Monday, January 24, 2011



During my days as an enterprise content management consultant, I would sometimes come across documents with interesting subject matter.  Two such topics that I’ll forever remember were Waffle Damage and Groats Versus Oats, mostly due to the absurdness I found in those titles and because at the time I didn’t know that groats were an actual thing.  In fact, there’s such a thing as groaty dick.  This hilarious revelation only helped fuel my need to cook up some groats.


Since groats are essentially uncut steel-cut oats, I treated them as such during the cooking process but simply let them simmer a little longer than normal.  The final product tasted pretty much like steel-cut oats but with more texture, so to mix things up a bit I added some dried blackcurrants and pandan (which is becoming an ingredient that I’m increasingly trying to incorporate into things.)


Overall, the groats were a somewhat sterile departure from a typical bowl of steel-cut oats given the fact that one is simply a chopped up version of the other.  Also, to be quite honest, I was really looking forward to the groats blowing me away considering there was a presentation dedicated to comparing them.  But perhaps that was the conclusion of the presentation: there really isn’t that much difference between groats and steel-cut oats when preparing them in a porridge.


  1. 2 C milk + 2 C water => simmer
  2. 1 T butter + saucepan/skillet => melt, medium heat
  3. 1 C groats + step #2 => toast, stir, ~2 minutes
  4. Step #3 + step #1 => simmer, don’t stir, ~10 minutes
  5. 1/4 t salt + step #4 => stir with wooden spoon handle occasionally, ~10 minutes

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Duck Prosciutto & Chinese Sticky Rice


I’ve had a copy of Charcuterie for about 2 years now but for one reason or another never got around to making anything from it despite being a fan of cured meats.  Last week, I stumbled upon CharcutePalooza, and it was the nudge I needed to finally crack open the book.  January’s task: duck prosciutto.


I was able to buy a whole duck with head and feet still attached  for $2.49/lb from my local Chinese grocery store.  Unfortunately, they only carried frozen ducks from Culver Duck Farms in Indiana.  I’ve seen fresh ducks sold at the grocery stores on Argyle, but settling with the frozen duck was logistically easier.


After being packed in salt for 24 hours, the duck lost moisture and firmed up.  I ended up hanging the duck in my second bathroom with a humidifier running to battle the dry Chicago winter air.  Nine days later, the meat had lost about 30% of their weight and I had prosciutto.  Pretty easy.


Because I bought a whole duck and the prosciutto only called for utilizing the breast meat, I tried to come up with something that would incorporate the rest of the duck in addition to the prosciutto.  What came to mind was Chinese sticky rice.  I substituted the prosciutto for Chinese sausage as a flavoring agent, soaked the sticky rice in duck stock made from the duck carcass, sous vide the legs and thighs in rendered duck fat and my soy mother sauce, and incorporated a salted duck egg on the side.


Traditionally, dried shrimp are used for Chinese sticky rice, but I decided to use dried squid.  I’ve enjoyed eating dried squid as a snack since I was young, so I thought it would make a worthy substitute and add the brininess that the dried shrimp brings to the plate.  I also decided to use some dried mangoes for sweetness and tartness to cut the saltiness of the prosciutto and to replace the sweetness lost by opting out of the Chinese sausage.


There may be people who scoff at applying heat to prosciutto, but I was going to try it anyways.  Not to worry, though, as I decided to keep half the breast unadulterated in order to appreciate it for what it is (it came out really well, by the way).  I chopped up some prosciutto into small cubes and crisped them up in a pan.  With that rendered fat, I sauteed shallots, ginger, shiitake mushrooms, dried squid, and dried mangoes to which some soy mother sauce and oyster sauce was added.

As I mentioned before, the rice was soaked in duck stock, but I added some pandan to add more leafy/floral aroma to the rice and for color.  In the end, though, the pandan flavor didn’t come through as much as I had hoped.  Before I bundled up the sticky rice in the lotus leaves, I placed some thinly sliced prosciutto in the hopes it would add even more flavor to the rice.


The prosciutto did a serviceable job as a seasoning and flavoring agent in the sticky rice, but I honestly can’t say I prefer it over Chinese sausage in this situation.  Served with the sous vide duck legs and thighs and salted duck egg, the dish as a whole was quite good.  Ultimately, though, I think I learned that I prefer prosciutto served simply in it's natural state with melon or in some sort of salad or sandwich.  Good thing I saved half of the prosciutto to savor in its natural state.


Chinese Sticky Rice With Duck Prosciutto

  1. 2 C sticky rice + duck stock or water => soak overnight, drain
  2. 28 g sliced & dried shiitake mushrooms => soak, 30 minutes
  3. 100 g shallots + 50 g ginger + 100 g dried mangoes + 30 g dried squid => dice
  4. 150 g duck prosciutto => dice, hot pan, crisp, set aside
  5. Rendered fat from step #4 + step #2 + step #3 => hot pan, saute, soy + oyster sauce to taste
  6. Step #1 + Step #4 + Step #5 => mix, wrap in lotus leaves, steam ~1 hour or until done