Fabulous Fava Bean Hummus

Had this delicious Fava bean hummus at Nomad restaurant in Surry Hills in Sydney last night. The hummus is served with vivid green parsley oil and crispy split and fried Fava beans on top. It is a visually spectacular dish filled with flavour and texture.

Fava bean hummus at Nomad Restaurant, Surry Hills Sydney

Making it at home would indeed be a “labour of love“ as Stephanie Mary says in her blog on My Tiny Laguna Kitchen. Her recipe looks great but the double peeling of the Fava beans is the time consuming part.

But it would make for a stunning starter especially if paired with yummy wood fired flatbread like it is at Nomad.

Wood fired flatbread at Nomad Restaurant Sydney

And here’s a link to making the bright green parsley oil from Delicious.com.au

Parsley oil recipe from delicious.com.au

Some inspiration for the future or if you are lucky like us, back to Nomad for more!

Certainly was a great way to start to what was a delicious dinner.

Spicy Southern Thai pork rib dry curry

A shortcut recipe for a Southern Thai Pork ribs curry with a zesty, spicy, sweet, sour Thai curry sauce…yum.

I was looking for dinner ideas yesterday and stumbled upon a recipe for this traditional Southern Thai “dry curry”, called this because it doesn’t have coconut milk in it. Now this is a new delicious discovery!

Shortcut Recipe

The traditional Thai dry curry recipe involves making the hot spice paste from scratch, which looked quite involved ..probably worth it if a larger amount and all the fresh ingredients required are available.

To bypass making the paste from scratch, but try to achieve the flavours outlined in the original recipe, I decided to use a bought red curry paste as a base and add additional ingredients such as turmeric, lemongrass, lime zest, fresh chillies and garlic pounding these to a paste first and then adding the bought curry paste.

The resulting paste worked really well. This is the only hard work you will have to do as the rest is just simmering it all together for about an 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Using lean pork ribs with very little fat also meant that the end result wasn’t overly oily/fatty.

My additional ingredients

I also added small eschallots and chopped green beans which are optional but the sweetness of the onions and crunch of the green beans went well with the succulent, lip smacking ribs!

This will be going on a family favourites list!

  • Ingredients
  • 1 large rack of “American style” pork ribs, ask the butcher to cut in half vertically. (About 600g)
  • 12 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 6 fresh red chillies
  • Knob of fresh ginger (about equal to quantity of garlic)
  • 1.5 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp,paste (optional)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 7 heaped teaspoons of bought Thai red curry paste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 cups of water

Method:

1. Cut all the ribs into individual pieces slicing between them.

2. Slice 1/2 the stick of lemongrass, chop up 3 chillies, ginger, garlic and put into a mortar and pestle. Add the lime zest and pound all the ingredients until a paste forms.

3. Add the turmeric powder to the paste and mix through.

4. Add the bought curry paste and shrimp,paste and pound/mix together with your paste to amalgamate.

5. Heat oil in a heavy based pot (which has a lid), add curry paste and the 3 other chillies (left whole with stems removed). Stir fry paste until it is fragrant.

6. Add 1/2 cup or so of water to loosen up the paste, then add pork ribs and stir to coat ribs in sauce stirring continuously so ribs don’t stick and paste doesn’t burn. Add additional water if necessary. You just want the meat to “seal” rather than brown.

7. Add kaffir lime leaves, rest of water, fish sauce, black pepper, white pepper, sugar and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 40 minutes.

8. Add eschallots, lime juice and stir.

9. After another 15-20 minutes, check curry is not sticking, see if your meat is tender. Add green beans, and a bit more water if necessary.

10. Cook for 5-8 minutes until green beans are just tender. Sauce should be well reduced and you will see the oil separating slightly on the sides. You want the sauce to be coating the ribs!

11. Garnish with finely sliced lime leaves, chopped coriander and serve with jasmine rice, and an empty bowl on the side for your rib bones!

Bang Bang Chicken Salad

Bang bang chicken is a spicy shredded Chinese chicken salad that we first tasted at the humble but iconic “Chinese Noodle Restaurant” in the Prince Centre in Sydney’s Chinatown. As well as their delicious handmade noodles, their shredded chicken salad is always on one of our menu choices when we visit. It’s been a family favourite since the early 90’s!

Over the years I have also tried to recreate it at home. It’s a great weeknight dinner which can be served with lettuce cups, steamed greens and some jasmine rice if you like, or just delicious on it’s own.

It has the name “bang, bang” because it was traditionally banged with batons to loosen the chicken fibres before shredding. I use a mallet to do this and it works a treat!

Add chopped steamed green beans and lots of cucumber to add a bit more bulk to it as a meal in itself! It’s a great for lunch the next day too.

  • Ingredients
  • 2-3 poached chicken thigh fillets
  • Glad wrap and a meat mallet
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese chilli oil (I use Chiu Chow style)
  • 2 teaspoons Szechuan pepper crushed
  • 1 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger pounded to a paste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Chinkiang vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced spring onions
  • 1 cucumber sliced and cut into chunks

Method:

1. Place glad wrap over poached chicken laid flat on a chopping board. Use mallet to lightly flatten, then shred into long strips into a bowl.

2. Whizz or pound Szechuan pepper in a spice grinder to a (not too fine) powder, place in bowl, mix with sesame oil, vinegar, chilli oil, sugar and soy sauce.

3. Add spring onion to chicken, then dress, mix well, taste to see if you want to add extra chilli oil or Szechuan pepper, or soy sauce if not salty enough.

4. I add the cucumber last and lightly toss.

Pork Larb with Green Beans #larb #salad

This classic Thai inspired salad is a great weekday summer dinner that is very tasty.

Thai inspired Pork Larb Salad

We are currently using herbs from pots in our courtyard that are thriving through the Sydney summer. Mint, coriander, chilies and basil are essential for this recipe and luckily close to hand at the moment.

I serve this with lettuce cups and some jasmine rice making for a quick but satisfying lunch or dinner. Also perfect for leftovers for lunch the next day.

Ingredients:

  • Ingredients
  • 500g lean pork mince
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic finely sliced
  • 2 tbspoons Vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 red chillies finely chopped (and 2 left whole optional)
  • 1 small red onion finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1 small Lebanese cucumber cut into sticks
  • 4-5 lettuce leaves trimmed to create cups
  • Lettuce trimmings
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh green beans

Method:

1. Slice onions and garlic and set aside

2. Trim lettuce to create cups, place in freezer to crisp up, keep trimmings to add to salad.

3. Chop chillies, coriander and make cucumber sticks. (do not chop basil and mint as these are better torn and scattered into the salad at the last minute)

4. Squeeze lime juice and set aside.

5. Blanch green beans until just tender if using fresh green beans.

5. Heat vegetable oil in a wok, add sesame oil, add garlic and fry till just golden.

6. Add pork mince (and whole chillies if using) fry until browned. (I put the whole chillies in as they are there for extra spice if required for chilli heads without making the whole salad too hot to handle)

6. Add fish sauce, 1/2 the lime juice, pepper, sugar, chillies and stir through, then add green beans and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes until beans are heated through. Add some water here if required but not too much as you don’t want too much liquid.

7. Add all other ingredients to wok, including rest of lime juice, and tearing in mint and basil leaves. Gently toss. Taste to see if balance is how you like it, as you can always splash in more fish sauce or lime juice….or chop up one of the whole chillies if not spicy enough for you.

8. Serve with lettuce cups and jasmine rice.

Picnics by the pool #rarotonga #cookislands

The last few days have involved lots of beautiful relaxed eating…the kind of days I spend most of the working year dreaming about.

Grilled Mahi Mahi and salad

Christmas leftovers, barbecues and grilled fresh fish all call for good salads and accompaniments … here are some recipes of the types of side dishes we’ve been enjoying alongside our meals.

The fresh ingredients particularly local tomatoes and cucumbers here in the Cook Islands are delicious …so simple green salads and cucumber salads have also been a mainstay with heartier sides like the ones below providing some variety.

Roast potatoes

Roast potatoes

Hasselback sweet potatoes

Vegetarian Rice Pilau

Black bean salsa

Pineapple salsa

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Heirloom tomato salad with Burrata

Mixed Salad with cucumber raita

Mixed salad with cucumber raita

Hope this provides some inspiration for the new year!

Delicious Roast Pig on the Spit #xmas #rarotonga #arcadiaretreat

We’ve been looking forward to joining our friends Neil and Maxine for Christmas at their beautiful Arcadia Retreat holiday property all year.

Neil had also suggested that we cook a whole pig on the spit for our special Cook Island Christmas lunch. Having Neil and Ben on hand, both trained Chefs made the idea a lot less daunting…Neil had also previously (successfully) roasted a pig over charcoal before – so had good credentials!

Our Christmas Roast Pig on the Spit!

Neil procured a 27kg local pig from Wigmores – known for it’s high quality produce. He also hired a huge rotisserie barbecue from TOA Gas in Avarua. Both essential items were delivered in timely fashion on the 23rd of December, allowing the pig to be snugly stored in a spare fridge with the shelves removed and the rotisserie bbq to be set up.

Snug as a whole pig in a fridge!

Ensuring your spit or rotisserie can manage the weight of your pig is a key consideration for success.

Ben and Neil up at 6am Christmas Day 2023

In his book Taste, Stanley Tucci tells a highly entertaining story about his first attempt at roasting a whole pig on spit, where they had to chop off it’s head to fit it on and then the rotisserie spit breaks because the pig was too heavy! I’d been reading same book in the lead up to Christmas so shared this tale with the chefs😆

Pig ready to rock ‘n roll!

Anyway needless to say, Neil and Ben did a fabulous job and our beautiful roast pork with shiny, crispy crackling was served up on time for Christmas lunch. The pig took about an hour to prepare and get onto the spit. They had it all set to roast at 7am on Christmas morning and it was ready to feast on by 12.30 after resting for an hour. They did of course check on it along the way but report that little needed to be done during the cooking time.

Ben with the finished product!

They also extracted fat from the rotisserie tray to bake while potatoes in a seperate bbq which were decadently delicious!

We also had accompaniments featuring locally grown fruit and vegetables including pineapple and young coconut salsa, a vegetable pilaf and a Zuchinni, tomato and capsicum ratatouille all washed down with beautiful NZ white wine.

Neil and Ben’s special roast pig made for a very special Christmas lunch by the pool in the Cook Islands. Thanks guys!

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole pig
  • Handfuls of Texan hot spice rub mix
  • Lots of Olive Oil
  • Handfuls of Sea salt

Method

1. Prepare your pig for the spit e.g remove the tail. Liberally rub the inside of the pig with large handfuls of rub

2. Put the pig on the spit

3. Rub the pig liberally with olive oil and large handfuls of sea salt

4. Put the rotisserie on high (200 degrees Celsius) for 40 minutes or so until skin begins to crisp up. Cover the pig’s ears in foil to avoid burning.

5. Lower heat to 150 degree Celsius and cook for a total of 4 hours, then allow to rest for 1 hour before carving and serving.