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Thursday, June 28, 2007

I couldn't buy jerky, so...

I had a sudden craving for some jerky the other day. I remembered having it when I was schooling, little packs of goodness. Of course the mummified meats weren't great looking, and they still aren't, try googling 'jerky' to get a feel of how uninteresting and unappetizing dehydrated meats look like.

So I decided to go out to the store nearby that sells specialty stuff, they have all kinds of imported stuff from pastas to canned seafood, to pate and wagyu beef, but there wasn't any jerky. Perhaps they misplaced it? But the dog food section didn't have it either. So I got me a can of black olives and ironically some doggie chewable leathers. It seems like they couldn't import jerky since a few years back because of our import restrictions, which reminded me how difficult it is to bring these things back. The cow had to be halal, etc, etc, so I think a lot of people can't be bothered, which is why we're stuck with Aussie and New Zealander beef. There are some US imports but talking to my restaurateur friend the other day, it is extremely difficult.

But of course in this country difficult means more money involved.

So I checked out some US sites that sold bulk beef jerky. I was so tempted to import a few packs back but then I calculated the risk, and the shipping charges and decided to put it on hold. Then I wondered, what if I could make my own jerky? An oven wouldn't do, because I tried that before and no matter how low you put the heat on it won't dry evenly and end up charring the jerky to a point you can use it for charcoal drawings, which now seems like a rather neat idea. Meat drawings. My dogs will have a field day tearing that up, they seem to have developed a recent trait that is best described as 'persistent chewers'.

Have you ever asked yourself how they dried those stuff in instant noodles, or my latest addiction: instant miso soup. They dried all the soupy goodness of chives, tofu, seaweed and fish essences in a little 2" square foil pack, just add water and it all comes alive. How do they do it? One thing comes to mind: freeze drying. A huge machine that instantly freezes your food and then leeches the moisture from it somehow.

Then I stumbled upon something they call a dehydrator. Perfect! It works much like a kiln dry machine where we suck moisture out of timber to stabilize it. Except this one looks like an oversized microwave oven, and you stick trays of whatever you want to dry in it, and in a couple of hours, its perfectly dried, locking in all the natural goodness of meats and vegetables or whatever you want to put in it. But of course my goal was to make jerky, such is my simple one track mind. Portable meats. Mmm.

I received it yesterday after furiously emailing the representative here who could arrange to import this magical machine, and set out to get some beef, brought it back and gave it my secret spice mix, topped it off with a couple of shots of Jim Beam, and let it sit in the fridge for a good couple hours. I expect tomorrow to get really rocking since I'm expecting a big-ish dinner crowd after our general office meeting, and what better way to start it off than some home-made jerky, 15 year old scotch and cigars?

I couldn't buy jerky, so I bought a machine that made jerky. Talk about determination huh?

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