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Archive for the ‘Asian’ Category

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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Pea & New Potato Curry

We’ve cooked pretty much everything from scratch since lockdown but tonight we treated ourselves to a naan bread from the local takeaway. Every evening they fire up the tandoor and we get the most delicious smells in our back garden. This is an easy curry which is perfect for a weeknight.

Wine Suggestion: a local Lager was our choice tonight, from the White Gypsey Brewery in Tipperary. Their Munich Lager is light and fresh but with a real character and personality.

Pea & new potato curry – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1tsp Madras curry powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 750g new potatoes, halved or quartered
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 500ml natural yoghurt, full-fat so less likely to split
  • a small bunch of coriander, stalks and leaves finely chopped, but kept separate
  • 200-300ml veg stock
  • 300g frozen peas
  • lime wedges and naan breads, to serve

Before you start, put the potatoes in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until slightly tender – they’ll continue to cook in the curry. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan. Add the onions and cook for 10-15 minutes over a gentle heat. Add the chillies, ginger and spices, and cook for a few minutes, then stir in the potatoes and lime juice and stir to coat in the spices.

Add the yoghurt, coriander stalks and stock. Simmer gently for 35-40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the sauce reduced (we put the lid on for a few minutes at the end as the sauce was reduced enough). Keep the temperature low as the yoghurt can easily split. Stir through the peas and cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve with the coriander leaves sprinkled over and lime wedges and naan breads on the side.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Chicken with young ginger

We made this on Chinese New Year when the Chinese were unable to celebrate due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. Over a month later and we’re still not sure what the implications of the Covid-19 outbreak will be. In the meantime we’ll keep calm and carry on cooking.

This is a recipe by Fuchsia Dunlop who recommends using tender ginger that’s not too fibrous – it should be easy to snap off a piece with no fibres showing from the cut. We’re not sure our ginger quite met that criteria but the dish was very tasty nonetheless.

Wine Suggestion: white, aromatic and with a fresh acidity. Pikes “The Merle” Riesling from Clare Valley made a great aperitif while cooking and then stepped up and paired wonderfully.

Chicken with Young Ginger – nen jiang chao zi ji – serves 2 with rice

  • 75g plump fresh ginger (see note above), peeled and sliced very thinly
  • 1 scallion, white part only (save the green part), smacked with a cleaver or rolling pin
  • 350g boned chicken thighs, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • ¼ tsp potato starch mixed with ½ tsp cold water
  • a few 5cm pieces of scallion, green parts only
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ground white pepper

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tsp potato starch
  • 2 tsp cold water

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • ½ tsp dark soy sauce
  • ½ caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp stock or water

Put the chicken into a bowl with the marinade ingredients and stir.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a wok over a high flame. Add the ginger and scallion white and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the chicken and continue to stir-fry over a high heat, until cooked through and beginning to colour.

Add the Shaoxing wine to the chicken, then stir the sauce and add to the wok. Bring to a fast boil and season with white pepper.

Stir the starch mixture and this to the wok, stirring. The sauce should thicken and become glossy.

Add the scallion greens and toss briefly, before removing the wok from the heat. Stir in the sesame oil and serve.

(Original recipe from Land of Fish & Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop, Bloomsbury, 2016.)

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dong po rou

Fuscia Dunlop is a true master when it comes to cooking authentic Chinese dishes. This is the first recipe we’ve tried from her gorgeous book, Land of Fish & Rice. The dish is simple to cook and you don’t need too many ingredients. Do buy a decent bottle of Shaoxing Wine, rather than the widely available stuff to cook with. You need a wine of drinking quality for this – we found one very easily in our local Asia market. We served with steamed rice and stir-fried broad beans with spring onion. The pork is very rich so only a small amount per person is needed. Start the dish the day before and you will be able to remove the layer of fat that forms on the top when chilled.

Wine Suggestion: Excellent with grenache. Tonight it was grenache dominant blends from Chateau Pesquié, in the coolest part of the Ventoux but equally as good with a Clare Valley, or similar.

Dongpo Pork – serves 4 with rice

  • 1 x 12cm wide strip of unscored, skin-on, boneless belly pork (about 1kg or 1.3kg with the bone-in)
  • 2 scallions
  • 30g ginger, skin on
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 5½ tbsp light soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 250ml good Shaoxing wine (aged for 5-10 years)

Preheat the oven to 110°C/Fan 90ºC/Gas ¼.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the pork and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain well and rinse under a cold tap, then place, skin-side up, on a chopping board and cut into 5cm squares. Keep any trimmings.

Crush the scallions and ginger with a rolling pin and put into the pan. Add the pork trimmings and arrange the pork chunks, skin-side down, on top. Add the sugar, soy sauces and Shaoxing wine, then bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 1-2 minutes, then cover and cook gently for 2½ hours in the oven (alternatively cook on a very low hob). Check occasionally and add some hot water if it looks dry.

Remove and discard the ginger and scallions, then leave the pork to cool in the pan and chill overnight. The next day, scrape off the fat form the surface, then reheat, turning the pork skin-side up as soon as the juices have loosened. The sauce should be dark and slightly syrupy, if necessary remove the pork form the pan and fast-boil the sauce to reduce it, then return the pork to the pan. Serve with plain rice.

(Original recipe from Land of Fish & Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop, Bloomsbury, 2016.)

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cong hua can dou

This is a Chinese method for cooking broad beans which is really straightforward and super tasty. If you want to double pod your beans, just blanch for a minute first and the skins will easily pop off. We served this alongside Dongpo pork but it would go equally well alongside a lot of meat dishes.

Stir-fried broad beans with spring onion – serves 3-4

  • 1kg young broad beans in pods or 350g shelled (we used frozen broad beans, defrosted or blanched to remove skins)
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced scallions, white part only
  • ¾ tsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp thinly sliced scallions, green parts only

Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat. Add the scallion whites and stir-fry briefly until fragrant. Add the beans and stir-fry briefly until fragrant. Add the beans and toss in the oil. Add 150ml of water, the sugar, season with salt and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer over a medium heat for a few minutes, until tender – careful they don’t boil dry.

Remove the lid and increase the heat a bit to reduce the liquid. When only a couple of tablespoons of liquid are left, add the scallion greens and stir until fragrant, then serve.

(Original recipe from Land of Fish & Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop, Bloomsbury, 2016.)

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Nasi Goreng

This is just the dish for leftover roast pork. We freeze the right quantity and enjoy it a week or too later after a busy day – it’s really quick to throw together.

Wine Suggestion: there’s a vibrant immediacy to this dish and likewise we chose a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, in this case the Doctors’ SB from Forrest Estate; dry, full flavoured and ripe but only 9.5% abv.

John Forrest pioneered this technique and it’s a brilliant addition to the wine world so we can drink lower alcohol levels and yet keep the same ripeness and flavour profiles.

Nasi goreng – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced 1cm thick
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 red chillies, halved, deseeded and sliced
  • 300g leftover cooked pork, chop into little chunks
  • 400g cooked rice
  • 4 scallions, sliced on the diagonal
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 100g cooked, shelled prawns
  • 4 tbsp dark soy sauce

Heat 1½ tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat until soft, golden and starting to tinge. Add the garlic, chillies and pork and cook for a couple of minutes – let the pork colour a bit. Add the rice and spring onions – toss lightly and cook until heated through.

Meanwhile, quickly heat ½ tbsp of the oil in a nonstick frying pan and add the eggs. Cook as you would an omelette and when cooked cut into ribbons with a sharp knife.

Add the egg, prawns, soy sauce, salt and pepper to the rice and keep cooking for another 2 minutes to heat everything through, then serve.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchelle Beazley, 2012.)

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Thai beef saladMid-week celebrations can be a bit tricky, especially when work and life are busy. This was Jules’ choice for birthday dinner on a Tuesday in November and we would recommend it for a mid-week birthday at any time of year.

Wine Suggestion: We opened something a bit special given the occassion, the Tyler Dierberg Block 5 Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara county in California. Despite the umami/savoury, hot/spicy, salty and sweet flavours of the salad this was an excellent match providing layers of excitement and flavour.

Thai Beef Salad – serves 4

  • 1-2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 500g fillet steak

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 limes
  • 3 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 3 shallots
  • large handful of Thai basil
  • large handful of coriander
  • large handful of mint

TO SERVE:

  • 5 tbsp roasted unsalted peanuts
    • Roast the peanuts on a baking tray for 8-10 minutes at 190ºC until golden, then tip into a bowl to cool.
  • 3 tbsp fried shallots (see below)
    • Finely slice the shallots and fry in a wok or frying pan, in 5mm to 1cm of oil, over a medium heat, until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer onto kitchen paper to cool and crisp up.

To make the dressing: peel and crush the garlic and peel and finely grate the ginger, reserving the juice. Remove the outer leaf of the lemongrass stalk and trim the ends, leaving the tender middle section; very finely chop this. Halve, deseed and finely dice the chilli. Squeeze the juice from the the limes to give 4 tbsp.

Put the lime juice, nam pla and sugar in a large bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the garlic, ginger and its juice, lemongrass and chilli and stir again.

For the salad: halve and very finely slice the shallots. Pick the herb leaves and leave whole.

Heat enough oil to cover the base of a heavy frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the steak and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, then remove and rest for 5 minutes.

Put the raw shallots and herbs into a large bowl. Finely slice the steak across the grain and add to the salad. Add half the dressing and toss to coat everything. Transfer to a serving dish and scatter with the peanuts and fried shallots. Serve the rest of the dressing on the side.

(Original recipe from Leiths How to Cook, Quadrille, 2014.)

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Noodles with shiitake mushrooms & scallions

We can think of nothing nicer to eat than a bowl of slurpy noodles. Perfect for a speedy lunch or snack.

Wine Suggestion: a friend has suggested that there are brilliant saki matches for dishes like this that play with the umami but we’ve not tasted enough to suggest which one. However, we really liked a couple of wine options: a Lustau dry Oloroso, a Deux Montille Rully Blanc or a Tyler Pinot Noir from California. In each case they have a wonderful textural vibrancy that this dish needs.

Udon noodles with shiitake mushrooms and spring onions – serves 2

  • 125g dried egg noodles
  • 1½ tbsp sesame oil
  • 1½ tbsp groundnut oil
  • 200g shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 6 scallions, finely sliced on the diagonal
  • few coriander springs, leaves picked
  • 2½ tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
  • 2½ tbsp soy sauce

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, salt generously and cook the noodles for the time given on the pack. Drain and run under cold water, then stir through a few drops of sesame oil and groundnut oil to stop them from sticking.

Heat the oils over a high heat in a wok or frying pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until starting to soften. Add the scallions, nam pla, soy sauce and noodles. Heat stirring until the noodles are glazed with the sauce.

Serve sprinkled with the coriander.

(Original recipe from Leiths How to Cook by Claire Macdonald and Jenny Stringer, Quadrille, 2013.)

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Herb & pak choi salad

We really liked this fresh and vibrant salad by Melissa Helmsley. It went really well with this Korean chicken but we also thought it would be nice with barbecued meat or fish with Asian flavours or Salmon Teriyaki.

Herb & Pak Choi Salad – serves 4 as a side

  • 4 large large heads of pak choi, shredded
  • 1 large Little Gem or Cos lettuces, finely shredded
  • a large handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • a large handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • a large handful of fresh Thai basil, roughly chopped
  • 4 scallions, finely sliced

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • juice and grated zest of 1½ limes
  • 6 tbsp sesame oil (not toasted) or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp tamari (or you could use light soy sauce)

TOPPING:

  • a large handful of almonds, cashews or sesame seeds (or a mixture)

Make the topping first by toasting the nuts and/or seeds in a dry frying pan with a little salt over a medium heat until golden.

Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together in a large bowl and season to taste.

Put the pak choi, lettuce and herbs in a bowl and mix with the scallions. Add the dressing and toss until everything is coasted. Sprinkle over the toasted nuts and seeds to serve.

(Original recipe from Eat Happy by Melissa Hemsley, Ebury Press, 2018.)

 

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Spicy Thai Fishcakes with Dipping Sauce

These take literally minutes to make and they make a super tasty starter or snack.

Wine Suggestion: our favourite wine with dishes like this is dry Riesling, with the limey, citrus flavours of wines from the Clare Valley, like those made by Pikes, coming to mind first. They are zesty and thrilling in flavour with the bracing acidity working perfectly with the citrus fruit to make a wine that is both thirst-quenching and hunger inducing at the same time. Aperitivo!

Spicy Thai fishcakes with dipping sauce – serves 2

  • 200g raw peeled prawns
  • 2-3 tsp Thai red curry paste
  • a small bunch of coriander, stalks separated
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped

Put the prawns, curry paste and coriander stalks into a food processor and whizz to a paste. Form 4 to 6 flat cakes.

Heat a non-stick frying pan, heat a drizzle of oil, then fry the cakes for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through.

Mix the vinegar, sugar and chilli together in a small bowl.

Serve the cakes with the coriander leaves and sauce for dipping.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, October 2012.)

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Kung Pao Chicken

The last time we had this famous Szechwan dish we’d just arrived on a stop-over in Abu Dhabi on our way to visit family in Melbourne. We arrived late and ordered room service and this truly hit the spot. A great combination of velvety chicken, roasted peanuts and a bit of spice. This recipe is from Yan-Kit’s fabulous Classic Chinese Cookbook. Serve with rice.

Wine Suggestion: our choice in Abu Dhabi was a Kirin beer, which was perfect that night. Similarly, choosing a wine this time we looked for a savoury dry texture and chose an Emilio Hidalgo La Panesa Fino Sherry which is kept under flor for 15 years and is outstanding; smooth and velvety even though completely dry and with a salty, nutty texture. A good match, but you needn’t find this exact example as any good Manzanilla or Fino works.

Kung Pao Chicken – serves 3

  • 350g chicken breasts, cut into thin strips and then cubes about 1cm square
  • 4 tbsp groundnut oil or corn oil
  • 2-3 long dried red chillies or 4-5 smaller dried chillies, seeded and cut into pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced diagonally
  • 4 to 6 thin slices ginger
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine or medium dry sherry
  • 3 scallions, cut into small rounds
  • 50g roasted peanuts

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • third of tsp salt
  • 2 tsp thin soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Shaohsing wine or medium dry sherry
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp egg white, lightly beaten

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 1 tbsp thick soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp chilli sauce
  • 2 tsp rice or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1½ tsp cornflour
  • 6 tbsp clear stock or water

Put the diced chicken into a bowl.

To prepare the marinade; add the salt, soy sauce, wine/sherry, cornflour and egg to the chicken. Mix well and leave to marinate for 15-30 minutes.

Prepare the sauce by mixing the soy sauce, chilli sauce, vinegar, sugar, cornflour and water together.

Heat a wok over a high heat until smoking, then add the oil and swirl it around the pan.

Add the dried chilli, stir, then add the garlic and ginger and stir until aromatic. Add the chicken. Turn and toss for about 1 minute.

Splash in the wine or sherry, stirring and tossing continuously.

Add the scallions and cook for another 30-45 seconds by which time the chicken should be cooked.

Add the well-stirred sauce to the wok and keep stirring while it thickens.

Finally stir in the peanuts, then remove to a warm serving plate. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

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Prawn & Spinach Curry

An easy weeknight curry and perfect for using up that bag of frozen prawns in the freezer. Serve with steamed rice.

Wine Suggestion: As it was a hot night and we needed cooling down, a bottle of beer (Peroni to be precise) from the fridge hit the spot with this. Refreshing and we just like beer with curry.

Prawn & Spinach Curry – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp hot curry paste (we like Patak’s Madras)
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 200g carton creamed coconut
  • 400g raw peeled tiger prawns, defrosted
  • 250g baby spinach leaves
  • large handful of frozen peas
  • bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions for about 5 minutes to soften, then stir in the curry paste and fry for another minute. Add the tomatoes, stock, sugar, and coconut cream, then season. Cook gently for 15 minutes until thickened.

Add the prawns and spinach, then cook for a few minutes. Stir in the peas and heat for another few minutes. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with steamed rice.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine, July, 2005)

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Spicy Sichuan-style Prawns

This is a delicious Chinese dish but definitely for chilli lovers as its not lacking in fiery heat. Serve with rice to serve 2 or with other dishes to serve 4.

Wine Suggestion: The heat will effect most wines so be careful with your choice here. Our choice was from Alsace, the Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris Calcaire 2009 which had a  natural sweetness and a range of spices that really added to the dish.

Spicy Sichuan-style prawns – serves 4

  • 1½ tbsp groundnut oil
  • 2cm ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 450g raw prawns, shelled and de-veined

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 3 tsp chilli bean paste (buy in an Asian supermarket)
  • 2 tsp Chinese black vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • handful of coriander leaves and sliced scallion, to serve

Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat.

Add the groundnut oil and wait until very hot and slightly smoking, then add the ginger, garlic & scallions. Stir-fry for 20 seconds, then add the prawns and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the sauce ingredients with the salt and pepper and continue to stir-fry for 3 minutes over a high heat.

Serve immediately sprinkled with the coriander & scallions.

(Original recipe by Ken Hom IN: BBC Good Food Magazine, February 2015.)

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