Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ribs/Jellyfish Salad

Let me start this by saying- I LOVE RIBS! Arguably my favorite cut of meat is the rib, preferably St. Louis or spareribs. Sticky sauce all over my fingers and face just makes me a happy guy.  My wife- not so much. Well, sometimes we just need ribs and beer!

A traditional Vietnamese dish, rib meat can be removed from the bone and eaten in lettuce wraps or with a side of greens.  I decided to throw a wrench into tradition and make a jellyfish salad (julienne jellyfish, carrots, cucumbers, and green papaya, dressing is below).  Also, I changed the cooking technique. Normally grilled or even slow cooked, I seared the ribs then finished them in a pressure cooker. In 22 minutes, they were perfect.  I reduced the sauce and had a lovely dinner.
Suon Nuong Xa- Ribs

1 rack of St. Louis pork ribs, cut in fourths

½ cup fish sauce
4 oz palm sugar
1 piece lemongrass minced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 Thai chili minced
pinch white pepper

1) Mix the marinade ingredients and form a nice paste. Thoroughly rub the ribs until coated and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight, if possible. About 30 minutes prior to cooking, remove from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature. 

2) Remove the ribs from the marinade, scrape off the rub (reserving any liquid and rub) and place them in another baking pan. 

3) Add a small amount of oil to a large skillet, and turn it on high heat until it begins to smoke.  Gently place a couple of sections of the ribs (meaty side down) in the pan and sear until it becomes dark brown. Be very careful because the pan is going to be hot, and watch for the garlic and lemongrass as it will burn. Spoon any dark bits into a side plate. When the ribs are the proper color, remove them to a baking sheet, and clean out the skillet. 

4) Repeat the procedure. 

5) Using a pressure cooker, in a cross-cross manner, stack the ribs and pour any extra marinade or rub over the ribs.  Cook them on high for 22 minutes and naturally release the pressure. 
6) Remove the ribs to a chopping block, and let them rest. 
7) Skim the fat off any liquid in the cooker and reduce the reserved liquid.  You should have a nice amount of liquid in the cooker, and this will form a wonderful sauce.  Cut the ribs between the bones and pour the sauce over them.  

Serve with a green papaya salad!  I made a green papaya, carrot, cucumber and jellyfish salad which is pictured below.  The dressing is a black vinaigrette (recipe below)! 

Black Vinaigrette- 1 tbsp water, 4 tbsp Chinese black vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 4 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp mirin, 1 clove garlic minced, 1 Thai chili minced, 1 small piece of ginger minced. Mix all of the ingredients until the sugar dissolves.

Enjoy with a cold beer!  Brooklyn Summer Ale currently resides in my hand!

The other night I was flipping through the stations, and one of those Soft Rock infomercials was on television. My wife was in the next room, and she said, "I don't remember Air Supply sounding that good!!"  She sings along, then a few songs later after she's done swaying to "Lost in Love", I called her out for being a closeted Air Supply fan!  She's going to kill me when she sees this post!  Honey, I love you!!! Heehee!!  I got a good laugh!

A few days later I had a new Twitter follower.  So, I'm checking out my new follower's pictures and thinking, "Hmm...pretty cool.  Nice pictures.  She's really into food.  Wonder what she does?  I did a quick search and lo and behold, who do I find out it is?  None other than Ingrid Croce--the late and great Jim Croce's wife!  All those old school television mail order greatest hits came to mind, and I thought of Jim Croce, who tragically died in a plane crash when I was an infant.  Those commercials introduced me to his music, then many years ago I bought his greatest hits. So I wrote this blog while listening to his catalog. "Rapid Roy" and "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" are two fun, upbeat songs, and he pulls off a cool moustache!  Croce's Restaurant is a tribute to Jim from his wife Ingrid!  What a splendid woman!  Here's to you, Ingrid! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Grilled Ribeye

Most men enjoy giant pieces of meat!! Slabs of ribs, hanging links of sausage, hams, and huge steaks rile us up much more than a beautiful fruit basket or a nice, crisp broccoli floret. While I was walking through the grocery store, my eyes could not turn away from some beautiful steaks sitting in the case. I found some wonderful 1.75 pound ribeyes and decided to do a traditional Vietnamese marinade with a crisp green papaya salad on the side. I also dipped into my bag of goodies to make a Chinese black vinegar steak sauce which kind of tastes like A1.

Grilled Ribeye

1 Thai Chili
2 cloves garlic
1 piece ginger
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp canola oil
1 piece lemongrass

Salad- shred green papaya, carrots, green cabbage and mix with Vietnamese herbs such as basil, mint and coriander and nuoc mam

Steak Sauce
4 cloves garlic minced
1 Thai chili
1 piece ginger, 1 inch long minced
1 oz. palm sugar
3 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1/3 cup black vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water

Bring ingredients to a simmer and allow sugar to dissolve

Marinate the beef for 2-4 hours. Take the meat out of the refrigerator about 30-45 minutes prior to cooking. This will allow the cooking temperature to remain true as the beef will be room temperature when the cooking begins. In a very hot cast iron pan or grill, cook the beef to the desired degree. Since this is a very thick piece of steak, the outside can sear very easily and keep the inside medium rare. When the juices begin to run through the top of the steak, your internal temperature should be medium (140 degrees). Allow the meat to rest for about 5-10 minutes prior to cutting.

While browsing through music selections, I decided something big, loud, and very rock and roll would be needed to stand up to my meal.  Searching high and low, I found just the choice. Dial back the stations to the days of teased hair, loud guitars, and mayhem on the Sunset Stip. Motley Crue screeched through the airwaves, and my afternoon was a success. Beginning with "Shout at the Devil", I jumped back to yesteryear and found my hair had somehow defied gravity! The sounds of "Livewire," "Dr. Feelgood," "Kickstart My Heart," and "Primal Scream" get the blood flowing and are among the great gems of the Los Angeles rock era. As I settled down and reached for my glass of wine, I finished the day mellowing out to "Without You," and arguably the best power ballad of all time-
"Home Sweet Home." Yes, the era was a good one!

A nice big red wine is a beautiful choice with this ribeye. I chose a Spanish red rioja called Marques De Caceres.  It is widely available and a wonderfully priced wine. Fruity and earthy, this red blends various grapes but is predominantly tempranillo. Try it, you won't be disappointed.