Archive for the Main Course Category

Oslo Couchsurfer Curry

Posted in Main Course on February 22, 2011 by d0g3n

Winter. Oslo, Norway. The cold wind from the fjord stings my skin like a nest of hornets. I am staying in a barely-heated legalized squat house, run by a local anarchist collective. The group coheres around the kitchen; tea, coffee, milk kept unrefrigerated save for the ambient temperature of the room itself. Tonight I cook; warmth to all.

Oslo Couchsurfer Curry

3 large red peppers
1 carrot
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
2-inches of ginger
5 medium potatoes, cut to bite size bits
1 head cauliflower, broken apart
1 can green peas
1 can coconut milk
2 tsp cardamom
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp crushed black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
dash of cinnamon
Red pepper flakes to taste
2 tbsp ghee or clarified butter

Open the coconut milk and skim off the top half. Fill the can with water and mix thoroughly.  Chop the first five ingredients and sautee them in the ghee. When the onion begins to look translucent, add all the spices and sautee for another minute. Add the potato and the can of water/coconut milk. Add additional water as needed to nearly cover the potatoes. Stir, then simmer until the potatoes are nearly done. Add the cauliflower, cook 5 minutes. Add the peas. Using a ladle, draw off 1 cup of the simmering liquid and mix it with the reserved coconut milk cream. Add it to the pot. Adjust seasonings, serve over rice.


nem nuong xa (grilled meat on lemongrass skewers)

Posted in appetizers, Main Course on August 26, 2009 by fivepoundpossum

nem nuong xa

i came across this dish for the first time at a sweaty grill joint in ho chi minh city, viet nam.  there you could get just about any kind of meat (including various preparations of penis and stuffed goat’s udder) grilled either in huge oil-drum grills at the front of the restaurant or in smaller ceramic braziers at the table. i’m not exactly sure what they called  the dish or how exactly they made it, but i made my own version last night it came out very tasty. could be served as an appetizer or a main course.

(makes 10 or so skewers)

.5 lb ground pork
1 lb ground bison (beef would do; i happened to have ground bison)
5 lemongrass stalks, with outer layers removed and cut into 6-7 inch pieces
1 T lemongrass inner core, finely minced
1 T sesame oil
1.5 t ginger-garlic paste
1 t fish sauce
1 t kosher sea salt
1 t lime juice
1 T soy sauce
1 t brown sugar

mix up all the ingredients (save for the lemongrass stalks) in a medium sized mixing bowl. get in there with your hands and make sure everything is well combined.

take small handfuls of the meat mixture and squeeze one around each of the lemongrass stalks. it’s important to make sure that the meat is applied with even thickness (about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch should work well).

place the meat-sticks on a very hot grill, allowing the meat to acquire browned grill marks on all sides (3-4 minutes per side, depending on how hot the grill is)

serve on a bed of baby salad greens with nuoc mam cham (a wonderful dipping sauce-see recent post) and copious amounts of watered down beer.

happy eating,

Tomatoes stuffed with basil and cornbread

Posted in Main Course, Sides with tags , , , on August 22, 2009 by Rosalini

This recipe is in honor of tomato and fresh herb season, which is finally upon us. Any sort of tomato can be used (I even used cherry tomatoes once for a bite-sized version, but what a hassle!), but cooking time may have to be adjusted based on the qualities of the particular tomato. The photos were taken the last time I made this, well before home grown tomatoes were available, so the ones pictured are the organic “on the vine” hothouse type.

I like to make this recipe as a side or pot-luck dish, but it also works for a light meal, especially with a tosses side salad of chopped romaine, pine nuts, goat cheese and garlic lemon vinaigrette. This is the vegetarian version. Try adding a spoonful of crumbled bacon or chopped Tasso ham to the stuffing if you dine on the swine. One could also adapt this recipe to any hollow-able vegetable—red or green peppers, squash, maybe even eggplant.

You will need:

8-10 medium just-ripe tomatoes

½ pan day-old (stale) cornbread

¼ cup pine nuts or chopped pecans

1 medium shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup thinly sliced celery stalks

¼ c. minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest

1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped (a big handful)

Salt, cracked black pepper and cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon of olive oil

About 3 cups vegetable stock

Balsamic vinegar for drizzle


An hour or two (or even a day ahead), crumble stale cornbread into a large bowl, and then add shallots, garlic, parsley, lemon zest and basil. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add garlic, celery and shallots. Cook until just soft, about two or three minutes. Set aside. Toast pine nuts in the warm skillet. Toss to combine. Gradually add stock until mixture becomes moist, but not runny. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and cayenne. Mix well, cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Before stuffing, mix in pulp from hollowed tomatoes (see below).

Wash and cut the tops off of the tomatoes. Carefully scoop out seeds and pulp with a small spoon or melon ball scoop. Turn the tomatoes upside-down on a dishcloth or paper towel so that the inside of each “cup” can dry out a bit.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Use a small spoon to scoop stuffing into tomatoes. You don’t want to pack or overfill them because it will make the tomatoes more likely to split when baking. Fill each just to top of the cup, and line up the filled tomatoes on a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Bake the stuffed tomatoes 15-20 minutes, or until they are hot all the way to the center. They get overcooked, they are still delicious but will not be as pretty because the tomatoes are likely to melt and split.

Transfer the stuffed tomatoes to a plate, top each with a fresh basil leaf, and lightly drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Larb, wonderful larb

Posted in Main Course, salads, Sides with tags , , , , on August 1, 2009 by Rosalini

Larb, a sour and spicy Thai- or Laotian-style salad, is my new favorite summer dinner. There is no one way to make larb, which makes it versatile and easily suited to one’s personal tastes, preferences, and food taboos. I’ve seen recipes for larb made with chicken, fish, duck, beef, tofu and pork, raw and cooked, served cold or hot, with various combination of herbs, spices, and vegetables. This recipe which calls for lean ground turkey breast and lots of chili paste is adapted from one I found on and adjusted quite a bit. I was very satisfied with it, and will definitely make it again. I think next time I’ll try it with extra firm tofu. It is wonderful cold or hot.

THE SAUCE (whisk the following together in a bowl and set aside)

  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 generous tablespoons sambal oelek (ground fresh chili paste)

THE BODY (instructions follow)

  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1.5 pounds lean ground turkey breast
  • 1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced (about 1.5 cups)
  • 4 shallots, peeled, halved and thinly sliced into half-rings
  • 3 tablespoons very finely minced lemongrass
  • 2 tablespoons fresh serrano chilis, sliced into paper-thin rings
  • 1/2 cup each of roughly chopped fresh cilantro and mint
  • 3 tablespoons of toasted white rice, roughly ground

In a heavy skillet or wok, bring broth to a simmer, then crumble ground turkey into the pan. When the turkey is cooked and well crumbled, add toasted rice, green onions, shallots, lemongrass, and serrano chilis. Cook until veggies are just tender, then remove from heat and let rest about 10 minutes, then add sauce, cilantro and mint. Taste when herbs have wilted, and adjust chili sauce to your preference.

Larb can be eaten with a spoon right out of the pan, served on a bed of fresh greens, or wrapped in lettuce leaves, but my favorite way to have it is wrapped in green cabbage and radicchio leaves. Vegetarians should substitute tofu for the turkey, and a good vegetable stock for the chicken stock, and I think it will be just as nice.

Sinister Chili Verde

Posted in Main Course, Soup/Stew with tags , , , on May 1, 2009 by d0g3n

I entered (and won) a chili cookoff at Brooklyn Botanic Garden in NYC a few years ago with this recipe. The secret is lots of peppers, so that the flavor comes from the peppers rather than from stale old chili powder. It looks scary, but trust me–it is totally approachable by all but the weakest eaters. Here you go:

Sinister Chili Verde

2 pounds assorted hot green chili peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
½ pound tomatillos, chopped
1 quart chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano
1 generous handful fresh chopped cilantro
½ tablespoon cumin
1 pound chicken breast meat
2—16 oz cans whole kernel sweet corn
1—16 oz cooked black beans
fresh ground black pepper


Roast the chili peppers, peel, and remove all the seeds.  The heat of the chilies is in the white placenta that connects the seeds to the flesh of the pepper. Cleaning the chilies is the key step, and makes the difference between a teasingly hot taste and one that is potentially painful.  Rinse the chilies
after seeding if they still seem too fiery.

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil on medium heat and add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until onions start to wilt and turn translucent.  Add garlic.  Chop roasted chili peppers and add to pot, along with tomatillos.  Add broth and spices and bring to a simmer.  Add remaining ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.  If it is too caliente, wait—it should become slightly milder as the flavors meld together.  Let everything simmer for at least 45 minutes, check seasoning, and serve.