Tag Archives: turmeric

Coronation Potato Salad

Who’d have thought we’d be wanting salad recipes in October? I’d planned to pack this away with the barbecue and pull them both out next summer, but the weather says otherwise…

Coronation Potato Salad

It all began with the cucumber pickle. Susie’s cucumber pickle, which had recently arrived at the shop and which was so good that a meal had to be created around it. It would make a great accompaniment to burgers or other barbecued meats, but I plumped that day for poached salmon. And I love potato salad with poached salmon but wanted something with a bit more poke to stand up to that pickle. Coronation potato salad was the answer.

If you’ve ever made Chicken Elizabeth, the correct name of the dish devised for the coronation of Elizabeth II by the Cordon Bleu cookery school, you’ll know that it’s not bright turmeric yellow as we usually see now, but a purpley burgundy colour thanks to the reduction of red wine and apricot jam which is added to the mayonnaise. But having changed the principal ingredient from chicken to potato I’m sure you won’t mind if I take a few liberties with the rest!

These quantities are a rough guide which you can adjust to vary the levels of spice, sweet and sharp. For around 250g of baby new potatoes I used:

  • 2 tbsps mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsps natural yoghurt [for a vegan version use 4 tbsps soya yoghurt]
  • 1 tbsp Sharwood’s green label mango chutney
  • Half a tsp of ground turmeric
  • 1 to 2 tsps curry powder
  • Half to 1 tsp chilli powder
  • Half a tsp of ground coriander
  • A few finely sliced spring onions
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Some chopped coriander or flat leaved parsley to garnish

Mix everything except the chopped herbs together, taste, season and adjust. You might want to add the curry and chilli powders in half teaspoon increments as you can always add more, whilst removal is more problematic. Add the cooked and cooled potatoes and stir to combine, adding the chopped greenery at the end.

Normal autumn service [casseroles and the likes] will undoubtedly be resumed shortly.

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Curried Crab and Hot Smoked Salmon Spaghetti

AKA “Spaghedgeree” if you’re feeling all Spike Milligan, or are four years old.

Curried crab and hot smoked salmon spaghetti

So, there I am mooching around the farmers market in the sunshine, the asparagus and strawberries are in the bag, and I’ve already got my eye on some lovely looking crabs at the fishmongers stall, and I’m thinking that dinner’s a done deal. Spaghetti with crab and chilli (about which I’ll post another day). When all of a sudden I come across a fascinating little stall selling dishes from India to the Philippines and stopping at a few fun sounding places along the way. I’d have happily scoffed several there and then if I hadn’t already stuffed my face with a lamb bourek from the nice couple on the Algerian stall. One of their offerings was a kedgeree fish cake, and now I’m craving warm curry spices with the crab. I need to pimp my pasta, kedgeree style, and luckily there a couple of hot smoked salmon fillets in the fridge to provide the required smoky notes. Raj era bureaucrat’s breakfast it may not be, but we’re having it for tea…

For two

  • I medium brown crab [brown and white meat, and claws too if you have them]
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 150g hot smoked salmon, flaked
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • ¾ tsp garam masala
  • 180 ml double cream
  • 220g spaghetti
  • 20g parmesan
  • A splash of vermouth
  • Some chopped fresh coriander
  • A mild green chilli, deseeded and chopped

Cook the spaghetti as directed until al dente. Sauté the onion in the oil until softened then add the spices and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the vermouth and quickly bubble away to almost nothing. Add the cream and once bubbling toss in the crab, the salmon and the parmesan [fish and cheese? yes, but it’s really more of a seasoning here], taste and season with salt and pepper. Throw the spaghetti into the sauce with a ladle of its cooking water, strew the coriander and chopped chilli over the top, stir, and you’re done.

I had some halved boiled quails eggs with mine for the full kedgeree effect, but left them out for the Shopkeeper whose egg aversion seems to be growing ever deeper roots.

Pot Thai

Chicken in a pot with a selection of Thai spices

Perhaps it’s the unseasonably warm and sunny weather we’ve been enjoying of late, or maybe it’s got something to do with my having done two whole weeks of full-time work [I know, poor me!], but I’m yearning to get on a plane and head for distant shores. And with my own planned odyssey to explore the food of Indochina currently on indefinite hold it doesn’t help that you can’t turn on the TV at the moment without seeing a certain bum-chinned, potty-mouthed chef trampling all over South East Asia and its peoples and cuisines. Ah well, if departure lounges must remain a distant dream for now there’s nothing to stop me rustling up a mini-break from the comfort of my own kitchen.

Last July I wrote about the versatility of a simple chicken pot roast and this is yet another variation on the theme, though this time conceived with thoughts of a cold Tiger beer on a Thai beach at the forefront of my mind.

Follow the same basic method as before [you can substitute water for the wine if you think it feels more ‘authentic’, but I didn’t] but this time add the following:

  • A couple of bruised lemon grass stalks and the stems of a handful of basil [reserve the leaves for later] these to be inserted into the cavity, the rest strewn about the chicken in the liquor…
  • Two small shallots, finely chopped
  • A thumb of ginger, peeled and grated
  • Two or three red chillies, chopped
  • Strips of the peel of half a lime
  • Three or four crushed cloves of garlic
  • Half a teaspoon of ground turmeric

Season well and cook as before. Once the chicken is done allow it to rest and strain the juices into another pan. Reduce by a third. Add a tin of coconut milk, simmer for a few minutes more, and check the seasoning. Add some previously steamed and refreshed green veg to the sauce and warm through. I used new season asparagus and some pak choi, but green beans, peas, spinach, pea aubergines, etc. would all be fine.

Finish the sauce with a squeeze of lime, a splash of fish sauce, the reserved basil leaves, and a few further strips of freshly sliced chilli if you fancy. Serve chunks of the chicken in bowls on a bed of warm noodles and with plenty of the sauce.

Now then, where did I put my postcards…?

Fish Amok

 Fish Amok

‘Fish Amok’ is not a verbally economical headline trailing the story of a school of barracuda gone berserk, but the best known of Cambodia’s national dishes. You can also make Amok with chicken, pork or tofu for a vegetarian version, but fish is the most common and can be found everywhere from market stalls to the menus of Phnom Penh’s best restaurants. It will also be the centrepiece of your day on the Cambodia Cooking Class run by chef Heng of Frizz Restaurant [a must for any foodie visitor] where you’ll make not only the ‘kroeung’ [the paste at the heart of the dish] from scratch, but even the banana leaf bowls in which to cook it. It seems that others are catching on to foodie tourists’ desire to roll up their sleeves, with a couple of new courses now appearing in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, but it would be difficult to beat this, the original, for value – US$20 buys you a day of tuition in the rooftop classroom, all ingredients [and therefore ultimately all your food] and the market visit I described elsewhere. To say nothing of the fact that Heng is a thoroughly affable and very patient teacher. You’ll also get a recipe booklet to take home at the end of the day, though I’d recommend making your own notes too as you go.

If you’re going to do this on a regular basis you might want to consider investing in a serious pestle and mortar, perhaps whilst in the country – suitcase permitting. The ones we used had deep wooden bowls [at least 20cm] and big wooden pestles with the weight and heft of a squat baseball bat. My typically puny English version, which in any case normally sits on a shelf looking pretty and holding the garlic, needed three times the effort produce a smooth paste. And whilst you could feasibly steam your Amok in small ceramic bowls you really should go to the effort of making the traditional banana leaf cups. All in all something of a labour of love, but then if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. Isn’t it?

Like traditional dishes everywhere you can find any number of variations to the recipe. The good people at Romdeng Restaurant produce a pared down, simple version with minimal spicing. Whilst Luu Meng of Malis, as you might expect from this rising star of Cambodian cuisine who recently played host to Gordon Ramsey, finesses his dish with smoked fish roes. Prahok [a paste of matured, fermented fish] is often included, but we didn’t use it on the day and I have not included it here as you’ll not find it easy to come by outside of Cambodia. It’s also something of an acquired taste if you haven’t grown up eating it at every meal.

The quantities I’ve given here are for one portion of Amok, simply scale as required.

For the kroeung

  • 1.5 cm galangal, peeled and chopped
  • A thumbnail sized piece of kaffir lime zest
  • 2 cm fresh turmeric root, peeled [or half a teaspoon of powdered turmeric]
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Half a small shallot
  • 4 cm of the thinner parts of lemongrass stalks, finely sliced
  • 1 or 2 mild red chillies [to taste] finely minced
  • A pinch of salt

For the rest

  • 120 g firm fleshed fish such as cod, sliced or diced as you prefer
  • 70 ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • ¼ tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 dsp roughly crushed roasted peanuts
  • 1 tbsp coconut cream
  • Red chilli and kaffir lime leaf finely sliced to garnish

For the bowls

  • Enough banana leaf to make 2 x 25cm circles for each bowl
  • Cocktail sticks or toothpicks, cut in half

Begin by pounding the lime zest and galangal until breaking down. Next add the lemongrass and pound again. Then add all the other kroeung ingredients and pound until you have a smooth, thick paste. As you can see there is much pounding to be done, but this can be very therapeutic and with the right kit should take no more than about ten to fifteen minutes. Once smooth add the finely minced chilli and stir to incorporate.

Kroeung with chilli

In a separate bowl mash the shrimp paste into the coconut milk until dissolved, then add the fish sauce, egg yolk and peanuts. Combine this mixture with the kroeung and the fish and mix well. Pour the resulting mixture into your banana leaf cup, top with the coconut cream, and place in a steamer for twenty minutes. The end result should still be moist but slightly set by the egg, like a wobbly, spicy, fishy custard, yet infinitely more pleasant than that description sounds! Serve with plain boiled rice, and garnish the Amok with finely sliced chilli and kaffir lime leaf.

To make the banana leaf bowls

I managed to buy banana leaves at a local Thai mini market and they can usually be found without too much hassle. Wash and dry the leaves. For each bowl cut two circles about 25cm in diameter – a saucepan lid and a craft knife will come in handy.

Chef Heng, cutting disks of banana leaf

You need to soften the leaves slightly which can be done by blanching in boiling water. Alternatively [Heng’s way] light a gas ring and using tongs lay on a leaf circle, quickly flip over, and remove. You’ll see the leaves soften almost instantly, and they should not burn or colour. Lay one disc on another, placing the rough sides of the leaves together, shiny surfaces facing out. Fold up the sides to make a pleat in four or five places, securing each pleat with a half cocktail stick ‘pin’, to make a cup shape. This can take a bit of practice, so the first time you try it you might want to arm yourself with a few extra leaf circles.

The – frankly poor – example pictured below [my own] is clearly not a masterpiece of the genre, but is offered merely as a visual example of the techniques described!

Banana Leaf Cup