Another round of What I’m Reading Now: Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States – A Dinner Party
So I came across this book awhile back that combines foreign policy AND food. Interesting concept, I thought. Admitted, I find foreign affairs intriguing, but food is my first love and takes up most of my free reading time. Alas, I am rather uninformed on global goings-on. This book manages to combine the two topics into an extraordinarily interesting book.
Mission of Burma
The author takes us to what she considers the “Axis of Evil” – North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Israel, India, Pakistan, Cuba, Burma, China, and “the Great Satan” USA (if you thought this book wouldn’t be left-leaning, you are sorely mistaken) discussing who has nuclear weapons, who wants them and who is the biggest threat regarding worldwide peace. Then she shares the food and culinary history of the region.
The great U.S. of A. gets Beer Butt Chicken. What could be more All-American than sticking a beer can up a chicken’s butt? As much as I’d like to give it a try, I opted to make something a little different and headed to the chapter on Burma which, if you read this book, you probably won’t call Myanmar ever again.
I chose the Burmese pork curry mostly cause I have a package of tamarind paste that’s been sitting in my cupboard for months now, begging to be opened. The curry was super flavorful and really easy. The only real changes I made were to reserve the marinade and then throw it in to the pot towards the end of cooking – just to add more flavor and make more of a sauce.
You are supposed to serve the curry with a garnish of fried, crispy onions. But I FORGOT. Meaning, I went through all the trouble of making the stupid onions but when the time came, I was so hungry I completely forgot I had set them aside. Of course as I dished up the curry, I thought to myself, “this could use something crunchy”. Um, yeah…like crispy, fried onions perhaps?? Alas, I threw some slivered almonds over top and called it day. Worked well, but when I found the onions during kitchen cleanup, I was MOST displeased!
Wata Majeedi (Pork Curry with Tamarind)
1/2 cup tamarind water (requires soaking tamarind paste in water – see steps below)
2 t fish sauce
1 inch piece of ginger – grated
5 cloves garlic – crushed
1 medium yellow onion – chopped
1-3 serrano chiles or small, Asian chiles
1 t turmeric
2 t paprika
1/2 t salt
1 lb pork loin or shoulder – chopped into 3/4 inch cubes
3 T onion oil (see fried, crispy onions garnish recipe below) – or 2 T canola and 1 T sesame oil
2 1/2 cups water
For garnish – chopped cilantro, fried onions (see recipe below). I added chopped almonds for crunch.
1. Make tamarind water – soak 2 inch cube of tamarind paste in 1/2 cup warm water for 30 minutes. Remove tamarind pulp – squeezing as much water as you can out of it. Discard tamarind pulp.
2. Puree the fish sauce, ginger, garlic, onion and chiles in a blender or small food processor (alternatively – just chop them fine).
3. Make the marinade – in a bowl (or whatever dish you want to marinade the meat in), mix the puree made in step 2 with the tamarind water, turmeric, paprika, and salt. Add the meat and marinade overnight (or on the counter for 15 minutes. But overnight is better).
4. Heat the oil in a heavy pot. Remove the meat from the marinade. Add the meat to the pot and brown on all sides. Reserve leftover marinade.
5. Add the 2 1/2 cups water to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover, lower the heat and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Check the meat and add another 1/2 cup water if it is dry. Continue to simmer partially covered (may need to increase heat) for another 20 – 30 minutes. You want the liquid to reduce quite a bit, but don’t want the meat to scorch the pan.
6. Stir in the reserved marinade to the pot and bring to a simmer. Check the meat to see if it is tender. When tender, serve.
I served the meat over basmati rice with chopped cilantro and slivered almonds. I was SUPPOSED to serve with fried onions (recipe below), but as I said earlier, I am dumb and FORGOT!!!
Fried, Crispy Onions and Onion Oil
3 medium yellow onions
1 1/2 cups peanut oil
1 t turmeric
1. Slice the onion into very thin strips.
2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat
3. When the oil is hot, fry the onions. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your skillet. Stir from time to time to prevent burning.
4. Let the onions brown evenly. When they are a nice dark golden brown (not burnt!), remove from the oil using a slotted spoon.
5. Place onions on folded up paper towls to absorb the excess oil. Onions can be stored in the fridge for a week or two to use as a condiment. Reserve the oil to use in the pork curry or wherever you would want to use onion oil.
Ms. Pantry Raid