What do you do when you've been playing video games all day instead of cooking dinner for your guests? Well, if this is a problem for you, then I have the answer. I'm not going to lie, it happens more often than I'd like to admit. The answer is simple. Pray. Or on the other hand, you could rip through your kitchen and see what you have. When push comes to shove -- improvise. By improvise I mean to make something up that nobody has heard of so it sounds exotic.
I've been thinking that leeks are the perfect shape to be used as a cracker for a while now. Okay, that too is a lie. It happened earlier in the day. Anyway, it was go time and I had no plan or no idea if I had the ingredients for my non-existent plan. While hunting and foraging in my fridge I notice I had leeks and a mango that was bought for something else that didn't materialize. Perfect! The sweet and pine-like flavour of the mango would help tame the onionesque flavour of the leek.
As for the sauce, well that was another story. I really wanted to incorporate lemongrass, which meant that ginger was a perfect secondary flavour. With those two things simmering in the frying pan I decided that spice would go well with this -- thus, a chili pepper. Now that all these ingredients were already started I may as well stick with the South East Asian theme. Really, I had no choice. It seemed like my only option remaining, considering people were coming over in 30 minutes. One day I will plan ahead. One day. Not today. Not tomorrow. Although it is ironic that I'm planning on not planning.
I fed these to two very picky people (ugh the worst!), both of which didn't know what a leek was. Therefore, I feel like they were a good sample (guinea pig I mean) to test this creation out on. Fortunately for me they loved them. Unfortunately for me, they ate them all while I was preparing the main course. I guess you have to choose your battles, and hungry women are not the battles I'll be choosing anytime soon.
1 Leek, stalk only sliced into 1/4 inch circular disks.
1 Mango, cubed (1 inch).
1/8 cup Cabbage, julienne.
1/8 cup flour.
1 cup chicken stock.
Pepper to taste.
Lemongrass Chili Reduction
1 Chili pepper, minced.
3 inches Lemongrass, soft inner part minced.
2 tsp Ginger, minced.
1 tsp Chili powder (Thai if you can find it).
1 tsp Corriander, ground.
2 tsp sugar (or honey).
2 tbsp Olive oil.
3 tbsp Rice wine vinegar.
3 tbsp Red wine vinegar.
3 tbsp Red wine vinegar.
5 tbsp Chicken stock.
2 tbsp Fish sauce.
- Place the leek disks into a shallow bowl and cover with chicken stock. Allow to sit, as the chicken stock will mellow out the leek's onion flavour.
- On medium heat add oil, chili pepper, lemongrass, and ginger. Stir constantly until lemongrass becomes fragrant (about 5 minutes). Then add the remainder of the reduction's ingredients except for the chicken stock. Cover and allow to simmer on low for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Put flour and pepper into a shallow bowl (or bag) and coat the leek disks. Heat oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the leeks and cover the pan. Fry the leeks for 2-3 minutes per side.
- While leeks are cooking remove the lid from the reduction. Add the chicken stock and turn onto high heat. Reduce the liquid by the desired amount. If you are pressed for time add 1/4 tsp of corn starch to form a paste (although its not quite as good this way).
- Place a piece of mango on each leek disk and drizzle lemongrass chili reduction. Garnish with the cabbage.
- The left over reduction (or a new batch) goes well as a dressing for a cabbage, sesame seed, and dried cranberry coleslaw.
Featured in: 33 Shades of Green, Mandy's Recipe Box, Chef in Training