I guess I’m having my own Hispanic heritage month!? Everything, so far, I’ve made seems to reflect my native island foods.
Yesterday I was a bit bored with food, something I rarely am however where we live produce and meats are a bit boring, the variety or pickings, are very slim! So, I must come up with something easy and tasty vs. creative and elaborate.
I headed to the local supermarket (grocery giant) and walked around for a bit – man, was I uninspired, the produce is of sub-par quality and the meats heavy with excess water and little fat. After a few minutes it hit me: a meat sandwich!
Ok, not just a meat sandwich but an all-in-one meal. Think Taco, ground beef (mince meat), lettuce, Pico de Gallo, cheese and hot sauce on a crispy corn Taco shell! Not! But like foods around the world, a general similarity!
I decided to go for a bright savory meat sandwich (vs. a Taco with earthy flavors). It did however include ground beef, tomato, cucumber, cabbage and pickled red onions (avocado would have been included however none was available – bummer). In the Dominican Republic, we call this type of sandwich a “Riki-Taki” or “Friki-Taki.” Typically, this is a late night meal you could get at any street corner vendor (at least in my day), simple, quick, savory and unsophisticated, but fulfilling.
Note: Dominican cooking rarely ever has any foods/meals that are earthy (heavy on Cumin, Turmeric, Chili, etc.)! Flavors and seasonings are always bright (pungent citrus & peppers, Cilantro, fresh Garlic, Lime, etc.), no matter for how long something is cooked. Meats however are always cooked to death (as is the eggplant), don’t know why but that’s the way it is.
The Riki-Taki or Friki Taki (recipe serves 2 – Times: prep. 15 to 25 minutes, cook 15 minutes, assembly up to you):
4 Portuguese Rolls
1lbs. Ground Beef (or substitute to your taste)
1 Large Beefsteak Tomato
1 ½ Finely Shredded Cabbage
1 Large Red Onion
Bunch of Cilantro (Coriander) (this is to taste)
4 Large Cloves of Garlic (minced)
1/4 Teaspoon of Cumin
Oregano or Thyme
1 Tbsp Alcaparrado* and its juice (this may a bit difficult to obtain unless you have a “Latin Food” section at your grocer’s who has Goya products – otherwise, you’ll have to make this yourself – I’ll include below a quick and dirty recipe)
1/2 Cup Red Wine Vinegar (or Juice of 2 Large Lemons)
Salt & Pepper
* A simple substitute or alternative for the Alcaparrado: Take 1Tbsp of stuffed olives (coarsely chopped) and Tsp capers and mix together in a small bowl (also add at least a teaspoon of their brine, each) and combine – that’s it!
Prep – Meat: Combine All In A Medium Sized Mixing Bowl
Red Onion: 1/3 chopped; Garlic: Peel and mince to slightly coarse; Cilantro: Chop (coarse or fine, up to you); Add the Alcaparrado*; Oregano (crushed), Cumin, Pinch of Salt & Pepper; Add the meat, combine thoroughly, and set aside for a few minutes.
Prep – Bread, Pickled Onions and Other Fillers
First the remaining Red Onion: slice thinly and place into a small container, add the Red Wine Vinegar and Salt & Pepper (to taste), combine and set aside for the assembly.
Cut you Rolls in half and set aside – 2 per plate; slice the Tomato thin, set aside; shred the cabbage very thinly and set aside (if you can get the avocado, great, or if you prefer, cucumber is also a good choice).
Cook/brown the Meat mixture in large sauté pan with about a Tbsp of Olive Oil until thoroughly cooked/browned.
Stuff Your Sandwich
On your Rolls, add the meat and then layer the rest of the filler in the order you like, top of with the Pickled Onions and some of the juice, and you are done! Take a bite, Buen Provecho!
This is very uncomplicated and I actually do all this in about 25/30 minutes, prep to eating! One thing more, you can change any of the ingredients to suit your own wants and/or needs. The one thing that is most important is that the flavors be BRIGHT.
May you enjoy this on a boring, uninspired day.