Monday, September 10, 2012

Lobstaaahhh!

So I happened to be at the local Asian market on Sunday, stocking up on inexpensive fruits & veggies for the week. As is tradition, I always check the prices of whatever seafood they have, and guess what?! LOBSTERS were ridiculously cheap! They had small (1lb-ish) lobsters for $5.79 / lb! You simply cannot beat that, so that's what's for dinner! I bought 3 lobsters for approximately $18.Yup!


 
So if you have never cooked live lobsters before, you need to know a few things up front.

#1 always cut the rubber bands off their claws - they make the water taste rubbery if you don't.
#2 a splash of vinegar help make sure the meat is nice & firm. It helps bind up the proteins so you don't get mushy meat (eeewww!)
#3  it's incredibly sad to have to kill these little guys, so be prepared emotionally. Also always put them in quick & head first so they don't suffer.
# 4 the meat starts to degrade immediately as soon as the lobster dies, so buy them fresh or live & cook them the same day. Usually lobster night is a happy surprise around here :-)

Beyond those few tips, cooking lobsters is pretty straight forward. We typically boil them (least cruel way to cook live lobsters.) but they can be steamed, grilled or fried too. These are instructions for boiling.

Get your biggest pot & fill it up with enough water to completely cover your lobsters (approximately 3 quarts of water per 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of lobster). Put in a splash of vinegar and bring the whole thing to a boil - you can also add sea salt if you want to. About 1/4 cup of salt per gallon of water.


(covering the pot with the lid helps speed up boiling....). Once your water is really boiling, add the live lobsters one at a time, and start timing immediately....remember put them in head first.



Here is the breakdown for cooking time (we cooked our 3 1lb-ers for 13 minutes).
13 minutes for the first 1 - 1 1/2 lbs of lobster, and add 2 minutes per pound above that. (cook based on the individual weight of the lobsters, not the total for all your lobsters).

 
Once your lobsters are cooked, pull them out & let them rest for a few minutes since they will be really too hot to handle. Then serve with butter & lemon!

 
We needed our veggie too, so we did a little bok choy with oyster sauce.
This is a very easy recipe. Here's what you will need:
1 package of baby bok choy (it's easier to eat & more tender than full size bok)
6ish cloves of garlic
oil (avocado)
oyster sauce
cornstarch

 
Basically you course chop your garlic. Heat it up in a little oil and then toss in your veggies and cover. Cook on high for a minute or so & then reduce heat to medium and add your oyster sauce and stir it around to coat your veggies. 



Cover and continue cooking on medium for a few more minutes. If you want a thicker sauce add a little cornstarch (a scant teaspoon) to some of your liquid in a separate cup or bowl. Once it's thoroughly mixed pour it back into your pan & bring to a boil. 




Once it boils, pull it off the heat & serve!



 


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Deep Fried Cheese Steak Won Tons

....even though we are only on post #4, you may have noticed that we mostly do healthy food around here....unless we are invited to a party! We decided to celebrate Labor Day with a big fat dose of unhealthy but delicious!!!

This recipe is pretty involved, so plan ahead if you are going to attempt it. We made approximately 120 won tons. This was a good amount for a fairly large party but they do go fast so plan for that too!

What you will need:
2 packages of round won ton wrappers (you can use square but my wrapping instructions are for round)
2.5 lbs of beef (we used tri tip but just about any cut besides top round or London broil will work....chuck, sirloin, etc)
2 large onions diced
Shredded melty cheese (jack is the best. We used a Mexican blend that had jack in it)
Salt and pepper to taste.
Frying oil. Vegetable, peanut or corn oil

What you do:
First freeze the meat partially (about an hour in the freezer. This makes it much easier to slice thin)
Once your meat is firm but not fully frozen, slice it very thin and then slice it the other way to make it fine cut but not ground.





Dice your onions so that they are very small.




Season and cook your meat pretty much all the way.
Caramelize the onions in a separate pan. We also seasoned the onions so the flavor is even.








Combine the meat & onions in one pan or large bowl and let it cool while you set up your wrapping station.






Once everything is cool enough to handle comfortably, place a small amount of cheese on the middle of a won ton wrapper and then place a small spoonful of your meat / onion mixture on top of the cheese. Be careful you don't over-stuff, as they will be difficult to wrap if you do. Wet the edges of the won ton wrapper and fold it in half. Pleat and press one side to the other. If you need more help, check out this informational video I found on YouTube. Her technique is slightly different from mine, but you get the idea.



You may find that some of your first attempts are less than beautiful, but by the end you should have some nice looking ones. When deep frying it doesn't matter as much if they are beautiful, since they will get bubbly and crisp anyway. If you make regular Chinese dumplings that you will steam, you should take a little more care, but for this...it doesn't matter as much.





If you are serving your won tons right away, go ahead and heat up your frying oil, as soon as all your won tons are wrapped. It took me about 2 hours to wrap them all....put on a movie or something to entertain yourself or get a friend to help...


We made these the night before the party, so we placed our sheets of won tons in the freezer for about 40 minutes (so they don't stick to each other), and then put them into a big freezer bag and froze them until they were ready to be used.

When you are ready to fry, make sure you get your oil hot enough and then fry them up in batches until they are hot all the way through, and brown and crispy on the outside!





We had some left over macaroni and cheese in the freezer from another dinner....so we breaded that up (dip first in a scrambled egg and then coat well with bread crumbs) and tossed it in too! The Mac and cheese was a huge hit as well!






I made a dipping sauce for everything of sour cream and Frank's hot sauce mixed together. It was a good blend of favors and textures.


Enjoy!