Sleepless in Bali: Siva Ratri, the night of Shiva

 

Many Balinese will not sleep tonight as they stay awake to observe the holy night of Shiva. Here’s a great explanation of this significant Hindu ceremony:

via Siwaratri Day – Night of Siwa

Prawn, fennel and coriander Gow Gee – steamed dumplings

I created these little treats because I was searching for a light, healthy but hot appetiser that would complement an Indian dinner without filling guests up too much.

Steaming these dumplings is easy and quick and you can do this just before or as guests arrive which if you want to use these as canapés which works well.

The ready made “gow  gee” pastry is easy to find in Asian food store refrigerator section and very simple to work with. You will also need a steaming basket or steamer.

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I used fennel, ginger, cummin, fresh coriander and ginger to add subtle Indian flavours to the prawn filling. Most steamed dumplings recipes don’t require you to cook the filling beforehand but I decided to so I could roast the fennel seeds and use cooked onion. I didn’t use any chilli in these as I planned to serve with chilli oil on the side.

Ingredients

8 large, green or uncooked prawns – shelled, deveined and chopped into medium dice
1/2 onion very finely diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tspn fresh ginger crushed to a paste
1 tspn fennel seeds
1/4 tspn cummin powder
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
Water and pastry brush
20 gow gee pastry wrappers
chilli oil or sauce to serve with dumplings

 

Method

Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat

Add fennel seeds and fry until fragrant but take care not to burn

Add onion and fry until transparent, then add ginger and cumin powder and sauté for half a minute

Add prawns and a pinch of salt and sauté for just a minute or two until they just turn pink.

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Remove the prawns, add coriander, mix through and set aside in a bowl to cool completely.

 

Take one gow gee wrapper at a time and place a teaspoon of the filling in the middle, brush edges of pastry with a little bit of water, fold over pastry pleating and pressing together the edges to seal completely. Repeat until all the filling has been used. Makes approximately fifteen to twenty dumplings.

Lightly oil steamer basket and place dumplings in it spaced without touching each other. Place steamer over boiling water, cover and steam for ten to fifteen minutesIngredients until wrappers are translucent and tender.

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Serve with chilli oil or sauce to the side.

Irish Lamb Stew for St Patrick’s Day

This is an old family favourite stew made extra delicious by the addition of crispy fried bacon and the use of white pepper. I love lots of fresh thyme in it as well.

Perfect way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day no matter where you are in the world🍀🍀🍀

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Irish Lamb Stew

Ingredients
5-6 lamb neck chops,with some of the meat cut into smaller chunks off the bone
1 tspn salt
1 tspn black pepper
1 tspn white pepper
½ cup flour
½ cup water
Vegetable oil and butter
4 cloves of garlic crushed
2 onions sliced into thickish rings
Chicken stock
2 carrots chopped into medium size chunks
2 desiree potatoes chopped into quarters
Half a bunch of thyme leaves stripped from stalks
2 bay leaves
1 cup white wine

Method
1. Place bacon in frying pan and cook until crisp and fat has rendered into pan
2. Put lamb, salt, black pepper and flour into mixing bowl and coat lamb evenly
3. Brown lamb in batches on high heat in frying pan – might need to add butter to pan which helps brown lamb when bacon fat runs out
4. Once finished with frying pan deglaze it by adding a cup of water and keep pan juices aside
5. Place a thin layer of oil in the casserole pot, then add garlic and half the onion and sauté until onions become golden and transparent
6. Add bacon pieces, lamb, white pepper, thyme and bay leaves to casserole pot and cover with wine, deglazed pan juices and chicken stock – simmer for 40 minutes-1 hour.
7. Taste to see if extra pepper and/or salt is needed
8. Add potatoes, carrots and rest of onion to lamb and simmer for 20-25 minutes until potatoes and carrots are tender
9. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve with irish soda bread

Review: Ji whizz in Canggu, Bali

We were recommended to try the newly opened  at Ji Restaurant at the Hotel Tugu in Canggu by a friend so took a taxi from Seminyak for the roughly 35 minute trip, depending on traffic for dinner.

Arriving at Hotel Tugu in Canggu, we were immediately impressed by the truly special setting created by the huge Garuda statue and furnishings in the hotel lobby. The restaurant and bar are situated next to the Hotel Tugu whose owners have an amazing collection of Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian antiques and collectibles which feature in their hotels and venues.

We started with cocktails on the rooftop bar overlooking the busy beachside bars of Canggu with glimpses of the ocean over the rooftops, watching the sun setting as we sipped on our literally smoking CoCo Sexo cocktails, a delicious mixture of pineapple, rum and coconut juice served in coconut jars over dry ice. The bar area is eclectically decorated with beautiful artisan lights and plantings with indoor and outdoor seating.

Ji restaurant itself is housed in a 300+ year old Chinese temple that the owners transported to Bali and rebuilt, filling it with an amazing collection of antique prints and photographs, sculptures and statues. The restaurant furnishings are also suitably matched to give an overall ambience that transports you to another era. Ji means temple in both Chinese and Japanese.

The menu features Japanese fusion cuisine, with beautifully presented fresh sashimi and sushi platters, tempura, noodles and soups. We loved the succulently crispy tempura prawns and the “melt in your mouth” Angus Kobe beef tenderloin served with tangerine. The seaweed salad with crab and thinly sliced fennel was a perefect balance of sweet and salty and was dressed for success!

This restaurant is definitely not a “try hard” in either the food or decore departments – it’s the real thing, good value for the experience and highly worth the visit to Canggu. The Hotel staff called us a car for the return trip and we were already dreaming of our next visit on the drive back to Seminyak.

Noodle Soup with Thai Red Roast Pork

The weather in Sydney this weekend has been awful with very high winds and torrential rain. It feels like winter has really arrived. Of course this  is perfect weather for heart warming soups, roast and casseroles. What a great excuse for comfort food!

This soup is a perfect antidote to winter blues and just as good in summer as it has a light chicken stock base. You can really season this to your taste and leave out the fresh chillies if you prefer a less spicy option.

You will need Thai Red Roast Pork for this recipe which will extend your preparation time if you are making yourself and not “cheating” and buying it at your closest Chinese BBQ store. Same goes for the chicken stock – of course homemade is always nicer but if you don’t have time or any frozen in the fridge then store bought is fine. It is good to fry the finely chopped garlic to  a crisp; and also roast and crush the peanuts, so that is out of the way before you assemble the soup itself. Once you have these key ingredients in hand, everything else is a breeze.

Prep time: 15 minutes    Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
2.5 litres chicken stock
300g of roast red pork thinly sliced
50 g bean sprouts
4-5  iceberg lettuce leaves very finely sliced
200g dried egg or rice noodles (I use fine egg noodles)
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce, depending how salty your stock is
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped and fried to a crisp
1-2 fresh red chillies chopped (optional)

Garnish:
choppped coriander leaves
2 sping onions finely sliced
dried chilli flakes
roughly chopped roasted peanuts

Method
Heat one tablespoon vegetable oil in a small non-stick frying pan and fry garlic until golden and crisp, take care not to burn. Remove with slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain. (I make extra fried garlic to use as a garnish as well.)
Dry roast peanuts in a frying pan, then crush roughly in a mortar and pestle or roughly chop
Slice lettuce leaves, coriander and spring onions finely. Keep seperately.


Bring stock to a boil, then bring to a simmer. Add pork, sugar and 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, then add noodles and simmer for about 5-8 minutes until tender. Add fresh chopped chillies at this point if using.


Taste to see if additional fish sauce needed
Add fried garlic, bean sprouts and lettuce.
Immediately turn off the heat and serve in deep soup bowls and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with other garnishes to the side.

Thai Red Roast Pork

This is a succulent roast pork recipe that is so easy to make. As well as being delicious thinly sliced and accompanied with cucumbers as a centrepiece of a Thai meal, the leftovers are delicious in Thai Pork Noodle Soup. If you can’t be bothered making it, of course you can buy red roast pork readymade from your local Chinatown.

Prep time: 5 minutes Marinate: minimum 2 hours or overnight

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:
1 kg of pork loin fillets
1/2 teaspoon red food colouring
1/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon each of fish sauce, hoisin sauce, light soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine or sherry
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
2 star anise crushed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Coriander to garnish

Method

Put all ingredients except pork, water and red food colouring in a blender and blend until a smooth paste form

Mix red food colouring and water in steel or ceramic bowl

Add pork and using gloves massage food colouring, then marinade into meat, cover with plastic wrap

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Set aside in refigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight

Pre-heat oven to 230 degrees celcius

Put pork on roasting rack and keep marinade for basting

Cook pork for 10 minutes to create a “crust”, then lower heat to 180 degrees and baste regularly with marinade, cook for another 45-50 minutes at least. Check meat to ensure it is cooked – Be careful not to cook too long as it will dry out.

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Serve warm after resting for 10 minutes, then slicing. Goes well with sliced cucumber and Thai sauces or use in stir fries and soups.
Serves 4-6