Balinese Sambal Matah

Many of you may or may not have heard of sambal. Sambal itself is typically a mixture of chilies and a variety of other ingredients making it one really, really good condiment. Most of us are probably aware of the default Asisan sambal oelek, the red condiment found in Asian markets, or in your ethnic aisle at your grocery store, however there are lots of other varieties. Sambal matah is one of those, and it’s a force to be reckoned with. Simple ingredients make this sambal super addicting.

Sambal Matah Recipe
Sambal Matah Recipe

This is what is known as a raw sambal using fresh ingredients such as chilies, shallots, and lemongrass.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 5 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 8 Thai bird’s eye chilies, thinly sliced
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, tender parts (near the bottom) only, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (Red Boat or 3 Crab brand)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, warmed until a liquid

That’s it, and trust me when this is all mixed it is a powerhouse of flavor.

Once you have done all of your chopping and slicing, mix everything in a bowl. That’s it.

This sambal matah goes great (in my opinion) with pretty much anything. I’ve even caught myself just eating it by the spoonful. If you love the combination of shallots and chilies, then this will be right up your alley. This sambal is sweet, salty, sour, and spicy. Store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator (if it lasts that long) and serve as a condiment with your favorite dishes throughout the week.

You can find the fish sauce, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves at any of your local Asian markets. Hope you enjoy!

Baked Tilapia in Red Curry Sauce

Tilapia gets a bad rap in my opinion, and there are probably reasons why. They get a bad rap for many reasons, however being surrounded by many Filipino family members, tilapia seems to be the default fish of choice, and probably for many reasons. But to be honest, it’s a fish that we tend to enjoy, whether it be baked, fried, grilled, or even put into a soup.  So recently I purged some items in our freezer, and tilapia was one of those items. I decided to come up with something new, yet something familiar for the family to try. Baked tilapia in a red curry sauce.

Baked Tilapia in Red Curry Sauce Recipe
Baked Tilapia in Red Curry Sauce Recipe

I knew all of my kids loved fish, and many of us love the red curry and coconut curry that I often make with chicken, vegetables, and rice. So this tilapia dish was not stretching too far from the meal rotation.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 6 skinless tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste (use more if you desire a bit more heat)
  • 14 oz can of coconut milk
  • large handful of fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup pearl onions, optional
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lime, juiced

This dish is a one skillet recipe, which is nice not only for the cooking process, but also for the cleanup.

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

During this time, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add the oil, and then add in the curry paste. Use a wooden spoon and mix in that curry paste, breaking it down. Take in the aroma. I love that aroma. Add in the coconut milk and continue to break in the curry paste.

During this time, season the tilapia filets with a bit of salt and pepper and place into the oven to cook for about 10 minutes.

Tilapia with Red Curry Sauce
Tilapia with Red Curry Sauce

Once the sauce comes to a simmer, remove the fillets from the oven and add the fillets to the sauce.

Toss in the green beans and the pearl onions.

Give a gentle mix, then move the skillet into the oven to finish cooking, about 5-10 minutes. This will allow the fish to fully cook, and thicken up the sauce a bit.

Remove, plate, and squeeze on the fresh lime juice. Enjoy!

Baked Chicken Verde Chimichanga

Good Lord do I ever love a chimichanga. I think I may have first had one back in my high school days at a local American-Mex joint called Chi-Chi’s. You know this was the type of place where all of us gringos thought we were having real Mexican food, only to realize years later that it was totally not, but only catered to us gringos, and the place would pack it in. Regardless, that’s where my love for the chimichanga was born. It’s essentially a deep fried burrito, loaded with goodness.

Instead of deep frying, I decided I would load these large flour tortillas up with some awesome chicken verde I made, along with rice and beans, and bake them, you know… to be a bit healthier than deep frying.

The result was awesome. Still crisp as you may expect from deep frying with way less the hassle.

Baked Chicken Chimichanga Recipe
Baked Chicken Chimichanga Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the salsa verde:

  • 5 whole tomatillos, husks removed
  • small handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, skin on
  • generous pinch of salt, to taste
  • 3 serrano chilies, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 cup (or more of water)

Ingredients for the chicken chimichanga:

  • 3 whole chicken breasts
  • 5 large flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup of Mexican or Spanish rice, per chimichanga
  • 1/2 cup of cooked refried beans, per chimichanga
  • 8 oz bag of Mexican Chihuahua cheese
  • 8 oz bag of shredded cheddar cheese
  • hot sauce, optional
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil

Start by making your salsa verde. Add the tomatillos, garlic, and chilies to a roasting sheet. Place in a 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until they are nicely charred. Once cooked, remove them from the oven, let cool, then remove the skin from the garlic cloves. They should pretty much just slide on out.

During this time, add the chicken breasts to a large pot of water, bring to a simmer, and cook until the chicken is fully cooked through, about 25 minutes or longer. Once cooked through, remove the chicken breasts to a plate to let cool.

Place all of the salsa ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until you have a fine salsa. Taste and adjust any salt.

Clean out that chicken pot. Next, remove the skins from the chicken breasts and discard. Shred all of the chicken and return the shredded chicken back to the pot. Pour in the salsa verde, bring to a medium heat, stirring along the way, and cook for about 20 more minutes. TRUST ME, THIS CHICKEN BY ITSELF IS AWESOME.

Baked Chicken Chimichanga Recipe
Baked Chicken Chimichanga Recipe

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Take a flour tortilla and warm it on a skillet or in a microwave just until it softens. Once it is softened and more pliable, then it is time for the chimichanga making.

Lay the tortilla onto a plate, spread on the refried beans, add about a cup of chicken mixture (I use a slotted spoon to remove any excess salsa) onto the tortilla, closest to you, then add on the rice. Roll over a bit tightly, fold in the sides, and continue to roll until you have it seam side down. Lightly brush on some canola oil, and then repeat with any remaining tortillas. I made five for the family, but there is still plenty of chicken to be used for any leftovers, and as in my case enchiladas.

Take a baking sheet, add the chimichangas, and cook for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven. The goal is to get them nice and crisp. After about 15 minutes, remove, top with as much Chihuahua and cheddar cheese as you would like, and if you want, a bit more chicken mixture on top, and place back into the oven until the cheese is nicely melted.

Remove and serve. I topped mine with some nice habanero hot sauce for some kick.

The end result is everything I love about a chimichanga, and my entire family would agree. I don’t think anyone spoke at dinner time that evening as they devoured these things. If you are looking for a great meal, loaded with great flavor and texture, then give these baked chicken verde chimichangas a try. I’m certain you will love them!

 

Crawfish Etouffee

If there is one thing my oldest loves, it has got to be crawfish. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but he’s my pickiest of eaters, 16 now, and when he tore into eating crawfish years ago I was flabbergasted. So on his most recent birthday I decided we would do a crawfish boil. I ordered 10 pounds of live crawfish from the Louisiana Crawfish Company figuring the ‘party’ would devour the boil. As much as my kids and I ate, the others simply ate a small handful, meaning I would plenty leftover. My kids and I probably spent a good 45 minutes, post party, peeling (and sucking the head juices) the tails to be used for a later dish. That dish being crawfish etouffe.

Crawfish Etoufee Recipe
Crawfish Etoufee Recipe

If you have never heard, nor tried crawfish etoufee, it is a standard dish found in the creole or cajun area of our nation. It’s almost a staple. Etouffee is translated to ‘smother’ in French terms, and I make mine with a darker roux only to deepen the flavor and making this a super comforting recipe.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 2 cups of celery, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup of green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp creole spice mix
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt, to your taste
  • 2 lbs crawfish tails (if frozen, make sure they are thawed)
  • Cooked jasmine rice, per serving
  • Flat leaf parsley, for garnishing

Sounds like a bunch of stuff, but it’s really pretty basic, and trust me it’s full of comfort.

Start by getting a large pot onto the stove on medium heat. Add in your butter, and melt it down. Once you begin seeing the butter foam, tilt the pot, and use a spoon to skim off just the top of the foam. Discard the foam. Return the pot back to the heat, and toss in the flour.

Stir the flour into the butter, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring along the way. The flour will become blonde, then begin to darken a bit. Just be careful not to burn the flour.

Add in your onion, celery, bay leaf, garlic, carrot, and tomatoes, and cook for about 10-15 minutes in the roux, stirring along the way. Cook until the onions become translucent.

Ingredients for making Crawfish Etoufee Recipe
Ingredients for making Crawfish Etoufee Recipe

Once the onions turn translucent, add in the black pepper, salt, and cajun seasoning. Give a good stir, then add in your chicken stock. Stir well, and continue cooking on medium heat until the sauce thickens. I love this part and always have.

Once the sauce thickens, add in the crawfish tails. Stir again, and once the crawfish are warmed through, roughly 5 minutes or so, you are then ready to plate and serve.

Some like to serve rice on top, but my preference is to let the crawfish etouffee shine and serve on top of cooked rice.

So get a serving bowl ready, add in some cooked jasmine rice, and ladle on a nice pile of crawfish etouffee. Garnish with chopped parsley and dig in!

As much as my kids loved tearing through boiled crawfish, I cannot say they were much fans of this particular dish. Most likely due to the stew like texture. My wife and I on the other hand? Well, we imagined ourselves being back in New Orleans, walking the streets all day, and ending up in a great restaurant eating one of their famous dishes; crawfish etouffee.  I hope you enjoy!

Crawfish Etouffee
Author: 
Cuisine: Cajun or Creole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 2 cups of celery, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup of green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1½ cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp creole spice mix
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt, to your taste
  • 2 lbs crawfish tails (if frozen, make sure they are thawed)
  • Cooked jasmine rice, per serving
  • Flat leaf parsley, for garnishing
Instructions
  1. Start by getting a large pot onto the stove on medium heat. Add in your butter, and melt it down. Once you begin seeing the butter foam, tilt the pot, and use a spoon to skim off just the top of the foam. Discard the foam. Return the pot back to the heat, and toss in the flour.
  2. Stir the flour into the butter, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring along the way. The flour will become blonde, then begin to darken a bit. Just be careful not to burn the flour.
  3. Add in your onion, celery, bay leaf, garlic, carrot, and tomatoes, and cook for about 10-15 minutes in the roux, stirring along the way. Cook until the onions become translucent.
  4. Once the onions turn translucent, add in the black pepper, salt, and cajun seasoning. Give a good stir, then add in your chicken stock. Stir well, and continue cooking on medium heat until the sauce thickens. I love this part and always have.
  5. Once the sauce thickens, add in the crawfish tails. Stir again, and once the crawfish are warmed through, roughly 5 minutes or so, you are then ready to plate and serve.
  6. Some like to serve rice on top, but my preference is to let the crawfish etouffee shine and serve on top of cooked rice.
  7. So get a serving bowl ready, add in some cooked jasmine rice, and ladle on a nice pile of crawfish etouffee. Garnish with chopped parsley and dig in!