Saturday, 19 May 2012

Laksa Lemak

This is a slightly vegetable-fortified version of a very seafood-heavy Singaporean soup from my humungous Asian cooking compendium. The whole house now smells of prawns but it was worth it :)


  • 10 raw prawns (or more if you're hungry)
  • a large handful of rice vermicelli
  • 1 tsp dried shrimp paste (don't inhale, lol)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into big pieces
  • 1 tsp galangal powder
  • 6 candlenuts
  • 1 stem lemongrass
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • a 200g chunk of pumpkin, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 200ml of coconut milk (or thereabouts)
  • a large handful of frozen peas
  • one lime
  • fried tofu, cooked crab or fish cakes (add if you're very hungry)
  • a quarter of a cucumber
  • a small bag of beansprouts

Peel and devein the prawns; reserve the flesh in the fridge and put the heads and shells in a stockpot. Cover with at least 300ml of boiling water and boil for 30 minutes, to produce a rich prawn stock. Drain and discard the heads and shells. Soak the rice vermicelli in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain.

In a food processor, blend the shrimp paste, onion, galangal powder, candlenuts and lemongrass, then fry for 7-8 minutes, turning frequently, until the mixture has darkened and reduced a little. Add the prawn stock and simmer for twenty minutes, then add the pumpkin and cook for a further five -- or until the pumpkin is almost done. Stir in the coconut milk, frozen peas, cooked vermicelli and add the raw prawns. Bring up to a simmer and cook for a few minutes; turn off the heat as soon as the prawns are cooked. Juice in half of the lime, and cut the other half into wedges.

Slice the cucumber thinly and add to the bean sprouts in a separate bowl; add the lime wedges to decorate. Serve the soup in deep bowls, topped with the extra protein if you're very hungry. Take handfuls of salad and top the soup, add a splash of lime juice and soy sauce and eat the salad with the soup. Yum!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Salt n Pepper Tofu Stir Fry

To go with our vegetarian steaks, we made a quick stir fry. The tofu was salted and peppered and fried separately, then left to drain. We finely chopped the vegetables and about half a thumb of ginger, stir-fried them quickly for a few minutes, then added the tofu and a splash of soy sauce at the end. Nom.

Nasu Dengaku

This time, with an amazing photo:

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Okra and Sausage Gumbo

As is typical when I get back from a trip away, there were a couple of cold sausages slowly edging past edibility at the back of the fridge. Luckily I noticed them in time, and put together an incredibly fast gumbo, which also happened to be amazingly tasty. We served it with pumpkin and potato mash - I suspect that the pumpkins aren't fully in season yet as they're a tad bland still.


  • a large white onion
  • a few handfuls of okra
  • two cloves of garlic
  • a corn-on-the-cob
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
  • a pinch of dried chilli
  • three ripe tomatoes
  • a couple of cooked sausages, preferably spicy chorizo, but any will do

Peel and finely chop the onion; fry over a moderate heat until softened. Top and tail the okra, then cut into bite-size pieces. Add to the onion and crush in the garlic; fry for a further minute. Meanwhile, cut the kernels from the corn-on-the-cob and chop the tomatoes. Add to the pan, along with the spices, and a splash of boiling water. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes to make sure the mixture doesn't stick. Add more water if you need to. Slice the sausages and stir into to the pan; turn off the heat and allow the flavours to mingle, then serve with mash or brown rice.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Salmon and Runner Bean Pasta

This is the sort of crazy yet strangely delicious thing I create when I get home just twenty minutes before my evening telecon with Cambridge.


  • a generous handful of runner beans
  • a couple of ripe tomatoes
  • a handful of fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • a cooked salmon fillet (I suppose tinned salmon might work!)
  • a 75g--100g tub of really good pesto
  • packet gnocchi

Slice the runner beans into cm-thick diagonal pieces and put on to steam. Chop the tomatoes and fry in a preferably non-non-stick frying pan. After  a minute or so, when they release some liquid, add the oregano. Set the gnocchi on to boil. When the runner beans are done and the tomatoes are well-softened and starting to dissolve, drain the beans and pop them in with the tomatoes. Turn off the heat and flake in the salmon. Season well with black pepper. Cover and allow the flavours to mingle. Meanwhile, drain the gnocchi, return to the pan and stir with the pesto. Serve the gnocchi topped with the sauce. I found it didn't even need parmesan!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Dark 'n' Stormy Salmon

Feeling considerably better today, and trying to stay with it by DOING ALL THE THINGS. This includes inventing new meals in between walking in the Perth hills and playing board games with new friends. I was going to dress this salmon fillet simply with soy sauce and lime zest when the ginger in the fridge caught my eye. I thought it would go well with the lime zest. Then I remembered we had a bottle of rum somewhere - and that goes well with both lime and ginger. And what tops all of that off is a dash of brown sugar - all the ingredients you need for a dark n stormy cocktail! So I figured out a method and put it all together, and served it with some simply stir-fried pak choi and plain white rice. Lovely.
Everything is under control.


  • a couple of plump salmon fillets
  • a generous thumb of ginger
  • one fat juicy lime, preferably unwaxed
  • 1 heaped dessert spoon of brown sugar
  • 50ml rum
  • matches

Check over your fillets for any bones. BBQ or pan-fry, skin-side down, until the skin is crispy and golden. Turn and sear the other side until golden. Remove immediately.

I should get massively jet-lagged more often.
Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the ginger. Zest the lime, and finely chop the zest. Put the ginger, lime zest and sugar in a very small heavy reduction pan and cook until the sugar begins to melt. Turn off the heat. Measure out the rum, and light a match. Pour the rum into the hot pan with one hand, then bring in the match with the other. The alcohol vapour should catch and you should end up with a merry little flame in your pan for a minute or so.

When the flame goes out, juice in half of the lime. Pour over the salmon and serve with the remaining lime half cut into wedges.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Miso Soup

I've been in Seattle for the last week and am absolutely knackered, jet-lagged, and confused. And did I mention tired? I probably did.

Luckily my super husband knows that after a long day's travel -- or two, I think, at least it was Friday at one point, if only for a few minutes -- all I want is something calming, nourishing and above all rehydrating. Enter the Japanese staple, fortified with a handful of udon noodles, a stir-fried pak choi and spring onion, and a handful of coriander leaves.
Now all I need to do is stay awake until 8pm and I'll be... *snore*...

French Toast with Bananas

Cos, you know, this is very different from my initial post on how to make this :) Actually I'm just happier with the photo. YUM.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Bangers with Apple Sauce

I really don't think I'll spell out the details on this one. Apple sauce is just a peeled, cored apple, chopped roughly and cooked in a pan for a couple of minutes, until mashable. Then whisk it around with a fork for a minute or so and you're done! Great at the end of the week when you've run out of energy and, apparently, food.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

A Special Someone's Birthday Cake

I'm a terrible wife! I planned out a lovely surprise for hubby's birthday, but didn't know that his work colleagues were expecting him to bring in a cake on his birthday. So the poor long-suffering man had to make his own birthday cake. On the plus side, that meant he got exactly what he wanted: a cake that combines chocolate and beer. He did a great job, making a couple of rounds and then sandwiching them together with goobery icing. He even kept this little ramekin-sized one back for us to share :)
Then for his birthday, I took him out to see Tripod, and he broke a rib laughing. Literally. I really am a terrible wife >.<

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Nasu Dengaku and Wasabi Broccoli

Nasu dengaku is a Japanese glazed eggplant (aubergine) dish that I discovered a few years ago in a lovely little restaurant in London. Since then I find it hard NOT to order, since it's so wonderful and every restaurant does it slightly differently. My favourite style is where they give you one HUGE slice of aubergine, with fat stripes of slightly different glaze across it, like chilli, sweet, and wasabi. Today I thought I'd start with the basic recipe, adapted from this helpful website. Their photos are a lot better than mine - I forgot to put the sesame seeds on at the end! I won't even repost the recipe because it was exactly right for one aubergine, and I didn't change it at all.

Recently we went to a great local Chinese restaurant and they had an 'Innovation Menu', which included 'wasabi beef'. This turned out to be thinly sliced pieces of beef, quickly fried and coated in a thick but somehow not overpowering wasabi sauce. I tried to replicate it today, using mince instead to save money while I worked out the recipe. Couldn't get the sauce quite right so I will keep iterating and see what I can come up with.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Celery and Lentil Soup

And the prize for 'Most Boring Soup in the World' goes to this recipe, to which I turned only in a desperate attempt to use up a 1kg head of celery that my Most Helpful Husband had bought for 'only a dollar'. With copious amounts of blue cheese, chives and bacon topping, it was just about edible. And it's also the sort of thing you might want, if you were, say, suffering norovirus for a few days and needed something incredibly bland to ease you back into that whole eating thing again. On the plus side, I took a very pretty photo.
Less tasty than it looks.