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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


  • 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.


Mince and Potato Curry

6 May

This is my version of Keema Aloo a popular North Indian dish of minced meat cooked with spices and potatoes. It is really tasty, hearty stuff, easy to prepare and cheap, I love it. Delicious served simply with rice and a sweet or sour chutney or spinach-stuffed flatbreads. It also makes a lovely stuffing for pastry parcels, kachori or samosas.

  • 250g Minced meat ( lamb, goat or beef)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 fresh green chillies, deseeded and sliced to taste
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 hot dried chillies (my favourite for this dish is lemon drop)
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seed
  • dried curry leaves (to taste)
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 250g-500g potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2-3 tomatoes skinned and crushed
  • salt to taste
  • lemon zest to taste

Fry the mince in a little oil until the meat starts to brown, tip into a bowl and set aside. Prepare the spices and set aside. Add a little more oil and fry the onion until it starts to colour then add the garlic, ginger and whole spices, chilli and curry leaves. Fry for a minute or two then add the potatoes, tomatoes, fresh chillis and salt and fry for a minute or two. Return the mince to the pan plus a little water, stir well and cover. Cook slowly until the potatoes are cooked 15–20 minutes. Add a little water during cooking if it starts to stick but it should end up as a fairly dry dish. Sprinkle with a little garam masala or grated lemon zest and stir in before serving.

Note as always be careful with the chillis. I use all kinds of chillies (I grow over 30 varieties) some are very hot, some mild, some fruity and some lemony acidic like these lemon drop chillies. Use whatever chillies you have available but make sure you know how hot they are before adding. I would recommend adding a little grated lemon peel at the end of cooking if you are not using lemon drop chillies to get that citrus high note.

Recipe Source I’ve been making variations of this since my student days in Glasgow, it is such a staple I have no idea if there even was an original recipe.

Chorizo & White Bean Stew

18 Nov

This is Rachel’s dads’ favourite dish, the one he cooks for himself when he is left to his own devices in the kitchen and I can understand why, it is so easy and so delicious. He usually makes it with a jar of white beans, cooking chorizo and tomato passata. It is a Spanish store cupboard classic, great for camping or cooking on the hoof.

Serves 2-4 (as a starter or main)

  • 4 cooking chorizo
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Large jar white beans or freshly boiled butter beans 
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 250g passata (home made tomato puree) 
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley

Slice the sausages and fry in a good slug of fruity olive oil until starting to crisp around the edges, add the garlic and when the aroma rises add the paprika, tomato paste and cooked white beans. Cook for 10 minutes more until the sauce is all glossy and the flavours have infused. Sprinkle with bright green chopped parsley and serve in individual bowls to be mopped up with bread, or as one of a number of Tapas dishes.
Variation An equally good variation is to use potatoes instead of white beans to make another great Spanish dish add a few green peppers and cook until the potatoes are done.

Pork Curry (Vindaloo)

11 Nov

This is one of my favourite meat curries, pungent with mustard oil, hot with chillies and sour with tamarind and vinegar and finally a hint of sweet nutty coconut. It is a remarkably quick and easy to make and really worth trying.  Serve with rice, a yogurt dish and a light vegetable dish or dal.

  • 6 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp vindaloo masala powder see Indian Spice Mix Recipes
  • 2-3 tsp vinegar
  • 450g pork, boned and cubed
  • 2 or more green chillis, thinly sliced
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp tamarind concentrate (depending on concentrate)
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated coconut or desiccated

Heat the mustard oil until it starts to smoke then throw in the onion and garlic fry until turning a pale golden colour then add the vindaloo masala powder. Fry and sprinkle with the vinegar. Add the pork and stir well to coat in spices and seal. Add the water and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in the salt, tamarind and half the coconut, cook for another 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated then serve on a bed of rice sprinkled with the rest of the coconut or fresh coriander leaves.
Source This recipe is one of my old favourites which I think originally came from an Indian cookery book from the late 70’s. I no longer have the original recipe book so I don’t know how far I have veered from the original but this is one quick and tasty curry.

Cook’s Tip I make up a blend of the Vindaloo spice mixture ready ground in an airtight jar which stays fresh for up to 3 months making this even quicker and easier to prepare. Freeze freshly grated coconut  in small usable batches.

Gingered Crispy Beef

12 Oct

This is a super treat for meat eaters. Thinly sliced steak marinated in ginger, fish sauce, sake and sugar and then deep fried until crisp on the outside but succulent on the inside. Perfect served with plain rice and a Asian style green vegetable or as a topping for a rice noodle salad.
Serves 1-2 Prep 5 min cook 6 mins

  • Rump, sirloin or frying Steak ( 1 portion size)
  • Oil for deep frying
  • 3 tbsp cornflour


  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp cooking sake

Slice the beef very thinly into strips across the grain. Put the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well, add the steak and mix to coat. Set aside for 30 minutes or more.
Heat oil in a pan, 6-8cm of oil in a small pan should be enough. Put the cornflour on a plate and roll the strips of beef to coat. Drop into the hot oil in two batches and fry until crisp, remove each batch with a slotted spoon and drain on paper before serving.

Cook’s Note even a tough piece of steak, given this treatment, is transformed into a melt-in-the-mouth treat. Recipe Source I think this recipe is Vietnamese in origin but sadly I don’t remember how I came about making this orignally.

Pork & Long Bean Stir fry

23 Sep

This fragrant and spicy stir fry enhances the taste and texture of vegetables fresh from the garden. Variations of meat stir fried with long beans are found all over east Asia. This is my version using the best of our autumn garden produce; long beans, red peppers, chilli and Thai basil are stir fried with pork but you could easily leave out the meat.
Serves 2 Cook & Prep 20mins.

  • 1 pork chop, cut into thin slices
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Peanut oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 200g french beans
  • 1-2 medium heat red peppers
  • 1 hot red chilli or 3 mild chillis
  • Large handful Thai basil (30-40 leaves)


  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sugar

Cut the pork chops into thin slices removing any bone. Put the slices in a bowl sprinkle with 2tsp of sesame oil and the cornflour and mix well, set aside while the rest of the ingredients are prepared.

Wash and trim the beans and cut into bite size lengths, chop the red peppers into small squares or strips, peel and chop the garlic, slice the chilli in half remove seeds and chop finely, pick the basil leaves from the stalks.

In a bowl mix together the sauce ingredients with the remaining 2 tsp of sesame oil and 4 tbsp of water.

Heat a large non stick pan or wok, add the peanut oil and just as it starts to smoke add the garlic, stir once. Add the pork and stir fry over a high heat until it is sealed and starting to brown. Add the peppers, basil, chilli and beans and continue stir frying for another minute. Pour in the sauce and cook for a further minute or two until the beans are bright green and cooked but still crisp. Serve with long grain white rice.

Variations: use mint instead of Thai basil. Add some sliced mushroom

Cooks TIP 1. Stir frying is a fast and furious business and it is essential that all the ingredients are prepared ready to just throw into the pan in their turn. 2. Coating the meat in corn flour before frying and simmering gives it protection so that it will remain soft and succulent. It will also help thicken the sauce slightly.

Lamb Biryani

22 Aug

This is a fast and tasty way of making a meat and rice dish using the leftovers from a roast leg of lamb. I love Biryani, but it can be a complicated affair to make, with this method it is only slightly more complicated that making boiled rice yet it tastes fantastic. Perfect with Tomato Pachadi or Raita (Sweet Mint Yogurt) or make a heartier meal of it and serve with greens such as Kashmiri Style Greens or with a vegetable curry such as Cauliflower & Potato Curry.

100-200g shoulder or leg of lamb, removed from the bone cut into bite sized pieces
2 cloves garlic
2 cm piece of ginger, peeled
seeds from 6 green cardamom pods
pinch coarse sea salt
1 tsp home made garam masala
2 tbsp natural thick yogurt

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, minced
1 large green chilli, deseeded and sliced
1 large cup of basmatti rice
1.5 large cups hot lamb stock

grated lemon zest
coriander leaf

Pound the first five marinade ingredients together in a large pestle and mortar to make a paste, stir in the yogurt , and pour over the lamb, stir to coat well and leave to infuse while you do the rest. Wash the rice and leave to soak in warm water. Meanwhile heat a little oil in a large saucepan and throw in the cumin seeds after a few seconds throw in the onion and chilli stir and fry for a minute or so. Drain the rice and add stir and fry until it turns opaque, add the lamb and its marinade stir well and cook for 1 minute then add the hot stock cover and cook for 10 minutes. Leave covered for another 10minutes, then fluff up the rice with a fork and stir in coriander leaf and a little lemon zest and its ready.

Cooks Note Once in a while we have a roast leg of lamb as a special treat and there is always some lamb left on the bone. That is unless we have Yorkshire wallers staying with us, in which case not only will the bones be bare but we’ll have to referee the wrestling match over the bone -:)  Anyway these last bits of meat are fairly undercooked and are perfect for this dish, so if you do have any pickings after the Sunday roast then it is well worth using them to make this dish, and the bone can be boiled up to make a wonderful cooking stock for the rice.

Pork & Cucumber Curry

15 Jul

This is by far and away the best curry I have ever made and it was born out of necessity. A few cucumbers were hidden away under foliage and I hadn’t spotted them until they had grown enormous and too bitter to eat raw. In India bitter gourds are a speciality so I looked to Madhur Jaffrey for inspiration and found a recipe for bottle gourd and prawn curry which inspired the spice combination in this dish although the technique and other ingredients are quite different.
Serves 2-4 Prep 15min Cook 10min

  • 250g pork, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3-4 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 2 green chillis
  • 1 red shallot or onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3cm cube of ginger
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1-2 dried cayenne chilli, sliced
  • 250g yogurt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 250g bitter cucumber peeled de-seed and cut into batons
  • handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Dust the pork with the salt, pepper and turmeric and set aside. Heat a wide pan or wok, add the oil and when hot add the pieces of pork. Fry stirring occasionally while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. De-seed and chop the green pepper and chillis, add to the pan and stir. Peel and slice the shallot, add to the pan and stir. Peel and slice the garlic and grate the ginger, add to the pan and stir. Roughly grind the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds and throw those in along with the cayenne chilli, give everything a good stir and fry until aromatic. This first stage should take about 15minutes. Lower the heat and stir in the yogurt, sugar and cucumber, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes. Stir in the coriander and serve on a bed of plain basmatti rice.

Spaghetti: Tomato & Bacon

2 Jul

A simple tasty pasta dish with fresh summer tomatoes, herbs and fried bacon. I prefer it with spaghetti but you can use any pasta.

Serves 2
* 250g Spaghetti
* 2-3 tbsp olive oil
* 150g cured bacon cubed
* 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
* salt & pepper
* 250g fresh tomato paste
* 8 tbsp fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, marjoram or parsley.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water until ‘al dente’, drain, drizzle with a little olive oil and set aside. Put the rest of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the bacon and fry until starting to brown, add the garlic then the tomato paste. Check seasoning and cook for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the herbs and pour the sauce over the pasta, tossing well to coat then serve.

This recipe was originally posted on on 2/7/2007.

Vietnamese Beef Wraps

5 Jun

This is great summer food great for eating outsdoors. Marinated char grilled beef is served with plain rice noodles, dipping sauce, a vietnamese salad of fresh herbs and raw vegetables and lettuce leaves for wrapping. We ate something like this is in a restaurant in Aix-en-Provence and I was inspired to make our own version of it at home. It was served with rice pancake wrappers, but I wanted to use our large crisp lettuce leaves. Set all the ingredients out on the table, with a Vietnamese dipping sauce, and let dinners do the work, its great fun and very tasty.

Serves 2
1 medium to large fillet steak
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 spring onions finely sliced
1/2 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted and lightly crushed (optional)
Raw vegetables choose any of the following: cucumbers, mangetout or carrots julienne, beansprouts, shredded lettuce, thinly sliced spring onions or shallots
Lettuce Leaf Wraps Chose nice clean large lettuce leaves iceberg, cos or romaine work well.
Aromatic leaves a mixture of any: fresh mint, coriander, Thai basil, laksa leaf, rocket or mizuna.
Rice Noodles 1 portion
Dipping Sauce make up a batch of Vietnamese dipping sauce

Slice the beef across the gain in very thin strips and put into a bowl with all the marinade ingredients mix well and set aside for at least 2 hours for the flavours to infuse.
Soak thin rice noodles in boiling water for 5-10minutes until they are soft. Drain and set aside to cool meanwhile prepare the rest of the ingredients. Prepare the raw ingredients, lettuces and aromatic leaves and set out on a serving plate with the noodles.
To serve cook the beef at the last minute by throwing into a very, very hot wok, griddle or plancha and cook very fast until browned, it should just take a minute or two, then lay over the rice noodles or alternatively use a table top cooker for dinners to cook for the meat for themselves as in the restaurant.

To make a wrap place a little of each ingredient on the inside of the wide end of the lettuce leaf and gently roll up into the small end to make a fat cigar shape. Dip into the sauce and munch.

Use rice pancakes as wrapping. These are bought dry and soaked in warm water until soft. Wrapped with a rice wrapper these make great picnic food.
original post Mas du Diable 5/6/2007