Tag Archives: chicken

Shark’s Fin Soup | “Clue: The Movie”

by Blake Stilwell, in the kitchen, with the knife.

Long before Charles Carson taught me what being a butler really meant, I learned that the Butler buttles. He is the head of the Kitchen and Dining Room and likes to keep the kitchen “tidy.” In 1985’s Clue: The Movie, that role is played by Tim Curry in what is in my opinion his best role ever, and Rocky Horror fans can think of that what they like.

So can Stephen King.

So can Stephen King.

Clue might be the first movie based on a board game (or perhaps… the only one that isn’t unwatchably horrible), Tim Curry plays Wadsworth, the most charming butler since Irene hired Godfrey. Wadsworth gathers a group of seemingly unrelated guests to dinner. Their only common element is they all received a letter. Which read:

“It will be to your advantage to be present on this date because a Mr. Boddy will bring to an end a certain long-standing confidential and painful financial liability.”

This letter from “A friend” was read to the guests over dinner, a dinner that included Monkey’s Brains (Mrs. Peacock’s favorite) and a delicious shark’s fin soup. While researching this article, I found what looks like a great recipe for the soup from a 1982 New York Times article. But as I further researched the dish, I became a little bit worried about recommending it to people to actually eat.

Shark’s Fin Soup is  made from the stock of a shark’s fin. But since the shark fin itself has very little flavor, especially for a stock, it is usually helped along with chicken stock. The fin is more for texture than flavor. But it is still seen as a delicacy and can cost upwards of $80-$100 per bowl. If that wasn’t enough, shark fishermen actually catch sharks just for their fins and leave the rest of the carcass. Moreover, shark fins contain a LOT of mercury, formaldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, and other toxins. FDA studies show almost 80% of sharks fins contain significant levels dangerous substances that cause Alzheimer’s and impotence (which sucks, because so many cultures think it’s and aphrodisiac.) To make a long story short (TOO LATE), Shark’s Fin Soup just isn’t that good for you or for sharks. We’ll give Clue a pass because it was set in 1954, but for us, we’re gonna need something better.

Lucky for us, supernaturally gifted and nationally acclaimed Chef Peter Pahk concocted a sustainable Faux Shark Fin Soup recipe that he (rightly) claims is better than the real thing. Because arsenic is a terrible soup ingredient.

Dying at a dinner party wrecks everything.

Dying at a dinner party wrecks everything.

Be advised: This recipe require 4 hours of soaking the ingredients. And that is not a red herring.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce Chinese black mushrooms (shitake)
  • 8-10 pieces of dried tree ear mushrooms
  • 2 ounces cellophane noodles
  • 2 ounces skinless raw chicken breast
  • 2 ounces lean raw pork
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • Dash of sesame oil
  • White pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions:

Soak the black mushrooms, tree ear mushrooms and cellophane noodles separately in hot water for 4 hours until they soften. Drain well.

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Remove the hard stems of the black mushrooms (you can save them to cook with other Chinese soups) and cut the remaining pieces into small strips. Chop the tree ear mushrooms into small pieces and cut the cellophane noodles into 1-inch pieces with scissors. Set aside.

Slice the chicken breast and pork into thin strips.

Bring the chicken broth and water to a boil. Add the chicken, pork, black and tree ear mushrooms, and cook until all ingredients are cooked through and softened. Add the cellophane noodles, soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper and salt to taste.

In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water to make a thick slurry. Return the soup to a boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture and beaten egg and mix well. Remove from heat and serve in small bowls. Serves six.

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Besides making the song “Sh-Boom, Sh-Boom” and “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” remind me of murder and blackmail, Clue gave me a what is probably the biggest influence on my sense of humor and timing it was one of the best comedies of the 1980’s and maybe of all time and I almost felt bad for Lee Ving (Mr. Boddy), being included in a cast of comedy legends that included Madeline Kahn (Mrs White), Christopher Lloyd (Prof. Plum), Michael McKean (Mr. Green), Martin Mull (Col. Mustard) and Leslie Ann Warren (Miss Scarlet), not to mention the legendary Eileen Brennan (Mrs. Peacock) and oh MY this soup’s delicious isn’t it?

But really, it is one of the best soups I’ve ever made or eaten. This is one dish where the quality of the recipe really lives up to the quality of the movie, even though Clue had to add some characters to the game to smooth the plot of the movie (FYI – Mr. Boddy is a real character. He’s the game’s murder victim). Though Wadsworth, the cook, and Yvette are not in the game, their inclusion is both necessary and hilarious.

You might agree.

You might agree.

Can I interest anyone in fruit or dessert?

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Shawarma | “The Avengers”

by Blake Stilwell

avengers_poster

I don’t really think this movie needs an introduction, as it raked in enough cash for everyone to have have seen it twice. But here we go anyway… The Avengers: the story of seven strangers picked to live in a floating invisible aircraft carrier, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. The working together part was right. They really needed to work together. They’re going to fight a nearly indestructible alien army and one of their crew shoots arrows while another one brought the world’s smallest handgun.

Why not just bring a knife. Seriously.

That scene always reminds me of this:

Anyway, saving the world is hungry work (I mean, probably). Either that or it’s a good way to transition right to the end of the movie because the fight scene ran long but was too awesome to cut. It doesn’t matter why, let’s just celebrate with shawarma, the Middle Eastern sandwich easily found on the streets of Beirut, Ramallah, and New York City. No sarcasm, it’s everywhere. And for good reason. It’s portable and delicious.

If you don’t recognize the second scene from this clip, you need to remember not to leave during the credits of a Marvel movie.

It’s kind of understandable that Tony Stark never tried shawarma. He probably spent more time blowing up parts of the Middle East than getting a feel for its cuisine. But it’s never too late to catch up! Our recipe is for chicken shawarma, but the lamb is really good too.

FYI: This recipe has to marinate overnight, so don’t put off the prep for it.

Ingredients Assemble!
2 lbs of thinly cut skinless boneless chicken breast

The Marinade:
½ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
4 tablespoons plain (Greek) yogurt
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 head of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1  teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground ginger
pinch nutmeg

Instructions
Rinse the chicken in cold water then cut into thinner cuts of about ½ inch. Set aside.

Mix all other ingredients in a blender. Blend. It’s not going to look pretty.

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It’s delicious, though, I promise.

Mix well with the chicken, cover and let marinate in the fridge overnight. When it’s properly marinated, grill the marinated chicken using a panini grill for about 15 minutes on medium heat. I don’t have a grill, a panini press or a Foreman Grill. So I had to improvise.

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Waffle Iron Man

Grilling is the important part. Don’t bake or fry the chicken, you’re trying to recreate the style of a rotating roasting spit. If you’ve never been to the Middle East or a Middle Eastern restaurant, it looks like this:

Shawarma Spit

Once cooked, shred the chicken into bite sized edible chunks. Spread the chicken shreds on pita bread, add some Lebanese Garlic paste ( aka Toum – visit your friendly neighborhood Middle Eastern grocer, specialty store or make your own) or Tahine, and add some salty Middle Eastern-style pickles (also available at a specialty store, but regular pickles will do). Many times this is served with grilled or roasted tomatoes. In the Middle East, it’s served with 7,000 different kinds of pickled vegetable options, a really weak hot sauce, and/or fries. In the sandwich.

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Earth’s Mightiest Sandwich

I didn’t add tomatoes because I hate them and didn’t add fries because I spent so much effort in cooking the meat this way to lock the juices in, why would I add a condiment that would just sap them from the meat? That being said, fries are not a condiment. They go next to the sandwich, not on it (looking at you, Primanti Bros. of Pittsburgh).

Toum, though. Seriously.

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Aubergine Stew | “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”

Star Trek is a show with which most people have some familiarity, especially now that the JJ Abrams movies are popular (don’t get me started on that). Star Trek is a permanent entry in the US pop culture lexicon. Most people know at least who Captain Kirk is and who Mr. Spock is, but beyond that, it is left to the fans of the shows to know who is who on the Enterprise, who does what on the ship, and so on. It takes an even bigger fan to be familiar with Star Trek in its further incarnations: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, etc.Warning: Huge Star Trek fan is about to write about Star Trek.

Everyone has to eat, even in the 23rd century.  There are a lot of beverages that were favorites of the various crews… Worf’s fondness for prune juice is well-documented.  To this day, I still order tea the iconic way Captain Picard did. And Mr. Scott (Scotty) enjoyed scotch on many occasions.

Scotch

Three fingers of scotch make you a miracle worker.

Yet, aside from the occasional view of the bright blue, nearly glowing Romulan Ale, the still-moving tentacles of Klingon Gakh or some such other slight asides,  food wasn’t really a focus for the Original Series or the Next Generation. The feature of food really came into its own in the third incarnation of the series, Deep Space Nine. Set on a space station in a remote area of the galaxy, combined with the setting of a series of shops and restaurants on the station, allowed for the introduction of new customs and culture into the canon. Crew members met for regular lunches, dinners and happy hours. Crewmen had strong Klingon coffee in the morning and ate dinners with their families at night. The commander of the station, Benjamin Sisko, played by Avery Brooks, even had a father who was a famous chef in New Orleans back on Earth. Consequently, much of the food in the Sisko household and on the show is of Cajun-Creole origin.

Right away, in the first episode, Sisko is imagining meeting his wife on a beach, offering to make her his father’s recipe for Aubergine Stew. Later in the same season, Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) comes into a room where Sisko is waiting to have dinner with his son, and recognizes the stew right away. Since the two have been friends for years, the implication is that he makes it a lot.

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And it is apparently really enjoyable, best eaten with a giant spoon.

Coming back to Earth for a minute, aubergine is a kind of eggplant. It is very popular in Middle Eastern and Persian cuisine, and is best when paired with lamb. That being said, it is important to keep in mind that the Sisko family is from Louisiana, not Tehran. His father’s recipe would likely be a derivative of khoresht-e bademjan, a kind of Persian Eggplant Tomato Stew, but would have significant differences. Khoresht-e bademjan would have spices from the region: Saffron, Turmeric, Advieh. Sisko’s Aubergine Stew would have spices from Louisiana: thyme, cayenne pepper, cumin, black pepper – and would more than likely be made with chicken instead of lamb. It would also include what is well-known in cooking circles as the “holy trinity” of cajun cuisine: bell peppers (I prefer green), onions and celery.

Ingredients:
3 skinless chicken thighs
2 eggplants (aubergines), peeled, diced into medium pieces, and salted overnight
(rinse an hour before cooking)
2 onions, diced
2 leeks, sliced into rings
1 bell pepper (again, any color, but I prefer green)
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 large can crushed tomatoes
oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, cumin and black pepper, about 1/2 tsp of each
Salt
Olive oil

An hour or so before you cook, rinse the eggplant and dry. Heat oil in a large, deep pan. Sauté eggplant til golden brown, not burnt.

In a large pot or saucepan, heat more olive oil. Cook the onion, garlic and celery until soft, then add the spices and cook for a minute or so until they are fragrant. Add eggplant to the pot then cook for another couple of minutes.

Add the rest of the vegetables and cook until they soften slightly. Then add the crushed tomatoes and mix to distribute tomatoes evenly. Add the chicken to the vegetables, cover the chicken in the vegetable mixture then put the lid on the pot and cook on a low heat for about 45 minutes. When you first add the chicken, it will seem too dry to be left on the burner, but don’t worry… the chicken stock is coming.

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When its all done, he vegetables should be soft and the chicken will be falling off the bone.

Remove the chicken from the stew and shred the meat. Set aside, along with about a quarter of the stew mixture. Using a food processor or blender, blend the rest of the stew smooth. Put everything back into the main pot and mix well. It is now ready to serve. Garnish with some green, such as chopped parsley.

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I apparently really love parsley.

Khoresht-e bademjan would be served over Persian-style rice. Considering the rice tradition in creole cooking in New Orleans, I think the Aubergine Stew would be nice over rice, but not necessary, as Dax clearly demonstrated with her giant spoon.

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