Pork belly — red-ooked style.
It’s no secret that the Chinese love the color red, which is festive, and symbolizes prosperity.
We also love our pork.
And no cut quite so much as the pig’s luscious belly.
Combine all three and you get “Red-Cooked Pork,” an iconic family-style dish of pork belly that’s cooked in a soy sauce-laced braising liquid that’s not really more brown than red. The “red” in the name, though, comes interestingly enough from the fact that the Chinese language doesn’t really have a character to describe “brown.” So, apparently, they opted for the next best color — red.
So writes Kian Lam Kho in his new cookbook, “Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy. The comprehensive book just won the prestigious “Julia Child First Book” award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The book’s poetic name pays homage to the Chinese characters used as synonyms on Chinese menus for chicken feet and Chinese broccoli.
Indeed, if you are interested in learning more about Chinese cooking, this book is a must-have. Kho of New York City is a private chef, culinary instructor, and creator of the blog, RedCook. He’s written a book that deftly explains the fundamental cooking techniques of Chinese cuisine — from pan-frying to light frying, from flash-poaching to oil-poaching, and from simple steaming to flavored steaming.
A bright-green risotto — that you barely have to stir.
I admit I was dubious. I was skeptical. I was bordering on being a non-believer.
Could one really make perfect risotto on the stove-top by pouring a load of stock into a pan with the rice, turning the heat down to the lowest possible setting, then leaving it pretty much alone except to stir it twice? Yes, twice.
But I should have never doubted J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.
After all, he’s the man. He’s so meticulous and precise that he’s like a one-man Cook’s Illustrated test kitchen (where he used to work, by the way). The San Francisco-based managing culinary director of Serious Eats, Lopez-Alt is a restaurant-trained chef and the author of the “Food Lab” column, as well as a regular columnist for Cooking Light magazine.
His new book, “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science” (W.W. Norton & Company), of which I received a review copy, is a must-have on your shelf. In fact, this past Sunday, it was named “Cookbook of the Year” by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
That’s a wrap.
As a kid, I remember sitting hunched on the floor, playing pick-up sticks with my brothers.
I’d hold my breath as I gingerly tried to pull a stick out of the pile without toppling the whole shebang. All the while, my brothers would joke around, trying to make me laugh, so that my already trembling fingers would fumble the task at hand.
I’m not sure who won most of those matches. But I do know it definitely made me learn the art of focus and blocking out distractions.
In this day and age of all electronics all the time, does anyone even possess that old-school game any more?
Maybe not. I know I haven’t played it in eons. Still, this fun dish brought back those childhood memories.
“Asparagus Pastry Straws” is made for picking up with your fingers.
Long spears of spring asparagus lend themselves to that anyway. But add a twisty rope of puff pastry all around each spear and you know resistance is futile.
A comforting Korean dish that can be made a flash.
When times are tough, some people find solace in chocolate. Or wine. Or endless handfuls of potato chips.
Not Ruth Riechl.
When Gourmet magazine abruptly shut down, its former editor in chief came in to clean out her office. The place was deserted with nothing but empty drawers and cabinets to greet her when she was surprised by the arrival of four friends. They had flown in from California to offer their support.
They gathered up Reichl, and together rode the subway to Flushing to commiserate over a feast of Asian food. At the end of it all, one friend, Laurie Ocha, a former executive editor at Gourmet who is married to Pulitizer Prize-winning food writer Jonathan Gold, gave her a present to take home.
It was a package of Korean rice sticks, which she hoped would inspire Reichl to forge ahead. It did the trick, and “Spicy Korean Rice Sticks with Shrimp and Vegetables” is one of the memorable recipes in her newest book, “My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life” (Random House), of which I received a review copy.
This is a cookbook, in which the recipes couldn’t be more personal. Each has played an important role in Reichl’s life, and she shares affecting and lovingly honest reasons why.
Meatballs bathed in a rich, warm yogurt sauce.
A great meatball is a fine thing.
Especially one bobbing in a rich, creamy sauce that transports you from the first indulgent taste to a faraway land.
That’s what you’ll get with “Lamb Meatballs with Warm Yogurt and Swiss Chard.”
It’s from the new cookbook, “Nopi” (Ten Speed Press) by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully, of which I received a review copy.
Ottolenghi, of course, is the masterful owner of a slew of restaurants in London and the author of several cookbooks that pretty much land on the best-seller’s list every time he publishes one.
Scully is his head chef of Ottolenghi’s fine-dining establishment, Nopi.
The book contains more than than 120 recipes, combining Ottolenghi’s Middle Eastern roots with Scully’s Malaysian heritage.