Innovations and Culinary

Selective Breeding and Culinary

There are many innovations that has happened in the 20th century. Among them include Cell Phones, Satellites, Refrigeration, and Canning. Of these innovations, I think one of the most interesting and impactful is the innovation of the process of selective breeding. Selective breeding is a process in which we humans artificially select which animal or plant to breed. In our selection we choose the particular characteristic that we want to be passed down to the next generation. Selective breeding usually falls under one of the following categories or goals, to change the growth characteristics, to change survival characteristics, or change flavour or quality. An example of changing growth characteristics is be selecting animals or plants within a family to allow it mature at a faster rate. A survival characteristic change would include breeding in weather resilience or disease. Before the science of selective breeding, humans cross bread wheat, rice and dogs by farmers and hunters. It was not until the 18th century that selective breeding was establish as a scientific practice. An example of early breeding was done by Robert Bakewell in which he selective breed sheep in such a way that he improved the growth rate, while providing fine-boned sheep with long lustrous wool. Plant breeding however was not feasible until the late 19th century when there was methods of selective breeding by means of cross-pollinating agricultural plants and commercialize the new varieties.

Africanized Bee/Killer Bee, was a cross-breed between Western Honey Bees and African Honey Bees. Original developed to a bee breed that can survive the cooler climate with strong stamina resulted also in a new trait if aggression and common swarming

Bananas has been cross breed to ensure the perfect banana is grown.

Berksire Pig is breeded for it’s loin and shoulder

as a Culinary Technology

I think that selective breeding can be considered a culinary technology. One of the key dogma of culinary is the ingredients play a big role in the quality of the dish. Selective breeding a way of using science to change and develop ingredients in such a way that it can ensure consistent ingredients, longer lasting ingredients and more flavourful ingredients.

importance and how as it affected you and I?

Selective breeding is a massively important to the culinary world. As mention it has given us humans the ability to control the quality, flavour, life span and growth of our ingredients. Selective breeding has given us the ability to breed chickens with plump chests, pigs with large shoulders, and cows with perfect amount of marbling. In plant world, it allows is to grow carrots that is always orange, straight and with consistent size and it allowed us to increase the yield rate of wheat. Another big impact of selective breeding is that it allows us to create brand new ingredients. From the Mustard plant, we have been able to create several new specifies of plant. This directly affects the dishes that Chef make. The type of plant or animal and how it was breed affects the way it is cooked and the flavour profiles that it has. Selective breeding has also created new plants such as broccoflower, allowing the culinary world to develop new dishes and flavours. Selective breeding has also shown scientists that we can modify a plant to create another one. One example is mustard plant can be modified to restrict a trait or to emphasis a trait to create kale or cauliflower. Selective breeding as also allowed us to generate ingredients more cheaply and allowed us to keep up with the demand of food.

 

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Vegetarian for a week

Vegetarian – By the Book

There are many different types of Vegetarians. To be a Total Vegetarian or Vegan, you are committed to a diet of only foods from plants such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, seeds and nuts. Other vegetarian diets include Lacto-Vegetarian where one commits to a diet of food with plants plus cheese and dairy products. Lacto-Ovovegetarians diets also include the consumption of eggs and a Semi-Vegetarian diet don’t consume red meat but includes chicken and fish.

Lacto-Vegetarian for a Week

I decided to commit to a week of being a Lacto-Vegetarian. A typical daily menu for a Lacto-Vegetarian includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, seeds, nuts and milk products including cheese and cream. Each meal should include several servings of vegetable, a serving of fruits and a serving of milk. Milk is important to the diet for it’s protein but can be replaced with a combination of a serving of legume and a serving of grain/nut/seed. Some meal examples include:

Breakfast

  • Vegetarian Broccoli-Cheese Pie
  • A cup of Milk
  • A cup of fruits of choice

Lunch

  • Lentil soup or vegetarian sandwich
  • A cup of milk
  • A cup of fruits

Dinner

  • Tofu Stir Fry Dish with Rice/Spaghetti with Mushroom Bolognese
  • Mixed greens with dressing
  • Fruit dessert

Vegetarian Stew

Ingredients

  • 10g vegetable oil
  • 150g fresh brown and/or white mushrooms, remove stems and slice caps
  • 50g bamboo shoots, julienne strips
  • 150g fresh Chinese water chestnuts, peel and quarter
  • 300g carrot, peel and cut into julienne strips
  • 300g Napa cabbage, torn into small strips
  • 300g vegetable broth
  • 150g firm tofu, cut to ½” cubes
  • 150g snow peas or snap peas, remove strings and cut to thin slivers
  • 15g soy sauce
  • 10g cornstarch mixed well with 10g cold water
  • 5g sesame oil
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Procedure

  1. Heat pan over high heat until begins to smoke then add vegetable oil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-high and stir-fry mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, carrots and cabbage. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add tofu, snow peas and soy sauce then cover and simmer for 2 more minutes.
  5. Stir in cornstarch mixture to make a light gravy consistency.
  6. Stir in sesame oil and adjust seasoning
  7. Serve with fresh chopped Cilantro

Daily Log

Day 1

Day 1 was very simple, breakfast included cup of 2% milk then a cup of coffee from Tim Horton (1 milk, 2 sugar), lunch was a vegetarian burrito from Bolet’s Burrito, and dinner included steamed broccoli and pan fried tofu dipped in soy sauce. Day 1 was not very interesting. I usually start my day with a cup of milk and a cup of coffee. The burrito was excellent, instead of a protein they used sweet potato which added a different softer texture and a sweetness that isn’t normally found in the meat based burritos.

Day 2

Day 2 started similarly to day 1 with a cup of milk and a cup of coffee. For lunch, I had a Art of Almost sandwich from Sky Blue Sky Sandwich (without the bacon). The sandwich was sweet and spicy but also had a tangy taste from the banana peppers and tomatoes. For dinner, I made a garden salad (Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, cucumber, carrots, and almonds) with thousand island dressing, and croutons. The meals I had today were very tasty. However, they filled me for a short period of time. I was hungry again within a few hours of eating.

Day 3

Day 3 I started with a cup of coffee. For Lunch I had vegetarian Pho at Pho Vietnam. I did not particularly enjoy this dish. The broth tasted very artificial and did not have much vegetable flavour. The vegetables all still had a nice crunch to them but I did not enjoy the texture of the vegetables with this dish. For dinner, I had farmers market chicken salad (substitute soy chicken). The salad was delicious with a great mixture of sweet and tangy, as well as crunchy and soft. It stood out from my previous meals.

Day 4

I started day 4 with a cup of coffee and a chocolate dip doughnut. For lunch, I had 2 slices of cheese pizza from Pizza Pizza and for dinner I had a slice of vegetarian lasagna that I bought from Loblaws. The food started to tasted very similar and I started to miss meat proteins.

Day 5

I started the day again with a cup of coffee. For lunch, I had a fruit salad which I bought from Loblaws (Strawberries, Pineapple, Honeydew, and cantaloupe) with ranch dipping sauce. For dinner, I had Vegetable Pakora and Manch Vegetable Fried Rice from Lucky Chinese Restaurant. Figuring out what to eat was getting a lot harder. Everything seemed to taste similar to one another and I was jealous of other who were eating meat proteins.

Day 6

For breakfast I had a cup of milk and pan fried vegetarian dumplings. I skipped lunch due to work and for dinner I had Stir-fried tofu with tomatoes and Stir-fried Chayote Squash.

Day 7

For breakfast I had a cup of coffee and 10 assorted timbits. For lunch I had stir fried eggplant and Mapo tofu with rice. For dinner, I had creamy mash potatoes with steamed asparagus. I was finally glad that the week was over. I was worried that I could not make it to the end but it was a great learning experience.

Reflection

Committing to a Lacto-Vegetarian diet was much harder than I expected. As mentioned, as the days went by, my craving for meat products increased more and more. I also reached a point on the fourth day where I started to get bored of the food I was eating. Although the techniques used to make the dishes were very different, the ingredients and flavours started to feel very similar, which I found boring. I think this is mainly because I was new to the diet and my motivation to do it was not personal. I think that people who have been a vegetarian for a long time have a better idea of the types of dishes and how to keep themselves from being bored of the flavours. Also my motivation to be a vegetarian was related to school rather than a personal decision, so restricting myself mentality to a set of rules was very hard. I think that for someone who wants to start being a vegetarian or starting a new diet plan, they should design a meal plan before they start. I found that deciding what to eat was the hardest part of committing to the diet and it became frustrating when you have to decide in a short time. Having a plan prior to starting would make following the diet much easier.

Vegetarian and Being a Chef

I don’t believe there is any major impact to a being a ‘ordinary’ chef who is Vegetarian. The techniques use in vegetarian dishes are very similar and focus on quality ingredients are still very important. If the decision to be a Vegetarian is based on a personal belief, then I believe the only way to continue to be an ‘ordinary’ chef and  be a vegetarian would be to be flexible. Flexible in the sense that you do not push that belief onto others and you have to be flexible enough to taste the food. To taste and consume can be separated. A chef should be able to taste the flavours of any dish even if they don’t consume it.

To Be Continue?

I would personally not continue this diet. I can understand and appreciate the decision for someone to commit to type of diet. However, the restriction in dishes, flavours, techniques are for me is not worthwhile to continue.

Local Farmers – Buttrum Family Farm

For this assignment, a group of friends and I decided to travel to the Hamilton Farmers’ Market to meet our local produces and farmer. The decision for Hamilton Farmer’s Market is that they are the only farmer’s market that is open throughout the Winter and have most operating hours. The majority of Farmer’s Markets around the GTA around only operating once a week during the winter season.

In the farmer’s market we approached Buttrums Family Farm. We met with Shae, one of the workers for Buttrums Family Farm and had a This is a local farming family that has been around for 160 years. The farm has been passed down through three generation and recently one of the owner’s sons has agreed to take over the farm, continuing the legacy of the farm. During the summer seasons, the farm grows a large variety of crops including potatoes, lettuce, squash, and onions. However, during the winter seasons, up until December, they can only produce shallots and squash. They support local producers and will buy and resell for other farmers. They also purchase selective citrus products from Mexico and USA due to the climate advantage. One thing special about the farm is that they go to a local producer in Kitchener to buy and resell maple syrup at cost.

Buttrums chooses to farm organically with no use of chemicals or sprays. They attempted to use strays for one year but ran into problems with the crop and returned to growing organic. From the conversation with Shae, there was not a major determining factor as to why they chose organic other than they have been doing so for generations and ran into problems when they did use it. The farm did not have any major political or environmental initiatives but does believe that people should be buying locally more. The reason for this is because major grocery stores that buy from farmers usually use their buying power to lower buying prices. This hurts the farmers and thus, if we can encourage buying from local farms we can help farmers gain but some of their buying power. In addition, this would help encourage more people to get into farming. Another issue that Shae bought up was that the average age of farmers is 73 years old. This means that without someone to pass the farm onto, in the case of Buttrums Family Farm, they end up closing shop.

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Before meeting with Shae and learning about Buttrums Family Farm, we spoke to another farmer called Fleetwood. They are also a local farmer that has been operating since 1933. Unlike Buttrums, Fleetwood had chosen to use chemical and sprays to protect their crop. This ensured that they have a good crop and are able to provide produce consistently. Although they had two different farming philosophies they shared one common concern. It was the fact that current farmers are too old and there are not enough young farmers that are entering the market. This was their biggest concern but they did not seem to have a solution to encourage new entrants. As expected however, the produce variety  was limited. To provide customers with more choice, these farmers continued buy produce from out the country. Price-wise, they were as competitive as the large grocery stores. Personally, I still enjoy the greater variety and choice that the large grocery stores offer.

Venison – Roadkill, Hunting and from the Butcher

I am a huge fan of game meat. Although much tougher and often have a very strong scent to them, I believe they have much more flavour and the farm raised meat. An animal I particularly enjoy is Venison (Deer). Although they are sold in selected butchery shops in Toronto, my fondest memory of retrieving this meat is via roadkill. Over the summer and fall season en-route home from Montreal to Toronto you often find Deer on the side of the road. Depending on your luck, the animal was recently killed and the meat is still good. To answer your question, “Yes”, it is league in Canada to retrieve roadkill as long as you register with Ministry of Natural Resources. Normally, these animals are too big to take whole and the best option is to butcher them on the spot and retrieve the cuts you want. Being on the side of the road, you want to be able to butchery the animal quickly and move on. Thus, ideally you want the rear legs. The leg comprises of several different possible cuts including the shank, the round and the rump.

deer_butcher_how_to.jpg

How to Butcher a Deer. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.chefdepot.net/agingwildgame.htm

Of these cuts, I have chosen the shank. The shank is usually the cheapest part of the venison as it is usually the toughest and has the least amount of meat. In the Vietnamese culture these shanks are slowly braised to make a stew which is used as the base of a hotpot meal. This venison hotpot is perfect for the cool fall weather. It’s even great during the hot summer days when you just want to sweat profusely.


 

ROADKILL TIP: Let someone else hit the animal – or your car repair bill may not be worth the meat.


 

Venison the Game Meat

Venison is the name for any game meat that come from an antlered animal. Among these antlered animals is deer. (1) Deer are domestic to Canada and there are many variety in Ontario. The most commonly hunted in Ontario is white-tailed deer. Other species include mule deer, caribou, elk and moose. (1) In Ontario, you are able to hunt both Does and Bucks; however, hunting Does and Fawns are strictly regulated. (2) They all have very similar anatomy and, in my opinion, have very similar taste. There are also many placed in Ontario that raise White-Tailed Deer. (3) Because they are difficult to obtain, the venison meat that you find in markets, restaurants and hotels are farm-raised. Although, there are many farms in Canada and around the world that raise deer, it is still considered a game meat as it still carries much of the characteristics of game meat. (1) Venison meat that coming from animals that have been hunted cannot be sold in Canada but can be enjoyed by the hunter and friends. (1) The shank is a cut of meat that comes from the rear or the front legs of the animal. The shank generally starts from the ankle of the leg and extends just above the knee of the animal. The shanks are usually used as grounded meat or cut into Osso Bucco cuts. Osso Bucco cuts are round, steak like cuts with the bone in. The shank also has a lot of cartilage that make the meat very tough. In addition, shanks tend to not have a lot of meat.

Ossobuco.jpg

“Ossobucco Cut” (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.feed.com.br/mundo-da-carne/cultura/ossobuco-conheca-todo-o-sabor-desse-corte-de-origem-italiana/

(1) Welcome to Ontario Venison. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.ontariovenison.ca/

(2) WHITE-TAILED DEER. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from https://www.ontariotravel.net/en/play/hunting/hunting-species/white-tailed-deer

Buying Venison Shank

Discuss cooking methods that can be applied to this cut and the reasons why these methods are suitable.

The shank are generally is a very cheap cut from the venison. The current price for “100% Grassfed Red Deer Venison Shank” is $9.99 per lb. (3) The shank have very tough meat with lots of elastin and cartilage. The best way to utilize the cut is a slow cooking method using the bones for added flavour. An alternative to this would be to ground the meat to make a burger or a sausages. However, because of the limited amount of meat on shanks, it is not the best way to utilize. This is because the majority of the flavour and weight come from the bone of the shank.

(3) (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.realfoodtoronto.com/new-zealand-grassfed-venison-shank.html

Cooking Venison Shank

Vietnamese Style Venison Shank Stew

Ingredients  
Venison Shank, Ossobucco cut 500g
Large Onion, finely chopped 250g
Shallots, peeled 12 Whole
Fresh Ginger, crushed, 3cm 1
Garlic Cloves, crushed 4 cloves
Chinese Five Spice 20g
Cinnamon Stick 1 Piece
Star Anise 3 Pieces
Lemongrass Stems 2 Pieces
Fish Sauce 10g
Dark Soy Sauce 20g
Unsmoked Sweet Paprika 5g
Sugar 20g
Strong Beef Stock (Water can be replacement) 500mL
Carrots, peeled & cut, Large Mirepoix 300g
Sweet Potatoes, peeled & diced 150g

 

Procedure
1.       Put Venison Shanks into a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the pot to a boil and cook for 5 mins to clean the venison shanks. Strain shanks and set aside.
2.       Fry the onion and whole shallots until the onions begins to brown, then add the ginger, garlic, five spice, cinnamon, star anise, and lemon grass and stir well.
3.       Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, paprika, sugar, stock, carrots, sweet potato and venison shanks
4.       Cover and simmer very gently for 1½-2 hours, stirring occasionally until the shank meat is tender
5.       Stew can be served with rice, use as a base for hotpot or eaten with bread.

Experimenting on Salsa

“Wow that’s good” was my immediate reaction after tasting my homemade concoction of Fermented Salsa. I traditionally think of Salsa as something that is made and eaten fresh. It was to my surprise that I found a recipe that encouraged fermenting salsa. From that moment my journey began to turn fresh tomatoes into delicious salsa.

Lacto-Fermentation or picking is the method used to ferment Salsa. The method itself only requires salt, vegetables and water. The fermentation takes place over two phrases. In the first phase the ingredient is submerged in a brine salty enough to kill of harmful bacteria. In the second phase the good bacteria help convert lactose and other sugars into lactic acid. The lactic acid creates an acidic environment that safely preserves the vegetables. The lactic acid is what gives this preservation method its tangy flavour. 1 The term Lacto-Fermentation comes from the bacteria Lactobacillus. It is a bacteria that normally live in our digestive system without causing disease. It is also used to help treat many illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome, colon inflammation, fever blisters, and even acne. 2 Thus, it is considered one of the good bacteria.

1. Meredith, L. (n.d.). Lacto-fermentation – How It Works. Retrieved from http://foodpreservation.about.com/od/Fermenting/a/Lacto-Fermentation-How-It-Works.htm

2.Meredith, L. (n.d.). Lacto-fermentation – How It Works. Retrieved from http://foodpreservation.about.com/od/Fermenting/a/Lacto-Fermentation-How-It-Works.htm

The Recipe

There are surprisingly many recipes available on-line for making Lacto-Fermented Salsa. However, the main ingredients always included Tomatoes, Onions, Jalapeno Pepper, Garlic, Liquid Whey and Sea Salt. Variation usually included the spice (Cumin or Cayenne), Whey or no Whey, and Water or no water. The recipe I decided to follow was posted on a Blog called Garden Betty3 and featured a recipe using Cumin, no Whey and no water. The recipe also called for the use of olive oil as a seal, which I found very interesting.

3. Summer Means Salsa (Spicy Fermented Salsa, That Is). (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2015, from http://www.gardenbetty.com/2013/09/summer-means-salsa-spicy-fermented-salsa-that-is/

Lacto-Fermented Salsa
Yield: 1 Litre
Quantity Ingredients Procedure
680g Tomatoes, Macedoine 1.       In a mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together including juices from the tomatoes. (Everything Except Olive Oil)
½ ea Red Onion, Macedoine
½-1ea Jalapeno Pepper
5 Cloves Garlic, Minced
½ cup Fresh Cilantro, Chopped 2.       Pour Salsa into a 1 Litre Jay and press with spoon to remove all trapped air bubbles
½ Teaspoon Grounded Cumin
1 Teaspoon Sea Salt 3.       Add about 1/2 inch of olive oil on top.
1 ea Lime Juice
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
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Ingredients before processing
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Ingredients are chopped, Macedoine size
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Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl except for olive oil
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Toss all ingredients until even mix
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Add ingredients to fermenting jar and press ingredients down to ensure it is below the brine
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Add a top layer of olive oil, approximately 1/2 inch
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Store open with wet towel in a warm location


Before Fermentation: 5 mins after mixing

The Salsa had a salty and sour taste. It had a strong smell of onions, lime, and tomatoes. In my opinion the seasoning was at a point where you could immediately enjoy the salsa. A few things that stood out was the crunchiness of the onions and jalapeno peppers. Overall, all the ingredients had a fresh firm texture. I noticed that the spicy kick from the onion was much more overwhelming than the spiciness from the jalapeno peppers. Each ingredient was very juicy but did not blend with the other flavours. The onions had the pungent kick as a fresh onion should, the jalapeno pepper had the mellow spice, and the tomatoes had a fresh sour taste. Even with a well-mixed spoonful, each ingredient’s taste stood out on its own. That said, all ingredients where coated with a mild taste of salty and sour.

During Fermentation: 25 hours after jarring

Firstly, the overall appearance of the salsa has not changed. The colour is similar to the before the salsa was fermented. Opening the lid there is a stronger fragrance from the onions. Based on the first few bites the tomatoes has soften and lost some of its fresh flavours. The onions are still noticeably crunchy but the pungent kick has mellowed out. The spiciness from the jalapenos and Thai chilli are now the boldest flavour. Overall, all the ingredients still taste relatively fresh. There is a slight hint of tanginess but still underwhelming compared to the freshness of the ingredients.

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Salsa after 25 hours of fermenting

During Fermentation: 54 hours after jarring

I left the jar outside in a warm location for just over 2 days. Party through the second day the brine started to overflow out of the jar and leaked onto my countertop. It left an unpleasant sour citrus scent.  In total, about half a cup of brine leaked out of the jar. The reason for the leaking is because salt took moisture out of the vegetables causing the brine to rise in volume.4 This was a good sign that the fermentation was working. After cleaning the spill, I tried the salsa again. Aside from the smell of brine that leaked, the salsa itself was not very pungent. There was still hints of some freshness within the salsa. The texture of the vegetables has changed drastically. Tomatoes, onions, and jalapeno peppers had all become much softer. The ingredient did not become mushy as there was still some firmness to them. The main difference in the salsa on the second day is the salsa now had a much nicer blend of flavours. In contrast to fresh salsa, where each individual ingredient stood out on their own and you could pick out each ingredient, the fermented salsa was well blended and flavours shot out at you. In addition to the more power taste of saltiness and sourness, the spicy flavour was also emphasized. There was also the development of a tangy flavour. I decided that the flavours and textures of the salsa had reached my desired doneness. As such, I also decided it was time to slow the fermentation by putting the salsa in the refrigerator.

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Salsa after extra brine was cleaned up. Ingredients are pressed down again below the brine to ensure continued fermentation

4. Wasserman, M., & Jeanroy, A. (n.d.). 10 Tips for Troubleshooting the Fermented Food You Make. Retrieved November 10, 2015, from http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/10-tips-for-troubleshooting-the-fermented-food-you.html

I believe that what makes lacto-fermented salsa and other lacto-fermented recipes special is not only does it enhance the flavours of the ingredients and preserves it, but you are also able to control the texture of the ingredient. The combination of flavour and texture makes lacto-fermented salsa unique compared to jarred salsa and fresh salsa.

If I were to ferment salsa again, I would try a few different things. Firstly, I would use a food processor to ensure an even blend of the ingredients. Secondly, I would choose more rip tomatoes to bring more sweetness to the salsa. Finally, knowing the possibility of overflowing brine, I would ensure the jar is placed over a sauce pan or baking tray. This was my first fermenting experiment and I found it quite exciting. I expected the fermentation to be much slower but I was surprised of the changed that occurred at each check up.

The Fruit Hunter – For the love of Fruit

A Fruit Hunter someone who

“Traverse the global in search of rare white flesh mangos, succulent ice cream beans, and mind-altering miracle fruit” – Suzuki, D. [Narrator] (2013). The Nature of Things – Fruit Hunter [Motion picture]. CBC Broadcasting

If I had to identify someone in my life who I would call a Fruit Hunter, that person would be my father. But, more accurately, he is a connoisseur of fruits. What this meant was growing up I was never a stranger to seeing weird and ‘strange’ fruits. Fruits like the smelly Durians, the juicy Water Apple, the flavour confuser Ciku, and the beautiful Dragon fruit was always part of my life. Thanks to my father, I have had the opportunity to try most of the local and imported fruits around the world. This also meant that challenging myself to choose a fruit that I have never tried was a very difficult task. Although he made this task harder, luckily for me he also knew exactly where to go to find the most exotic fruits in Toronto. He pointed me to the local Chinese supermarket. Oh.

I was worried that I would have had to travel to multiple local Chinese supermarket to find all the variety of fruits available in Toronto. Fortunately for me the BestCo Food Mart by my house had a huge selection of tropical fruits. Their selection included dates, guavas, mini guavas, passion fruit, ciku, and many more.

Bestco0Bestco3 Bestco1 Bestco2

Walking through the aisles I was excited by the prospect of discovering something new, something different. Unfortunately, I slowly realized that in one way or another, I have already tried the fruits available. I ultimately decided to go with Sugar-Apples. Sugar-Apples is a fruit that I have recently fell in love with through my recent trip to Asia. I chose it because although I have enjoyed it in the past, it is still one of the weirdest fruits I know and I know very little about its history and its uses.


Sugar-Apples is the fruit of small, many branched trees called Annona Squamosa. Sugar-apples is believed to be native to West India and was bought to Central America, Peru, and Brazil. It has been cultivated and grown in many other tropical locations including Bahamas, Southern Florida, India, Malaya and south-east Asia. It is also believe to have been introduced to South Africa in the early 17th century. Sugar-apples are also called Custard Apples due to their textural resemblance to custard.1

1. Morton, J. (n.d.). Fruits of Warm Climates. Custard Apple, 80-83.

Using our in-class classification, Sugar-Apples would be classified as a Tropical Fruit because it requires a tropical climate to grow. In North America, sugar-apples are in season between August-October.2 Currently, the pricing varies from $5.99 (CAD) per lb to $4.00 per fruit (~$8.00 (CAD) per lb.)

2. Unknown. (n.d.). Fruit Seasonal Guide. Retrieved October 25, 2015.


Characteristics

An unpeeled Sugar-Apple offers no smell. Once you begin to peel the fruit, a very light fragrance is released. The fragrance is subtle similar to the fragrance produced by dry citrus ornaments but the smell hints to a sweeter fruit. This is where the ‘weird’ begins. Like a snake, the fruit has diamond shaped scales around it. The scales feel tough yet soft with the texture somewhat similar to leather. The texture of the fruit’s flesh is soft and thick. In your hands you can imagine it as a paste that can be spread over bread or stuffed into a pie. In the mouth, the flesh is soft and melts away. The texture is not completely smooth as there is a feeling of graininess. The taste is sweet but never overwhelming. Rather, in my opinion, the sweetness is subtle leaving a yearning for more. Driving you to take another bite in hopes for more of the flavour. The fruit also leaves a lasting feeling and induces salivation showcasing some umami taste. In my opinion the flavour of the fruit is a like a light vanilla ice cream. The fruit itself also contain anywhere from 50-75 seeds. Altogether, the texture, the skin, and the flavour of the fruit makes it truly unique.

Sugar-Apple PeelingSugar-Apple Peeled

Freshness

Sugar-Apples do not ripen off of the branch. This means that the fruits are harvested ripened or extremely close to ripened and delivered to the market quickly as possible. When looking for a ripen sugar-apple, you want to look for the following:

  1. The fruit is soft. The feeling should be similar to when you lightly press your fingertips together. If the fruit is hard then it indicates that it was harvested too early. (Remember Sugar-Apples do not ripen off after being harvested) If the fruit is too soft like room temperature butter then the fruit has pass its prime and beginning to rot.
  2. The colour is medium to dark green. Fruits that have too light in colour or too dark in colour indicate the fruit was harvested too early or too late.
  3. The core (image below) should be able to be removed with ease. Cracks and breaks around the core is a good sign of a ripened fruit.

Sugar-Apple Core-Freshness

Cooking the Fruit

As mentioned sugar-apples has a subtle taste. Generally speaking I believe it is best used in to flavour a dessert or as part of a drink. However, I believed can also be used as in an entrée to add sweetness. I wanted to try a more unorthodox use of the fruit. The recipe I found made use of the sugar-apple in a glaze and I proceeded to try the recipe. 3

Pork Chops With A Curry Custard Apple Glaze. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2015, from http://www.custardapple.com.au/Savoury/pork-chops-with-a-curry-custard-apple-glaze.html

Pork Chops with a Curry Custard Apple
Portion Size: 1 Pork Chop Total Yield: 2 portions
Quantity Ingredients Procedure
2 Medium Pork Chops, Trimmed of Fat 1. Melt 30g butter in a pan. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and cook until golden all over, 3 -4 minutes each side. Remove from heat and keep warm.
30g Butter
Salt & Pepper to taste
Curry Custard Apple Glaze 2. Wipe the pan clean with paper towels. Melt 30g butter, stir in the curry powder and ginger and cook for one minute over low heat.

3. Add the chutney, mustard and cinnamon. Turn up heat to medium and simmer gently for one minute.

4. Return the chops to the pan, add the custard apple flesh and lemon juice. Season to taste.

5. Heat through for 1 -2 minutes, being careful not to overcook the custard apple.

6. Serve on a bed of wilted spinach with steamed squash.

30g Butter
10g Hot Curry Powder
5g Fleshly Grated Ginger
1.25g Cinnamon
110g Custard Apple Flesh
Juice of ½ Lemon


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Having tried the recipe, I found that the sugar-apples flavours were too subtle for the dish. The flavour of the mango, curry and cinnamon were at the forefront while the sugar-apple played a small supporting role as an extra. In my opinion the sugar-apples could have been omitted and the dish would still be the same. I could partially place the blame on the sugar-apples I used, as they were not the sweetest. In place of the sugar-apples, I would have used honey.

Final Thoughts

I have always had an appreciation for fruits. I love the fact that there is an enormous variety of fruits available around the world and it is also mind boggling that even within the same family of fruit there are so many variations. Having said this and having completed my challenge, I can say that I have taken a lot for granted. Not only does each fruit has it own taste and flavour profile, each fruit has specific requirements for what is considered “ripe”. Knowing these you can begin to combine and create beautifully delicious dishes. I feel very fortunate that I live in a city where I can conceniently find all variety of amazing fruits. (Even if they are expensive!)

Featured

The Beginning of the Journey

This is the first entry in my first ever blog. As a starting point it may be best to answer a series of questions about me. My name is Tony (Tung) and this is the start of my culinary journey.


A picture that bests describes your culinary personality.

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This picture was taken on my visit to Vietnam this past December. After several days of travelling and enjoying various ‘exotic’ food, we decided it was time to enjoy a home cooked meal. After searching several blocks we found this cozy restaurant that served traditional Northern Vietnamese dishes. This picture best describes my culinary personality as the majority of my experience has been in my own kitchen making traditional Northern Vietnamese dishes for my family and friends to enjoy.


Why you want to be a Chef?

In my previous life, I was a Marketing Analyst. Working the traditional 9-5 slowly became a chore and I submerged in the kitchen where I fantasized about owning my own restaurant. Like many other, I gathered the courage to quit my 9 to 5 job and start again in Culinary school. I wanted to learn more than just “how to cook” and George Brown College offered a curriculum that included in all. And so, here I am on my journey to become my own Chef.


Are you working in the industry?

I am currently not working in the industry, but I am hoping to land a part-time opportunity in a kitchen while in school. As well, I am currently in the Integrated Studies program and hope to land an internship in another country. My most preferred locations would be Hong Kong, Singapore, or England. But, that is still a year away.


Your personal philosophy of cooking.

I have never put much thought into my cooking philosophy. To me, cooking has always been about my family. During the day we are all doing our own things. However, we always gather at the dinner table. A wonderful warm meal at the end of the day can brighten any bad day.


What you hope to gain from your Blogging experience.

I hope to use this blog as a place to reflect on where I started, what I’ve learned, what I want to learn, and to later to see how far I have come.


A culinary quote with citation

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life - and travel - leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks - on your body or on your heart - are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” 
― Anthony Bourdain, The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones

This is one of my favorite quotes from someone I have come to admire. Anthony Bourdain’s view on travel, food, and the world has allowed me to reflect at my own life and my travels. To add to this quote, I think learning to let these changes happen is also very important.


An original picture AND an image from the internet with a citation

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Tet food spread

Jules (Photographer) (2014, February 8) 5 Things I Learnt Staying With A Vietnamese Family. Retrieve from "http://solowayfarer.com/2014/02/5-things-learnt-vietnamese-hospitality/"

The first picture is one of me when I was in Vietnam this past year. The second picture is a typical set of Vietnamese dishes.


Reference to a Great Culinary Blog you have found and would like to emulate. Include reasons why you like this Blog, what they do well and what could be done better.

A blog that I have found and would like to emulate is willtravelforfood by Mayssam Samaha:

http://willtravelforfood.com/

This blog offers everything for someone who loves to travel and loves food. Each blog starts with description about the location, it sets the scene and atmosphere. Mayssam then recalls her adventure, illustrating to us the places she went, the people she met, and the food she ate. She writes very well and her entries create a craving to follow her steps. However, this blog does not provide a lot of food review. The blog focuses more on various locations and the food they offer. Mayssam has a few entries where she provides a little history of the food and city, I was more drawn to this and believe this is where improves can be made.