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!

Thai Poached Chicken, Kumara, and Wild Rice Salad with Kaffir Lime and Coconut Dressing

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I’m going to make this quick, the sun has just come out and I need to get to the beach!

This salad is delicious! Great textures and flavours, fresh and exciting! It’s really satisfying without making you feel too full afterwards. Gluten free and dairy free, it ticks all the boxes!

And it all came about because I had an abundance of kumara sitting around needing to be used. And I’m also a bit obsessed with coconut and lime at the moment, I think that’s just me wishing I was on a Caribbean island somewhere….

Definitely try and use a variety of kumara for this salad, they all taste different and have different textures when cooked. I used the good old orange as well as the purple skinned, white flesh variety. The purple skin variety holds its shape much better when baked, where the orange ones tend to go quite soft.

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Recipe (serves 4)

Ingredients

For the chicken

2-3 free range chicken breast

4 cups chicken stock

1 lemongrass stick, bashed and chopped

rind of 1 kaffir lime

4 kaffir lime leaves, chopped

5cm piece ginger, sliced

roots from 1 bunch coriander, washed

1 tbspn peppercorns

2 tbspn brown sugar

lemon oil (substitute olive oil)

For the salad

3 medium sweet potatoes (use a variety if possible)

olive oil

coriander seeds

300g wild rice

4 shallots, sliced

1 green chilli, half finely chopped and half sliced for decoration

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 bunch coriander, leaves and stems roughly chopped

1/2 bunch mint, leaves roughly chopped plus some whole for decoration

2 cups baby spinach roughly chopped

juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper

1/2 cup toasted flaked coconut

1/2 cup roasted cashews, roughly chopped

micro herbs and edible flowers (optional)

For the dressing

400ml coconut cream

1 kaffir lime leaf, chopped

juice of half a lime

1 tbspn coconut sugar (substitute brown sugar)

1/2 lemongrass stalk, bashed and chopped

5cm piece ginger, chopped

1/2 cup of the liquid used to cook the chicken, strained

Method

To poach the chicken, place all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to the simmer on a medium heat, simmer for 5-10mins, or until just cooked. Remove chicken from liquid and allow to cool slightly. Slice and drizzle with lemon oil to prevent it from drying out. Cover with cling wrap until needed.

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into long wedges. Toss with olive oil, coriander seeds, salt and pepper. Spread onto lined baking trays in a single layer. Bake in a 200 degrees oven for about 1/2 hr, or until golden and crispy on the edges. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile cook wild rice according to packet directions. Allow to cool before adding remaining salad ingredients, reserving the decorative chilli and mint and the coconut and cashews.

To make the dressing combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 10mins. Strain, and allow to cool in the fridge.

To assemble the salad layer the rice mixture with the sweet potato and the chicken. Sprinkle with mint, chilli, coconut, cashews, micro herbs and flowers. Serve with dressing on the side for people to dress their own.