Tag Archives: HFW

Show me, shoyu

20 Apr

For the grilled, marinated tofu that we put on our homemade banh mi sandwiches, I used both light and dark soy sauce in the marinade.  Have you ever tried to recreate an Asian dish from a restaurant and found it to be too salty or lacking in sweetness with a thin, runny sauce?  It may be due to using the wrong kind of soy sauce.

It wasn’t until recently that I found out that there was more than one type of soy sauce.  I’d only used the Kikkoman-esque stuff that you find on the tables of every Asian restaurants.  Turns out what many of us consider to be just plain ‘ol soy sauce is really light soy sauce.  In this case, light is not referring to reduced calories or sodium, though there is light sodium light soy sauce.  The “light” in light soy sauce refers to the thickness or viscosity of the soy sauce.  Light soy sauce is thin and runny, with a distinct, salty taste.

Dark soy sauce, on the other hand, is called so because it’s thicker.  Dark soy sauce has been aged and often blended with molasses or another sweetener.  While light soy sauce is usually added at the end to add salt and flavor, dark soy sauce is added early in the cooking process.  Cooking helps to develop flavors and sweetness; the first time I heard of dark soy sauce was in a recipe from HFW for Chinese style soy glazed pig’s feet.  I’m not sure if this was due to the dark soy sauce, but it was probably the best Chinese food I’ve made!

Recently, The Splendid Table did a segment where host Lynne Rosetto Kasper tasted five different types of light soy sauce straight from the supermarket in a blind test.  The contenders were:

  1. Kikkoman, $1.19
  2. Pearl River Bridge, $1.29
  3. Eden Organic Tamari, $5.39
  4. La Choy, $1.12
  5. San-J Organic Tamari (Gluten-Free), $4.89

You can see the results (and the tasting) in this video:

Who would of thought that the soy sauce in cabinets and refrigerators across the U.S. would be a taste-test winner?  I guess Lynne has confirmed what Kikkoman has been saying all along: the moment you pour Kikkoman soy sauce, food becomes incredibly delicious.

You can find Kikkoman light soy sauce at any grocery store.  Check your local Asian market for dark soy sauce and try it out the next time you cook Asian food.

He’s everywhere

2 Apr

I was browsing through the introduction to Molly Stevens’ All About Roasting when a familiar name caught my eye:

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall mentioned in Molly Stevens' cookbook "All About Roasting"

“Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the brilliant British chef and cookbook author, sums up the social significance of roasting like this in The River Cottage Meat Book: ‘Serving a roast has long been the most inclusive, magnanimous, and welcoming gesture a host can make to friends and family gathered round a table.'”

HFW is everywhere, there’s no escape!

If you’re interested in having more HFW in your life, someone (*cough cough*) made a YouTube playlist with the entire season of his most recent show, River Cottage Veg.  I’d love to know what you think; is it worthy of all my attention or am I fan girl-ing so hard for nothing?

Short and stout

25 Jan

I’ve been obsessed with celeb chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for four or five years now.  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (or HFW as he is lovingly referred to amongst our friends) champions a “back to the land” type of cooking.  He encourages eating food that you’ve grown yourself or that you’ve found growing wild.  He’s also a strong proponent of raising your own meat and then eating every last bit of it.

Unlike many of his British TV chef counter-parts (Jaime, Nigella, etc.), he’s not very well-known in the United States.  As far as I know, there isn’t an American channel that offers any of his any of his programing.  Which is a little surprising because he’s been making TV shows under the River Cottage name since 1998.

Woman with very short brown hair holding up a copy of "The River Cottage Meat Book" by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Thankfully, Berkeley’s Ten Speed Press (part of Random House) has started publishing HFW’s books in the US.  When we first saw a copy of The River Cottage Meat Book at Powell’s a few years ago, Nate snatched up a copy for me.  Since then, we’ve purchased several other River Cottage books, each of which will probably be featured on the blog at some point or another.

The topic of today’s post, however, is beef in stout.  This is one of two recipes from the book that see the most action at our house (the other: cold roast beef open sandwich).  When I received the January River Cottage email newsletter in my inbox, I was excited to see that they were featuring the recipe on their website. That gave me the perfect excuse to feature it on my blog!

I want to mention that even though this is a stew, it’s not exactly thrifty.  That said, it does serve 8-10 and the flavors are big; this could definitely be the base of a meal where your goal is to impress without seeming stuffy.

Cast iron dutch oven of dark brown steak stew with mushrooms

Anyway, go forth and check out the River Cottage recipe for beef in stout.  Just to make things easy for you, I’m copying down the ingredient list from my U.S. version of The Meat Book so that you don’t have to worry about conversions.  Look at how nice I am!

  • 3 pounds chuck or stewing beef or shank
  • 8 ounces salt pork, pancetta or bacon
  • 2 tablespoons butter or drippings
  • 1 pound baby onions
  • Up to 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 4 cups stout
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A sprig of thyme
  • A few parsley stems
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms

I’ve found that baby onions are a pain in the ass to deal with, quite frankly, so I replace them with one large onion cut in half and sliced going with the grain.  I’ve left out the bacon before but my taste-testers noticed a difference.  We usually use Guinness Extra Stout (in a bottle) which has a little more bite than the Guinness Draught (in a can).  You can use whatever you like!

HFW recommends accompanying your beef in stout with dumplings or mashed potatoes.  Personally, I like buttered egg noodles, and roast squash and Brussels sprouts with mine but the choice is up to you.

Also, in case you’re wondering if this post is affiliated with anything HFW or River Cottage or Ten Speed Press, it’s not.  Nope, I’m just obsessed!

We got the beet

14 Jan

A slice of tarte with small dark purple beets and chunks of parsnip.

Despite being known as an advocate of nose-to-tail eating, in his most recent program, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (my favorite British celeb chef, eat your heart out Jamie Oliver) decided to spend the summer as a vegetarian.  The River Cottage Veg series documented his journey and when I saw River Cottage chef Gil cook up a savory baby beetroot tarte tatin, I knew I had to try it.

The first time I fixed the beet tarte wasn’t without incident; when I went to return the skillet to the oven after adding the puff pastry, I grabbed the skillet handle with my bare hand.  Here’s a tip: don’t do that.  Not only do you feel like an idiot, but your hand hurts like hell for the duration of the party you were making the beet tarte for.  Thankfully, it wasn’t anything an ice-pack, liquid lidocaine, and some gin couldn’t fix.  And the tarte turned out well.  We were having a holiday feast with Middle Eastern food so the tarte was served sliced, drizzled with a tahini-yogurt dressing and sprinkled with chopped parsley and crumbled feta.

A slice of tarte with small dark purple beets and chunks of parsnip.

Yesterday’s lunch was leftovers of a parsnip and beetroot adaptation of the tarte.  I cooked it following the same directions and Nate made a dijon mustard vinaigrette.  Next time I might top it with this sweet-tart fresh mint sauce from Lynn Rosetto Kasper instead.  If you want to make a baby beetroot tarte tatin (with or without parsnips), I have a few tips:

  • Gas mark 5/190 degrees Celsius is roughly 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • You can easily use frozen puff pastry instead of the homemade stuff (I did. Shhh, don’t tell…)
  • Don’t grab the hot skillet without an oven mitt!