Monthly Archives: January 2014

Rosemary Balsamic Roasted Figs

Figs aren’t big in Vietnamese cuisine. In fact, before last night, I was the only one in the household to have ever actually tasted them. I used to talk to a friend about how growing up in an Asian family (he’s 3/4 Chinese and I’m Vietnamese), we were almost made to feel bad whenever we did not like something. It was even worse when we did not want to try something. As was common practice, the elderly at dinner parties would comment on how mature they thought your palate was. This cultural phenomenon is so deeply rooted it can be found embedded in the language (at least in Vietnamese). When I used to express my discontent for stomach or intestines my family friends would exclaim in Vietnamese that “I didn’t know how to eat it.” Of course, cultural differences account for the fact that this sounds extremely rude in English. Hilariously enough, I found it a bit hypocritical how the same people exclusively ate Chinese and Vietnamese food, refusing to ever try foods originating from other parts of the world. Luckily for me, my family is always up for new flavours.

Roasted Figs

 

For the figs, I just stabbed them with the stems of rosemary and popped them in a pan with a balsamic reduction. The balsamic reduction can be made by simply adding icing sugar to simmering balsamic vinegar. I basted the figs until they became a bit darker in colour by absorbing some of the balsamic vinegar. After taking them out of the oven the balsamic vinegar thickened a bit and became much sweeter. To balance this out I finished the dish with some basil ricotta cheese, lemon zest, and some pine nuts for texture.

The figs were a hit which I hope will reinforce the “try anything once” mindset my family currently holds.

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Korean Inspired Braised Short Ribs

I probably order Kalbi over 75% of the time I go to a Korean restaurant. The flavour is unmistakably delicious. It should come as no surprise that eventually I would want to make my own. Although I kept the flavour roughly familiar, I decided that it would be interesting to play with the texture. I cut thicker slices of the short rib as opposed to the traditionally thin cuts found in the Korean version and braised them to achieve a melting texture. For 7 lbs of short rib I just added the following together as both the marinade and the braising liquid:

  • 1.5 cups soy sauce
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 750 ml mirin (rice wine)
  • 2 large grated apples
  • 2 large grated onions
  • 4 tablespoons sesame oil

After 24 hours submerged in the marinade and 2 more hours in a light simmer, the short ribs start to fall off the bone. This made plating quite difficult.

Braised Short Ribs

 

With the short ribs having a Korean flavour to them I decided to go with an asian starch. Taro root can be prepared similarly to potatoes which ultimately is what I ended up doing. With the richness of the short ribs and the heaviness from the mashed taro, I felt that the dish would do well with something crunchy and acidic.

This is where the carrot, cucumber, and shallot pickles come in. Together, the pickles, taro, and short ribs create a cycle of salivation when eaten together that make you want more and more. 1lb of short ribs per person and nobody left dinner satisfied.

Braised Short Ribs

 

I finish the plate by spooning over some of the braising liquid as well as some green onion.

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