December 30, 2009
Beef Fillet Steak
Beef Stock (OXO cube or similar)
Cut the beef into wide chunks, about one inch think. Next, crush the garlic using a pestle and mortar, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, one cube of beef stock and a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients well, and rub into the beef (if the beef is cold from the fridge, allow it to come to room temperature before marinading).
Once the BBQ is ready, place the strips evenly over the flames, turning every minute or two. Beef is really a personal taste, and some may prefer it well done, others on the rarer side, so it's really up to you how long you cook them for.
Mmmm! I love these! And over here they are just so big!
A really simply idea for uncooked prawns is to chop up some garlic and mix with some melted butter and a couple of squirts of lemon juice (fresh is best). Drizzle over the prawns and then simply stick them on the barbie, turning occasionally. You can tell when they are cooked as they will turn from grey to pink (this only takes a very short time).
Last but definitely not least - for those who like to venture away from meat and garlic bread, BBQ'd veggies can be really delicious - I particularly love roasted peppers and jacket potatoes. I won't go so far as to tell you how or what to cook, as veg is so easy to do, and you can really use whatever you want. This is what we got up to:
So, to the point...
Serves 5-6 as an appetiser
Rack of ribs (see photo reference below)
Small bowlful of garlic cloves (around 2-3 whole garlic bulbs)
BBQ sauce (either home-made or shop bought).
Firstly, you need to get those peelers going and peel all the garlic cloves. If you don't like the smell of garlic on your fingers, perhaps find a willing assistant. Secondly, roughly chop up a good handful of coriander root - not too much - just enough to bring out the flavour and so you can say 'Abra Cadabra' when throwing them into the broth (No? Just me? ok...)
Next, pull out your trusty wok, and fill with cold water - enough to comfortably cover the ribs when they are in said pan. Now add your peeled garlic cloves (whole), along with the coriander root and a good few sprinkles of some garlic pepper (alternatively, you can just use black wholegrain pepper).
Now simply turn on the heat and bring to a simmering boil. The ribs need to become very tenderised before going onto the BBQ, so leave them to simmer for up to 30 minutes - enough so that nearly all the water has been soaked up or evaporated.
Remove the ribs and place on a draining rack or similar to remove any excess water.
Next it's time to slather on some BBQ sauce. Unfortunately, because we were eating at our friends house who had only moved in 2 days previously, ingredients were limited so I have to admit, we got out the shop bought BBQ sauce. I know I know, I can hear the tuts from here, but rather than admit complete defeat, I've looked around on the internet and found you a really nice alternative if you want to make your own:
Rib Eye Express BBQ Tag Team Sauce
So all that's left to do, is marinade the ribs in the sauce. Do all the preparation for the ribs prior to lighting the BBQ, as you can then let them marinade nicely in the sauce before loading them onto the barbie. When ready, cut the ribs into smaller portions (either individually for appetiser size, or larger for a main meal) and add to the BBQ for around 10 - 15 minutes.
NB Please remember pork needs to be thoroughly cooked through, and BBQ food is notorious for food poisoning - just remember if it looks done on the outside, it probably is - but always check the meat in the middle just in case....
December 29, 2009
4 tuna steaks (preferably fresh tuna)
Fresh lemon grass
Ginger (Thai use an ingredient called 'gananga' but if unavailable ginger is a good alternative)
Salt and Pepper
1 small chilli
Our resident Thai chef says that you can just throw in any herbs, but these are a good starting point.
Firstly chop the lemon grass into 2 inch lengths (quite thin) to create a small handful and put into a mixing bowl, along with the chopped small chilli. Grate around 1-2 tablespoons of ginger and add, along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, a pinch of garlic pepper and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Chop a handful of basil to release the flavour and add all the ingredients into the bowl and mix well.
Once mixed, place aside and cut a cross into both sides of each tuna steak, about one inch deep. Salt both sides of the tuna by rubbing it in with your fingers:
This will help to draw in the marinade flavours. Next, butter 4 square cuts of foil, big enough to wrap the tuna in so it is tightly wrapped and air tight. Place a healthy spoonful of the herb mixture on top of each steak, and wrap up tight:
Leave the herb and mixture to marinade for about 20 minutes, before placing on the pre-heated BBQ. The steaks should take around 15 minutes to cook, but keep checking as like beef, tuna doesn't have to be cooked all the way through before serving, so depending on individual tastes you might want to use less or more time.
4 tuna steaks
Shitake mushrooms/ Rat Ear mushrooms
Ginger (about 2 tspns)
4 square cuts of silver foil
As with the Thai style tuna, you need to mix all the ingredients in a bowl before marinading. Firstly chop the ginger into strips (see picture below), followed by a chopped handful of mushrooms (chopped quite large) and add to the bowl. In Thailand they use mushrooms called 'Rat Ear' - as you can see from the shape that is exactly what they look like:
For an alternative, you can use shitake mushrooms which are available in most supermarkets. Next, peel a small handful of garlic (4-5 cloves) and rather than chopping it into small pieces, use the flat blade of a large kitchen knife to crush the garlic (do this on a hard chopping board or kitchen surface). Finally, add a good glug of oyster sauce and a pinch of pepper to the bowl and mix well.
Next, cut a one inch deep cross into each side of the fish steak (as above), salt both sides of the tuna by rubbing it in with your fingers, and place the fish onto the buttered foil. You do not need to butter the whole piece, just enough for the tuna to sit on. Add a good heaped tablespoon or two of the mixture onto the top of the fish and wrap up so the foil is air tight.
Place the fish on the pre-heated BBQ for 15 minutes or so, or until cooked as desired.
December 19, 2009
- Nimh Binh
- Hoi An
- Nha Trang
- Mui Ne
- Hoi Chi Minh
November 4, 2009
- dark soy sauce (used mostly for cooking)
- light soy sauce (used mostly as a condiment)
- ginger (fresh)
- garlic (fresh)
- red chilli (chilli flakes can be useful as a reserve)
- palm sugar
- stock cubes
- fish sauce
- oyster sauce
- salt + pepper
- sesame oil
- sunflower/vegetable oil
- star anise
- rice vinegar/white wine
If you are unsure of what these products are or look like, check out Thai Food Online, which has a comprehensive guide to ingredients that you can also by, or ImportFood.com, which does good recipes as well as being an online supermarket.
Don't forget you will also need a good wok, and a lot of chopsticks!
October 31, 2009
20g ginger, chopped into long, thin strips
50g sweet potato, skinless, diced small
2 small bowls of water – I have used this image so you can see the size of the bowls for reference only. Ignore the ingredients!
3 tbspn palm sugar
4 small bowls
Boil the ginger, sweet potato, water and 1 tablespoon of palm sugar in a frying pan, with the lid off. Once brought to the boil, leave for 10 minutes (until the potato has become soft, but not mushy).
When the mixture has started to reduce (after about 10 minutes), add the 2 remaining tablespoons of sugar and stir. Mix 2 tablespoons of cornflour in water to form a paste (quite runny). Add 1 tablespoon of this mixture to the soup.
After about 5 minutes it will begin to look slightly gelatinous (15 minutes cooking time total). At this point, remove from the heat and serve a small amount into the bowls.
Serve hot (and apologies for the clarity of this pic!):
If you are good with a filleting knife then you may want to start from scratch, but if (like me!) you’re more likely to end up shredding rather than filleting, then I suggest buying a large fillet that has been de-skinned and de-boned for you. Any local supermarket fish deli will provide this service for you.
As this is more of a main meal, I suggest serving it with a helping of rice for each person.
Large fillet of catfish (2 if smaller) or alternative white fish
1-2 large lotus leaves or banana leaves as available
2 tspn salt
2 tspn ground white pepper
4 tspn Aloma rice wine/regular white wine
Lime juice/rice vinegar for washing
Cooked rice (enough for 4 people), served hot
Tamarind and chilli sauce (see below)
Spring onion garnish (2-3 spring onions, sliced into long thin strips)
Firstly, wash the fish in either lime juice or rice vinegar. This will get rid of the fishy smell, and leave you with a really fresh smelling fish. Cut the fish into long, thick strips, around one inch wide:
Place the fish into a mixing bowl, and add the salt, Aloma or White wine and pepper to the fish. Mix well, being careful to avoid breaking up the fish. We used chopsticks for this process, but I think using your fingers to rub the ingredients over the fish would be easier.
Lay out the large banana or lotus leaves on the table and place the chunks of fish onto the leaves. Fold the leaves inwards to create a parcel with the fish inside.
Steam the fish for 15 minutes in a steamer, making sure the opening to the leaves is on the underside, helping to keep it closed.
While the fish is cooking, create the tamarind and chilli sauce using either pre-made tamarind paste (recommended) or tamarind solid. If using solid, slice off an appropriate amount and place in a bowl. Boil some water and pour it over the tamarind solid (not too much, the paste should be of a decent thickness) and leave for 20 minutes. Finally, to remove the remaining solids, sieve the tamarind mixture over a separate bowl. Add a tablespoon of mild chilli sauce and stir. The consistency should be similar to a sweet and sour or Hoisin sauce.
Serve hot with the rice and drizzle some of the tamarind and chilli sauce over the fish. Place the remaining sauce in a bowl as a condiment for the meal, and sliced spring onion garnish over the fish.
I have given the amount as serving four people on small skewers; however it is a very light dish, so you could use more chicken to bulk it up.
2 large skinless chicken breasts (3 if smaller)
2 tspn palm sugar
4 Tbspn chopped lemon leaf
2 tspn 5 Spice Powder
4 tspn clear honey
2 tspn ground white pepper
Small wooden skewers (about 6 inches long), pre-soaked in water for at least 15 minutes (avoids burning).
Slice the chicken into thin, similar sized strips:
Place in a mixing bowl with all the ingredients and stir for a couple of minutes (see photo for visual reference of chopped lemon leaf):
Leave to marinade for 10 minutes. Once marinated, thread the chicken onto the skewers lengthways, stretching the chicken flat.
Fresh spring rolls (also known as Summer Rolls): Use square rice paper
All ingredients must be cooked prior to wrapping as necessary (for example pork).
Fried spring rolls: Use round rice paper
Ingredients do not have to be cooked prior to frying.
During the class I took, we used lettuce, pork and prawns to fill our rolls. This is a great, light dish where you can utilise any leftover cooked meat you may have (for example Sunday roast pork/chicken). Just make sure that the meat is sliced small and thin prior to wrapping.
While you could use sweet chilli sauce or soy for dipping, I recommend the ‘Spring Roll Sauce’ which you can find below. It is very quick and easy to prepare, and ingredients readily available.
NB Don't be put off by the 'plasticky' texture of the rice paper, it's very edible!
Square rice paper (at least 12 sheets)
Prawns; tails removed, cooked, sliced in half
Pork; cooked, sliced into very thin 1 inch strips
Round lettuce; chopped fine and long
Spring roll sauce (see below)
Spring roll sauce:
2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
2 tbsp Fish Sauce
1 tbsp chopped peanuts
1 tbsp mixed chopped red chilli and garlic – diced very small
2 level tbsp palm sugar
6 tbsp water
1 tbsp lime juice
Add all ingredients except the peanuts into a small bowl and stir for around 30 seconds. Add chopped peanuts (without stirring).
Take a piece of rice paper, and at the bottom end, add a good amount of lettuce across the width of the paper. Top with a sprinkling of pork, and roll up to the halfway point.
Add two halves of prawn laying side-by-side, and continue to wrap.
Holding the paper together with your fingers, dip into the spring roll sauce to taste.
Chicken plucked and ready to go. Vietnamese eat all parts of the bird, including the head and feet.
Vietnamese and Western bananas – slight size difference!
Pig trotters; a staple of any Vietnamese pregnant woman – apparently they help to produce good quality breast milk.
A bit of beef filleting going on – it is very common to see meat left out in the open air throughout the markets. I asked Anh, our chef, why it wasn’t refridgerated and she told me that every morning it was brought from locals who had dissected the meat earlier that morning, and therefore it didn’t need to be put on ice or refridgerated.
Huge beef loin!
Pig hearts and a few livers in the top left corner.
Caged birds, not sure what sort, but I got the impression it wasn't for pets.
A huge selection of different types of rice, beans and lentils.
Massive bucket of snails, not something I'll be dipping into!
Selection of fresh fish Catfish – this is the same fish we used for our Steamed Catfish in Lotus Leaf and Tamarind Sauce recipe.
Not sure of name of these fish, however I thought it was a shame they did not have room to swim about, even if they weren’t going to be around much longer!
Chickens to be sold as pets for laying eggs.
So as you can see, the food of Hanoi reaches far and wide, and these were just a few selection shots from our tour. I noticed that duck eggs were as common as chicken eggs, and also bird eggs (quite small) were available easily. If only I had a kitchen and a Vietnamese translator!