Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Sizzing Succotash!

If you live in Mumbai (and a few other parts of the world), your childhood is intrinsically linked to memories of burning hot, steaming plates of meat, vegetables and fat french fries all covered in oozing cheese being rushed to your table. Ducking behind napkins while you wait for the plate to stop sputtering, and burning the top of your palate and tongue because you didn’t wait long enough. The sizzler has a prominent place in my memories, and in my present too. 

Home made amazingness
The origins of this dish are probably based around the teppanyaki style sizzling dishes in Japan. Sizzlers became popular during world war 2, and then in the US in the 50s. The sizzler’s Indian story began in Bombay in the early 1960s, when a man called Firoz Erani opened a restaurant called ‘The Sizzler’. The Sizzler was closely followed by Touché also in Bombay, and spawned the generation of sizzler restaurants that we know and love today - Kobe, Yoko’s, Fountain Sizzlers, Gondola and Cafe Royal to name a few. The Sizzler and Touché now exist as The Place: Touché, in Pune. 

Cafe Royal
While sizzlers are amazing food and so much fun to eat, it’s not always the healthiest thing for you. We love them so much though that I decided to try making them at home. This isn’t easy either, since the base of the sizzler is a cast iron plate that needs to be heated until it’s red hot, which is extremely problematic on a home stove and takes almost 30 minutes and a TON of gas. 

Nevertheless, I tried, and the result was not bad. The secret to making a good sizzler is to have everything cooked and ready, so that when you place it on the plate it start charring. There’s no point to a sizzler without a good layer of burnt sauce and chips at the bottom! You’ll need to buy sizzler plates that are of decent quality - the first one I tried out had an aluminium coating that came off on the food after we heated it. You can get good ones on Amazon here and here

My teeny tiny sizzler plates

Sizzlers for Two

You will need
2 carrots
2 onions
1/2 cabbage, sautéed  and thinly sliced
1 cup green peas, boiled
A huge handful of French fries
2 tenderloin fillets
A handful of grated cheese 

For the brown sauce
2 tablespoons butter 
1 large onion, julienne 
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/2 teaspoon white pepper 
1 - 2 cups good chicken or beef stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 

Step 1
Boil the carrots and cut them into thin slices. Set aside. 
Slice the cabbage thinly, and sauté it in a little bit of oil, with some salt and pepper. You need it to stay slightly crunchy, so make sure you don’t overcook it. Set aside.
Slice the onions thinly, and sauté it in a little bit of oil, with some salt and pepper till soft and brown. Set aside.

Step 2
Slice the tenderloin fillets into cubes, and marinade in olive oil, salt and pepper. You can marinade this any way you like - I add garlic pods and rosemary sometimes. 

Step 3
Turn your oven onto maximum and place the sizzler pans inside. 

Step 4
Make your brown sauce. Add a tablespoon of butter in a pan followed by a little oil. Once the butter has melted, add the chopped onions and allow them to brown. 

Step 5
Add the brown sugar and stir well, this gives you great colour in your sauce. Slowly add the flour, white pepper and salt and stir well, allowing the flour to coat the onions. 

Step 6
Next comes the Worcestershire sauce and stock. Add the stock a little at a time, stirring constantly until you get the thickness you want. 

Step 7
Once the sauce is done, turn your stove up on high, and take the sizzler pans out of the oven and put them on the flame. They need to really heat up. Now turn to your steak. 

Warming up
Step 8
Cook the steak in a pan for 4 to 5 minutes, and set aside. You’re now ready to assemble your sizzlers. 

Ready to assemble
Step 9
While the sizzlers are still on the stove, place the fresh french fries on the plate, followed quickly by the cabbage, carrots, onions and green peas. Top off with pieces of steak and cover with the delicious brown sauce. 

Step 10
Turn off the gas and very very very carefully put the sizzling plates onto their wooden bottoms. Serve and eat immediately, careful not to burn your tongue! 

There are lots of different ways one can eat sizzler. You can add different veggies to the mix - I use french beans, onion, green and red peppers, cabbage, pak choi, spinach and lots of others to switch things up. You can put rice drenched in brown sauce on the plate, substitute paneer for the meat, or even skewers of prawns. 

This is not a meal I’d make every week, or even every 2 weeks, but it’s definitely a fun thing to do once in a while! 

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