The Best Way to Weight Down a Terrine for a Good Texture
Question: A shrimp terrine recipe calls for weighting down the terrine for two hours after baking. What should be used to do this since the recipe did not specify? Since this is my first attempt at tackling a terrine, can you please tell me what is the purpose of weighting it down?
Answer: For easier slicing, a terrine should have a dense, compact texture, which is achieved by weighting down. The weights will depend on the type of terrine ingredients used. For instance, lighter seafood or vegetable terrines may not require as heavy weighting objects as meat-type terrines.
Weights should cover the surface of the meat itself and not rest on the edge of the mold. Some of the more common weights used are one or two bricks, a smaller mold of the same shape filled with water, or filled cans or any heavy object placed on top of a piece of wood cut to fit the top of the mold.
An important thing to remember before putting on the weights is not to put them on right after baking because the dish continues to cook and the juices are still moving about. Instead, allow the terrine to stand for about 20 to 30 minutes (or according to the recipe) in order for the juices to recede back to the meat.
Q: In a recent column on potatoes, you mentioned to “always store raw potatoes in a cool, dark and dry area, away from onions.” Why away from onions? Also, what happens to the taste of the potatoes when chilled?
A: The reason potatoes shouldn’t be stored near onions is that potatoes impart their moisture to the onions, which are subject to root growth and decay at higher humidities.
At refrigerator temperatures (usually around 40 degrees), the starch in the potato turns to sugar, making the cooked vegetable too sweet. Colder storage temperature also makes the potato darken during cooking.
Q: Can you please give some information on ginger and how to use it properly in Oriental cooking. Also, how should it be stored?
A: The most aromatic type of ginger is Canton ginger, whereas the most pungent is Indian ginger. Avoid dry-looking ginger with numerous and larger fibers because these are older roots. Young ginger with a thin pinkish skin that is sometimes available in the spring is more aromatic than the commonly available thick-skinned mature ginger. The little new sprouts that appear on the sides of the ginger root have a more delicate flavor than the main part of the root.
In stir-frying, the technique of cooking with ginger is to crush a small slice of ginger with a cleaver and saute in hot oil, being careful not to brown, then remove it. This seasons the oil and whatever other ingredients are added thereafter. The Chinese believe that ginger helps neutralize fishy smells. For steaming fish, fine shreds are sprinkled over and inside the fish to be steamed. Hot cooked oil is sometimes poured over the steamed fish. Slices or squeezed ginger juice are also added to chicken and pork soups, to braised meats and vegetables and marinades.
For 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root use 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger. Ginger can be frozen but it turns mushy. Frozen ginger works well for ginger juice if you just want to extract the flavor from a thawed piece. When using for stir-fry dishes, freeze in small crushed or grated portions, and use without thawing. If bought fresh, good ginger keeps for about six weeks in the refrigerator crisper when the cut end is covered with plastic film wrap. Another way to preserve it for use in Chinese cooking is to immerse peeled ginger in a jar of dry Sherry or Madeira wine.