a canonical compendium of repulsive recipes

3.17.2006

braised puppy with assorted greens

Helen's First Axiom Of Gross Food Blogging:
As soon as you start looking for gross food, gross food stops presenting itself to you.

You would think this is a good thing. You don't want to be walking down the street and suddenly be caught in a hail of pickled eels and be forced to find a positive glimmer in the situation because, well, you started a blog about it and here's a post just raining the fuck down from the sky. But there's got to be some middle ground... the occasional icky recipe that finds its way into a cookbook or a food supplement magazine. This one showed up in my inbox courtesy of me being addicted to Vice magazine, and has the added bonus of being illegal, because we anthropomorphize our pets and we legislate against feeling guilty.

Like many Chinese recipes, the ingredient list is daunting, but if you have any experience with Asian cooking, it's likely you have most of these sauces and spices in your pantry already. And odds are good you can find a dog within a few blocks of your apartment.
Braised Puppy with Assorted Greens

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds dog meat, cut into 2-inch chunks (cuts from both the front and hind legs are wonderful) (Ed: after skinning and deboning, a 2-month-old Labrador ought to yield about 2 pounds of meat. I mean, I think so.)
1/2 medium head iceberg lettuce
1/2 pound Napa cabbage
1/2 pound spinach
1/2 pound edible chrysanthemum leaves (tong oh), optional
1/2-inch-thick slice fresh ginger, smashed
4 slices garlic
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups chicken broth (Ed: if dogs were kosher, the inclusion of chicken broth rather than dog broth would make this a questionable dish, since you're not supposed to mix animals. But then, dogs aren't kosher, so this is a moot point.)
1 teaspoon salt
2 scallions, cut diagonally into 2-inch sections
Cilantro sprigs

Sauce mixture:
2 tablespoons ground bean sauce
2 tablespoons red wet bean curd (nom yu)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shao Hsing wine
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 square inches dried tangerine peel, softened in hot water for ten minutes
4 pieces star anise
1 tablespoon sugar
8 turns freshly ground black pepper

Sauce thickener:
1 tablespoon corn flour
2 tablespoons water

Separate the lettuce into leaves and break the leaves in half. Wash, drain, and pat dry. Ditto the Napa cabbage. Trim spinach, wash in several changes of water, drain, and pat dry. Discard the buds and the tough ends of the chrysanthemum leaves, wash and rinse them thoroughly, then pat dry. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce mixture and set aside.

In a four-quart pot, bring about two quarts of cold water to boil over high heat. Add dog meat chunks and return to boil. Parboil for five minutes, drain meat in a colander, rinse under cold water, then pat dry. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottom wok or skillet over high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the dog meat and stir-fry without any oil for three minutes to brown; the meat will stick to the wok a little. Dish up. Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil to the wok, then the ginger. Drizzle in the sauce mixture, add meat, and stir-fry and turn for a minute. Transfer the whole thing to a four-quart clay pot, add the chicken broth, then bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for approximately an hour and a half, depending on the grade of the meat. Test doneness by inserting a chopstick into the meat: If the chopstick goes in with no resistance, it’s done. Mix the corn flour with water and stir in the mixture to thicken the sauce.

Meanwhile, heat the wok or skillet over high heat again until it’s hot but not smoking. Add one teaspoon of vegetable oil and a piece of garlic, and stir-fry for ten seconds. Add the lettuce and stir-fry for one minute. Add a quarter-teaspoon of salt and stir-fry for another ten seconds or until the lettuce is just limp. Dish up. Repeat the same cooking procedure with the Napa cabbage, the spinach, and the chrysanthemum leaves. Line and surround the braised meat with the four batches of vegetables, garnish with scallions and cilantro sprigs, and serve immediately.
Like the guinea pig recipe, I imagine this would be quite delicious if made with a meat that was not Extremely Cute, for example beef (or if you want to keep the horrific cruelty/really cute animal factor, but are just concerned about the illegality, you could use veal, though the slow braise would sort of ruin the delicate flavor that veal is known for and for which you pay a ridiculous amount of money. I mean come on, it's only a baby cow. Economically speaking it's cheaper to kill it when it's only 3 months old, instead of raising it all the way to adulthood. It eats less, or something).

I think there's also a joke to be made here about dogs being loyal, or being man's best friend, or throwing a dog a bone, or a dog having its day. But honestly I'm too distracted by the delicious thought of getting a puppy and frolicking with it and cuddling it and it being tiny and soft and needy to really pay attention to the humor inherent in Chinese Dog Stew. Mmmmm, puppies.

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