Tag Archive | "Wild Boar"

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Bear and Venison Bun Cha Hanoi on the Red Boat

Posted on 16 August 2011 by Cork Graham

  

 When I first read about Red Boat on Ravenous Couples website, I was intrigued. I remembered fondly from my childhood in Saigon the pure fish sauce (nuoc mam) that was exported from the island of Phu Quoc to Saigon. My Saigonese friends would always laud it as the best. But, over the years, and only offered the same best option as everyone else outside of Vietnam, Three Crabs fish sauce, I forgot what made real nuoc mam so special.

That was until I exchanged emails with the owner of Red Boat Fish Sauce and learned we were only separated by the San Francisco Bay. When he offered to drop off some samples in person, I responded with an offer of lunch and a recipe adaptation I’d been playing around in mind with ever since I tried it at the restaurant owned by a friend who had escaped from Hanoi in the early 1980s. Called Loi’s, and now run by his sister, it’s still on Irving Street in San Francisco—serves the best North Vietnamese street cuisine in the city.

So, Red Boat owner, Cuong Pham and his director of sales and marketing, Robert Bergstrom, joined me for my experiment with bear and deer meat. First, though, I had to make a comparison. Before opening the bottle, we read the ingredients label: Red Boat has only salt and anchovy extract; Three Crab has anchovy extract, water, salt, fructose, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Red Boat is the real deal!

 Then, I poured into a small tasting bowl. It’s viscosity was impressive. Most nuoc mam pours out like water. Red Boat leaves the bottle like maple syrup.

 But, it was the taste test that sold me: Three Crab is salty coming in and going past the tongue. Red Boat starts salty, but finishes sweet. It has a savoriness that reminds me of why for some back in the Vietnam nuoc mam makes a complete meal by being spooned over a small bowl of rice.

 Filling a clay pot with the grilled black bear meatballs and marinated venison slices, I mixed up a batch of nuoc mam cham, the dipping sauce that you’re normally offered with Vietnamese cha gio (deep fried imperial rolls). And then that’s when I knew, beyond the shadow of doubt: Red Boat is THE BEST nuoc mam you can find in the United States!

 Here’s the recipe for you to find out yourself:

 There are three parts to Bun Cha. First is the ground meat, then the grilled whole meat, and then the vegetables that make such an aromatic and healthy meal.

 It may look pretty involved, but once you have the veggies and meats all set up, the grilling and nuoc mam cham steeping is pretty quick and easy.

 Nuoc Mam Cham

 2 Cups water

½ Cup rice vinegar

½ Cup sugar

10 TBS fish sauce

2 small fresh chili peppers, chopped

  1.  Bring the water with the vinegar up to boiling, then turn off the heat
  2.  Pour in the sugar to dissolve
  3.  Add the fish sauce and chopped fresh chilis
  4.  Normally, you let this cool, but for Bun Cha, pour over the meat warm.

 Cha Thit Gấu (Ground Bear Sausage)

 

1/2 lbs. ground bear meat

4 cloves of minced garlic

1 TBS sugar

1 TSP salt

1 TSP black pepper

1 TSP white pepper

1 TSP coconut caramel sauce, or molasses

1 egg beaten

  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly
  2. Place in a non-reactive/non-metal container, covered, for at least an hour, or preferably overnight
  3. Form them into handball-sized meatballs and place a number of them on a skewer for easier manipulation on the grill
  4. Grill over a high heat coals, starting your cooking before the venison
  5. As bear meat is like wild pork in terms of parasites such as trichinosis, it’s important to cook the bear through. That’s doesn’t meant dry, but to an internal meat temperature of 160 degree Fahrenheit.

  

  • Bear meatballs on a stick ready for the grill

Thit Nai (Venison component)

1 lb venison roast, thinly sliced about 1/4 inch or so (not too thin that it’ll dry out during grilling)

1/8 Cup  minced Lemongrass. If you live in temperate zone like California, worth growing in the backyard for a number of great recipes and teas, and it’s a natural mosquito repellent)

2 TBS sugar

1 TBS fish sauce

1 TSP ground pepper

2 Cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced.

1 TSP soy sauce

1 TBS molasses

  1. Mix everything but the venison
  2. Place the venison strips in a non-metal/ non-reactive container and cover
  3. Let the meat sit in marinade for at least an hour—I like to leave it overnight.
  4. Lay the meat strips in a fish or veggie-grilling basket to keep them from fall into the fir
  5. Grill the meat for four to five minutes on each side, to a brown or black on the outside and slight pink inside.

 

The Veggies and Rice Noodles

 1 Cucumber

1 Bunch of Cilantro

1 Bunch of Thai basil leaves

1 Bunch of fresh mint leaves

1 Head of lettuce

2 Cups of pickled daikon and carrots in a seperate bowl for serving

 

Pickled Daikon and Carrots  (Do Chua) recipe:

1/2 lb. carrots -shredded in food processor, sliced in thin rounds or thin match-like strips.

1/2 lb. daikon radish – cut same as carrots.

3 cups warm water

3 Tablespoons distilled or rice vinegar

2-3 tablespoons sugar, depending on how sweet you want your pickles

2 tablespoons salt

  1.  Mixed the brine and heat for total saturation, and then after cooling, pour it into non-reactive container, like a ceramic pickling jar
  2. Shred the carrots and daikon into two to three-inch long thin strips
  3. Place the carrots and daikon in the brine, and let pickle for at least an hour before using. It can last for up to five months in the refrigerator.

 

Bun Cha Serving Steps:

  1. On a large serving dish, please a heaping mound of rice noodle. I use pretty much one full package of rice stick that I quickly dip into a hot pot of water, using a basket ladle. Only about a minute at the most to soften the noodles, and making sure to lift and drop to get most of the excess boiled water out
  2. As it continues to hydrate and become opaque white, lift and separate the bundle to give the noodles loft as they cool
  3. Once they’re just warm and not hot, you can begin an arrangement around the rice noodles of sliced cucumber, whole lettuce leaves and sprigs of mint or basil and sweet basil
  4. On another plate lay a stack of Bun Cha (cirular rice paper). It’s served with a bowl of warm water for diners to wet the Bun Cha to soften it enough to make a the roll 
  5. Once everything but the meat is ready, and placed at the dining table, begin the cooking process for the two meats on the grill 
  6. After the meat is cooked, place it in a pot, sliding the meatballs off the skewers. My preference is a traditional Asian claypot as it keeps the meat warm 
  7. Warm up the nuoc mam cham, and pour over the barbecued meatLet the meat sit in the sauce for fifteen minutes, then serve.

 How to eat Bun Cha:

  1. Take a bowl and place a softened piece of rice paper in the middle
  2. Grab pieces of cucumber, cilantro, lettuce, basil leaf and place them in line up the middle of the rice paper
  3. Place a thumb-thick collection of noodle strands on the line of veggies
  4. Using your chopsticks, collect a piece of venison and half or quarter of one of the meatballs and place along the line of noodles and vegetables
  5. Top with a few strands of the Do Chua
  6. Spoon some nuoc mam cham down the line
  7. Roll up the rice paper and eat like a Vietnamese burrito

 

Bon Appetit!

Bun cha ready for rolling and eating

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BIG GAME ARGENTINA by Craig Boddington [Book&DVD Review/Radio Interview]

Posted on 26 March 2010 by Cork Graham

Craig Boddington, and his guide Cano St. Antonin, with a fine red stag taken on the Huemul Peninsula.

Craig Boddington, and his guide, Cano St. Antonin, with a fine red stag taken on the Huemul Peninsula.

Argentina conjures a variety of images for those who’ve never been there. There’re the gauchos, the Pampas, and tango. For the angler there are the monster-sized trout and salmon in rivers that seem untouched because of the stretch of land that fills the borders of the country as well as its meager population that centers around Buenos Aires. For the hunter, there are the photos and images of ducks and big-game that have graced magazines, and as of late, those through the onslaught of 24-hour outdoors satellite programming.

It wasn’t always like this. Yes, there were the trout, back in the 1970s when South American was truly only a blip on the salmonid fanatic’s radar; but when I first saw the images of red deer antlers grace the pages of hunting magazines in the late 70s and early 80s, they were nowhere near the size and impressiveness they are now.

Much of this has to do with how well they’ve managed the herds that were previously left to roam without any real predation-like bluegills in a pond, they quickly overpopulated and their rack size dwindled in response to the lack of food and nutrients.

Because of the new land and wildlife management practices implemented in Argentina during the last 20 years, Argentina is really giving New Zealand’s Utopian red stag hunting a run for the money. Culling the scrawny genetics, and managing for quality instead of quantity, has created a balance between feed and minerals: showing how good management practices benefit not just game animals but non-game peripherals, adding to the grand beauty of the land  and hospitality for which Argentina has always been known.

What better way to cook meat than in a traditional parrillada?

What better way to cook meat than in a traditional parrillada?

Big Game Argentina records the results of this improved bounty for the outdoors enthusiast wanting to travel Argentina and is the latest offering from Gen. Craig Boddington USMC (ret.). An outdoor writer, book author, show host I’ve admired and respected for years, a man who offered me words to live by back in 1994 as an newbie outdoor writer for The Times of San Mateo County, Boddington’s credentials speak for themselves with over 30 years in what is one of the harder and becoming more and more the hardest writing profession to create longevity.

In his book and DVD collection about hunting in Argentina, Big Game Argentina, Boddington and the photographer, Guillermo Zorraquin, deliver a plethora of what’s available in striking detail (what we in the business call “NGC”, National Geographic Color). From the province of Patagonia, north to Chaco and Santiago Del Estero, west to La Pampa and finally east to the province of Buenos Aires, Boddington and the publishers John John Reynal  and Juan Pablo Reynal took on an enviable, yet sobering project that took two years to complete.

In the offering, they delivered what I consider the most informative and beautifully illustrated book in years on Argentina and hunting red stag, white-lipped javelina (peccary), ducks, doves, water buffalo, puma, blackbuck, capybara, brocket deer, and feral sheep, goats and hogs.

Boddington's fine example of a white-lipped peccary

Boddington’s fine example of a white-lipped peccary

In a world in which text is not enough, and as a result traditional printed magazines are going the way of the dinosaurs, and multimedia is king (explaining why Cork’s Outdoors gets 11,000 hits a day) Big Game Argentina is nicely matched with a DVD that fills in the dialogue and action that can’t really be captured in text, and yet video doesn’t try to replace the informative quality of text delivered by Boddington’s honed skills as a writer.

A quick mention of the charcoal artwork by Esteban Diaz Mathé must be made: the work is superb and really adds to the quality of those images not captured in photographs, making the book anyone would be proud to have sitting on their coffee table for friends to enjoy.

Often, many of those traveling think that hunting Argentina only involves staying at estancias and hunting open Pampas. Big Game Argentina lays that stereotype to rest with text and photos covering with dramatic flare the many options of hunting Argentina: like French Alps-like mountains and New Zealand’s Fjordland-like lake and sea area to the south on horseback, or the low brush options further north, reminiscent of eastern Colorado, and the flat brush of Texas, to name a few.

A sampling of the dramatic views the hunting lands of Argentina offer

A sampling of the dramatic views the hunting lands of Argentina offer

As for capturing the adventure and drama a place like Argentina on the DVD, one of the most striking scenes is one in which Boddington, while on stand, waiting for dogs to drive out a collared peccary, sees a brocket deer break from the brushline. Swinging on the brocket with a shotgun, he dramatically takes a nice deer that reminds me of the dik-dik of Africa. In another scene he makes an amazing shot on a capybara, also on a full run. Kudos to the videographer for his skill catching all the action over Boddington’s shoulder.

In contrast to the native species, and aside from the more famous red deer, there are the fallow deer, feral hogs and water buffalo. Raised in Southeast Asia, I was always amazed that the animal I always saw as a child pulling a plow across a rice field had become such a prized game animal in places such as a Australia and Argentina. While the ones from Australia have a much larger sweep and are originally from the wild strain. The ones in South America descend from the farmed water buffalo that were originally brought to what would become Italy by the Ancient Romans, for their milk and the best mozzarella resulting from that water buffalo milk.

Through centuries of genetic selection, much in the same way Herefords are these days chosen over the original Spanish Texas Longhorn as cattle type, the farmed water buffalo has a much smaller horn, with a much less ominous wide curve of its originally wild cousin in Southeast Asia and Australia, which ironically makes it look more African cape buffalo and trophy in its own right in the feral and very wild form covered in Big Game Argentina.

If you’re planning on hunting or even just traveling or Argentina, or prefer the armchair traveler’s voyage to South America, I’d highly recommend adding the book and DVD pairing of Big Game Argentina by Craig Boddington to your collection.

Books are available through www.craigboddington.com

Book and DVD are available through www.patagoniapublishing.com

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy Craig Boddington’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

 Topics: Hunting Argentina, helpful advice for neophyte outdoor writers, hunting Africa and Boddington’s two shows broadcast on The Sportman’s Channel and Outdoor Channel, and finally what’s new with Boddington’s writing and adventures in the coming weeks and months.

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The River Cottage MEAT Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall [BOOK REVIEW]

Posted on 18 February 2010 by Cork Graham

Spice-rubbed wild boar ready to become Babi Guling!

Spice-rubbed wild boar ready to become Babi Guling!

No matter how you cut it, there is a reason that vegetarians suffer from a number of ailments, not the least of which is a deficiency in vitamin B12: humans have developed over thousands of years to be omnivores, not herbivores! Our diets developed over years of evolution to make sure that humans could survive in any environment, something necessary to a species that evolved as a nomadic group, a group who by necessity has had to survive on an opportunistic diet.

The only species more nomadic than humans are the world’s carnivores. Yet what are the most successful species? Always it’s the omnivores: humans, pigs and bears. These are the most successful populations of any large mammals.

But what’s an omnivore to do when disconnected societal vegetarian fads spring up during every generation, either because of religious or cultural fads inspired by powerful advertising? Get in informed…

Such is the important information I found in the masterpiece The River Cottage MEAT Book by UK food personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall…it was as though someone from PETA, but someone who actually did their research instead of just offering a knee-jerk emotional response to eating meat so far from reality it’s a crime, wrote a book on cooking healthy, following ecologically sound farming practices.

Meat is good, and good for you! But, as the author says, there’s good meat and there’s bad meat. Or, as Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755 -1826), “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”

If you get meat from a meat factory that holds its cattle in boxes that prevent movement and they’ve never even had the opportunity to graze in an open field and under a sky light by sunlight and moonlight, you’re going to get an animal full of body chemicals resulting from stress, not to mention the antibiotics and other manmade materials that bring into question their residual effects in our bodies.

Instead, imagine a cow, pig, or lamb enjoying life in a beautiful pasture, feeding well on all the natural grasses and herbs and brush that bring not only incredible flavor to the animal’s meat, but also bring up a healthy offering for the table that makes you feel so sated and happy when you’re done eating. That (aside from some innovative and interesting spins on more traditional British and international recipes) is what Fearnley-Whittingstall brings to the conversation about eating meat that has long been overdue.

We live in a society in the major cities of the US and UK that is so far removed from its roots in the country, that even adults are shocked to find themselves responding strictly emotionally to become strict vegetarians, and trying to legitimize their decision through questionable science.

If you’ve ever ridden on public transportation in Thailand and India, where meat consumption is very low, and seen natives fast asleep with their heads banging against the window as the bus rattles along, you might have noticed a few of the symptoms of long-term vegetarianism: sluggishness, anemia. And, if only eating vegetables is so good for you why do vegetarians so often need vitamin supplements and why do we no longer have more than one stomach, like so many real herbivores—ever wonder what your appendix used to be?

That’s right! It is used to help us digest foliage, as true vegetarians, when we used to move across the great savannahs of prehistoric Africa.

What happened?

We advanced and learned how to make tools. And by learning to make tools we made weapons for killing to eat meat as a main part of our meals instead of just an infrequent lucky addition.

Our brain size development from what we were as a prehistoric man to what we are now resulted from our more regular consumption of meat proteins. Now, I’m not saying that every meal should have a meat protein, but mixed with a full offering of colors and varieties of vegetables, fruits and nuts and I think you’ll notice a not only a more calming, but reaffirming experience, and definitely less-stressed, daily experience.

Personally, I’ve tried a vegetarian diet. As an effort toward spiritual, mental and physiological cleansing as a form of fasting from meat, seafood and birds, it’s very effective. But any longer than that, have you also noticed how weak and sluggish you feel after the initial cleansing has occurred? That’s your body telling you something!

Meat gives you strength. And when you eat a bit much of beef, it does seem to deliver a bit of an aggressive attitude to a person’s personality. This is an observation that goes to at least as far back as Dickens and Oliver Twist:

‘It’s not Madness, ma’am,’ replied Mr. Bumble, after a few moments of deep meditation. ‘It’s Meat.’

‘What?’ exclaimed Mrs. Sowerberry.

‘Meat, ma’am, meat,’ replied Bumble, with stern emphasis.

‘You’ve over-fed him, ma’am. You’ve raised a artificial soul and spirit in him, ma’am unbecoming a person of his condition: as the board, Mrs. Sowerberry, who are practical philosophers, will tell you. What have paupers to do with soul or spirit? It’s quite enough that we let ’em have live bodies. If you had kept the boy on gruel, ma’am, this would never have happened.’

‘Dear, dear!’ ejaculated Mrs. Sowerberry, piously raising her eyes to the kitchen ceiling: ‘this comes of being liberal!’

Heaven forbid the peasants get fed meat!

I do notice that I too can get a little pointed in my comments and hot under the collar when I’ve eaten beef more than four or five days straight, and not had it as part of a well-balanced meal that includes some grains, vegetables and fruit. I must also add that I’ve never had any type of aggressive response with the other red meat: venison.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall makes a great case that there’s nothing as satisfying as a well-prepared and cooked slab of meat that came from a farm animal living a good life on a farm, instead of a prison-like slaughter yard. And yet, he doesn’t shield the reader for the realities of eating-and why should he? Cellophane-wrapped meat that makes children think that our food comes neat and clean from a machine is why we’re having the drastic disconnect problem we’re in now!

The photos of slaughtering and butchering, which reminded me of police photos I’ve seen of crime scenes and scenes in the city morgue on CSI were a bit shocking…but perhaps because even with my field experiences killing and butchering wild game, even doing something as close farm animal slaughtering as killing a farm-raised goat with .22 and butchering it in a woods glen in Alaska, I’d never done my basic butchering in a slaughter house, i.e., the animal is still whole, in an antiseptic, white-walled room.

Kind of gave me the creeps, seeing that steer’s live eyes as a pneumatic piston gun is put to its head. Then, the next frame is the dead eye as he lies on his side…but, like the vegemite-sundaes like to say, if you can’t deal with the honesty of the death of the animal, can you really condone the eating of meat?

Yes, I accept the honesty of the fact that something died so that I can live. And there’s something contrary, to that which the vegemite-sundaes like to think of selectively: they don’t respect, or really are afraid to accept, that EVERYTHING lives because something dies. Is the only reason that vegetarians condone the killing of vegetables and fruits is that they can’t hear them scream—and who are they to think that all living things don’t feel their death and scream…that it’s only that humans don’t normally speak the language of carrots?

Many aboriginal societies revered and respected that fact that all living things, and in their thinking, inanimate objects are alive, and die and scream when their killing is brought about with little respect: that includes carrots that are just ripped out of the ground without first being asked to offer themselves to the upcoming meal.

Are vegemite-sundaes only vegetarians because they can’t deal with death being a fact of life in all its forms?

I leave that up for you to decide…all I know is that when I’ve dealt with strict vegetarians their avoidance of Nature’s facts are often deplorable: they come off as seeming to think that only the furry and cute creatures on this planet deserve to live, and everything else that can’t be heard to scream, or doesn’t run away when you try to eat it, is okay to eat, in other words, kill.

I don’t have time for vegemite-sundaes because everyone of them comes off as a hypocrite when you really get to know their beliefs and understandings about what the Earth so graciously provides—to them, it’s all about avoidance of that cycle of death that Nature has put all on living creatures….and it seems…nature is the very one to remind vegemite-sundaes that their diet isn’t what we’ve evolved towards over thousands of years of eating meat, with vegetarians setting themselves up for osteoporosis and B12 deficiency, making itself known through the following symptoms: confusion or change in mental status in severe or advanced cases, decreased sense of vibration, diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, numbness and tingling of hands and feet, pallor, shortness of breath, sore mouth and tongue, weakness.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall still seems to offer an olive branch to the PETA folks, though I think anyone who considers themselves a “true” vegetarian will never accept that branch other than to further their agenda, as organizations like PETA and HSUS continue to do right now, saying that they just want to improve conditions for animals, when all their directors just want more money (if you’ve ever dealt with an unscrupulous animal rights ‘non-profit’ you really know where the money and how being ‘non-profit’ doesn’t mean being poor) and to stop all hunting: they’d have all native tribes in cities living on canned vegetarian foods if they had their dithers…

…Yet again they perpetuate what the urbanization of humans has done all along: a total disconnect between humans and our origins…and no, a quick hike through the woods is really as disconnected as the average PETA true believer, stuck in an apartment with their only sense of wildlife a pet cat or their Chihuahua, heavily modified through thousands of years of breeding for Aztec and Mayan dining halls. Hikers in the woods are like sex voyeurs, titillated by what they see, but not willing, and often afraid, to get down and dirty with its realities.

We’ve gotten so far away from what enabled us to survive in a real world that I sometimes wonder if this very modern and violent cult following in PETA/HSUS-related vegetarianism isn’t just a human form of lemmings running off cliffs…

Don’t get me wrong, I respect and enjoy my greens, too—it’s just I have a problem with healthy habits that become fanatic movements trying to keep themselves aloft through unsound science and actions that actually go against their professed reasons: smaller hunter numbers have actually led to lower amounts of revenues that would have gone to the support of all animals through the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 (In contrast, if you want to know where PETA funds really go, READ HERE; they sure aren’t putting those millions of dollars into helping animal populations like hunters do…)

Whenever I come across an author that seems to be more on an even keel, and in the UK no less, the historic origins of the present PETA/HSUS madness, I jump up and down in joy that there might be hope. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is just such a man, who takes the reader through the different options for getting that organic success that leads to a healthy and great-tasting meal with meat as the centerpiece: whether a beef roast, roast chicken, or game collected in the field.

There are a number of game recipes that I’m looking forward to cooking, and will in the future with game he mentions, like pheasant, rabbit and hare. Taking to heart the axiom of using everything the animal offers, the Fearnley-Whittingstall also delivers a great chapter the use of offal gathered from a slaughtered animal. And I’d be remiss in not mention a great dissertation on the practice of aging meat: in his research he really pushed the limits of time! If you live in a warmer/drier climate like I do in California, remember that the variance in temperature, i.e. wamers, will shorten your aging times.

But, it was the roast pig that really got me excited!

…Instead of a traditional roasting spit, beautifully described in a photo story on page 390 and pages 392 to 394 in The River Cottage MEAT Book, I wanted to roast a true organic meat (If it’s been touched by human hands, or fed by humans hands, something that didn’t grow naturally, feeding on whatever it could find on its travels, without human direction or intention, how can you call it true organic?) a wild boar in a La Caja China that I had done a bang-up job with on a farm pig.

Not only that, I wanted to try a recipe I enjoyed as a child in Southeast Asia, on a trip to Indonesia, specifically Bali, called babi guling. Click on the photo of Babi Guling below to watch how we prepared him!

 RELATED LINKS

  1. La Caja China

  2. Blackhawk!

  3. Winchester

  4. Remington

  5. Native Hunt

 

COMING UP

  1. Surmounting the Cultural Conflict of Tactical Clothing and Equipment in the Outdoors

  2. Wild Lifers vs. Game Farmers

 

Click on the Roast Babi Guling to watch how to make it!

Click on the Roast Babi Guling to watch how to make it!

 

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