Chilled Cucumber and Sesame Soup with Trio of Noodles

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I made this dish to share with our housemates before we left Australia. I can’t believe that was only a week ago. Feels like so much longer. My mind and body still don’t quite know where we are and if it wasn’t for the fantastic company I’ve been keeping, I’m not sure how I would be feeling! I realised today that I left my full time job over nine months ago and have not slept in the same place for more than a couple of weeks since then. Blows me away a little bit!!

This dish is so nourishing, moorish, cleansing and just downright good. We ate it as an entree on a hot night in Darwin. Having a chilled soup still seems like a good idea to me, being in a warm climate, but, if you’re somewhere where it’s starting to get a bit cool, it would be just as delicious served warm. You could add tofu or chicken to this if you liked, I think that would also be yum! You could also use whatever noodles you like, I just used what I had on hand, which was a delicious combination! I love the difference in textures.

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IMG_3677_2Recipe

Serves 6

Ingredients

4 Lebanese cucumbers, finely sliced

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup tahini

3 cups vegetable stock

4 tbs white miso paste

2 tsp raw sugar

1 long red chilli, finely sliced

4cm pice of ginger, grated

1 clove garlic, grated

100g vermicelli

250g hokkien noodles

250g thick soba noodles

A handful each of coriander leaves and mint leaves

Toasted sesame seeds and roasted peanuts, to garnish

Method

Combine the sliced cucumber in a large bowl with the 1/2 tsp salt. Stir to combine and allow to sit for 30mins.

After 30mins, using your hands, squeeze the liquid from the cucumbers, as much as you can. But don’t discard the liquid. Set the cucumber aside.

Combine the cucumber liquid with the tahini, stock, miso, sugar, chilli, ginger, and garlic and whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning and add a little salt if necessary. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Before serving, cook your noodles according to the packet directions. Run them under cold water once they are cooked, to cool, and stop the cooking process.

Divide the noodles between the serving bowls and pour over the cold soup. Top with the cucumber, herbs, sesame seeds and peanuts.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Scallops with Lap Cheong and Black Rice

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‘The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page’ – St Augustine. I’m not really one for quotes but I thought this one was pretty nice, I found it in a Lonely Planet photo Journal I was reading the other day, getting very excited…

It’s only three sleeps now until our trip overseas starts. I’m starting to feel a tiny bit anxious with excitement and anticipation for what’s to come. It’s been a year and a half since my last trip overseas. Oh, except NZ, but that doesn’t really count…

We haven’t made too many concrete plans, leaving our options as open as we possibly can, incase of meeting cool people, and hearing about cool places, etc. I hate the fact that you even have to book flights out of each country that you fly into, just to prove that you are leaving, I mean, I understand it, but it still really annoys me. Customs always freaks me out, even though I know I’m doing absolutely nothing wrong, they certainly have a way of making you feel nervous. After a couple of friends of friends were recently refused entry into Aus due to lack of funds, it makes me even more nervous. But, I’m sure we will be fine, and all of those things just add to the pleasure once you make it to the breathtaking places; where you find yourself, atop a volcano, in front of an ancient temple or amidst a tropical rainforest and you ask yourself, in awe, what am I even doing here? We are so lucky to have the freedom to travel.

I’ve been wanting to make this dish since way back in November when I started working in the fish market. I had never come across scallops in their shells before, and although they were ridiculously expensive, I had to try them, if not just for the taste but for their beautiful shells as well. So, I thought I’d better give them a go before we left Darwin, who knows when we will be back!

Like I said in my last post, the discovery of Lap Cheong (chinese sausage) since we’ve been up here has been a very very good one. We don’t eat much meat but the asian grocers here are amazing and the local, tropical produce, mostly lends itself to asian cuisine, so I’ve learnt to use it for lots of dishes. The flavour is out of this world and you don’t need much, so a packet goes a long way.

This is a great entree dish, or you could even serve it without the rice, as a canapé. Alternatively, bulk out the rice with some more veggies, like a fried rice, and serve the scallops on top. Delish!

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Recipe

Serves 4 as an entree

Ingredients

2 tbs peanut oil

100g Lap Cheong (chinese sausage), finely sliced

12 scallops on the half shell, without the roe, removed from the shell, shells set aside for serving

3 cloves garlic, finely sliced

20g butter

2 tbs oyster sauce

200g black rice, cooked to packet directions

2 spring onions

1 long red chilli, finely sliced

2cm fresh ginger, peeled and julienned

4 garlic chives, finley sliced

1/4 cup coriander leaves

lemon wedges, to serve

Cracked black pepper

Method

Prepare a medium bowl with water and ice. Cut the spring onions into 4 cm lengths and then finely slice them lengthways. Place them in the ice water and leave for 30mins, this will help them to curl. Drain. (note, this is purely for aesthetics and doesn’t affect the flavour).

Spread the cooked rice onto a serving platter, or onto 4 serving plates. Arrange the half shells on top of the rice, ready for the scallops. Keep warm. (again, this is just for presentation, you don’t need the shells).

Heat 1 tbs of the peanut oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the lap chuong and fry, stirring, for 2mins, add the garlic and continue to cook for a further 1min. Remove from the pan and evenly distribute between the shells.

Add the remaining 1 tbs of peanut oil and the butter, once butter is melted, add the scallops and cook for 1 to 2mins, turn and cook for a further 30secs. Drizzle with the oyster sauce. Place on top of the lap chuong.

Top the scallops with the spring onions, chilli, ginger, garlic chives, coriander, and some cracked black pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Chilli Mud Crab

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Have you ever had one of those days where you want to throw yourself on the floor and have a massive tantrum like a lollipop denied three year old in the grocery store? Well, this is my third day running of one of those kinds of days….and i’m hoping, for the sake of my boyfriend’s ability to stand anymore of my foul mood, that bad things happen in threes. Mind you. These are all very much first world problems, but hey, this is my blog and I’ll cry if I want to.

Aside from visa applications, bank issues, flight issues, and the stress of selling our car with one week to go, all of my problems have mainly been technology based. So much so that I would love to grab one of those crab claws and violently punch it through the screen of my computer, camera, mobile phone and any other device that may get in my way. If there was such a person as ‘Mac’, he would be feeling the wrath of my crab claws (this, of course would be after we had demolished the delicious flesh from them).
OK, rant over.
Let’s talk about something great. This dish. It was my first time trying Mudcrab, a must up here in Darwin. And made all the better by the fact that they were caught by my boyfriend and his mate. I’d heard a lot about Chilli crab, and the many ways in which people up here insist is the best way to prepare it. So, with a few recommendations from friends and some twists of my own, that night we were getting down and dirty with these tasty creatures.
You could use any shellfish in this sauce, just make sure you’ve got lots of crusty white bread to mop up all the juices. Oh, and something to wipe your hands on.

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Recipe

Ingredients
2 mudcrabs (how to prepare your mud crab)
2 tbs peanut oil
8 garlic chives, finely chopped
2 long red chillies and 2 birdseye chillies, finely chopped
3cm piece ginger, finely chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, bashed and tied into a knot (to be removed after cooking)
4 spring onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
2 tsp coconut vinegar
1 tbs fish sauce
1/2 cup tomato sauce/ketchup
1/2-1 cup water
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs cornfour, mixed with 2 tbs water
Salt and pepper
2 handfuls of fresh coriander leaves and 1 handful of thai basil leaves
Crusty white bread or steamed rice to serve
Method
In a large wok, heat the oil over high heat. Add the garlic chives, chillies, ginger, lemongrass and spring onion and cook, stirring for about 2 mins. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for another minute.
Add the vinegar, fish sauce, tomato sauce, 1/2 cup of water, brown sugar, and cornflour mixture, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring for about 5 mins. If sauce seems too thick, add more water. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary.
Add your prepared mud crab and stir to coat in the sauce. Cover and cook, stirring often for about 10-15 minutes, or until flesh is cooked. Stir through most of the coriander and thai basil, reserving some to sprinkle over at the end.
Serve with bread or rice and some cracking tools if you have them.

Tamarind and Lime Pickled Leader Prawns with Green Papaya and Rambutan Salad

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Talk about being pushed out of my comfort zone, this week I spoke on live to air radio about cooking, my blog, local produce, and how I work with it in each place I visit. It all happened within a couple of hours. A phone call from the station, asking me whether I’d like to do it and a few questions about myself and what I’ve been doing, then, to answering a phone call at 3.20pm and waiting for the music to finish and the presenter to introduce me. He was relaxed and friendly, and once my nerves calmed down, it was really fun and an awesome experience. What a funny day that was.
Anyway, the whole reason for the segment was to advertise a competition run by the ABC to find regional recipes from around Australia to include in a Cookbook celebrating Australian cuisine and local produce.
So here is my entry! The tropical produce up here in darwin is so beautiful, I can’t get enough! I’ve used the local Leader prawns from the trawlers down at Francis Bay, green papaya from my friends garden, and the rambutans, onion, ginger, chillies, mint and limes from the Rapid Creek Market. With the rest of the ingredients form the local Asian Grocer, I didn’t even need to visit a large supermarket. Which makes me very happy!
I’ve been wanting to try these local Leader prawns since I first saw them, they are so massive, three of them was more than enough for me. However, they are really delicious, with a beautiful texture, made even more special by pickling them in this delicious marinade. You could use any prawns in this recipe through, and it would also work with fish or squid, just omit the blanching part of the process.
This is my third green papaya salad recipe for the blog, obviously, it’s just too delicious. Along with the sweet rambutans, the crunchy coconut, the tangy prawns and the big beautiful edible rice bowl. This is such an exciting meal, that’s impressive whilst still being really simple and easy. I hope you give it a try!

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Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

500g raw Leader prawns, or other large prawns such as King or Tiger
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
Juice of 3 limes
3cm piece ginger, chopped into tiny matchsticks
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp palm sugar
1 tsp tamarind puree
1 tsp fish sauce
salt and pepper
1 small papaya, julienned or grated
6 rambutans, peeled, quartered and de-seeded
1 small spanish onion, very finely sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup toasted coconut chips
2 rice cakes with sesame seeds

Method

Peel and de-vien the prawns, leaving the tails on for presentation if desired.
Combine the chilli, lime juice, ginger, sesame oil, sugar, tamarind, fish sauce and salt and pepper in a shallow, non-reactive dish.
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Drop in the prawns and cook for 30secs, no longer. Strain and place in the dish with the marinade. Stir to combine and arrange so that all the prawns are submerged in the marinade. Cover and place in the fridge for 6 hours.
When ready to serve, toss together the papaya, rambutans, onion, and mint.
Cook the rice cakes, one at a time, in the microwave, on high for 1min.
To serve, divide the salad between the rice cakes. Top with the prawns, some of the marinade (this acts as the dressing), and sprinkle with the coconut chips.
Enjoy!

 

Oysters with Pickled Cucumber (and a note on how to make a ‘Japanese Slipper’)

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I understand the appeal of oysters, there is something wild and exciting about eating a creature like this, freshly shucked and still alive, smelling of the ocean as you tip it up to your lips…..

and then…
salty snot.

I’m sorry. I really am. I feel terrible that I can’t fully appreciate them yet. I’m getting there though. A friend recently introduced me to what she called the “Japanese Slipper”, consisting of soy, wasabi, pickled ginger and lime. I loved the flavour at first but it’s that creaminess towards the end that i’m still getting used too. Apparently this is the most sought after part!
So, after having the Japanese Slipper, and not totally hating it, I also tried a bit of a pickled cucumber dressing as well. The dressing is delicious and according to my guests, the oysters were as well.
After all, I love the ocean and appreciate everything that comes from it. I’m sure I will love oysters one day. I will never stop trying that’s for sure!
I haven’t included a recipe here for the Japanese Slipper oysters, but they are really easy, just mix some soy sauce and wasabi together, pour about a teaspoon on each oyster, top with some pickled ginger and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Note; they also pair nicely with an icy cold glass of Frangelico and Lime.

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Recipe

Makes 12

Ingredients

12 freshly shucked oysters
130g cucumber, de-seeded, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
1/4 spanish onion, very finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbs coconut vinegar
1 tbs caster sugar
Pinch dried chilli flakes
salt and pepper

Method

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the oysters. Stir well and leave to pickle in the fridge for at least an hour.
When ready to serve, place about a tbs of pickled cucumber dressing on each oyster. Serve with extra lime wedges, if desired.

Chinese Five Spice Kangaroo and Kimchi Buns

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This is some serious ‘asian fusion’ food, if ever I had to use that phrase. Sticky, slow-cooked, chinese five spiced kangaroo meat, sandwiched into a delicious, puffy white bun along with a kick of kimchi coleslaw, fresh, crunchy cucumber, and some creamy mayo. Textural and flavoursome, they would be a great party starter, bun in one hand, drink in the other, and a whole load of conversation about kangaroo meat, how good it is, and how more people should be choosing it over other red meats in Australia.

Kangaroo meat is lean, full of iron, full of flavour, sustainable and cheap. What’s not to love! I don’t eat red meat very often, mostly for sustainability purposes, so kangaroo is a great option for me. This was the first time I’d tried slow cooking it, and I was unsure as to wether it would work, considering how lean it is. But it was perfect!

These lotus leaf buns are really special as well. Called so because of their shape, they are traditionally stuffed with pork belly. You should be able to find them in your local asian grocer, or, if you’re really adventurous, and have some time up your sleeve, you could try making them from scratch (I went for the quick option). If you can’t find them, I would recommend using small dinner rolls or other small soft white rolls. Cause you really have to try this!

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Recipe

Makes 20 buns

Ingredients

3 tbs peanut oil
1kg diced kangaroo
1 bunch spring onion, sliced
Large knob fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
6 garlic chives*, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch coriander, leaves, stems and roots, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbs chinese 5 spice powder
1 tsp szechuan peppercorns, ground
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbs dark soy sauce
3 tbs light soy sauce
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
1/2-3/4 cup beef stock
2 x 10 pack lotus leaf buns*
1/2 small wombok cabbage, finley sliced
1 small carrot, grated
6 small radishes, finely sliced
1 cup kimchi*, finley chopped
1 telegraph cucumber, cut into 5mm thick slices
Whole egg mayo, to serve

* Garlic chives, lotus leaf buns, and kimchi, can all be found at asian grocers

Method

Heat 1 tbs of the peanut oil in a large saucepan, over medium high heat. In two batches, brown the kangaroo quickly, stirring constantly, about 1min. Remove and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium, add the rest of the oil and cook the spring onion, ginger, chilli, garlic, and coriander, stirring, for about 2mins. Return the meat to the pan along with the chinese 5 spice, szechuan pepper, sugar, soy, vinegar and 1/2 cup beef stock. Stir to combine. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and cover.
Cook, stirring every 20mins or so for about 3 hrs.
Remove the lid and cook for another 30mins-1hr, stirring often and checking for a thick consistency. You will know it’s ready when you can break apart a piece of meat with the back of a wooden spoon against the side of the pan. During cooking, you can add more beef stock if the liquid seems too low, but remember you want the end result to be dry enough to go into the buns without dripping out too much. It should not be like a curry.
When ready, set aside to cool for 20mins.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrot, radishes and kimchi, along with a tbs of the kimchi liquid. Stir to combine.
Just before serving, steam the buns, according to packet directions (I did them in the microwave). Keep them covered with cling wrap while assembling, to avoid them from drying out.
To assemble, open the bun, spread the top half with some mayonnaise, and on the bottom half put about 1/4 cup of kangaroo, some coleslaw, and a couple of slices of cumber. Serve with a napkins.
Enjoy!

Mushroom Bahn Mi

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There is nothing more satisfying than cooking and eating a meal that has been grown, created and cooked by people within a bike ride of where you live. I’ve been so lucky to have so many beautiful ingredients at my fingertips lately, that I’m finding it hard to use anything that isn’t local. Hence, I haven’t really been cooking with meat. I’m not vegetarian, vegan or celiac, but I know many who are and love to be able to cater for everyone. Give this Bahn Mi to a hardcore carnivore and I’m pretty sure they will eat it; and maybe even enjoy it immensely (even if they don’t admit it).
I’ve been buying traditional Bahn Mi rolls at the markets on the weekends here. They are beyond delicious. Traditionally made with a smoky lemongrass laden pork mince sausage, fresh coleslaw, pate, and mayonnaise, on a freshly baked vietnamese baguette. It’s a mix of cultures, bound to tantalise the senses.
Here, I’ve challenged myself to a vegan version. Sorry to the traditionalists. It’s just delicious though.
Aside from the mouth-filling flavour of the mushrooms, the vegan mayo and the mushroom pate are stars on their own. They can be used in many other scenarios and you will have leftovers from this recipe to do just this!
I hope you appreciate this humble looking sandwich as much as I did.

On a side note. It is so hard to take photos of food in this heat, along with flies….near impossible. So, please excuse the haphazard photos!

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Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

Vegan Mayonnaise
1 cup raw cashews (soaked in water, in the fridge, overnight, drained and rinsed)
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Mushroom Pate
20g dried mixed forest mushrooms
3 tbs light olive oil
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
250g mixed mushrooms (I used button and shitake)
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup dry roasted walnuts
salt and pepper
3 tsp olive oil spread

Pickled Carrot
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
pinch salt

Lemongrass Mushrooms
1 tbs peanut oil
2 large or 4 smaller portobello or field mushrooms
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs dark soy
1 tsp sesame oil
1 birds-eye chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, white and first part of green part, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and grated
pinch of pepper

The rest
1 small baguette, halved vertically into 2 serves, each half cut in half horizontally
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
handful each of thai basil leaves and coriander
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 long red chilli, thinly sliced

Method

For the lemongrass mushrooms, cut the mushrooms into quarters or halves, depending how big they are. Place in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour, stirring every so often to marinate, but be careful not to break up the mushrooms.
For the pickled carrot, place all of the ingredients in bowl and stir to combine. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour, stirring every so often.
For the mayonnaise, place all of the ingredients in a small food processor, or a bowl deep enough to use a stick blender. Blend until very smooth. It will take a while, but you want it to be really smooth, no grainy bits. Keep in the fridge until needed.
For the mushroom pate, place the dried forest mushrooms in a bowl with 1/2 cup hot water, leave to soak for at least half an hour. Remove the mushrooms from their soaking liquid. Reserve liquid.
Heat 2 tbs of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Cook the onion, garlic and mushrooms, stirring constantly, until cooked, about 5 to 10 mins. Remove from pan and set aside to cool slightly.
Place the drained forest mushrooms, cooked mushroom mixture, parsley, walnuts and remaining olive oil in a small food processor, or a bowl deep enough to use a stick blender. Blend until very smooth. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
Place into one large dish or 2 small ramekins, smooth the tops and place in the fridge to chill for at least 20mins.
Meanwhile, melt the olive oil spread and add 3 tbs of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid. Pour on top of the mushroom pate and keep in the fridge to set.
Once everything is ready to go, its time to assemble the sandwiches.
To cook the lemongrass mushrooms heat the peanut oil in a pan to high heat. Add the marinated mushrooms, and cook, stirring for about 5 mins, or until cooked and slightly caramelised. Set aside.
To assemble the sandwiches, spread the bottom halves of the baguettes with a good layer of mushroom pate, and the top halves with the vegan mayonnaise.
Top each half with the cooked mushrooms, pickled carrot, sliced cucumber, herbs, spring onions, and chilli. Top with the mayonnaise half of the baguettes.
Eat and enjoy!
Tip: they are also delicious, assembled and toasted in a pan, sandwich press, or bbq.

Lemongrass Beef Rice Paper Rolls with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce

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I will not be defeated! Not by bad moods, heat, humidity, self-doubt, flies, loneliness, crap job, or, floppy, ugly un-photogenic rice paper rolls. This was my second attempt at photographing these delicious, but oh-so un-cooperative, little morsels, and I think I’ve managed to semi succeed in making them look good. Sometimes, the styling part of this blog is quite a big challenge, I never really have a plan and just look around at the last minute for something textural and interesting that suits my mood. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But, I figure it’s really good practice for one day when I work in a really high end magazine and get to cook and style delicious food with an endless array of beautiful props. Haha!!

This was the first time I had cooked with red meat since baking a big ol’ ham at Christmas time and man, was it satisfying. Just this little bit of red meat, beautifully marinated and cooked perfectly, was just what I was craving. I’m definitely not one to enjoy a big thick steak but something like this is right up my ally. It’s a great way to make meat stretch between lots of people too, making it much more cost effective.

The dipping sauce that accompanies a rice paper roll is always a big factor in the end result. Classic sweet chilli is always a winner, but by adding a few little things, you can step it up a little and impress you’re guests with a ‘home-made’ dipping sauce. Cheeky.

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Recipe

Serves 4 as a starter

Ingredients

250g beef minute steaks

1 lemongrass stalk, white and pale green part, finely grated

1 tsp finely grated ginger

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbs fish sauce

1 tbs dark soy

1 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp pepper

peanut oil, to cook

1/4 small green papaya, grated

50g bean sprouts

1/4 red onion, finely sliced

80g vermicelli, cooked to packet instructions, rinsed under cold water

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup roasted, chopped peanuts

1/2 cup each of, loosely packed, mint and thai basil leaves, torn

1 tbs sesame oil

1/2 continental cucumber, thinly sliced

12 small rice paper rounds

Dipping Sauce

6 tbs sweet chilli sauce

2 tsp fish sauce

2 tbs tahini

1 spring onion, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Method

In a medium bowl, combine the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, soy, brown sugar and pepper and stir to combine. Add the beef, use your hands to really mix well and coat the meat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To make the dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well to combine. Set aside.

Heat a griddle pan, frying pan or barbecue to very hot. Add the peanut oil, and cook the beef, for about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside to rest and cool. When cool, thinly slice arose the grain.

In a bowl combine the papaya, bean sprouts, red onion, noodles, lime juice, peanuts, mint, thai basil and sesame oil.

Half fill a large dish with tap water, one large enough to fit the rice papers.

Working with one at a time, put the rice paper in the water for about 20 seconds, or until slightly softened. Place on a clean work surface. In the middle place 2 pieces of cucumber, a few strips of beef, and about 2tbs of the papaya mixture. Fold the bottom end over the mixture, fold the ends in, and roll up to secure. Repeat with remaining rice papers and mixture.

Serve with the dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Tip: To make them look a little bit pretty, instead of mixing the herbs through with the papaya mixture, keep them whole and lay them out on the rice paper before filling and rolling.

 

 

Tofu Satay with Lemongrass, Coconut and Tahini Sauce (Vegan, Gluten Free)

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I love food on sticks! Especially the beautiful smoky satay sold hot off the grill at the markets here on the weekend, the grill plates are thick with black build up from many years of cooking these delicious morsels, I’m sure it adds to the flavour. Here, they also serve them with Surabi; delectable little steamed rice cakes served with a sweet coconut sauce, I can’t wait to go and get more this weekend and I’d also like to find a recipe for them, though it is proving hard on the internet.

Satay is often associated with peanut sauce, but the word ‘satay’ is actually more in referral to the meat on a stick part. Turmeric is a main ingredient always used on the meat to give it the distinctive yellow colour. Then, depending on where you buy it and what kind of meat is used, governs the type of sauce that is served with it. Chilli sauces, soy based, and kecap manis are all used, while peanut is definitely the most common…AND DEFINITELY MY FAVOURITE. (haha, I didn’t even mean to write that in capitals but I’m going to leave it).

I wanted to create something just as moorish as this street side snack food but with my own healthy twist. The tofu soaks in the marinade beautifully, making it really dark and salty, while the coconut sauce adds a fresh and creamy element, with a tinge of nutty flavour from the tahini. You could replace the tofu with any meat you like, if that’s what you prefer. And serve it with any sides you like, we had some steamed asian greens and a bean sprout and herb salad. Serve rice as well for a more substantial feast.

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Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

375g pack firm tofu

1/2 cup dark soy (regular soy will also work, or replace it with tamari for gluten free)

Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp turmeric

About 12 metal or bamboo skewers (if using bamboo, soak them in water for at least an hour)

peanut oil, to cook

Steamed asian greens, coriander, mint, thai basil, shallots, chilli, lime wedges and bean sprouts, to serve

Lemongrass, Coconut and Tahini Sauce

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 tsp red curry paste (or any curry paste you have on hand)

1/4 cup tahini paste

2 lemongrass stalks, white and pale green part finely chopped

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tbs lime juice

1/4 cup roasted cashews

1/4 tsp salt

pinch of pepper

Method

Slice the tofu in half horizontally and then cut into about 12 long, cube shaped pieces.

Combine the soy, ginger, garlic and turmeric in a dish large enough to accommodate all of the tofu in a single layer. Lay the tofu in the marinade, turning to coat, and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight is fine.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, use a small food processor or stick blender to combine all of the ingredients, blending until smooth. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour for flavours to develop and sauce to thicken.

Carefully push a bamboo or metal skewer up the centre of each piece of tofu, ensuring it stays straight so that it doesn’t come out the side and cause the tofu to split.

Heat the peanut oil on a griddle pan, frying pan or barbecue plate to medium/high. Cook the tofu sticks, about 5 mins or so per side, until dark and slightly charred.

Serve with the sauce and choice of sides.

Enjoy!