October 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized, Cuisine, Far East, Vietnamese/Cambodian — ros @ 5:22 pm

(otherwise known as squid in a tomato and clove sauce, Indonesian style.)

West London really is the place to be at the moment. This morning I discovered that what appears to be the world’s biggest Waitrose has opened by Shepherd’s Bush Green along with 40 or so restaurants as part of the Westfield development.

This shopping centre is ludicrously large. I intended to ‘pop in’ today on my way into school to see what the fuss was about. Not only do you need a map for the development itself, individual shops are big enough to merit having their own complex floorplans. At one point I found myself looking diagonally across the centre so most of it was in my sight. It was so enormous, I had a slight attack of vertigo, felt a bit sick and had to leave. Then it took me 15 minutes to get to the exit.

Yes it is THAT big. So big that, if it wasn’t for Wholefoods, it would render Kensington High Street totally redundant. So here I am, nestled in between cheap restaurants, the best butcher in London and a gargantuan shopping centre. This is my smug face. :)

Goon has become a bit disconcerted at my sudden good mood. I suppose that from his point of view, his girlfriend has undergone a complete personality transformation, from grumbling and snarling to generally quite happy. If it wasn’t for BT, I would only have one other complaint: the seemingly endless stream of colds.

Colds are an occupational hazard for teachers, particularly when they’re new to a school. I can’t remember a day this term when we (the maths department, that is) were all sniffle free. Germs like children and children like giving their germs to teachers. Fortunately I know the best thing to treat a cold: a big bowl of curry.

I have more than made up for last year’s lack of curry making and have been trying to expand my repetoire. The dish below originates in Indonesia and is lightly spiced and not at all hot. It’s perfect if you want something pleasantly invigorating but aren’t in the mood for a chilli based assault on the senses. It’s so mild that you might not class it as a curry, but it hit the spot for me, especially after the burningly hot Thai curry I made the previous night. It’s quick to make too, so a perfect schoolnight dinner.

Cumi Cumi Smoor (for 2 big portions)

indonesian squid

  • 400g of squid, cleaned, hoods cut into strips, 
  • the juice of a lime 
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped  
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 150ml unherbed fish or vegetable stock or water
  • plain boiled rice or saffron rice to serve
  • chopped coriander/ sliced spring onion to garmish
  1. Get a large frying pan hot and stir fry the squid until it just curls up. Remove it from the pan, place it in a bowl, toss in the lime juice, cover and keep warm.
  2. Turn the heat down to low, add a little more oil, then add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook gently until soft.
  3. Add the tomato, stock, cloves and nutmeg. Stir well, ten allow to bubble gently until almost dry. Taste and season.
  4. Stir in the squid and warm through.
  5. Serve with saffron rice or plain boiled rice, garnished with chopped coriander and/or spring onion.

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July 28, 2008

Filed under: Vietnamese/Cambodian, Reared red meat — ros @ 12:41 pm

This post is really testing my memory. I was just going through my food photos from this year and foud a picture of a curry that I really wanted to post but never had time.

Cambodian Pork Curry

A whole 18 weeks ago, just before the end of the Easter holidays, I was contemplating what my final term at Highgate would bring. Late nights I suspected and bad moods at arriving home hungry and exhausted at 9:30pm. I had been ill prepared for these in the previous two terms. People kept telling me it would get easier and I’d cope better as I went along. It was true to some extent, but if I was to keep preparing a full worksheet for every lesson, leaving school before 7:30 wouldn’t be an option.

We decided that, in order to fend off the near psychotic rages that had ensued when Goon had promised to cook dinner but forgotten, it would be a good idea to stock up the freezer with home made ready meals. Goon exercised his training from the previous year and made a vat of bolognese which divided into 10 portions. I went down to Sainsbury’s and discovered that they had free range pork and stewing beef on offer. The beef became 6 frozen portions of beef in Guinness. The pork became the slightly psychadelic curry pictured above.

This is a Cambodian Style pork and butternut squash curry. The intense yellow flavour comes from the use of turmeric and a herbal paste called Kroeung, which is made from blending lemongrass, turmeric, ginger or galangal, onion, lime leaf and garlic.

Kroeung

The paste here is a lot wetter than normal, because I only have a crappy stick blender and so needed a bit of water to process the spices.

Kroeung is a classic flavouring in Khmer cooking and quite distinctive, being earthy and yet fresh and citrusy at the same time. It provides the principal flavouring to many curries, soups, stir fries and marinades. It certainly dominated this curry, providing a nice balance to the creaminess of the coconut milk.

I’m afraid I can’t remember exact quantities for this curry but the method went something like this…

Cambodian Pork and Butternut Curry (Adapted from The Complete Vietnamese Cookbook by Ghillie Basan)

Approximate method for making 8-10 Portions

For the Kroeung Paste, process

  • 3 chopped lemon grass stalks, trimmed with the tough outer leaves removed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 fresh kaffir lime leaves
  • a large piece of ginger (25g)
  • 25g fresh turmeric (I had to substitute around 4 teaspoons ground)

with a little water if necessary to bind. This paste will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

Now for the curry…

The recipe suggests using pork loin but we had a 1.6kg boneless leg. This was cut into bite size pices and browned in batches over a high heat.

Stir fry a large knob (4-5 inches) of finely chopped ginger, 8 chopped green chillies and 2-3 very finely diced onions in some vegetable oil until the onion is soft. Add 6 tablespoons of the kroeung paste and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Throw in a 3 or 4 teaspoons of ground turmeric and a couple of teaspoons each of fenugreek and sugar and stir fry for a minute or so. Now add the pork loin and stir to coat. Add a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce, two tins (approx 1 litre) of coconut milk and bring to a gentle bubble. After 5 minutes or so add the diced flesh of 2 small butternut squash and 5 or 6 lime leaves. Allow to bubble until the squash is almost cooked. Adjust spicing at this stage if necessary. Continue to cook until the pork and squash are cooked through.

The portions we ate that night were garnished liberally with chopped coriander and mint and served on plain boiled rice. The other six portions went in the freezer and were almost equally good when reheated, although the squash disintegrated a bit.

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This was the first time I’d encountered this herbal paste, so it seems like a good idea to enter this post to Kalyn’s long standing event, Weekend Herb Blogging.  It must have been a year since I last took part but hopefully I can make more entries soon.  The host this week is Kelly from Sounding my Barbaric Gulp. Visit her site on Monday for a round up of educational and entertaining posts.

 

 

 

Apparently the paste I used is just one of a several different types of Kroeung. Variations include adding red chilli pulp, making the paste red or rhizome, making it a light green. Most pastes include lemongrass, galangal and turmeric or kaffir lime leaves, giving Khmer cooking its distinctive flavour.  

More detail is here at the Wikipedia page on Kroeung.