Thursday, May 25, 2017

Morel Salt

I have a love hate relationship with the morel mushroom. I will not argue that they are tasty because they are, and I enjoy eating them as much as the next guy. My problem is that I am not very good at finding them, and not for a lack of trying either. I have found a few over the years and have spent countless hours walking around the woods trying to find some. I always manage to find a few but I can never seem to find a large cache of them. One of the many problems with social media is that I see on Facebook all these people with table tops lined up with morels or some guy in Tennessee with the bed of a pick up full of them. I always feel like everybody but me is having success. The most I have ever found in one day was 14. When you don't find many you have to start being thrifty as to how you prepare them.

I have never been fortunate enough to find a large enough haul to just fry up a basket of them and eat them. I always find just enough to add to a dish or to make a nice risotto. Just once I'd like to be the guy with a five gallon bucket full of morels and running out of ways to cook them. This year I have been out on five separate occasions and on three of those occasions came up empty handed. On one of my successful outings I found four perfect little morels each about 3 inches tall. When you only have four morels there isn't much you can do with them. I thought about frying them and just eating them and calling it a season but I like to extended things as much as possible. instead of eating them I packed them in salt and let them sit for a few days then pulsed them in my food processor. this worked really well for infusing the salt with great morel flavor. I spread the sanding looking salt on a cookie sheet and popped it in the oven at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes to dry it out a bit.

The salt is exactly what I had hoped it would turn out to be. It is a perfect seasoning salt for eggs and meats and great on grilled fish. I ended up with about 1 1/2 cups of salt and will now be able to enjoy that magnificent morel flavor long after the season is over. To make this salt just cut the morels in half and clean them out really well. then pack the halves in a cup and a half of salt and let sit for 3-4 days. Then pulse in a food processor and spread out on a cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Store in an airtight container and enjoy through out the summer.  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tamago Gohan with Ramps and Nettles

It is interesting to me how many Japanese dishes I come across that I never tried or even heard of when I lived in Japan. I lived over there for two years and although I tried a number of things I missed out on a lot more. One of the things I missed out on is a dish know as TKG, tamago kake gohan. In its most basic form it is just a bowl of steamed rice with a raw egg stirred into it that is served for breakfast. If you want to kick it up some you can add some soy sauce or sesame seeds. Some versions have a small sheet of kombu added for flavor. Any way you look at it, it is one of the simplest and most satisfying things I have ever had for breakfast.

I have been eating tamago gohan for breakfast about once a week for the last several months. As soon as I ate it the first time I thought how wonderful it would be with something wild in it. I almost couldn't wait for spring because I wanted to try it with ramps. I just new that the great garlic and onion flavor of a ramp would be great with rice and egg. The first thing I did this spring when I picked some ramps was make this dish. I had also pick a nice sized bag of nettles to I mixed them in just for fun. If you are looking for a quick and easy breakfast give this a try and if you feel the need to add a few strips of bacon it only gets that much better.

Tamago Gohan with Ramps and Nettles

1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 egg
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp chili sauce
2 tablespoons chopped ramps
2 tablespoons chopped nettles

Place the hot rice in a bowl and add the remaining ingredients, stir vigorously with chop sticks and enjoy.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Shredded Venison Torta

Today is Cinco De Mayo, for most college aged Americans that means lots of Tequila and Dos Equis. Your face book feed is probably loaded with Pictures of fresh street tacos and for the day we all get to pretend we know something about Mexican heritage. I don't know anything about Mexican heritage but I do love Mexican food. I was going to make something taco related but then figured so was everybody else. Instead I decided on something a little less well known but equally delicious and of course I used wild game.

A torta is a sandwich served on a crusty white roll usually oblong in shape. They are a very popular street food in Mexico and are often sold at sporting events and outdoor concerts. In the U.S. they aren't as popular as other Mexican foods but they are equally delicious. This Torta was made with venison and the bun was spread with refried bean and topped with pickled red onions. The shredded venison could also be used in tacos or tamales or even in a burrito if you choose.

Shredded Venison

2 1/2 pounds venison roast cut into large cubes
3 tablespoons roasted garlic paste
1 stick of cinnamon5 tablespoons Achiote Paste
2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
3 cloves
1/4 cup dried poblano peppers
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/2 cup sour orange juice

Place the cubed venison in a large bowl and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add the remaining ingredients to a food processor and pulse until you get a smooth paste. Pour the Paste over the venison and let sit for 30 minutes. Place the meat and paste in a crock pot and cook on high for 3 hours or until the venison easily shreds apart.

To make the Torta gently toast the buns and spread some refried beans on the bottom half of the bun. Place a generous portion of venison on the bun and top with pickled red onions.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pheasant and Soba Noodle soup

Anytime I get to throw some wild game in a dish I jump at the opportunity. When a friend of mine sent me this recipe and said she really liked it but would like to see what kind of wild spin I would put on it I was intrigued. The original recipe was very straight forward and called for smoked trout. With the exception of a good Chowder I am usually not a big fan of using fish in soup. I went to the freezer to see what I had available and the first thing that jumped out at me were three pheasants I had been given by my buddy Eric.

I figured I could really fortify the soup base if I roasted some pheasant carcasses and add them to the stock. Along with the pheasants I  threw in a handful of dried lobster mushrooms I had from last year and some store bought shittakes. I also had some dried ramp leaves from last year so I added them as well. What I ended up with is a hearty stock that is packed with Umami flavors. The soba noodles and the pheasant made this one of my new favorite soups. 

 Pheasant and Soba Noodle Soup

6 ounces Japanese soba, cooked and tossed with 2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 broccoli crowns, cut or broken into small florets
1 pound of pheasant meat cut into one inch cubes
3 pheasant carcasses, roasted
5-6 dried ramps
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds for garnish
6 dried shittake mushrooms
1 cup dried lobster mushrooms
1 bunch scallions, sliced
1 4- to 6-inch stick of kombu
8 cups water
2 inch knob of ginger, skinned and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
3 tablespoons Soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine (mirin)
Salt and sugar to taste

Start by making the stock, put the roasted pheasant carcasses in a stock pot then cover with 8 cups of water. Add the mushrooms, dried ramps, soy sauce, rice wine and the ginger. Cook the stock for about 45 minutes, covered. then add the pheasant pieces to the stock and cook for 10 minutes more.
Pour the stock through a strainer lined with cheese cloth and reserve the mushrooms and the pheasant pieces. Put the strained stock back on the stove over medium heat and add the mushroom and pheasant back in. Add in the Broccoli and cook for 5 minutes more taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Place a portion of the soba noodles in a bowl and pour soup over noodles. garnish with black sesame seeds and thinly sliced scallions. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Grilled Venison steaks with Gochujang marinade

Its always a lot of fun for me to come across a new ingredient that I like. It usually open up a whole new world of food and I end up cooking almost exclusively with it for a while. So when the folks at Chung Jung One sent me a sample of their new Gochujang Korean Chili paste I was super excited to give it a try. I wasn't familiar with it at all so it was a new flavor for me. I was ridiculously impressed with how good it was. I started researching recipes and found a dozen or so new things to try. The trick of course was trying to incorporate wild game into the mix.

As it turns out it wasn't that tricky to find ways to use the gochujang with game. This first thing I made was a Bibimbap with a gochujang and date hot sauce. After that I wanted to try it as a marinade and came across this recipe. I marinated the venison steaks in a gochujang marinade then painted them with the gochujang date hot sauce. The marinade is packed with sweet and savory flavors and even though it is a chili sauce it isn't overwhelmingly hot. There is just a small amount of spice to the sauce.

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring so I can get out and gather some ramps and try a ramp Kim Chi and maybe some kind of trout recipe as well.

Venison Steak with Gochujang Marinade

8 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
1 2” piece ginger, peeled, sliced
½ cup dry sake
½ cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
½ cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for grilling
1½ pound venison roast cut into 1/4 inch slices for quick grilling

Purée garlic, ginger, sake, gochujang, mirin, and ¼ cup oil in a blender. Set ¼ cup marinade aside; chill. Transfer remaining marinade to a large dish. Add venison and marinade for at least 2 hours.
Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Remove venison from marinade and grill, basting with reserved marinade, turning occasionally, this will cook pretty quickly about 2-3 minutes each side.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Karaage Pheasant

Every now and then I get lazy, I feel uninspired and it gets really difficult to for me to come up with new posts. It might just be fatigue or it might be that I am just  a slug and need to get off my dead lazy and do something. I worry sometimes that I will run out of ideas and new things to try. I don't want to start repeating myself and putting out the same recipes. So far between what I write here and what I have written for others I have almost 400 different posts. I have kind of been in a rut as of late and even though I keep a journal of ideas that still has 30-40 ideas that I haven't tried yet I found myself uninspired and not able to think of something new.

A few weeks back I finally got around to making potstickers something I had wanted to do for a long time but never did. While I was making those it reminded me of all the great food that I ate and tried when I lived in Japan and in less then 30 minutes I had ten new things to try. All the different noodle dishes that I ate as well as the seafood and of course the Karaage Chicken. I used to frequent a little bar in Sasebo, Japan that we all used to call Mama's. I'm not sure if that was the real name of the bar or not but that's what we all called the lady who ran the joint. Mama's was never our first stop of the evening but it was always the last place we would go and usually never leave. We would sing Karaoke drink massive amount of bourbon and without fail by the end of the night eat a plate of Karaage.

Karaage is Japanese fried chicken and is some of the best fried chicken I have ever eaten. Mama would always serve it up with a little ketchup which sounds strange but at the end of a good night of drinking was heaven on a plate. Karaage is a very lightly breaded fried chicken that uses potato starch as the breading. All of the flavor comes from the marinade that you soak the chicken. The marinade is loaded with garlic and ginger then you add sake, mirin, and soy sauce. It is left to marinate for about 30 minutes then dredged in the potato starch and dropped into the hot oil. It is insanely easy to make and honestly I have no Idea why it took me 20 years to make it myself. Mama used to make hers with chicken thighs but I wanted to make it a little bit wild so I used pheasant breasts. Mine wasn't as good as Mama's but it was pretty awesome. Perhaps if I drink a lot of bourbon and sing some karaoke it will be better.

Karaage, (Japanese Fried pheasant)

1 pound of pheasant cut into large 2 inch chunks
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 inch knob of ginger grated
1/4 cup of sake
1/4 cup of good quality soy sauce
2 tablespoons Mirin
1 cup potato starch
Oil for frying

Mix together the Garlic, ginger, mirin, sake, and soy sauce and add the pheasant. Let marinade for 30 minutes. Heat your oil to 350 degrees then dredge the pheasant pieces in the potato starch and fry for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown on the outside and the meat inside is fully cooked. Season with salt and serve with a lemon wedge or some ketchup, depending on much you have had to drink.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Butter Poached Salmon

You know that old Beatles song, I get by with a little help from friends? Well I am a result of all of my friends. I don't just get by with a little help, most of what I do is the direct result of the people around me. It was my friend Rick Edwards who encouraged me to start this blog. My buddy Eric Passe has taught me most of what I know about duck and goose hunting. All of my friends have at sometime brought be some kind of wild game or fish or have save me specific parts so I could try something new. Most recently I had asked my group of facebook friends if anyone had a goose breast that I could get. Eric didn't have one but he checked with the rest of his family and found some goose breasts. My buddy Jeremy Vanlandingham called me and said why don't you come on down and we can butcher one of geese. Jeremy raises geese and was willing to let me kill one just so I could cook a recipe. I don't just get by with help from my friends I thrive because of the help from my friends.

This post is a prime example of those friends helping out. This salmon was caught in Alaska by my buddy Mike Keller and his wife Christine. Mike and Christine gave me a few packs of salmon and a bunch of Halibut and I have been making posts about all of it. My soul brother Shawn Bergeth who has been my biggest fan bought me the Sous Vide machine for my birthday this year. This whole post is the direct result of my friends. I have tried very hard to be appreciative and try to give back to all of them but I will never be able to give them all what they truly deserve, so let me just thank you to all of them for their support and generosity. I would love to list them all here but inevitably I would forget someone and that would make me feel stupid.  

This is a new thing for me, the sous vide precision cooker that Shawn bought me has been something I have wanted for a long time. For those unfamiliar the sous vide is a device that cooks meat, fish, eggs or vegetables by vacuum sealing them and then submerging it in a water bath that is set to a precise temperature. It is without a doubt the most accurate way to cook something and can be a time saver. I you wanted to cook a piece of venison to an exact 140 degrees you just set the temperature and place the meat in the water and leave it for a set amount of time. That's it, after it is cooked all you have to do is remove it form the bag and sear it in a pan for about 45 seconds on each side and it is done. Perfectly cooked and ready to go. 

For this salmon I wanted to cook it in butter and herbs so I sealed the butter and the salt, pepper, and thyme in the bag with the salmon. It was submerged in a water bath at 130 degrees for about 2 hours. after the 2 hours I removed it from the bag and seared it in a pan with some of the butter from the bag. I seared it for about 30 seconds on high heat and served it with a horseradish dill sauce. It was perfectly cooked and beyond tender. Thank you Shawn for the fancy new cooking tool and thank you to Mike and Christine for the delicious salmon.