Spicy Ginger Cucumber Salad with Crispy Pork Belly

3246364802_4c7c793966by Karen Frazier

I have to admit – I am not a huge fan of cucumbers except in certain circumstances. I won’t just sit down and eat cucumber – but I do like it as an acidic and refreshing counterpoint to something super spicy. So the other day, I picked up some organic cucumbers at the grocery store with the thought I’d do a refreshing and spicy dish of some kind. This is what I threw together today (I failed to take a photo of it – sorry), and it was super delicious.  I just put crispy slices of the pork belly right on top of the salad.

It’s low-carb, paleo, and can be Whole30 compliant, as well.

Crispy Pork Belly

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 pound pork belly, thinly sliced like thick sliced bacon
  1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  2. Preheat a skillet on medium-high.
  3. Season the pork belly slices with the seasoning blend. Put in the hot skillet. Cook just like you would bacon, until crispy. Slice and put on top of the salad (below).

Spicy Ginger Cucumber Salad

  • 4 organic cucumbers, spiralized into angel hair noodles (or just julienne them)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • 1 cup julienned radish
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 to 2 thai chilies, minced (or 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese hot mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon expeller pressed sesame oil
  • 1 packet stevia (optional – omit for Whole30 or add 1/2 finely chopped Medjool date for a bit of sweetness)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  1. Put the cucumbers in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle them with 1 teaspoon of the sea salt. Allow the water to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse the cucumbers and pat them dry with a paper towel. Put them in a large bowl.
  2. Add the radish, scallions, and sesame seeds and toss to combine.
  3. In a blender or food processor, combine the ginger root, thai chilies, garlic, Chinese hot mustard powder, sesame oil, stevia, apple cider vinegar, EVOO, and the remaining half teaspoon of sea salt. Blend on high until emulsified. Toss with the salad.

photo credit: Vilseskogen harvest via photopin (license)

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Grilled Beef Short Ribs with Apple and Jicama Slaw

short ribsby Karen Frazier

Okay – here’s the deal. I had leftover marinade from my earlier pork belly recipe, but alas, I had no unfrozen pork belly. Not to worry, however. I have about 10 pounds of it in my freezer (yay!)

So anyhoo…I wanted to use the rest of the marinade. Which is why I headed to the grocery store and picked up some flanken-style beef short ribs (the kind of beef short ribs where they are cut thin across several bones).

I marinated them in my extra marinade for a little over two hours, and then I popped them on my Foreman grill, which I consider a very underrated kitchen gadget. You can also grill them on the regular grill or use a grill pan.

Although the marinade was the same, the flavor was very different from the pork belly. The beef was super flavorful. As I was eating, I realized the ribs would be delish with a ginger broccoli stir-fry, but it’s also good with a crispy, slightly sweet, slightly acidic slaw (or why choose? you can do both!) I’ll include recipes for both, and you can decide.

Asian Marinated Flanken-Style Beef Short Ribs

  • 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2-3 drops of liquid stevia
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
  • 2 to 3 pounds flanken-style beef short ribs
  • Sesame seeds
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, stevia, sriracha, garlic, sesame oil, and ginger root.
  2. Add the short ribs to a large zipper bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and squish it around (I believe squish is a technical term) until all the meat is covered. Refrigerate for two to four hours. The longer the marinade, the more flavor you’ll get. You can even marinade in the morning and cook when you get home.
  3. Preheat a grill on high.
  4. Grill the short ribs, three to four minutes per side.
  5. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

Broccoli Ginger Stir-Fry

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  1. In a large saute pan, heat the coconut oil on medium-high until it shimmers.
  2. Add the ginger and broccoli and cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli is crisp-tender, about five minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the soy sauce. Cook for one minute, stirring frequently.

Apple and Jicama Slaw

  • 2 sweet-tart apples (I like Honeycrisp or Pink Lady), cored and julienned
  • 1 Jicama, peeled and julienned
  • Juice of two limes
  • Zest of half a lime
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  1. In a large bowl, combine the apples and jicama.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lime zest, ginger root, rice vinegar, cilantro, olive oil, and sea salt.
  3. Toss the dressing with the apples and jicama.

So those are the recipes. Trust me, they’re delicious! But, I just thought of something else that would be really delicious with the short ribs…a bok choy stir-fry, cooked in a manner similar to the broccoli above. You might even toss in a handful of sliced shiitake mushrooms for a tasty low-carb side dish.

Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce

  • cranberries1 bag fresh cranberries
  • Juice of two oranges
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Zest of one orange
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1 cup sugar (or use stevia or honey for paleo)
  • Fresh grated cinnamon to taste.
  1. Place berries in a non-reactive saucepan.
  2. Add orange juice, water, sugar, ginger, and orange zest.
  3. Boil until cranberries begin to pop.
  4. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until cranberries release their pectin and sauce is desired consistency.
  5. Add cinnamon to taste.
  6. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Ginger Maple Applesauce

Homemade ApplesauceYesterday was the perfect fall morning at the Olympia farmers’ market. There was a crisp chill in the air, which significantly reduced crowd size. Still, given the offerings available this time of year at the market, the chill was worth it. Along with a dizzying array of organic apples from Washington’s bumper apple crops, there were large ears of corn, juicy plums, chanterelles, squash, pole beans, red and white raspberries, concord grapes, and many others. One of my favorite types of produce from fall in Washington State is pluots. A cross between a plum and an apricot, the pluot is like a juicy, sweet plum. If you come across these tasty stone fruit, give them a try. I think you’ll love them.

As far as I am concerned, however, the star of the show for fall is apples. I love apple season with a passion approaching my love for writing. In fact, as soon as the days grow shorter and the leaves start to change color, I begin cooking with apples. The dogs love it. They gather at my feet as I peel and chop, accepting tiny slices of apple they chew with great gusto. (Tip – never give your pets apple seeds, which contain traces of cyanide.) At the market yesterday, the variety was amazing. Braeburn, Fuji, Jazz, Lady Alice, Gravenstein, Pink Lady, Rose, Honeycrisp…it’s an apple lovers paradise.

I enjoy baking apple pies, crisps, cakes, and turnovers. I also like making a simple applesauce, which I will be making today from the organic Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Jazz apples I bought yesterday.

When cooking with apples, I take a minimalist approach. I like to let the flavors of the fruit shine through. This doesn’t mean lots of sugar or heavy spices. Instead I use just enough to enhance the natural flavors of the apples instead of overpowering them.  Some of my favorite spices to use include fresh grated nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and fresh grated ginger. I also usually use just a touch of lemon zest and lemon juice to prevent the apples from turning brown and bring out the tart notes.

Another trick for baking with apples is using a few different varieties in one dish. For instance, in my pies I often mix Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples. In fact, Pink Lady apples are my favorite eating and baking apples, followed closely by Honeycrisp.

Today, I will be making a simple applesauce. Recipe below.

Ginger Maple Applesauce

  • 4 Pink Lady apples – Peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 4 Honeycrisp apples,  peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 4 Jazz apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 T. fresh ginger root, grated
  1. Place apples and water in a large pot and simmer on the stove top, covered until apples begin to break down, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and stir, mashing apples together.
  3. Stir in ginger root and maple syrup.
  4. If you prefer a smooth applesauce instead of a rustic one, cool and process in a food processor or food mill.