I really like the idea of looking into the future and seeing what situations we may find our selves in regarding our gluttonous relationship with food. Our over dependance on foreign imports has made me think about how Britain may have to come to compromising terms with this. Again, i have set these spoof newspapers in a scenario of WWIII, as this would be a forced change in our food culture... it's just something to think about really... please click on the newspapers to enlarge and have a read.
Sunday, 17 April 2011
I’ve been looking at ways of preserving meat, and curing seems like a simple method that anyone could do at home. A simple thing to start with is duck prosciutto, as long as one has acquired the distinctive taste for duck. I decided to flavour the duck with bay leaves, Szechwan peppers and marjoram. Really simple, but strong flavours to counteract that of the duck. So I bought two mallard duck breasts from the butchers, and salted them over night. I rinsed, and patted dry, then added my herbs and spices. I wrapped them up in my mum’s old sari. Really I should have used gauze, but a sari worked well enough. I tied it up in string (actually a clean, never used before shoe lace). I weighted them and labeled them with their weight. I hung them up in the back of my shed, and surrounded them with cardboard boxes to protect them from any creepy crawlies. My brother kindly weighted them every other day until they went down by 30% in weight. This took around a week and a half.
The final outcome was a ducky and I’m pretty sure the sari gave it a perfumed background flavour. It’s pretty bizarre, but it works. The shoe laces were soft enough compared to string, and I think this may have played a part in the evenness of colour in the fleshy side of the duck.
Shoelaces and saris are not ideal, but this just shows how easy it is to do home charcuterie. I’ve read a few blogs, which get really particular about how home charcuterie should be done, but I believe doing it your own way, results in a more personal tasting cure. As long as the concept is understood and care is taken with hygiene, then there is a world of meat waiting to be salted, cured and hung!
I have been trying to find eels for a while, and found it more difficult then it should be, especially living in South East London. I found out Billingsgate sold fresh eels, but the catch was… they came from New Zealand! Ridiculous. Eventually, after much research, I found a fishmonger near me in Nun-Head, who could find fresh water eels for me, from Ireland. I ordered one at a kilo for £21. Not too bad, it was big enough to feed four people happily. So I have had a BBQ sauce recipe in my head for a while, using only British ingredients. I have been dying to try it out, but on something that could handle the sweet/sour flavour, and eels are perfect for this. They have a rich, but not fishy flavour. They’re rich in omega 3 and have a firm flesh surrounded by a fair bit of fat, and a thick skin, perfect for barbequing.
I served the eels with stir fried broccoli and celeriac chips. Kinda English/Oriental fusion. It was absolutely delicious. I will defiantly be cooking with eel more often. It is difficult to get hold of, but good fishmongers should be able to order it with a bit of notice. It’s worth a try, especially as nutritionally it’s better compared to the more popular edible fishes. One word of warning though, the eel still wriggles about a good 30 minuets after being killed and gutted. Was funny at first, until when having a fry-up, I found my bag of eels had slithered behind me!
1kg Eel, filleted
½ Cup Damson/Plum Jam
½ Cup Honey
¼ Cup Mushroom Ketchup
3 Cloves Crushed Garlic
Rape Seed Oil
Sesame seeds to garnish
Add the damson jam, honey, mushrooms and garlic to a saucepan and bring to a slow simmer. Allow the garlic to cook off. Rub some oil on the skin of the eel, and place on a hot BBQ or griddle. Once the skin begins to crisp up, add the sauce over the soft flesh. Close the barbeque or place under the grill. Baste the eels with the sauce every 2 minuets. The eel only needs eight minuets to fully cook. Serve with celeriac chips. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds for added flavour and texture.
I decided to do an experiment and see how well eel steamed. So I wrapped 1/3 of the eel in tin foil with soy, ginger, fish sauce and sliced red chilli. This was surprising. Almost a like having cooked a whole different fish. The fish sauce gave the fresh water fish a saltiness, and skin just fell off. The fat of the eel ensure the flesh remained tender and flaky. Beautiful.
1 kg Eel, on the bone
3” Grated Ginger
¼ Cup Soy Sauce
¼ Cup Fish Sauce
2 Large chillies sliced
4 Sliced spring onions to garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 180°c. Scored the eel on both sides. Leave gaps of 2inches between each score. Place the fish in a tin-foil bag and place on a baking tray. Mix the ginger, soy, fish sauce and chillies in a bowl and pour over the fish. Close the bag and place in oven for 30 minuets. Once cooked, garnish with spring onions and serve with sticky rice.
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
I found some shocking stats whilst watching Marcel Dicke's talk for ted on why we should be thinking of a different source of protein to the conventional. This stat of how much meat the average person consumes was shocking to compare. I made the information more visual: