One of my fave TV shows is America's Test Kitchen (on PBS, so you don't have to have cable to see it!), so when the little infomercial about their complete 2001-2011 Cookbook and dvd set came on... yes, please! The cookbook is packed with all of their fabulous recipes from the past 10 years, complete with pictures and "Why this recipe works" for each recipe. Fabulous.
I've been through it several times, writing down "to-make" recipes. We've had tons of amazing friends bringing us a meal every other day, so it's been great to ease back into cooking (read: was not cooking at.all. before and right after baby came). One recipe we tried last night was Thai Chile Beef (we LOVE Thai food). It turned out fabulous. Fabulous.
It called for a lot of ingredients I didn't have on hand like fish sauce, ground white pepper, serrano chiles, and Asian chili-garlic paste. We decided that it was worth the "investment" of purchasing these ingredients since they all last awhile (except the chiles) and we have a bunch more recipes for Thai food.
I had to tone down the heat (chiles and garlic) on my portion- so as not to hurt baby, but we all loved the dish in the end. Definitely a keeper.
Thai Chile Beef
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. rice vinegar (didn't have this on hand, used 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar and 1 tbsp. lime juice)
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. Asian chili-garlic paste
Beef and Vegetables
2 lbs. blade steak, halved lengthwise, trimmed and sliced into 1/8 inch thick slices (I used 1-3/4 lb. flank steak and it worked wonderfully)
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. light brown sugar
3/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
3 tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil (I used canola)
3 medium galric cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tbsp.)
3 serrano or jalapeno chiles, halved, seeds and ribs removed, chiles sliced thin (I only used 2)
3 medium shallots, ends trimmed, peeled and quartered lengthwise, layers separated
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, large leaves torn into bite-sized pieces (left this out)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (left this out too, hubby doesn't care for cilantro unless it's a Mexican dish)
1/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped coarse
Lime wedges, for serving
1. For the sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
2. For the beef and vegetables: Toss the beef with the fish sauce, sugar, coriander and white pepper in a medium bowl and let marinate for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour. In a small bowl, mix 1 tsp. of the oil and garlic together.
3. Heat 2 tsp. more oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add one-third of the beef, break up any clumps, then cook without stirring until the meat is browned at the edges, about 1 minute. Stir the beef and continue to cook until cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Transfer the beef to a clean bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with 4 tsp. more oil and the remaining beef in two batches.
4. Add the remaining 2 tsp. of oil to the skillet and return to medium heat until shimmering. Add the chiles and shallots and cook until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Clear the center of the skillet, add the garlic mixture, and cook, mashing the mixture into the pan until fragrant, 15-20 seconds. Stir the garlic mixture into the shallots and chiles.
5. Stir in the beef with any accumulated juices. Whisk the sauce to recombine, then add to the skillet and cook, tossing constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 30 seconds. Stir in the half of the mint and half of the cilantro. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the remaining cilantro and peanuts, and serve with lime wedges.