It's been a perfect mix of busy and quiet around here. My parents arrived the week before Christmas and are staying a couple more weeks. In the middle of work and play, we have had a wonderful time with friends and family, taking short and longer road trips, dogs in tow. We've enjoyed long simmered meals and new restaurants, quiet reading time and effervescent card games. A nice cozying time. For sure.
When my parents come visit, I like to spoil them a bit and won't let them do too much around the house. It gives them time to really enjoy each other's company, take walks, make plans, etc... I love cooking dinner for them and making them dishes I know they don't usually try at home. I cook from so many different cuisines that I always enjoy making them discover something new. A typical week ranges from French, to American, Mexican, Asian, Italian, Moroccan. It keeps me immensely happy in the kitchen.
One of the cuisines I find myself cooking and craving a lot is Vietnamese. Thai is definitely a really close seconds. Can't explain why. It comes in waves. We could have an entire month of Vietnamese and Thai dishes and dive right away in another of Italian and French or Northern African. I love spices and herbs. I love the play that each cuisines does with them, so different in taste and flavor, and yet intrinsically similar blending the sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Umami. To our palates and in our plates.
One of the highlights of December for me was this Tamarind Beef & Kohlrabi Salad from Luke N'Guyen's "My Vietnam". This books is both a delight for the eyes as it is to the taste buds. This dish is great post heavy holiday party meals with the refreshing crunch of beets, carrots, kohlrabi and the deep flavors of mint and fresh coriander. It's hard to stop at one serving, let's just put it this way.
Hope you enjoy it too! Best served with a cold refreshing beer I might add...
Tamarind Beef & Kohlrabi Salad (adapted slightly from Luke N'Guyen's My Vietnam cookbook)
1/2 cup peeled & julienned carrots
1/2 cup peeled & julienned kohlrabi
1/2 cup peeled & julienned beetroot
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used sesame)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 shallot, crushed
12 oz lean beef fillet, trimmed and sliced into 1/8 inch slices
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
1 cup coriander (cilantro) leaves, sliced
1 cup mint leaves
1 tablespoon fish sauce
juice of one lime
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon crushed peanuts
1 red chili, sliced
In a bowl, combine the kohlrabi, carrots, beets and sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes then drain.
In a medium frying pan set over high heat, heat the oil and add the garlic and shallot. Cook just a minute until fragrant. Add the beef and stir fry just until the beef for about 2-3 minutes. Season with the pepper. Add one tablespoon of the tamarin and toss to mix.
In another bowl, combine the kohlrabi, carrots, beetroot, coriander, mint and beef. Add the remaining tablespoon of tamarind along with the fish sauce, lime juice, and sesame oil. Toss well and garnish with the peanuts and chili. Enjoy!