Friday, August 30, 2013

Beef Kebabs Lemongrass with Basmati Rice Salad

Beef Kebabs on Lemongrass sticks

I hardly cook beef at home, but this week we had beef twice.  I wanted to prepare beef brisket soup, so while shopping for beef brisket, I also bought some ground beef.  My initial plan is to make some beef patties for burgers ... I even bought my burger buns!  Well.... but somehow, I ended up making egg and luncheon meat burgers for breakfast instead!  

As I picked up some fresh vegetables from the wet market, I spotted a basket full of lemongrass and an idea came to my mind - beef kebab on sticks!  The lemongrass infused a lovely favour to the beef kebabs and my kitchen smells wonderful during cooking ^_^    Beside adding flavour, the lemongrass drumsticks are also visually attractive and helps to whet one's appetite.  For dinner, I prepared a light Basmati rice salad to pair with the beef kebabs.  If you do not have Basmati rice, you could use Thai jasmine rice. But Basmati rice gives a lighter and fluffier texture, which goes very well as a salad.

Colourful Basmati Rice Salad

I had cucumber, tomato, onion, yellow zucchini, ladies finger, dried cranberries in the salad rice.  You can also use corn niblets, bell peppers, mushroom etc, I just use what's available in the fridge.  The key point is: choose a variety of colours from your available vegetables.  It's also a great way to clear leftovers since you need just a little of each vegetables for this rice salad.

One dish meal using Happycall Pan

As you can see here, I used my Happycall pan (HCP) to cook this meal.  Key points to note when cooking the beef kebabs:  

1) Heat the HCP till smoking hot.  Add a little oil (about a tbsp) into the pan.  Arrange the beef kebabs into the HCP.  Keep the lid open, DO NOT close the lid (see pic below).

2) After one minute, rotate each kebab slightly to brown on another side. Keep rotating the kebabs till you brown them evenly (You need to brown the beef to seal in the juice, else you will end up with dried beef).  Browning will take a few minutes.

3) After the beef kebabs are browned, close the lid (but do not lock it) and cook for another minute or two.  This will ensure that the centre of the kebab is also cooked. 

Browning the beef kebabs 

For the Beef Kebabs:
(serves 3)

300g ground beef
2 tbsp chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1 stalk of lemongrass (head portion only)
1 tbsp cream corn (optional)*
1 tbsp chopped luncheon meat/ham (optional)*
2 tbsp chopped spring onion
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used leftover sandwich bread)
1/2 egg, beaten

1 tsp garam masala spice mix
1/2 tsp paprika
1 - 2 tbsp tomato sauce/ketchup
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 to 2 tbsp stock (with little or no salt) 
1 to 2 tbsp oil (if the beef is lean)
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

5 to 6 stalks of lemongrass (the thinner tail end) - remove the outer dry layers and lightly crushed one end for each stalk.

*  I happened to have these in the fridge, so I added for extra flavour.  

1) Blend the onion, garlic, ginger and lemongrass in a food processor till fine. 

2) Mix all the ingredients and seasoning together.  Keep in fridge for an hour.  

3) Divide the beef into 5 or 6 portions.  Take a stalk of lemongrass and wrap it with the beef.  Use a clear plastic bag to help to roll and shape the beef onto the lemongrass.

4) Heat up the HCP (or any frying pan) on high heat till smoking hot.  Add a little oil.  Brown the beef  kebabs evenly, before closing the lid (or covering the pan) for a minute to two for thorough cooking (see tips above).

5) Serve the kebabs on the Basmatic Rice Salad (recipe below) and garnish with tomato slices.  Add some lime wedges at the side to squeeze over the kebabs.

For the Basmati Rice Salad:
(serves 3)

You will need:

1 cup of Basmati rice, washed and drained
1.5 cups stock (or water)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 small piece of cinnamon stick (about a inch)
1 star anise

Salad:  choose a variety of vegetables.  Over here, I used one tomato, 1/3 of a medium-sized yellow zucchini, a few ladies finger, one cucumber, handful of dried cranberries and a bunch of Chinese parsley.  Cut the vegetables into small cubes (remove and discard the seeds - tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini).

1) Stir fry the vegetables lightly over a hot pan and season with salt/pepper to taste.  You can use a HCP to do the stir-frying, but I prefer to use a regular pan as I can easily toss the vegetable around.  Set aside.

2) To cook the rice, you can use either a rice cooker, a pot over stove or the HCP.  Over here, I use the HCP:  Heat up the HCP over medium low heat.  Add a tablespoon of oil and fry the chopped onion till translucent.  Add the rice, cinnamon stick, star anise and stock/water.  Close the lid (locked) and cook the rice till the grains have fully absorbed all the liquid.  The rice will take around 10 minutes to cook.

Note:  To ensure even cooking, shift the pan to the left and right during cooking.  After the liquid is fully absorbed into the grains, test a few grains to see if the rice is cooked to the right texture.  If necessary, add a little more water, close the lid to cook for another minute to two. 

3) Lightly fluff the rice with a fork (the Basmati rice will fluff up easily) and mix in the vegetables and dried cranberries.  Close the lid again and let the rice stand in the pan for another few minutes.

4) Garnish the rice with sliced tomato and chopped parsley.

To complete my meal, I prepared lemongrass and ginger drink.  I used the tail end portion for the kebabs and reserved the head portion for making this drink.  

To make the drink:
4 to 5 stalks of lemongrass (head portion only) - crushed
2 to 3 thin slices of ginger
About 1 litre water
Brown rock sugar, to taste
Juice from 1/2 lemon (add after cooking)

Combine all the ingredients in a pot (except for lemon juice), bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes.  Cool the drink slightly and add in the lemon juice.  Serve hot or cold.

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