Thai Weeping Tiger Steak Taco

[NOTE: This is the first in an on-going series of posts on fusion tacos, where food from around the world goes wild, and becomes something greater: a taco.]

from: Jamey Bennett
to: Daniel Larkin

Hey Dude,

I hope your hike is going well. Sorry about texting you when you were on the trail. I wasn’t thinking!

SO I found out there is a Thai taco fusion truck on the Drexel campus, just a couple miles away, so we went to find a taco today. I wanted to get some ideas from them, and, well, I just wanted a taco. Unfortunately, after driving around the city trying to find it, getting distracted and going to Trader Joe’s and a camera shop, we got to the taco truck…and it was closed for some reason.

Fortunately, I had two 5 oz. beef tenderloins thawing back at home, and bought some awesome flour tortillas at Trader Joe’s. So I went home and got started.

I absolutely love Thai food, but find myself ordering the same things when I’m at a restaurant. It’s only at home that I find myself dabbling in the other kinds of Thai food. But I’ve seen Weeping Tiger Steak served at a number of Thai restaurants, sometimes even cold over greens. There are several legends about Weeping Tiger Steak, ranging from someone stealing a cow from a tiger and him crying about it, to serving it so spicy that even a tiger couldn’t take the heat.

Whatever the case may be, I wanted to save the weeping for the salsa. A Thai salsa seemed tricky at first. From what I can tell, Weeping Tiger Steak is sometimes served with a dipping sauce, and the sauce sometimes has tomatoes. So I searched out a few Thai and Laotian chili sauces, took a few ideas, upped the tomato content, thereby adapting it into a salsa.

I took a dozen small tomatoes (you can use cherry tomatoes, mini heirlooms, whatever), and roasted them in a skillet with about 1/4 red onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Essentially, the idea is to blacken more than to sautee, and boy do the tomatoes get so delicious in the carmelization process. Once roasted, I put them in my food processor with 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper, 8 fresh and uncooked cherry tomatoes, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar.

The salsa is good enough for dipping chips, and there should be enough left over to use it for just that purpose. That said, some may not be a fan of the flavor of the fish sauce…so if I were to serve it as a dip, I’d consider omitting the fish sauce. However, at that point, it becomes less Thai and more Mexican.

For the beef, I took 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. I mixed well, and poured over the steaks. I let that marinate for about an hour, flipping over and shaking a few times to get the steaks covered really well. Then I simply threw them over the charcoal grill until ready.  Sliced into fajita style strips, and served over a flour tortilla with greens, tomatoes, and the “Thai salsa.”

To recap, here’s all the necessary ingredients:

  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 10 oz. beef

Salsa:

  • About 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbs crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbs white vinegar (or lime juice)
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • Cooking oil (sesame, sunflower, whatever)

Finally:

  • Tortillas
  • Mixed greens
  • Sliced or diced tomatoes for taco garnish
  • Optional: Sriracha to taste

Makes three large tacos (8-inch flour tortillas), more if you use the 4 or 6 inch tortillas, of course.

Later,
jamey

from Daniel Larkin
to jamey w. bennett

I read this email on my phone on the way home, and almost made the guys search out a Thai restaurant.  It’s 8:22 in the morning now, and I want spicy steak after rereading this.

The flavors sound dead on fantastic, and I love the adaptations from Mexican and Thai.

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Unexpectedly Delicious Salsas

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin 

Dude,

So with #weddingweek craziness upon us, I thought it would be nice to have my brother, sister-in-law, and parents over for dinner right when they got to town. I had intended to get a locally-sourced brisket for my smoker, but the lady at the buying club dropped the ball somehow.

Anyway, so I decided to make tri-tip tacos. I smoked carne asada-style tri-tip, premarinated from Trader Joe’s. I wanted to have some vegetables for the tacos, but thought maybe going fajita style with them would be a nice touch. So I sliced up jalapenos, cherry peppers, several colors of bell peppers, yellow and red onion, cloves of garlic, and tomatoes, placing them in a bread pan. I poured a generous amount of Italian dressing over the top, and let it marinate for a couple of hours. Then I put the pan in the smoker for a couple of hours. Honestly, it could have used more time, or I should have just done it in the oven. But they came out great. Oh, and when I was done, I threw the veggies in a colander to get the excess dressing off. In the end, the tacos were a smash hit.

Now, let me digress. I made guacamole and fresh salsa to go with the tacos. My regular “staple” salsa is simple: tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, salt and pepper. Never measured, all to taste. But that night, it was perhaps the best it has ever been. My secret? The juiciest, deepest red, large heirloom tomato. Oh my gosh, that salsa was like candy.

Needless to say, while I was running around the kitchen finishing up the tacos, my giant bowl of homemade chips were being used to devour my salsa. By the time I sat down for dinner there wasn’t much salsa left.

Since then, I’ve been craving salsa, and #weddingweek has made it impossible for me to get back out to the store for another gorgeous heirloom tomato.

So this morning, I scooped a bunch of my leftover marinated and cooked veggies into my food processor, grabbed and rinsed a handful of cilantro, added salt and pepper, and blended until nice and chunky. It is really damn good. The Italian dressing adds a nice subtle vinegar tang and the olive oil gives it a good mouth feel. It’s heavier on sweet peppers and lighter on tomatoes, but the sweetness of the roasted vegetables makes it difficult to stop eating.

I think I may have just stumbled onto something awesome.

Corn Tortilla Chips

from Daniel Larkin
to jamey w. bennett

How is it that we’ve been trading food emails for all these years, and I’ve never heard that you make your own chips? If they’re going to be part of your bio, then by God the recipe should be posted. I really just want to try them myself.

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

Dude, it’s super easy.

Deep fryer and vegetable oil [lard is way better, and better for you]
Corn tortillas, sliced into 6 “triangles”
Paper grocery bag
Paper towel
Salt

Start with corn tortillas. You can make these yourself, or just get them for cheap from the store. Slice them. Deep fry those babies for a few minutes until they are nice and crispy, but not too brown. It’s not tricky, but it’s a fine line between crispy and burnt. I like to shake them a bit over the fryer to get excess oil off. I stick the paper towel inside the grocery bag, throw the freshly fried chips in, and sprinkle a little salt while the chips are still hot and the oil is wet. Shake the bag. I repeat this many times until I have a huge bag of chips. The only thing to watch out for is that it’s easy to over-salt, so I actually only salt every few times that I deposit chips in the bag.

One cool tip: if you have a Mexican wholesaler, they sometimes have extra thin tortillas specifically for making chips. You can use these for tacos, too, but they have a different consistency than normal tortillas. I recently spent $28 on a giant box of probably a thousand tortillas for chips from a wholesaler. I just keep the unused tortillas in the freezer. Enjoy!