Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

A small knob of experience

I've noticed that American recipes tend to be very precise about measurements, whereas recipes from other cultures are more "analog". They use phrases like "a small knob of butter" and "a small piece of ginger root, peeled and sliced".

The assumption is that you've either cooked something like this before, or you've watched someone cook, and you know about how big a small piece of ginger root would be. As opposed to the large pieces you use for other purposes.

It's cozy, and has a certain reassuring imprecision that "1.5 tablespoons butter" wouldn't have, but it doesn't translate well.

Also, and so that you may benefit from my experience, steaming is not a good way to prepare still-frozen fish fillets. Unless you are very patient. And not hungry.



( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 25th, 2010 01:03 am (UTC)
Oh lordy don't ever try to cook one of my recipes! I'm the most vague recipe-giver-outer ever because I never measure anything. I'm too lazy and I hate dirtying the cups/spoons. Whenever my husband tries to cook one of my meals using my instructions (usually shouted from across the room) he winds up wanting to come over and strangle me.
Mar. 25th, 2010 11:44 pm (UTC)
Hee! I sometimes don't measure exactly, but I usually follow recipes. When I try to make something from memory, I usually leave something out.
Mar. 25th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
How big were the fish fillets? Usually just wrap them in plastic and run under lukewarm water and they defrost quickly. My hubby is a fisherman and catches flounder and strippers and loads the freezer with fillets all the time.
If you want confusing recipes, just look in some old family recipe boxes. My mom has some recipes that are literally "Bag of potatoes, boiled, peeled and pressed through ricer with big holes" That's the first step to her potato balls.
I've sort of caught her recipe making skills. I would drive you nuts if I were to describe how I make my lemon-garlic chicken. LOL
Mar. 25th, 2010 02:44 am (UTC)
Actually, I just remembered something I saw on a cooking show. The host explained that cooking is an art,whereas baking is a science. So when baking you must pay close attention to the recipe or you might have a cake fall. But when cooking, as long as the food is heated properly, you can basically flavor it to taste. make any sense?
Mar. 26th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)
That's very interesting! And, I would add, there's a distinction between bread baking and other kinds of baking. I've known a number of bread bakers who do their measuring purely by eye, and a lot of recipes say things like "6-8 cups flour", acknowledging that each batch can come out differently. I'd say the tricky bit with bread, where you have to measure or at least have a learned awareness of what's right, is temperature, both of ingredients and of the room/rising place.

A very interesting observation! Thanks for sharing it!
Mar. 26th, 2010 01:44 am (UTC)
My father is a world class master baker. He always tells me that baking is a science that involves knowing the conditions you are working in. Things as silly as what water you use can completely change the taste and texture of a baked product. Its one of the reasons the best sourdough comes from Northern California and the best bagels come from the New York City area. Its literally the water used.
But the science is in the proportions. A good baker might be able to mix by eye, but if you were to actually measure, he always uses the same ratio of ingredients.
Mar. 27th, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)
My father is a world class master baker.

Neat! Very neat! (My father is (by profession) a mathematician, but aside from him teaching me easier ways to do algebra and geometry than I was being taught in school, it's never had a lot of real-world benefit.)

But the science is in the proportions. A good baker might be able to mix by eye, but if you were to actually measure, he always uses the same ratio of ingredients.

I believe it!

Mar. 25th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
It was a hunk of frozen salmon, about an inch thick at the center. It probably weighed between 12 and 16 ounces. It took about 40 minutes to cook, during which I had to refill the steamer four times.

I'm wondering how to cook the other hunk in my freezer. If I defrost it in the fridge, will it make everything smell like fish?

Lemon-garlic chicken? Sounds yummy!!
Mar. 26th, 2010 01:57 am (UTC)
If the fish is sealed in a plastic (ziplock type) bag, you shouldn't have any fishy odor escape. Besides, if it smells very strongly, it might be bad. I know that flounder is bad if it smells. If you do run into odors, a cheap way to get rid of them is to put a bowl of used coffee grinds in the fridge or freezer.

My lemon garlic chicken
package of chicken breasts cut up into bite sized portions
olive oil
Mrs Dash garlic mix (doesn't matter which one as long as it's got garlic.
Garlic powder, or minced garlic if I have it
concentrated lemon juice

Cook over medium heat
coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and sprinkle in the Mrs Dash and garlic.
Add chicken and cook through turning as needed to prevent burning.
Just before chicken is finished, squirt on lemon juice and stir.

Sometimes if I'm feeling fancy I'll make a thicker sauce by adding corn starch or butter.
Takes about 15-20 minutes from start to finish......told you my recipes are horrible to follow!
Mar. 27th, 2010 01:45 am (UTC)
..told you my recipes are horrible to follow!

Actually, that one doesn't sound so bad: probably the difference between that one and the "small piece of ginger" one is that I have cooked enough that I can guesstimate how much garlic, herbs, and lemon will be needed. And as you pointed out above, it's all "to taste".

How would it be with some added capers, do you think? (I like chicken piccata and things of that ilk a lot.) Or would they clash with the Mrs. Dash?

Thanks! I'll try it next time I get some chicken!
Mar. 27th, 2010 01:48 am (UTC)
...oh, and I meant to ask: do you know any other odor-removing methods? I don't drink coffee, so I never have any coffee grounds! (I could probably get some from work, but it'd be weird to be caught raiding the coffee machine!)

Thanks for the tip! I actually have had "research fridge deodorizing methods" on my to-do list for some time!
Mar. 27th, 2010 05:02 am (UTC)
Charcoal.. we actually use the regular non fire starter saturated type to keep our trailer fridge nice smelling during the winter.
And the old reliable baking soda (the one in the box) They actually sell baking soda in boxes meant to be put in the fridge to deodorize it.
You can also wipe down a stinky item with lemon juice. But then you have to wash the lemon juice off, or it gets sticky.
Don't know if you would ever get this desperate, but if a prized clothing item gets sprayed by a skunk, the only sure fire way I know of to get rid of the scent is to bury it. Literally go in the backyard and bury the item for a few days in the dirt.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'll try either the baking soda or the coffee grounds. (My sister drinks coffee, so I'll get some grounds from her. These would be used coffee grounds, right? not freshly-ground coffee?)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
Used grinds. At our weekend trailer, I keep a open jar of used coffee grinds in the freezer. My hubby stores his bait in there and sometimes that stuff is mega stinky! We have coffee every day, so I can 'recharge' the grinds every few weekends.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )