Thai Meatball Coconut Curry

I tried out this recipe from the delicious magazine website for a thai meatball coconut curry and while I will make this again I also have to say not without the addition of several things. I followed the recipe (for half the amount) and I found it bland. The taste was overwhelmingly coconut and it was very mild, there were hardly any flavours left of the spices that went in. So I spiced it up with several more chillis, more of the curry paste and I also added tamarind chutney. The red peppers were paired up with a bok choi as I felt there was a green missing. The meatballs however were amazing. The lime zest made all the difference. I used half pork half beef mince for the meatballs, simply because I had some minced beef in the fridge that needed to be used up. The meatballs tasted light and fresh, so different to the meatballs that go with pasta.

There is a lot of chopping going on, it takes a while to prepare all the ingredients but that’s by no means a criticism. Quite the opposite, I find the methodical approach calms me down and chills me out.

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Smart shopping

I love food shopping. I love it especially when I’m in a different city or even country and often I come across things that I wish I could find in my local supermarkets.

My local Tesco has a foreign food aisle and recently I’ve discovered these noodle soups. Don’t they look cool? There are all sorts of noodle soups… some of them are completely in a foreign language and I have no idea what flavour they are but that doesn’t really bother me! We used to buy two minute noodle soup packs in Fiji and I have very fond memories of John making soup for me with added onions, chillies, cassava etc.etc, basically whatever was available on the island went into the soup!

So when I discovered these foreign two minute noodle soups a while ago I bought a whole variety of them and let me tell you, they are excellent value for money. I know you can buy Tesco value two minute noodle soups for what, 28 pence a pack? Or even less? But they don’t taste as nice as the foreign ones. They are great for when you think you don’t have anything to eat in the house. Last time I spruced them up by adding a handful of frozen prawns that I found in the freezer, a small piece of leftover chorizo from a week ago, a couple of mushrooms that were also on the brink and a few cocktail tomatoes that had fallen out of the packet and were at the back of my vegetable drawer and almost destined to go all mushy. Furthermore I spiced it up with Tom Yum Soup Paste, some lime juice, some fish sauce and a small spoonful of palm sugar. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh herbs (again, whatever you have in the garden or at your window sill or in the fridge) and some bread!

The result was one of the best soups we had in a long time. And so cheap! And I used up all those things that otherwise would have gone to waste.

Keralan fish curry

A Jamie Oliver Recipe that sounded good but turned out to be quite bland.
Here are the original ingredients:
Groundnut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
20 curry leaves
6 shallots, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 x 2.5cm piece of ginger, finely sliced
1 green chilli, finely sliced
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
750g firm white fish cut into chunks
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
Chopped coriander, basmati rice and naan bread, to serve
and here is what I added to it, to give it more flavour and spice:
1 tbsp tamarind chutney
1 tbsp curry powder
½ tsp garlic salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
a small squeeze of ketchup
Seeing that I tried this recipe for the first time I stuck to the instructions but realised quite soon that the timing is totally off because I ended up with my fish being overcooked and falling apart.
So, for best results, just do this:
Heat a lug of groundnut oil in a large pan and fry the mustard seeds with the curry leaves till the seeds start to pop (this happens quite quickly!). Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli, and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes until softened. Mix together the chilli powder and turmeric with a splash of water, and then stir into the pan. Fry for a minute, then add the coconut milk and tomatoes. Season with garlic salt and pepper and add the chutney and the curry powder, plus the ketchup.
Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add the fish. The fish (I used cod) doesn’t take long to cook through. The same time you put the fish into the curry put the rice into the cooking water. When the rice is done then your fish is done, too.
I served it without the coriander because I don’t like coriander. Flat leaf parsley is a good substitute or fresh dill. Or Thai basil works fine too.

Chicken Curry

My sister just calls this simply “Chicken Curry” but to me it’s unlike any other chicken curry I’ve ever eaten in my life. The original recipe is from her ex-mother-in-law who brought it to Germany from the Philippines. It takes some time to make but oh, it’s so worth it!

The recipe is for 4 to 6 people.

Ingredients:

1 1.5 – 2 kg free range organic chicken

Cook your chicken in :

water with
1 carrot, cut into large pieces
1 parsnip, cut into large pieces
¼ celeriac root or one celery stalk, cut into plarge ieces
some fresh curly parsley, leave whole
black peppercorns
1 clove of garlic, crushed
salt
1 bay leaf

Fry your chicken in:
Peanut oil

For seasoning your curry:

curry powder
curcuma powder
ground cumin
ground ginger
ground lemongrass
salt

Optional but I think most necessary (depending on how hot your want your curry!):
yellow or red curry paste

To add last to the chicken curry:

1 tin of coconut cream

Put into small bowls and onto the table before your serve your curry:

250gr cubed pancetta – fried and drained on kitchen paper
4 hard boiled eggs, cut into cubes
4 ripe tomatoes, washed and cubed and de-seeded. I add ½ tsp sugar and ½ tsp salt to the tomato pieces and ½ tsp of balsamic vinegar to bring out more taste of the tomatoes.
1 bunch of chives, best cut with scissors
1 small bag of dried roasted peanuts, chopped into smaller pieces. There is a really easy way to do that… place the peanuts into a big freezer bag and just bash it with a rolling pin. You’ll get big and small pieces.
mango chutney (and I also serve tamarind chutney)

Best served with

rice and naan bread

Cook the chicken in a big pot or in a pressure cooker (for about half an hour, depending how big your chicken is).
Once the chicken is cooked, take it out and let it cool down so you don’t burn your fingers when you de-bone it. Keep the chicken stock! Cut the chicken into bite size pieces.

Heat the peanut oil in a big pot and start frying some of the chicken meat. Sprinkle with curry powder and make sure you stir well as the meat easily sticks to the bottom of your pot otherwise. Add one ladle of chicken stock, stir and let the stock cook into the meat. Keep going until you have all your meat in the pot. Don’t put too much stock in as otherwise you will end up with soup!

Add the rest of the spices. It’s really difficult to say how much of each spice, you have to try and find out how it tastes. The bigger the chicken the more spices you’ll need. I usually start with one teaspoon of each and then add one tablespoon of curry paste to give it more heat.

Let it simmer on a really low heat while you start boiling the water for your rice. Once the rice is in the water, add a tin of coconut cream to your chicken curry. Stir well, season more if needed. Don’t let the curry get to the boil again!

Put the rice into the middle of your plate, add the chicken curry on top and then arrange all the other things around so you’ll end up with a very colourful plate.

Noodle salad with prawns and spicy peanut butter dressing

We had the first nice day in ages on Saturday and I felt like making something summery. This is a really nice salad (courtesy of Ina Garten but slightly changed by me with the addition of prawns) that doesn’t take up too much of your time and tastes wonderful! The salad is supposed to be warm.

Ingredients for the salad:

Salt
1/2 pound thin spaghetti or Chinese egg noodles
1 pound of raw tiger prawns
1 pound sugar snap peas
1 cup olive oil
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds, divided into 2 and 1
½ cup smooth peanut butter
1 red peppers, cored and seeded, and thinly sliced
4 spring onions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
1 red chilli, finely sliced
a handful of basil, roughly chopped

Marinade for the prawns:

1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of ketchup

Cook your noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
Cook the sugar snaps in boiling water for about four or five minutes until they are tender but still have bite. Take them out of the water when they are done and throw them into a bowl with ice water to stop them from cooking any more. Drain.
In a bowl, combine all ingredients for the prawn marinade, add the prawns and stir. Make sure all prawns are covered by the marinade.
For the salad dressing, whisk together the oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds and peanut butter.
Combine the noodles, sugar snap peas, peppers, chilli and spring onions in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the noodle mixture.
Heat up a frying pan and fry the prawns until they are pink on both sides. Add the marinade for the last half a minute, then empty the pan into the noodle salad.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and the basil and toss together. Enjoy!

Chicken in tomato and coconut with Thai spices

Empty Originally uploaded by abrinsky.
Did I tell you I got a slow cooker for Christmas? Best present ever! It’s so nice coming home, exhausted from work, in no mood for cooking and voila, it’s all done because you did it all in the morning and the cooker did the rest for you during the day! I forgot to take a picture of it and we ate it all because it was so good.
4 chicken thighs
4 chicken legs
3 carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
1 punnet of mushrooms, cleaned
1 stick of lemongrass
1/2 bunch of spring onions, chopped into inch long pieces
2 med. onions quartered
1 thumb long piece of fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 small carton of coconut cream
100ml soy sauce
juice of one lime
2 tbsp. honey
salt, pepper
2 tsp Schwartz Thai 7 Spice

Brown the chicken pieces in a hot pan, skin down first to release the fat, take them out and add all the chopped vegetables, onions and garlic into the pan. Make sure they don’t burn but just brown. Add the grated ginger and deglaze with soy sauce and the lime juice. Add the honey and stir. Add the chopped tomatoes and the spices. Put the chicken pieces with the lemon grass into the slow cooker and add the contents of the pan. Slow cook for six to eight hours. Half an hour before you want to eat add the coconut cream and stir everything. By now the chicken should fall off the bones.  I served it with a green salad and couscous.

Hot & Sour Thai Soup

I had a runny nose and decided to cure it the old fashion way… with a spicy soup. And what better soup than a thai soup with chilli peppers to release endorphins and fresh lime juice to top up your vitamin C intake!

All you need is:
about 1 litre of fresh chicken stock
juice of two limes
3 tbsp. thai fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 stalk of lemon grass (bashed)
2 small green finger chillis or one birds eye chilli, finely chopped
a handful of white mushrooms, quartered
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 small piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
some soy sauce
250 gr. of king prawns or shrimps
a generous handful of freshly cooked chicken, torn into bite size pieces
3 bundles of rice noodles
6 leaves of savoy cabbage cut into fine strips
2 plum tomatoes, chopped into small pieces

Put the chicken stock with the kaffir lime leaves, the lemongrass stalk and about half of the lime juice into a pot, bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime marinade the prawns or shrimps in some soy sauce, garlic and ginger.

After ten minutes take the lemongrass stalk out of the stock and add the rest of the lime juice, thai fish sauce, brown sugar, chopped chilli and the chicken and simmer for another five minutes. In the meantime boil some water and cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions.

In a small pan heat some oil and gently fry the marinated shrimps (I usually just empty the whole bowl into the pan) until they are nicely browned and add them, the tomatoes and the cabbage to the soup and simmer for another few minutes. You want the cabbage to be still crunchy. If you need more seasoning, add some more fish sauce and lime juice. Serve with the rice noodles in a soup dish.

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Carrot, ginger & coconut soup

Whenever I heard carrot soup I used to be like “uh, thanks but no thanks” … for some reason the word baby food came to mind. But then I tried this recipe and have never looked back! This soup takes no time to make and you can have it as hot and spicy as you like it.

Ingredients for 4 people (easily feeds 6 though)
750 gr. carrots
1 piece of fresh ginger about a finger long
2 medium sized onions
3 tbsp. olive oil
750 ml vegetable stock
1 fresh mango
½ bunch of spring onions
1 red chili
1 can of unsweetened coconut milk
1 lime
salt for seasoning
½ bunch chives

Peel the carrots and dice them. Peel ginger and the onions and chop both finely. Slightly sweat the onions, ginger and carrots in the olive oil, then add the vegetable stock and let simmer for about 10 minutes. In the meantime cut the flesh off the mango and cube it. Cut the chili into fine rings and do the same with the spring onions. Use a handheld blender to blend the carrot/onion/ginger soup. Add the coconut milk and season with the juice of one lime and some salt. I sometimes omit the salt and use fish sauce instead. Add the cubed mango flesh, the spring onions and the red chili. If you want more body to the soup you can add cooked king prawns (that’s what I did yesterday). Finally with a pair of scissors cut the chives and sprinkle over the soup (which I forgot in the picture above!)  

Serve with either fresh baguette or a crusty country loaf.