Category Archives: Sauce

Fire Roasted Habanero Salsa

I was asked some time ago what was my favorite chile pepper to use when cooking. At first I was thinking it was the jalapeno as it is more on the mild side and can be tolerated by many, however as I continued to think about it, I thought it was the serrano, or heck even the habanero. There are so many that I do love, including the smoked jalapenos, and as importantly the Thai bird chile pepper. But the habanero is one of those awesome chile peppers that is just loaded with awesome flavor, and heat for that matter. In the past I have only used the habanero in making Jamaican jerk rubs, and even a habanero hot sauce that was completely addicting (and hot). With that in mind, I decided to take that idea of using the habanero and turn it into a fire roasted habanero salsa, plus I wanted to use a handful of tomatoes from my garden. Trust me, this salsa rocks.

Fire Roasted Habanero Salsa

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 whole habanero chilies
  • 1 cup of cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup of water

The cool thing about making this salsa is that you cook the vegetables and chilies directly on the coals. The Mexicans have been doing this forever, and it is typically referred to as cooking al carbon. The cooking method instills this awesome flavor that you typically will not get by cooking on your stove top or broiler. Trust me, try this. Folks have even been known to cook meat directly on the hot ashes as well!

Heat your coals until they are all nice and gray. Lay the onion, tomatoes, and habaneros directly onto the coals. Note that the onion will take longer to cook than that of the tomatoes and habaneros. Cook everything until they are completely black and super charred. Once fully charred place them in a bowl and let them cool to the touch.

How to make Fire Roasted Habanero Salsa

Once they are cooled, use the back of your pairing knife and remove the outer skin from each of the items. Don’t worry if you get a bit of ash or char along with the items. You can decide if you want to keep the seeds in tact on the habaneros. I kept two whole, and removed the seeds from the third.

Once the charred skin is removed, add the tomatoes, habaneros, and onion to a food processor. Toss in the garlic, cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Pulse until you have a nice consistency, then start slowly pouring in the water until you have your desired thickness. Taste and adjust with any salt.

The result is just the perfect amount of heat. It does have a kick to it, but the flavor is just out of this world. This stuff is great on just about anything. I was adding it to my omelettes in the morning, using it as a standard chip dip after work, and drizzled on chimichangas. I hope you enjoy and let me know what you think when you decide to cook al carbon!

Chinese Beef and Broccoli

Our vegetable garden is really starting to take off and as I have mentioned in the past, we are picking bowls of a variety of tomatoes on a daily basis, along with fresh herbs, and recently we harvested our broccoli. My wife and I did not plant broccoli last year, but a few years ago we did, and to this day we admit that was probably the best broccoli we had ever tasted. That was no joke. So when I saw the heads of broccoli, I got pretty darn excited, I’ll admit that. As I wanted to simply lightly steam the heads of broccoli, I decided to go a different route and bust out a classic Chinese beef and broccoli, only because my sister-n-law had mentioned it and it was stuck in my head.

Chinese Beef and Broccoli Recipe

This recipe is super easy to make, and granted it uses a couple of ingredients that you may, or may not have (but probably should), and it is just packed with good old comfort.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb flank steak, 1/4 inch thick slides
  • 1 head of broccoli, trimmed
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups iced water
  • Cooked rice
  • 4 tbsp canola oil

For the Beef Marinade:

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tbsp sherry cooking wine
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

For the Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Start by adding your sliced beef to a bowl. Mix the marinade and pour over the beef, and give it a good toss. Marinade for at least one hour in the refrigerator.

When you are ready to make the Chinese beef and broccoli, remove the marinated beef from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Bring the water to a simmer, and toss in the broccoli florets. Cook for about 3 minutes, then remove them with a slotted spoon into a bowl of iced water.  Once cooled, drain the broccoli and set to the side.

Next heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of oil, then toss in the beef, stirring along the way. Cook for about 5 minutes until the beef has some great color, then remove the beef onto a plate.

How to make Chinese Beef and Broccoli

Wipe out the skillet, and add the additional two tablespoons of oil, bringing to medium-high heat. Add the sauce, and give it a good stir. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the broccoli, and return the beef to the skillet. Cook for a few minutes until everything is warmed through and the sauce has slightly thickened.

Did I mention I love corn starch, especially when making a great sauce?

When you are ready to place, add cooked rice to the bottom of bowl, and ladle on the Chinese beef and broccoli, ensuring you get plenty of that great flavored sauce.

This was a real winner and it was a perfect use of that broccoli, and again, some of the best broccoli we have had this year. Hope you enjoy!

Pickled Thai Chilies

I’ve been in a pickling mood for some time now. No clue why, but I have been. It’s most likely because I have had an abundance of chili peppers growing in the garden, and as I normally freeze them and use later, I also love doing a quick pickle and use the chilies on pizza, rice bowls, and omelets. I wouldn’t say that I am a true chili head, but I do love the spice, and the vitamin content that normally goes with them.  One of my favorite peppers has got to be the Thai bird chili pepper.  They have a great punch of hit along with some really nice citrus notes, and when used in sauces such as Nuoc Cham, well, hands down it’s a real winner.

Pickled Thai Bird Chilies

I know, big deal, these just look like regular Thai chili peppers right? Well, yes, but then again, they have been pickling for a couple of weeks in a great, and simple pickling mixture that makes these chilies pop even more.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Thai bird chilies
  • 1 1/2 inch fresh lemongrass, lightly smashed
  • 6 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

That’s it. Great stuff.

Start by adding everything but the Thai chilies in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer, and let the sugar melt with the vinegar and water. Remove and let cool.

How to make pickled Thai Chilies

Once the mixture has cooled, add the chilies to a small, sealable container, and pour the vinegar solution into the container, making sure you have covered the chilies.

Seal, and place in the refrigerator for about two days. Then use freely.

Again, I love Thai bird chilies, but with the addition of the vinegar and sugar, and lemongrass really makes these shine even more. They are great sliced and served  (if you like that type of heat), with any type of dishes where you want to add a bit of heat. If you like chili peppers, you will most likely love these. Hope you enjoy!

Mexican Red Sauce

I don’t know about you but we have tomatoes that are just growing off the charts right now. We planted a variety of tomatoes back in May, and now they are finally beginning to ripen. We have bowls of cherry tomatoes, as well as these great roma tomatoes sitting on our kitchen counter right now. In the meantime, I am pulling these great, large tomatoes off of the vine. With that said, I’ve been creating things such as loaded bacon lettuce and tomato sandwiches, simple pico de gallos, and recently came up with this Mexican red sauce.  I’m calling this a sauce because it is so diverse that I have been marinating with it, topping omelettes with it, and well, pretty much using it on a majority of things, including drizzling it on pizza.

Mexican Red Sauce

What turned me on to creating this sauce is some dried chilies I recently purchased, the Puya pepper. After reading Pok Pok, I was interested in the puya pepper as Chef Ricker was using them in his Thai cooking.

The puya chiles have an intense heat that is somewhat pungent and have a light fruity flavor profile with an almost berry flavor. Puya chiles are grown in Mexico, and are somewhat similar to the guajillos chilie. I thought they would be perfect in a sauce, and they were.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large tomato, such as Beefsteak or Better Boy
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 4 puya chilies
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch of cracked black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • additional water

Start by adding the puya chilies to a skillet, and cook on medium heat, flipping along the way for about 4 minutes. Remove the chilies, and let cool.  Once cooled, slice, and remove the stem and seeds.

Mexican Red Sauce with Eggs

During this time, bring a medium pot of water to a simmer. Add in the tomato and the chilies. Cover, and cook for about 15 minutes.

Remove the tomato and chilies with a slotted spoon, and let cool on a plate.

How to make Mexican red sauce

Add the chilies to a food processor, along with the remaining ingredients. Remove the skin from the tomato. The skin should easily come off.

Pulse until you have a smooth sauce.  Taste and adjust any salt to your liking.

Pour into a large mason jar, and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

This sauce had just the right amount of heat to it. A subtle punch of heat in the beginning, and then that fruitiness from the chilies, along with the garlic and onion. It’s really good. If you are looking to try a new Mexican chili, give the puya a try. I’m certain you will love it. Enjoy!