Monthly Archives: July 2009

The Last Chinese Barbeque

ma-last-chinese-bbq-608photo from

This weekend, when you are out playing, spare a thought for Si-fu, as captured by the talented Francis Lam. The man you see in this photograph (taken by a Gourmet magazine photographer) has been roasting 80-pound pigs every day for decades, watching every moment for bubbles in the skin and gently tapping out the air with carpenter nails. He can’t earn much money. He doesn’t cut corners to save it. And he is one of the last remaining barbeque masters in North America.

I don’t want to tell you too much. We want you to go read Francis Lam’s piece instead. (It is also printed in the August issue of Gourmet.) If, after reading it, you don’t come away with an abiding respect for Si-fu and his dedication to craft — as well as fascinated respect for Lam’s dedication to his craft — then we’re not sure what to tell you. Read this with the right attention and you will be changed.

Also, after reading this description, you’re bound to want some of that roast pork:

“After the rush, he cut me a piece and I saw what all the work was for: crisp yet dissolving skin, tender meat, and lush, velvety fat. Textures in perfect balance and contrast. The flavor, too: Earlier, Si-fu had me cure the splayed-open pigs, massaging them with fistfuls of salt and sugar until the carcasses looked like snow at the moment you realize there’ll be no school tomorrow. The cure has only a few hours to penetrate, giving each bite a heavily seasoned side and a clean, juicy side. The flavor was sweet, salty, complex, and then mild and pure, as fascinating as it was delicious. Si-fu looked at me. ‘Quality,’ he said.”

If anyone reading this is near to Toronto, please go to Ho Ho Bbq for us.

Jamie Oliver’s leg

20041227-57e1beeee4f577f2e30e6c72ee2e72a74a7080c2-scaledphoto from Jamie Oliver’s Twitter feed

Not his actual leg, silly.

His leg of pork.

Do you know Jamie Oliver? You don’t? Goodness, what have you been doing?

(and those of you do know him can skip this next bit.)

Jamie Oliver is one of the UK’s best chefs. You probably know him first as a tv chef, which might make you dubious. I was, before I started watching his shows and reading his books. Could a tv chef actually know his stuff? Well, Jamie sure does. When I first met Danny, and I was already besotted with Jamie, we watched one of his first shows, Oliver’s Twist. I was a little worried that Danny would find Jamie Oliver more a flashy personality than a knowledgeable chef. Instead, he shushed me when I talked, and then leapt up to the kitchen after the show was over, to make us something new.

We’re both inspired by Jamie Oliver.

He’s an inspiring bloke. Not only has he created a successful career by making good food in Great Britain, but he has a great connection with some important charities to do with food. He owns a restaurant called Fifteen, which is staffed with students whom his organization has trained, kids who were once on the dole or wandering in their lives. (You can watch the process of training the first set of kids in the riveting Jamie’s Kitchen.) He has also been attempting to make school lunches in Great Britain much better through his Ministry of Food.

And of course, how could we not love his new campaign, Jamie Saves Our Bacon?

Therefore, as you can imagine, we have spent the last day dreaming of eating this leg of pork, which Jamie described as “pork leg experiment salted slow cooked then glazed with good vinegar blossom honey and chilli come on fantastico!”

We’re only hoping that he’ll share the actual recipe soon, because we want to make this now.

rice krispies with bacon

becky's rice krispies with bacon

Look at that.

Rice Krispies. With bacon.

Our friend Becky Selengut writes a wonderful blog called Chef Reinvented, which you should all be reading. I’ll tell you more about Becky when she’s ready with the recipe for this lovely confection. She brought it to the family birthday party we had on Sunday, where the table was laden with food, and still these Rice Krispie treats earned ooooooohs when they entered the room.

For now, I’m just going to entice you by showing you the photograph.

And ask you: to what unexpected foods have you added bacon? and how did everyone like the bacon surprise?

roast pork shoulder for tacos

the roasted pork

Feel like making tacos this weekend? And you don’t want to go to all the work of making carnitas?

How about roasting this pork shoulder instead? The meat is a little smoky, a tiny bit sweet, yielding to the teeth, and sure to please anyone who wants to make homemade tacos.


3 pound pork shoulder roast, butterflied
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon chile powder
2 teaspoons ground toasted cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed, and chopped
2 teaspoons each kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Spread the butterflied pork roast open. Drizzle with about 2 teaspoons of the oil. Smear the inside with the garlic.

Combine all the spices together. Rub the inside of the pork with 1/2 of the spices.

Rub the spices, along with the remaining oil, on the outside of the pork. Truss the pork the way you see in the photo. (we’ll do a video tutorial of this soon.)

Put the pork into a roasting pan and slide that into the oven.

Sear the outside for 15 minutes. The roast might smoke a bit. Don’t be afraid.

Turn the oven to 350°. Roast for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours, or until the internal temperature has reached 165°. The meat should yield to your tongs, feel soft, and melt in the mouth.

Makes 2 1/2 pounds roasted pork for tacos (or anything else you might want to eat).

a dress made of bacon and salami


This may be hard to believe, but we may have found someone more dedicated to pork and its goodness than we are.

This is Jia. She was invited to an Aqua Teen Hunger Force party. So, she went as Meatwad.

As she wrote in her blog:

“I had an ATHF birthday party. Why Meatwad? Well, he’s a big pile of meat. I love meat. I wanted to make the costume as smelly and gross as possible, because Meatwad is smelly and gross. Sure, I could have chosen a fabric that looked like meat, or done a mascot costume. However, I thought it’d be hilarious (and totally accurate!) to do it out of real meat. I didn’t think it was feasible, but the more I thought about it, it became the ONLY OPTION.”

Well, of course.

And so she made a dress made entirely out of salty bacon and salami. As her boyfriend was quoted as saying, “”It took about a day for the salami smell to wear off.”

Now that’s dedication to pork.

(And we found out about Jia’s feat from a website called Noise Creep. So there you go.)

bacon-wrapped cherries

bacon-cherries-5 photo by Lara Ferroni

Have you ever been to see Cook and Eat?

If you have visited, you know that Lara Ferroni is a phenomenally talented food photographer. Whether she’s making donuts, or creating salsa with many chiles and produce from her garden, or making her own Nutella, Lara knows how to make life look as beautiful as it is.

She also runs a food photography and styling blog called Still Life With, an incredible wealth of information on how to style food and take better photos of it. Do you want to learn how to make your food look more lush and delicious? Go there. (And someday, when I have more time, I want to read every entry, from start to finish.)

We feel luckier than we know how to say — Lara is the photographer for our upcoming cookbook. Wait until you see these images. Anyone who looks at the food Danny cooked and Lara shot and still feels deprived living gluten-free? Well, that person will need his or her head examined.

Especially the shots of the pork belly wrapped in bacon.

The other day, Lara topped herself with this post on bacon-wrapped cherries. (She calls it the best potluck food ever. We’re hoping she’s going to bring it to our next potluck.)

Go over and read for yourself the way to bacon-cherry heaven.

Lara, you just keep inspiring us.

do you know how to grill pork well?

the grill

“Do you belong to the cremation school of outdoor cookery, or are you a peaceful, law-abiding slow griller of meat? Walk down the streets of any town, large or small, on a summer evening when dinner is cooking in many a patio and back garden, and the smell of the scented smoke that wafts on the air will give you an idea of how good the various outdoor chefs are. While some are grilling their meat to juicy, mouth-watering tenderness, others are merely shrinking it to a charred, hard hunk that would be shunned by anyone with a decent palate.

Grilling, broiling, barbequing — whatever you want to call it — is an art, not just a matter of building a pyre and throwing on a piece of meat as a sacrifice to the gods of the stomach. For while barbequing is a very old and primitive way of cooking, it is also one of the most appetizing methods of dealing with meat known to man, and it deserves to be done with some semblance of technique, accuracy, and care.”

— James Beard, from Beard on Food

We’re sure that most of you reading have excellent technique when it comes to grilling. You cook your pork slowly, with the care it deserves, and with joy.

If so, you’ll probably want to know about this pork contest we’ve been asked to tell you about.

Could you be the Next Pork Personality?

If so, simply make a two-minute video showing off your tips and tricks and submit it through this website here.

What happens if you’re a finalist? A trip to New York (along with a guest) in October 2009, to grill side by side with other finalists and Food Network star Guy Fieri. All expenses paid. And if you win? $5,000.

Not bad.

If you’re a finalist, you also win a new Char-Broil grill, grilling accessories, airfare, and accommodations for two nights. And bragging rights with all your neighbors.

We can’t enter this contest, of course. But you can.

Just make a video no longer than 2 minutes (and no bigger than 10 MB). Entertain the judges with your personality and inform them with your pork knowledge. And turn it all in before 11:59 pm ET on August 31st, 2009. (Best not to wait until that day, however. Go start filming now.)

To read all the rules and enter the contest, please visit this website.

And please, avoid that charred, hard hunk Beard was writing about. Tender, juicy pork. That’s what you want.

roasted pork at Ton Kiang

roast pork

We love our friends.

Last month, Lorna and Henry took us to a tiny sliver of a restaurant in the International District, in Seattle. Ton Kiang looks as though it was decorated with wall hangings from the dollar store down the street, about 20 years ago. The chairs are standard issue, with one wobbly leg each. The tables are crowded together to fit as many people into the small space as possible, leaving about a foot between tables.

But we didn’t go to Ton Kiang for their for the ambience. We went for the roasted pork.

When we were in the hospital with our baby daughter, back in May, we were grateful for the food our friends brought to our room. Toward the end, as we were itching to get home, Lorna and Henry brought us white take-out boxes filled with simple poached chicken and crisp roast pork, cut into large bites. We liked the chicken. But that pork was something else. For a few moments, everything seemed brighter in that room.

We brought our daughter home the next day.

Now that Little Bean is completely healed, we are heading out into the world again. And one of our first forays to a restaurant was Ton Kiang, the place that makes the crisp roast pork. Back for more.

Just look at that. Do I need to say anything?

Well, only that the roast duck is succulent and tender too. We had a table filled with food, six adults, and one hungry baby, and the entire lunch cost us $10 a piece.

If you’re in Seattle, and you want great pork more than comfortable seating, go to Ton Kiang today. Or at least tomorrow.

Ton Kiang Barbeque Noodle House
668 S Weller St (7th and Weller)
Seattle, WA 98104-2945
(206) 622-338

Anthony Bourdain and pork

Anthony Bourdain books

You know, we already loved Anthony Bourdain in this house.

Former executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in New York (and thus master of French bistro food, which is a favorite around here), author of the Les Halles Cookbook and the wildly incendiary restaurant memoir Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain made quite a name for himself as chef and writer.

Now, of course, he’s even better known as the host of No Reservations, an always entertaining tour of the beautiful places of the world, as well as their underbellies, through food.

Last week, one of our friends was watching Bourdain’s episode on the Azores and quoted him on Twitter:

“Pork is the answer to all problems” anthony bourdain

We knew we liked this man.


vegetables in homemade aspic

When you’re married to a chef, and one who is working at home instead of in a restaurant (for the moment), you have dishes like this in the refrigerator.

This is carrots and asparagus in aspic.

Aspic is something that will definitely make you slow down. In the end, you will appreciate the result even more, because it will taste like the process.

Aspic is “…a savory jelly, usually clear, made of clarified meat, fish, or vegetable stock and gelatin. Clear aspics may be used as a base for molded dishes, or as glazes for cold dishes of fish, poultry, meat, and eggs. They may also be cubed and served as an accompiment relish with cold meat, fish, or fowl.” (So says The New Food Lover’s Companion, one of our most-thumbed-through books around here.)

While you can make aspic out of tomato and flavored gelatin or fish stock and gelatin, this aspic is made from the head of a pig.

And, if you would like to make aspic in your home, here you go:

1 pig head (or 6 to 7 pig’s feet)
1 large stockpot (about 20 quart)
3 carrots, peeled and rough chopped
3 large stalks celery
3 large yellow onions, peeled and chopped
1 large head garlic, split in half
4 large sprigs rosemary
4 large sprigs sage
handful fresh thyme
15 black peppercorns
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves

If you have a whole pig’s head, you could ask the butcher to break it down into smaller pieces for you.

Cover the head (or feet) with cold water, enough to cover it by an inch.

Bring it to a rapid boil. Turn the heat down to medium.

Simmer the stock for 30 minutes while skimming the scum that will rise to the surface.

While the bones are blanching, put the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic onto a baking sheet and into a 450° oven. Cook until they are browned, nice and caramelized. DO NOT BURN!

Discard all the scum. Strain the liquid and throw that down the drain.

Put the head back in the stockpot.

Put the roasted vegetables in the stockpot, along with the rest of the ingredients.

Cover everything with cold water again. The colder you can get the water, the better.

Turn the heat onto low. Do not let the water boil. You are trying to achieve a very slow simmer, so that one errant bubble appears on the surface every few moments.

Cook the stock for 12 hours at this temperature, skimming the scum occasionally.

You can allow the stock to simmer overnight, as well, on the lowest possible setting on the burner.

Strain the stock. Discard all the vegetables and herbs. Keep the liquid.

Rinse out the stockpot. Return the stock to the lowest setting on the burner again. Allow this to simmer for 8 to 12 hours, with that one bubble appearing every once in awhile. If you almost forget about the stock for awhile, you’ll return to the stove and see that it has been reducing.

The best way to test if the stock is done is to put 1/4 cup of the stock in a bowl you have refrigerated. Put the stock in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Pull out the bowl. If the stock is solid and gelatinous, you are done. If not, keep simmering.

Find your finest strainer (a chinoise is preferable) and line it with cheesecloth. Slowly, slowly, strain the stock — a couple of large ladles at a time — through the strainer. Continue this process until you have strained the entire stock. The last couple of cups probably will be cloudy or murky. Save that for another purpose. Do not use this for your aspic.

Chill the aspic in a large container that has been set in a sink full of ice water.

Store it an appropriate container.

Makes about 4 quarts.

If you want to go old school, you can make a chaud-froid (that’s what you see above). The vegetables are blanched and then covered in aspic. Salmon is a classic food you can make chaud-froid with aspic as well.

You can use aspic as a garnish for dishes, to impress your friends.

Or, if you are making head cheese, you will need aspic. We’ll be telling you about that one later.