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Archive for the ‘Asian’ Category

Kids activities are back on which means we spend a few weeknights dropping off and picking up rather than cooking. So we’re on the hunt for more dishes like this, minutes to make but healthy and delicious; flavoursome and light at the same time.

Wine Suggestion: This dish partners really well with a fruity, youthful and dry Riesling.

Chicken meatball tom kha gai – serves 2

  • 4 chicken sausages (we bought ours in M&S)
  • 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander, plus some whole leaves to serve
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 50g flat rice noodles
  • 400ml tin coconut milk (you could use half-fat if you like)
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, discard the woody outer leaves and finely chop the inside
  • 50g mangetout, finely sliced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce

Remove the skin from the chicken sausages and put the insides into a bowl. Add 1 tsp of the ginger, the chopped coriander and half the chilli. Mix well and form into 10 small meatballs – wet hands help with this.

Cook the noodles according the packet, then drain and rinse with cold water.

Bring the coconut milk and stock to a simmer in a large saucepan, then add the rest of the ginger and chilli with the lemongrass and simmer for 3 minutes.

Add the chicken meatballs and simmer for 3 minutes, then add the mangetout and cook for another 2 minutes.

Gently stir in the lime, sugar and fish sauce, divide the noodles between 2 warm bowls, then ladle over the hot soup and meatballs, finish with the coriander leaves.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, May 2018.)

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We definitely have a bit of a thing for Asian-style greens and rice. And while it may seem like you need another dish on the side, you really don’t, it’s just a bowl of healthy, delicious things. Having said that, this would also be great on the side of some white fish.

Wine Suggestion: Anthony Girard’s La Clef du Recit Menetou Salon is a star here. A Sauvignon Blanc grown on Kimmergian clay-limestone, this has a depth, texture and body that belies the grape a little and a wine that we think gets better with a few years in the bottle … if you can wait that long. Don’t worry if you can’t though, it’s delicious from release too.

Asparagus with ginger & garlic – serves 2

  • 12-16 spears of asparagus, snap off the woody ends and slice on the diagonal into 4cm pieces
  • 2-3cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into very fine matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 80ml water
  • 1 ½ tbsp oyster sauce
  • cooked rice, to serve

Put your wok over a medium-low heat and add the sunflower oil. When warm, add the ginger and cook briefly until fragrant.

Add the asparagus, garlic and chilli and toss, then pour in the water and turn the heat to high. Cook for a minute, then add the oyster sauce. Toss well to coat the asparagus and cook for about 30 seconds or until tender but with a bite.

Remove from the heat and season with some black pepper, you shouldn’t need salt.

Serve hot over rice.

(Original recipe from My Favourite Ingredients by Skye Gyngell, Quadrille Publishing, 2008.)

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If you like peanuts, you will love this! Better than takeaway and almost as quick.

Wine Suggestion: It’s almost a cliche to suggest Riesling with Thai food, but in this case a good, dry Riesling is a great match. A favourite, the Korrell Slice of Paradise Riesling from the Nahe in Germany, a vibrant, fruit-forward and dry wine came to the rescue.

Thai chicken & peanut curry – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp Panang or red curry paste
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, cut into strips (if you’re using dried leaves, soak them in warm water for a few minutes before cutting)
  • 100g roasted peanuts, blended to a paste with 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • basil leaves, to garnish

Heat the oil in a wok over a medium heat.

Add the curry paste and stir-fry, then add 125ml of the coconut milk.

Turn the heat to low, then add the chicken and stir slowly until well blended.

Add 250ml more coconut milk, then stir in the sugar, fish sauce and lime leaves. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.

Stir in the peanut and coconut milk paste and the rest of the coconut milk.

The curry should be sweet, spicy and a little salty. Taste and adjust with sugar or salt if needed.

Serve with rice and garnished with the basil leaves.

(Original recipe from Thai Cooking Class by Somi Anuntra Miller & Patricia Lake, Bay Books, 1994.)

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This is a tasty weeknight option, and healthy too. We used just green peppers but a green and a red would look nice. Serve over brown rice.

Wine Suggestion: This dish needs a savoury wine balanced by youthful, juicy fruit like Martin Korrell’s Weisser Burgunder (Pinot Blanc). Joyfully frivolous and deep at the same time.

Black pepper beef stir-fry – serves 2 (generously)

  • 300g rump steak, trimmed of fat and sliced thinly, about 5mm
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 5cm piece of ginger, julienned
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper

TO SERVE:

  • steamed brown basmati
  • 2 scallions, green part only, finely sliced

Combine all of the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and season with a good pinch of sea salt. Add the steak and toss to coat in the marinade, then leave aside for a few minutes.

Put your wok over a high heat until smoking hot. Add a splash of vegetable oil followed by half the beef. Stir-fry quickly for 1-2 minute, then remove to a plate. Add another splash of oil if you need, then repeat with the rest of the meat.

Put the wok back over a high heat. Add the onion and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the peppers and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

Mix the cornflour to a paste with 2 tbsp water.

Add the oyster and soy sauces, shaoxing wine and black pepper to the wok and stir. Return the beef to the wok with any pan juices, then stir in the cornflour paste and stir-fry for another minute or until the sauce is thickened and the beef warmed through.

Divide the rice between warm bowls, top with the stir-fry and scatter with the scallions.

(Original recipe from Lose Weight & Get Fit by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury, 2019.)

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These curried noodles have a sourness that we particularly like and the whole dish is power-charged with flavour.

Leave the chicken thighs whole, or cut them in half if they’re big, they’ll stay nice and tender. The curry paste also makes much more that you need but will keep in the fridge for a month, or longer in the freezer. You can of course just buy a paste either.

Wine Suggestion: Despite all the powerful flavours in this dish there is a wine match that works superbly – Dry Tokaji, particularly if the wine is a blend of Furmint and Hárslevelu. Ch. Dereszla Tokaij Dry was at hand, and despite the title is actually off-dry. The Furmint being crisp and creamy with hints of mango and the Hárslevelu, which translates as lime-leaf, bringing a complimentary aromatic lime and peach character. These grapes on their own also work really well with the food so don’t worry if you find a wine with just one of these varietals.

Chiang Mai curried noodles – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 75g red curry paste (you can use a bought one, or make the recipe below)
  • 2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 50ml tamarind purée (we make this up using a block of tamarind – put 30g in a small bowl then pour over a little boiling water. Mash with a fork then push through a sieve. You will be left with the seeds which you can discard)
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 700g boneless skinless chicken thighs (cut them in half if they’re huge but otherwise leave whole)
  • 300g egg noodles
  • coriander leaves, shredded scallions and chopped red chillies to garnish

FOR THE PASTE:

  • 2 Mexican dried chillies e.g. ancho/pasilla/gaujilo
  • 4 lemongrass stalks, inner part only, finely chopped
  • 75g small shallots
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 20g ginger, chopped
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Thai red chillies, seeded
  • 1 tbsp coriander root or stems
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

TO MAKE THE PASTE:

Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chillies, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 15 minutes until very soft, then drain.

Put the soaked chillies into the small bowl of a food processor with all the remaining ingredients and 90ml water. Blend for a few minutes until very fine – you can add a little more water if needed. Scrape into a sterilised jar and keep in the fridge for up to a month or freeze.

TO MAKE THE CURRY:

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Add the curry paste and fry for 5 minutes. Add the curry powder, tamarind and sugar. When the sugar has melted, add the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, soy and lime juice. Bring to a gentle simmer and add the chicken pieces. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

Meanwhile, boil the noodles for about 4 minutes or until al dente. Drain the noodles and divide between deep bowls. Ladle the curry over the noodles and top with the coriander, scallions and some chopped red chilli.

(Original recipe from My Asian Kitchen by Jennifer Joyce, Murdoch Books, 2018.)

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Sometimes all you want is a plate of greens. Here they are with a Japanese-style sauce and some sticky rice and sesame seeds. 

Wine Suggestion: We find this combination of flavours in the sauce work well with Riesling, especially if it’s the lighter styles with a touch of fruit. This could be a German Kabinett with lower alcohol, residual sugar and refreshing acidity, or one of the dry Clare Valley cuvées that leave a hint of sugar in making them very approachable in youth like Pike’s Hills & Valleys. 

Greens with Sticky Sesame Rice – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 140g sushi rice
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 350g purple sprouting broccoli or other long-stemmed broccoli
  • 6 scallions, halved lengthways

FOR THE SAUCE: 

  • 2 tbsp brown miso paste
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and diced

Stir the sauce ingredients together with 1 tbsp water, then set aside.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil with the caster sugar and ½ tsp salt. Add the rice and boil for about 15 minutes (or whatever time it suggests on the pack) until just cooked. Drain well, return to the pan and sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds and sesame oil. Cover and keep warm. 

Heat the sunflower oil in a wok until smoking hot. Add the broccoli and stir-fry for a few minutes until almost tender, add a splash of water now and then to create a bit of steam. Add the scallions and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then stir in the sauce and cook for another minute or two, stirring constantly. 

Divide the rice between 2 plates and top with the stir-fry. 

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Every now and again we take one of Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries off the shelf for a bit of inspiration, and this is what we chose from the February chapter. We like Nigel’s recipes as they’re tasty but rarely require too much shopping. We served this with rice, a few greens on the side would be nice too.

Wine Suggestion: A dry, or just off-dry Alsace Pinot Gris or similar. Tonight Zind Humbrecht’s Pinot Gris Roche Calcaire from the Clos Windsbuhl has all the texture and layers of fruit we were looking for and more; superb.

Pork with garlic & oyster sauce – serves 2

  • 5 tbsp of flavourless oil, we use groundnut oil
  • 350g pork fillet, cubed
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 4 small hot red chillies, two chopped finely with the seeds left in and two left whole
  • 150g mushrooms, roughly sliced
  • 3 heaped tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp Shaoxing wine

Heat your wok until very hot.

Add 2 tbsp of the oil and when it starts to smoke, add half the meat. Toss, until browned then remove to a plate and brown the rest.

Add the remaining oil to the wok and heat until smoking hot, then add the garlic, shallots and chillies. Toss for a minute or two until starting to colour. Add the mushrooms and continue to fry until they are soft and starting to colour, then return the meat to the pan. When the meat is hot, stir in the oyster sauce and Shaoxing wine and bring to the boil.

Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce for a couple of minutes, then serve.

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2012.)

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This is so simple and definitely better than a take away. While we’re not massive fans of baby corn it provides a crunch and texture that would be missing from the dish if not there. Made for Jono’s birthday on a Monday after a weekend of extensive birthday cooking; great flavours and quick for a work day celebration.

Wine Suggestion: We’d opened a Dermot Sugrue Cuvée Dr Brendan O’Regan, a profound, complex and rewarding English Sparkling for Jono’s birthday and had a leftover glass with this dish. We discovered Dermot’s wines a few years ago and have loved them ever since and it was a super match, standing up to the Asian flavours exceptionally well. We know this particlar wine may be hard to find but look for a good crisp sparkling that has been left on lees for a while or a good Champagne – sparkling should be so much more than a celebratory glass and they make great food matches.

Thai Chicken Stir-fry with Cashews & Chilli Sauce – serves 4

  • 100g baby corn
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 500g boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small bite-size pieces
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, thickly sliced
  • 2 red peppers, cut into thick pieces
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 50g roasted cashews
  • Thai basil or regular basil and steamed rice, to serve

FOR THE CHILLI SAUCE:

  • 2 tbsp Thai chilli paste/jam (nam prik)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tbsp oyster sauce

Make the chilli sauce by mixing all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, then set aside.

Blanch the baby corn in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and refresh under cold water and drain again.

Heat a large wok until hot and add ½ tbsp vegetable oil. Brown the chicken in batches. If you leave them for 2-3 minutes on one side initially they will get a nice colour, then stir-fry for another minute or until golden on all sides. Transfer to a bowl.

Heat another ½ tbsp oil of oil in the wok over a medium heat, then add the garlic and chilli and stir-fry for a minute. Add the peppers, onions, cashews and baby corn and heat for 1 minute. Pour in the chilli sauce and add the chicken. Stir-fry until heated through and the sauce has thickened.

Serve with steamed rice and basil sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from My Asian Kitchen by Jennifer Joyce, Murdoch Books, 2018.)

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These are flavour-packed and great to serve with drinks … cannot wait to have someone over for drinks!

Wine Suggestion: despite the spice in this dish we think these go great with a good sparkling, particularly one made using the Champagne method of double fermentation in the bottle. A touch of dosage, creamy mousse and the lift of naturally acidic grapes both lift the flavours and the mood.

Gochujang Chicken Skewers – serves 4 or more as a bite-sized canapé

  • 500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into small bite-size pieces
  • sesame seeds, to serve
  • scallions, finely sliced to serve

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp clear honey, plus a bit extra
  • 1 heaped tsp gochujang paste

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and leave to marinate for no more than 30 minutes. 

Heat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5.

Put pieces of chicken onto cocktail sticks or small skewers and put onto an oiled baking tray (keep the marinade). Cook for 10-12 minutes. 

Meanwhile, put the marinade into a small pan over a low-medium heat and reduce for a few minutes, you can add a bit of extra honey if you like.

Take the chicken out of the oven and brush with the reduced marinade, then sprinkle the scallions and sesame seeds over the top. 

(Original recipe by Milli Taylor in Olive Magazine, Christmas 2014)

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It’s about this time of year when purple sprouting broccoli arrives and saves us from the monotony of root veg. We’ve yet to be rescued and therefore had to use some imported tenderstem instead, which was fine, but definitely inferior to the local purple variety.

Wine Suggestion: We think this goes really well with Viognier. A richer, more aromatic white with a bit of phenolic grip as opposed to acidity and compliments the richness and body of the food. This wouldn’t work if the acidity was too high. A good, well-priced suggestion is the Cline Cellars North Coast Viognier, from a selection of well sited organic vineyards on the Sonoma coast in California. Well judged and avoids some of the OTT characters other Californian wines can exhibit.

Peanut Butter and Broccoli Pad Thai – serves 4

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 6 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 3 tbsp runny honey
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice

FOR THE TOFU & BROCCOLI:

  • 450g purple sprouting broccoli or other long-stemmed broccoli, put the florets to one side and cut the stalks into 1cm pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1.5cm ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
  • 225g firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 250g flat folded rice noodles
  • rapeseed oil
  • 6 scallions, finely chopped
  • a handful of sesame seeds
  • a handful of Thai basil leaves, shredded (use regular basil if you have to)
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves, shredded
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Make the sauce by mixing the peanut butter, tamarind paste and honey in a bowl, then slowly mix in the soy sauce, lime juice and 4 tbsp of water.

Cook the noodles according the instructions on the pack, then rinse under cold water, drain, and drizzle with a tbsp of rapeseed oil. Toss gently with your hands.

Heat 2tbsp of rapeseed oil, over a medium-high heat, in a large non-stick pan or wok with a lid. Fry the tofu for 5 minutes, turning every minute, until pale golden. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes, then add the broccoli stalks and 4 tbsp of water. Cover the pan and steam for 2 minutes or until the stalks are tender. Add the broccoli florets, the sauce and scallions (reserving a few to garnish), stir to combine, then cover again and leave for 2 minutes.

Turn the heat down to the lowest setting, then add the noodles a handful at a time, mixing them in gently to coat with the sauce, then turn off the heat.

Divide the noodles between 4 bowls, sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions, then drizzle over some sesame oil and scatter over the herbs. Add a generous squeeze of lime and serve.

(Original recipe from East by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree: Penguin Books, 2019.)

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We don’t think you can covert sprout haters, but if you do like sprouts, you will love this! Serve with steamed rice.

Wine Suggestion: Albariño is not just great for seafood, its has versatility stamped into its very core and can be used for a good deal of food matching, like this dish here. Tonight’s wine was made by Pazo de Señorans, a distinct favourite in our house. Bone dry but with a lovely creamy core from the 5-6 months on lees.

Brussels Sprouts with Thai Flavours – serves 2-3

  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp Thai green curry paste, we use the Thai Gold brand
  • 1 green chilli, roughly chopped, then pounded in a pestle and mortar
  • 175ml chicken stock
  • 450g Brussels sprouts, cut in half, blanch in boiling salty water for 2 minutes, then drain in a colander and refresh under cold running water
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, if you use dried ones you need to soak them in some warm water before using
  • ½ tbsp palm sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 20 Thai basil leaves, regular basil will do if you can’t get Thai
  • 1 large red chilli, roughly chopped, then pounded in a pestle and mortar

Heat a wok over a gentle heat. Pour in 110ml of the coconut milk, then add the green curry paste and the green chilli and mix well.

Next, add the stock, the rest of the coconut milk, Brussels sprouts, kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar, fish sauce, half the basil leaves and the red chilli. Stir constantly over a medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the sauce boils and foams up. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring all the time to avoid splitting, for about 10 minutes. The sprouts should be tender and the sauce slightly thickened.

Add the rest of the basil, season to taste and serve with steamed rice.

(Original recipe from Cook, Grow, Nourish by Darina Allen, Kyle Books, 2017.)

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We made this on the first of January. We don’t do veggie January or veganuary but after all the rich food of November and December we were looking forward to some lighter dishes and this felt just right; both elegant and light, but full of lovely layers of flavour and textures.

Wine Suggestion: serve this with an umami rich red wine, but one that isn’t too fruity and rich either. If you can plump for an older, good Barolo lucky you, but tonight we were still lucky enough to have Domaine Jamet’s Côtes du Rhône: 100% northern Rhône Syrah with depth and personality, plums and brambles, peppery spice and savouriness.

Shiitake pho with crispy leeks – serves 4

  • 4 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus extra for shallow-frying
  • 4 banana shallots, thinly sliced (just use an onion if you don’t have shallots)
  • 5cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 leeks, 1 sliced the other shredded into long strips
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, very finely chopped
  • 375g fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 6 scallions, very finely sliced
  • 2 litres vegetable stock (vegan if you wish)
  • 200g flat rice noodles
  • a large handful of fresh coriander leaves, shredded
  • 1 lime, quartered

You need a very big pot for this, at least 3 litres.

Heat the oil in the large pot and fry the shallots for 5 minutes. Add the ginger, star anise, cloves and cinnamon stick, then fry for another 5 minutes or until starting to colour and stick.

Add the finely sliced leek, chillies and mushrooms, and stir-fry for 8-10 minutes, until softened, then add the soy sauce, half the scallions and the stock. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down very low and leave to simmer. Season to taste with salt.

Meanwhile, fry the shredded leek. Pour enough oil into a frying pan to come up to 1cm up the sides, then heat over a medium flame until very hot. Fry the shredded leek in batches, until crispy and golden, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the pack and drain.

To serve, divide the noodles between 4 large bowls, then ladle the broth on top. Scatter with the coriander, the crispy leeks, scallions and a squeeze of lime.

(Original recipe from East by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2019.)

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We tried this to use up some Thai basil leftover from the weekend. Leftover ingredients are so often our inspiration for trying new things and sometimes the results are great, as was the case with this. Prep all the ingredients before you start cooking and it will be ready to eat in a flash.

Wine Suggestion: The Kilikanoon Mort’s Block Riesling from the Clare Valley in Australia was both suitably dry but full of fruit and freshly aromatic to sit alongside the strong and aromatic flavours here. We suggest something similar when you make this.

Thai pork with basil & chillies – serves 3

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 700g pork fillet, cut into strips (you can use chicken breasts instead)
  • 1 Thai green chilli, finely chopped (deseed if you wish)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, shredded
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced into 8mm pieces
  • 3 scallions, cut into 5cm pieces
  • 1 tsp freshly roasted and ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 7g Thai basil, shredded (you can use regular basil if you can’t find the Thai version)
  • rice or noodles, to serve
  • a handful of chopped coriander, to serve

Heat 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan over a high heat, and toss in the pork. Add the chilli and garlic and stir-fry until coloured, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with some sesame oil, then remove and set aside. Put another tbsp of vegetable oil into the wok, then add the red pepper, scallions, ground coriander and sugar. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then return the meat to the wok and mix through.

Mix the cornflour with the fish sauce and soy sauce until smooth, pour this into the pan and stir continuously for a minutes or so, until the juice thickens slightly. Sprinkle with the remaining sesame oil, add the shredded basil, season to taste, then remove from the heat.

Serve straight away over sticky rice or cooked noodles. Sprinkle the chopped coriander over the top.

(Original recipe from Grow Cook Nourish by Darina Allen, Kyle Books, 2017.)

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This dish is supercharged when it comes to flavour! We pretty much used every pot, bowl and spoon in the house when making it. The good news is that it is easy to do plenty of prep in advance, which will make it easier when entertaining.

Jules was a bit anti-tofu before ordering a tofu dish number of years ago in Dennis Cotter’s famous vegetarian restaurant in Cork, Café Paradiso. She figured if he couldn’t make it nice it wasn’t worth having; and was duly converted. If you’re a tofu novice then we recommend you try this dish by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage, it’s certainly not dull.

Wine Suggestion: When matching such a full-flavoured, aromatic and savoury dish you need a corresponding characterful wine. Chateau du Hureau’s Argile Saumur Blanc proved itself up to the task. A strident, dry Chenin Blanc the citrussy, crisp apple flavours provided a wonderful counterpoint and the savoury, mineral texture danced along with the food.

Udon Noodles with Fried Tofu and Orange Nam Jim – serves 4

  • 600g pre-cooked udon noodles
  • 10g Thai basil leaves
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced into long strips
  • 10g coriander leaves, finely sliced
  • 2 red chillies, finely sliced into long strips
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

FOR THE FRIED TOFU:

  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 ½ tbsp sunflower oil
  • 350g firm tofu, press to remove any water, pat dry, then cut into bite-sized pieces

FOR THE ORANGE NIM JAM:

  • ½ tbsp basmati rice
  • ¾ tbsp Aleppo chilli flakes (or 1/3 tsp ordinary chilli flakes)
  • 4-5 blood oranges or regular oranges – juice them to get 160ml of orange juice, then serve the dish with some orange wedges if you like
  • 20g tamarind paste (if you make this from the block of tamarind you will need about 40g see method in note below)
  • 2 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 40g banana shallot, finely diced
  • 5g coriander, finely chopped

Start by marinating the tofu. Mix the garlic, soy sauce, maple syrup, 1 tbsp of sunflower oil and ¼ tsp of salt in a dish that can hold the tofu pieces in a single layer. Add the tofu and toss gently to coat in the marinade. Leave for 30 minutes to 1 hour, turning halfway through.

Next, make the nam jim. Put the rice into a small saucepan over a medium-high heat and toast for 2 ½ minutes. Add the aleppo chilli and toast for another 30 seconds, until fragrant. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind to a coarse powder. Put the ground rice mixture into a medium bowl, then add the orange juice, tamarind, fish sauce, maple syrup, soy sauce, shallot and coriander. Mix together, then pour into a large sauté pan over a medium-high heat and cook gently for a couple of minutes, until warm. Add the noodles and cook for 3 minutes, stirring. Remove the noodles and sauce from the pan and set aside while you fry the tofu, you want it at room temperature to serve.

Heat 1 ½ tbsp of the oil in a large, non-stick pan over a medium-high heat until very hot, then add half the tofu, making sure it’s spaced apart. Fry for 1 ½ to 2 minutes on each side or until crispy and golden brown. Set aside while you fry the rest. Stir any remaining tofu marinade into the noodles.

Toss the basil, scallions, coriander leaves and chillies with the noodles, then transfer to a serving platter with a lip. Serve with the tofu and sesame seeds on top. Serve with some orange wedges if you like.

NOTE: to make tamarind paste from a block mix a small piece, about 120g, with half this quantity, 60ml, of lukewarm water. After a few minutes mix together again, adding a touch more water if you need so the pulp falls away from the seed. Pass through a fine sieve. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a month.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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We’ve done this Korean dish before, but it’s worth revisiting because its so easy and delicious. It’s a nice starter to throw together for guests as they arrive, presuming you’re allowed to have guests. For now we have that on hold but it makes an event for the two of us.

Aperitif Suggestion: A good dry Oloroso sherry, or a Manzanilla sherry with a bit of age, we had La Gitana’s single vineyard Pasada Pastrana.

Pan-Fried King Prawns – serves 2 but easily doubled

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 cm piece of ginger, peeled & finely grated
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 150g king prawns, shelled
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp roasted pine nuts, roughly chopped

Make the sauce by combining the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and honey in a bowl.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok, or pan, over a high heat. When very hot add the prawns and cook for a minute. Turn over and add the sauce. Fry for a further minute or until cooked through. Use your instinct here this depends on the size of your prawns and the heat of your pan. Don’t let them overcook!

Remove and pile onto a plate, sprinkle over the scallions and pine nuts, then serve. 

(Original recipe from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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You can serve this with other dishes or just on its own with some sticky rice. It is perfect for a Friday night feast and much quicker than Deliveroo. Squid is so cheap and although almost everyone loves calamari they don’t seem to cook with squid much. I find it’s quite a satisfying thing to prepare too, but that might just be me.

Wine Suggestion: We opened a really nice bottle of Pearce Road Semillon 2016 from Kilikanoon in the Clare Valley. Delicious wine which we quickly abandoned for a beer as this dish is spicy! Do try the Semillon though maybe with some cheese or something a bit less fiery.

Stir-fried Spicy Squid – serves 2-3

  • 500g squid, cleaned
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large carrot, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 1 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 green chilli (optional), thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions (cut 2 of them into 3cm lengths and finely slice 1 to sprinkle over at the end)
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 2 tbsp gochujang chilli paste
  • 1 tbsp gochugaru red pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2½ cm piece of ginger, finely grated

Make the sauce first by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Slice the body of the squid open so it lies flat. Score the inside in a criss cross pattern with a sharp knife but make sure you don’t cut through. Cut the squid into 5cm pieces, any shape will do. Cut the tentacles into similar size pieces.

Put the vegetable oil into a wok (or a large frying pan) and put over a high heat. When the oil is hot, add the carrot and onion and stir-fry for 3 minutes, tossing the whole time until starting to soften.

Add the squid, chilli, scallions and sauce, then stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes or until the squid has turned opaque. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions over the top to garnish.

Serve with sticky rice.

(Original recipe from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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We’re having a little Korean-inspired moment in the kitchen. So many of the dishes are super simple and really tasty. We had these soy-seasoned mushrooms with a glass of sherry for a starter but they’re a side dish really. A few ingredients that were made for each other and brought together quickly and easily!

Wine Suggestion: An umami-rich dish like this thrives with sherry and the La Gitana Manzanilla with it’s seaside freshness and bone-dry texture did not disappoint. Easy to see this dish in a tapas bar in Cadiz, despite the Korean origins.

Soy-seasoned mushrooms – bo-seot namool – serves 4 as a side dish or nibble with drinks

  • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250g wild mushrooms (we used a mixture of baby shitake and oyster mushrooms), sliced into ½ cm strips
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a wide pan over a high heat.

Add the mushrooms to the hot pan and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the soy sauce and garlic. Stir-fry for another minute.

Add the sesame oil and keep going for another minute, keep it moving so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the toasted sesame seeds, then leave to cool a bit so the flavours come together. You can serve warm or cold.

(Original recipe from My Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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This is a great canapé and couldn’t be simpler. A lovely idea from Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo’s Our Korean Kitchen. We will happily do this many times.

Wine Suggestion: A good dry riesling is required, but with a richness of fruit. Our favourite at the moment is Weingut Korrell’s Paradies vineyard dry Riesling from Kreuznacher in the Nahe region; poised and elegant, rich and dry. The hints of lime match the scallop dish so well.

Scallops with Salted Sesame Oil – serves 6

  • 8 scallops, the scallops in our fish shop had the roes removed, but it’s fine to leave them on
  • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic cloves, crushed
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

FOR THE SALTED SESAME OIL

  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Cut the tough white bit off the side of each scallop.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Thread 2 scallops onto 4 small wooden skewers (you can soak these for a bit before using to stop them burning).

Lightly season the scallops skewers with salt and pepper.

When the pan is very hot, add the skewers and fry, without moving, for 1 minute. Flip over and cook for another 40 seconds. Add the garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice and fry for just 10 seconds, then remove from the heat.

Serve with the sesame seeds and chives scattered over and the salted sesame oil for dipping.

(Original recipe from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo has been on our bookshelves for ages. We take it down occasionally and remind ourselves that we should really go and get some Korean ingredients. At last we have bought gochujang chilli paste, gochugaru red pepper powder and a big bottle of roasted sesame seed oil, so we can get cooking. This beef dish could not be simpler and the flavours are fab.

Wine Suggestion: as we’re pretty new to Korean flavours we had no idea what to match and just opened what our guests had brought along; the Olianas Cannonau (Grenache) from Sardinia. A lovely wine which was both subtle and elegant, and heady with spice and warm sunshine; very well balanced. Plus it was a delight with the Bulgogi stew.

Korean Beef & Vegetable Stew – bulgogi jeongol – serves 4 to 6

  • 1 quantity marinated beef, see below
  • 100g rice noodles
  • 1 litre good quality beef stock
  • 1 tbsp gochujang chill paste
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ an onion, finely sliced
  • ½ a red pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • ½ a courgette, halved lengthways and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 large carrot, halved lengthways and sliced into thin strips
  • 50g enoki or shitake mushrooms
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

FOR THE MARINATED BEEF:

  • 450g beef sirloin, cut into very thin bite-size pieces
  • 1 Asian or 2 regular pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • ¼ onion, roughly chopped
  • 1cm piece of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2½ tbsp soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsp honey
  • 1½ tbsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Start by marinading the beef. Put all of the ingredients, except the beef, into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Pour into a bowl then stir in the sliced beef. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Soak the noodles in a bowl of water according to the instructions on the pack, about 30 minutes.

Put the beef stock, gochujang paste, soy sauce, sesame seed oil and garlic into a pan and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, arrange the onion, red pepper, courgette, carrot, mushrooms, and most of the scallions in a pile around the edge of a large pot with a lid, and put the raw marinated bulgogi in the middle. Drain the noodles and tuck these in beside the beef.

When the beef stock has come to a rolling boil, put the vegetable pan over a high heat and pour in the hot stock. Cover and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is cooked through.

Just before serving, mix it all together in the pan and sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds and remaining scallions.

(Original recipe from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2015.)

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Thai Minced Fish & Courgette Curry

This is from an old but very reliable Thai cookbook from Australia. We chose the recipe to use up some courgettes and curry paste and it was delicious with just a handful of ingredients.

Wine Suggestion: this goes excellently with a dry Riesling with a little age and good fruit which rounds off the edges; some in youth are a little crisp and edgy and will fight with these flavours. Tonight a Vickery Eden Valley Riesling from 2017, the couple of years age have brought this together brilliantly.

Thai minced fish & courgette curry – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp veg oil
  • 2 tbsp red or green curry paste
  • 1 tbsp fresh kaffir lime leaves (or if you are using dried, soak them for 10 minutes in hot water), sliced
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 500g white fish fillets, we used hake, minced
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 courgettes, diced (or you can use an aubergine instead)
  • 1 tbsp basil leaves

Heat the oil in a wok , then stir-fry the curry paste and lime leaves. Add about 125ml of coconut milk and simmer until the oil rises.

Add the minced fish and stir slowly until well separated. Add the rest of the coconut milk, the fish sauce and the courgettes. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced to a nice consistency.

Turn off the heat, stir through the basil and serve with steamed rice.

(Original recipe from Thai Cooking Class by Sami Anuntra Miller & Patricia Lake, BayBooks, 1994.)

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