Pho Croquettes and Dry Aging Beef

The fragrance of a big pot of steaming Pho simmering in the kitchen is always a welcome aroma. The scent of Star Anise, Cinnamon, Garlic and Onions gently bubbling away with some Ox Tail is very alluring.

It seems that everyone has their own recipe to make Pho, and their own preferred ways to flavour it when it is served. I have never seen a dish change so much when it arrives to the table.

We don’t serve Pho “as we know it” in the restaurant, though sometimes we do make Mini Pho, served in small bowls as an Amuse Bouche.

The Spanish have many recipes for Ox Tail, so it is readily available here and served in many restaurants either stewed with tomato and aromatics or cooked “a la casa” style, with the recipe a closely guarded secret.

Because it is a tough piece of meat, it benefits from gentle cooking, much like in our Pho´s.

We have made Pho Croquettes before, however this time we decided to make them a little bigger to imitate the regular sized Croquettes that are commonly available.

Once breaded they can be frozen for later use. In fact, all Croquettes are best cooked when they have been chilled beforehand.

Our Croquettes are made with the meat from the Ox Tail, flour, butter, onions and the Pho broth. Because we want a creamy-like interior, we make sure to add some of the fat from the tail, otherwise the Croquettes can end up dry after being fried.

Lately we have been preparing snacks and Tapas for small groups in the hotel. One of the best snacks we have are our Roasted Pork Sandwiches and Duck Rolls.

These small sandwiches are made with similar ingredients to the filled baguettes that can be found in Vientiane, with the Pork “Yor” replaced with Roasted Char Sui Style pork.

Emily adds the finishing touches to the Duck Rolls, which seem to be a favourite amongst the Spanish clientele.

I guess that everyone loves the rich sweetness of the sauce and crunch of the cucumbers. This is one Tapas dish that we make that has no left-overs returning!. 🙂

***

Ever since I returned from New York I have been dreaming about the Dry Aged Steak that I had the pleasure of having (about 6 times!) 😉 .

Not only did I love the size of the cuts, the flavour and texture were far superior to regular steaks.

The only way I can describe the flavour is “nutty with a very pleasant finish of matured cheese”. These are not words that you would associate with beef, but believe me, it has to be tasted to be believed (and thoroughly enjoyed with a glass or two of heavy red wine). 🙂 .

I saw some cuts of Dry Aged Beef in some supermarkets in the US, and they were always more expensive than the regular (and also good) cuts.

Aged Beef takes longer to produce, and requires a lot more care and attention. There are basically two ways to mature beef, either Wet or Dry.

The former are packed and “matured” in vacuum bags, which mean little or no weight loss, better for the producer who sells per kilo.

The latter loose quite a lot of weight, so the final product is less heavy, but the flavour is more concentrated, the downside is that they have to be “matured” for a much longer time in a controlled environment, hence the higher price.

In “good ole Laocook fashion”, we decided to make our own. 😉 .

Not only do they weigh less than when they first started out, we also need to trim away the outer parts, which become hard. What is left is a succulent interior which is neither wet or dry.

The fat protects the meat and also adds flavour (the nuttiness). The example above is of a piece that has been “aging” for only 2 weeks. It was taken out for “tasting” purposes. 😉 .

There will be more reports about our project in the future as we have several cuts in various stages of Aging.

The resulting meats will be served on our Teppanyaki Tables, in the meantime, they will be tested by the Chef! 😉 😆

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