Gochujang is Korean red chili paste made with powdered sticky rice, fermented soybeans and salt. It is thick and mellow and not as spicy as Chinese or Thai pastes. Typically used in Korean cooking, dark soy sauce is aged and has molasses added, giving it a full-bodied flavour. If it’s not available, you can use light. I bought frozen steamed buns in Chinatown and steamed them.
Butchers and supermarkets often sell boneless rib roasts, and the bones they remove make a wonderful rib fest – a superb alternative to spare ribs. I call them dinosaur bones because they are huge and hearty. There are two ways of grilling them: fast and slow.
These are the tastiest empanadas, and pastrami is such a trendy ingredient right now. If making ahead, they will keep three days, refrigerated without baking.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Ready time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 24 to 26
250 grams (8 ounces) finely chopped pastrami
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
4 cups finely chopped napa cabbage
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 package prerolled frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup grated cheddar
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pastrami and sauté for 2 minutes, or until fat has rendered and meat is golden. Spoon meat onto a plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil to same pan and return to heat. Add onion, garlic and cabbage, and sauté for 3 minutes or until cabbage is softened. Add sherry vinegar and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and stir in Dijon.
Roll out pastry into a 12-inch (30-cm) square. Cut rounds using a 3-inch (8-cm) cutter. Brush with beaten egg. Spoon 1 tablespoon filling into the centre of each round, sprinkle with cheddar and fold over, forming a half-moon. Crimp the edges to seal and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick once with a fork. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with pepper.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until puffed up and golden.
One big smorgasbord of appetizers could be suitably accompanied by a festive, dry sparkling wine. By all means keep it affordable, as in Italian Prosecco or Spanish cava. For an especially festive twist, turn that wine into a champagne cocktail by first dropping a sugar cube into the flute, soaking it with two or three dashes of cocktail bitters such as Angostura and adding a half-ounce of brandy. Then top up with sparkling wine. If serving just the empanadas, try French Beaujolais or Canadian gamay, both red wines. - Beppi Crosariol
Chef Danny Bowien – winner of the Rising Star award by the James Beard Foundation in May – makes his own pastrami, but you can buy fatty deli pastrami as a substitute. He also makes his own chili combination but suggests Chinese chili oil as a good substitute.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Ready time: 1 hour
375 grams (3/4 pounds) deli pastrami, uncut
1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled
4 celery stalks
1 cup red bell pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup fried peanuts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Chinese chili oil
Fried garlic (see below)
Sichuan pepper powder (available in Asian stores)
Toasted sesame seed
1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Cut the pastrami into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes.
Cut the potatoes into slices that are 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, then cut again into 1/4 inch (5 mm) wide sticks.
Cut the celery diagonally into 1/4 inch thick crescent-shaped slices.
Seed and slice the bell pepper into chunks, about 1/2 inch (1 cm) by 1 inch (2.5 cm). The goal is to create shapes that will cook in about the same time as the celery.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Blanch the potatoes for 30 seconds or until just starting to soften. Drain.
Heat a wok or heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. Coat wok with a thin layer of oil – it should be shimmering, almost smoking.
Add the pastrami to the wok, and allow some of the fat to render and the meat to caramelize a bit on one side before stirring, about 2 minutes. Cook until the meat is heated through and browned on a couple of sides. Transfer the meat to a large mixing bowl and bring the pan back to temperature.
Add the celery and peppers stir constantly, about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, and continue to stir-fry for another 5 minutes or until all the vegetables are just cooked.
Add the peanuts, soy sauce and chili oil to the wok. Return the meat. Stir-fry quickly, then transfer everything to a serving platter and garnish with the fried garlic, toasted sesame seeds, Szechuan pepper powder and chives.
For Fried Garlic: Heat vegetable oil to 325 F (160 C) to 350 F (180 C). Add garlic and fry for 2 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Season with salt.
SUGGESTED WINE PAIRING
A fruity wine, whether white or red, will work better for the pastrami than that old Sino-restaurant staple, Chinese beer. Fruit offsets hot spice while thin beer merely amplifies it. It also provides a counterpoint to the meat’s gamy quality. A crisp, chilled red Beaujolais should work well (20 minutes in the fridge is optimal), the acidity helping cut through the fat. But there are other options, including off-dry riesling, gewürztraminer and red zinfandel. If you prefer beer, try a robust India pale ale. – Beppi Crosariol
Although charcuterie is a trendy dish in many restaurants, it makes a refreshing main course for a summer dinner. Buy your favourite kinds and serve with this hearty salad dressed with bagna cauda vinaigrette, a tradtional Italian dip for vegetables.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Ready in: 30 minutes
BAGNA CAUDA VINAIGRETTE
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp chopped anchovies
1 tsp chopped capers
½ tsp chopped garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley
4 oz Prosciutto
4 oz Cured Sausage
2 oz Bresola
4 oz shaved Parmesan
1 cup sugar snap peas
6 radishes, thinly sliced
4 green onions cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces
½ fennel bulb, shaved
4 figs, quartered
Stir lemon juice with anchovies, capers and garlic in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley.
Arrange meat and Parmesan around a large platter. Slice sugar snap peas in half, lengthwise. Toss sugar snaps, radishes, green onions and fennel with half of the vinaigrette and figs and mound in the centre of platter. Place remaining vinaigrette in a bowl to serve with the dish.