Not all mystery baskets are created equally – A trip to Northern Thailand by way of Montreal!
My desire to highlight all the ingredients was really stumped by the mystery box this time around. I had extremely pungent ingredients such as balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, blue cheese, mustard, and Kosher dill pickles. Bringing these flavors out to the same plate and have them not fight each other is no easy task. Drunk Quebecois food and a refreshing Thai salad to balance the weight of the blue cheese gravy made so much sense! I went all out and got intoxicated to test the recipes!
Larb with an international profile
Instead of the traditional fermented fish and lime elements, I used soy sauce, mustard, pickles, and balsamic vinegar. Rice, beef, nuts and the overall flavor profile remain true to the traditional dish that is both Laotian and Northern Thai.
Yield 2 portions:
Larb – warm minced meat salad: ½ lb ground beef, 2 T dijon mustard, soy sauce to taste, ½ C toasted rough chopped peanuts, 3 T minced deseeded kosher dill pickles, 1 medium red onion sliced paper thin, ½ C steamed jasmin rice, iceberg lettuce leaf for plating
Saute ground beef in a medium skillet and reserve any released juices for the gravy below. Once almost cooked through add the mustard and season lightly with soy sauce.
Add the steamed rice and incorporate into the brown beef mixture and cook the mix until the liquid has been incorporated into the beef and rice. A little browning is ok.
Season with soy sauce. Let the beef come to room temperature.
Incorporate the sliced shallots, chopped peanuts, and the minced pickles into dish and adjust seasoning with soy sauce if necessary.
Dress with balsamic vinegar before serving.
Poutine with blue cheese
Poutine is a specialty of Quebec, typically served as fries with cheese curds and brown gravy. I used blue cheese curds, soy sauce, and beef broth to make mine.
Yield 2 portions:
Gravy — 1 T brown roux, 1 c beef broth, ¼ c blue cheese, soy sauce to taste
On medium heat, whisk in the beef broth into the pan with roux and melt half of the blue cheese into the broth. Adjust seasoning with soy sauce.
Fries – Three medium russets, peeled and cut into battonets (¼’’ by ¼’’ strips)
1- Strain the fries from the cold water bath and dry well. Blanch in 300F oil to cook through and set aside on a single layer to cool completely. This should take up to 5 minutes.
2- Freeze the potatoes if possible.
3- Raise the temperature of the oil to 350F and fry the frozen potatoes. Season lightly with salt, taking the gravy and the blue cheese into account. Plate immediately. Place fries in a ramekin, top with curds, douse with gravy. Serve immediately.