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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.

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Runner Beans in Tomatoes

22 Aug

This little dish of runner or green beans gently stewed in oil and tomatoes has long been a favourite of mine. Its origins are probably Turkish or Greek. I remember eating several variations of it in Istanbul and in Greece many years ago. Like so many Mediterranean dishes it has few ingredients but the finished result is miraculously full of flavour. Serve as a side dish or part of a mezze spread or picnic.

Serves 2 Prep & Cook 30 minutes

  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 150g Runner or Green beans, stalks removed
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 fat cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato concentrate
  • 4-5 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a sauce pan, throw in the onion and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes then add the beans and tomato. Season and stir over a high heat to coat well. Reduce heat, cover and let the beans stew in the oily tomato sauce for 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom, if it does add a little more oil or water. Serve as part of a mezze or as a side dish.

COOK’S TIP To freeze French beans; wash, top and tail and plunge into boiling salted water. I use a pasta pan with a removable drainer, which makes the job much easier. As soon as the beans turn a brighter darker shade of green (3-4 minutes) drain and plunge into ice-cold water to halt cooking and preserve the colour. When cool, drain well, bag up and freeze immediately.
Gardeners Note Great for gluts of beans and tomatoes in summer but it can also be made at any time of year with frozen beans and preserved tomatoes.

Green Bean and Coconut Fry

21 Aug

This is a delicious Indian style vegetable dish. Quickly fried with fragrant subtle spices and coconut to preserve the fresh taste of green beans. Great with dals and rice.

  • Green beans trimmed and cut into short lengths
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1-2 dried red chilis
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 3-4 tbsp grated fresh coconut
  • 1 fresh green chilli, thinly sliced
  • lemon juice to taste
  • salt

If you have one use a wok or a large wide pan. Heat a little vegetable oil and when hot throw in the dried chilli and cumin stir around until the chilli starts to darken then add the fennel and fenugreek. Don’t let the fenugreek brown or it will become bitter so quickly add the prepared beans. Stir fry until the beans turn bright green then add the coconut and green chilli cook for a minute or 2 longer but make sure not to over cook the beans. The dish will taste superb if you use fresh coconut but the dried desiccated stuff will give a good result particularly if soaked in a little water first and will need a little longer cooking. Season and sprinkle with lemon juice and serve immediately.

Variations You can substitute runner beans, long beans or flat beans and this recipe works well with peas, asparagus and courgettes.

Spiced Veg Salad (Cachumber)

12 Sep

This spiced salad of raw vegetables is known as Cachumber, Kachumber or Kachmbar in Southern India and Koshumbir or Koshimbir in Western India. These small side dishes of seasoned raw vegetables can be as simple as chopped onion seasoned with lemon and salt or a complex mixture of many vegetables and fried spices. This one is on the more complex end of the spectrum and is really delicious, it adds a lovely crunch to any meal. Choose your own variety of vegetables, whatever is in season, and feel free to experiment with other spices.

  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Peppers (sweet or hot)
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • salt
  • lemon juice
  • Herbs; Coriander leaf (optional), garlic chives (optional)

Seasoning for 2-3 cups of vegetables

  • 1-2 tbsp descicated coconut
  • 1/2-1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2-1 tsp whole cumin seeds
Finely chop the vegetables, for this recipe i usually do about 2-3 heaped tablespoons of each vegetable, aiming for about 2-3 cups of vegetables altogether.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil and when hot add the mustard and cumin seed then add the coconut. Stir and lift off the heat as soon as the mustard seeds crackle and the aroma from the coconut rises. Stir the fried spices into the freshly chopped vegetables add the juice of half a lemon or more and salt to taste. Leave for 1 hour before serving so that the flavours and juices of the vegetables mingle. Serve with a little extra coconut sprinkled on top.
Variation freshly grated coconut would be great but as i cannot grow it here i keep some bought unsweetened descicated in the pantry.
For other Koshumbir type recipes have a look at:

Summer Pickle (Gujarati)

12 Sep

Crisp, fresh, summer vegetables tossed in a sour-pungent dressing of crushed mustard seeds, lemon juice, turmeric, and asafoetida. This is an instant Indian pickle that comes from Gujarat where it is also served as a salad. This pickle or salad is best made just before serving but it will also keep for a couple of days in the fridge, so it can be made ahead of time.

  • 2 sweet carrots
  • half a small cucumber
  • 2 – 4 hot green chillis, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 6 or 7 cherry tomatoes or physalis
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida (Devil’s Dung)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp chilli oil
  • 1 small clove garlic (optional)

Peel and cut the carrots into thin 2cm-ish batons, peel the cucumber and cut into quarters lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut into bite size slices. Put the carrots and cucumber in a bowl with the salt and set aside for 15 minutes then pour off any liquid that forms. Halve the tomatoes, slice the chillis and crush the garlic add these to the salted veg along with the rest of the ingredients toss well to coat and it is ready to serve.
Variations
Other vegetables I would use any other sweet fresh crisp vegetables including; turnips, radishes, French beans, sweetcorn.

Recipe Source
This recipe is based on the Cucumber & Carrot Pickle in Tarla Dalal’s Book Achaar aur Parathe I have changed it slightly by adding yellow cherry tomatoes and using chilli oil instead of mustard oil, I also added crushed garlic and in future I would add more chilli and other summer veg.

This recipe was originally posted on www.masdudiable.com on 31/7/2008.

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.

Giacomo’s Fried Courgette Salad

24 Jun

Italian writer, Giacomo Castelvetro, set out to encourage the English to cook and appreciate vegetables in his book, A Brief Account of the Fruit, Herbs and Vegetables of Italy written in 1614. In it he describes all the produce of his beloved Italy as it comes into season and how best to prepare it. Almost 400 years on, his words are still an inspiration. For courgettes he recommends that young courgettes should be dipped in flour then fried in oil and served sprinkled with salt , pepper and agresto or verjus (the sour juice of unripe grapes) or lemon juice.
As we have an abundant and seemingly never ending crop of courgettes all through the summer and an  overcrowded grape vine it seems churlish not to take his advice. The result is delicious and works equally well with lemon, or lime juice which is easier to come by than unripe grapes.

  • 3-4 young courgettes
  • 25g white flour
  • crushed sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Verjuice or lemon juice

Slice the courgettes into thin rounds and drop into a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper then flour and toss to coat evenly. Shake off excess flour. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add a single layer of courgettes. Turn when the first side is browned and cook until the second side is brown. Drain on paper towels and continue in batches until all the courgettes are cooked. Arrange the courgettes in a serving bowl season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with verjuice or lemon and serve immediately.

Cook’s TIP If the courgettes are too dry the flour won’t stick to them. My dad used to make fried courgettes from the garden when i was a kid, by first dipping the slices in milk before flouring. This version has more of a light batter and is very delicious too.


Variation
Our grapes are not nearly big enough to make verjuice yet so i am using lemon juice which is a good alternative until the grapes are big enough. This year i’ll freeze the verjuice in ice cube trays for winter use.

Minty Onion Relish

19 May


This raw salad type relish has bags of flavour and a lovely fresh zing to it. Sweet white onions are simply seasoned with salt, lemon and mint and the result is a delicious fresh side salad or relish to go with grilled foods, lentil or rice dishes.

  • 1 large sweet white onion
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • pinch salt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
Mince the onion finely. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice. Rub the dried mint between the palms to break it down to a fine powder and sprinkle over the onions. That is it done, stir and serve. The salad can be left for an hour or so before serving and is still good 24 hours later so it can be made in advance.
Note In this part of France we a re lucky that it is an area famous for its sweet onions including the Cevennes Doux. A sweet Spanish or salad onion would make a good substitute. In most cases I would choose fresh herbs rather than dried but for this relish dried really does work best.
Garden Tip If you grow mint it is best to cut it back once or twice during the year, particularly as the weather gets hotter, to encourage fresh new growth. I grow a lot of mint so the twice annual cut backs provide plenty of mint to use fresh and to dry.