Monday, June 18

who says i don't eat meat?

Our chinese neighbors speak very little English but their eyes are always smiling. We shock them with gifts of homemade saurkraut and parties with live bands where they politely pretend to enjoy the wine, and they shock us with some of their delicious (and strange) delicacies from their native country.

I complimented Hong on her zongzi (at least that's what I think it is) last year and today her husband, Henry, waved me over to come inside. There Hong and her sisters welcomed me in to show me (entirely in pantomime) how this traditional chinese dish is made. How sweet she had remembered that I wanted to know how to make this!
  • Rinsed white rice (raw)
  • yellow bean of some kind (raw) that looks like a yellow lentil only more oblong
  • salt pork
  • something that looked like salami
  • salted duck egg yolk (bright orange globes in the photo)
  • chicken egg yolk
  • scallops
  • little dried shrimps
  • some kind of corn kernal looking stuff
Pile all this in two cupped bamboo leaves and wrap up with a couple more bamboo leaves and secure with string. Boil 1-2 hours.   Zongzi!

Monday, April 23

Cavewoman Sauerkraut

It’s true that I was always interested in the kitchen, even if I was like a Neanderthal in my efforts. But after 20 years of being an administrator for several food groups, most prominently, the San Francisco Professional Food Society, I have truly been inspired to evolve in ways unimaginable: reading cookbooks like novels, taking cooking classes, reading the weekly food section and even enrolling in a professional cooking institute! But of the many things that have caught my attention, fermented foods really enticed me. Predictably, my first batch of sauerkraut was a moldy mess and I felt like I was a Flintstone again. I even met with Sandor Katz, contemporary guru of fermentation, but it wasn’t until my crafty neighbor (Wilma?) showed me a trick that I started turning out delicious (and dare I say sweet?) sauerkraut!
The trick? A dowel. At Living Light Institute we were taught to salt and vigorously massage the cabbage. Yes, that will work eventually, but I am a lazy Neanderthal. Pounding the kraut with a dowel is an easier way to squeeze out the juices, and juice is the key to successful kraut. You absolutely must have enough liquid to adequately cover the kraut, or you will indeed, as I did in prehistoric times, create primordial ooze. Below is my recipe for Rainbow Kraut, but maybe I should call it Cavewoman Kraut. Now you know what the club in caveman days was really used for.

Rainbow Kraut

1 head cabbage mandolined (reserve four cabbage leaves whole)

1 bunch raw golden beets, peeled and grated

1 apple grated (I like green apple)

2 carrots grated

1-2 tablespoons salt

optional: *1 tablespoon microplaned ginger—add this after fermentation

Mix everything together in a large pot or vessel that won’t break or splash when you begin to mash the kraut. (If you aren’t using the “dowel” method, any large bowl will do). Massage with your fingers to distribute the salt. Let rest for a while (a few minutes to a half hour) to allow salt to absorb in and begin to draw out moisture.
Pound the kraut with a dowel for 10-15 minutes until you can see a pool of liquid forming. If you don’t have a dowel, vigorously massage with your fingers in a big bowl until liquids release. You are done with your kraut is very juicy because you will need enough juice to cover it when it is mashed down.

Transfer to a large jar, crock or open mouthed water pitcher (I use a water pitcher). Cover with the left over cabbage leaves and mash down until the liquid rises above the kraut. Find another vessel that is narrow and heavy that you can fill with water or weight down in some way. I use a tall, narrow glass container filled with water. If you use a crock, you may want to place a saucer on top and the weighted object on top of that. Press down until liquid seeps above the veggies.

I put mine on top of a cabinet, but just put it out of the way somewhere.

Check it in about 5-7 days. Remove any scum around the edges. Taste the center. If it is still crunchy and not very sour, let it go longer. Most people go two weeks or more, I only go 7-10 days. The more days you ferment it the more it breaks down, is softer and more sour. When it arrives at desired taste, you can jar it or, if desired, stir in 1-2 tblsp microplaned fresh ginger.
Store in mason jar and again punch down to let liquid seep above cabbage. Refrigerate.

Am delighted to announce this article was repeated on William-Sonoma's blog with a delightful forward by Laura Martin Bacon Click Here to Read