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Posts Tagged ‘Asian’

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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Salmon Teriyaki

Really delicious salmon with crispy skin and a rich sauce. Serve with rice and some asian greens.

Wine Suggestion: Soy sauce accentuates tannins in wine so we’d suggest avoiding reds for this dish. With ingredients that include Sake, Mirin/Sherry and sugar there are two options that we find work really well, and in a contrasting way. Firstly a non-dry, slightly sweet Oloroso sherry, like the Valdespino 1842 VOS Oloroso, will work with the umami savoury characters and compliment the rich sweetness. Alternately play with a bit of contrast and pick a good Rosé Champagne, like Billecart-Salmon’s benchmark example; this plays with the senses and adds an extra vibrancy to a dish already replete with flavour.

Salmon Teriyaki – serves 4

  • 250ml light soy sauce
  • 125ml sake or rice wine
  • 125ml mirin or dry sherry
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 4 salmon fillets, skin-on
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil

Mix the first 4 ingredients together and stir until the sugar has dissolved to make a teriyaki sauce. Marinade the salmon in half of the sauce for at least 3 hours. Pour the rest of the sauce into a saucepan and bubble gently on a low heat for 30 minutes or until reduced and thickened.

Heat the oven to as high as it goes, then put the drained salmon fillets in an ovenproof dish, skin upwards. Cut small squares of foil to cover the salmon skin and stop it burning.

Bake for 5-6 minutes, then remove the foil and brush oil over the skin. Return to the oven for another 5-6 minutes or until the skin is crispy and starting to char.

Pour some of the reduced sauce onto each plate and sit the salmon on top to serve.

(Original recipe by Reiko Hashimoto-Lamber IN: BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2008.)

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Thai pumpkin & chickpea curry

Thai pumpkin & chickpea curry

A really good veggie curry and yet another use for the never-ending tub of Thai red curry paste. We’re very excited for pumpkin season and not because we want to make lanterns.

Pumpkin & chickpea curry – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 3 tbsp Thai red or yellow curry paste
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, bashed with the back of a knife
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 piece pumpkin or a small squash (about 1kg)
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 400ml can reduced-fat coconut milk
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 limes
  • large handful mint leaves
  • steamed rice and/or naan bread, to serve

Heat the oil in a sauté pan and gently fry the curry paste with the onions, lemongrass, cardamom and mustard seeds for a few minutes or until fragrant. Stir the pumpkin or squash into the pan and stir to coat in the paste, then pour in the stock and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer, add the chickpeas, then cook for about 10 mins until the pumpkin is tender.

Squeeze the juice of one lime into the curry, then cut the other lime into wedges to serve on the side. Tear over mint leaves to garnish and serve with steamed rice or warm naan bread.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Hot & Sour Aubergine

This photo is a bit dark in colour but the flavours are vibrant and delicious and we’re now converts to soaking aubergine in brine before stir-frying to give a soft, velvety texture.

Hot & Sour Aubergine – serves 2

  • 1 large or 2 medium aubergines, cut into long batons
  • 100g green beans, halved
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 2 tbsp light soy sace
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour dissolved in 2 tbsp water
  • cooked rice, to serve

Put the aubergine slices into a bowl of lightly salted water and leave to soak for 30 minutes, then drain and pat dry.

Blanch the green beans in boiling water for a minute, then rinse in cold water and drain.

Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium-high heat, then cook the aubergine until well browned on all sides. When the aubergine is starting to take on a good colour, add the onion and chilli and continue to stir-fry for 4 minutes or until soft.

Add the sauce and green beans, cover with a lid, then turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes or until the aubergine is soft. Serve with rice.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Hot & sour fish soup

This is a quick and very low-calorie but very tasty soup. Buy some really fresh fish – we used hake. Hot & Sour Fish Soup – Serves 2

  • 2tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 dried red chilli (or use a small tsp of chilli flakes)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 stem lemongrass, lightly bashed
  • 700ml chicken or fish stock
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 400g skinless white fish fillets, cut into big chunks
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • cooked noodles

Put the ginger, chilli, scallions, lemongrass and stock in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the soy sauce, vinegar and fish, and simmer for a couple of minutes. Stir in the spinach and season with the fish sauce. Adjust the vinegar and soy sauce to your own taste. Put the cooked noodles into soup bowls, discard the lemongrass and dried chilli from the soup, then pour over the noodles and serve. (Original recipe by Lulu Grimes and Janine Ratcliffe in BBC Olive February 2015.)

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Stir-fried Beef with black bean and chilli

This comes from a new discovery: Every Grain of Rice by Fuschia Dunlop. We’ve been looking for a Chinese cookbook for some time and this comes up trumps. This beef dish tasted authentic and delicious.

Don’t be tempted to substitute the Laoganma black bean sauce with the more common black bean sauce, widely available in supermarkets, which is something completely different. Laoganma black bean sauce is a relish made from fermented black beans and dried chillies in oil. You can find it in any good Asian supermarket (where you will also find the Shaoxing wine and potato flour).

Stir-fried beef with black bean and chilli – serves 2

  • 300g lean beef steak, cut into 1cm thick strips
  • ¼ red pepper
  • ¼ green pepper
  • about 40g coriander
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2½ tbsp Laoganma black bean sauce
  • salt
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

For the marinade: 

  • ½ tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1½ tsp potato flour

Stir the marinade ingredients with 2 tsp water, add to the meat and set aside.

Cut the peppers into strips similar in size to the beef and coarsely chop the coriander.

Heat the oil in a seasoned wok over a high heat. When the pan is smoking hot, add the beef and stir-fry until the strips begin to separate out. Tip in the peppers and keep stir-frying until the beef is almost cooked.

Add the black bean sauce and stir, then add some salt to taste. When everything is hot and fragrant, stir in the coriander.

Take off the heat and add the sesame oil before serving with some plain white rice.

(Original recipe from Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop, Bloomsbury, 2012.)

 

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These meatballs are melt in the mouth. Don’t make them too big (no bigger than golf ball size) or they will dry out.

Meatballs in Fragrant Coconut Broth – serves 2-3

  • 2tsp coriander seeds
  • 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, bashed and cut in half
  • 5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 1 x 400ml tin coconut  milk
  • zest and juice of 1 lime

FOR THE MEATBALLS: 

  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 500g minced beef
  • 75g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3-4 tbsp milk

First make the meatballs. Sauté the onion and garlic and some seasoning in a hot frying pan in a little oil for about 5 minutes or until soft and lightly coloured, adding the chilli flakes after a couple of minutes. Put the mince in a large bowl and season. Put the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl and moisten with the milk. Add seasoning, then stir the breadcrumbs and onion mixture into the mince and combine well. With wet hands, shape the mince mixture into golf-size balls. Transfer to a lightly greased plate or tray and chill for 30 minutes until firm.

Brown the meatballs in a clean oiled pan for 4-5 minutes, turning until brown on all sides.

Add the coriander seeds, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, chilli flakes, lemongrass and ginger. Heat through, stirring, until aromatic, then add the stock and coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Simmer for 8-12 minutes until the sauce has a good flavour and has thickened and the meatballs are cooked through.

Add the lime zest and juice and serve hot.

Wine Suggestion: this is a rich and bold dish and requires a fuller bodied white wine with texture and savouriness. We would suggest a good Grand Cru Pinot Gris from Alsace (a drier version) or a Condrieu from the Northern Rhone. The wines would ideally have a couple of years development in the bottle to enable the overt fruitiness to mature and the savoury flavours to come to the fore.

(Original recipe from Gordon Ramsey’s Ultimate Cookery Course, Hodder & Stoughton, 2012.)

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Pork with Cashews, Lime & Mint

A cracking stir-fry from one of Nigel Slater’s older books. The key to stir-frying is to crank up the heat and keep it there for the entire cooking time. It seems a bit scary at first but it’s the only way to guarantee everything is cooked through and the whole thing doesn’t end up soggy.

Pork with cashews, lime and mint – to serve 2

  • 400g pork fillet/steak, sliced into short bite-size strips
  • 6 tbsp groundnut or other flavourless oil
  • 90g unsalted cashew nuts, chopped fairly fine
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • a 4cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely shredded
  • 4 small, hot red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
  • zest and juice of 3 big, fat limes
  • 2 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
  • a handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • a handful of basil leaves, torn

Get your wok really hot over the highest heat, then add 3 tbsp of the oil. When the oil crackles add the pork and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until sealed and golden in parts. Stir not and then as is cooks. If you end up with a load of juice your pan is not hot enough but you can just pour it off and carry on cooking. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat down.

When the meat is browned and sizzling, tip it on to a warm plate along with any juices. Get the wok really hot again before adding the rest of the oil, then add the scallions, garlic, ginger and chillies and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the nuts, fry for another couple of minutes, then return the meat and its juices to the pan. Stir in the lime zest and juice and the nam pla and fry for two more minutes, then stir in the mint and basil. Serve right away with some fried rice.

Wine Suggestion: The trickiest flavour to match here is the lime so it’s probably best to work with it rather than against it. Perhaps an Australian Riesling such as Petaluma or a Pewsey Vale.

(Original recipe from Nigel Slater Real Food, Fourth Estate, 1998.)

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This is a really straightforward curry and we are glad to say it didn’t disappoint. The aubergine melts in the mouth and the spices are lovely and fresh as well as warming and comforting. Also takes no time at all to make.

Aubergine Curry with Lemongrass & Coconut Milk – serves 4

  • 3 large chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsn ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2-3 aubergine (approx 600g) quartered lengthways then halved
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 6 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Fish Sauce (nam pla)
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • small bunch coriander, roughly chopped

Pulse  to a coarse paste chillies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass in a food processor. Set aside

Mix the turmeric and chilli powder together and rub it all over the aubergine wedges. Don’t worry if it look like a lot of spices – it works!

Heat olive oil in frying pan and brown aubergine in batches, setting the aubergine aside when done. Add the paste, sugar and shallots to pan and cook for a few minutes until the shallots and garlic soften.

Return aubergine to pan. Add fish sauce, coconut milk and stock, mix well and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook gently for about 15 minutes and until aubergine is tender but not mushy. Season and sprinkle coriander on top.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Drink with: a aged Clare Valley riesling (at least 5 or six years old) or a fruity young Mosel Riesling.

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This is really quick and healthy, with nice fresh flavours.

Asian Pork Noodle Salad – to serve 2

  • 100g rice noodles
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 200g lean minced pork
  • ½ tsp soft brown sugar
  • small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • small bunch mint, roughly chopped
FOR THE DRESSING:
  • ½ garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • ½ tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce

Pour boiling water over the noodles and leave to soak according to the pack instructions. Drain and cool under running water.

Cook the lemon grass and shallots for a couple of minutes, then add the pork and cook until browned and cooked through. Stir in the sugar and stir to dissolve.

Mix the dressing ingredients together and toss with the noodles and pork, then add the coriander and mint and serve.

Drink with: a glass of Riesling – try with one of the slightly off-dry New Zealand styles.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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The watercress has finally arrived in Caviston’s, one of our favourite vegetable shops. The seasons seem to be all out this year and we can’t predict when produce will be there and at it’s freshest. The bags you buy in supermarkets just don’t taste like the real thing at all so catch it while you can as it mightn’t be here for long!

This soup can be on the table under 10 minutes if you want. We love asian soups as they have great depth of flavour and really zing with freshness.

Hot and Sour Watercress and Prawn Soup – to serve 2 

  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 500ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tsp golden caster sugar
  • 2.5cm piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 300g raw peeled prawns
  • 1 bunch watercress, stalks cut off

Put all the ingredients except for the prawns and watercress into saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Cook for a minute, then add the prawns and cook until they turn pink.

Stir in the watercress and take off the heat. Taste and add another teaspoon of sugar if necessary.

Drink with: a non-Burgundy Pinot but not from a hot climate. We tried one from San Gimignano in Tuscany which had lovely juicy fruit but was still nice and light without too much tannin which tends to clash badly with chilli. A surprisingly good choice and one that will be repeated.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Healthy, super-speedy and tasty. Perfect weeknight dinner!

Sticky lemon & chilli chicken noodles – to serve 2

  • 100g thread egg noodles
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • oil
  • 4 scallions, shredded
  • 50 mange tout, shredded
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp chilli sauce

Cook the noodles according to the pack. Put the chicken slices into a plastic bag, add the cornflour and some seasoning and give it a good shake. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok and stir-fry the chicken until golden. Set the chicken aside and add the vegetables to the pan but hold back some of the scallions for a garnish. Toss for a couple of minutes .

Return the chicken to the pan and add the lemon, honey, soy sauce and chilli sauce, plus a splash of water and bubble for a few minutes to make a sauce. Toss with the noodles and garnish with the remaining scallions.

Wine Suggestion: Go for something fresh, fruity and aromatic, like a Sauvignon Blanc from Italy or Chile.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This is really healthy and low-fat which is just what we like during the week. Serve with some steamed rice.

Steamed fish & pak choi parcels – to serve 4

  • 4 plaice, haddock or other white fish fillets
  • 2 pak choi, thickly sliced
  • 4 scallions, shredded
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 3cm ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce
  • juice 1 lime
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Put each fish fillet in the centre of a large piece of tinfoil. Top with the pak choi, scallions, chilli and ginger. Pull up the edges of the foil to make a dish to catch the sauce.

Mix the soy sauce, lime juice and 1 tbsp water and spoon over the fish. Carefully crimp the foil to enclose the fish making sure there are no gaps for the steam to escape.

Put the parcels on a baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the fish is cooked (depends how big your fillets are). Drizzle over a few drops of sesame oil before serving but go easy or you will overpower the delicate flavours.

Wine Suggestion: light and delicate with aromatic overtones and a little residual sugar instead of bone-dry is the key; try a New Zealand or just-off-dry German Riesling and you’ll have a delightful match.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Another fantastic recipe from the master of vegetarian cooking, Denis Cotter, of Café Paradiso in Cork. I (Jules) went there last week and got all inspired by tofu, having never been particular excited by it before. To avoid any confusion, tofu is bean curd and not “a meat substitute that tastes and looks just like meat” as the bewildered person at the table beside  me thought! There is quite a lot to do at the end of the recipe but it’s well worth the effort.

Maple-glazed tofu with rice noodles & kai-lan in a miso broth – to serve 4

  • 200g flat rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 300g kai-lan (Chinese kale) or sprouting broccoli
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced at an angle
FOR THE BROTH
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 60g fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 whole fresh red chilli
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander, including stalks
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp red miso
FOR THE MAPLE-GLAZED TOFU
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chillis sauce
  • 250g firm tofu
  • vegetable oil, for brushing
First make the broth: in a large saucepan, bring 1 litre of water to the boil. Add the onion, carrot, celery, ginger, chilli, garlic and coriander. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Leave to stand for a further 30 minutes.

While the broth is standing, prepare the tofu; mix together the maple syrup, soy sauce, vinegar and chilli sauce.

Slice the tofu into 16 slices about 1cm thick. Place in the liquid and leave to marinade for 20 minutes.

Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat brush the pan with vegetable oil. Add the tofu and fry for 2-3 minutes per side, until lightly coloured. Pour in most of the marinade and continue to fry, swirling to make sure the tofu is coated, the marinade will stick to the tofu as a glaze. Add more marinade if necessary.

At the same time, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook the noodles according to the pack. Drain in a colander.

Finish the broth: strain out the vegetables and return the broth to the pan. Add the soy sauce.

Put the miso in a bowl and stir in a few tablespoons of the broth to get a smooth pouring consistency. Bring the broth back to the boil, whisk in the miso and hold at a low simmer.

Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a wide pan over high heat. Add the kai-lan and sauté for 4-5 minutes, adding an occasional splash of broth.

To serve, put some noodles in warm bowls. Place the kai-lan on top of the noodles. Ladle over some broth, top with slices of tofu and sprinkle with scallions.

Wine Suggestion: This is a dish which has a lot of competing flavours and components so a wine match isn’t easy. A yeasty beer or ale would work a treat like a Hobgoblin or a Leffe Brun to compliment the yeasty flavours provided by the miso.

(Original recipe from Denis Cotter for the love of food, Collins, 2011.)

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If you’ve heard of Jamie’s 30 minute meals, well this is one of Jono and Jules’ 10 minute meals!

We have finally used the last of our Christmas turkey from the freezer – we draw the line at eating turkey leftovers in February. If you’ve eaten all your turkey already you can easily substitute some cooked chicken or prawns instead.

Sweet and sour noodle stir-fry (with turkey, chicken or prawns) – to serve 2 

  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 200g cooked turkey/chicken/prawns, chopped
  • 2 x 150g packs straight to wok thick udon noodles
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander

Mix the tomato purée, soy sauce, white wine vinegar, caster sugar and chilli flakes in a small bowl. Heat the oil in a wok or a big frying pan. Add the scallions and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the turkey, chicken or prawns along with the noodles and stir to separate the noodles. Stir in the sauce and add a couple of tablespoons of water to thin the sauce a bit. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes or until everything is heated through. Sprinkle the coriander over before serving.

Wine Suggestion: Don’t have a top-quality Meursault as we found this didn’t really work – which was absolutely no fault of the wine! A better match would be a white wine with a little bit of sugar in it to complement the spicy flavours in the dish. Something like some Pinot Gris would work well (look for the sweetness indicators on the label if it comes from Alsace which is a great region for this grape).

(Original recipe from Sainsbury’s Magazine, January 2008.)

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We’re determined to cram in as many salads as we can before it turns properly autumnal. Chicken thighs are the way forward for flavour and moisture – breasts have their purposes but they dry out terribly so get thighs for this dish. Nice fresh flavours.

Spicy Chicken Thighs with Cucumber and Cashew Salad – to serve 4

  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 large red chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 8 bonesless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
For the cucumber and cashew salad:
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 200g vermicelli noodles
  • 2 cucumbers, halved and thinly sliced
  • small handful fresh mint leaves
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp cashew nuts, crushed
Whisk the fish sauce, pepper, garlic, chillies and sugar in a bowl. Put the chicken in another bowl and pour half the marinade over. Cover and leave in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, in two batches, and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.

While the chicken cooks, add the lime juice and sugar to the remaining marinade. Stir until the sugar dissolves to make a dressing.

Pour boiling water over the vermicelli and leave for a minute or two until soft. Drain under cold water, put in a large bowl and add the cucumber, mint, scallions and cashews. Add the dressing, toss well and serve with the chicken.

(Original recipe from ‘Bill Granger Every Day’ published by Murdoch Books, 2006)

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This was another of our heathy weeknight ideas – some of which turn out surprisingly well and others that turn out a bit bland and boring (we don’t blog the bland ones). This was great, though beware of wasabi fumes coming down your nose, a sensation we quite like but mightn’t be for everyone. The cucumber salad was a real hit too – salty, sweet, hot and sour. Felt like a bit of a treat in fact.

Wasabi salmon with cucumber salad – to serve 2

  • 2 salmon fillets, c. 125g each
  • 1 tbsp wasabi paste
  • half a cucumber
  • 1 small red chilli, cut into rings
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2 tsp poppyseeds
  • steamed rice to serve

Rub the salmon all over with a tiny bit of oil and then the wasabi paste.

Split the cucumber in half lengthways and discard the seeds. Cut into large diagonal chunks and put in a bowl. Add the chilli, rice vinegar, salt, sugar, poppyseeds and a bit of pepper. Mix well until the salt and sugar have dissolved. There will be quite a lot of liquid but don’t worry and don’t be tempted to leave out the salt as it is essential for the hot, sour, salty, sweet balance.

Preheat your grill and grill the fish for 5-6 minutes or until is turned a nice colour on top and is just cooked through (no need to turn it over).

Serve with the cucumber salad and steamed rice. The salad dressing is nice drizzled over the fish too.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Believe it or not … this is actually a delicate, white fish (hake) and not a badly burnt chop as the picture might imply. We blame a wonderfully rich and dark soy sauce (yum scrum) but if you use a lighter soy sauce like Kikkoman it may be more pleasing to the eye!

We made this because we haven’t had proper fish (ie. not shellfish) for a while and we’re trying to cook healthily  for a few days before Christmas takes over.

Asian-spiced fish with mushrooms (serves 4 – we halved the fish and mushrooms but not the sauce and served with rice for 2)

  • 25g butter
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • finely grated zest of a lime
  • 1 mild red chilli, thinly sliced in rings
  • 4 x 175g firm white fish fillets, skinned and boned (we used hake)
  • 200g mixed mushrooms, trimmed but left whole or at least chunky
  • coriander leaves to serve
  1. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Melt the butter in a little pan, then stir in the soy sauce, lime zest and chilli. Tip this into a shallow (non-metallic) dish and add the fish, splashing it well in the marinade. Set aside for about 10 minutes.
  2. Take the fish out of the marinade and put it on a baking tray. Toss the mushrooms in the marinade and scatter them around the fish, drizzling the rest of the marinade over the top. Roast for 6-8 minutes, until the fish is cooked and the mushrooms are sizzling. Scatter with coriander and serve with rice or noodles.

(Original recipe from Ainsley Harriot – not someone we often cook from).

If you are serving rice you could try Jono’s foolproof rice cooking method which he got from Madhur Jaffrey:

For 4 people:

Combine 300ml long-grain/basmati rice with 500ml water. Add 10g butter and bring to the boil. Cover tightly (we use tinfoil and a lid), turn heat to very very low, and leave it be for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. Perfectly cooked rice!

Jono and Julie

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