Laotian Beef Salad (Larb)

Laotian Beef SaladI really enjoy making and eating the foods of Southeast Asia.  I make trips to the Asian grocery and buy up all kinds of different produce that aren’t found in my garden or at the local grocer.  I don’t really drive but an extra five minutes to get there, the groceries cost less which makes up for the extra in gas and I usually find some gem of a new product that I have never eaten, cooked with or sometimes never even seen.  It is always an adventure.  This time I happened in a day or two before the Chinese New Year and in honor of the holiday they gave Lynnie a box of the funkiest most savory cookies ever.  I couldn’t eat them but she loved them and this from the little girl who finds Chinese food sour.

I did something different here, something I wouldn’t  normally do.  Usually I would get the pan smoking hot and sear the protein but I didn’t get the wok hot enough and when meat hit metal it cooled down right away.  It became a happy mistake.  Instead of panicking I just let it sit.  I watched as all the beef juice bubbled up around the meat and then slowly subsided until it was gone.  Then the skirt steak caramelized really well and the fond, the sticky delicious stuff on the bottom of the pan, added tons of beefy flavor to the final dish.

It’s a great dish to serve with rice and a couple of nice vegetables.

Serves 4

canola oil

1 pound 2 ounces skirt steak, sliced then minced

6 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon grass, minced

1/2 cup shallots, julienned

3 red Thai bird chile, minced

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons water

1/3 cup mint leaves, torn

1/3 cup cilantro leaves, torn

1/3 cup green onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup peanuts, smashed

1. Heat a large wok or skillet over medium high heat.  Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and when it is warm add the minced skirt steak, garlic, lemon grass and shallot.  It should cool the pan down and as it cooks liquid should release from the protein.  Let it gently bubble while you occasionally stir.  As the juice begins to evaporate stop stirring.  Patiently wait for the meat to brown and the fond to build on the bottom of the wok or pan.

2. Add the fish sauce, soy and water.  Stir the larb to combine and until almost all the liquid is absorbed.  Using a spoon taste the larb and add a little salt if necessary.  Stir then remove the pan from the heat.

3. Once the steak isn’t so hot but still warm stir in half the chili, mint, cilantro and green onion.  Plate up the salad and then top with the remaining herbs and the peanuts.  Serve.

Video

The Genius of Genius

Sprouts in oyster sauce

 

Reviewing a website isn’t something I would normally do.  In this case it isn’t the website but a feature on the site itself.  You all know I call Food52 home(that is a full disclosure).  I would give the site itself a triple A rating but my aim here is to call attention to a feature within the site, Genius Recipes.

If I were new to the kitchen, or an inexperienced cook, even a seasoned pro this is where I would go to get a bag full of genius recipes.  It is where senior editor Kristen Miglore will make you  feel and look good so  your dinner guest will thank you and your children will brag about you.

I can assure you once you start cooking with these recipes you will find yourself going back time and time again because they work, are dependable and because the recipes are ridiculously delicious.

The real bonus here is they are minimally invasive.  What that means is there are only a few steps and ingredients involved in getting the dish to the table.  What’s the take-away?  In short, it means there is no excuse not to make these recipes throughout the week.  And even if you can’t the Wednesday publishing of the posts allows you to collect the ingredients and prep the recipe for the weekend.

The author behind the feature, Kristen Miglore, does all the hard work for you.  Whats not to love about that?  Fortunately for her readers she brings us a five star recipe each week and then sets it up for success.  She tests the recipes and navigates you effortlessly through the steps as if you were following the blue dot on Google maps to a dive restaurant.   People,  she gives you the keys to the Mercedes, I mean how awesome is that.

So you have a great writer giving you the low down on why this recipe is so good with her fast paced prose, sprinkled with a pinch of humor and it’s always concise.   If asked she will be humble and give all the credit to the community members who pass along recipes but in the end it is Miglore who spots the winners and it is not always easy to recognize great recipes.  She has mad skills is all I can say.

I will vouch for any of these recipes and I can say many have fallen into the weeknight rotation of family favorites.  The Al Forno Penne with Tomato Cream and 5 Cheeses is one of my and the girls favorites.  Nobu’s Fried Asparagus with Miso Dressing became a regular this summer substituting in yard long beans, walnuts and shallots.  In fact, I can’t wait to plant yard longs in the garden again just to make this one recipe.  The Domino Potatoes scored big when the juices from the resting lamb chops co-mingled into the buttery potatoes to create one of the easiest best potato sides ever.  Most recently I have been making Momofuku’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette and alternating in an oyster sauce.  I have also deep fried the sprouts and wow, if you care to take the extra step, do.

Next up will be Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake.  I am making two of them, one for home and one for the school bake sale and while I am sifting the flour I will be thanking Kristen for sifting through all these recipes and pointing me in the direction of the truly genius ones.

Need more genius? Click here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                         Deep Fried Brussels Sprouts with Oyster Sauce

1 pound Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved

vegetable oil for frying

2 1/2  tablesoons oyster sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

1 tablespoon water

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger,  very finely minced

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, very finely minced

1 tablespoon green onions, minced

1 tsp honey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       1. Combine the oyster sauce, soy, water, ginger, garlic, green onions and honey in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk to combine it all.  Set aside.

2 Add enough oil to a heavy bottomed 4 quart pot ( I used an enameled Dutch oven) to come no more then a third up the sides of the pot.  Turn the heat to medium high.  

3. Test the oil by dropping in a sprout leaf.  There should be a pause, then, it should rapidly sizzle.  

4. Add half of the Brussels sprouts carefully, they will bubble and pop, then add the rest of the sprouts.  Fry until brown.  Remove them from the oil to drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Toss the sprouts with the oyster sauce and serve immediately.