Archive for ‘Coconut’

May 13, 2012

Last night’s dinner: Chilli-marinated tofu with coconut greens and rice

What a tasty Saturday night treat! And it was made after an afternoon at a local festival fundraiser at which ‘drink was taken’. Which is a way of saying it wasn’t that difficult to make. Think of it as a perked-up veggie Thai green curry, in fact an easier one, with the ingredients mostly coming together at the end rather than all being cooked sloppily together in a big bowl. Caring for ingredients individually, as ever, can really pay dividends.

Serves 2.

First, the tofu. Take a block of firm tofu (ours was Cauldron brand on this occasion), drain it and place it in a shallow bowl. Splash some dark soy sauce over it. Chop some fresh chilli (as much as you like) and a clove of garlic and sprinkle over the top of the tofu as well, before massaging the mixture into the tofu a little, gentling turning the tofu over to ensure it gets fully coated in the marinade. Leave for 20 minutes.

After marinating, cut the tofu across its width into ‘steaks’ 1cm thick. Try and coat each steak in the marinade without breaking them – careful now! Then heat a little sesame oil in a large frying pan and add the tofu steaks, reserving as much marinade as possible for later. On a high-ish heat the tofu will begin to colour and crisp up on the outside after around 7 minutes or so. When slightly crisped and golden on one side, turn the steaks over. Don’t worry if they look a little blackened, but don’t let the edges turn to charcoal. When golden on both sides they steaks can continue to sit happily on the heat at the lowest setting while the rest of the dish is made. Just keep a check of them though. Ours, pictured above, are black from the soy sauce, not from burning.

Now for the greens. In a large wok or frying pan, add a tin of coconut milk. Heat through on a medium heat. Add a teaspoon of turmeric, a stalk of lemongrass, snapped in the middle to help release the flavour and a 2.5cm piece of grated fresh ginger. Stir and bring to a soft simmer.

Chop one large or two small heads of pak choi, top and tail some French beans and add to the sauce. Alternatively you could add some sprouting broccoli or even asparagus – but the contrast between soft leaves and crunchy beans is rather nice. Cook through for 5 minutes, until the veg has softened ever so slightly and the sauce has reduced a little. Fish out the lemongrass.

Now, back to the tofu: pour the remainder of the marinade over the tofu and cook for 2 more minutes.

Serve with the tofu on top, the coconut veg underneath, and a bed of nutty brown rice at the bottom. Oh, and a squeeze of lime will work a treat as well.

We really liked this and hope you do too.

Advertisements
February 6, 2012

Last Night’s Dinner: Sweetcorn and chickpea soup with greens and a chilli-soy salsa

Sweetcorn; chickpeas; kale. Should they go together? A chilli-soy salsa? It’s that last piece of description that gives away the some geography to this soup: it’s an Asian, perhaps Thai or Indonesian-influenced concoction and the background note under the combination of leaves, kernels and legumes is a spicy coconut broth. The salsa – well, though the word might shout Mexico and link to the sweetcorn, it’s a thoroughly Asian-influenced topping too. Let’s make it…

For the salsa we finely diced one red pepper, finely sliced two spring onions and a finely chopped red chilli (or two). Combine these together. Next, toast a handful of sunflower seeds in a dry frying pan for 5-10 minutes, tossing them occasionally and taking care not to burn them. When they’ve started to turn golden take them off the heat and splash some soy sauce over them. They’ll become slightly sticky. Leave to cool and then stir into the salsa. Finally roughly chop a handful of coriander leaves and add to the salsa.

The soup is something of a fusion of West and East but the ingredients complement each other perfectly and are often found together in varying combinations around the world. The kale could be Savoy cabbage, cavolo nero, spring greens, spinach or even pak choi. We had some kale left, so that’s what went in the pot – and it’s great with chickpeas.

First, make a ‘curry’ paste: grate a 1-inch piece of ginger, finely slice three cloves of garlic and three medium shallotts. Finely slice two green chillies (strength to your licking) and two sticks of fresh lemongrass. Place all these ingredients in the jug of a food processor/blender. Now add 2 teaspoons each of ground cumin and ground turmeric. Add half a cup of water and blend to get a smooth, thick sauce.

Heat a large saucepan, add a dash of sesame oil and add the curry sauce, cooking it for five minutes – you should smell the aromas. Then add a medium-sized tin of sweetcorn kernels, a tin of chickpeas and a tin of coconut milk. Stir. Then add 600ml of vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or so then add some handfuls of roughly chopped greens. Cook for 5 minutes more if you’re using soft greens (spinach etc) or 10 minutes if you’re using tougher cabbage or kale etc.

Check the seasoning and serve, topping the bowl with a good spoonful of salsa and a squeeze of lime.

May 9, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Dhal with coconut cabbage

Wednesday 4 May

Feeling rather strapped for cash, I decided to see what I could rustle up without spending a single extra penny at the shop. So, there was a bag of yellow split peas in the cupboard, a couple of onions lying around, a tin of coconut milk and half a white cabbage that was almost on its way out. Plus spices. What to do? Indian of course.

We love a dhal at ETP Towers and they’re so easy. I made this after soaking the split peas for a few hours first. Then… chop an onion and fry in sunflower oil for 5 minutes. Rinse then add the split peas, plus 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp turmeric and some chilli powder (to your liking). Cover with boiling water – about an inch or so above the top of the split peas and simmer for about 45 minutes until the split peas are thoroughly soft and the consitency is that of a thick sauce. Then stir in a little tamarind paste and a couple of squirts of tomato puree. Chop three cloves of garlic, place it in a metal ladle with a small amount of sunflower oil and heat over the flame of a hob until it turns golden. Stir it into the dhal mix.

For the cabbage, slice an onion and half a white (or green, for that matter) cabbage and stir-fry both for a few minutes in a wok with some grated ginger, mustard seeds and a green chilli. Then add a tin of coconut milk and simmer until the cabbage softens and the milk has mostly evaporated.

Easy. And cheap.

By the way, there’s not much I could do with the photos of this. It’s not stylish food but it’s tasty and nutritious. I feel a mini-feature about food photography and its perils may be in order soon. Watch this space…

March 14, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Chickpea, Greens and Coconut Soup

Monday 14 March

Is there any limit to how many ways you can combine chickpeas and green veg? Last night’s dinner was a spicy soup made with an onion, chopped spring greens, a tin of chickpeas and a tin of coconut milk. To make it, lightly fry a medium, finely sliced onion in sunflower oil in a large, deep pan. Add a clove of garlic, crushed, some chopped chilli (to your liking), a finely sliced red pepper and two inches of fresh ginger, grated. Roughly chop the leaves of a small cabbage head (we used spring greens but any leafy greens will do, really) and add to the pan. Then add the chickpeas and the coconut milk. Add in a teaspoon of turmeric and half a teaspoon of ground cumin. Season with a little salt and pepper. Add just under a litre of water (or thereabouts) and simmer for 15 minutes. To serve, add a little chopped spring/salad onion, some fresh coriander leaves and squeeze the juice of half a lime into each bowl. Should serve four – or two very hungry people. Sssshhh!