Beef with Eggplant

>

I think I told this story in one of my China recaps but it’s something I just can’t stop thinking about. When we took our weekend trip to Beijing I had my favorite meal of the entire trip. My hopes were not high as we walked through the dark alley and into the restaurant through what looked like an apartment kitchen, but I was once again reminded to not judge a book by its cover. Despite the off the wall location the dinner was a-maz-ing. Noodles that seemed nearly endless topped with peppers and eggplant in an amazing sauce.

I was day dreaming about that meal right before I went grocery shopping, so it was no surprise when the bright purple Chinese eggplants were calling me. I decided to also add beef and since I haven’t found “the” noodle recipe yet, I served this over rice. The awesome thing about eggplant is that it really soaks up whatever seasoning your using. Each bite was like a flavor explosion. Until I can perfectly recreate the noodles from the Beijing meal, I will just make this and love every bite of it.

Beef with Eggplant
(Sunny Side Up Original, sauce loosely adapted from Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp red chile sauce (such as Sriracha)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 pound flank steak (or other beef steak), very thinly sliced
1 medium Chinese eggplant*, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to season beef
Green onions, sliced diagonally for garnish

* Make sure to look for Chinese eggplant. It is a lighter/brighter shade of purple and longer and skinnier. It’s skin is softer and the taste just slightly sweeter.

Directions
In a measuring cup combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, Sriracha, brown sugar and cornstarch. Set aside. Lightly season the beef with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add half of the beef (so it is not overcrowded) to the wok and cook for 1 or 2 minutes on each side, you want the meat to get pretty brown but it doesn’t have to cook all the way through. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside, covering with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the second half of the beef.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the eggplant and bell peppers (if the pan is dry you can add another drizzle of oil). Saute for a minute or two, then add the sauce. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the sauce begins to reduce and thicken, stirring occasionally. Return the beef to the pan (along with any juices that collected on the plate) and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Serve over brown rice and garnish with green onions.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Last week the family I nanny for went on vacation so that meant two things for me. One, STAYCATION – which after the craziness of this summer was very, very welcome. Two, lots of cooking and baking. Well the staycation was awesomely relaxing and my kitchen took the beating like a champ.

Since getting back from China I have really wanted to get back into a groove of meal planning and I figured a week at home was the perfect time to get started. I have to say it’s AMAZING how many more vegetables I include when I plan my meals in advance. Every night I was just enamored with the beautiful colors included in all of my meals. Especially this meal.

I came across this recipe the morning I made my meal plan and it went straight to the front of the line. Besides Jesse jokingly saying, “Wow that appetizer looks great, what’s for dinner” (Do you know what popular chain restaurant he was thinking of?) these lettuce wraps went over really well. I loved the punch of veggies and the fact that I was able to not only cook a meal without dairy or a major carb, but that it was actually really enjoyed by all.

Recipe Note: The most time consuming part of this whole meal is chopping the veggies. I recommend doing all of the chopping and throwing the veggies in a bowl before starting up the stovetop. Once you start cooking everything goes really quickly. Also if you’re feeding people with big appetites, I would recommend multiplying the recipe time 1.5 or 2.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

(Adapted from Good Thymes and Good Food, previously on Annie’s Eats)

Ingredients

Sauce

4 tsp hoisin sauce
4tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
Freshly ground black pepper

Filling

2 tsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 lb. ground turkey, chicken, or pork (I did a combination of ground chicken and pork)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup carrot, very finely diced
1/2 green apple, finely diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Lettuce, for wrapping

Directions

In a measuring cup, whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce, set aside.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the canola oil to the pan along with the garlic, shallot, and ginger. Cook for 30-60 seconds or until fragrant.

Add the ground meat to the pan, breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is no longer pink then create a well in the center of the pan by pushing the meat to the outside edges. Add the onion, bell pepper, frozen peas, and carrot to pan and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally add the sauce, apples, and green onion. Stir to evenly coat and cook for 1 minute to allow the sauce to slightly thicken.

Serve with fresh lettuce.

Spicy Slaw

>

Today is a follow up on yesterdays Asian Braised Short Ribs. I have no story to share but I definitely wanted you know about this awesome slaw. It was spicy. It was savory. It was nutty. It was awesome. I used to be pretty precise when it came to eating, I would work from one area of the plate to the other, being careful not mix. But lately I’ve found myself doing a lot more mixing. And this was perfect for that. I channeled my inner BBQ tastes and put the slaw right on top of the ribs and rice. It was the perfect matchup.

Spicy Slaw
(Adapted from Oishii originally from the Sriracha Cookbook)

Ingredients

Dressing
1/3 cup chunky natural peanut butter
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice
1/4 cup Sriracha
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS. fish sauce
1 TBS. grated ginger
2 TBS. sugar

Slaw
1 1/2 lbs. napa cabbage, shredded
1/2 lb. red cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
or 1 bag of slaw with green cabbage, red cabbage, and carrots
2 red bell peppers, seeded and julienned
6 green onions, white part only, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (I omitted)
salt & freshly ground black pepper

In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Cover and chill until ready to use.

In a large serving bowl combine the cabbage through mint. Toss together to evenly distribute.

Pour the dressing over the slaw and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Asian Style Braised Short Ribs

>

In my continuing effort to use my cookbooks more often, I chose this recipe for dinner on my parents last night in San Diego. Yes, I am still posting recipes from my parents visit but I have to tell you, this recipe was another big huge win. The bonus was that most of the cooking for this meal was hands off. I was able to throw everything together in my Dutch oven and forget about it for a few hours. The other great thing about braising is that it gives the meat plenty of time to soften and soak up all of the good flavor from the various spices, resulting in a tender and rich meal.

I hate to say it, but I’m pretty inexperienced when it comes to different cuts of meat. We tend to do a lot of chicken breast, flank steak, sirloin steak, and pork, so when I made my grocery list I just wrote down “short ribs”. Luckily I came across a butcher at Whole Foods that was incredibly helpful and more importantly patient. I told him what I needed and he said, bone in or boneless. One look at my blank stare and he knew I needed help. He asked me what I was making, how it was going to be cooked, etc. In the end I went with both bone-in and boneless, that he cut special for me to be thicker and more meaty. This way I got the best of both worlds, the deep flavor that the marrow from the bone gives and plenty of meat to eat with out picking around bones (something I am even more appreciative of after spending a month in China :)).

Asian Style Braised Short Ribs
(Adapted from Food Network Favorites)

Ingredients

5 pounds beef short ribs, cut into 4-ounce portions
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (5-inch) stalk lemongrass, halved and smashed*
1 1/2 Tbsp peeled and minced ginger
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 quart (4 cups) water
1/2 cup sliced green onion including whites
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh pineapple or orange juice (originally the recipe called for OJ but I had run out, so I used pineapple and it worked)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

*I could not find fresh lemon grass, but I did find some dried lemon grass at Whole Foods so I used 1 tsp of that and rubbed it between my fingers while adding it to the pot.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a Dutch oven, combine the short ribs, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, brown sugar, water, green onion, red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons of the orange juice. Make sure that the stockpot is deep enough so that the short ribs are submerged in the liquid.

Bake the short ribs, covered, for about 3 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bones. Remove the short ribs from the braising liquid and cover to keep warm. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Drain the fat off of the cooking liquid and discard.

Place the remaining braising juices in a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup of the hoisin sauce and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the liquid until only about 1 1/4 cups remain. Strain through a fine-meshed strainer (discarding the solids)back in to the dutch oven. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of orange juice and the lemon juice.

Return the short ribs the sauce and Dutch oven. Coat the short ribs with the sauce. Bake for 10 minutes, until the short ribs are heated through and slightly glazed*. Serve hot over rice. Season each portion with the orange zest and garnish with the green onions if desired.

* For the last 2 minutes or so I turned on the broiler.