Monday, January 28, 2008

Prawn and Green Mango Curry

This easy sour-salty curry is adapted from a Gourmet Traveller recipe by Emma Knowles. We managed to find the pea eggplants at an Asian grocer but also used the purple round (Thai) eggplants too. The recipe would work with any kind of eggplant though. You could also replace the prawns for tofu for a vegie option (although fish sauce is kind of a key ingredient) This curry is simple to make and so very tasty. It has made it onto monthly rotation at our place.

Serves: 4 hungry peeps
Prep time: 15 minutes, Cook 30 minutes

(ingredients are in order of use)
2 tbsp peanut oil
3 shallots thinly sliced (purple ones)
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
6 large green chillies, halved lengthways. Leave seeds in if you like it hot, remove if not
8 curry leaves (fresh if possible)
2 small green mangoes thinly sliced
400mls coconut milk
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp each of ground chilli and ground turmeric
400mls coconut cream
2 handfuls of pea eggplants
4 Thai eggplants
1/4 cup fish sauce (or to taste)
24 medium green prawns, peeled, tails intact
Coriander, steamed rice and lime to serve

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat, add shallots, garlic, green chilli and curry leaves. Cook for 5-10 minutes until shallots are soft. Add mango and coconut milk, bring to boil, then add spices and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add coconut cream, eggplants and fish sauce, simmer for 2-3 minutes then add prawns and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until prawns are just pink. Taste it, add more fish sauce if needed. Stir in coriander at the end.
Serve on a bed of steamed rice, add more coriander for garnish and couple of wedges of lime. Eat it with beer - any ice cold lager (Luke recommends Beer Chang or Tiger) YUMMO!

Cha Ca - Fish with dill, turmeric and white noodles

Adapted from Secrets of the Red Lantern by Pauline Nguyen

I have wanted to eat this again ever since we visited Hanoi last year. There you cook it at your table with a rustic charcoal burner, but luckily you can achieve a similar effect in a frypan. We cooked this for 10 people recently - it’s one of those things that is quite easy to do for many.

This recipe is enough for 6 people.

1kg fish fillets (we used Paa nyin which is farmed river fish, I think any reasonably mild white fleshed fish would do)
8 spring onions
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp tumeric powder
2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
125ml fish sauce
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp veggie oil
1 bunch dill
125g white rice noodles –preferably fresh, or dried and cooked according to directions (we used thin round fresh ones, called Khao pun noodles if you are cooking in Laos – about 2mm diameter – which were really sticky. They came in clumps so we cut them up with scissors to make more manageable)
250ml fish stock (see recipe below if you want to make your own)
1 lime or lemon
300g bean sprouts

Cut the fish into bite sized pieces and put in a bowl. Put the white parts of the spring onions (keep the stalks for later) and garlic in mortar and pestle and pound to make a paste. Add paste to fish bowl along with turmeric, curry powder, yoghurt, fish sauce, sugar, 2 tbsp of oil and a third of the dill, roughly chopped. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hr.

Slice spring onion stalks. Reserve a small handful of them and also some dill for later. Mix bean sprouts, noodles, sliced spring onions and remaining dill. Place in individual bowls.

Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in frypan and fry fish (do not add excess marinade or it will be too salty) on one side for 30 sec. Turn over and add fish stock and reserved handful of spring onion and dill and simmer for 3-5 min until cooked. Remove. Spoon evenly into bowls on top of the noodles and add remaining sauce. Serve with lime or lemon wedges. Yum!
Fish stock

2kg fish bones (get your fish freshly filleted and you should have these)
1 large leek or 1 onion
4 cm piece of ginger
4 garlic cloves
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 bunch coriander, stems and roots only

Put bones in large saucepan with 4L of water and bring to boil. Skim off any scum and then add remaining ingredients. Return to boil, reduce heat and then simmer for 30min. Strain through sieve and allow to cool.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I've tried to continue my 'festive cooking' of homemade cordials, chutneys, jams etc into the new year, and this is an easy peasy jam to make...there's no pushing wrinkly jam on a cold saucer business.

apricot jam

recipe has been adapted from 'Thought Palace' by Jens Alfke

this mixture will fill approx. 2 x 400 gms jars

2 cups apricots -halved and pitted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a large non-aluminium pot. Allow the mixture to stand for at least two hours. The sugar will start to extract the water from the apricots, and you will end up with a sticky mixture.Put the pot on the stove and on high heat bring the mixture to a boil. Stirring continuously to avoid scorching. Once at a steady boil cook for 20-25 mins. You will need to skim the foamy scum that forms on top of this bubbling mixture. But don't stop stirring!
Once the foaming stops it will be close to 20 mins. The mixture is ready when it has reduced by half in volume and it will look like a thick glossy bubbling jam. If it is too runny boil for another 5 mins -but no more.

When ready take off heat. Pour the jam into the prepared jars*, fill up to 1/4 inch below the rim. Put their lids on and turn the jars upside-down. Once you have turned the last jar leave for 5 mins then turn them all right-side up. The jars should seal within 15 minutes with their lids 'popped' inwards. Any that do not must be kept in the fridge -just use them first. Label jams and store in a cool place. This jam will last up to 2 years.

*to sterilize jars -put through the dishwasher and soak lids in a bowl filled with boiling water.

I love this jam on english muffins or sourdough toast...

It's great in a chocolate tart also. Just spread an even layer over your pastry shell before pouring in the chocolate filling.....


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Yummy Pizza

Not really sure of how this will go kiddies, first cab off the rank and all. At least it will be down the page very soon. But we have to move house over the next couple of weeks so thought I should post a tried and tasty Friday night favourite of ours. The pizza base is a hybrid of a few different recipes that has evolved after some trial and error (oh and a wicked dining holiday in Italy). The sauce is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe that I saw on one of his TV shows once.....
The base can be made with gluten free flour.

Pizza Dough
1000g of plain flour
550mls tepid water
1 sachet of yeast
4 tbs olive oil
Pinch of salt
Optional 1tbs sugar (castor)
* this makes a huge amount of dough but it freezes well and can be used for calzone too. Another recipe for that will follow (sometime soon)

Sift flour, salt and sugar if used onto a clean bench surface.
Make well in the middle and add a small amount of H2O, yeast and olive oil
Mix slowly with fork then start bringing in flour from the sides of well , keep adding water slowly
When it becomes too hard to mix with fork use your hands.
You may not need to use all the water
Kneed dough for about 5-6 minutes until it is elasticy
Place in large bowl, cover with damp cloth and place in warm place for about 45 minutes so it can rise to about double its size.

When you are ready to build your pizza you can flatten the base any way you like, tossing it in the air, stretching it into shape. But I am not a big stickler for shape and like my pizza base pretty thin so I use a rolling pin and it ends up in all kinds of shapes.

Pizza (tommy) sauce
1 large onion (2 small)
3 cloves of garlic
Fresh basil
2 cans of whole peeled tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Roughly chop onion and garlic
Sweat onion in pan, then add garlic, basil and tomatoes
Roughly mash tomatoes and let simmer for about 10 minutes
Push mixture through sieve so there is a fragrant tomato sauce left (throw chunks away)

Put this sauce back into pan and simmer (maybe another 10 minutes) until reduced to a nice thick sauce.

Whatever you like!!
A great veggie pizza is sauteed zucchini in garlic, mushrooms, roasted capsicum, onion, olives and mozzarella, Artichoke is always another tasty topping too.

Our fav (this month) is topping the base with tommy sauce and mozzarella, putting it in a really hot oven (250° C) as is. When it is beautiful and golden take it out of the oven, it is topped with prosciutto and rocket (dressed with fresh lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper).