Highlights from the General Topics and Cookware boards. Food trends, food products, and burning questions.
Does a bone in the cut of meat affect the final product's tenderness? mucho gordo finds bone-in rib-eye steaks less tender than boneless cuts, but wonders if it's just a coincidence. drongo disagrees: "It's probably my imagination also, but I've thought bone-in ribeye more juicy (if not more tender) than boneless. Probably I've rationalized that the bone protects at least the one edge from moisture loss (and perhaps also insulates it from overheating), and hence I'm predisposed to think it's juicier."
If anything, meat with a bone in it should end up more tender than boneless meat, says jhopp217. "Meat near the bone cooks slower, so if you are to cook the steak medium rare, it would be closer to rare near the bone, giving it a nice tender feel," he says. Because they cook slower, people tend to overcook bone-in cuts, says ipsedixit, which might contribute to a perception that bone-in cuts are tougher. Properly cooked, there shouldn't be a difference in tenderness based solely on the presence of a bone.
Regardless of tenderness, gnawing on a bone lends an irreplaceable carnality to the experience. "There is something about eating the small amount of meat from the bone that I love," says Motosport. "I growl at anyone who comes near!!"
Discuss: Is it just my perception?
"I was browsing the beverage aisle at the Asian market and felt overwhelmed," says madridista. Between the five kinds of coconut juice and three kinds of mango juice, not to mention soursop, lychee, and tamarind, madridista doesn't know where to begin. Which beverages should thirsty hounds try first?
juster's favorite is grass jelly drink, with a mild flavor that's not too sweet but hard to describe. You'll find little cubes of jelly at the bottom, a bit like the tapioca balls in bubble tea. JungMann especially liked soursop (also known as guyabano or guanábana) juice as a kid: "very sweet with a sour apple kick." Now, as a grown-up, JungMann likes Japanese soft drinks, like the mildly acidic and slightly yogurt-like Calpico brand.
Steve's latest addiction is a Korean beverage called New Rice Juice, which is sold in tall plastic bottles. It's milky, slightly sweet, and unbelievably delicious, he says. He also likes white gourd drinks, which "taste like liquid cotton candy" and are "very nice with banh mi."
Discuss: Asian Market: Beverages
Nihari is a rich, simmered-for-hours braise of meat, onions, and spices that has become one of the iconic dishes of Pakistan. It's also one of luckyfatima's all-time favorite foods. "It's traditionally made with beef shank cooked on a slow simmer for hours and hours until the meat is so tender it is gelatinous and falls apart when touched gently with a naan," she says. The browned onions and garam masala give the gravy its flavor, and anise and fennel "give the dish a distinct perfume," says luckyfatima. Nihari is a special, fancy dish, and people eat it with special bread (like flaky warqi paratha or "thick, fluffy kulchas") rather than the plain, everyday roti.
Traditional condiments cut the richness of the dish. It's meant to be served with "fresh ginger shards, cilantro, green chile slices, and a squeeze of lime juice," says luckyfatima. "It is soupy and one sops up the luscious, fennel seed-perfumed gravy with a piece of flat bread. It is an amazing dish, and I highly recommend it." paulj agrees—he has dined on nihari twice, and found it so memorable that he can remember the exact details even though it's been years, he says.
Discuss: And God Made Nihari
What's your ideal fish sandwich? MonMauler likes to go to a dive bar on Fridays for beer and snacks. "Most of the food at this establishment is underwhelming, but the fish sandwich is absolute glory," MonMauler says. "It is a battered and deep-fried piece of cod placed on a sesame seed bun such that the fried fish protrudes about 4" from the bun on both ends. I always get mine with a couple pieces of melted American cheese."
MGZ's gold standard starts with flounder or fluke that has been dipped in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs—not batter—before frying. "It is served on a hard roll with tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomato," says MGZ. "The sandwich is best when the fish was caught by yourself earlier in the day and the tomato was similarly the result of your own labors. Personally, I have a weak spot for placing a slice of Swiss cheese directly on the fish so that it melts a bit."
Normally, there's an ill-defined rule that cheese and fish don't belong together, but the fish sandwich is definitely an exception. "The fish sandwich is one 'dish' in which cheese and fish work tremendously together, although I think the cheese should be an exiguous complement rather than a competitor with the fish," says Perilagu Khan.
Veggo's preferred version is a modern Mexican take on the fish sandwich known as hamburguesa de pescado ("fish hamburger"): It layers thin slices of fish (fried milanesa-style) on a bun with lettuce, mayonnaise, and habanero salsa. "Simple but delicious, about $1.70. I have probably eaten 200 of them over the years," says Veggo.
Discuss: In Praise of the Fish Sandwich
Fresh greens can start wilting in the fridge in a matter of hours, so what is the best way to keep them crisp? janniecooks fortuitously discovered a great new technique: Store them in a metal bowl covered in foil. A few points: Start with sturdy greens, "such as romaine, red-leaf lettuce, frisée, radicchio, parsley, and curly endive," janniecooks says. Wash and dry them, and tear them into bite-sized pieces rather than cutting them with a knife. Then stick them in a metal mixing bowl covered in foil, and you'll have an always-fresh supply of greens to chew on for days! "I haven't kept a bowl of greens more than ten days, but on the tenth day the remaining last serving of greens was still crisp and fresh," janniecooks says. "Even the parsley kept its fresh quality."
mcf and other hounds get decent results by keeping greens in plastic tubs, though the salad makings don't last as long as with janniecooks's method. Deborah thinks it might have to do with the foil: "A year ago a friend told me to wrap my celery in foil before putting it in a plastic bag and refrigerating," she says. "The celery lasted for weeks."
Discuss: Happy accident - keeping salad greens fresh
When you buy a whole chicken, the giblets (organs) of the chicken are often included inside. Some markets also sell separate packages of chicken livers or chicken gizzards. This can be intimidating for new home cooks—what are you supposed to do with the giblets? What are those little nuggets of meat, and are they all the same?
The liver adds a rich flavor to dishes, but more importantly, it imparts a creamy texture to gravies and sauces, says mamachef. It tends to cook quickly compared to the other organs.
The other giblets taste great, but won't lend creaminess to your sauces. The kidneys have the strongest "offal" flavor of the bunch, says Quine. Gizzards have a rich flavor but take the longest to cook, says Delucacheesemonger—boil them for two and a half hours, and you'll also end up with a great chicken stock. Unlike livers, gizzards keep their solid texture after cooking—you may want to cut them into large chunks to make them more identifiable in gravy, suggests Delucacheesemonger.
Discuss: Substitute giblets for just livers
It may look like pale, creamy mayonnaise, but appearances can be deceiving. Toum, a Lebanese garlic sauce, is one of the most garlicky foods you'll ever consume. pippimac used to work under a Lebanese head chef, and the toum they made was "basically raw garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. It emulsified, and looked deceptively like mayonnaise, but it really packed a wallop! Great with fish and chips/fries."
Enso agrees with this description, but adds that most recipes call for a significant amount of salt. Enso's recommended method: Mince a lot of garlic, then put it in a mixer with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Mix it "just short of forever" until it has the consistency of whipped egg white. "Some people actually do put egg white in," Enso says. "But that's [an] abomination."
Discuss: Most garlicky food ever
Whole roasted ducks (known as vit quay in Vietnamese) are the perfect takeout item; you might see them hanging in the window of a Chinese or Vietnamese deli, along with roasted pork. In Vietnamese cuisine, it's common to serve the roasted duck "with some fresh baguettes, some Maggi seasoning sauce with sliced chilies to dip the meat, and some cucumber spears," says seamunky. "Best eaten with your hands...preferably while sitting on the floor in a circle around the duck with your friends/family but that's not necessary." If you're going to reheat the duck at home, seamunky suggests preparing a bed of egg noodles sautéed in garlic oil. Then simply "let the duck drip onto the noodles as it's heating. Serve the duck on the bed of noodles. Garnish with scallions sliced on a bias. Enjoy."
These roasted ducks are also often available from barbecue restaurants and delis, especially Chinese-Vietnamese restaurants (meaning restaurants operated by Chinese people from Vietnam), luckyfatima says. "At these restos, you find the duck served as in other Cantonese restos: cut into parts on a plate and soused in a little bit of salty duck juice," luckyfatima says. "You just eat this with rice. It can also come with fluffy little pancakes and hoisin sauce, in soups, or be used in other dishes (stir fries, noodle dishes, it adds a lot of flavor). If it is fresh and well seasoned, it doesn't need any sauce, great to gnaw on straight off the bone, skin and all, and sometimes chew the bones, too."
A special kind of roasted duck is pei pa ngap, or pei pa duck—a crispier version, according to huiray. Iowaboy3 finds it to be less meaty, but more cooked down and caramelized.
Discuss: Chinese Roast Duck (Vit Quay)