Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Texas Food Porn--Beef Chili Fry




This Texas road trip has me at saturation point. From the moment I open my eyes till my head hits the pillow, the space in between is a jumping point from one food group to another. And so my story begins.

Shauna and I get off the plane in Dallas and we are whisked off to Nick and Sams for beef carpaccio, lobster Kung pao and Omi beef, perfectly seared. Samir and Lori drive us to Nobu, where seemingly endless plates of exquisitely fresh scallops, octopus with jalapeño, the signature miso cod and toro parade their way into our bellies. I am groaning and moaning with pain and delight. 

We head to Stefanie's bridal shower. Aubrey Myers puts on a beautiful display of affection and food.We feast on quiche, kolaches and cake. A tiered bundt cake! Nothing bundt cakes is a Dallas treat.

Stefanie and Aubrey - tiered Bundt cake in left corner!



Red velvet and lemon cakes drip a creamy frosting. A soft mouthwatering dessert. A plate of red cake and a plate of yellow cake, match mimosas and Bloody Marys. Not too much place for dinner but I endeavor to finish the Chinese medley on my rather large plate. Clams in black bean sauce. Fried sole swimming in lemon sauce. Shrimp in rice paper with fried shallots. Fried spare ribs drowning in sweet and sour sauce. Buoyed, I float on a sea of happiness as I play with my niece Mia and nephew Cole.

The next few days fly by. We go in search of the perfect bahn mi and strike gold... Liquid gold in the form of freshly crushed sugarcane juice. So different from the sugarcane juice we drink in India, where they squeeze the canes with ginger. Not my favorite taste. The Vietnamese version has a slice of orange, that hint of citrus making it  more refreshing. Bahn mi and sugarcane juice make a perfect picnic lunch. Ba Le's disquieting interior holds firm to its promise of bahn mi  gratification. 


We indulge in food for the soul at Dallas museum of Art and then saunter across to food truck paradise to make short shrift of truffle burgers and truffle fries!

Rehan arrives and we dash off the In-N-Out Burger! The box comes laden with burgers glistening in rows. Devoured in minutes. We save one for Cole.
  



In due course we savor the thrilling menu at Nick and Sam's Grill Park Cities. We are greeted with warm smiles and hot food. Tortellini with fresh peas and trumpet mushrooms, are silken pillows of ricotta. Hummus is artfully supplemented with zaatar-coated pita. Sushi filled with crab and tuna come plated like works of art. A mound of tempura fried Brussel sprouts and rock shrimp quickly disappear. Crunchy kale tabbouleh refreshes our taste buds, in preparation for the progressive dinner at the steakhouse. We struggle valiantly with special knives, slicing into Kobe and Omi steak... buttery perfection that melts in your mouth. The sides are delegated to the side, a far second to the star attraction..the steak of course!!! Monumental desserts arrive table side. We fight over Devils food cake and a pineapple bread pudding. My brother's heart is as generous as his smile. I feel pampered, indulged and coddled.

The reason for this Texas road trip is a wedding... Stan and Stefanie choose a country-style wedding at Elmwood Gardens. We fill the trunk of the SUV with bags and beer and head out to Palestine,TX. Balloons, brisket and barbecue. Saris and salwaars. Tuxedos and chiffon. Dancing and dinners. Speeches and toasts and some verbal roasts too. Family and friends from near and far, amuse and annoy. Shared tears and laughter. It's a magical evening that starts with the orange glow of setting sun and ends under a blanket of a million stars. Indeed, the wedding ends with a raucous bus ride and a drink up at the hotel! 


Stan and Stefanie


Onward ho to Austin we go!! Austin, the city of gourmet food trucks and endearing familial hospitality. I eat Mexican corn drizzled with mayo, ancho chillies and lemon pepper..mouth searing and utterly delicious. Tacos with tongue, tacos with fried avocados, tacos with fried cauliflower, tacos with barbacoa, tacos al pastor, tacos with grilled fish. All tacos at Papalote are the BEST! Vic, Carla and Leah ply us with really good wine, beef chile verde and grits, steak and potato mash, tres leche and chocolate meringues.


Vic and Leah 


Enough! cries my insides!!! Now my taste buds ache for daal, rice, some vegetable, spicy meat and papad. My stomach protests in loud rumbles at the thought of another meal in a restaurant. We scrap dinner reservations to eat simple. Carla makes daal, rice and papad. Eggplant subji is made by special request. I also make chili fry with the leftover steak.


Beef Chili Fry
Makes enough for 4 to 5 people


1 pound Sirloin Beef
1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
3 tablespoons Canola oil
3 medium Onions
5 thin slices Ginger
6 cloves Garlic
2 jalapeños
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon red vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Fresh cilantro for garnishing

Cut the beef into thin slices.

Mix in the turmeric and black pepper and keep aside.

Peel and thinly slice onions. Keep one sliced onion aside.

Heat canola oil in a large saucepan on a medium high flame.

When it is hot, add the two sliced onions and fry till golden brown.

Mince garlic cloves finely.

Add garlic and ginger to the browned onions and sauté for a few minutes until the garlic smells fragrant.

Add the spiced beef and vigorously sauté.


Mince the jalapeños and cilantro and add to beef.

Season with kosher salt.

Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, sautéing from time to time so the beef doesn't stick in the pan.

Stir in the vinegar and let it cook out for a few minutes.

Scatter the remaining onion and cilantro over the beef and let it simmer for a few minutes more.


This goes well with rice or roti.




Notes


We used left over steak sliced thin. Any beef steak could be used instead.

I prefer a stainless steel pan. A non-stick pan is easier when frying.



We all look longingly at the spread. Plates are piled high with mounds of rice and dal. I let out a huge sigh of relief as I clean my plate. I am satisfied by the simplicity of a humble meal. It takes me to my home, reminds me of my roots and brings me to earth with a bang. The memory of my gastronomic excesses stays awhile. A pleasant memory wafting through the land of sensibleness.