Monthly Archives: September 2013

Gỏi cuốn | Fresh Rolls

To me, fresh rolls sum up what Vietnamese food is all about. It is a dish that relies on the quality of the ingredients as there is very little cooking involved. Vietnamese food is all about being in touch with the ingredients and how they work together and it is extremely apparent in this dish. Below is a pretty non traditional presentation of fresh rolls as usually one dips their fresh roll into some thai chilli steeped fish sauce. Below is some traditional fresh rolls in a coconut hoisin reduction which happens to be my preference. I find that the pickled carrots provide enough sourness to the dish and what I really yearn for in a sauce is something sweet. Whatever the sauce, I’ve never met a single person who didn’t appreciate the brilliance of this simple dish. There are really no secrets when it comes to this classic (even the rice paper is transparent to allow viewing of the ingredients!).

Fresh Rolls

 

Below is all the prepared ingredients ready to be devoured. It is typical for people to gather around these wonderful ingredients and roll their very own version of a “perfect” fresh roll. My brother goes heavy on the tiger shrimp but I like a bit of everything with a healthy amount of various herbs.

Fresh Rolls

 

The most common fillings growing up for me were rice noodles, lettuce, cucumbers, bean sprouts, shrimp, pork belly, pork sausage, and various asian herbs that were grown in our back yard.

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New Chapter

I started Culinary School a week ago. It took me a while to decide whether or not I wanted to do it but here I am. The first week has given me a bit of insight as to what I can expect and it seems like it will be a big change from studying Economics. Never before have I been so excited about the academic side of school!

Unfortunately, I will be tied up with balancing school & work so I will no longer be committing to publishing something I made every single Monday. Instead I will be blogging about what I learn in culinary school in my new section which you can find here. I will continue to update you with my creations however I suspect they may be published on a slightly less consistent basis.

On another note, I wanted to mark my official full commitment to following my dreams with an upgrade in equipment. For the past 3 years I have been using Calphalon’s contemporary 8-incher. It was a gift I received during university and it has been thoroughly enjoyed. It was a massive step up from the Selection/Walmart knives I was previously struggling to cut butter with. However, I felt as if it was time to invest in something serious due to the serious nature with which I am diving into food. After doing countless hours of online research, talking to countless people (truthfully only 7 people), and trying out countless knives, I eventually based most of my decision on how uniquely amazing this knife felt in my hand (compared to the competition in my price range). I present to you my new toy/weapon:

Mcusta Zanmai Classic Pro

Above is a Mcusta Zanmai Classic Pro Damascus Gyuto. A Gyuto is basically a Japanese version of our western Chefs knife. Gyutos in general have a few key different characteristics which I found I preferred to traditional western knives. My Calphalon had quite the large bolster running down the base of the heel and the Mcusta doesn’t have any bolster at all. This was an unexpected characteristic in a knife I thought I would buy simply because I really enjoyed the large bolster on the Calphalon. However, since first holding the Calphalon, my technique has changed and I find myself chocking up on the handle a lot more these days. Thus, the thinner and harder Japanese blade offers me the option for more sharpness. Furthermore, I have found that food has been less inclined to stick to the blade due to the fact that the knife isn’t pushing through food as much as the Calphalon used to.

MZCP8.2

The knife is made in Seki, Japan. It measures 8.2 inches long of VG-10 stainless steel. VG-10 is just a cutlery grade stainless steel produced in Japan that consists of many elements including some specific elements that must be in a particular proportion to one another which include Carbon (1%), Molybdenum (1%), Chromium (15%), Cobalt (1.5%), and Manganese (0.5%) to name a few. The blade is finished with Hamaguri form which just means that the edge of the blade is shaped asymmetrically. The left side of the blade comes down on to the food at 90 degrees whereas the right side of the blade comes in just under 90 degrees making it extremely easy to cut through food with minimum force which makes up for the heaviness often found in western Chef knives. Another thing one might notice about the blade is that it has a kind of rippling water design to it. This is caused by the technique used in producing Damascus Steel. Unfortunately, Damascus steel has been found and dated as early as 300BC and even with modern technology, reverse engineering the exact process has not been fully completed. It is a steel used in ancient Asian and Middle Eastern sword making. These are just some of the characteristics that make my Calphalon feel like a clumsy broadsword in comparison.

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Hu Tieu Mi | Pork and Seafood Soup pt.1

This week I go back to my childhood again with this Vietnamese classic. Much like what I did with Pho (which you can see here), this post will only be part one of my exploration of Hu Tieu Mi. In this first instalment I will be looking at what makes this classic so delicious in order to understand how to approach modernizing the dish.

Hu Tieu Mi

 

Much like Pho, the secret to this soup is in the broth. It is made with pork bones, carrots, radishes, dried roasted squid, rock sugar, oyster sauce, and fish sauce. In the soup are some egg noodles, barbecue pork, pork liver, quail eggs, scored squid, and shrimp. Unlike Pho, this dish as quite a lot of components. This is where I think most of the problems arise. In traditional pho, beef is the very obvious focus. Everything about the dish is made in a way that enhances the flavour of the beef. In mi however, there are many delicious elements and it is challenging to bring the best out of all of them without overshadowing anything.

You would not think that all of these different types of meat would actually go together but it all tastes quite delicious. I usually only use one type of meat per dish and therefore the various types of meat in this dish is a bit unique to me. I suppose it is no different than my eating different types of vegetables in a stir fry.

Hu Tieu Mi

 

Classically, one dips the various types of meat in hoisin sauce (or at least that is what I did growing up). However, in the second picture I decide to add a brush of spicy hoisin to the plate before spooning over some broth. I actually enjoyed this method because it mitigated the often overly sweet characteristics of hoisin sauce.

I finish the dish with some deep fried onions and some fresh chives from the garden as well as some black pepper.

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