Eat consciously. Eat joyously. Eat well.
September 15th
6:48 AM EST

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Buckwheat is a great grain to work with. Except buckwheat is not a grain, it’s a seed, which is good news for folks limiting their gluten intake. But bread made only from buckwheat flour will have the density and texture of a brick. However, a mixture of 10% buckwheat and 90% white (wheat) bread flour will have produce a light crumb. What about the remaining gluten? Sourdough’s extended fermentation ensures that the existing gluten develops a lofty crumb structure while the sourdough cultures themselves significantly break down the gluten, making the bread a reasonable choice for those who are gluten-sensitive. With that said, it should be noted that commercially made sourdough bread may not be so tummy-friendly.

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Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), a relative of sorrel and rhubarb, is cultivated for its seed. Because it is not a grain, it does not contain gluten.


But we did not create our Seeded Buckwheat Sourdough recipe to cater to gluten-sensitive diets. We created this recipe because buckwheat has a wonderful earthy, nutty flavor and produces baked goods with a beautiful pumpernickel color. We like the combination of buckwheat and caraway – the flavor most people associate with rye bread – but feel free to use your favorite seeds. This bread bakes rather dark so don’t be alarmed if it looks finished after only baking for half the required time.

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  • 670 g non-chlorinated water
  • 2 tablespoons (~30 g) white vinegar
  • 200 g levain
  • 900 g white bread flour
  • 100 g buckwheat flour
  • 20 g salt
  • 50 g olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • Additional bread and rice flour for dusting
  • Cornmeal (~1 tablespoon)

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You will also need the following pieces of equipment: digital kitchen scale, bench knife, large non-reactive container for bulk fermentation, tea towels, cast-iron or Dutch oven-type baking vessel (we use either an Émile Henry clay Dutch oven or a Le Creuset enameled cast iron Dutch oven), spray bottle filled with water, and a razor blade, ceramic knife or baking lame (it’s pronounced “lahm”, in case you were wondering).

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Autolyse
Combine the water and vinegar and warm to around 80°F (25°C). Whisk in the levain. Separately, sift together the flours in a large non-reactive (plastic, ceramic, glass) container. Add the levain mixture to the flour and mix/fold until cohesive. The dough will be a bit sticky. Cover the container loosely and place in an unheated oven; this is a draft-free space and the slight heat from the pilot light will encourage the yeast. Let rest for 25-40 minutes.

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Sourdough starter (left) and sourdough during bulk fermentation (right)


Bulk Fermentation 
After 25-40 minutes rub half the salt on the surface of the dough and massage it in with half the oil. Flip the bread and repeat with the remaining salt and oil. Next, fold the dough onto itself (like closing an open book) with a spatula or bench knife four times: left to right, top to bottom, right to left, bottom to top. This doesn’t have to be perfect. It is a very gentle method of kneading which will maintain pockets of air and give your bread a nice crumb. Keep the dough in its container in the unlit oven and repeat this folding every 30 minutes for 2 hours. Sprinkle in the caraway seeds during the second folding. After 4 folding sessions (i.e., 2 hours) let the dough rest 1-2 hours.

Bench Rest 
After the bulk fermentation, remove the dough onto an unfloured surface and divide into two even portions with a bench knife. The unfloured surface will create tension which will allow you to gently shape the loaves (we use a silicone Silpat mat on my counter to create a neat work surface). Use the bench knife to fold the edges of the dough under itself just enough to create a taught surface. Cover with a heavily floured tea towel (you may want to dust the loaves with flour if your tea towel isn’t completely saturated with flour) and let rest 20-30 minutes on the counter.

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Flour your work surface. With the help of your bench knife, very gently pull the right side of the dough out and fold to the middle of the dough. Perform the same folding technique as you did during bulk fermentation: left to right, top to bottom, right to left, bottom to top. Use the bench knife to fold the edges of the dough under itself, shaping the boule as you go. Repeat with other dough portion. Dust loaves with a 50/50 mixture of rice flour and bread flour.

Place a heavily floured tea towel in a bowl roughly the same shape as your baking vessel. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of cornmeal over the towel. Gently flip your boule into the bowl so that the folded-under bottom is now the top. Don’t worry that it is wrinkly and looks misshapen: you will flip the dough once more before baking. Sprinkle the remaining cornmeal over the dough and drape the overhanging towel on top of the boule. Let rest 3-4 hours on your counter or unlit oven (or 8-12 hours in the refrigerator).

Baking 
Thirty minutes before the bench rest is complete, remove the rising bread from the unlit oven and preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C) with your baking vessel(s) inside. When the oven is completely preheated, carefully remove the vessel and take of its lid. Fold back the tea towel from the rising dough and gently flip the bread inside the hot vessel (the bottom is once again the top). Quickly make deep slashes into the surface of the bread with your razor blade. This will allow steam to escape while baking which will create a better texture and hey, it looks great, too. Mist the surface of the bread with the spray bottle and sprinkle additional caraway seeds over its surface. Place lid back on the vessel, place the vessel in the oven and immediately lower the heat to 450°F (232°C). After 20 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 20 minutes. Remove vessel from oven and immediately place bread on a wire rack. Be patient: allowing the bread to cool completely before slicing will ensure a perfect texture. If you have only one vessel, begin baking the other boule.

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September 12th
7:04 AM EST
Hungry for more? Follow 500 Tasty Sandwiches on Facebook and Twitter!

Hungry for more? Follow 500 Tasty Sandwiches on Facebook and Twitter!

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September 11th
10:00 AM EST
As fall draws closer, what seasonal foods and drinks are you most looking forward to?

As fall draws closer, what seasonal foods and drinks are you most looking forward to?

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September 10th
10:00 AM EST

Know Your Ingredients: Black Cumin (शाही जीरा)

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“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Actually, Shakespeare, it’s a bit complicated. Black cumin, a spice used throughout Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India’s Kashmir and Punjab regions goes by a host of names, some of which also refer to an entirely unrelated spice – Latin name, Nigella sativa – which is known by its own series of confounding monikers.

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Though it looks like caraway, the black cumin (Bunium bulbocastanum) we’re referring to is related to common cumin (Cuminum cyminum). Black cumin (Hindi: kala jeera, काला जीरा; Urdu: kala jeera, کالا زیرہ), however is also used to describe Nigella sativa. More commonly it is called shahi jeera (Hindi: शाही जीरा) or Syah Jeera (Urdu: سیاہ زیرہ) which translates to imperial cumin. In English, black cumin is also labeled blackseed, black caraway and Kashmiri cumin, the actual name of the spice in the Kashmiri language (kashmir zireh, کشور زور). Finally, in several languages including Urdu, Persian and Farsi, black cumin is also known as jeera kuhi, “wild” or “mountain” cumin. Got that!?
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The cuisine of Northern India has been greatly influenced by Moghul cuisine, itself characterized by a great number of highly aromatic rice (e.g., biryani, pulau) and meat dishes, many of which are perfumed by black cumin. Black cumin, like its common cousin, can be described as smoky and earthy. However, in place of “white” cumin’s defining pungency, black cumin has slightly sweet notes of fennel and caraway. We also detect the pleasant fragrance of wet hay. Because black cumin seeds are so fine, they are often used whole. Black cumin is an excellent choice when you want to give a dish a delicately nuanced earthiness.

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September 9th
2:00 PM EST
You follow 500 Tasty Sandwiches (500Sandwiches) on Instagram, right? All your wildest dreams will come true!

You follow 500 Tasty Sandwiches (500Sandwiches) on Instagram, right? All your wildest dreams will come true!

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September 8th
6:33 AM EST

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Kkakdugi (깍두기), cubed radish kimchi, will forever be the “other” kimchi though it is no less delicious than its famous cabbage cousin. We make ours with a variety of Korean radish known as cheong du (green head) that we grow from seed. You can prepare kkakdugi with any type of large Korean white radish – just avoid Japanese daikon radish which lacks the satisfying density of Korean varietals.

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Making kkakdugi is relatively straight-forward. First, salt the cubed radish to extract moisture (this improves their ability to absorb introduced flavors). Next, create a spicy seasoning paste. Finally, mix everything together (use your hands!) and let the kimchi rest, unrefrigerated, for a few days. During this time seafood ingredients and naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria begin the process of fermentation which gives the kimchi its characteristic funk.

Wonderfully crunchy kkakdugi can be served on its own as a side dish – it traditionally accompanies mild dishes like ox bone broth soup (seolleongtang, 설렁탕) – or is used as an ingredient in marinades, stir-fries or stews.

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Vegetables

  • 3-4 Korean radishes (mu, 무)(include greens if very fresh and tender)
  • 5 scallions (pa, 파), green parts only, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup coarse sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (optional)


Seasoning Paste

  • 1 teaspoon glutinous rice powder/flour (chapssalgaru, 찹쌀가루)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup Korean hot pepper flakes (gochugaru, 고추가루)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (aekjeo, 액젓)
  • 1/4 cup Korean salted shrimp (maleun saewoo, 마른새우), finely ground
  • 2 raw shrimp, very finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons very finely minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons very finely grated ginger
  • 1 carrot, peeled, very finely grated (optional)

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Korean salted shrimp (maleun saewoo, 마른새우)


Equipment

  • Salad spinner or colander
  • Sterilized glass jar with lid
  • Small plate
  • Kitchen gloves (optional)
  • Plastic wrap

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Prepare the Radish
Scrub and cube (approximately 1”x1”) the unpeeled radishes. Roughly chop the greens. In the bowl of a salad spinner (or any other bowl), toss the radish with the salt and sugar. Transfer to a salad spinner’s basket (or a colander) and allow the radishes to rest until liquid releases and cubes soften (30-60 minutes). When ready, spin the radishes (or give the colander a good shake) but do not rinse the radish. Salt crystals will remain on the cubed radish – this is fine.

Prepare Seasoning Paste
Combine rice flour and water in a small pot set over low heat and stir until a thin paste forms. Allow it to cool (especially if using raw seafood) and mix in the remaining seasoning paste ingredients. Taste the paste and adjust according to your preferences.

Putting It All Together
In a large bowl mix together the radish, scallions and seasoning paste, ensuring that the cubes are evenly coated. Pack the mixture into a glass jar, removing as many air pockets as possible. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the radish to prevent contact with air. Loosely tighten the lid on the jar and place the jar on a plate to collect liquid that may leak from the jar as the kkakdugi ferments. Leave the jar out on a counter for 2-3 (summer weather) to 3-5 (fall/winter weather) days before transferring to the refrigerator. Kkakdugi is now ready to eat but best after an additional week in the refrigerator. Be patient.

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Thanks, Kayte, for the exemplar assistance in the test kitchen!

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September 6th
3:39 PM EST

Farang (ฝรั่ง), the documentary about chef Andy Ricker (Pok Pok). Truly inspiring. Aspiring chefs, passionate home cooks, hungry eaters - watch it now (it’s free to view at Vice Munchies)!

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September 5th
7:14 AM EST

La Kama is a Moroccan spice mixture that is very popular in Tangier. Think of it as the poor man’s ras el hanout and use it to season tagines, soups and stews or as a rub with chicken or lamb.

  • 2.5 cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Dry roast the cinnamon and peppercorns in a heavy pan over medium until fragrant, taking care not to burn the spices. Next, grind the cinnamon and pepper and mix with the remaining ingredients. Use at once or store in an airtight jar, away from heat or light. Try la kama in place of ras el hanout in our recipe for Tagine of Rabbit, Kumquat, Green Olives and Saltanas or our healthy vegan Cauliflower “Couscous”.

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September 3rd
6:54 AM EST

Know Your Ingredients: Korean Sea Salt

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South Korea is mostly surrounded by water and has 2,413 kilometers (1,499 miles) of coast line along three seas (Yellow Sea, East Sea (Sea of Japan), East China Sea). While French fleur de sel and Maldon salt from England are universally adored by the culinary elite we’re going to let you in on a little secret: Korean sea salt (cheon-il-yeom, 천일염), also known as Korean solar salt, is a lot better. And because it doesn’t have the same cachet as its French and English counterpoints, Korean sea salt is also significantly cheaper.

The term solar salt distinguishes this premium product from salt derived from sea water that is boiled, known as parched salt (jukyeum, 죽염). Parched salt, incidentally, also refers to bamboo salt, salt roasted in bamboo tubes plugged with mineral-rich clay, an artisanal product in its own right. The best solar salt comes from South Korea’s South Jeolla Province (Jeollanam-do, 전라남도) where it is derived exclusively from tidal flat salterns (seawater evaporating mudflats). In fact, the salterns of Jeollanam-do’s Yeonggwang County (Yeonggwang-gun, 영광군) and Sinan County (Sinan-gun, 신안군) are listed as tentative UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Furthermore, the coastal tidal flats of the Sinan archipelago belong to a UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve.

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Korean solar salt is extracted in three stages (seawater reservoirs, evaporation ponds, crystallization ponds) before it is aged for two to three years to improve its flavor. The salt is prized for its minerality – Shinan County is on average three times higher in minerals including calcium, potassium, and magnesium than regular salt products – and large, brilliant white crystals. It is ideally suited for traditional Korean applications (i.e., pickled/fermented foods) as well as its use as a finishing salt.

There is debate whether salt has a discernible terroir. We argue that is doesn’t. However, a salt’s mineral content and crystal size will affect the way it dissolves in food (and on the tongue) thereby affecting its perceived saltiness. Korean solar salt has a relatively high percentage of trace minerals – you can’t taste them but it is reasonable to conclude its saltiness is less intense than kosher salt. Its course texture lends itself to adding a burst of saltiness and crunchy texture to dishes without imparting an overwhelming saltiness. Similarly, it is a great choice for drawing out moisture from vegetables as the salt is more easily rinsed away. Texture and appearance are largely a personal preference: if you love the porcelain white appearance and uniform cragginess of Korean solar salt, use it.

As an aside, traditional Korean solar salt depends on the purity of Korea’s coastal waters and tidal flats. Demand and respect for this special salt ensures the preservation of the region’s ecological system, economy, and local culture.

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Recipe: To make the popular condiment of kkaesogeum (깨소금), sesame salt, combine approximately 1 cup of toasted sesame seeds with 1 tablespoon of Korean solar salt.

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September 2nd
6:33 AM EST

Lotus Root with Char Siu

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Lotus roots are rarely seen outside of traditional Asian cuisines. This is a shame because how often do you get to eat something that looks like the brainchild of Dr. Seuss!?

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The lotus root, actually the rhizome of the aquatic lotus flower plant, doesn’t have much flavor. Like tofu, the lotus root is a vehicle for sauces. Also, it looks cool.

Our recipe for Lotus Root with Char Siu plays to the special ingredient’s crisp texture, simply dressing it with a char siu (Cantonese barbecued pork) studded soy and Shaoxing wine sauce. It is equally easy to make, delicious and beautiful.

• Approximately 1 lb (450 g) lotus root
• 1 tablespoon peanut oil
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 teaspoon minced ginger
• 2 scallions, finely sliced
• 2 ounces (55 g) char siu, chopped
• 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
• 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon sugar

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Remove the lotus root’s peel with a vegetable peeler and rinse under cold water. Slice into half-inch (1.25 cm) rings. Add the oil to a pan set over high heat. When hazy, add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 15-30 seconds. Next, add the scallions, char siu and lotus root and cook for an additional minute. Pour the Shaoxing wine and soy sauce into the pan, sprinkle in the sugar, and cook, stirring frequently for an additional 2-3 minutes, just long enough for the lotus roots to absorb the flavor while remaining crisp. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

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