Sunday, July 31, 2016

Chanh Muối (Vietnamese Preserved Limes)

Chanh Muối (Vietnamese Preserved Limes)
Growing up in the 80's in Maine my mother "the jack of all trades" kept large glass jars of home-made preserved fish (known as mắm cá in Vietnamese) from fish that we caught in fresh water, preserved wild Maine shrimp (mắm tép) and preserved limes or lemons (chanh muối) in the basement. At a young age she had learned excellent preserving technique from her father and neighbors so that the food can last for years at room temperature without spoiling. In the part of Vietnam where I grew up it is common for people to preserve food using either dry or in a brine using salt and sugar. I feel ancient to write this but when I was a young child in a small village in Vietnam I don't remember that anyone around me had a refrigerator in their house. Most of the food was made fresh, almost always from scratch and we must consume them within 24 hours. The only canned food that I remember back then was the condensed milk.

I noticed that my maternal aunts and mother made chanh muối using very similar methods...probably from watching their father (my grandfather or Ah Con) make this in his youth. I think it is important to be observant in such instances since no one bothered to write down any instructions or recipes in my family! For example if you ask how much salt to use the typical response may be "enough to taste salty". How much sugar? The response may be "just a little". If you want to make something in my family you better get in the kitchen and prepare to get your hands dirty--by helping out and keeping your eyes wide open and taking good mental notes! This is probably the one best way to learn something.

My mother has not made chanh muối for several decades but advises me that during the day you let the limes sit in direct sun to dry. According to her the brine liquid must be salty or your limes will get moldy. At night they need to be soaked in salty water. You can use the same salty water for the entire batch. Tua Y (my maternal eldest aunt) reminds me to keep a plate and a bowl or cup over the limes in order to submerge them in the brine. Repeat this method of sunning during the day and soaking them at night until the limes have natural dents on them and soft per Si Y (my maternal fourth aunt). The next few days it will be in the 80s (Fahrenheit) so that will be the ideal time to sun dry the limes. My husband has dried an abundance of various seeds over the years. He discovered an economical, hassle-free, simple and clean technique to dry seeds using a hot car in the sun! In direct sunlight everything dries extremely quickly, and you also don't have to worry about insects landing on your food, dirt blowing on it, someone stepping on it or any other problems that could potentially ruin your hard work!

--soak the limes in a brine bath overnight
--place a plate and a cup or even a small rock (anything heavy)
over the limes to submerge the limes
--sun dry the limes on plates (inside the car) during the day
--keep the car in direct sunlight
--initial stage of soaking in a brine bath and sun drying
Chanh Muối (Vietnamese Preserved Limes)

-Step 1-

Ingredients:
 
12 limes, wash well, air dry
1/2 cup sea salt
6 cups water

Method:

1) Choose limes with the thinnest skin for this recipe. Wash them well. Let them air dry.
2) Make a brine bath by heating 1/2 cup of sea salt and 6 cups of water. Be sure to have enough water to cover the limes. One way to measure out the water you will need is to put the limes in the pot (I use a 3 quart pot) you are using then pour water over them until they have submerged in the water. Remove the limes and heat that pot with salt and water. Once the salt has dissolved let the pot cool completely. Taste the salted liquid. This should taste salty! ;--)
3) Soak the limes in this brine bath overnight. Put a small plate and a cup, bowl or even a small rock on top to submerge the limes in the liquid.
4) In the morning remove the limes from the brine bath and let them dry in direct sun on a plate during the day. Save the brine bath to continue soaking the limes at night.
5) Continue to soak the limes in the brine bath each night and remove them to sun dry during the day. Repeat this process until the limes are soft and have dents. When there is good sun it may take as quickly as 3 nights of soaking and 3 days of sun drying for the limes to be ready for the final pickling process. At this stage you may discard the old brine bath.

--when the limes are ready for step 2 they should look like these,
soft and have natural dents in them
--the white patches and specks on the lime are just salt residue
-Step 2-

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sea salt
2 Tbsp sugar
A small ceramic sauce dish

Method:

Once the limes are sun dried and ready then make a final brine bath. Cook new salt, sugar and water. Dip the sun dried limes in the hot bath briefly. Fish them out and put them in a clean glass jar (I use a 6 1/2 cup jar). This process will prevent the limes from cracking according to my mother. Let the pot cooled completely and pour this brine bath in the jar. Anchor the limes down with a small (must be much smaller than the jar opening) ceramic sauce dish. Make sure the limes are below the liquid or they will get moldy. Cover and store the jar in a cool place. Be sure to put the jar in a bowl in case the liquid leaks out. It will take about 2 1/2 weeks before these limes are ready to be eaten. Use only clean utensils to remove the limes.

*This final brine bath may be double, triple or quadruple strength. You may use the same ratio to make a larger batch.

--the final stage of chanh muối
(Vietnamese preserved limes)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Fried Scallop Mousse Sushi

fried scallop mousse sushi
I needed to use up some ingredients in my kitchen--this is also known as "refrigerator clean up" in my house! Here is something that is inspired by sushi and my grandmother's shrimp and fish balls. If this recipe appears a bit vague it's because I just eyeball the ingredients. To be perfectly honest most food I cook tastes better when I don't focus on measuring the ingredients. I have never pureed scallops before but I am surprised how flavorful this combination of ingredients end up tasting. 

scallop mousse
Fried Scallop Mousse Sushi

Ingredients:

About 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove, grated
About 1/2 inch piece of ginger, skin removed and grated
1 fresh turmeric root, skin scraped off and grated
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
About 30 sea scallops, washed well, removed any sand or grits and dried with a towel
About 1/4 cup heavy cream
A bunch of young cilantro leaves and flower, roughly chopped
Salt and ground pepper to taste
5 nori sheets (may cut each sheet into 4 equal strips)

Method:

Saute oil, garlic, ginger, turmeric, scallion, and onion for a few minutes or until the garlic is soft.  Remove from heat and let the contents cool. Add the cooled sauteed items in a food processor along with scallops, heavy cream and cilantro. Season with a few large pinches of salt and pepper. Grind everything to a paste. The mixture does not need to be absolutely smooth.

Spread a few tablespoons of mixture onto the cut nori sheet (I cut each sheet into 4 strips for easy rolling and cooking) leaving about 1/4 inch free of mixture at the end. Gently roll the mixture the nori sheet towards that end that is free of the mixture. Fry all sides with a little oil for about 5 minutes or until brown. Serve them as is or once fried cut each roll into thinner rings or half lengthwise and fry the side (s) that have not been fried.

*If you do not have fresh turmeric you may use about a teaspoon of turmeric powder.

salad with fried scallop mousse sushi

once fried slice each roll into thinner rings
and fry the side (s) that have not been fried.
salad with fried scallop mousse sushi
*If you are using a small food processor you may have to puree everything in 2-3 smaller batches. Just divide the ingredients. After pureeing be sure to mix everything well to blend further.
*I made a quick salad and add the Fried Scallop Mousse Sushi on top. This salad consists of 1 large tomato (de-seeded), kernels from 1 butter and sugar corn, a few handfuls of baby arugula, a few slices of onion, some chopped young cilantro leaves and flowers, a pinch of salt, and a few drizzles of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It's simple and tasty!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Carlos's Tamales Verdes (Green Sauce Tamales)--makes about 46 tamales

Carlos's tamales verdes
My friend and neighbor Carlos makes his special delicious tamales every so often when we get together. Growing up my mother would make her bundle of tasty treats wrapped in banana leaves or bamboo leaves but never in corn husks. Carlos graciously shared with me his Mexican family recipe from a cookbook that one of his sisters had compiled for him and his dear late wife Cindy for their wedding gift. Carlos uses stock in the corn flour instead of water for his masa. He has always used dried corn husks to wrap his tamales. According to him some people use banana leaves but he never did because they were not available. Carlos's tamales recipe calls for soaking the dried husks in very hot water for 30 to 60 minutes. I must admit I boiled the heck out of them prior to using since I don't trust how they were dried. I hate to write this but they may have been dried on the street for all I know! Although he does not do this, some people take time to tie up the ends with thin strips from the husk to make them look pretty. I prefer to take this extra step by tying up the ends not just for presentation but to secure them. They resemble little gift packages when you serve them! Carlos lines the finished tamales up in a vertical position in a pot to steam--this method works well as the heat distributes evenly during cooking.

I had never made tamales until a month ago. For the first experimental batch I saved the husks from boiling a few fresh corn cobs. They worked great as a wrap--supple, easy to use, pretty and even provide a subtle corn flavor. I tweaked with the filling and masa by adding bone marrow and substituted garlic cloves with garlic leaves. The next day I made another batch and added a little bone marrow to the filling along with fish sauce and sugar. After cooking the pork I had some extra liquid. I made a gravy with the liquid by adding a little cornstarch to thicken it. I drizzled a little of this yummy gravy on the tamales. Tasty! 

This recipe that I am posting is from a third and most recent batch. I made these slightly larger than the first 2 batches. These took about 25-30 minutes of steaming time to cook. Instead of using garlic leaves this time I use garlic cloves due to easy availability for most people. I also use pork butts and pork bellies with some fat and skin for extra flavors and to ensure the pork will not get dry. Fresh ingredients such as tomatillos may not always be available at your local grocery. I bought a can made by Goya. Carlos's recipe did not call for fresh cilantro leaves, scallions, ground coriander, fish sauce, sugar or bone marrow. His recipe did call to add a dash of baking soda which I left out.

For the first 2 experimental batches I saved some in a freezer for Carlos. He is one of the top pilots for a large airline. Once back from one of his exotic destinations he thawed the tamales and steamed them until they are soft. I was surprised when he told me that some people actually make a gravy to drizzle on top! And here I thought I just discovered something grand! According to him people make sweet tamales for desserts. At Christmas time some people add a red color in the masa to mark that it is a dessert. Thank you Carlos and your family for sharing this recipe with me and my readers!

tamales from 1st batch
tamales verdes using fresh corn husks (from 1st batch)
tamales verdes with hydrated dried corn husks (from 2nd batch)
tamales verdes using fresh corn husks (from 3rd batch)
Carlos's Tamales Verdes (Green Sauce Tamales)--makes about 46 tamales

tamales pork filling
Tamales Pork Filling:

Ingredients:

2.46 lbs pork belly bone in (this has skin, pork, bone and fat)
2.60 lbs bone pork butts
1 6-inch beef (0.88 lb) marrow bone
1 long hot chili pepper, seeds removed (add more if you prefer spicier)
1 can (26 oz) whole tamatillos, drained or 15 fresh tomatillos, cut into quarters
A handful of young cilantro leaves (about 1/2 cup chopped)
2 large scallions, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, smashed, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin, plus 1/2 tsp to be used later
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
5 cups water (or enough to cover the meat)
1 Tbsp fish sauce

Method:

1) Boil the pork belly and pork butts in at least a 5 1/2 quart (preferably in a cast iron or Dutch oven) for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2) Once the meat is cool enough to handle (or may rinse with cold water to cool it down quickly) scrape the skin and remove any hair with tweezers.
3) Wash the meat pieces well and put them back in a clean pot.
4) Add chili pepper, tamatillos, cilantro leaves, scallions, onion, garlic, 2 teaspoons cumin, coriander, salt and pepper to the pot. Pour enough water to cover the meat.
5) Use medium high heat to cook everything. Once the liquid starts to come to a boil turn heat down low to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for about 1 1/2 hour or until the meat is tender and breaks apart easily with a fork.
6) Turn heat off and let the pot sits on the stove to cool down. Remove the meat from the pot and shred the meat. Chop the skin and fat.
7) Use a strainer to separate the solid pieces from the liquid (there should be about 6 cups of liquid--save this to make the masa) left in the pot.
8) Puree the solid pieces (about 3 cups) until well blended.
9) Pour the pureed mixture with the shredded pork in a large pan. Add about 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and about 1 tablespoon of good fish sauce and cook on high heat until most of the liquid evaporates (about 30 minutes). Scoop out and discard any remaining liquid fat.

*I prefer to use a piece of meat with some fat on it. If your meat has some fat then you may omit the bone marrow.
*May use the filling right away or store in a glass container in the refrigerator. I stored mine in the refrigerator and the next day I heated it up a little in the microwave to soften it. I then seasoned with a few more pinches of salt and sugar before using.

using fresh corn husks for the tamales
Fresh Corn Husks:

Fresh husks are easy to use, a lot cheaper and probably cleaner than store bought dried husks. If you cannot wait for the tamales to be done cooking you can eat some of the cooked corns! I used butter and sugar corns. This bi-color variety is very sweet and is available in abundance during the summer months in this part of New England. This batch requires husks from 10 fresh corns. I used almost all of the husks including the thinner and light yellow ones next to the kernels.


most of the husks stripped away from the cooked corns
to be used for the tamales
Trim off the tip of each ear of corn and wash them well. Boil them for about 5 minutes. Once done remove them from the pot and let them cool. If you want to use them quickly just run cold water over them to cool faster. Trim off a little of the base with a sharp knife to help the husks come off easily and without tearing. Carefully remove the husks with your fingers. Keep the husks in a vertical position on a strainer to keep them dry. Be sure the husks are dry prior using them to wrap. May take a clean towel to dry them further if needed. Trim off any hard ends at the base since this part is too hard to use and will cause the husks to tear easily. Save the water to steam the tamales if interested.

masa for the tamales
Tamales Masa:

Ingredients:

6 cups Masa Instantánea de Maíz (Instant Corn Masa Flour)
6 cups broth (used from cooking the filling)
2 tsp of salt

Method:

Mix the corn flour, broth and salt. A whisk or a pair of chopsticks will work fine.

*I use 1:1 ratio for flour and broth.
*I prefer to make 1/2 batch as a start using 3 cups of flour, 3 cups of broth and 1 teaspoon of salt.
This way I am not risking that it dries out during the assembling process.
*If you are lucky to have any extra broth you may make a gravy to drizzle on the cooked tamales for extra deliciousness! In a small pan, heat the broth. Once the liquid is hot add a tiny drizzle of fish sauce, a pinch of sugar and a mixture of cornstarch and cold water. Stir and remove from heat. Continue to stir until everything is smooth and thicken.  
*My friend Karen said salsa and sour cream make a delicious addition to the tamales.

To Assemble the Tamales Verdes Using Fresh Corn Husks:

Lie 1 large or 2 smaller husk (if using 2 then have them overlapping by about 1/2 inch) on the work surface.

2 husks overlapping on the surface
Spread about 2 tablespoons of masa at the center of the husks. Add about 2 tablespoons of meat filling on top of the masa. May add a drizzle of hot sauce (I used store bought Sriracha hot sauce) if you want to make it a little more spicy. May make your own hot sauce if you prefer a lot more heat.

add masa and meat
Add a little masa over the top.

finish with a little more masa
 Fold the long sides (facing you) slightly up to keep the filling inside.

fold the long sides up slightly to keep the filling inside
(almost like a canoe)
Place a small piece of husk over the masa and filling.

place a small piece of husk over the masa and filling
Fold the long sides up and then fold the ends and tuck them underneath. Break about 1/8 inch wide pieces of the husk into strings and secure the ends. This last step of tying the tamales is optional.
fold the long sides up
--fold the ends and tuck them underneath
--secure them with strings
*For the plain tamales I tied 2 strings. For the spicy tamales I tied 3 strings.
*Steam the tamales for about 25-30 minutes. May freeze them and then re-steam until soft and hot.

tamales with gravy
Yes, they were as tasty as they looked!
*After we ate some of the tamales my husband and I took a drive to York, Maine. It was a beautiful night with very clear skies and warm breeze. Below are are a few photos that I took of Nubble Light.

Nubble Light (York, Maine)--2016
Nubble Light (York, Maine)--2016

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sauteed Squid and Pineapple (Mực Xào Khóm)--serves 2


sauteed squid and pineapple (mực xào khóm)
On one of my trips to Vietnam I learned that my late grandfather liked mực xào khóm or Vietnamese sauteed squid and pineapple. It seems like an odd pairing of ingredients but surprisingly this tastes very good. You can add more ingredients to this dish. I have made it using a combination of squid, scallops and shrimp. These types of seafood cook quite fast and they tend to be tough and tasteless if overcooked. For the vegetables I have added red and orange bell peppers to the pineapple slices for extra vitamins and a prettier presentation. Here is a dish in loving memory of Ah Con (my late grandfather)--a man who was cherished and loved by his family, friends, the people in his village and those who worked for him. He was generous, kind, and a hard worker with many talents. I miss him dearly.

my grandfather (middle) and his coffee drinking buddies (Vietnam, 2007)
The whole squid was cleaned and kept frozen in the freezer. Frozen squid keeps its texture and taste. I thawed and cut open each whole squid with a pair of kitchen scissors. I scraped the inside with a knife and scored the inside to help tenderize it. Once done I massaged them in some salt and rinsed them clean. Please check out my previous blog post on How to Clean Squid (I caught those squid myself). The squid for this post came from New England Fishmongers. To learn how these squid were caught please check out Amanda Parks's Adventures at Sea--squid dragging off Nantucket for the story. Thank you Amanda, New England Fishmongers and F/V Rimrack

sauteed squid and pineapple (mực xào khóm)
Sauteed Squid & Pineapple (Mực Xào Khóm)--serves 2

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp oil (whatever you prefer--olive, vegetable, canola)
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
2 large garlic cloves, smashed, chopped
About 1 Tbsp grated ginger
1/8 of a pineapple, thinly sliced
1 lb squid, cleaned, scored the body and cut into bite size
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
A pinch of sugar (optional)
About 2 Tbsp cornstarch and 1 Tbsp water mixture to thicken the liquid/sauce
About 2 Tbsp of chopped young cilantro, may add more if interested

Method:

1) Heat a large pan over high heat. Add oil.
2) Add onion, garlic and ginger. Saute about 30 seconds. Avoid burning the garlic and ginger. Turn heat slightly down if needed.
3) Add pineapple. Saute about a minute.
4) Keep the heat to high and add squid. Stir a few times. Once the squid starts to curl up season with oyster sauce, fish sauce, and sugar.
5) Once the squid is just cooked add cornstarch/water mixture and turn off heat. Stir a few times mix evenly. Add cilantro and remove from heat.

*The young cilantro leaves with flowers come from my parents' garden. I prefer the young herbs due to more flavor and more aromatic.
*The cooking time for this dish is less than 5 minutes. The squid takes about 2-3 minutes to cook.

cleaned squid (see How to Clean Squid post)
a grater is a very useful kitchen tool

Monday, July 18, 2016

Fried Miss Piggy's Ears

Fried Miss Piggy's Ears
I had fried pig's ear salad in NYC some years back. To be honest I had no idea how it was going to taste but somehow thought it was going to be amazing the way it sounded. The write up on the menu said the ears were slow cooked for many hours in oil. When I got the dish I was a bit surprised to find the ear whole and a bit tough. Dining out where your table is close in proximity to other diners is a bit awkward especially when you are trying to cut into a piece of cartilage! I could not believe I managed to eat the entire salad without having a piece flying off my plate and hitting someone! I guess my expectation was way too high. Would I eat that salad again? Probably not. However, eating that made me think of ways to improve the technique. Here is my version of fried pig's ears. I boiled the ears for 30 minutes to soften them, sliced them into strips and then deep fry them for about a minute. If you want crispier ears then fry them a little longer. I prefer one-minute of frying. This amount of time makes the ears softer. Frying them longer tends to make them tougher and chewier. It's good to have good teeth when you eat them!

After work my husband and I drove to Ogunquit, Maine for an evening out. We wanted to walk along the ocean and check out the town. We stopped for some tapas. One of the dishes was an octopus dish with a harissa sauce. Typically this sauce is made with various ingredients such as chili peppers, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, garlic, and lemon juice. Below is my my version of this sauce using ingredients I have in my kitchen. 

Boiled Miss Piggy's Ears

Ingredients:

4 cleaned pig's ears (see How to Clean Pig's Ears post), cut in half
1 tsp salt
10 cups water

Method:

Boil the pig's ears in 1 tsp of salt and water for 30 minutes (may boil longer if you prefer more tender ears) in a 5 or 6 quart heavy pot. Remove and let them partially cooled before handling them. Cut the ears into 1/4 inch strips.

*These ear strips will get gelatinous if you leave them too long especially in a cool place. I cut these into strips and put them in the refrigerator to be used later. The next day they were all stuck together. You can gently and easily separate them apart with your fingers.

boiled Miss Piggy's Ears
Fried Miss Piggy's Ears

Ingredients:

1 batch of Boiled Miss Piggy's Ears (see recipe above)
Oil for frying


Method:

Deep fry the ears for about a minute (longer if you prefer them chewier). Remove the fried strips and put them on a plate with paper towels to let the oil drain off.

*Be sure to use a splatter guard over the pot while frying to prevent the grease from spurting out. I put down newspapers all around the pot for easy cleaning. Also be sure you are wearing goggles, long sleeved shirt and maybe even gloves in case the oil spurt out. The last thing you need is having hot grease in your eyes or other part of your body.

harissa-inspired sauce
Harissa-inspired Sauce (makes about 1/4 cup)

Ingredients:

About 3 Tbsp olive oil
About 1/2 tsp ground cumin
About 1/2 tsp  ground black or white pepper
About 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (add more if you prefer more heat)
2 garlic cloves, smashed, chopped
About 2 Tbsp chopped shallot
1 tomato, deseeded, chopped
A few pinches of salt
A pinch of sugar
About 6 fresh mint leaves, julienned

cooked sauce ready to be pureed
Method:

Heat oil in a small pan. Add cumin and peppers. Saute about 30 seconds. Add garlic and shallot. Saute about a minute. Add tomato and cook for about 1-2 minutes until everything is soft. Season with salt and sugar. Remove from heat and let cool. Puree the cooked sauce with mint leaves until everything is blended.

fried Miss Piggy's ear salad
If I have to make a Fried Miss Piggy's Ear Salad this is how I would present it. There is a double dressing here. I toss the lettuce, cucumber slices, cubed tomato pieces and young cilantro and flowers with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle a few dollops of Harissa-inspired Sauce and a few strips of Fried Miss Piggy's Ears. The result is tasty and the ear pieces will probably not be jumping off your plate!

evening beach view of Ogunquit Maine (2016)

Harissa-inspired Sauce (makes about 1/4 cup)

harissa-inspired sauce
After work my husband and I drove to Ogunquit, a quaint popular coastal town in Maine. We wanted to walk along the ocean and check out the town since it has been a while since we last visited. Before heading home we ate some tapas at one of the restaurants. One of the tasty dishes we ordered was octopus and duck with a harissa sauce. Typically this sauce is made with various ingredients such as chili peppers, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, garlic, and lemon juice. Below is my my version of this sauce using ingredients I have in my kitchen. 

cooked sauce ready to be pureed
Harissa-inspired Sauce (makes about 1/4 cup)

Ingredients:

About 3 Tbsp olive oil
About 1/2 tsp ground cumin
About 1/2 tsp  ground black or white pepper
About 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (add more if you prefer more heat)
2 garlic cloves, smashed, chopped
About 2 Tbsp chopped shallot
1 tomato, deseeded, chopped
A few pinches of salt
A pinch of sugar
About 5 fresh mint leaves, julienned

Method:

Heat oil in a small pan. Add cumin and peppers. Saute about 30 seconds. Add garlic and shallot. Saute about a minute. Add tomato and cook for about 1-2 minutes until everything is soft. Season with salt and sugar. Remove from heat and let cool. Puree the cooked sauce with mint leaves until everything is blended.

Boiled Miss Piggy's Ears

boiled Miss Piggy's ears

You can eat these boiled ears as is with a dipping sauce of your choice. You can also use them in other dishes. These ear strips may get gelatinous. I cut these into strips and put them in the refrigerator to be used later. The next day they all clumped together. If this happen you can gently and easily separate them apart with your fingers.

Boiled Miss Piggy's Ears

Ingredients:

4 cleaned pig's ears (see How to Clean Pig's Ears post), may cut in half for easy cooking
About 1 tsp salt
About 10 cups water

Method:

Boil the pig's ears in a little salt and enough water to submerge the ears for about 30 minutes. I use a 5 or 6 quart heavy pot. Remove the ears and let them partially cooled before handling them. May cut the ears into 1/4 inch thin strips if interested.

*addendum: You may boil them longer if you prefer more tender ears.

How to Clean Pig's Ears


cleaned pig's ears
Recently I stopped by Hurd Farm and left with a bag of 4 pig's ears. Thank you Steve for the treats! 

Before cooking pig's ears it is important to clean them thoroughly. The last thing I want to do is nibble on dirty ears! Luckily the cleaning process is simple and requires just a little time. Take a knife and scrape the entire ear and scrub well with salt and vinegar. Once done give the ear a good rinse with water. Boil the cleaned ears in water for about 5 minutes. Remove and let them cool before handling. Use kitchen tweezers to pluck away any visible hair. Scrape the ears again and rinse well. Now they are ready to be used in cooking.

after scraping the ears, rubbing with salt and vinegar and rinsing with water
a view near Hurd Farm (New Hampshire)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Stir-Fried Sweet Peas and Pea Tendrils (serves 2)

Stir-Fried Sweet Peas and Pea Tendrils
When my husband and I purchased our home we immediately bought a grill with a side burner. By now you must realize that eating is a priority for me. I would rather sit on the floor with a spread of delicious food than sit on expensive beautiful furniture with nothing good to eat! I was thinking ahead--being proactive you may say. My intention was to have an outdoor cooking facility in case we lose electricity (in the house) or when I want to cook smelly or greasy food. My husband suggests that I cook outside due to the heat and humidity we are having this week. Great idea Paul! By noon it has already reached over 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the temperature is still on the rise (in Seacoast New Hampshire). After eating lots of meat lately it's time to make a vegetarian meal. I love both sweet peas and pea tendrils so why not combine them in a dish? You can grow your own peas and pick the young shoots (tendrils) or look for them at an Asian market or at a farmer's market. Remember to remove the tough strings on your fresh sweet peas. Check out my previous post on this. How to Remove the Tough Strings on Fresh Whole Beans or Peas.

Here is something light and tasty. Feel free to adjust the seasoning according to your taste. If you find that this does not have enough salty taste then you may want to add a pinch or two of salt.

outdoor kitchen
Stir-Fried Sweet Peas and Pea Tendrils (serves 2)

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp oil oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
10 oz sweet peas, removed the tough strings, washed well
12 oz pea tendrils, washed well
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

Method:

1) Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Add oil.
2) Add garlic and fry for about 30 seconds.
3) Add sweet peas. Saute about 2 minutes.
4) Add half of the pea tendrils at a time. Once that batch has wilted somewhat add the rest of the tendrils.
5) Cook about 5 minutes or until the tendrils are wilted. Season with soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Give everything a good stir and turn off heat.