Category Archives: Techniques

Dry-curing bacon for seasoning meat, part 2

The previous post, with some basic info and getting started on this batch: 

This batch ended up sitting longer in the fridge, near the end, because I got distracted by a tooth abscess–but, it turned out fine anyway. Here are some more process photos, finally. 🙂

Day 2, before draining and resalting:

Day 3 or 4, with less liquid already getting drawn out:

Don’t worry if the brine smells like stale blood, BTW, because it mostly is. 😐 Glad to drain that stuff off!

Day 5 or 6:

I thought that, with the amount of lean meat full of moisture, it would probably take a bit longer for this batch, and it did. At this point, it needed a couple more days of curing.

But, a couple of days after that, it was starting to dry out enough that I intended to dump the rest of the cure on it and give it one more day in the fridge. That turned into about a week, but at that stage it wasn’t a problem. Thankfully! This photo is after I started resalting it for the day.

 

About a week ago, I finally got it rinsed, wrapped, and hung up to dry more.

Ready to go!

First I laid out a clean, thin tea towel. Don’t use one that you mind staining; some other kind of thin cotton cloth will work OK, too. This one has been repeatedly used for things like this, and it still doesn’t look great even though I always wash kitchen towels with Oxi stuff to get rid of germs.

Yep, my counter’s still a wreck. 😉 The bag of GF pasta in the background at least fits the theme here.

The lighting was really bad here. But, lay the pieces lengthwise, and wrap them up. This approach is easier with a single bigger slab, but it works OK with the sliced.

 

I rubber-banded the top and bottom. One reason I like to use these towels is that they come with handy hanging loops. 🙂

 

Those hooks are inconveniently placed for dish towels, as Mr. Sweden intended, but they’re great for things like bags of citrus and drying bacon. 😉 Not to mention decorative corn that you’re not sure what else to do with out of season. But, corn!

Cherokee folk song sung by Walker Calhoun of Cherokee, North Carolina at the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music 10-26-90.

Today, I figured it was probably dry enough, and I wanted to use some in a pot of beans. One of the leaner pieces still had a bit much moisture, so I cut some from it and hung it back up. The other three pieces got double-bagged and put into the freezer. Salty, fatty things won’t keep too long in there, but it ought to hold for a few extra months without starting to go rancid. IME, about six months is the freezer storage limit before it starts turning.

The color is a bit off here, but looking pretty good! I wasn’t sure, but apparently there was enough nitrate (with my cautious addition) to keep it from turning brownish greyish: perfectly fine to eat, but an offputting color.

 

Ready for the freezer!

 

Dry-curing bacon for seasoning meat

As I mentioned in the Basics: Greens post ages ago, another food item I’ve missed being readily able to buy is dry-cured seasoning meat with the kind of cure I want. (Not usually so crazy about fatback.) You can find lots of bacon and other cured pork products here, both British and imported, but the cure is still just not quite what I’m looking for. (Still, better availability than in most of the US, with pretty good dry-cured bacon and pancetta in most supermarkets.) And a chunk of cured meat is better to throw in to season vegetables than bacon that’s been sliced thin for frying, to my taste.

Old Waynesboro brand side meat, from MillRiverStore.com. I think I’ve actually bought some of that North Carolina brand before. I also didn’t know you could buy boiled peanuts in a can, before looking at that site, but they’re not really a thing back home anyway because peanuts don’t like the mountain climate. Now I’m oddly intrigued.

At any rate, I had never tried curing meat at all before I got cravings for the “right” kind of seasoning meat. 🙂 This was a much less intimidating project than the hams I used to watch my grandfather cure sometimes, with trying to find a balance between not getting it oversalted so that you get crystals in the meat, and making sure you use enough that it doesn’t go bad next to the bone. It’s also less tricky than bacon you’re intending to slice up and fry without soaking, so I have been erring on the side of making it salty and dry.

Before going into my procedure, here is some general information on dry-curing:

A good British step-by-step on dry-curing bacon. Also, the page I linked to earlier on dry-curing hams from Virginia Cooperative Extension, which goes into safety rather a lot.

As they also mention in both, you don’t absolutely need to use nitrates, though they don’t actually seem to be that bad for you after all. Another good one: Home Cured Bacon Without Nitrates. The first batch I made, I didn’t use any, and the flavor was good even if the brownish-greyish color was more than a little offputting. 😉 It did go rancid more quickly without the added nitrate, though the possibility of botulism is no doubt lower if you let it dry longer than is usually a good idea for straight eating bacon. (One of the reasons I’ve been doing that, besides its hopefully keeping longer in general with the lower moisture content.)

One I’ve been meaning to try, tasty as the commercial stuff is: Lap yuk 臘肉 – Chinese dried bacon, which also usually gets used to flavor vegetable dishes and the like. They also have interesting posts on making some other Chinese cured meats there.

Also, for safety, while I’m thinking about it: you might want to use the ready-mixed curing salt intended for bacon. I already have pharmaceutical-grade potassium nitrate (saltpeter) on hand for aquarium plant fertilizing purposes, and feel OK using that–and guesstimating proportions to use by volume, erring on the low side. If you’re concerned about getting it wrong, it’s probably best to use the curing salt. Like with the brine pickles, the chances of making yourself sick are probably very, very low, but I still don’t want to encourage anybody to risk it!

On with the show, such as it is! I’d been meaning to make another batch for a while now, and couldn’t resist picking up a pack of thick-sliced pork belly that I spotted yesterday. Usually, I’d want to use a bigger chunk of meat, but this worked out just fine before. (Inspired to try it by the Chinese bacon approach!)

This was reduced, but it was still very fresh. The store-cut meat from our local Sainsbury’s tends to be good quality, in general.

I still had a little curing mix left from the last attempt, which didn’t turn out so well since even a British summer is not the best weather if you don’t want it going rancid on you while it’s drying. 😐

Please ignore the cluttered wreck which is my counter right now. I decided to pass on the red pepper pesto for this. 😉

But, to that, I added:

  • 100mL/about 0.5 c. sea salt ground up some in a mortar and pestle, for extra flavor. If you’re using regular table salt, it will pack down more and take a little less.
  • 1.5 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon very dark brown sugar (the balance here is totally to taste)
  • about 1/8 teaspoon potassium nitrate
  • A teaspoon fresh, coarsely ground black pepper (it may take more later)

All mixed up and ready to go, in an airtight storage container.

This 2L container takes up a lot of space in our smallish fridge, but you want one that’s big enough to lay the meat flat in a single layer.

Now, just sprinkle some of the cure on with a spoon (you don’t want to keep putting meaty hands back into the container!), and rub it in well. You’ll want to use plenty of it to draw the moisture out. Make sure to get all the crevices, especially if the meat you bought was already slashed on the top fat for crispiness in cooking, like all the pork belly I’ve seen here.

Now, without my hand blocking most of the view.

Just a few minutes later, you can see how much moisture it’s already started to draw out of the meat.

Yep, that’s some very brown sugar.

Now it needs to go in the coldest part of your fridge, usually the bottom.

You’ll want to pull it out once a day for several days, to drain off the brine and salt it again with the curing mix. When it stops leaching out a bunch of moisture, it will be ready to wrap in cloth and hang to dry. No more batches than I’ve made so far, that time will vary quite a bit depending on the moisture in your meat starting out. As much lean as this particular pork belly has, it may take a week of daily draining and salting.

I did consider waiting until it was done and doing a post then, but the last time I tried that it just never got written up. 😉 I will try to do some followups as it progresses.

And once that’s done clunking up the fridge, I may try some corned beef or pork again.

Good gluten-free bread machine results

(As usual, you can click through for a larger version of any photo.)

I was reminded again today, baking another loaf of bread, that I hadn’t yet gotten this posted. I’m still having problems with the osteomalacia, and have been running into some symptoms of the vitamin D deficiency (and hypocalcemia) again this winter in spite of supplementation, including the low energy and fatigue. So I haven’t been able to post as much lately as I’d like. There are a lot of step-by-step recipe photos waiting for writeups. *wry smile*

But, it took me a while to figure out a consistently good bread machine recipe and techniques for basic sandwich-type bread, and I thought I should share what’s been working well here.

I lost the first recipe I was getting consistently good results from, and haven’t been able to find it again online. But, I was glad to try this one: Finally, Really Good Sandwich Bread: Our Favorite Gluten Free Bread Recipe, from Gluten Free Cooking School.

That looks to be a good basic recipe (with no dairy, and the option of egg replacement), but of course I had to fiddle with it. 😉 Here’s the version I’ve been using:

  • 1.5 packages of fast-acting yeast, or roughly 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 0.5 c./about 125mL water a bit over body temperature. As long as it’s not hot enough to burn your skin, it’s OK.

Mix that up in a coffee mug, and set it aside for the yeast to proof while you get everything else ready.

In another bowl (I just use a handy British pint measuring cup), mix the dry ingredients together:

  • 2.5 cups/British pint/roughly 600mL flour blend (I’ve been using roughly a third each of chickpea flour/besan, brown rice or sorghum flour, and finely ground white rice flour)
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste, since this makes a fairly hefty loaf and I like salt 😉

In the bread machine loaf pan, combine:

  • 2-3 lightly beaten eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 c./250mL kefir, buttermilk, or yogurt warmed to about body temperature (a good use for any that’s gone very sour!)
  • 2 tablespoons oil or melted butter

By this time, the yeast should be threatening to foam out of the cup, and we’re ready to go. 🙂

As with most baking, the behavior here will vary depending on your ingredients, the weather, and especially your particular bread machine. But, this is what works best with mine: a circa 2004-vintage Kenwood model, which helpfully came with a GF cycle I didn’t even know I needed then! If yours doesn’t have that, the cake setting is supposed to work pretty well. A GF dough doesn’t want more than one rising period, so the regular bread cycles don’t work as well.

I didn’t think to get photos before everything was mixed up in the pan, either when I took these photos or today.

But, add the proofed yeast into the pan with the other liquid ingredients. I have found that it works best to start the cycle before beginning to add the dry ingredients gradually and carefully, so it doesn’t throw flour all over the place. Especially with the xanthan gum in there, it tends to glump up and need more stirring to mix up properly if you just dump all the flour in there before turning the machine on.

It still takes more attention during the mixing and kneading stage than a wheat flour bread would, because the dough needs to be wetter and doesn’t move around the pan as freely. A rubber spatula is your friend, with a table knife to scrape the sticky dough off it back into the pan. 🙂 You’ll need to scrape the sides of the pan down, and make sure it all gets properly mixed. I usually fold the dough over with a spatula a few times later on during the mixing/kneading process, just to make sure it’s uniform.

The dough consistency should be kind of like a thick br0wnie batter starting out; it also takes a while for rice and bean flours to absorb liquid, so hold off on adjusting the consistency for at least five minutes after it’s thoroughly mixed up.

It’s hard to get decent photos inside a working bread machine, so this is what we end up with instead. 😉

Dough near the end of the kneading time. This loaf still turned out a little moist and dense, but that’s better than dry and sandy end results!

At the end of the kneading cycle. As you can see, it tends to get a big air bubble around the paddle, at the bottom of the pan. I’m knocking that out with the spatula, and about to smooth the top of the loaf.

As smooth as it’s going to get! It’s hard to get all the gooey dough scraped down off the sides, but that’s good enough.

Even starting out with warm liquid ingredients, the rising time on my machine is still not long enough. I usually have to switch the machine off and let it sit for an extra hour or so, then use the “bake only” cycle.

I was afraid this would collapse if I let it go much longer. You can see how the top is starting to crack, with bubbles visible. That’s a better indication that it’s risen enough than the common “doubled in the pan” standard, in my experience.

And, finally, a finished loaf of bread! This one did turn out a bit denser than I’d wanted, from slightly too-moist dough, but it was still delicious.

Carefully pulling the very hot paddle out of the bottom of the very hot bread with a chopstick! It tends to stick.

This basic dough has also worked well for pizza crust, BTW. You can make the dough a bit stiffer, but this still won’t roll out well. Best just to plonk it onto a well-oiled pan with a good sprinkling of corn meal, and spread it out with your hands. Smoothing it down with slightly wet hands works better for a xanthan gum dough than flouring it for ease of handling, IME.

Bacony tomato-stewed green beans

Tomato-stewed green beans, still in the  pot

Photo by Ingvar Mattsson. I was pretty tired after cooking most of the day, so it got served out of the pot!

This is another of the vegetable dishes I made for our slightly reworked Thanksgiving dinner. Between the chaos of cooking a festive dinner and dead batteries in my camera, I didn’t get process shots for any of these dishes.

From Sidney Saylor Farr’s My Appalachia: A Memoir:

The Cherokee Indians cultivated beans long before the European settlers arrived in the early 1700s. Like maize, beans were nutritious and fairly easy to grow, particularly in the rich valley bottomlands in the mountains. For most Appalachian families, green beans, served from the garden, canned, pickled [originally like sauerkraut – GFSC], or dried, became a staple food.

Yep. While the British have their Brussels sprouts as the “quintessential Christmas dinner veg”, we Hillbillies have green beans as the obligatory any large dinner (and a lot of smaller ones) vegetable. 😉 Growing up, I knew a girl whose mother served boiled green beans with every evening meal, every single night, regardless of the other foods! (The daughter’s description of her cooking: “It’s very nutritious, but…”) That’s pretty extreme, but I do love my green beans.

Tagging this post, I was more than a little surprised that I hadn’t posted anything involving green beans yet.

This is a fairly basic (and classic) tomato-stewed dish, a lot like the previous stewed okra, but I decided to jazz it up a little with bacon and a little fresh chile. This provided a pretty nice contrast to the milder-flavored coconut milk “creamed” succotash It would have been a shame not to have served any tomatoes at a “New World”-themed dinner, now wouldn’t it? 🙂

Bacony tomato-stewed green beans

  • 4 slices streaky bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Half a sweet pepper (orange, in this case), chopped
  • A green chile, halved with most seeds and ribs removed, then sliced — I had mildish Jalapeño
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 lb. (400-500g) frozen green beans
  • 14 oz. (400g) can chopped tomatoes
  • About half a tomato can of water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar, to balance the greenness of the beans
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper — the fresh chile was really mild!
  • 3/4-1 tsp. Herbes de Provence (I wanted the rosemary) or Italian seasoning

Fry the bacon crispy in a skillet, and set aside on paper towels. Fry the onion in the same pan over medium-low heat (our bacon was pretty lean, so I added about a tablespoon of fairly neutral sunflower oil) until it’s translucent and starting to brown; add the garlic the last couple of minutes.

Put the chopped sweet pepper and chile in the bottom of a medium-sized pan. (It will float on the top and take longer to cook if you don’t put it under the beans.) Add the fried onion and garlic, then the beans. Pour the tomatoes over the top, and add the seasonings.

With frozen green beans, it’s probably best to bring the pan to a boil and let them thaw out and release some moisture, so you can tell better how much water to add.  You want them just covered in liquid.

Simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes, checking occasionally to see if there is still enough liquid and poking the vegetables down with a spoon. Frozen green beans will start falling apart and get a weird texture if you cook them much longer than it takes them to get tender. When everything has reached the level of tenderness you want, add the crumbled bacon and let it cook another 5 or 10 minutes. Stir, and enjoy!

You could also use this as a way to jazz up canned green beans, substituting a couple of cans for the frozen. It’s not bad, but I wanted a little fresher green bean taste.

Leftovers are really, really good served over rice or short pasta shapes, even better with a little Parmegiano or Romano on the top. 🙂

Basics: Greens

A bowl of cooked collard greens

Cooked greens are a staple I don’t eat as much as I used to. People just don’t eat nearly as many non-cabbage greens here in the UK, and the selection is somewhat limited compared to what I’m used to seeing in Southwest Virginia. You can easily get spinach in various forms, along with fresh collards, kale, and rape–but not turnip, mustard, or beet greens. (A seller at the local market gave me several bunches of free beet greens along with the beet roots I was buying, since they were just ripping them off and throwing them away! But, I’m usually too shy to ask about that kind of thing.) The only readily available non-spinach canned option is callaloo from Jamaica, and I’ve yet to see any frozen greens besides spinach. I should probably plant me some more mustard and chard!

For this small mess of greens, I bought a 250g bag of  already sliced what appeared to be collards.  It’s more expensive that way, but very convenient–and still pretty cheap. 🙂

A plastic bag of sliced greens

First thing, I gave them a good wash in several changes of water in a pot (or you can use the sink, like for whole leaves). These were not gritty with sandy soil; if yours are, first let them soak in lukewarm water for about 5 minutes to let it loosen and fall off. If you’re starting out with whole leaves, you’ll want to wash them before cutting them up.

A pot of water with sliced greens in there to wash

Remove any unfortunate-looking pieces. This was a nice bag of greens, even though it had been in the fridge for a week!

Discarded pieces, lying on the edge of the sink

Looks like I need to remove yucky-looking limescale from the draining board again

Now, we have to decide how to season them. Growing up, I mostly got fairly plain cooked greens, with a slice of dry sugar-cured “streak meat”/”side meat”, salt, and a little sugar to tone down the greenness. Some fried and crumbled bacon (streaky bacon in the UK) works well too.

A package of thick-sliced dry-cured bacon

Pre-sliced Old Waynesboro brand side meat, from MillRiverStore.com. I think I've actually bought some of that Western North Carolina brand before, not sliced.


Photo source.

That’s not a bad way to eat greens, but I got started adding more flavor when I was vegetarian.

A box of Knorr ham cubes and half a chopped onion
I didn’t have any bacon, so I used a Knorr ham cube. It’s not the same, but it’s not bad.

For this mess of greens, I decided to use half an onion browned in about a tablespoon of sunflower oil, some black and crushed red pepper, some dried garlic for convenience, a Knorr “ham cube”, and a little extra salt. (Since the “ham cube” has a little sweetness, I didn’t use any extra sugar for flavor balancing.) If you’re using bacon, fry a few slices crisp and set it aside, and use the grease to brown the onions. For a vegetarian version, you can substitute insta-veggie broth, or just use more salt. The extra savory note is good, though. If you’re in the US, Wiley’s Greens Seasoning is an easy, pretty tasty (non-vegetarian) option.

The cooking is much less of a hassle than cleaning the greens. Just put them into a pot big enough to hold at least 75% of the raw greens (they will wilt down, a lot), add seasonings and enough water to come about halfway up the raw greens, and bring it to a boil. If you’re using bacon, now’s the time to break it up and add it.

A pot of slightly wilted sliced greens, just after the water went in

I used hot water from the kettle, being impatient and all. 😉

Poke them down into the water with a spoon, to make sure everything gets covered by the boiling water. Turn it down to a simmer, and put the lid on.

They wilt down pretty quickly. This is only a few minutes later.

Stir occasionally while they’re cooking. Add more water if they’re not just barely covered. I don’t like to cook them until they’re starting to fall apart, so I gave these about half an hour instead of, say, the more traditional hour and a half. Taste for seasoning, and enjoy!

Finished!

To jazz up frozen or canned greens, just steam-fry them with the same seasonings used here, and a little more water than usual. It’s not as good as fresh, but awfully convenient sometimes. 🙂

A lot of people like to garnish their greens with chopped raw onion or sliced green onion and a splash of vinegar (usually cider). But, with the extra seasoning added to the pot, I like it as is. Plus, I find the vinegar sharpness unpleasant when I put cornbread in to sop up the pot liquor, or just drink it out of the bowl. Not only is the pot liquor tasty, it’s chock full of water-soluble vitamins.

The long cooking is not really a problem. As Mark F. Sohn put it in Appalachian Home Cooking: History, Culture, and Recipes:

In restaurants all across North America today, many chefs serve undercooked, almost raw vegetables. Yes, the vegetables are bright in color; however, they are also tough to chew, hard to digest, and lacking in flavor. For traditional hill folk, the process is different. They simmer fall greens with country ham, salt pork, or smoked ham hocks for one, two, or three hours. Slow cooking develops the flavor and tenderizes both the meat and greens. The result is a muddy-green, drab olive, almost brown color, and it is full of taste and easy to chew and digest. Slow-cooked greens are an example of simple mountain cooking that requires patience.

Tender-crisp vegetables have their place, but not involving collards or other thick-leafed, full-flavored greens IMO. I really don’t like to cook them until they turn colors that remarkably, but when they’re fully tender it’s easier (and more appealing) to eat larger quantities of the greens. Especially if you don’t throw out the cooking liquid, that more than makes up for any extra heat destruction of vitamins from the longer cooking.

Basics: Fried cabbage

In an earlier post, I mentioned the steam-frying cooking method, which I use a lot.

Cabbage is an introduced vegetable in North America, and I was kind of surprised to find out just how early it got enthusiastically adopted in some areas. As I recall reading, by 1700 Cherokee gardens were full of cabbage. With the cooler summers, Southern Appalachia’s climate is very good for growing brassicas (though still not as year-round as in the British Isles!), and you find a lot of them. They yield well, and are versatile vegetables.

Over the weekend, I got an urge for a big pan of fried cabbage, and thought I’d post about that in more detail–and with plenty of bad photos. 🙂

A similar recipe variation: Cherokee Cabbage from Oconaluftee Village.

Usually, I prefer just plain cabbage for this kind of dish, but there were some lovely savoy cabbages I couldn’t pass up.

A head of cabbage sitting on a cutting board

A particularly nice-looking head of cabbage

These were not only very fresh-looking and feeling, they were densely packed.

A cabbage, cut in half

Cut in half

Since I don’t like the texture of savoy cabbage in salads, I decided to go ahead and cook the whole head.

First I put a couple of tablespoons of butter in a deep skillet with a lid. (If you want less fat, you can use anything down to a teaspoon, since it’s more for flavor and mouthfeel than anything else.) Then, I chopped up the cabbage into pieces about an inch (2.5cm) square. You can shred it more finely, but chunky works better with the thin savoy leaves, IMO. Then I chopped an onion, and shredded a couple of carrots with my handy mandoline. Usually, I don’t use carrot in there, but it adds a nice touch. Besides, I forgot we’d already bought a new bag of carrots, and bought another one; you’ll be seeing carrots used a lot here for a while. 🙂

A mandoline slicer over a glass bowl, with two carrots beside it

You could use a grater instead, or chop them by hand.

This all went into the pan with the butter, over medium heat.

A pan full to the brim with cabbage, onion, and carrot

Too full to stir yet!

Once I heard sizzling, I poured in about half a cup of water. Normally, I would stir the vegetables around to get them well-coated with the fat, but the pan was just too full. I just put the lid on it, and waited for it to wilt down some.

The same pan of cabbage, reduced by about 25% after a few minutes' cooking

A few minutes later, I dared to *carefully* stir/toss it.

After it had wilted enough that I could stir it, I put the lid back on and let it steam, stirring it occasionally and adding a little more water as needed. You don’t want much liquid–just enough to cover the bottom of the pan, generate steam, and keep the vegetables from frying in the fat yet.

Once most of the vegetables were getting translucent, I added about a teaspoon of salt and a few twists of mixed pepper.  At this stage, stirring in the the salt will give you a release of juices, when the pan is probably needing extra moisture. Remember: this cooking method will really  bring out the flavor of any seasonings you add, and it’s easy to get way too much pepper! Sometimes I like to add crushed red pepper flakes instead of, or along with, the other pepper.

Mostly translucent cabbage

Ready for the seasonings.

With different seasonings, you can make an assortment of Asian- and Mediterranean-style vegetable dishes with the same basic cooking method. I do that more than occasionally, for variation.

Cover the pan back up and let it steam some more. If there is excess liquid in the bottom of the pan, take the lid off a few minutes before you think it will be done, and let it steam off. Watch it carefully, so it doesn’t start sticking too much. Some people like to let it brown a bit, but I usually don’t.

All in all, this took about 25 minutes to cook. You can go for any level of doneness, from tender-crisp to falling apart. I usually like it somewhere in the middle.

Finished pan of cabbage

It's done!

This batch picked up quite a bit of yellow from the carrot.

Enjoy!

Technique: Steam-frying

After mentioning it in the last post, I thought I’d do a short post on a very useful cooking technique: steam-frying. Growing up, I never heard it called anything but “frying”, but that term covers a lot of ground. A local Chinese restaurant actually gave me the more specific term “steam-frying”, but whatever you call it, it’s indispensable in Appalachian cooking.

A good description from Practically Edible:

Steam Frying is a Chinese method of cooking which combines both frying and steaming. Just enough frying happens to give the surface area of the food some interest, though most of the cooking is done by steam.

Steam Frying is best done in a non-stick frying pan. You start by heating a small amount of oil, usually just a few tablespoons. When the fat is hot, you add the items you are steam-frying, and sauté them for a few minutes, but when they start to sizzle, you then add a liquid. It mustn’t be so much liquid that you end up stewing or braising instead.

You then cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid so the steam gets trapped. If the liquid all evaporates before the food item is cooked, add a bit more liquid, put the cover back on, and continue cooking. When the items are cooked, remove the lid, and let all remaining liquid cook away, and allow the food items to turn a bit golden, if they haven’t already.

Some North Americans now define it as frying without oil or fat, but the Chinese, who invented the technique, don’t, though it certainly is a “lower-fat” way of cooking. . .

Also called: Frittura a vapore (Italian)

The Chinese were not the only ones to have invented that cooking method; you’ll see a lot of vegetables cooked that way in the collections of Cherokee recipes in the sidebar, and from what I’ve seen it’s used a lot around the Mediterranean (and probably elsewhere). It’s also very similar to Cajun smothering.

You’ll be seeing this vegetable cooking method used a lot here. 🙂