I have a little confession to make. I actually do have a favourite space in my fridge. Yup, you read it right, FAVOURITE SPACE in the FRIDGE. How weird that sounds? Anyway, it’s a drawer where I store all kinds of sauces and pastes that are used in South-East Asian cooking. You see, I have this great dream that one day I’ll go for a long cooking course, where I will finally learn true, ingenius way of oriental cooking and whenever I look in that drawer I smile to myself imaginig the dream comes true. Since I adore that versatile cuisine, I read a about it and cook quite some dishes. I slowly start to understand the complex taste combinations and begin to figure out my own recipes. The more I learn though, the more I want to learn from someone who has the skills of that cuisine “in their blood” Anyone interesting in borrowing me their grandmum ?
This recipe makes for a lunch for 2 or a starter for 4.
2 mild chilli peppers, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, grated
3 tbsp grated fresh ginger
300ml coconut milk
1 lemon grass – smashed and cut into 3-4 pieces
4-5 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp red curry paste
1 tbsp demerara sugar
handful of chopped coriander
1. Clean the mussels. Discard the ones that do not close when you knock on them.
2. Saute chilli, garlic and ginger. Add half of the volume of coconut milk.
3. Add lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, lemon juice, sugar, fish sauce and red curry paste. Simmer for 3-4 min till the milk become very fragrant. Add the rest of the coconut milk and season to taste.
4. Add the mussels, mix well and cover. Steam for 3-4 minutes.
5. Add coriander, stir and steam for additional half a minute.
This is a second dish I have prepared for previously mentioned South-East Asian festival. I’ve recently noticed we definitely don’t eat enough fish. We buy smoked salmon quite frequently, but fish as a main dish appears on our table maybe 4-5 times a month what is definitely too few. Finland is plentiful in salmon and trout and I’ve decided from now on to incorporate them more frequently to our menu. Let’s hope this is a good start and I’ll keep to my resolution This recipe comes from the book “The food and cooking of Vietnam and Cambodia”.
200ml coconut cream
2 tsp raw cane sugar
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 chili, finely chopped
4cm piece of ginger, grated
1 star anise, grated on powder
a handful of fresh Thai basil leaves
a handful of cashew nuts, chopped
salt and pepper
1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry garlic, chili and ginger. Turn down the heat, add coconut cream and sugar. Stir till sugar dissolves, take out from the heat.
2. Place the fish on a wide piece of foil and tuck up the sides to form a boat shape container. Cut several slashes into the meat and rub them as well as the inside of fish with salt, pepper and star anise. Scatter half of the Thai basil leaves on top. Spoon the coconut cream into the container and close it firmly.
3. Steam or put to the oven (180C) for about 20 min.
4. Roast the cashew nuts in the frying pan. Once the fish is ready transfer it to a plate, drizzle with cooking juices and sprinkle with nuts and remaining Thai basil leaves
Ok, so I have to warn you I’m taking part in South-East Asian cooking festival on my favorite Polish cooking forum and what that means is that quite some recipes from that region will appear on the blog in the closest 2 weeks. I love the cuisine from that part of the world and I really wish that I could learn some more about it. Right now I can only study some cookbooks, but I dream of the moment when finally we will manage to travel there and absorb everything with our senses. My biggest priority is to go to Vietnam, but since we’ve started planning it’s always been the issue of either lack of money or time. Well… as in previous years I again dream that I’ll go there finally next year, but well… I guess that won’t be possible. For now, I have to stick to travel and cook books and just dream on
The recipe below is adapted from fabulous Rick Stein’s book “Oriental Odyssey”. I’ve borrowed it by chance from my local library, but I simply fell in love with the recipes and now am awaiting my own copy
2 tbsp oil
100g spring onions, finely chopped (well… not appearing in our dish )
50g garlic, finely chopped
25g ginger, finely grated
1kg of pork meat for braising (I used mixed pork and beef meat), cut in cubes
4 tbsp kecap manis
2 tbsp dark soya sauce
1 tsp tamarind paste
½ tsp freshly grated black pepper
3-4 chilli, sliced
4 bird’s eye chilli, whole
500ml asian beef stock
1. Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pot. Fry the spring onions, garlic and ginger, you may add a bit of salt.
2. Add the meat and fry for 2-3 minutes till it gets some colour. Add kecap manis, soya sauce, tamarind paste, pepper and chilli fry for a minute more. Turn down the heat, add hot beef stock and braise till the meat will be tender (around 1,5-2,5h depending on your meat and size of the pieces)
3. Take out the meat pieces and heat up the sauce till it’s boiling. Reduce it quite much. It needs to be pretty dense.
A new post and…. back to Asian flavours again What a surprise Today I’d like to present you a delicious Thai style batat and peanut soup. We’ve enjoyed it really much. I’ve found the recipe in an online issue of Men’s health magazine and changed it a bit. You can see the original version here. Bon Appetit!
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- finger-long piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 2 big batats (0,8-1kg), cubed
- 1 tbsp curry (I gave Madras blend)
- 1 tbsp red curry paste (be careful if you don’t like spicy food)
- 0,7-1l water or vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
- 2 heaped tbsp peanut butter
- juice from 2 limes
- coconut milk – I stirred in 400ml, can be more depending how dense you want the soup to be
- sesame oil
- coriander and peanuts to garnish
1. Fry garlic and ginger in a drop of oil till golden. Add batat cubes, curry and curry paste and saute for several minutes. Stir in water, bring to the boil, decrease the heat and simmer till batats will soften.
2. Add fish sauce, peanut butter and lime juice. Cook for 2-3 min more. Take of the heat and blend it. Return to the heat and add coconut milk till the soup will reach the consistency you like. Simmer still for 2-3 min. When serving drizzle with sesame oil and garnish with coriander and peanuts.
Just a quick post about a quick dish. This simple curry is just perfect for your mid-week dinner. Easy to prepare, on table in 15 minutes, you’ll manage to cook, eat and clean before your pizza boy would arrive. Sounds great and it really tastes so too. I’ve found the recipe in ‘Vietnamese and Cambodian’ cookbook and played it up to my taste.
- 1 sweet potato cut in cubes
- ginger, a piece roughly the length of your index finger, grated
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 tsp mince from lemon grass
- 3 tsp garam masala powder
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 400g chicken breasts cut into cubes
- 1-2 tsp fish sauce (nam pla)
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp red curry paste
- 400ml coconut milk
1. Boil potato cubes in lightly salted water till soft
2. Fry on sesame oil ginger, garlic and lemon grass for 2-3 min. In the meanwhile dust the chicken breasts with masala and turmeric.
3. Add the chicken to the pan, fry for a while, add fish sauce
4. Once the chicken is turning golden add the coconut milk, sweet potatoes and curry paste. Decrease the gas and let it simmer for 3-5 min.