Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lap Xuong Spring Roll

Lap Wut?  Hows you say that?  Try this...  Lop Zu-ong?  Better?

Chinese sausage, Lap Xuong, or sometimes Lap Choung, is a Pork sausage that is dried and packaged to be shelf stable at room temperature.  You can think of it as Pork Jerky, sort of.  Maybe like a Pepperoni stick, or one of those Firecracker Sausage sticks?  Sound like junk food?  Nah, Chinese sausage is Serious Bismuth...
You know me, always messing around with culinary borders, breaking the status quo of cuisine.  Lap Cheong is a Cantonese sausage, which much as many Asian foods, crosses borders carelessly.  In Vietnam it is known as Lap Xuong.  This is my first taste of Lap Xuong, so this is experimental, sort of, and is also my first attempt at Spring Rolls.  Then Lap Xuong package say they need to be cooked thoroughly.  This is not because it is fresh meat, it is fully cooked, but because the Lap Xuong has a high fat content.  I'll take two sausages and pan fry them, and simmer the remainder for 15 minutes.

I want to try the Lap Xuong both fried and simmered in water.  The other ingredients in the Spring Roll are some stir fried vegetables and some Rice Vermicelli.  For the stir fried vegetables I am going to lean over to the Chinese side of the border, and use some vegetables that normally would be found in Egg Rolls, like Cabbage, Carrots, Onion, and some Hatch Green Chile.  I finely slice the vegetables, and set them aside for the stir fry.
In the mean time I need to put the Rice Vermicelli in some hot water to soften it.  We want the Rice Vermicelli to be ready to eat when it goes into the Spring Roll because the Spring Rolls are not cooked again before they are served.  Same for the Lap Xuong, it needs to be fully cooked before going into the Spring Roll.
The pan fried Lap Xuong is kinda of crispy like Bacon, and has a sweet and savory flavor similar to Maple Breakfast Sausage.  It is very familiar and foreign at the same time, hard to explain.  The simmered Lap Xuong has similar flavor, but is softer, and I think it will go better in the Spring Roll than the pan fried Lap Xuong.  I use the leftover oil in the fry pan to stir fry the vegetables.  They are thinly sliced and will cook very quickly.  I'll add some Soy Sauce to the stir fried vegetables for seasoning.
The Spring Roll uses Rice Paper for a wrapper.  It is a very thin sheet of processed Rice, and only needs to be dipped in hot water for a few seconds for it to become pliable enough to roll.  There are many varieties and shapes of Rice Paper.  I chose round because I am used to rolling tortillas.

Next I need to put together a rolling station.  It will be very similar to rolling Sushi, but there is no rolling mat needed.  The thin Rice Paper can be difficult to get a hold of, so you may want to have a knife handy to get under the sheet if it is stuck to the cutting board.  Then we prepare the fillings.  We need to drain the Rice Vermicelli noodles, put the stir fried vegetables in a bowl, slice the Lap Xuong, and get everything ready to roll.
As I pull one sheet of Rice Paper out of the water, I'll throw another one in.  This is very much an assembly line process now.  Spread the Rice Paper out on the cutting board.  Add some Rice Vermicelli noodles to the back side.  Then add some stir fried vegetables, and finally add some of the sliced Lap Xuong.  Then we roll, much like a Burrito, or an Egg Roll, fold the back of the Rice Paper over the filling, fold in the sides, and then roll the contents down the remaining Rice Paper.  The Rice Paper sticks to itself well, so you don't need to worry about applying any "glue".  Once you have rolled a few you will have a rhythm, and the rest go fast.
This is my first experience with Lap Xuong, so I am serving a couple extra links with my Spring Rolls.  The condiments that I chose are Soy Sauce, some Hot Horseradish Mustard from Germany, and some of my Hatch Chile Salsa.  So, wadaya think?  Ready for some Chinese Burritos?  Uh, I mean, Mexican Egg Rolls?  No wait, what are these?  Cantonese Spring Rolls?  LOL!  Whatever the hell they are, they just Happy Monkey Chow...

Hatch Pico de Gallo and Salsa

Whoo Hoo!  Fiesta!  Its Hatch Chile season!

Now is the time of year when an avalanche of green chiles come pouring out of New Mexico.  Ever hear of the Hatch Chile Festival?  It is fixing to happen this coming weekend, Hatch Chile Festival.  That means its harvest season in Hatch, New Mexico.  For Chileheads this is the quintessential season of eating fire.  Just about every kind of Chile imaginable is grown in Hatch, but the star of the show is called a Big Jim, which is a large green Anaheim Chile.  The big burlap sacks stuffed with Big Jim's get shipped off to every corner of the world, and, as always, I will snatch my fair share, wholeheartedly...
We'll start with a fresh concoction, Pico de Gallo, or Beak of the Rooster.  I'll dice a nice red Tomato, a large green Big Jim, bias slice some Scallions and chop some Cilantro, and mix them well in a bowl with a shake of Sea Salt.  Let the mixture sit and marinate together, at room temperature, for an hour or so to let the flavors mingle.  Pico de Gallo is good with anything, even if it is just chips.
Next we'll make a Hatch Chile Salsa.  I have a few pounds of Roma Tomatoes which are good for stewing, make good salsa.  Dice them and add them to a stew pot.
Then I'll dice about half a pound of the Big Jim Chiles, some are turning red.  When Chiles ripen their vitamin content changes.  Green Chiles are rich in Vitamin C, and Red Chiles are rich in Beta Carotene.  When you catch them mid-change you are getting a good shot of both Vitamin C and Beta Carotene.  Then flavors are a bit different, and that augments the flavor of the salsa.
Then we'll dice half a white Onion, and add the Chiles and Onions to the stew pot.  For me, the Big Jim Chiles don't have enough heat, so I will add some dehydrated Cayenne Chiles, cut in thin slices, to the stew pot as well.  We'll season the Salsa with Sea Salt, and let it begin to simmer.  When I am making a Salsa I usually add both fresh Tomatoes and canned Tomatoes.  The reason for this is nutrients.  Fresh, in season, Tomatoes are always nomlishious, but there is something to be added by using canned Tomatoes, and its not the taste of the can.  When Tomatoes are canned and processed the Vitamin C is converted into Lycopene, and it is the heat and pressure in the canning process that makes the Lycopene bio-available, or able to be utilized by our digestive process.  So by using fresh and canned Tomatoes we can widen the range of nutrition in the Salsa.  I'll take a 14 ounce can of whole Tomatoes, give them a ride in the food processor, and then dump them into the stew pot.  At this point re-season the Salsa with Sea Salt, and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer it down to the consistency that you like.  I like thick Salsa, so I'll simmer most of the water out of the Salsa.
When the consistency is right remove the stew pot from the heat and let cool for a while.  Then I usually store the Salsa in one of those plastic Zip containers and refrigerate it.  This batch produced about 5 cups of Salsa, which will last a couple 'o three days.  I eat Salsa with everything...

Swai Pho

Just what the heck is Swai?  Swai is a Chinese Catfish/Shark.  It can not be sold as a Catfish in the United States because its not technically a Catfish, its a Catfish Shark (source Wikipedia, Swai).  To me Catfish sort of look like Sharks, well sans the big teeth.  So, Swai is better suited for fish farming because it grows faster than regular Catfish.  As long as its good eats is all I am concerned about.  Lets put it in the Pho...
 I was at the Asian market on Saturday musing, what to make.  I really shouldn't goto the market when I am hungry, I wind up buying everything that looks appealing.  I had already bought some Swai at another market, and was trying to decide how to cook it.  I got some Rice Vermicelli, baby Bok Choy, and Okra, then also had some Hatch Green Chile at home.  I have been putting Okra in stir fries lately, ever since the Fish Stew.  I am going to stir fry the vegetables before I put them into the Pho so they are cooked well first.
I am using some leftover Chicken Stock that I had made earlier in the week for the Pho stock.  I had bought a whole roasted Chicken, and then used the leftover parts to make a stock, along with Carrot, Celery, and Onion.  Homemade stock is always better than the Chicken Bullion.  The Swai will get poached in the Chicken stock for 5 minutes before we assemble the Pho.  Here we see the Rice Vermicelli and the stir fried vegetables awaiting the Swai and the Chicken stock.
I'll take the Swai filet and cut it into 4 large pieces to poach it.  It is easier to manage large pieces when they are free in the stock.  The Swai will poach for 5 minutes until it is white and flaky.  Then we will need a garnish for the Pho, which is usually bias sliced Scallions for me, and maybe a sprig of fresh Thai Basil.
When the Swai is cooked I will rescue it from the Chicken stock, and cut in into smaller pieces.  I like to have bread with any soup, and my favorite way to prepare bread for soup is to griddle the bread with some butter, and then season it with Garlic salt.  Fish Pho, and not just Swai, has become a regular staple food for me.  The Chicken stock is something that is a natural comfort food, and then add the Rice Vermicelli, and stir fried vegetables, and its just nomlishious.  Throw in a little Fish Sauce, and some green chile, and I am a happy monkey...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fish Stew

When I started this recipe I was looking to make an Asian inspired fish stew.  It didn't quite turn out that way due to lack of ingredients, but I wound up with a pretty good soup/stew anyway.  I've been craving fish big time lately, and Asian food, to me, seems to do seafood the best, particularly Vietnamese cuisine.  So, I went looking for recipes and found some inspirations, but nothing seemed quite like what I wanted so, I decided to go freestyle, with fresh garden veggies.  Here are some Carrots I just pulled out of the garden.
There are also some baby Garlic in that shot.  Even though it has been really hot here lately, there are some things that have persisted in the garden.  Most are root vegetables and herbs, but then my Chiles are doing really well right now.  So, back to the stew.  I need to make a stew base, and was looking to do this in a way that was low fat because I don't want a thick, heavy stew.  Its supposed to be light, like fish.  I started with a quart of Vitalized Water, and added a Chicken stock base, Caldo de Pollo, to make a quick Chicken stock.  Then added my chopped veggies, Carrot, Potato, Celery, and Onion, and let them simmer down for 20 minutes or so.  Hey, this is casual cooking, no hard measurements or rigid cooking times.
In the meantime I needed to thaw out the piece of Codfish I selected for the stew because they come frozen.  I let the individually packaged piece of fish sit and thaw in some cold tap water in the sink.  Here were going to add some Asian taste to the otherwise Southwestern cuisine, Fish Sauce.  Fish Sauce is a scary unknown to most occidental western people.  It is a major staple in all Asian cuisine, which is substituted with Soy Sauce by westerners.  I am probably going to do a blog post exclusively on Fish Sauce in the future because of its rich history, and unique nutritional properties, like microbiotics, and enzymes.  But, here we use it for taste.  I'll add about a tablespoon of Fish Sauce to the stew.  Then we'll chop the fish into bite size portions.
The stew will have thickened as the vegetables cook down and break up, forming a broth that is infused with Chicken, Vegetables, Fish sauce, and now the Codfish itself.  Right before adding the fish, I'll add some chopped Cabbage, for a little extra Asian flair, give it a few minutes, and then I add the fish pieces to the stew, and gently work them in.  Reduce the heat to a low simmer, and give the fish 5 minutes to poach in the stew.  I thinly slice some Lemon slices and add a few to the stew in the last minute, and griddle some Ciabatta bread on the Comal.  Serve the stew with some extra Lemon slices on top, the Ciabatta bread, and some Asian Chile/Garlic sauce on the side.
Nomlishious Texan/Asian Fusion...

Pork Butt Breakfast Tacos

My pork butt is legendary...

I smoked a pork butt yesterday and have a lot of leftovers, it was about a 5 pound roast.  I side smoked it next to a Hickory wood fire for a couple of hours.  There are the parts of the roast that I use where I need the pork, but there are also parts of the roast I use for other things, like pork and beans.  I made a pot of Bolita beans and used the leftover auju from the roast, some of the pork meat, and the fatty connective tissue.  You want the flavor of the pork in the beans, but not a lot of meat.  We're talking leftovers, and it is the next day, so first thing we're gonna do is make some Pork Butt Breakfast Tacos.
My breakfast tacos are really pretty much standard.  A griddled corn tortilla, with cheeze, filled with a scrambled egg mixture and some pork meat.  The smoked pork butt makes them special.  This is happening on the way to work.  Why don't you just pickup breakfast tacos on the way to work?  Well, I do, but I like my homemade stuff better.  So, when I have  the time I would rather eat homemade, rather than anything from out there...
I take each taco, fold in half, not rolled, and then wrap them in aluminum foil.  This keeps them warm on the way to work.  I also bring along a cup of my Pork and Bolita beans, and some Cayenne Chile Sauce.    So yeah, making you own homemade take-out or take-with takes some time, and maybe doesn't equate efficiently to just buying some take-out on the way yo work, but they taste better, and are probably better for you then the take-out stuff.  Besides, you can't get my smoked pork butt from some restaurant out there...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


"To survive is not enough. To simply exist... is not enough!"  --Roga Danar

Roga Danar is a fictional character from Star Trek TNG.  He was an Angosian prisoner and former two time subahdar in the Angosian military.  The quote however is paraphrased from Albert Schweitzer...

"It is not enough merely to exist. It's not enough to say, 'I'm earning enough to support my family. I do my work well. I'm a good father, husband, churchgoer.' That's all very well. But you must do something more. Seek always to do some good, somewhere"  --Albert Schweitzer

"Human nature is intricately defined by its owner. If we wish to merely exist, then exist we do. But if we take his question to a higher state of mind, we find life's perfect answer: Mankind's nature is to evolve. Not only to simply exist but to assure non-extinction of our species."  --William Shakespeare

OK, now we have a few centuries of edification. From the 16th century to the 24th century, as it seems it is not enough to merely live life for the sake of living.  One's life needs purpose, a goal which is loftier than one's perceived potential.  We need limits to push out, boundaries to break, and frontiers to breach.  Every branch of human endeavor has countless stalwarts of progressive thinkers, and builders.  It is literally our evolutionary process to innovate, and invent...

Just Being is not enough.  To be, what is that?  To simply exist?  Everyone has hopes, aspirations, dreams.  But here we need to look deeper.  Why do we have this ingrained need to create?  What drives us to breach frontiers, and break barriers?  Could it have something to do with our Source?  We are created in the image of our Creator.  It means we are like our Creator, we're Mini-Creators.  And also the Creator instilled the need within us to create.  Instead of being, we are becoming.  Becoming what?  We are becoming like our Creator.  We are Hu-Mans Becoming like our Creator.

I found a little truism which can be used like an affirmation, or a reminder to give us a little nudge when we need it.  "I Am a Hu-Man Becoming.  Help me to Become."  A book I am reading now reminded me of these ideas.  Hu-Man literally means God-Man.  "I Am a Hu-Man Becoming.  Help me to Become."  The idea that we are made in the Creators image, and also carry the innate ability to create, leads to the logical conclusion that our potential is much greater than we may have thought.  This little affirmation lets us express our desire to live up to our potential...

"I Am a Hu-Man Becoming.  Help me to Become."

"We are Hu-Mans Becoming.  Help us to Become."

"They are Hu-Mans Becoming.  Help them to Become."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Here is my latest alternator, the DiaMag8.  This one has a compound rotor, which has eight 45 degree Neodymium arc segments on it, rather than a single monolithic magnet.  The winding style is different on this one also.  On DiaMag7 the winding slots are open on the outside, which means the windings cross the rotor space, locking the rotor inside the alternator.  To remove the rotor the coils would have to be unwound.  On DiaMag8 the winding slots are open on the inside, and I used some dowels for wire management to keep the windings out of the rotor space.  This also necessitated the use of bearing mounting plates, external to the wire form, to hold the rotor...
I have only spent a little time, so far, testing this one.  The output voltages were a little better than DiaMag7, which was expected because the DiaMag8 is a little larger in diameter than DiaMag7.  Where the real difference should be is the current.  Due to the change in rotor physics I am expecting a lot more current from this one.  I need to build a new load which is a set of incandescent light bulbs.  Then I can continue the current testing.  Also while spinning DiaMag8 at a high rate of speed, 30,000 RPM, it vibrates considerably.  This means the rotor is slightly out of balance, and that also needs to be corrected.  So, looking good so far...