Saturday, June 28, 2008

Oysters and Clams

Not much to say about these Wellfleets and Little Necks, except that N did a hell of a shucking job once again. Since we posted this photo, it was picked up by our latest online obsession, Food Gawker--a sort of porn site for food bloggers.

Here's a quick guide to a clean shucking oysters, according to the man himself...
  1. Grab a knife with a rigid, short, sharp blade and hold it in your strong hand. For me, that's my right. Don't use your best paring knife because it will probably get dinged up.
  2. Hold the oyster in a thickly folded kitchen towel placed over your other hand. (The towel protects you if the knife slips.)
  3. Find the soft part of the hinge on the back of the shell. On clams, this area is usually a darker color; on oysters it's lighter.
  4. Jam the point of your knife in there and pry the shell open by twisting the blade like a screwdriver. This part requires a lot of force and tons of patience. It took me dozens and dozens of tries before I got the hang of it. This is also the dangerous part, because when you're trying to push the blade in it can slip out and go into your hand. Careful.
  5. Once you make that screwdriver turn with the knife in the shell, you'll here a little pop as the whole thing instantly opens up. The shell is just open a little bit, but the worst is over.
  6. Run your knife along the top of the inside of the shell, releasing the meat from the shell.
  7. Open the shell all the way, and run your knife under the bottom half, releasing the meat from that part as well.
  8. Throw in a little lemon, a drop of Tabasco, and enjoy :)

Above: Releasing an oyster from the bottom shell. (Note that I'm not using a safety towel. Also note the blood at the base of my left thumb.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Three Burgers for Dinner

I've eaten two burgers in one sitting before, but this was the first time I ever crossed the line to three. The triple threat felt right at the time--not so great the next morning.

We kept it simple: a couple of pounds of chuck mixed by hand with breadcrumbs, raw egg, salt, pepper, ketchup, a dash of worcestshire. The special something was the blue cheese and the grilled english muffin. Also, the condiment buffet:

I focus on the main event, the bacon, but we also had a bowl of sauteed onions, a bowl of sauteed mushrooms, sliced gherkins, a few kinds of mustard, mayo, ketchup and an arugula salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Housewarming Tacos

To my five loyal readers: Thanks for sticking with Panzer Kitchen during this last long absence. We've been settling into the new place in Sunset Park, getting the kitchen organized and scoping out the markets.

I bought the shrimp for these tacos, the first meal cooked in Panzer Kitchen's new kitchen, at No. 1 Fei Long market on 8th Avenue in the heart of Brooklyn chinatown. Not to be confused with First Fei Long market across the street, No. 1 has fishmongers who will scoop out a live fish from one of the aquariums, bash it over the head with a sledgehammer and then clean and gut it for you. The fish don't feel a thing.

I drizzled the shrimp with olive oil then stuck them under the broiler for about five minutes on each side. Meanwhile, I crisped the tortillas stovetop, one at a time, right over an open flame. Do not walk away when you're doing this! It takes only a few seconds for the tortillas to start browning and if you don't flip them (tongs work best) right away, they'll catch fire. I've lit many tortillas on fire in my day, but I wouldn't recommend you do the same. Still, this is a far easier/tastier technique than warming them in the oven.

Here's what went on the taco: peeled shrimp, pico de gallo, mayo. That was all. And you know what the only truly essential ingredient was? Mayo. I could eat hot corn tortillas smeared with mayo any day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Death By Fern

They say fiddlehead ferns can kill you if eaten raw, or just give you a nasty G.I. infection. But they're so fun and green and crunchy, I can't resist them. I once picked some on the side of a road in rural Vermont (where I'm told they're the state vegetable), ate them and lived to tell about it.

The ferns above were blanched in boiling, salted water for a few minutes until they were slightly soft then sauteed with chopped onions in some olive oil.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The End of Chicken

All good things must end, and this is how our last night barbecuing chicken on the Panzer Kitchen patio ended.

Here's how it began:

And here was the secret to its success:

A third sauce, Vernon's Jerk, isn't pictured, but it was the clear winner. Still, I can't complain about the other two, as the photo up top proves.