I don’t eat beef for religious reasons. It’s also pretty hazardous on the skin as, being ‘heaty’ it causes acne and pimples. I’ve stayed away from beef even as a kid. But I cannot ignore the fact that beef is universally enjoyed and the aroma of it even in student kitchens was mouthwatering. Admittedly, it was very difficult for me in the UK especially back in boarding school (Concord college) where they would have 4-5 choices of mains and most of them would be something beef. Beef stew, fried beef slices, beef lasagna, roast beef and the list goes on. The only choice I could go for is the only non-beef main that’s always prevalent… the vegetarian choice. Vegetarian lasagna anyone? I love my meat so the vegetarian option always leaves me craving for something juicy and meaty. The closest substitute I have to beef is lamb, which shares almost the same bloody, red and juicy meat tendencies as beef.
This is a dish I dreamt up after watching yet another beef-related cooking show on food network and Asian food channel. Sort of a Greek play on Sloppy Joe with the thick creamy greek yoghurt and lamb and mint. And it is so rich and gamey, with some arugula and mango to lighten up on the richness and provide some texture to the sandwich. Perfect snack or a light meal to quench my meat cravings. Lamb chops are even better but I’ll save that for another time.
This sloppy joe may not look pretty but aren’t the ugliest dishes sometimes the yummiest?
I’ve adapted this from http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/sloppy_joes
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- Optional: 1 medium carrot chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 500g ground lamb, marinated with 1/2 teaspoon salt and some black pepper
- 2 squirts of tomato ketchup
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- Black pepper
- 4-6 pita breads
- Mango, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tbsp of greek yoghurt per pita bread
- Thinly sliced mint leaves (1 mint leaf per pita)
- A handful of arugula, washed and lightly dressed in the creamy Japanese sesame salad dressing you can find in most supermarkets.
- Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat.
- Add the carrots (if you’re using them) for about 5 minutes before adding the chopped onion.
- Cook, stirring every now and then until onions are translucent.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.
- Using the same pan, heat the pan on high. Crumble the ground lamb into the pan and ensure that you do not overcrowd the pan. Do this in two batches if need be.
- Do not stir the lamb mince, just let it cook until it is well browned on one side. Then flip the pieces over and brown the second side.
- Return the vegetables to the lamb mince in the pan, add the ketchup, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, rosemary and brown sugar to the pan and mix well.
- Lower the heat to medium low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Lightly toast your pita bread so that it’s a light golden on the outside (you can do this in a frying pan) and cut it three quarters of the way through to form a “pocket”.
- Spreads the greek yoghurt on the insides of the pita bread, spoon some of the lamb mixture topped with mint into it along with a slice or two of mango and some arugula leaves.
I was on a short holiday in Kota Kinabalu with my friends when I spotted this dish on the menu of the hotel’s cafe. Seared tuna, I love tuna but had no idea how it would turn out in a sandwich with watercress? Turned out, it was really yummy. Ate it outdoors in the salty sea breeze in the company of good friends, nothing like a good ambience of comfort and relaxation to enhance a dish.
Of course I had to try to recreate the dish at home, as it seemed simple enough to attempt or so I thought. There are several aspects that make or break this dish, the bread quality, the crunch of the vegetables and the tuna of course.
- A small loaf of focaccia bread or a bread of your choice sliced into two (I prefer soft breads to hard breads in any case)
- 1 sashimi grade Ahi tuna steak or tuna loin of about 250-300 grams. It has to be at least 1.5-2 inches in thickness and if possible, the thickness should remain uniform throughout the length of the fish.
- A handful of watercress, washed, drained and chopped into 1.5 inch pieces
- 1 tbsps of Japanese sesame dressing (used in salads typically, you can find this at most supermarkets like NTUC, the Marketplace and Meidi-ya.
- 2 wedges of lemon (each wedge is 1/8 of a lemon)
- 1.5 tbsps of olive oil
- Salt and Black pepper
- 1 tbsp Chopped spring onions
- Smear the olive oil and rub it all over the tuna and season the tuna with salt and pepper.
- Heat a frying pan large enough to hold the tuna. On medium high heat.
- Once the pan is hot, place the tuna into the pan. It should sizzle as it touches the hot surface.
- Sear each side of the tuna for about 20 seconds, or 30 if the tuna has just been taken out of the fridge. The center of the tuna steak/loin should be completely raw. Just need a quick sear on the outer surface of the fish, you don’t want to cook the fish through.
- Set aside the tuna.
- Toss your watercress in the sesame dressing and squeeze a little lemon juice onto it. Make sure the watercress is not dripping wet otherwise it would make for a soggy sandwich. Set aside.
- You could butter the surface of the bread, however I try to opt for healthy cooking so I go without. Toast the surface of the bread on a grill or on a frying pan until golden brown.
- Slice the tuna into thick slices. You should get a raw, red centre surrounded by a light brown border which is the cooked area of the tuna.
- Arrange the watercress onto the bread, then top with the sliced tuna, the chopped spring onions and the other half of the bread. There you have it, salad, fish and bread all in one meal =)