Disclaimer: I have almost no experience cooking Vietnamese, this is just a distillation of various recipes I’ve only read.
Lamb steak (or other meat: just did this with rib-eye steak, was delicious)
Crushed chilli (or other form of chilli)
First cook the lamb (or other) steak until browned outside but rare inside. Set aside and slice into thin slices during the remaining cooking.
Slice onions then fry gently in oil until transparent. Add sugar (quite a lot – for two I use a couple of tablespoons at least), garlic, chilli and fry until the sugar is lightly caramelised. Throw in equal parts of vinegar, soy and fish sauce (roughly speaking, you want a little more total liquid than you had sugar), stir in and bring to the boil. Cook until slightly thickened. Add the sliced meat and stir-fry until cooked to your liking.
Serve with boiled rice and something green.
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Sous vide the duck breasts with a bit of honey and salt at around 56C for about an hour to 90 minutes (sorry, but sous vide really is the path to tender duck breasts – if you can’t sous vide, then cook them however you like, to rare or medium rare). Let them cool down a little, then fry for a few minutes on each side to brown (if you’ve done the sous vide thing).
Let them rest for 5-10 minutes, slice into 1/4″ slices.
Thinly slice the fennel.
Peel the orange and break the segments into two or three chunks each.
Quickly stirfry the duck breasts for just a short while – 30 seconds or so. Add soy and honey. Throw in the orange chunks and sliced fennel and stirfry until the fennel has wilted slightly and the orange is warm (and the duck is still somewhat rare, so start with pretty rare duck!).
And then you’re done.
I suspect this would be improved with some sesame seeds stirfried just before the duck breasts, but I haven’t tried it yet.
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My younger son, Oscar, asked me to put bananas into the lamb curry I was planning to cook. Which inspired this:
Diced leg of lamb
Fry the onions in the ghee. Add ginger and ground spices and fry for a minute more, then add the diced lamb and brown. Add the raisins, banana (sliced), dried apricot (roughly chopped) and lemon (cut into eighths, including skin) and some yoghurt. Cook on a medium heat until the yoghurt begins to dry out, then add some more. Repeat a couple of times (I used most of a 500ml tub of greek yoghurt). Salt to taste. Eat. The lemon is surprisingly edible.
I served it with saffron rice and dal with aubergines.
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Smoked bacon (I don’t know why you’d ever used unsmoked for anything)
Dice the bacon, fry in the oil ’til slightly browned. Add sliced onion and fry until sweet. Add chicken stock and frozen peas (you want a pretty high pea-to-stock ratio), boil for a few minutes. Blitz to a pretty smooth puree (longer than you think, the peas’ outer coatings are quite chewy). Season (I didn’t need salt). Serve with a dollop of sour cream in the middle.
The whole thing only takes about 15 minutes, if that.
I’m sure it’d be great with fresh peas, too. Perhaps even better. Obviously you’ll need to boil it for longer.
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Very easy and very nice.
Dry fry the Cs (all curries are mostly made with spices that start with C … seriously), then grind them. In the meantime, or after, fry thinly sliced onions + ginger in olive oil. Once they’re slightly browned, add the spices (including garam masala) and some butter. Fry/stir for a little longer (maybe a couple of minutes). Add the diced parsnips and coat them, then add milk and chicken stock (1:2 ratio) to cover. Boil for about 30 mins, til the parsnips are somewhat soft, then blitz. You probably need some salt, too.
That gives a basic recipe. I added sliced grilled sausages.
I think shredded roast duck legs would also go well, but I haven’t tried yet.
Chilli, either fresh (which would look nice added at the end) or ground, would be good, too, but not necessary.
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These days, I spend a fair amount of time trying to dream up low calorie dishes (no, I am not on a low calorie diet). Today I tried a new one and an old favourite, combined. Probably about 250 calories a head, given enough to fill a plate. Calculate your own calories if you care.
Anyway, the bhuna:
Fish (I wanted to use cod, but all I had was salmon)
My fish had skin on, so first I fried the skin side to crisp it, then set aside. Fry thinly sliced onions in a small amount of ghee (or if you really are counting your calories, spray some oil) until sweet. Add crushed garlic, diced ginger and ground cumin, coriander, chilli and cloves. Cook them for a minute or two then add the tinned tomatoes and some salt, mash them up, cover and simmer for a while (say 15 minutes) stirring occasionally. Add water if needed to stop it drying out. After 15 minutes put the fish on top, re-cover and let it steam (or bury it in the sauce if you prefer). Leave that going for 10 minutes or so while you cook the cauliflower…
Black mustard seeds
Black onion seeds
Cut the cauliflower up into florets. Fry the ginger, mustard and onion seeds in a little ghee (or a spray of oil), stirring, until the mustard seeds start to pop pretty vigorously. Add the cauliflower (I actually had some broccoli which I added too) and stir fry for a minute or so, then add a splash of water, which will, of course, fairly quickly boil off. Keep adding water a little at a time, stir frying, until the cauliflower is cooked to your liking (al dente is good!). Add salt and lemon juice (go easy, I used half a lemon for two people generously served). Stir once and serve.
If you don’t care about calories, saffron rice would go well with this. We had a spoonful of yoghurt each, which went well.
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Chowder isn’t exactly rocket science, but this went pretty well, so documenting it here…
I actually made this almost entirely from frozen ingredients and it was just fine. Fresh might be better.
Finely chopped leek
Smoked bacon, sliced (I used some lardons I had in the freezer)
Chicken stock (maybe fish stock would be better, I didn’t have any) or water
Milk (about half as much as stock)
Fry the leeks and bacon in a little butter/olive oil (I used both) until pretty soft – I didn’t crisp the bacon for a change. I think it is better for chowder not to. Add cubed potatoes and fry for a bit longer, then add chicken stock (or water or fish stock) and bring to the boil. Simmer until the potatoes have softened, then zap half the mixture with a blender (I just did this in situ). Season (I didn’t need salt, there was enough in the bacon). Add milk, fish, prawns and bring back up to a simmer, cook for a few minutes, making sure the fish falls apart. Add cooked sweetcorn and bring back up to temperature. Finally, add some cream.
Quantities should be chosen so that the final result is good and thick.
Serve with warm, crusty bread and butter. Works as a whole meal.
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Faced by conflicting desires this evening, I invented this dish.
Cover a baking dish with enough salmon to feed you (I used 150g per head and I was cooking for 4). Finely chop a bunch of spring onion (3 medium in my case) and cover the salmon with it. Thinly slice ginger and add a layer of that, widely spaced. Add a layer of thin lime slices, also widely spaced. Cover with teriyaki and dark soy, then liberally sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at gas mark 6 for about 20 minutes.
I had this with rice and purple sprouting broccoli.
I’ve long thought French wine was overrated. Its gratifying to know that wine-tasters agree. A rematch of the 1976 Judgement of Paris once again had the Californian wines on top. Even more gratifying that the first-placed red was made by my favourite winemaker – Ridge.