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Questions about storing meat in single-serve portions?

DockPotato, I'm sorry if I misunderstood what you meant about how many servings in the Ziploc. I didn't mean to misrepresent you.

Your post here made me think of a suggestion to nothingswrong. If you do defrost an uncooked piece of meat in the refrigerator, be sure to place it on a plate or in a bowl even if you have the meat in Saran wrap. I've had juices escape my plastic wrap alone (not my combo wraps though). The bowl prevents the problem.

Feb 18, 2014
saltwater in Home Cooking
2

Questions about storing meat in single-serve portions?

I do the same thing as DockPotato. I wrap desirable portions of meat in Saran wrap and place several of these together in a 1 qt freezer quality Ziplock, making sure to press out air from the Ziplock as I close it. Then I freeze it. If you use just one Ziplock per piece of meat, they are easier to defrost, though, as DockPotato says.

I defrost overnight in the refrigerator, or if I am impatient, I will use the microwave on something that I plan to stir fry. I can do that since I plan to cut the meat up further into thin slices, so I only defrost the meat partway in the microwave, and then the slicing and marinade do the rest for me.

I also have frozen small bits of cooked meat that I plan to use up in the various ways one uses up leftover meat, like in bound salad or in fried rice. You could easily add a tiny amount of cooked meat to fried rice if you can handle the fat levels in fried rice. Just omit the egg. I make fried rice without egg every time. I use left-over rib roast in mine, diced, or prosciutto ham, not beef filet, so be careful not to dry your filet out. Just heat the beef a little.

Feb 17, 2014
saltwater in Home Cooking

Tips on how to achieve the sweetness of the garlic in Cantonese Restaurant stirfry?

How are you peeling and treating the garlic?

I was originally taught to partly smash the clove of garlic with the side of the chef knife to remove the peel and then I tended to use a press to get minced garlic. Now I remove the peel far more gently, without smashing the clove, by gently rubbing or twisting, and I tend to use the chef knife to sliver it and avoid the press. I rarely mince garlic for a stir-fry.

The second way produces a more delicious result for the way I cook. I suspect I use more garlic my way, though.

If the restaurant is blanching the cloves of garlic to peel them in bulk, this would also make it milder.

May 21, 2013
saltwater in Home Cooking

I want to get started with Chinese cooking

In my opinion, there is no need to buy a wok. You probably have a nicely seasoned cast iron pan or something else that heats up well on your presumably western stove. Use that. I use a 10 inch cast iron pan even though I own a well seasoned wok. That works for a single meal sized portion, but note that I do the veggies separate from the meat. Do not overload whatever pan you choose (you know that, of course).

It also helps to have a favorite steaming apparatus. You don't need a bamboo steamer.

Mar 07, 2013
saltwater in Home Cooking

How to select meat

I don't have any good way to do it but to try each source and prepare the meat. For example, I can get chuck eye steak from three stores within a reasonable distance, all three are supposedly choice grade. Only two are acceptable. I figured that out by trial and error, although in one place the cuts do look more even, which is why that place is better. The steaks cook evenly and brown well because they are the right thickness. In the unacceptable store, the meat is absurdly chewy.

I get choice grade. I haven't noticed any benefit to beef with some special name, like Angus. I have noticed that lower grades are less tasty.

Mar 03, 2013
saltwater in General Topics

American Chop Suey

Oh, also key to my experience with this is Minute Rice (or converted rice). Indeed, very American.

Feb 11, 2013
saltwater in Home Cooking

American Chop Suey

My grandmother served this regularly. Here is the recipe as she had it on the recipe card as best I can decipher. I was too young at the time to know if she had a riff not written on the card:

1 lb chop suey meat (this means fatty pork in cubes, like from shoulder)
sufficient oil to brown it it
water
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 T soy sauce
cornstarch
chow mein noodles (those crispy, tan packaged things)

1. Brown meat in fat. Cover with water. Simmer. Add soy sauce.
2. Add veggies and cook slowly. Add more water if needed.
3. Thicken liquid with a cornstarch slurry. (cornstarch mixed in a little water in a small dish and then added to the skillet with the pork and then heated, stirring, until it sauce thickens).
4. Serve over cooked white rice. Sprinkle chow mein noodles on top.

Be aware that La Choy has a little assortment of cans glued together in a vertical stack that a person might have used to make this. The veggies were in the lower can and I think the chow mien was in the top can.

It doesn't taste like Grandma used to make if I use real soy sauce. I have to use La Choy.

Feb 11, 2013
saltwater in Home Cooking

Alternative to chicken feet for gelatin in bone broth ?

The backs in your market might be part of the "thighs" that they sell. It depends on the market. One market in my area sells cheaper thighs, but they have the back attached. The other market in my area has ordinary thighs, with no back portion. You might also find the back attached when they sell the thigh and leg as one whole piece.

Jan 31, 2013
saltwater in Home Cooking

baking soda as a tenderizer - has ruined my food twice now....

So glad you enjoyed it! You are right about good meat helping in this. That is why I use meat from the flatiron cut for it. I like its taste and tenderness.

Jan 06, 2013
saltwater in Home Cooking

Raddish tops?

Indeed, growing things at this time of year is a real plus. Enjoy your soup! Now I'm wishing I had some radish tops.

Dec 28, 2012
saltwater in Home Cooking

Raddish tops?

Since they are often ratty looking, I always use them in soup. They are excellent that way. I use butter, leeks, radish tops, potatoes, and water, cook, add milk, season. Basically they are put into a simple potato soup.

Clean them well first, they're gritty.

Oh, and puree that soup.

Dec 27, 2012
saltwater in Home Cooking

How do you turn your roast chicken?

Oh, you mean the tongs are open inside the cavity, so each arm hits the side of the cavity? I'd never thought of that. I'll see what happens next time. I've always stuck one arm of the tongs in the cavity and one arm outside the bird near its backbone and pinched and turned. It has never torn the skin.

Mar 09, 2012
saltwater in Home Cooking

Rice, Cooked

My experience with rice is that it doesn't last as well as some other grains in the refrigerator. I toss rice after 6 days. At that time frame I've had it smell wrong and go slimy on several occasions. I use jasmine rice, and that may matter.

Most whole grains freeze well after they are cooked, but I've never frozen rice, since it is the most common grain I make. The microwave heats leftover grains nicely. You may notice a loss of moisture during storage. Sprinkle some water on the grain before you heat it. Try covering it to trap moisture as you nuke it. A small lunch portion heats quickly and evenly.

Note that when I freeze cooked barley, I cool it and place it into a ziploc and flatten the bag and press out the air and place it flat in the freezer. Then once frozen you can bang it on the counter to bust it up and take out the exact amount you desire directly from the freezer. Don't stuff the bag, though, or the banging operation is not going to go too well.

I like fried rice made with 2 day old refrigerated rice. The reason the refrigerated rice is good for fried rice is that the grains change texture over time to be firmer and more separate. If you find that freezing rice doesn't make good fried rice, maybe let it sit a day or two in the refrigerator before you freeze it?

Mar 07, 2012
saltwater in Home Cooking

How do you stock your Chinese kitchen?

What about opened dry sherry? I'm picky about sherry, and find that dry sherry changes rapidly after opening. Which is the substitute, newly opened sherry or been open awhile sherry?

Feb 28, 2012
saltwater in Home Cooking

what brand of fish sauce?

Thanks for the info, Cremon. Who would have guessed fish sauce had had the smell dissipate some? :-)

Feb 28, 2012
saltwater in General Topics

How do you stock your Chinese kitchen?

Oh, yes I forgot dried red peppers in my list. I love putting them in oil until they darken to flavor a dish. I also use them to make red oil.

Feb 27, 2012
saltwater in Home Cooking

How do you stock your Chinese kitchen?

Equipment: a cast iron frying pan (works on my stove for wok), steaming equipment, pot for rice and soups, chef's knife and also maybe a cleaver, skimmer, prefer cheap mandoline to julienne certain items, cutting board, a bamboo thingy to stir my stir-fry and it must have a slanted edge.

Pantry: Jasmine rice, sherry, light soy sauce and rarely dark, black and white vinegar, dried shitake, wood ear mushroom, dry fermented black beans, bamboo stalks, broad bean paste, sambal oelek, some type of starch say corn, sesame oil and seeds and paste, type of salt preserved vegetable, salt preserved red chili pepper, white pepper, oyster sauce, stock like chicken, chili oil, spices for 5 spice powder, bean thread, ho fun, sometimes hoisin, various wrappers. My other products are probably not very "Chinese" in how I use them, so I don't list them, like tamarind, coconut, fish sauce, Thai sticky rice, etc.

Perishable: pork and chicken and eggs, scallion or garlic chive or some such, ginger, garlic, sometimes tofu, maybe a hot chili. I use whatever vegetables or meat I have. So, I've used prosciutto in fried rice for the Chinese ham. I make batons of celery and stir fry them as a vegetable in a stir-fry.

I am an American who likes my own food much better than that found in the local "Chinese" restaurants.

Feb 27, 2012
saltwater in Home Cooking

what brand of fish sauce?

That is the process I imagined, yes. Are the vats covered or open to the air? If they are open to the air, this could result in a difference in water content in the base anchovy extract. Then, differing amounts of water or salt might need to be added to a batch to make it taste like the brand wants. This could be reflected in the different labels.

Feb 21, 2012
saltwater in General Topics

what brand of fish sauce?

I wonder about "anchovy extract". Since I assume it required adding something to the anchovies to make the extract, I wonder if a company can view "anchovy extract" as one label item, even though that item contains anchovy and some other item (say salt)? Perhaps there is a range of what concentration is legal to call anchovy extract, and that accounts for why more or less water must be added to it to make it palatable. That could create movement in the position of water on the label between first to second position.

Cremon's point about plastic v glass is interesting as well, since every shop I've stepped into has bottles that apparently sit for quite some time before purchase.

Feb 16, 2012
saltwater in General Topics

DUNLOP March Cookbooks of Month: Poultry & Eggs

Thanks. I can see how that style would work well, especially now that you mention turning the scallion for a second pass.

I'll look for that locally first.

Jun 14, 2011
saltwater in Home Cooking

DUNLOP March Cookbooks of Month: Poultry & Eggs

Buttertart, was it online somewhere or did you find it at an oriental market? I watched a tv chef use one where he pushed the large end of the scallion into a grate-like mesh (as best as I could make out), and pulled it the rest of the way through by grabbing from the other side, and it emerged in nice shreds, but I've never seen one of these online.

Shredding jalapenos and such would be a nice bonus.

Jun 14, 2011
saltwater in Home Cooking

DUNLOP March Cookbooks of Month: Poultry & Eggs

Yes, still using those dishes. In my house the favorite is Ji Si Chao Fen, a slivered chicken and noodle dish. It's that dish that has made me dream of owning a scallion cutter, but I've never seen one that looks right for me. I like that dish, but as with many Chinese dishes, the knife-work does take time.

Dunlop's dishes have excellent flavor and balance. I can't recommend her more highly.

Jun 11, 2011
saltwater in Home Cooking

How do you prevent burgers from shrinking? / How to make big burgers?

Very round! Beautifully flat!

You look set for much burger happiness. :-)

Jun 09, 2011
saltwater in Home Cooking

How do you prevent burgers from shrinking? / How to make big burgers?

Great! Glad it worked out. I agree that if they are completely flat and well formed, the appearance of the sides of the burger can help you with judging how done they are in the middle.

Post a photo next time you grill, maybe?

Jun 02, 2011
saltwater in Home Cooking

Durable Food

Some muffin batters are designed to be kept for a long time in the fridge, so you can bake a few fresh muffins on demand.

Also homemade, fermented things, like pickles or kimchi. You can pickle all sorts of veggies and use them as an easy side, a relish, or eat them out of the jar.

May 28, 2011
saltwater in Home Cooking

What Can Replace Spelt Flour?

Spelt has a nice flavor, rather sweet, and is worth trying. I've only ever tried whole grain spelt. It is less springy than wheat (less strong gluten). In a yeasted bread, spelt uses less water than wheat, but that probably would not carry over to a quickbread, since those aren't kneaded. I bet the spelt might be excellent in a muffin, especially since it is less springy. I think I'll try that soon...

May 28, 2011
saltwater in Home Cooking

How do you prevent burgers from shrinking? / How to make big burgers?

I can make them round and flat by hand, but I had to use a different technique than I had been taught. I use 1 lb to make 3 burgers. I use ground meat that is fluffy, separate, and not in any way "packed" (home-ground is great!). I make them on the surface of my counter. I dump the meat on the counter in a scattered manner, and gently nudge the meat into 3 mounds, not in any way compressed, but completely loose. I proceed to work with one mound at a time. I arrange the meat in a slightly larger roundish configuration that I want the burger, and then I hold one hand horizontal to the counter over the mound, with the finger part of my hand over the mound, not the palm portion, and slide the meat under it from all sides with the other to make the burger. That is the basic motion, anyway. Oh, I think I swap hands as needed and also to keep height of the horizontal hand consistent, you can rest the edge of your palm on the counter and stiffen the fingers that are over the meat, making a slight bend in the middle of the hand. I work my way around the burger until it is even and flat and circular. Do press enough so that the thing doesn't crumble into bits. You need some compaction and you don't want big cracks and such. I make it sound long and tedious, but it is quick to do.

I don't need to dimple this meat. It does not balloon up in the middle since I only cook to medium rare. This method perfectly fills the average bun from an 8 pack to the edge, ordinary supermarket brand like pepperidge farm, not anything gourmet.

May 28, 2011
saltwater in Home Cooking

Are you seeing grocery stores moving away from self check-outs?

Remember, they can be in plainclothes and look like regular shoppers. My husband knew someone who did this in a grocery store in an ordinary middle America city in an ordinary neighborhood.

May 07, 2011
saltwater in Not About Food

Are you seeing grocery stores moving away from self check-outs?

Our Walmart just got rid of theirs as well. I asked, to see if the reasoning was the same as yours, but the cashier said the machines kept breaking and needing the company to come service them, so they got rid of them. Now they have a section there with a decent selection of dried beans and tortillas, which I can use more than the self-checkouts.

Apr 30, 2011
saltwater in Not About Food

Steam, don't boil those hard cooked eggs.

Thanks for the suggestion. I warmed them for about 5 minutes in a bowl of water first, steamed for 13 minutes at a height of about 3-4 inches above the water, and put into a bowl of cold water. After they cooled, I peeled them. The peel almost jumped off the egg after some judicious tapping. I had started with old eggs, but then, I always start with old eggs, and this was better than usual. I note that 13 minutes seemed a little short for a hard cooked yolk.

I suspect if I had done a more thorough job of warming them, 13 minutes would have been a hard yolk, I don't know. But either I had unusual eggs, or they were indeed easier to peel that the cold water start method. Thanks again for the tip!

Apr 27, 2011
saltwater in Home Cooking