It’s been a funny old week. I thought that since half my students were going on holiday I’d have loads of free time. But it seems the few remaining ones had other ideas. Ideas involving three hours of tutorials a day. Each. I have been starting teaching at 9am and finishing at around 9pm, with a few hours in between to hurriedly type thesis.
In the midst of all this I got a call from these guys at Market Kitchen. Apparently I will be on the telly soon. More on that when I know what exactly is going on.
To add to the already huge stress levels, Goon has been away this week, working in Newcastle for his web-hosting company, Byethost. I thought this would mean that cooking for me this week would be reduced to quick and fairly boring meals as there was no way I could cope with arriving home at 10pm, getting up at 8am, cooking properly and cleaning up the kitchen.
It seems however that I was wrong. The basic meals took on a life of their own. For the first night, I had a fresh tuna steak. I thought this was perfect for my situation. It would be quick to cook and still really tasty. My plan was to just sear it and have it with new potatoes and a salad to give myself time to sleep that night, but then an idea struck me.
My dad had brought me some gotu-kola leaves the previous weekend. I guess this is a bit of an obscure plant. It goes by a variety of names, including, Antanan, Brahmi and, over here, we have a close relative of it called pennywort. The leaf is important in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine and, in Sri Lanka, the leaf is used in salads and also blended with coconut to make a breakfast drink.
I hadn’t eaten these leaves since my childhood and, when I tried them from the box in the fridge, I remembered why. They are a bit of an acquired taste, at least on their own. Adding a little bit of dessicated coconut and lime, however, gives the leaves a new lease of life. The sweetness of coconut balances the leaves’ bitterness and the lime gives it a pleasant freshness. This flavour combination was the basis of the spontaneous idea I had to jazz up my dinner.
I scored my tuna steak and left it to marinate briefly in a blend of chilli oil, grated ginger, garlic and grated lime zest.
The gotu-kola leaves went in the blender. I blitzed them, adding coconut milk slowly until I had a pesto like consisitency. I also blended in a couple of teaspoons of grated coconut, some lime zest and a little fresh red chilli. The result was very interesting, in a good way. The bitterness of the leaves had gone but the distinctive ‘medicinal’ taste was still there. I tried to find some rice noodles in my cupboard, failed and settled for spaghetti instead and tossed the cooked stands in my makeshift pesto.
Centalla Asiatica (gotu-kola). Picture from Wikipedia
The balance of flavour here was really good. There was the classic gotu-kola, coconut, lime combination balanced by the ginger and chilli in the tuna. I think more ginger was needed somwhere but, other than that, I couldn’t complain about this dish. I also made a quick tomato and aubergine side dish with coriander, which, again, because if its sweetness, completmented the gotu-kola flavour really well.
This was a suprising success for such a random idea. I think I’ll work on it because there’s potential for an interesting and tasty Sri-Lankan- British fusion dish.
Also, since it contains a weird and relatively unheard of plant, it is perfect for Kalyn’s Weekend Herb Blogging which, this week is hosted by Anh from Food Lover’s Journey. I found an interesting fact about the leaf as I researched it for this post. Apparently in ancient times it was regarded as a natural version of viagra. A story tells of a Sri Lankan king, Aruna, mustering the energy to satisfy his harem of fifty on the powers of the gotu-kola leaf.
More believably, the leaf also promotes the healing of wounds by speeding up the scarring process and is an anti-oxidant.