Korean Beef Stir Fry


I never jumped on the Sriracha bandwagon. I know that everyone loves putting it on top of and inside everything but I’ve always found it a little too bland flavor-wise and too aggressive heat-wise. I have a bottle in the fridge but I rarely use it. So, I was happy to start seeing articles this year about the “new Sriracha,” the “hottest ingredient,” the “sauce of 2016,” all of them referring to gochujang, which I’ve used and loved for a while now.DSC04861 Gochujang comes from Korea. It’s a condiment made traditionally with fermented soybeans, red chili, glutinous rice, and salt. It’s the stuff they put on bibimbap, if you’ve ever had it. It’s medium to very spicy (depending on the brand), mildly sweet and earthy. It’s the kind of condiment you taste and taste again and every time you discover something else in its flavor profile. There are several brands in the U.S. and you can find it at most grocery stores. I really like the Mother In Law’s Kim Chi brand of of sesame gochujang (in the photo above). But I’ve used other brands and all have been good. DSC05111

While you can use gochujang with pretty much anything, it pairs really well with beef. In this recipe, I make a quick marinade for thinly sliced skirt steak and put it in the fridge up to 8 hours, or leave it for 30 minutes on the countertop. Then I stir fry it quickly in a hot pan and it’s done. You can serve it on rice or noodles (in the photo below it lies on top of rice noodles) and add whatever you might have as an accompaniment: sliced carrots or cucumbers, mint leaves, red onion slices, and pretty much anything pickled (in the photo below, I added some pickled yellow beets). It makes a quickly prepared but really satisfying meal.

And if you are one of the many Sriracha fans, I saw a gochujang-flavored Sriracha bottle at the store the other day, though I’ll be sticking to plain gochujang for us.


Korean Beef Stir Fry


1 lb skirt steak, sliced into thin strips against the grain
1 tablespoon gochujang
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Combine gochujang, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, maple syrup, and soy sauce in a small bowl and mix until combined. Place thinly sliced beef in a large resealable plastic bag (or a medium bowl) and pour marinade on top. Using your hands, massage meat to make sure it’s all coated with marinate. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes, or chill up to 8 hours.

Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high until oil is shimmering. Remove half of meat from marinade, letting excess drip back into bag, and cook in a single layer without moving until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Toss meat and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil and remaining meat.

Serve over rice or noodles. Top with any combination of the following: sliced carrots (pickled or not), sliced cucumbers, slices of red onion (pickled or not), mint leaves, and other pickled vegetable.

Short Ribs Braised in Ancho Chile Sauce

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Snow was the stuff of dreams when I was a kid. It’s not that it didn’t snow in Cyprus. It did, but only high up in the mountains and it was a rare occasion that we would drive up there to experience it. Our car was not equipped for snowy or icy roads and my parents were reluctant to risk going up there unless the roads were plowed and the forecast was clear. Where we lived, down in the mainland, it pretty much never snowed. Which meant that my sister and I spent winters wishing for those perfect conditions that would get us up there, so that we could build a snowman and have a snowball fight. Because we knew that snow would never arrive out our house.DSC04283 (1)

And then one year, I must have been eight or nine years old, it happened. The temperature dropped and clouds gathered. The forecast was definitive. There would be snow all the way down at sea level. Our parents woke us up in the morning and told us to come to their bedroom. All four of us got under the covers and watched the snowflakes gently fall outside the bedroom window. My mom talked about how serene and calming it was but my sister and I wanted only one thing: to go outside and play in the snow. “It’s not snowing enough to stick,” my dad told us, but we were undeterred. Thirty minutes later my sister and I were throwing mud balls at each other, much to my mom’s displeasure.

We are getting a snow blizzard this weekend here in the Northeast. In New York snow always starts out beautiful, drowning out the noise of the city and erasing the harsh lines of the buildings and sidewalks. It eventually turns into black sludge and everyone hates it but for a few hours, it’s quite magical. If you are going to be in the path of this storm or any other snow storm, make these short ribs. They will warm your soul and nourish your body to get it ready for those snowball fights or shoveling chores. DSC04288 (1)

Short Ribs Braised in Ancho Chile Sauce – Slightly adapted from Epicurious

Note: The recipe uses a roasting pan but I’ve always used a dutch oven. I brown the ribs in the dutch oven, remove them and cook the chile puree in it, add the remaining ingredients and the ribs and braise them. This way I only use one pot.


4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and ribs discarded
2 cups boiling-hot water
1 medium onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
6 lb beef short ribs
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup brewed coffee


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Soak ancho chiles in boiling-hot water until softened, about 20 minutes, then drain them reserving the soaking liquid. Transfer ancho chiles to a blender and purée with onion, garlic, chipotles with sauce, maple syrup, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon salt.

Pat ribs dry and sprinkle with pepper and 2 teaspoons salt. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown ribs in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer as browned to a roasting pan just large enough to hold ribs in 1 layer.

Carefully add chile purée to fat remaining in skillet (it will spatter and steam) and cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Add reserved chile soaking liquid (or 1 1/2 cups water) and coffee and bring to a boil, then pour over ribs (liquid should reach about halfway up sides of meat).

Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and braise ribs until very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Skim fat from pan juices.

Serve ribs with mashed potatoes or soft polenta and with pan juices.

Filet Mignon with Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce


A few weeks ago, Steve and I celebrated ten years since the day we met. Actually, since the night we met. It was a rather inelegant affair, in a dive bar, with a sloppy make out session in the corner. But that’s a story for another time.

After ten years, when we give each other gifts, they often end up being gifts for both of us. The most common gift we give each other is food. We love to find unique ingredients, strange and exotic edibles, and rare treats that we offer each other in order to then share them. A few years back, he gave me a can of green peppercorns for Christmas. I had never heard of them before and I was a little skeptical at first. I’ve never been a big black pepper fan. And I absolutely despise pink peppercorns.

So, I did an online search for recipes and found this recipe for a filet mignon with a green peppercorn cream sauce. It’s a pretty standard recipe for steak with a pepper cream sauce, except that instead of ground black peppercorns, it uses tender green ones. It turned out to be such a fantastic recipe, I’ve been making it for years.


Filet Mignon with Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce – From Epicurious.com

Serves 4

Note: The can has a lot more green peppercorns than you’ll need. What I do with the left over peppercorns is rinse them of their brine and put them in a small bowl. I add distilled white vinegar to cover them, I cover the bowl with plastic wrap and I put them in the fridge. I find that they stay good for several weeks that way.


1 3/4 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
3 tablespoons butter
4 6- to 8-ounce filet mignon steaks (each about 1 inch thick)
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
2 tablespoons drained green peppercorns in brine


Boil stock in small saucepan until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Cook steaks to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plate (do not clean skillet).

Add chopped shallots to same skillet and sauté 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add reduced beef stock, 1 cup whipping cream, 3 tablespoons Cognac and green peppercorns. Boil until mixture thickens to sauce consistency, about 6 minutes. Season sauce to taste with pepper. Spoon sauce over steaks and serve.

Coconut Beef Patties

I’m in a coconut state of mind. (That would make a great lyric, wouldn’t it?)

I pulled up the list of all the drafts of yet-unpublished posts for this blog, and I saw that there were five recipes that featured coconut. I’m not sure how that happened. Don’t get me wrong, I really like coconut, but it’s not the first thing I go for on a menu. I’ll blame (or thank) the dead zone. This period we are in when it’s not winter and it’s not spring. When I avoid going to the farmers’ market because it makes me sad to see all those withered apples and dried up squashes (though it’s probably when the farmers need me to buy their things the most, now that I think about it). So I turn to things that are without season. Like dried beans and grains and shredded coconut that’s always available at the store.


I also realized that I’ve neglected the Appetizers section of this blog. It’s not an easy section to fill. Most of the time, I’m cooking for just the two of us, so there’s no appetizer involved. I have to wait until I’m cooking for company to bring out my list of appetizer recipes.

For this recipe, I reached out to a cookbook I have had for probably close to 15 years. I used it a lot when I first bought it back in the 90s but then it got buried somewhere in the back of the bookcase.


It’s a great cookbook on Indonesian food called Taste of Indonesia: Over 70 Aromatic Dishes from the Spice Islands of Bali, Java Sumatra and Madura by Sallie Morris. It has big, beautiful photographs and recipes that are not hard to make, though they do sometimes require searching for some exotic ingredients like galangal or pandan. This recipe for coconut beef patties, however, is easy to make with things you probably already have in your pantry.


The patties are lightly spiced with coriander and cumin and they carry a distinct coconut flavor. They remain, however, steadfastly meaty. When you serve them, make sure you provide lime wedges for your guests to squeeze over them. They need the acid. Or if you want to go a step further, serve them with a small bowl of Thai chili vinaigrette to dip the patties in. Just call it Thai-Indonesian fusion.



Coconut Beef Patties – Adapted from Taste of Indonesia: Over 70 Aromatic Dishes from the Spice Islands of Bali, Java Sumatra and Madura

Makes 10-12 patties


4oz shredded coconut, soaked in 6 tablespoons of boiling water
12oz ground beef
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-2 tablespoons all purpose flour
vegetable oil for frying
lime wedges to serve


In a small bowl, mix together the coriander, cumin, salt, and garlic into a paste. Add to the soaked coconut and mix to combine. Add coconut mixture and egg to beef and use your hands to combine.

Divide the meat mixture into 10-12 even sized portions and form them into patties about 2″ in diameter and ½” thick. Dust both sides of patties with flour.

Put enough oil in deep sauté pan to come to about ½” deep. Heat oil over medium high heat to about 350° F. Fry patties in batches for about 3 minutes on each side, adjusting heat to maintain oil temperature, until cooked through and both sides are golden brown. Do not crowd patties in the pan.

Serve immediately with lime wedges to squeeze over.