Salt and Pepper Chickenwings

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Here’s a tasty recipe for chicken wings, based on a tasty salt and pepper squid recipe. Let’s face it, you could do this to any meat and it would be great.

Ingredients:
   1.5kg chicken wings
   Plain flour for coating
   2 tsp ginger powder
   2 tsp salt
   2 tsp chicken stock
   2 tsp ground celery seeds
   2 tsp chinese five spice
   Oil for shallow frying (I used rice bran oil)

Method:
   Cut chicken wings in half (separating at the elbow joint), to get lower wings and drumettes.
   Coat wings in flour.
   Heat oil in pan over a high heat (enough to shallow fry, a few millimeters deep).
   Fry chicken wings until golden brown and cooked through.
   Place wings in a bowl, sprinkle with seasoning to taste (you shouldn’t need all of the spice mix), and toss to mix through.
   Serve and eat.

Portions listed serve one (if you are doing it right!)… or appetizers for a dozen people.

Graph of the Week: The Bagel Graph

There are many traits that are prevalent amongst engineers (there are plenty of jokes about this, normally told with glee by lesser humans), but i think there is possibly only one which appears to be universal:
We love free food.

Most engineers are honest people, who are not open to corruption, but they will do things for food that they would never do for money. As a result, it is common practise for equipment suppliers to come in to our offices to present “lunch and learn” sessions. While these sessions aren’t going to sway us to use a certain product (we are generally, after all, technophiles, and will always go for the technically superior product), the mention of a free lunch does ensure that the vendors get a room full of engineers who are too busy eating to ask annoying questions.

After these lunch and learns, we will discuss the merits of the presentation amongst ourselves: starting with the quality of the food, then on to the quality of the equipment being demonstrated.

But when you get engineers doing technical evaluations on food… weird things happen…

I was telling my wife about one such Lunch-and-learn, and the duck & coleslaw bagel that I ate:
“You know what the best thing about a good bagel is?” I asked her, as we ate dinner.
“What?” She asked, and really should have known better.
“The bit in the middle where there is a hole in the bagel, but the filling continues… actually, there’s probably a graph for that…” I mused.
“You don’t need to graph it, baby” she said, wishing she wasn’t just dead wrong.
“Oh yes, my little turnip. Yes I do…” I turned to the whiteboard on our kitchen wall…

I present to you… The Bagel Graph

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(Filling as a ratio to bagel bread. Apologies for the quality of the graph, I tried to sketch it as neatly as I could on my smartphone).

Steak – Sous Vide done cheap, but done right

Here’s a good technique for cooking steak to exactly the level of doneness that you want. Not only that, but this technique will make dinner parties a LOT easier.

A couple of important pieces of information:

  1. If you leave meat in a water bath at constant temperature, eventually the meat will reach that temperature the whole way through.
  2. When cooking meat, the doneness is dependent on temperature, not time.
  3. Food safe temperature for cooking/maintaining hot food is 60°C or greater (Australia, different rules may apply elsewhere).

The practical upshot of this, is that you can sous vide a steak for an extended period of time, and as long as you can maintain the minimum temperature above 60°C, and ensure that the maximum temperature doesn’t go above that required for the level of doneness that you want, you won’t get food poisoning and the meat will be perfectly cooked all the way through.

According to my friend Adrian Richardson (okay, we’re not friends, but he’s got a good book, a good TV show, and we share a lot of the same feelings about butter and cooked meat), the doneness of meat versus temperature is as follows:

  • Rare                 35°C
  • Medium-rare    45°C
  • Medium            55°C
  • Medium-well     65°C
  • Well done         75°C

So if you sous vide your steak at 60°C (individually, or in the form of a big old slab of meat), you can put the steak into the water bath several hours before dinner is due. Then 5 minutes before dinner, get your frying pan very hot, and sear both sides of your steak. Ideally this searing should be as hot and quick as possible, to avoid cooking the rest of your steak any further. That is, of course, unless some of your guests prefer their meat more cooked; in this case, the majority of the cooking is already done, and you can just cook these steaks a bit further through. If ALL of your guests like their steaks cooked further, simply set the water bath at a higher temperature so that this level of doneness is your starting point.

The best thing about this technique is that you can have all of your steaks ready to go, with only finishing required to serve them up. This is great for when you are expecting guests who are known to be tardy.

Now, how do we sous vide cheaply? Buy a cheap deep-frier (check that it’s safe to use with water instead of oil – I take no responsibility for anyone doing this using the wrong type of equipment and something bad happening). Set the deep frier to very low, and monitor using a digital thermometer. My deep frier can achieve accurate control with +/-2.5°C precision. This allowed me to cook a chunk of meat at 60°C with some excursions down to 55°C (yes, I should have probably gone 60-65°C, for food safety, but… Meh)

Here’s an example of some awesome wagyu rib fillet that I cooked last weekend:

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My meat – Wagyu rib fillet, vacuum sealed

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almost 1.4kg for four people. mmmmm

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$25 deep frier

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Set the frier to very low temperature and use a digital thermometer to monitor

Note: If you’re going to use a deep frier as a sous vide machine, first MAKE SURE IT’S SAFE TO PUT WATER IN. In my machine, the heating element is inside stainless steel tube and it’s water tight.

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Meat cooked to 60°C

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perfectly cooked to Medium, all the way through

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A quick sear in a very hot pan on my induction cooktop’s highest heat setting

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Mmmmmm

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mmm mmm mmmmmmm

Ideal Mayonaise

To (mis)quote William Shatner:

Don’t change ’cause you think I might like you to be different, Kewpie
I fell in love with you

Yes, Kewpie now comes in wasabi flavour, and I’m ambivalent.

20140820_200524I’m not sure how long Kewpie have been producing this mayo, so forgive me if I’m behind the times. It’s not like your typical wasabi mayonnaise, normally you get mayonnaise with a hint of flavour. This mayonnaise has a strong (but not melt-your-nose strength) flavour of wasabi, so you probably wouldn’t want to go too heavy with it. Not surprising that it has a decent kick, it’s got 1% wasabi oil in it (more actual wasabi than is in most wasabi pastes, I think) and plenty of horseradish.

On the one hand, I applaud Kewpie for embracing the 21st century and keeping it interesting by putting out something for all the foodies (wasabi flavoured things that aren’t wasabi seem to be all the rage, this century), but on the other hand… Well, I like Kewpie. I don’t need any fancy tricks. If I want Kewpie, I want Kewpie. If you want to know what I’m talking about look up the song “Ideal Woman”, by William Shatner.

And if you had to look up Ideal Woman to know what I was talking about, maybe you should just buy the whole record: “Has Been”. Why should you do so? One reason: William God-Damn Shatner, that’s why.

Chicken wing gyouza – the great eatening.

After a week in the freezer, alongside their compatriots in Shaun’s Great Frozen Gyouza Army, some of the chicken wing gyouza were defrosted and devoured today. One word summary: Awesome.

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To elaborate: eating a chicken wing gyouza is a completely different experience to eating either a chicken wing or a gyouza. You bite into the meaty upper part of the wing with gusto, enjoying the mouth feel that you just don’t get with your standard,  fiddly chicken wing. You also get the fatty, sweet chicken flesh and skin, followed by the lean, herbaceous gyouza mix of pork, cabbage and garlic.

God I love gyouza. I wasn’t sure if these count as gyouza or chicken wings, but… god I love them.

So they must be gyouza.

Q.E.D.

Chicken Wing Gyouza

I’ve been meaning to make Chicken Wing Gyouza for many years, but never quite gotten around to it, on account of the fact that it seems like a lot of effort to de-bone so many chicken wings (because it’d just be ridiculous to only make a small amount!)

Well, I finally got around to it, and it turned out it wasn’t all that time consuming. I started with a tray of chicken wings (about 1.5 kilograms). Taking a paring knife and cutting around the shoulder joint of the wing, I separated the meat from the end of the upper arm bone (or the chickeny equivalent); mostly getting the knife underneath the tendons and flesh and cutting up, out of the meat, towards me, working my way around the bone.

Once I had the end done, I cut down along the side of the bone (sliding my knife in between the flesh and the bone). Once I had separated the flesh from the bone all the way down to the other end, it was a simple matter of dislocating the elbow (or the chickeny equivalent) and wrenching out the bone.

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At this point I decided not to remove the bones from the lower part of the wing. I made this decision for two reasons:

  1. this would leave a convenient boney bit to hold onto when eating the chicken wing gyouza
  2. this would save me a lot of time

I prepared a fairly standard gyouza filling mixture:

  • 250g pork mince
  • equivalent volume of finely diced cabbage
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • a bit of soy (didn’t measure. enough to make it smell and look right. maybe 2 tsp?)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

I then stuffed the mixture into the cavity left by the bone (after I created some more space lower down in the wing by using my finger to separate the layers of skin in the wing). I sealed the opening by folding the skin over the opening and pinning down with a nice bamboo skewer that we brought back from japan (a long way to bring some skewers, but a pack of hundreds only cost us several hundred yen, and they cost about 10 times that here in Australia, for some reason).

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I’ll post some photos of the cooked product once we’ve cooked them up. It’s going to be delicious!

Closing note: One thing that annoys me (so very, very much) is the constant pluralisation and mispronunciation of “gyouza” that I have to deal with from people who obviously didn’t do japanese at school. The plural of gyouza is “gyouza”, not “gyouzas”. You get this a lot with japanese words. and it’s pronounced “gyo-za”, not “gai-yoh-za”. Christ people, come on.