This time around, we take a step back to ancient Sparta to bring you the infamous “Black Broth”, Melas Zomos (μέλας ζωμός), a staple dish of the period, made primarily of four simple ingredients: boiled pork shank, fresh blood, salt, and vinegar.
As with most blood touched foods, Melas Zomos has a bit of a poor reputation. Accounts of the dish tend to lean heavily on amusingly dramatic exclamations of abhorrence, rather than actual taste and merit. The sinister hype seems to have strengthened the image of the aggressive and resilient Spartan warrior, but the dish itself continues to suffer from a stigma of distaste. If we push sensation aside, however, we can see that Melas Zomos is a humble, albeit logical effort of necessity; a concoction that simply utilizes parts of an animal that have now become uncommon in many places around the world.
We can’t say why we’ve not tried this until now, but there’s no going back.. this one’s a keeper. The custard is smooth, with a lovely texture; not too rich, nor cloyingly sweet. The vanilla complements the blood well, and the hint of cocoa adds a small, yet pleasant depth to the ensemble.
Overall, a fairly easy, straightforward, and unfussy recipe, combining a simple butter crust with a blood and cocoa custard. Think of it as the bloody, slightly moody sibling of the classic Flan Parisien.
Any blood will do here, but we were able to put our hands on a bit of goat’s blood from a farmer friend and it worked beyond expectations. Smoother, less salty than that of pig, it lends itself very well to desserts.
I had half a bottle of pig’s blood (as one does.. ;P) and was pondering what to use it for, when I came across something intriguing – a recipe for a blood thickened sauce with an olde medieval twist. As it so happens, I’m quite enthusiastic about medieval reenactment, and this was the perfect opportunity to put that experience to use.. Who’d have thought stirring gruel and lard in heavy cauldrons (when not stabbing Saxons with a pike) would become practical application? I’ll be cheeky here and call this bloody concoction “Regis’ Special“. (;
An immersion circulator (sous vide) isn’t necessary to prepare this sauce, as the blood isn’t technically raw in the final product. If you’re squeamish, however, feel free to take the added steps for peace of mind. It’s important to note that blood is a finicky substance – going above 140 °F / 60 °C increases the odds of solidification, which is certainly not wanted in a sauce. Beyond that, the blood sauce is fairly easy to make and keeps well frozen in small, ready to use portions.
Dinuguan, affectionately (and surreptitiously..) referred to as “chocolate meat” in its homeland, is a unique pork stew found commonly throughout the Philippines. It’s quite traditional, popular fare amongst locals; many variations exist across the archipelago, yet the dish can be difficult to find outside of the country. Even restaurants catering to large Filipino communities tend to avoid it, likely due to cultural stigma surrounding the main ingredient. Fortunately, this delicious, bloody concoction lends itself well to recreation at home.
Rich, savory, smooth, and with a kick, dinuguan is both comforting and surprisingly easy to prepare. It makes for quite an interesting, impressive meal that can easily be catered to specific tastes. Pork shoulder and offal are often used, both together and in separate versions – they give hearty substance to a remarkable, yet simple gravy made with pig’s blood spiked with the tang and spice of vinegar and chilies. Despite the tongue-in-cheek misnomer, no chocolate was harmed (involved) in the process, yet that might be an interesting addition to the mix.. (think dark chocolate in mole, though that’s a different beast altogether.. 😆)
Like other gastronauts who’ve attempted to learn about this dish, I had quite a bit of difficulty trying to trace its culinary journey. History and accounts of the origins of dinuguan are quite vague, unfortunately. Was it introduced with pork by occupying Spaniards (fritada)? Or is it a much older dish that was simply adapted to new situations and ingredients? One thing is certain, however, dinuguan is a beautiful effort borne out of the necessity that no part of an animal go to waste. Despite being simple, it’s nose-to-tail cooking at its finest – a good jumping off point for those interested in introducing blood into their culinary adventures. Read More »
Today, we’re back with another hearty, filling winter dish : Civet de Boeuf. As the name indicates, this recipe comes from France and is part of a long tradition of blood cooking. A civet, traditionally, is a stew of a game animal thickened with the animal’s blood. The most iconic of which is the “Civet de Lièvre” (jugged hare); but it’s also often prepared with roe deer and boar. (Civet de Chevreuil ou de Sanglier). Here, however, we’re going to use braising beef and pig’s blood. Ideally, you’d use beef blood for beef, but I’ve not been able to source any at this time. Read More »
It’s been a while! After my old traditional butcher shop closed down, and the farm I used to order from stopped delivering downtown, I had to find a new provider for pig’s blood. And let me tell you, summertime was not the best time for it! High temperatures make it difficult to transport blood in the proper conditions. After a lot of fruitless inquiries, and with the coming of Autumn, I finally found that I was looking for. I met a great couple at the local farmer’s market who raise free range, organic forest pigs, and they kindly listened to my request. Here I am, a week later, with my order of 6 liters of fresh, free range pig’s blood.
Today, we bring you The Red Cellar version of a traditional Filipino street food : Betamax. Playfully named after, from what we’ve gathered, the popular Sony video cassette format of similar iconic appearance. Betamax is a highly sought-after snack food, traditionally made from solid pieces of marinated, skewered and roasted chicken (or duck) blood.
The blood curd itself tends to be pretty mild in flavour and has a texture resembling that of firm tofu. What makes it decidedly shine, however, is the beautiful combinations of seasonings and spices that are first used to marinate and then garnish the final product. It’s a simple, highly nutritive snack, rich in various compounds, vitamins, and minerals, such as iron and protein. Betamax can be enjoyed as an appetiser or, as they’re fond of in the Philippines, a tasty late night bite after a night of heavy drinking.
“Hematogen (Russian: Гематоген, Gematogen; Latin: Haematogenum) is a nutrition bar, which is notable in that one of its main ingredients is black food albumin taken from processed (defibrinated) cow’s blood. Other ingredients may vary, but they usually contain sugar, milk and vanillin.” (courtesy of Wikipedia)
I had come across Hematogen bars online a couple of times, (see this Chowhound’s article.) and the idea of blood protein bars sounded pretty appealing. Read More »