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Showing posts from November, 2006

Tarragon

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Do you like the anise flavor? Many people frown upon hearing the word "anise." They are probably thinking about the licorice. As with many flavor molecules, a family of complex phenolic compounds is responsible for the anise-like flavor. There really are a lot of anise-flavored ingredients and processed foods and drinks: anise, star anise, fennel, fennel seeds, pernod, five spice powder. And then there's tarragon, or French tarragon. The other kind of tarragon -- Russian or wild tarragon -- does not taste the same and is not really used in cooking. Tarragon has a wonderful mellow flavor. After cooking, its anisy character takes on a smoother feel. This dish is a salmon filet, braised and covered in a mixture of diced onions, carrots, and celery that have been cooked with butter and tarragon. The flavor is wonderful. Now we just need to perfect the timing for cooking salmon – it so often comes out on the dry side.

Lacquered Pork Shoulder (紅燒蹄膀)

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My friends John, Andrea, and Jess held a farewell party for our friend Alexis 2 weeks ago. This is not your traditional gather-around, look-at-pictures, and open-some-gifts type of farewell party. No. My gourmand friends turned their lovely apartment into a French bistro, open for one night only, serving 20 guests 6-course dinners. From the opening act asparagus quiche tartlets to the finale custard-filled profiteroles drizzled with chocolate, my friends created such a special evening. What I liked the most, however, was the entree -- a pork shoulder braised in a mustardy and aromatic broth. The meat was tender and flavorful, juicy with bits and pieces of pork fat. It was heavenly.

Pork is a stable item in Taiwan. Pigs can eat many sources of food and grow at a much faster pace than other domesticated animals. They are an economical protein source. The pigs in Taiwan are bred for pork fattiness and sweetness. The "black-hair" pig variety is especially a gourmet grocery item, …

Thanksgiving came a little early

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I think everyone would agree that the best thing about Thanksgiving is not the Turkey or the pumpkin pie. It is the side dishes. The stuffing that soaks up all the turkey juice and fat; the sweet potatoes and winter squashes; and the maple glazed carrots. These make our tummies go umm-umm. So that kind of obsession compelled me to make a 3-dish dinner after a long day's work on a Friday night. Compared to my weeknight routine of 1-hour dinners (ok so Rachel Ray can make two 30-minute meals while I cook just one. But she sucks), this is actually more work!!!

Martha has been publishing 15 years of readers' favorites in all the magazine issues this year. And in this November issue, she reviewed our favorite holiday side dishes. I am really grateful for this, for I had been kicking myself for not saving a creamed spinach recipe from 2 years ago. So on this night, I savored the silky spinach yet again, for the 3rd time, mixed with sweet and crunchy pearl onions and smoky bacon. I a…