Saturday, March 13, 2010

Coconut rice

basmati rice
1/2 a tin of coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 kaffir lime leaves
2 lemongrass stalks

  1. Measure the rice by volume (500 ml should be enough for 4 adults if there is plenty of other food), and put in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
  2. Put the coconut milk in a measuring jug and add water until you have 1.5 times the volume of rice. Add to the saucepan. Add the salt, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass.
  3. Bring to a boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce heat to minimum and simmer for 20 minutes.

Sweet and sour sauce

My first experience of Chinese food was eating at the Loon Fung in Edinburgh in the mid-1970s. Actually, it's a fairly bog-standard British high street Chinese restaurant but at the time it seemed exciting and exotic (helped no doubt by the fact that I was only 8 years old). I like to think that my palate has become more sophisticated since then, but I have to admit that I still love sweet and sour sauce. This recipe is fairly close to a restaurant "sweet and sour" sauce. If you prefer it sweeter you can always add more sugar or reduce the vinegar a little.

1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
125 ml pineapple juice
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon cornflour
250 ml chicken stock

  1. Put all of the ingredients apart from the cornflour and the chicken stock in a small saucepan and heat gently.
  2. Dissolve the cornflour thoroughly in half the chicken stock, and add to the saucepan.
  3. Whisk thoroughly, and gradually add the rest of the chicken stock. Simmer gently for another 10 minutes until the cornflour is thoroughly cooked.
Image free
I didn't have a photo for this, and thought I would find something cute and fun on the internet by searching for "sauce monster". Let's just say that I was shocked and stunned and not a little amazed at what I found. So, no pics today.

Oriental pork and squid meatballs

This had its origins in a fairly disastrous attempt to follow a Rick Stein recipe for steamed, stuffed squid. I got everything ready, but then realised that I didn't have anything large enough to steam my squid in, so I decided to stew them instead. And then I discovered that I didn't have any toothpicks to sew the squid together with, but ploughed on anyway. Inevitably, the stuffing spilled out, and that gave me the idea of just cooking the stuffing as meatballs. The result was really good, and had me wondering why there aren't more mixed meat and fish dishes.

After my trial version, I started from scratch the next day, with a fresh squid. I got a bit of a surprise when I cleaned the squid, as the poor thing had obviously not even had time to digest its last meal before being hoiked out of the sea.

800g minced pork/beef
100g prepared squid
2 inch chunk of fresh ginger
3 cloves of garlic
4 spring onions
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon chilli powder
4 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

  1. Prepare the squid by cutting off the tentacles, removing the purple skin, and removing its insides (together with any undigested fish still inside!). Chop finely.
  2. Place the squid and all the other ingredients EXCEPT the meat and breadcrumbs into a food processor and whizz until you have a paste.
  3. Put the meat in a large bowl, add the paste and breadcrumbs and mix well.
  4. Fry in plenty of oil until nicely browned.
  5. Serve with sweet and sour sauce and coconut rice.

Gefilte squid
I felt reassured to reflect that the genesis of this dish was exactly the same process as gefilte fish has gone through. This started out as stuffed, boned carp, but now people generally dispense with the whole fish and just serve the 'stuffing' as little poached patties. I thought that "gefilte squid" would probably be a unique term on google, but was pleasantly surprised to discover that gefilte squid is the national animal of the nation of Bnai Brith, and frolics freely in that nation's many lush forests. The things you learn.