Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What to do with Leftover Chipotle Marinated Tri-tip?

I love leftover grilled meats and fish because I love making meat salads. This type of dish is so easy to throw together because the cooking has already been done and everything is to taste, so you really can’t go wrong. I like to keep it simple by adding only 1 or 2 basic veggies, like onion or tomatoes, and fresh herbs. My favorite herbs to use (alone or in combination) are mint, cilantro, basil, or Italian parsley. A squeeze of lime or lemon will give it a fresh citrus taste. This really is the perfect noshing food and it goes great with beer!

For this salad, I used a little of the chipotle BBQ sauce (see original post for details) to moisten the meat. If you don’t have the BBQ sauce, you can add a tsp or two of chipotle in adobo sauce and ¼ tsp sugar instead. I added sweet onions, cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and fish sauce (most people would use salt, but the Thai in me is always reaching for the fish sauce). Served with lettuce leaves, it made a wonderful light meal.

Other delicious options include corn kernels, zucchini, shredded cabbage, shredded carrot, avocado, bell pepper, and celery.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My Latest Favorite Thing

My new favorite thing to add to everything is chipotle in adobo sauce. It’s spicy and smoky and just adds extra depth to just about any dish. I’ve been adding it to fresh salsa and BBQ sauces, and of course I’ve used it to make this delicious dressing. Today we grilled a delicious tri-tip that was marinated overnight in a chipotle marinade. The beef was nicely spiced, but not too spicy for Sonny, who devoured his share.

Grilled Chipotle-marinated Tri-tip
  • 1-2 tbs chipotle in adobo sauce (more to taste)
  • 5 anchovy filets, minced
  • 1 tbs worchestershire
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • handful of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2-4 tbs oil
  • 1 ¼ to 1 ¾ lb tri tip (or flank steak)
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
Combine all the marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl, except the oil, and whisk until you get a uniform mixture. Slowly add the oil, while whisking, until you get a semi-thick liquid. Add the marinade along with the beef into a large Ziploc bag and marinate overnight in the fridge. An hour before grilling the steak, take it out of the fridge to take the chill off (reserve the marinade). Make sure you generously season the steak with salt before grilling. Don’t be shy, as a lot of it will drip off, so you want to be sure something will be left on there.

To make a basting or dipping sauce, combine about ½ to 2/3 cup of the reserved marinade with ¼ to 1/3 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce. Heat over low heat until heated through and bubbly. An alternative is to combine the BBQ sauce with the reserved marinade in a microwavable bowl and blast it for two or three minutes. If you do this, give it a stir after each minute. Cool to room temperature if using as s dipping sauce.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Cure-all Soup (updated!)

One of the most annoying things in the world is to get sick during summer. Not a slight summer cold, mind you. Sore throat, ear infection, coughing, chills…just all around icky-ness. While everyone else was prancing around in tank tops and shorts, all I wanted to do was crawl under my heavy down comforter and hibernate. Then just when I was on the upswing, Sonny came down with it. Ugh.

It's times like these when I wished mom lived nearby (I'm sure I'll retract that statement next week) because I sure could have used a double batch of her cure-all hot and sour soup. Got a cold? Headache? Upset stomach? Nothing like a dose of hot and sour soup to make things alright.

Photo added December 2008.

Now days, you can get the bouillon at Asian markets. I have used this in the past, but it required so much doctoring, I figure I could just as well make it from scratch. If you look for recipes for tom yum soup, there are a few things they all have in common: lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, coriander roots, fish sauce, lime juice. But I will tell you the secret (or two) to make this a stellar soup; something I’ve never found in any recipe: naam prik pao. My mom taught me this and I promise you it makes a huge difference. Another thing mom taught me was to use tamarind puree as well as lime to give this soup its sourness.

One thing to keep in mind is that some people (like mom) like this soup more on the sour side, while some people (like me) like this soup more on the tangy side. There’s also a few additions, like ginger or shrimp paste, depending on whether you plan to use shrimp, tofu or chicken, but I usually just stick to the basic recipe and it all still turns out fine. You may find yourself fiddling a little with the ingredients until you find the right combination.

This recipe makes a lot of soup. Enough to feed about 10 people a small bowl. If it’s too much for your immediate use, freeze some of it for later. Once you get the flavoring right (and before adding the tomatoes or meat), transfer the amount you want to freeze to another pot or large bowl and allow it to cool a bit before freezing. Then when you feel like having some soup later, just reheat, add tomatoes and meat, and you’re ready to go.

Mom’s Cure-all Hot and Sour Soup (aka basic Tom Yum)
  • 2.5 tbs naam prik phao
  • Thai chilies, to taste (I generally use 2-3)
  • 3 coriander roots (if you can find it)
  • 1 stick lemongrass, white part only
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 slices galangal (about the size of half dollars)
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup tamarind puree
  • 3 tbs fresh lime juice, more to taste
  • fish sauce, to taste
  • palm sugar, to taste (light brown sugar is okay)
  • 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes sliced (or more if you like)
  • 1 block tofu, 1 lbs shrimp or ¾ lbs sliced chicken (preferably thigh meat) or mushrooms

In a mortar, pound the chilies and garlic until uniformly mashed. Add the coriander roots, galangal and lemongrass and pound just to bruise the lemongrass to release its fragrance. In a large pot add the naam prik pao, the mashed herbs, kaffir lime leaves and chicken stock. Heat until warmed. Add the tamarind puree, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. Adjust the taste by adding more of tamarind puree (for tanginess and sour), lime juice (for sourness), sugar or fish sauce. Once you get the flavor you like, turn down the heat to get a nice simmer and add the cherry tomatoes (I like to simmer up to 30 minutes before adding the tomatoes, but it’s up to you really). After about 5 minutes, add the tofu or meat. If adding shrimp or chicken, do not stir. Simply submerse the meat and allow it to poach until done. Serve garnished with a few cilantro leaves. I sometimes like to add some rice to my bowl for a nice hot and sour rice soup. Yum!

Check out Sonny eating hot and sour soup, fishcakes and rice.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Love Easy Food

I’m not one of those people who balks at buying salad dressing. It has never occurred to me to make ranch dressing because Hidden Valley does such a great job of it. On the other hand, I’ve yet to find a store-bought vinaigrette or Asian sesame dressing I like, so I make my own (or rather, I make Martin Yan’s). It takes all of 5 minutes (maybe 10 if you’re doing it for the first time) and you can tweak it to your taste. Now I’ve found another dressing I will be making my own: chipotle Caesar dressing from Mr. Personality himself, Bobby Flay. Don’t get me wrong, I always enjoy Mr. Flay’s recipes, he just seems a little...not nice.

Anyhoo, I’ve made this dressing so many times in the last 2 weeks because it’s so easy, and I’ve tweaked it to my taste. That is, I added a little more chipotle, reduced the oil by half (not because I’m watching my girly figure, I just like my dressing tangy) and nixed the cheese (I prefer it shaved on top). Still, it is really a delightfully spicy dressing (even though you’d never be able to tell from my boring picture).

Mr. Flay’s Chipotle Caesar Dressing (my tweaked version)
  • 1 tbs chipotle in adobo sauce (more if you like it spicy)
  • 3 tbs mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs Dijon or course ground mustard
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar (sherry vinegar works too)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 2 tbs honey
  • ¼ cup canola oil (up to ½ cup if you want it less tangy)
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • shaved, shredded or grated Parmesan cheese to top the salad
Throw everything into a food processor or blender, except the oil. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Adjust taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Makes a about a cup of dressing. Leftover dressing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days (maybe more, but I’ve never had to keep it for longer).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Got Eggplant?

My fridge is full of eggplant. Between my CSA share and what I’m taking from my own backyard, we’ll probably be eating eggplant 3 or 4 times this week. I’m not complaining, though. I love the stuff. The problem is deciding what I want to make with it.

Today I decided on a Chinese-style spicy eggplant. The inspiration for this came from my current favorite Chinese cookbook. I added chicken and baked the eggplant instead of deep frying it. The result was still tender and flavorful, without all the guilt.

Spicy Eggplant with Chicken
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tbs hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp plum sauce
  • 1 lbs eggplant (Chinese variety is good, but any should be fine)
  • 10 oz chicken breast or thighs, minced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • Chili pepper, quartered lengthwise (use whichever and how much you want)
  • Handful of basil leaves (make sure they’re dry)
  • 3 green onions, sliced thinly on diagonal
Cut the eggplant into wedges (if using a large eggplant, cut into 6 wedges; for Chinese eggplant, split in half lengthwise). Toss them with oil and salt. Bake them in a 350ยบ oven for about 30 minutes. They should be soft and a little browned. Remove from heat and set aside until needed. This part can be done a day in advance and the eggplant stored in the fridge until needed.

In a small bowl, combine the stock, hoisin, soy sauce, lime juice, and plum sauce. Set aside until needed.

In a hot wok over high heat, add about 1-2 tbs oil. When the oil starts to smoke add the chili, basil, garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for about 15-20 seconds (don’t let it burn). Add the chicken and continue to fry until the chicken is just about done, about 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and fry for a minute to get everything combined. Add the sauce by drizzling it down the side of the wok so it can caramelize. Continue to cook until everything is well combined and heated through. Turn of heat and stir in the green onions. Adjust seasonings with soy sauce or salt, if necessary. Serve with steamed rice.