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!

Heirloom tomato and Burrata Salad

A beautiful salad for lazy summer days which is an excellent accompaniment to Christmas leftovers like ham, turkey, barbecued meats and roast pork.

The success of this salad lies in getting the best quality tomatoes and a good Burrata. I used a mix of one large heirloom tomato with gold and red grape and cherry tomatoes.

Burrata is a delicious cheese, a mixture of mozzarella, soft cheese curds and cream…when you burst it open the gooey inside and texture of the cheese case are excellent combination with the fresh tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 good quality Burrata (now easily found in Australian supermarkets)
  • 1 or 2 large heirloom tomatoes cut into thick slices
  • 200g red grape tomatoes cut in halves
  • 200g gold cherry tomatoes cut in halves
  • 200g red cherry tomatoes cut in halves
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and black pepper

Method:

1. Slice and cut tomatoes

2. Strain and place Burrata in the middle of a platter

3. Arrange tomatoes around the Burrata, season with salt and cracked black pepper, scatter basil leaves, sprinkle generously with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

4. Crack open the Burrata and enjoy with crusty bread.

#Ikamata, A Merry Cook Islands Christmas

After a long and busy year of not much blogging , this Christmas with time on my hands during our Cook Islands holiday, I’m getting back on my blogging “bike”. This setting is perfect for a free spirited foodie!

A slice of paradise – Rarotonga

This week we travelled to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands from Sydney via some excellent meals in Auckland at Giraffe Restaurant and Italian stalwart Baduzzi.

Taro plants growing in Rarotonga

The Cook Islands are made up of 15 islands in the time zone as Hawaii, 21 hours “behind” Australia and across the international dateline, but only 3.5 hours flight from Auckland. (Direct flights from Sydney will recommence in June 2023) ….it’s still Christmas Eve here!

Arriving in Rarotonga really lives up to the description of South Pacific Paradise, and the warm tropical air makes you instantly relax. We are staying with friends Neil and Maxine who have relocated here and are running the beautiful property Arcadia Retreat – 3 private homes available for rent – which is just across the road from the beach and with stunning views of the hills around which the small population is scattered.

Neil whipped up his delicious Ika Mata salad for our welcome lunch which was so good we had to request it the next day as well! Ika Mata is the traditional raw fish salad of the Cook Islands which can be served as an entree or main course.

Here’s the recipe which is perfect for any summer’s day across the globe….you just need the freshest tuna/fish you can find …which of course is in abundance here.

Iki Mata lunch on the deck at Arcadia Retreat, Rarotonga

Ingredients

  • 400g fresh tuna cut into small cubes (the smaller the cubes, the faster your fish will cure)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh passionfruit juice (seeds removed) *if you don’t have passionfruit then just add the same quantity of additional lime juice
  • 2 birds eye chillies thinly sliced (you can deseed or make this optional)
  • 3 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (ours was fresh but tinned is fine)
  • Salad items like: finely diced tomatoes, spring onions, peeled and deseeded cucumber, capsicum, and onion

Method:

1. Cube tuna and place in a glass or ceramic bowl

2. Mix thinly sliced chilli, salt, orange, lime and passionfruit juice and then pour over the fish and gently mix to cover the fish in the marinade.

3. Place in the fridge to marinate for 20 minutes – half an hour depending on how “cooked through” you’d like your fish.

4. Pour off the liquid from the fish so just the fish and chilli remain in the bowl.

5. Add the salad ingredients, mix through gently and pour over coconut milk and serve.

Ika Mata tuna salad

Eat and enjoy with a crisp white wine, lettuce leaves and some toasted Turkish bread or baguette!

Crispy lettuce leaves and toasted Turkish are delicious accompaniments for Ika Mata

#Kimchi Beef “power” #bowls

These are a delicious new favourite on our dinner list. Caramelising the kimchi is genius…definitely “Damn Delicious …slightly tweaked to include lightly pickled grated carrot, to add another layer of sweetness.

Damn delicious KimchI Beef Power Bowl

Here’s the link to the recipe. https://damndelicious.net/2019/07/13/korean-beef-power-bowls/

Brown the beef
Mix the sauce ingredients
Add sauce to beef and cook until dark brown and crunchy
Fry kimchi with brown sugar to caramelise
Salad with endamame added
Cooked farro
Compose bowls with farro and salads as base
Delicious with avocado and sriracha mayonaise

#NYE #Tequila #Blackbeans #salsa #salad

Made to go with our Buttermilk Brined & Fried Chicken, in the spirit of beans and lentils being traditionally lucky foods in many cultures.

Tequila Blackbean Salsa or Salad?

Couldn’t find canned black eye peas, so used black beans instead to create this delicious concoction steeped in tequila and spices first, then freshen up with the addition of some finely sliced and diced coriander, capsicum and spring onion.

I slow cooked some finely diced onion and garlic in olive oil, added 2 tins drained cans of black beans, a finely diced red chilli, 1 teaspoon good smoked paprika, salt , 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, a good slug of tequila bubbling away until alcohol reduced the added a cup of water and simmered for about 10 minutes until the water had been absorbed and bean were soft and flavoursome. Then mixed in fresh finely sliced and diced white of 2 spring onions, a handful of coriander and half a small red capsicum.

Adding a good slug of tequila
Simmer until water is absorbed by beans

This was really delicious in its own right but also a great accompaniment to our fried chicken and an excellent vegetarian option for our picnic.

“Freshened” up and adding crunch with spring onion, capsicum and coriander.