On Lamb and Anchovies and quality

WARNING: [no train of thought here, get off stream of consciousness…chooo choo…gtfo if you don’t have wine in hand]

Ever since I was little, I loved anchovies on my pizza.  I must have been one of the odd ones because everyone would think… eww.  I really didn’t (and still don’t) understand it.  But looking back, I guess you could call me a precocious 5 year old eating anchovies understanding the glutamate ratios and levels.  Lols.  You salty mofos.  come here.  Now, not all anchovies are created equal, and if you have had fresh Mediterranean sardines vs the sardines here in the states, there’s a big difference.  The fish…taste fishier, in a good way.  They have an inherently more delicious taste.  Same goes for anchovies.  But my thoughts are, since they are packed in cans, that there is more care, and higher quality oil, and better processing in addition to the differences in taste.It’s like some people not liking lamb (heh…calling you out, Baba(Dad, in Chinese).  He doesn’t read my website).  I like mutton, which is even more lamby than lamb.  Baby lamb, I am your father.  I like when something tastes the way that it was…by design, supposed to.   Which is why I love Edomae sushi (rice, vinegar, fish) and eating steak with salt and pepper off a cutting board like a caveman with my fingers.  I don’t eat with my fingers but my mouth but you gnawhat imsayin’?

“Mother Nature is the true artist” – Marco Pierre White .  I concur, sir.  Which is why I don’t like too much shit on the plate that doesn’t make sense.

Thomas Keller (who is a tall, leathery looking guy) said, “Let’s face it: if you and I have the same capabilities, the same energy, the same staff, if the only thing that’s different between you and me is the products we can get, and I can get a better product than you, I’m going to be a better chef.”

So when people say they don’t like gamey, I think a distinction needs to be made between gamey and just poorly processed.  There is a big difference between good lamb and bad lamb, good anchovies and bad anchovies.  In my honest opinion, after hunting dozens of boars, some boars taste more “gamey”.  More specifically, some of the first boars I hunted were more gamey, because I didn’t know the optimal way to handle them after they were killed.  And many butchers today don’t.  And the good thing is you can always be better.  The gamey flavor comes from the blood.  When I process the wild boars (everything from 18 pounds up to 700 pounds), it’s INTEGRAL to the way it tastes… the way it is handled.  I’ve had bluefin tuna that tasted like shit because the squid boat that happened to catch seventy thousand pounds of bluefin tuna from our oceans didn’t clip the gills of the tuna to bleed it.  They caught them in a net and let them die.  It was…inedible, and an atrocity to that Bluefin population.  RIP.  I mean it.  

Onward.  So bad lamb is killed and packed with the blood, often not hung, because this process takes more time, and costs more.  So cheap lamb will taste “gamey” and bloody and turn people off in the name of profit, so the farms don’t lose any weight by losing blood.  It will in turn taste like Iron which is IronY because hey farmer, they probably not going to buy your shitty lamb again.  

Bad anchovies are also bad.  (I am oh so precocious with my statements).  lol. They have an extremely sharp, salty taste and the oil that is used to pack them is cheap and tastes like garbage.  Whereas the high quality anchovies in the Med are still salty, but flavorful, distinct, and addictingly delicious.  So for lamb, in general I will say it’s not LAMB that is the common denominator of no bueno.  It’s the way it’s killed, or packed.  

—-  Onward x 2.

COOKING

Acciughe sauce or salsa de acciughe is a mixture of anchovies, garlic, capers and parsley, and really picks up what could be an otherwise delicious but simultaneously “flat” or one-note tasting dish.  It’s like adding brown butter to a dish… it can really pick up the flavors and take it to the next level.  Breaking it down further, like kombu and bonito flakes and parmesan and tomatoes which are high in glutamates (and the reason many people love japanese and italian cuisines, anchovies are also high in glutamates.   Here I take a non-traditionalist approach to anchovies/tomatoes/parmesan/parsley and do a few slight variations.  Instead of regular parsley I also make a parsley oil by blanching the parsley for a few seconds, then place it in an ice bath, and mix with olive oil in a food processor so it’s bright green.  I strain it through a fine chinois (but not super fine as I wanted some parsley in the oil).

Simultaneously I wanted a garlic confit instead of regular parsley so I cooked this on low heat.  I have a stove, i put a saute pan on the base, then a small saucepan and in that small saucepan I put 1 cup of canola oil and approximately 40 cloves of garlic.  You don’t want the oil to come to a simmer, just small bubbles until it starts to become translucent and with a paring knife can be easily pierced.

Now that you’ve made your components you’re ready.  I mean, I know you were born ready, but seriously just boil salted water in a large pot.  place bucatini in there.  Bucatini is very awesome because it has a hole in the centre (Run a south african spearfishing company, i type like that) to pick up more sauce.  In another sauté pan, medium heat, then add olive oil and garlic confit and a lot of pepper.  and a bit of salt but not too much since we’ll be adding anchovies later.  heat the garlic until it softens and starts to release awesome aromas.  If it is starting to burn, take it off the heat and add a little more olive oil.   It’s a bit of a balancing act doing everything but no worries just takes a bit of practice.  then add a little chili flakes and parsley.  Then, add san marzano tomatoes and cook QUICKLY over high heat.  Too slow over low heat and the tomatoes release their acids.  Don’t do that.  Time it so the bucatini is taken out 3 minutes before al dente.  Finish the last 3 minutes in the tomatoes and add some grape or cherry tomatoes.  If you want, add some vegetable stock.  Pecorino romano and some good olive oil to finish.  parsley oil around the plate, and some parsley on the top

tadah.  all that big lamb rant was for this picture.  booyakasha!

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