Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A walk through on using tweets with Java

Work in progress..... watch this space

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fussy Fried Chicken with Complicated Chips

I finished my class at 9pm and took the tube from King's Cross. By the time i reach my pad, It was late into the night about 10pm. I only had a miserable and cold dinner that consist of a danish cinnamon roll and a coffee at 6pm. Hunger pang was calling and I am resisting the temptation to go to KFC. KFC close at 11pm here..... I am supposed to do some work, but unconscious surfing on the Internet brought me to this video.

I went to the bed hungry, and dream of fried chicken........... The next few days, I am on auto pilot mode to get ready to fry chicken... lol.

The recipe was loosely referred to the video posted. I only have thyme, oregano and sage in the cupboard. Just have make do with it. The recipe calls for buttermilk, which I can't find any at the local store. Probably it is not popular across the trans-atlantic sea. I used the substitute that consist of 1cup milk + 1 table spoon of vinegar. 

Then, I deboned 3 pieces of chicken thighs, but gave up on the 4th. The feeling of cutting meat with a dull knife really make my hair stand and sending chills down the spine.

Fried chicken to me is not difficult, done that many times prior to my setup, but to fry it moist in the inside and crispy on the outside it requires perfect execution and discipline. If not, the end results are not consistent. 

The chicken pieces are marinade overnight, sous vide with my setup at 64.5 degC for 3 hours. Chilled with cold water and waiting to be fried.

Mix 5 table spoon of flour with 1/2 teas spoon of each spices available on hand, and 1/2 teas spoon of salt. I added another 1/2 teaspoon of chilli power for the extra "shiok" -ness.  

Mix the flour and spices until even. DO NOT ADD WATER.
The sous vide -ed chicken pieces are ready to be dredged with the spiced-flour.
After the heavy powdering, set aside. It is still not pretty yet... but behold........

Heat up oil. The oil must remain consistent at 175degC to fry the chicken. Anticipating some temperature drop with my heavily powdered en sous vide chicken pieces with the frying, the oil is heated to 188.3 degC.
Drop in the chicken pieces and make sure the oil covers them thoroughly. Fry for about 5 minutes or till the preferred golden brown. Since the chicken cooked en sous vide, it is not recommended to cook the chicken in the hot oil for too long. If the internal temperature is continuously climbing above 65degC, the chicken will be dry and "stringy" linearly to the temperature. How to describe stringy? It is the fibers of chicken that will stuck in between the teeth when eating. sous vide chicken are so tender, there is no effort needed to chew. Flash frying the sous vide chicken pieces is to give it a nice aroma and also stunning colour that no human being can resist. 

I have to admit it, I stole some of the chicken before it is ready to be serve.... hehehe

Fried chicken is never complete without fried chicken drumsticks... Eat with your hands! Sink your teeth into the oh-so-tender drumstick! Hear the crunchy sound! Smell the aroma of the spices! Taste the texture. I can't go on further nor take a video of me eating it. It will be so inhumane to tempt others.

Extra flour laying somewhere? no worries, mix with binding agent of choice (water/milk/beer) and FRY!!! Extra serving of crackling.

I still have some 2/3 completed complicated chips from last week, well hidden inside the freezer. Time to dig it out! no need to thaw, just fry directly in oil at 190degC.

The vegetables are there just to give a contrast in colour. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

[FYP] Engineering Show 2013

This year, I can't participate physically at Engineering Show. However, my projects and padawans were there!! RAWWRRR...... To me, doing projects are akin to labour of love. I can't really describe in words the emotion, nor the experience.... I can only tell you something. Adrenaline is pumping when we had to fix a problem on the spot under pressure with lots of eyes peering. Dopamine is the only reward we had, if the problem got fixed. Most importantly is the managing of anxiety, stress and setbacks. What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger.

Our Entry to Ruggedized Computer Competition for military use

IoT inspired automatic furniture.
use our app on iphone to move furniture over the Internet.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Complicated Chips

Inspired by Heston Blumenthal's Triple Cooked Chips, I just have to do this while my time is still mine.

I generalized it into THREE steps in total.
1. simmer potatoes at  65 degC for 30mins, then cool in a freezer for at least an hour.
2. fry in warm oil at 130degC for 5mins, then cool in a freezer for at least an hour.
3. fry in hot oil at 190degC for 7 mins, serve.

After executing the task. I came to realized that the preparation and procedures are quite complicated and required lots of tweaking. Furthermore, without the thermometer cooking is really guesstimation or what the Singapore people would say : Agaklogic. 

If you asked me is it worth the effort? Yes, if time allows. Yes, if this process can be automated. Yes, if the products can be prefabricated. Sounds like an engineering challenge? heheheheehe

1. wash and the cut the potatoes into thick cuts. wash under running water for few minutes to remove the starch.
2. Bring a pot of water to boil, simmer the potato chips at 65degC to 75degC. Potatoes are more forgiving and less temperamental. No pun intended! If the water is getting hotter, turn off the gas knob for a while. Use a thermometer. Mine is capable of -50degC to 300degC. It cost me £19.90 from Maplin, but totally worth and the first equipment to be purchased to pursue molecular gastronomy. 
The potatoes are simmering at 68.8 degC
3. Rinse the potato from excess water.

4. Using an oil splatter guard, I fan out the chips on it. Such that each piece of chips have a chance to remove the moisture while sitting pretty in the freezer.

5. There might be excess water droplets. 

6. Freeze it over night. This is how it looked like in the morning.

7. Heat a pot of oil to 130degC. Some cook book will say fill with X amount of oil and etc. Now the tricky bit. The amount of oil should be sufficient to cover the chips in it. So, fry in small batches.  The next tricky bit. If you put too much oil and overly guesstimate the volume of potatoes going into it and there will an overflow of oil. If you are using a naked flame for cooking, good luck with the fire extinguisher. If not, huge mess to clean up. Word of caution: If scalded, use cold running water to remove the heat on the affected area. This will prevent the heat from penetrating the dermis, causing further injuries and will take even longer to heal.     

Oil is at 133.4degC

8. The objective is to heat the chips at 130degC consistently. If the chips are at room temperature, the oil temperature should not be higher then the ideal temperature. If the chips are cook from chilled state, significant heat loss will occur.  It will take longer then the stated ideal cooking time and hence oil soaked chips. Maybe some heat exchange expert can explain the thermodynamics of the chilled chips entering hot oil and the time constant needed to reach the desired temperature?
Oil is at 117.1degC with chips in it.

9. It took about 4mins to reach the ideal heat of 130degC. In other words, the chips are spending longer then required time (about 8minutes in total) in the oil.
Oil is at 130.3degC after 4 mins of cooking on high heat

 10. The chips soaked in warm oil will look nicer then the uncooked ones. Excess oil is drained on kitchen towel. It can be stored in the freezer for later use. 
comparison of chips
close up of chips cooked at 130degC

11. Move the drained chips to the freezer and freeze for at least an hour.

12. When ready to cook the chips, heat the oil to the desired temperature of 190degC. Since I am cooking from a frozen state, I heated it to 220degC to preempt sudden temperature drop. Once the temperature is at the desired state, turn the gas knob to maintain the temperature.

After the frozen chips went it, the temperature drop to 203degC. 

13. My chips looked orangey, nothing close to the golden brown colour i saw from Heston's show on BBC4. My speculation is the higher temperature I set at step 12.
Crispy exterior and a mash potato center at the same time.

14. Roast chicken and chips. The greens are for garnishing only.

15. Size does matters. I mean the cut of the chips for cooking with this method.

16. Washing is such a chore. The massive amount of grease stained plates, sieves, pots, and etc to wash is a nightmare.