Pork Vindaloo

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.

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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:

  1. Slightly toast the Kashmiri chilies, 72C87CDF-3BBF-43AC-8668-1BDFFD6E4BF2black 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. Serve the vindaloo with some warm fluffy rice. And Enjoy!IMG_1713
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Carbonade Flamande

Imagine a dish that combines the beefy-ness (is that even a word?) of Beef Bourguignon and the natural sweetness of French Onion Soup, you get Carbonade Flamande, a sweet-sour beef and onion stew made with a lovely beer from Belgium. The beef is slow-cooked to perfection, with the help of the enzymes in the beer, they become so tender that you can break it apart just by lightly pushing it with the tip of a fork, while the natural sugars are slowly extracted from the onion, mixing perfectly with the sweetness of the beer. This dish is usually paired with french fries (which are invented in Belgium), boiled potatoes or mashed potato.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 kg (about 2.2 lb) Chuck Beef
  • 1 medium Sweet Onion
  • 1 Shallot
  • 30 g (about 2 tbsp) Butter
  • 1 L (about 4 cups) Belgium Abbey Beers
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 fresh Thyme
  • 2 fresh Bay Leaves
  • 2 pieces of Bread (preferably Gingerbread)
  • some mustard, salt, and black pepper

How To Make This:

  1. Cut the chuck beef into 5 cm (about 2 inches) cubes, you don’t have to trim the beef because the fat is where all the flavors come from. Marinate the beef cubes in 1/2 L (2 cups) of beer for about 1 hour with some cloves, you don’t want to marinate the beef for too long because the enzymes will turn the meat from tender to mushy.
  2. Drain and dry the beef, save the beer. Season the beef generously with salt and black pepper, then in a heated pan, place 15 g of butter in the hot pan, then immediately sear the beef cubes in the pan, cook each side for about 2 min or until they turn brown. Place the browned meat in a container, don’t clean the pan.IMG_9986
  3. Thinly slice the onion and shallot, then in the same pan, add 15 g of butter over medium-low heat, cook the sliced onion and shallot for 10-15 min or until they turn into a dark brown, completely soft and reduced about 1/2 in size. You can add a tbsp of brown sugar for some extra sweetness.BeFunky Collage
  4. While the onion is being caramelized, let’s talk about the beer. I used St. Bernardus Brewery’s Abt 12, which is not a certified Abbey beer, but any Belgium brown ale will do, with a bit bitterness, fairly heavy body, and a pronounced fruitiness and cereal character. Some people use Trappist beer, which is a bit pricey compared to most, but uses whatever you prefer.IMG_0006
  5. Place the caramelized onion and browned beef cubes together in a heavy duty stew pot or dutch oven, mix in a bit of flour, then add all of the beer, herbs. Then generously spread some brown mustard on 2 pieces of bread (preferably gingerbread), place them face down into the pot and let it soak. Bring the stew to a boil, then cover the pot and let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 3 hours.IMG_0110
  6. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley, serve the stew with some french fries, boiled potatoes or mashed potato.

Blanquette de Veau

If there’s a dish that screams French, it’s the Blanquette, a white, creamy sauce made with veal broth and a range of classic French herbs. The creamy sauce is made with both a roux and using cream reduction technic, so, just be ready for the amount of fat that’s going to be in this dish. Also, since the blanquette is a ragout of white meat, so if you can’t find veal, you can also use lamb, chicken, and even fish. This recipe serves about 3-4.

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You’ll Need:

  • 2 lb veal shoulder
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 carrot
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 bouquet garni (4 stem thyme, 8 stem parsley and 1 bay leaf tied with twine)
  • 10-15 pearl onions
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 lb white mushrooms
  • 1/2 tbsp white pepper
  • 3 large egg yolks

How to make this:

  1. Blanch the veal first to get rid of all blood, cut them into 1-inch cubes, then cover the veal with cold water, bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, then drain the veal and rinse it under cold water
  2. Add the veal to a heavy duty pot with 8 the stock, then add the onion, carrot, garlic and bouquet garni and season with salt, bring to a simmer, cover partially and simmer over medium heat for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Save the veal and broth, you can save the aromatics, but they are usually discarded
  3. In a separate saucepan, blanch the pearl onions for 30 seconds. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water, then, trim the roots and peel the onions. Then, cook the onion in 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 tbsp butter for about 30 min
  4. Melt the butter over low heat, add the flour and whisk until bubbling. Then add the veal broth and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly until it thickens. Then add the mushrooms, season with salt and white pepper and simmer over low heat for another 10 minutes, add in the veal and cover
  5. Heat up the cream in a small saucepan over low heat, and stop heat right before it simmers, then whisk the yolks with 1/4 of the cream add to it every time. Stir the cream-yolk mixture into the stew and let it reach simmer, then stop heating
  6. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley, serve it with some potato, noodle, rice or bread

Feijoada

If there’s a national dish of Bazil, it is the feijoada, the black bean stew. Like many Brazilian dishes, this dish originated from Portugal (that’s why it uses so much pork and garlic), but uses cheaper cuts of meat and tenderizes it through slow, low cooking. So, let’s make it! This recipe serve 3-5 people

You’ll need: 1 lb dry black beans; 2 lb cheap cuts of pork (I used a mixture of 1 lb pig feet, 1/2 lb pig tails; ½ lb pig tongue, if you can’t find these, just use a piece of shoulder/butt with some bones & ham hocks), 1/2 lb bacon, 2 bay leaves; 1/2 lb smoked pork sausage (kielbasa will be the best, but andouille works too); 3 tbsp vegetable oil; 1 onion; 10 cloves garlic (yes, 10); salt

How to make this:

  1. Soak the dry black bean overnight in some cold clear water, drain and rinse the beans twice before cooking
  2. Heat up a large pot over high heat, place the beans, feet, tails, tongue, bacon and bay leaves in the pot. Pour in about 10 cups of water, bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down to low, skim any foam that comes up and cover with a lid, let is simmer for 2 hours
  3. Heat some vegetable oil over medium heat, then mince the onion & garlic, cook the onion for 10 min or until they are caramelized, then add the garlic and cook for another 3 min
  4. Slice the smoked sausage, then add them with the caramelized onion & garlic. Take out some of the beans, crush them and add them back to create a creamer stew. Cover and let it cook on low for another 1 hour
  5. Sever it with slices of orange, some rice, faraofa, and collard green

Moqueca (Brazilian Seafood Stew)

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.

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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:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Mix in the lime juice, sprinkle with some chopped cilantro with some extra red chili for severing

Beef Barbacoa

The traditional Mexican or Caribbean barbacoa is a method which a whole sheep are slow-cooked in pits covered with maguey leaves. But since it’s hard to get or cook a whole lamb, we are doing a more modern version which is made with the head of a cow (I know, WTF?) or chunks of cow or lamb.

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You’ll Need:

  • 2 lb beef chuck
  • 1 onion
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 chipotles(smoke-dried jalapeño)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup chili powder

How to make this:

  1. Place the chuck in a dutch oven or a heavy-duty pot, add the chopped onion & bay leaves, then cover half of the meat with smoke-dried jalapeño, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, apple cider vinegar, and water,
  2. Cover and braise the chuck at 120C or 250F for at least 6 hours, add 1/2 cup of water for every hour you add, flip the chuck halfway to ensure even cooking
  3. Once the meat is braised, drain & save the liquid (perfect broth for any soup), discard the bay leaves, then blend the tomato sauce & chili powder until smooth, shred the meat with forks, mix in the salsa
  4. Place the meat back in the dutch oven and roast it in the oven at 120C or 250F for another 2 hours
  5. Server it over some tortillas with cilantro and chopped onion

Seafood Chowder

If you ask me which one I prefer, bisque or chowder, my answer will most likely be chowder. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike bisque, but when you put it in front of a chunky bowl of chowder, the bisque just seems too smooth and textureless. So, here is the recipe for the Irish seafood chowder, which is a lot lighter than the common clam chowder in the US. This dish uses smoked fish to add a distinct smoky flavor and is perfect for a cold winter night. This recipe severs 4 people.

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You’ll need: 1 lb potato; 1/2 lb smoked haddock; 1/2 lb cod; 15 mussels; 1/3 lb prawns; 1/4 lb bacon; 1 bay leaf; 1 shallot; 1/2 onion; 1 clove garlic; 1.5 cups full-fat milk; 1.5 cup seafood stock; 2 tbsp butter; 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley; 4 oz smoked salmon

How to make this:

  1. Finely chop the shallot, onion, and garlic, cube the bacon, then heat up a heavy duty pot on medium with the butter, fry the shallot, onion, garlic and bacon until the onion turn golden (about 5 min)
  2. Peel and cut the potato into 1/2 inch cubes, then cook it in the pot with the onions and bacon for about 5 min, use waxy potatoes for a better texture
  3. Pour in the seafood stock, add the bay leaf, cover and let it simmer for 10 min
  4. Peel and clean the shrimp, cut the haddock and cod into 1 1/2 inch cubes, rinse and scrub the mussel, discard those that are opened
  5. Pour in the milk, wait for it to simmer, then add in the shrimp, haddock, cod and mussel, cover and let it simmer for another 5 min
  6. Sprinkle with some fresh parsley & black pepper, then add a couple slices of salmon, served it with bread or crackers