Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sweet and Spicy Drumsticks

I was watching a cooking video a while back where the chef (I can’t remember who) was explaining the importance of searing meat and one of her comments really stuck with me. She said that one of the main problems home cooks had was that they were too afraid of the heat; fear of overcooking the meat keeps them from turning the heat up high enough and leaving it still long enough to develop that brown crust that makes it taste so delicious and traps the juicy goodness inside. I’ll admit it really is difficult to just sit there and watch it cook. Something just makes me want to move it or flip it or check the bottom or do anything BUT leave it alone. However, on the occasions where I do manage to gather up the self restraint long enough to let it do its thing, the results are almost always amazing.

Though I love dark meat, when I buy chicken, it’s usually breasts. Besides being cheap and versatile, most grocery stores here tend to sell thigh meat with more fat and skin attached than I particularly care for. But chicken breast gets boring, and drumstick happened to be on sale, so I thought I’d have a go at something new. I let them marinade overnight (another thing I really should start doing more often), which requires some planning ahead but really helps make the meat much more flavorful. I heated up some oil at just short of the highest setting my stove can do, tossed the chicken in, and walked away. Granted, one can only go so far in my little dorm, but I think it was important for me not to just stand there and watch them. Every couple of minutes, I’d turn the drumsticks to let another side sear and walk away. The end result: a crispy golden outside with a juice-running-down-your-wrists tender inside. I made a spicy and sweet sauce to coat it with and dug in. I didn't measure the quantities for the marinade or sauce very precisely (quite tekito about that), so I've listed them as a rough ratio. Meals like this always make me feel a bit torn inside: I can’t decide whether I wish there was someone to enjoy the deliciousness with or if I’m glad that I don’t have to share and can eat them all myself.

1 part Soy sauce
2 parts Shiao Xing rice wine
1/4 part Sesame oil
1/2 part Minced garlic
1/2 part Thai chili
1 part Corn starch

1 part Soy sauce
2 parts Shiao Xing rice wine
1 part Tobanjang (spicy bean paste)
1/2 part Kecap manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce)
1/4 part Chili oil
1 part Sugar

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tekito Blogging

I’m going to start off by coming clean: this is not my first attempt at a food blog. A couple of months ago, all fired up to dive into the world of food blogging, I made a blog, posted my first entry, and promptly let it die. It didn’t help that it was a bit of a busy time at work, but the real reason it failed is because I felt like it had to be something epic. An entry had to have a recipe, a recipe a story, a story a picture. And it couldn’t be just once in a while, it had to be frequent and consistent. Unable to meet these expectations, my brand new blog was doomed the moment it was made. I’ve come to terms with the fact that this just isn’t manageable for me. So my goal is at least one post a week. That’s not unreasonable, right? Anyhow, here goes nothing…

The name of this blog is a reflection on both my way of cooking, photography, and handling this blog. "Tekito" is one of those amazingly useful Japanese words that just doesn't have a good English translation. If you look it up, you'll get words like "suitable" or "adequate", but that really doesn't convey the depth of the word. A person who is being tekito is usually doing just enough to get by; it also implies that acting off-the-cuff and winging it. I tend to follow recipes fairly loosely, using rough measurements and adjusting ingredients based on what I have and whatever sounds good. Likewise, I still am figuring out how to take good pictures. I've got a nice fancy DSLR camera, but don't have a particularly good grasp of how to change the final product by adjusting the settings. Mostly I just take a ton of pictures with a bunch of different settings and pic whichever ones turn out best. Pretty tekito.

A big factor in my deciding to have another go at this was stumbling on Oishii Eats, and from there Eat Drink & Be Merry. Until recently, I had only really followed food blogs that frequently posted recipes, but those two really drew me in. Maybe it’s the way that the two blogs combine to tell the same stories from two different points of view. Maybe it’s my recent yearnings for the West Coast lifestyle I walked away from. Maybe I just like the pretty pictures. In any case, I think they’re both absolutely amazing. There stories of hitting up taco trucks all over LA had me in the mood for some tacos myself. However, having thrown a taco party not all that long ago and with Tokyo severely lacking decent Mexican food, I was looking for something a bit different. I’ve never been to the uber-popular Kogi taco truck, but it certainly sounds like damn good food, so I thought I’d have a go at making something similar. Tortillas are pretty freakin hard to find in here in the first place, but I usually have lots of time for cooking on Sunday’s and like to do something special or at least out of the ordinary for dinner, so I decided I’d just make my own. Not one of my best choices… The dough was too sticky, the same problem I had when recently making bread and anpan, which I think is the result of insufficient stirring/kneading. Though the resulting tortillas (if you can call them that) were pretty ugly and more like a flat bread, they tasted decent enough and the meat I loaded them up with was awesome. Certainly not my finest culinary moment, but all in all a respectable dinner.

I won’t bother with the tortilla recipe this time around, but I do plan on trying it again and will post it then if it turns out better. For the meat, I used a cut called koma (小間), though I’m honestly not sure which part of the pig it comes from. It’s fairly fatty, but much less so than pork belly so it seemed like a good option to keep things juicy without giving me a heart attack at the same time. I used 300g of meat, which was way too much for 3 medium sized tortillas. Then again, at 1/4 lb per tortilla, i probably should have seen that coming. The marinade is “Korean inspired”, as it lacks pretty much any kind of authenticity besides some common Korean ingredients.

3 tbs kochujang
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs sake
1 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs sugar
1 clove garlic