The 1,000th Recipe

We’ve made it – our 1,000th recipe since we started Eat Your Books just under three years ago. I’ll give you a few hints about what it was. Features meat.  Took less than 10 minutes to make after getting the mise en place together. Complex spice profile. Eaten with your hands. Neither carbs nor dairy. A main dish but more easily an appetizer.

The recipe came from one of our favorite cookbooks: Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Jeffrey Alfred and Naomi Duguid. The book features recipes from Southeast Asia, where cuisine – particularly in Thailand – aims for the perfect balance between those four flavors. Matt was lucky enough to get a copy online that a library was getting rid of for less than half the cover price.

Okay, I’ve delayed enough. Our 1,000th recipe is…Aromatic minced pork, Shan style. You may have had Thai laab or PF Chang’s chicken version. This is similar to both but the meat is pork and is fried rather than steamed. It’s got intense flavors – lots of scallion and Thai chilis and galangal. We followed the recommendation in the cookbook to serve it with some simple steamed veggies – we used a sweet winter squash and carrots – but also added lettuce cups as a serving mechanism and some rice because, well, we like rice. Matt and I thought it could use just a bit more heat but Squirms was rather overwhelmed by it.

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Sound good to you? Here’s the recipe. Assuming you can get your hands on the few specialty ingredients, it’s quick and easy to make for a weeknight meal or for guests.

Aromatic Minced Pork, Shan Style

Adapted from Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia, Jeffre Alford and Naomi Duguid

6 to 8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 tbl minced lemongrass
2 tbl chopped galangal (can substitute ginger)
6 dried Thai chilis (use 4 if you don’t want serious heat)
1 tsp salt
2 tbl vegetable oil (or other neutral high-temp oil)
1/2 cu chopped shallots
3/4 lb ground pork
1/3 cu chopped scallion greens
1/2 cu coarsely chopped coriander (cilantro)
1/4 cup minced fresh mint

Brown the unpeeled garlic gloves in a cast iron or other heavy pan. Wait for them to cool then peel.

Combine the lemongrass, galangal, chilis, and salt using a food processor.

Using a wok over high heat, cook the shallots in vegetable oil until translucent (takes 3-4 minutes).

Add the mixture from the food processor.

Add the pork and cook until slightly browned, then simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the scallions and herbs.

Serve in lettuce cups, using the leaves to scoop up portions.

Nine hundred and ninety-five

Nine hundred and ninety-five. We have made 995 different recipes since January, 2012. I know this because we use Eat Your Books, a service that is sort of the Ravelry of cookbooks.

It’s actually a really cool idea. People volunteer to index cookbooks, listing each recipe and its ingredients (without the amounts, of course). You can add books and even magazines or blogs that you own and add it to your bookshelf then, when you’re looking for something, search their database for an ingredient or only Thai main dishes. There’s also a bookmarking tool which we use for things we want to make, things we’ve made, what we’ll make this week and next week, and even have lists for my and Squirms’s favorites. Once we make something, we add a star rating out of 5 – a 4 is required to go on the make again list and a 5 means we’re still talking about it a few days later – and add comments about modifications made or how we think it could be better. (You pay $25 bucks a year for unlimited adding of recipe sources and bookmark lists which is really cheap for the quality of service, especially if you own…268 cookbooks like us.)

Like I said before, we use it for meal planning. Usually on Friday nights, we (ok, usually just Matt) sit down and think about what sort of thing we want for dinner the next week. Sometimes, it’s very specific like pork schnitzel or maybe a focus on one ethnicity like last week where we almost exclusively had Southeast Asian fare. Then we start to look through recipes like the things we’re thinking of and, after consulting the cookbooks themselves to make sure a planned weeknight dinner won’t take three hours or require trips to more than two different grocery stores. Eventually, we tag five or six dinners worth of dishes to the “This Week” bookmark group and make a list of what we have to buy to make those meals in a combination of Matt’s little ruled notebook and the Wegmans app (if you shop at Wegmans, use their app – it is AMAZING, even telling you prices, aisle, and nutritional information for each item). We hit the farmer’s market most Saturday mornings for veggies and meat, then fill in the holes at some combination of Wegmans, the part-Asian part-Latino grocery store, and sometimes other stores for more specialty ingredients.

Anyway, I have this crazy dream of being the one to make the 1,000th recipe which will probably be in the next couple days or so, with our tendency to make about half old recipes and half new recipes each week. I’m not going to try to engineer this – our meal planning often goes awry at least once a week, especially ones like this one when we’ve got stuff going on two days after work and planning a trip – but it would be cool to have it be me, She Who Rarely Cooks be the one to make that 1,000th dish. Stayed tuned, because I plan to ramble about what that 1,000th recipe is – and am hoping it’s not something super boring or embarrassing.

(The folks at Eat Your Books didn’t pay me anything to write about them. Like everything I’ve ever written about on here, I’m just rambling about something I’ve enjoyed. Though I would take free stuff that a brand owner would think I’m interested in.)