kimchi fail so let me try amazake instead

It’s hard to see, but the radishes in my dongchimi had some color change.  Everything smelled fine, but I wasn’t convinced so I didn’t eat it.

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Both photos were after I drained out the liquid.  Before I drained it, it looked like this:

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That’s a lot of life going on in there.

I haven’t had the energy to buy the ingredients again.  But I still wanted to work on some fermentation so I decided to try my hand at amazake.

Amazake is a drink made from sticky rice and koji grains.  Koji are rice grains that have been inoculated with the bacteria you would use to make miso soup and other Japanese fermented products.  Amazake, like yogurt, needs a certain temperature range to ferment.  It was the primary reason why I never bothered to make it.

Last week, it occurred to me that I had access to a couple of sous vide products which could make DIY amazake possible in my house.  So, it’s currently doing its thing in a slow cooker hooked up to a Codlo device.

This is what determination looks like:

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It’s not the most thought-out set-up, but that’s what I get for not planning ahead.  What you see is a 3qt sauce pan (with the rice and koji) set into a 4.5 qt oval slow cooker.  The sauce pan was too tall, and the handle was in the way.  So, I resorted to covering it with aluminum foil.

I am ridiculous, I know.

This also won’t be done until about 10pm because cooking the rice and then cooling it took me longer than I had anticipated.

Harvard SEAS lecture, 9/10/2012, with Joan Roca, Jordi Roca, and Salvador Brugues

You’ll be so proud of me… I have pictures from the lecture for the first time ever!

(Jordi Roca on the left; Joan Roca on the right; demonstration for sous-vide sole)

I didn’t see Joan Roca last year because I saw him during the Year 1 lecture.  This year, Joan brought his younger brother with him.  I couldn’t resist going since Jordi is the pastry/dessert chef at El Celler de Can Roca (the restaurant that the two brothers own with their third brother).

Opening remarks were from David, and the theme of the week was “Energy, Temperature, Heat”.  In the opening remarks, David demonstrated the effectiveness of whisky rocks… which is to say that he took rocks from Harvard Yard, stuck them in a freezer, and then dumped them into water with a thermometer. The water never got below 17C.  Then, he demonstrated the cooling effectiveness of ice in liquid.  Yes, ice melts and dilutes your liquid, but the this phase change is what makes ice so effective in cooling your liquid.  Measured temperatures were about -2C.

Long story short – whisky rocks don’t work that well. Continue reading

is it for the scientist or for the cook in me?

I’m being bad and looking at upcoming cookbooks on

More cookbooks aren’t exactly what I need right now. Shoes and boots are more important than cookbooks. I’m not nearly as bad as Stealth-eater, and I try really hard to be very discerning, but every once in a while, there will be a cookbook that I just want to read out of curiosity.

Right now, I’m eyeing two books that I had no idea were being published until this afternoon, and I think the former science student in me is thrilled. (fyi, I have my bachelor degree in Chemistry from a college which was known for their science programs above all else… not that I remember any of it.)

The first book is Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide by Thomas Keller. It is being published by Artisan and set for release on November 3, 2008. Sous vide? What is that? I have never heard of the term before.

Googling came up with a very helpful and interesting article from the NYTimes. ( I was immediately hooked. To take from the article:

For decades, food was poached in sturdy plastic bags at traditional temperatures, simmering or boiling. Goussault discovered that keeping the temperature as low as possible and later cooling the food in several stages yielded a wildly different — and tastier — result. A piece of fish, for instance, can be cooked at about 130 degrees — a hot bath, essentially — for 30 minutes, then cooled, successively, at room temperature, in cold water, then in ice water, before being reheated and served. Cooking in bags at such low temperatures was long considered a recipe for botulism, but Goussault has debunked this fear, proving that the long cooking times followed by proper cooling kill bacteria with the same effectiveness as higher temperatures, also stabilizing the food so it can be stored longer before serving.

Doesn’t that catch your attention? I wonder how the process is still food safe. I’m sure more googling could demystify the whole process of sous vide, but I’m on my lunch hour right now. Sous vide seems to be a very exact process. Times and temperatures are key. So, I’m oh-so-curious about what Keller has come up with and written. And I wonder how well this book would work for home use. The Amazon description leaves too much to the imagination. I want to know what recipes are in it, dammit.

The other book I want to read is A Day at elBulli by Ferran Adrià, set to be published by Phaidon Press Inc and released on October 1, 2008. Anyone one who has any interest in molecular gastronomy should immediately recognize the title. For those who aren’t familiar with el Bulli, I give you the spiel as listed on the Amazon page.

Situated on a remote beach on the northeast coast of Spain, elBulli is famous for being the ultimate pilgrimage site for foodies, and a reservation that is nearly impossible to obtain. Each year elBulli is open for just six months, and receives more than 2 million requests for only 8,000 seats. Renowned for his spectacular ever-changing 30-course tasting menu, Adria ‘s pioneering culinary techniques have been applauded – and imitated – by top chefs around the globe for the past decade, and he was named one of Time magazine s 100 most influential people of our time.

If I had the money and time, I’d want to jet off to Spain immediately for an affair with a restaurant. Alas, I lack the money. I can only read about the experience through people who are wonderful enough to post descriptions and pictures on their blogs. A book with professional photos and words from the chef himself seems like it’d be an even better option.

Sure, I could be crazy enough to do things like spherification at home. Other people have. But, really, I can’t be bothered to go about buying some sodiam alginate and calcium lactate gluconate. At least with sous vide, I can get away with using Foodsaver bags (which I don’t currently have but would like to one day). I think I would just need invest in some sort of thermal circulator (which is probably not cheap but definitely the oddest thing for my mouth to say today).

Of course, I would also like to read The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table: Recipes, Portraits, and History of the World’s Most Beautiful Fruit by Amy Goldman, but there’s nothing about it that screams “mad scientist”. 😄

~ Mikan

(aside, I’m in the middle of writing up a review of Tremont 647. Hopefully, I’ll finish it today but no promises.)