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  • Michael Krakovskiy 3:52 am on March 22, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bacon, Charcuterie, , , , Garde manger, , little Surgeon General, , , Salo, Sausage, , Ukrainian cuisine, unhealthy treif food   

    Ukraininian Sushi 

    Spyware and construction contractors are very bad for my health. For instance, recently, the contractor who renovated my apartment asked for my help with cleaning out yet another spyware infestation. To express his gratitude he gave me a present that his sister brought with her from her trip to Ukraine. A piece of genuine Ukrainian salo.

    Salo is an Eastern European staple that for some strange reason is virtually unknown in the West. Wikipedia describes it as salted slabs of pork underskin fat. It’s not really bacon – salo mostly consist of unrendered fat (bacon has more meat) and can be eaten raw.

    If you’ve never had salo, it’s most similar to the taste and texture of little pieces of fat found in some harder kielbasas. In its fried form salo resembles bacon and pork rinds, except it’s much tastier. Also, you really can’t make exceptional borscht or fried sunflower seeds without high quality salo.

    Here’s a piece (Ukr. “shmatok”) of salo on my official Jamie Oliver cutting board. I used my sashimi knife to cut it into thin slices – the best way to eat, in my opinion.

    It’s kind of hard to describe the taste and texture of Ukrainian salo. The texture of it is hard, yet it melts on your tongue. It’s salty, fatty, garlicky. Your caveman instincts make your brain fire “wow, inhale this right now” messages, yet the little Surgeon General in your head tells you “wow, this will clog up your arteries good.” They don’t call salo “Ukrainian cocaine” for nothing.

    The little Surgeon General in your head is wrong, though. Having come into possession of this authentic salo for the first time in years, I just had to kick it up a notch and make the _ultimate_ in unhealthy treif food. I had to make the legendary confection – “salo in chocolate”.

    This confection started as a joke playing on Ukrainians’ fondness of salo. Then some Russian and Ukrainian restaurants started making it as an exotic delicacy. Then someone started to make a candy bar of that name. The Wikipedia article has more on that.

    I tempered some good semi-bitter chocolate and dipped thin slices of salo into it.

    The flavor is outstanding. Chocolate goes well with salty, fatty salo. It tastes as good as it is unhealthy. Overall, though, the quantity that I made is probably no worse than a movie theater popcorn or the bun of death from the vending machine at work. In fact, probably healthier.

    If you are curious, you can find salo in most Russian food stores in New York. It will probably be lower quality Canadian salo, but it will give you a pretty good idea.

    You can find more of my gastronomic adventures here.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:16 pm on February 17, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Andrews, , Brassica, , , , Haggis, Hamburger, Leaf vegetables, , , Rutabaga, Sausage, , , St. Andrews bar, Turnip   

    Ach, Mate, Say “Australian for Beer”. Please? 

    I have a friend who married a Scot and moved away to Scotland. In fact marrying men from exotic locales seems to be a trend amongst my female Russian friends – another one married an Australian.

    It’s almost ironic that my favorite bar in New York is a Scottish bar called St. Andrews (which is also a place in Scotland where my friend used to live). St. Andrews the bar is characterized by an amazing selection of whisky, good atmosphere, good food (there’s a restaurant in the back), moderate prices and friendly kilt-wearing waiters with Scottish accents.

    Recently I braced myself and ordered haggis. It’s a widely known “scary” dish which is a sausage made out of various organ meats. It is served with obscene sounding “neeps and tatties” (mashed turnips and potatoes).

    At St. Andrews it was served the following way : a layer of the abovementioned “neeps and tatties”, then a layer of contents of haggis sausage (which is somewhat similar in texture to ground hamburger), then another layer of “neeps and tatties”.

    It certainly did not smell as some cartoons would make you believe. In fact it was very tasty. The puree/meat combination was very nice. The haggis itself tasted like very tasty hamburger. Low grade meats rule!

    St. Andrews bar is located at 120 W 44th St, Between 6th & Broadway.

    The most exotic Australian thing that I had was kangaroo jerky that my friend brought me from her trip to Australia. It tasted a lot like chicken jerky :)

     
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