The Gastronomist Manifesto

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Archive for the month “April, 2013”

Tuna Burger – Time Is of the Essence!!!

So the other day I came home hungry after a busy day of work and a tough workout. My stomach was crying for food like the revolutionaries of the Paris Commune cried for freedom. As a rule I do not keep any sort of snacks in my house except apples, carrots and the like; by forcing myself to take the time to cook I avoid the temptation to mindlessly stuff myself. But this situation I was in called for an expedient solution–no time to wait 40 minutes for brown rice to cook!

Solution (fast, healthy and utterly satisfying):

tuna burger sandwich

It’s a tuna burger. It couldn’t be easier, cheaper or much better for you. Takes little time for a nice, juicy payback.

1. Open a can o’ tuna and drain it. I just pressed the lid of the can down hard, inverted over the sink. Add the tuna pieces to a bowl.

2. Finely mince some onion, like a couple tablespoons, or if you don’t like onions, don’t. Pick a vegetable you do like, picky-puss. Add to tuna. Next comes a little wheat germ for body and nutrition, 1/4-1/3 cup. And you’re going to want a little heat too, right? Srirachi squirts (my choice), Tabasco sauce, horseradish, spicy mustard or black pepper all love canned tuna.

3. Add one egg yolk. When I made this for myself it had almost the consistency of a crab cake* rather than a patty. The egg is necessary to hold everything together while keeping it moist when you cook it. *That is to say, crumbly.

4. Add flour. How much? Depends on how well-drained the tuna is and how much glue-y power you require. Add in small batches and gently fold with your hands until you can form a fishy mass that holds in one piece. You can use non-wheat flour if you’re gluten intolerant, just remember while it will absorb extra moisture it wont have the same binding effect.

5. Fry your burger in a little olive oil over a med-high heat. For me, the point was to get a crust and sturdy outside shell, not to cook through. If you’re worried about under-cooked egg, go with a lower heat. The tuna, obviously, is cooked. About 4 minutes a side. Note: While this *could* be adapted for the grill, don’t try it with this recipe. You’ll just end up with tuna rubble on charcoal.

6. If you reserved the egg whites when you separated your egg, you might consider cooking them in the pan when the burger’s done for a topping.

7. Assemble sandwich on bread or a bun, top with your fixin’s and condiments of choice.

Don’t be a slave to the capitalist system! Don’t be a slave to your kitchen either.

It Can Only Be… Stir Fraud!!!

I haven’t really thought about this blog in a while. Cooking creativity was slumping, broken camera issues and a lacklustre pantry due to this Capitalist Crisis we’re in were the main reasons. But tonight, I made a spur of the moment decision to try something new: tofu stir-fry that has no oil whatsoever! Now some recipes I’ve tried before call for swapping oil for water (and nothing else different) and my opinion is that they all suck. It tastes steamed and bland, keeping health food stereotypes obese with justification. Mine is way better!

no-oil stir fry

No list of measurements/time.  😦 My apologizes, but I wasn’t thinking I’d post about this until I was eating it.

Pre-prep: Making rice, chopping veggies and setting your oven to something around 275-300 F.

1. Take a non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. Take tofu (always extra-firm!) and place them in thick slices onto the pan (no oil!) You could cube them now, but if you leave them lengthwise for now it’s easier to sear them. Wiggle gently and turn when just a little brown onto another side. Keep doing this until all sides are done. Carefully remove and cube your tofu to desired morselness.

2. Lower the heat a bit and begin to assemble the sauce of your choosing. If do this in an empty pan the better, as you can adjust it easier. Soy sauce, broth, minced garlic, five-spice powder and pepper was all I can remember adding to mine. You can borrow from any recipe you like with this rule: no prepared sauces or thickening agents! This is a braise, meaning liquid. Those GM Party Banned items will just turn to gel, not seep into the tofu and probably burn all over your pan.

3. When you’ve got your sauce tofu/protein goes in, veg goes in and for a nice braise you do not want things completely covered 60% is a rough basis. Too little and dry out could happen (BAD!); too much and heat just wont transfer quickly (NOT GOOD.) Then into the oven for about 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your vegetables. Turn food over once or twice to give everything a dunk and check the liquid (evaporation will only be a problem if you had a pithy puddle to start with.)

4. When you feel confident in your braise’s done-ness remove (CAREFULLY) and place back on the stove top. Now you need a slurry, which is not in this case a way to describe weather in my homestates of MI and OR, but a mix of cornstarch and water. Make it in a bowl, about a tablespoon should be plenty and enough cold water till you can whisk it to solution. Never add the cornstarch directly to hot liquid because that just makes corn lumps.

5. Put the heat fairly high on the stove and wait for a boil to begin. Keep stirring and add the slurry in doses (you can always add more but never take out.) The slurry will start to thicken the sauce. When it’s to your liking, you’re finished! Serve over rice, noodles, nachos, whatever and consume. (Note: you can make slurries with other thickeners like flour or arrowroot, but only cornstarch has that oily mouthfeel to it.)

no oil stir fry 2

Though I’m not on a “diet” by any means, I’ve been working out a lot more and naturally eating well is crucial. I’m estimating that rather huge dish was about 700 calories. And use the fork for comparison, it’s an especially large plate. 700 calories in a main meal isn’t a lot for an active person’s diet. My daily needs are about five times that. But the good thing is while this had more calories than a Big Mac, it had 1.5x the protein and half the fat.

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