Pad Thai or Pad Chinese?

 

My Recipe for Pad Thai and The Truth Behind Its Origin

This famous stir fried, rice noodle dish has a fascinating history. Surprisingly, the dish is relatively new. It became particularly popular during the Second World War and has been known from that time as one of Thailand’s national dishes. A man named Plaek Phibunsongkhram (known as Phibun) staged a coup which resulted in the Thai monarchy losing their absolute power. Phibun crushed an uprising launched by the Royalists and cemented his place as Prime Minister for the first time in 1938. Phibun’s campaign for Thai Nationalism sought to Westernise Thailand. He was responsible for Thailand changing its name from ‘Siam’ to ‘Thailand’. He wanted to create an individual identity for Thailand and this meant staying clear of any influences from countries such as China. At the time, most people ate wheat noodles from China. Phibun wanted to increase Thailand’s main export of rice, he introduced this rice noodle dish. ‘As part of his campaign, Phibun ordered the creation of a new national dish: Pad Thai.’ The new noodles created were named ‘Sen Chai’. ‘Phibun’s government not only disseminated the recipe for Pad Thai, but encouraged street vendors to make and sell it throughout the country.’

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Furthermore, the 1930’s were a particularly difficult time, economically, and therefore Pad Thai, with its cheap vegetables and sources of protein were perfect to keep the Thai’s going. Phibun didn’t only create a national dish but also improved the nations diet by doing so.

 

However, the ingredients in Pad Thai had come over from China originally. ‘In fact, just about every ingredient found in Pad Thai isn’t native to the people after whom the dish is named.’ I still think Pad Thai is correctly named as it had such an impact on the nation, all thanks to Phibun.

 

Original Pad Thai recipes contain ingredients such as banana flowers, tamarind, pickled radish, dried shrimp, Thai basil and Thai mint. I wanted my version to be available to everyone.

There may seem like there are quite a few ingredients but, I promise, they are all available in Sainsbury’s local and they all need to be included! Obviously, if you are vegetarian or vegan you can take out the prawns and the egg.

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Recipe

Serves 2 (Generously)

130g Wide Rice Noodles (about half a packet)

2 Limes (plus an extra one for garnish, to squeeze on top at the end)

2 Tsp light Muscovado sugar (or any brown sugar – don’t worry too much)

2 Tbsp of Fish Sauce (known as Nam Pla)

180g Raw King Prawns

1 Garlic Clove (finely chopped)

1-2 Chillies (cut in half, discard the seeds and finely slice  – I use one red and one green for colour, but it’s completely up to you. Chillies from the supermarket can often have no spice at all so use however much you like but be careful)

4-5 Spring Onions (finely chopped – discard the tough green bit at the top)

1 Egg (beaten with a fork)

A Few Handfuls of Beansprouts

2 Handfuls Of Unsalted Peanuts

1 Tablespoon of Honey of Maple Syrup

Pinch of Salt

Vegetable Oil

A Handful of Coriander and Mint (chopped)


Preheat the oven to 180c.

Prepare all of the ingredients above. The cooking time is very quick so make sure everything is ready and organised.

Cook the rice noodles following the instructions on the packet. Usually you pour boiling water over them, leave to stand for 3 minutes and then drain. Run cold water over them until they are cold and then stir a tablespoon of oil through them so they don’t all stick together. Leave to one side.

Put the lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar into a bowl and stir together. Leave to one side.

Put the peanuts on a baking tray and put in the oven to roast. Nuts burn very easily so be careful, you just want them slightly toasted (3-5 mins). You can do this in a frying pan too. Once slightly cooled put into a blender with the honey / maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Pulse a few times so that they are chopped up. Leave to one side.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a wok (or a large frying pan). Keep the pan on a medium/ high heat. Fry the prawns for one or two minutes on each side, depending on the size. Add the chilies and garlic. Fry for one minute.

Add the spring onions and noodles stirring until warmed through. Add the lime juice, brown sugar and fish sauce mixture, stir. Add the beaten egg and stir until you can’t see any raw egg.

Add the beansprouts, half the nuts and half the chopped herbs, give it one final stir and then serve immediately once hot. Garnish with the left over nuts and herbs and a wedge of lime.

 

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References

 

http://qz.com/198860/the-strange-and-potentially-stolen-origins-of-pad-thai/

 

http://priceonomics.com/the-invention-of-pad-thai/

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pad_Thai

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Thai Green Curry

I thought i’d share with you my weeknight treat.

I like to make my own paste but you can easily buy it in a jar from any supermarket.

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Ingredients

For the Paste

3 Cloves of Garlic

2 Shallots

5 inch piece of Ginger

1 Tsp Ground Cumin

½ Teaspoon Coriander Seeds

Half a Bunch of Fresh Coriander

Zest and Juice of One Lime

2/3 Green Chillies (depending on how spicy you want it)

(This makes quite a lot of paste but its great to keep in the fridge for up to 3 days to add some flavour to any dishes, or freeze it for future use)

 

Put all of these ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

 

To Make the Curry

Sunflower Oil

6 Boneless and Skinless Chicken Thighs, Sliced into 3-4 pieces

A Handful of Mushrooms, sliced

1 Tablespoon Demerara Sugar

1 Can of Coconut Milk

4 Kaffir Lime Leaves

Half a Chicken Stock Cube

A Handful of Green Beans

Handful of Fresh Coriander and Thai Basil, roughly chopped

One Lime

 

Rice, 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds, Pinch of Sea Salt

Heat a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a frying pan with high sides or use a wok.

Add the chicken and fry for a few minutes on each side to get some colour.

Remove the chicken frim the pan and keep on the side. Put another tablespoon of oil in the pan and add the mushrooms, fry for one minute.

Add two heaped tablespoons of the Thai green curry paste and Demerara sugar, stirring for a minute.

Add the coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, half a chicken stock cube and the green beans. Simmer for 5-7minutes until the sauce is reduced and thicker.

Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Check the chicken pieces are cooked through. Stir through the coriander and Thai basil. Serve with wedges of lime and rice.

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Cooking rice – I like using Jasmine rice. Use whatever type of rice you like and follow the instructions on the packet. I like adding a large pinch of salt and cumin seeds to the boiling water when adding the rice.

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Tsukiji Fish Market – Tokyo

Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo is famously the largest fish market in the world. Therefore, I couldn’t resist returning there again. The atmosphere is incredible. A whole community of people that carry out their working day from 1am until 10am every day! The main fish auction begins at around 1.30am. This is where the fishermen auction the fish to the market sellers. The restaurant buyers / chefs arrive at a more sociable time to buy off the market sellers.

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Shrimp

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Oysters 

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Squid

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Two Types of Sea Urchin

Tsukiji Market has been going for 80 years! I met Daisuke Shimazaki at 9am. He is the head chef at Sushi Yuu. Sushi Yuu has been running for 42 years, the same age as Daisuke whose father started it the year he was born. I followed him around the market while he made his purchases. He explained that the market is moving in November because of ‘politicians interests’. It seems very sad for the whole area, especially for all of the restaurants and old coffee shops that surround the market to look after the fisherman and market sellers. We went for a coffee in a shop smaller than a corridor that had been there for 81 years.

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The Covered Fish Market in Full Swing

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Octopus

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Tuna Head

Tuna is where the big cash changes hands. The tuna stall I went to and photographed had bought their pieces at 10,000 Yen per kilo. The large piece of tuna he had, weighed 300 kilos. This means it cost £19,614- And that was just a quarter of the fish!

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Tuna

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Inspecting the Quality of the Tuna with a Torch

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Carrying the Tuna Over to Be Divided Up

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It Takes Three Men 

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Inspecting the Quality of the Tuna

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On The Weighing Scales

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Tuna Skeleton – Nothing Goes To Waste

Stir Fry -7 Minutes!

Stir Fry’s and noodle dishes, in general, can either remind you of a steaming hot Chinese meal with friends or, the very depressing greasy noodle take away box that every hung-over / single American seems to eat out of with chop sticks, in every rom-com with a bottle of beer.

Either way, I see this greasy dish as quite appealing, hung-over or not. It doesn’t have to be so slimy you can’t grasp it in your chopsticks, neither does it have to be bad for you. Stir Fry’s are unbelievably quick. When I cooked this I set a timer and the whole dish was cooked in 7 minutes (I chopped up all of the ingredients before I started). It’s full of flavour and there is no MSG in sight.

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‘Stir Frying’ simply refers to the style of cooking, frying quickly in a wok in hot oil. Hot cooking supposedly seals in the flavour of the ingredients quickly and also gives all of your ingredients a golden colour. This term wasn’t used in England until 1945 when it travelled West to America with Chinese immigrants.

This is a great dish for weeknights as well as a big dish for the weekend if you are having a gang round to watch the football. It’s completely up to you what your chicken, veg, noodle ratio is. Also, this is just a guide. If you want to add prawns or pork or egg just chuck it in – ensuring it’s cooked through!

I like using the packs of noodles that you can buy in any supermarket. You just add them two minutes before the end of stir frying. If you want to buy the type that you boil in water, follow the packet instructions and add the noodles at the end.

Recipe

Serves 2

10 Minutes chopping everything up.

6-10 Minutes stir frying depending on how quick you are!

Sunflower/ Vegetable Oil

300-400g Mini Chicken Breast Fillets, each sliced into four pieces

2 Carrots, peeled and chopped into matchsticks shape pieces

5 cm Piece of Root Ginger, chopped into matchstick shape pieces

2 Cloves of Garlic, finely sliced

2 Pak Choi, Cut off the end and separate the leaves

4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce

1 Red Chilli, finely chopped

4 Spring Onions, using just the white part, finely slice

Quick to Cook Medium Noodles 2 x 150g Packs

Handful of Cashews, roughly chopped

Squeeze of Lime

Hanful of Chopped Coriander

 

Marinate the chicken in 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.

While the chicken is marinating prepare all of the other ingredients.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok on a medium to high heat. You can use a high sided frying pan if you don’t have a wok.

Add the chicken and fry for 3 minutes, turning half way. You want the pan to be hot enough that the chicken sizzles when it hits the pan.

Add the ginger and carrot matchsticks. Fry for a minute.

Add the garlic, stir.

Lay the leaves of pak choi on top and leave to cook for a couple of minutes.

Mix together 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.

Pour the sauce in and stir everything together adding the spring onions, red chilli and noodles.

Turn out your stir fry onto your plates and top with chopped cashew nuts.

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Japanese Food – Not just sushi!

Welcome to Japan! – My guide to different types of Japanese Cuisine.

In England, I think it is safe to say that, we are extremely ignorant about the vast variety of Japanese food, it isn’t just sushi!

I was astounded by how many different types of Japanese restaurants there are here in Tokyo. The Japanese love to eat out, and I don’t blame them. On every corner and down every little alley there are thousands of restaurants. They range from a traditional street bar style to huge multi floored emporiums in department stores and train stations. The chefs take utmost pride in their work, continuously smiling through their long hours.

These are a few of the types i have discovered and adored!

Tonkatsu (originated in the 19th Century) – I am a huge fan of this type of cuisine that I have only recently tried for the first time. It consists of whole pieces of pork, ranging in cut, covered in panko breadcrumbs and deep fried. It’s served with raw cabbage and different sweet/savoury thick brown sauces. The main sauce is almost similar to our Worcestershire sauce but thicker. Prices range from cheap cuts used for sandwiches to whole pork tenderloin which is around 3000 Yen (£18). It comes with salad, miso and rice, of course. Lemon juice and mustard are served on the side

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Tonkatsu – Pork Fillet with Pork Fat and Miso Soup

Teppanyaki – This is when the food is cooked on a hot plate. Each table can have their own to cook on or the chef can cook the food in front of you, almost as a performance to the diners. Benihana is an example of this.

Yakatori – This is almost like a Japanese barbecue. It consists of different types of meat on skewers, however it specifically refers to chicken. Chicken liver and heart Yakitori are common delicacies. The sauce that accompanies them is a sweetened and thickened soy called tare. The skewers are grilled over a charcoal fire.

Sushi and Sashimi – In Japan you will find everything from  tuna to sea urchin, octopus, blow fish, and squid innards. I have tried it all! Sushi is fish and rice together such as nigiri or maki (the rolls) however sashimi is simply the pieces of sliced raw fish.

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Sushi Master Preparing Crab

Tempura – This is fish and vegetables covered in a batter of panko breadcrumbs and then deep fried. This morning I had deep fried oyster, shrimp and crab coated in béchamel. These were served with raw cabbage and tartar sauce. Tempura was brought to ‘Japan during the 16th century by the Portuguese in Nagasaki, tempura has developed over the centuries into a popular Japanese dish both inside and outside of Japan.’ Tempura pops up at all of the different specialty restaurants.

http://www.japan-guide.com/r/e106.html

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Breakfast at Tsukiji Fish Market- Deep-fried Oyster, Béchamel Crab and Shrimp

Noodles – You can choose between a few different types of noodle restaurant. You have your typical ramen bars, ramen is a wheat noodle soup which often includes egg, meat (most commonly fatty slices of pork) and a mixture of vegetables. It’s extremely affordable and delicious. Soba and udon noodles can both be served in a variety of ways, hot or cold. Most commonly I have eaten them hot in a broth with sliced spring onions. Soba noodles are darker in colour as they are made out of buckwheat flour. Udon noodles are the fat white noodles that are chewy. A restaurant I went to in Tokyo let you choose whether you wanted to times the amount of udon noodles in your broth by 1, 1.5, 2 or 2.5 at no extra cost. This turned dinner into an eating contest.

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Udon Noodles with Tempura at Tsurutontan Restaurant

There are obviously many more Japanese cuisines but those are just a few to begin with.

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Look Closely to See Lots of Little Fish!

(Shirasu are little white fish – sardines in their infancy.)

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Shirasu Sushi 

What makes eating out in Japan so special is the great care that each restaurant, no matter how big or small, takes over the food and their guests. You feel special whilst dining and each meal time is a completely unique experience. I struggled through, pointing at pictures and using sign language at restaurants where not one word of English could be found. It always ended up being a huge success, even if there was always a lot of giggling from the staff at me, especially when I unintentionally ordered ten times the amount of food needed. All of this is accompanied by lots of fantastic sake and beer in noisy and smoke filled restaurants. When you enter the chefs and waiters will shout greetings to you very loudly and you must always exit bowing until you have backed out almost on to the road. ‘Arigatou!’

 

Historical Aphrodisiacs

Historical Aphrodisiacs at The National Gallery with Tasha Marks

Last week i was lucky enough to be able to work with Tasha Marks, creator of AVM Curiosities. (http://www.avmcuriosities.com).

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Menu – Tasha Marks at The National Gallery

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AVM Curiosities at The National Gallery.  A Table of Aphrodisiacs.

She puts on splendid displays and events connecting food, art and history. This time, as Valentines Day was looming around the corner, she was putting on a workshop about historical aphrodisiacs at The National Gallery. On the night i was in charge of crowd control. Everyone seemed dizzy in love and desperate to try Tasha’s aphrodisiac creations. The week before i had helped Tasha look through books such as ‘The Encyclopaedia of Aphrodisiacs’ to find out more about what was claimed to ‘get people going’ as far back as during Cleopatra’s time.

I wanted to share with you some of the interesting stories I read about and interesting food objects that i found had super powers in tempting ladies and men into the bedroom, supposedly.

The definition of an aphrodisiac in the Oxford Dictionary is ‘a food, drink, or other thing that stimulates sexual desire.’

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Aphrodisiacs – Pomegranate, Coconut, Mushrooms, Ginger, Nuts, Quince, Basil, Thyme, Honey, Fennel, Avocado.

So, most typically one would think of oysters and champagne. However neither of them are actually proven to increase levels of sexual desire, often to do with influencing levels of hormones. Basically anything that can be recognised as new, exciting or expensive can be seen as an aphrodisiac. Believe it or not, when potatoes first came to England they were seen as damn sexy!

Food objects that look in any way phallic or similar to genitalia were automatically seen as an aphrodisiac, perhaps as they would get the mind wondering. Asparagus, being long, coconuts (literally being seen as hairy balls), oysters supposedly having similar visual properties and a ‘similar mouth feel’ to female genitalia were all labeled as aphrodisiacs. Once you start researching almost ANYTHING can be described as an aphrodisiac, it just depends how creative you are! An artichoke was seen as tempting because of the way you ate it. It was like you were undressing your partner, pulling off each leaf one at a time and then feasting on the fleshy part of the vegetable.

Originally infertile women and men would be ‘treated’ using aphrodisiacs. If a man was suffering from erectile disfunction ‘windy meats’ such as beans would be prescribed. They thought the force of wind would enable the man to have an erection.

As far back as the Roman times they would go as far as to eat bone marrow and menstrual blood to try and have a baby.

Cleopatra was a big supporter of aphrodisiacs. She would take them daily as well as feeding them to her lovers. She was known for drinking pearls dissolved in vinegar.

Anti Aphrodisiacs

There was a Roman Emperor who’s wife fell in love with a gladiator. The Emperor was furious and followed instruction on how to make the gladiator seem repulsive to his wife. Each day his wife was made to drink a small amount of the the gladiators blood and apparently this worked. She no longer had eyes for the handsome gladiator and the Emperor was very happy indeed. Why the Emperor didn’t just kill the gladiator straight away seems quite odd to me!

All of this information needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Each book we read contradicted a point made in another book. I just found it fascinating to research this topic however much truth there is in it. It hasn’t made me run to the shops to stock up on all vegetables that resemble genitalia though!

For more information please listen to Tasha Marks talking on Gastropod. It’s fascinating. (http://gastropod.com/the-food-of-love/).

Lastly here is her recipe for the biscuits I made.

Kama Sutra Biscuits 

A twist on an Ancient Indian recipe for sweet potato and velvet bean biscuits

‘The Kama Sutra claimed that ‘by constantly eating these biscuits, one’s sperm acquires such force that it is possible to sleep with thousands of women who, in the end, will ask for pity’ – this my have a teeny tiny hint of truth as recent studies have shown that the velvet bean increases levels of dopamine in the brain.’

Recipe:

400g plain flour

250g butter, softened

140g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

1 sweet potato (pre-roasted)

5tsp mucuna pruriens (velvet bean) (5 capsules)

* Mix the butter and caster sugar in a large bowl with a wooden spoon

* Then add the egg yolk, sweet potato and velvet bean and briefly beat

* Sift over the plain flour and stir until the mixture is well combined

* Refrigerate for a couple of hours to stiffen mixture – if needed

* Roll mixture out to 1cm thick and cut into rounds

* Place onto greased baking tray (or parchment) and bake at 160C (fan oven) for 30 minutes or until lightly golden

(Makes 35)

Recipe by Tasha Marks, AVM Curiosities

There once was a Hamburger from Hamburg

As a nation, we are obsessed with burgers. Burger restaurants swarm every high street. Constant variations of the original recipe secure its place on menus from pubs to Michelin starred restaurants. The brioche bun arrived and gave the standard pub burger a whole new lease of life. Now extra toppings such as exotic cheeses, maple bacon and chorizo boost the humble burger into a classier and often quite a pricey meal bracket. Then there are the endless sides of truffle and parmesan fries (I always feel ripped off when fries are sold separately), mac n cheese and onion rings. Craving a burger can mean two things. You either crave the Mac Donald’s type burger that you can flatten into a pancake and eat in a few bites or, you want the burger with a huge skewer that is just managing to hold all of the different colourful layers in place, with a side of stacked hand-cut chips. Both have their moments.

So, where did the hamburger come from? The minced meat steak originated in the 19th Century in Hamburg. As refrigeration wasn’t available they had to use up meat quickly. They would mince up the parts of the cow that hadn’t yet been sold and mould it into patties with onion and seasoning to shift the produce quickly. This was called the ‘Hamburg Steak’. The bun didn’t arrive until later when German immigrants came to America. They opened up restaurants that served the Hamburg Steak. The thousands of workers at the steam factories in America needed a quick and affordable lunch that they could eat standing up and on the go. Here was born the burger bun. By 1900 it was considered an American classic. 

This is my go-to burger that is fancy enough, but not pretentious.  

If you don’t have one of the ingredients, it doesn’t matter – just leave it out. 

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Beef Burgers with Caramelised Bacon and Aioli 

Makes 4, Prep Time 20 mins, Cooking Time 20 mins

Burger Buns x 4 

Patty Ingredients 

500g Good Quality Minced Beef

2 Tablespoons of Tomato Ketchup

2 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 Tsp Marmite

1 Tsp Dijon Mustard

1 Egg

2 Tablespoons of Fresh Thyme

1 White Onion, finely diced

1 Clove of Garlic, crushed

Salt and Pepper

Dried Herbs of your choice – a sprinkle of dried rosemary and/or oregano 

Pinch of Chilli Flakes

8 Rashes of Smoked Streaky Bacon

1 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar 

1 Tablespoon of Honey

Mixed Leaf Salad or Rocket

Sliced Strong Mature Cheddar, (or American sliced cheese if you prefer)

Sliced Tomato 

And then if you fancy …

Sliced Gherkins

Sliced Red Onion

Chorizo 

etc … 

Cheats Aioli Mayonaise

1 Clove of Garlic, crushed

8 Tablespoons of Mayonnaise

Juice of Half a Lemon

1/4 Tsp Salt

Recipe 

Pre-heat the oven to 180c. Lay the bacon out on a wire rack on top of a baking tray. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar and drizzle with honey. Put in the oven for 10-15 minutes until crispy and caramelised. 

Heat a small pan, add a drop of oil. Add the chopped white onion and the garlic. Take off the heat when it has become translucent – 4-5 minutes. 

Put all of the patty ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Divide the mixture into four and shape into patties. Push your thumb down half way in the centre of each patty so that they don’t dome when they are fried. 

Heat a frying pan with a little bit of sunflower oil so that the patties don’t stick. Fry the patties on each side for 4-6 minutes. 

Mix all of the aioli ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. 

While the patties are frying, slice your buns in half and toast them in the toaster or in the oven. 

When the patties are almost cooked lay sliced cheddar on top of them in the pan so that the cheese melts. 

Build your burger – Butter your bun and slather with the aioli. Start at the bottom with salad, the patty, melted cheese, caramelised bacon, red onion, tomato etc …. keep on building. 

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Momos – Not Just a ‘Steamed Dumpling’

I became fully obsessed with momos whilst in India. They are the perfect snack or meal when you are sick to death of curry. However, the standard of them would vary so much between each street stall / restaurant. Some of them would arrive beautifully steaming hot with carrots carved into flowers as a garnish and a bowl of dipping sauce in the middle. At the office I worked in, in Delhi, we would have momos delivered for lunch. They would arrive crammed into a tin foil take away bag, all stuck together. We would always be greedy and starving, piling these piping hot momos into our mouths. The sauce came tied in a small plastic bag, often exploding onto our laps as we hurriedly burst them open.

After researching momos I came across an article that discussed the arrival of this street food snack in India and the effect they have had on society. ZeeNews uses momos to link the rich upper classes of Delhi to the poor street sellers. Everyone has gone mad for these steamed dumplings. In Delhi ‘one class sells it and the other eats it’. Every single housing colony, office complex and market place has a momo street seller. This is down to the Tibetans.

zeenews.india.com

The Tibetan immigrants, illegal and legal, fled into India to escape the Chinese government. ‘Tibetan refugees have settled in India by the tens of thousands since 1959, when the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and many of his followers fled to northern India to escape a Chinese crackdown. India hosted some 110,000 Tibetan refugees as of the end of 2001.’ The big cities of India such as Delhi and Bombay are seen as lands of opportunity. Delhi in particular is a melting pot. You can find every different type of cuisine that you could possibly imagine. Delhi is very accepting, welcoming new foods with open arms. The Tibetan refugees living in exile make their living selling momos on the street.

http://www.refworld.org/docid/3f51f90821.html

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David Johnson’s short documentary film on master momo makers in Dharamasala is mesmerising. They wake at 3am to prepare the vast amounts of dough and fillings for their vegetarian momos stand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p16qDc9WFSc

 

When refugees travel they carry with them culture, lifestyle and most importantly food. They bring flavour, spices and tradition in their belongings and in their backpacks!

‘Momo’ comes from the Chinese, meaning ‘steamed bread’. The dough is simply made from water and flour and then filled with ground meat, vegetables or cheese. These can be served steamed or fried. The simple dough casing enables a convenient carrying case to the meat and vegetables, perfect for transporting a meal. Originally they were filled with yak meat or water buffalo. However, vegetarian fillings became more common as that was all that was available for the Tibetans in exile.

Momos, as a rule, are not allowed to served at New Year in Tibet as their closed shape is considered to be auspicious in a time of sharing and generosity for the year ahead.

www.yowangdu.com

After trying hundreds of them, I have come up with what I think is the most delicious Pork, Chilli and Cabbage Momo.

Pork Momos

Recipe

Dough

2 Cups of Flour

¾ Cup of Water

Pinch of Salt

Tablespoon of Oil

Filling

400g Pork Mince (if you can’t find ground pork open up six good quality sausages and use the meat from them).

Small Bunch of Coriander, roughly chopped.

1 Tablespoon of Ground Cumin.

3 Inch Piece of Ginger, finely chopped.

2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped.

1 Medium Chilli, finely chopped.

100g Cabbage, finely chopped.

1 Carrot, grated.

2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce.

1 Teaspoon of Ground Coriander.

Mix all of the dough ingredients together in a bowl. Bring the dough together and knead on a flat surface for 8-10 minutes until smooth. Put the dough back in the bowl and put a damp cloth on top of it so that is doesn’t dry out.

Put all of the ingredients for the filling into a bowl and mix together with your hands so that they are all really well combined.

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Flour the table surface and take a small piece of the dough. Using a floured rolling pin, role the piece of dough into a circle, about 6-8cm in diameter. Make sure it is very thin. Momos with thick dough are disgusting. They will expand when cooked. Take a heaped teaspoon of the mixture and put it in the centre of the dough.

Either fold the dough into a semi circle and pinch the sides around (a bit like a Cornish pasty) or pull all of the outside edges into the centre and squeeze in the middle. If you are having trouble making the dough stick, use a dab of water.

You can use a steamer to cook your momos or if you don’t have one, a saucepan of boiling water with a colander and a lid on top will do the trick. Make sure to grease the colander or steamer, before placing the momos on to steam, otherwise they will stick.

Steam for 12-15 minutes. Make sure the pork mince is cooked completely through (all white and no pink). Serve immediately with either soy sauce or sweet chilli!

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Medieval Tonic

This time of year everyone is ridden with colds. We all spend stupid amounts of money on different vitamins and remedies from Holland and Barrett or on tube after tube of Berocca. To add to the terrible weather, we are also all going out twice as much because of the Christmas season. My dad and I thought we would give this mad potion a go. This is from the medieval times when epidemics took hundreds of lives. People used natural remedies to try and cure themselves, before all of the prescription drugs we take were around. Penicillin wasn’t invented by Fleming until 1928. We wanted to see if natural remedies could make us feel on top of the world. There was only one way to find out, so on a rainy Tuesday afternoon we got cooking! (Well, not really cooking – we just chopped up all of the ingredients and put them in a jar!)

According to the description, this recipe is an antibiotic that millions of people have used to fight dangerous diseases in the past. Let us see if it can fight our colds and hangovers this December. Apparently this tonic has helped people fight bacteria, parasitic and fungal diseases and even the plague.

I put Val (my dad) on to the chopping and grating, with much complaint, and sterilised the jars.

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This is the recipe –

1 Large Bulb of Garlic Finely Chopped (A natural antibiotic)

1 Small Onion Finely Chopped (Powerful duo with close relative, garlic)

2 Tablespoons of Turmeric (I’m obsessed with it – it’s marvellous!)

5 inch Piece of Ginger Grated (Has an anti-inflammatory effect)

2 Tablespoons of Horseradish (For sinuses and lungs)

2 Fresh Hot Red Chillies (Have antibiotic properties and stimulate circulation)

700ml Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (It’s high in potassium so good for hair, teeth, colds and bones. It’s high in pectin, which decreases cholesterol, and malic acid that cures joint pain. Hippocrates, the father of medicine used only two natural remedies, apple cider vinegar and honey – and he knew what he was doing! Furthermore it promotes natural weight loss – FAB)

Put all of the ingredients in a mason jar. Close the jar and shake well. Keep it in a cool dry place for 2 weeks. Shake the jar several times a day.

After two weeks strain through muslin, squeezing well.

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Dose –

Quite worryingly, it says ‘it is valuable advice to eat some orange, lemon or lime after you consume the tonic in order to reduce the burning sensation and heat’!

A tablespoon has to be gargled and swallowed once a day just to boost your immune system and fight colds. If you are already ill then it recommends taking 5 tablespoons a day.

Apparently you can also add it to olive oil to make salad dressing! How convenient.

I’ll let you know if I have super powers in two weeks!

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All information from ‘Viral Alternative News’ (http://www.viralalternativenews.com/)

Mussels – How do you like yours?

While travelling through the backwaters of Kerala I came across men, alone on little fishing boats. Normally, the fishermen go out in at least twos in order to gather the net together. When I looked closer, I saw that the fisherman was just pushing a long pole in, up and down the bottom of the water. I asked our boatman what was going on and he explained that they were collecting mussels from the bottom of the backwaters. All down the waterways there was mussel fishing activity. There were beautiful women in saris washing mussels on the banks and heaps of mussel shells being dried out.

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The mussel dishes I had in Kerala never came with their shells on like I am used to. Mussel fry is a dry (no gravy) spicy dish of mussels prepared very differently to our ‘Moules Frites’ dish in Europe. In Southern India the flesh is removed from the shell and marinated in a mixture of spices before being panfried in oil.

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Our boatman in Kerala told me that the shells are dried out, ground up and made into lime, which is used to make concrete. This is very Indian – allowing nothing to go to waste. ‘Backwater mussel culture is a decade old phenomenon along the Malabar coast and opens immense potential for resource and employment generation among coastal communities especially women living below poverty line.’

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Mussels eat plankton by using their body like a snorkel, filtering water in and out in a U-turn. Mussels actually clean the water they are living in. If you spot them when you are about to take a swim, you can feel at ease as they only like to live in clean streams and rivers so that it’s easy for them to eat and reproduce.

Fun Fact – Mussels have blue blood.

The word mussel dates back to the Roman times. The Romans called them ‘musculus’ meaning ‘little mouse’. I guess they could be mistaken for a very tiny mouse hiding in their shells – quite strange though. Another idea is that there was confusion between the mussel and the muscle holding the bivalve, having similarities to the shape of a bicep. Either way the ‘little mouse’ is held in place by the muscle of the mussel!

The French claim to have had the first mussel farm all the way back in 1235. However from 500BC there is evidence that the ancients were lowering rope and branches into shallow waters for mussels to cling on to so that they could capture them to eat.

The Ancient Romans had a recipe for mussel balls. These are mussels, steamed, pounded to a paste, combined with eggs and grain and roasted over hot ashes. Almost like a mussel meatball.

I have traipsed through various mussel recipes. I didn’t want to choose something predictable like mussels with garlic and white wine so, in an attempt to try out marinating and frying mussels, i looked at the traditional Kerala dish Kallummekkaya Olathiyathu, Mussels Fry. After capturing the mussel men hard at work on camera, i thought it seemed appropriate to try out some of the recipes that their wives would be cooking for them on their return from the backwaters.

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After testing a few i have put together what i think is the most delicious Kerala mussel  curry. I know it sounds odd, but trust me, it’s super quick and tastes and smells like south India (i know that sounds cliche, but i promise the whole of Shepherds Bush knew i was cooking that day).

This serves 3-4. Serve with rice. (We actually wrapped it up in left over duck pancake wraps from dinner the night before)

1 Kilo of Mussels

2 tsp Garlic Paste (about 2 cloves)

2 Tsp Turmeric Powder

Pinch of Salt

2 tsp Chilli Powder (depending on strength)

1 tsp Vinegar

Few tablespoons of Coconut Oil

1 tsp Mustard Seeds

Handful of Curry Leaves

2 Small White Onions Sliced

2 Large Tomatoes Chopped

2 Green Chillies Split Lengthways

2 Tbsp Finely Chopped Ginger

1 Heaped tsp of Ground Coriander

1 Heaped tsp of Garam Masala

Put the mussels in a pot and pour over a kettle of boiling water so that the shells open. Drain the water and remove the flesh from each shell. Throw away any that don’t open. Make sure you remove the beard off each mussel.

Mix together the garlic, turmeric, salt, chilli powder and vinegar and marinate the mussels in this paste for 15-30 minutes.

Fry the mussels on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes in a tablespoon of coconut oil.

In a separate pan (i used a wok) heat 3-4 tbsp of coconut oil. When it’s hot add the curry leaves and mustard seeds. After a few minutes add the onions and ginger and fry until the onion is translucent and starting to soften. Add the tomatoes and green chillies. Cook for a few minutes.

Add the cooked mussels (including any of the marinade) into the onion pan. Stir together on a medium-high heat. Add the ground coriander and garam masala. Add half a cup of water and then simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Add some salt if necessary.  For a dry fry, cook until the liquid has evaporated. Finish with a sprinkling of curry leaves.

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Why not try trying mussels a different way!


 

http://aquafind.com/articles/Status-Of-Mussel-Culture-In-India.php

http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/animalsAndPlants/freshwater-mussels/life-history.aspx

‘A Matter of Taste: Shellfish Desire’ Raymond Sokolov, 1979.

http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodlobster.html#mussels