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Highlights from the General Topics and Cookware boards. Food trends, food products, and burning questions.

Pork-Like Duritos

You may sometimes spot, at a Mexican street vendor or snack shop, a small bag of something that looks a lot like fried pork skins in the shape of little wheels. These are not fried pork skin. These are duritos, a snack of fried flour made to look and feel like fried pork skins. They are called “duritos” because they are “duro”–hard. You pop some hot sauce and lemon juice in the bag with the duritos, shake it all up, and eat. They’re delicious, all light and crispy–sort of like a more subtle proto version of Cheetos. Duritos are, confusingly, also sometimes referred to as chicharrones, the name for actual fried pork skin. They’re actually sold as a substitute for real chicharrones, which can frequently be expensive and hard to find, even in Mexico.

You’ll also find ready-to-fry duritos in the bulk section of many Mexican supermarkets. Get your frying oil heated up, and throw ‘em in. They’ll puff up and turn golden in a few seconds. You want to get them out as soon as they’re golden, before they start to burn.

Board Links: Tell me about Duritos Wheels

Fried Pig Flavor Bomb

Crispy pata is a Filipino delicacy made by poaching a pig’s hind leg, then deep-frying–an amazing combination of textures and flavors. Kris P Pata calls it a rich and juicy flavor bomb, saying the newly opened Salo-Salo Grill in Glendale makes an exquisite version that goes great with their garlic rice. Xericx says this location is way better than Cerritos. There may be some consistency issues, though–oldusedcop reports having had crispy pata there that “dries into ragged shreds that are rougher than sandpaper.”

elmomonster considers Magic Wok the best Filipino restaurant in Southern California. You can get the crispy pata here (most of the Filipino customers do), but if you want something less, er, overwhelming, order lechon kawale–it comes in bite-size pieces.

Normal Garciaparra contends that the best Filipino restaurant in town is Asian Noodles–not a bad place for a first encounter with crispy pata.

Salo-Salo Grill [East San Fernando Valley]
130 N. Maryland Ave., at E. Broadway, Glendale
818-241-0880
Map

Salo Salo [Artesia-ish]
18300 Gridley Rd. # A, at 183rd St., Artesia
562-809-6277
Map

Salo Salo Grill [Inland of LA]
2530 E. Amar Rd., at Nogales, West Covina
626-964-4095
Map

Magic Wok Enterprises [Artesia-ish]
11869 Artesia Blvd., at Pioneer, Artesia
562-865-7340
Map

Asian Noodles [Chinatown]
643 N. Spring St., at Cesar Chavez, Los Angeles
213-617-1083
Map

Asian Noodles [East San Fernando Valley]
1428 E. Colorado St., at Langley, Glendale
818-548-4277
Have you experienced Crispy Pata?

Cassis And Creme De Cassis

Kirs are popular drinks made from dry white wine flavored with cassis. The drink, incidentally, is named for Canon Felix Kir, one-time mayor of Dijon, France (the center of cassis production).

warrenr explains: cassis and creme de cassis are names for the liqueur made from blackcurrants steeped in neutral spirits, with lots of sugar added. Two favorites available in the US are Cartron Double Creme and Lucien Jacob. Also good are Trenel and Theuriet. L’Heritier-Guyot is the most widely available brand, and it’s marginally acceptable. Most domestic stuff is pretty poor, though Warwick Winery has recently started production of a pretty good cassis.

Maxwell also recommends G. E. Massenez de Dijon, though you may need to go to Dijon to find it.

Bear in mind that freshness is important with cassis, so buy from a store with high turnover.

Board Links: What would the premium brand for Creme de Cassis be?

Odd Candies

There are lots of oddball candies in this world.

Chowpatty favors Mexican candies flavored with tamarind, chile, or both. She also loves leche quemada, basically Mexican milk fudge. It’s kind of like penuche, but made with white sugar instead of brown. This stuff is available in many Mexican markets–look for a small case with fresh pralines, coconut-fudge, and the like.

MMRuth’s favorite: Dutch double-salted licorice (candy makers in the Netherlands make quite a variety of salted licorice).

At Asian markets, you can find fragrant muscat-grape flavored gummies. They actually exude the aroma and have the flavor of wine grapes, and are chewy, says silence9. They’re more tender than European gummies. Look for them near the Pocky section.

diesel likes anything both salty and sweet, so he grooves most of all on Chinese dried salted plums, Mexican chili-coated gummi bears, Pearson’s salted nut rolls, and chocolate covered potato chips.

GG Mora is into durian candy. It’s like salt-water taffy, only with the unmistakable sulphurous flavor of durian fruit. Also: Ting-Ting Jahe, the sticky ginger candy from southeast Asia.

Choward’s Scents Gum is cool and tastes of lavender.

ipsedixit recommends: marshmallow Peeps, Zagnuts, Valomilks, tropical-flavored Razzles, and Claeys Candy (watermelon and root beer flavors in particular).

Then there are the sweets purists. typetive consumes muscovado sugar by the spoonful. And chica, our greatest purist, prefers a simple raw piece of sugarcane.

Board Links
What’s your favorite oddball candy?

Grilling In Fresh Grape Leaves

Do you have a grapevine in your yard, or access to fresh grape leaves that aren’t sprayed with insecticides? Here are a couple of neat ideas for using the leaves to make delicious dishes on your grill.

For an appetizer, Darren72 likes to take a piece of goat cheese, top it with a basil leaf and a piece of roasted red pepper, wrap the whole in grape leaves, and grill over low heat (this works well with jarred grape leaves in brine, as well).

Season fish (e.g., halibut, sardines, salmon, sole) with salt and pepper (and maybe a little citrus zest) and rub with olive oil, then wrap in grape leaves and grill over medium-high heat. The fish will take on a smoky, herbaceous flavor and the leaves will get a little crispy, says rabaja. If the leaves are young and tender you may be able to eat them, otherwise just open up the package and enjoy the fish on its own.

If you have more fresh-on-the-vine grape leaves than you can currently use, remember that they freeze very well. Blanch, shock in ice water, dry, roll up six at a time, wrap well and freeze (Infomaniac).

Board Links: Lots of Grape Leaves
Stuffed Grape Leaves (not Dolma)

Oyster Crackers

Good chowder deserves good oyster crackers!

The Premium cracker brand is fine for just floating in soup, but Trader Joe’s oyster crackers are puffy, pillowy crackers with more oomph. If you like a more substantial cracker, the well-known Skyline Chili folks in Cincinnati include a box of theirs for free with every order of chili!

Trenton Oyster crackers are an old brand of cracker perfect suitable for good chowder. They’re now called OTC (for Original Trenton Cracker). Pat Hammond had thought them extinct.

Board Links: Oyster Crackers

Lobster “Culls”

A cull is a lobster missing a claw. It still has plenty of good meat, of course. Culls were once highly discounted, but consumers caught on and the price has increased to the point where they may not work out as bargains anymore, pound for pound. And if claw meat is your favorite, you’re likely better off buying a whole lobster.

Board Links: Lobster Retail Value–Cull vs. Whole?

Chow 101: Miso

The healthful properties of miso are legendary. It’s a living food, with enzymes and other microorganisms said to aid digestion. It tastes good, too! It’s made from fermented soy beans and other grains and is a mainstay of Japanese cooking. The lighter colored miso is delicately flavored and used in light soups, sauces and salad dressings. Use darker miso in heavier dishes, like stews, or as a table condiment.

South River Miso is artisanal and fire-roasted. Their products are for sale at their website, which includes lots of miso information and recipes ranging literally from soup to nuts (and miso desserts, too).

Board Links: artisan tofu makers

Getting Creative With Kimchee

Chowhounds love to use kimchee to perk up all kinds of simple recipes.

Kimchee is delicious chopped into tuna for sandwiches.

theannerska serves it with seared tofu, just a little soy sauce, and scallions.

Kimchee’s great atop burgers, but bigjeff likes it even better mixed into the ground beef before he forms the patties.

It adds oomph to soup: try kimchee with broth and dumplings; or GretchenS’s combo of kimchee, shredded cabbage, scallions, and tofu in chicken broth, with some of the juice from the kimchee jar added in at the end.

Dommy makes kimchee pizza by mixing a little kimchee juice into her sauce and spreading on a prepared crust, adding fresh mozzarella, and baking. When it comes out of the oven, she puts kimchee on top. bigjeff adds kimchee to leftover pizza, and reheats in the oven.

Board Links: what can I do with my kimchee besides stand in front of the fridge and eat it

Bob’s Red Mill

Bob’s Red Mill carries all kinds of high-quality provisions: flours (some gluten-free), grains, beans, seeds, oats, nuts, and other baking needs. Lots of raves from the hounds for these guys.

Their hot cereal mixes can be used in in breadmaking, and taste perfectly good microwaved with just added water. Bob’s steel cut oats are terrific and cheaper than McCanns. Their coarse-ground cornmeal makes a fine pot of grits or polenta.

It’s best to buy these sorts of products from stores with good turnover, or else order online.

Board Links: Bob’s Red Mill: any good??