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RealMenJulienne's Profile

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Gift basket from America?

Yeah location matters a lot. When I lived I Asia I craved all the gross junk food you couldn't find locally:

Cheetos, Doritos and Fritos - The Asian snack flavors just don’t scratch the itch. 5-spice Cheetos are no substitute for that orange cheese flavor.

Tex-Mex anything was nonexistent, so my family sent me taco seasoning packs. I had actual lucid dreams where I was eating at Taco Bell.

I also missed "buffalo wing" flavored stuff. Frank's Red Hot was a godsend.

Processed “Italian” products like Spaghettios, Chef Boyardee, Totino’s frozen pizza. Something about that sweet tomato sauce spiked with fake cheese and garlic powder.

Aug 27, 2015
RealMenJulienne in U.K./Ireland

What kind of knifehound are you?

User. Chinese vegetable cleaver for 99% of all knife tasks. It cost me $10 and I've been using it for almost a decade, sharpening it on a coarse stone as needed or twice a month. The curve has almost been completely sharpened out of the edge but it still glides through meat and vegetables with little effort. I don't like having unused extra stuff laying around for any of my hobbies; get the minimum number of good quality tools, and learn how to use them well.

Do I really need a wok?

My biggest problem with a round bottom wok on a home stove - besides low overall heat output - is that the burner heats in a ring. That means the oil pools at the bottom of the wok where it's cool, and the hot zone is limited to a narrow "donut" shape on the sides. It's not a lot of cooking area and the oil is never where you want it to be.

I like a straight-sided fry pan for tossing, as the vertical pan wall bounces the food up and back toward you if you give it a forward shake.

Aug 11, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Cookware

Personal cooking habits, would you turn your passion into something further? (research)

Working in food service is tough. Long hours, low pay, high stress, low margins. Constant risk of a customer getting sick or giving you a bad review for some damn stupid reason. No way would I want to work in that industry. That would be a surefire way to destroy my passion for cooking.

Do I really need a wok?

I agree. I have a carbon steel wok from a Chinese restaurant supply store and never got great results from it. A heavy-bottom aluminum pan works better if you are using a typical home stove top.

Now I use the wok for deep-frying, which it is actually very good at. The wide mouth of the pan keeps most splatters inside, and a grease screen across the top does the rest.

Aug 06, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Cookware

Crispy Chicken Skin - High Heat or Low and Slow?

I go low and slow indirect heat, followed by direct high heat to crisp the skin. Legs and thighs need to hit and maintain 180F internal to break down the connective tissue and become tender. Breasts should not go over 140F internal in my opinion. Once you hit your target temps then you open your vents and crisp the skin over high heat.

$500 on the line with a friend in a steak cook off

1) Recommendations of sugar based rubs for the blackened crust – I would not put any sugar in the crust for fear of burning.
2) Your thoughts on #1 vs #2 – A combination… read on..
3) Have you ever met someone that besides their preconceived bias of "not liking it bloody" ever actually said they didn't like a steak that was rare after trying it? If so, were they a girly woman type, should I eliminate them from the judging panel (dirty I know)? I have never met someone like this. I'd say let your food do the talking instead of loading the jury.

I would use a combination of methods: sous-vide then sear over your chimney starter. First, take your ribeye to a proper medium rare with the sous-vide. As it's coming up in temp, get 1/2 chimney of charcoal started burning. When the coals are ashed over, add a couple pieces of your favorite hardwood into the chimney for smoke flavor, then put a grill grate over the chimney. Take the ribeye out of the bag and lay it on some paper towels to soak up the moisture – you want the steak surface dry to aid the sear. Salt the steak and rub a layer of clarified butter or ghee onto it, then lay it directly on the grill grate over the chimney. The focused heat of the starter will give you an excellent sear compared to the more diffuse heat of regular charcoal grilling, but you really have to watch it closely as it can burn in an instant.

red chile con carne recipe that adds refried beans to the mix?

Hello, if I had those ingredients to work with here's what I'd do: Dust beef tips in flour and brown in a heavy pot with vegetable oil. After beef is browned, there should be a layer of brown fond in the bottom of the pot. Remove beef and add one minced onion and a couple minced poblano peppers with a pinch of salt and sugar. When the vegetables start releasing water, scrape up the fond with a spatula. Add 3-4 cloves minced garlic, couple spoonfuls of chili powder and cook for a minute. Add a light beer or chicken stock, return beef to pot, and simmer for 30 min. Stir in refried beans and chili sauce and simmer for 30 more minutes.

Jul 14, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

How to cook salmon?

This is THE VERY BEST information I've found on pan-cooking a skin-on fish fillet: . Basically you:

1) Get a heavy pan searing hot, add veg oil.
2) Make sure the fish skin is bone dry.
3) Place fillet in pan skin-side down. It will immediately stick like crazy but don't mess with it.
4) After a couple minutes, give the pan a quick shake every so often. When the skin is ready it will slide loose of the pan without any scraping.
5) Flip fillet, turn off the heat, and let stand for 1-2 more minutes. Serve skin-side up.

Jul 10, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

How to cook chicken drum stick?

Using a sharp knife, cut through the skin and tendon in a ring around the ankle, and pull off the knob of cartilage on the end of the leg. This causes the meat to shrink back while cooking, leaving a bare bone that's easy to pick up, and making for a nicer presentation.

The skin serves as a barrier to rubs and marinades so you want to season under it: Pull back the skin from the meat most of the way off but not completely. Make 2-3 cuts down to the bone in the thickest part of the drumstick, apply salt and seasoning, then pull the skin back up to cover the meat. Tack it in place with a couple toothpicks or skewers.

Roast at 375F until the interior temperature is 175-180F (about 50 minutes for a big drumstick). Poultry is safe at 165F but dark meat is tough and fatty until it hits about 180F in my opinion.

Jul 10, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

What did Y'all Grill this Weekend?

Nice job, don't sweat the packers cause you can't win em all... that's especially true when smoking meat it seems.

Crispy Hash

Low and slow is great advice. My local diner keeps a giant pile of shredded potatoes on the cooler side of the griddle, where they slowly cook over low heat. When a hash order comes in they are moved to the hot side with a generous squirt of grease to crisp up and bind together. That low heat cooking period is crucial.

Even heat is another requirement for great hash. Most home burners are not big enough to evenly heat a skillet. It doesn't matter if you're using a cheap aluminum food service skillet or a 100-year old cast iron pan; move the pan around every 5-6 minutes to make sure every part of the bottom gets some flame. This way you're kind of crisping the hash in quadrants.

If olive oil is harmful at high heat, why do people on food network use it to sear meat?

Food Network is a profit-driven corporation, and plain old "vegetable oil" is too generic of a term to monetize. When you train your audience to respond positively to "extra virgin olive oil" you can sell them stuff like this:

It also wouldn't surprise me if they got money from some industry group for every on-air mention of "EVOO". Why else would they advocate its use for every dish from Indian curries to stir-fry?

Rib Coward!!

This is a good method for oven spare ribs. OP, when you say Weber do you mean a Weber kettle grill or the Weber Bullet smoker?

Jun 04, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Sous Vide cooking...are you on board?

I have mixed feelings about sous vide. I like the results on some meats better than others.

Sous vide lamb chops are the best I've ever had. Ribeye was pretty good, but not significantly better than results from the good ol' reverse sear technique. With the ribeye the cook especially needs to take care to crisp up the edge fat during the sear stage or else it's a greasy mess. Sous vide is also a great way to not overcook tough, lean cuts like round roast.

Poultry breast came out extremely tender and juicy, but the texture takes some getting used to. It's very soft and smooth, almost like firm tofu. Honestly not sure if I like it or not.

I was also ambivalent on the trout and salmon. I like my fish firmer and flakier, what some would call "overcooked", so the 115F sous vide fish didn’t do it for me.

Jun 01, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

What to cook with a bounty of Asian herbs

If I have Asian herbs on hand, I make a lazy man noodle bowl.

Start a pan of water boiling, and add some Asian soup stock. I like the Quoc Viet brand pork stock. In a big bowl, layer a bunch of chopped Thai basil, cilantro and scallions with mung bean sprouts, and add a spoonful of chili sauce/oil. If you have thin sliced raw hot-pot style meat, put some in the bowl too. When the soup stock hits a boil, add a handful of wonton or Hong-Kong style thin noodles to the pan and cook for 20 seconds. Pour the hot noodles and stock into the bowl and give the hot soup a minute to steep the herbs and cook the meat. Takes about 10 minutes start to finish, great for a weeknight meal.

Jun 01, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Brining rant...

Good call. The internal temp is what matters most. I pull white meat at 145F and let it rise to 150F. Dark meat needs to hit 180F or else it's too stringy and fatty in my opinion.

I once did a prep where I trimmed most of the fat off a bunch of chicken thighs, chopped and mixed it with salt and herbs to make a fatty paste, stuffed it back under the skin and pinned in in place before cooking. The chicken fat liquified and sort of fried the herbs under the skin. It was a lot of work but I liked the results.

May 27, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Green Onion Rant

I seldom have this problem because green onions are a staple in Chinese cooking in my house. But, making scallion sauce is a good way to use up leftovers. Finely chop green onions, a small knob of ginger, and a couple red chiles. Put them in a bowl and add just enough soy sauce to cover, then a spoonful of sugar/honey, a splash of rice vinegar and sesame oil. This makes a versatile sauce that lasts for a long time in the fridge. You can dip dumplings in it, use it as a marinade, spoon some over pan-fried noodles, etc.

What did Y'all Grill this Weekend?

Awesome old-school smoker. Cast iron construction?

What did Y'all Grill this Weekend?

Did a practice run with the Weber Bullet to get ready for a summer of smoking out. Spare ribs and chicken leg quarters rubbed with mustard and ancho chile powder.

What's the best plain oil for popping corn?

Bar none, the best popcorn oil is ghee. It's butter with the solids strained out so it reaches a higher smoke point. It has a nutty, kind of parmesan-like flavor that gets deep into every kernel because you're cooking with it, not adding it at the end.

May 13, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Where can I find deli meat end/end cut in chicago?

Try Kurowski Sausage Shop on Milwaukee Ave. They sell little trays of assorted end cuts for super cheap.

Apr 30, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Chicago Area

How and how often do you sharpen your knives?

I give my knives a few strokes on the stone every couple weeks.

Apr 28, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Cookware

Sardines in cans

I've just started trying out different types of sardines. It's pretty amazing how much variation there is from brand to brand. I haven’t tried any of the "premium" European brands yet, but so far my favorite are the Season brand sardines in olive oil from Costco. These come skinless and boneless and have a nice meaty texture. they taste like a stronger, saltier version of tuna in oil.

Role of Bones in Chicken Preparation

I love reading Serious Eats, but sometimes their writers think themselves in circles. I don’t believe a chicken bone has much insulating effect when frying. The more important variable in frying (and in any high heat cooking) is the overall shape of the meat, as the heat cooks from the outside-in. A deboned thigh will be flatter and thinner, so will cook through faster. A bone-in thigh is more ovoid, has less heat exposure, so will cook through more slowly. If you tied up a deboned thigh back to its original shape so no hot oil got in, I think it would cook pretty much the same as a bone-in.

Role of Bones in Chicken Preparation

The bone, in and of itself, should make no difference.

But, marinades work based on surface area, and the deboned thigh will have more surface area opened up to react with the marinade. This means the deboned thigh will seemingly absorb more flavor than the bone-in.

Same with frying, the deboned thigh will have more surface exposed to the breading and oil, so more crispy shell.

best homemade chilli oil recipes??

Here’s mine:

3 parts red pepper flakes
1 part fried shallots
1 part sesame seed
5 parts vegetable oil
Pinch of salt
Sesame oil

Combine the red pepper, shallots, sesame seed and salt in a jar and place it in the sink. Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan until it’s shimmering, or about 350 degrees. VERY CAREFULLY pour the hot oil into the jar. It will sizzle violently and send up a plume of chili-flavored steam so keep your face away. Let the jar cool down in the sink, then add a dash of sesame oil and stir it up. DON’T add the sesame oil when hot as that will destroy the aroma. This recipe has a nice, mellow heat with good sesame flavor.

Apr 02, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Hot dogs without Hot Dougs

Hot Doug's served great food but I never considered it to be a "real" Chicago dog stand. It was a very heavily marketed gimmick kind of place as opposed to a neighborhood stand that had stood the test of time. Now if you want a Hot Doug's-style creative gourmet sausage sandwich, go to Franks N' Dawgs in Lincoln Park, it is pretty much the same thing.

For a classic Chicago Dog, if you are in River North then Portillo's is a no-brainer. They may be a chain but I've seldom had a better Chicago dog from any other stand. If you want to leave downtown to find a more neighborhood kind of place, my local favorite is Jeff's Red Hots on Cicero.

If you have a meal to spare, I would swing out to North Ave on the West Side or to 18th st in Pilsen for some delicious Mexican fare. It's lesser-known but I think Chicago's Mexican food is good enough to be fairly compared to LA's. Just look for a crowded taqeria and it's hard to go too far wrong.

Mar 30, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Chicago Area

Best Instant Ramen? (please do not mock me, pretty please)

I will always have a nostalgic love for Tung-I beef flavor from Taiwan, but to the OP I have to say, have you tried making your own instant noodles from fresh ingredients? Please understand, normally I HATE these kinds of replies, but in this case the from scratch version is really just as convenient as the instant packs. Just steep some thin won ton noodles in boiling water, with some Asian soup base or miso paste stirred in. Then whatever add-ins you would put in instant ramen: I like scallions, thai basil, cilantro and napa cabbage. No more than 30 seconds of cooking and you're done.

I'm pretty sure this comes out cheaper per serving than many varieties of instant noodles, too.

Can handmade pasta be sauce-proof?

Wait a minute... what now? I thought that finishing pasta in sauce was the "authentic way" and just pouring sauce over cooked pasta was the incorrect American way. Are you telling me it's backwards now?

Mar 20, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking