Feast 36 – Peri-Peri Shrimp

January 24, 2010

During our time in England, one of my favorite places to eat was Nandos in Milton Keynes. It was a little bit of a drive and the parking could be complicated but without fail, the hot and spicy chicken would always satisfy. And so, in memory of those good times, i wanted to recreate a little of that magic here in the room for Feast 36… I opted for shrimp instead of chicken because the thought of quickly touch fried shrimp sounded absolutely delicious. I certainly wasn’t wrong there, they turned out fabulous. I started researching the history of Peri-Peri and it originates with the Portuguese colonization in Africa. The spicy coastal European flavors melding with the fiery hot native peppers were a recipe for perfection in my opinion.

Given the main dishes culinary pedigree, i wanted to keep it thematic so i researched other Portuguese dishes and came across Caldo Verde. This is the ubiquitous Portuguese green soup, a signature dish of the culture from what i have read. I thought that having a soup alongside the shrimp would have been a bit unbalanced for a plate so i decided to modify the preparation technique but preserve the flavor combination. So, i guess i made something new, well, new to me anyway. I leaned on the prep methods of a ratatouille and used the Caldo Verde ingredients to create a spicy flavorful casserole. call it what you will, i’ll call it tasty…

Peri-Peri Shrimp cooking

First, the Peri Peri Shrimp. I sourced this base recipe from epicurious, my ever reliable source of knowledge. I modified the peppers used in the sauce, using 4 habaneros and 4 hot red chilis, not weighing them but using what i considered enough to light the fire. I finely minced the peppers, seeds and all and mixed them in with 2 cups of olive oil, 8 cloves of minced garlic and the zest of a lemon. hit that with your immersion blender to get the peppers down to a nice puree and refrigerate for as long as you can keep it. the original recipe says that it really hits its stride at the 2 week mark, i look forward to using it then in another dish… i ended up letting mine mingle for about 10 hours in the fridge, it turned out pretty flavorful. the shrimp themselves take about 10 minutes so be sure and not start them too early in relation to your other dishes. melt 1/2 cup of butter in a hot pan and add to this 6 cloves of thinly sliced garlic. let these soften but not brown. add in a pound of shrimp, deveined, deheaded, tail on… squeeze the juice of one lemon over top and stir in a healthy dollop of your peri-peri sauce. stir fry until the shrimp turn pink and not a moment longer. salt and pepper to taste. plate and serve immediately.

Ingredients for Caldo Verde

For the Caldo Verde casserole, i took two thinly sliced red potatoes, 1/2 a head of cabbage (shredded thin), 2 links of chorizo (crumbled), 1/2 of a yellow onion sliced thinly and 8 cloves of thinly sliced garlic.

First Layer of Caldo Verde ingredients

layer them in a lightly oiled baking dish starting with the potatoes then the onions. drizzle a bit of olive oil and add fresh ground salt and pepper. then add the cabbage, the garlic and finally the chorizo. repeat these layers at least one more time. bake in a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes. cut and serve immediately.

Caldo Verde fresh from the oven

you know, looking at the photos, its kinda silly to call it Caldo Verde since i used purple cabbage instead of kale or green cabbage. anyway, it tasted great, you should try it.

for a beverage, we went crazy and leaned on the spicy influence of the dish, forgoing the normal beer and opting instead for fruit juice. Mango juice to be exact. With copious amounts of vanilla vodka. so very, very tasty and perfect with spicy dishes. very refreshing.

Plated and ready to eat

I was quite proud of my restructured Caldo Verde. It turned out nicely, held its shape well and the flavors were amazing. I’m sure the soup is pretty good too, i have never had it but i will be going this route if i make the dish in the future. The shrimp had a nice kick to them, finger licking good but thats the nature of shrimp inherently in my experience. in retrospect i would have made a bit of pita or some other bread to sop up the juices of the lovely dishes but hindsight as they say…

another week down, 3/4 of the way finished. 12 more meals to go. hope you enjoyed reading.


Feast 35 – Synchronicity/Lomo Saltado

January 19, 2010

Odd the way that synchronicity pops up. While I was on vacation, I had been brainstorming on what dishes to make when I got back. I needed to have a bit of a plan in place to prevent an abject fall into meandering depression and inaction. What can I say, forethought prevents laziness. So, I started thinking about Peruvian cuisine and hit upon the idea of making Lomo Saltado. Great idea says i. and then, wouldn’t you know it, our dear friends invite us to dinner the night before I leave and what is on the menu? Lomo. Of course. Mike has the advantage of having the cuisine in his lifeblood, I almost feel bad about even trying to cook it but hey, I decided to give it the old college try.

Lomo is basically a south American stir fry. It is traditionally served on fries with rice on the side. Easy, one dish, tasty. I like it. The key for me is the marinating time. The longer the meat marinates, the more flavorful and tender it will be. Start by thinly slicing a pound and a half of sirloin into strips, cutting against the grain and at a slight angle. Against the grain will minimize the length of the connective tissues in each slice, increasing tenderness in the end product. Thank you mister Alton Brown for my continuing education in all things culinary. Place in a large glass dish that you have a lid for so that you can refrigerate after mixing the marinade. Add to this one head of garlic, peeled and crushed, a liberal pour of white vinegar, the juice of one lime, a 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro, a liberally sprinkling of cayenne pepper, a bit of ground cumin and salt. Refrigerate for 3 hours, shaking the dish every half hour or so to make sure everything is nice and coated.

Meat in Marinade

Meanwhile, turn your attention to your fries. Peel and cut 3 russet potatoes into fry shapes. I made mine relatively thin, make them thicker if that’s what appeals to you. I decided to cook them in two stages, first, tossed with salt and pepper and roasted in the oven for about 40 minutes to soften them. Then, I shallow fried them in hot canola oil for about three minutes until crispy on the outside, working in batches and draining well. Put the fries back in the oven, lowering the heat to warm or 200 degrees to keep them at a nice temperature while you finish everything else.

Fries cut and seasoned, ready for the oven

For the rice, I had a bit of spicy chicken broth from when I cooked down some chicken thighs a few meals back in the freezer so I decided to use it in place of water for the additional flavor. It was also pre salted so I didn’t need to season the water whatsoever. Bring 2 cups of broth to a boil and add 1 cup of rice. Stir in a small can of corn kernels and the remainder of the chopped cilantro left over from the bunch you mangled for the marinade. Cover and turn the heat off, leaving to cook for about 15 minutes. Fluff and serve.

Back to the lomo itself. This dish required a bigger pan that I had available to me but I made due with the biggest one I had. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large pan or wok if you have one. Stir fry the beef until it starts to brown and then add in 2 red onions, cut into eights and 4 red jalapenos, deseeded and cut into strips. Cook these until the onions begin to soften and then add 4 large tomatoes cut into quarters. Cook for another 5 – 10 minutes until the tomatoes are warm and start to soften. Serve over the fries with the rice on the side.

Lomo Saltado, Plated and ready to eat

There is something to be said about not just what you eat but where you eat it. While this dish was prepared well and tasted outstanding, I definitely preferred the lomo that I ate sitting beside my wife at the table of my great friends Mike and Jess… that’s an ingredient I am definitely missing here in korea. (no disrespect meant to eddie, he understands I am sure.)

Feast 34 – Back For More/Roast Beast

January 19, 2010

I have to admit that I have been putting off writing up this weekend’s meal. It’s not that it wasn’t good or that I didn’t enjoy making it… it was actually quite good and I certainly enjoyed making it. It’s just that this is the last real act of integration into my routine back in korea. I have been in denial about the whole thing and would honestly rather still be in Colorado with friends and family but the sad truth is, here I am, in korea, typing up a four day late blog entry. Almost early for next week 🙂

Anyway, pity party over, time to get back on track. First and foremost, this meal was highlighted by a singularly distinctive beverage. While on holiday, I had occasion to try Odell’s Bourbon Barrel Stout and it was so damned good that I had to carry one back to share with Eddie. This is the most amazing beer I have ever tried and I have had hundreds of different beers over the years. Aging in the bourbon barrels imparts the stout with a deeply resonant flavor and the head has the light taste of bourbon. A fine sipping beer, it has raised the bar too high for any other beer I am likely to have for the duration of my stay in korea. But damn, it was worth it.

Oh yeah, there was food as well… I wanted to make something that would stand up to the wonderful beer so it to be a beef dish. I poked around a bit and found a recipe for a garlic encrusted roast beef and that definitely fit the bill. Alongside this, I had planned a potato dish. While in Colorado, I also picked up a current issue of the magazine “Draft” and amongst the wonderful pages of beer information, there was an article on cooking with beer, specifically potato side dishes. A recipe from Chef Tyler Anderson of the Cooper Beech Inn was exactly what I was looking for, Smoked Potato and Beer Gratin. For a vegetable, I took Eddie up on the challenge of converting his opinion on Brussels Sprouts. Really, I believe that people who don’t like them have just never really had them fresh and well cooked. Frozen and boiled to death, anything is going to taste like crap. Forget your childhood and eat more vegetables people!

Roast Fresh from the oven

So, the roast beef… I started with a nice 2 pound roast, well, as nice as I could get here. Let the meat come up to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Salt and pepper the roast and brown all sides in a hot pan to seal in the goodness. Meanwhile, mix 1 cup of bread crumbs, 6 minced cloves of garlic, 2 minced shallots, 1 tbsp thyme and 1 tbsp marjoram. Combine well and add in 3 tbsp of melted butter, stirring well to make a nice topping. Coat the top and sides of the roast with Dijon mustard and plaster on the crust mixture. Roast at 375 for about 45 minutes until internal temperature reaches 125… I unfortunately forgot my probe thermometer back at home while on vacation so I had to eyeball it. Luckily, the timing worked out right and the roast came out great.

While the roast is, well, roasting, mix up a horseradish mustard mixture with 2 tbsp horseradish, 2 tbsp Dijon, 2 tbsp sour cream salt, pepper and rosemary to taste. Serve alongside the sliced roast.

Smoked Potatoes and Beer Gratin

For the potatoes, as stated above, I used a recipe out of Draft magazine which I will link here: http://draftmag.com/recipes/detail/38 check it out along with the entirety of the magazine, which impressed me greatly and has earned me as a repeat reader for sure. As expected, I made a few modifications based on my limitations here in korea and personal tastes. I don’t have a bbq available so instead of smoking the potatoes over woodchips as required in the recipe, I reached a happy medium substitute with some liquid some and oven roasting. Not exactly as prescribed but hey, I’m doing what I can with what I got. I also increased the amount of Tabasco based on my own taste for things a bit on the spicier side. Use your own discretion on that one.

Sprouts Cooking Away

The Brussels sprouts, simple, easy… as I did for my going away feast a lifetime ago, I tossed them in olive oil and liberally salted and peppered. Hot skillet on the stovetop, roast them until they are slightly charred on the outside, stirring often to ensure all sides are cooked well. The aim is an almost crispy exterior with a soft delicious inside. I always slice them in half to serve but I’m just a little retentive. Bonus points for a little grated Parm on top of them on the plate, this time I did without.

Roast Sliced and Ready to Serve

The meal was great, I know I say that about all of them but really, I probably wouldn’t be wasting my time doing this if I was making crappy food. I expect excellent food when I step into the kitchen and I spend the time preparing and executing the dish with an aim at perfection. I am my worst critic but honestly, so far I have done pretty well and not jacked any of the dishes up. Hooray for me.

Meal plated and ready to eat

You may have noticed (or not) that this posting is about 8 days late. Well, I have been in serious denial about my return to korea and not terribly happy about it. Sorry about that. This is the last sign that I have returned to routine, at least for another 102 days. So, excuse the double post, enjoy reading about the food and I promise that I will get next weeks meal posted in a timely manner.