Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.
Happy Joy is delighting hounds with its unexpectedly ambitious menu of Malaysian and Cantonese food. This modest-looking joint on the eastern fringe of Chinatown–look for a red awning whose only English is the word “restaurant”–offers more than 300 choices, from cheap rice plates to pricier seafood dishes. “We really like it, both Malaysian and Chinese dishes,” says Wilfrid, who recommends barbecued pig.
The Malaysian stuff–roti canai, rice noodles with oyster sauce, nasi lemak (chicken coconut rice with anchovy, egg, etc.)–is first rate, reports Lau. Some other options on the long menu: young tau foo (stuffed bean curd), casseroles, congees, house-made bean curd, and noodles in various forms (handmade shrimp noodles, Malaysian-style lo mein, fried noodles, noodle soups).
Happy Joy Restaurant [Chinatown]
25 Canal St., at Essex, Manhattan
Ocean Seafood isn’t known for its dim sum, its service, or its circa-1985 d
Hunanese restaurants, never too common, are even more rare now that Shiang Garden and Crown Caf
Michael Rodriguez has come up with a super-easy method for cooking duck legs perfectly, rendering out the fat and leaving lovely crunchy skin and luscious, moist meat. The best part: they roast low and slow in the oven, and need almost no attention from the cook.
The method: the day before cooking, trim all the excess fat and skin from duck legs. Rub them with salt and pepper (or go zingy, and use toasted Sichuan peppercorns) and refrigerate overnight. Roast them in a 250 degree oven, for 3 hours.
Bonus deliciousness: Michael grinds the trimmed skin and fat from the duck legs with some beef chuck to make awesome hamburgers.
Slow Cooked Duck Legs
There’s been a silicone revolution in cooking implements in the past few years, and the newest super silicone helper is a brush for basting food and applying glazes. The old type of brush had nylon bristles, and since invariably, the brushing liquid–oil, BBQ sauce, preserves, and so on–is sticky, the brushes tended to stay dirty. The silicone brushes are easy to wash out, and they’re dishwasher safe. They can also withstand high heat, so no worries using them around the broiler or grill. And no loose bristles in your food, cheers Candy
Pei suggests looking for a brush with slightly stiff bristles. Some of the new silicone brushes have very soft bristles, which don’t give as much control as a traditional brush.
You can find silicone brushes for under $10 in many housewares stores. Upscale kitchenware shops carry fancier models, including ones with long handles appropriate for the grill.
how to clean brushes
To extend the life of fresh berries, put the unwashed berries in a glass jar, with the lid on, and pop them in the fridge. It works beautifully on strawberries; they’ll keep their fresh-from-the-farm taste for about two weeks. Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, which tend to be delicate and perishable, keep just as well this way; grapes may last even longer. Mushrooms, and jalapeno and serrano chiles benefit from the treatment, too. If your cherry tomatoes get to the point where they have to be refrigerated, the jar method will extend their a life a little more. Herbs seem to do quite well too. Wash them, blot them dry to prevent mold, and place them loosely in the jar.
Grapes & greens in glass jars
Keeping Strawberries fresh for a week
Hummus–the thick Middle Eastern sauce made from mashed chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, and garlic–is nutritious, great as a dip for vegetables and with pita bread. One of the better sources for hummus is Costco. Their Hannah’s Classic hummus is $6 for a 32-oz tub, and it’s really good. There’s also Hannah’s Jalapeno hummus, with a bit of cumin. Drizzle a little olive oil over it before serving.
Some Costcos also carry Sabra hummus. It’s another tasty brand–smooth, with terrific flavor. Try the roasted garlic flavor.
Hummus at Costco!
Editor’s note: Jim’s second report shines some light onto his phenomenal 10-month food streak. Will it last through the CHOWTour? Check back daily to find out.
Heading upstate on the first leg of the CHOWTour, Jim describes “The Streak.”
“It’s the best omelet you’ve ever tried!” claims the text of this egg-in-a-bag recipe currently being e-forwarded all over the place. Eggs a la Ziploc —delicious? Deadly? Or both?
The recipe’s a cinch. You scramble up your eggs, drop them in a Ziploc with some fillings, boil it for 10 minutes or so and then apparently experience the gustatory equivalent of a multiple orgasm. Enough people are trying it to merit mentions in two daily papers in the last week, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune and The Washington Post. By all accounts, the resulting dish is fantastic. But SC Johnson, the makers of Ziploc bags, are nixing the idea due to fears of plastic melting all over litigious-minded experimenters. And, though the dangers of cooking in plastic have never been proven, it just seems wrong. Why not just stand in front of a microwave on a cell phone, developing brain tumors and frying your reproductive areas at the same time?
Those who try this humble, folksy recipe might be amused to know that the boil-’n’-bag method is a variation on the hot cooking technique causing a controversy in NYC restaurants.
Forget your cold pressed olive oil, pay no mind to chunky blocks of Plugra and Lurpak. These days it’s all about homemade lard—time to fire up a pot and get rendering.
At Chez Pim, the lady of the house wonders what made the frites cooked in horse fat she tasted last summer so delectable. She turns to Harold McGee for insight into what makes horse fries so great.
Over at Muffin Top, Connie swears that home rendered pork lard is the secret to perfect piecrusts. Derrick, at An Obsession with Food, has jumped on the lard bandwagon as well. He’s written two posts on the topic—the second, a step-by-step guide, will show you exactly how to whip up a batch of your own homemade lard.
Grab your cast iron and open the windows. Ready, set, render!