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We were very pleased to find a late season crown prince pumpkin at our farm shop last week, which is our favourite variety. You could easily use a butternut squash instead if pumpkin is not available. This is a mild and creamy curry from Sri Lanka.

This is not an attempt at veganuary, we love to eat vegetables just as much as meat and fish. After the excess of Christmas we find a variety of dishes very welcome.

Wine Suggestion: Look to complement the rich, creaminess with a richer, creamy white, like an oaky Chardonnay, or similar. We went a bit left field with an older bottle or Jean-Michel Gerin’s le Champine Viognier which had in our cellar. With a heady apricot, pineapple and mango exoticism and a rich, very textural palate it was an unexpected treat.

Vegan pumpkin & coconut curry – serves 4

  • 1kg pumpkin or butternut squash, peel, deseed and cut into 1 ½ cm cubes (you want about 900g of cubed pumpkin)
  • 2 tsp curry powder, not too hot
  • 1½ tbsp rapeseed oil
  • fine sea salt
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 5 long green chillies, finely sliced, we took the seeds out but you can leave them in if you want more heat
  • 12-15 curry leaves
  • ¾ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 150g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 x 10cm cinnamon stick, snapped in two
  • 2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
  • juice of 1 lime
  • rice, to serve

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Put the pumpkin pieces into a large bowl with the curry powder, rapeseed oil and ¾ tsp of fine sea salt, then toss together to coat. Tip the pumpkin out onto the lined tray and spread it out evenly. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, put the onion, chillies, curry leaves, turmeric, fenugreek, garlic, cherry tomatoes, cinnamon stick and 1½ tsp of salt into a saucepan with 200ml of cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat and cook for about 12 minutes or until the onions and tomatoes are soft and the liquid almost evaporated.

Add the coconut milk and roasted pumpkin, then bring back to a gentle simmer, then remove from the heat and add the lime juice. Taste and add more lime or salt if needed.

(Original recipe by Meera Sodha in The Guardian, 1st January 2022.)

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This is a mildly spiced curry and quick to prepare. We had it on Friday with some naan breads from the take-away, but it’s easy enough for a weeknight too. An easy, tasty treat.

Wine Suggestion: This dish needs a lighter red wine with lower tannins and little to no oak. We enjoyed Domaine de Boede’s Pavillon rouge with this. An easy, Cinsault-Syrah blend which has such purity and precision of fruit that we love; a good accompaniment for the food.

Chicken & spinach curry – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 750g chicken thigh fillets, cubed
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 90g baby spinach, chopped
  • a large handful of coriander leaves, chopped

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-based pan, then gently cook the onions for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Stir in the spices, garlic and ginger, and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring.

Turn the heat up to medium-high, then add the chicken and cook for about 5 minute until browned all over.

Add the tomatoes and salt, bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes.

Stir in the sugar and lime juice, then add the spinach and stir until wilted. Take the pan off the heat, scatter the coriander over the top and serve.

(Original recipe from Every Day by Bill Granger, Murdoch Books, 2006.)

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We made this a few weeks ago for a small group of friends (before omicron took hold) and it was devoured with gusto. Despite the list of ingredients it’s all quite straight forward and a recipe to keep up your sleeve for any occasion … for friends, or just for yourself.

Wine Suggestion: the wine opened at the time was determined by the event, the Altosur Malbec made by Finca Sophenia in Tuppangato, Mendoza and what a triumph it was. Body and depth with seemless and juicy tannins; it just made it taste the dish a bit richer and more sophisticated.

Chicken kari – serves 4 to 6

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 cassia bark stick (not a cinnamon stick)
  • 3 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 large onion, very finely chopped
  • thumb-size piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 4 big cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 small green chillies or 1-2 long red chillies, split but leave the stalks intact
  • 8 large chicken thighs, skin removed but bone-in
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 large tomatoes, roughly diced
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • Steamed rice, to serve

Warm the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the mustard, fenugreek, cumin and coriander seeds, the cassia bark and cardamom pods and fry until the mustard seeds start to pop. Keep giving the pan a shake.

Stir in the onion and cook for a few minutes until it starts to brown and caramelise.

Add the ginger, garlic and chillies and stir-fry for a minute, then add the chicken thighs, turmeric and lots of salt and pepper and stir well. Add the fresh and tinned tomatoes, then add enough cold water to cover the chicken. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 2 hours, stirring now and then. Top up with more water if needed.

Remove the cassia bark and cardamom pods, then season again to test if needed and serve.

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020.)

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Our daughter is a gyoza addict and luckily we have a good local Japanese restaurant. She would order three or more portions if we let her. So in order to avoid bankruptcy we’ve decided to start making them ourselves. They are actually very straightforward, and helped immensely by shop-bought gyoza wrappers and a little gyoza folding gadget.

The wrappers keep in the freezer and defrost in an hour at room temperature. Just put them in the fridge afterwards until you’re ready to make the gyoza.

Chicken & Shiitake Gyoza with Miso Lemon Dipping Sauce – makes about 30 gyoza

  • 300g chicken thigh fillets, quartered
  • 10 shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 8 water chestnuts, finely choped
  • 3 tsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp sake or mirin
  • 6 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 30 gyoza wrappers
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE

  • 2 tbsp pale miso
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Pulse the chicken thighs in a food processor until minced, then tip into a bowl.

Add the mushrooms, water chestnuts, soy sauce, ginger, sake/mirin, scallions and cornflour. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper, then mix together well with a metal spoon. You can leave the mixture in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

Mix together the ingredients for the dipping sauce and set aside.

Line a large tray with non-stick baking paper and have a bowl of water handy.

Put a gyoza wrapper into your gyoza maker, floured side down, and put 1 tbsp of the filling in the middle (you can and should use a piping bag for this). Dip your finger in the water and lightly run it round the edge of the wrapper. Close the gyoza maker and squeeze tight to seal. If you don’t have a little machine, you can look up how to fold them on youtube.

Heat a large frying pan with a lid over a medium high heat. Add ½ tbsp sesame oil, then place the gyozas into the pan, you will probably have to do 2 batches. Leave them for about 2 minutes or until the bottoms have turned golden, then add 40ml water and cover with a lid. Cook for another 2 minutes until most of the water has evaporated, then remove the lid. Drizzle over another ½ tsp of sesame oil and allow to crisp up for about 30 seconds.

Remove from the pan and serve with the dipping sauce.

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

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A simple fish dish for weeknights, and something a bit lighter before the feasting starts.

Wine Suggestion: A delight with a light, playful Riesling like Korrell’s Slice of Paradise from the Nahe in Germany, or Pikes Traditionale from the Clare Valley.

Grilled trout with Asian dressing – serves 2

  • 300g Charlotte potatoes
  • 2 skinless trout fillets
  • Thai basil or regular basil, to serve

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, remove the woody outer leaves and finely chop
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped

Boil the potatoes in salty water until tender, then drain and slice thickly, lengthways.

Season the trout, then grill for 3-4 minutes.

Arrange the potatoes onto plates and top with the trout. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and spoon over the top, then garnish with basil leaves.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, November 2014.)

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This is great for using up leftover cooked rice. We also had some leftover char siu pork which was delicious chopped up and stirred through.

Wine Suggestion: This calls for an easy style of Grüner Veltliner, like Forrest Estate’s version from Marlborough NZ. Maybe not quite the same as Austrian versions but very pleasurable nonetheless.

Chinese-style fried rice – serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 225g shelled raw prawns
  • 120ml groundnut oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 large eggs
  • 800g cooked rice, it needs to be cooked at least a few hours in advance
  • 4 scallions, finely sliced, separate the green and white parts
  • 225g cooked ham or pork, diced
  • 225g frozen peas
  • 1½ tbsp thick soy sauce
  • 30-45ml stock

FOR THE PRAWN MARINADE:

  • a pinch of salt
  • 1½ tsp cornflour
  • ½ egg white

Devein the prawns and cut into 2cm pieces. Pat dry with kitchen paper and put into a bowl.

Make the marinade for the prawns by mixing the salt, cornflour and egg white together. Stir into the prawns to coat evenly, then leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Heat a wok until smoking. Add 2 tbsp of the oil, give it a swirl, then add the garlic. As soon as it starts to colour, add the prawns, stirring to separate with a metal spoon for about 30 seconds or until almost cooked and turning pink. Add the Shaoxing wine and as soon as the sizzling calms down, scoop out the prawns and set aside. You will now need to wash and dry your wok.

Lightly beat the eggs with 1 tbsp of the oil and a pinch of salt. Heat a large frying pan until hot, add 1 tbsp of the oil and tip the pan to coat the surface. Pour in half the beaten egg and tip the spread to the edges. When set, turn over and fry for a few seconds on the other side. Remove to a plate and slice into thin strips.

Break up any lumps in the cooked rice. Blanch the peas in boiling salty water for a few minutes, then drain well.

Reheat the wok over a high heat until smoking. Add the remaining 4 tbsp of oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the white parts of the scallions, pour in the rest of the beaten egg, then immediately add the rice. Turn and toss the rice with a metal spoon scooping up the raw egg from the bottom of the wok.

When the rice is hot, add the ham or pork, then stir in the peas and prawns. Finally add the soy sauce and stock, stirring all the time.

Add the green parts of the scallions, then tip out onto a platter and garnish with the strips of egg.

(Original recipe from Yan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook, by Yan-Kit So, DK, 1984.)

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This is really two separate recipes but they go so well together that we strongly suggest making both. As this is essentially a dry dish, rice on the side is good but the fresh salad really makes it.

Wine Suggestion: We think this goes really well with a velvety Pinot Noir like Andre Dezat’s Sancerre Rouge, or Cline’s Sonoma Coast Pinot. The juicy fruit and lightness of expression plays wonderfully with the layers of spice, sourness, sweetness and charred flavours these dishes offer without overwhelming them, and without too many dry tannins which could fight the dish.

Char siu pork with a chilli, coriander & mint salad – serves 4

  • 2 pork fillets (tenderloins), trimmed of fat and sinew

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 4 tbsp clear honey
  • 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 4 tbsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • 4 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder

FOR THE CHILLI, CORIANDER & MINT SALAD:

  • ½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, halved lengthways, sliced, then finely chopped
  • 1 cm piece of root ginger, peeled and grated
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½-1 tsp palm or caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 cos lettuce, cut into thick strips
  • ¼ cucumber, seeds scooped out and discarded and sliced on the diagonal
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • a large handful of coriander leaves
  • a large handful of mint leaves

First make the marinade for the pork. Put the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over a low heat. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Put the pork fillets into a large container with half the cooled marinade, keep the rest for cooking the pork. Rub the marinade into the pork and leave for at least 2-3 hours, or ideally overnight, in the fridge.

When ready to cook, heat the oven to 230C/Gas 8.

Remove the pork from the marinade (don’t throw the marinade away) and place them on a wire rack over a foil-lined roasting tray.

Roast the pork in the hot oven for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 190C/Gas 5. Continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes, turning and basting with the reserved mainade every 5 minutes, until cooked. You can finish the pork on a hot barbecue for the last 5 minutes of cooking to get a nice barbecue flavour or under a hot grill.

Leave the pork to rest for 5 minutes, before slicing.

To make the salad, put 1 tbsp of the lime juice into a small bowl with the soy sauce, sugar and oil. Add the chilli, garlic, lemongrass and ginger and whisk to combine. Taste and add more lime or sugar if needed.

Put the lettuce, cucumber, scallions, coriander and mint in a large bowl. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately with the sliced pork and some steamed rice.

(Original recipe from Leiths How to Cook by Claire MacDonald & Jenny Stringer, Quadrille Publishing Limited, 2013.)

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Thai basil can be hard to come by for us but they sometimes have it in our local farm shop which inspired us to cook this delicious duck dish by Neil Perry.

Wine Suggestion: A dry, but fruit forward Pinot Gris was our first thought, but tried the Domaine Bott-Geyl’s Pinot d’Aslace Points Cardinaux, which was to hand, and were delighted with it’s playful nature and depth to match the dish. A blend of all the Pinot grapes, including Pinot Noir this has a vibrant freshness and focus as well as roundness and layers of texture; altogether a good food wine.

Stir-fry duck with coconut milk, Thai basil & noodles – serves 4

  • 600g boneless duck breasts, with skin on
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 stem of lemongrass, pale part only, thinly sliced
  • 1 long red chilli, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 80ml vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion, halved and thickly sliced
  • 320ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 20g crispy fried shallots (shop bought)
  • a large handful of Thai basil leaves
  • 200g dried rice vermicelli or other rice noodles, cooked and drained (to serve)

Put the duck onto a board, skin side down, and cut into 5mm slices. Put the duck slices into a bowl and add the garlic, lemongrass and chilli. Mix well with your hands.

Heat 60ml of vegetable oil in a wok until smoking. Stir-fry the duck in batches for 1-2 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add more oil if needed, then add the onion and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until light golden. Return the duck to the wok, then pour in the coconut milk and bring to thte boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce, tamarind paste, sugar and sea salt. Simmer for another few minutes, then check the seasoning.

Garnish with fried shallots and Thai basil and serve over noodles.

(Original recipe from Neil Perry’s Good Cooking, Murdoch Books, 2016.)

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We’ve had limited success with prawn cakes in the past, they often fall apart. These are grilled which makes things much easier and the peanut chilli sauce is amazing!

Wine Suggestion: these call for a vibrant, youthful white like Weingut Korrell’s Weißer Burgunder (Pinot Blanc) which was full of charming pear and apple flavours with a zesty citrus twist that complemented the limes and fish sauce a treat.

Prawn cakes with peanut chilli sauce – serves 4 as a starter

  • 2 tbsp palm sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 3 cm piece of fresh ginger
  • a handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • 3 small Thai shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 long red chilli, diced
  • 400g raw peeled prawns
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil
  • chilled iceberg lettuce, to serve

FOR THE PEANUT CHILLI SAUCE:

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100ml rice vinegar
  • 2 red chillies, diced
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, toasted, finely chopped
  • 2 small Thai shallots, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp coriander

Put the palm or brown sugar into a small frying pan with 1 tbsp of water. Mix together and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.

To make the peanut chilli sauce, boil the sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until syrupy. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely, then add the chilli, peanuts, shallot, fish sauce and coriander.

To make the cakes, put the ginger, coriander, shallot and chilli in a food processor and blend until fine. Add the prawns, lime zest and fish sauce and pulse until combined, keep it chunky. Season with plenty of black pepper.

Put a little oil on your hands, then form the prawn mixture into 16 flat cakes. Put in the fridge until ready to cook.

Preheat the grill. Brush both sides of the prawn cakes with a tiny bit of oil then put on a rack on top of a baking tray.

Grill the cakes for 1 minute, then brush the tops with the palm sugar syrup. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until opaque, there is no need to turn. Serve warm with the chilled lettuce leaves and peanut chilli sauce.

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

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This is perfect for mid-week – tasty, healthy and just a few ingredients.

Wine Suggestion: The hot and sour flavours pair well with dry Rieslings, like the exhuberant Domaine Bott-Geyl Les Elements. Apples, zesty lemon, a hint of apricot and a taut freshness.

Hot and sour aubergine with sticky rice – serves 2

  • 150g sushi rice
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 aubergine, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 100g green beans, halved
  • 1 red chilli, shredded, plus extra to serve

Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

Fry the onion and aubergine in the oil in a wide shallow pan with a lid until golden and softened. Stir it every few minutes.

Mix the sugar and vinegar together, then add the soy sauce and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the cornflour and stir to dissolve.

Add the beans and red chilli to the pan and cook for 4 minutes with the lid on. Add the liquid mixture, stir and continue cooking for another 2 minutes with the lid on.

Serve with the rice and some extra soy sauce and chillies on the side.

(Original recipe by Kate Calder in Olive Magazine, June 2012.)

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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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