Cambodian Grilled Lemongrass Skewers

  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass
  • 15 Kaffir lime leaves, chiffonade
  • 1 T minced fresh ginger
  • 1 T minced fresh galangal
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 medium red onion, diced OR 4 scallions
  • 1 T turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 t fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2-3 T Three Crabs Vietnamese fish sauce
  • 1 T vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c Panko

Place all ingredients aside from the meat, egg, and breadcrumbs into a food processor and pulse until a thick paste forms.

Combine with the meat, breadcrumbs and egg until thoroughly mixed.

Mould onto bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water overnight. Grill over medium-high heat until charred on the outside and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.

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Thai Chicken Wings

6 lbs chicken wings, cut into wings and drumette pieces and tips reserved for making stock.

Marinade:

3 lemongrass stalks, white parts only
3 coriander roots, or 1/2 bunch of coriander/cilantro including stems
1 1/2″ piece of galangal, peeled. Replace with ginger if unavailable, or use both.
4 garlic cloves
4 shallots
zest of 1 lime, juice of 2
sriracha or thai chillies to taste
1 T coconut cream (from top of coconut milk can) to help a paste form. A little vegetable oil will also work.

Place all in a food processor and blend until a fine paste forms. Rub thoroughly onto chicken wings and then add 1 C coconut milk and stir to coat well. Let sit overnight or at least 2 hours.
Grill on medium heat until well browned and slightly charred on each side, about 15 min. per side. Do not over cook or you will dry out the meat. Feel free to baste the wings with the remaining marinade as they grill, making sure you cook them thoroughly to avoid any contamination.

Though these taste great on their own, you could also make a peanut sauce to dip them in.

Serves 6-8

Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs

Have your butcher cut a slab or two of spare ribs (depending on how many people you’re feeding) into several 1″ wide lengthwise slices so that you can cut them apart and have 1″ x 1″ (approx) riblets. But don’t cut them apart just yet!

First you need to season them with a dry rub made of:

  • kosher salt (not too much, as the sauce itself is quite salty)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ginger powder
  • garlic powder

Rub this liberally on the ribs and then grill over medium high heat until the outside is nice and well done with bits of lovely charring, but the inside is still raw-ish. All you’re doing here is giving the ribs flavour, not cooking them.

At this point you want to cut the ribs into nice little bite-sized pieces – which would be impossible if we hadn’t had the butcher slice through the bones for us. Like I said, you want to have pieces of about 1″x1″ or so – smaller is ok too.

Place all the cut up riblets into a large, very deep roasting pan and add this sauce:

  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 C dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 C ketchup
  • 1/4 C white or rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 C Japanese soya sauce – Kikkoman works well here
  • 2 T corn starch

For 4-5 lbs of ribs you’ll need a triple batch of the sauce, or so. You want just enough so that the sauce doesn’t quite cover the ribs. You can make less sauce than you think you will need and then add one more batch if you really need more. Whisk all ingredients together and pour over the ribs.

Bake in a 350°F oven for approximately 2-2 1/2 hours, stirring every 45 minutes and removing the lid for the last half hour. Essentially you want to bake it until the connective tissues break down and the meat is very tender and coming off the bone, but not totally falling apart. I usually just take the lid off whilst I’m making the rice after having baked for 2 hrs, and once the rice is done, so are the ribs.

Serve over steamed brown or white rice and with any veggie. I like steamed broccoli or garlic sautéed long beans. What this turns out to be is basically umami meat crack. It’s severely addicting.

Grilled Zucchini and Mushroom Pasta al Forno

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti

2 lbs of zucchini cut into thick slices about 1″ (I used 2 globe zucchini)
extra virgin olive oil
garlic powder
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

1 lb crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
vegetable oil
butter

1 large onion, diced, divided
5 garlic cloves, minced, divided

2 large cans diced tomatoes
1/2 C dry white wine
red pepper flakes
1/4 C fresh basil chiffonade
1 small jar capers

mixture of white Italian cheeses* such as:
mozzarella
parmigiano reggiano
fontina

Sauté on medium heat half of the diced onion in about 1 T each of olive oil and butter and until softened, adding kosher salt to sweat the onion. Add in red pepper flakes to taste as well as the drained capers and half of the minced garlic. Once the garlic is soft, add in the wine and cook until nearly evaporated. Add in the tomatoes and their juices and lower the heat. Simmer all ingredients on low until ready to assemble in a large casserole dish, adding a little water as needed to keep the sauce rather thin but still flavourful.

Brush your zucchini slices with olive oil and season liberally with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and garlic powder. Grill until very well done where you have very intense grill marks and it is rather soft – which makes it important to have thick slices else it will fall apart.   I like to grill until just before it becomes burnt – this really intensifies the flavour of the zucchini and gives the end dish a very nice smokey flavour.  Allow to cool and then slice into 1/2″ wide strips.

Heat a cast iron pan which has a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in it until very hot. Add mushrooms and sauté until well browned. Lower the heat to medium low and add in the other half of the diced onion, rest of the garlic, a couple tablespoons of butter and season with salt and pepper. Continue to sauté until the onions are soft, being careful to not let either onions or garlic burn.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Boil spaghetti until it is just underdone – remove and drain before the al dente stage because it will continue to cook in the oven.

Take the sauce off the heat and add in your chiffonade of basil.

Layer in the casserole dish a few ladlefulls of sauce, about half the pasta, then more sauce, 3/4 of the mushrooms, 2/3 of the grilled zucchini, 1/2 the cheese and then the rest of the pasta, the rest of the mushrooms and zucchini, the remainder of the sauce, and finally top with the last half of the cheese.  Bake in a 375F oven for about 25-40 minutes until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbly.  I garnished the top with a small handful of basil flowers I stripped off the stem from my basil plants.

*In any baked pasta dish I like a mixture of at least three cheeses – a nice melty cheese like mozzarella or havarti, a salty robust hard cheese like parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano, and a medium, full-bodied cheese like fontina. I used what I had on hand which was: mozzarella, havarti, parmigiano reggiano, and extra sharp white cheddar, and it turned out very well indeed.

Grilled Coconut-Lime Chicken with Peanut Sauce (Chicken Satay)

8-10 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast and/or thigh meat

Marinade:
1 can coconut milk
1/4 c soy sauce
3 T freshly grated ginger
4 minced garlic cloves
1 T sriracha (thai chilli sauce) could also use sambal oelek/ulek
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
zest and juice of 2 limes
2 T sesame seed oil
1/3 C vegetable oil
2 T of curry spice mix, recipe below
salt to taste, if needed

1/2 bunch cilantro chopped as a garnish

Marinate the thigh and breast pieces for 1-2 days in the fridge. I like to use all thigh meat (because it’s juicier and more flavourful) that has been boned and skinned so it’s really easy to just put it right into the marinade with no prep.

Preheat your grill. Once hot, scrape off any crud, and oil well.  Once the chicken has finished marinated, remove each thigh and cut in half lengthwise. Skewer as many strips you can fit on your skewers (I did 3). Grill until just done on medium-high heat. During the last couple minutes of grilling, sprinkle the chicken with just a little bit of garam masala (recipe below) or the curry spice mixture if you prefer.

Once all the chicken is done, place on a large platter, and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Serve with the peanut sauce to dip.

Peanut Sauce:
1 1/2 C crunchy all-natural peanut butter (nothing in the ingredients but peanuts and salt) or 2 c roasted peanuts, crushed
zest and juice of 3 limes, extra lime juice if needed
2 T freshly grated ginger
1/2+ C dark soy sauce
1/3 C brown sugar
2-3 finely minced garlic cloves
sriracha/sambal oelek to taste (I like mine quite spicy)
2-3 t sesame oil
2 t curry spice mix, recipe below
coconut milk as needed until desired consistency

Mix all together. The liquids are in variable measure because depending on what kind of peanut butter you use, how oily it is, and whether you grind your peanuts freshly, the amount you’ll need to add in will change. If using peanuts instead of peanut butter, blend 3/4 of your peanuts in a food processor until it turns to peanut butter. Add the remainder of the crushed peanuts, and pulse a few times to mix them in, but retain the crunchy texture. Also depending on how limey and spicy you want it, change the amounts of lime juice and sriracha accordingly. In fact, feel free to adjust all amounts of all ingredients according to your taste.

Spice mix recipes

Curry spice mix:
2 t cumin seeds
1 1/2 t coriander seeds
2 t fenugreek seeds
3 dried bay leaves
1/2 t celery seeds
1 t ground turmeric

Garam Masala:
8-12 green cardamom pods (or 1 1/2-2 t ground cardamom)
1 T cloves
1 T black peppercorns
25g/1 oz coriander seeds
25g/1 oz cumin seeds
4 short cinnamon sticks
1/4 pod whole nutmeg (or 3/4 t ground)
3 star anise pods

Toast the whole spices in a small, DRY sauté pan over low heat until fragrant and warm, you should be able to just smell the spices, but be very careful not to burn them. Grind them in a coffee grinder you dedicate solely to grinding spices. Add in any pre-ground spices and grind to mix in.