Blood and Guts part II

Blood and Guts II.

Actually sounds like a name for a corny movie sequel! It is in fact the second part of the post regarding:

  1. Duck Blood Larb (see previous entry)
  2. Beef Innards (Tripe and Offal)

We needed super fresh innards and I had managed to find a cow that would be slaughtered at noon. “Fresh as possible”.

Some viewers may find some of the photographs graphic, hence the photos appear after the “read the rest of this entry” link.

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Guts.

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Tripe comes from the stomach of the animal and Offal means the edible entrails and organs (think: heart, liver, brain, tongue etc…). In the USA the latter is often called Organ or Variety Meats. We just call them, Yummy!

Countless cultures feature these types of foods on their menus, with many dishes being considered as delicacies. Even those whom frown upon or are disgusted by the thought of  eating these meats naively consume burgers and sausages.

In a sadistic way, I wanted to “meet” my bovine friend, who was unwittingly going to give me her blood and guts.

Sad, I know.

However as a cook, I think you should be able to look at your meat in its live state and respect what mother nature has provided you with.  The highest respect you can show mother nature is to eat everything from the animal, and let´s face it, if you´re going to eat it, it has to be killed.

My contact told me that somebody had purchased the cow for its meat, and if I wanted, I could come and collect the tripe and offal, the items that the buyer didn’t want at the slaughtering. Its strange to think that so many Spanish dishes feature the tripe and offal from pigs, but hardly use those from the cow. Better for me…

A short drive through the countryside led me to the “Finca” where a herd of cattle grazed and enjoyed their lazy day.

My friend Daisy (I know…, its a cheesy name…) was led in to an iron passageway. There was a “clang” as the gate closed behind her. There wasn’t much room for her to move in the passageway, Daisy could only go forward. One of the workers gingerly climbed up the steps overlooking the “Death Row” and nonchalantly placed a rope around her horns. Was he going to hang her? Er, nope.

Another worker climbed up the opposite side holding what looked like a green coloured pressure washer lance, like those two-handed jet-powered guns you see people use to spray water on their cars with. But he wasn’t going to give her a wash. In fact he delivered 300 volts to the back of her head. Quick and fast.

Its wasn’t the electric shock that would send Daisy to the big ranch in the sky, the shock just rendered her unconscious.

What killed her was the slitting of her throat.

Watching this didn’t seem too bad as I though it might. I mean, Daisy lived a carefree life, was allowed to roam on hectares of  land, feeding on copious bails of hay. She wasn’t traumatised by being squashed in to an overloaded lorry and driven for miles in sweating and cramped conditions. Quick and fast.

I finally realised why she had the rope around her horns. The other end was tied to the back of a pickup truck which unceremoniously dragged her the short distance to where she would be sectioned. Its easier to drag a dead cow away by truck.

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Blood and Guts

Blood and Guts.

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Sounds like a tagline for a horror movie!

In fact, its about two sets of dishes.

  1. Duck Blood Larb (Larb Luert Pét)
  2. Beef Innards (Tripe and Offal)

Some viewers may find some of the photos a little disturbing (hence they begin after the “read the rest of this entry” link). Also, I have decided to separate this post in to two parts. Blood, then Guts.

I pondered quite a lot about whether to post about these dishes or not. However, I believe that they should be recorded and written down as these dishes exist and are a part of our food culture. If you are squeamish, then I would advise against reading the rest of the post.

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Blood.

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It all began one sunny afternoon away from the kitchens. A day off. A drink. The team and I were talking about food, like we always do. We talked about how we miss foods from our home towns.

You have to remember that we live in the Spanish countryside without access to all the rich Asiatic herbs, spices and other ingredients that some people are lucky enough to have or can purchase nearby. A fresh Papaya is really a treat for the team,  they only ever get to eat a “tum mak houng” when somebody visits them from abroad. Only a few years ago, they started to harvest fresh chillies, grown in the back yard. Before then they got their “hot fix” from dried chillies. Things are looking up though, this year they have grown some nice Thai Basil and other herbs, especially Lemongrass.

Reminiscing about food over a few cold beers brought us to the subject of Duck Blood. To be precise, about Duck Blood Larb. I personally don’t really care for the dish. I have seen it served many times and have even uploaded a video from LCTV in a previous post. Going over the list of ingredients I realised that with a few alterations, we could actually make it here.

Action: Reaction. All I had to do was find a couple of live ducks.

Some team members began to salivate over the idea of eating “freshly squeezed” duck blood.

The further the afternoon went on, more dishes were discussed until we got to Cow Tripes. A load of “goodies” from the inside of the cow. The stuff “people throw away”. Yummy.

Action: Reaction. All I had to do was find a cow that had recently been slaughtered. “Fresh as possible” my team said.

A few days later I got a call from a friend who had heard my plight for live ducks. I had managed to evade the question of what I was going to do with them.

A little online research in to the dish uncovered some reports of deaths in Vietnam concerning the H5N1 Virus (Avian Flu) where a very similar dish is said to have been consumed by the victims shortly before falling ill. Scary stuff.

However, I was intrigued as to how other people prepared this dish. There is always a different version of every recipe.

I quick browse on some Asian on-line forums regarding the different recipes and characteristics of the dish only reaffirmed to me that some forums were just a place for ignorant people to post (or bitch, make fun of or verbally abuse each other) about something they know nothing about.

An online search for videos not only resulted in our LCTV Video, but also a few homemade videos of people preparing the dish. But none of these other videos explained anything about the techniques or ingredients.

The usage of blood in food is not an uncommon practice. Blood Sausages are very popular in many cuisines (think English Black Pudding, French Boudin Noir, Spanish Morcilla, German Blutwurst etc…). Other solid or semi solid blood dishes involve what the Chinese call “Blood Tofu” which is widely enjoyed throughout Asia. This coagulated blood which can come from various animals such as pork, beef, chicken etc… is used in stir fries and soups. However, the colour of the blood used in these dishes is somewhat a dark, almost burgundy-brownish in colour.

The blood served in duck larb retains its bright vibrant redness, which can be off-putting to some. The texture of the blood depends on the recipe, it can be liquid, slightly congealed or firm.

One sunny afternoon, the two guests of honour arrive to the team´s house.

Needless to say, if you want the duck blood, you are going to have to bleed it. :blink:

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Here Hear Ear!

Pig ears. You either love them or hate them.

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You´d be surprised at how many tapas you can get from a set of ears. When the ears arrive, they are given a few blasts of the blow torch to get rid of any hair. Then they are washed and boiled, once cool enough to handle, they are thinly sliced before being fried with some garlic, seasoning and coriander.

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The texture is somewhat between fatty, sticky and crunchy.

Other “crunchy” tapas that have been served include Chicken Skin.

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I adore crispy chicken skin, for me its the best part of the fowl. It perplexes me to see some people remove the skin when they are served roasted or BBQed chicken. All my friends know that I love the skin, so there’s always extra for me! :biggrin:

Its not only chicken skin that I like, pork skin too, especially from a nice piece of roasted pork. In the UK we call the roasted skin “Crackling”, named after the sound it makes when eaten. Pork rind that is sold in small packets are called “Scratchings”. In Lao it is known as “Kiep Moo”.

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Kiep Moo is served as a snack or as an accompaniment to Papaya Salad.

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I serve both of the skins as an Amuse Bouche.

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Tapas

As they say, “The Honeymoon is over”…and its back to work…

Actually the Honeymoon was over some time ago, I have been occupied by the World Cup :biggrin: as well as a new menu.

Here in the summer, it gets really hot, and I mean REALLY hot, and a lot of our guests ask for lighter dishes and smaller portions.

Before the wedding I had started to plan for our new Summer Menu that would feature Tapas, small dishes that could be ordered instead of a full blown (heavy) dinner. The menu is proving to be a success, we are serving between 130 to 180 Tapas every evening.

The menu changes every two or three days, depending on what is available at the markets. It also gives us the chance to serve some traditional dishes alongside our modern ones.

To Tapear (pronounced Tah-pé-ah) informally means in Spanish ” to have some tapas” and our menu is called Tapa-Ya (pronounced the same Tapear), which is my funny way of saying “lets have tapas, already”. :biggrin:

With so many changing dishes on the menu, the “mis en place” has changed dramatically. This is a good thing as it keeps all my cooks “on their toes” and frees us from the sometimes mundane preparations that are made daily for a regular “a la carte” menu.

A lot of the inspiration for our tapas comes from Spanish dishes that I see everyday, as well as the food that we prepare for ourselves at home.

“Albondigas” are Spanish for Meatballs. Our Albondigas are made from pork.

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The meatballs are shaped by pushing them up through the hands, which is quicker than rolling them.

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This is the traditional way that meatballs are shaped “back home”. Next time you have a bowl of Pho with meatballs in Vientiane, look for a place that has the irregular shaped ones,  that proves they are “homemade” and taste so much better..

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These Albondigas will be served in a spicy curry sauce made with red spices.

“Gambas al Ajillo” is a typical Spanish dish of prawns cooked in olive oil with garlic and chilli. My version has the addition of ginger and spring onion as well as homemade roasted chilli oil. This makes the dish more spicy and aromatic.

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Spice up your life…why not?!

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Moving away from Spanish influenced dishes the next one is made from chicken.

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One night whilst having a stroll on the banks of the Mekong, I saw stalls selling BBQed Chicken Hearts, such a simple snack, grilled while you wait. The smell was wonderful, and the taste was equally so, especially with a jug of Beerlao at hand.

Back then I thought to myself that one day I could share this cheap luxury with others. I didnt know that a few years later I would be serving them in a 5 Star hotel… :biggrin:

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These chicken hearts are marinated along with the livers before being skewered then char-grilled. How wonderful simple things can be…

With some Japanese influence our next dish is Tataki.

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Briefly seared tuna is dressed with some very yummy Wasabi-Miso sauce.

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The Tataki is one of our best selling Tapas.

However, my favourite is the Lao Burger.

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I have been known to snack on 4 or 5 of these small burgers throughout the day! :biggrin: (one of the advantages of being the Chef, tasting for “quality control! :lol: ).

The Lao Burger is basically a Lao Sausage shaped in to a burger and served in a bun with Lao Tomato Chutney (Jéow Mhak Len).

This dish is fondly called a “McLao” in the kitchen………..

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Mr & Mrs Laocook

There is a reason why I have been off line for a while, I got myself a wife!

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After more than 10 years waiting, Rosalia the most beautiful girl in the world arrives…

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On Saturday 29th May 2010, I married my best friend…

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A firm handshake from my brother King, who read a wonderful verse in the church.

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Close family members turned out in traditional dresses for the service.

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The rest of my team and family.

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Good fun and good food (and drink). :biggrin:

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My mother and aunties stayed in their traditional dresses whilst the others changed in to something more “danceable”!

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Cheers!

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Tasting Menu Highlights of April 2010

Apart from our regular fixed menu and daily specials, we have served quite a few “Tasting” menus during the past month or so. Tasting Menus costs a little extra, but you get a few more dishes than you normally would. These menus we enjoy preparing the most! :biggrin:

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Below are some highlights from the previous month…

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King Prawns in Pho Consommé Jelly get ready for the final touches.

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It is garnished with some micro-herbs and a few good dollops of Citrus Truffle Sauce.

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Next up are Spider Crab Futomaki.

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Our Spider Crabs, locally known as “Centollo” are purchased live before being cooked. The meat is then removed whilst it is still warm and used in various recipes. Slices of cucumber give the Futomaki an nice crispy crunch. These are hand rolled just before serving to ensure that the Nori sheet retains its texture and doesn’t become soggy.

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Carabineros are an extravagant topping for sushi. Per kilo they are more expensive than Lobster. The taste is simply divine and well worth it. Like in all our recipes featuring the Scarlet Prawn, a sauce is made from the head. In the case of this sushi, the sauce is served separately in a small bowl with a brush so that the diner can “paint” more flavour on to it.

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Next up is Salmon Skin Temaki.

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Noodles in an Instant

Some new dishes have appeared from the kitchen within the past few weeks.

Having some spare Scallops in the fridge gave me an opportunity to serve them “Goong Che Nam Pa” style.

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The scallops are quickly seared in a pan before being cut horizontally and dressed with Crystal Shallots and the Nam Pa mixture. The semi-raw scallops have a really soft texture. :biggrin:

This dish was part of a small Tasting Menu and was followed by our Dtom Khem in Ravioli.

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The main course of this dinner was Pigeon 63.

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The pigeon breast is cooked  at 63ºC “sous vide” for 25 minutes. The result is a medium rare breast which almost melts in your mouth.

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The most interesting dish that has come through the swinging doors lately is our Instant Yellow Pepper Noodles.

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“Noodles in a squeezy bottle”….

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Green

Spring is back and the fields are once again covered in green!!! :cheerful:

Macarons are great for filling with savoury flavours. These morsels offer a delicate crispy exterior that gives way to a moist and fluffy interior.

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Our green macarons are filled with Chorizo Cream.

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Chorizo are a cured Spanish pork sausage. The red colour comes from Paprika, which lends a smokey slightly spicy flavour. These sausages are usually found in homes and tapas bars. There are hundreds of different varieties available, both fresh and dry cured. Fresh ones have a higher fat content and need to be cooked. The resulting oil which is released from the cooking is very aromatic and I have been known to fry some Chorizo then use its oil to fry some eggs for a quick lunch on many days… :biggrin:

Cured Chorizo can be sliced and served as is.

Another “amuse bouche” that we have been serving lately is Foie Gras Mi Cuit with Smoked Mackerel.

We make our own Foie Gras Mi Cuit (which means intentionally partly cooked duck liver) and smoke our own fish in the kitchens.

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Slices of bread are brushed with butter before being toasted, then spread with a little Yakitori sauce before being topped with thin slices of the Smoked Mackerel and finally crowned with a sliver of Foie Gras.

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In a Pickle

Often overlooked as a simple piece of garnish (as used in our Long Satay and our Honey Roasted Pigeon dishes), pickled vegetables offer a fresh crunchy, salty and sour taste that is great to open a meal with, especially with a pre-dinner chilled glass of Sherry :biggrin: .

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Using firm fresh vegetables ensures that they retain their texture. Cauliflower florets, mini carrots, mini courgettes can keep for some time in the liquid.

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Other softer ingredients such as large courgettes and cucumbers are best used within a few days. The chilli is really there as a garnish and diners are advised that they eat it at their peril! (though that hasn’t stopped some people! :pinch: )

On a less spicy note, we had a huge delivery of ripe avocados this week and quickly put them to use.

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A simple Guacamole is enhanced with a dash of Sriracha and served as an Amuse Bouche. This went down well with the diners and even better with the staff! :biggrin:

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Later in the week I had the pleasure of preparing a special tasting menu. One of the dishes involved lobster. I am a big fan of raw seafood, and when the crustacean arrived, I knew that it had to be served raw. In the past I have served Lobster Sashimi, so this time I wanted to do something a little different.

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Ravioli and Lamb

Its good to get back to normality. :biggrin:

As a child I always enjoyed a nice “Dtom Khem”. The recipe is made by braising pork (or sometimes chicken) and spices with soy sauce and sugar, the resulting dish has a lovely dark caramel colour and a sweet and savoury taste. The best bit has to be the hard boiled eggs that are added to the pot that take on the wonderful colour of the sauce.

I could just eat the sauce over steamed rice and that would be a fine dinner.

We have toyed around with Dtom Khem in the past, sometimes changing the hens eggs for quail eggs, or swapping pork for beef. However, its return to our kitchen this time sees it served in pasta.

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Notice that there is no sauce accompanying the dish. You´ll notice that I said it is served “in” the pasta, and not “with” pasta. :wink:

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