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Friday Foods: Thai Green Curry

Thai green curry
Photo by jetalone

The first time I encountered green curry was when my colleagues and I went to Bali Thai, for a fellow colleague’s farewell dinner. I didn’t know what to expect as I’ve never had it before. I was surprised at how creamy, yet spicy it was. At that time, I was on a cooking binge so I searched and found a relatively simple (but tedious) recipe for green curry from scratch.

Ingredients
For the green curry paste
* 15 large fresh green hot chillies
* 3 shallots, sliced
* 9 cloves garlic
* 1 tsp finely sliced fresh galangal
* 1 tbsp sliced fresh lemon grass
* 1/2 tsp finely sliced kaffir lime rind
* 1 tsp chopped coriander root (or substitute coriander stems if unavailable)
* 5 white peppercorns
* 1 tbsp roasted coriander seeds
* 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
* 1 tsp sea salt
* 1 tsp shrimp paste (omit this is you’re going vegetarian)

For the curry
* 400 grams beef (a little less then 450g)
* 1 tbsp cooking oil (corn, safflower or peanut oil, not olive oil)
* 3 tbsp green curry paste (more if you like it spicier)
* 2 1/2 cups coconut milk
* 2 kaffir lime leaves, torn
* 5-10 small fresh Thai eggplants, quartered
* 2-3 fresh red chilies, sliced diagonally
* 1/4 cup sweet basil leaf (optional)
* 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce (or salt if you’re going vegetarian)
* 1 1/2 tsp palm sugar (or regular sugar if you don’t have any)
* Sweet basil leaves and red chili slices for garnish


For vegetarian:
2 cups napa cabbage or chinese cabbage, shredded
1 medium red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 cup fresh or canned straw mushrooms
1/2 cup canned baby corn
1 cup tofu puffs (or firm tofu cubes that have been deep fried)
1/4 – 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves, loosely packed.

Preparation

Toast the spices in a frying pan until they’re fragrant but not for too long as they burn easily. Combine coriander seeds, cumin and peppercorn in a mortar, pound well. If You don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a dry blending attachment that usually comes with the blender. Transfer to a bowl and put aside.

Pound the chilies and salt together well. You can use a blender for this, just try not to add in too much water. Add the remaining ingredients except shrimp paste, pound until mixed well. Add the cumin mixture and shrimp paste, continue pounding until smooth and fine.

Slice the beef into thin pieces, about about 1/3″ (3 cm) thick. Sauté the green curry paste in oil over medium heat until fragrant, reduce the heat, gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the coconut milk a little at a time, stir until a film of green oil surfaces.

Add the beef and kaffir lime leaves, continue cooking for 3 minutes until fragrant and the beef is cooked through. Add the remaining coconut milk, season with palm sugar and fish sauce. When the mixture returns to a boil add the eggplants. Cook until the eggplants are done, sprinkle sweet basil leaves and red chilies over, then turn off the heat.

Garnish with sweet basil leaves and red chilies before serving with hot rice.

Note: The last time I made this, I used all the paste that I made (yeah, all 15 sticks of chili) as I thought that the curry needed to be thicker and spicier. It depends on how spicy you want it. You can also substitute the beef with chicken or fish, though that changes the cooking time. Give it a go and tell me what you think.


Friday Foods: Black Pepper Beef

Black Pepper Beef Ginger
Photo by irwandy

My best friend is an awesome cook and I really like the way that she does her cooking; simply throwing everything together, roughly cut and just going with the feel of it. One of the many recipes that she shared with me is the black pepper beef, which is versatile and simple to do.

Ingredients
1/2kg of beef, thinly sliced and marinated with chicken stock granules
1 medium onion, sliced
3-4 tbs thick, sweet soy sauce (or to taste)
1/2-1 carrot (depending on the size), sliced into thin strips
1 green onion, sliced diagonally to about 1-4 inch thick (or what ever size that you want)
1 bell pepper, core removed and sliced into strips or cubed
1 tbs cornflour, mixed with a couple tablespoons of water
1-2 cups water
1 egg
white and black pepper to taste
1 tbs oil


Heat up the oil in a pan or wok and throw in the beef and the pepper.

Stir it around and once the beef is cooked, add in the onions and stir until it’s soft.

Add in enough water just to cover the meat and stir in the soy sauce. Taste to see if you’ve added enough of the soy sauce and pepper.

When the mixtures bubbling, add in the cornflour mixture to thicken. You don’t have to add in everything. Just add, stir and see if it thickens to what you want it to the consistency that you want.

When it’s thickened, reduce heat and add in the vegetables, mix and cover. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked through.

Turn off the fire and break an egg into the pan/wok. Serve with hot rice or you can eat it on its own.

Note: You can add in any kind of veggies that you like; broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms are some examples that you can use.


Friday Foods: Spicy Soy Sauce Beef

Having to cook for myself when I was studying abroad meant that I usually asked around for easy recipes to cook. One of my favourite beef recipes to do was one that was give to me by my ex’s mother, a simple yet spicy soy sauce beef recipe or better known as Daging Masak Kicap (pic). It’s my go-to recipe when I feel like having beef and also one of my favourite dishes when my granny used to make them.

Ingredients
1/2 kilo of beef, cut thinly
2 potatoes cut into wedges and fried
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
6 shallots, sliced
a little bit of sliced ginger
Mixed together – 1 tsp chilli paste & 1 tsp curry powder
2 fresh red and green chillies, sliced
2 tsp vinegar


Marinate the beef with a little bit of salt and tumeric powder. Fry the beef in a little bit of oil. Add in a little bit of water and cook the beef until it’s well done. Remove the beef from the pot.

Add in a little bit of oil and fry the garlic, shallots and ginger. Add in the chilli past and curry powder mixture and fry until it’s fully cooked (basically when people outside of the kitchen are sneezing). Add in half a glass of water, soy sauce and a little sugar. You can add in a little crumbled cube of beef stock if you want. Stir until the sauce has thickened.

Add in the beef, the potatoes, fresh chillies and vinegar. Stir and simmer for a few minutes. Serve hot with rice.

Serves about 4.


Friday Foods: My Mother’s Rendang

It’s been a really long while since I posted a recipe for this column. Things have gotten a bit hectic but fear not, here’s a recipe for you.

Beef Rendang
Photo by arnold | inuyaki

One of the dishes that one must have for Eid is rendang. There are many variations of the dish, using many different types of meat. I have an aunt who makes turkey rendang. Anyway, this dish is rather easy to make, that is if you don’t take into consideration the amount of ingredients you need.

Ingredients
1kg of beef, sliced
5 tbs coriander
1/2 tbs fennel
1/2 tbs cumin
20 dried chillies, cut open and soaked in hot water for at least 10 minutes
4 fresh chillies
3 lemongrass
6 cloves of garlic
3 shallots
1 large onion
2 inches turmeric
2 inches ginger
2 candlenuts
15 cloves
10 cardamom seeds
2 inches cinnamon
2 star anise
400ml coconut milk
100g kerisik
4-5 slices of tamarind, soaked in water
1/2 cup oil
1 turmeric leaf


Boil the beef with a stalk of lemon grass, a clove of garlic, sliced, and half an inch of ginger, sliced.

In the mean time, ground the fennel, cumin and coriander, and set it aside.

Drain the soaked chillies and put it in the blender with the fresh chillies, garlic, shallots, onion, turmeric, ginger, candlenuts and the bottom 2 inches of the remaining two lemon grass. Fill half the blender with water and blend all the ingredients until you get a smooth paste.

In a wok, heat up the oil and fry the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and star anise for a little while before adding in the blended ingredients. Mix in the ground spices and fry until the paste is dry, lumpy and fragrant. Add in about 1 tablespoon of salt and about 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, depending on how sweet or salty you want it.

Add the fried ingredients into the pot of beef that is boiling and stir in the coconut milk, the drained tamarind and the kerisik. Slice the turmeric leaf into the pot. Pound the remaining stalks of lemon grass and add it into the pot. Reduce the heat and simmer until the beef is tender and the gravy has thickened.

Serve hot with white rice.


Friday Foods: Lasagna

lasagna

Some time over the past few weeks, after re-reading Rinaz’s post on her veggie lasagna, I couldn’t get it out of my mind and I thought, why not attempt to make it. However, the local supermarket did not hate ricotta and thus, I had to no choice but revert to the usual meat based lasagna instead.

Ingredients
~ for ragu
250g of mince meat
1 medium onion
1 cloves garlic
1/2 tbs cayenne pepper (optional)
1 can Prego pasta sauce (onion, tomato and basil flavour)
1 1/2 tbs olive oil
salt to taste

~ for bechamel sauce
900ml milk
50g flour
50g butter
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

lasagna sheets
as much mozzarella cheese as you want (either the shredded ones or the soft mozzarella cheese if you can get them)


To make the ragu, heat the oil and fry the onions and garlic until the onion is transluscent.

Add in the meat and brown it. At this point, the juices from the mince meat will make the whole mixture all watery but that’s ok. Just keep on frying until all the liquid is gone.

Sprinkle the cayenne pepper all over the meat and onions and continue frying until the powder has suitably coated everything.

Add in the pasta sauce and stir. When the sauce starts to boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes and then take it off the fire.

For the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan and let it turn brown without burning it.

Add in the flour and keep on stirring to prevent any lumps.

Heat up the milk (in the microwave or on the stove) just under boiling point and add in the hot milk into the pan of frying flour, bit by bit. Whisk continuously to prevent any lumps to get a nice, smooth sauce.

Add in the nutmeg powder, pepper and salt to taste.

Take it off the fire and assemble the lasgana.

Oil the sides of the pan, size of your choosing, to prevent the sauce and lasagna sheets from sticking. Layer the bottom with the ragu, followed by the bechamel sauce, the shredded mozzarella (or pinches of the soft mozzarella) and a layer of the lasagna sheets.

Repeat the layers until you’ve filled the pan and on the top, sprinkle more mozzarella.

Bake for 20-30 minutes at 200°C.

Comments: When I made this, I realised that the pasta sauce was a little sweet, so more salt should be added to your taste. Unless you like it sweet. Also, since recipes are just a guideline, you can tweak it to however you want it, to your taste.


Friday Foods: Vegetable Curry

Curry
Photo by roolrool

When I was in uni, I only had a few recipes that I could do well and one of them was curry. For the whole year, I had curry almost every week but I’ve never done a vegetarian one. Even so, I find that the base or all the curries that my grandmother taught me are all the same.

Ingredients
2-3 cloves
1-2 star anise
2-3 cardamom
1-1.5 inch cinnamon stick
a handful of curry leaves
2 tbs curry powder
1 small onion, sliced
5 shallots and 2 garlic cloves, blended
2 potatoes, cubed
1 carrot, cubed
3-5 okras
1 cup of water
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tbs oil
salt to taste


Heat the oil in a pot and add in the spices and the curry leaves. When the spices are fragrant add in the sliced onions and fry until it’s translucent. Add in the blended shallots and garlic. Fry again until it’s all soft and fragrant, then add in the curry powder. Once the powder has a ‘crispy’ scent, add in the water and the vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer until all the hard veggies are cooked through. Add in the coconut milk to thicken it and salt to taste.

Served with either white rice or bread.

Note:
This curry is so versatile that you can add in almost any different kind of vegetables; eggplant, long beans, peas and chillies. You can even put in lentils like dhal. Just soak it over night and put it into the curry when adding in the vegetables. To get an even thicker curry, boil the dhal until it’s nice and soft and add it into the curry. It’s so good you can even eat it on it’s own.


Friday Foods: Mushroom Risotto

Bison Mushroom Risotto
Photo by eatallthethings

One of my favourite cook books is Cook With Jamie. I love the pictures and the instructions are rather simple to follow. So I decided to try it out.

Ingredients

For rice base:
3/4 cups of carnaroli rice
1/2 celery, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1L chicken/vegetable stock

For the Mushrooms:
100g of mushrooms, sliced
2 garlics, chopped
2tbs butter
some thyme
salt and black pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1L stock
grated Parmesan
an extra knob of butter


To make the rice base, melt the butter in the olive oil and fry the onion and celery over medium heat for about 15 minutes until the onions are soft but not coloured.

Add in the rice and keep stirring so that the rice won’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add in the stock, a ladle at a time and keep stirring until the rice has absorbed all the stock. Keep adding the stock and stirring until the rice is about 3/4 cook (or as Jamie refers to it as al dente).

Remove the rice from the pan onto an oiled tray and let it cool. If you make large portions of the rice base, you can store it in an air tight container in the fridge so that you can use it for other risotto recipes.

For the mushrooms, melt the butter in the same pan that you used for the rice. When it’s nice and foamy, drop in the mushrooms. (You can use a mix of mushrooms like porcini, golden trumpet or even other wild mushrooms. I used Portobello) When the mushrooms are tender, add in the garlic and season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Add in about half of the stock and put the rice back into the pan and stir until all the stock has been absorbed into the rice. Make sure that you keep stirring the rice as you add in more stock ladle by ladle so that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

When the rice is nice and soft but not soggy, turn off the fire and stir in the extra knob of butter, parsley and grated Parmesan. Now it’s ready to eat.

Serves 1-2, depending on how much you eat.

Personally, I think there’s so many things that you can do with the rice base, so many different types of risotto. Even this risotto can be modified to how ever you want it to be, like adding bits of ham or bacon into it. So try it out.

If you want to try something even more interesting, head on to Rinaz’s site and try out her Strawberry Risotto recipe.