Tag Archives: Asian

Roasted Butternut Squash and Miso Risotto

2 Jun

It was my birthday on Tuesday (I’m 38!). I had a bit of a boring morning, went to the hospital for a chest X-Ray (just a follow-up thing) then went food shopping in Mercadona (not exciting). It got better from then on though, I bought a new yellow dress (I’ve got a thing about yellow at the  moment) and then “The Washer Up” left work early so we could go out for a late dinner at our favourite Indian Restaurant (wearing the new yellow dress).

The Mumtaz Mahal in Coin is the restaurant that we love. We love the food (always delicious) and the staff (so polite & friendly) and we can take the dog and sit outside.  The food is stunning, none of that “one sauce fits all” type of Indian restaurant. Every dish has a unique flavour and is cooked to perfection.

We have been guilty, in the past, of always ordering the same things because they are so gorgeous (tarka dal, chana masala, vegetable balti, bombay aloo) but recently have decided to branch out and order something different every time we go.

My latest favourite is the Paneer Tikka. Paneer is an Indian cheese made in a similar way to ricotta which is then pressed to firm it up. The paneer is marinaded in the tikka sauce, threaded onto skewers with peppers & onions and then cooked until slightly charred. It comes out sizzling on a cast iron and wooden plate which all adds to the drama, I love it..

Please excuse the dodgy photo, I still haven’t worked out how to take pictures at night with this camera but you get the idea. And, before you say it, yes I did eat cheese, it was my birthday treat, I had a day off the detox (yay)!

They also do the most amazing bread called an Onion Kulcha which is a mixture between naan and pizza topped with onions, chilli and coriander. We have that every time without fail which means we don’t try any of the other breads but I just can’t not order it, it’s that good.

Oh and we always order far too much which means we get to take the leftovers away and eat (and photograph) them the next day….

Back to the recipe. I know that squash isn’t exactly seasonal here at the moment but I saw the bright orange in a sea of green and had to buy it. A lot of my readers are in the southern hemisphere (including my dad in South Africa) where it is  Autumn/Winter so I’ll use that as my excuse.

I usually make a squash and feta cheese risotto. I like the combination of the sweet squash and the sour salty feta. Making a vegan version was going to be challenge. I needed to get that same contrast in flavours without the cheese. Inspiration came from A Meandering Mango in Australia. She made a roasted squash soup with miso as she didn’t have any stock. Miso has that umami savouriness that I needed to off set the sweet squash.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Miso Risotto

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

  • 1/2 butternut squash (about 700 gr) including seeds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 200 gr brown wholegrain rice (or risotto rice)
  • a big splash of beer
  • 1- 1 1/2 litres veg stock
  • 1 heaped tbsp miso paste
  • fresh coriander leaves to garnish
  • lime wedges to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Scrape the seeds out of the squash with a spoon, wash all the orange stringy bits off and dry the seeds. Place them in one layer on a piece of foil drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast in the preheated oven for 4 -5 minutes until golden. Keep an eye on them they burn quickly!

Remove the seeds from the oven and turn it up to 210 C. Cut the squash into 1 inch cubes (I didn’t peel it), put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle over the chilli flakes and season with the salt & black pepper. Toss everything together with your hands so evenly coated and lay the squash out in one layer. Roast in the 210 C oven for 35 -40 minutes until well cooked, softened and slightly browned.

After about 20 minutes you can start making the risotto. Put the veg stock and miso paste in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the miso while you make the risotto. In a large pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat, add the onion, celery and a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft but not browned. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the rice and stir to coat in the onions. When the rice is starting to turn translucent at the edges, add a good splosh of beer and cook until all the liquid disappears. Add a ladleful of the hot miso stock into the rice and stir or swirl the pan until all the liquid is absorbed. Add another ladleful of stock, stir or swirl until absorbed and continue like this until the rice is nearly cooked. About 20 minutes with risotto rice, wholegrain rice takes about 25 minutes and more stock.

Stir in most or all of the roasted squash (depending on the size of your squash) and cook for 5 more minutes until it has melted into the risotto. Taste for seasoning, add salt if necessary.

Serve topped with the roasted squash seeds, a few fresh coriander leaves and a wedge of lime to spritz over if you like.

This has a slightly unusual flavour for a risotto but it is really delicious. In fact I’ve come up with the perfect name for it, it’s a misotto. You should give it a go, it’s surprisingly good, whatever the season…

Things that made me smile today..

Wild Orchids…

So beautiful…

A definite “Moment of Gratitude”…

Enjoy!!

Laos Style Aubergine, Mushroom and Lemongrass Curry Rice Bowl

21 Apr

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…

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