Chicken, Shrimp & Beef — Oh My! (A Culinary International Adventure)

I had such grand plans for the weekend! How I thought I was going to get through nearly a dozen recipes in just two days — given my lack of cooking skill — was just crazytalk considering all the non-cooking things I also had to get done this weekend!

But I managed to get a few of the queued recipes done, was able to eat for the weekend, and also have some leftovers to provide lunch and dinner for the next couple of days — so I’m choosing to claim this as a success!

Adventure #1 – Indian

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First out of the gate, after my slightly-terrifying trip to the Indian grocery store was to find one of the least-scary, easiest-sounding recipes from Urvashi’s new cookbook. (Here’s the Amazon link for it.)

Eventually I found “Keema Nariyal Saag” (ground beef coconut curry and spinach), and selected it as the weekend’s first victim adventure, because it’s basically “just” ground beef, garlic/onions/ginger, spinach, spices, and coconut milk — so right about my speed. 🙂

Theoretically I’ll get a separate blog post out of this one, since I took a bazillion pictures along the way, but today’s post is just going to be a summary of accomplishments (so you too can try new recipes if you haven’t tried these ones already) and not a detailed play-by-play.

Did I make it absolutely perfectly per the given instructions? Of course not.

No matter how hard I try, it seems to be my superpower to mess something up along the way. (Also, I added to it some leftover rice that needed to be used up.)

Did it turn out edible anyway? Oh hellz yes!!!

I couldn’t shovel it into my face fast enough. It only survived for two meals. And I will not lie — I stuffed myself both times to the point of holding my belly and moaning a little. #IRegretNothing

Do I recommend you try it? Do not pass “Go”. Do not collect $200. Proceed directly to Amazon. 🙂

I definitely recommend you grab yourself a copy of Indian Instant Pot® Cooking: Traditional Indian Dishes Made Easy and Fast (Urvashi’s affiliate link). It’s a perfect little bundle of #Yum, wrapped up in layers of #NOM, finished with a sprinkling of #GetIntoMahMouth! 😀 😀 😀

Right now the Kindle version is listed at $6.99 and the paperback version is listed at $8.07 — so for the cost of less than a single meal at an Indian restaurant, you can get both! And there’s 50 (fifty!) recipes in it!

Adventure #2 – Chinese-American

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Next up was a recipe that was actually LONG overdue on my part!

On July 30th Amy & Jacky released their Instant Pot Mongolian Beef recipe — a recipe they’d created specifically after I’d requested it earlier this summer in response to their call for recipe suggestions.

See, I loooooove the Mongolian Beef from my favorite Chinese take-out place. LOVE it. So I’ve tried lots of Instant Pot recipes titled “Mongolian Beef” over recent months. Alas, none of them came even close. They all just tasted to me like a standard American beef stew with slightly more interesting sauce.

This is slightly understandable since this is one of those made-up Americanized-Chinese-Food dishes — which means every restaurant has their own take on it. For all I know, all those other recipes were spot-on for the restaurant dish the recipe creators were using as inspiration. Just not spot-on for my palette.

I had high hopes for this new recipe, since Amy & Jacky recipes haven’t failed me yet. And since I was two months overdue in trying it, this one was up-next on the agenda.

Did I make it absolutely perfectly per the given instructions? Of course not.

Surprisingly, I didn’t mess up the meat-browning step — which is pretty unusual for me given my propensity for inadvertently making Death Soup at the deglaze step.

The first place I messed up was by adding peanut oil into the sauce mixture (the peanut oil was for the meat-browning).

The second place I messed up was when I finally correctly got the sesame oil for the sauce mixture, it called for “3 drops”. I put in at least a full “glug”. Probably actually two glugs.

The third place I fell down was with the shallots. I had some, so I didn’t buy more. Turns out the ones I had were old and decomposing beyond all redemption — to the point where not even I was willing to use them. So they were omitted.

The fourth problem was that I couldn’t find “dried Chinese red chili” in my grocery store, so that was also omitted. I am assuming that these impart flavor, and aren’t added solely as a spice-bomb while eating. So this omission was probably a fairly fatal flaw.

And the fifth(!) place I messed up was at the very end where they said to taste and add more salt and brown sugar if necessary. Considering my palate is fairly unsophisticated, I ended up adding way too much brown sugar. Whoops.

Did it all turn out edible anyway? Absolutely! I’m having the last of it for lunch today!

Was it as good as my favorite Chinese take-out? Pretty close — which could be my fault given the above missteps. However, that seems like a pretty good excuse to go get some take-out, then make this recipe again for a side-by-side comparison, don’t you think? 🙂

Do I recommend you try it? Yes indeedy I do!

Adventure #3 – Thai

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And lastly, to round out my globe-trotting weekend, was Jill (This Old Gal)’s recently-released Pressure Cooker Pad Thai recipe!

For a recipe that should be impossible to screw-up — I managed to screw it up anyway! 😀

Where did I go wrong? Well I completely missed adding the sauce before adding the noodles, so was trying to accomplish the literally impossible task of submerging the noodles in what was clearly not enough liquid.

Also, while the step-by-step pictures show raw shrimp, the recipe itself doesn’t explicitly say that. (I suppose “cleaned” in the ingredients list is secret code for “raw, shelled, deveined”, but since I’m a hot mess in the kitchen, I didn’t clue-in on this at the time.)

Since I grocery shop late, the seafood counter is almost always closed and I’m forced to choose from the very limited to non-existent selection of “out” shrimp at any give time. This given time there was only pre-cooked, and no raw to choose from. Thus I used pre-cooked in this recipe. Even though I put it in frozen, I probably still overcooked it. I have yet to independently master not screwing-up shrimp in the Instant Pot!

The other place I likely messed up was that my prep time always takes way longer than any recipe’s stated prep time. So while I diligently followed Step-1 of soaking the noodles for 1 to 2 minutes before draining — it was a lot longer than 1 to 2 minutes before I was ready to use them. So they sat “draining” for quite some time, which was likely a pretty large contributor to them turning out mushy by the time they were done cooking.

Did it all turn out edible anyway? Absolutely! I finished it off for dinner last night!

Do I recommend you try it? No question about it!

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  • Beth

    Sounds like a yummy set of experiments

  • Mary

    I definitely want to try all of these, thank you for the encouragement – that even if I mess it up, it will probably still be delicious!

    • Jen Neefer

      I mess up almost everything I make (sometimes spectacularly, thus the creation of this blog) but there have only been a handful of times where it was inedible — as leftovers.

      I cannot think of anything I messed up that wasn’t at least tolerable when fresh-out-of-the-pot.

      As long as you start with a trusted recipe source (Urvashi/TwoSleevers, Jill/ThisOldGal, Amy&Jackie/PressureCookRecipes, Jeffrey/PressureLuck, etc) you have a high chance of some level of “edible” — even with mistakes.

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