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chrisandbetsyc's Profile

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Lucky Peach magazine

Hippest magazine I've ever seen. Love the discussion btwn chang, dufraine and bourdaine. Great stuff. I'm obsessed with noodles now!

Jul 28, 2011
chrisandbetsyc in Food Media & News

making sausage with fish sauce

I'm making fresh sausage that is used up in a week at the longest. From the the lack of a yeast inoculation, and the fact that the sausage is cooked (imediatly after grinding) to a temp over 150, I just think fermentation is highly unlikely. I'm pretty convinced its the fish sauce. Next time I want to make a Thai sausage, I will just use salt.
thanks a ton for the input

Nov 02, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

making sausage with fish sauce

thats a very good idea. I think i'll take it a step furthur and and mix some ground pork alone with fish sauce in one container, ginger in another and a control. should be able to report any results by this time next week.

Oct 18, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

making sausage with fish sauce

good point. high salt would inhibit, not help fermentation. But as I said, fermentation seems unlikely for many reasons.

Oct 18, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

making sausage with fish sauce

I get my natural hog casings from my meat supplier. Same hank had fine results before and after this incident. Just used up the last of that hank today on a batch of chorizo that came out awesome. Same source of pork all along as well. Sustainable raised Vermont pork. Great product. Almost makes me want to do a little scientific elimination of suspects. Ginger/scallion/fish sauce. Maybe next week I'll hold aside a little ground pork and do a little expeiriment. I'll post any results I get if I do.

Oct 15, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

making sausage with fish sauce

I have always used 'squid brand' fish sauce. It is a genuine Thai product that the chef I learned Thai cooking from used so I have just always stuck with it. No, I did not keep it overnight (though I often do, right now I have #30 of chorizo sitting in the walk in waiting to be stuffed tomorrow). It was ground, mixed stuffed and cooked all the same day. I did add a bit of Kosher because I didn't want the fish to overpower the ginger/garlic but thought it would need more salt. I don't think fermenting was the problem. I'm well aware of the signs of unwanted fermentation. I didn't see them. Doesn't seem like there would be time anyway. And high sodium levels? The finished product was gross and mushy but not overly salty. Actually the ginger and scallion flavor was there, just the texture made it unserveable. An enzyme added to the fish sauce I use seems to be my best lead at the moment. Besides making my own (and believe me, I'm ALL for making my own just about anything, but fish sauce...gotta draw the line somewhere. Ketchup, mayo and fish sauce. I just don't have the time!) what would ya'll recommend as a 'quality' fish sauce? Tra Chang.. I'll look for it.

Oct 14, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

making sausage with fish sauce

Fish Oil vs fish sauce?? I've never heard of fish oil (other than cod liver oil from Little Rascals shows). I used 1.5 cups to #20 pork. The casing was from a hank that was fine the batch before and after this incident. I use onions and scallions all the time. Ginger, however is another thing. This almost exactly same thing happened once before to me. I was also making a Thai curry sausage with fish sauce, coconut milk, ginger, garlic. scallions, cilantro. That time I used a poaching cooking method. When it came close to being fully cooked the casing fail and opened like a zipper. I thought at the time the problem was with the cooking method since I had little experience with it and it never happened in the smoker. Until now. So I have narrowed the culprit down to fish sauce or ginger. Fish sauce seems the most likely because, lets face it, who the hell knows whats in it? I have no idea, just know in small amounts it makes things taste good.
On another subject, I would like to try low temp smoking but it seems I always need the sausage done so I can get wings done before service or Butts fired so the pulled pork is done at a reasonable hour the following day. Alas, such is life in the restaurant biz.

Oct 10, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

making sausage with fish sauce

I am a chef and have been stuffing my own sausage for a few years. This week I had to throw away a whole batch because it came out SO bad! I was make a pork sausage with scallion and ginger. Since it was leaning kind of asian, I thought fish sauce would work well. The sausage ground up and mixed great. Stuffing seemed fine as well. I hung the portioned sausage in the smoker and cook it for the usual 2 hours. When I opened the smoker I was surprised to see that some of the casings had split. When I squeeze one it was soft and mushy. I knew at that point I had a problem. I let them cool awhile and when I returned most had completely failed and were all over the bottom of the smoker. I removed what I could and tasted the filling. Chalky, mushy, disgusting. I actually gagged. So heres my question..what the hell happened? Is there an enzyme in fish sauce that breaks down proteins? Does anyone have experience in this area? I know I'll never use fish sauce in my sausage again, I just want to know why now.

Oct 10, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

Dressing on the side?

ditto..misread

Sep 08, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

Dressing on the side?

obviously I overdid it with the 'being offended' comment. just being dramatic I guess. Seems to me that most chowhounds like a lightly dressed salad and are wary of restaurants they have less faith in being able to dress their salad properly. I can even admit that unless you are a regular customer at my restaurant it would look like the kind of place that you wouldn't have faith in the kitchen (small, locally owned brewpub in the booneys of western ma). However, chowhounds are not the general public. I noticed a waitstaff comment that he/she has never seen anyone not use all the dressing provided. All the waitstaff here say the same thing. So I'm not convinced that MOST people ask for SOS because they want less. And all that stuff about women and control issues..wow. I'll have to read that more carefully later. Now I gotta get back on the line.

Sep 08, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

Dressing on the side?

that breaks my heart. you gotta go to better restaurants.

Sep 08, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

Dressing on the side?

whoa..been busy for a while and haven't check this thread. I am Chris and I am male but I never mentioned or thought anything about this having gender issues. ya'll came up with that, I assure you

Sep 08, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

Dressing on the side?

As a professional and a food purist, I strongly believe there IS such a thing as a properly dressed salad. What is variable is people's tastes. Just as there is a properly seasoning to a finished soup; some people will still think it is undersalted because they want their food to taste salty. That does not mean they are right or that there is no 'correct' amount of dressing/saltiness. My problem is I can't keep these people from coming to my restaurant! Most of that last bit was satire, reallly

Aug 30, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

Dressing on the side?

Up until this point I have seen no replies that admit they want more dressing. After years of watching years of properly dressed salads go out and the waitstaff returning to the kitchen and asking for extra dressing, I know there is a large percentage of people that want their salads drowned in dressing. These people are probably less likely to participate in this disussion. But the fact is that there are a lot of them out there.

Aug 30, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

Dressing on the side?

Very interesting replies. Some points I had not thought of. But here is the last little secret. For those of you who want dressing on the side because of fear of the kitchen over dressing (which on one level I can understand, I too eat out and have been served overdressed salad), the amount you get on the side is always twice as much as the salad needs (in my experience). So, unless you are using less than half of the ramekin of dressing, you are overdressing your salad (at least in my restaurant).
But thank you all for the input. This is a good forum to get perspective on issues I can't get anywhere else.

Aug 28, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

Dressing on the side?

In 15 years of cooking I have seen a lot of plates sent back for a lot of reasons but I have NEVER seen a salad sent back for being overdressed. That would be a memorable first.

Aug 28, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

Dressing on the side?

Hey, thats not something I ever thought of. Good answer.

Aug 28, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

Dressing on the side?

I'm a restaurant professional and have for a long time been wondering about the reason so many diners order their salads SOS (thats shorthand for sauce, or in this case dressing, on the side). Personally, it offends me that my customers don't trust me to properly dress their salad. But there's the rub- what is a 'properly' dressed salad? I think it comes down to; does the customer think I'm going to put too much or too little dressing on the salad? So please, you know who you are. Do you ask for dressing on the side because you want more or less dressing than you think you will get if you order the salad dressed?

Aug 27, 2010
chrisandbetsyc in General Topics

Northampton MA

That place is still open? As a past long time resident and member of the n'ton restaurant scene; I can honestly say I have never heard of ANYONE going there. For a time they served beer and had a really late closing so I can say I have drank in there but would never eat there. Next time check out Jake's over by the Calvin. The food is not all that Sylvester's is but its simple and honest and the wait is usually a lot less.

Aug 04, 2009
chrisandbetsyc in All New England Archive

Ollie's Down Under in Shelburne Falls, Ma.

How was it?

Jul 20, 2009
chrisandbetsyc in All New England Archive

The Sierra Grille, Northampton

Do they still do that 'create your own ending' menu where you pick a protein, then a sauce and the sides to go with it? I think that whole thing is wicked stupid. I don't know what your sauces taste like..your the chef- you tell me what works well together. I know some people like this sorts thing but as I said, I think it is wicked stupid. I hope they don't do it anymore.

Jul 20, 2009
chrisandbetsyc in All New England Archive

Salted Water..cuando?

This is a little something that has been bugging me for a while. I always heavily salt my water when cooking pasta or blanching. There can be no doubt it makes a huge difference. However does it matter when you add the salt? I have seen in many recipes that you should bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt AFTER it has come to a boil. What possible difference can that make? As a busy person (and apt to forget) I'd rather just throw the salt in while filling the pot. One more step done sooner. Does anyone know why this would make any difference?

Jun 16, 2009
chrisandbetsyc in Home Cooking

Spoleto (Restaurant Week '09) - Northampton

Sounds like average Spoleto experience. Food is passible but never impressive. My main complaint in the past has been really bad service. Even for N'ton.

Jun 03, 2009
chrisandbetsyc in All New England Archive

Duckfat: a sign in the window, "best french fries on earth. Serious"

as a matter of fact yes. i don't think you quite grasp the expense of the ingredients. Yeah Mc'Ds can do fries for cheaper....so go there if thats what you are looking for. God bless them for doing something casual that is soooooo damn good. Looking for cheap? You can get all the ketchup packets you can carry at Burger King.

Jun 02, 2009
chrisandbetsyc in All New England Archive

Overview of Springfield / Holyoke / Lower Pioneer Valley

Even though I have had a few terrible meals there, the Student Prince (AKA The Fort) is a restaurant I always like going to. Old school cooking done well. Great viener shnitsel (horribly spelled I know). I will keep going back there a few times a year.

Jun 02, 2009
chrisandbetsyc in Southern New England

Seafood Restaurants in Western MA / Pioneer Valley?

The Fish & Chips is only available 11-7 on Fridays and only for take out. The choices are fish (cod), scallops or oysters. The prices when I was there were something like $11-14. Its a really good idea to be there before 5...it can get really crazy after that. I've seen upwards to 70 people line up out the door.

May 12, 2009
chrisandbetsyc in Southern New England

Seafood Restaurants in Western MA / Pioneer Valley?

I'd like to say a word on fried fish if I could. I've had Websters and Pete's and in my opinion both are not outstanding. I have to give a shout out for North Shore's Seafood's Friday fish fry on King St in Northampton. I will put it right out there that I used to work there and actually DID the fried fish, but the procedure was there before I worked there and it is exactly that same now and I think both the fish and scallops are awesome and the oysters are the best I have ever had. I hope this opinion doesn't violate the ethics of this site. I seemed to do that I lot.

May 11, 2009
chrisandbetsyc in Southern New England

Flesh-Eating Bacon

I'm a chef at a restaurant that tries to serve as much local product as possible (People's Pint Greenfield MA). I'm proud to serve local raised beef but have found it next to impossible to find anything to replace feedlot pork and chicken (we do serve only 'free range' chx but I'm not so sure that term has any real meaning). I have found a couple pig farmers that have a little product to sell but the problem is that it is literaly 4X the price. This may be acceptable to a hosehold to decide to pay that much more but I find it difficult to exspect my customers to pony up $20 for a puller pork sandwich. This is a problem that keeps me up at night.

Mar 13, 2009
chrisandbetsyc in Food Media & News

Curing Meats (split from New England board)

Yes, the whole 'true cost' of our ingredients is a facinating subject. It's especially hard for me (as a chef whose restaurant prides itself in serving as much local product as possible) to justify such a high menu price to make the margin we need to. Pork is a perfect example. I can pay $1.90# for Iowa crap or $6# for local. Thats 3X!! Same goes for produce mostly. We pay way more for lettuce grown up the street than the stuff shipped accross the country. Something is not right. I don't belive it the fault of my farmer friends, I truely belive they are chanrging me what they need to but I can understand other restaurants saying, "Know what, we need to keep our cost down so California produce it is." So the problem is that these massive farms are too efficient? Are people willing to pay more for food? Have you heard the stats that say Americans pay proportinaly the least amount of their income on food. Very confusing topic.

Mar 13, 2009
chrisandbetsyc in Home Cooking

Curing Meats (split from New England board)

Bostrom Farm here in Greenfield. Kyle stopped in this past week and said he sells most his stuff to Hope & Olive, but does some at Farmer's Markets (not sure which ones). I know he has a farm stand here in town but I got the impression he didn't do much out of it. He was quite quick to respond to my emails. klbostrom@comcast.net Where are you getting local pork? It's been very frustrating trying to source local pork. I'm covered for beef but why is it so hard to find pork or even chx? Price difference is pretty shocking. Even if I could find enough local pork to supply me completly, think anyone would pay $15 for a pulled pork sandwich?

Mar 12, 2009
chrisandbetsyc in Home Cooking