Happy Lunar New Year!

Once I moved to NYC, I started celebrating Chinese New Year by cooking (and eating) traditional “good luck” dishes. It was fun. And it took place in the winter, the time of year I most craved Chinese food. But, after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s 7 years ago, I stopped. I seldom cook Chinese food now. And I almost never eat Chinese restaurant food.

For someone with Hashimoto’s, Chinese food can be a landmine of food triggers…soy and wheat/gluten are the big ones. These foods wreak havoc on the thyroid. Most Chinese dishes call for soy sauce, which contains both wheat and gluten. Popular Chinese condiments—like oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, black bean garlic sauce or chili garlic sauce—used to flavor dishes are also problematic. Not only do they contain soy sauce, wheat (and gluten), other ingredients include corn starch, artificial colors, highly processed and inflammatory oils (like soybean oil), and sugar is usually a starring ingredient. Chinese restaurant food is often spiked with MSG (monosodium glutamate), a neurotoxin; MSG leaves me with a blinding headache and dry mouth.

That said, Chinese food in its purest, most unadulterated form, can be amazing. It starts with fresh, seasonal, quality ingredients.

This year, the stand-out dish on our Chinese New Year menu was a Sichuan-style grass-fed beef chili (no beans!).

The flavors crackle and keep you going back for more!  Sichuan peppercorn, with its woodsy-citrus notes and “numbing” piquancy, along with jalapeno, habanero, fresh ginger and red chili spice, come together in a delicious chili that, literally, EXPLODES with flavor!  This chili is perfect winter comfort food. Serve over buckwheat grits.
 

Chinese Chili + Greens + Napa CabbageSichuan-Style Grass-Fed Beef Chili

1-1/2 pounds of grass-fed & grass-finished ground beef
1 tablespoon of unrefined organic coconut oil
1/4 cup organic coconut aminos
1/2 cup home-made hoisin sauce (see recipe below)
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
1 large Jalapeno (or 2 small serrano chilis), minced
1 habañero pepper, seeded and minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 two-inch knob of fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon of organic Sichuan peppercorns, toasted, then ground fine
1 tablespoon of five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/2 teaspoon of Celtic sea salt
12 oz. of hard (dry) cider,
*This is an alcoholic dry cider
15 oz. organic strained tomatoes
2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro (for garnish)
 

Homemade Hoisin

4 tablespoons organic coconut aminos
2 tablespoons unsweetened organic sunflower seed butter
1 tablespoon raw honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon organic dried red chili peppers (ground) OR cayenne powder.

In a medium stainless steel or glass mixing bowl, combine coconut aminos, sunflower seed butter, raw honey, garlic, raw apple cider vinegar, sesame oil and ground Chinese chili or cayenne powder. Using a whisk, combine mixture until smooth and creamy.

To Cook the Chili
Warm coconut oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium high heat. When the coconut oil is hot, but not smoking, add the ground beef .  Reduce heat to medium and cook beef 3 to 5 minutes, or until there is no visible pink. Stir frequently, breaking up any clumps of meat. When ground beef is browned,  use a slotted spoon to transfer meat to a large bowl. Combine the browned beef with the coconut aminos, homemade hoisin sauce, and set aside.

In the rendered beef fat (over medium heat), sauté the onions, garlic, chilies and ginger until tender. Stir in the Five Spice powder, Sichuan peppercorn, cayenne pepper and a half teaspoon of sea salt (optional), and cook for a minute or so. Add the cider, bringing mixture to a simmer.

Stir in the organic strained tomatoes until well combined.  Return the beef mixture back to the pot.  Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking chili for apx. 35-40 minutes. Season with Celtic sea salt, to taste.

Transfer to serving dish and garnish with chopped cilantro or thinly sliced scallions.

Serve with brown basmati rice.