Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lemongrass and Chili Chicken

The other night I asked An for some suggestions regarding a few chicken dishes that I was considering.  We started talking about various ideas, and eventually she said that this type of recipe was frequently used in her home as a "go-to" dinner.  Simple, flavorful, slightly exotic, and a real crowd pleaser- all the characteristics I needed!  

Remember, this is a suggested recipe and variations can be just as wonderful.  Turmeric, coconut water (in place of chicken stock), or various peppers can all change the flavor accordingly.  My version is a sweet and spicy glaze that is enhanced by the use of a homemade roasted chili paste (similar to sambal oelek).

Note- Charles Phan's Vietnamese Home Cooking has a wonderful recipe for roasted chile paste which has become a staple in our home.  I used it in this recipe, and the link to an article featuring it is listed below.  The ingredients are easily available from your local Asian market, and I use miso for the bean paste.  I add some extra red chili flakes, and the heat is perfect.   Try different peppers or more garlic!  Just enjoy it! 

Ga Xao Xa Ot- Lemongrass and Chili Chicken

2 lbs. chicken thighs, boneless, cut into 1 inch cubes 
3 tbsp fish sauce
1.5 tbsp sugar
½ piece of lemongrass, minced
1 Thai chili, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced
½ piece of lemongrass, minced
1 jalapeno, sliced thinly on a bias
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp rice wine
1 cup chicken stock
cilantro, peanuts, rice

Marinate chicken for about 2-4 hours prior to cooking.  In a very hot pan or wok, add oil, sear chicken until lightly browned.  Add garlic and lemongrass, stir fry for a minute until toasted, then add jalapeno and onion.  Cook for another 2 minutes and deglaze with wine.  Reduce and stir in chile paste.  Coat the chicken very well and pour in the chicken stock.  Reduce until it is slightly thick.  Serve in rice bowls and sprinkle with cilantro leaves and roasted peanuts.

Below photo is simmering roasted chili paste

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Beef, Green Peppercorns

From north to south, the cuisine of Vietnam changes drastically.  The north traditionally embraces the older style of simplicity and plentiful herbs.  Absent from many dishes would be the spicy Thai chili and sugar.  However, traveling south would bring change and influence from bordering countries.  In the Hanoi region, beef would be prepared in this manner but a couple of ingredients might be removed. Today we will include all of the outside influences and embrace change!  Thai chili, a good amount of green peppercorns, and the sweet and salty marinade help create a tangy style of beef which beautifully represents the Vietnamese cuisine that has been shaped throughout the past century.  France, China, Thailand, and Vietnam all contribute to this version of Steak au Poivre.  

Bo Xao Tieu Xanh- Garlic and Green Peppercorn Beef

1 ½ lb. sirloin cubed

1 tbsp water
3 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp oil
4 garlic cloves crushed
1 Thai chili
1 red onion diced
2 tbsp green peppercorns
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup green onions sliced
black pepper

Mix the ingredients for the marinade and toss with the beef.  Allow this to rest for about an hour.  In a wok or large saute pan, heat up the oil until it shimmers.  Sear beef until it is browned on all sides and still rare.  Remove the beef from the pan and add the garlic, chili, and onions.  Caramelize very well and return the beef to the pan.  Mix well and add peppercorns.  Cooking quickly, toss to coat the meat and swirl in the butter.  When the butter is fully incorporated add the green onions, turn off heat, and check for salt and pepper.  Serve with rice and cilantro leaves.

Custom Plates by Gerald Haessig

In the mid-80s, one of my favorite bands was the Psychedelic Furs.  An influential band of the early British post-punk movement, the Furs were also featured in two hit films of the 80s- Valley Girl (which starred Nicolas Cage) and Pretty In Pink (starring Molly Ringwald).  Valley Girl used the track "Love My Way", and the band contributed the title song to Pretty In Pink (although the song was much older than the movie).  So today I have been jamming to some of those classic tunes including the previously mentioned and hits such as "President Gas", "Forever Now", "Ghost In You", and "Heaven."  

My tasty beverage was a wonderful Dark and Stormy!  I used Spiced Cruzan Rum, Reed's Ginger Beer and fresh lime juice.  Fantastic, though I am not sure if it paired well with the beef, it tasted great and packs a wallop!