Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tomatillo Red Chile Sauce

A simple sauce of roasted tomatillos and chile de arbol that is excellent on burritos and similar things.  This doesn't have to be spicy, but it's at its best when quite spicy.

10 large ripe tomatillos, outer skin removed and quartered
Chile de arbol to taste, ground (4-5 makes for moderate heat)
1 1/2 t cumin
2-3 cloves dry roasted garlic *see note
salt to taste
ground black pepper
50/50 mix of lime juice and cider or white vinegar to taste

Broil the tomatillos until they start to develop black spots, then transfer to a blender along with any juices they gave off.  Add in the chile de arbol, the cumin, and the garlic.  Blend together (you may have to add a little stock or water to get the right consistency).  Add the salt, pepper, and vinegar mix; taste and adjust as necessary.

Note: dry roasting garlic involves heating it, skin on, in a cast iron skillet over medium until dark spots have formed on the skin on all sides.  Remove from the skillet, remove the skin, and use as normal.

Cilantro Lime Rice

This is a seasoned rice similar to that served at a certain fast food burrito place.  It's also similar to Mexican   If you want to take it more in the Mexican side dish direction add in some chopped parsley, roasted poblano, and peas, and cook with chicken broth instead of water.

1 C basmati rice
water to cook the rice
large handful cilantro leaves, chopped
drizzle of olive oil
salt to taste
lime juice to taste

Combine basmati rice, water, cilantro, and olive oil, and cook until the rice is done (I just use a rice cooker, it'll take more attention if you use a pot).  Toss the rice to fluff it up, then sprinkle with salt and lime juice, then mix to combine.  Taste and adjust as necessary.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Spicy Garlic Pickles

Awhile back I made some pickles that were absolutely amazing.  The problem?  I just threw things in there without measuring.  I had a general idea of what was in there a week later when I finally tasted them, and a general idea of how much, but that was it.  So I've tried to recreate them.  This isn't spot on, as I've made a version I thought was close, then tried to approximate the fixes, but it's still a damned good pickle.  I didn't bother using pickling cucumbers, just good old cheap regular ones, so adjust the cuts if you want to get fancy.

2-3 cucumbers, cut in thirds lengthwise then radially into 6ths
6 sprigs fresh dill
2 C water
2 C white vinegar +/- 2 T depending on how strong you like your pickles
1/2 C sugar
heavy 1 1/2 T + 1 t kosher salt
6-8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6-8 Thai chiles (or to taste), sliced once diagonally
2 bay leaves
4 allspice berries
1 T whole coriander seeds
2 T black mustard seeds

Mix together the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt, and let sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until everything is dissolved.

Divide the seasoning ingredients between two 1 quart mason jars, and pack in the cucumber.  Pour the brine over the ingredients, making sure to cover (you may end up packing in more cucumber or making a little extra brine).  Refrigerate for about a week before eating.  I suggest having these as a refreshing element on a charcuterie plate, but honestly I eat most of them straight up as fridge grazing.  Open the fridge to get a drink?  Well, they're right there; I might as well grab a piece or two while the door's open...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Stir Fried Chicken with Basil and Chiles

This is a quick and easy stir fry loaded with garlic, shallot, and chiles, with bright notes from lots of Thai basil.


1 lb boneless chicken breast, trimmed and chopped
1.5 t black soy sauce (or dark soy sauce or regular)
2 t sugar
2 t fish sauce

Stir fry
3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
2-3 Thai chiles, or to taste, finely chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, de-stemmed and thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 handfuls Thai basil leaves (or holy basil, Italian varieties probably wouldn't work)
2T oil

2-3 Thai chiles, or to taste, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 T palm or brown sugar
pinch kosher salt
1 T fish sauce
2 t soy sauce

Mix together the marinade ingredients and let sit for at least 15 minutes up to overnight in the fridge.

Combine the first four sauce ingredients and grind in to a paste in a mortar and pestle, or use a food processor.  Add in the rest of the sauce ingredients and mix to combine.

Divide the chicken in to two batches; heat 1 T oil until smoking in a wok and add the first half of the chicken.  Let it sit without moving for a minute or two to develop color, then stir fry it briefly before removing to a bowl.  Reheat the wok with another 1 T of oil, and repeat with the rest of the chicken.  Return the chicken to the wok along with the chiles, garlic, lime leaves, and shallots.  Toss this mixture until aromatic and the shallots have cooked.

Add the sauce and cook until somewhat reduced, then add in the basil, toss briefly to wilt, and serve with rice.  You could also add another handful of deep fried basil leaves for added aroma and texture, but I generally don't bother unless I already have some oil hot.