Archive for the ‘Pacific/Far Eastern Style’ Category

Chinese cuisine, as a rule, is not known for having an extensive dessert repertoire.  I remember one of my first visits to a Chinese restaurant where there was a choice of pineapple or banana fritters, sticky stem ginger with vanilla ice cream or ‘chow chow’, a mixture of candied fruits in ginger syrup.  It is a long time since I have seen any of those on the menu.  Whatever happened to chow chow – can anyone shed any light?  (I mean the dessert of candied fruits in ginger syrup that used to be part of the dessert menu in UK Chinese restaurants 30 or so years ago – not the mixed pickled vegetable or the Chinese dog!)  It was one of my favourites but it has completely disappeared with just one reference to it on the web, also by a puzzled enquirer.  These days mostly there is a selection of ice creams and sorbets that have been bought in ready made: my favourites are the hollowed half coconut shell filled with coconut ice cream or the similar pineapple version.  One other dessert I remember from days gone by is a simple bowl of lychees, probably ready stoned and tinned in syrup. Light and fragrant, lychees are a perfect fruit to end a chinese meal so when I came across this recipe it seemed to fit the bill very well.  This sorbet would also be refreshing served after a spicy curry.

The original recipe for lychee sorbet came from food writer Nigel Slater, published in the food and drink pages of the Guardian Newspaper online.  I used fresh lychees from our market, which are readily available in the Autumn and around Christmas.  Tinned lychees are available as well and Nigel Slater suggests substituting a 400g tin, using both fruit syrup.  The result will be good but the flavour less delicate than if you use fresh lychees.  On the plus side, you will avoid having to peel the fruit, but it is not much of a hardship.   This is a delicious and simple recipe with the lime juice a necessary addition as it cuts through the extreme sweetness of the lychees.  Be sure to liquidise the lychees thoroughly.

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Lychee Sorbet
(Serves 4)

500g/1lb 1oz lychees (unpeeled & unstoned weight – see note on using tinned fruit)
100g/30zs sugar, granulated or caster
400ml/14fl ozs water
2 tbsp lime juice
To serve:
250g/8ozs lychees, peeled & stoned

1.  Peel the lychees and count them.  Without removing the stones put them in a pan with the sugar and water.

2.  Add the sugar and water.  Bring to the boil.  Once the liquid is boiling and the sugar has all dissolved, turn off the heat and leave to cool.

3.  When it is cool enough remove the stones from of the fruit and discard them.  Reserve the syrup.

4.  Return the lychee flesh to the syrup and add the lime juice. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

5.  Liquidise in a blender or food processor until smooth.

6.  Pour the mixture into an ice-cream machine and process until it starts to freeze.  Transfer to a box and place in the freezer.  (Alternatively the mixture can be placed straight into the freezer, removed once or twice and stirred well as it starts to freeze, until it has set properly.)

7.  Peel and stone some of the reserved lychees.  Serve alongside scoops of the soft-frozen sorbet.


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Back in the 1970’s I watched Ken Hom cooking Sesame Prawn Toast on TV in his classic TV show Chinese Cookery and although he said they were simple to make, it still took me years to get round to having a go.  Whatever else I order in a Chinese restaurant I always feel I have somehow missed out if I don’t have at least one piece of Sesame Prawn Toast – I have also eaten them in a Thai restaurant where they tasted much the same.  In one really good local restaurant they are just one element of a mixed starter dish so I don’t even have to choose!  It is some time since I have cooked a multi dish Chinese meal so earlier this year I took my opportunity.  It was mum’s birthday.  I know that I can take a bit more risk with something I have not made before – my family and parents are very forgiving guinea pigs – so our starter was, of course, sesame prawn toast.  As I had thought it was a straightforwad recipe and it and the meal a resounding success.

The recipe is a fairly standard one, as far as I can see, and comes from the BBC book that accompanied the TV series: Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery.  The mixture and the finished uncooked toasts can be made in advance (always an advantage) chilled and then cooked just prior to serving.  Although the original recipe was deep fried I found that the toasts could also be shallow fried.  After draining on kitchen paper I popped them into the oven, which had been on to cook the duck breast for the Duck with Chinese Style Plum Sauce I was also serving.  This kept the toasts warm and crisped them even more.  A version of the recipe can also be found at This Morning Recipes but includes water chestnuts and pork, which are not in the original recipe.  It also specifies just the white of the egg which I have kept as I think it an improvement on my recipe.

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Sesame Prawn Toast
(Makes about 30 pieces)
For the base
10 slices bread, very thinly sliced (a square loaf looks neater when cut up)
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds (or more as required)
450ml (15 fl oz) sunflower oil (original suggests groundnut/peanut
For the prawn paste mixture
450g/1lb uncooked prawns, peeled & finely chopped
1tsp salt
½tsp freshly ground white pepper
1 egg white
2tbsp finely chopped spring onions, white part only
2tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1tbsp of light soy sauce
1tsp of sesame oil

1.  Chop the prawns finely until they are a paste and place in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well until it is a smooth consistency that will be easy to spread. (If available, use a food processor.)

2.  Remove the crusts from the bread and cut each slice into about three ‘fingers’ – rectangles of around 7.5 x 2.5cm  (3 x 1 inch).  Alternatively cut into triangles: 2 large or 4 small.

3.  Spread the prawn paste over the pieces of bread.  Each should be about 3 mm (⅛inch) deep, although it can be spread more thinly if preferred.

4.  Sprinkle the toasts generously with sesame seeds and press well in.

5. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer, frying pan or a wok to medium heat.  Fry the toasts paste side downwards, several at the same time, for 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn them over and fry for a further 2 minutes or until golden brown.

6.  Remove with a slotted spoon, place on kitchen paper to drain and place in the oven or under a gentle grill to keep warm. (The toasts will have to be cooked in several batches.)

7.  It is recommended that the toasts are served at once.  However, they can be kept for a short while (say 5-10 minutes at most) and even finished in a warm oven, in which case it is helpful if they are slightly less browned in the fryer or wok.  Beware leaving them too long as they will harden and could quickly burn.

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This is such an easy recipe: simply combine all the ingredients in a plastic bag and leave the flavours to develop. It includes one of my favourite flavours, Star Anise, which is an unusually shaped spice with an easily recognisable floral shape.   Along with root ginger, it infuses this marinade with the distinctive flavour of Far Eastern food, plus giving off a wonderful aroma when cooking.  With a holiday looming I know I will need to call on my repertoire of quick and easy recipes, but it is always a useful quick meal to for a busy day. Bearing this in mind there are ready marinaded portions of this recipe in the freezer, each bagful enough for a meal for my family.  All I have to do is remember to get one out of freeze in the morning, add the onion pieces and defrost in the fridge or a cool place during the day.  Then in the evening simply tip the contents of the bag into a dish, cover and pop into the oven.  Although cooking takes around an hour it gives time to get on with the vegetables and other jobs.  Easy-peasy!

The source for this recipe is Finger Lickin’ Ribs from the book Feast: Food that Celebrates Life by Nigella Lawson, but with some slight variations.  The title has been tweaked, adding the word aromatic and removing the reference to ribs which I would never use.  (We find them a lot of effort for very little reward.)  In their place I usually use lean belly pork strips, but sometimes spare rib or loin chops.  Chicken could also be substituted and it could even used to marinade a larger piece of meat, which should definitely be left overnight before cooking.  We like much more onion too (this can be as much as a small/medium onion per person).  The original recipe used molasses but I substituted the much more readily available black treacle.  Finally, as an alternative to ring the changes, orange juice could replace pineapple.  I found that the dish needed to be covered with foil as it tends to spatter whilst cooking, but this should be removed for the final 10 minutes or so to allow the juices to evaporate and the meat to crisp a little.  I’m afraid that this is not the easiest dish to photograph attractively (especially as it was taken on a winter evening under electric strip lighting and looks much more greasy than it really is – I must photograph it again in the summer!).  It’s very unflatteringly ‘brown’, but delicious nonetheless.  Do give it a try.  I use other marinade recipes which are equally tasty and links for these will appear further down in due course once I have added the recipes.

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Aromatic Finger Lickin’ Pork
(Serves 4)

4-8 lean belly pork strips (1-2 per person depending on size)
1 spare rib or loin chop per person
4 small/medium onions (less if you prefer)
1 star anise
1 small cinnamon stick broken into pieces
1 small green chilli, with seeds & inner membrane removed
A 1inch/2.5cm piece fresh ginger
Juice & zest of a lime
2tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp sunflower oil
1tbsp black treacle or molasses
50ml pineapple juice (¼ small carton – freeze the remainder in 50ml portions)

1.  Line a medium sized bowl with an open plastic bag big enough to hold all the ingredients but leaving enough room to tie together and seal.  If you are intending to freeze for a later date then leave out the onion until it is going to be cooked.

2.  Into the large plastic bag put the meat, the peeled onions, each cut into about eight segments, the star anise and the crumbled cinnamon stick.  Add the chilli, finely chopped (for more heat do not remove the seeds and membrane and the peeled and finely sliced ginger.

2.  Zest the lime and squeeze the juice into the bag and add the the soy sauce, oil, treacle and pineapple juice and seal the bag by tying a knot.   Carefully squeeze the bag to combine the flavourings with the meat as much as possible.  Ideally the bag should be left overnight (or throughout the day) in the fridge, but it needs to marinade for at least two hours.

3.  Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6. Once it has reached room temperature pour the contents of the bag containing the marinaded meat into a roasting tin. Cover with foil and put into the oven for 1 hour, turning the pieces of meat over and removing the cover for the last 10 minutes to allow them to brown and any liquids to reduce.

4.  Serve with rice or flatbreads and salad.  If using belly strips the pieces can be cut into bit sized pieces and served as part of a hot buffet or on a starter selection plate at a chinese style meal.


More pork marinades – or maybe chicken (perhaps other meats and fish too):
(Please leave comments about the following recipes with the recipe at the link given rather than here – thanks!)

Australian Spiced Roast Pork

100_2332-Australian spiced roast pork

http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com 'Meanderings through my Cookbook'

Sticky Tomato Pork
based on Roasted Pork Ribs (Fig Jam & Lime Cordial)

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Moroccan Style Marinaded Lamb Steaks

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Other marinade recipes I have found, as yet untried (various meats):

Four Pork Barbecue Sauces via The Evening Herault
(Standard Barbecue Sauce, Cha shao – Cantonese BBQ pork, Barbecued Irish pork chops, Jamie Oliver’s best BBQ meat sauce)
Slow Cooker Chinese Ribs via Greedy Rosie
Barbeque Flavoured Pork via Farmersgirl Kitchen
Best Five-Spice Pork Spare Ribs via Best Recipes
rench Style Spareribs via Lemons & Anchovies
Char Siu Pork via The Spanish Wok

Red Garlic Chicken via The Complete Cookbook
Spicy & Sticky Orange marinade via Souperior
Marmalade & Wine Chicken Kebabs via The Complete Cookbook
Sticky Chicken Wings via Lavender & Lime
Poricha Kozhi (Fried Spiced Chicken) – Indian Street Food via Rhis Foodie World
Middle Eastern Marinated Chicken via Searching for Spice

Korean Style Bulgogi Barbecue Beef via Rhis Foodie World
Balsamic Roasted Beef via Noble Nourishment

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This is one of those relatively simple dishes that is ideal if you only want a light meal on a hot summery day, but actually I would be happy to eat at any time of year!  Apart from the time taken to marinade the meat and prepare the kebabs, it is quick to cook in a preheated oven.  Accompany with a portion of boiled Jasmine Rice, plus salad or some peas served on the side, if you wish.  The tomato and chilli sambal is a perfect sauce to accompany to the dish.

Yet again this recipe comes from one of my favourite books: Hot & Spicy Cooking: Exciting Ideas for Delicious Meals with recipes by Judith Ferguson, Lalita Ahmed and Carolyn Garner.   The finished meat was spicy and fragrant but not especially hot.  I used ready made tamarind paste in place of soaking and preparing tamarind pods (although the sourness of lemon juice would give a similar flavour).  Now I know we like the recipe I may see if I can find some Indonesian Soy Sauce, Kekap Manis, but the first time I used a combination of dark soy sauce and dark brown sugar.  The only other change to the recipe was to thread the marinaded meat alternately with cherry tomatoes, cubes of yellow or orange pepper and green pepper or slices of pre-blanched courgette.  This gave extra colour and a healthier dish: anyway I love grilled vegetables in kebabs.   I grilled my skewers of meat but they would be ideal cooked on a barbecue.   A piece of meat and one or two small pieces of vegetable combined on a cocktail stick would also make a good starter or buffet dish. 

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Tamarind Chicken Satay
(Serves 4, 6 if using vegetables as well as meat)

4 chicken breasts, skinned, boned and cut into 1.25cm cubes
Cherry tomatoes, sliced courgette & yellow/orange pepper (optional)
1tbsp sunflower oil
5cm piece tamarind, soaked in 100ml hot water 
2tsp tamarind paste 
Juice of 2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tsp ground cardamom
½tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon kekap manis sweet soy sauce
1tsp dark soy sauce and
½tsp dark brown sugar or jaggery

Tomato & Chilli Sambal
1 red chilli pepper (for less heat remove the seeds and/or reduce the amount/size of chilli)
1 small piece fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed & finely chopped
450g/1lb fresh tomatoes, peeled & seeded
4 tbsps oil
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
Salt & pepper

1.  Put the pieces of chicken in a large bowl. Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour them over the chicken. Stir well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but longer if possible.

2.  Soak the skewers in a bowl of water.  This prevents them from burning: especially important if barbecuing.

3.  Grind the chillis, ginger and garlic together in a food processor or using a pestle and mortar. Chop the tomatoes coarsely, use the food processor if available and blend them into the chili mixture.

4.  Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan.  Fry the tomato mixture for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking.  To prevent sticking, add the lemon or lime juice and a spoonful of water, if the sauce starts to become too thick.

5.  Stir in the sugar and season to taste.

6.  If using vegetables as well as chicken cut each into similarly sized pieces, allowing the same number of pieces for each portion.  If using courgette the pieces need to be blanched: pour over boiling water and leave for 5 minutes, before plunging into cold water or cook for 1-2 minutes in a microwave oven.

7.  Thread the marinated chicken cubes onto thin wooden skewers.  If using vegetables as well then alternate the chicken with the vegetable pieces, using each colour of vegetable in turn.

8.  Brush the threaded kebab with any remaining marinade supplemented with a little extra oil if necessary.

9.  Preheat the grill and cook the chicken gently, turning frequently, until golden brown.  This should take 5-8 minutes.  Continue to brush the chicken with the remaining marinade during cooking.

10.  Serve with Boiled Jasmine Rice.  Peas and salad can be served as an accompaniment but if serving chicken and vegetable skewers a small side salad should suffice.

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Shortly after I was married I bought a wok: Ken Hom had been on television and stir frying seemed so easy. My mother in law regularly fed us stir fried dishes when we visited and I figured that if she could do it then so could I!  Since that time I have acquired several books of chinese recipes and treated myself to a pretty blue and white fishy chinese dinner set (pictured) of bowls, plates, spoons and chopstick rests, to which I have added some matching larger bowls that I was fortunate to find in the same design.  I have cooked some multi-dish Chinese style meals for guests, but mostly I cook stir fries as family dinners.  Once the preparation of ingredients has been done, this meal can be cooked and served very quickly.

One of our favourites is chicken and cashew nuts, traditionally one of the most popular choices at the Chinese takeaway.  I also stir fry with prawns and also with lean pieces of belly pork (or pork fillet) flavoured with lots of garlic and ginger, sometimes including chinese plum sauce.  This recipe has no original source, or at least none that I can really acknowledge.  It is just what I find works for us.  The ingredient information is scant as I tend to use what is available, but always start with onion, garlic and ginger, add light soy and five spice and finish with sesame oil.  I follow the advice I heard somewhere not to cook with sesame oil as it burns easily.  I stir fry with sunflower (not olive) oil and stir in the sesame oil at the end for added flavour.  I have been known to add toasted sesame seeds at the table as well.  I still have the same, now well used, wok that I bought when I was first married: it is a Ken Hom one with a slightly flattened base as I cook on an electric ceramic hob.

A word about soy sauce:  much has been written about avoiding the additive MSG (Monosodium glutamate) because of possible health implications.  It used to be difficult to find soy sauce without this ingredient, but it is now becoming increasingly easy to find dark and light soy sauce and its Japanese cousin, Shoyu, that are MSG free.  They are worth hunting down.

100_2903 Chicken & Cashew Nut Stir Fry

Chinese Style Stir Fries

Chicken & Cashew Nut Stir Fry
(Serves 4)

2tbsp sunflower oil
2-3ozs cashew nuts
1 large white onion, medium sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1inch (2.5cm) piece of ginger, finely chopped
8ozs/225g lean chicken breast, cut into thin slices
1tbsp light soy sauce
40zs/125g button mushrooms, quartered
1tsp chinese 5-spice seasoning
1tbsp sesame oil
1tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
A selection of vegetables in a variety of colours – choose 2 or 3 from:
     Sliced red/yellow/orange/green pepper
Pak choi/Bok choi, chopped or Broccoli, in small florets
Carrot, cut into fine rings or julienne strips – good with chicken & cashew nut
Courgette, cut into fine rings or ribbons
French beans, 1inch/2.5cm pieces or handful frozen peas, cooked & drained
Chinese vegetables: beansprouts, beanshoots, water chestnuts

The term ‘stir fry’, when used below, means to continuously turn the ingredients in the hot oil in the wok. (I have a special flattened wok spatula.)  This helps them to cook evenly, stopping them from adhering to the pan and burning.

1.  Collect together and prepare all the ingredients.  It is important that they are available for immediate use.  Ingredients should be unmixed so they can be added separately.

2.  If using Broccoli it should be blanched: divide into small florets and pour boiling water over, leave for one minute and then immerse in cold water to stop cooking.  Set aside until needed.

3.  Place the wok on the stove top, using maximum heat, to allow it to pre-heat.  After 2 minutes or so, add the sunflower oil and allow this to heat through.  (IMPORTANT: Do not leave the pan unattended.)

4.  Omit this stage if not using cashews: Drop a cashew nut in the oil.  If it sizzles immediately add the remaining nut pieces, if not then wait a short while before trying another piece of nut.  The cashew nuts will brown very quickly, almost immediately.  Be careful to remove them before they blacken and spoil.  Spoon onto a piece of kitchen paper to soak up excess leaving the remaining oil in the wok.

5.  Add a small piece of onion to the oil and if it sizzles then it is hot enough to add the remainder of the onion.  Add the onion, garlic and ginger into the hot sunflower oil and stir fry as it cooks through.  It should be transparent and not brown.  Add the mushroom pieces, and stir fry for a minute or two.  Add the pieces of chicken and stir fry for 2-3 minutes to allow it to start to cook evenly.

6.  Add chosen remaining vegetables, apart from greens/broccoli.  Stir fry as they are included.  When cooked they should still be slightly crisp rather than soft, so it is important to add those that cook more slowly earlier than those that will cook quickly. (I always add carrot first if I am using it.  Save pak choi/bok choi or pre-blanched broccoli to put in towards the end after adding the soy sauce.

7.  Add the chinese 5-spice powder and light soy sauce and stir through.

8.  Add pak choi/bok choi or broccoli, stir in well, turn down the heat a little and if possible cover the wok.  Allow to cook until the vegetables are still crisp and before they soften: 2-3minutes at most.

9.   Finally, return the cooked cashew nuts to the wok along with the sesame oil.  Briefly stir through the mixture and serve immediately.

10.  Serve, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds (optional) and on a bed of plain boiled rice or boiled noodles (or *egg fried rice, if you wish).  A small portion of prawn crackers can be served on the side, they are easy to fry if you can find uncooked ones, but can also be bought ready cooked in large supermarkets.  Soy sauce lovers may like to drizzle over a little additional dark or light soy sauce.

*For egg fried rice, stir fry pre-cooked rice in a little sunflower oil in a wok.  Beat an egg and quickly stir through the rice mixture, turning (stir frying) constantly so that the egg cooks through and does not stick to the wok and burn.  Season and serve quickly.

More stir fried dishes:
Chinese Style Belly Pork & Greens/Broccoli/Bok Choy
Special Fried Rice

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This is a lovely mild and fragrantly spiced oriental style dish, perfect for summer, with the creamed coconut and acidic lime juice complementing each other beautifully.  They are flavours of the east, but the book does not connect this recipe with a particular country.

The original recipe for Pork with Lime & Chilli comes from Hot & Spicy Cooking: Exciting Ideas for Delicious Meals with recipes by Judith Ferguson, Lalita Ahmed and Carolyn Garner. I used my wok to cook the recipe, but it could equally well be made in an ordinary saucepan or frying pan.  Just remember to start at least an hour beforehand (preferably longer) to allow enough marinading time for the pork.  The only changes I made to the recipe was to use less oil: the meat was originally deep fried, which I felt was really not necessary and to reduce the amount of chilli from 1 green and 1 red to just ½-1 green chilli.  Chilli lovers may like to increase the amount according to taste.

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Pork with Lime & Chilli
(Serves 4)

1 clove garlic, crushed
1tsp brown sugar
1tsp oil
1tsp lime juice (about ½lime)
1tsp cornflower

450g/1lb lean pork, cut into 2.5cm/1inch cubes
1tbsp oil for frying
½-1 small green chilli, deseeded & chopped
8 spring onions, trimmed and diagonally sliced
1tsp ground turmeric
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground nutmeg
Small pinch ground cloves
4tbsp light soy sauce
1 lime, juice & zest
50g grated creamed coconut
140ml/¼pint boiling water
Salt & pepper to taste

1.  Combine the marinade ingredients with the pork cubes in a large bowl.  Stir well so the meat is well coated.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 1hour, preferably more.

2.  Have all the ingredients ready to use before starting to cook: 
a.  Measure the ground spices into a small bowl. 
b.  After zesting the lime cut it in half and before squeezing out the juice, remove two thin slices and cut each in half.  Reserve these as garnish for serving.  (Only if the lime is small and does not produce much juice a little extra juice can be squeezed from the lime used for marinading the meat.) 
c.  Dissolve the grated creamed coconut in the boiling water and combine with the soy sauce, lime & zest.

3.  Heat the remaining oil in a wok and add the marinaded pork cubes.  Stir fry, turning the meat in the oil for about 10minutes until the cubes are golden brown.  Remove the meat from the wok, place on a sheet of absorbent paper and set to one side.

4.  Remove any excess oil from the pan, leaving a very small amount.

5.  Reheat the wok and stir fry the chilli and spring onions.  Stir fry for 2minutes.

6.  Add the ground spices and fry for no more than 30seconds. 

7.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil.

8.  Return the cubes of pork to the sauce, heat through and adjust the seasoning.

9.  Serve on a bed of rice: plain boiled or Thai Jasmine with a small half slice of lime as decoration, accompanied by a side dish of simply stir fried vegetables or a side salad.

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We love duck (if it is on the menu then my daughter will always order it) but I rarely cook it at home, however it is now becoming much more easily available and also a little less expensive.  When we saw Rick Stein cook this recipe on television we all commented on how delicious it sounded.  I tried very hard, but could not find the recipe anywhere online.  I am not sure how I managed to find it, but was delighted to discover that the Yorkshire Foodie had made a version using chicken rather than duck.  Having tried and enjoyed this chicken version I decided the original duck recipe would be perfect for the special meal I was planning for my mother’s birthday (to be followed by Cherry & Rosewater Pavlova Meringue Roulade). 

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com ..... Chicken Stewed in a Vietnamese Style Spiced Orange Sauce


The original recipe comes from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey.  For the chicken version I used meaty chicken thighs.  I also squeezed fresh orange juice: one orange per person but it would be easier and probably just as good to use concentrated orange juice.   I used less chilli than in the original recipe to give just a little heat.  The meat should be, in Rick Stein’s words: ‘meltingly tender’.  His total cooking time given for the duck pieces is 2hrs, which seems rather long: I was happy with the results I got from about 1½hrs in total.  Obviously the chicken thighs cook much more quickly. The sauce should thicken naturally as it reduces, however it can be thickened using cornflour if necessary although this should not be a very thick sauce.  Mix 1tsp-1tbsp cornflour with a little cold water, gradually add spoonfuls of the sauce into the cornflour/water mixture and then return this mixture to the remainder of the sauce inthe pan, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens very slightly.  A little more cornflour can be added, in the same way, if it does not thicken: add more water if the sauce is too thick.  Certainly rice is perfect as a side dish (I cooked Thai Jasmine, which is widely available).  The chicken version was served with steamed broccoli but for the duck I wanted to serve a vegetable dish from the region.  My research drew a blank so eventually I opted for a simple Chinese Style Stir Fry using a selection of vegetables: onion, peppers, courgette, garlic and ginger.  (I also cooked a few chips on the side to keep a diner who was not keen on rice happy!)  I like it when recipes are unusual, simple and delicious and this is all of these, plus it gets favourable compliments: what more does a cook want!  Perhaps I will be cooking duck a little more often now. 

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com ..... Duck Stewed in a Vietnamese Style Spiced Orange Sauce


Duck or Chicken Stewed in a Vietnamese Style Spiced Orange Sauce
(Serves 4) 

Sunflower oil for frying (a very small amount, especially if cooking duck)
4 Duck legs
8 Chicken Thighs or 4 chicken legs/breasts (meat can be skinned to reduce fat)
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped/grated
1″ piece of ginger, peeled & grated
4 Oranges, squeezed or 250ml Orange Juice from a carton
2 tbsps Thai Fish Sauce/Nam Pla
2 tsp sugar
2-3 Star Anise
½-1 small Red Chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds for less heat & a larger chilli for more)
Black pepper
1-2 sticks lemon grass, remove core and chop finely
2-3 Large Spring Onions, thickly sliced, for garnish

1.  Heat a frying pan over a moderate heat and gently fry the pieces of meat in as little oil as possible for 3-5 minutes per side (depending on size of piece). Remove and put to one side. 

2.  Remove as much oil as possible from the pan: duck in particular is a fatty meat which would make the finished dish to greasy.  Fat can be saved for another dish: duck fat, in particular, is popular for oven roasted potatoes. 

3.  Lower the heat and fry the ginger and garlic lightly for about one minute or until lightly golden, being careful they do not burn. 

4.  Add the orange juice, sugar, fish sauce, star anise, chilli and lemon grass.  Season with black pepper.  Stir well and gently bring the sauce to the boil. 

5.  Return the pieces of duck or chicken to the pan.  Cover pan and simmer very gently for 35-40 minutes (for chicken thighs) 1¼-1½hrs (for duck or thicker chicken pieces) or until the meat is tender, removing the lid to allow the sauce to reduce a little about 10 minutes before serving.  Turn the pieces of meat from time to time. 

6.  Cut the spring onion along the length of the white parts to give long strands (or alternatively they can be diagonally sliced).  Add to the pan no more than 5-10 minutes before serving.  The green parts of the onions should be cut in the same way and kept to one side for garnishing the finished dish. 

7.  To serve the meat should be placed on a warm serving plate and kept warm. Skim any excess fat from the sauce before finishing.  If necessary, the sauce should be reduced by boiling to concentrate the flavour before it is poured over the top of the meat.  If there is a large quantity of sauce then it can be lightly thickened with a little cornflour and water. 

8.  Scatter the reserved green spring onion pieces over the dish just before serving.

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This Far Eastern inspired, slightly spiced fish stew gives a nod to the Pacific islands with its coconut-creaminess.  It is easy to make and full of colour and flavour.  Although it originally appeared in a Winter, January, issued magazine it would be just as good served in the summer months. 

The original recipe called South Pacific Fish came from the ASDA supermarket free instore magazine, January 2009 issue.  I made a few adaptations for my version.  The original lists a tin of chopped tomatoes with chilli and peppers: I used a plain tinned tomatoes and added a red and green pepper, chopped and a small chilli (a larger chilli can be added for hotter dish).  In place of the can of coconut milk I used 50g of creamed coconut (grated from a block) with a little water: the first time I made it I used ½pint of water but this made the sauce too watery.  The next time I used just ¼pt, reasoning that I could always add a little more water if it was too dry.  It is important to avoid having to reduce the liquid as the fish can easily be overcooked.  I added a few prawns in place of some of the white fish to add variety.  I also added a few diced okra and their sticky juices helped to thicken the stew a little, but they are not really necessary and certainly should not be cooked for too long if used.   The original recipe had 75g chopped macadamia nuts scattered over as it was served, but I did not feel this was really necessary – and anyway there were none in my cupboard.  This dish would be delicious with chicken substituted in place of the fish.

Vegetarian variation: in place of the fish, add a tin of chick peas or red kidney beans and chunks of green banana 5-10 minutes before serving.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

South Pacific Fish Stew
(Serves 4)

2tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 de-seeded green chilli, finely chopped
2.5cm/1inch piece of root ginger, peeled & grated
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground turmeric
450g/1lb sweet potato
50g grated creamed coconut
¼pint boiling water
400g/14oz can of plum tomatoes, liquidised or chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced (optional – omit if adding okra or another vegetable)
225g/8ozs okra, cut into small rings
450g/1lb white fish, skinned & cut into large chunks
110g/4ozs small prawns (optional – reduce white fish amount slightly if using)
Fresh coriander leaves, chopped – to serve
Finely chopped, de-seeded red chilli – to serve (optional – for heat lovers)

1.  Heat the oil in a large pan and gently cook the onion until soft.  Add the garlic, ginger and chopped chilli.  Continue to cook for another minute.  Stir in the ground coriander and turmeric and cook, stirring, over a low heat for a further minute.

2.  Peel the sweet potato just as it is about to be used (so it does not blacken).  Cut them into 2.5cm/1inch chunks.  Add to the onion mixture and stir so they are well coated. 

3.  Dissolve the grated creamed coconut in the boiling water (alternatively use a 400ml can of coconut milk as in the original recipe). 

4.   Stir in the coconut milk, well chopped or liquidised tomatoes and peppers and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until the potato pieces are nearly cooked.

5.  Add the chunks of fish, plus the prawns and okra, if using, and simmer the mixture gently for 5 minutes more.  To avoid breaking up the fish pieces, from this point onwards the pan should be shaken rather than stirred but watch carefully that the heat is not too high causing the bottom of the stew to burn.  If the mixture seems dry then a little more boiling water can be added, but be careful not to add too much.

6.  When it is ready to serve, the sauce in the stew should be slightly thick, with any okra used helping to thicken the sauce.

6.  Serve on a bed of rice.  Garnish with a generous scattering of chopped coriander leaves.  Finely chopped red chilli can also be added for those who would like the extra heat.

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