Monday, 22 July 2013

Beef Penang

Disclaimer: I am not Malaysian and I don’t really know the difference between rendang and penang, so forgive me if this is not the correct one. Formalities done, let’s proceed.

I am a big fan of no-fuss cooking. Toss everything in a pot and leave. Come back to a mouth-watering dish. Sound about perfect!

Beef penang is just that: melt-in-the-mouth pieces of beef, infused with all the lovely flavours of galangal (Filipino: langkawas), coconut, lemongrass, chili and kaffir lime. All it requires is basic prep.

Cheap cuts work best for slow cooking. Shin of beef is ideal, as the tough, sinew-y flesh is guaranteed to turn moist and buttery. A trick for this recipe is to use pre-made red curry paste (no MSG, no E-numbers), and awaken the flavours by using fresh ingredients too. I used:

1.5 kg shin of beef, chunks/diced
2 tins coconut milk (no E-numbers please!), about 800mL
2 tbsps red curry paste
2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, bashed
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 pcs star anise
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tbsp grated ginger
10 large fresh kaffir lime leaves, shredded
1 tsp cumin seeds
A bit of ghee / coconut oil
Fish sauce

1. Pre-heat oven to 140C.
2. In an oven-friendly pan, heat 2 tbsp ghee/oil on medium and fry the curry paste, garlic, ginger, cumin, lemongrass, cinnamon and star anise until fragrant. Make sure they do not burn.
3. Turn heat up, put the meat in and partially brown for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then.
3. Pour in the coconut milk and stir. This should cover the meat. If not, top up with a little water. Heat up to boiling.
4. Cover and place in the oven, and let cook for about 3 hours.
5. Check the tenderness of meat and adjust seasoning with fish sauce.
6. Put back in for another 30 minutes or an hour.
7. Take out and stir in shredded lime leaves.
8. Serve on rice or lots of vegetables of your choice.

This keeps well in the fridge or freezer, and tastes so much better after a few days. If it lasts that long. ;)

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Pulled Pork

I bet many have been wowed by the utter deliciousness of pulled pork sandwiches/wraps/buns. Juicy and flavourful with melt-in-the-mouth texture. Surely such complex creation can only be achieved by the select few gastronomic geniuses!?? Wrong.

Only two key things are needed: great ingredients and patience. The process is so forgiving; things do not have to be exact. Adjustments can be made. There is almost limitless room for error. A bonus for those who prefer to free-style in the kitchen (i.e., me). ;) You’ll need:

Around 2 kg pork shoulder off-the-bone (belly works fine too)
1 head of garlic, crushed
2 onions, roughly cut
2 tbsp tomato paste/puree
3 tsp sea salt (or less, you can always adjust at the end)
Lots of crushed black peppercorns
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Some dried bay leaves, maybe 4
Hot water

1. Pre-heat oven to 140C.
2. Mix everything (apart from the pork) in a pan that can accommodate the size of the pork using about a cup of water.
3. Place the pork in the pan skin side down, then top up with hot water until just about fully covered.
4. Cook in the oven for 2 hours. Turn the pork, skin side up for the remaining 2 hours just to give the skin a bit of colour.
5. Take the pork out and leave to cool.

6. Heat the cooking liquor until reduced. Test and play with the seasoning.
7. Once the pork has cooled, start ‘pulling’ using 2 forks.
8. Return to the liquor to re-absorb all the goodness.

9. Eat however you please.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Easy Spicy Beef Pieces

It’s been a long time coming. Apologies, apologies! Have been so busy with work, training and flat hunting.  The latter is exhausting and occasionally frustrating. Fingers crossed one with a good dining space is available and hopefully a paleo supperclub might just materialise!!! Still far out though.

Right, this beef nibble is so easy.  All you need is a larder staple: red curry paste. Just make sure it does not contain nasty stuff like MSG and added sugar --- check the label. You can use sirloin for the meat, but I found flat iron steak works just as good. Half the price, too. Here are all you need:

1 kg flat iron steak, cut into thick strips
1.5 tbsp red curry paste (or more)
2 tbsp cane vinegar
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 cloves grated garlic
1 inch grated ginger
1 tbsp honey (optional)

1. Mix the marinade and dunk the meat in. Leave for 30 minutes minimum, overnight ideally.
2. Pan-fry on very high heat for about 2 minutes each side depending on the size of your beef. I prefer mine a little bit pink. TIP: do not crowd the pan, otherwise, the meat will steam.

3. Eat with your favourite veggies.

You can have this any time of the day. Great for breakfast with avocado and plum tomatoes.