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Pork Shiso Parcels

2 Jun

Shiso or Perilla is a fragrant leafy herb commonly grown in East Asia and is used particularly in Japanese and Korean cooking. The leaves are large and make a wonderful material to use as a wrapping for delicate meats or vegetables. These are stuffed with a pork and rice mixture seasoned with Asian flavours of ginger, garlic, sesame and soy but you could use tofu as a vegetarian version.Pork wrapped in Shiso Leaves

Shiso LeavesIMGP1217

Filling

  • minced pork
  • cooked rice
  • egg
  • crushed garlic
  • grated ginger
  • green onion or chinese chives
  • a dash each of: sesame oil, soy sauce and fish sauce (optional).

Mix 2 parts pork to 1 part rice with a hint of garlic, ginger and green onion, add the wet ingredients and mix really well. Add a little beaten egg to bind. Take large shiso leaves one at a time, lay on a board with the pointed end away from you . Lay a small spoonful of mixture about 1/3 of the way in the thick part of the leaf. Fold in the sides then once over from the front then flip over onto the pointed end. Cook by frying in an oiled skillet or brush with oil and grill. They can also be cooked over a fire or barbecue.

Serve with a simple dipping sauce of soy sauce and rice vinegar, add a hint of chilli if you want some heat.

Garden Note   Perilla frutescens var crispa  A Tender Self-Seeding leafy herb also known as Shiso or beefsteak plant.  Perilla is a member of the Lamiaceae family, which includes many strong aromatic herbs including; mint, basil, rosemary, lavender, Melissa, marjoram and sage. This tender bushy herb is grown for its aromatic leaves, flower buds and seeds. Used extensively in East Asia as a vegetable and as a herb, most famously the red variety is used to colour pickled ginger. It makes a great addition to a kitchen or herb garden and when the leaves are large enough great as a wrapping for grilled or deep-fried foods.

Green Beans with sesame Dressing

2 Jun

This is one of the most simple yet delicious cooked vegetable salads you can make. It is part of an immense repertoire of lightly cooked vegetables or ‘salads’ in Japanese cuisine and one of my favourite ways of eating green beans. This salad is best served at room temperature so it can be made in advance and keeps or travels well, so great for picnics or dinner with friends. Serve as a side to rice and grilled fish or with a number of small salads.

  • 250g  green beans
  • 1-2 tbsp tamari or light soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp sesame seeds

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan or skillet until golden brown, leave to cool then lightly crush, in a pestle and mortar, to release their flavour. Pinch off the growing end from the beans and pop into a pan of boiling water for a few minutes until the beans turn bright green and a little soft but still crisp then plunge into cold water to halt cooking and preserve their colour. Toss the beans with the soy and sesame and arrange in a serving dish. Serve at room temperature.

Cooks Note This dish can be made in advance and the salad will keep very well for a day so great for picnics or a packed lunch.

Fried Rice (Indonesian)

14 Aug

In Indonesia this dish would be called Nasi Goreng. It is one of the most popular family or street foods, almost a national dish, often eaten for breakfast, made from left-overs from the night before and found on most Indonesian or malay restaurant menues in the west. The Chinese brought their fried rice dishes to Indonesia, where they adapted to local tastes; the Indonesians cook this dish in woks but it tends to be spicier and flavoured by their sweet sticky Kecap Manis. This is a great dish, adaptable to whatever you have available, and can be made with meat, shellfish, poultry, offal or kept clean and simple with no animal products at all. The only essential ingredient is cold cooked rice making it a useful way to use left-overs and an easy to prepare breakfast or delicious packed lunch.

  • Cold cooked long grain rice
  • green or spring onions
  • garlic
  • Seasoning Ketjap Manis (a sweet soy sauce and speciality of Indonesia)
  • vegetable use whatever is in season, green beans, long beans, runner beans, asparagus, chinese greens, peppers, carrots, fennel, corn, peas, mushrooms
  • protein you can use fried tofu, peanuts, chicken, prawn, pork or sausage.
  • Additional flavouring use dried prawns whole or powdered or prawn paste.

Toppings Serve with fresh vegetables such as; cucumber, cherry tomatoes, peppers or green onions and comdiments such as crispy fried onions and sambal olek (chilli paste), you can also serve topped with shredded egg omelet or hard boiled eggs.

Variations

Cooks Note If you don’t have Katjap Mannis you can make a similar product by mixing soy sauce with sugar, and a little miso paste, garlic and chinese 5 spice) or just use soy sauce and a little sugar.

Chicken Dumpling Soup (Thai)

22 May

Chicken and rice dumplings simmered in a spicy coconut broth with vegetables.

I came up with this recipe when I wanted to make  Tom Kha Gai or chicken in coconut soup but I did not have enough chicken to feed everyone so I used rice to mix with the chicken and make tasty dumplings instead.  Delicious!

For the dumplings

  • 1 cup cooked cold white rice
  • 1 chicken breast
  • fresh coriander
  • 1 clove garlic
  • garlic chives or spring/green onions
  • a splash of fish sauce
  • a splash of soy sauce or pinch of salt
  • pinch freshly ground white or black pepper
  • 1 red or green chilli minced (optional)
  • 1 egg white
Bung the whole lot in a food process and pulse or finely mince all the ingredients together. Take a heaped tsp at a time, shape into balls then drop into the hot broth gently. The dumplings will rise to the surface when cooked, in about 5-7 minutes.
For the soup broth
  • chicken stock
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • red chilli sliced
  • sliced galangal
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
Put the ingredients for the soup broth into a roomy pan and bring to a simmer, drop the dumplings in to cook. After 5 minutes or so add some green vegetables. As soon as the vegetables are just cooked the soup is ready to serve. Check the seasoning and add a dash of fish sauce and / or a squeeze of lime to taste, ladle into bowls and scatter with a bit of fresh coriander, a few slices of red chilli or sliced spring onions.
Variations
Vegetables Use any green vegetables for colour and flavour such as green beans, runner beans, asparagus, garden peas, broccoli, mangetout peas, cabbage or pak choi
Noodles I sometimes serve this soup over noodles to make more of a meal of it. It is best to cook the noodles seperately to ensure that they don’t get over cooked any kind of oriental noodle works well, soba, vermicelli, yellow wheat noodles or big fat rice noodles. Just put a serving into each bowl and ladle the soup over them.
Tip To make your own stock simmer chicken bones with an onion, galangal, lemongrass and a few peppercorns.

Noodles with Peanut Dressing

8 Aug

Noodle salads are perfect summer lunch fare they also travel well so they make excellent picnic or lunch box food. This salad is dressed with crushed peanuts and oriental seasonings along with fresh cucumbers and mangetout from the garden, but you can use whatever is in season.


Serves 2  Prep and cook time 10 minutes

  • 2 servings of Soba or other oriental noodles
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • green onions or garlic chives
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1-2 tbsp rice vinegar or lime/lemon juice
  • chilli (fresh, ground or flaked) to taste (optional)
  • roasted peanuts, crushed
  • vegetables such as cucumbers and lightly cooked green beans or mangetout

In a large pan of water. Boil the noodles, for 3-7 minutes depending on the variety and packet instructions, until just cooked. Meanwhile slice the onions and put into a wide serving bowl along with the remaining ingredients, mix well to dissolve the sugar. When the noodles are cooked drain and toss in the dressing mixture. Serve hot or cold, and for a robust meal with some korean small dishes such as Green Onion Relish or Beansprout Salad .

Cooking Tip. It is important to slightly under cook the noodles when making this salad and any vegetables raw or lightly or cooked to keep the ingredients fresh so they are at their best served cold.
Noodles soba are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat which comes in a number of varieties and flavours, the ones use in the picture above are flavoured with une plums, you could also use rice or mung bean noodles or even whole wheat spaghetti makes a great alternative.

Spicy Chicken Wings (Thai)

7 Aug

Delicious wings marinated in coriander seed and leaf along with chilli, lemon, garlic and black pepper. Cook over coals or under a grill and cook until crisp. Serve as a main dish with rice or salad or one or two pieces as a starter.

Marinade for about 600g of chicken.
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp pepper flakes
  • 1 tp coriander seeds, crushed
  • lemon zest & juice of half lemon
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • coriander leaf, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp fish sauce (optional)

Preparation
Prick the chicken pieces with a knife or sharp fork to help get the flavours into the wings and lay in a dish. Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour over the chicken and rub into each piece. Leave in a cool place to marinate over night or for at least 4 hours.
Cooking
  1. Barbecue When the barbecue coals or grill are good and hot, put the pieces over the hot coals.  Turn and brush with any remaining marinade until the chicken is cooked and the skin is crisp, about 10-15 mins depending on the size of the chicken pieces and heat of the coals.
  2. Grill Cook under a hot grill for 15-20mins, checking and turning, until the chicken is cooked and the skin is crisp.
  3. Oven Roast Put pieces on a rack over a baking tray and brush with marinade. Bake in a preheated oven 220c/Gas 6 for 15-20mins until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown.
Cooks Tip
Mix up the chicken and marinade in a plastic bag as it will make it easier to rub the marinade in and to carry it out to the barbecue.

Crispy Kelp Appetizer (Korean)

6 Aug

Kelp, also known as kombu, is the the wide flat type of seaweed that is commonly found around the sea shores of Europe.  It is used to make stocks and as a vegetable. Here i have deep fried dried pieces and seasoned it with a Korean inspired mixture of mild chilli powder, soft brown sugar and sesame seeds.  The salty seaweed balances the sugar and the chilli powder gives a lovely pungent warm tone and the sesame seeds a nutty.

Deep Fried Kelp with a Korean style seasoning

  • Dried Kelp seaweed cut into finger food size
  • pepper flakes
  • soft brown sugar
  • lightly toasted sesame seeds
Deep fry the seaweed in a small pan of hot vegetable oil in batches and drain on paper. Be careful not to burn the seaweed or it will taste bitter so stand over it and lift out with a slotted spoon as soon as it expands and crisps. Mix the remaining ingredients to taste, make sure there is a nice balance of heat and sweet and sprinkle over the hot seaweed, toss to coat well and serve with drinks.

Green Onion Relish (Korean)

6 Aug

Last trip to London I found the Korean area in Merton and the best Korean restaurant I’ve been to so far. A small canteen style restaurant, empty when we arrived (I get hungry early), and ques down the street when we left. This was one of the small dishes or banchan we were offered as we sat down. This one is called pajori or pajuhri in Korean. It was so good I had to try and recreate it with our garden onions once i got back home. It is a lovely dish, simple clean flavours and very easy to prepare. Serve with other small dishes Korean style or as a small side dish or relish to add a lovely touch to any meal.

Wash and trim the onions into 6-8cm lengths then carefull slice into thin threads or shreds, what the French call julienne. Drop the onions into a large bowl of cold water and leave for 20 minutes this will make them crisper and less pungent.

Mix the rest of the ingredients to your taste, use a mild or hot chilli flakes, and balance the sugar to the heat of the chilli and salt of the soy. Season with a good dash of sesame oil and sprinkle with freshly toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately or it can be kept for a few days in the fridge, the relish will wilt but it will still taste great.

  • soy sauce
  • pepper flakes
  • sugar
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • sesame oil

Garden Note
I always have green onions in the garden although I don’t bother to grow the traditional ‘spring onions’; in autumn/winter/spring we have the Amish and Walking Onions, in spring the overwintered onions and onion blancs, and then in summer and autum the thinings from the new crops of white onions and red torpedos.

Beansprout Salad (Korean)

18 Jul
In Korea this banchan or small dish would be served as one of a number of dishes along side rice. Last time I was in London I took my friends to a small Korean canteen in New Malden, home to a thriving Korean community, and this was one of the salads we ate as an appetizer. It is also one of the most common and popular salads and no wonder, it is so easy to make and delicious. I love it and have tried to recreate it here with as many variations as I have tasted over the years.

2 cups freshly sprouted mung bean

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • salt to taste
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • green onion (optional)
  • soy sauce (optional)
  • soft brown sugar (optional)
  • pepper flakes (optional)
  • fresh mild green chilli finely sliced (optional)
  • Chinese chives/ garlic chives (optional)

Blanch the beansprouts quickly in salted boiling water and rinse immediately in cold water. Gently squeeze out any water and put into a bowl. Add the seasoning ingredients and toss well to coat. The first 3 are a must while the next 7 can be added in any combination to vary the salad. Serve sprinkled with pepper flakes or roasted sesame seeds.

Variation with Chinese Chives
Note
In the summmer months mung beans take only 3 days from dry to lovely fresh spouted bean shoots and so easy just make sure everything is very clean and the beans are washed twice daily.
Variation
You can also add cucumber or carrot fenely sliced to the salad. I also sometimes serve it sprinkled with deep fried crispy anchovies.

Hot Cucumber Pickle (Thai)

29 Jun

I love spicy side salads or relishes particularly in summer, they add just the right dash of freshness and heat to a meal on a hot day. Cucumber are one of the best and easiest ingredients to make quick pickles out of. This one pickles the cucumbers instantly in a Thai or East Asian style dressing and is great served with grilled foods such as barbecued chicken wings or simply with plain rice.

Serves 2 Preparation 4 minutes all in.

  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp mild ground chilli peppers
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp lime or lemon juice

Slice the cucumber into thin discs and toss with the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or refridgerate until ready to serve. This pickled salad can be made ahead of time but is best eaten within 24 hours.