Thai Beef with Basil (Pad Gra Prow)


Thai beef with Siam queen basil and scallion cooked in a cast-iron wok over hot coals on a charcoal grill. Intense heat is needed to achieve a great sear on the beef, while keeping the vegetables crisp.

This is a legendary Thai dish which quickly became one of my favorites after having it served at two local Asian restaurants in Green Bay, Wisconsin; May’s Egg Rolls and Plia’s Kitchen. At May’s they use a super-secret killer spice which I never could figure out… it’s Vietnamese, brutally hot and the owner will not share the recipe with me. 🙂

I grow fresh Thai queen basil and peppers every summer in my garden and am always bummed at the end of harvest season when they aren’t available.  The steak is marinated with Laoganma black bean chili paste, which is a staple in my kitchen. It adds such a great, subtle flavor to my stir fry recipes.

Control the heat with the ground Thai chili powder – you can also add hot Thai green chilies if preferred. A note on the garlic – you’ll see that I add it directly to the beef marinade instead of frying it separately in the wok. I’ve learned it doesn’t scorch this way, and it adds a complex depth of flavor to the beef. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

4 tbs. canola or peanut oil, divided
12 oz. flank steak, thin-sliced at a bias against the grain
2 tbs. cornstarch
1 small white or red onion, thinly sliced
1 red or green bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 cups fresh Thai queen or holy basil leaves, stems removed
3 scallion, roots trimmed and sliced at a bias in 1″ pieces (use both white and green parts)
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

For the Beef Marinade~
6 cloves peeled garlic, minced
1 tbs. Mongolian chili oil
2 tbs. Laoganma black bean chili paste

Combine For the Sauce~
1 tbs. Thai fish sauce
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground hot red Thai chili powder, to taste

1/4 cup reserved beef stock (use up to 1/4 cup based on preference)

Jasmine rice, prepared according to package directions  (1.5 cups rice and 3 cups water with 2 tbs. salted butter.)
Bring water and butter to boil and simmer rice over very low heat, tightly covered for 15 minutes. Fluff and serve.

Cooking Tools: heavy cast-iron or steel wok, heat-resistant silicone oven mitts, Asian wok shovel and spider strainer, serving bowl for transferring the beef.

 

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the steak marinade:  Slice the flank steak thinly at a bias against the grain. Place in a ziplock storage bag with the minced garlic, Laoganma black bean chili paste and the Mongolian chili oil. Squeeze the bag to evenly distribute the spices. Chill in your fridge for at least one hour.

Prep all of your other ingredients so you have them ready and close at hand. Thai cooking is very fast, with just a few minutes of actual time in the wok over a hot outdoor grill.

When ready, prepare an outdoor grill with enough charcoal in a mound for a medium hot fire. Light and let it come up to temperature for 15-20 minutes. While the grill is heating up, remove the steak from the fridge and place in a mixing bowl. Dust with the cornstarch and turn with a spatula so the pieces are evenly coated. Set aside and allow to warm up to room temperature.

Place the wok directly over the center of the hot coals on a grilling grate. Allow it to come up to temperature and smoke, about three minutes. The wok will be ready when a drop of cold water sizzles on contact. Add 2 tbs. canola oil and swirl to coat. Add the beef, spread and distribute evenly in the wok. Allow to sear for 2 minutes before turning. Continue to sear for 3-5 minutes. Transfer the beef to a serving bowl and set aside.

Next, add the remaining 2 tbs. of canola oil, the bell pepper and onion. Stir-fry until just crisp-tender. Add the beef back to the wok and then add the sauce ingredients except for the beef stock. Stir constantly until reduced by half. Quickly add the basil leaves and scallion. Stir until just wilted, about a minute, and add a bit of the beef stock until the desired consistency is achieved for the sauce. Quickly stir to incorporate.

Carefully remove the wok from the grill, using silicone mitts, and set on a heavy, heat-resistant trivet. Serve immediately with jasmine rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

A note on the flank steak: I’ve used this special cut of steak for all of my stir-fry recipes with great results. If you cut it at a bias against the grain of the meat, it will never dry out and always be fall-apart tender. I buy a full cut that is vacuum-packed and divide it in half the long way. I’ll then vacuum-seal the remaining half and freeze it for later use. If you prep the steak when partially frozen, it cuts much more evenly. Just ensure you let it warm to room temperature before wok-searing.

Serves 2-4

Thai Beef with Basil (Pad Gra Prow) | Culinary Compost Recipes Thai Beef with Basil (Pad Gra Prow) | Culinary Compost Recipes

Advertisements

Fettuccine Pasta in Garlic Sauce with Fresh Garden Basil


Fettuccine Pasta in Garlic Sauce with Fresh Garden Basil | Culinary Compost RecipesThis Italian pasta recipe is a variant on my classic garlic pasta sauce, but with fresh garden basil. For more years than I care to remember, my summer basil crop was a total disaster, due to increased seasonal rain. I was blessed this year with a bumper crop so I put it to good use in this recipe, and in my classic Italian pesto.

Take care not to scorch the garlic. You must stir it constantly until it just turns a light straw color. A good heavy pan is essential for this technique. Remove from the burner and set aside until you’re ready to mix it with the pasta. This recipe can be made as a meal, including grilled marinated chicken breast, or as a side with swordfish. Amazing — Enjoy.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 box fettuccine noodles, cooked al dente
1/2 cup XV olive oil (do not skimp on quality)
6-8 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
30 shelled pistachios, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely-grated hard Parmesan cheese
2 cups finely sliced fresh garden basil leaves
Pinch of ground red pepper flakes, to taste
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a 12″ heavy cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat until it starts to shimmer. Add the minced garlic and chopped pistachio nuts, the red pepper flakes, kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper. Stir constantly until the garlic is slightly softened and straw colored. Remove from the burner and set aside.

While preparing the sauce, bring 2 quarts of water with a pinch of salt to a boil in a soup pot. Stir frequently to dissolve the salt. Add the fettuccine noodles and cook al dente, according to package directions. Time the noodles so they are done when the sauce is finished.

Drain the noodles and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the garlic sauce, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Serves 2-4

Classic Italian Pesto


Italian Garden Pesto | Culinary Compost RecipesThis stunning recipe is classic Italian. Using only seven simple ingredients, its vibrant color and aroma elevates any meal. Toss with pasta or spread on thinly-sliced grilled Italian or French bread. It’s also amazing on grilled fish and pan-fried eggs.

Pine nuts are expensive and can be hard to find; a 2.5-oz. package runs almost seven bucks. Most major supermarkets should carry them, but you can substitute walnuts or pistachios in a pinch. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups packed garden basil leaves
1/2 cup XV olive oil
4 cloves crushed garlic, minced fine
1/2 cup grated hard Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts (2.25 oz.)
Kosher salt and fresh-ground coarse black pepper, to taste.

DIRECTIONS:

Trim and rinse the basil leaves under cold water. Blot dry. Place in a food processor with the minced garlic and pine nuts. Pulse until smooth, about thirty seconds, while slowly adding the olive oil. Fold in the Parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper. Mix gently until incorporated. Serve immediately – best used within one day.

Makes a little over 2 cups.

Italian Garden Basil | Culinary Compost Recipes

Italian garden basil grown in a patio pot. Make the most out of your hard-won harvest by making authentic pesto.

Ginger-Soy Glazed Cedar Plank Salmon


In our family, we take advantage of the short Wisconsin summer by grilling a lot of fish. The marinade and glaze recipe shown here is a classic Asian-inspired reduction that allows the flavor profile to intensify as it thickens. Ensure that you take time to marinate the fillets for at least one hour. Ideally, I’ll leave them sit for 2-3 hours. From my experience, grilling on a cedar plank is the only way to produce consistent results with no flareups or scorching. It comes out perfect every time. This is a family favorite — Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

2-4 8 oz. fresh salmon fillets, with skin left on
1/4 cup water
2 tbs. soy sauce
2 tbs. packed brown sugar
2 tbs. grated fresh ginger
1/2 large shallot, minced
Juice of 1/2 squeezed lemon
1/4 cup honey
2 tbs. butter
Pinch of dried red chili flakes

Cedar plank(s) and real wood charcoal for grilling

 

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the marinade/glaze ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce until thickened and bubbly, about 5-6 minutes. Set aside until cooled.

Rinse the salmon fillets in cold water and pat dry. Place skin side down in a shallow baking dish or large ziplock bag. Add one-half of the marinade to the salmon and reserve the rest.
Cover the salmon and refrigerate for at least one hour so the flavors have time to set.

Prepare an outdoor charcoal grill with real wood charcoal set to each side for indirect heat. Light and allow it to come up to temperature; the coals should be nearly white-hot.
Place the salmon fillets skin side down on a cedar plank and carefully place the plank in the center of the grilling grate, ensuring the coals are on each side, the length of the plank. Quickly brush on part of the remaining glaze and cover the grill (fully vented). Grill for a total of 12-15 minutes, adding more glaze around 7 minutes. Using an instant-read digital thermometer, remove the fish when the internal temperature of the thickest part reaches 130 degrees F. The fish should easily flake apart.

Serve immediately.
Serves 2-4

Note: The best cedar planks I’ve found are from Costco. You can purchase a set of ten for $30 as shown here — but my wife found them on sale for $20. They can be reused if thoroughly cleaned and dried between use. Use only hot dish soap water and a scrub brush.

 

Grilled Chili-Lime Salmon with Shallot


Chili-Lime Grilled Salmon on Cedar Planks | Culinary Compost Recipes

Place the salmon fillets over indirect heat on the center of the grilling grate, with coals on either side. The cedar planks ensure even cooking without flareups.

This is one of my signature Southwest recipes, made with just a few ingredients for the marinade. Buy the best Hatch pure ground chili you can find — it should not be cut with other fillers. When done, the fillets should flake apart and you can easily remove them from the skin before serving, if desired.

When cooked over cedar planks, the caramelized shallot and char from grilling adds incredible flavor without the risk of burning the fish. You can also use a gas grill, but the flavor won’t be the same. Enjoy!

 

INGREDIENTS:

4 8-oz. fresh salmon fillets, with skin
1/2 shallot, peeled and minced
2 tbs. XV olive oil
Juice of one large fresh lime
1 tsp. fresh-cracked black pepper
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. ground Ancho chili
1 tbs. ground Hatch mild red chili

You Will Also Need:
Cedar planks for grilling
Instant-read digital thermometer

 

DIRECTIONS:

Wash the salmon fillets in cold water and pat dry. Place them in a glass 1.5-quart baking dish with the skin side down.

Prepare the marinade by whisking the ingredients in a shallow mixing bowl. Pour over the salmon fillets, ensuring they are evenly covered. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in your fridge for 2-4 hours.

Prior to grilling, remove the salmon from the fridge and allow to warm to room temperature for 30 minutes.

While the fillets are coming up to room temperature, prepare an outdoor charcoal grill with a generous row of coals on either side, allowing room for the salmon fillets to be placed in the center on a grilling grate over indirect heat. Light the coals and allow them to fire until nearly white-hot.

When ready, place the salmon fillets skin-side down (do not scrape off the marinade) on cedar planks in the center of the grilling grate. To ensure even cooking, try to arrange the thickest part of the fillets in the center of the grate and not at the edges.

Cover and vent, cooking for about 10-12 minutes. Do not turn. Watch closely and remove when the thickest part of the fish reads 130-degrees on an instant-read digital thermometer.

Serve immediately.

Serves 2-4

Chili Lime Marinade for Salmon | Culinary Compost Recipes

Russian Pelmeni Dumplings with Beef, Spinach and Thyme


Russian Pelmeni Dumplings with Beef, Spinach and Thyme | Culinary Compost RecipesI first discovered this cuisine at Paul’s Pelmeni in Madison, Wisconsin on the UWM campus, and was blown away by how decadent and satisfying these little dumplings were.

This is a dish traditionally served in Russia, originating in the Ural mountains and other areas of Siberia. It is an incredibly popular comfort food made with a wide variety of ingredients. They can even be made as a dessert, using cheese and fruit. Similar to the Polish Pierogi and Slavic Varenyky, the dumplings are either boiled or fried and then served with butter, salt, pepper and sour cream. Other garnishes include chopped scallion, dill, vinegar, soy sauce — or as featured at Paul’s — their signature hot yellow Indian curry powder.

For convenience, a large batch can be made and then frozen for future meals.

You can make these individually by hand, using a two-inch circular dough cutter or by using a traditional Pelmeni form. This is an inexpensive kitchen tool and speeds up the preparation while providing consistent results. Enjoy —

 

INGREDIENTS:

For the Dough~
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
Flour for dusting your work surface

For the Filling~
1 pound ground beef, or 1/2 pound ground pork and 1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
3 tbs. milk
2 cups loose baby spinach, finely chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped from the stem


PREPARATION:

To prepare the dough, combine the dry ingredients and beaten eggs in a mixing bowl or food processor with dough blade. Turn on the unit and then slowly add the buttermilk, stopping when the dough mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Remove the dough and knead on a floured surface for two minutes. Shape into a ball and set aside covered in plastic wrap for one-half hour.

To prepare the meat filling, combine the ground beef (or mixture of beef and pork), salt, pepper, chopped spinach, minced onion, garlic and thyme in a work bowl. Add the milk and use two large forks to gently mix so the filling ingredients are uniformly distributed. DO NOT overwork the filling.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Starting with one piece, roll it out uniformly into a 15″ circle on a floured work surface. Flip it over and lightly dust the back with flour. Proceed to the next step by either cutting out circles or placing the dough on the Pelmeni form, floured side down. (This will ensure the dough and filling is pushed through the mold without sticking.)

Using a teaspoon melon ball scoop, add the beef mixture to the dough. If using the Pelmeni form, ensure that the filling is exactly over each hole in the form. Roll out the second dough ball using the same method and cover the Pelmeni form with the dough. Lightly dust your rolling pin and firmly press down on the Pelmeni form, working from the center outward. The individual dumplings should pop out the bottom. If they don’t, you can use an appropriately-sized pestle or your thumb to gently push them through.

If using cut-out dough circles, place the mixture in the center and then gently fold the dough over, forming a crescent. Gently crimp the edges to seal the dumplings.

For either method, arrange the dumplings set aside on lightly-floured parchment paper.

Heat three quarts of water until boiling with one teaspoon salt. Add the dumplings to the water in batches, ensuring you don’t overcrowd the pot.
When the dumplings float to the top, set your timer for five minutes. Then remove the dumplings with a spider strainer, drain and serve immediately with butter, sour cream and salt and pepper. Minced chives, scallion or dill may also be added as a garnish.

Yield: About 60 dumplings. Excess dough trimmings can be reformed and rolled or frozen to avoid waste.

Culinary Compost never endorses products for profit, and has received no monetary compensation for the content of this post.

Penne Pasta in Parmesan-Garlic Sauce with Italian Parsley and Scallion


Penne Pasta in Parmesan-Garlic Sauce with Italian Parsley and Scallion | Culinary Compost RecipesI created this simple recipe as an alternative to purchasing high-priced store-bought pasta salad at a ridiculous $5.99/pound. You can use either penne or orecchiette pasta with fantastic results. The quantity shown here will set you back a whopping two dollars.

This is a cold pasta salad that should be chilled before serving so the flavors have time to set. Enjoy—

 

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups penne or orecchiette pasta, cooked al dente
1 pinch table salt
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup XV olive oil, plus more for mixing
1/4 cup finely-sliced scallion greens
2 tbs. minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. crushed dry Italian basil
1 cup coarse-grated hard Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS:

Heat one quart of water in a saucepan with a pinch of table salt until boiling. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until just al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain and run under cold water in a colander to stop it from cooking. Shake off all the water and place in a large mixing bowl.

While preparing the pasta, heat 1/4 cup of XV olive oil in a small, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add the minced raw garlic and sauté until fragrant. It should just start to turn a straw color. Remove from the heat and let stand to cool.

Add the rest of the ingredients in the mixing bowl and fold in with a spatula. When cooled, add the garlic and olive oil and mix to incorporate. You can add more olive oil if necessary based on preference. Correct the seasoning if needed and chill for 1 hour before serving.

Mike’s ProTip: Take the time and sautĂ© the garlic. This step is critical. It mellows the acrid bite while infusing the olive oil, adding an incredible depth of flavor.

Serves 4.