While Chow, Baby is still working on the leftovers from last week’s chicken-fried bacon road trip – two slices to go, each an entire day’s worth of fatty salty goodness – here’s another installment in our occasional series, Chow, Baby’s Three-Step Recipes!!! (Remember, the exclamation points are part of the official name.) This week: Three-Step Meals for Those Terrified of Ethnic Cooking. On the Home Depot do-it-yourself scale, they range in difficulty from lightbulb replacement to putting a new washer in the faucet. No special tools required.
Cajun/Asian/Eastern European Gumbo
1. Sweet-talk Blue Danube (2230 W. Park Row Dr., Pantego) owner Miroslav Badonsky into selling you a link of his housemade andouille sausage (uncooked).
2. Hit an Asian market (see next recipe) for a half pound of shrimp, crab, or other seafood.
3. Follow the directions on a box of Zatarain’s Gumbo Mix, adding the sausage and seafood at the beginning and simmering until you’re darn sure it’s cooked all the way through. Sprinkle with Zatarain’s Gumbo Filé and serve over a bed of leftover rice from First Chinese or King Wok. Mmm, très bon.
Sure, taqueria ambiance is worth a lot. But when you’re hungry for a great taco yet just don’t have a spare $1.50, for half the cost you can pick up fresh ingredients and finish the prep at home! Good lord, Chow, Baby is turning into Sandra Lee. Kill me now.
1. Go to any little neighborhood store with “carniceria” or “tortilleria” in its name. (Try Carniceria La Superior or Tortilleria La Nueva de Zacatecas; each has several locations.)
2. Using hand signs and your pitiful Spanish, get a pound of your favorite meat (carnitas), already cooked and seasoned; a bag of tortillas; and onions, cilantro, lime, and housemade hot sauce.
3. Back at home or in a nearby park, heat, chop, fill, and drizzle to taste. Mmm, la comida tan deliciosa.
Variation: Gyro Place-Style Gyros
1. For a great gyro at half the restaurant price, start with marinated beef (with a bit of lamb) or chicken sliced off the spit at International Foodland (1729 S. Cooper St., Arlington). Before wrapping up your meat, they’ll toss on onions, peppers, tomato, and tzatziki sauce, so the only other thing you need to buy is pita bread.
2. At home, heat a pita.
3. Put the meat in the pita. Mmm.
Roasted Chinese Vegetables and Sausage
A great cold-weather meal for the adventurous. The fun part is that you’ll find something you really like, but you won’t be able to identify it (gee, was that the daikon or the lotus root?).
1. Go to a big Asian market (Chow, Baby just discovered Cho Saigon at Collins Street and Pioneer Parkway, Arlington), and buy several vegetables you’ve never had before. Make sure they’re all about the same density. Also get a pound of Chinese pork sausage (California Sausages brand, with the red label. The blue label is OK too.)
2. Peel the vegetables as necessary, and cut veggies and sausage into bite-size chunks. Put all the pieces in a bag or bowl and toss with olive oil, garlic, a bit of fish sauce, kosher salt, maybe some paprika, coriander, whatever you have.
3. Pour a thin layer of olive oil on a roasting pan and spread the veggies and sausage out in a single layer. Roast at, oh, 425 degrees until most of it seems edible. Mmm.
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