can also just be nothing more than a saying coined by a teenager who watches too many horror movies.  On second thought, there really is no such thing as watching too many horror movies!  Teens do go through stages of thinking up freaky things to say.  I know, because I was a teen who watched way too many horror movies and I have used the saying "Eyeballs In The Trash" many times.  Kids say the weirdest things.  
     Another good reference for use of the term "Eyeballs In The Trash" was made famous by a music recording artist by the name of Malok.  Hal McGee is a great experimental music artist.  If my memory serves me correctly, Hal McGee was musician who was featured on local public sponsored radio in Tampa, Florida, when I first heard the song "Eyeballs In The Trash" by Malok many years ago.  The song was released in 1990 as "Eyeballs In The Trash", by Malok, on the Electronic Cottage Compilation Volume 1 by various artists.  If you are interested in hearing this strange experimental song, follow this link:  

     *This entire recipe yields 1 portion.  

     Simple Squid Ink Gelée:
     This recipe yields about 2 tablespoons.  (Enough for about 6 to 8 eyeballs.)
     Squid ink is not always easy to find at grocery stores.  It is a natural black food coloring agent.  Regular black food coloring that is a true black color is a relatively rare find.  Squid ink is the classic choice. 
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 4 drops of black squid ink.
     Bring the liquid to a simmer.
     Step 2:  Mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water to make a slurry.
     Add enough of the slurry while stirring, to make a thick jelly.  (Any extra slurry can be used in the next recipe section.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat. 
     Keep the squid ink gelée warm on a stove top. 
     Galangal Teriyaki Smoked Bacon, Dried Shrimp and Vegetables:
     Dried tiny shrimp are available at Asian and Latino food markets.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 strips of smoked bacon that are cut unto bite size pieces.
     Sauté, till the bacon just starts to get golden brown highlights.
     Step 2:  Add 4 petite wedges of savoy cabbage.
     Add 4 bite size pieces of celery.
     Add 1 chopped garlic clove.
     Sauté the vegetables till a few caramelized highlights appear.  (The bacon should be lightly browned by this time.)
     Step 3:  Drain off any excess grease.
     Return the pan to medium/medium low heat.
     Step 4:  Add 2 tablespoons of dried whole tiny shrimp.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground galangal (Thai Blue Ginger).
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce the liquid by one half.
     Step 5:  Mix 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch and with 1 tablespoon of cold water to make a slurry.  
     Add the slurry while stirring, as the sauce thickens to a thin consistency. 
     Simmer the sauce till it clings to the vegetables.
     Keep the pan warm on a stove top.

     Simple Squid Ink Gelée:
     This recipe yields about 2 tablespoons.  (Enough for about 6 to 8 eyeballs.)
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 4 drops of black squid ink.
     Bring the liquid to a simmer.
     Step 2:  Mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water to make a slurry.
     Add enough of the slurry while stirring, to make a thick jelly.  (Any extra slurry can be used in the next recipe section.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat. 
     Keep the squid ink gelée warm on a stove top. 
     Egg White Eyeballs: 
     Step 1:  Whisk 1 large egg white in a mixing bowl, till soft peaks are formed.  (Save the egg yolk for the next recipe section!)
     Step 2:  Select 2 hemispherical molds that can contain about 1 1/2 tablespoons each.  (The rounded end of 2 egg shells works well as eyeball molds.)
     Lightly brush the eyeball molds with vegetable oil. 
     Step 3:  Place the eyeball molds on some rice that that is placed in a steamer basket, so they sit level.
     Pour the whisked egg white into the molds.
     Step 4:  Place the basket in a steamer.
     Cover the steamer basket with a lid.
     Steam the egg whites till they are firm.
     Step 5:  Keep the egg white eyeballs warm on a stove top.
     Pop the eyeballs out of the molds just before serving.

     Egg Yolk:
     Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 whisked large egg yolk.
     Gently sauté the egg yolk, till it becomes firm.
     Keep the sautéed egg yolk warm on a stove top.

     Iriko, Blanched Scallions and Ramen Noodles:
     Sun dried anchovy goes by the Japanese name iriko or the Indonesian name ikan bilis.
     Step 1:  Place just enough water in a sauce pot to cover 1 portion of ramen noodles.
     Add 2 tablespoons of tiny sun dried anchovies.  (iriko)
     Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Boil the sun dried anchovies for 3 minutes, to create a broth.
     Step 2:  Add 2 whole green onions. 
     Blanch the green onions for about 15 to 20 seconds.
     Remove the blanched green onions.
     Cut the blanched green onions into 3" to 4" lengths and set them aside.
     Step 3:  Add 1 portion of ramen noodles to the hot iriko broth.
     Boil the ramen noodles till they are fully cooked and tender.
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Drain off all but 2 to 3 tablespoons of the broth.  
     Keep the noodles and iriko warm on a stove top.  

     Eyeballs In The Trash:
     Korean dried shredded squid is usually sold as a pre-packaged prepared snack.  The dried squid is pre-shredded, then flavored with sea salt and sugar sweetened rice vinegar.
     Step 1:  Place the ramen noodles and sun dried anchovies in a large noodle bowl.
     Try to place a few of the sun dried anchovies where they can be seen.
     Step 2:  Place the Galangal Teriyaki Smoked Bacon, Dried Shrikp and Vegetables on top of the noodles. 
     Step 3:  Use a fork to tear the sautéed egg yolk into pieces.  Scatter the egg yolk pieces on top of the noodles. 
     Step 4:  Place the steamed egg white eyeballs on top of the trash in the bowl. 
     Place 2 small dabs of the squid ink gelee on the egg white eyeballs, so they look like black pupils.
     Step 5:  Scatter the blanched green onion pieces on top of the trashy looking noodles.
     Step 6:  Carefully place a few strands of shredded dried squid snack around the eyeballs on top of the trash to create a three dimensional garbage pile effect.
     Use a squirt bottle to place small dabs of Sriracha Sauce on the trash.

     This is the best tasting Eyeballs In The Trash ever!  This definitely is a creepy looking bowl of gourmet ramen noodles for Halloween!  

Friday, October 21, 2016

Memil Guksu with Jalapeño Chicken Sausage and Tomato Nacho Sauce ~ KoMex Fusion!

     KoMex - Korean Mexican Fusion Cuisine!
     Relatively few chefs have write KoMex recipes.  I guess the reason why is that not many chefs understand both Korean and Mexican cuisine.  
     As a kid, I spent a lot of time in a great California Mexican restaurant kitchen and I do cook nice Mexican and Southwestern food.  About a decade ago I tried Korean food and liked it because hot spicy chile peppers are part of the cuisine.  In the following years I learned a lot about Korean cuisine and when the KoMex trend started, I was primed to do some creative fusion cooking.
     There are no rules that govern the percentage of Mexican or Korean cuisine ingredients used to create a KoMex fusion item.  A percentage of 50/50 is a nice goal, but for some KoMex recipes, the proportion may be 90% Mexican and 10% Korean.  To be correct, today's KoMex recipe is 90% California Mexican.  Nacho Cheese Sauce is a Cal-Mex cuisine creation.
     Canned Nacho Cheese Sauce is available in grocery stores, but this item is best left on the store shelf.  Canned Nacho Cheese Sauce is really nothing more than Cheese Whiz, which is a highly processed artificial cheese product.  Processed cheese is one molecule shy of being plastic, so there are issues that surround this product.  
     Making a Nacho Cheese Sauce from scratch with real cheese is a better choice.  Just like with the pre-made products, Nacho Cheese Sauce can be flavored with extra items.  Fresh tomato adds an appealing mild flavor.       
     Nachos in Mexico are called Totopos.  Totopos can be very simple or it can have a complex presentation.  Cheese sauce is not really part of totopos recipes, except for at restaurants that cater to tourists.
     Fresh Korean Buckwheat Noodles take the place of tortilla chips in this KoMex recipe.  Korean Buckwheat Noodles are usually served chilled, but in Japan these noodles are often served warm.  Buckwheat tastes nice with the Tomato Nacho Cheese Sauce.     

     Jalapeño Chicken Sausage:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     It is best to cook this kind of sausage at a low temperature, so it stays white in color.  Pre-made jalapeño chicken sausage can be found in most grocery stores.  
     Step 1:  Place a 4 to 5 ounce jalapeño chicken sausage on a roasting pan.
     Place the pan in a 275ºF oven.
     Slowly roast the sausage till it is fully cooked, but not browned.
     Step 2:  Allow the sausage to cool to room temperature.
     Cut the sausage into thin slices and set them aside.

     Memil Guksu (Korean Buckwheat Noodles):
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Fresh Korean style Buckwheat Noodles are available in Asian food markets.   
     Step 1:  Boil a pot of water over high heat.
     Add 1 portion of fresh Korean buckwheat noodles.
     Stir the noodles occasionally till they are fully cooked, yet not too soft.
     Step 2:  Drain the hot water off of the noodles.
     Place the hot noodles in a bowl of ice water.
     Stir the noodles by hand, till they gain a firm chewy texture.
     Step 3:  Drain the ice water off of the noodles and set them aside.
     *Keep a pot of water boiling on a back burner, so the noodles can be reheated later in the recipe.

     Tomato Nacho Sauce: 
     This recipe yields about 1 2/3 cups.  (1 large portion or 2 petite portions)   
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring with a whisk, to make a roux.  (The roux should look like smooth hot peanut butter and it should not look caky.)
     Stir till the roux cooks to a white color, with very little hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Add 1 1/3 cups of milk while whisking.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer, while stirring occasionally.  (The sauce will be a very thin sauce consistency.)
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 pinch of ground chile arbol.
     Add 1 pinches of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Korean style red serrano chile paste (sambal).
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground anatto.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  (The volume should be a little more than 1 cup.)
     Step 4:  Add 1/2 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese while stirring.
     Stir till the cheese combines with the sauce.
     Step 5:  Add 1/3 cup of diced seeded tomato.
     Simmer the sauce for 2 to 3 minutes.
     Step 6:  Add 1 tablespoon of sour cream, while stirring.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.

     Memil Guksu with Jalapeño Chicken Sausage and Tomato Nacho Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Gently sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add the reserved sliced jalapeño chicken sausage.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Gently sauté till the sausage is warm. 
     Step 3:  Add about 1 1/4 cups of the tomato nacho sauce.
     Bring the sauce to a simmer.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Step 4:  Reheat the prepared Korean buckwheat noodles in the pot of boiling water.
     Drain the excess water off of the noodles.
     Step 5:  Use a straight tine carving fork to twist the noodles while placing them on a plate, so they gain some height in the center.
     Spoon the jalapeño chicken sausage slices and the tomato nacho sauce over the buckwheat noodles.
     Sprinkle thin bias slices of green onion over the sauce.

     Cheddar cheese nacho sauce fans will surely like the flavor of this KoMex recipe!