Friday, May 25, 2012

Beef and mint = a match made in food heaven

For those of you who are skeptical about the above equation, I encourage you to try Giada De Laurentiis’s recipe for Spicy Mint Beef (click for the recipe).
   Then you’ll know the equation is absolutely correct.
   I was won over by this dish on the very first bite. The mint was at a perfect refreshing level,  complementing well the tender pieces of beef. It was amazing served over jasmine rice.
   Spicy Mint Beef is easy to make, but the recipe I linked to above on the website is missing several key substitutions, all of which were present in the version printed in De Laurentiis’ newest cookbook, Weeknights with Giada.
   We used the substitute ingredients and the recipe worked beautifully.
   Here are the substitutions that can be made to the several less-than-easy-to-find ingredients in the recipe:
- Thai chiles or serrano chiles: Neither of these were available, so we used a jalapeno pepper, and just one at that, as we don’t like overly-spicy foods.
- Sweet soy sauce and black soy sauce: The recipe calls for two tablespoons of each of these, but Giada says there is a substitution that can be made – ¼ cup of regular soy sauce combined with ¼ cup of sugar or honey. I used sugar as it dissolved more easily into the soy sauce.
- Chili paste in soy bean oil: I substituted Sriracha. I also used just one tablespoon instead of the two listed in the recipe.
- Thai basil leaves: Regular basil leaves can be substituted.
   To make the dish, minced garlic and the chiles (or jalapeno pepper) are cooked in a skillet, then thinly-sliced flank steak is added and cooked. Next come shallots and red bell pepper, then fish sauce, sweet soy sauce, black soy sauce and chili paste (see substitutions above).
   The mixture is simmered, then removed from the heat. Fresh basil and mint are stirred in until they are wilted.

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