Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thai Basil Beef with Chili Rice

Serves four--by the way, the ground beef can easily be replaced with ground pork.


1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut bite-size
3 tbsp. nam pla or Thai fish sauce
3-4 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1-2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. (to taste) ground white pepper
1 bunch fresh Thai basil OR regular basil OR (despite the title of the recipe) mint works well, chopped rough

1 cup white rice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tomato, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp. naam prik pow or Thai chili paste
1 3/8 cups chicken stock
1/8 cup fish sauce (you should have 1 1/2 half cups liquid total, combined in a measuring cup)
1 small bunch fresh chives, minced
Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale

For Beef:
1) Mix the fish sauce, lime juice, and soy sauce in a bowl with the brown sugar. If you desire more sugar, add to taste. Set aside.
2) Heat oil and cook the onion until sweated, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3) Place ground beef in pan and saute over gentle heat 10-15 minutes, stirring and breaking constantly, until all the beef has cooked.
4) Drain any excess liquid.
5) Raise heat to med-high. Add the beans and the liquid and stir frequently, allowing the beans to cook until tender and bright green as the liquid absorbs into the beef.
6) When beans are done and liquid absorbed (more or less), turn off heat. Add the chopped fresh Thai basil and sprinkled white pepper, stirring both into the beef.

For Rice:
1) Heat oil and sweat onion, 2-3 minutes.
2) Add tomato. Cook until most of the liquid has been lost, about 5 minutes.
3) Add white rice and Thai chili paste to pot and stir (adding a little oil if necessary) until rice is opaque and coated with the other ingredients, 3-4 minutes.
4) Pour liquid into rice and stir, bringing to a boil.
5) Cover and cook for 15 minutes with the heat on very low.
6) Fluff before serving, incorporating the fresh chives.
7) Open Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale.
8) Enjoy together.

So Stone is doing ten years of beer, all to be tried in a vertical tasting on 12.12.12. They are all different and created to age. Sadly I've only been collecting since 06.06.06; so, I'll be missing the first four. This years was a delicious hoppy Belgian-style beer. The aromatics had some notes of strawberry with a light pine scent. On the palate you really get the floral and berries from the belgian yeast, but the citrusy hop flavors really cut through the banana. The florals and hop bite really balance out well against the strong Thai spices and the richness of the beef. The licoricy notes of the Thai basil accented the hops nicely.

I (Lynds here) want to point out a potentially deadly activity when cooking both the beef and the rice dishes, to be avoided with all your power as you would avoid a Tijuana street dog who seems to have just brushed his teeth and finds water disturbing.

--Generally salt your onions while they're sweating? Don't.
--Like to put a bit of salt in the beef as it cooks? Not this time.
--Feel tempted to salt the green beans as you add them? Eat a Lay's.
--Often salt your rice before popping the lid on? DROP IT. Put the little girl with the umbrella down. Nice and slow-like. That's it.

See, we're dealing with fish sauce here. We're actually dealing with quite a bit of fish sauce, and whenever that happens, oversalting is as easy as breathing. So just don't touch the salt until the end, when you taste both. If they need salt, knock yourself out. Or amp the soy sauce a notch, which is also nice. Thai cooking is very heavily influenced by the Chinese.

Jerry and Gail were here when we made this dish! Huzzah! We had a great time wandering through NYC steadily eating and drinking things, which is what generally happens when we have guests in town. Gail has two new dresses, a closet of shoes, and Jerry found an Italian suit for $45. I tell you, it's worth the price of a plane ticket for the shopping out here. Look at them. They dressed up all pretty for the 50th Street subway station. (It was for a Broadway play with my friend Mackenzie in it, actually, A Tale of Two Cities, but they look much more industrial-couture urban-decay chic in the subway. All formal wear looks better in the subway.) Anyway, we had a great time. I don't know when Gabe missed his parents more profoundly: when they left, or when he went to take a picture of the twice-baked potatoes without Jerry's new camera and SLR lens.

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