Learning How to Cook with TC (The Preparation)

So who the heck is “TC” anyway? Good question.

You may remember when I was explaining a little somethin’ somethin’ about salt in a previous post? Well, it was “TC” (or Tony) who told me about it. Please excuse the secrecy surrounding his identity but he’s currently in the process of putting together a very hush-hush operation: he’s opening a restaurant, which specializes in classical Italian cuisine … with a twist 🙂 … and while I’m dying to be the first to blog about his restaurant’s soft opening, I can’t be the one to let the cat out the bag. Not until later.

Anyway … so we have these gatherings every now and we alternate between BBQ and Tony’s cooking. This was his night. But with less than 3 hours of sleep that previous night (from partying too hard), he had not given much thought about what to cook. It was when he was on his way to the supermarket, that he thought he’d preparing the following dishes (with no fancy names to disguise what they really are):

  1. Braised Pork Cheek
  2. Linguine with Clams and Sea Urchin
  3. Shaoxing Pork with Sweet Potato and Glutinous Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf (which was an experimental dish)

Unfortunately, the braised pork cheek was prepared hours before I had set foot into the kitchen so I did not document the making of that dish.

But without further ado, let’s get started on the preparation for the other 2 dishes. You’ll need:

A couple sweet potatos, some celery, some nice tomatoes, a few pieces of [large] lotus leaves, some glutinous rice, linguine (or spaghetti … whatever tickles your fancy), fresh clams (small ones and big), anchovies, lemon, pork, shaoxing wine (for marinate), copious amount of olive oil, parsley, garlic, white wine, salt, sugar, pepper … the usual condiments, et cetera, et cetera.

The Ingredients ...

The Ingredients ...

The first dish we’re going to prepare … is the experiment dish I was talking about earlier: the Shaoxing Pork with Sweet Potato and Glutonous Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf.

Get a grater and start shaving the skin off of the sweet potato and place them in water. Start boiling a pot of water to put the sweet potato in later.

Shaving the Sweet Potatos ...

Shaving the Sweet Potatos ...

You want to cook them slightly (but not too much) because they’re going into the steamer later. So, what is that Tony? Boil them for 3-5 minutes at high heat? I’m lost already.

Boil'em ...

Boil'em ...

Then, throw the lotus leaves into cold water to make them wet. They’re no good in the steamer if they’re dry … or you wouldn’t be able to get the lotus leaf scent to transpire into the food inside.

Dip the Lotus Leaf in Water ...

Dip the Lotus Leaf in Water ...

A couple hours ago (omg, my cooking instructions are so not in order!), Tony had already marinated these fatty pork with Shaoxing wine and … umm, something else (I will find out for you).

)

Pork Marinated in Shaoxing Wine, Baby 🙂

Take those sweet potato out when they’re half cooked and start chopping them into thin slices.

Thinly Slice the Sweet Potato after Boil ...

Thinly Slice the Sweet Potato after Boil ...

Then, cut the lotus leaves into smaller pieces and place a layer of glutinous rice on the leaf. By the way, the rice should’ve been placed inside cold water for a good half hour so that its easier to cook inside the steamer. Then gently place the fatty pork on the rice, followed by a few slices of the sweet potato.

Time to Wrap it ...

Time to Wrap it ...

Roll them up tightly …

Pack it Tight!

Pack it Tight!

And tie them like so.

Then Put Them in the Steamer!

Then Put Them in the Steamer!

Place in steamer for 45 minutes (?). That was easy wasn’t it?

Next up!

Fresh Clams ... Small Ones ...

Fresh Clams ... Small Ones ...

Fresh clams … these are the small ones. You want the big ones too …

Tomato Concassé

Tomato Concassé

Make tomato concasse on the side for use later.

Put Them Clams on High Heat and Fry a Bit Before Adding White Wine ...

Put Them Clams on High Heat and Fry a Bit Before Adding White Wine ...

Heat frying pan up and place generous amount of olive oil in. When ready (i.e. when the oil is hot enough), throw in the clams and tomato concasse and let it cook for a bit. Remember to stir a bit and let it sit for a minute or so before pouring in the white wine. Put a lid on it and let it cook for about 5 minutes.

) The Essence of the Pasta Dish ...

Clam Broth 🙂 The Essence of the Pasta Dish ...

After 5 minutes, pour the clam broth into a bowl for use later – don’t pour this away! This stuff is the essence of the pasta dish! Take the clam out and separate clam from shell.

Cook the Linguine ... You Know the Drill ...

Cook the Linguine ... You Know the Drill ...

Meanwhile, start cooking the linguine in boiling water (just water) … I used to have a habit of putting a bit of olive oil in the boiling water so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the pot. Apparently, if you do that, then the linguine forms a layer of olive oil around it and it’d be harder for the pasta to absorb the juice / sauce.

Chop Up the Parsley ...

Chop Up the Parsley ...

Anyway, start chopping the parsley …

The BIG Clams ...

The BIG Clams ...

Here, we’re seen cooking the bigger clam … the same process we used cooking the smaller ones.

Start Preparing The Linguine Dish ...

Start Preparing The Linguine Dish ...

Now place the big clams on the plate and add some of the smaller clams that we separated from the shell …

Take Out the Half-cooked Linguine

Take Out the Half-cooked Linguine

Take the half-cooked linguine from the pot and place them into a frying pan with heated olive oil (and garlic cloves if you wish) and stir …

Throw in the Rest of the Concasse ...

Throw in the Rest of the Concasse ...

Then pour in the clam broth and add a handful of tomato concasse … and cook until al dente 🙂

Mix'em Up!

Mix'em Up!

Mix some more …

And Serve ...

And Serve ...

And place the linguine on the clams that has already been prepared. Add fresh sea urchin on the pasta and serve.

So how did these dishes turn out? Stay tuned for more …

Advertisements

Hokkaido Day 4: Ramen Alley in Sapporo

Again, using Google technology (and why not? Japan’s cities is one of Google’s most mapped-out places on earth!), you’ll find the Ramen Alley (ラーメン横丁) if you right click the arrow (right arrow) 5 times.

You’ll see a nightclub called “Club Taliswomen” (lol, I like how they just turned “Talisman” into “Taliswoman” which makes no sense), and the famous Ramen Alley is on its immediate left. Yes, the area is known for its nightclubs … there are literally, hundreds of them around. By the way, gentlemen, I’m sure the “Ramen Alley” excuse has been used numerous times … you might want to use something a little more creative … “Honey, I’m going to grab some ramen with some buddies tonight, … sorry its an all guys thing … don’t wait up tonight” just ain’t going to work!

Anyway, the place where we had our ramen was located right in the center of the alley on the left (if you are entering from the Club Taliswomen side).

The Ramen Alley in Sapporo

The Ramen Alley in Sapporo

I forgot which one it was …

¥800 Authentic Japanese Ramen? Deal!

¥800 Authentic Japanese Ramen? Deal!

I suppose 800円 isn’t exactly cheap for a bowl of ramen, but given the size and quality of the ramen, it was pretty good value. This meal also turned out to be one of the cheapest of the trip, but its definitely up there as one of the most memorable.

If you look closely at the menu, you’ll see something that says “四代目店主” … that means the ramen noodle joint has been operating for 4 generations now, and this chef (pictured below) is the latest bloke to run the family ramen business. Let’s all hope he has a child to continue the legacy.

Yes, the 4th Generation Chef is Frying our Ramen Soup-base and Stuff

Yes, the 4th Generation Chef is Frying our Ramen Soup-base and Stuff

Here, the 4th gen chef is seen putting garlic, spring onion, onion and some secret ingredients into the wok and frying it before adding the soup base.

The Best Damn Bowl of Ramen, I Have Ever Had ... So Far ...

The Best Damn Bowl of Ramen, I Have Ever Had ... So Far ...

The result? The best ramen I’ve had. The ramen noodle itself is also home-made. Its fresh, chewy and soft (but not too soft). It taste and feels as if it had absorbed a little bit of the soup on its outer layer. Yep … I’m that good with food now.

The soup-base which is pretty much just oil anyway … its really hot (also from the oil) and flavourful. Definitely garlicky, a bit soy-saucy (like I said, its thick!) and somewhere in there, I can almost taste sesame, corn and carrot.

Well, that’s the stuff that you can’t really see in the photo … but what you can see, the half-sliced egg, and the not-so-generous slice of pork was like a 3-point from the half-way line that sealed the game. The egg was boiled to a point where if you slice it in halves, the yolk is a little runny still … and that’s how you know its a good ramen egg 🙂 We used this egg-method to gauge the quality of the ramen joints in the alley.

The pork was also very well … porky. It wasn’t dry and it wasn’t cold … but that might be because it was sitting in a boiling bowl of noodle for so long. The only downside to the pork is, there’s too little meat (and too much fat!).

Gyoza

Gyoza

The gyoza was only so-so though … nothing to write home about.

Will I be back? No doubt. But then there are another 19 (assuming there are 20 ramen restaurants in the Alley) to try out … what to do?!

Ramen Alley in Sapporo
Somewhere in Sapporo (Check above Google Map)

Delicious Kitchen (美味廚)

This restaurant is famous for its deep-fried pork plus vegetable rice, so my colleagues and I decided to check it out.

The pork and rice wasn’t bad, but wasn’t steaming hot when we got it. Maybe that’s because we got there at around 3PM-ish … The pork was a little sweet too, but I would’ve preferred it if was salty instead.

A set lunch of deep-fried pork, vegetable rice and milk tea costs HKD 42. They also have a small selection (4 choices) of soup to choose from; my colleague had a chicken ginseng soup, which was so-so (was only warm soup …) and cost HKD 65 for the set.

Worth a return visit? I dunno, I think 杏花樓’s pork veggie rice might be better.

Delicious Kitchen (美味廚)
Shop B, G/F., 9-11 Cleveland Street
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2577 8350
Fax: +852 2577 7720