Tag Archives: paste

Kimchi – Korean Chilli and Ginger Cabbage Pickle

25 Mar Kimchi

Korean Kimchi

I think Kimchi is probably one of those Love or Hate things, like Marmite. I’m definitely a lover not a hater of both. I can see why you would be put off I suppose. I mean it’s fermented cabbage for want of a better description. Kids will love it.

Chinese Cabbage & Korean Chiili Flakes

It’s my new favourite thing. If you have never heard of it, where have you been? It’s a spicy Korean cabbage pickle (or condiment really) that can be used to liven up a huge amount of dishes. There are recipes using it all over the internet for Kimchi Fried Rice and Kimchi Pancakes among other things. It is a really versatile thing to have in your fridge for those “What are we having for lunch/dinner that only takes 15 minutes” moments.

Kimchi

This recipe is healthier than most as it uses an apple for sweetness rather than the evil sugar monster. We like that.

Korean Kimchi

Korean Kimchi Recipe

Makes 1 large jar, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free.

Adapted from Dr Ben Kim & Centre Stage Wellness

  • 1 Chinese cabbage (aka napa cabbage) the long ones (about 500g)
  • 4 Tbsp sea salt
  • about 450 ml (2 cups) warm water
  • 4 Tbsp Korean red chilli flakes/kimchi chilli powder (buy from Asian stores)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 3-4 spring onions/scallions, sliced 
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 large apple
  • 1/2 onion

Discard any outer damaged leaves, separate off all the cabbage leaves, rinse and chop into bite-size pieces. Dissolve the sea salt in the bowl of warm water, pour it over the cabbage and mix it well. Leave it to sit for at least four hours.

Rinse the cabbage well to remove excess salt then put it in a large bowl. Mix the Korean chilli flakes with a few tablespoons of warm water to create a paste, add the minced garlic and ginger and stir together well. Pour this onto the cabbage, stir through the spring onions and fish sauce if using.

Blend the cored apple with the 1/2 onion and about 200 ml (3/4 cup) water then add this to the cabbage as well. Mix everything together really well with a wooden spoon or with your hands (using gloves) to make sure everything is well-distributed.

Transfer the cabbage with a clean spoon into a large sterilised glass jar or bottle, pressing it down well each time as you stack it up. Pour over any liquid remaining in the bowl but leave about 2 inches clear at the top of the jar/bottle before sealing it up. Leave the  kimchi to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

The kimchi is now ready to eat. Store it in the fridge and it will continue to ferment slowly over time. As long as you use a clean spoon every time you take some out, it should keep for up to a month in the fridge.

Korean KimchiAdd a big dollop of it to vegetable stir fries to add another level of flavour, or to this Soba Noodle Salad or this Mee Goreng. It’s great in Asian style soups with some miso.  I love it sautéed with some broccoli, soy sauce and sesame oil which you can eat with noodles or add the whole lot to an omelette made with a bit of soy sauce or even some scrambled eggs. It is a fantastic thing to have around for food emergencies.

Have I convinced you yet?

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Keralan Vegetable and Coconut Sambar Recipe

2 Nov Keralan Vegetable Sambar

Kerala is right at the top of my list of places I want to visit. It is located on the Malabar coast of south-west India and is known for having some of the best and most delicious vegetarian food in the whole of India. That and its beautiful beaches, backwaters, tropical forests and luxury Ayurvedic retreats and you can see why I am so keen to get there.

Until that day arrives I am happy to continue on my culinary journey around my kitchen and be transported by the flavours and smells unique to that area. Sambar is a typical southern Indian vegetable stew made with lots of vegetables and pigeon peas (or lentils) in a tamarind broth. The sambar is the spice mix or paste which has variations from state to state in the south.

Coconuts grow along the coast in Kerala and most of their signature dishes feature it in some form. This Keralan Sambar powder  is made by toasting coconut along with the spices and grinding it to create a paste that is used to flavour the stew. The sambar is finished or tempered with a garnish of mustard seeds, chilli and spices cooked in coconut oil that is poured over just before serving.

In the original recipe the pigeon peas or lentils are cooked separately with some turmeric and chilli powder until soft and mushy. They are then added to the vegetables cooked in the tamarind & stock to thicken the stew towards the end. I used dried quick cooking yellow lentils that cook in the same amount of time as the vegetables so I cooked it all together. Less washing up too.

The vegetables I used are just what I had in the fridge. You could use pumpkin, carrots, potatoes, aubergine, courgettes, okra…..

Keralan Vegetable & Coconut Sambar Recipe

Serves 4 with rice. Vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from The Mistress of Spices & Sankeerthanam

  • 75-100 g dried yellow lentils
  • 300 g sweet potato, scrubbed & cut into 2 cm chunks
  • 300 g cauliflower florets
  • 300 g (1 very large) tomato, chopped
  • 200 g green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 1 or 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • salt
  • about 1 tsp jaggery/brown sugar or honey

For the tempering:

  •  2 tsp  coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 dried red chilli whole (I used fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • curry leaves (if you can get them)

Put the veg stock and tamarind in large pot with the turmeric, chilli flakes, lentils, sweet potato and cauliflower. Bring to the boil, season with salt then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes & lentils are cooked. Meanwhile make the sambar paste.

For the sambar paste

  • 4 Tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 dry red chilli (I used fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • salt

Toast everything in a dry frying pan until fragrant and toasty. The onions wont be cooked. Blend to a paste adding some salt and water as necessary.

Stir the sambar paste into the vegetable pot then add the softer vegetables, the beans and tomatoes. Bring to the boil again, lower the heat, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes or longer, until the lentils have broken down and you have a thicker stew consistency.  Add the jaggery/sugar or honey and taste for seasoning. Does it need more salt or sugar?

When ready to serve, heat the coconut oil in pan over a medium high heat and add the tempering spices, chilli and curry leaves (if using). When the seeds start to splutter tip the contents of the pan over the stew and serve with rice or flatbreads.

Things That Made Me Smile Today….

The oranges are coming. They are turning from green to a yellowy orange. Getting more orange every day. Which means it’s not long till Christmas.

Which means I need to get busy making Grandad’s Pickled Onions if I want them to be ready in time for Christmas. They need at least a month to mature into the spicy perfect beasts that everyone adores.

What Christmas treats are you planning to make this year?

Have a great weekend!

Quince Frangipane Tartlets

2 Dec Quince Tarlet

Quince are definitely an unusual and underrated fruit. Until I moved to Spain I had never even seen one let alone tasted one. The Spanish love the quince and make an exceedingly sweet paste/jelly called Dulce de Membrillo that is delicious served with Manchego cheese. It’s a classic tapa. If you would like to make some, Chica Andaluza has the recipe.

They look like a big yellow, gnarly apple and have a kind of peach fluff on the skin when they are on the tree. The flavour and texture are similar to an apple but it has a delicate floral perfume. They are in season here at the moment so I wanted to make something gorgeous with them to showcase their delicious flavour.

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Fig and Feta Sambousek with Homemade Harissa Sauce

6 Aug DCIM100MEDIA

The second wave of figs (higos) are just starting to ripen here now. This means that we have lots of figs.

We actually have a huge carrier bag full of them in the freezer that was given to us by our friend Leigh, thanks Leigh! Fig chutney was one of the first (in fact the second) recipe that I posted when I first started this blog last September. I’ve just made some more, it tastes great, really aromatic and spicy and it is amazing on a cheese sandwich.

We have just found a Lebanese restaurant in Alhaurin de la Torre called Beirut. It’s been there for ages and I don’t know why we haven’t been before because it has a huge amount of vegetarian dishes to choose from. We popped in for lunch on the way to the Viveros Guzman (an amazing garden centre) and ordered a vegetarian mezze called Katastroph to share.

Each little dish that they brought out was delicious. The hummus was the creamiest and the baba ghanoush was the smokiest that I have ever had, and I’ve had a lot. This was followed by a tabouleh, which was really fresh and was mainly fresh parsley (not a lot of bulgur) which is a good thing. The falafel were light and flavourful. All too often falafel can be heavy, dense and bland. Not these, there was an ingredient in there that I couldn’t recognise but was really familiar, something like fennel seeds, but not. All this was served with a really soft, light arab bread.

Then they brought out the thing that was, for me, the highlight. Sambusik (or sambousek) are little mini pasties, like samosas, but smaller. They seemed to be made out of the same dough as the bread and were stuffed with feta and onion or spinach and lemon. TO. DIE. FOR. Especially the feta and onion, like a mini cheese and onion pasty but softer. By the way I am not getting paid for this review, nor do they know that I am writing it. It is just something I had to share.

I researched it and found this recipe for the dough. It is not as soft and bread-like as theirs but it is really easy to work with, I added some fennel seeds to the dough for extra flavour too.

The fig chutney and feta combination was just born out of the fact that I have so much fig chutney and wanted to use it. It’s spicy sweetness contrasts really well with the salty, creamy feta. It would make a fabulous tart filling too. Just spread some on a puff pastry circle and crumble over the feta, cook at 220 C for about 15-20 minutes until puffed and golden and sprinkle over some fresh parsley to serve.

You could also use fresh figs as the base if you don’t want to bother making the chutney.

Those were the step by step pictures, in case you were wondering. This is the finished product.

I decided to make my own harissa sauce to go with this because, as you know, I have a mountain of chillis and it may be the only chilli sauce I haven’t made yet!

This sauce is hot so I mixed it with some greek yoghurt to serve with the sambousek.

Fig & Feta Sambousek with Homemade Harissa Sauce

For the harissa sauce:

Makes about 250 ml, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Taste Food

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tin/jar (200 gr) roasted red peppers, and any juice (I used piquillo peppers), roughly chopped
  • 3 red chillies, stemmed and finely chopped with seeds
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or more)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree (tomate frito)
  • 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Toast the seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, but do not burn. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grid to a fine powder.

Put the peppers, chillis, garlic, ground seeds, tomato puree, olive oil and parsley in a food processor and blend until smooth, adding more oil or tomato puree, if necessary, to get the desired consistency. Season with the salt & black pepper and taste (a tiny amount). You may want to add more salt or a pinch of sugar. Pour into a sterilised bottle/jar, seal and keep in the fridge until needed.

For the Fig & Feta Sambousek:

Makes about 16 small pastries, vegetarian

  • 225 gr (1 1/2 cups) flour (I use Atta wholemeal), plus extra for dusting
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fennel or cumin seeds
  • 110 ml (1/2 cup) warm, not hot water
  • fig chutney, see my recipe here
  • 100-150 gr greek feta, cut into small cubes
  • fresh parsley leaves
  • sumac (optional)
  • olive oil for brushing
  • harissa sauce (see above)
  • greek yoghurt

Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl, then stir in the seeds. Add the olive oil, stir it around then make a well in the middle and pour in the tepid water. Fold the flour into the water, turning the bowl as you go until it forms a sticky dough.

Flour the work surface and knead the dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky about 2 minutes. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least an hour.

Flour your work surface and rolling-pin and roll out the dough to about 3mm thick. Cut out small circles (I used a water-glass) about 3 inches diameter. Lift the excess pastry away from the circles, re-roll it and cut out more circles, you should get about 16 in total.

Spread the circles on your work surface and put a teaspoon of fig chutney in the centre of each one. Top this with a small cube of feta, a parsley leaf and a small pinch of sumac.

Lift up two opposite edges and seal them around the filling. Seal the two other ends, pinching them together to create a four-cornered sambousek (see pictures above). They can be refrigerated at this point.

Preheat oven to 180 C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Brush the baking paper with olive oil and place the sambousek on the tray, you may need two trays. Brush them with olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Mix some harissa paste and greek yoghurt together, tasting until you get the right balance for you. Top with some fresh parsley leaves.

Serve the hot/warm sambousek with the harissa yoghurt sauce and sprinkle over some more fresh parsley.

Laos Style Aubergine, Mushroom and Lemongrass Curry Rice Bowl

21 Apr DCIM100MEDIA

Laos is in South East Asia bordered by Northeast Thailand, Viet Nam, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia & China. It is another place on my list of must visit countries that keeps growing by the day. I found the link to this recipe on Tes at Home. Tes grew up in Northeast Thailand but now lives in India. This recipe is my vegetarian version of her childhood memories of  a dish called Or Lam that she found on Eating Asia.  I took ingredients and techniques from both recipes and cooked the rice in the same pot but it would normally be served with sticky rice on the side. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any fresh dill for this dish so I replaced it with fresh coriander. Feel free to substitute the dill back in or a mixture of both would be nice.

You start by making a curry paste with shallots, garlic, chilli, lemongrass, lime leaves, coriander stalks and salt.  This is fried off then veg stock is added before adding the vegetables. The idea is to cook the aubergine until it is very soft and thickens the stew. I used my metal tea infuser to flavour the dish with Sichuan peppercorns and black peppercorns. This way you get some of the aromatic heat from the peppercorns but not the full on numb lips experience. I used 15 of each in the tea infuser. You could also use a  piece of muslin tied at the top with string). Or crush a smaller amount of each to add to the dish, say five of each.

Laos Style Aubergine, Mushroom & Lemongrass Curry Rice Bowl

serves 2, vegan, gluten-free

  • 1 large aubergine, quartered lengthways then cut into 2 cm chunks
  • 100 gr mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
  • 100 gr green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped( I used 2 garlic & 1 spring garlic)
  • 6 shallots (I used 1/2 spring onions), roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, roughly sliced
  • 3 lime leaves, sliced
  •  1 red or green chilli, roughly chopped
  • a handful of coriander stalks
  • 1 tsp salt (or 1 tbsp fish sauce)
  • about 500 ml veg stock
  • 15 Sichuan peppercorns
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 150 gr wholegrain rice
  • 2 big handfuls of fresh spinach
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus leaves for garnish

Put the shallots, garlic, chilli, lemongrass, lime leaves, coriander stalks and salt (or fish sauce) into a bowl or food processor and blend to a smoothish paste. Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a large pan over a medium heat, add in the paste and stir fry for a minute. Add in the veg stock and put both sets of peppercorns in the tea infuser(or muslin bag) and hang it  over the side of the pan so it is submerged in the liquid (or throw in the muslin bag).  Bring to the boil.

Add in the mushrooms, aubergine and rice, season with salt and boil for another minute. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for about another 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the aubergine is soft and melting into the stock. If you like you can take out a ladle full of the stew and blend until smooth before adding back into the pot.

Add in the green beans and spinach, stir, cover and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes until the beans are cooked. Stir in the chopped coriander and taste for seasoning.

Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with extra coriander leaves.

Imagine yourself on the banks of the Mekong river watching the boats go by or strolling through a colourful food market selling exotic, unknown foods, listening to the strange language and trying to recognise the unfamiliar smells. I will get there.. one day….

Thai Squash Wonton Soup and Spring Rolls with green curry noodles

29 Jan

I had to make something with my first homemade veg stock, something worthy that would appreciate it’s clean, delicate flavour. Wonton soup is that dish.

The wontons are generally filled with seasoned pork and prawns. I decided to go for the Butternut squash that was in danger of going soft in my fridge. I roasted it and mixed the scooped out flesh with some Thai flavours, lemongrass, ginger & chilli and used that as my filling. Roasting half a squash (as I did) makes a lot of the filling  so I used it to make some spring rolls too which I served with some Thai Green Curry Rice Noodles. You could also use the rest of the squash mix to make a delicious soup, just add some coconut milk and veg stock and blend..

I would definitely recommend making these on the day you want to cook them. The spring rolls especially did not keep very well in the fridge overnight as the filling is quite moist and it soaks into the wrappers. You can make the filling the day before but do your wontons and spring rolls on the same day you want to eat them for the best results.

Thai Squash Wontons and Spring Rolls

 vegetarian (makes lots of the filling)

  • 1/2 butternut squash (keep seeds if you want to roast them too)
  • olive oil, salt, pepper
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • a large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated/minced ginger
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bashed, ends removed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 red chilli (I only used 1/2 because my chillis are really hot you can use more)
  • a handful of coriander, stalks chopped separately
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • some breadcrumbs if the mixture is very wet (panko are best)
  • wonton wrappers (defrosted at room temp. Keep covered or they will dry out)
  • spring roll wrappers(defrosted at room temp. Keep covered or they will dry out)
  • 1 egg, beaten for brushing

Preheat the oven to 200C, cut the squash half in half, put on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper and roast for about 30 – 45 minutes depending on your squash. It needs to be tender. You can roast the seeds at the same time, just wash and dry them, spread them out on a sheet of  foil, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt & pepper and roast for about 15 minutes. (Keep an eye on them they should brown slightly not burn). Leave the squash until cool enough to handle and scoop out the soft flesh into a large bowl.

Meanwhile heat some oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add in the onions, celery, coriander stalks, lemongrass and chilli with a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Then add in the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes. Tip this into the squash with the chopped coriander leaves and mix everything together well. Add in the cornflour and breadcrumbs if it seems very wet.  Season with salt & pepper and taste.

When they have come to room temperature place one wonton wrapper on a board or work surface so it is a diamond shape. With your finger moisten the edges of the wrapper with the beaten egg. Take a small teaspoon of the filling and put it in the top triangle of the diamond away from the edges.

Fold the bottom half over the filling and seal the edges with your fingers. Push down around the filling to get rid of any air. Make sure the edges are sealed and there is no filling escaping. Moisten the two bottom corners with egg and close them together and seal to create the dumpling shape. Sit it up on it’s base.

Continue until you have made enough wontons. I think three per person in a little bowl of soup is enough for a starter. You could also serve more of them as  a main course (like a ravioli or tortellini dish) with some of the Thai Green Curry sauce (see recipe below).

With the spring roll wrappers, lay it out on a board in a diamond shape again. Brush all the edges with beaten egg. Place teaspoons of the filling in a sausage shape about a quarter of the way up, not touching the edges, as in the photo above.

Fold the wrapper over the filling and tightly roll away from you until you reach the last quarter. Then brush the two ends with beaten egg and fold them in tightly.

Then continue rolling it up until you get something like this…

Store the wontons and spring rolls in the fridge separated with baking paper so they don’t stick together but use them on the same day, they don’t keep well overnight. To cook the spring rolls deep fry in hot vegetable oil in a wok, frying pan or deep fat fryer until golden on both sides (about 2 – 3 minutes on each side). Drain on kitchen paper and serve with your favourite dipping sauce….

Spring Roll Dipping Sauce

  • soy sauce
  • Shaoxing rice wine
  • sesame oil
  • oyster sauce
  • minced ginger
  • lime juice
  • brown sugar/palm sugar
  • chopped spring onions or garlic shoots
  • chopped red chilli
  • fresh coriander
  •  

    These are the ingredients for my dipping sauce. I have no idea of amounts just start with the soy and keep adding and tasting until you get what you like…

Wonton Soup Recipe

serves 4, vegetarian

  • 5 small bowls of vegetable stock (use the bowl you are serving in to get the correct amount plus 1 extra for luck)
  • about 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • about 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • a few drops of sesame oil
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  •  1/2 red chilli, finely chopped plus extra for garnish
  • some shredded cabbage, a handful
  • 1 garlic chive or spring onion, finely sliced, plus extra for garnish
  •  1 tbsp chopped coriander plus leaves to garnish
  • roasted pumpkin seeds (see above) optional
  • 12 wontons (3 per person) see recipe above

Heat the veg stock to just under boiling and add in the miso, spring onions/garlic shoots, chilli, cabbage, ginger, rice wine and soy sauce. Stir until the miso dissolves and simmer for a few minutes to soften the cabbage. Add a few drops of sesame oil and drop in the wontons. They will sink, give them a stir occasionally and cook in gently bubbling water for 3 or 4 minutes. They should float to the top then give them another minute or so. Scoop out the wontons with a slotted spoon and place them in the serving bowls.

Stir in the chopped coriander and ladle the hot soup over the wontons. Garnish with extra spring onion, pumpkin seeds, sliced chilli and coriander leaves and serve immediately.

 This is such a brilliant starter to an Asian meal. It’s light, aromatic , healthy and full of flavour. The Washer Up said it was the best soup I’ve ever made and I think I agree. It’s one of those dishes you never want to end.  You could definitely serve it as a main course in a bigger bowl with more of everything but maybe it’s better to leave people wanting more, I don’t know, you decide…….

Alongside the Spring  Rolls and dipping sauce I served some Thai Green Curry Rice Noodles. I got the recipe for the Thai Green Curry Paste from Tes at Home. Tes is Thai and lives in India and I think the recipe comes from her mother. It was really very good, well-balanced and flavourful even though I couldn’t get any Thai basil and I substituted ginger for galangal…

Thai Green Curry Noodles

serves 4, vegan

  • about 400 gr fat rice noodles (I used XL)
  • 3 heaped tbsp Thai Green Curry Paste (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 tin 400 ml coconut milk
  • soy sauce and  brown sugar/palm sugar to taste
  • fresh coriander chopped
  • chopped spring onions/garlic shoots
  • coriander leaves/spring onions/sliced chilli for garnish
  • veg stock if necessary

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, drain, rinse under cold water and set aside. Meanwhile heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat. Cook the curry paste and spring onions for 2 or 3 minutes until the spices are aromatic then add in the coconut milk. Stir everything and cook to thicken the sauce slightly. Taste and add some soy sauce & sugar if you think it needs it. Place the noodles in the sauce a handful at a time, string to coat the noodles then add the chopped coriander. When the noodles have warmed through and are coated in the sauce tip into your warmed serving dishes (If it seems a bit dry you can add a bit of veg stock).

Garnish with coriander leaves, spring onion and fresh chilli……………

And serve with the Spring Rolls and dipping sauce……… delicious!!!

This recipe is featured in January’s YBR round up hosted by Nancy at Spicie Foodie. To see a fantastic selection of delicious recipes & beautiful photos click on the Your Best Recipe Badge above and have a look around…

Mountains of Greens Miso Soup

9 Jan

While walking the dog today it hit me how many greens there are growing here at the moment. There are cabbages…

Lettuces…

Acelgas (Chard)……

and spring onions…

All growing in very neat & tidy rows…

These are the greens I had at home..

I was inspired by a Japanese dish called Nanakusa-Shiru I found on Bittersweet which promises wealth, luck and a healthy clean start to the year. The ingredients are greens, herbs, brown rice & miso paste. Healthy, delicious, nutritious and warming. Proper feel good food that is good for you. I just used everything green that I had in my fridge…

Mountains of Greens Miso Soup

serves 4 – 6 vegan

  • 150 gr uncooked brown rice
  • 1/2 head cabbage, finely sliced
  • 1 leek, cut in half lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped & leaves
  • 4 garlic chives/ajillos (look like scallions see photo above) sliced, or 2 cloves garlic. minced
  • 1 spanish spring onion (or 4 scallions) chopped
  • 1/2 bag spinach about 150gr
  • 1 little gem /lettuce heart, sliced
  • a thumbsize piece of ginger peeled & grated about 1tbsp
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped. Stalks chopped separately
  • 100 gr red miso paste
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 1/2 litre water (maybe more)
  • a few drops sesame oil
  • 1 or 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (optional)
  • salt
  • sesame seeds
  • dried chilli flakes
  • coriander leaves

Cook the brown rice according to the instructions on the pack, rinse well in cold water and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large soup pot over a medium heat, heat some oil then add the leeks, celery, garlic chives, spring onions, ginger, coriander stalks & a good pinch of salt. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until softened & fragrant then add the sliced cabbage. Pour in the veg stock and water,(you may want to add more water) bring to the boil then reduce the heat & simmer for about 15 minutes.

In a small bowl mix the miso paste with a couple of spoonfuls of the hot stock and mix well to loosen it. Pour the miso into the soup pot and stir. Add in the cooked rice, the rest of the greens and the chopped coriander. Cook for a couple of minutes then season with a few drops of sesame oil and the Shaoxing rice wine. Taste and add some salt if necessary. Serve in warmed bowls garnished with coriander leaves, sesame seeds and a small pinch of chilli flakes.

This recipe can be adapted to use whatever greens you have.  Most greens can go in right at the end as they just need to wilt in the hot broth. Cabbage needs a little longer. 

This is one of those dishes that is really good for you and it also tastes fantastic, so you don’t feel like you are being deprived. In fact you can feel safe in the knowledge that you are treating your body as a temple for a change and really enjoying it…!

Chinese Mushroom, Pak Choi and Sesame Soba Noodles

6 Nov

We went to the chinese supermarket in Fuengirola yesterday to buy some noodles. Obviously we ended up buying loads more stuff. I love it there, there’s always something new and exciting to try- something you just have to have ! I love the packaging as well I am such a sucker for nice packaging it doesn’t matter what it is. I am always inspired by what is on offer and have to go home straight away to cook with it.

Yesterday we bought some lovely japanese buckwheat noodles in a gorgeous jade green packet.

We also bought an enormous pak choi, some dried shitake mushrooms & some fresh little oyster mushrooms.

This was the biggest pak choi I had ever seen, I just had to have it. They are normally small and slightly wilted looking and a bit disappointing really but this looked delicious. I think pak choi must be part of the Acelgas family because when I was walking Rufus this morning the acelgas growing looked really good as well, they must be near to harvesting them now. The Spanish call pak choi Acelgas Chinas which translates as Chinese Chard.

The Spanish cook the white stalks of the acelgas in butter first until tender and then add the leaves to wilt, which is how I am going to treat this huge pak choi but without the butter!

We also bought some fermented chilli bean paste which is one of my favourite asian ingredients. It gives a really spicy, savoury flavour to loads of dishes, essential store cupboard ingredient..

The other bottle is Shaoxing rice wine, another storecupboard favourite, it gives great authentic flavour but you can use sherry if you can’t get any. We also bought some new props for photos like the chopsticks, little rice bowl & spoon and a red painted white bowl. Asian supermarkets are great for props. They are cheap and look great in photos. Needless to say The Washer Up had to drag me out before I bought more stuff, I do get a bit carried away and excited…..

So those are the ingredients that inspired this dish, here’s how they come together..

Chinese Mushroom & Pak Choi Sesame Soba Noodles

Serves 2-3 Vegetarian

  • about 6 dried shitake mushrooms (or whatever dried mushrooms you can find)
  •  150-200gr oyster mushrooms
  • 1 large pak choi or 3 small
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped finely
  • 1/2 large spanish spring onion chopped finely (or 3 or 4 scallions)
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • a handful of fresh coriander including stalks
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 or 3 tsp chilli bean paste (depending how hot you like it)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce (I use kecap manis its sweeter & less salty)
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  •  2tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2oo gr japanese buckwheat soba noodles (or your favourite noodles)
  • sesame seeds

First of all put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour over boiling water to cover them. Leave to rehydrate for about 20 mins. Meanwhile put the noodles in a pan of boiling salted water and cook according to packet instructions (about 4 or 5 minutes), drain, rinse under cold water and set aside.

Pull away the pak choi leaves from the root and wash if necessary. Cut the green parts away from the white and set aside then chop the white parts into 1 cm slices. Slice the oyster mushrooms if they are big (I left mine whole as they where mini), then finely slice the rehydrated dried mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid to add to the dish when cooking.

Finely chop the coriander stalks and keep them separate from the leaves. Heat about a tbsp of veg oil in a wok or large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the spring onions, garlic, coriander stalks and ginger paste then grind over some white pepper stirring constantly. Add the chilli bean paste, mushrooms and the white parts of the pak choi. Stir fry for 1 minute then add the soy sauce (or kecap manis), the sugar, rice wine, sesame oil and 2 spoonfuls of the reserved mushroom liquid. Stir fry for another minute before adding in the cooked noodles(a handful at a time), the green leaves of the pak choi and the chopped coriander leaves. Stir fry again to heat through then taste for seasoning you may need salt or more soy sauce.

Serve in warmed bowls sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds & coriander leaves.

Enjoy in your new asian bowls!!

Thai Pumpkin and Chilli Noodle Soup

1 Nov

This was my ideal Halloween dinner last night. Pumpkin based (of course), spicy, delicious & warming. Plus it was really easy to make which was important as I had to watch Strictly & The X Factor so I didn’t want to cook anything which meant I had to leave the sofa for long…

Thai Pumpkin & Chilli Noodle Soup

Serves 3 or 4 Vegetarian

  • 1/2 medium pumpkin about 500 gr cut into 1 or 2 inch chunks (you can peel it if you can be bothered, I didn’t)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 or 2 tbsp thai yellow curry paste (you can use red if it is what you have)
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  •  1 tsp lemongrass paste (or a lemongrass stalk bruised)
  • 2 or 3 lime leaves thinly sliced (or lime zest from 1/2 lime)
  • 1 red chilli finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  •  a handful of fresh coriander chopped (plus leaves for garnish)
  • lime wedges to squeeze over
  • salt or fish sauce
  • 150 gr noodles cooked according to packet instructions (rice noodles or whatever you have)

Fry the onion in a large pan over a medium high heat for a few minutes until translucent then add the garlic, chilli and the rest of the spices & pastes up to and including turmeric. Stir to combine for a minute then add the veg stock, soy sauce, tumble in the pumpkin chunks and bring to he boil. Season with salt (or fish sauce) put the lid on, turn the heat to medium low and cook for about 20 minutes(or maybe longer) until the pumpkin is really tender.

Meanwhile cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, drain, rinse under cold water and cover with a lid. When the pumpkin is really soft turn off the heat and put your stick blender in the saucepan and carefully blend until smooth- ish. (you don’t want to get hot orange soup all over your kitchen!). Stir in the chopped coriander and taste for seasoning. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls then place a pile of the cooked warm noodles in the centre garnish with coriander leaves & lime wedges to squeeze over.

We also had it for lunch today(above) without the noodles just with some crusty bread and it was just what we needed after a long walk in the mountains. I might have to go for a lie down now…. Siesta calling!

We found an old ruin so The Washer Up decided to collect some wood for the fire….

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