Sunday, May 29, 2011

Alaskan Yellow Eye

I live in a place where, for reasons I cannot fathom, the very idea of whitefish is utterly unknown. I mean smoked whitefish, sold whole, pretty much anywhere food is to be found, on the East Coast. Shrivelled, with a shellac hue of skin, fragrantly fishy and oily. In it's perfect form, with just a touch of mayo on a bagel. I know you will cringe here - a cinnamon raisin bagel.

That, this is not. But rather a species I think called Yellow Eye, a slab given to be by Wild Bill, my history department compatriot, who caught him in Alaska. I smoked it yesterday with some wild salmon, and what you see before you is, I must admit, much better than whitefish. The capers aren't bad either. Now if I could only get a real bagel in this wasteland.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


So, last week I spoke at a gig on Nuevo Latino Cuisine at Davis. The lunch was fantastic. Adriana from Pico Pico Maize Cafe in Napa and SF made Arepas with magnificent sides. And she explained to me how to make them. I haven't had a chance until today. BUT, in fact, today we have a guest contributor. My son, who wrote this recipe (and called them gorditas for a class assignment). But it is entirely his recipe as he wrote it (a very different style from my own, as you'll see). BTW - He's 14.

Gorditas by Ethan Albala

Meat and cheese-filled corn pocket
Serves 4 people
Prep/Cook Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
1 pound ground beef, 1 onion, ½ of a green bell pepper, ½ of a red bell pepper, cilantro, salt, pepper, ½ teaspoon of cumin, ½ a teaspoon of oregano, “P. A. N.” pre-cooked white corn meal from Columbia, mozzarella cheese, 4 Roma tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 chile mulatto, pinch of piloncillo, cinnamon, and nutmeg
1.) Filling
1. Heat olive oil in pan
2. Break up ground beef in pan, cook until brown
3. Add chopped onion to pan, along with the cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, bell peppers, piloncillo, cinnamon, and nutmeg
4. Turn heat down, and let filling simmer on low
5. Pass chile over open flame to soften
6. Break open the top of the chile and pour out the seeds
7. Soak chile in a bowl of 2 cups of hot water for 10 minutes
8. Blend chile with chopped tomatoes and soaking water until smooth, then add it to the filling in the pan.
9. Let filling simmer for ½ hour on low heat with the top off
2.) Wrap
1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Mix 5 cups of water and 4 cups of P.A.N. mix into bowl
3. Make 12 even balls of dough; racquet ball size
4. Flatten balls into a ¾ inch thick, 3 inch diameter even disc
5. Put patties into dry, hot pan to make a crust, then put in oven for 20 min at 3500 F
6. Slice the side of the Gorditas to make a pocket, do not cut all the way through
7. Fill pocket with filling, cheese, and cilantro, sour cream or yogurt optional
8. Eat and enjoy!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


No, this is not an Algerian L'ham Lalou or a Thai Khao Lham. It's yet another of my attempts to invent a new word. It's a lamb-ham. A cured and in this case smoked lamb shank. It was five bucks. Took less than a week. And I smoked it along with a whole chicken and a lot of other little things. Here's what you do. Buy a pair of lamb shanks. Salt them generously with a tiny tiny pinch of instacure #1, and some good unrefined sugar. Add some spice, cloves I like. And thyme. Whatever. In a ziplock in the fridge for about a week. Then smoke over the coldest smoke you can manage - I used hickory soaked in local ruddy zin. Never got above maybe 180 - 200 degrees. In a regular little Weber kettle. A few lumps of hardwood charcoal to get it going. Then hung in the cave (i.e. wine fridge with all the other salumi) for a while. I'm impatient. But I think it should keep a long time. Think of it as a little teeny lham. Carved as is, very thin slices. Lightly cooked, no more.