Week 9 – Burma
When it comes to sour fish curry, this Burmese recipe has got the goods! This soup of sorts is packed full of potent flavours, with shrimp paste and tamarind packing punches while chilli adds the bite. It incorporates banana blossom, which was a brand new ingredient for me. It’s available in Asian grocers, or can be bought in a can.
This meal is quite hearty and keeps very well for lunch the next day.
Ingredients (Serves 6)
• 2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and cut to 3 cm pieces
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 2 long red chilies, 1 finely chopped, 1 thinly sliced
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 1 onion, thinly sliced
• 2 cm piece of ginger, thinly sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 1 bunch coriander, leaves picked and chopped, stalks finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
• 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
• 150 gr banana blossom
• ¼ cup besan flour
• ½ cup chickpeas, cooked and crushed
• 750 ml vegetable stock
• 400 gr vermicelli rice noodles, softened as per packet instructions
• 250 gr barramundi fillets, chopped
• 2 tomatoes, chopped
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce
• Lime wedges to serve
1. Place lemongrass pieces in bowl and just cover with hot water. Stand for 15 minutes, then use blender to blitz lemongrass to pulp.
2. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Cook lemongrass pulp, finely chopped chilli, turmeric, onion, ginger, garlic, coriander stalks and shrimp paste for 5 minutes.
3. Add tamarind pulp and banana blossom and stir for 3 minutes. Add besan flour and stir to combine. Add chickpeas. Slowly add stock, stirring, and simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened. Add drained rice noodles, fish, tomatoes and fish sauce, and simmer for 5 minutes or until noodles and fish are just cooked.
4. Divide among bowls, top with sliced chilli and coriander leaves and serve with lime wedges.
Week 10 – Thailand
Below are recipes for two of my favourite Thai meals: Massaman curry and Pad Thai.
The curry paste I use for Massaman is one learned during a cooking course in Chiang Mai several years ago. The best thing about making the pastes yourself is you can tweak them, adding extra spice, fishiness or salt. You then start the never ending journey to perfecting the paste to your preferences…
Like so much Asian cooking, the beauty in Thai curries is the huge ingredients list only requiring a handful of steps. This is flavour at full throttle.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
• 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
• 3 teaspoons ground coriander
• 3 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
• 1 teaspoon ground pepper
• 6 – 8 birds-eye chillis
• 3 golden shallots, chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic
• 1 stem of lemongrass
• 3 cm piece of galangal
• 3 cm piece of ginger
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 700 gr chuck steak, cut into 4 cm pieces
• 1 brown onion, diced
• 2 tablespoons of curry paste
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
• 1 cup coconut cream
• 1 cup coconut milk
• 1 cup chicken stock
• ½ cup unsalted roasted peanuts
• 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 3 cm pieces
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 2 bay leaves
• 5 cardamom pods, bruised
• 3 whole star anise
• 3 kaffir lime leaves
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
• 1 tablespoon fish sauce
• 2 tablespoons lime juice
• Roasted peanuts, to serve (optional)
• Steamed rice, to serve
1. To make the paste, combine all ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat and cook beef in batches. Set aside.
3. Heat remaining oil, add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add curry paste, garlic, ginger and dash of coconut cream and cook for 2 minutes. Add remaining coconut cream, coconut milk, stock, peanuts, potatoes, cinnamon, bay, cardamom, star anise and kaffir lime. Stir to combine, cover, reduce heat to low-medium, and cook for 1.5 – 2 hours, or until beef is very tender.
4. Add brown sugar, tamarind pulp, fish sauce and lime juice. Stir to combine and cook for a further 10 – 15 minutes. Serve with rice and top with extra peanuts.
• 2 tablespoons peanut oil
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 50 gr firm tofu, chopped in small pieces
• 50 gr chicken, chopped in small pieces
• 70 gr uncooked prawns
• 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 4 spring onions, sliced
• 1 small carrot, cut to matchsticks
• 100 gr flat rice noodles
• 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
• ½ tablespoon fish sauce
• ½ tablespoon sriracha
• Crushed peanuts, to serve
• Coriander leaves, to serve
• Bean sprouts, to serve
• Lime wedges, to serve
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in wok over medium heat. Add egg and cook like an omelette until just cooked. Remove from wok, shred, and set aside.
2. Soften rice noodles as per packet instructions. Drain all but a very small amount of water and set aside.
3. Add remaining oil and increase heat to medium-high. Add tofu and cook until it begins to brown. Add chicken and prawns and cook, tossing, for 3 minutes. Add garlic, spring onions and carrot and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add noodles to wok with the little remaining water. Toss until water has evaporated. Add oyster sauce, fish sauce and sriracha and toss to combine. Add shredded egg and toss to combine.
5. Transfer to a bowl and top with peanuts, coriander, sprouts and lime juice.
Week 11 – Malaysia
Here I present two Malaysian recipes that require different kinds of patience. The first, beef rendang, is a slow cook over three hours, just taunting you as it develops. The second is roti canai (to eat with the rendang, of course), that requires a painfully patient finesse in ensuring its dough is stretched see-through thin.
Like its Thai curry neighbour, this is an ingredient heavy recipe with only a few steps. Beware of the many flavours you’ll need to avoid in your bowl, though – lemongrass, cinnamon, kaffir lime leaves and bay leaves aren’t so chewable. This dish is seriously good.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
• 1 red capsicum, cored and chopped
• 5 shallots, peeled and chopped
• 5 garlic cloves
• 2cm piece of galangal, peeled and chopped
• 2cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
• 6 macadamia nuts
• 1 bird’s eye chilli, seeded
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon ground cloves
• ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil
• 1 kg chuck steak, cut into 5cm pieces
• 4 stalks lemongrass, cut into 7cm pieces
• 400 ml coconut milk
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 7 kaffir lime leaves, split
• 1 bay leaf
1. Combine capsicum, shallots, garlic, galangal, ginger, macadamias, chilli, salt, cloves and nutmeg in a blender and blitz to a paste. Add a little water if needed to get ensure a good puree.
2. Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a heavy based saucepan for 1 minute. Add puree and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. Over the duration of cooking, the rendang will evaporate and leave a dry curry. The surface will appear oily when done. Serve with roti canai, which you can cook up as the rendang finishes up.
Steps 1 and 2 need to be completed a day ahead
Ingredients (makes 6 serves roti)
• 3 cups plain flour
• 50 gr ghee, plus extra melted to grease
• ½ cup milk
• 1/3 cup water
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• Vegetable oil to fry
1. Place flour in a large bowl and rub ghee into flour with your fingers (like scones) until it forms coarse crumbs.
2. Combine milk, water, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add wet mix to flour mix and combine with hands into dough. Add a little water if mix is too dry. Knead dough for 10 – 15 minutes on lightly floured surface until elastic, then divide into twelve balls. Grease each portion with extra ghee, place in a bowl, cover with cling wrap and stand at room temperature overnight.
3. Grease a clean work surface with oil. Stretch one portion of dough into a circle and drizzle with oil. Place portion on greased surface and stretch with fingertips slowly until the dough is very thin (as close to see-through as you can make it). Fold the sides up and over like a crepe or envelope. Repeat with each portion.
4. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook each portion of roti canai for 2 minutes on each side. Serve with curry, or anything you like really.
Week 12 – Sri Lanka
Here’s a dinner and dessert double from Sri Lanka. Conveniently, coconut milk comes in 400ml cans, which can be halved across these two recipes.
Sri Lankan pumpkin curry
Ingredients (serves 4)
• 2 tablespoons ghee
• 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
• 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
• 3 cm piece ginger, finely sliced into slivers
• 1 long red chilli, seeded removed and sliced thinly
• ⅓ cup curry leaves
• 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
• ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
• ½ teaspoon hot chilli powder
• 1 teaspoon mustard powder (see Note)
• 1 small cinnamon stick
• 650 gr butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut in 3cm pieces
• ½ cup roasted peanuts
• 200 ml coconut milk
• 200 ml water
1. Melt ghee in heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, ginger and curry leaves. Cook for 5 minutes. Season.
2. Add mustard seeds and cook for 2 minutes. Add remaining spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add pumpkin and peanuts, coating it well in spices and cook for 3 minutes. Add coconut milk and stock, bring to a simmer and cook gently for 15-20 minutes.
3. Serve as a side curry, or as a meal with rice.
• 110 g jaggery (see Note), grated
• 200 ml coconut milk
• ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
• 1 cinnamon quill
• 2 cardamom pods, bruised
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 4 eggs
• 25 g unsalted roasted cashews, halved, plus extra roughly chopped, to serve
1. Preheat oven to 150C. Heat a small saucepan over low heat and add sugar, coconut milk, spices and vanilla. Stir for 5 minutes until sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
2. Whisk eggs in a bowl until thick and pale. Add coconut mixture to eggs and whisk to combine. Strain mixture through sieve. Divide between 4 moulds, each placed in a pan filled with water to reach half way up the moulds.
3. Bake for 35 minutes, scatter cashews over the top and cook for another 10 minutes, or until set (they will still wobble). Remove from pan and let cool, then refrigerate overnight.