Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Fish Taco Salad

I’m lucky enough to work near the Gherkin - which means that Thursday (and now Friday!) of every week the Kerb street food stall thingy is held there. *

I don’t always remember to go, or there are other things on, and one of my fast days is quite often Thursday, which meant that until recently I didn’t go much at all (sad face) but I always want to get a fish taco.

So far fate has conspired against me - either there is something else there that I have wanted for even longer (step forward Yum Bun) or either Ambriento or Luardos aren’t there when I am.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands: I would make my own fish tacos dammit! But with a twist, and as summer was in attendance (and yet sadly nearly over), I decided on a fish taco salad. Without the actual taco element.

Here it is.

* EDIT - in fact the evil villains that are the City of London Corporation have now closed Kerb down as apparently it wasn’t pretty enough. Or something. The Gherkin itself apparently didn’t have a problem with it but there you go. Boo! There’s a petition here - please do sign it, street food markets are ace.

Fish Taco Salad
serves 2

For salad
1 bag of crunchy salad (to include shredded cabbage & carrot)
1 tbsp coriander, chopped 
½ avocado, diced
10-12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ onion, finely chopped
juice of ¼ lemon
juice of ¼ lime
sea salt 
1 tbsp pickled green chillis (jalapeno slices) or 1 whole green pickled chilli, chopped
For dressing
4 tbsp greek yogurt
1 tbsp coriander, chopped
juice of ¼ lemon
½ tbsp chipotle paste (or hot sauce to taste)
½ clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp coriander
salt and pepper to taste

For Mango Salsa
150g mango, diced 
½ green chilli, finely diced
2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
¼ red onion, finely diced
juice of ¼ lime
salt to taste
For fish
2 river cobbler fillets (or any sustainable white fish)
2 tsp old bay blackened seasoning (optional)
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp coriander
⅛ tsp chili powder
⅛ tsp black pepper
⅛ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
⅛ tsp. garlic powder
1 ½ tsp olive oil
To serve
extra chopped coriander
lime wedges
smoked chipotle tabasco

In a small bowl, mix the spices for the fish then put into a large food bag. Add the fish fillets and toss around to ensure that the fish gets evenly coated with the spices.

Heat a frying pan with the olive oil over a med-high heat, and add the fish: frying on both sides for 3-4 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. It’s fine if they break up as they’ll be broken up for the salad itself.

Remove to a piece of kitchen towel on a plate, squeeze over some lime or lemon juice and set aside to cool a little.

Meanwhile mix the ingredients for the mango salsa in a bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl, add all the ingredients for the dressing up and stir together.

In a third bowl, from the salad ingredients, mix together the chopped onion, coriander, citrus juices, jalapeno and salt to taste.

Finally, in a large bowl toss the lettuce mix and tomatoes with some of the coriander / onion / jalapeno mix as above. Season carefully to taste.

To serve, divide the lettuce mix between 2 plates: break up the fish fillets and lay on top of the lettuce mix. Top with a dollop of dressing, some avocado, mango salsa and a sprinkling more of the onion / coriander.

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Monday, 28 October 2013

Baked Bacon & Mushroom Risotto

For years I’ve had it in mind to try out one of Delia’s baked risotto recipes and had a look at one of them recently but just didn’t fancy it at that moment in time in the end (it was a risotto carbonara if you are interested). 

I decided to go with the concept however and just devise something: fairly comforting yet at the same time not too calorific. As I’ve mentioned before, I had, at the time of cooking this, been doing the 5:2 diet thing for a few months (cooking and eating out so much can take its toll) but recently what with one thing and another I haven’t been very good. The week I made this I was back on it and on my “non-fast” days I wanted to be reasonably careful (I should point out I’ve not been very good since…!)

And for that, this recipe is great - surprising low calorie for days when you’re being “good” but still want yumminess. Not to mention good for days when you have better things to do than stand by the stove stirring..to be honest, that kind of is my “better thing to do” but I appreciate that for others it isn’t!

Baked Bacon & Mushroom Risotto
serves 2

2 medium rashers of unsmoked back bacon, chopped
100g mushrooms, sliced
5g dried porcini (soaked in 150ml boiling water for 15-20 minutes)
10 puffs low-fat cooking spray
1 medium banana shallot, finely chopped
175g risotto rice
150ml dry white wine
300ml vegetable stock
small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
25g parmesan, freshly grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Fry the bacon in a small pan, in it’s own fat until it is crispy. Remove and set aside on a piece of kitchen towel.

Meanwhile heat a heavy casserole (that has a lid) on the hob and spray with the low-fat cooking spray. Add the chopped onions and cook quite gently for about 10 minutes until softened.

Add the sliced mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and fry for 5 minutes more.

Drain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquor, chop them up finely and add to the pan with the fried fresh mushrooms.

Cook for a couple of minutes more then add the rice.

Stir well for a few minutes then turn up the heat and add wine. 

Let it simmer hard until reduced by about half before adding the porcini soaking liquid and stock.

Lower the heat and stir in the bacon. Give it a good stir, pop a lid on and then transfer the casserole to the preheated oven.

Cook for 20 minutes then gently stir in most of the parmesan.

Return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the risotto is soft and creamy.

Stir through the chopped parsley then place a clean tea towel over the pot and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with the remaining parmesan sprinkled over and crispy salad leaves and quartered baby plum tomatoes on the side.

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Monday, 7 October 2013

Beef with Cumin and Sichuan Broad Beans

Number two in operation “Open a Cookbook at Random”. Spookily Beef with Cumin was one that I first remember seeing (and thinking looked great) in Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook but as I tend to shy away from deep frying as I find it a bit of a faff (and don’t have a deep frying pot and can’t think of where to store the oil after) I never tried it. That’s not to say I haven’t attempted any of Fuchsia Dunlop’s other “deep fried” recipes as I have, namely here

Pre deep-frying is a method known as “velveting” which results in tender & juicy meat. When I have done it before the results really do speak for themselves but all the same I was glad to see a version of the same recipe in Every Grain of Rice where just stir-frying is employed. And more, what I found was that if you buy a good cut of beef - a very good sirloin steak in my case - and make sure to cut the slices across the grain, the result will be in my opinion, pretty close to that derived by velveting anyway.

As ever, this is slightly adapted and as I wanted a bit more sauce coating the meat I increased the quantities of marinade (bar the potato flour).

The chilli I had incidentally was quite large so I actually only used half of it in the end... that said, I’m effectively using 4 types of chilli here: fresh, dried and “red pepper” flakes and sedimented oil. The original recipe calls for dried chilli flakes and optional fresh which I’m sure would be quite sufficient. The other two I added for further depth of flavour and the fact that I bloody love Sichuanese chilli oil.

Overall this seems to be another great book from FD, her latest, and concentrates on Chinese (and again largely Hunanese and Sichuanese) “home cooking”. A lot of recipes showcase humble vegetables: very simple preparations that make these simple ingredients sing.

This broad bean recipe (not by the way chosen at random but selected as I had some fresh broad beans in the fridge) is a very good example; admittedly they are probably one of my favorite veg anyway but with just a couple of other ingredients and pretty quick cooking and prep they are taken to a whole other level.

Cumin with Beef - Zi ran niu rou (孜然牛肉)
serves 2

250g v. good quality beef steak, cut into 1-2cm wide slices 
½ red pepper, cut into strips 1–2cm wide on the diagonal
½ green pepper, ditto
4 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 tsp ginger, finely chopped 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped 
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp chilli oil with sediment
2 spring onions, green parts only, finely sliced
1 tsp sesame oil
for the marinade
4 tsp Shaoxing wine
½ tsp salt
1 tsp light soy sauce
1½ tsp dark soy sauce
1½ tsp potato flour

Mix the marinade ingredients with 1½ tbsp water in a bowl and stir the meat in. Set aside

Heat a wok over a high heat and when hot add 3 tbsp and swirl it around.

Add the beef (keeping the marinade to one side) and quickly stir-fry to separate the slices. When they have, but are still a bit pink, remove from the wok and set aside.

Return the wok to the flame with the remaining oil.

Add the ginger and garlic and allow them to sizzle for a few seconds until fragrant, then tip in the peppers and fresh chilli, and stirfry for a few minutes.

Add the beef slices and the marinade back into the wok, giving everything a good stir before adding the cumin, chilli oil and chilli & red pepper flakes. 

After a minute or so when it is all sizzling and fragrant add the spring onions. Stir around for 30 seconds then remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve with plain rice and the beans as below.

Sichuan-style Broad Beans with Spring Onion
serves 2

440g broad beans (about 145g podded)
1½ tbsp oil
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely sliced
Sichuan pepper oil

Boil the podded beans in lightly salted water for 3-4 minutes then refresh under cold running water. When they are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off the broad beans.

Heat a small wok over a high flame, add the oil and thrown in the garlic & let sizzle for a few seconds.

Add the beans, the white parts of the spring onions and a little pinch of salt. Stir fry for a few minutes until the beans are heated through.

Add the green parts of the spring onions, stir around and then take off the heat. Sprinkle in a little Sichuan pepper oil and serve with the beef and steamed rice.

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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Pork with Beans & Green Peppercorns

I have a lot of recipe documents & documents with lists and lists of links to recipes.. sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming and I am sure there are dozens of recipes that I have wanted to try and they just get lost in the veritable megabytes of recipes that I have.

I also have a ton of recipe books - both in storage and temporarily loaned to a friend (read: in cheaper storage) as well as at home. And of those books, there are some that I have never cooked out of.

So I decided, for a while at least, to operate a “page at random from a random cookbook” policy interspersed with cooking from my “Food Ideas” document.

The first page flipped to happens to be in Bill Granger’s “Everyday Asian” bought as not only did it get pretty good reviews but also as, as the name suggests, it has a range of Asian cuisines covered: Singaporean to Japanese to Korean.

This is Thai, and in fact is also featured in my Thai bible, “Thai Food” by David Thompson. Now the latter is, in all honesty, pure brilliance and everything I have ever cooked from it is utterly fantastic. But, David Thompson always feature a lengthy ingredient list and one which, if you do it right (and frankly you feel you should), involves a trip to Chinatown.

I’ve no doubt that the DT version of this would be more authentic, and possibly even more delicious. But this was a Saturday night, we wanted to eat and having the ingredients to hand, BG it was. And it was entirely delicious anyway.

I did make some minor changes: palm sugar rather than granulated, and the addition of a couple of kaffir lime leaves, as well as various changes in quantities. I also changed the way the dish itself is cooked, using more of a DT method by frying the paste.

Pork with Beans & Green Peppercorns
serves 2

200-250g pork shoulder, cut into strips
2 tbsp green curry paste
1 tbsp groundnut oil
2 green chillis, deseeded and finely chopped
200g green beans, cut in half on the diagonal
150ml coconut milk
2 tbsp fish sauce
½ tsp palm sugar
1 tbsp green peppercorns (from a jar)
2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
small handful basil leaves, torn

Heat the oil in a wok and when hot add the curry paste. Fry over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the paste is fragrant and fairly dry.

Add the pork and continue to stir fry for a few minutes.

Add the chilli and green beans and cook for a few minutes more.

Finally add in the peppercorns, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime leaves and sugar. Stir it around a few times so that it is all well mixed and heated through.

Taste and adjust very carefully for sweet (sugar) and salty (fish sauce).

Serve with steamed rice with the torn basil leaves scatter over.

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