One of my favorite cut of meat is Osso Buco, which literally means “bone with a hole” (Osso “bone”, Buco “hole”). It is the cross-cut of a veal shank with a marrow hole in the center. The veal shank is usually relatively cheap and flavorful, although tough, low and slow braising makes it tender & juicy. The marrow in the bone is silky and smooth, and perfectly caramelized to bring out the amazing flavors hidden in the bone!
This traditional dish from Milan is very easy to make and requires very few ingredients. Also, I understand that veal can be quite hard to find, and some people view it as inhumane to consume it, but both beef and pork work perfectly with this dish. The flavorful braised meat and its semi-sweet sauce are perfect to serve with risotto, polenta or mashed potato
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cross-cut shanks (about 1 lb each)
A Cross-cut of A Veal Shank
- Veal: the best and the most traditional choice, very tender with a slight sweetness, but very hard to find
- Beef: easy to find, very flavorful and juicy, can be a bit tough if not cooked right
- Pork: easy to find, a bit sweet, can be a bit dry are long cooking, lower the temperature a bit
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
- 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/4 cup chopped pancetta
- 2 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 stem of thyme
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 cups veal, beef or chicken stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to make this:
You want to brown it well so that the flavors of the meat can be brought out
- Dry both sides of the shanks, and generously season each side of the shank with salt and pepper, then cover with flour to get better browning on the shanks. Heat up a pan over medium-high heat, pour in the olive oil, and right before the oil starts smoking, place the shank in the pan. Sear each side for about 5 min or until they look like this. (It’s very important to brown both sides of the shank, the caramelization brings out a lot of amazing flavors, and help the meat stay on the bone)
- Take the browned shanks out of the pan, and in the same pan, add the chopped pancetta, onion, celery and carrot, turn the heat down to medium and cook them for about 10 min or until the onion has turned translucent. Add the minced garlic half way through since garlic burns very easily.
Let is slowly braise in the stock & wine mix
- Add the tomato paste to the pan, stir and let the tomato paste to cook and bring out some sweetness, then pour in the white wine, stir until the sauce becomes even. (It’s very important to pour in the wine when the pan is hot since the alcohol will be cooked out while the wine’s aroma and flavors can be saved.)
- Place the shanks in the pan, and add the broth until they almost submerge the shanks. Cover it and let it slowly braise in a 175C or 350F oven for about an hour, then remove the lid and cook for another 30 min to thicken the sauce. You can add 10 min at the end if you want a thicker sauce.
- Serve it with some polenta, risotto or mashed potato. I made Risotto alla Milanese or the Saffron Risotto which is a traditional side for this dish, you can find how to make Risotto here, and Enjoy!
I was having curry at a local Thai restaurant last weekend and it wasn’t so great, the so-called “Royal Curry” is similar to a peanut coconut curry, but it was way too sweet, and the consistency is too thick (they most likely used starch to thicken it). And I realized that overly-sweetness is actually a common theme in Thai food in Western countries, and after doing some research, the reason behind it is that for a dish like Thai Green Curry or Kaeng Khiao Wan (“Kaeng” meaning curry, “Khiao” meaning green, “Wan” meaning sweet), the sweet is usually understood too literally, when it actually meant to describe the particular color green of this curry, which is more like a cream green.
So, to make your Thai curry experience more authentic at home, we are going to make a pretty traditional Thai curry from Central Thailand, Kaeng Khiao Wan or Green Curry.
This recipe serves 4.
For The Paste, You’ll Need:
- 140 g or 5 oz Green Thai (or Birdeye) Chilies
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 5 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 Shallots
- 2 stalks Lemongrass (just the root)
- 1 thumb-sized chunk of Galangal (or ginger, they are very similar in flavor)
- 1 piece of Lime Peel
- 1 tbsp Mix Peppercorns
- 1 tbsp Shrimp Paste (or anchovy paste)
- 1/2 tbsp Rock Sugar
- 1 tsp Coriander Seed
- 1 tsp Cumin Seed
- 1 tsp Salt
For the Curry, You’ll Need:
- 1.5 kg or 3 lb of river fish (like bass, pike or carb) or fish balls
- 0.7 kg or 1.5 lb of mushroom
- 500 ml or 2 cups of seafood stock (water)
- 500 ml or 2 cups of coconut cream
- 5 – 10 stems of Thai sweet basil
- 2 red chilies
How to make this:
- First, we make the paste, roughly chop the green Thai chilies, garlic, lime leaves, shallots, lemongrass, galangal and lime peel, lightly toast the peppercorns, coriander and cumin seeds, then blend everything together with a food processor or a pestle & mortar, then add the shrimp paste, salt and sugar. Blend or smash it to an almost paste-like consistency. (At this point, you can either make the curry or freeze the paste and use it in the future)
- Bring the seafood stock to a boil, then add all paste to the stock, cook for about 8 min or until it turns to a cream like color. At this step, you can either strain the stock and make a smooth curry, or keep the small bits in there and make a more rustic version of the dish.
- Add the mushroom and fish(or fishball) to the soup, pouch both until they are cooked, then add the coconut cream, mix gently so you don’t break apart the fish. Bring the curry to a boil and remove the mixture from the heat. Add the chopped red chilies and basil leaves, sever it with some rice, and enjoy!
This is one of the easier Thai dishes, and take almost no time to cook, but it’s packed with amazing flavors and the freshness of the dish is unbelievable! The paste can be frozen into cubes and use in the future, and you can use almost any meat or mushroom or tofu you want, actually, Korean style fish cake is perfect for this dish. Give it a try, it’s really easy!
One of my must-haves every time I visit Hong Kong is the wonton noodle soup or 港式雲吞麵, you can find wonton stands everywhere and a bowl can be as cheap as 30 HKD (about 3 USD) with 7 juicy & tender shrimp wonton, chewy egg noodles and flavorful, warm seafood broth. A dish like this is perfect for dinner on a cold winter night, or if you prefer, a hearty breakfast in the morning.
For this recipe, you can “mass produce” the wontons and keep them in your freezer, they’ll last about 3 months. Although this recipe doesn’t include the recipes for the noodle and soup, you can basically use any noodle-soup combination you want.
For 50 Wontons, You’ll Need:
- 225g or 1/2 lb 80% lean ground pork
- 550g or 1 lb peeled & deveined shrimp
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp bonito flakes (the original recipe calls for Chinese dried fish powder, which is 50% MSG)
- 1 tsp cooking rice wine/Japanese mirin
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp starch
- 1 tsp chopped chives
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 50 square wonton wrappers
How to make this:
- Purée half (225g) of the shrimp using a food processor, you can mince the shrimp with a knife too, but it’s just too much work. Cut the rest of the shrimp into 3 equal pieces.
- Thoroughly the puréed shrimp, cut shrimp chunks and minced pork together, add the egg, bonito flakes, cooking rice wine/Japanese mirin, soy sauce, starch, chopped chives, salt, and ground pepper. Stop stirring when the mixture turns into a pink, consistent, smooth paste.
- Place about a teaspoon of the paste in the center of the wrapper, wet the edge and fold it diagonally. Then wet the 2 tips and press them together, repeat until you used up all the wrappers or fillings.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, then carefully drop the wontons in the boiling water. The uncooked wonton would sink to the bottom of the pot, and a good indication of the wontons are cooked is when they flow to the top of the water (the same rule apply for both fresh & frozen wonton).
- Serve the wontons with some blanched greens, noodle, and soup. Enjoy!
One of my favorite Indian dishes is the Vindaloo, a slightly acidic and spicy meat stew from the Goa region in India. Even though in the western world, vindaloo is just another “hot & spicy curry from India”, the dish is actually inspired by a very popular Portuguese dish, carne de vinha d’alhos, which roughly translate to “marinated meat in vinegar and garlic”. It was brought to the Goa region by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century and after 200 years of improvements made by both Goanese and Portuguese cooks, when the British discovered this dish in the mid-1700s, it has transformed completely. However, when the dish was introduced back to the west, the tang from the vinegar was replaced by tomato sauce to reduce cost, meat is no longer marinated to save time, and the amazing balance of the different spices are lost under a blistering excess of chiles.
This Vindaloo recipe is very similar to that used by cooks from Goa, based on an early British India cookbook. The spices provide an earthy flavor that balances perfectly with the tangy-ness from the vinegar, and the heat is detectable, but not overwhelming.
For the marinade, you need (*I use dried whole spices, if you use the powdered version, just use half the volume):
- 8-10 Kashmiri chilies, dried
- 1 tsp black mustard seed
- 1 tsp whole cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 4 cloves
- 4 piece garlic
- 1 piece ginger (about the 1/2 of a thumb size)
- 2 tbsp apple cider or white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp cooking oil (something neutral)
- 2 tbsp water
For the Vindaloo, you need:
- 1 lb pork shoulder (beef chuck or lamb leg)
- 1 whole sweet onion
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 cup water
How to make this:
- Slightly toast the Kashmiri chilies, black mustard seed, cumin, and cloves in a pan, then place it inside of a food processor with the turmeric, garlic, ginger, vinegar, cooking oil and water. Blend the mixture until it turns into a thick paste.
- Cut the meat into 2inch/5cm cubes, them mix them with the vindaloo paste we just made, cover the marinated meat and place them in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but 24 hours is ideal.
- Chop the sweet onion, then place a deep pan over medium heat, add the oil and cook the onion with some salt and the cinnamon stick for 10 min. (I like to add 2 cloves of garlic to add some more garlic-ness)
- Add the marinated meat with all the paste into the same pan, cook for about 10 to 15 min or until the surface of the meat is browned. Then add the tomato paste, brown sugar and water into the pan. Bring it to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for about 1 hour or until the meat is tender.
- Serve the vindaloo with some warm fluffy rice. And Enjoy!
The problem with fish stew is that you can’t cook the fish for too long, thus it’s hard for flavors to get incorporate into the stew, however, this isn’t a problem for moqueca, because the sweetness of the seafood are extracted by the coconut milk, thus creating a thick and flavourful stew.
You’ll need: 1 1/2 lb white fish fillets (like halibut, swordfish, or cod); 1/2 lb prawns; 3 cloves garlic; 4 tbsp lime juice; 2 tbsp olive oil; 1 medium sweet onion; 1 red bell pepper; 2 tbsp tomato paste; 1 tbsp paprika; 1 tbsp red pepper flakes; 1 large bunch of cilantro; 14 oz coconut milk
How to make this:
- Rinse the fish in cold water, remove the pin bones and cut into large portions (you can use multiple types of fish if you like), devein and peel the prawns. Finely mince the garlic and onion, cut the bell pepper into 1/4 inch slices
- In a heavy duty deep pan, heat up the olive oil over medium heat, cook the minced garlic and onion for about 3 min, then add the tomato paste, paprika, red pepper flakes and some finely chopped stem of cilantro
- Pour and stir in the coconut milk, place the bell pepper on the bottom, then put on the layer of fish, then add another layer of prawns, bring it to a simmer, then cover and let it cook for 5 to7 min
- Mix in the lime juice, sprinkle with some chopped cilantro with some extra red chili for severing
Nothing beats a warm bowl of soup during a cold winter night, this spicy Spanish dish is invented by shepherds to keep them up at night and is also one of my favorite dishes to cure a bad hangover. It is super easy to make and only require very few ingredients.
- 1 loaf day-old French or Italian loaf Bread(usually a fresh loaf is about 1 lb)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic
- 5 slices ham(or any cured meat you like)
- 3 tsp hot paprika
- 6 cup chicken broth
- 4 eggs
How to make this:
- Cut the bread into 2-inch cubes, toss them with some olive oil, then toast them in a 175C or 350F degree oven for about 15 min or until most of the moisture evaporates
- Thinly slice the garlic, then fry them in a pot or deep saute pan over medium heat with 1/4 cup of olive oil until they turn golden, then carefully mix in the paprika and ham
- Put the bread cubes into the pot, then fold it until they are covered with oil
- Then pour in the heated chicken stock, boil it before pouring in so that the bread can still have a chewy texture when the dish is finished, taste and add salt if needed
- Carefully place the egg on top of the soup, you can crack it in a small bowl or mug, then gently place it on top of the soup
- Cover it and cook for 3 to 5 min, or until the egg are barely cooked
- Sever it with some chopped parsley
Beer, potato, and meat, this is what this dish is. It’s Irish? I am not sure, but is it delicious? Yes! It’s super simple, and will definitely warm you up on a cold winter night.
- 2 lb beef chuck
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 bottle Guinness
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 1/2 lb potatoes
How to make this:
- Cut the beef into 2-inch cubes, roughly chop the onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes
- Toss the beef in the salt, black pepper, and flour, heat up a dutch oven or a deep pot on medium high, and brown the meat
- Take the meat out, and in the same pot, cook the onions, carrots, and celery on medium for about 4 min, then pour half of the Guinness in, deglaze the pan
- Pour in the rest of Guinness, add the potatoes, sugar and beef stock, bring them to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and let it cook for about 2 hours
- Serve it by itself or with some bread