Thursday, 21 November 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes and Braised Daikon (One Sucks and One Doesn't)

After going to Fina's and Fuji Mart (I adore Asian supermarkets), I headed home super inspired and wanting to cook. I'd had this recipe playing in my brain for a couple of days. I'm a sucker for caramelized anything, and one of my current cooking goals has been to find more "meaty" type things that aren't tofu or mock meats, because I fall back on it awfully often. It's the easiest thing - peel, cut, simmer. So, before I did it, I made cupcakes.

I Googled for this recipe and I really wish I hadn't. It was this one here. The problem is that it's incredibly vague and doesn't give a finished quantity, or a lot of basic hints. I need to make better choices with this kind of thing.

The batter, while adding in the liquids, looked a lot like raw mince. Disturbing.

M-mmm, cream cheese skin!

Frosting looked pretty cute. Aaaaaand then it split. I used Kingland cream cheese for the first time and didn't really enjoy the flavour, so that was an additional level of fail.

Glorped into a (pink!) baking tray, it still looked good! They rose puffily after I checked them around 10 minutes in and looked great.

And then I opened the door at the fifteen minute mark, and they'd sunk spectacularly. Hard and crusty edges and totally concave. Sad times.

Fortunately, I still had the braised daikon to play with. Daikon is not a particularly attractive thing - great long thing the size of your arm. All you do is peel and slice, prep-wise. (This is half a radish - I think I grabbed one of the smaller ones.) 

Layer carefully in the bottom of your pot - no overlaps! 

Pour in just enough water to cover, then add your mirin and soy sauce (I used garlic soy because it's my favourite condiment ever) and then bring to a simmer. I also chucked in a couple of spring onions because they needed using, but it's totally not necessary. These simmer for approx. 40 minutes, or until all of the liquid is gone. 

 At the end, you end up with something glorious. The flavours condense and caramelize, and the outside goes sticky-crispy, and the insides are soft with just an itty bit of chew. They're perfect. I don't have words to describe. I bought daikon seeds online after I ate these. I julienned some veggies, tossed them in a little fish sauce and the remains of the caramelising liquid and chucked it into a crunchy white baguette:

Scallop strips. (Not mine.)

Big chunks! (Mine.)
 This was so good. And so simple. And you can enjoy them cold! I can see them working well in so many things - topping rice and noodle salads, in sandwiches of all kinds, as "scallops". (Apparently adding a strip of kombu to the braising liquid achieves the sea-like flavour really well - so if you were a fish fan pre-veg, you could totally follow scallop recipes. The texture seems fitting.) Either way, they're brilliant and I look forward to playing with the recipe more!

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