Posts Tagged ‘spicy food’

KimchiFriedRice3I think everyone has certain rules or considerations before people can be considered as friends.  There are obvious considerations such as not being a complete tool or tosser in order to be looked upon as a friend… unless you like those qualities in people.  Some people prefer to limit their friendships with folks who have like-minded religious or political beliefs.  Ok, cool.  That’s fine.  I have certain rules and guidelines as well.  I can’t be friends with people who don’t like to suck the brains and guts out of shrimp heads when eating whole shrimp, or are grossed out when I do.  For those of you who don’t do that, you don’t know what you’re missing.  I also can’t be friends with people who refuse to try kimchi.  It’s cool if you don’t like it but as long as you’ve tried it.  But to flat out say that you won’t even taste it… that’s the culinary equivalent of being a narrow-minded bigot if you ask me.

I kid, I kid.

I’m not that serious, but you can see the point I’m getting at.  I often ask people who refuse to eat or try kimchi why they won’t taste it.  I get responses such as, “Isn’t it fermented?  Meaning that it’s rotten cabbage?”  Why yes.  Yes it is.  I often follow that up with counter questions of my own.  “Do you like cheese?  Oh you do?  Well you realize that’s rotten milk, right?”  “Do you like wine?  Oh you do!?  You realize that’s rotten grape juice, right?”  “Do you like beer?  Who am I kidding… of course you do!  You realize that’s rotten barley juice, right?”  And finally, “do you like sauerkraut?  Perhaps with your Rueben sandwich or with your hotdogs and brats?  Oh you do?  Well what do you know… kimchi is pretty much the exact same thing except spicier.”  Free your minds, people.KimchiFriedRice1

I’ve seen kimchi fried rice on menus in Korean restaurants before but I’ve never taken the plunge in ordering it.  I’ve of course had my fair share of kimchi and would be very happy eating it with plain rice.  Cold kimchi and hot rice is a typical lunch in Korea for the working class and it’s more than enough to make me happy.  But I started thinking about other uses for the kimchi I had bought at the local Asian store and decided to scour the internet for a kimchi friend rice recipe. One of my favorite accompaniments for kimchi is barbecue and I recently made a rack of ribs (that’s another post for another time) that went perfect with it.  The sweetness of the barbecue sauce with the richness of the fatty ribs with white rice and a side of cold spicy/sour/acidic kimchi hits a lot of flavor combinations that would make any palette dance.  But I wanted to try something different and dug up a kimchi friend rice recipe that I made some tweaks to form my own

Ingredients

-Previously cooked rice.  Preferably cooked 1-2 days before.  Enough for 3 servings or so.

-1 carrot

-Several shiitake mushrooms

-3-4 green onions (spring onions)

-Several garlic cloves (or less if you prefer)

-1 cup of kimchi

-Vegetable cooking oil

-1 egg per serving

-Salt and pepper

KimchiFriedRice2Start by heating cooking oil in a wok or large pan.  As the oil gets hot, julienne cut the carrot, chop up the shiitake mushrooms, chop up the green onions (save some for garnish), and mince the garlic.  Toss the julienned carrot, chopped up shiitake mushrooms/green onion, and minced garlic and let the flavors combine and soften.

As it’s softening, cut up the kimchi in a bowl using kitchen shears which would be a perfect tool.  The reason you’re cutting kimchi in a bowl is because if you do it on a cutting board, it will stain it and perhaps even leave a lingering smell.

Add the cut up kimchi to the wok and mix it in to incorporate it with the rest of the vegetables.  Add in the rice, and break up the clumps with the back of the spoon so that individual grains can pick up the sauce brought about from the kimchi and vegetable mixture.  It should have a light red tint.  Add salt and pepper as needed.

Before plating, fry a sunny side up egg on a separate pan.  Plate the fried rice, sprinkle some of the remaining chopped up green onion, and land the sunny side up fried egg on top.  Enjoy with Korean barbecue, or your own barbecue concoction such as ribs, beef brisket, or even pulled pork.  I’d put this up against any other version of friend rice around Asia as well (Chinese, Filipino, Nasi Goreng from Indonesia, etc.).

Plus for those out there who have yet to try kimchi, this is a great way to get an initial taste before eating it as an accompanying side dish as it is meant to be.

Muffin Tin Meat Pies.jpgWe reached a milestone this week… we have over 2500 followers now! To celebrate this great milestone I thought I would revisit a recipe from the early days of the blog.

Also, I have been craving a taste from home and what better way to taste Australia than through meat pies.

These were tasty little treats I made for J. and I during NFL season last year. A nice little snack for watching footy. We did an entire series of Football Food posts last year and with the NFL season only 3 weeks away, I am going to have to prepare some more great snack ideas.

These pies were very easy to make, especially since I cheated and bought the pastry instead of making it myself. You could also try all different kinds of fillings but we stayed with the traditional beef and added some spice and chili! You could also make them into a full size pie but these were the perfect size for a tv snack. Beer and a pie – a completely Australian way to watch the football.

So take a trip down memory lane, across the Pacific to Australia with me…. here.

Valentine's Dinner.jpgWe aren’t really ones to celebrate Valentine’s Day, even in the early days of our relationship we didn’t exchange gifts. The most we would do is wish each other happy Valentine’s Day.

So last night we didn’t do anything special… we headed to the gym because we knew it would be nice and quiet with everyone else celebrating the holiday. J. also got a new BBQ (read grill if American) delivered this week so he decided to cook me dinner and try that out.

He fired up his new Barbie and I sat down and watched… and drank a beer. We had some meaty lamb shoulder chops ready to thrown on. We eat a lot of these and our freezer tends to be well stocked with these chops. It is also one of the cheaper options here when it comes to lamb.

Lamb on the Grill.jpg

Anyway, he cooked the lamb beautifully… the BBQ worked as it is meant to work and most importantly J. thoroughly enjoyed cooking on it.  He had prepared some quinoa earlier in the rice cooker so that was going to be our side dish. He had just sautéed some chillies and garlic and thrown that into the rice cooker with the quinoa. We have been eating a lot of quinoa instead of the mountains of rice we usually consume.

 

It was all very yummy and great that I didn’t have to cook! He even cleaned up. So even though we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day I still got that as a gift…. And really what more could I want besides love & lamb!

Since I am busy having fun and celebrating the New Year in Australia I thought I would just post about posts. These are our Top Ten Recipe Posts and Top Ten Restaurant Posts as voted by you!

Just some light reading as you nurse your New Year’s hangovers.

Thanks for the support in 2012 and I look forward to much more deliciousness in 2013!

Top Ten Recipes

1. I’m No Liar! The Best Chocolate Cake Ever…

2. My First Halloween

3. Wingin’ It!

4. The Best Kind of Recipe – Secret Family Recipe

5. How to Impress Your 1/2 Italian Girlfriend

6. A Soup to Chase Away Your Worries

7. Melt in Your Mouth Christmas Shortbread

8. Thanksgiving Eve Dinner

9. Potato Gratin with a Twist

10. Lasagne – the Best of the Best

Top 10 Restaurants

1. Magic & Fairytales

2. Christmas Drinks with New Friends

3. Hot ‘n’ Juicy in Vegas

4. Delicious American Oddity

5. Food Truck Friday

6. Lobster Drunk

7. Searching for “The One” True Taco – J’s First Blog

8. Triple S…Sushi, Sashimi, Sapporo

9. Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara – Best Sandwich Ever

10. The Dog of All Dogs!

Seafood Laksa.jpgI know you have all probably realised by now that J. and I are huge fans of Asian food. Whether it is Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino or Thai, we love it. We will often have this kind of food during the week as our lunches or dinners. Possibly the number 1 choice for Thai food is seafood laksa. We don’t make it from scratch, though I would love to one day, we do the lazy laksa from a bottle… though we do mix it up a little and not just follow the instructions on the bottle.

Laksa Paste.jpg

First thing is of course to get the laksa mix from your local Asian supermarket, we have used a few different ones over the years but the one shown here is probably the most commonone we have used. In our wok I heated a small amount of canola oil until it was nearly smoking. Into the oil I put 4 heaped tablespoons of the laksa paste, stirring it around until it became really fragrant.Seafood in Broth.jpg

To the oil and paste I added 1 red jalapeno chilli and 4 thai chillies mixing these through the paste. I had finely chopped these in preparation for this. I cook this for about 30 seconds before pouring in 1 1/2 cups of cold water. I slowly bring this all to a simmer before adding in my seafood.

You could pretty much use any seafood you like for this we usually use shrimp and scallops. So I added our shelled shrimps to the broth and cooked for about 2 minutes before adding in the scallops. I stirred this around for a minute or so and then let it simmer very gently.

Add tofu.jpg

While that was cooking I prepared the rest of the laksa ingredients. I drained 1 tin of bamboo shoots and set them aside. I also cut into cubes 2 packets of fried tofu and also cut and washed 6 small bunches of baby bok choy. I then roughly chopped a bunch of cilantro and set it aside. The tofu then got added to the seafood and broth and mixed in.

I let the tofu cook for a couple of minutes before adding in the bamboo shoots and bok choy. I like both of these to still be a little crunchy so after mixing them through I only cook for another minute or so. This is when I add the coconut milk (2 tins) and mix it through. When this has heated completely I take the laksa off the heat.Add Veggies.jpg

The last things I put into this are the chopped cilantro and the juice of 1 lime. I find the acid of the lime just adds a little extra zing to the laksa. I then just gently mix all of this together and it is ready to serve. I usually sever this over steamed rice.

It is such a great meal for winter, it really warms me to my toes. J absolutely loves this and more often than not I have to cut him off after 3 helpings because he will eat himself into a laksa coma. I love the broth and will often eat this without rice, which J. just can’t fathom. It Ready to Eat.jpgis the perfect mix of stir fry meets soup for my liking… so spicy and delicious.

Obviously the easiest way to make this is just follow the directions on the bottle but I like our little version of lazy laksa, it makes me feel like I am cheating a little less by making it my own. Plus J. and I always need that little bit of extra heat!

Chutney Gift.jpgThis is just a quick post about the other edible Christmas gifts I gave to friends. A while back I made giant pot of spicy tomato chutney. Being who I am I shared it with a bunch of people including my two soon to be bosses. Both of them took a strong liking to it. Using it with cheese, fish and chicken.

I decided as a Christmas gift for them I would bottle up some of the chutney. I bought some nice decorative looking pickling jars… they only cost $1.50 each so what a bargain is that! I filled both jars up with the yummy delicious chutney, sealed them and decorated them with blue bows.

I played Santa on Tuesday and delivered these yummy gifts. They were so excited and happy to receive them, not to mention surprised. Both of them had plans for the chutney and I am pretty sure it won’t last long. I might have to make a new batch in the New Year when I start my new job.

What an easy, affordable and cute gift… one that was so well received!

You can check out my original blog post here or get the recipe here.

Shrimp in a bag.jpgI have finally recovered from our 4 day weekend in Las Vegas. The Vegas part was great, the road trip was a little bumpy and took some getting over. But I am back on board now and ready to share with you one of, if not our number 1, favorite place to eat in Las Vegas… Hot ‘N’ Juicy Crawfish.

If you are after the fancy, glitzy glamor of the strip this is not your place. If you don’t like getting messy when you eat this is certainly not your place. If you can’t handle ripping shrimp heads off and removing legs then this certainly isn’t the place for you … plastic sheets covering tables, food served in plastic bags, rolls of paper towels on the tables and compulsory bib wearing are what greet you when you venture into this off strip restaurant.

We headed there first thing Friday night after we had checked into our hotel. Unfortunately this weekend it wasn’t crawfish season so we decided not to go with those. We could have had theMussels in a bag.jpg frozen crawfish but we really like to stick with the season with them. Instead of crawfish we ordered 2 pounds of shrimp and 2 pounds of mussels. YUM!

One of the things I like about this place is that you order the seasoning for your bag of seafood and the spiciness. We were with some mates who can’t handle spice and they ordered the mild level of spice for the garlic butter seasoning on their shrimp but they still found that too spicy. So just as a warning if you can’t handle any spice stay away… of course we love it.

Our shrimp were seasoned with the Hot N Juicy Special seasoning. I find this is their spiciest and yummiest seasoning. It is hot, really hot but soooo good with a strong Cajun style flavor behind it. Ours were cooked so well and so delicious. Of course we asked for the extra spicy. When they came out in their big plastic bag, we opened it up and the smell is just overwhelming. J and I dived in and enjoyed every bite. Our faces, fingers, hands and parts of our arms were covered in the delicious sauce. You rip a head of, peel the legs and shell away before dipping the shrimp back in the bag for more sauce… this is the best way to eat these! Soooo good!

Cajun fries.jpgWe went a little different on the mussels because one of our mates wanted to try them. We got these prepared with the garlic butter seasoning and only medium spicy. Needless to say the medium was too hot for our friend but perfect for us! This 2 pound bag of mussels disappeared so incredibly quickly. They are so juicy and yummy… J and I both couldn’t stop until they were all gone! Dipping the shell into the sauce to get lots of it covering the mussel is just the perfect way to eat mussels!

I really should have taken a photo of the aftermath… messy paper towels, bibs, shells, shrimp heads all over the table… IT WAS FANTASTIC! We also ordered a side of their cajun fries, this was the first time we’d had these and they were really good. The spice they added on those was delicious, though too hot for our friends yet again!

If you are in Las Vegas, and can handle the spice… go here it is so amazingly good. Not to mention it is a fun experience. You get dirty, you eat great food and you venture away from the tourist craziness of the Las Vegas strip.

We are still getting over our Thanksgiving Day feast, so I am not ready to talk about what I cooked… I need my system to process it before I can even think about it again. I thought that I might share what I made J. and I for dinner Thanksgiving Eve instead.

Over the last couple of years we have started a tradition of having a seafood feast on Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving Eve to start our celebration early! This year we wanted to make Chilli Crab but unfortunately we couldn’t get any of the fresh crab we wanted. So I convinced J. that we should have chilli mussels instead. Only problem, I was going to be making this one up! We bought 2 1/4 pounds of cleaned mussels and headed home!

At home I set J. to work de-bearding the mussels while I prepared everything else. I finely minced 4 cloves garlic and 1 large shallot. I had 2 tablespoons of hot olive oil in a large pot heating and I added the shallot and garlic to the oil to sauté.

As these were softening I diced up 1 red jalapeno chilli and 2 thai chillies and then added these to the garlic and shallots. Lastly I finely chopped 1/2 a cup of parsley and added half to the pot. I let this cook for just a minute before I added the mussels. These of course had been beautifully de-bearded by J.

I mixed the mussels and the other ingredients so they were so evenly combined. Now it was time to add in all of the liquids. First I added 1 cup of white wine and let it deglaze the pot a little. Then I added 1 cup of chicken stock and mixed everything together again, being gentle so I didn’t crack the mussel shells. I let the liquid come up to a simmer and then covered everything to let the mussels steam.

It only took a couple of minutes for the mussels to open. Once they had I added 1/2 a cup of cream and the rest of the parsley. I gently mixed all of this together for another minute before serving it up in large bowls with some crusty bread on the side.

We sat to eat and it smelt fantastic. The combination of the tiniest bit of spice and the mussels was just perfect. J. was soooo happy with this. The broth was delicious and dipping the bread into it was perfect. I thought the mussels were cooked perfectly, still plump and juicy! The other good thing is that though we were both full at the end of dinner it wasn’t so heavy that we wouldn’t be full Thanksgiving Day.

I love to experiment and a lot of the time they don’t turn out the way I had imagined but this time around they were better than I could have hoped for!!!

Sunday last weekend we had so many leftovers from the dinner the night before I figured we would just eat a plate of that for dinner. After cooking a big dinner Saturday the last thing I wanted to do Sunday was cook. So J. and I cam up with this amazingly delicious sandwich. Gravy soaked pork with cheese and giardiniera on toasted bread. And so begins my Ode to the Pig Part III.

I grabbed the left over roast pork out of the fridge, along with the left over gravy. I sliced thin strips of the pork and put them in a small saucepan, covering with the gravy. I then just let this warm slowly. I also heated up some of the roasted veggies we had to use as a side to our sandwich.

J. in the meantime cut four thick slices of semolina bread and started toasting them under the broiler. He flipped them over and topped each side with some grated sharp cheddar cheese before putting them back under the broiler to melt.

Now it was time to assemble. On one side of the toasted bread and cheese we heaped large amounts of the gravy soaked sliced pork. On top of this we added heaped spoons of giardiniera. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is a spicy pickled vegetable mix with carrots, pickles, peppers. So tangy and spicy it is fabulous on sandwiches. Lastly we just put the second piece of toasted bread and cheese.

These sandwiches were piled high but with some difficulty I managed to cut them in half. We sat down and bit into them and we were in porky, spicy, heaven!!! Amazing how great such a simple dish can taste and with no cooking at all. Cold pork turned into such a delicious dinner… the giardiniera add just the right amount of tanginess and spice. It was the perfect sandwich.

The pig did it again!

Date night last week was Saturday night and we went out for Indian food. Melbourne has a large Indian population and it is relatively easy to get good Indian food in restaurant, take out or home delivered. I have been really lucky in the food that has been available at my doorstep living in Melbourne. A couple of weeks ago we had seen something on the Travel Channel about Indian food and since then I had been hankering for the spicy, delicious goodness of an Indian curry. The question was where to get good Indian food in Phoenix, Arizona.

J. had an Indian restaurant in mind. This was one he had been to a few times but not for many years. So many years that he had never taken me to this place. India Gate is a 10 minute drive from home in a shopping complex that has more empty shops than operating businesses. As we were driving around looking for it I was starting to get concerned it may have been closed. Fortunately it was still open!

As with most of our outings to new restaurants J. and I had studied the menu and made our choices before we got there. We had them chosen a few days before actually. We thought we would order a lot and if there was leftovers we could just have them for our Sunday dinner or lunch. I think our waiter was a little surprised by the large amounts of food we ordered and then further surprised by our request for very hot when he asked how spicy we wanted it.

As we waited for our food to arrive they brought out a little taster for us. I have no idea what the 2 dipping sauces were but they were excellent. One sweet and tangy and the other really spicy. They were great with the crispy papadums and we polished them off very quickly. We were starving by this stage having eaten very little all day in anticipation of an Indian feast that night. Of course I had a Kingfisher beer to help wash it all down – spicy food and beer – a perfect date night for me!

All our food arrived at exactly the same time. We had to squeeze everything onto our little table but fortunately it all fit. 2 curries, a tandoori mixed grill, rice and 2 different types of bread! A lot of food for us to get through. Steaming curries and sizzling tandoori, my mouth was watering as we dove in!

I was happy that I got to order my favorite Indian curry which is Saag Lamb. I am not sure why this has always been my favorite curry but the lamb cooked with spinach in the spicy curry sauce is just such a comforting food for me. The India Gate saag lamb was exceptional. The flavor was just spectacular and the lamb melted in your mouth. We had both garlic naan and roti bread to dip in our curries. Both the roti and the naan were excellent. The garlic naan had such great flavor and was so soft and yummy. We also had a side of basmati rice to mix in with our curries.

The other curry we ordered was the Tandoori Fish Masala. This is a rich curry of spiced fish cooked in a butter sauce. I usually stay away from fish curries as I am never sure about the quality of fish, however J. really wanted to try this. I am so happy we did. It was so good. Rich, creamy and buttery sauce with fish that fell apart in your mouth. I couldn’t believe how good this was. The sauce was sooo delicious, I just loved it with the roti and naan. I could have just had the sauce, no need for meat at all!

We couldn’t decide what kind of tandoori we wanted to try so we thought we would go with the Tandoori Mixed Grill which gave us an assortment of chicken kabobs, lamb and shrimp. These were all cooked on a bed of sweet onion and lemon. The tandoori chicken and shrimp were delicious but the lamb was unbeatable. The lemony onion flavor that had seeped through the meat just added to the Tandoori flavor already there. There was a mild spice to this that was just perfect. Delicious, juicy and so tasty. It came out sizzling and smoking but we still managed to eat every last bit of meat. The only thing left were a few pieces of onion and lemon that had been cooked to the plate.

I have a tradition at the end of meal of Indian food. The meal is so often rich and spicy I like to finish with a mango lassi. There is something refreshing and soothing about this Indian drink that when I have a belly full of food it is the perfect end to the meal. J. had never actually tried a lassi before so I think he was a little skeptical. He was very pleasantly surprised and really liked the sweet creamy drink. A great way to finish our spicy Indian meal.

This was a great restaurant, one that I will want to go back to regularly. The only thing I would say is that considering we asked for very hot when it came to spice, it wasn’t all that spicy. This isn’t a bad thing at all, just something to note if you are expecting hot spicy food! It is delicious, rich, comforting and filling… especially if you are like us and polish off everything but a few bits of onion. So much for leftovers for Sunday!