Tag Archives: home cook

Szechuan Strip Steak

A few months ago I had this wild idea that I would like a steak with an aggressively spicy Chinese flavor profile of chili oil, Szechuan peppercorns, cumin and garlic. Then suddenly I saw a menu item pop up at the Lobster Club with a strikingly similar list of ingredients, and the steakhouse Blu on Park is closing, making way for an Asian steakhouse which, perhaps, will feature something similar. Without wanting to wait for the new restaurant, and without having to drop bank and fight for a table at Lobster Club, I struck out to make my own, to turn my dream into reality.

I started out with one of my Piedmontese strip steaks because (1) they’re not dry aged, so I’m not competing with any other flavors, and (2) they’re cheap enough so that if I fucked it up, I wouldn’t feel so bad about it.

So what the fuck did I do?

Marinate the shit with chili oil, garlic oil, minced garlic, Szechuan peppercorns, Szechuan pepper oil, cumin, Chinese five spice and sesame oil.

After a few hours (or a few days if you want the flavors to really penetrate the meat), and after allowing your meat to get up to room temperature, dry off your steak with paper towels and season it all over with kosher salt, cracked black pepper, garlic powder, a touch of Chinese five spice and cumin (those last two ingredient are potent, so a little goes a long way). If you have fresh chilies, cut up a few and toss those in as well.

Pour the marinate into a pan and start bringing the fucking heat. Once the pan is screaming hot (but not smoking up the joint), toss that steak in. Now throw in some duck fat (or butter if you don’t have duck fat, but tracking down some duck fat is 100% worth it to bring home all the flavors).

Once the steak sticks to the bottom of the pan, tip the pan and spoon the liquids over the top of the steak as the bottom side cooks up to a nice brown crust. After three minutes of this, flip and repeat. Once finished, remove the steak and let it rest before slicing. Here’s a video of the process:

Now throw a pint of leftover rice from your Chinese take out into the pan. You know – the box of shit that’s been in the back of your fridge all week. Mix all the oil and duck fat into the rice, and spread the rice out across the pan. LEAVE IT. Let it get crispy as fuck on the bottom without burning.

Once that’s done, plate the rice, slice up your steak, and top your rice with the steak. I did a fancy slicing technique for presentation, but you don’t have to get all crazy with it.

That’s about it. Enjoy, assholes! Oh and pro-tip: you can remove the peppercorns before frying up the rice. I didn’t do this because I like the numbing quality to them.

Homemade Pasta

Making fresh pasta is easy as hell. First make a volcano well out of flour. Then add two egg yolks and one whole egg. Start to “scramble” the eggs within the flour well, adding a little bit of flour from the well into the eggs as you beat them. Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil, and keep going.

Once the dough starts to thicken and stick to the fork pretty heavily, you can switch off to mixing with your hands (make sure they’re clean first, you filthy bastard). Knead the dough with your fingers and hands, picking up some flour here and there to keep it from sticking to your hands too much. Knead some more. Eventually you’ll get a nice dough that snaps back a little bit when you squish it in your hands. That means you’re done. Coat with a little bit of olive oil and refrigerate in plastic wrap (or freeze to use at a later date).

After about a half hour in the fridge, my wife and I rolled the dough out into log shapes, or snakes, and then cut them into a rustic cavatelli style pasta, using the prongs of a fork to get a little bit of texture onto the pasta. That texture helps the sauce cling to the pasta better.

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You can watch the whole process come together below:

Fresh pasta cooks up much quicker than boxed pasta. Fettuccine, for example, takes only about two minutes. The kind we made here is a bit thicker, so it’ll take longer to cook through.

My wife made a kickass carbonara for them, using minced pancetta, peas, heavy cream and various cheeses. This shit was delicious.

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DIY Sous Vide & The Searzall

Recently my cousin sent me a text message with some pretty alarming and exciting photos and videos.

Yeah, that’s right… the motherfucker made his own sous vide machine, cooked up some filets to medium rare, and then seared them the fuck off in a cast iron skillet to get some texture on the edges.

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What exactly is a sous vide machine, for you non-food nerds? The words translated from French mean “under vacuum.” It is essentially a hot tub for meat. How it works: you place vacuum sealed meats into the water bath and leave them there until the meat comes up to the proper temperature, which is set and regulated with a water heater and temperature controller. You can’t overcook the meat! You get perfect medium rare shit every time, evenly cooked through and through.

As you can imagine, I was flipping out at what my cousin had achieved. I browsed some DIY sous vide instructional websites a few years back when I was living in a house on Long Island, but it seemed like a ton of effort. I thought to myself, “I’ll just get a real-deal machine someday.” But once I saw these things from my cousin, I knew it was time to pull the trigger.

Lucky for me, my cousin is super handy and craftsmanlike when it comes to stuff like this, and he has access to a bunch of great tools like dremels and drill presses.

A flurry of texts immediately ensued. It’d be fun to build one together, I thought. THIS LINK is the instructional we worked from. My cousin ordered a bunch of the materials online…

I pulled my cooler out of the closet, which would serve as the main cooking vessel or “hot tub” (and it saved me some bucks for not having to buy a plastic tub).

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and I ordered a vacuum sealer via Amazon Prime…

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I also nabbed a blow torch, a can of propane, and a Searzall, because I want to flame that shit sometimes instead of finishing in a pan. Plus, this works great if I ever do fish – the skin… oh maaaaan it gets crispy…

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I sent the dimensions of my cooler lid area to my cousin:

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He used this to figure out how to cut the plexi down to size to serve as the top portion that suspends the water heater in position. He also built the temperature control housing, and wired the power supply for the temperature control unit and heater probe (thermometer).

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I was initially concerned that the hinged top of my cooler wouldn’t close properly with the plexi in place. It turns out that closing the top tight isn’t too big of a problem when you’re using a nicely insulated vessel like a cooler. Also, we dropped the plexi to a lower lip within the cooler, so the thing closes nicely now:

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Then you suction this to one of the walls. Essentially this is a water circulator. It keeps the water swirling around so that there are no warm or cold spots within the bath, which makes for a nice even cooking temperature.

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BOOM! I can’t wait to fire this fucker up. I’m going to pick up some fish and beef right the fuck now.