Offal and Offcuts.

January 11, 2012

Many people do not like the fact that animals are killed for man's food and that is very understandable. It's a principled point of view and is to be respected. Some don't eat meat for this very reason.

Many societies have moved to "choice cuts" of meat and have moved away from the secondary parts of the animal including the offal, intestines, feet and head. Other societies really relish and enjoy these other parts and have developed recipes to optimise the enjoyment. Currently there is a renewed wave of interest in these meat parts and they are being discovered by many more each day. Chef's and restaurants promote their dishes created with these and the retail prices are edging up slowly.

I enjoy most offal and in fact the only offal I don't enjoy is lung. I really don't like the flavour and have no issue with the texture. Many enjoy lung very much so this is simply a personal foible of mine. Today I was watching a television program which like many cooking shows was demonstrating a dish preparation. This dish contained various offal and I became interested. The dish looked delectable and I immediately noted down the outline of the recipe to enjoy at another time when I remember to buy this meat.
After the demo the chef gave his point of view which I don't completely agree with. His argument is that we should show respect of the whole slaughtered beast rather than dismissing less popular cuts leading to waste. The very fact is that there is no waste whether we eat it or not. The slaughter industry does not waste their assets and if the meat is not used for human consumption then the remaining elements are sold to other processors such as the animal food industry, tanners for hide product and the highly processed product industry such as the gelatin makers and subsequently cosmetic, film, adhesives and food additives. Nothing is wasted and it certainly is no disrespect to the animals.

Waste of food is an interesting topic. Those born after the Second World War will remember our mothers and grandmothers stating fairly clearly that we must not waste food meaning that we should eat everything on our plate. Those were moderately austere times but for consumer societies there is no shortage of food produced. We can decide not to eat all that we have prepared and we shouldn't feel as if the food is wasted as this non-consumed food still serves a valid and humane purpose that being food for our pets and other animals in and around our communities. They also need food to survive and feel contented and it is an easy distribution within our communities. The idea of bio-digestion of non-consumed foods is not wasteful. Sure there is a decreasing energy return on recycling but the over-all effect is not more than the production of bio-degraded material used by industry or in fact in nature. It is recycled and it does nutrify the biosphere with useable material for another crop for our sustenance.

Xiu Mai (Vietnamese Meatballs)

September 13, 2011

Xiu Mai or Vietnamese meatballs are seen in Chinese and Khmer Krom cusine with some variation which is as much by the cook as by the style of cusine. Some versions have a crunch element added with the addition of Water Chestnuts whereas other versions are completely smooth allowing a very soft and spreadable product suitable for use as a soft terrine as a sandwhich filling. Some are enhanced with a final braise in a tomato based sauce another and others in a caramel sauce. Northern Vietnam variations will often add a BBQ cooking period to the process to add in that wonderful BBQ flavour.

All recipes have an addition of sugar  or caramel and the ubiquitous fish sauce and black pepper. Garlic and shallots or onions are a common ingredient.

  • Fish sauce (Nuoc Mam) 2 Tbsp
  • 1 kg minced pork
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 4 red shallots.
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper.
  • Caramel Sauce (Nuoc mau: pre-prepared for convenience)

  1. Prepare your caramel sauce and put this aside.
  2. Squash and dice the garlic.
  3. Dice the shallots and finely slice the green onions to the end of the core (somewhere where it begins to turn green)
  4. In a bowl mix the ground meat, shallots, green onions, garlic, pepper and fish sauce. Mix until fairly uniformly blended.
  5. Roll dollops of the mixture into 4 cm balls and place aside.
  6. Grease or oil a pan and heat this to a moderate temperature suitable for frying the meatballs.
  7. Place the meatballs in the pan and fry these carefully to retain their shape and to firm up. Final cooking will follow so complete cooking is not important. I mentioned the optinal additional BBQ cooking step and this may be added here. The par-cooked meatballs can be placed in a spring-form BBQ holder without squashing the meatballs and searing the balls carefully over a smokey charcoal BBQ. Then continue on.
  8. Remove the meatballs when adequately cooked and place them into a saucepan and add a quarter to half a cup of caramel sauce plus a half cup of water.
  9. Heat over a low flame and allow to reduce for about an hour. Watch the liquid level and add small amounts of water if it threatens to dry. Ideally you want about a quarter cup of the sauces at the end of the process. The sauce can be further seasoned with salt if desired but the addition of salt if preferred to the final served product by the diner is a reasonable option.
  10. The meatballs can be cooled and refrigerated if required or frozen in batches with a little of the sauce.
  11. The final consistency is somewhere between the spreadability of a pate and the firmness of a terrine, but easily spread as part of the filling composite of a Banh Mi Xiu Mai sandwhich.

Mu Naem Tod แหนมทอด

July 29, 2011

Pickling utilizing the properties of fermenting rice as a method for production of the pickling chemicals is used widely in Thailand and Laos. The technique with some variations is used for treating both meat and fish. The resultant product can be enjoyed uncooked or cooked and is a delicious option for meat or fish preparation.The process can be shortcut by using sodium nitrite but is not something that is recommended as being a very safe option. The pickling process otherwise can be allowed to proceed under it's own mechanics, typically two to three days refrigerated or at room temperature.

This process is ideal for small strips of pork and then completely rounded off by cooking in a smokey barbecue. Traditionally this is deep fried consequently the tag "Tod".

  • 250 gm (9oz) pork meat filleted into 1x1 by 6 cm strip pieces.
  • 10 cloves of garlic crushed and sliced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp cooked steamed rice ( use when temp is down to a comfortable handling temp or lower)
  1. Mix all the ingredients together by hand.
  2. At this stage you can roll the ingredients into blls or rolls and cover with kitchen film. make sure to exclude the air. To be double sure wrap the packages again. You can also place the mixture into a glass jar with a minimum of head space. You need to minimise the surface to air contact.
  3. This then is placed into the refrigerator for a minimum of two days three nights.
  4. Remove the packages from the fridge and release the contents.
  5. Separate the meat strips from the rice and garlic.
  6. These strips now are able to be cooked. ideally in a barbecue with a smoking facility or a kettle barbecue with some smoking wood or leaves.
The cooked strips of meat are ideally enjoyed hot and maybe served with other sides such as salads or steamed jasmine rice. The use of a garlic chillie sauce goes well also.

  • The "normal" option  to deep fry the strips of meat produces a very nice, quite crispy surface.




Please"click" on the recipe title of interest to fully open the description, if it isn't already, to allow "comments" that you may wish to make. The comments area  will be seen at the end of the relevant recipe.


  • Single measurement conversion
  •  This converter is a plain English utility. Type the amount  and the unit name  which you wish to convert from in the upper line and then in the lower line type the units name you wish to convert to. Then click the "Submit" button

  •  It is safest to type in the complete name of the unit rather than an abbreviation, because of the possibility of ambiguity.

  • If you wish to convert a volume of some ingredient into a weight, a conversion facility I have used for this purpose is

    Google Analytics