Monday, 10 June 2013

So Wong it Must Be Right!

Spiedini di Manzo con una Salsa di Ananas, Huacatay & Peperoncino
Beef Skewers with Huacatay/Pineapple/Chili Salsa

First and foremost, a big THANK YOU to Mrs. Wong of the Asia-Latino stand in the Frankfurt Kleinmarkthalle :-)  It's one of my favorite places to find new and exciting produce and Mrs. Wong always has a surprise in store for me when I stop by... and this week it was this wonderful Peruvian herb which goes by the name of Huacatay...

My favorite thing about this herb was... wait for it- that it was grown here locally! How cool is that? It has a very unique flavor, which is a little difficult to describe, but I would say that it tastes like an intense and slightly earthy lemon verbena. Obviously, I have no idea how to use it properly, but being as Mr. & Mrs. Wong specialize in Asian and Latino produce, and I had bought some lemon grass from them too- I decided to make a fusion-dish of sorts, bringing together both very different cuisines into one dish- which was really fun!

For the salsa, I chopped up the huacatay very finely and added it to some relatively finely chopped pineapple... it is amazing how wonderful it smells when you chop it! I added one little bunch (see photo) to 4 tablespoons of pineapple, then added 1 Spring onion, salt and pepper and a little sesame oil. Who knew that with so little effort, you could make something that tastes so amazing? Together with the tangy pineapple, it made for a wonderfully refreshing Summer salsa... now if only it hadn't rained again all day over here!

The skewers were made of ground beef, seasoned with cumin, fennel seed and paprika and had only chopped onion and parsley added. I mixed and kneaded it thoroughly and rolled it into shape, moistening my fingers in order to get a nice, smooth surface. And then, because I had picked up a few stalks of lemon-grass on Saturday too, I decided spontaneously to use one to improvise a couple of skewers. I split it down the middle and then banged it with the back of my knife a little, to get the juices flowing from it, then carefully threaded it through the ground beef rolls... easy!

I fried the skewers in a dry, non-stick frying pan until they were brown on all sides, the deglazed the frying pan with a splash of Tequila, the juice of half a lime and a little water- and put the lid straight back on so as to not let any of the steam/flavor escape! I shook the pan a little, so as to roll the skewers around and get them coated, then took the lid back off and let the remaining moisture evaporate away and the meat start to brown again. The little bit of steam, as well as bringing up all of the good flavors from the pan, went to make sure the skewers were cooked all the way through. Another minute or so was all it took and then I was ready to serve!

I plated my skewers up with some fresh arugula, dressed simply in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt- and this, together with the tangy salsa, was my simple yet amazing Supper! So if you are curious as to how it tasted... drop by the market hall in Frankfurt and go see Mrs. Wong! Give her my regards, grab yourself a bunch and give it a try... I promise you will like it!