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Recipe: Prawn Tom Yum Kung (a vibrant and delicious Thai soup)

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Pichit and the Prawn Tom Yum Kung that he taught me to make

I have returned to London for a short stretch, and minutes off the plane it seems, I have contracted the brutal head and chest cold that has been taking London down. I was doing so well, I have not had one cold this winter.

For relief and to fight it, I need something simple, firey and potent to blast the germs out. I also need something cheerful and bright. My life is full of lemon, honey & gingers. I now also need to introduce Prawn Tom Yum Kung soup.

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Ingredients for Prawn Tom Yum Kung

This recipe is another from Thailand from my class at the cooking school at the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market. This is an authentic recipe and is full of flavour. I think it is also the perfect thing for a cold. There are two ways of making it, one is clear and one is milk with some more firey heat. In Thailand they use tinned milk which is quite sweet and lighter than coconut milk.

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Thai blue river prawns

I am going to work on a coconut milk version, and for now share the recipe for the clear soup, which is adapted from the recipe taught to me by Pichit (in the photographs). I had to change the recipe a little to adapt to the size of our prawns and the availability of ingredients, but the taste is very similar to what I had in Bangkok and still very good.

Note on the recipe: we used giant blue Thai river prawns. I would suggest the best raw prawns that you can find. Cooked prawns will just cook further in the broth and become leathery.

You might also like to check out my recipe for Thai Seafood Green Curry from the same class.

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A slightly blurry photo of the finished soup in Bangkok – it was insanely hot and steamy there and I was just about holding it together towards the end :)

Recipe: Prawn Tom Yum Kung Soup [Read more]

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Recipe: Prawn and Pork Lemongrass Patties in Lettuce Leaf Wraps with Carrot Salad

Recipe: Prawn and Pork Lemongrass Patties in Lettuce Wraps

Recipe: Prawn and Pork Lemongrass Patties in Lettuce Wraps

The inspiration for these patties comes from fond memory of a lovely trip to Sydney some years ago, pre blogging, so I have never written about it here. Particularly, of an evening in a Vietnamese restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown. Now, brace yourselves. At the time, I didn’t eat meat. It is ok really – calm down – it really is ok.

I ordered a prawn on sugar cane dish. I asked what was in it, was there any meat? No just prawns, don’t worry. Any meat at all, any pork? (I expected there would be). No, no! Just garlic! The waitress looked at me, suddenly worried and said: do you have a problem with garlic?

No, no I don’t. Bring it on.

I took a bite. SAUSAGE. Pork sausage with a lick of the sea. It was lovely and I couldn’t resist it. I conferred with the waitress who said, why yes, there is pork in there! Of course there is.

I ate every bit, it was delicious. And that taste memory, and the recall of a lovely dinner with an old friend, is what inspires this recipe today.

These patties are super speedy, packed with flavour and versatile. I have been eating them all week in different guises. As sandwich fillings, as meatballs in a beautiful aromatic home made chicken broth made from raw chicken carcasses and lots of veg, served with noodles, bean sprouts, pak choi and fresh herbs. That should keep any illness at bay.

The simplest and quickest way was a fresh light lunch of these patties in lettuce leaf wraps with a light carrot, coriander and red onion salad. I made a big batch of the paste and stored it in the fridge, using it as I fancied over the course of 3 days.

I will post the recipe for the soup soon too. For now, enjoy these wraps.

Carrot, coriander and red onion salad

Carrot, coriander and red onion salad

Note on the recipe: a food processor is best for this, if you have one. I have been asked if it is possible to substitute chicken for pork. I will work out the recipe for this too and post it. You can half the recipe too, obviously, if you are making for one or two.

Recipe: Prawn & Pork Lemongrass Patties in Lettuce Leaf Wraps with Carrot Salad

Makes approx 10 patties

Ingredients

Patties:
600g minced pork – avoid lean, fat gives moisture and flavour, I used 8% fat
400g raw shelled and deveined prawns
2 red chillies (to taste – I like heat)
1 stick of lemongrass, outer layer peeled and bottom removed
1 inch of ginger, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled
4 spring onions, trimmed with green tops
handful of coriander leaves
juice of a fresh lime
sea salt

a couple of heads of gem lettuce

Carrot salad:
3 carrots, peeled and grated
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
a handful of fresh coriander
juice of a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced and crisped for about 30 seconds on each side

light oil for frying

Method

Soak the red onion for the salad in the lemon juice, while you make the patties, so that the sharpness of the raw onion mellows out.

Put all of the ingredients for the patties, except the pork and prawns, in a food processor and blitz to a paste. Add the pork and prawns. Blitz until thoroughly mixed and a paste. Season with sea salt and fry a small bit to taste. Adjust and repeat if necessary.

Divide the patties into 10 pieces and fry for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, until brown and cooked through. Don’t overcook or they will become dry.

Add the carrot and the coriander to the onion and lemon juice and mix. Serve each patty in a lettuce leaf with the salad on the side and the crisped garlic on top.

Enjoy!

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L’atelier des Chefs

Latelier des Chefs

L'atelier des Chefs

I have a bit of an obssession with food, this is true. Even more so when cooking and trying new things. So, when I heard about a new cookery school that had opened in central London I had to try it.

Firstly, I was curious, l’atelier des Chefs is very popular already in France, and, their arrival in London has been highly publicised in the media and blogosphere. They’ve different types of classes, they run up to 5 sessions a day ranging from a half hour to two hours. For them it’s about the food but also the social experience of sitting down and enjoying your meal with your fellow cooks and a glass of wine. One class runs for half an hour over lunch, called the “Cook, Eat & Run”, then there’s the 60 minute class covering two courses, the 90 minute class covering 3 courses and the 120 minute class covering 3 courses based around a theme (e.g. they’ve one coming up for foie gras). Secondly, I’ve been reading great things, Krista (of Londonelicious) was an immediate convert and she doesn’t even like to cook! So, I registered for on of the “Cook, Eat & Run” lunchtime classes and off I went.


You chose your day around what they’re cooking (at least I did!) and I chose to go the day that they were cooking Risotto di Gambas (prawn risotto for the non-French speakers amongst us – that includes me :-). I arrived a little early as I wanted to take a look around, and was quite impressed with the venue that greeted me, it’s a bright airy space with a vast sparkling kitchen with lots of natural daylight coming through the skylights ahead. They were extremely friendly and offered a glass of water while I waited for the rest of my class to arrive which they did shortly after.

We were greeted by our chef Tony. Now, I am a fan of risotto and when I make it, it takes me some time, so I wondered just how are we going to get this done in half an hour? Well, many hands make light work, Tony took us through what we had to do, and within a few minutes we had been shown how to do everything and I was beheading and shelling super fresh prawns. This particular recipe also included mushrooms (shitake and normal) and I was curious about how this would taste.


We spent a very sociable 17 minutes cooking our risotto (yes – we timed it!), each person taking their turn stirring for risotto is a labour of love. Tony was on hand for any advice and tips along the way. Once the risotto was cooked we left the kitchen and sat at a table outside with our spoils, with white wine and bread to go with it. The risotto was delicious, and I plan to recreate it and experiment with the prawn/mushroom combination. We followed it with a fantastic chocolate mousse dessert – chocolate mousse with five spice crumble and kiwi emulsion – which rendered me speechless temporarily.

Risotto di Gambas

Risotto di Gambas

Chocolate mousse with five spice crumble and kiwi emulsion

Chocolate mousse with five spice crumble and kiwi emulsion

It was a very sociable and uplifting experience, I didn’t know any of my fellow cooks having arrived on my own. This didn’t act as a barrier, everyone was so friendly and really into it, despite the differing levels of experience among the group. The staff were really friendly and encouraging too.

One thing I hadn’t read anywhere was how good the range of produce available to buy is. It’s an eclectic mix from ceramic knives to silicone moulds to tomato vinegar and the El Bulli Spherificaion Kits which I haven’t seen for sale in many places.

I had a great time and I am looking forward to bringing friends and visitors to London there. It’s a lovely and different afternoon in London. In particular, I want to try the macaron classes! Watch this space.

http://www.atelierdeschefs.co.uk/

L'atelier des Chefs on TrustedPlaces

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Prawn Curry (again)

So, round about the time I started this blog, just under a year ago, I blogged one of my favourite dishes – Prawn Curry. We were eating it about once a week, it’s tasty, healthy and quick, and fit in perfectly on those evenings where you’ve had a long day in the office and all you want is something quick and tasty with a glass of wine. On some of these evenings, the wine may even be the most important part ;)

Now, when I like something, I tend to talk about it, and friends of mine were hearing alot about this prawn curry. Then they started to think that perhaps I was making it up! How can she be making a curry from scratch after work when she only leaves the office at 7pm? How?! So, to salvage my reputation I had to gather some of them together and cook it for them. Then they would see!

The recipe is based on a Goan recipe I found online some years ago. It requires using masses of fresh tomatoes and a fresh coconut. I urbanised it by using a tin of tomatoes and a tin of coconut milk, which makes it quick and convenient – almost a storecupboard dish. It really is super quick once you’ve ground the spices, I would estimate no more than half an hour, although try to buy peeled prawns to save your self time. I vary the amount of coconut milk depending on whether I want the fruity flavour of the tomatoes or the creaminess of the coconut milk to dominate. This time I went with the tomato so used one tin of tomatoes and half a tin of coconut milk. It works well 50/50 though if you prefer that.

The recipe serves 2 hungry people. [Read more]

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Fish pie for the soul

Fish pie

This month has been one for comfort foods, certainly not one for diets, not that I’ve ever gone beyond thinking that it might be a good idea to cut out x or y (usually x = crisps & y = cheese) and planning how I should successfully do so, usually to fall at the first hurdle, whichever shop crosses my path that sells the finest of either. I am not unhappy about that, I’ve never approached diets or the thought of them too seriously, moderation is best in all things (with the occasional lapse of course). Life is for living, might aswell just get on with it and make the most of it, eh? Especially when food gives such pleasure.

Once in school, we made a dish called fish crisp, a baked mackerel dish topped with irish tayto crisps (I kid you not). I was 13 or so, and hated fish at the time. When my mother would grill fish I would leave the house in protest and not return until I had deemed the smell gone. I virtually fainted when I had to skin the mackerel and had to be taken outside for some air but was brought back inside to complete it, much to my horror. I adored crisps but hated fish, how was I to eat the crisps without having even a scent of mackerel from them? It wasn’t to be, there was no way of rescuing them, and save the few crumbs from the bottom of the bag, I had to abandon them. I have no memory of what happened to that fish crisp after, but I do remember the build up in excruciating detail.

I’ve been thinking of that dish lately, along with quite a few others that we made in school, including one white pudding tart that I loved and would love to make again if only I had the recipe. It was one of our teacher’s own so wasn’t in the book but I do recall some carrot, white pudding and some shortcrust, but, that’s about it. I have a few ideas for potential white pudding tarts that could work, but that’s a project for the weekend.

For tonight, I had settled on fish pie – something of the calibre of that comforting and tasty tart. It had been a while since I had eaten fish so I made up for it with 3 types – salmon, prawns and smoked haddock in a smokey and fragrant bechamel with some velvety mash on top. I poached the fish first in some milk, with some peppercorns, coarsely chopped carrots, celery and onion, adding the prawns about half way through as they cook quicker. I then used the poaching milk for the sauce and it was lovely, it had some of the flavour of the veg and the peppercorns and the smokiness of the smoked haddock – very delicate and light. It would be perfect served with greens or peas, I had neither and was too lazy to leave my flat! I split the mixture into two pie dishes about 6 * 3 inches, but really there was so much fish I could have made three. You can also make one big one, of course. Serves 4.

Here’s the recipe in more detail.

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