I’m halfway done with The Girl Who Played With Fire, a novel with as much grit as the first novel that I’m left dumbfounded how I never picked up the series earlier. Suffice to say I have time on my hands, because Mindanao (the large island in the Philippines where my city, Zamboanga, is located) has been going through a power crisis that has apparently pushed it a few hundred steps backwards and into the dark ages, literally. When I’m not doing anything productive (which is most of the time), I read.
And I’m enjoying this laziness a lot – too much apparently that I’m relying on spontaneity to determine what to cook and what to blog about. Time is definitely divided, and I’m actually pretty glad I don’t have to fuss over this little blog too much. Not that fussing over something is inherently bad – but in my case, it has sometimes been counterproductive and counterintuitive.
Have you ever used a pressure cooker?
(My off-tangent paragraph flow construction amazes me)
I’ve recently made friends with it. Usually it’s my dad who uses it and he always talks about how improper usage will literally kill you. No joke. According to him, opening it without releasing the pressure will apparently cause an explosion. I’ve been perusing youtube for evidence to support his claim, but I realized that even if that were true, I’m not stupid enough to mishandle it in any way.
The point is, because I fear for my life – that little noisy spindle on top of the pressure cooker lid needs to be lifted in order to release the pressure before I open it. Because the heat is scalding, I use tongs to lift the spindle. I haven’t died yet.
The pressure cooker does wonders to soften tough cuts of meat. We usually use it to soften beef in less than an hour. I had a surplus of beef shanks that were used for soup last Sunday. I was thinking of making it into Osso Buco, but a little Del Monte recipe postcard latched onto our fridge door by ref magnets caught my eye. It seemed easy enough, and I wanted to get back to my reading as soon as possible, so I decided to give it a try. Osso Buco would have to wait.
The stew itself is savory and hearty, with hints of rice wine, hoisin, soy, and oyster sauce. The sweetness from the pineapples (It’s a Del Monte recipe after all) tempers the saltiness, resulting in something that’s almost like ‘endulsado’ (pork stewed/cooked in soy sauce and sugar), but not quite there yet. That’s a good thing, because endulsado can be cloyingly sweet.
Emperor’s Beef Stew (serves 4 – 6)
- ½ cup chopped white onions
- Half a garlic bulb, minced
- 1 to 2 pieces dried laurel/bay leaves
- Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- 1 to 1 ½ kg beef shanks, cooked and softened in a pressure cooker (make sure to read manufacturer’s instructions)
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- A scant ¼ cup rice wine or gin
- 2 ½ cups water
- 2 pouches Del Monte Pineapple tidbits (115 grams each)
- In a pot large enough to hold the beef, sauté onions, garlic, bay leaves and pepper in oil. Add the beef and sauté until lightly brown.
- Add oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine and water. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes to soften the beef more.
- Add the pineapple tidbits with the syrup and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and serve warm with rice. Enjoy!