Heart Quest

Having heard recently of a prevalence of iron deficiency in young women, and being ever mindful of health and nutrition, I took it upon myself to purchase some red meat from my local Giant Supermarket. Arriving at the meat section I found myself unimpressed at the prices. Not wanting to wait until the weekend to visit the farmers markets in search of more reasonably priced produce, I conducted myself to the offaly boney section of the refrigerators, and decided upon a neat little pack of heart and a nice section of lamb off cuts as my proteins of choice. $7 later I was on my way with 750g of pure beefy muscle, and the same of meaty lamb bones as my dietary supplement of choice, with only a vague idea of how I wished to cook them. 

The initial idea was simply a stew in the vein of beef bourginon, no pun intended, however I am loathe to become too comfortable with one recipe as a ‘go-to’, which prompted me to search for some more interesting ways to use this most illustrious of organs. Although I have never cooked heart before, it is a safe bet to assume it would do well slow cooked, being simply a lean muscle similar to other cuts of beef, albeit with more iron content. It does apparantly, do well cooked very briefly, and I will show my great Australianism by saying my nearest reference to this sort of cut would be kangaroo, which is similarly very lean, and also requires either very fast, or very slow cooking. I would say octopus would be another ‘meat’ in this category, although I don’t cook it with any degree of frequency, only enough to know that marination is it’s good friend if it is to be cooked in a flash.

Initial forays into Google came up with not much of interest, the only recipe at caught my eye was for Peruvian Anticuchos – of heart skewers traditionally cooked as street food. This recipe looked the most promising – plus I love stumbling upon ingredients I have never heard of before, and the ají panca paste featured in this recipe definitely fits that bill. According to Serious Eats, it is a very mild type of chilli grown in Peru, which is dried and smoked for use in cooking. The more you know! I do have some smoked ancho chilli that might be a good substitute, and some fresh corn that would be great on the side. I also love learning about making dishes that are representative of a country’s cuisine, so this one is a definite contender.

Further hunting yielded some interesting Beef Heart Pastrami recipes, although I don’t have the means to smoke meat right now, or the energy to Macguyver it. I definitely want to get in to some curing in the future, though perhaps with a more standard cut. Also DH is away for a while, and I wouldn’t want to deprive him of such an epic cooking adventure! 

Being a huge fan of all things Chinese, I thought I would scout a nice recipe from that country, unfortunately it seems offal recipes don’t often get translated into English, so then offerings were scarce. Cue my choppy knowledge of kanji/hanzi from my Japanese studies, and a search for ?? yields more promising, if less comprehensible, results. Chinese and Japanese share many of the same characters, so this will give me probably far more Chinese results. Adding ??? will steer the Google machine towards Japanese. 

The most appetising Chinese recipe was a simple chilli garlic stir fry with capsicum and spring onion, you can see the Google translate version here.
I think this would go well for a novice heart eater (!?) as the strong flavours would mask any ‘offaly’ flavours, plus it’s fast to cook and I have all of the ingredients ready to go.  The translation is a bit sketchy but stir frying is pretty straightforward as long as the amounts and times are correct. It definitely fulfils the fast cooking requirement, too! 
So with this recipe in mind, it’s into the kitchen!
   
The offending organ, thankfully pre trimmed by the butcher.


Dredging the slices.
  

The finished product!

 

So, to save you the pain of the terrible Google translate version, here’s the recipe (adjusted down to serve maybe 2-3 hungry people:
Spicy Beef Heart Stir-Fry
300g beef heart, thinly sliced 
2 small spring onions, cut into 2 inch sections
1/2 capsicum, cut into 2 inch sticks
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 fresh chillies, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or rice wine
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup rice flour for dredging
4 tbsp oil for stir frying
1. Using chopsticks, dredge the beef slices in the rice flour and shake dry.
2. Heat oil in a wok or large frypan until it just starts to smoke. Add beef slices and toss until colour starts changing.
3. Add garlic and chillies, then Shaoxing wine and salt, toss to coat beef.
4. Add capsicum and spring onion, and stir fry until just coloured.
5. Remove from hot pan immediately, place into serving bowl. Serve with rice.
This was an interesting recipe, very simple, and also using only salt and no soy sauce at all. The end product was really tasty, the texture from dredging with the rice flour was a bit odd, I am not sure if this is one of those intentional interesting textures that many Chinese recipes strive for, or just a result of my wok not being hot enough to crisp it. 
Regardless, the taste of the dish and the contrast of the rich beef heart with the fresh and crunchy vegetables was really appealing, and the chilli and garlic worked well with the more pronounced meaty flavour of the heart. I was a little squeamish at first, and trying any new meat can be a little difficult, but I really found myself enjoying this dish and looking forward to leftovers tomorrow! I wouldn’t call the flavour offaly at all, it is just more ‘rich’ than the flavour of other muscle meat. It’s certainly cheaper than other cuts, which doesn’t hurt either!
I actually think heart would work well in any Chinese stir fry recipe that calls for lean beef, especially ones with some strong chilli and garlic to stand alongside it. I have some Sichuan boiled beef slices in mind for future adventures with heart! Now, about those lamb bones…

Awesome websites found today:

Punk Domestics

Spring Tulip’s Fun Chinese Cooking

Katsudonist  – in Japanese, the author documents his eating experiences, mostly in ? (rice bowl) restaurants.

Apple, Cherry and Raisin Strudel

Strudelstrudel2

 

It’s Summer in Australia, and that means stone fruits galore! I picked up a nice lot of cherries from the fruiterer, but they turned out to be a little more tart than I like to eat. This means cooking! I was going to make some cherry jam, but I happened to have some filo pastry that needed to be used up, so I settled on strudel. I couldn’t find a recipe for this exactly, so I improvised using other recipes as a guide. I used a Pink Lady apple, but whatever you have on hand is fine. I don’t like things to sweet, so add more sugar if you have a real sweet tooth!

 

Recipe after the break.

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Mediterranean Roast Chicken

After a long break! Here is one of my favourite recipes…

 

This amazing roast chicken recipe was created to use up some sundried tomato, fetta and olives we had in the fridge. This recipe is so popular with my family that they request it every time I want to do a roast! The stick on the top of my chicken in the photo is a sprig of basil flowers, don’t mind if you don’t have any, my basil had just gone to seed!

Recipe after the break

 

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Aus Banh Mi

 

I have been in love with banh mi, or Vietnamese pork rolls, since my friend first introduced me to them at a Vietnamese bakery in West End, Brisbane. I have been craving one for a long time, but unfortunately there aren’t very many Vietnamese bakeries on my side of town that make them, at least not that I know about. After reading a recipe in last month’s SBS Feast magazine, in which Luke Nguyen had substituted pork neck skewers for the usual cold cuts, meatballs and pate, I decided to make my own substitution. I wanted this delicious sandwich to be easy to make any time, without having to buy any unusual cold cuts.  We had beef sausages in the fridge, as well as some Italian porchetta – so we have a great fusion of French, Vietnamese, Australian and Italian!

I happened to have some porchetta in the fridge, but you can substitute this for any sliced deli meat, like roast beef, turkey or chicken slices. The fun thing about fusion cooking is that you don’t need to be a slave to authenticity! I also didn’t have preserved carrots, so I used thinly sliced fresh carrots as a substitute.

If you want to explore Banh Mi further, check out this site:

http://battleofthebanhmi.com/

Recipe after the break.

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Hainanese Chicken Rice

 

Here is a wonderful Chinese recipe that everyone will love. I based my recipe on the Steamy Kitchen version, which you may prefer using, but I will write down my method to document my changes.

Notably, I used a rice cooker instead of a saucepan, as I like to take shortcuts in the kitchen that save a bit of effort, without compromising flavour too much. This also allowed me to have the rice ready at the same time as the chicken, whereas otherwise you would have to wait until the chicken finished, then cook the rice. Also, to speed up cooking time, I butchered the chicken into  sections before cooking. This allowed me to add some junk parts to the rice cooker, to get chicken rice without waiting for the chicken to cook!

It may not be obvious in the photos, but this chicken and rice was served with a soup and two different dipping sauces. It is actually quite a simple recipe, so don’t be put off by this – you can easily substitute a simple soy sauce dip, and perhaps a separate chilli sauce dip, if you don’t have time to make dips. The dipping sauce recipe was taken from HoneyAndSoy.

The chicken is usually served cold, but I prefer it warm, so I skip the step of plunging it into ice water, and instead serve it straight from the pot, after cutting it up. I still used the Chinese style of cutting the chicken up into slices, bones and all, and my family were actually very impressed – it seems to make the chicken go further, as well. It’s a little bit of effort to cut through the thigh bones, so you may want to get a strong helper, or simply leave the legs intact. Alternatively, you could take the meat off the leg bones before serving.

I unfortunately didn’t have cucumber on hand, which is a traditional side to this chicken, so I served it with the carrots from the stock, and some chopped spring onion. I think this demonstrates admirably that a little improvisation can make a missing ingredient into an interesting recipe variation!  I also added soy sauce to my chicken soup, so it was a bit more brown than the Steamy Kitchen version – this is a matter of taste, you can just add salt if you prefer a white soup.

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Ma Po Tofu

 

Here’s a delicious recipe featuring one of my favourite spices, Szechuan pepper. It has a distinct flavour – called spicy and numbing. In combination with other fragrant ingredients, this makes for an incredible concert of flavours. It’s also a great way to get people to eat tofu!

If you a vegetarian, don’t miss out, swap the pork mince for some TVP! If you want both gluten free and vego, you could try substituting some shiitake mushrooms for the mince.

 

Recipe after the break.
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Asian Grocer Raid!

“Kruk” –  Clay mortar and wooden pestle

This is for making things like spice paste and sauces, that have a bit more liquid content than the usual mortar and pestle fare. I have used it for making chilli sauce, ginger sauce and green curry paste so far, it has been great. You don’t get bits of food flying out of it like you would if you ground the same things in a smaller, stone mortar. Always buy your mortars and pestles at an Asian grocer, you will pay far less than from a department or kitchen store.

Handpainted teapot and cups

Teapot for delicious green tea! Unfortunately the pot’s lid got dropped and broken, and the handle is now missing. It still makes good tea, though! I actually bought this at the Tea Centre – I would recommend this shop for any of your tea – related needs.

Tea sampler tins

A set of 6 tea tins that I bought, each with a different variety of Chinese tea in it. My favourite is still the Tea Centre’s Mandarin Oolong, though!

Szechuan preserved vegetable

I finally sourced some Szechuan preserved vegetable for my kitchen, I had to actually Google what the container might look like before I got on to this type. I expected it to be in a jar, but it seems only Tianjin preserved vegetable comes in jars. I am yet to use it in a recipe, I opened the can out of curiosity,  and put it into jars after. I love how retro the graphic design on the can is, it looks like something out of the 50’s. There is no English name for the vegetable this is made of, it is some variety of turnip.

 

 

 

Chana Dal

Today’s recipe was chosen after reading through a new cookbook I got, “An Invitation to Indian Cooking” by Madhur Jaffrey. Incidentally, second hand book shops are awesome for buying cookbooks!

Before I get into this recipe, let me just sort this out…

“Dal is a preparation of pulses (dried lentils, peas or beans) which have been stripped of their outer hulls and split. It also refers to the thick stew prepared from these…” –From Wikipedia

Anyway, I wanted to cook a nice authentic Indian dish, and I read in this wonderful book that dal is an essential staple in India. The next time I was at the local spice mart, I picked up a random bag of dal, which turned out to be Chana Dal, which is made from chickpeas.

I decided to use a recipe off the internet for some reason, and after a little browsing I settled on one from Pakirecipes.com,  which you can see here.

This recipe needs a little preparation, as dry dal need to be soaked before cooking, but you can always swap in canned lentils if you want a quicker meal. The longest part of this cooking was boiling the dal. Mother Bun says that if I soak them overnight, they won’t need as much cooking, so maybe that is a lazier solution too.

This is also a very cheap recipe, 1kg of dried chana dal cost me $2.65 AUD, and 300g was enough to feed 4 people with a little left over! Definitely a good recipe for the budget conscious. It is also vegetarian, and could easily be vegan by swapping out the butter for vegetable oil. It is gluten free, but not dairy free – again the butter is the culprit.

I served this up to four people including myself – we are all meat eaters, and we were all very satisfied with this meal. Very filling, tasty, and overall a great recipe.

The pappadams are store bought, and  cooked in the microwave. Not the best way to do it, but  I wasn’t up for frying them tonight. The type I got, papad, are make from lentils, but they can also be made out of chickpeas, rice or black gram, so they are great for gluten intolerant people.

Rice is done in my cheap $20 rice cooker, which I recommend highly to anyone who cooks rice regularly, especially the gluten intolerant among us. The chutney was bought from a local lady at a Sunday market, I haven’t tried to make my own yet, but with mango season nearly upon us, I may have to.

I followed the recipe this time, so it’s basically the same, with a few minor changes.

Recipe after the jump!

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Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

A small Italian deli recently opened at my local shopping centre, much to my delight. I was looking over their shelves one day a week or two ago, and found some delightful anchovies in oil, imported straight from Italy. I recently bought a copy of “The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook”, and one recipe caught my eye, namely “Spaghetti alla Putannesca”, literally translated to “Whore’s spaghetti”. Who could resist such a saucy dish? The main ingredients include anchovy, along with black olives and capers. I got some pitted olives at my local fruiterer/deli, and we already had capers and tomatoes, so off I went! I changed the recipe a little as I was only feeding three people, and I sometimes fiddle with ingredients to my taste. I also swapped fresh tomatoes for tinned, so I could cut the cooking time down.

This recipe is in fact gluten free, I use a corn and rice based spaghetti, you should be able to find it at most grocery stores, and maybe cheaper at asian grocers.

Recipe after the jump.

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Fried Rice

 

Hi guys! Here’s my first recipe on Onesteambun! Tonight I cooked some tasty fried rice for dinner, it is not vegetarian, but is gluten, egg and wheat free. You could easily make it vegetarian by substituting the mince for TVP or not-bacon.

This was a quick recipe to use up some mince that I had left in the fridge. I used broccolli, capsicum, corn, onion and mushrooms for my veges, but you can use whatever you have available. This recipe is best for using up last night’s rice, but you can cook new rice to make it, no problem. I like a lot of chilli, but if you don’t just leave it out. Also if you have any nut allergies, just change the peanut/sesame oil for your preferred oil.

This recipe is a good introduction to Chinese ingredients – Light soy, Dark soy and Shaoxing cooking wine are my go-to seasonings for stir-fry. If you like a different flavour you can substitute these for a good slosh of Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce), which would also be tasty!

I haven’t tested the amounts exactly, I have the unfortunate habit of just adding a dash of this and a splash more of that, so I’ll try and measure better next time…

Recipe after the jump!

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