Nathan Mhyrvold's Modernist Cuisine, Nukazuke, or, Burying vegetables in brown rice bran, Enzymatic peeling, Police tactics

January 24, 2012 by

I've been hanging out in the library again, reading Nathan Mhyrvold's Modernist Cuisine.  It's a six-volume encyclopedia of Modernist Cuisine, the foodie phenomenon resulting from the marriage of food and technology.  The books take a sober and scientific approach to food, but also a lush and seductive coffee-table-book giant-color-photograph approach.  The set cost about $650 when it first came out and they are down to a bit over $400.  I've been reading them at the library where they live in the reference room.

Periodically while reading I'll take some notes or take a photo of the page.  The page above has two recipes on it.  The first one is for garlic cloves and olive oil in a mason jar, in a water bath, and pressure cooked for two hours.

Nukazuke is pickled vegetables that are pickled in brown rice bran.  You flavor the bran with ginger, cabbage, and salt water.  The bran is traditionally stirred by hand every day, which prevents unwanted bacterial growth.  After a culture is developed from the ginger and cabbage, they get sifted out and the nuka is ready for use.  I am going to try to go to Sunshine Mart to get some of the stuff.  I had an epiphany that part of my home should be devoted to Japanese stuff, and this is part of it.

This is some space-age stuff.  You buy a bunch of Novozymes-brand Pectinex Ultra SP-L and some Smash-XXL and put 3g of it in with 1kg of water and 300g citrus fruit.  Sit the fruit in the water for 12 hours and the enzymes will eat the peel.  You can also include the pith and they will eat that as well.  The process can leave behind some residue, which is pictured at bottom-right.  This is like when you get those mandarin oranges in a can and they are peeled; this is how they do that more or less.  You can buy the Ultra SP-L here.  Smash-XXL is discontinued.  You can make the recipe using all Ultra SP-L and it will work.  However, this is part of what freaks me out about this type of cooking, that a food product can be discontinued, because Modernist Cuisine foods are processed foods, part of the military-industrial thing.  So I am not 100% at ease with this. 

Occupy Oakland, Frank Ogawa Plaza, the morning they took down the camp there.  You can see the back of garbage truck at the left side of the photograph.  They had backed it into the camp and were throwing everything inside.  The cops were out in a line, with guns, zip ties, and video cameras.  It sucked.  I shot this from behind a barracade stretched across 14th Street on the west side of Broadway.

People were getting hyphy in the intersection.  When I took a photo of them, they said, "Erase that photograph, blood."  The photograph wasn't of anything important, I was just taking pictures and I happened to take one of them.



July 18, 2011 by

We made pickles 

Kirby cucumbers are right for pickling.  They are cheap and in season right now.  Pickling is easy, the hard part is getting the jars together.  I use whatever I have around and it usually works out.  A funnel helps but you can do without.   You can use the same method on radishes, carrots, most any other vegetable.

The idea of pickling is to submerge the thing to be pickled in salty water for a period of time.  Submerging is essential, otherwise any of the vegetable that is un-submerged will mold.  You can fill a plastic bag with brine and place it on top of the vegetables to keep them submerged.  The jars I used have tapered tops so the cucumbers get wedged into the bottle and they don't have room to float up.

Using a scale, measure out 50 grams of kosher salt per liter.  I used 100 grams of salt for 2 liters of water and that was enough brine to cover these cucumbers.  If you don't have a scale, try 4 tablespoons of salt per liter of water.  Add aromatics.  Above, I used a couple cloves of garlic garlic,1 teaspoon dill, and 1/4 teaspoon each of coriander, peppercorns, sichuan peppercorns, mustard seeds, and a couple of crushed-up bay leaves.  You can freestyle it with the aromatics, using some or none, all or other.  Sometimes it gets above 75 degrees in our apartment, so we keep the pickles in the fridge for 3 weeks.  If you have a place in your house that stays below 75 degrees, go ahead and store the jars there, and they will be ready in 1 week.

I have to get some more jars together and I will pickle some radishes which are also cheap and plentiful right now.