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Paleo Eats: 3/1/14

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The kids spent the night at their grandparents’ last night, but we didn’t have the luxury of sleeping in. At the crack of dawn, Henry and I rolled out of bed, made a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs with furikake (I use Urashima All Natural) and homemade sriracha

Paleo Eats: 3/1/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and headed out to San Francisco to meet up with Chef Pete Evans at the Ferry Building Farmers Market.

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Pete’s visiting from Down Under, where—as my Aussie readers know—he’s an acclaimed mega-celebrity chef, having launched the hugely popular and award-winning Hugos restaurants before becoming a cookbook author and television heartthrob. For the last few years, Pete’s been a judge on the TV cooking competition show My Kitchen Rules—a ratings monster for Channel Seven. Americans may recognize Pete as the host of his PBS series, Moveable Feast.

Best of all? Pete cooks and eats Paleo.

Paleo Eats: 3/1/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Pete’s newest book, Healthy Every Day—which makes its debut next month in Australia—is filled with delicious and nutrient-dense real-food dishes. Yes, quinoa makes an appearance here and there, but even the most fanatical orthodox Paleo eaters will heartily agree that the pages of Pete’s cookbook offer brilliant, creative takes on the healthy, nourishing foods we all enjoy.

Paleo Eats: 3/1/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

And let’s face it: his dishes are pure eye candy.

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Pete and I have corresponded via email for months, but we hadn’t met in person until today. In town to shoot footage for his new “Recipes for Life” series, Pete asked me to accompany him on a trip to the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market. Our plan was to pick out some fresh, local ingredients (with a small camera crew in tow), and then head back to our house to film our cook-a-thon for his show.

Paleo Eats: 3/1/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Paleo Eats: 3/1/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

We got to the Ferry Building early to avoid the crush of the Saturday morning crowd. As I chatted with Pete, his producers and camera-wielding geniuses, Rob Tate and Gustavo Monroy, circled and swooped around us…

Paleo Eats: 3/1/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…while I did my best to avoid looking awkward.

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Forky Friday: 11/1/13

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Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

ARGH. I’m in the middle of another week of graveyard shifts, and between work and kids and Halloween and cooking and getting ready for our cookbook launch (planning a release party and book tour is no small task!), I barely have time to feed and bathe—let alone get this Forky Friday post done.

In fact, you’re probably reading this on Saturday. I’m such a loser.

In keeping with my Debbie Downer mood tonight, I’m going to front-load this post with links to a whole host of Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad news. Ready?

Ai-Ya! The Sky is Falling!

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

One of the week’s biggest food news stories was that the southern California city of Irwindale filed a lawsuit to shut down the production of sriracha at Huy Fong Foods’ nearby plant. The city claims that the fumes from the recently-opened $40 million factory are irritating residents, and hopes to halt sriracha production until Huy Fong takes steps to reduce the offending odors and spicy irritants. A production stoppage, however, would leave sriracha lovers stricken.

Sriracha’s passionate defenders have quickly rallied around their beloved “Rooster Sauce.” Matthew Inman, creator of the Oatmeal (and aficionado of sriracha) had this to say about the sriracha standoff in Irwindale:

"I personally would relish in the opportunity to live in a neighborhood bathed in rooster sauce. The thought of watching a blood-red sunrise soaked in clouds of red peppers and garlic would pretty much be my ideal morning. I feel like our country is still recovering from the near Twinkie extinction in 2012, and now we get hit with this?

The dinosaurs had their meteorite. We’ve got our sriracha shortage. If a sriracha shortage isn’t one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, then I don’t know what is. Now is the time to stock your fallout shelters full of tasty rooster juice. The end is nigh.”

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Luckily for hot sauce lovers across the universe, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge denied Irwindale’s request for a preliminary injunction, which means that sriracha production can resume at Huy Fong’s plant—for now.

But the next court hearing’s set for November 22, at which time the court may decide to pull the plug. According to Huy Fong owner, David Tran, “If the city shuts us down, the price of sriracha will jump a lot.” (If you wanna take a peek inside Tran’s gigantic hot sauce operation, check out this video.)

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

But don’t worry. You don’t have to rely on Huy Fong to make your favorite condiment. Even if the company’s sriracha production is halted, you can always use my recipe to make your own Paleo Sriracha at home—minus the preservatives and sugar! (I even have a Whole30-compliant sriracha recipe!)

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Orange Sriracha Chicken

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Orange Sriracha Chicken by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

For years, my in-laws owned a restaurant in Castro Valley, California, serving up the Americanized Chinese dishes to customers craving deep-fried wontons, pot stickers, crispy chow mein, sweet-and-sour pork, and egg foo young. Although these Westernized creations aren’t authentically Chinese, they reflected the tastes of Americans in the 1950s and 1960s who were dipping their toes in the “exotic” flavors of Asia for the first time.

Back then, a whopping 90 percent of all Chinese immigrants in the U.S. came from a tiny area the size of Rhode Island in the southern province of Guangdong (Canton), so it’s no surprise that the flavor profiles of this new hybrid cuisine were distinctly Cantonese-American. And that’s what my in-laws offered on their menu.

Orange Sriracha Chicken by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

But over the years, as immigration expanded to other parts of China, Americanized Chinese food began taking on more flavors from other regions of China, from Fujian to Sichuan. Westernized Chinese cuisine began rapidly evolving.

Orange chicken—battered and fried chicken pieces slathered in a thick glaze of sweet orange-chili sauce—is one of the Chinese-American dishes that surged in popularity during this period. Hunan in origin, orange chicken started popping up in Chinese restaurants across America over the past few decades.

Sadly, as this dish made its way to fast food Chinese joints, the recipes got sloppier and sloppier. The gloopy version you’ll find at the mall food court these days is often grosser than gross; it’s coated in soggy clumps of batter and drowning in overly sweet, artificially colored sauce. This incarnation of orange chicken isn’t even remotely close to real-food-friendly.

Wanna try my recipe for Orange Sriracha Chicken instead?

Orange Sriracha Chicken by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Whole30® Sriracha

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I’ve gotten tons of positive feedback about the Paleo Sriracha recipe I posted back in December (thank you!), and I love hearing that many of you have whipped up batches of the stuff to serve with…well, everything. After my recipe was picked up by websites like BuzzFeed and Grist, even non-Paleo eaters have been making their own junk-free versions of the famous Rooster Sauce. Yay!

BUT…what if you’re a sriracha lover who’s doing a Whole30®, and can’t have honey for a month? It’s your lucky day, ‘cause I have a solution:

Whole30® Sriracha by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Just like the original recipe, this’ll take just 20 minutes, and yield 2¼ cups of what Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal calls “a delicious blessing flavored with the incandescent glow of a thousand dying suns.”

Ready for the recipe?

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Paleo Eats: 11/25/12

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Still kicking yourself for veering off course over the Turkey Day weekend? Don’t fret. Just brush those pie crumbs off your shirt and get right back on the Paleo straight-and-narrow. After all, tomorrow is another day, right?

We had a lovely holiday weekend. (Thanks for asking.) On Thanksgiving, my sis drove up for the day and presented us with my brother-in-law’s incredible home-smoked turkey thighs, and we all gorged ourselves silly at my in-laws’. This year, almost all of the dishes were Paleo-friendly(!). My mother-in-law even made a point of declaring that the turkey au jus was “soy-and flour-free” — a pretty big deal in a Chinese household. And on Saturday, we celebrated my in-laws’ birthdays. Both are turning 70 this month. Mazel tov!

When I got up this morning, I heated up a smoked turkey thigh and some leftover vegetables for breakfast.

Man oh man, my brother-in-law’s turkey is goo-oood.

After breakfast, I finally had a chance to open up some packages that have been piling up next to our front door. I’m incredibly grateful for the terrific gifts I’ve received, like a sample of Choffy from Heather, one of my readers. I can’t wait to break out my French press and brew myself some chocolate. Yep, you read that right. Chocolate.

I also received a personalized WODbook from the fine folks at Sport Journals, who offered to design a custom cover using my Deadlift Girl image. I can’t wait to take it to the gym and start documenting my workouts.

As if these items weren’t cool enough, I also finally unpacked my kombucha continuous brewing system that I recently ordered from the Kombucha Kamp booth at the Weston A. Price Conference. Big-O and I were impatient to start brewing our first batch of kombucha, so we spent a good chunk of the morning glued to a series of online videos about how to assemble the kit. 

Big-O watched EVERY video, even the ones that describe steps we won’t get to for another week, like flavoring your finished ‘booch.

But unlike his big brother, Lil-O hates kombucha. As soon as he learned that the brewing system isn’t made of Legos, he wandered off in search of a ninja costume, Iron Man mask, and a pirate hat. (Because Pirate Superhero Ninjas > Pirates > Superheroes > Ninjas > Kombucha.) 

I’m no craft queen like Martha Stewart, so I appreciated (and relied heavily on) the videos’ simple step-by-step instructions. I followed ‘em all to a “T,” except the part about sending positive vibes and expressing my hopes and dreams to my kombucha. So if this batch doesn’t turn out, I’ll know why.

Okay — truth be told, I may have also scalded my scobys with too-hot tea. Whoops.

Guess I’ll find out in a week if everything’s okay. 

After setting up my ‘booch brewing system, I was famished for lunch. Luckily, I had leftover braised pork shoulder in the fridge. I tucked some in a Pure Wrap and doused it with homemade sriracha sauce.

Can you tell how happy I am to have sriracha back in my life?

Post-lunch, I went for a hike with my pals, though we probably gabbed more than we exercised as we ambled up and down the Stanford foothills.

By the time I came home, I had a little time before dinner to tinker with a new recipe: Paleo Walnut Prawns.

This has been one of my favorite dishes since I was a wee lass. My family would always order walnut prawns when celebrating a birthday or anniversary at a Chinese restaurant, and I could never resist the crunchy shrimp and candied nuts — all slathered in a sweet, creamy sauce. Unfortunately, it was also totally anti-Paleo. The walnut prawns you get in restaurants are loaded with corn starch, sugar, high-omega-6 mayonnaise, and condensed milk — and then fried in super-bad-for-you oils. 

The version I’m working on isn’t sugar-free (the sauce has a touch of honey)…

…but the batter’s grain-free…

…and the prawns are fried in coconut oil.

Plus, the whole dish takes only 15 minutes to make…

…and the “candied” walnuts add a touch of sweetness and crunch without too much guilt.

After comparing this recipe to the walnut prawns we sampled Saturday night at my in-laws’ birthday feast in Chinatown, I’m declaring this one a winner. I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty sure I’ve managed to create a healthier, tastier alternative.

(Before you start asking: I’m still tinkering with the recipe, so it’ll remain under wraps for now!)

By the time dinner rolled around, I was a little tired of cooking, and didn’t want to make anything too complicated. I tossed some baby bok choy in the pressure cooker with some garlic, bone broth, and Red Boat Fish Sauce

…fried burgers formed with 4505 Meats' famous grind…

…and baked portobello mushroom “buns.”

My burger looked somewhat naked…

…until I squirted on some sriracha and piled on my buddy’s homemade kraut.

I already need to make a new batch of sriracha. I know: First world Paleo problems.