Tuesday, June 26, 2007

El Loco Woodland Seafood Taco Truck Misadventure

I would like to apologize to the vast number of readers who peruse this blog on a daily basis. I have been going through a massive career alteration in the past few weeks which has been very discombobulating. Luckily, these events have given me the opportunity to use one of my favorite words….. discombobulate. Anyhow, I am now on a temporary leave of absence from grad school and working at my favorite Biotech in Woodland. No offence to any Woodlandese folks out there, if y’all have computers, but the only good thing about Woodland is my Biotech and the taco trucks. Naturally, I have been venturing out to different taquerias and taco trucks on an almost daily basis. I haven’t blogged them so far because we all know how incredible taco truck food is, so there is no need to rehash how fantabulous they are. However, yesterday I made a wrong turn into a particular empty lot inhabited by a taco truck. This was no ordinary taco truck; this was a seafood-only taco truck, in Woodland. Woodland. In a truck. Seafood. Woodland. Yes, I am referring to the so-called “city of trees” ten miles down the road from the opulent bubble I call Davis. I exited my vehicle to look at the menu and noticed it consisted of shrimp, octopus, and oysters. I must have sounded like a loco gringo when I asked a local yokel if all they served was seafood while I was staring at the menu in front of a truck that smelled like the wharf in Monterey Bay. In Woodland…. Indeed, all that was available from this roach coach was seafood. I tried to pretend that I was contemplating the menu for a few seconds while I slowly backed toward my car so I could burn rubber out of there. I thought I was a seasoned taco truck connoisseur so I wanted to save face and just disappear before they noticed. As I was the only vehicle parked in the whole acre of dirt that surrounded this roach coach, my retreat didn’t go un-noticed. “What, you don’t like seafood” the taco truck man asked? With a nervous grin I replied, “well, sometimes, (in San Francisco….) what do you recommend?” Trying to conceal a suspicious grin the taco truck man recommended the octopus and oyster tostada. I will happily venture octopus and oyster at a sushi joint, but not from a taco truck in Woodville. Anyway, it was too late, he roped me in, I couldn’t wuss out, so I ordered two shrimp tostadas. I got them to go since there wasn’t even a curb to eat them on and I wanted to douse it with the stash of El Yucateco habanero sauce that I keep at work. Not to mention the harbor-like smell that is very foreign to me in the central valley. It seems that I ordered some variation of Ceviche on a hard flat taco shell. It was cold, as I suppose tostadas and Ceviche should be, but I prefer that my taco truck food be heated to at least 168 degrees. This fishy tostada really wasn’t my scene but I can imagine that others might find it tasty, so I will keep myself from trashing it furher. Look at the number of shrimp on those tostadas! That is a lot of shrimp for $2.50! I want to know where they get their shrimp for so cheap. Wait a tick…..No I don’t!
I’m about to hit my standard taco truck today, I need something reliable. Maybe I can start blogging about more high brow food since I am now being paid the wages that I deserve.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Crepe of some sort....

My most recent cooking experiment has been an attempt to recreate from memory a dish I ate 3 or 4 years ago in France. It was at a small bistro somewhere in Nice, I don’t remember the name or exactly where it was, but it was quite memorable. This meal was unforgettable in more than one way. My friend and I were seated outside, as I prefer to dine during all seasons except nuclear winter, and we were entertained by the most amazing street musician I have ever encountered in Europe. He was a young man playing piano in the square next to us, a full size upright piano, which I later witnessed him pushing down the cobblestones up-ended on a dolly toward the site of his next performance. I have no memory of what I ordered, but my friend ordered a crepe, I don’t know what it was called but it was incredible. It was a grilled patty of ground beef in a crepe (I don’t know what cut of beef it was, but it was much higher quality than typical ground beef), covered with sautéed mushrooms and onions and a fried egg on top. It doesn’t sound like anything terribly noteworthy, but it was one of the best dishes I encountered on this trip. I don’t know how the French accomplish this culinary feat, but I finally had to endeavor to duplicate it myself….

1 large egg
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
1tsp. finely chopped parsley leaves
½ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh ground pepper

Whisk together egg, milk, parsley, and butter until well combined. Add flour, salt, and pepper and whisk until smooth. Heat a large pan or griddle (Unless you are cool enough to have a crepe pan) over medium high heat and brush with vegetable oil or butter. Pour a few tablespoons of the batter into the pan, tilting and rotating it quickly to cover the pan with a thin layer of batter. When the bottom is nicely browned, flip it and brown the other side.
I had no idea how ground beef could have been so good so I attempted to hand chop my favorite piece of meat, ribeye, and form it into a patty with some garlic, shallots, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. I cooked my ribeye patty to medium and placed it into the crepe.
Next I sautéed mushrooms and shallots in some butter, lemon juice, and Sauvignon Blanc and piled it onto the ribeye patty. I don’t think asparagus was pat of the original dish, but I felt that something green was needed so I placed some steamed asparagus on top of the mushrooms and shallots. Finally, I fried a single egg to finish the dish.
The finished dish was very good but I can’t say that it lived up to my expectations based on what I ate in Nice. I think the main downfall of my attempt was the beef patty, which was key to the dish. I thought a ground ribeye would be great considering the unmatched flavor and high fat content that I believed would result in a tender patty. I was wrong; the ribeye patty was lacking the phenomenal flavor of a grilled ribeye and its toughness was unprecedented. If I can just improve the beef patty, I believe that these ingredients combine synergistically, resulting in a wonderful dish. My tough beef patty must be an artifact of my proud Irish heritage. It isn’t a common problem for me, but the Irish have an uncanny ability to transform even the most tender cuts of meat into leathery hunks of gray protein. I think I will try ground sirloin and get into the mindset of a French bistro chef for my next attempt. I will forgo bathing for several days and cook with a cigarette dangling out of my mouth while cursing that “Stupide Presidente Americain.” Don’t let my Irish meat preparation shortcomings deter you from this dish, if you learn from my mistake I think you will be in for quite a treat.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mexican food and flying chairs? (El Toreador, SF)

Last week I experienced some of the best Mexican food I've ever eaten at El Toreador. When discussing where to dine, a friend said "Hey, let's go to this great Mexican place in SF." After living in the city for a couple years, I discovered that just about everyone I knew thought their favorite Mexican restaurant was the best ever, yet I had never been blown away. 'Sure,' I thought, 'let's go to this restaurant and have the same plate of enchiladas/fajitas/fill-in-the-blank with rice and beans that I've had at every other Mexican restaurant.' I was not expecting a unique experience, but that's not a bad thing; good food doesn't need to be special, just good.

Wow, I was blown away right when I walked in the door! The place is small and decorated with brightly colored... well, everything! And it was all suspended from the ceiling! There are lights made from colanders, water pitchers and bowls, bright mini-chairs are everywhere, and who knows what else! It looked like a piñata exploded, and actually made me smile; this place is so colorful it's almost dizzying. In addition, there is a massive bottled beer selection displayed in the entry. The server was friendly, but because the place was bustling with both eat-in diners and people dropping in for take-out, he was moving fast! Our thin, super-hot salsa came in a carafe, and was very tasty. The soup that came out before our entrées seemed visually unremarkable: it was a small cup of red broth with a piece of bread floating on top. The flavor was anything but boring, laden with intense flavors of tomato, cilantro, garlic, onion, and that bread was great...I think it was fried, so it was a little crispy and had soaked up more soup, one very mouth-watering bite! The next time I have a cold I'm ordering a gallon of that soup, it'll cure what ails ya!

The menu had the standard staples, but a few other items that were intriguing. A helpful menu note: the items are numbered, so if you don't know how to pronounce something you won't feel like an idiot. My friend ordered spinach enchiladas that came with steamed white rice and black beans, and I had the Molé de Cacahuate, 2 chicken enchiladas smothered in peanut molé sauce. Our entrées must have come out 7ish minutes after we ordered them, despite how busy they were! My friend's spinach enchiladas were filled generously with freshly sautéed spinach (I was already impressed at this point) and covered in delicious tomatillo salsa. My enchiladas were served with refried beans and mexican rice, and the molé sauce was a bit salty for me, but paired perfectly when wrapped up in a bite of the whole enchilada (I couldn't resist the pun;)). Both enchiladas were wrapped in house-made corn tortillas, which had a more pleasant, tender texture than the standard store-bought fare. At the end of this meal we were both stuffed, very satified, and I had put El Toreador permanently on my list of favorite restaurants. Though Brooks may not like this place because it's not located in a catering truck with flies buzzing around, it's definitely delish! So far it's the best Mexican food I've had in the City.

I wasn't able to find a website, but copies of their menu are posted at restaurants.com
El Toreador
50 West Portal Ave
San Francisco, CA 94127
(415) 566-2673
*thanks to yelp.com for photos!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Before you is a picture of my birthday steak. I don't really have much to say about it; It was a majestic Ribeye that stood 2 inches tall and weighed 2 pounds. It was really more of a novelty item than a practical piece of meat. However I view it as a demonstration of love, unfortunately he was not of the ideal gender, so I just shook his hand when it was unveiled before me. The Budweiser can is present for scale. Most foodies are likely thinking that Budweiser is a trashy beer. They would be wrong! Eventually I will write a blog about why Budweiser is the the highest quality beer available from the standpoint of a fermentation scientist. Budweiser is the beverage of choice while standing around a hot grill pointing at meat and making grunting noises at it, but I enjoyed eating this Ribeye with a fine Cab.

Treatise on the current state of culinary affairs in Davis

During the past few weeks I have had a long string of bad eating experiences in Davis. I haven’t written about them before now because I don’t want to just trash restaurants and I don’t want to be the author of a whole string of negative blogs. I have no problem being brutally honest; I just like to avoid being a negative person in general. After my dining experience on Saturday night, I can no longer contain myself. It seems that there has been a conspiracy against me lately. Therefore I will attempt to purge myself of all of my negativity, climaxing with the worst.

It all started at Kabul, not the city which that Dumbo-eared fool George W. decided to bomb into the stone age, it’s also an Afghan restaurant in Davis. The reception was great. We were promptly seated in the area where you get to take off your shoes and sit on pillows on the floor. This is where I met the first beer that I didn’t like (I can usually find at least one good quality of a beer). Its name was “Karma.” I am an experienced fermentation scientist and I still have no idea how they made this beer. After pondering where the “liquid smoke” flavor might have come from, Kristen had an epiphany; it tasted exactly like cold carbonated miso soup! I like miso soup, but this was the most unrefreshing beer I have ever had. I actually needed another beer to quench my thirst after every sip of Karma. Needless to say, I still drank the whole beer. I don’t waste beer, I consider that alcohol abuse.

At this point we were graced by the presence of a bellydancer named Mychelle. I generally don’t enjoy being confronted by bellydancers when I am trying to eat. I just find that it is an uncomfortable situation to deal with while trying to eat and chat. Mychelle is a great dancer though. Now for the food…. I ordered Mantoo – “Steamed dumplings filled with seasoned ground beef and onions topped with homemade yogurt and special beans-pea sauce.” When this plate appeared in front of me the first thing that I noticed was the offensive odor of dried mint. I love fresh mint, so much so, that I try to make my mouth smell like it all day long. For some reason I have a particularly strong aversion to the smell of dried mint, and it was blanketing the surface of my food. I recognize the aversion to dried mint may be particular to me, but why are they using dried herbs anyway? Besides the mint, the rest of the dish was pretty ordinary, not terrible, but “blah.” I was able to force three out of seven of the dumplings down my throat. Kristen tried them and commented “there is a reason why dumplings start with “dump.” Another one of Kristen’s epiphanies. Unfortunately I could only wash it down with my cold sparkling miso beverage. I also noted that the “special” beans and pea sauce was clearly made with canned green beans, peas, and carrots drowning in some sort of light orange matrix. Maybe I am just ignorant and the Afghani word for “canned” is “special.” Why are they using canned vegetables??? I really hate to cheapen our blog with the juvenile dialogue that you are about to behold, but the special sauce and vegetables looked like initially fresh beans, peas, and carrots that had been eaten and subsequently vomited directly onto my plate. I apologize, I just don’t know how else to describe it. I took a picture on my friend Sean's cell phone to document it, but he is a Chico grad and can’t figure out how to send it to me. I emailed him again, pleading him to figure out how to send me the picture and I just received the following reply only minutes ago: “DUDE…..WTF, Barf and take a picture of it... it will look the same.” Sean's colorful reply negates any need for photographic evidence. Kristen and Sean's food was unremarkable so I won’t describe it further

The second bad experience was at Bistro 33 in Davis. I have been to “Bistro” many times and will happily return many more in the future, but only for the drinks and atmosphere. I love the ambiance of bistro; they are located in a beautiful historical building and have a spacious patio complete with owls and a gas bonfire (the fire contributes to the ambiance but you have to be rotated on a spit above the flames to actually feel any heat) I could write volumes about my numerous dining experiences, but the food is generally unremarkable. There are a few dishes that I can count on when I do dine at Bistro. On Wednesday, Kristen and I dropped by Bistro for a late afternoon beer and appetizer on the patio before we prepared the chicken adobo. We ordered calamari and a couple brews and sat on the patio. The beer was great, as beer has a tendency to be. When the calamari arrived our attention was immediately drawn to the accompanying aioli type sauces. Judging by the gelatinous skin that had formed on the surface, they had likely been sitting in the serving vessels since lunch. Maybe we are too persnickety, but we don’t like off-color oxidized skins on our sauces. As for the calamari, I don’t know what they use to make the breading, but I am sure it would be an incredibly useful material for cleaning up a beach after an oil spill. The breading was soggy and completely saturated with oil. Kristen has ordered calamari at Bistro several times in the past and it has been great. The inferior quality this time may have been due to poor attention to complete breading, not frying at a high enough temperature, or not shaking enough oil off when it came out of the fryer. The odd thing about fried food is that one feels compelled to eat it even if it isn’t good, (like Pringles, I hate Pringles, but once I “pop” I can’t stop because MSG is powerfully addictive) so we kept eating. We returned to my place to experiment with the chicken adobo, but our grease-laden stomachs quenched any motivation to prepare a fatty chicken dish. I’m confident that the chicken adobo might have turned out better had we not been ambivalent about our cooking after apps at Bistro.

The third and most egregious dining experience took place Saturday night at Little Prague in Davis. I wanted to go to Little Prague because they have a great outdoor patio area and breakfast has been good in the past. We were seated promptly outside and ordered beers (Hoegaarden), apps, and entrees. Upon tasting the appetizer we believed that we were surely in for a treat with this meal. The appetizer was breaded deep fried duck. We didn’t have particularly high expectations, but it was surprisingly good. The breading was very crisp and dry (impractical for oil spill clean up) and the duck contained within was moist and flavorful. It was served with a light fresh tasting homemade BBQ sauce. Though we were pleasantly surprised with the duck, the experience spiraled precipitously downhill from there. For my entrée I ordered venison with strawberry/blackberry reduction (If only I had listened to the little voice in my head that was suspicious of this sauce….) and some sort of fried potato-spinach croquettes. Kristen ordered a Smoked Grilled Pork Chop with Czech Potato Pancake (with several other items but they were irrelevant and inedible so they won’t be mentioned). We don’t have much to say about the actual flavor of Kristen’s dish as only 5% of the dish was consumed. This was the saltiest dish I have ever encountered. All of the components of this dish burnt our taste buds. The pork was the worst, Kristen said it was really salty but I had no idea until I tasted it. I was speechless after tasting the pork, mostly because the salt wiped all of the moisture out of my mouth and instantly crystallized, obstructing the ducts of my salivary glands. I had to drink half of a beer just to re-dissolve the salt crystals and get my saliva flowing again. Between the two of us we could only eat one cubic inch of the pork. The potato pancakes were as salty as the other elements and were like disks of rubber. It is uncanny how tough they were. Kristen gave up and pushed the plate to the middle of the table after five minutes. Kristen’s food may have been good with less salt but mine was just plain bad. I actually added salt to mine in a vain attempt to make it taste better. I don’t know what the Croquettes were specifically, but I was more interested in knowing how they managed to extract every last bit of flavor before serving. They were tough, had no flavor, and an unpleasant texture. How does one make something fried taste bad? I thought that frying usually improves texture and flavor. The venison had an off flavor (not gamey) and the texture was soft and mushy. I wish I had asked what animal this “venison” came from since this term can refer to any animal of the Cervidae family. I’ll have to see if Opossum is part of this family because this “venison” tasted like something that folks in the Ozarks named Cletus eat. As for the strawberry-blackberry reduction: I don’t know what to say because Kristen suggests that I refrain from saying what I really want to say.

The manager finally came to the table and inquired as to the problem and Kristen replied that everything was over salted. The manager proceeded to defend his restaurant, retorting that they get the pork like this from the store and they don’t add any extra salt. A restaurant should be responsible for what ends up in front of the customer; after all they are charging you for it. I understand if their supplier of brined pork had over-brined it, but in that case I would expect to be thanked for bringing it to their attention. I also think its odd that they don’t brine the pork in-house, but to each their own. At least own up to the food you’re serving. I was dying to ask him why he is serving us some poor thirsty pig that had obviously died of dehydration, but I got the feeling that the manager had the sense of humor of a brick. He did however say that the dish would be removed from the bill. As he was removing the plate of Sodium from the table he turned to me and asked if I would like to take it home to which I replied with a laugh: “No…. the salt actually burned my mouth.” Needless to say, I was definitely more amused with myself than was the manager.

Finally the bill came. I was happy to see that the salt disguised as pork had been removed from the ticket, but my jaw dropped when I saw a charge for Kristen’s salad. Though they removed the pork entrée from the bill, they felt the need to nickel and dime us for the cost of the ordinary salad that was included with the meal. I guess the fact that the “soup or salad” question was even asked should have been a red herring to the “classiness” of this joint. As my eyes scan down the bill I see something that causes my other jaw to drop; my inedible Ozark meat cost $29.99! Venison may be expensive but the portion size, presentation, and flavor did not warrant that price. This is not fine dining in San Francisco, this is down-home peasant food in Yolo County! In my opinion, the only restaurant in Davis that might be justified in commanding $30 for an entrée is Tuco’s, and that is even a stretch. We begrudgingly paid the bill and left a moderate tip since the service, though slow, was acceptable (they are Europeans so I don’t expect the same speediness). The servers were friendly and promptly moved us inside when we decided that it was too cold to sit outside. As we ambled out of the restaurant the manager says, “come again!” Sure thing…. I’ll be back to eat you pork-encrusted salt if I ever start developing a goiter.

I feel much better after that purge and I sincerely hope that I don’t have to do this again. Now that my rant is over, it just occurred to me that these three meals were all accompanied by beer, which is rare for us. I think I will focus on eating “wine food” in the future and see if my luck changes. The last agreeable dining experience that I can remember was at Woodstock’s pizza. It was great, but that’s rather sad. I just want to eat good food. Davis, why hath you forsaken me?

Friday, May 25, 2007

The cure for Brooks' chicken phobia?

"But I don't LIKE chicken." This is what Brooks said when I suggested we make filipino adobo with chicken. Why, you ask? Because he was emotionally scarred as a child when his mom forced him to consume "Lemon Yogurt Chicken" at least twice a week. I've known this almost the entire time I've known Brooks, but I thought it was time he got over his fear. The following is a paragraph describing Brooks' aversion to the offending chicken:

"I think it's pretty self-explanatory, but I'll break it down for you. It's a dried chicken breast with my favorite part removed (the skin) slathered with gelatinous lemon yogurt, the kind with sugar and artificial yellow food coloring. It was coated with some kind of bread crumb crap that made me pray for shake-n-bake. Biting into it was deceiving; my teeth hit the false surface and sank down to gum level in yogurt before I hit chicken. After my teeth cleared the yogurt and I got an actual bite of chicken, I masticated it like a cow preparing it for the rumen. My face must have looked like George W. after someone asked him the definition of sovereignty. I slyly wiped my mouth with a napkin and deposited a bollus of lemon yogurt chicken, then stashed it in a secret compartment under the table to be taken care of by Alex or Gordo, the family dogs. I think this was a period in my mom's life when she was tired of cooking every night and wanted to f*** with us. This was particularly vexing because my mom is actually a very good cook. This meal worked out well for my high school wrestling weight loss regime. It pretty much tasted like ass with lemon squeezed over it, and enlightened me as to why chicken is referred to as 'fowl'."

Brooks grudgingly decided to go along with the chicken adventure, and as you can see from the pic, I don't think he's quite sure what to make of it. He told me he actually got confused with the chicken anatomy at the supermarket! He's still not sure where chicken thighs come from, even though it seems obvious. All in all he said he's not completely opposed to eating chicken any longer, however he much prefers the "small, juicy pieces like drumettes", which happen to be the meaty part of the wing butchered so it looks like a small drumstick.

As far as the adobo goes, it was pretty good, but I have to go with a "mid-brow" on this one. The method was three fold: marinating, braising, and finally frying. The reason we chose to make adobo is because Brooks just made a mexican adobo that turned out great, and this filipino version peaked our interest because it has completely different ingredients. It seems like the french equivalent to brining, but it's also braised in it's brine. The vinegar and seasonings keep the meat very moist, tangy and flavorful. I found this recipe in Martin Yan's Asia, and I was drawn to it because of it's simplicity. I don't usually use recipes when I prepare savory food (ALWAYS with baking), but I've never made adobo before, so I thought it prudent to do it right the first time...I can mess with it later. We took a little liberty and added ginger to the marinade, but we did everything else by the book:

Chicken Adobo, Martin Yan's Asia
3/4 cup palm or rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 T. minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 each chicken legs and thighs
3/4 cup water
2 T. cooking oil
2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. water

Marinate: Mix vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaf, sugar, salt and pepper and marinate chicken for 30 minutes in 3 quart pan.

Braise: Add 3/4 cup water to the marinade and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Remove chicken from sauce and pat dry with paper towels. Strain remaining sauce into another pan, add the cornstarch mixture and simmer until thickened.

Fry: Heat a clean, dry pan over medium heat. Add oil, let it come up to temp, then place the chicken skin side down. Fry for 5ish minutes until crispy on all sides. *Brooks and I had problems with this step and our chicken didn't turn out crispy at all, I'm sure due to something we screwed up...maybe our chicken wasn't dry enough, our oil not hot enough, not sure but it was still yummy. Add the chicken back into the sauce to coat, and serve with extra sauce for dipping.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Kabob-e Barg

Recently I decided to venture into the world of Persian cuisine and learned how to make a dish recommended by a friend called Kabob e Barg. Kabob e Barg falls into the larger category of Chelow Kabob, the national dish of Iran, which consists of rice, kabob, and grilled tomato. Apparently the men of Iran pride themselves on preparing this dish, so the challenge was on! I know what Kabob is, but I still don’t know what an “e” or a “Barg” is. Barg is pronounced more like “bag” except there is a very slight R sound. Kabob e Barg is beef tenderloin or lamb that is basically marinated in grated onion. There are a few other flavors like saffron and garlic but the onion flavor is pervasive. I tasted the marinade after preparation and it was awful! Needless to say, it took great courage to drop $25 of fillet mignon (from the Meat Science Lab) into the bag of foul tasting marinade. Obviously I am not doing a good job of selling this dish, but something mysterious that could only be explained by Agent Mulder happened during the marinating process and it turned out great! The kabob is served with Basmati rice sprinkled with Tah-digh. Tah-digh is rice that has been fried in butter to form a golden rice crust at the bottom of the pot. From what I understand, Tah-digh literally means “bottom of the pot” and bread as well as other items can be used to make Tah-digh. I also served this dish with a Barbequed tomato that had been brushed with the marinade. Here is how I did it:

½ cup olive oil
3 Onions, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp saffron
Tenderloin cut into strips about 1cm thick

Mix all of the ingredients for the marinade and place into a large zip-lock bag. Slice the tenderloin 1cm thick and marinate 6-24 at 4°C. Thread the meat onto a skewer, folding the longer slices of meat on themselves to form a compact kabob and cook over a hot grill. The outside should be somewhat blackened but the inside must still be pink. As you can tell from the picture, my grill wasn’t hot enough; I would have liked to blacken the tomato a bit as well.

Rice with Tah-Digh
2 quarts water
1½ cups Jasmine or Basmati rice
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp salt

Bring water and salt to a boil. Add rice and boil for 10 minutes. Drain rice in a fine colander and rinse with warm water. The rice will not be completely cooked but it will be cooked in it’s own steam during the next step. Next make the Tah-digh rice; melt the butter in a saucepan, and spoon the rice over the melted butter. Place a cotton dishtowel over the top of the saucepan, place the lid over the dishtowel, and fold the edges of the dishtowel up over the lid. This keeps the moisture in the rice rather than allowing escape or condensation of steam. Cook the rice over low heat for 30-40 minutes until a golden crust is formed on the bottom. Spoon out the loose white rice first, then you can remove the Tah-digh rice and sprinkle this on top of the white rice upon serving.
According to my Persian friend my first attempt was very successful and I could put some Persian men to shame. Her main suggestions were to marinade the meat for a shorter time (I marinated for 24 hours), and use a hotter grill to blacken the outside a bit more. I have made plenty of Kabobs in my day, but they were merely chunks of steak cooked with vegetables. I always wondered why I would cut steaks into chunks and BBQ them on a stick when I could just BBQ a steak and cut it as I eat. This Kabob is truly different and opened my eyes, now I have a much deeper personal understanding of the Kabob. Though I still can't articulate the meaning of Barg, I now know.....