Thai Food, Veggie sides

Yam Tua Plu wing bean salad

yam tua plu

This ‘Yam’, or Thai spicy salad, is very similar to the banana flower salad the eggs are optional and obviously not for vegans. I really enjoy these yams made with chilli paste and coconut milk as they are less Next make the dressing, for this in a saucepan mix together about 1tbsp of palm sugar, 1 -2 tbsp of vegetarian Thai chilli paste, 2-3tbsp of light soy sauce about 5-6 tbsp of coconut milk and warm these up until they all combine. than the standard yams that are made with fresh chillis.

So what do you need?

  • 200g wing beans
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 4 shallots
  • 2 -3 dried chillies
  • vegetable oil
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes
  • a lime
  • 2-3 tbsp. peanuts
  • 75ml coconut milk
  • light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. palm sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp. veggie chilli paste
  • some lettuce leaves
  • some coriander

So what do you do?

First steam the wing beans for a few minutes and then put them in a bowl of iced water. While they are steaming dry roast the peanuts in a pan and then leave them to cool. Next peel and finely slice half of the shallots and heat some vegetable oil in a wok and fry them until brown and crisp and put to one side, quickly fry the chillis too.

To make the dressing heat up the coconut milk in a saucepan and then mix in about 1tbsp of palm sugar, 1 -2 tbsp of vegetarian Thai chilli paste, 1-2 tbsp of light soy mix until they all combine and turn of the heat and squeeze in a coupe of tbsp. of lime juice. Taste the sauce it should be a balance between sweet, spicy and sour. You can adjust it to your taste. Crush the peanuts in a pestle and mortar and add them to the sauce.

Then drain the wing beans and slice them into  slices about 3-5 mm thick, they will resemble stars, and put them in a bowl, add the carrot and slice the remaining shallots and cut the tomatoes into quarters and add them. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix everything together. To get any remaining dressing out of the saucepan add a little water and then pour this into the bowl too, you want to make sure you have enough sauce / dressing on the salad.

To assemble the salad put some lettuce leaves on a plate and then spoon the salad over them pouring on any extra dressing. You can add the hard boiled eggs to the plate if you are using them. Then sprinkle over the fried shallots and garnish with some coriander leaves and the fried chillis.  Anyone who likes extra spice can crumble some of the chilli over their salad.

 

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Veggie mains

Lentil and aubergine stew

stew

At the weekend I saw a picture on Ottolenghi’ s Instagram feed which was a lentil and aubergine stew that looked very tasty so I decided to make my own version. I was pretty easy to make and is really earthy and delicious. I decided to spice the stew with middle eastern spices and added smoked paprika which gave it a lovely smoky flavor. Feel free to adapt the herbs and spices you used to suit your taste. This made a enough for 4 servings. It’s great with bread or mashed potatoes but I served it with savoury scones.

So what do you need?

  • a large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 2 large aubergines
  • 5 or 6 skinned tomatoes (or a can of tomatoes)
  • about 120g dry brown lentils
  • a couple of bay leave
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  •  a couple of stalks of dill
  • sea salt
  • plenty of olive oil

So what do you do?

Start by chopping the onion and frying it in a large frying pan. Fry it for a minute or two in some olive oil and the add the garlic. Cut the auberine into chunks of about 4-5 cms in size and add this and a couple of pinches of salt to the frying pan. The aubergine will soak up the olive oil so add more as necessary to fry it and add the cumin and coriander seeds. Once the onion starts to brown transfer the veg into a heavy saucepan with a lid. Add the lentils, chopped tomatoes and bay leaves and cover with hot water (or veggie stock if you have it), you can rinse the frying pan out with water and add it to the pan too. Cover the pan and bring to the boil and then simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the lentils are cooked, the sauce has reduced and thickened a little and the aubergine is soft, tender and starting to break up. Chop the dill and add this along with half the paprika and taste and add more paprika and salt to taste. Like most stews and curries it will taste great the next day too!

 

 

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Veggie mains

Spaghetti with cabbage, garlic, chilli and breadcrumbs

spaghetti

This is a quick and easy pasta dish that makes a tasty supper or quick lunch. It’s pretty healthy, especially if you use whole wheat pasta, and it’s basically vegan, but if you like you can add some butter. This recipe is for two portions.

So what do you need?

  • 250g (whole wheat) spaghetti
  • 250 – 300g finely sliced cabbage
  • 5-8 cloves of garlic
  • 1.-2 dried chillies
  • salt
  • 1 slice of whole meal bread
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • a squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
  • a knob of butter (optional)

So what do you do?

Start by heating a saucepan of salted water to cook the pasta in. While this is coming to the boil, crumble the slice of bread into breadcrumbs and crush a clove of garlic and add it with a pinch of salt to the breadcrumbs. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a frying pan and fry the breadcrumbs gently until golden brown and crisp and put them to one side in a bowl.

Once the pasta water boils cook the pasta and over the boiling pasta steam the cabbage for a few minutes in a sieve. Slice the rest of the garlic and fry it in the remaining olive oil until it starts to turn light brown and then add the chopped chillies. The cabbage should have started to soften by now and you can add it to the frying pan along with a pinch of salt. Sauté the cabbage while the pasta continues to cook you can add a little of the pasta water to help soften the cabbage. Once the past is cooked drain it and add it to the cabbage fry for about a minute so the pasta absorbs the flavours of the oil. At this stage you can add the butter and lemon juice if using them. Divide into two bowls and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs.

 

 

 

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Veggie mains

Veggie kebabs

BBQ.jpg

I’ve been making veggie and tofu kebabs for the BBQ for over 25 years and they’re still one of my favourite things to put on a BBQ. This will make about a dozen skewers. They’re really good served with satay sauce.

You can make them with your favourite veg or what’s in season.  Start by soaking some bamboo skewers in water to stop them burning on the BBQ. Then prepare the tofu. Take a block or two of firm tofu and  cube it into squares of 2-3 cms then shallow fry it turning occasionally until golden brown. This will add to the texture and flavor of the tofu. After frying the tofu make a marinade by crushing 3 or 4 cloves of garlic and about half a dozen pepper corns add a tbsp. of sesame or olive oil, a tbsp. veggie oyster sauce and a tbsp. soy sauce, a tbsp. or two of sesame seeds and a tsp. of turmeric powder. Mix the marinade together and then cover the tofu with it in a bowl.

Next prepare the other ingredients, chop a couple of courgettes a large bell pepper, a couple of onions and a bowlful of mushrooms into chunks that are a similar size to the tofu. Put them in a bowl and drizzle with some oil, sesame or olive work well. Then assemble the kebabs by putting skewering the various veggies on them putting something quite sturdy at each end to stop them falling apart. Place them on a plate and drizzle over and remaining marinade. Cook on a lowish BBQ turning occasionally until the vegetables are cooked, they won’t all cool at exactly the same speed but if some veggies get a little charred that adds to the flavor. For the satay sauce follow the recipe here.

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Edible gifts, Snacks

Devilled peanuts

These make a nice snack and go very well with a cold beer or two. When I was in India a few years ago I really enjoyed all the flavoured nuts that were available. You can experiment with the flavours and how spicy you like them and the nuts that you use. For this recipe you need to use plain peanuts that have had their shells and skins removed.

So what do you need?

  • 500 g plain peanuts.
  • 2 or 3 lrage cloves of galic
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp chilli powder
  • a sprig of curry leaves (about 15 leaves)
  • 4- 6  dried chilles (optional)
  • 2 – 3 tbsp. vegetable oil

So what do you do?

Start by preheating your oven to 175 degrees C / 325 F. Spread the peanuts out on a large baking sheet and put them in the oven to start roasting while you prepare the other ingredients. Peel the garlic and pound it into a paste with a teaspoon of salt in a mortar. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and first quickly fry the chillies until crisp if using them and then put them to one side. Once they are cool break them open and discard the seeds, as these will make the nuts very spicy. Then add the curry leaves to the oil, be careful as they spit when they first go in the oil. Stir them until they become crisp and then remove them from the oil. Put the garlic in the oil with the curry powder and the chilli powder and cook gently for about half a minute to ‘temper’ the spices. The oil will become infused with the flavours of the spices, the garlic does not need to be completely cooked at this stage.

Next, take the nuts out of the oven and pour over the spiced oil, break most of the curry leaves into smaller pieces and add them to the nuts reserving a few whole curry leaves to garnish the nuts with. If you want your nuts to be extra spicy add the chillies at this stage too, if you want them milder reserve the chilles to garnish the nuts after cooking. Put the nuts back in the oven and stir them every 10 mins. Cook for about 30 mins. until they are golden brown. Taste the nuts and if necessary add a little more salt. Allow to cool and then serve garnishing with any reserved curry leaves and chillies. Store in an airtight container once cool.

 

 

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Edible gifts, The Basics

Celery salt

salt.jpg

Flavoured salts are a good way of adding subtle flavours when cooking, particularly if you don’t have any of the fresh ingredient for a dish. They also look better as a condiment than boring plain salt. If you are lucky enough to get a bunch of fresh celery with plenty of leaves then save the nice darker green outer leaves and after rinsing and removing any excess water, in a salad spinner, spread them out on a baking tray and put them in the oven at about 120 degrees C / 250 F for about 10-15 mins until they dehydrate. You can turn off the oven and leave them in there to ensure that they are completely dried out. They will be dry and crisp and you can either crush them in your hands or chop them up roughly with some scissors. Then place them in a mortar and add sea salt, enough to fill a smallish jar, and pound them together. Put the salt in a sealed jar and keep in a dry place. This also makes a nice gift for a foodie friend.

 

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Thai Food, Veggie sides

Stir-fried celery

celery.jpg

Yesterday at a local organic farmers’ market they were selling beautiful bunches of celery an I couldn’t resist buying some. Normally in Thailand we can only find tiny bunches of Chinese celery so it was irresistible. Celery is something my family are very fond of and as well as eating raw celery in the past, my grandparents had it fresh and crunchy just dipped in a bit of salt, I can remember having braised celery sometimes, although I wasn’t that fond of it cooked this way as it lost it’s crunch. Today I wanted to let the celery take centre stage in a cooked dish but I also wanted it to keep it’s crunch so I decided to stir fry it and resisted adding too much else to it. This is probably more Chinese than Thai in it’s style, whatever it’s great if you like celery!

Start by cutting the base of the bunch of celery and then wash the stalks and leaves. Remove the leaves, keeping all the fresh green ones. My bunch had lots of leaves so I kept half of them for making celery salt. Then chop the stalks into bite-sized pieces. Heat up about 2 tbps. of sesame oil, or other vegetable oil, in a wok. While the oil is heating finely slice two large cloves of garlic. Fry a couple of dried chillies and the garlic in the oil, these will flavor the oil, The chilles will cook very quickly so as soon as the puff up and start to change colour, brown, remove them and keep frying the garlic for a minute of so, turning occasionally, until golden brown and then remove these too.

Put the chopped celery stalks, not the leaves, into the wok and stir-fry for about a minute. Then add a couple of tbps. of water and about 1/2 – 1 tbsp. of light soy sauce and continue frying. The celery will let out some liquid too and will steam / fry and this will bring out it’s colour and stop it burning. Fry for a few minutes until it looks just cooked through, the colour will change as it cooks so check that it’s cooked almost through and most of the liquid has evaporated. This will take 4-5 mins. depending on the heat of your wok etc. Then add the leaves, 2 tsp. sesame seeds, I used a mix of black and white, a tbsp. of veggie (mushroom) oyster sauce and some white ground pepper. The oyster sauce can be left out if you don’t have it but it makes the dish nice and glossy and thickens the sauce up.  Stir-fry so the leave wilt and everything if coated in the sauce. Then add the garlic back in and break the chillies into the wok and give it a last stir. Serve with rice and any other dishes you like, I had it with a Massaman curry. Enjoy!

 

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