Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Cuivre

Over the past several years, I have reviewed over 180 beers.   My general rule is that I review only beers that I like.  (As the old saying goes, if you have nothing good to say, don't say it.)  Quite a few times in the past, I have said to myself, "this is the best beer that I have had."  As I write this post, I find myself saying that again.  The beer in question is the Cuivre, the seventh anniversary ale brewed by The Breuery.  

This is not my first encounter with a beer from The Breuery.  I have previously reviewed the Saison de Lente, a Belgian style saison, The unique characteristic of that beer, according to the brewers, was the use of Brettanomyces or wild yeast.  While I liked that beer, it was not one of the best that I ever had for that style, whether a saison or a brett beer.  That award would go to Birrificio del Ducato for its Nuova Mattina (Belgian-Style Saison, which is also a finalist for one of my all-time favorites) and the Orval (breet beer).  

But when it comes to an English Old Ale, the Cuivre is the best one that I have ever had.  The Cuivre is the seventh anniversary ale for the brewery, "loosely brewed in the English-style old ale tradition" using the "house Belgian yeast strain" and then blended using the solara method.  I learned a lot about this method back in 2006, when I was in Emilia Romagna and visited Acetaia del Tuono, which used that method to produce balsamic vinegar.  The solera method requires a series of barrels, each one filled with the product at a particular interval, such as a year.  Eventually, you have the oldest vintage, followed by the next, and the next, until you get to the youngest vintage.  Some of the oldest vintage is removed from the barrel and bottled.  That barrel is then filled with some from the second oldest vintage.  The barrel with the second oldest vintage is filled with some from the third oldest vintage and so on.  This method is commonly used for balsamic vinegar, wine and brandy.  Not so much for beer. 

The solera process is what gives the Cuivre its distinct personality and sets the beer apart from nearly every other beer.  The Cuivre is not so much a beer, as it is a digestif like brandy.  

The Cuivre pours a dark earth brown, like newly tilled, moist soil right before the first planting.  As the beer rests in the glass, aromatic elements of sherry, leather and tanned hide greet the nostrils.  These are not typical ethers one would expect from a beer.  There are more common elements, such as oak and vanilla there as well.  The aroma provides a warning.  This is not a beer that is to be consumed quickly.  It is to be sipped, enjoyed slowly over the course of the night.  

That warning is reinforced by the taste of the Cuivre.  The beer contained many of the notes that were present in the taste of the beer.  There was a lot of boozy dark fruit, such as plums and figs, along with sugar, vanilla and notes in the beer.  Although I don't drink brandy, I would think that there was some brandy notes as well.  There was definitely some notes that could be likened to that digestif.  

The Cuivre is an excellent beer and, like the Nuova Mattina, would be among the finalists for one of my all-time favorites.  It is too bad that this beer was brewed for the 7th Anniversary of The Bruery.  It makes me wish that every day for The Bruery could be its 7th Anniversary.  Until next time ...


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Around the World in 80 Dishes: South Korea

I always thought that when I got to that part of my Around the World in 80 Dishes personal culinary challenge -- the part in which I would a main course from South Korean cuisine -- that I would be making Bulgogi or Galbi.  It makes a lot of sense, especially given my carnivore ways. The thin slices of ribeye that make Bulgogi or the ribs that comprise Galbi seem right up my alley. However, this personal culinary challenge took a completely different turn.

This personal culinary challenge will focus on seafood.  This focus seems appropriate for a country with 1,499 miles of coastline.  With the Sea of Japan to the east (also known as the East Sea) and the Yellow Sea to the west, there is a wide variety of fish available. The fish include mackerel, sardine, anchovies, herring, sea bream, salmon and trout. One can also find clams, oysters and squid in both seas. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the records show that, as far back as the 12th century A.D., commoners ate a diet that consisted primarily of seafood that included shrimp, clams, and fish. 

Dried seafood is very popular in South Korea, with anchovies, corvina and croaker being the fish of choice for such preparations.  South Koreans also dry squid and cuttlefish. Historically, the drying of fish and other seafood was to ensure that these foods would be available during the winter. I did not have enough time to prepare dried seafood and, even if I did, I am not sure that would satisfy the challenge to prepare a main course of South Korean cuisine.  


The South Korean challenge began with a search for a recipe for grilled squid.  I had a hankering to eat the cephalopods.  As I searched the Intenret, I came across a recipe for Ojingeo Gui from Korean Bapsaeng.  The article described how squid -- or ojingeo -- is "an essential and versatile ingredient in Korean cooking."  Another site, Maangchi, observed that the recipe was a staple in Korean bars.  (I presumed that all references were to South Korea, as opposed to North Korea.)

This recipe marks the first time that I have worked with two quintessential South Korean ingredients.  The first is gochujang, which is a savory and spicy, fermented red chile paste,  The second is gochugaru, which are Korean red chile pepper flakes. 

While the recipe looked very good, and it tasted very good too, I decided that the grilled squid dish was not enough for a main challenge.

Recipe from Korean Bapsang
Serves 4
1-1/2 pounds of squid
6 to 8 perillla leaves (kkaennoip) or spring mix, arugula, lettce, etc.
1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped scallion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon Korean red chile pepper flakes (gochugaru)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons Korean red chili pepper paste (gochujang)
2 tablespoons Korean corn syrup (oligodang) or sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Pinch pepper
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

1. Clean the squid.  If using whole squid, clean by carefully pulling the tentacles until the innards slip out of the body.  Use your fingers to reach inside the tube to remove any remaining parts.  Cut the tentacles from the head just below the eyes. Remove the beak from the center of the tentacles.  Discard everything except the body and tentacles. Rinse the squids under cold running water and drain.

2.  Prepare the marinade.  In a bowl large enough to hold the squid, combine the marinade ingredients and stir well.  Add the squids and coat evenly with the marinade, and then marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  

3.  Grill the squid.  Heat a lightly oiled grill or a frying pan until very hot.  Add the squids and sear quickly until the squids curl up and turn opaque, about a minute depending upon the size of the squid.  Flip and cook another minute.  Base with the sauce if you like.  Remove the squid.  You can pour the remaining squid into the pan, bring to a boil, and use as an extra sauce.

4.  Serve the dish.  Plate the squid on the sliced leaves and any other vegetables of your choice.  Drizzle with lemon juice and garnish with a slice of lemon.


Having come to the conclusion that I needed more than grilled squid for this challenge, I continued to look for recipes.  The next one that caught my attention was a recipe for seasoned fresh oysters, which is known as Gul Muchim.  This is a raw oyster recipe, but it is not just any recipe.  The oysters are bathed in a sauce of garlic, green onions, soy sauce, and sesame oil.  This was also a very good recipe, but, it too was not what I would consider to be a main course dish. 

Recipe from Maangchu
Serves 2

4 ounces fresh, cleaned, shucked oysters
1 garlic clove, minced
1 green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1.  Combine ingredients.  Combine oysters, garlic, green onion, soy sauce, hot pepper flakes, sugar, sesame oil, and sesame seeds in a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon.

2.  Plate the dish.  Transfer the oysters to a dish and serve with rice.


The main course for my personal challenge is Saengseon Gui (or Saengsun Gui), which is whole grilled fish.  The word Saengseon means fresh fish, and, as one could expect, it could be any whole fish pulled out of the water.  Many recipes call for mackerel, which can be found in both the Yellow Sea and the East Sea.  I saw whole mackerel in my local grocery store, but the smallest fish was three and one-half pounds and rather costly. That got me to thinking, grilled fish recipes can be made with both saltwater and freshwater fish. The store also had black bass, a freshwater fish, that was both smaller and cheaper.

Interestingly, there are black bass in South Korea.  The fish imported from Louisiana to South Korea and were introduced into three lakes around the peninsula by the government.  The government did all of this without performing any studies and, apparently without any planning.  During the rainy season, water was pumped out of those lakes to make room for the expected rainfall accumulation.  When the water was pumped out, so were black bass fry, who found a new home in the rivers of South Korea.  Soon the black bass, along with the bluegill (who were introduced into Korean waters a few years earlier) came to dominate the local river system.

It is said that South Koreans hate the black bass and, whenever they catch the fish, they leave it on the shore to die. I don't know if that is true, but it got me to thinking about how best to deal with invasive species. For example, the Asian carp is menacing the rivers in the United States. Yet, Andrew Zimmern -- a chef and the host of Bizarre Foods -- suggested a response ... eat it. The human appetite, when marshaled in the right way, can be the best check for the growth of an invasive species.

So, for this challenge, I have prepared Saengseon Gui using whole black sea bass.  I grilled the sea bass and filleted it for dinner and the presentation.  The bass produced two nice-sized fillets, which were perfect for my beautiful Angel and myself.  

Recipe adapted from  Bap Story
Serves 2

1 whole fish 
Sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)

1.  Prepare the fish.  Cur crosswise slashes on the skin side of each piece.  Pat the fish dry with a paper towel.  Drizzle lemon juice over the fish.  Season all sides liberally with salt.  Set aside for 20 minutes.  Remove any visible traces of salt before cooking.  

2.  Grill the fish. Clean and lightly oil the grill.  Preheat the grill over medium high heat.  Place the fish on the grill, skin side down.  Cook until the bottom edges are golden brown and the flesh turns opaque, about 2 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side for another minute or two.

3.  Finish the dish.  Carefully remove the head.  Remove one fillet using a spoon and fork along the spine and plate it.  Then remove the spine, leaving the other fillet, which can be plated.

*          *          *

This personal culinary challenge took me on a different road than previous ones. While the main course may perhaps been the easiest one to prepare, the entire journey -- beginning with the Olingeo Gui and continuing with Gul Muchim -- allowed me to experience different methods of preparing seafood in South Korea.  It is time to move onto the next challenge and to see path lies ahead for me.  Until next time ...


Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Crooked Crab

This is a first for me, especially when it comes to my brewery series ... writing a blog post about a brewery while I am sitting in that  brewery. A couple of asterisks first. I have been to this brewery before. That visit was a kind of scouting mission.  I want led to check the place out, and, as it turns out, all of the pictures for this blog post come from that first visit. The other asterisks is, of course, there has been some editing of the post after the fact. I have to admit that it is really damn hard to type a blog post on a phone.

With all of that out of the way, the brewery is the Crooked Crab in Odenton, Maryland. It is one of a couple of new breweries in Anne Arundel County. I stopped by the first time with my beautiful Angel and my kids to try the beer and to pick up a growler for our crab feast later in the day. 

As has become my practice when visiting a new brewery, I start with the sampler. This allows me to try a range of the beers and to get a sense of how the brewers approach different styles. The tap list at the time our visit had a variety of pale ales, such as the Haze for Days (New England Pale), I Fought the Claw (IPA, and props to the reference to one of my all time favorite Clash songs), Space Master Flex (a NE IPA), the Wit-ty IPA (a cross between a With and an IPA) and Too Much of a Good Thing (the Triple IPA).

After getting the sampler, it was off to the tasting. The sampler included the Space Flex,  Wit-ty IPA, I Fought the Claw, and Too Much of a Good Thing. It also included the Ryeders of the Sun, which is their Rye IPA.  So, basically all of the seasonal beers plus the year-round IPA. I liked all of the beers, particularly the I Fought the Claw and the Too Much of a Good Thing.  However, I have to say that I loved the Wit-ty IPA. In fact, I liked it so much that it was the beer that would go into the growler for our crab feast.  Given how well Crooked Crab did with pale ales, New England Pales, double and triple pale ales, I decided to try the Chuck Brown, which is their brown ale.  That beer was a very good example of a brown ale. 

In the end, the Wit-ty IPA won out and, as I noted, I bought a growler of the beer because I thought that it would work best with the flavors of the crab meat and Old Bay The beer pours like an IPA, with a golden amber hue that suggests a very hop forward beer.  However, this beer cannot be judged by its appearance.  The elements of the beer strongly suggest aromas one would expect from a Belgian Wit. Elements that suggest coriander or some citrus that one would not expect from an IPA, like orange. The Wit carries through to the taste of the beer, and this is what I think sets the Wit-ty IPA apart from the other Belgian Pales that I have tried. There is a significant coriander, along with a some clove in the taste of the beer.  The fact that one can get these elements before the traditional citrus elements of a pale ale makes this beer far more enjoyable to me.  In the end, the only bad thing I can say about the Wit-ty IPA is that as I sit here during my second visit to the tap room, the damn beer had been tapped.  

I am a big fan of the Maryland craft beer movement and Crooked Crab is the perfect example. This brewery hit on all of the beers that I tried and the Wit-ty IPA is the best Belgian pale ale that I have tried in a very long time. If you find yourself in the Odenton area, you should check out this brewery. Hell, if you find yourself in the State of Maryland, you should check out this brewery. Until next time,


Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Savage Boleks Smoked Apple Pork Shoulder

It is time for the smoking season at the Savage Boleks.  This is the time when I try to experiment with smoking various proteins, as well as experimenting with different rubs and sauces, in an effort to find recipes that I could make for parties and get-togethers that we host at our home.  

It has been a while since I have smoked a pork shoulder, so I decided that the initial smoke for this season would be a seven pound Boston Butt.  I started with a basic rub that I found a while back on Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Bible website. The rubs ingredients are fairly straightforward: salt, sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, freshly ground black pepper and celery seed. This basic rub has become my go to rub for any pork barbecue.  The recipe below produces a lot of rub, especially given that I had only a 7 pound pork shoulder.  The leftover will definitely get used as the basic rub for my next pork shoulder.

With the pork resting in the refrigerator, I needed to turn my attention to the rest of the cook.  I had estimated that I would need at least 7 hours.  The plan was to cook the shoulder at a slightly higher temperature, between 275 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  I wanted to shorten the cooking time because the pork would be served at a get together with friends.  

I figured I needed a mop sauce and some barbecue sauce.  I first figured out the barbecue sauce using one from Steven Raichlen's book entitled Barbecue Sauces, Rubs and Marinades.  I found a great recipe called B.B.'s Lawnside Spicy Apple Barbecue Sauce, which was ideal for the pork shoulder, which I planned to smoke using apple wood.  

After choosing the barbecue sauce, I started looking for the mop sauce.  I wanted a sauce that would incorporate some apple brandy that I had left over from the Glazed Roast Loin of Pork recipe I made a couple of months ago.  I found a recipe for Honey Apple Brandy Glaze.  The combination of honey and the apple brandy helped with the color of the pork roast and added another layer of sweetness to the final product.  

In the end, this was a good start to the smoking season.  I had to pull the shoulder before I got to the ideal temperature of 190 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit because of the event we hosted.  Some of the shoulder was able to be pulled, but I just chopped the rest in large pieces that could be served in a pork BBQ sandwich or just by itself.  Now it is time to plan the next smoke. 

Basic Rub recipe by Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Bible
Honey Apple Brandy Glaze from Barbecue Smoker Recipes
B.B.'s Lawnside Spicy Apple Barbecue Sauce from 
Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Sauces Rubs and Marinades (page 166)
Serves many 

1 Boston Butt Pork Shoulder (6 to 8 pounds)

Ingredients (for the Raichlen Rub):
1 cup sea salt (or kosher salt)
1 cup brown or white sugar
1 cup sweet paprika
1/2 to 1 cup coarsely ground or cracked black peppercorns
3 tablespoons granulated garlic powder
3 tablespoons granulated onion powder
1 tablespoon celery seed

Ingredients (for the Honey Apple Brandy Glaze):
1/2 cup of apple brandy (or Calvados)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
5 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons brown sugar

Ingredients (for the B.B.'s Lawnside Spicy Apple Barbecue Sauce):
1 bottle (14 ounces) ketchup
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon molasses,
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon liquid sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 /2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1.  Marinate the pork butt. Combine all of the ingredients for the rub. Season the pork shoulder on all sides with the rub, massaging the rub into the meat.  Cover the shoulder with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

2.  Prepare the smoker or the grill.   Set up the smoker or grill for indirect grilling and get a fire going.  Preheat the grill to about 250-270 degrees Fahrenheit.

3.  Smoke the pork butt.  Place the pork but, fat side up in the middle of the grate over a drip pan.  Toss a handful of soaked wood chips (soaked for about an hour) on the charcoals.  Cover and smoke the shoulder until it is the color of mahogany, about 7 to 9 hours.  The internal temperature should be about 195 degrees.

4.  Prepare the glaze.  Place all of the ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil.  Simmer gently for about 5 minutes (this helps to remove the bitterness from the alcohol by burning it off) and stir gently for the five minutes.  After 5 minutes, take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool so that it becomes a semi-viscous glaze.

5.  Continue to smoke the pork butt.  Toward the end of the smoke, around the last hour or so, brush the glaze every half hour (about 2 times).

6.  Make the sauce.  Combine all of the ingredients in a large, heavy, nonrestrictive saucepan and stir or whisk to mix.  Bring the heat to low and gently simmer the sauce, uncovered until thick and richly flavored, stirring often to prevent scorching, 15 to 20 minutes.  Use right away or transfer to jars, cover and cool to room temperature, and refrigerate. The sauce will keep for several weeks.

7.  Finish the cook. Once the shoulder reaches the ideal temperature (about 190 degrees), remove the shoulder from the smoker and allow it to rest (which will bring it up a few more degrees).  Pull or chop the pork, add some of the sauce, and pour the rest of the sauce in a bowl for guests.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sheepshead Curry

This recipe is totally something that I created on the spot.  It is an experimental dish (and, as such, it needs refinement).  As we were standing in the fish market near our Outer Banks vacation house, I saw that there were sheepshead fillets. Those fillets got me thinking about the sheepshead dish -- Sauteed Sheepshead - Savage Boleks' Style -- that I made with Clare's father during our vacation in Orange Beach, Alabama.  The chance encounter with a fish that was the basis of a great cooking experience with my father-in-law got me to thinking about making another dish for my in-laws.  

The chance encounter with Sheepshead was not really much of a chance.  Sheepshead can be found in the saltwater and brackish waters of the Tar Heel State (such as those around the Outer Banks). They usually swim around wharves, pilings, shipwrecks and other structures covered by barnacles, oysters and mussels, all of which constitute the diet of the fish.  Sheepshead often are a challenge to catch, because they can take the bait off the hook very quickly. Therefore, fishermen and anglers have to be resourceful, using different methods -- such as hand lines, cane pols and spinning tackle -- to catch the fish.  

Needless to say, I did not have to worry about catching the fish this time.  Instead, I had to think about how I would prepare the dish.  The one dish that I wanted to make during this trip was a fish curry.  Up until the point at which I saw the Sheepshead, I had not been able to prepare that dish.  Now was the time.  I decided to go with a (relatively) dry curry, focusing on the spices, over a wet curry, where the focus would be on the sauce.  The spice mix was truly an experiment, beginning with the base of ground garlic and ginger, with ground onion.  After making the base, I then cardamom, allspice, cloves and nutmeg.  These spices created a "heat" that was not capsicum based.  I the adjusted the seasoning with salt and black pepper and, my curried sheepshead was ready for the pan. 

As I cooked this dish, I decided to add a little liquid -- 1 cup of beer and 1 cup of water -- to help with the cooking process.  The beer did not really create a sauce that could be served with the fish, which kept the curry on the dry side.  Once the fish was cooked, it was served over rice with a little of the liquid (solely to flavor the rice) with a garnish of cilantro and lime juice.

As I mentioned at the outset, this is an experimental dish.  It needs refinement, but I decided to post it anyway because -- quite frankly -- I don't come across Sheepshead very often and so I wanted to put down my thoughts.  With this recipe, I can go back to it in the future to improve upon it.  All part of the creative process, which, in this case, resulted in a pretty tasty dish.  Maybe the next version will be a wet curry with a sauce.  We will see .... 

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 4

1 pound of sheepshead fillets, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground garlic
1 teaspoon ground onion
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 lime juiced
2 cups jasmine or basmati rice, cooked
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of water
1 cup of lager beer

1.  Prepare the curry marinade.  Add the ground ginger, ground garlic,  ground onion, ground cardamom, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground nutmeg, salt and black pepper to a small bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a bowl.  Add the sheepshead to the bowl and coat with the olive oil.  Add the curry spice mix and coat the fish on all sides.

2.  Saute the onions and garlic.  Heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil over high heat.  Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes more.  Lower the heat, add the fish and stir quickly for 1 minute.  Add the beer and water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the fish is cooked through about 5 to 7 minutes.

3.  Plate the dish.  Plate about 1/2 cup of rice on the plate.  Add the fish and curry sauce over the rice.  Garnish with lime juice and cilantro.


Thursday, June 21, 2018


I have to admit that I have never heard of a Quadrupel IPA.  But, I guess that it was only a matter of time.  Just like the Belgians have their dubbel, tripel and quadrupel (which is probably my favorite styles of beers), it seems that brewers have created their own series of hoppy beers.  At the start of the series, there is the pale ale (or, perhaps due to recent trends, the session pale ale).    Then there is the double IPA.  And, then there is the triple IPA (or, what is often referred to as the Imperial IPA).

And, now, there is the Quadrupel IPA.  I recently had the opportunity to try Hubris from Platform Beer Company.  Having opened in 2014, Platform is one of a series of new brewers who have opened in the Rock and Roll Capital of the World.  I have tried some of Platform's beers in the past, like the Citra IPA and the New Merchant White IPA.  Both were very good beers. My father introduced me to the Hubris, the Quadrupel IPA from Platform Beer Company.

The brewers produced the Hubris using Maris Otter, Caramalt, Acudaulated and Carawheat malts, along with Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial and Amarillo hops.  The brewers used a San Diego Super Yeast and an adjunct of corn sugar.  The result is a hoppy and boozy beer, with an ABV of 12%.

The Hubris pours a dark orange, hovering between a tiger orange or a rust orange depending upon the light.  As the beer is poured into the glass, a thin, light cirrus cloud like foam develops on top of the beer.  The foam slowly gives way, exposing the liquid and its aromatic elements of citrus and floral notes.  

The citrus aromas foreshadow the interesting flavors of this beer. It is full of a range of fruits, such as the citrus fruits one would expect from a very hoppy pale ale.  Grapefruits and tropical fruits.  But, there is  also notes of apricots and peaches in the beer, which one does not find very often in an IPA, double IPA, or triple IPA.  I guess that, just as there are differences in the taste of a Belgian   tripel and a Belgian quadrupel, there are differences between a triple IPA (or Imperial IPA) and a qudrupel IPA.  One other very interesting note is that there was a sweetness in the Hubris (perhaps due to the peach and apricot notes), which was present throughout the beer, especially in the finish.  

The Hubris is part of Platform Beer's small batch IPA series.  I hope that they brew this beer again, because it is definitely worth the price of $9.99 or $10.99 for a six pack.  If the brewers produce this beer again and you find it on the shelf of your local grocery store (in Ohio), the Hubris is worth a try if you like hoppy pale ales with an alcohol punch.  Until next time ...


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Blackened Wahoo

As the story goes, European explorers who reached the Hawaiian islands noted the abundance of a steel blue, slender fish whose quick speed allowed it to chase down fish and squid.  Once the explorers reached the island, they asked the natives for the name.  "Oahu."  The European explorers replied, "wahoo?"  Needless to say, the island retained its name of Oahu, while the "wahoo" moniker was saved for that abundant fish that swam the nearby waters.

The story is probably just fiction.  Let's turn to a few facts.  First, the wahoo is a member of the scombridae, a family of fish that include mackerels, tunas and bonito.  Of all of those fish, the wahoo is probably the closest relative to the king mackerel.  Second, the wahoo is caught using longline and handlines, as well as hook and line, methods.  These are the methods typically used to catch tuna, marlin and swordfish. Once caught, the average wahoo weighs between 8 to 30 pounds, although some could be as large as 100 pounds.  

I have never had the opportunity to fish for wahoo, as I have not yet had the opportunity to fish out on the ocean.  Nevertheless, I have been able to "hunt" for the fish at the counter of the local seafood market.  I found some fresh wahoo fillets at the local market during our vacation.  I was eager to get the fish and cook with it, because it is extremely difficult to find it where I live.  So, I bought a couple of fillets to make a dish for my beautiful Angel and my inlaws. The only question was what recipe to make with those fillets.  

As one would expect, wahoo can be cooked much in the way one would cook tuna or swordfish.  The fillets have a mild texture, with large, circular flakes, and much less of a blood line than their other relatives.  Wahoo can be cooked using any of the typical methods: baking, broiling, frying, grilling, poaching or sauteing.  I decided to make a blackened wahoo.  I separated out the large round flakes so that everyone had one large round of blackened fish and then blackened the remaining pieces to served along the round.  The blackening spice is one of my traditional go-to mixes, which worked very well with this fish.  The texture of the fish stood up to the high heat of the pan and kept its form for service.  Overall, this was a great first recipe with wahoo.  

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 4

1 pound of wahoo steaks (2 steaks, bloodline removed)
1 tablespoon ground garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground onion powder
1 tablespoon ground paprika powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon dried chipotle chile powder
Few dashes of ground cumin powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons olive oil

1.  Prepare the blackened spice mix.  Combine the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika powder, smoked paprika powder, thyme, chile powders, cumin powder and salt.

2. Prepare the wahoo steaks.  Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil to a bowl.  Add the wahoo and toss gently to coat.  Add the blacked spice mix until all sides of the steaks are coated.

3.  Cook the wahoo steaks.  Heat a pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat until the oil is almost smoking.  Add the wahoo steaks and sear the steaks on every side, about 2 minutes per side.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

120 Minutes

Every beer has a story.... That is how Dogfish Head Ales introduces the 120 Minute IPA, the self-described "Holy Grail for hopheads."  The beer is "continuously hopped," according to the brewers, "with a copious amount of high-alpha American hops throughout the boil and whirlpool," and, if that was not enough, "then dry-hopped with another pallet of hops."  It is no wonder that this beer is marketed toward "hopheads."

However, in my humble opinion, the most prominent character of the 120 Minute IPA, is not the intense hoppiness of the beer.  To be sure, it is hoppy.  But, the 120 Minute IPA is more boozy to me than it is hoppy.  A very hoppy beer to me is something like Fat Head's Imperial IPA, Hop JuJu.  That beer is like being hit in the head with hop punch.  The heavy hop presence in that beer masks the alcohol content in the beer.  But, with the 120 Minute IPA, there is no avoiding the booziness of that beer.  The 15% to 20% ABV is the first and foremost element of the beer that greets the drinker and it does so with every sip.  Nevertheless, the 120 Minute is one of my favorite beers.

The Imperial IPA pours a dark, hazy orange-copper color. The beer exudes a drunken hop aroma, with a lot of that booziness making its way to one's olfactory senses. This is a welcomed greeting, reminding a person that this is a beer to be sipped and savored.  

The 120 Minute IPA is one of the smoothest beers that I have ever had.  It is perhaps the closest example of what a cordial would be in beer form.  There  is some hop bitterness in the background, which reminds you of the fact that ti is an Imperial Pale Ale.  That bitterness is joined by hints of dark fruit, which highlight the sweetness in the alcohol.  

The brewers suggest that, if you find some 120 Minute IPA, grab a few bottles. I second that suggestion, because I ranks this beer among my favorites.  Don't mind the price tag.  It is totally worth it. 

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