Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chicken Fingers and Waffle Fries

I would file this under my best child friendly meal. Our kids will eat almost anything but I know many parents are faced with picky eaters. As witnessed at a 5 year old birthday party this weekend; one little girl with plate of fruit salad, watermelon, carrot sticks and cucumber rounds and across from her another young lady with only a hot dog and two meatballs on her plate. I serve this when we have 4+ kids at the house, this way, each child can pick what best suits their palate. The kids love it, they can design their own meal and there is the added bonus of eating with your hands. There isn't much in the way of preparation either. You need some time to marinade the meat but aside from that it's just a lot of chopping and I find the kids like to help with that too.

The flank steak and marinade is my memory of what my neighbor Claudia used to serve me growing up. I quit eating meat at 13 but I continued to eat that flank steak as my only exception for a couple more years. For many reasons I’m lucky Claudia moved in next door. One of those reasons, besides some truly sentimental and personal reasons, is my culinary edification. She introduced me to my life long love affair with Indian food. I had my first Afghan meal with Claudia. Claudia served me my first stuffed grape leaf, my first ceviche and my first flank steak. I ate my first duck beak and fish liver with Claudia and probably a lot of other firsts I can’t remember. She will eat anything; she’s well travelled, has zero food prejudices, a fabulous appetite and a deep appreciation of other people’s cultures. And she grew a fig tree in her front yard, in Baltimore, exotic!

I can remember some epic eating adventures with Claudia. A recent trip to her home in Southern California resulted, accidentally, in a massive binge on about 2 lbs. of bulgogi and 2 refills of the banchan. However, the one that stands out the most is when we went to New York one weekend when I was in high school. She had a conference but we also had a mission to find a prom dress I had seen in a magazine. I remember the trip incredibly well and I still have the dress to prove it; I wore it last month as a matter of fact. While there, Claudia treated us to a six entree meal in Chinatown, including two orders of salt and pepper shrimp. We ate it all. And marveled at the fact that we did.

So below is my version of her flank steak. Eat it as it is alone or serve it as described below. And if you have kids they will love you for it.

Lettuce Wraps - Serves 4

1.5 pounds flank steak

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon honey

3 garlic cloves, smashed

4-5 slices fresh, peeled ginger

2 spring onions, sliced

1/2 red pepper, sliced

1 cup bean sprouts

2 spring onions sliced

3 carrots shaved or shredded

1 handful basil

1 handful cilantro

20 lettuce leaves, I use red leaf

1 cup rice cooked with 2 cups water

Notes: You can use any vegetables; I usually just use whatever I have in the vegetable drawer.

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