Posts tagged ‘Asia’

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.

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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.

January 29, 2012

Last Night’s Dinner: Greens and Noodles with Citrus Broth

We have already documented our feelings about Nigel Slater’s TV series and, judging by the amount of people who find themselves reading this blog after searching for the words ‘Nigel Slater creepy’, then many of you are of a similar opinion. Poor soul.

He doesn’t always help himself, however. In a recent Guardian newspaper feature he advocated using fresh, lighter flavours to accompany an Asian-inflenced dish of greens, instead of ‘the dark, almost sinister spicing of the past’.

‘Sinister’? What, cumin? Ginger? C’mon Nige. Did you a recipe backwards and find some hidden meaning in it?

Well, it didn’t stop us from trying his suggestion, although we pimped the recipe by leaving out the fish sauce, adding a dessert spoon of tamarind paste and throwing in some oyster mushrooms and rice noodles for four minutes at the end to make a more substantial stew. And very nice it was too. Fiery, fresh and fragrant. And definitely not sinister in any way.

Nigel’s recipe is here.

January 23, 2012

Recipe: The perfect egg fried rice

A few days ago the Guardian newspaper offered up its advice on how to make the perfect egg fried rice. Glad to see it didn’t differ to much from our own here at ETP Towers – other than the non-addition of garlic. I think at the moment I’d also revise our version and go with the paper’s, although it’s a matter of personal taste. The newspaper’s recipe is here. X-ref with our own here.

August 21, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Marrow, Tomato and Chickpea Massala

Tuesday 9 August

What to do with a marrow, those overgrown courgettes of delicate flesh and almost no flavour. Hmmm. We’d never cooked one before but inherited one from our neighbour. An internet search brought up a Southeast Asian recipe from Simon Hopkinson. It’s made with cherry tomatoes. Yeah, it shouldn’t work, should it?! But it does.

Except, we added some chickpeas and a little chilli. But apart from that followed the recipe, here.

It’s really good: the marrow flesh falling-apart soft, the tomatoes tangy and a warm zip of spices. It’s not often we make something that’s basically, er, ‘Indian’, but that isn’t like anything we’ve tasted before. And it really didn’t sound promising.

Nice one Simon.

June 16, 2011

Last night’s dinner: Shiitake mushroom and Chinese leaf broth

Sunday 5 June

This broth is all about the stock that gives it its depth of flavour. The essential ingredient is dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for an hour to leach out their earthy flavour before making the soup/stew. The rest of the method is mainly about adding spice – and greens. We got the basic recipe from a Japanese friend, who passed it on from a Korean friend. I’m not sure where it originates.

So, first, soak a small pack of dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water for an hour or so until they are soft and you have a litre or so of earthy brown stock. Next, in a large soup pan, fry a medium onion in a little oil (a mix of sunflower and sesame oil works well). Then add fresh sliced shiitake mushrooms (oyster or chestnut will also be fine) – about 10 of them, or a typical supermarket tray of them. Fry for 5 minutes. Next, add a 2-inch piece of grated fresh ginger, a finely chopped clove of garlic and some chopped fresh chilli (as much as you can take – it should be hot!). Then add half a head of roughly chopped chinese leaf, followed by the dried shiitake mushrooms and their stock. Add around 750ml of boiling water and then simmer down for around 40 mins until the dish is somewhere between a thin broth and a hearty stew. When just about done, add a handful of rice noodles and heat through for an extra 5 minutes until they’re cooked through. Serve immediately with a garnish of coriander leaves. To reiterate, the soup should be as spicy as you can take it! Serves 2.

April 23, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Thai salad

Friday 22 April

…yesterday’s lunch, actually. Ella made a Thai salad with some lovely Asian baby salad leaves, shredded white cabbage and Chinese leaf, pepper, herbs and chilli. The salad is pepped up with a dressing made with lime and lemongrass. Love it – and eating al fresco on the balcony is always a winner.

April 22, 2011

Recipe: Sesame, Edamame and Pea Shoot Salad

A lovely and simple recipe for a sesame, edamame and pea shoot salad on The Taste Space blog, here.

I’ve been itching to make a light, Asian-inspired salad for a while now and I think I’ll use this as my inspiration.