Saturday 10 January 2009

Cook's Alphabet 'Z'

Cook's Alphabet 'Z'

This is the twenty-sixth and final entry in my series of 26 postings going through the entire alphabet, as it relates to cooks and cooking. As you can see, today I'm dealing with the letter 'Z'.

The letter 'Z' is, of course the twenty-sixth (and final) letter in the English alphabet and is one of the more difficult letters in English to find recipes for. Indeed, most Z-based recipes have entered English from other languages, such as the recipe below for a Libyan-style pizza:

Zaatar Mankoushe (Lebanese Zaatar Pizza)

1 Mankoushe (Lebanese Pizza) dough
100g Zaatar spice blend
50g sesame seeds
100ml olive oil

Prepare the Mankoushe (Lebanese pizza dough) as in the recipe. Place some oil in a pan over medium heat and use this to toast the sesame seeds until they go a nutty golden brown. Mix in the Zaatar and the remaining olive oil then spread over the prepared pizza dough.

Place the pizza in an oven pre-heated to 200°C and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the dough is cooked and crispy around the edge. Typically slices of this pizza are served with a salad made from cucumber, tomatoes, onions and pickles.

(This recipe reproduced, with permission, from the Celtnet Zaatar Mankoushe Recipe page, which is presented as part of the site's Recipes from Arabia and the Levant collection. )

Today's cooking term is Zabaglione: Zabaglione is a rich, foamy Italian dessert made by whisking egg yolks, Marsala wine and sugar together over a gentle heat. In general it's served barely warm as it is; though some versions might have the addition of fresh fruit or fruit coulis.

Today's spice is Zedoary Root: Zedoary Rootthe rhizome of a perennial monocotyledonous herb Curcuma zedoaria and a member of the Zingiberaceae (Ginger) family. Zeodary grows in tropical and subtropical wet forest regions. Though originating in north-eastern India, today it is widely cultivated in India, South East Asia and China. The rhizome of zedoary is edible and has a bright orange interior (similar to turmeric) and a fragrance reminiscent of mango. In contrast, its flavour is more akin to ginger but with a very bitter aftertaste.

In Thailand, the young rhizomes are often eaten as a very aromatic vegetable and in India it is occasionally used to flavour the pickles (achar). In Indonesia it is dried and ground to a powder before being added to curry paste. It seems to have been known in Europe during the Medieval period and recipe sources up to the 16th century make use of dried zeodary as a spice. The bitterness of zeodary has, however, led to a marked decline in the use of this spice.

Below is a recipe for a classic Asian curry employing Zedoary root as a spice:

Asian Duck Curry

2 Duck breasts
3 tbsp Thai red curry paste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
2.5 cm fresh ginger root, chopped
50g mooli, peeled and chopped
3 Spring onions, chopped
225ml chicken stock
225ml coconut milk
1 red chilli, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 kaffir lime leaf
handful of coriander leaves
1 tsp ground dried zedoary root
1 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)

Remove the skin from the duck breast then smear lightly with 1 tablespoon each of the Thai red curry paste. Add the oil to a very hot wok and once it's heated ad the duck breasts and fry until nut brown on both sides. Remove from the wok and set aside.

Add the onion, garlic, ginger, mooli and spring onions to the wok and stir fry for about 3 minutes before adding the remainder of the curry paste. Now add the chicken stock, coconut milk, chilli, lime juice, lime leaf, coriander and zedoary. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a low heat then add some Nam Pla aand return the duck to the wok.

Cook the duck breasts for eight minutes then remove from the wok and slice. Serve with rice and stir-fried recipes — making sure you spoon the sauce from the wok over the sliced duck breasts and sprinkle the coriander leaves over the top.

(This recipe reproduced, with permission, from the Celtnet Asian Duck Curry Recipe page. This is presented as part of the site's Fusion recipes collection. )

For more information on cookery-associated terms and information beginning with the letter 'Z' here are various links that may well be of interest:

Recipes beginning with 'Z'
Spices beginning with 'Z'
Herbs beginning with 'Z'
Wild foods beginning with 'Z'
Cook's glossary 'Z'

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