Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cookin No. 39 The Chainsaw Massacre and Steamin in Bamboo

Today was the chainsaw massacre, in 5 part harmony. This morning, I slept in to a leisurely time, say 9:30, took a shower, dressed in some ratty clothes and headed to campus where they handed me a chainsaw and a block of ice and said “have at it”. Well, they didn’t just hand me the chainsaw, we got to watch a video, and Chef Dan made a seahorse. So we aren’t professional ice carvers, but we had a great time. We got to make a swan, unfortunately the sun got a hold of the ice, and everything started to melt before we had a chance to really finish. But it’s done, and looking more like a turkey than a swan, but I’m damn proud.

So a bit has been happening since I came back to school after our holiday break. The first day back, we had a garnishing class, which was really fun. Chef Scott brought in an old student, who went on to be sort of famous with her garnishing, and she taught us how to make pretty flowers out of a turnip. I actually really enjoyed it, and I think that I got the hang of it pretty well too. I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but I think some of my creative energy pays off when doing detailed works of art with food. I hope that some day I will get to do a lot with garnishing, but for now I can only think about it. Because I’m not going to buy a cantaloupe to make some pretty design, if I had that kind of money to waste food like that, I’m sure I would be living in the lap of luxury. However I’m not, so I will just dream.

So my class is another person down, Cassie decided to drop the course, and I’m kind of sad to see her go. I considered her my friend, and I do miss her, but she wants to peruse a teaching career, so I hope it all works out for her.

In other parts of my life, Wegmans came out with their new Menu magazine, and this edition is all about steaming, so I get to use a really cool bamboo steamer. I never got to use one before, and I have to say it’s a lot of fun, but a pain to clean. You can’t use soap on the wood, so best not to put anything too messy in there, or you’ll be up some creek without paddles, and a steamer. So my first steaming item is Tai steamed chicken with vegetables. Now the traditional way to steam with a bamboo steamer is in a wok, but Wegmans has some crazy idea to steam in a flat pan, so no matter how little steaming liquid I use, it still boils up into the steamer. So if you’re using a bamboo steamer at home, steam in a wok. Also, I’m not sure if Wegmans testes their recipes, because I have had to make a lot of changes to make things come out right, in the past. And this time is no exception. I am using two tiers of the steamer, and they distribute all the vegetables between the two, and then put the chicken on top. When I did this the first time, (because I always follow their recipes to the T the first time), I found that the vegetables were cooked till they were brown and nasty, just so the chicken could be cooked threw. So the second time, I put a layer of baby bok choy on the bottom tier, and then the chicken on top of that, (I didn’t want the raw chicken to touch the wood and create a mess for me to clean), and then I put all the other vegetables on the top tier. So the chicken was closer to the heating source, and the vegetables would cook slower while the chicken cooked faster. Leaving the veggies to be perfectly fork tender and still vibrant in color, and the chicken cooked threw. I must note that I don’t like steamed chicken, it has a mealy texture that just doesn’t agree with me. So here is the recipe in my own fashion:

Tai Steamed Chicken

2 chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 heads of baby bok choy quartered
1 red pepper julienne
1 head of broccoli fortes
Handful of snow peas
1 carrot julienne
(any other veggies that you like to put in)

Rice wine
2 cloves of garlic minced fine
1 inch piece of ginger minced fine
Chicken stock diluted with water
1 half lime juiced
Wegmans Tai peanut sauce (or what ever sauce you like to use, i.e.: sesame ginger sauce…)
Salt to taste

Cut up the chicken how you would like it, and marinate in sauce, lime juice and a pinch of salt, for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Place veggies in steamer.

In a wok over high heat combine the rice wine, garlic, ginger, and stock until the liquid starts to steam, and then place the bamboo steamer into the wok. Let steam for about 15 minutes, or until the veggies are fork tender. (if you don’t have a wok, you can steam in a pot with a steamer basket)

After the veggies are done, shock them in ice water and let sit. This will stunt the carry over cooking that happens when you steam. Then add you chicken to the steaming liquid left over, if you need more liquid, add some more. Sauté until done, then add the steamed veggies. This is to just heat them up. Add some of the sauce you didn’t use for the marinade, and let it coat the food.

Plate over a bed of rice and enjoy.

If you have any variations or changes you would make, let me know, I’m always interested to hear what people think, and what they would do. Because the best part of cooking, is thinking of how to make it better. Some people just want to follow recipes and be done with it, but I subscribe to the school of changing it to fit you. I meet so many customers at work, who are afraid to deviate from the recipe for a fraction. And with baking, you really should stick to it, but when it comes to savory affairs, the worst that could happen is that you call the pizza joint that evening. I had one woman ask me about if she could substitute the baby bok choy with regular adult bok choy, and I said yes, she could even just take the bok choy out completely, and she said “oh no, I don’t like to do that, if the recipe calls for it, that’s what I use, I don’t change recipes at all”. I couldn’t help but wonder why she was asking for a substitute, and then I also couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for her. Because she is chained to just following the recipe and can’t seem to break out on her own and create. But maybe that’s what she likes. It’s just not my thing.

Anywho, I’m going to call it a night. I hope to post more regularly, just bare with me for a while.

Until next time, Bon Appetite.


Chainsaw wheelding

A seahorse

The swan


Anonymous M said...

I can't even think of steamed chicken! and steamed chicken over rice....well, it just doesn't sound tasty...maybe it's just me!

6:44 PM  
Anonymous meg said...

I like seeing you with a chainsaw. kinda scary though.. maybe... miss you.

3:43 PM  

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