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.

Advertisements

Thai Yellow Beer Curry

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

Dude,

So tonight when I was texting you about my yellow curry, I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was (though there is certainly room for improvement), so I didn’t expect to be writing this. But damn. It was good, and my secret is beer.

Since I’m not so experienced in preparing Thai food, I’ve picked up a few books, one of which is Quick and Easy Thai by Nancie McDermott. According to my friend Christopher, she is the go-to Thai food author. Since I had some yellow curry paste on hand, I decided to do a yellow curry. And since we are in the middle of a fast, it had to be vegan-ish. So I took two of her recipes, compared them, and made my own.

  • 1 tsp of each: cumin, coriander, cinnamon, curry powder
  • 2 cans of unsweetened coconut milk
  • Yellow curry paste (to taste)
  • Various veggies
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 lb. seitan
  • 1 lb. shrimp (tails off, pre-cooked)
  • Chicken bullion cube
  • 2 tbs. Fish sauce
  • 2 tbs. Lemon or lime juice
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar
  • Rice (I’m not going to tell you how to make rice.)

First, I took a teaspoon of cumin, ground coriander, cinnamon, and curry powder, and toasted them in a skillet. It didn’t take long, and I burned it a little. Turns out that wasn’t bad thing.

Second, I took a can of coconut milk and poured it into the skillet with the seasonings, then I added 3 tablespoons of yellow curry paste. As I stirred this in, I decided it needed more curry, so I think by the end of it I probably used like 8 tablespoons. Probably a bit too spicy for some….I maybe cooked this for 10 minutes and set it aside.

Third, I sauteed 1 medium chopped onion (big pieces) in coconut oil. I’ve been enjoying using coconut and macadamia oils for high heat cooking and a slightly different flavor. (Plus, when we fast in the Orthodox Church, we ditch the olive oil, too.) I love the flavor of the coconut oil, and figured that you can’t have too much coconut in this recipe. After a few minutes, I added a variety of vegetables, including bell peppers, peas, bamboo, mushrooms, and water chestnuts. Oh, and I had a handful of those long dried red peppers…but I soaked them in water for a couple hours beforehand, then chopped them up.

Fourth, once all the veggies looked good and delicious, I spooned most of them into the curry mix in the other skillet. I threw in a pound of Michael’s Savory Seitan and a pound of pre-cooked shrimp. I browned this just a tad, before dumping in some liquids.

Which brings me to five. Her recipes called for 2-1/4 cups of chicken broth or water. I opted for a chicken bullion cube. Mixed it with a cup of water, then I dumped a 12 oz. can of pale ale in with it…and transferred the liquid to the meat. No we’re cookin…let that boil for a while, bring down the volume a bit, then I added a second can of coconut milk and the vegetable-curry mix from the other skillet. Cooked for a few more minutes.

Sixth, I combined the fish sauce, lemon juice, and brown sugar in a cup and stirred it up until the sugar was disolved. Stirred this into the mix with everything else…

And finally, I put it on the table. Rice in a bowl, and curry dish in a separate bowl and enjoyed. Plenty for leftovers tomorrow, and I’m guessing it will taste even better then.

It kinda sounds complicated, but if you’ve got a decent spice rack and you keep veggies on hand, you really only need a few things. In fact, all I needed to buy was peas, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts.

UPDATE: Upon further reflection, I think I used too much curry paste. It was delicious, but I might pull back a bit in the future.