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revival

Sounds good! I'll try it. --- Light toast, heavy toast, sauté: all good for different things? As you say it's not new.

There's another type of revival (not new either) which seems to punch above its weight: adding a few fresh bits to yesterday's dish or to bought pasta sauce-in-a-jar.

Jun 16, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

revival

A link on pre-toasting barley--- http://www.lindystoast.com/2009/03/to...

Thanks to Will for the point that "the rice does not brown, but parches to a chalky white ...".

I recently tried dry-toasting two types of dry pasta before boiling: a standard one and a fancy, rough, bronze-extruded one. For the first it improved the textural al dente effect, but not for the second. Cooking time was the same.

I tried raw cashews again, toasting-and-airing them before frying in spicy sauce for party nuts --- there's a wow-factor here, a cashew al dente. I can only guess that it re-dessicates or pre-dessicates them in some useful way, before they meet the sauce.

It's all a surprise to me --- I thought that such ingredients, in their prime, were ready-to-go. (I'm persuaded by posts, though, that it's no use for beans!)

Jun 15, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

revival

Here are two links on toasting dry pasta (and rice) before boiling ---

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/mag...

http://www.yelp.com/topic/san-francis...

I guess that toasting and saute-ing may be different in effect.

Jun 12, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

revival

Hi --- yes I just mean application of a little dry heat to items which are dried and in their prime, not raising of the dead by pan-roasting. It might make them worse!

I've been surprised by the effects on spices and nori sheets, and recently cashews and pine kernels. But this was revival as in 'freshening' rather than real pan roasting. The saffron I tried was older, but it seemed to freshen up by being stirred about a little in a pan which had been taken off the heat. Interestingly, the cashews were going to be fried anyway, but freshening first (then sitting a while) made a big difference to final texture.

My impression with the items I've tried is that after freshening they go off more quickly, so I'm not planning any batch-freshening.

A factor could be that we have high humidity where I live.

Jun 11, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

revival

Dried items can get a bit musty. --- Accordingly, dry heat is sometimes used to revive them before use: whole spices are briefly pan-toasted before being ground, nori is revived over an open flame to make it crisp and fragrant, grain can be pan-toasted, dried fish can be flamed like nori, etc. Improvements in freshness, nuttiness, texture, aroma and flavour are noted.

My question is whether this applies to all dried ingredients. What about dried beans, pasta, porridge oats, flour, nuts, seeds, peanuts, tea, coffee, kombu, chilli, mushrooms, tomatoes, herbs, etc?

I recently tried a light pan-toast on some katsuobushi for miso soup, some cashew nuts for a snack, and some pu'er, saffron and dried lemon slices for a tea. They did seem to perk up. My impression was that light is right here, that the nose-test is 'fragrant but not burned', and that they need to breathe afterwards. One post I found describes oven-roasting of pasta before use: http://blog.ideasinfood.com/ideas_in_....

Any thoughts?

Jun 10, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

resting

I wonder about the demise of the larder. --- We can do hot-resting (meat in foil), ambient-resting (on the countertop), and cold-resting (in the fridge): but what about cool-resting? After all, wine and cheese like cool rather than cold temp. If we define resting as 'a process of maturation which occurs after an item is prepared and which enhances flavour' then they are resting just like the other items. And it seems that some starches don't like to get cold. Anyway, it would be interesting to compare the effects of cool and cold resting in cooking.

On my definition above, freezing is a form of storage but not resting, since no maturation occurs. Are there exceptions? Does anything get better through freezing?

May 30, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

resting

Many thanks for the examples and your description of harmonisation. I'll try these things, though I'll need to experiment with (approximate) time and temperature.

May 30, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

resting

Many thanks. ---If the cook (and people around the kitchen) get an olfactory rest, they de-habituate and the dish has more impact when served, right? Point taken too about items which weaken through resting.

May 30, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

resting

Many thanks. --- So resting has at least a few applications! Any guidelines on time & temperature? I suppose cooking-ahead by 1/4, 1/2, 1 day are all feasible. As for temp: fridge, larder, room temp? (I'm not suggesting that there need be exact rules here.) I'm a little wary of chilling things too much, as I'm not sure they always recover.

BTW, I encountered this effect also in making home-made body lotions. You get an inert base (like Simple) and add essential oils, say 3. It then takes about 3 days for the blend to integrate, and then you can get something which has its own identity, beyond the 3 ingredients.

May 30, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

resting

I've often heard that some dishes (stew, curry, cassoulet) can be 'better the next day'. So the sequence is: cook, rest (cool and covered), re-heat, serve.

What surprised me recently was that the same seemed true of some pork chops. Only half got eaten, and the next day the 'leftovers' were actually better (more integrated taste, better texture), both cold and briefly re-heated.

Can anyone advise on this practice and its scope? E.g. I guess that with pasta it might work for the sauce but not the spaghetti. With miso soup it might work with the dashi but not the miso itself. I'll try it, e.g. re. resting temperature.

The model I'm used to is that you get the ingredients, cook the dish, and serve --- but cooking-for-tomorrow could be interesting, and convenient for dinner parties.

May 29, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

gelatin

I'd like to find a 'bedsit' method of getting the gelatinous and umami effect of traditional stock (I'm working away from home at the moment, cooking for one). --- So, yes, I'm wondering if adding commercial gelatin (rather than stock) to soup/stew/sauce can achieve a good (if not ideal) result.

One quick-method suggested on this board is to make real stock in a pressure cooker, and I'll try this.

Another may be to make Japanese dashi (e.g. from kombu, shiitake, dried fish) in weekly batches (easy), and see what can be done with it.

Anthony Bourdain says that if you make classic demi-glace (and freeze it as ice-cubes) you can 'conquer the world' --- so if that's the only way, then it's the only way! Just experimenting.

May 29, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

china: dried fish

Hi --- thanks, that's really helpful. I'll try using it this way and experiment. As you say, miso works like this --- a little is great, and adds little salt. From what you say, the soaking is for larger fish like salt cod.

May 29, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

china: meal structure: rice looking 2 ways

Hi --- Yes, I mean a local everyday meal (that's Zhejiang for me, non-banquet, using rice).

gelatin

Many thanks for both replies. --- I'm thinking of going 2 ways now, and interested in comments. For meat stock (classic Western), use commercial gelatin. And for Japanese dashi, make it at home. It's easy to make dashi (from seaweed, dried mushrooms, dried fish) once a week and keep it in the fridge. But for meat stock, the process of skimming, fat-removal, etc seems too much trouble. Clearly a soup/stew/sauce needs more than just gelatin, but actually making the gelatin from bones etc. seems better done in a factory.

May 29, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

china: dried fish

Many thanks for both replies. --- I see in some recipies that dried fish is 'dry roasted till fragrant' (I guess to remove mustiness). Is this done before soaking?

May 29, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

china: meal structure: rice looking 2 ways

I live on the East coast of China now, and I think a penny is beginning to drop, but I'd like to check with people who may know more.

At a Chinese meal, domestic or restaurant, there are lots of dishes on the table at the same time (contrasting with the sequential meal structure used in the West). So the question is whether there is a structure to the way these are eaten.

My impression is that it goes like this. ---
a/ Rice (fan) is the centre
b/ The immediate accompaniments (cai 1) are soup and pickle
c/ The fancy accompaniments (cai 2) are the dishes described in cookbooks and promoted at restaurants.

One clue is Chinese table setting --- immediate accompaniments are placed to the right of the rice and behind it, and are individual; while fancy accompaniments are placed in the middle of the table, and are communal. Another is (nearby) Korean and Japanese table settings, which seem similar.

So what can look unstructured actually isn't?

Any thoughts appreciated,

Umamihound.

gelatin

Gelatin in home cooking is great --- in aspics, soup, sauces, etc. --- and Sally Fallon and others recommend it on both aesthetic and health grounds.

However making it at home (from bones etc.) is a lot of work.

My question is whether there's anything wrong with using commercial animal or vegetable gelatin (e.g. Knox, or agar/kanten).

Any thoughts/tips appreciated.

Umamihound.

May 29, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

china: dried fish

Many thanks! --- I see from one recipe that salt cod spends 24 hours in the fridge, with 3 changes of water. The local Chinese dried fish are mostly small, so maybe the time is shorter. Anyway I'll experiment.

May 29, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking

china: dried fish

I live on the East coast of China, and am trying to work out what to do in home cooking of the produce in the local markets. This produce is partly what I'd expected from Chinese cookbooks --- fresh meat and fish, veg, fruit, noodles, tofu products, grain, beans, tea, etc. The surprise has been mountains of dried fish, veg pickle, seaweed, and dried mushrooms.

Can anyone advise on what to do with dried fish, and the salt in it? I was an anchovy fan already, and there's also a salt issue there --- how to get the salt out and leave the goodness in? I guess that dried fish could be used in stock/soup/stews and would appreciate any tips.

(It's the same with local veg pickles --- they grow on you, but the salt content is high for daily consumption.)

Thanks,

Umamihound.

May 29, 2010
umamihound in Home Cooking