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Where EAST meets the Northwest


BARBECUE BLISS. Thai red curry paste ó a delicious mash of red chilies, coriander roots and leaves, shrimp paste, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and galangal ó is a great base for an easy-to-make barbecue sauce. Pictured is a Thai Peanut Barbecue Turkey Cutlet Burger made with the simple concoction. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

From The Asian Reporter, V22, #20 (October 15, 2012), page 15.

Complex barbecue flavors from an easy recipe

By J.M. Hirsch

AP Food Editor

A few years ago I created a recipe for a killer barbecue sauce. It was exactly the way I like it ó thick, rich, a lot savory, a little sweet, and bursting with cumin, smoked paprika, and so many other delicious seasonings.

Like most homemade barbecue sauces, itís so much better than anything you can buy. And yet I almost never make it.

Admittedly, itís because I am lazy and generally short on time. Though barbecue sauce is hardly difficult to make ó dump everything in a bowl and mix ó gathering up the many ingredients my recipe calls for too often is simply too much work.

So I usually just reach for a bottle of whatever brand is handy and make do with that.

Until recently, when I reached into the cabinet and discovered we were out. Worse yet, we didnít have the ingredients to make my usual recipe.

I did, however, have a jar of Thai red curry paste, a Southeast Asian seasoning. Red curry paste is a delicious mash of red chilies, coriander roots and leaves, shrimp paste, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and galangal (a relative of ginger). It smells both tomatoey and exotically heady with spicy aromas. The flavor is warm, but not biting, with tastes of ginger and garlic.

That night, all I did was thin it with water until it had a barbecue sauce consistency, then tossed chicken in it and slapped it on the grill. It was crazy good. The next night, I tried it again. But this time I doctored it a bit, bringing it just a bit closer to traditional barbecue sauce. But I still didnít want to turn it into a grocery list of ingredients; I could just stick to my original recipe if I was willing to do that.

So I mixed the curry paste with water, peanut butter, and lime juice. Thatís it. It was incredible, tasting equal parts spicy barbecue sauce and peanut satay. Iíve since used the same sauce on beef, chicken, and turkey. It even would be good mixed into ground beef or turkey.

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Thai Peanut Barbecue Turkey Cutlet Burgers

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 6

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce, to taste

Zest and juice of 1 lime

12-ounce package shredded broccoli slaw mixture

Salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

1 cup smooth peanut butter

1 1/2 pounds turkey tenderloin

6 hamburger buns or other sandwich rolls

* * *

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, hot sauce, and lime zest (reserve the juice). Add the broccoli slaw and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the curry paste, peanut butter, and lime juice. Mix in just enough water, one tablespoon at a time, to achieve the consistency of barbecue sauce. The amount of water will vary depending on the thickness of the peanut butter you use. Set aside.

Cut the turkey tenderloin crosswise to form six round cutlets. Add the cutlets to the curry paste mixture, turning to coat well. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the grill to medium-high. Use an oil-soaked paper towel held with tongs to oil the grill grates.

Reduce the grill to medium heat and set the cutlets on the grill and cook for six minutes per side, or until they reach 165ļ Fahrenheit at the center. Place each cutlet on a bun, then top with some of the broccoli slaw.

If boneless, skinless chicken breasts are more your style, slice them thin and substitute for the turkey tenderloin in the recipe.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 600 calories (280 calories from fat, 47 percent of total calories); 31 g fat (6 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 50 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrate; 45 g protein; 4 g fiber; 970 mg sodium.

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