Monday, 26 July 2010

Coriander and tomatoes in the garden

coriander and basil
I don't grow much foodstuff in the garden, a situation I must rectify. In the meantime, here are photos of coriander, basil and tomatoes coming along nicely.

home-grwon tomatoes on the vine

wild strawberry
And a lone wild strawberry that survived the wood pigeons. They have such a great flavour, a bit like the impossible sweets from childhood. The strawberries, that is, not the pigeons.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Roast potatoes and parsnips

Sorry for the hiatus but I'm trying to find time to write up another couple of blogposts including a review of the Kam Sang Chinese Restaurant in Scarborough.

In the meantime, here is a photo of the roast parsnips and potatoes I cooked the other day. The spuds were crunchy on the outside and powdery soft on the inside, while the parsnips were like crisps made in heaven. Method: parboiling, frying in duck fat in a hot roasting tin over a flame, and then roasting at 190 - 200 for twice as long as any cookbook tells you. 15 minutes from the end, I drizzled honey over the parsnips, but I forgot the sesame seeds.

Not East Asian but cooked by someone of East Asian origins.

EDIT: Almost forgot. Very important to drain the potatoes after boiling for a few minutes only (I do about five minutes). Reserve the water for gravy, replace the lid and then SHAKE the pot so you fluff up the outside ready to be seared in the hot fat.

Monday, 12 July 2010

How to cook Nasi Goreng: classic Asian fried rice video Part 2

PART TWO plus recipe

The second part of how to make Nasi Goreng, the traditional East Asian rice dish with ginger, garlic and prawns. Accompanied by chicken and rich peanut satay sauce. Demonstrated by my good friend Denise Ingamells. Warning: strong flavours. May damage your waistline.

Nasi Goreng is a classic rice dish fried in a savoury paste with prawns and a fried egg to top it off. We’re serving this with roast chicken pieces and a peanut satay sauce, and fresh spinach.

Yesterday, I posted the first of two videos showing how Denise makes it. Here’s the concluding part with the full recipe as follows. (Part one here.)

For four people with big appetites. Begin with the rice.

Nasi Goreng rice — microwave or perfect boiled rice method
2 mugs basmati rice
4 mugs water

Microwave for 12 minutes

Then start the roast chicken with satay sauce.

Roast chicken:
12 chicken thighs and legs
Peanut oil
Dark soy sauce
I teaspoon thick soy sauce (or treacle)
Chinese rice wine
3-8 garlic cloves, crushed
Generous root of ginger
2 teaspoons of cayenne powder
Sprinkle of lemon juice

Mix everything together and cook in the oven at 180 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Peanut satay sauce:
Toasted peanuts
1 Spanish onion, diced and fried to caramelise
3 teaspoons coriander
Coconut milk
1 teaspoon Lazy Chilli
Handful of palm sugar
Soy sauce

Fry up onion to caramelise and puree roughly in processor. Add the roughly pureed onion back to pan, then add ground ginger, garlic and peanuts (roughly ground)

Paste for Nasi Goreng rice
Garlic, ginger, chilli and onion, all ground finely in processor
Add palm sugar
Generous splash of soy sauce
1 teaspoon tamarind
4 teaspoons fish sauce
Soy sauce
Powdered coriander
Chinese rice wine

Mix together the paste ingredients.

Raw prawns, deveined
Cooked prawns
Spring onions, sliced
Sesame oil sprinkled on top at the end of cooking

Fry the raw prawns in peanut oil (or rapeseed or sunflower) over a high heat. When they’ve turned pink, add the paste and continue to cook, turning all the time. When they’re almost done, add the cooked prawns (for different texture).

Add the cooked rice and continue to cook over the high flame, turning gently all the time.

Add spring onions and cook for a little longer. Remove from heat and sprinkle with a little sesame oil.

Fry sliced Spanish onion until brown.
Plus four free-range eggs

Pour over boiling water, turn and press out the excess water. Add a touch of Oyster Sauce and garlic oil.

Serve the Nasi Goreng rice with fried egg on top. Plus chicken with satay sauce. And blanched spinach. Add fried onion garnish.

Thank the chef.

nasi goreng fried rice with prawns, chicken and satay sauce

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Nasi Goreng video: classic Asian rice & prawns plus chicken and satay sauce, Part 1

(PART 2 plus recipe HERE)

My friend Denise made us a wonderful meal last week. Nasi Goreng is a traditional Indonesian fried rice dish made with prawns, ginger, garlic, chilli and tamarind among a myriad of other tasty ingredients. We're serving it with roast chicken with a tasty peanut satay sauce with ginger, garlic, chillies and onion.

Here's how to cook Nasi Goreng in an easy two part video (second part here). Plus a satay sauce made simple but absolutely mouthwatering. Served over roasted chicken pieces and fried savoury rice. Strong pungent flavours for those who like their taste buds given a good time.

Interruptions by various males never knocked us off our true course: bringing you the best of Asian cooking. Amazing how much focus you have when you're hungry.

Part one of two parts.

Part 2 here.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Beef stir fry with ginger & garlic marinade

Stir-fried beef and vegetables is another way to use the basic ginger and garlic marinade.

Because the beef is shredded finely, you can use relatively tough cuts of meat that would normally require longer cooking and so keep the cost down. As a little meat goes a long way in stir-fries, even though this doesn't exactly qualify as vegetarianism, it's still a small step towards being kinder to our world's resources.

I've been buying rump tails of beef from the chill cabinet at Wing Yip Supermarket on the North Circular (London). It's a bit of the luck of the draw as sometimes you get tender cuts that can be flashed up in the pan as steaks, or it's connective tissue-heavy and best used for this dish. I get the 5kg pack and cut it into portions which I then bag up and freeze.

I like a strong flavour but you can adjust the ingredients to your taste.

Ingredients for two people:
Half a bulb of garlic (about 8 cloves), peeled and crushed
1 knob of ginger, peeled and grated or 1 dessertspoon of powdered ginger
1 dessertspoon of Demerara brown sugar, or palm sugar
A dash of honey (optional)
Soy sauce
Chilli seeds or sliced chillis (optional)

12oz to 1lb beef (rump tail or even stewing steak)
1 medium Spanish onion
1 red and 1 green pepper
A selection from mange tout, baby sweetcorn, cucumber batons, broccoli according to availability.
Fresh coriander
Peanut or rapeseed oil
Sesame oil

Sharp knife for Chinese cookingStart with a very sharp knife. I sharpen mine each time before I cook using this very effective Japanese minoSharp. I used to use a carborundum stone but this works better.

Shredding beef for stirfry with sharp knifeThe reason your knife must be sharp is that you have to shred the beef finely. This was always the sous chef job my mother gave me, and she trained me well! Which may explain my admiration for sharp objects.

Here's the chef's method. Note the bent knuckles so the flat of the knife blade rests against the upper finger joints instead of slicing through them.

Shredded beef for stir-fryIf you couldn't see through the beef once it was shredded, there'd be hell to pay. Hmm, I must be slipping. But at least I cut against the grain of the meat, keeping the beef tender by chopping up the long fibres of tissue.

Mix the marinade sauce into the beef and place to one side.

Wash and prepare the vegetables as we did for stir-fry noodles and seared salmon.

To cook, get a heavy frying pan or wok very hot and add a tablespoon of peanut or rapeseed oil. Heat until it smokes. Add the beef and stir.

Stir until all the pink disappears, add a splash of sesame oil, and place in bowl to keep warm while you stir-fry your vegetables in batches. Remember, hot but crunchy.

When the last vegetables are cooked, add all the vegetables and beef to the pan to briefly heat up. Add another splash of sesame oil as you stir.

Serve on noodles or boiled rice, and sprinkle with coriander leaves.

Monday, 5 July 2010

How to order Chinese food from the window: Canton Restaurant WC2

Chinese restaurant Canton LondonThe Canton
11 Newport Street
London WC2H 7JR
T: 020 7437 6220
Sun-Thurs 12 noon - 11.30pm
Fri-Sat 12 noon - 12.30am
Cost: £6 to £15 per head without alcohol.

I'm devoting my first restaurant review to an old favourite of mine, The Canton in Soho, London.

I started going here in my youth in the 1980s when I could club for England and go nights on end without sleep. In those days you'd emerge from Alice's or Gossips or the Kit Kat Club in the early hours, famished and longing for hot tasty food, and you would head straight for either breakfast at the Cavendish Hotel or something spicy at the Canton.

The Canton is no longer a 24 hour establishment, sadly, due to Westminster Council indulging killjoy impulses. But it is still going strong as a good inexpensive and reliable eatery.

For a speedy meal when I'm caught in the West End I usually do what my fellow Chinese bredren do under the circumstances and order from the window. Typical of Cantonese cuisine, you'll find roast duck, chicken, crispy fat pork and char siu hanging up over trays of squid, pigs' ears and roast gizzards. The Roadkill Special, as it struck me once when viewing the flattened poultry, is quick and delicious, and costs little more than a Big Mac meal or other High Street fast food. Duck and char siu (lean barbecue pork) on boiled rice with a garnish of vegetables and a pot of green tea is around £6.

If you go during peak eating times times, expect to find yourself sharing a table with other diners. The service is brisk but friendly and no-one hangs around for a long lingering meal. This is fast food Chinese-style.

The other day a friend and I felt adventurous and ordered a plate of the usual duck and char siu plus the pigs' ears and squid with choi sum in oyster sauce and boiled rice. Shame, they've stopped serving gizzards due to a fall-off in demand. Can't imagine why. We probably eat this every time we chow down on your average sausage, if you're lucky.

Chinese squid pigs' earsSquid and pigs' ears The dominant flavour of the pigs' ears is star anise as found in Five Spice powder. The cartilage makes this quite crunchy — a favourite Chinese texture — and the covering skin melts down slightly so it's gelatinous. The squid is tender and the tentacles a little chewy, as I like them.

Chinese restaurant duck char siu CantonRoast duck and char siu pork The duck and char siu were tasty as always, although the duck is quite fatty.

Chinese duck pork squid Canton restaurantServed on plain boiled rice to cleanse the palate between bites, and with fresh choi sum with oyster sauce, this is great traditional Chinese food for carnivores.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

How To Make A Chopsticks Rest

A quickie. Should you find yourself in the sort of joint where they provide chopsticks in paper wrappers, and the table setting lacks the requisite elegant porcelain chopsticks rest (as found in the more upmarket establishments), you can give your table a touch of class (I won't say which one) as well as amuse your dining companions for entire seconds with this neat little trick.

chopsticks rest trickPlace your chopsticks vertically on the table with the open end of the wrapper uppermost. Hold the top of the paper and pull down the length of the chopsticks so that you end up with a ruffle of paper.

chopsticks rest trickPlace ruffle of paper on table, rest chopsticks on it, admire – and prepare to be admired.