Thursday, 27 June 2013

BBQ Cooking - Week 3: Fish on the grill!

In this week's class, we tried two ways to cook fish on the BBQ. We grilled Whole Striped Bass Stuffed with Lemon/Thyme/Ginger, and Miso Honey Glazed Atlantic Salmon. For the sides, we made Grilled Acorn Squash which I really liked, as well as Candied Sweet Potatoes that I didn't try due to my severe allergy. 

Whole Striped Bass Stuffed with Lemon/Thyme/Ginger
1 whole striped bass
a large piece of ginger, chopped
1/2 bunch thyme
1 lemon, sliced
olive oil, salt/pepper to taste

1. Clean the fish, cut off the fins 
2. Rub the inside of the fish with olive oil, salt and pepper
3. Stuff the cavity with ginger, thyme, and lemon slices
4. Use a skewer to go through the fish and secure the stuffing 
5. Make a few cuts on the fish, to expose more surface area, grill on the BBQ

* Each side takes about ~10min to cook, but it depends on the heat of your BBQ. To check if the fish is done, poke it with a toothpick/skewer, if the stick comes in without any resistance and comes out clear (no meat attached), the fish is ready. 

Miso Honey Glazed Atlantic Salmon
4 6oz salmon fillets

* We had to fillet the whole salmons ourselves. Maybe when I get some free time, I will do a sketch on how to fillet round fish. For now, just look at the whole fish photo below, and picture nicely cleaned fillet portions. 

20g miso paste
40 mL rice wine mirin
20 mL honey
salt/white pepper to taste

1. Mix the ingredients in the glaze in a bowl, whisk everything to a homogeneous mixture
2. Marinade the fillets in the glaze mixture for a couple hours, or you can leave it overnight. Save some uncontaminated glaze for basting later.
3. Grill the fillets on the BBQ, at 45 degrees angle to the grill bars for 3min, then move them 90 degrees (perpendicular to the initial position) for another 3min. This is how you get good looking crossed grill marks on the fish. Baste the fillets with the saved glaze from time to time. 
4. Turn the fish to the other side, grill the same way for about 6min.

Grilled Acorn Squash
This is a very tasty and easy side dish to make. Basically, you just cut some squash slices. Then take a bowl to melt some butter, stir in brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and salt/pepper to taste. Pour the butter sauce over the squash wedges, coat them well, and grill them on the BBQ! It takes ~10-15min to cook them until they become soft. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Don't cry over your onions!

     After I posted a picture of myself cutting 50 lb of onions on Facebook a couple weeks ago, I got many people asking me the same question: did you have to wear goggles to prevent the tears from pouring down. The answer is, if you cut the onions the right way, you don't get teary. Allium species including onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are able to synthesize a unique set of secondary sulfur metabolites derived from the amino acid cysteine. When the tissue in the onions are crushed during chopping, an enzyme called alliinase is activated to break down the amino acid-based compound S-alkyl-L-cysteine S-oxide (alliin) to an alkylated sulfenic acid and 2-aminoacrylate. When two sulfenic acid molecules condense, they produce a  new compound called allicinSulfenic acid will bind to another enzyme, lachrymatory factor synthase (LFS), producing a volatile compound, propanthial S-oxide, a.k.a., the tear-inducing factor that makes you cry like a baby. 
     I have heard of some absurd ways to reduce the unpleasant eye irritation caused by onions. Like, cutting onions in water, or chill the onions before cutting (to slow down the activities of the enzymes in onion), or just wear a pair of ski goggles. I have tried some of the methods above. Some worked, some didn't. And then one day in my cooking class, I finally learned the most legit and reliable way of cutting onions without getting teary. The key is, to cut along the grains of the onion, so that you crush the min. amount of cells which in turn will release the min. amount of lachrymatory factors. Since then, I have passed the trick to many people around me who suffered the eye irritations by onions. But judged from the confused looks on my friends' faces after they got my verbal description, I decided to make a quick sketch to illustrate what I mean by cutting onions "the right way". This by no means the only way to cut onions. But at least to me, I now seldom shed a tear while cutting these troublemakers.

After Step 4 in the illustration, you will get diced onions. If you want to get really small dices, you need a Step 5 to slice the onion horizontallyImagine the cuts in Step 3 are on the x axis, cuts in Step 4 are on the y axis, then Step 5 would be on the z axis, perpendicular to Step 3 and 4.  If you want to julienne the onions to get slices, stop at Step 3. If you want onion rings on your burgers or something else, you need to halve the onion along its waist to get a cross section in Step 1. 

Monday, 10 June 2013

BBQ Cooking - Week 2: Pulled Pork Burgers!

Our BBQ class got postponed for 2 weeks because of the Victoria Day long weekend and  Memorial Day (our chef went to visit families in the States). The long wait was highly anticipated and it was totally worth it! Despite the labour intensive cooking session, it was a fruitful class that generated many meals for the following week and many happy stomachs. 

To assemble the perfect pulled pork burgers, we prepared Slow cooked BBQ pork butts with Sweet chili and smoked paprika rub,  Bourbon BBQ sauce, Blue cheese coleslaw, Caramelized onions, and calabrese buns. 


Rub (for 10 lb pork butt):
1 cup smoked paprika
1/4 sweet dried ground chili
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 kosher salt
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder 
1 tbsp onion powder

BBQ sauce:
2 cups Heinz chili sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 perpared mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
90 mL Bourbon 
4 crushed garlic cloves
1 small onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 dried red chilies
1pc star anise
30 mL vegetable oil
salt to taste
1. Mix all the ingredients for the rub, coat the pork butt with the dry rub
2. Place the meat in the smoker for about 1hr, then transfer the meat to the oven to continue  
    roasting at 300F for another 2 hrs. 
 * you can slow cook the meat in the oven the whole time if you don't have a smoker

3. For the sauce, in a large pan, sweat the onion, red pepper and chilies until soft
4. Add Bourbon or whiskey and reduce the volume by half
5. Add sugar, stir and wait until it's dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until    
    desired consistency
6. Use a food processor to purée the sauce

For the Blue cheese coleslaw:
Ingredients for the dressing
100 g blue cheese
1/4cup cider vinegar
1/2 sour cream
1/2 bunch chives, chopped
salt/pepper to taste

1. Mix all the dressing ingredients together for the coleslaw. 

Voilà, the best pulled pork burger that I've  ever had!