Chili-Orange Braised Short-ribs — Recipe

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First and foremost this recipe is lifted from the latest issue of Bon Apetit Magazine, or is it Bon Ape Tit? I changed it up to suit my needs and tastes, but the framework is theirs.

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Secondly, these short-ribs are goddamn delicious. They are tender, robust, and flavorful. They are also an aphrodisiac. If you are not bloated and full from eating short-ribs and brussel sprouts, prepare to be up all night. If you’re alone, prepare to be up all night farting.

If there are any left the next day, use them to make tacos, or pasta. They last about 4-5 days if sealed properly and refrigerated. In fact they get better the longer they sit. But they probably won’t last that long.

Ingredients:

  • 3-5# of bone-in short-ribs. I prefer bone-in because the bone marrow leaches in to the braising liquid lending a discernible richness and umami. I would substitute ox-tails, beef shanks, or pork shanks if short-ribs were unavailable or too expensive.
  • 1 Large Onion – Rough Chopped
  • 2 Stalks of Celery – Rough Chopped
  • 2 Fresh Jalapenos – Halved vertically
  • 2-3 Medium Peeled Carrots – Rough Chopped
  • 1 Head of Garlic – Halved. (I left this out.)
  • 2-3 Tbs of Tomato Paste or 1 small can of V8 (I used V8.)
  • 4-5 Sprigs of Thyme or Mexican or Greek Oregano. (I used Thyme.)
  • 2 Tbs Whole Coriander Seeds – Toasted Lightly (Coriander Seeds are the seeds of the Cilantro Plant. The seeds look like lighter colored peppercorns, and when ground up have an earthy-lemony quality. They are awesome ground up in dry-rubs or used lightly cracked in brines or marinades.)
  • 2 Tbs Whole Cumin Seeds – Toasted Lightly
  • 1 Orange – Zested in to long Strips (Avoid the bitter white pith.  You can use a vegetable peeler or an orange zester)
  • 2-3 Cascabel Dried Chilis and 2-3 Chili De Arbol Dried Chilies. Check them out here. The Cascabels add a touch of fruitiness, while the Arbol adds some mild heat.
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro – Finely mince the stems and put aside, separate the leaves for garnish.
  • 1 Quart Chicken Stock
  • 1 Cup of Fresh Orange Juice
  • 2 Limes – Juiced, about a Quarter Cup
  • 2 Dashes of Fish Sauce (This fermented fish fart sauce lends a really unique umami quality to the braise.)
  • Olive Oil as need for browning and sauteing
  • Flour for Dusting of the Short-ribs
  • Salt & Pepper, of course

Recipe:

  1. Get a large dutch oven hot, but not ‘smoking hot burn your tits off’ hot. Add the olive oil. Don’t use an expensive olive oil for this.
  2. While it’s heating up season your flour and toss your short ribs in to it, covering them completely in a thin layer of flour. This is optional, but I think the flour adds a little thickness to the sauce down the line, and helps develop a fond in the beginning.
  3. In batches, sear off the short-ribs until they are brown on all sides.
  4. Once that’s done, remove any burnt bits of flour that might be floating in the oil. Be sure to leave all the yummy brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Toss in your onions, carrots, celery, dried chilies, jalapenos, coriander, cumin, cilantro stems, garlic, and tomato paste or V8. Season with salt and pepper. Sweat these ingredients out over medium heat, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pot as you go. Cook until the vegetables are soft.
  5. Add the orange peel and herbs. Add the short-ribs back in to the pot along with any drippings. Add the orange juice and lime juice and a few dashes of Thai fish sauce. Add the chicken stock until the short-ribs are completely covered.
  6. Cover and bake @ 350 for 3-4 hours. Times may vary on the size of the individual short-ribs, your oven, environmental pressure, sea-level, how many times you open the oven to inhale meat fumes, etc. Bottom line after around 3 hours check them, see how the meat looks, how tender it is, how melt-y it is. Let your eyes be your guide.
  7. Once the short-ribs are done, remove the pot from the oven(obviously), take the meat out and hold it in a dish, covered and away from vultures and large dogs. You can admire it, how shiny and tender it looks. Strain out the broth into a small sauce pot and discard the beautiful aromatics that withered away for you.
  8. Heat up the reserved broth until it reduces by at least half and gets noticeably thicker. Use a ladle to skim off any foam or other gross looking sewer film that floats to the top.
  9. After 20 minutes of cooking and constant tasting you will be full and hate yourself. Adjust the seasoning as needed. It should have a beautiful sheen, the thickness of gravy, and a dynamic flavor of beef, citrus, and heat.

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I made polenta(my computer wants to auto-correct ‘polenta’ to ‘tadpole’), but any starchy absorbent side would go great with these ribs.

Optional side: Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Rosemary, & Orange

Ingredients:

  • 1# Brussel Sprouts – Quartered
  • 3 Strips of Bacon – Cut into Lardons or rectangles
  • 1 Strip of Orange Zest
  • 1 Quarter Cup minced onion or shallot
  • 2 Sprigs of Rosemary
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 Tbs Butter
  • 2 Tbs Orange Juice

Recipe:

  1. Heat up a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the bacon as well. Slowly render out the fat from the bacon. About 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the orange peel and rosemary sprig.
  4. Add the brussel sprouts, stirring occasionally. We are trying to get them brown and caramelized. Season again with salt and pepper. The sprouts are dense and need a fair bit of seasoning.
  5. Once the sprouts are fork tender, crank the heat to high, add the orange juice and butter. Stir aggressively to coat the sprouts and combine everything.

I see bacon cooked brussel sprouts everywhere, and I think they are delicious. With this I wanted to do something a little different, and tie them in to the braised short-ribs with some similar elements. Usually a shot of something acidic goes really well with the sprouts, like apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. I opted for orange juice to bridge the dishes, it is mildly acidic and sweet, and the sugars would help caramelize the sprouts. This combined with the butter and bacon fat glazed them really nicely. The zest amped up the flavor of the orange and helped cut through the richness of the bacon fat, while the rosemary slightly perfumed the dish with an herbal note.

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As a final note, the short-rib recipe was taken from Bon Apetit Magazine. I simply changed it around, recipe and ingredient wise to better suit my needs and tastes.

Interview with Fork & Hose Co. Creator and Firefighter A.J. Fusco

A.J. Fusco is a 31 year old firefighter in lower Westchester County, New York. He has over 9 years on the job, handling all the responsibilities of a first responder, which of course include battling blazes. After he finished the fire academy he fell into bad habits, gaining weight and getting out of shape. It wasn’t until a close friend passed away due to complications from obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle that A.J. decided he needed to make a change. He joined a CrossFit gym, and began cooking much healthier and ‘cleaner’ food.

This was the auspicious start to @Forkandhoseco, A.J.’s Instagram food blog, showcasing pictures and descriptions of his food, his fitness training and eventually picture submissions of food from other Firefighters. He says his main goal is, “…showing the world that firefighters can cook more than just chili and also inspiring my brothers and sisters to cook better and more diverse food.” The response A.J. has received from his fellow Firefighters and food lovers has been dramatic to say the least, accumulating over 500 followers in the short time it has been up.

Stella the Mascot of the Firehouse and Fork & Hose Co.
Stella the Mascot of the Firehouse and Fork & Hose Co.

Fork and Hose Co. showcases such a diverse portfolio of “firehouse cooking as well as firehouse fitness” that I wanted to reach out and find out more about his style, history and passions.

  1. Did you always cook, or did you start cooking in the firehouse?

I did cook before I started my career as a firefighter, but it was more out of necessity than passion because my mother would sometimes not cook lunch or dinner. She is a great cook and mother and now she likes to think I am a great cook because of her, which is pretty funny if you think about it. When I started working in the firehouse, I realized very quickly the power of the firehouse meal and kitchen. That is when I can honestly say I realized how much I enjoy cooking for other people.

  1. How would you describe your cooking style? Before and after you began CrossFit™?

Before: My cooking style is very rustic and improvisational. Italian “peasant” dishes such as Chicken Cacciatore and Ribollita [a hearty bread and vegetable soup] make me very happy. I get so much satisfaction in taking basic ingredients and transforming them into something delicious. Here is where the improvisation comes in.  I am pretty damn good at making something out of nothing. Give me a kitchen cupboard and I will make you a meal. Just ask my wife—she thinks I would be great on Food Network’s Chopped for that very reason.

An open-faced egg sandwich A.J. cooks for his wife
An open-faced egg sandwich A.J. cooks for his wife

After: My cooking “style” has not changed since starting a strict workout regimen.  What has changed is my choice of ingredients. Sweet potato over russet, two vegetables on the side instead of one, eliminating a lot of bread and pasta—these are just some examples.

Monster garden zucchini and pepper stuffed with hot Italian sausage, lean ground beef, mushroom, onion and a little panko. Topped with fresh mozz, my wife's homemade sauce and some garden basil and hot peppers.
Monster garden zucchini and pepper stuffed with hot Italian sausage, lean ground beef, mushroom, onion and a little panko. Topped with fresh mozz, homemade sauce and some garden basil and hot peppers.

3. What would a typical meal consist of for you before you discovered CrossFit™? What about after?

A typical meal, pre-CrossFit™, would usually be very “heavy” in the starch department, such as Rigatoni Bolognese with garlic bread. Now, you can often find me cooking something like a “big ass” [very large] platter of grilled vegetables and chicken or steak. The key to these dishes is variety; different vegetables have different textures and that keeps things interesting.

 

A.J. putting in work at the firehouse
A.J. putting in work at the firehouse

 

In the Firehouse…

  1. Is it your sole responsibility to cook in the firehouse, or do you share?

We share the responsibility of cooking since everyone kind of has his or her “specialty.”  I tend to cook more because I just enjoy it so much. We will usually help each other with prep work, but the rule is if you don’t cook, you’ve got dishes to wash. [I have the same rule in my house, although I usually wind up doing the dishes anyway.]

  1. How many people do you cook for?

My crew consists of 4 guys, or as I like to call them, my guinea pigs, since I tend to try new dishes out on them.

 

  1. What is your daily budget?

We do not have a set budget but the guys appreciate it when we keep the cost low.  When we shop we try to pick up ingredients that may be on sale. A typical dinner can cost anywhere from $6 up to $15, if we are splurging. Either way, it is cheaper and better than ordering in.

 

I’d be happy to pay 15.00 for this creation: Bun-less burger topped with an egg, pancetta, hot peppers, onions and basil with a side of grilled honey sweet potato wedges

 

  1. Where do you shop for ingredients?

We almost always shop at a supermarket near the firehouse called DeCicco’s, which has very good produce and meat departments. Occasionally, we will pick up ingredients from other stores, such as Trader Joe’s, before we come into work.

  1. What inspires or influences your meals?

When I am doing the cooking, I am usually inspired by what I see in the market. I like the idea of seeing what is fresh and going from there. I am also very inspired by what my fellow firefighters are cooking, which is why I started Fork and Hose Company. [AJ’s Instagram food blog] I love checking Instagram and seeing someone on the west coast making some killer fish tacos or a brother in Texas grilling up a nice steak. These dishes often influence what I might cook at work.

  1. Do you wing it, use recipes, or a combination of both?

Hmm, everyone at the firehouse knows the answer to this one. The joke is to never ask me how I made something because I probably couldn’t tell you. This is true to an extent. I by no means “follow” any recipe, but will use it as a reference. Recipes are like rules; they are meant to be broken. [I agree. I break a lot of rules] What fun is it to cook a dish the way someone else tells you to? Don’t get me wrong, certain things belong in a recipe, especially techniques, cooking times, etc., but I prefer to add my own twist to things. I feel like I have grown as a cook because of this.

10. How far in advance do you plan your meals?

Meals are usually planned out the day of, unless someone has an idea for something prior to coming into work. I love low and slow BBQ and that requires some preplanning for sure.

11. How does your love of fitness, combined with the rigorous demands of being a firefighter, impact your meal planning and cooking?

More than ever, I am conscious of what is going on the plate—this is due to my goals in fitness, as well as my goal in getting my fellow firefighters to eat better. As of very recently, 70% of US firefighters are considered obese, and more than half of the LODDs (line of duty deaths) are cardiac-related.  These are real numbers and not something to take lightly.

A workout provided by 555fitness...Stella not included
A workout provided by 555fitness…Stella not included

 

12. What is your most memorable meal that you’ve eaten? What about one that you’ve cooked?

This is a tough one because there are so many. I would probably say the most memorable meal I have eaten at the firehouse was a few years ago when we were working Thanksgiving and we had our families eat dinner with us at the firehouse. It was so great having everyone together and eating a great turkey dinner (brined, of course—keeps low-fat meats very moist throughout the cooking process). As far as the most memorable meal I have cooked, I am going to go with the first time I cooked for a bunch of us during a storm about 3 years ago. It was a pretty big snowstorm and we all got called in to work due to the state of emergency. I volunteered to cook stuffed burgers for everyone, which was about 14 guys. It was my first time cooking for so many people, and just so you know, firefighters can be brutal critics! Well, it was a success, and every single guy liked the meal.

 

13 Can you share a recipe with us?

Ingredients: Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, couple cloves of garlic, large yellow onion, a few bell peppers, small can of tomato paste, small can of tomato sauce (preferably San Marzano, grown in the volcanic fertile soil of San Marzano, Italy), button mushrooms. Dredge chicken thighs in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  Brown the chicken in a large sauté pan with olive oil, remove and set aside. Add chopped garlic and onion to the same pan, sauté till the onions are soft. Add bell pepper strips and tomato paste to the pan, caramelizing the paste. Turn heat up to high and add a few splashes of red wine, scrape the bottom of the pan. [This is called deglazing and is an essential step to building flavor] Return to a simmer and add tomato sauce and the chicken thighs. Simmer covered for about 30 minutes and add roughly chopped mushrooms. Continue to cook uncovered for about 10 minutes. Serve as is or over rice.

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14. Do other firehouses know about Fork and Hose Company?

In the past few months, Fork and Hose Company has grown to the point where I have recipes being submitted from coast to coast. It is really incredible.

Check out this submitted picture of a 22lb Prime Rib!

Got a battle in the Bronx! This is from last nights meal prep at FDNY's 90 Engine/41 Truck
Got a battle in the Bronx! This is from last nights meal prep at FDNY’s 90 Engine/41 Truck

 

15. Do they ask you to guest cook for them?

I actually had one brother ask me to come cook at his firehouse, but being he is nowhere near me, so that probably won’t happen, but that’s not to say it never will.

16. What is the name of your instagram blog?

The name is Fork and Hose Company, which is a sort of play on words. Traditional fire companies were called either Engine and Hose Company or Hook and Ladder Company. @Forkandhoseco

 

17. Where do you see it in a year’s time?

I see Fork and Hose Company in a year’s time focusing on more than just sharing pictures of firehouse meals. I would love to see a more competitive aspect, for example, “Which borough makes the best pasta dish?” I definitely see us working more towards the healthier cooking side, as well as incorporating fitness. I am in the process of working with 555 Fitness, which is a firefighter-run charity whose goal is to reduce firefighter LODDs.

[I’ve included a link to Firefighter Line of Duty Deaths here. A.J. is doing an amazing job promoting healthy eating and lifestyles for his brothers and sisters in Firehouses nationwide.

Head to @555fitness to check out workouts and fitness advice, and of course give A.J.’s Instagram blog a follow as well @Forkandhoseco]

555 Fitness provides fitness, health and wellness tips for Firefighters and First responders. Follow on Facebook or Instagram @555 Fitness

 Edited by TMG

Heart & Seoul Burger – Recipe

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I’ve been toying with incorporating Korean BBQ flavor profiles into a burger. To me, a bite of kalbi, kimchi and sesame-scallion all wrapped up in bibb lettuce is as close to a perfect present as possible.

Since I planned on making the patty so flavorful, I opted for only one topping as opposed to the usual three. However, despite my simple approach, I wouldn’t have minded a fried egg, julienned nori, caramelized shitake mushrooms or maple bacon. The foundational patty provides a fantastic foil for a variety of Asian flavor profiles.

You will need for the burger:

  1. 1 lb ground beef
  2. 1 lb ground pork
  3. Half a small white onion
  4. 1 jalapeno
  5. 1 bunch of chives
  6. 1 egg
  7. 2 Tablespoons Sesame oil
  8. 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  9. 2 Tablespoons Honey
  10. 2 Tablespoons Gochujang(Korean Red Pepper Paste-found at most Asian markets)

You will need for the Pickled Cucumbers:

  1. 1 long hot house cucumber
  2. 3 cups red wine vinegar
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1 cup salt
  5. Sambal Oelek(Chili-Garlic paste)

Equipment:

  1. Chef’s Knife
  2. Cutting Board
  3. 2 bowls
  4. Whisk
  5. Spatula
  6. Grill
  7. Medium sized sauce pot

In a separate bowl: whisk together the sesame oil, soy, gochujang and honey. Taste. Is it good? I hope so. In the other bowl, combine the meat, onion, jalapeno, chives and wet mixture. Mix with your hands(Did you wash them?). I like to fold and press to combine everything, otherwise I feel the meat gets overworked. Once everything is nice and cozy together, hand form into patties, between 4 and 5 ounces, and let them chill out in the fridge for half an hour so the meat can calm down and come together.

Get the grill smoking hot and cook them. Pretty straightforward. Less then 10 minutes.

For the Pickled Cucumbers, combine salt, sugar and Sambal Oekel in the pot, and heat it very gently until the salt and sugar have dissolved. I usually drop a handful of ice cubes in to cool it down. Slice the cucumbers, and pack them in a jar or Tupperware or bowl, and pour the cool pickling liquid on top and put in the fridge for half an hour. I usually do big batches of pickled vegetables once a week; pickling things like onion, carrot, jalapenos and green beans. They make a great snack, addition to a salad, or topping for a sandwich.

Once your burger is cooked(all the way through because PORK), serve it however you want. On an English Muffin, wrapped in Bibb lettuce, or over rice. Topped with the Pickled Cucumbers, it’s a super light and refreshing burger, highlighting some of the best flavors of KBBQ.

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The Art of Burgering

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The other day I was thinking about what burger concept I would submit to the Zinburger ‘Design Your Burger’ Contest. Would I go Korean style with a Kim Chi topped Kalbi Burger, or Greek style with aggressively spiced lamb, pickled cucumbers and yogurt. I considered what would be easiest to market, easiest to make in a busy restaurant and what wouldn’t overwhelm the essence of burger with too many toppings. Because ultimately, one should be able to taste char-grilled or griddled meat first, toppings second, and bun third. Speaking of which, the bun should be sturdy enough to embrace the burger and support it, not overwhelm it like Lennie Small and his rabbits. After all a burger is just a sandwich; meat and toppings between some kind of bread. Each individual element is important and should compliment one another.

I think burgers provide a great foil for creativity and cultural explorations. Every cuisine has a flavor profile, and ground beef is a very good vessel for highlighting those flavors.

I decided to keep the burger patty very simple, opting for 80/20 ground chuck. The toppings I would keep to a minimum, no more than 3, but endeavor to make them as impactful as possible, with elements of crunchiness, sweetness, and acidity.

The meat: 80/20 chuck

Topping #1: Fire Roasted Poblano-Corn Salsa

Topping #2: Pepperjack Cheese

Topping #3: Sriracha Flavored Corn Chips(crunchified)

The bun: Brioche(Or as my good friend says, “BREE-OT-CHEE?”)

I started by rubbing poblano peppers, shucked corn on the cobb, jalapenos and hot thai green peppers(from the garden) and sliced vidalia onions with olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper. I put these vegetables on the hottest part of the grill(literal House Targaryen Dragonfire), with the goal of really charring the skin on the peppers and caramelizing the sugars in the corn and onion. By blasting these ingredients so liberally with heat, an additional level of flavor is developed, not only sweet and heat, but bitter as well.

After sufficient scorching has taken place, I removed the vegetables and set them aside to cool. In a large bowl I combined the juice of 3 limes and roughly chopped cilantro, more sea salt and pepper, and olive oil. I then shaved the corn kernels off of the cob and diced the onions, adding them to the bowl.

The peppers I slit open, Indiana Jones snake style, removing the seeds and white membrane. I tasted the thai chili, and experienced seizure like symptoms. After dousing my face in the sink, I opted to add in only a small amount of it. The poblanos have a thicker skin, so I gently scraped the outer flesh with the back of my knife and it peeled right off. Those were also chopped and added to the bowl. I mixed everything together and tasted, adding more salt and pepper as needed. This salsa provides a few notes to the burger: mainly sweetness, acidity and heat.

Corn Salsa

Next, I applied salt and pepper to the burgers, and threw them on the grill, again on the hottest part. My goal was to give them a hard sear, flip them once, melt the cheese and pull them off. I’m not one for fiddling with my meat.

After about 8 minutes, 4 toasted buns, 2 Stone Pale Ales and one burger flip, I tucked the burgers in with a blanket of pepperjack cheese, and closed the grill. 30 seconds later, Heaven.

Hamburger 1

Now, to assemble. Having spent a childhood(and adulthood) with Lego, building the burger is almost the best part. Simply spoon a generous portion of salsa on to the patties, crush a handful of Sriracha Corn Chips in your hand, add them to the top of the salsa(we do this part second so the chips don’t get soggy), and top with the bun.

Hamburger 2

I really enjoyed this burger, it was easy to make, had a ton of flavor, and was very satisfying to eat. In a restaurant setting, this recipe is super easy to execute. The salsa can be prepped ahead of time, and all that remains is cooking the burger, melting the cheese, and crushing the chips. I think the flavor profiles are really accessible and easy, and very Southwest. I think it’s a solid contender for the Zinburger ‘Design Your Burger’ contest.

But even if it’s not, paired with a Stone Pale Ale, my best friend and a lawn full of fireflies, I couldn’t ask for anything else.

Hakata TonTon – Shrine to Pig’s Feet

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Hakata TonTon is a small, fun and wildly popular Japanese restaurant in the West Village, that can be more affectionately termed a “Shrine to Pig’s Feet” and probably pork in general. Almost all of its dishes pay homage in one way or another to various parts of the pig. Tonsoku or pig’s feet play a prominent role in most dishes, and highlight others in behind-the-scenes roles which cement its place as a supporting cast hero.

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The first dish was Fresh Scallop Sashimi with Pickled Japanese Vegetables over Ponzu Gelee(4 pieces for 8.00), the only dish eaten without pork. The Ponzu practically sung with high-wire acidity and much needed saltiness from a touch of Soy. The scallop itself was wonderfully fresh and tender, and introduced sweetness to the dish as scallops are wont to do. The whole morsel was packaged on a crisp cucumber slice and topped with a dollop of fatty Ikura(salmon roe).

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The first taste of pork was Grilled TonTon Pork Belly with Spicy Garlic Sauce(8.00), a King Robert Baratheon sized portion of fatty belly, shimmering with a sweet garlicky glaze of sauce, all bound together with 2 skewers. The server deftly separated the pieces which were fatty and soft and packed with a paunchy punch of wild boar flavor. Definite notes of garlic in the sauce added a third layer of flavor to the sediments of fat and pork, finished with a dusting of crunchy Sesame seeds.

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Next up was Sizzling Tontoro with Scallion Radish Ponzu Sauce(10.00). Tontoro is the unctuous delectable chunk of meat ever so delicately pried from a pig’s face, braised to soften and tenderize, and finally, in this case, seared and presented on a sizzling hot plate. Delicious with a slight toughness, which was a pleasant contrast to the softness of the previous belly, the Tontoro was intensely porky, with a crispy caramelized crust. The radish in the Ponzu sauce was Daikon, finely grated and mixed in to the Ponzu-soy sauce. It softened the pork flavor with crisp radish Daikon flavor and the sunburst of Ponzu brightened everything up.

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A welcome diversion from the parade of pig parts was Okonomi-Yaki Pan Cake w/ Pork Tonsoku, Konjak, & Okonomi sauce. Okonomi-Yaki is roughly translated as ‘What you want’, a uniquely Japanese dish that is hearty and inexpensive. This version was loosely bound root vegetables and cabbage, including Konjac or Elephant Yam(a starchy vegetable) served upon a sizzling plate, chunks of pork foot(Tonsoku) found its way into the center of this heap of joy. Laden with sweet Japanese BBQ Sauce and Kewpie Mayo(a Japanese mayo which is smoother than traditional Western mayos, and made from Rice Wine Vinegar instead of White Vinegar). The Tonsoku was like bacon, salty and smokey, a welcome friend to the cabbage and the sweet BBQ Sauce. The sauce was redolent of traditional American BBQ Sauce, featuring notes of sour, sweet and smokey, and colored a deep intense red. The pancake itself was creamy, with slight texture from some of the vegetables and the Tonsoku, and altogether delicious.

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Ramen is a welcome addition to any meal, and Stir-fried Ramen Noodle TonTon Style(12.00) was no different and yet entirely different. Broth-less and fried, it was also served in a sizzling plate, topped with pickled ginger and Daikon, and Scallion, tossed with more Tonsoku(Pork foot). Imagine a creamless Cabonara, prepared with Asian flair, and you’d have Ramen Noodle TonTon Style. The noodles were tender and coated with soy and pork fat, a bite was at once peppery, salty, earthy and meaty. The Tonsoku again took on a bacon-y role, a common theme throughout dinner, bringing “smoke and salt and justice” to each dish it appeared in.

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The last dish was a house specialty(apologies for potato quality of the picture, the steam coming off the dish fogged up my lens), Grilled Pork Tonsoku with Scallion and Ponzu Sauce(10.00) was the whole pig knuckle, braised, then crisped up, and served with Ponzu. The skin itself was slightly crunchy as all good pig skin should, but there was no fat rendered out from beneath it, so it was hugged by thick delicious lard. Again, the Ponzu provided the perfect citrus pop to cut through the richness of the knuckle. The flesh beneath was tender and similar to suckling pig, though darker and more intense. The collagen from the Tonsoku and its connective tissue was so strong that fingers and lips were stiff, once air dried it off. That touch is pure authenticity of cooking these lesser desired parts like knuckles, heads and tails. The collagen is abundant and profound, it thickens and flavors everything.

A veritable shrine to pig’s feet and related parts, a pilgrimage is a must for those inclined to taste the best pork has to offer, as New York Times Peter Meehan says about Hakata TonTon, “The place feels honest and genuinely warm, even if it is genuinely weird,” and indeed it is warm and weird, but also delicious and wonderful with a profound and intense respect for the pig and all its parts.

Welcome!

What is modernfoodmandate?

A food and style blog, aimed at providing interesting and informative content, in the form of recipes, restaurant visits and previews, our own personal philosophy on food and food exploration, as well as sharing our own styles and tastes. We are just 2 average guys with a love of food, looking good and eating better.

-evan & trevor

 

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