The bold flavors of elk hold their ground even when paired with some of the world’s most complex flavors. Southeast Asia’s combination of spicy seasonings and cooling accompaniments is no exception. The following recipe makes 50 5-inch turnovers. The filling can be frozen for use later or served over rice as an entrée.
2 tbsp chili oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp ground white pepper
4 bunches scallions, white and greens separated
1 red or orange bell pepper, diced very fine
1/2 bunch celery, diced fine
2 tbsp fresh minced garlic
1 tbsp freshly grated (frozen) ginger
2-3 serrano or jalapeno chilies, seeds removed, diced very fine
2 tbsp green curry paste (or curry powder, if not available)
1 tsp ground toasted cumin seeds
1 tsp ground toasted coriander seeds
6-8, 2-inch segments of lemongrass
2 cups dry white wine or sake
1, 10 oz. can of unsweetened coconut milk
50, 5 inch empanada dough or puff pastry circles
egg wash : 1 egg, splash of water, pinch of salt and sugar—whisked together
Garnish options: fresh cilantro, basil, mint and slivers of scallion greens
Preheat a heavy duty sauté pan with half the sesame and chili oil. Season the ground elk with the soy and white pepper. Mix well. When the pan is hot, add small amounts of the elk to brown. Do not overload the pan. You want to sear and brown the meat to get a deep rich flavor, but if you overload the pan it will boil and be very bland. Continue in small batches to finish the meat. Set aside when done.
In a heavy-gauge braising pot, add the rest of the oils and heat. Add the garlic and sauté until golden. Then add the remaining vegetables along with the ginger and seasonings. Sauté until fragrant. Add the wine or sake and stir well. Add the reserved elk meat and the coconut milk. Lower the heat, cover and slowly simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir every five minutes or so. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
I recommend preparing this part of the dish the day before. When you have so many flavors, allowing them to marry overnight really brings out their complexity. Plus, it will be easier to assemble your turnovers when the filling is cold.
The next day, add thinly sliced green scallions, cilantro or basil to the chilled meat. Lay out your dough. Brush the circles with the egg wash. Place about 1.5 oz. of the filling in the center of the circle, leaving a 1/4 inch border around the edges. Then fold them in half. Pinch or crimp the edges and continue until all your turnovers are filled.
Place them on a greased or parchment-lined sheet pan. Brush the outside of the turnovers with the egg wash and place the sheet pan in a pre-heated 350° F oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow them to cool slightly as the filling will be very hot. Serve these with sour cream or yogurt, fresh fruit and a chilled beverage of choice.