Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fermenting things - chili sauce

Currently I am quite obsessed with fermenting. Some will say,that this is obvious due to my job (duh), but I don't mean using alcoholic products. Here I mean lactose-fermentation, salt curing, vinegar curing, pickling and so on.

And I don't really do enough in my eyes.

Yesterday I have seen Fresno peppers and cherry peppers, when I did my grocery shopping. I bought them both. I did my own siracha a couple of weeks ago, but the 200ml bottle is almost finished. This time I will do more, and with mixed peppers, for a more nuanced character (well, one cannot really complain about my siracha... It was plenty of characterful, spicy and funky. But more is better, isn't it?).

The process is simple: cut chiles into small pieces (you can use your food processor, if you have one - I don't). I took the better part of membrane and seeds out, as I wanted to taste a bit more than only fire... You can leave them in (some are even using insane hot habaneros, which are surprisingly often available here in the Middle East).

Then you can put them in a jar. Last time I used a foodsaver bag and vacuumed sealed the chilis. This is not necessary, however you have to be prepared, that mold can spread if you don't vacuum there. In a lot of forums, they tend to advise just to discard the upper part of the produce which is moldy. But I am not that far yet.
You should however not "100%" vacuum the food (e.g. in a commercial chamber sealer) - as botulinum is spreading in anaerobic environments. And this critter is about the most toxic microorganism around...

Anyway this time I put the chiles into a Kilner jar. I added the salt (use sea salt or rock salt which isn't fluorined) 3.5% of the weight, added two coves of garlic; and muddled everything. Yeah, a wooden muddled was about the right tool for this.
Then I sealed it with my nifty foodsaver jar attachment and put it on the counter.

Don't screw the jar-ring tight, as at a certain point the CO2 out of the fermentation will need some space. 
I will ferment it around 1 week.

After it is fermented, I will blend it and probably will cook it with the addition of vinegar. Point is, that it would be perfectly fine to keep it as it is... But cooking makes it more "siracha'like". If you don't heat it up, it will be healthier, though, as lacto-bacillus is very supportive for your ingestion-system as it is for your immune system.

I will decide in a couple of days...

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Fish & Chips Room

Short dinner and I took the opportunity to try the Fish & Chips room, which is only 5 minutes walk from my work place.

They have an abundance of menu choices [usually not a great sign]. From fried stuff, over to baked potatoes, over to pizza.
I took the middle approach - on one hand, I am not a big fan of fish outside of a Japanese restaurant or fine dining restaurant [so no fish for me] - on the other hand I was not really up for pizza from a British inspired place.

Hence I had:

  • Onion rings
  • Fried chicken steak
  • Pickled onions [as side dish]
  • Backed potato with butter
  • and a Coke [there were not really great options of alcoholfree drinks - besides of "fresh" juices.
The waiting time was very long. I haven't used my watch, but I assume, that it was at least 15 to 20 minutes. Given that this is no gourmet food, this is long...

After the waiting time, everything came within 2 minutes and very soon I understood, that I have over-ordered.
First point I realized was, that everything was fried in the same better. Sometimes this was ok, sometimes not..
The fried onions were quite crispy - however also greasy. Not the most greasy onions I have ever encountered - but definitely a bit too greasy for my taste. Overall though they had a quite satisfying taste - though came in a giant portion. So big, that I could not finish them - so big, that I had actually a pretty bad conscience of wasting food.
The fried chicken steak was another rather big portion - however as main course it was about right. It didn't "felt" as greasy as the onion rings, but after a couple of minutes eating, the batter on the underside of the breast became soggy, and it was no fun to eat. The overall flavor was rather below average. Ok, I would say, but definitely not a highlight. They served some remoulade sauce with it, which was obviously from a bought jar.
One issue especially with the chicken fried steak: the batter tasted "fishy". Not as much that I would give it back [not fishy as old fish] - but it tasted, as they would batter fish in the same "pot" as they would batter the chicken - not so good.

The pickled onion [as side dish] was a joke: Ok - the dish cost only 2 Dhs [or so], but these were 4 or 5 pearl onions [the very small ones]. I expected at least some English pickled onions in malt vinegar - not to speak from house-pickled onions. But this dish, was a big no-no.

The baked potato tasted... quite old. Yeah - I know a baked potato had to be prepared [well it doesn't have to, if you are using the microwave technique] - but anyway - it wasn't great as well - though it was at least good - it was smothered with butter - and was rather a potato mash in a baked potato - I was happy, that I didn't ordered the one with cheese - as this seemed even for me far beyond any calorie intake, I would find adequate...

I paid around AED 80.00. This is not expensive, given, that the portions are huge. However I wouldn't consider it value for money either, as the quality wasn't really there.

One point to the service and overall comfort: they didn't seem to have really a sequence of service - I was "welcomed" with a menu and ordered while sitting down... kinda weird. While I was waiting, the waitress came just once with the drinks... and while I was eating [and after that] nobody asked me, how it was...

The room itself had a lot of flies, which were annoying. Not to the point, I would call it infested - but definitely close to it. And the restaurant didn't looked dirty on the first spot, but also was far away of being hygienically clean. The bench seating was also pretty uncomfortable and needed definitely an upholstery.

WOW or MEH:                  Meh
Ambiance:                           3
Value for Money [1-10]:     3
Deliciousness [1-10]:           4
Staff Helpfulness [1-10]:     3
Going back:                         maybe
Overall Score:                      3