2018 Turkey and Prawn pad Thai

This year’s version triple the original recipe ….absolute fave with the “hungry” hoards on a Boxing Day.

Here’s the link to the original recipe inspired by Nigella Lawson’s recipe in her Feast cookbook.

https://freespiritfood.net/2017/12/27/turkey-pad-thai/

Prawn Caldine with tamarind and ground almonds

This recipe is inspired by Rick Stein’s version with a few adjustments to make it an easy mid-week dish. It is lightly spiced but the addition of green chillies adds a hint of heat. The tamarind water adds a sweet sour component which complements prawns or fish brilliantly. The ground almonds add another dimension and help to thicken the sauce but can be omitted if you prefer.

Prep time: 15 minutes  Cooking time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:

500g fresh or frozen prawns(defrosted), preferably with tails left on OR 500g firm white fish
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cummin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 onion thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic and equivalent amount of fresh ginger
2 tablespoons ground almonds (optional)
400ml coconut milk
3 tablespoons tamarind water (made using tamarind seeds or concentrate)
4-5 mild green chillies, cut into long strips
coriander to garnish
salt
vegetable oil

Method
Place peeled (and defrosted) prawns/fish chopped in pieces in a bowl and marinate for 10 minutes or so in white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

If using tamarind seeds, soak a handful in 1/2 a cup of boiling water, or mix 1 tspn of tamarind concentrate with 3 tablespoons of hot water. Set aside.

Dry fry cummin seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns in a frying pan until just fragrant over medium heat, taking care not to burn. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before grinding to a fine powder. Add turmeric powder to spice mixture.

Grind or blend ginger and garlic together to  a paste.

Slice onions and green chillies finely.

Heat oil in a pan and add onions and cook until onions start going translucent, add ginger and garlic paste and ground spices and mix through stirring until fragrant, then add coconut milk, tamarind water, ground almonds(if using)and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste.

Drain the moisture from the prawns/fish, then add them to the coconut milk mixture with half the sliced green chillies, cook for 5-7 minutes until the prawns are pink and just cooked or the fish is cooked through.

Garnish with coriander and serve with basmati rice.

Serves 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spicy Prawn Rice with carrots, peas and mushrooms

This is a delicious combination of ingredients that is lovely as a dish on its own with a yoghurt raita and salad, or served alongside  grilled chicken or lamb. It’s like an Indian risotto but you don’t have to stand over it stirring!  Perfect for entertaining as it can be made ahead of time – it’s even better the day after! It’s also great for a shared spread or picnic as it can be served at room temperature.

You just need to allow prep time as there a few steps prior to assembling the dish and cooking in the oven. You can also leave out or reduce the chilli powder and green chillies to make it less spicy.

Prep time: 30 minutes  Cooking time: 1 hour
Ingredients:

500g green prawns shelled and deveined
1.5-2 cups basmati rice
2 medium carrots roughly diced
350 grams of button mushrooms roughly diced
1/2 cup of peas
2 large onions sliced in rings
150 grams of butter for frying prawns
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil for frying prawns
1.5 teaspoons chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cummin powder
1 stalk of curry leaves
stick of cinnamon
4 cardamom pods(optional)
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
4 large mild green chillies chopped
2 teaspoons crushed ginger and garlic paste
1 teaspoons salt

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius

Place peeled and deveined prawns in a bowl and add chilli powder, turmeric powder and cummin powder. Mix through and leave aside

Par boil rice for 10 minutes in salted water. until half cooked, par boil diced carrots seperately in salted water – strain rice and carrots and set aside

Slice onions into rings and chop up green chillies into thin rings

Heat oil and butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry prawns until just turning pink, remove prawns from oil and set aside

In same oil and pan, add cinnamon stick, cummin seeds, cardamom pods, and curry leaves and fry gently for a minute or two

Add onions, green chillies and ginger garlic paste and fry gently until onions are transparent stirring from time to time, to avoid sticking to pan – remove onion mixture from oil and put into a deep casserole dish or pot with lid that can fit all the ingredients

Add in rice, prawns, carrots, peas, mushrooms to onion mixture and mix through so ingredients are evenly distributed

Mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 3/4 cup of water and pour over rice mixture
Cover with lid and place in oven for one hour or until rice is fluffy and moisture has evaporated. Sit for at least 15 minutes before serving

Delicious just on it’s own with yoghurt and a green salad or as a side with grilled chicken or lamb

Spice Temple Cooking Class – Sydney Seafood School

On a cold and drizzly Monday night in Sydney I ventured down to the Sydney Fish Markets for a cooking class at their Seafood Cooking School. They offer a big variety of courses often featuring well known Chefs and I’d booked in to the class by Head Chef Andy Evans from the Neil Perry restaurant, Spice Temple. Both Andy Evans and Neil Perry have travelled extensively in regional China, and Spice Temple features their especially created recipes featuring regional Chinese cooking with a  spicy kick!

The amphitheatre at the Seafood School was full of enthusiastic foodies and the class started with Andy outlining the order of proceedings and the menu. We were each given a booklet with the 3 recipes we would be making: Tuna with Blackened Chilli Dressing, Prawn and Peanut Relish and Spanner Crab Omelette with Oyster Sauce.

The high tech set-up in the amphitheatre which has video screens displaying what is happening on the kitchen bench and stove makes it easy to watch the cooking demonstrations. It’s almost like watching a cooking show on TV live, with the knowledge in the back of your mind that it will be your turn soon.

Chef Andy Evans demonstrating recipes T Sydney Seafood School
Chef Andy Evans demonstrating recipes at Sydney Seafood School

During the demonstration, Andy gave us handy tips and hints which were helpful. For example he told us you should always use a wet knife when slicing raw fish like the tuna for the sashimi, how to properly clean coriander root and the circular motion to use when pounding the peanuts to crush them without making them too oily….

Another great technique he showed us was how to “crack” coconut cream split the oil from the “cream” and use that to fry the onion and spices for the Prawn and Peanut relish recipe.

The omelette that he made is a real show stopper and is absolutely delicious whilst being quick and easy to make. It does require frying in a large amount of hot oil and then discarding the oil before rolling the omelette and ingredients into a log shape. The resulting makes for a stunning buffet addition or shared main course dish. With only a few ingredients like egg, crabmeat, garlic chives, bean sprouts, oyster sauce and vegetable oil needed it is also relatively affordable dinner party menu item, whilst being REALLY impressive.

At the end of the demonstration Andy laid out the finished dishes for us students to file past and understand the benchmark for our attempts!

Tuna Sashimi with blackened chilli dressing
Tuna Sashimi with blackened chilli dressing
Prawn and peanut relish seved with cos lettuce "cups"
Prawn and peanut relish seved with cos lettuce “cups”
Stunning spanner crab omelette with oyster sauce
Stunning spanner crab omelette with oyster sauce

We split up into groups of five or six and moved into the cooking school’s first class kitchen set up. Each group had our own kitchen bench, gas stove, fridge fully stocked with all the ingredients we needed. My group was exemplary at team work and we quickly split up the responsibilities amongst us, helping each other as needed to keep a cracking pace as we went. You can actually reserve a bench you have a group of five or six when you book in to the class if you are going with a bunch of friends.

I was allocated the omelette to make and I can tell you I was nervous about what the outcome of the omelette rolling would be! Would mine end up as a mess of broken egg and crab instead of the beautiful log created by Andy. But with some the help of some timely tips while I was making the recipe from Cooking School assistant chefs I managed to turn out a result that was pretty damn close to the original! As you can see below, I do need to brush up on my oyster sauce pouring technique though – not quite as symmetrical as Andy’s!  (I have made the omelette one already at home but didn’t have oyster sauce so replaced it with kecap manis which was just as delicious)

My attempt at the Spanner crab omelette.
My attempt at the Spanner crab omelette.

After our cooking antics, we all moved to the dining area where we got to enjoy the results of our efforts and swop foodie stories with a bottle of complimentary wine.

The entire experience was fun and educational. The course was very professionally run and Andy Evans was an excellent instructor. He also stayed throughout the class visiting each bench in the kitchen and giving more hands on tips and assistance. I was given the course as a birthday present and would highly recommend it as a great gift for your foodie friends and an excellent way to learn about Australian seafood cooking in the great atmosphere of the Sydney Fish Markets if you are visiting Sydney.

Cooking fun at Sydney Seafood School
Cooking fun at Sydney Seafood School

Pondicherry Prawns with zuchinni, preserved lemon and herbs

This is an unusual recipe hailing from Pondicherry, originally a French colony in Tamil Nadu, India. Pondicherry is truly unique with French style street signs, French colonial architecture and police that wear French style Kepis. We loved our visit to this special part of India, staying at the UNESCO world heritage ward winning Hotel De L’Orient.

The restaurant at the hotel, Carte Blanch, is atmospherically set in the open air atrium of the hotel and features a special menu of creole cooking combining Tamil spices with French flavours. Recently flicking through Rick Stein’s India recipe book I found this recipe inspired by a meal he had at the hotel.

I’ve adapted it using fresh green Australian king prawns and a slightly different mix of spices, spring onions and some green chilli. The use of preserved lemon gives the dish a fresh tangy flavour and the mixture of thyme, rosemary, basil and coriander is delicious.

An excellent dish for entertaining as you can prepare all the ingredients and stir fry it just before you serve.

Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

12 large green(uncooked) king prawns peeled, deveined, tails intact
1 zuchinni, finely sliced into rounds
Half a bunch of spring onions, tops removed and sliced on the angle
2 teaspoons ginger and garlic paste
50g preserved lemon with pulp removed and cut into fine strips
1 tsp thyme leaves finely chopped
1 tsp rosemary leaves finely chopped
1 large green chilli deseeded and cut into fine strips
1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 teaspoon cummin powder
1 teaspoon black pepper crushed
Handful basil leaves torn
Handful of coriander leaves chopped roughly
1 tablespoon of ghee, 1 tablespoon olive oil

Prawns peeled, deveined with tails intact
Prawns peeled, deveined with tails intact
Ingredients prepared for stir frying
Ingredients prepared for stir frying

Method

Heat ghee and olive oil in large frying pan or wok over medium heat
Add spring onions, ginger and garlic and stir fry for 1-2 minutes
Add zuchinni, prawns, preserved lemon, green chilli, rosemary and thyme and sauté for 3 minutes
Add chilli powder, cummin powder and black pepper and cook until prawns turn pink for about 5 minutes
Stir through basil and coriander and serve with basmati rice or roti

Lau Pa Sat – Satay Street of Singapore

The hawker centre at Lau Pa Sat(old market) in the middle of Singapore’s CBD is situated in the original wet market building featuring beautiful colonial architecture. The original structure was relocated to this spot at 18 Raffles Quay from the waterfront in 1894 and a stunning clock tower which still chimes in the hour was added.

Beautiful colonial architecture of Lau Pa Sat hawker centre, originally a wet market
Beautiful colonial architecture of Lau Pa Sat hawker centre, originally a wet market

Now the building is home to a thriving hawker’s centre filled to the brim with stalls featuring cuisines from all over Asia and other parts of the world. Apparently at lunchtime all the local office workers flock to the centre for lunch.

Each evening the street in front of the Centre transforms hastily into what is know as Singapore’s Satay Street with stall after stall specialising in different styles of satay. The smoke from the charcoal fires fills the air with the it restive bbq aroma of satys cooking and plastic tables and chairs quickly become occupied with diners – locals and tourists alike!

A good tip is to sit towards the back of the street away from the cooking fires to avoid rhe smoke getting in your eyes and clothes. Also take wet wipes or extra napkins to avoid getting harassed by passing salespeople. We chose to eat at Stalls #7&8 which comes highly recommended. Table service is provided by waiters attached to each of the stalls. Servings are chosen by the number of sticks of satay and the mix of types you would like. We went for the mix of prawn, chicken, beef and mutton. Menus from other stalls in the hawker’s centre are also available so we ordered some rice and klankung to add a bit of green to our dinner.

Jugs of cold Tiger beer are $GD20 and the way to go if there are a few of you dining.

Charcoal grills set up for Satay Street market in front of Lau Pa Sat in Singapore
Charcoal grills set up for Satay Street market in front of Lau Pa Sat in Singapore

The satays arrive without fanfare but are some of the most delicious I have tasted. The spice mix on the prawn satays is especially good. The taste of the charcoal grilled meat With a delicious satay sauce is quintessially south-East asia.

Mixed satay at Lau Pa Sat outdoor satay market straight from the cbar coal grill with spicy satay sauce.
Mixed satay at Lau Pa Sat outdoor satay market straight from the char coal grill with spicy satay sauce.

A great way to get a quick, tasty and atmospheric dinner, in the midst of downtown Singapore, maybe before a visit to some of the amazing rooftop bars like One Altitude nearby?