Spicy Pork

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I’ve never routinely watched cooking shows, and never thought I would. Well, never say never! During the pandemic, I happily discovered a few entertaining shows that I enjoyed bingeing. One is Amy Schumer Learns to Cook, and another is Somebody Feed Phil. Both are fun and funny as well as educational. Then, I discovered The Chef Show on Netflix, and once more I was hooked. It’s hosted by Chef Roy Choi and Jon Favreau.

I’ve mentioned Roy Choi on my blog before when I made a spectacular sauce from his cookbook, L.A. Son, which is a great read. It tells the story of Chef’s rise to fame from a Korean-American kid in Los Angeles to highly regarded chef status. Along the way he attended the C.I.A. and lucked into an externship with none other than Eric Ripert!

What I didn’t know when I watched the movie Chef back in 2014, is that the main actor, Jon Favreau, who plays a disgruntled chef who starts his own food truck, actually trained for his role with Chef Roy Choi!

Chef Choi, well known for his famous food truck Kogi in Los Angeles, was a perfect fit for Favreau. Choi sent Favreau to a week of intensive French culinary schooling. His knife skills are super impressive.

The pair got along so well that well after the movie they decided to visit chefs and celebrities and cook with them, and called it The Chef Show. In one episode, Gwyneth Paltrow asks the two what the point of the show is, and they both start laughing, cause there really wasn’t, as it turns out. They just have fun cooking together, cooking with others, mentoring, and eating.

So far, I’ve watched the pair cook with Wolfgang Puck, David Chang, Wes Avila, the duo of Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, some foodies and non-chefs as well. The chefs are my favorite cause you get to watch them at work, and they put both Jon and Roy to work as well. It’s all fascinating.

When Chef Roy cooks on the show, it’s like watching a magician. His sweet and spicy sauce that I made had about 800 ingredients in it, and many measurements like 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon. Seriously, that seemed crazy to me, that adding 2 or 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds would make a difference. But when you watch him, you get it. It looks random, but it’s madman precision.

In every episode, I’m scribbling like crazy to write down the recipes, pausing occasionally to write, sometimes pausing to google. Chile de valle? Couldn’t find it.

But then, I found the darn recipes online. And one that I really enjoyed is called BBQ spicy pork. It’s a menu item at Chef Choy’s Best Friend restaurant in Las Vegas at the Park MGM, which reopened in March of 2021 after closing during the pandemic.

To make the spicy pork, you first make a marinade called Galbi, the name of a Korean rib barbecue sauce, then you use some of it to make the spicy pork marinade.

BBQ Spicy Pork

Galbi Marinade:
2 cups soy sauce
1 cup maple syrup
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 medium onion, quartered
1 scallion
1/3 cup whole garlic cloves
1/2 kiwi, peeled
1/2 Asian pear

Purée these ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Spicy Pork Marinade:
1 cup Galbi marinade
1 cup gochujang
1/4 cup gochujaru
2 jalapenos
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup whole garlic cloves

Purée these ingredients until smooth.

1 1/2 pounds pork butt, sliced 1/2″ thick
1 1/2 pounds pork belly, sliced 1/2″ thick
Salt
1 large onion, sliced into thin wedges
1 cup spicy pork marinade
Cooked white rice
Sliced green onions
Sesame seeds

Place the meats in a large bowl and coat with the spicy pork marinade evenly and heavily. Allow to sit at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours in marinade.

Remove the pork from the marinade. Season lightly with salt. Grill on a flat griddle.

Add the onion slices and cup of marinade, and continue cooking until meat is nicely charred and cooked through, slightly chopping the meat as it cooks.

Serve over white rice.

Sprinkle generously with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.

And the remaining Galbi marinade? I poured it over abou5 2.5 pounds of cut up pork shoulder, marinated it for 24 hours, then cooked it in a slow cooker. Wow! What fabulous flavors.

Steak, Baked Ricotta, Pepperonata

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Sunday Suppers at Lucques is a James Beard Foundation award-winning cookbook by Suzanne Goin, published in 2005. The actual name is, Sunday Suppers at Lucques – Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table.

I wanted to purchase one of her cookbooks just because she’s so highly revered as a chef, and all of her culinary endeavors have been highly acclaimed and successful.

Her first restaurant, Lucques, was opened in 1998. I’m a little behind getting to “know” this talented chef, but I don’t visit Los Angeles, so have missed out experiencing its famous dining spots. After all these years, Lucques is still a quintessential West Hollywood dining spot.

The cookbook is really fun. Although I pride myself on menu planning, Ms. Goin puts meals together for the reader. And they’re fun meals.

So the one I’m making for this post is Bistecca California with Peperonata, Baked Ricotta, and Lemon.

Doesn’t that sound incredible?

Here are the recipes for the elements of this fantastic Sunday supper!

Steak

3 pounds prime beef or steak of your choice
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon thinly sliced chiles de arbol
2 lemons, zested, then juiced
2 scant tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin oil
1 bunch arugula
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Trim the beef, if necessary. Season with the rosemary, sliced chile, lemon zest, and cracked black pepper. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

An outside charcoal grill can be used to cook the steak(s). I opted for cooking my filet mignons in a skillet on the stove. They were cooked medium-rare.

Rest the steak(s) for 8 to 10 minutes. Spoon the hot Peperonata (recipe below) onto a large warm platter and scatter the arugula over the top.

Slice the steak against the grain and arrange it over the peppers.

Squeeze a generous amount of lemon juice over the meat, and drizzle it with a few tablespoons of oil. Serve the gratin dish of baked ricotta (recipe below) on the side.

Baked Ricotta

3 cups fresh whole milk ricotta cheese (1 1/3 lbs.)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon diagonally sliced chile de arbol
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the ricotta in a large bowl, and stir in 5 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, the chopped parsley, 1//2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Transfer the ricotta to an 8-inch gratin dish. Gently press the top of the cheese with your fingers to make slight indentations, and decorate the ricotta with the remaining thyme and the sliced chile.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the top. Bake 30-40 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Peperonata

4 large sweet peppers (1 3/4 lbs.)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups sliced red onion
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 tablespoons capers, drained
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons oregano leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the stems, seeds, and membranes. Thinly slice the peppers lengthwise. Heat a very large sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in 3 tablespoons olive oil and wait 1 minute. Add the onion, peppers, thyme, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Sauté over high heat 5 to 6 minutes, tossing often, until the peppers soften. They should still have a little crunch to them but be tender.

Add the capers and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan, cook another minute, and transfer the peppers to a shallow nonreactive dish.

Turn the heat off, add the vinegar, and reduce by half. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all the vinegar over the peppers. Add the oregano, and toss well to combine.

This was a really nice meal. I loved all of the aspects of it, but the lemon zest and rosemary on the steaks was a superb combination. I also added cayenne pepper flakes. And I will definitely make the baked ricotta again, even for an hors d’oeuvres platter.

A Chopped Salad

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The first time I learned about a chopped salad, it was because of Wolfgang Puck. I don’t know if this is fact or fiction, but in my cooking lifetime, he was the chef with whom I first associated the concept of a chopped salad. Coarsely chopped deliciousness, topped with a vinaigrette. Oh, and with cheese!

I only have only one of his cookbooks; he wasn’t a chef I admired greatly, but I didn’t have anything against him, either. He popularized pizzas way back when, and was one of the first to fuse cuisines, like French and Asian.

Once on our way to Hawaii, my family spent the night in Los Angeles, and we went to Spago for dinner, which was his first restaurant. And that’s where I had my first chopped salad. For reasons unbeknownst to me, that restaurant closed, so I feel lucky to have had that dining experience. But he still has restaurants everywhere, endorses products, and seems to be pretty active on television as well. So bravo to him for his tenacity!

So, what is a chopped salad? The one I remember having was crunchy, because of endive and crispy salad greens. Plus it contained lots of different similarly-sized pieces of vegetables, either fresh or blanched, and also feta cheese crumbles. It’s the perfect salad to play with, because the ingredient options are basically endless.

chop4

So for my chopped salad today, I’m using endive, radicchio, raw zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and gruyere, for a more chewy cheese option than feta.

For my vinaigrette, I’m including parsley and basil. Easy and fresh. A perfect salad for late spring and summer.

A Chopped Salad
Inspired by Chef Wolfgang Puck

Romaine lettuce, chopped
Endive, chopped
Zucchini, chopped
Cherry tomatoes, because those are the highest quality in existence right now, sliced in half
Gruyere

Vinaigrette
Apple cider vinegar
Olive Oil
Dollop of Greek yogurt, if you want a creamy vinaigrette
Fresh garlic cloves
Fresh parsley
Fresh basil
Salt

chop12

To make the salad, toss all of the ingredients into a serving bowl. I have not listed an exact recipe, because the ratio of vegetables is completely up to you.

I’ve had chopped salads at restaurants, where the ingredients were very finely chopped. And those were good as well. You just don’t get the same crunch as you do with larger pieces. It’s all a matter of personal preference.

If you are throwing this salad together ahead of time, I would add the tomatoes at the last minute, or just leave them whole.

For the vinaigrette: In a small blender, add an equal amount of vinegar as olive oil, the garlic, herbs, and salt. Blend, and then add the desired amount of yogurt. Blend again until smooth.

Just before serving, pour in the desired amount of vinaigrette and toss the salad. I’m constantly writing “desired amount” because I like very vinegary vinaigrettes, and I also like a lot of vinaigrette in my salads. Many people do not!

chop5

Save any remaining vinaigrette and refrigerate.

note: Think about all of the fun ingredients that can be used in a chopped salad. Protein like chicken cubes, pieces of shrimp, or avocado. Different veggies, of course, croutons, and even chick peas. You could also make a vinaigrette containing goat cheese, so you get that flavor, without the crumbles. So many choices!