August 13, 2015
This is Mentaiko – spiced pollack roe. Originally Korean, it's become a Japanese staple. I think of it as soft Asian bottarga with a little chile kick. And I use it in almost everything I'd use bottarga in. Sometimes it stands in for uni, although more for texture than for flavor, and it makes a really delicious pasta dish. You can find mentaiko at most Asian markets; I bought mine at Sunrise Mart.
But my favorite way to eat mentaiko? Very simply. Squeeze the roe out of the sac onto a small bowl of hot rice and mix like crazy.
If you're looking for a good pasta recipe, here's one I like very much from Grace Keh: it's not only an excellent recipe, but a very good explanation of exactly what to expect when you're using mentaiko.
And while we're on recipes I like…. A recent post on Zester about savory peaches intrigued me too much to resist. I've never thought of using peaches as if they were a vegetable and the result was really fantastic. The peaches I used were hard as rocks – so hard I peeled them like apples – but in the end they were tender, fragrant and absolutely delicious. If you've never thought about peaches with ginger and garlic, they're a fine surprise. They made a perfect accompaniment to a bowl of spicy Chinese noodles.
August 12, 2015
De Pomiane's Cooking in Ten Minutes may be my favorite cookbook. If you don't know it, you're in for a treat.
I wait all year to cook his extremely simple tomatoes in cream, which may be the first three-ingredient dish I ever attempted. All it takes is butter, tomatoes and cream. (Although I admit that I occasionally break down and sprinkle on a little salt as well.) And of course, you do need a bit of bread to mop up the spectacular sauce.
Here's the recipe, via Elizabeth David, from the 60th anniversary issue of Gourmet (September 2001).
I'd print the photograph – the tomatoes are right here, sitting in front of me – but this dish is the best argument I know against taking pictures of your food. And I wouldn't want to do a single thing that might deter you from cooking this most delicious summer dish.
(Although the version printed above is the one I've always used, I've just discovered that the version in the first English translation, pictured above, from 1948 is slightly different. It includes not only salt and pepper, but also onions. Do what you will with this information.)
And since I'm looking through this book, I thought I'd toss in the preface so you get some sense of the delightful Dr. de Pomiane. (He was a serious scientist who also had a long-time cooking show on French radio.)
August 8, 2015
Heading off to the farmers market, where I know I'll buy some corn. Who could possibly resist this time of year? And so, as promised, a vintage corn recipe from the stack of old Gourmet magazines. This one is from an October issue; in 1974, was there still corn in the markets in October?
This year summer has been so lush that the corn will certainly be gone by the time fall rolls around. So the time to make corn soup is now.
And here, from the same issue's article on breakfast sausages, are
Corny Sausage Puffs
Couldn't resist this ad from the issue. Not because I find the idea of a long cigarette so compelling, but because whatever these two are traveling in (train? plane?), I'd like to join them. Look at those seats!
August 7, 2015
This is another recipe from yesterday’s vintage issue of Gourmet, June 1983.
Looks very appealing to me.
Tomorrow: a couple of corn recipes from the past.
August 2, 2015
Finding head-on shrimp is increasingly difficult – and that's a shame.
Why do you want the heads on? Because they make this gorgeous red stock (the color comes from the fat in their heads):
This is what the stock looks like when it's cooking:
And here is how you make it:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
heads and shells of ¾ pound medium shrimp
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
¾ cup wine
4 cups water
Remove the heads and shells from the shrimp and put them in separate bowls. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add the shrimp heads, onion, carrot, and parsley, and cook over medium heat, covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the shrimp shells, ¾ cup of white wine, and 4 cups of water and simmer very gently, uncovered for about an hour and a half to make an intense stock (it will turn bright orange from the fat in the shrimp heads). Strain the liquid into a bowl and set aside. There will be about 1 ½ cups stock.
What do you do with it? It will improve almost anything you're making with fish. As part of the liquid in paella, it's superb. If you're making a seafood pasta, cook the pasta just al dente and finish it, briefly, in the stock. It's the start of a lovely bisque….
Where did I find these wonderful, sustainable (and expensive) sun shrimp? You can order them by mail – or if you're lucky enough to live in the Berkshires, you can order them from Rubiner's every week.