Wednesday, May 23, 2007

part 2 of 3 cup chicken

chronologically, this post should have come first, but i thought it'd be more appetizing to present the food before the stuff that's growing on this plate.


so we had a food and water contamination experiment a couple of weeks ago in class where we had to collect food and water sample, then try and find out what was growing on them. more specifically, we were looking for fecal contamination. remember those alfalfa and spinach scares?
realizing i could do homework and cook at the same time, i got a water sample from rinsing out the styrofoam package for the chicken into an old sterilized jam jar and brought that to lab the next day. after incubating a sample for a few days at around body temp and adding some prepared reagents for a diagnostic test (Colilert), the sample was shown to contain E.coli. then i streaked it out onto an EMB agar (not as yummy as almond flavored agar-agar) plate and grew it on and tried to identify just one of the isolated colonies (there can be a bunch of different bacteria in a sample). in case you're curious, it's Serratia liquefaciens.

anyhow, long story short--cook your food thoroughly! oh and no need to worry about drinking fountains.. all samples from there tested negative. however..someone's kitty water bowl, Mission Bay, and Los Penasquitos creek are teeming with contamination. oh, and if it hasn't killed you yet, don't worry. no need to rush out and buy that antibacterial Palmolive stuff (which actually works. maybe i'll take a picture of that at work. still not going to make me use it though).

here's an excerpt from my lab report to explain what's going on:

The largest source of potentially pathogenic microorganisms in water is animal feces. Some enteric diseases can be spread from infected to healthy persons through fecally contaminated water supplies. Typhoid fever and cholera are examples of enteric diseases that can be caused by bacteria in water. (1)

A common test for water safety depends on the presence of coliform (any organism that is like E. coli, an enteric bacteria) bacteria in a sample. E. coli, an enteric coliform, is the more reliable sewage indicator since it is not normally present in soil, while E. aerogenes has been isolated from soil and grains. In addition, E. coli lives longer in water than other intestinal pathogens, therefore if no E.coli are present, one can assume that there are no other intestinal pathogens present. (2, 4)... Coliform bacteria have the key characteristics of being small gram-negative rods, non-spore forming, lactose fermentation in the presence of bile with acid and gas production, and production of a green metallic sheen on eosin-methylene-blue (EMB) agar. EMB agar is a selective medium whose dyes usually inhibit the growth of gram-positive bacteria. EMB agar is also a differential medium because it differentiates bacteria that ferment lactose with the production of small to copious amounts of acid. That green metallic sheen on EMB is formed by the excretion of so much acid during acid fermentation that the dyes precipitate in and on the surface of the coliform colonies. (1, 4)

part 1 of 3 cup chicken

can you believe that it's been more than a month since my last post? time sure flies by fast when there isn't enough of it. haven't been inspired to cook very much or at all, and having lent my camera to my aptmate for a spiffy project, pictures and tasty eats have somehow eluded me. i think the last time i've actually cooked anything other than rice was sometime a week ago.. or was it two weeks since the snow peas and beef? so let's see what i've been subsisting on:

granola bars (some of you will know my efforts to foist them off on you at every chance i can get)
bagged salad... ew, right? what has been happening???

i hope that this supreme laziness and apathy towards food will soon pass. in the meantime, here's something i made a couple of weeks ago out of curiosity. presenting part 1 of 3 cup chicken. and yes, there will be a part 2 sometime in the near future.

hearing TheABC enthusiastically rave over the best 3 cup chicken he's ever had, i decided to try to make my own just to see if it'd be any good. so 3 cup chicken is this chinese dish whose name comes from the (or so the story goes) 1 cup of oil, 1 cup of soy sauce, and 1 cup of wine used to cook chicken. decided to recreate this dish in the spirit of the the SCA (Society for Compulsive Authenticity) by using exactly one cup of each ingredient... plus a half a bulb of garlic, some ginger, and a couple stalks of green onion.

put all the aforementioned ingredients into a pot, along with a few teaspoons of sugar and set to boil. once it hit boil, i tossed in some chicken thigh pieces, and after reaching boil again, turned the heat down to a simmer. kept it like that for about 20 mins b/c i was afraid to under cook the chicken (the pieces were pretty thick) then fished them out. as you can see in the picture, one piece has been disfigured to check for doneness. it looked and smelled great.. but was waaay too salty. i think i'll cut back on the soy next time, or the cooking time and use smaller pieces.
btw, i used sesame and vegetable oil, rice wine, and dark soy. using merlot and olive oil is not recommended.