I need to take this time to beg y’all to stop feeding the beast. All these cooking terms over the years that have soared in popularity have never ceased to drive me crazy. Here are just a few examples.
Panini, do you remember when everything became a panini? All of sudden my $6.00 sandwich was a $12.00 panini. All you're doing is putting it in a machine and pressing it. How is that $6.00 more dollars? Also, why does that automatically make it a good sandwich? A hot crappy sandwich is still a crappy sandwich.
Oh aioli, that one almost killed me. It was everywhere and now because you serve something with this magical condiment you double the price? Everywhere I turned there was aioli this and aioli that. Dude, its fancy mayo (at least the modern version). It's not some elixir funneled from 300-year-old trees that gods inhabit. It's a condiment! I can make a batch of it for the price you're selling a small side for. Don’t get me wrong I love a good panini and if given the chance I would slather my food in aioli. I just don’t understand why I have to pay twice as much and accept a lower quality product just because it's a buzz word.
The new one - “sous vide.” Stop just stop. This is not a new cooking technique and has been used in kitchens for decades. I know it sounds fancy. “Sous vide” makes you think “yes I must have this - it's so French.” It means under vacuum y'all and it is meat boiled in a bag. That’s it. Nothing groundbreaking and the machine is called an immersion circulator. I am betting no one is going to shell out the big bucks for the “Immersion Circulated Steak." Also, please note that since it's such a slow cooking process if the person handling it does not know to keep the temperature controlled they could possibly poison a large group of people. I truly love all my friends but I am not trusting you to sous vide something in your new fancy machine. The sous vide machine will suffer the fate of all trendy cooking tools (you know you all had a bread maker) and line the shelves of thrift stores probably still in the box. Side note: I will never regret the immersion blender trend. I love that thing like a fourth child. I am not saying don’t enjoy all these popular things, just the next time some guy tells you that the turkey is $20.00 more because he's “sous videing” it, tell him no thank you, that money would be better spent on gorging yourself with more pie.
So I will be using a term in this recipe that you don’t see too often but I swear by it. Hot Pot Meat. This is my new obsession. I found it in the Asian Grocery and I am now addicted. All it is, is meat (usually lamb, pork or beef) sliced paper thin. It's traditionally used to for hot soups. The meat is super thin so it will cook in hot broth. Now look, if this somehow becomes a thing you don’t buy some overpriced meat. Bring the meat to your butcher and tell him you want this thinly sliced. If you don’t have an Asian market in your area this will have to be your method anyway. Try to find a fatty cut. It tastes so much better. If you don’t have a butcher available you can slice it yourself. The best way to get it super thin is to have the meat partially frozen and a very sharp knife or deli slicer. Other than that this recipe is so simple, the meat is so thin, it takes less than 30 minutes to marinate and cook. Warning: this was so good that I kept the meat out after I cooked it and my whole family turned into barbarians. They would just grab hunks of meat and rice and shove them in their mouths, except me. I, of course, shoved meat and rice in my face like a lady.
1 pound Hot Pot Meat or very thinly sliced cut of fattier cut of meat.
2 tablespoons best quality fish sauce, such as Red Boat
1 tablespoon granulated light brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass, tender centers only
1 head lettuce, such as butter lettuce or Little Gems, tender center leaves separated
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 scallions, slivered
1 medium carrot, cut in 3-inch lengths, julienned (about 1 cup)
1 small cucumber, 3-inch lengths, julienned (about 1 cup)
1 3-inch length daikon radish, julienned (about 1 cup)
Mixture of cilantro sprigs, mint leaves, basil leaves and small perilla (shiso) leaves, about 3 cups
4 tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts
4 tablespoons fried shallots, available in Asian groceries
Small handful bean sprouts or sunflower sprouts (optional)
Serve with Jasmine rice, Rice noodles or as Lettuce Wraps.
1. combine beef, fish sauce, sugar, garlic and lemongrass in a bowl. Massage seasoning into beef and let sit for 15 minutes.
3.Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. When wok is nearly smoking, add beef and quickly stir-fry until lightly browned and just cooked, about 2 minutes. Work in batches if necessary so meat browns and doesn’t steam. (If you do not have a wok, you may use a cast iron skillet and work in batches.)
4.Top Rice, Noodles or lettuce with cooked beef, scallions, carrot, cucumber. Sprinkle with herbs, crushed peanuts and fried shallots (add sprouts if using) etc. Drizzle lightly with dipping sauce and put out extra sauce for serving.
FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE:
4 tablespoons granulated light brown sugar
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons lime juice, from 2 large limes
4 tablespoons best quality fish sauce, such as Red Boat
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1-inch length ginger, peeled and minced
1 medium-hot red chile, such as Fresno, chopped
1 hot red or green bird chile, thinly sliced
In a small bowl combine sugar, rice vinegar and lime juice and stir to dissolve. Add fish sauce, garlic, ginger, chiles and 1/2 cup water and stir together. Let sit for 15 minutes for flavors to meld. (May be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated.)