Archive for the 'Tutorial' Category

Tết 2013: Not Your Grandma’s Bánh Chưng

Banh Chung

Growing up, Tết was all about not screwing up. It was imperative that on the first day of the New Year, everything ran as smoothly as possible, which meant acing tests, being respectful to my elders, and not arguing with my brother. My mother made me believe that everything that happened on this day, both good and bad, would be repeated throughout the year. This superstitious notion scared me straight into action and, truth be told, continues to taunt me as a full grown adult.

These days, Tết has become less about “being good” and more about gathering with family, cleaning house, and of course, honoring food traditions. There are many dishes associated with the holiday including candied ginger and coconut, braised pork, and preserved pineapples, but the most iconic and essential of all is the square and squat bánh chưng and its cylindrical cousin bánh Tết.

Banh Chung

In honor of the upcoming New Year, which falls on February 10th, a group of friends and I gathered to tackle making bánh chưng from scratch. While we were all wholly enthusiastic about the task, none of us were very experienced, as evidenced by our poor, boiled-over mung beans early in the day.

Banh Chung

Leading the charge was Chef Diep Tran of Good Girl Dinette in Highland Park. Diep didn’t have a recipe (or YouTube tutorials) to guide us this afternoon, just vague memories from years ago of preparing bánh chưng with her grandmother.

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How to Peel Tomatoes

Scott Conant's Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil Sauce

This is a simple, step-by-step guide on how to gracefully remove the skins from tomatoes. Skin-less tomatoes are a quintessential component in various recipes, especially homemade tomato sauces.

Firstly, remove any stickers and wash the tomatoes thoroughly. Remove the stem, but be careful to remove only as much of the tomato as is necessary to detach the stem and the green skin surrounding the stem from the red flesh of the tomato.

Scott Conant's Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil Sauce

Cut a very shallow X on the top and bottom of the tomato. This will aid in the actual peeling of the tomato later in the process. Prepare a bowl of ice water and set it aside.

Scott Conant's Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil Sauce

Place a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water 4-5 at a time using a slotted spoon. Remove the tomatoes after 20-30 seconds, or when the skin begins to peel, into the prepared bowl of ice water.

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