Lately, I have been on a black bean mission with my cooking experiments. I have tried a more vegetarian version by substituting gelatin or pectin as the thickening agent instead of beef bones (I never got around to trying Lieber’s Unflavored Jel). But it just doesn’t work as well. So, for this attempt, I went back to my old standby oxtails. However, I did try adding smoked paprika. This did not make the beans better in my opinion. You couldn’t really notice the paprika note and I did not like the bright red tint either.
Back to umami though which is the real point of this recipe. The first interesting blog mention of umami that I came across was umami salt. However, I didn’t act immediately upon it. It percolated in the far recesses of my mind for a while.
I started to research lists of foods high in umami. One version lists bonito and kombu among others. This made me think of the fundamental Japanese soup stock, dashi. Since it is a mild broth, I thought it would be perfect as a base for cooking the black beans. The next easy umami thing to add is shiitake mushrooms that are ground into a fine powder.
When one of my cooking blogs that I read posted about extracting the best flavor of kombu here, the tipping point was finally reached! I researched the kombu highest in glutamic acid. However, you need good luck in finding specialized types in Austin. I did find Hidaka Kombu in Asahi Imports. Also, here is an interesting article on kombu.
I made another discovery about cooking beans as well! Soaking and cooking them in hard water will not soften them fully. Here is an article which talks about the problem. I suggest using distilled water to both soak and cook in.
So, the recipe follows:
Dissolve 3 heaping tablespoons of Kosher salt in 7 cups of distilled water. Sort one pound of black beans for any rocks, broken or discolored beans. Soak the beans overnight.
Cook 14 grams of Hidaka Kombu and 14 grams of dried bonito shavings (Katsuobushi) in 6 cups of distilled water simmering at 65 degrees Celsius (149 degrees Fahrenheit) for one hour. Strain.
Rinse hydrated beans well and put into the dashi stock. Grind 15 grams of shiitake mushrooms into a fine powder with a clean coffee grinder. Add two bay leaves, 5 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of onion powder, tablespoon ground black peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon of Wright’s Liquid Hickory Smoke, and 2 pounds of beef oxtails. Cook, covered, in an oven set to 275 degrees for 1:30:00. Remove oxtails and bay leaves. Add smoked salt to taste.
Jon, Mike, and I went down to try out the newly redesigned Circle C course. There are new tee boxes, erosion control, and a small wall for Mike to kick.
With the recent rains around here, there is now a river which prevented us from crossing. Fortunately, there was a dry way around both of them. Although Mike and Jon did take the direct way on one of them…
We also stopped by the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium again.
Nick and I went to Old Settler’s Park for some disc golf. Which can easily handle rainfall. Initially, I thought the day would be cold but it warmed up quickly and turned out to be beautiful out.
I’ve been playing Texas Hold’Em on Facebook courtesy of Zynga. It’s a cute flash game. Nothing like a real money game at a casino or a home game with friends of course. It is not hard to get virtual money. You don’t have to pay any real money. Which gives the tournament games an interesting dynamic. Most people just go all in at the first round. And, if they fail (like they usually do), then they start another first round tournament game and try again. These games start immediately, so there is no real discouragement to people using these tactics. Of course, I hope to have pocket Aces when against these people. Usually, I wait for a very strong hand to call people going all in.
Of course, there are bugs with this game. It doesn’t keep the odd chip whole when more than one person wins an all-in bet. This fractional money gets even more distorted due to rounding errors as it keeps getting split. I have also seen it make you call an all-in bet when you already have all your money in. “Call 0?” is definitely a broken behavior.
Of course, I am going to call with the second best hand in this situation. And, if you have the Ace and King of Hearts, then good luck to you…
Finally, after a lot of playing, I win the third round of the tournament! This gave me a chance for a free trip to San Francisco.
—–BEGIN PGP ARMORED FILE—–
Version: GnuPG v1.4.10 (GNU/Linux)
Comment: Use “gpg –dearmor” for unpacking
—–END PGP ARMORED FILE—–
What matters is not the contents but the feeling.