January 26, 2010

Glutamate for teh win.

I love glutamate. From fish sauce, to anchovies, to MSG, glutamate is the tastiest amino acid ever. I add glutamates, in some form, to pretty much everything these days and because my wife doesn't really care for anchovies (she humors me sometimes), my glutamate delivery mechanism of choice in most cases is fish sauce.

Good quality fish sauce, like Tiparos, is a ridiculously easy way to add tons of flavor to sauces, soup, stews, braises, and savory dishes of any kind. Fish sauce adds a wonderful depth of savoriness (umami!!) to whatever you add it to, and as long as you don't over do it (whatever that means), there's no trace of fishiness at all.

I put fish sauce in meatloaf with fabulous results, and I added it to the beef and barely stew I made Sunday night to really send it over the top.

So go ahead, stop being a wuss, and crank your flavor knob up to 11 with little bit of fish sauce. Your taste buds will thank you.

Beef and Barely stew:

2 tbs bacon drippings or 2 tbs of canola oil
2 tbs olive oil
1 1/2 pounds stew beef cut into 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 cup diced celery
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
6 cups beef broth
3 tbs good quality fish sauce
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
bouquet garni or other herbs to taste (thyme, rosemary, savory, oregano, whatever)
1/2 cup pearled barley
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced carrots
1 1/2 cups peeled and cubed turnip, parsnips, and/or rutabaga
1 1/2 cup cubed potatoes
1 cup green peas, frozen or fresh

Toss stew beef pieces with the flour, salt and pepper.

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the fat over medium high heat. Working in batches, add the meat to the pan and brown on all sides. Remove meat and set aside.

Add the olive oil to the pan, and once it's hot, add the onions and celery. Cook the onions and celery for 8-10 minutes, or until the onions just start to caramelize.

Add the broth, fish sauce, Worcestershire, bay leaf, bouquet garni or herbs, and beef (and all juices/drippings) to the pan, scrape up any sticky bits on the bottom, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer stew for 45 minutes.

Uncover and turn heat back up to medium high. Add barley, carrots, and root veg of choice, and bring stew back to full boil. Cover once again and reduce heat to low for another 25 minutes. Increase heat, uncover, and add potatoes. Cover once more and lower heat for another 25 min. Uncover, add peas, and cook for another 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Beef / barley stew

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