Gallo pinto and Lizano salsa

Lizano salsa

Lizano salsa

A friend went to Peru and Costa Rica, and asked me what I wanted as a souvenir. I’m sure she was expecting me to ask for a sweater or something like that, but I think I surprised her. Food, I replied. Something unique. Maybe a sample of the tea you’re supposed to take when you’re climbing Machu Picchu?

What she ended up bringing back was some Lizano salsa, (Lizano sauce). The taste of Lizano is a little hard to explain. A sauce made out of vegetables and salt, it tastes a little like a slightly sweet and spiced V8-flavoured sauce, minus the tomatoes.

Stick it on tacos, she said, when I asked what it was normally used it for. That seemed kind of a waste though. and then I found a recipe for a Costa Rican gallo pinto – beans and rice.

Now you can apparently substitute Lizano sauce with Worcestershire sauce, but they just do not taste the same. I tried called a couple of places to see if i could find it here in Edmonton, but with no luck so far. Paraiso Tropical said they have carry the same kind of sauce but from a different brand. The person who answered the phone at El Rancho Latin Market told me they didn’t speak English and hung up on me. Anyone know if I can find this stuff here in town? If the other brand doesn’t taste right I’m going to have to resort to ordering the sauce online.

gallo pinto

gallo pinto

Gallo pinto
Adapted from Serious Eats
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 yellow, white or red onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cooked rice (you get better results with day old or defrosted frozen rice than freshly cooked rice)
1 cup of canned black beans, with some liquid
5 tablespoons Lizano salsa or Worcestershire sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste
cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions
Pour the oil into a large skillet or wok set on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until the onion starts to turn translucent. Add the red pepper and cook until the red pepper is soft. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute.

Add the can of beans to the pan, but only add a little of the liquid in the can (reserve the rest of the liquid just in case). Add the Lizano or Worcestershire sauce, stir and let everything cook for about 3 minutes. If the pan starts to dry out, add more of the reserved bean liquid. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the rice, and stir until well coated, and cook until the rice is heated through. Top with chopped cilantro, and add additional salt, pepper, or Lizano sauce if necessary.

Update: I found some Lizano, but it was in Vancouver. So I had someone bring me lots of bottles. 🙂

2nd Update: I keep getting internet stores advertising in my comments, so I am closing comments on this post. Google it if you want to order Lizano online.

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Mucho Burrito, Edmonton

Mucho Burrito is a somewhat new and expanding franchise chain in Alberta. In the past year it seems like there have been Mucho Burrito locations popping up all over Edmonton. The food is relatively basic – burritos are the main feature – and you get to layer on whatever you’d like, kind of like ordering a sub at Subway.

My regular choice is generally a carnitas burrito (pork) on a whole wheat tortilla. A small will fill you up. A medium will do if you’re starving. The large size will practically feed 4 people. I ordered a combo which means a drink and a choice of either tortilla chips and salsa, a cookie, or some cinnamon thing that I’ve never bothered to try. The tortilla chips are crispy and not greasy; always a winner in my books. Warning – the hot salsa is “burn your mouth” type of heat. You may want to start off with mild or medium if this is your first visit.

carnitas combo

carnitas combo

For fillings, you get rice, your meat (unless you ordered the vegetarian burrito), guacamole (extra charge), salsa, and your choice of veggies, black beans or brown beans. Then the whole thing is rolled and briefly grilled on a press. Pardon the bite marks and dry hands in the photo.

carnitas cross-section

carnitas cross-section

Oh, and if you really want to torture yourself, there are handy bottles of Tabasco sauce over by the straws and napkins for your use.

Mucho Burrito
Various locations in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan; new franchise purchased for Vancouver, B.C.
www.muchoburrito.com

Lap cheurng fan

Lap cheurng is a dried and salted Chinese sausage. The most common version is made with pork, but there is also a version made with pork and duck liver. Some simple ways to use it include diced and added to fried rice, as well as added to sticky rice. It’s also very fatty, so if you’re watching your cholesterol you probably want to avoid it.

Lap cheurng package

Lap cheurng package

Lap cheurng fan, or in English Chinese sausage rice, is a fast and easy recipe to make, especially if you have a rice cooker.

Lap cheurng fan

Lap cheurng fan

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Chinese New Year – part 4

The last part of my second Chinese New Year dinner was made up of chicken braised with shiitake mushrooms (a.k.a. dried black Chinese mushrooms that were re-hydrated) and black moss, as well as some BBQ eel for the fish dish (sorry, no pics of the fish). I had no hand in making this, except for eating it with great pleasure.

Braised chicken with mushrooms and fat choy black moss

Braised chicken with mushrooms and fat choy black moss

The moss was always something I loved eating as a kid as I always found it fascinating. The stuff basically tastes like a less salty seaweed, has a texture similar to vermicelli, and looks like hair. It also absorbs liquid really well, so when placed into a soup or braised stew, the flavours are all soaked up into the moss. Authentic black moss should actually be a very dark green, not black. If it’s black, it’s fake. Chinese usually eat the moss during new year celebrations because it’s called “fat choy,” which in Cantonese is very close to the words for prosperity and riches (as in the new year greeting Gong Hei Fat Choy).

I’m somewhat troubled by the Wikipedia page about fat choy. Apparently it’s the cause of erosion and desertification in the Gobi desert and Qinghai plateau. And some doctors in Hong Kong came out with a report saying that eating fat choy may lead to the development of degenerative diseases. I’m not 100% convinced about the medical report as it’s only one study and people have been eating this stuff for hundreds of years. The environmental impact troubles me though. We may not eat it again after we finish the packages that I bought last Friday.

Also, why are the mushrooms generally more well known in English using the name shiitake? They originated in China, not Japan. Curious. I’ve wondered this about daikon too. Maybe I’m thinking about it too much. 🙂

Anyway, I hope you had a lovely Chinese New Year. I know I did.

You know you’re Asian when…

you are horrified to find out that your pregnant friend has been craving rice, but doesn’t own a rice cooker and has been making instant rice in the microwave. And then you run out and buy her a rice cooker as an “early Christmas present.”

Ayikarley’s Kitchen

Ayikarley’s Kitchen full spreadThe sister of a friend opened up a brand new catering company here in Edmonton, and I was lucky enough to snag an invite to the launch party. Ayikarley’s Kitchen serves up authentic Ghanaian cooking. The proprietor, Ellen, is building up her list of dishes and has a wonderfully bubbly personality.

Plantains
Plantains look like bananas but are more firm and aren’t as sweet as bananas. They require cooking, and Ayikarley’s Kitchen fried some up to start off the meal. It was hard to resist snacking on these things.
Freshly cooked plantains cooking plantains

Peanut butter soupPeanut butter soup with crab and smoked fish
This was probably my favourite dish of the evening. The soup was light, but filling, and I somehow managed to have a whole catfish head in my serving. Mmmm fish heads are yummy!
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