Meat

MY XIAN FAMOUS SPICY CUMIN LAMB HAND-SMASHED NOODLES

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ONCE YOU GET THERE, WHATEVER IT TAKES FOR YOU TO GET THERE,

THE REST IS AS EASY AS BIANG

Does this recipe really need introduction?  If you have been enjoying, following, or even just been seduced from afar by the unstoppable uprise of this basement-stall to now 10 flourishing locations throughout New York, you would not be unfamiliar with the signature dish, from Xian Famous Foods.  The spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped (biang biang) noodles.

I have certainly been a fan.  More precisely, I have been enjoy Xian Famous Foods for the past few years, without actually stepping a foot inside any of their 10 locations.  Because I’ve been here, in Beijing, where “Xian famous foods” are not known as the name of a trending chain-restaurants, but in fact, a genre.  Those 4 Chinese characters almost recognized as their “logo”, are actually common here as a phrase that describes the local street foods of the city Xi-An.  Kind of like having a restaurant called “Texas BBQ”, or “Chicago Hotdogs”.  And on top of the usual suspects of cold skin noodles, cumin lamb burger (called “rou-jia-mo”), lamb offal soup… there is of course, the biang biang.

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PEPPERONI MEATBALLS SPAGHETTI

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EACH MEATBALLS CONTAIN… A TON OF AGE-FORTIFIED FAT-BITS AND TIME-CONSUMING FLAVOURS

Last night, as I unleashed the freezer-section dumplings onto my most festive-looking plate, as part of our mostly-take-out Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner that didn’t even get bothered to be removed from its cleanup-friendly plastic-wares, and watched the annual city-wide shelling of fireworks carried out by every other citizens across the Beijing sky… I realized something.

I am a lousy… lousy… content curator.

There’s… something wrong with this picture.  Now is supposed to be the high-season for binge eating for most Asians, rivalling Thanksgiving in its contribution to glorified gluttony, a perfect cue for an Asian food-blogger such as myself, to abuse recipes like… banquet-style fried whole fish drenched in thickened sauce, or glistening red-braised pork ham-shank the size of my own thighs, or… or, at the very least, too much batter-fried sticky rice cake to regret over in the very next morning.  But instead, I’m here talking to you about something as generic as… meatball spaghetti.

Well, I blame it on this.  A 2 feet long monstrosity which I believe they call, who-the-hell-buys-a-whole-freaking-stick-of pepperoni, stretching its long leg into every last inch of leg-room inside my economy-class refrigerator for the past 2 weeks.   It was a generous remnant from a lunch gathering and ever since, I’ve been struggling to put it to a just rest.  On pizzas… in between sandwiches… blended into my Olay’s night cream.  Then just when I was about one-lost-chapstick-away from rubbing it on my lips for good use, I was reminded of an old trick.

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It was a never-failing method, inspired by an epic dinner spent in Lupa in the West Village of New York many years ago, a genius method to inject the kind of flavours only old age can produce, by blending dry-cured meat products into fresh food preparation.  The very same method, using trimmed prosciutto fats, landed me on the most insanely flavourful meatballs braised in white wine that I’ve ever tasted.  And I thought if it already looked hot in white, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t look even sexier in red, right?

So here, amidst the Chinese festivity of lunar New Year, comes the Italian pepperoni meatball spaghetti braised in a red wine tomato sauce.  May not be the most promptly cued entrance, but each meatballs contain not only the usual suspects of mixed ground meats, breadcrumbs, grated parmigiano cheese, herbs and whatnots, but also a ton of minced pepperoni sausage with all its age-glorified fat-bits and time-consuming flavours.

There’s a complexity that only exists inside the cultivated molecules being farted out by a workforce of happy bacterias over a long period of occupancy, which is completely welded into the meatballs just after a relatively short period of braising.  The fats get partially absorbed by the breadcrumbs within the meatballs as well as partially rendered into the sauce, deepened by just the right amount of red wine then heightened with a good dab of Dijon mustard at the end.  It’s just not your regular, daddy’s Prego meatball spaghetti.  It’s a time-fortified, age-defined, pepped-up meatball spaghetti that, consider yourself warned,  might just be mean enough to hurt your grandmother’s ego.

So excuse me if I didn’t mention rice cake.  Pardon my neglect for a CNY feast.  Today, I’m afraid is just gonna be meatball spaghetti…

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PEPERONI MEATBALLS SPAGHETTI

Serving Size: 4~6 ppl

Ingredients

    THE MEATBALLS:
  • 1 cup diced (150 grams) pepperoni sausage
  • 1/4 cup (1 small handful) parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 medium-size onion, cut into chunks
  • 400 grams ground beef
  • 280 grams ground pork
  • 3/4 cup (50 grams) Japanese panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) grated parmigiano cheese
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • THE SAUCE:
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small celery stalk, finely diced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1200 grams (three 400 grams cans) peeled Italian tomatoes, pureed in a blender
  • 3" parmigiano cheese rind
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp chili flakes
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Chopped parsley leaves

Instructions

  1. TO MAKE THE MEATBALLS: Preheat the oven top-broiler on high. Run diced pepperoni, parsley leaves, garlics and onion in a food-processor until they resemble chunky, coarse meals. Transfer to a bowl along with ground beef, ground pork, panko breadcrumbs, grated parmigiano cheese, ground cayenne, crushed fennel seeds, ground paprika, salt and black pepper. Gently mix just until even, then shape the mixture into 8 tightly packed meatballs and place on a parchment-lined baking-sheet. Place in the middle-rack in the oven and toast until golden browned on all sides (flipping once). Set aside.
  2. TO MAKE SAUCE: In a large pot, cook extra virgin olive oil, chopped onion, garlic, celery stalk, fresh thyme and tomato paste with a generous pinch of salt over medium-high heat, until the onion is soft and the tomato paste starts to brown on the sides of the pot. Add dry red wine and cook for 5~6 min until almost completely evaporated. Then add the purreed tomatoes, parmigiano cheese rind, bay leaves, chili flakes, honey, ground black pepper, and all the browned meatballs with all the juice and dripping.
  3. Bring to a simmer then turn the heat to low, cover the pot with just a small slit for steam to escape, and let simmer for 2 hours until the liquid has reduced by 1/3. You should give it a gentle stir once every 20~30 min to prevent burning on the bottom. Re-season it along the way with salt if needed. The stew can be made days ahead. Before serving, gently mix the Dijon mustard into the sauce.
  4. TO SERVE: Cook 500 grams of dried spaghetti a couple min BEFORE al dente. Drain and transfer to a large pot, then add enough sauce to generously cover the spaghetti. Cook for another 2 min until the sauce is slightly reduced and coating every pasta, then transfer to a serving plate with the meatballs on top. Scatter more chopped parsley and a generous amount of grated parmigiano cheese. Serve immediately.
https://ladyandpups.com/2015/02/19/peperoni-meatballs-spaghetti/
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miso stewed short-ribs French-dip sandwich

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A ROUNDUP OF MY WEEK RANGING FROM TRAGEDY TO AWESOMENESS…

  1. Lost my sleep mojo.
  2. Left pink eye that’s flirting dangerously with my right eye.
  3. Egg allergy plus one-lick-too-many from testing the magic 15-seconds scrambled eggs, gave this pre-middle aged face a few beautiful, custard-filled pimples.
  4. Tweezer rage.  That corner of my eyebrow is never coming back is it?
  5. Being forced to sit straight up so the rim of my tummy wouldn’t touch my thighs.  They’re so close…
  6. My building’s management office and the grocery store downstair are plotting together on my imminent suicide.  Think I have to move.
  7. But again. my neighbour’s bichon, Coco, has a rainbow-colored afro on her head.
  8. Watched Frozen again.
  9. A dream of myself laying on Beth’s kitchen island, blanketed and all, as one of her props among other things, then fell asleep on the table and went into a second level dream which I have absolutely no recollection of.  Inception style.
  10. Watched Frozen again.
  11. An email that almost made me pee my pants.
  12. Eating this.
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FRIED PORK DUMPLING + KIMCHI NACHOS

YES, I WANT TO CALL IT MOJO.  NOT SAUCE.  MOJO.

Ooops, am I too late?  Have you already laid out your master game-plan for this sunday, unregrettably I hope, from this really awesome list I put together?  And now you could really kick yourself (or just kick me…)?

Well, that’s the thing about braving a crazy idea.  It needs to overcome a bit of hesitation-lag.  A crazily messy ideas like this that leads to moments of me staring at the final photographs, and doesn’t know what the hell I’m looking at.  An idea that I hallucinated about on Tuesday, doubted on Wednesday, gave up on Thursday, then on Friday… I thought, fuck it.  Life is too short – especially when it involves pork – not to make me a deep fried pork dumpling nachos, with kimchi salsa and gochujang and sour cream nacho-mojo (yes, I want to call it mojo, not sauce, mojo).  So here we are.  Kicking ourselves.

I know we are short on time, so I’ll spare the pornographic description that I usually paint you, and jump straight to the points.  Crispy blistered doughs with salty fish-saucy pork fillings.  Spicy, garlicky and crunchy kimchi salsa over a blanket of melted cheese.  Then in a finale-squirt of spicy, tangy and creamy gochujang nacho-mojo.  Here listen, I don’t call stuff mojo for nothin’ al’right?

So we still got a couple days.  Let’s get to it.

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    LET’S FILL THAT BOWL ON THIS SUPER !!!

    IN THE NAME OF SPORTS, IT’S TIME TO EAT OURSELVES TO A CELLULITE-D IMMOBILE PULP

    Right, let’s face it.  Who are we kidding?  The only thing sporty about me is that I could, maybe, jump over a puddle if my life depends on it.  But that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t want someone like me at the party this sunday – while the gang rouse up above a borderline-patriotic roar towards the flatscreen, beers blazing and testosterone bursting – who sinks into the couch giggling at her phone for French bulldog puppies on youtube.  Why, because my friends, I’m the one who’s gonna bring the kool-Aid.

    So let’s hit it.  For God and country, in the name of sports, and beefcakes clashing and tight muscles fluttering in slow motion… let’s eat ourselves to a cellulite-d immobile pulp and call it the spirit.  Man… gotta love this day.

    Here’s the game-plan.


    First, what’s a football party without some sliders?  These 2:1 sliders with charred green chili mayo, with patties that are 2 parts meat and 1 part cheese, browning and melting all over the place, is the one that you’re looking for.

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    THE VAMPIRE SLAYER RAMEN-EXPRESS

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    CALL IT, THE RAMEN WITH 40 CLOVES OF GARLIC… WAIT.  44 CLOVES.

    SOMETIMES, and for the sake of modesty not all the times, but sometimes, after I pasted every photos of a recipe in place and started to stare into space thinking about what I was gonna say… I thought to myself, seriously?  You fucking need a reason to eat this?

    Uhem, just sometimes.

    But well, today, happens to be one of those times.

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    BREAKFAST SAUSAGE BISCUIT GRAVY CASSEROLE

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    I know that you know how it feels, to be nagged by your tireless other half on executing tasks that the difficulty of which, he/she has absolutely no idea of.  This is no doubt an important subject that touches the very fabric of the marriage establishment, a possible and perhaps convincing argument made by the anti-commitment party, as one of the many fears that they don’t want to be trapped with.  But for the rest of us, I’d like to say I, I know how you feel…  To elaborate on such subject more personally, I’m once again, reminded that there’s a crucial member behind Lady and Pups whose profile, you may not have been properly introduced.

    Jason, this is everybody.  Everybody, Jason my husband.

    Jason my husband, who thinks it would be tremendously cool, you know as a side-hobby of this nocturnal creatureto invest every possible weekend-mornings on the driving-range together on his visions to become… the couple who golfs.  Jason my husband, who thinks it would be only fitting as our retirement blueprints, for me to finally open and run a restaurant/his personal whisky bar, and simultaneously, without saying of course, raise a whole ranch of organic kettles on the side.  Jason who doesn’t cook, but for the life of him, cannot understand why this house doesn’t serve freshly baked bar nuts.  Jason who thinks, since I already bake cookies and make pies, why not start producing, from scratch…

    … our very own sausages.

    THE KIND THAT WOULD TURN MY KITCHEN INTO DEXTER’S WET DREAM,

    AND ME, THE THINGS HE STUFFS INTO PLASTIC BAGS.

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    MOLLY YEH’S WEDDING PIE

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    CONGRATULATIONS, MOLLY.

    YEH!

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    “your pie”

    lyrics adapted from bernie taupin

    it’s a little bit lovely, this filling inside
    i’m not one of those who can take just one slice
    i don’t have much money eggboy, but what I will do…
    I’d move to this Dakota farm house, just for you

    if i was a domestic goddess… but then again, no
    or a woman who makes potions on a food-network show
    i know it’s not much but it’s the best i can do
    my gift is my pies and this one’s for you

    and you can tell everybody this is your pie
    it may be quite simple but now that it’s done
    i hope you don’t mind
    i hope you don’t mind that i put down in slices
    how wonderful life is now you’re in my world

    ~

    hair smelled like hummus and feet white in flours
    i made many messes the day you… made me one promise
    the snow will be falling when i make this pie
    and i’ll too be in white on my sweet twenty-five

    so excuse me forgetting, but these things i do
    you see i’ve forgotten if they’re… one cup or two?
    anyway the thing is you’re what i choose
    a sweet oh quiet farm boy… the day i saw you

    and you can tell everybody this is your pie
    it may be quite simple but wait till you try
    i hope you don’t mind
    i hope you don’t mind that i put down in slices
    how wonderful life is now you’re in my world

    ~

    i hope you don’t mind
    i hope you don’t mind that i put down in piiiieees~
    how wonderful life is…
    now i’m in your world

    for molly
    the closest thing to sunshine a stranger can be

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