The Tattooed Brebes’ Egg: 101

 

Brebes.

No, it is not an english word. My Indonesian pals, we all know that, don’t we? Brebes is a regency in the northwestern part of Central Java province in Indonesia. It is well-known for its indigenous product: salted eggs.  Salted eggs from Brebes commonly have a stamp or tattoo-like on their shells as a brand-mark.

telur-asin1
The tattooed egg from Brebes, Indonesia

Once, I was a kindergarten student. My teacher asked the class to bring a soil paste on the day after tomorrow. We were going to have a project, she said. Little that I knew it was a charcoal paste. Indonesian call it as “abu gosok”. So right after school, I asked my mom to buy me some.

The project was making salted eggs with damp charcoal paste method like Brebes always does.  How cool was that?? this method is now still used in massive production of salted eggs. The method results in certain characters, especially for the yolk. The yolk will be more hardened and oily than other method (like immersing the egg in brine solution for weeks) would do.

My teacher brought along the duck’s egg that day. Aaaaand the project started.

The idea is to cover the duck’s egg with the damp salted charcoal paste. Too bad, I could not remember the steps I did back on kindergarten, but do not worry. I still am telling you cause informations can be gained from anywhere. Yes, definitely right.

First of all, prepare some good quality eggs and wash them with water. Shoo the wet by wipe them all, carefully…Avoid using the cracked one. You do not want to fail. Yes, no one wants to. The cracked eggs will be easily contaminated, so choose and clean them all wisely.

Enough with the egg, now be focus on the paste. The saline concentration should be high enough to produce a palatable egg. It is not only the taste, but also other characteristics that will be affected: texture, moutful, and color. Some conventional producer will use 1:1 formula for the charcoal paste and salt weight (if you use 1kg of charcoal paste, mix 1kg of salt). Pour some water, mix, knead ’em all!

Time to play with the dough! Err…not so doughy after all, but this part will be fun. So, cover the cleaned egg with the paste. Supposedly, 1-2mm is the ideal thickness for each egg. Do this carefully, my dear, we are almost there.

The covered egg then store for around 10-20 days. Next, the egg is cleaned from the paste. Now, they are ready to be cooked–boiled or steamed, both are resulting in yummy!

Happily tattoo-ing the eggs, te amo!

Afi Wiyono

p.s. Other chance, we should talk about how saline could affect the egg white and yolk. Catch you later.

“My Love for Sous Vide cannot be Replaced,”

That was the line stated by a chef I once met in Jakarta Culinary Passport, last July.

A chef is a person who is a highly trained, skilled professional cook who is proficient in all aspects of food preparation of a particular cuisine, says Wikipedia.org . Without any doubt, we can certainly agree with this.

Other than that, the word “proficient” is there to sum up that a chef can handle every particular thing in order to serve the best cuisine. As time goes by, the qualification to be a chef is not only about serving a delicious food to fulfill any tempations, but much greater than that.

Beyond cooking, there is underlying science to support a delicacy. Sous vide, a word aformentioned in the title is a concrete example of how science is needed on making a perfect meal.

sous_vide_circulator
A sous vide machine (source: foodslashscience.blogspot.com)

Sous vide is  French for “under vacuum”. It is a method of cooking in which food is sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a water bath or in a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking.

Sous vide has been studied by food scientists since the 1990s. Sooner than that, chefs in some of world’s top restaurants have been using it since 1970s. It was not until in the mid-2000s that the used of sous vide cooking became widely known in the whole world.

Basically, there are 2 differences between sous vide and traditional cooking. In sous vide, the raw food is vacuum-sealed and cooked in precisely stable controlled heating.

Vacuum-sealing has several benefits. It allows heat to be efficiently transferred from the water (or steam) to the food. This airtight condition increases the food’s shelf-life by eliminating the risk of recontamination during storage and reduces aerobic bacterial growth so that resulting in especially flavorful and nutritious food. Last but least, it inhibits off-flavors from oxidation and prevents evaporative losses of flavor volatiles and moisture during cooking.

Precise temperature control also has powerful benefits. It allows greater control over doneness than traditional cooking methods. The overcooking is likely impossible to be happening. The stable temperature set makes food can be pasteurized and made safe at lower temperatures, so that it does not have to be cooked well-done to be safe. In special cases like meat tenderization, the tough cuts of meat (which were traditionally braised ) can be made tender and still be a medium or a medium-rare doneness.

The intention of sous vide is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, and retain moisture. Meanwhile, in traditional cooking, a problem can occur because of the use of the high temperature of the pan, oven or grill pushes heat into the exterior of the food so quickly that a large temperature gradient forms between the surface and the core.

In conclusion, there is no wonder why many chefs fall in love with the idea of these unsuperstitious benefits of sous vide. It is a delicacy we will get when combining cooking with science.

 

Te amo,

Afi Wiyono

 

References:

Baldwin DE. 2012. Sous vide cooking: a review. International Journal of                Gastronomy and Food Science. vol 1(1):15-30

Gibbs W. “The Science of Sous Vide”. December 31, 2015.                                      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-science-of-sous-vide/

Sweet Greeting by Talking Sweets. Yes, Chocolates #1 !

Hello! It is never too late to write stuff. So, here it is….a post (finally).

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Well, you are out of league, dude. No, I was not trying to be offensive even a little. The expression was closely telling that it seems impossible (or hard, you could tell) to find ones who would cross their hands right rejecting its sweetness. Or who doesn’t know what chocolate is? Right, Imma telling you.

Chocolate is a solid mixture. In its basic form it is composed of cacao powder, cocoa butter, and some type of sweetener such as sugar; however, modern chocolate includes milk solids, any added flavors, modifiers, and preservatives. — this is cited from a trusted source. Even when I am not telling you, you know that I am telling the truth. Right.

No, this post wil not end by its definition. Let us get further.

Somehow I was confused by the terms: cacao and cocoa. Why do they sound alike? What are they? The cacao refers to both the plant and powder from the tree, Theobroma Cacao. Meanwhile, cocoa refers to the processed, the roasted form. In brief, that is all.

Case closed. Lol.

Okay next, will you be interested by how the cocoa processed for next be edible to you? Yaz, I am being rhetorical cause I keep on telling you whatever your answer is! After spending some times on knowledge center of IFT: cocoa seeds are removed from the pod, dried and roasted, giving them a distinct dark color and unique flavor. After roasting, cocoa seeds are ground into a paste called chocolate liquor. The liquor separates into dry cocoa and cocoa butter, or fat. Cocoa is heated and combined with other ingredients, such as sugar and milk, to create chocolate bars and candy.

Sorry not sorry for using copy-paste mode.

Well, by this, I end this part. We will be having the next part on…….just wait for it. HAHAHA. And by this too, I congratulate myself for finally publishing a post after a very long unproductive year. This is my sweet greeting.

Te amo,

Afi Wiyono

“I am tanned and I am sexier!” says the chicken breasts.

Hopefully, you have not gone too far after flash-seeing the title. This time, I would like to tell you a tale of tanned chicken breast who felt sexier after technically passed a ‘hot’ trip. People, you can ask your children or your little bros and sisters to read this tale cause it really is not an adult story. That is why I hope you are not over thinking about the words above.

How cool is this, huh? It is science!

Why do meats, bacon, onions, cookies, doughs, and chicken breasts taste better after being cooked? Why do we cook them? For the sake of safety and less microorganisms containing, you tell me. For the sake of tastier food, you tell me. Right. Due to the sexier chicken breasts could ever be, the tale would be in the capacity of making tastier food.

Foods are not unreasonably being tastier with any coincidence. There is underlying science with all its complexes reaction and compounds. The tanned color or the browning reaction we get while cooking is basically science. Yes, it is food science! In food science, such reaction called as Maillard ReactionThe name itself was taken from an early 1900s chemist who conducted the experiments as part of his thesis named, Louis Camille Maillard (1878-1936).

Thanks to Mr Mallard cause now we know how to posses delicious cuisines. Maillard reaction is the reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars in the increased temperatures. When the temperatures escalating, the browning happens to the surface of the foods. It is the non-enzymatic browning reaction. The reaction usually takes place above 140°C.

When the heat striking out, the reaction let hundreds of flavor compounds created. These compounds later in turn breakdown to form new flavor and more compounds. Each type of foods will set a distinctive or unique flavor compounds along with the reaction.

Although the studies have been doing around the century, there are still the unknown pathways of maillard reaction due to its complexness. Despite longing for unknown pathways, here are the factors taking role on forming the color and aroma: pH (acidity), types of amino acids and sugars, temperature, time, presence of oxygen, water, water activity (aw) and other food components all are important.

How does the reaction happen?

The first step of the Maillard reaction is the reaction of a reducing sugar, such as glucose, with an amino acid. This reaction is shown in figure 1 below and results in a reaction product called an Amadori compound. (Thanks a lot to THIS cool site! It is so helping)


Fig. 1 : The initial step of the Maillard reaction between glucose and an amino acid (RNH2), in which R is the amino acid side group (from ref. 2)

(i will not continue the Amadori compund browning reaction here. This one already been told on the site I have mentioned above. Please check it for your self! Thanks, much appreciate! :D)

The bigger the sugar is, the harder it takes to be completely reacted to amino acids. Pentose sugars (like ribose) will react faster than hexose sugars (like glucose). It also does comparable to dissacharides.

So here they are, all I want to share about Maillard reaction. Thanks for checking this out! The thing is, cooking your foods is not only for conditionally fulfilling its safety but also to let the compounds reacting and giving you tastier food! It is food science!

This is the end of the tale of tanned chicken breasts and friends who are sexier than ever after a long ‘hot’ trip. I ain’t playing trick on you, or am I?

 

Te amo,

Afi Wiyono