Cherub was at school this morning so I had time to peruse the aisles at New Asian Supermarket without worrying that she would try to “pet” a fish in the tanks or topple a display of gigantic bottles of Squid brand fish sauce. Good times.
But as I was doing this, I was realizing just how important it is for anyone with a desire to eat well, but on a budget, to become friendly with their local ethnic grocery stores. Oh.my.gosh. People! Such a resource for inspiration and flavor and ingredients! I saw some gorgeous Chinese noodles (it felt like a three-pound package, or at least 12 servings) for $2.49. The three bands of Japanese noodles, made in Australia, I pick up at Fresh Market (God love ’em) are $4.99. I suck at math, but that’s way cheaper. And there are things you can find in the produce section that you can’t find other places. The baby bok choy was real baby bok choy. We were at Whole Foods a bit later and saw what was called baby bok choy and it was four times the size.
I’m not suggesting that you go all non-local with all your produce shopping. Not at all. You know P loves her local farmers. But for a change every once in a while, take a stroll through the aisles of your local market and see what you can find that gets you excited. Don’t know what to do with it? PK tip: Get it anyway. Do a bit of Googling or heck, send me an e-mail. I love a challenge. Let’s get cooking!
Tonight’s dinner was a quick one. (I was fortunate to be invited to a little lunch with super chef and super nice guy David Tanis who’s on a tour for his new book The Heart of the Artichoke. I’ll post about that in full later.) Anyhoodle, I marinated some grass-fed steak in vegetable oil, lemon grass all bashed up, ginger, garlic and Chinese chili paste. This was served with some fresh mung beans (remember the just buy it advice???) and that baby bok choy that was pickled. Awesome.
Quick Spicy Skirt Steak with Fresh Mung Beans and Pickled Baby Bok Choy
For the steak:
2/3 to 3/4 pound skirt steak (this was grass fed from White Oak Pastures, available at Whole Foods)
1 stalk lemon grass, cut crosswise in thirds and then bashed thoroughly (soooo satisfying) with the back of a knife
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 T Chinese chili paste (this is not really all that spicy, somehow, in lieu of that you could use one or two fresh chilies, deseeded with ribs removed)
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
1 green onion, sliced in rounds
1 t Szechuan peppercorns (this stuff is awesome, and used to be illegal, read the link to find out about how it kind of numbs your tongue, fun culinary miscellany)
A few drops of sriracha
2 T soy sauce
2 T fish sauce
1/4 c vegetable oil
Place the steak in a Ziploc bag, combine with the rest of the ingredients. Marinate for at least 2 hours (but it’s better if you do it in the morning for the night’s dinner). When it’s time to cook dinner, sear it over high heat until it’s rare. Let it rest for at least the amount of time it’s cooked before slicing into it.
For the Pickled Bok Choy:
4 baby bok choy
1/2 Meyer lemon (or just plain lemon, God.) sliced in rounds
1 jalapeno, deseeded and ribs removed, then quartered
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 c rice wine
2 T sugar
1 T sea salt (or plain salt, God.)
Combine all ingredients in a very small container that fits ingredients tightly. Cover and marinate for at least two hours (it’d be fine if you left it all day).
For the Mung Beans:
2 cups dried mung beans, soaked for no more than two hours
6 cups liquid (I used squab stock because I had some leftover leek tops, bulk carrots, etc. and the squab wings and offal in the freezer, instant stock! Persephone saves everything.)
2 strips bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Splash of vermouth
This was almost like cooking lentils. In a pot over medium heat add the sliced bacon and cook until almost crisp. Add the garlic and onion and soften for 3 to 5 minutes. Add a generous splash of Vermouth to deglaze the pan, scraping up any lovely brown bits at the bottom. Add in the beans and stock or water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour or until the beans are tender and beginning to get a bit creamy.
Well, just do it like the picture up there. God. (What is wrong with me tonight? Why am I so impatient?)
Playlist included Tell ‘Em, by Sleigh Bells.