So, every month I get together with a group of women to cook. To be quite honest, while the dishes we make are tasty, they are not the most adventurous. Usually we prepare something from Ina or Giada’s latest tome. More recently, we’ve been cooking a lot from Suzanne Goin (you’ve read her book, yes? If not, stop reading immediately and go get it!). This always promises great results, but sometimes I crave something a little more exciting.
Enter Clifford Wright’s Some Like It Hot. If your weekly meals are a little on the blah side, or you’re stuck in a rut, this book is exactly what you need. From Jamaican Jerk Shrimp to Indian Pork Vindaloo to Louisiana Gumbo, Wright takes you from Peru to Ghana – one spicey dish at a time. He gives a little history of the region, introduces you to a few new spices and guides you through authentic recipes. Great food AND you learn something new!
My all-time favorite restaurant dish is from a Thai place nearby my house. It’s an appetizer consisting of chargrilled flank steak doused in a sauce containing typical Thai hot, sour, spicey and sweet flavors. The dish at this particular restaurant is called Neau Sa Ded, but more often, you’ll see it listed as Crying Tiger or Tiger Cry.
I crave it.
I mean LUST FOR IT.
When all the beef is gone, I swat away my server’s attempts to remove the dish before I can pour the sauce on anything/everything else that comes to the table. It’s on my “if you could only have one dish for the rest of your life” list. I think you get the picture, yes? I’ve tried semi-successfully to recreate it at home. Thanks to Clifford Wright, I’m getting quite a bit closer. In fact, this is probably more complex than my beloved Neau Sa Ded.
The dipping sauce uses quite a few dried chili peppers. If you can’t stand the heat, by all means, tone it down (I would never do such a thing myself…). The recipe also calls for galangal. I came across this root at Whole Foods a few months ago and quickly snatched it up and stashed it in my freezer for safe keeping. I always came across recipes requiring it but could never find it. Of course, once I found it, I had lost the recipes. Anyway…now I’ve had it and I can say I prefer the taste of ginger and would use that instead.
The only major changes I made to the recipe were to add a little sugar to the dipping sauce and finish it off with a little more vinegar – just to make sure the sweet and sour flavors were covered. To make a meal, I served the meat and dipping sauce over jasmine rice and stir-fried green beans. Hot stuff my friend! But I loved every minute of it!
Adapted from Clifford Wright’s Some Like It Hot
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Thai fish sauce
1 T sugar (beef) + 2 t sugar (dipping sauce)
1 lb beef rib eye or beef round (London Broil) in 1 piece
2 heads garlic
2 t oil
1/4 cup dried and crumbled birds-eye chilis, piqun chilis or chile de arbol
1/2 t salt
1 shallot chopped
1 T chopped cilantro
1 one-inch cube of fresh galangal or ginger, chopped
3 T fresh lime juice
1 t rice wine vinegar
1. In a baking dish large enough for the beef, combine soy sauce, 2 T fish sauce and 1 T of sugar. Stir till sugar dissolves. Place beef in dish, let marinate for 1 hour, flipping once.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut tops off of heads of garlic. Drizzle with vegetable oil. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast until insides are soft – about 40 minutes. Cool, the squeeze garlic out into bowl of food processor. Set aside.
3. Prepare the dipping sauce. In a small cast iron skillet, dry-roast the chilis over high heat with salt until chiles begin to blacken – 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool and add to the food processor.
4. Add the shallot, cilantro and galangal to the food processor. Puree into a paste.
5. Add the remaining 2 T fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar and remaining 2t sugar to the food processor and continue to puree, scraping down the sides when necessary, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl for serving.
6. Preheat grill.
7. Place steak on the grill and cook until center is medium rare – 8 to 10 minutes.
8. Remove the steak and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
9. Slice crosswise into thin slices and serve with the sauce.
Ms. Pantry Raid