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Friday, 6 April 2012

A good thing

Here is what I am currently eating for breakfast:

And ruddy delicious it is too.

What that is is last night's prawn curry.  Two of my dearest friends came round for supper yesterday.  The menu was: prawn curry, okra, vegetable pakoras, rice and chutney, followed by tiramisu.  Whilst I was making all of that I thought "Ha, this would be a terrible menu if any of us were pregnant!"  My first friend arrived.  She confirmed that she was not pregnant.  Second friend then arrived.  She immediately declined a glass of champagne and informed us that she is five weeks gone.  (She then did a brilliant impersonation of her husband's shell-shocked face.)

The upshot of this is that there's A LOT of prawn curry and tiramisu left over today.  But that is not, in my opinion, a bad thing or any reflection at all on the deliciousness of those two particular dishes.

Here is the prawn curry recipe.  It is my own invention, which explains the slightly unorthodox inclusion of  the tomato sauce.  The first time I did this I threw in some left-over spaghetti sauce, and it turned out so well that I have been too superstitious to stop adding it.

Serves 4 (non-pregnant) people.

Two packets of raw king prawns
2 tspns of turmeric
1 tspn of ground ginger

For the sauce
2 medium-sized onions, sliced into half moons
A two-inch sized piece of ginger, grated
4 cloves of garlic, grated
2 green chillies, finely diced (and de-seeded if you like)
2 tspns black mustard seeds
2 big pinches of curry leaves
150g of a tomato or marinara sauce (thinking on it, I think you could also use tomato puree or reduce down some tinned chopped tomatoes until they are a sticky, saucy consistency)
Tin of coconut milk
3 large tomatoes, skinned and diced (seeds and pulp removed)
2 tspns tamarind paste
2 tspns coriander seeds
1 tspn fennel seeds
1 tspn cumin seeds

Start off by toasting the coriander, fennel and cumin in a dry pan until golden and fragrant.  Grind to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar or other grinding device.

Fry the onions in vegetable oil over a medium heat until they are floppy and translucent, but not browned.  Turn up the heat and add the chillies, garlic and ginger pastes, the curry leaves and mustard seeds.  Fry hard for about a minute.  Add the the tomato sauce and fry for a further minute.  Tip in the coconut milk, and add the ground spices, tamarind paste and diced tomatoes (I also added the finely sliced stalks of some fresh coriander here).  Season and then top up with water - about four empty-coconut-milk-cans-worth.  Bring up to the boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for about an hour or an hour-and-a-half.

Whilst the sauce is bubbling away, de-vein the prawns.  Put them in a bowl with the turmeric and ground ginger, cover and refrigerate until the sauce is done.

When the is sauce thickened and tasting wonderful, add the prawns and poach them gently over a low heat until they are pink and cooked - about three minutes.

Serve with rice and chutney, and eat whilst congratulating yourself on your culinary ingeniousness.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Quasi nasi goreng

Mr F and I have of late been following a new policy of keeping the fridge only modestly stocked whilst at the same time attempting to eat down the contents of our dry goods cupboard.  The rationale for this was my recent faze of being hooked on Ocado deliveries, partly, I think, because placing the order seemed like a totally legitimate way of spending an hour or so browsing the web during office hours.  I was struck, however, by the feeling of panic that gripped me once the delivery had been made.  The sight of our over-stuffed fridge and too generously-filled cupboards made me feel pre-emptively guilty.  And rightly so, for barely a week would pass without my having to throw something away which was in a state of degradation worse than simply past its best.  There just wasn't enough time for us to eat the food that I ordered. 

The business of getting ourselves fed of an evening now starts earlier on in the day with me thinking of or stumbling across a recipe for a dish which can pretty much be made from the rations we have in stock.  I then get Mr F to purchase the fresh ingredients or garnishes on his way home, so that by the time he arrives we're ready to go.  This removes from the supper equation the minutes lost standing listlessly in front of the fridge struggling to find inspiration.  It's been working pretty well for us and has resulted in our adding a couple of new dishes to our repertoire.  We had this fried rice dish last week and both loved it.  The recipe is adapted from one which  appeared in Waitrose magazine last month, and I'm not convinced of its total authenticity, hence the "quasi".  I didn't much fancy serving the final dish with fried eggs on top, so instead beat the eggs together with a big squeeze of Barts Red Hot Chilli Sauce and made a quick and rudimentary omelette that I then sliced and stirred through.  That omelette was wondrous and was, I think, made so by that particular chilli sauce.  Strangely, it tastes pretty average on its own.

To serve two

A bunch of spring onions, finely sliced
An inch of root ginger, peeled and finely sliced
A clove of garlic, you guessed it - finely sliced
One Thai red chilli, finely chopped (seeds in or out - your call.  I kept the seeds in and it was fine)

100g (dry weight) of cooked long grain or basmati rice
150g (or one packet's worth) of raw prawns, de-veined

1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of fish sauce
2 tspns of muscovado sugar

Four eggs
Barts Red Hot Chilli sauce (a big squeeze of the bottle - probably about 20g)

Vegetable oil for frying
Chopped fresh coriander and lime wedges for garnishing

Heat a slosh of vegetable oil in a wok.  Beat the eggs and chilli sauce together.  Add the eggs to the wok and cook over a high heat, pulling down the cooked sides to allow the raw egg to flow over the top.  Flip the omelette once the underside is golden brown.  When cooked on both sides tip it on to a chopping board and reserve.  Wipe the wok clean with kitchen towel.

Mix together the soy and fish sauces and sugar and set aside.

Heat another slosh of veg oil and fry the spring onions, ginger, garlic and chilli.  Have a bit of a coughing fit as the chilli hits the hot oil.  Belatedly turn on the extractor fan.  Fry the aromatics for about a minute before adding the prawns.  Fry them until they are pink, then add the rice and the soy/fish sauce and sugar mixture.  Toss everything together until it is evenly coated.  Serve immediately with the sliced up omelette on top, and garnish with coriander and lime.

Eat whilst watching Masterchef and bitching about how much you don't like Aki.


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