Family Kitchen

I have always said that one of the things I absolutely love about living in Asia is the food.

Yes, we marvel at the wonderful markets and produce in Europe, argue the irrevocable supremacy of cuisines like French and Italian, and stand impressed at the accessibility to almost anything in the United States. But for this humble island girl, nothing quite compares to the unapologetically brazen and fresh tastes of Asian cuisine.

I’ve heard people bemoan the lack of “good ingredients” here. Okay, that may be the case if you’re trying to put together an authentic Mexican chili or Spanish paella. But me, I’ll throw myself bright-eyed and mouth open onto the herbs, spices, and condiments of Asia and let myself be dazzled.

This dish marries very typical Asian flavors in a very typical Asian preparation. Tamarind (sampalok), fish sauce (patis), and lemongrass

(tangled) are things we find in our own Filipino cuisine as well as those of our Southeast Asian neighbors, particularly Thailand. Kaffir lime leaves are often used in Thai cuisine as well; it gives everything it touches a wonderful citrus fragrance. The combination of all these ingredients makes for a distinctly Asian dish.

Stir-frying, as you do here, is also typically Asian, and it’s a great way to get a meal on the table in no time flat with hardly any effort. You can easily have this dish ready in less than 20 minutes! I would only advise two things. First, have everything prepared before you start cooking. Everything happens very fast when you stir-fry and you want everything within reach. Second, buy a whole piece of beef tenderloin and take the time to slice it yourself across the grain. Cutting meat this way makes it more tender.

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