Tag Archives: Pork

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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Puerco Pibil | “Once Upon A Time In Mexico”

By Blake Stilwell

Before we begin the recap, let it be known that I both love this film and am aware it’s supposed to be over the top. I love Robert Rodriguez’ work. Everything from the camera work to the acting is great. I love this series. BUT let me also say I think this last movie in the Mexico Trilogy might have been a little too over the top. At times I thought of how far the Batman series fell before Christopher Nolan got his hands on it.

I want to hit him too.

I still want to hit him too.

That being said, Once Upon a Time in Mexico is the heartwarming story of the redemption of a man who lost it all fighting the good fight against greed, corruption and the many iterations of Cheech Marin. El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) gathers his gang of two other Mariachi played by Enrique Iglesias and Marco Leonardi, an Italian, for one last big adventure. Why an Italian? Who knows. Cartel kingpin Barillo is played by Willem DaFoe with a tan.

I LOVE THE SUN, ALRIGHT?

I LOVE THE SUN, ALRIGHT?

The only problem is that El Mariachi, who is destitute and in hiding, swore off violence, and is struggling with the loss of his wife, the last bare midriff in all of Mexico.

RIP

RIP

Honestly, even women who dress more modestly in Mexico don’t fare much better. It’s rough out there, even for a waitress.

Unnecessary.

She’d have been better off serving Steve Buschemi in Reservoir Dogs.

This movie is incredibly action-packed, which is a code word for violent. Not that I’m not okay with movie violence, I just think taking the time to stop and aim would be to everyone’s benefit.

Cover is optional.

Also, cover is optional.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico also holds the record for most railing-related and falling-after-being-shot-related deaths.


In the mix, we have an FBI Agent, an American fugitive, a Federale subplot and it’s all tied together… This whole scenario is orchestrated by a CIA agent named Sands, played by Johnny Depp, who’s much better outside of Tim Burton movies than I remember and I probably don’t remember since it’s been a long time since I saw him outside a Tim Burton movie. Yes, I know he did The Lone Ranger, but if no one else saw it, why should I?

Sands’ favorite meal in Mexico is Puerco Pibil, with a tequila and lime. It’s featured in the movie so often, it should get its own IMDB Page.


The recipe for this is simple, but it requires time to marinate, so be sure to prep a few hours before you watch this movie, because halfway through, you’ll want your own. If you don’t know a good recipe, you’re in luck! Robert Rodriguez includes his own on DVD extras.  Here it is:

5 lbs pork butt, cubed into 2 inch pieces
5 tablespoons annatto seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
8 whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
2 red habanero peppers, diced (remove seeds and membrane)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
8 cloves garlic
5 lemons peeled & juiced
1 tablespoon tequila
banana leaves

Directions
1. Put annato seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, allspice and cloves in a clean coffee grinder and grind very fine.
2. Put orange juice, white vinegar, habanero peppers, ground spice powder, salt, garlic, lemon juice and tequila in blender.
3. Blend until smooth.

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We used a food processor.

4. Place cubed pork and liquid from blender in zip loc bag and marinate for one hour.
5. Line a 9×13 baking pan with banana leaves. (if you don’t have banana leaves handy, aluminum foil works)
6. Pour pork mixture directly on top of banana leaves and cover with more banana leaves.
7. Cover tightly with foil.
8. Bake at 325 degrees for 4 hours.

Incredibly simple to make, even if you don’t have the banana leaves. Don’t forget the rice!

It may not be the prettiest, but it's the most delicious. Please don't shoot me.

It may not be the prettiest, but it’s the most delicious. Please don’t shoot me.

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Vinnie’s Prison Tomato Sauce | “Goodfellas”

By Blake Stilwell

As far back as I could remember, I always wanted to be able to cook like a gangster. Even before I wandered into the Red Lobster for my first job, I knew I wanted to … okay, I’m just kidding. Hey, I love this movie. Everything about it is perfect. It used to make me smile every time I went to the Subway when I lived in Red Hook because my stop was by Smith and 9th and Jimmy was going to have Karen whacked on the corner of Smith and 9th.  I’m one of those goody-good people who work shitty jobs for bum paychecks and take the subway to work every day that Henry Hill talked about. Even now, every time I’m introduced to a large group of people at the same time, I think of this scene:

Of course, everything is great until the wiseguys get pinched for a shakedown. But if movies and television have taught me anything, it’s that mobsters don’t go to prisons like the rest of us. This is illustrated in one of my favorite food scenes in any movie ever made. It’s like Henry (Ray Liotta) said: Dinner in prison is a big deal. But a big dinner shouldn’t be just for wiseguys. It’s time for the big family dinner to make a comeback!  This week, so I’m posting a recipe that could please a crowd, maybe even the family.

While everyone was in prison, Vinnie was in charge of making the tomato sauce for the pasta dish. Vinnie was played by Charles Scorsese, director Martin Scorsese’s real-life father. Scorsese also cast his mother Catherine to play Tommy’s (Joe Pesci) mother. Luckily for us (and film history) he also got Catherine to cook the food seen in the film… namely the food Vinnie is cooking for the prison dinner pasta dish.

Why is lucky for us? In this scene, you don’t hear much about the ingredients involved…  Thin sliced garlic, oil, veal shanks, beef, pork, 3 small onions, 2 big cans of tomatoes. Based on this sliver of information, I could have devised an Italian-style sauce from this… but would anyone want to make a tomato sauce hacked together by some medigan from Southern Ohio? No, it’s lucky for us Catherine Scorsese cooked the food in Goodfellas because she was able to give her meat sauce recipe in to Entertainment Weekly in a 1990 article, the year Goodfellas was released.

For meat sauce:
1/2 lb. piece shank of veal, whole
1/2 lb. pork sausage
light olive oil
medium onion, chopped small
5 large garlic cloves or more, whole
6-oz. can tomato paste
2 28-oz. cans Italian-style tomatoes (preferably Redpak brand)

For meatballs:
1 lb. ground mixture of veal, beef, and pork
1 egg
grated Locatelli and sardo cheeses (this may require a trip to a deli, a Whole Foods, or a specialty store)
fresh parsley
garlic salt, optional
salt and finely ground red pepper
2 T tomato sauce
bread crumbs if needed for consistency

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Yes they do, in fact, sell this one pound meat mixture. No need to buy three pounds of separate meats.

Sauté sausage and veal in a large pot in olive oil until a little brown. Put aside. Sauté onion and garlic cloves in the same pot until golden. Add tomato paste and 3 paste cans of water to pot. Put tomatoes through a sieve to get rid of seeds and add to pot. Cook on low flame.

When sauce starts to bubble, add salt and red pepper to taste and simmer for a while, stirring every now and then from the bottom up. Don’t put in any oregano; it keeps repeating on you.

Add the large pieces of veal and pork. Cook uncovered until meat comes apart with a fork.

Mix meatball ingredients together and roll into egg-size balls. Put raw meatballs in the sauce — do not fry them. When meatballs float to the top of the sauce (don’t stir until they do), they should be done. Simmer and stir a few more minutes.

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Always listen to your mother. Also, always listen to Academy Award winning Director Martin Scorsese’s mother.

Remove pieces of veal and pork, slice, and serve as a side dish with meatballs. Serve sauce over spaghetti or whatever pasta you want.

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So that’s Mama Scorsese’s recipe verbatim.

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And it is definitely worth the time and effort.

If you need clarification, I recommend a cup of bread crumbs, and minimal cheese. If the meatballs still aren’t the consistency you like, add some more, just don’t make them mealy. This makes a pretty good amount of food. The recipe originally printed says “two hearty eaters” but this will cover more like five. After cooking this recipe, I have to wonder what Paulie was slicing the garlic to make…

In reality, of course, prison is not this good. I mean, it might have been for Henry, Vinnie, Paulie, and those guys. This movie was based on the non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, after all. But just think of Jimmy, that poor Irish bastard, he was probably having a much harder time in Atlanta.

Now… take me to jail.

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