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Facts about MSG

The psychological effect overwhelms scientific evidence based discussions, no matter how many facts you present.

Many alternative explanations are available to explain the "Chinese restaurant syndrome", but people will insist it's due to MSG.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisf...

If there is a true allergy (which I don't doubt exists in rare cases), the same reaction will be obtained with a fresh sliced tomato sprinkled with a few grains of salt. Entirely possible, and entirely tragic. Thankfully this is likely to be rare.

"....The persistence of the Chinese restaurant syndrome myth is a symptom of the hypochondria that has become fashionable in contemporary Anglo-American culture, and the failure of our educational systems to teach people the difference between quackery and hard science." Full stop.

Jun 09, 2015
doctorandchef in General Topics

Oyster Knife

I saw this in France too at E DEHILLERIN amongst other shops, but balked at the price. Looks beautiful, a little steep though.

Have you seen this one?

http://www.swissmar.com/usa/gourmet/p...

Looks like the ultimate design, wonder which one is "better"?

I have a big collection of oyster knives and am always looking for a better one, that's why I'm especially curious.

Apr 07, 2015
doctorandchef in Cookware

Can anyone recommend a one-burner solution (Wok/Disco)?

Thanks!
In between the cinder blocks I had a fire extinguisher at the ready, never felt unsafe since the flames only licked the side of the house which was totally brick.

My last name is chan, btw. In the last year I've gotten lots of tips and tricks from patients who happen to be Chinese chefs. Will never match the skills of these fire-slingers, as they do this day in and day out flipping out dishes every 2 minutes. You should see the forearms on these guys.

Mar 22, 2015
doctorandchef in Cookware

Can anyone recommend a one-burner solution (Wok/Disco)?

Ah, nice Man-niu burner. Did you have the option of buying the one with the auto-starter? It's so much easier. What connection did you use to hook up the hose to the propane tank? Very nice work, you can man a roving food stand at farmer's markets.

Mar 22, 2015
doctorandchef in Cookware

Can anyone recommend a one-burner solution (Wok/Disco)?

Beautiful setup!

I took an old propane bbq stand (the bbq was well rusted), put a concrete slab as a base, and put 2 fire-breathers on top. One was from Manniu, he would only ship to Hong Kong, the other was from ebay, likely from a Chinese source.

Does the plumbing work?

Mar 20, 2015
doctorandchef in Cookware

Can anyone recommend a one-burner solution (Wok/Disco)?

haha, that was me in Boston.

search on youtube for doctorandchef and you'll find me.

I recently set up a double burner setup in my backyard, bought some hoses from a restaurant supply store in Malaysia last year to "split the hose". The connector to the propane tank indeed does not fit NA propane tanks, I took it to a Sobey's in Toronto and a technician "helped" me rig it up to the tank by inserting a tiny lug nut into the connector. He said officially we shouldn't be doing that, not sure it's the safest. The seal is quite tight though.

Will upload some photos when it's sunny outside.

Mar 20, 2015
doctorandchef in Cookware
1

Tipo 00 Flour

Any in the north York area?

Pacific Mall Recos

o oh yeah, Beard Papa!

Pacific Mall Recos

Curry fish balls and beef balls and red-sausage on a stick across from the lamb skewer place. forget the lobster flavored balls, they have never been any good.
and don't forget to check out the candy stores selling snacks, dried fruits, and dried seafood like cuttlefish. And those tiny spicy crabs that you eat whole!

Seriously Curious about Sushi Yasu. Any reports?

I agree with CNS' assessment. Laser like focus on all the necessary small details (except perhaps the tamago). Toro was not the best, every other piece was a pleasurable piece of art. Once word gets around, it wouldn't surprise me that this place would have Kaji-like waiting lists.
It was one hell of a birthday meal, even my well-behaved 2 year old had a great time! (only 2 other diners were there)
One weird thing was they wouldn't let us in even 5 minutes before our 8:30 reservation time, they kept the door locked and just smiled at us.

Picture of McDonald's Executive Chef Dan Coudreaut in action!

I recall Daniel Boulud sticking his finger down the spine of the blade during his appearance on Julia's Kitchen, as well as most recently on Cuisine Culture with Ashley James.

Don't think anyone would question his skills as a chef or his knife skills. For fine work a finger down the spine does give a little more control, much like how a scalpel is held during surgery, for work requiring stability like chopping onions the "pinch grip" is definitely better.

Must admit the finger down the spine looks a bit funny, never seen it in any of the kitchens I've worked in. I've never worked in Daniel, however.....

Using MSG in home cooking

KTinNYC,

You've piqued my interest.

A simple pubmed search led to this nice review article

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19...

If you have university library access, the full PDF article is a great read.

Essentially, the "MSG symptom complex" has very scant and shaky evidence that it even exists, although I have some patients (plus my mum!) who are convinced they are sensitive to MSG.

While I can't definitively rule out the cause and effect of MSG vs their symptoms, whatever it is I think it's likely harmless for the vast majority of people. The thirstiness experience by many after a chinese meal is likely due to the massive sodium load they got, rather than the minuscule amount contributed by MSG.

To that, I say drink more fluids/chinese tea!

Apr 05, 2012
doctorandchef in Home Cooking

Chinese salt and pepper dishes: sichuan peppercorns??

I learned from a HK chef to use galangal powder when making the spicy stir fried squid... loosely translated as "chili salt squid".... perhaps that's the elusive taste?

Mar 31, 2012
doctorandchef in General Topics

Can Anyone Recommend this wok Burner?

I bought this exact one for around 99USD or so.

It works very well, the power is more than you will need, make sure you use it outdoors.

I've since upgraded to one with an automatic ignition, this one you can light a pilot light but I doubt you would keep (or be able to keep) the pilot light on outdoors all the time.

see one of my vids I made for fun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8GL5_...

I think this vid shows a dai pai dong using it as well

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TStaaX...

Mar 05, 2012
doctorandchef in Cookware

MANniu X73 wok gas burner

asiaho at gmail.com, his name is John Ho, my contact at manniu. pretty quick responder.

look on youtube for various Manniu videos. I love the performance of my x73.

He sold me the single unit and to ship to USA was quoted as 130usd (only 30$ to ship to HK!). the unit itself was an absolute bargain at around 35usd or so, vastly superior to anything I could find available in north america online or otherwise. perhaps find a few people to split the cost of shipping to dollar cost average it.

I did have to use my own valve to connect to the north amercian propane tank, other than that the connection is pretty straight forward. you have to twist the screws pretty tight to prevent blowouts which could be extremely dangerous given the high pressures. I got the valve from another burner I bought from NYC.

I would strongly advise you to use this OUTDOORS only, with a fire extinguisher handy just in case of flameouts. the flame is pretty intense and will spill over the side of the wok, if you're not careful you could flambe your entire wok of oil if you're deep frying something. I put my whole setup on cinder blocks, with absolutely nothing flammable around the area.

Jan 31, 2012
doctorandchef in Cookware

Have I seasoned my wok successfully?

anyone else have examples of this "patina porn"? :)

Jan 29, 2012
doctorandchef in Cookware

Thinnish carbon steel wok - OK for high BTU cooking?

0.5mm seems a bit thin. With that propane jet burner you have to be very careful re: overheating. oils may spontaneously combust on contact, also issues with warping and metal fatigue/failure if you don't watch it. i also wonder if the seasoning will hold. Initially when I didn't know the power of my jet burner I plain burnt off my seasoning which I had developed over months, much like a self-clean cycle in an oven.

most of the books written in English have slightly westernized adaptations of traditional chinese recipes meant for stovetop cooking on a lower/normal powered range. Grace Young's books are by far the best. Try the oven method described in the 'Breath' book, it was by far the easiest method.

Search on youtube for professional wok cooking videos, especially ones using jet burners.

Jan 25, 2012
doctorandchef in Cookware

Parisian-style baguette?

Will have to make the short pilgrimmage to Clear Flour then! i got the plasticized version at the Meat Market at Coolidge Corner, I suspected that it ruined what might have actually been a great baguette.

can't wait to rip into it, spread some Plugra and a few grains of Fleur de sel, and eat with a glass of cheap French table wine.

will report back soon!

Parisian-style baguette?

Hi

have been searching hi and low for a decent baguette in GBA, baked properly with:

1) a crisp (yes, I want crisp!!) and light crust
2) proper reddish brown hue
3) open crumb structure with a creamy appearance
4) chewy texture
5) firm enough that when you break the baguette in half, it makes noise, yet soft enough that it doesn’t break apart completely
6) Smell of wheat

here's the "best" of what I've tried:

a) Whole foods: epic FAIL. Crust like a sponge, wrong color
b) Roche brothers: hard like a breadstick. A disgrace.
c) If pigs could fly Brookline: stiffer than Roche Brothers, it actually snapped in half when I carried it home.
d) Clear Flour: not bad but not close to what I'm looking for. Wrong color, crust not crispy. Must have been that darn plastic bag Crumb structure is nice and good chew.
e) Iggy's: Crumb is too dense, good crust but again, not crispy enough. Color is nice.

Used to work as a baker and understood how extremely difficult it is to make a perfect baguette due to so many variables, it really shows the skill and attention to detail of the head baker.

longing for those perfect loaves from Paris.... Eric Kayser, Gosselin, Lenotre.... even the average neighbourhood boulangerie's baguette beats anything I've had here so far.

Any suggestions?

MAC knife: Piece broke off during use... What happened? and What to do?

I had a Mac professional 9.5" chefs knife chip almost exactly like yours (but smaller chunk) while I was cutting salt pork with no bones.

I called the company and they told me to send it back to them for an exchange. Got a new knife within 2 weeks and have never cut salt pork with it since.

I'm guessing with 10 years of use there's some metal fatigue from years of use. As ChemicalKinetics said, the chip likely is due to some subtle twisting motion.

Sep 06, 2011
doctorandchef in Cookware

Tabletop wok burner?

Hk cooktops are mainly natural gas (a lot of homes use equipment sold by TownGas) or in older buildings propane tanks.

They probably run in the 15,000-20,000 BTU range, not at all powerful but adequate for most household applications. As for gas consumption, 6 minutes of stir frying a day will probably not put a dent on the bill. Most cooktops have 2 burners, one for the soup pot and one for the wok. Full size ovens are almost non-existent.

THe average HK family does NOT eat out every single meal, so there's a fair bit of home-style cooking going on everyday, a significant majority done/prep-work-done by maids. A plate of vege, steamed fish and rice would constitute a typical family meal. no need for high powered stoves for those dishes!

By the way I hooked myself up with another new wok burner, direct from the manufacturer in Taiwan. I believe they also made my present burner.

http://www.manniu-gasburners.com/

Can't wait for its arrival in a week. I believe I got the X73 infra-red electronic ignition model, will upload some videos when ready. The guy said this model is popular in Europe for restaurant setups and street vendors in Taiwan as well.

Jul 04, 2011
doctorandchef in Cookware

Speaking of weird knife phenomena...

I had the exact same problem with my Shun Stainless Steel 8 inch santuku, microchips on the edge.

I have 2 Mac knives (ultimate and professional) which I have used for years without problems

I cut only veges and boneless meats, on a plastic cutting board, hone with a gentle touch on a ceramic rod, store in plastic knife guard, always hand wash....

the chips looked like I was hacking wood with these knives. i sent it back to the factory for an inspection, they put a new edge on and said nothing is wrong with the metal. 2 weeks later the chips reappeared.

I am definitely not a knife abuser, my Mac's which are sharpened to 13 degrees has never had a chip.... the Professionals are rockwell hardness 60-62 so I know how to handle hard brittle knives. there HAS to be something wrong with the shun metals.

May 02, 2011
doctorandchef in Cookware

Moving to Chestnut Hill

second the sakanaya rec. unbelievably reasonable prices, from a proprietor who really knows his fish.

$7.50 only for a crate of pristine uni, imagine that!

Tabletop wok burner?

i finally signed up for youtube, here's my jet-burner

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8GL5_...

i've tried all kinds of butane stoves, there's little chance of getting proper wok hay on them especially if doing it indoors.

true test is perhaps seeing if you can combust the oil if you heated up the pan, pour in the oil, and then put some moist ingredients in the pan. The sizzling from the water droplets (e.g. from your marinated beef slices) would help micro-vaporize the oil slightly, and if you shake the pan a little you could get a nice flambe going.

i used to do that on a Garland stove at work using melted butter and moist spinach leaves, the flameout contributed a subtle sweet smoky taste to my veges.

Apr 21, 2011
doctorandchef in Cookware

New Japanese Fish Market: Sakanaya

Saturday called in an order for takeout sushi.

They ask you how much you want to spend, what your fish preferences are and they'll take care of the rest.

talk about amazing value. $1 a piece for almost any item available, including UNI!!!

we got a selection of Nigiri with Hamachi, salmon, maguro, Uni, eel, salmon roe, a boston roll (cali roll with salmon not surimi) and a spicy tuna roll. All for $20!!

This is by far the best value sushi around, even when compared to Toronto. Quality of fish was top rate, handiwork of the sushi making might not be top notch but the guy is a fish buyer not a sushi chef.

they had chu-toro available for 80$/lb, looked pretty good but I passed this week. maybe will check it out next week.

highly recommend this place.

New Japanese Fish Market: Sakanaya

went by in mid week, toro is available only on the weekend. he says he has stock in the freezer but practically speaking he can only defrost during the weekends due to smaller demand on weekdays. wouldn't want him to waste the precious toro, so understood. perhaps if more of us would go during the week he would make it available!

tried some amberjack and yellowtail and they were as advertised, pristinely fresh. his sushi and sashimi platters look insanely well priced for the quality of fish, will try some takeout later this week.

support this guy!

L'Ami Louis eviscerated by A. A. Gill in Vanity Fair

I'm glad I'm not the only one proclaiming the emperor has no clothes.

I did get some amusement from the service of the surly waiters, I'm sure they weren't trying to be rude but that's the way they have been for years. I went in with that expectation and took it as part of the whole experience of an old school restaurant. Sort of like the abuse you would get at the legendary Tai Ping Goon in Hong Kong.

Now for the "colonic" part, I also felt the same way about the decor, the food and the prices. Reamed for 25 euros for a small glass of red wine (I had 2 glasses without knowing the price, should have ordered a demi-bouteille). Roast chicken was ok, not good and certainly not great. That's no fault of the restaurant, I think it was cooked just right with crispy skin and proper seasoning. The chicken itself was probably the culprit, it just wasn't very tasty. It doesn't have the "chicken flavor" like a poulet Bresse does. I've had much better tasting poulet roti elsewhere e.g. Bouchon, Zuni Cafe.

I also ordered the potato galette, which turns out to be another reaming of 25 euros extra. I told them I didn't want the fries but they gave us both anyways. It was saturated with butter, nice and crispy, topped with raw chopped garlic and parsley. Not the worse thing one could eat but potatoes and a stick of butter for 25 euros????? By the way they made wonderful leftovers for next day's dinner in our apartment-hotel. The fries were exactly as A.A. Gill described, somewhat flabby and tasted of old oil.

We were highly disappointed but chalked it up to a experience, at least we can say we've been to an old bistro in Paris. I'm still wondering if the off-menu prices are set arbitarily, did anyone else share this rip-off experience?

Our next meal at Chez Josephine was a completely different experience, good bistro food for a reasonable price still exists in Paris!!

To summarize, if you feel like being reamed while eating mediocre food in a dated (albeit somewhat kitschy) setting, go to L'Ami Louis. Otherwise look elsewhere on this board for better bistro recs in Paris.

Trying our new local Malaysian joint.... advice?

No, but they use a lot of shrimp paste.

Are you referring to the Penang in Boston? Their dishes are hit and miss. Nasi Lemak is great, chicken rice ok lah.... of course one should not be comparing it to ones in Singapore.... satay was overcooked with an anemic peanut sauce.... prawn mee was pretty damn good, kwei tiao not so good.

Dec 16, 2010
doctorandchef in General Topics

Foie Gras Production

It was a well researched and well written article, although some may interpret as being a little biased but the information it contained is mainly accurate. I did find the comments more interesting than the article, lots of opinionated people with agendas out there!

I visited a foie gras farm in Perigord last year, a small family run operation. The farmers genuinely seemed to care for their ducks and treated them quite gently. Plenty of room in the barn to waddle around, plus they had access to an open field. They certainly looked a lot more comfortable than caged chickens. From all the videos I have seen the ducks didn't seem to be averse to the feedings (unless they have zero memory and are not "intelligent" enough to avoid it)

It is in the farmer's best interest to keep the ducks as comfortable and healthy as possible to maximize the quality of the product (therefore getting the best price for each liver).

ISO: Foie Gras

Just bought a slice this weekend. Very friendly service, would definitely shop there again. He cut a nice piece to order for me.

Seared it and served with some caramelized grapefruit segments. My whole place was in a white smoky haze for a few minutes thereafter with the delicious aroma of seared foie gras. Wish I had some ice wine to wash it down.....