Lara Dunson’s Burmese Coconut Rice

Serves: 4

Lara Dunston is a Cambodian food and travel writer: she also makes a solid coconut rice, something Nat whipped up to accompany a great Burmese Chicken Curry we had last weekend.

Nothing says you’ve made an effort than a rice that has colour, or additional elements, or both.

This is one such rice, perfect for any Southern Asian curry.

Ingredients

3 c jasmine rice
1 c coconut milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves

Method

  1. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear then transfer to the rice cooker. (We cooked in the microwave).
  2. Pour coconut milk into the rice cooker and then water until it reaches the 3 cup measure.
  3. Add vegetable oil, shallots, salt, spices and bay leaves and combine well.
  4. Cook until the rice is cooked through and then rest for 10 minutes.

Burmese Lemongrass Chicken Curry

Serves: 2

Last Saturday night, Nat did this curry with a coconut rice.

We wanted something quick, easy and healthy: we were already up to our eyeballs in cooking prepping for Sunday.

Neither of us had high expectations, though wow. It was awesome.

It is the spice that really does it. Hard to put my finger on it, though the heat was so focused and simple. The aromatics from the lemongrass immediately followed.

One mouthful in, Nat said I wouldn’t type it, though two in, I challenged this. Three mouthfuls and we both agreed that it was traditional, wonderful and needed to stick around.

Just make sure you accompany it with the coconut rice.

Ingredients

250gm chicken breast cut into 4cm pieces
3 sticks lemongrass, bruised
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 tomatoes finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1cm ginger, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp palm sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large wok and add the shallots and garlic and fry until translucent.
  2. Add half of the tomatoes and cook over a medium-high heat until soft. Add the remaining tomatoes and repeat.
  3. Add the ginger and lemongrass. Stir fry until the sauce becomes a richer, deeper red colour. Then add the chilli powder, turmeric, fish sauce and palm sugar and stir.
  4. Add the chicken pieces with 1 1/2 c water and mix. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, The cover and simmer on a medium heat for 10 minutes. Finish the curry by removing the lid and allowing the sauce to cook down and thicken (approximately another 15 minutes).
  5. Remove the lemongrass pieces and serve with steamed rice.

Roast Ocean Trout with Chilli-Turmeric Paste

Serves: 4

This recipe is awesome.

Think a good lashing of a wonderful, oily paste on a thick piece of ocean trout (or salmon), roasted at a high temperature.

Served hot with a drizzle of coconut cream and a squeeze of lime, this is what you would call vibrant. I mean, ocean trout in any setting is the finest of the fish, though add this wonderful paste and this is just moorish.

It would be just as good with barramundi or even chicken breast.

Just make sure you have a glass of cold, crisp white ready to go!

Ingredients

4 fillets of ocean trout
Coconut cream, for drizzling
Lime wedges and steamed rice, to serve

Spice paste

4 long red chillies, seeds removed
1 lemongrass stalk, white part, finely chopped
10gm piece of turmeric, coarsely chopped
1 small golden shallot
2 tsp dry-roasted, coarsely ground coriander seeds
1/4 c olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 240C. For spice paste, using a hand-blender, blitz ingredients with a pinch of salt until smooth.
  2. Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add spice paste and stir until lightly roasted (1 – 2 minutes), then set aside to cool.
  3. Spread spice paste over fish and bake until just cooked through (8 minutes for medium-rare). To finish, drizzle fish with coconut cream and squeezed lime juice. Serve with rice.

Chin Chin’s Son-In-Law-Eggs

Serves: 4

I was a bit perplexed when Nat said that the people reading this blog wouldn’t really want to cook Son-In-Law-Eggs.

I think they are just beautiful. And they’re not complicated.

Perhaps it needs a broader Thai menu behind it? Perhaps deep-fried eggs comes across odd if you’re not in the know?

Because Son-In-Law-Eggs are just essential Royal Thai cooking and by that definition, have to be wonderful. All Royal Thai is! Especially given the Chin Chin twist.

Key is to boil as quickly as possible and then to cool as quickly as possible to keep them as runny as possible. Though don’t worry either way.

They are amazing either way.

Ingredients

Sweet Tamarind (Makes 2 cups) *

120gm palm sugar
1 c tamarind water
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tbs aromats (chilli, lime leaf, lemongrass scraps)

Chilli Jam (Makes about 1kg) **

10 red birds eye chillies
8 red banana chillies
2 red capsicums
6 red onions
1 stalk lemongrass (pale part only)
1 knob ginger
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup vegetable oil
250gm palm sugar
3 tbs tamarind water
1/2 cup fish sauce

Eggs

4 eggs at room temperature
Vegetable oil for frying
2 sprigs Thai basil, leaves picked
1 large red chilli, sliced

Method

  1. Mix 2 – 3 tbsp of the tamarind and 1 tbs of the chilli jame to make a sauce. Set aside.
  2. Fill a bowl with ice and water. Place eggs in a small saucepan and just cover with water. Bring the water to a rapid boil and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the eggs from the boiling water and put them straight into the iced water to stop the cooking process. When they’ve cooled off, gently roll and tap each egg on a chopping board to break the shell then peel off the shell using your thumb. Gently does it.
  3. Heat a good quantity of oil – enough to deep fry – in a wok to medium (about 180c) and fry the eggs for 4 minutes or until crisp and golden. Drain on absorbent paper.
  4. To serve, arrange the eggs on a serving platter and bruise them gently so that the yolk just starts to ooze out. Drizzle with the sauce and garnish with basil leaves and chilli.

* You need far less than two cups unless you are operating a restaurant. Reduce accordingly.

** Ditto.

Chin Chin’s Bo La Lot

Makes: 20

Nat cooked these as part of a Chin Chin-themed afternoon (great Melbourne and Sydney South East Asian noshery) and wow, they’re great. Hot, juicy, absolutely full of flavour, totally fun.

We grilled them and ate them on the spot.

So good!

As part of an afternoon with friends, these would be perfect with cold beers and lots of other hot, Asian nibbles on the grill.

(Fingers crossed Sydney’s lockdown ends by Christmas so we can do just that!)

Ingredients

1 stalk lemongrass (pale part only), chopped
1 large red chilli, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 bunch coriander root, chopped
1 tsp black peppercorns
300gm wagyu beef mince
1 tsp mild curry powder
1/2 bunch miny leaves, picked, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp caster sugar
20 betel leaves*
1 tbs ground roast rice**
1/2 cup nahm jim jaew
4 lemon cheeks
20 toothpicks, soaked in water

Method

  1. Pound or blitz the lemongrass, chilli, shallot, garlic, coriander root and pepper to make a paste.
  2. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients down to and including the caster sugar, before checking the seasoning.
  3. Roll the mixture into 20 balls of equal size.
  4. Roll the balls into individual betal leaves an ‘sew’ each together with a toothpick.
  5. Heat a chargrill pan (or grill) and cook the parcels for about 90 seconds each side.
  6. Garnish with ground roast rice and serve with a dash of nahm jim jaew and some lemon cheeks for squeezing.

* I wandered into our local Thai restauarnt who was happy to sell me a bag. Harris Markets and other fancy fruit and vegetable shops I went to in the Lower North Shore of Sydney came up stumps. Speaks to the size of the Thai community in my part of town I guess.

**Roast rice in a pan until golden. Allow to cool and then blitz in a spice grinder until ground. Store in a dry container.

Chin Chin’s Naum Jim Jaew 2

Makes: 1 1/2 cups

Many years ago – together with my mother – we went on Royal Thai dive, inspired mainly by David Thompson. So much so in fact, we did a the Royal Thai course at our local TAFE!

One of staples of Royal Thai is Naum Jim, a wonderfully hot, salty and sour sauce.

This interpretation from Chin Chin (of Melbourne and now Sydney fame) is on the money and our favourite weekday use of it, is to steam or pan fry some barramundi and then to pour over Nahm Jim. Serve along side some Asian greens tossed with sesame, soy, oyster, Chinese cooking wine and some dark caramel.

Healthy and yum!

Stored in the fridge for a few weeks so well worth the effort.

Ingredients

12 birds-eye chillies, chopped
6 large red chillies, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots, chopped
2 tbs grated palm sugar
1/3 c tamarind water
2/3 cfish sauce
2 tbs ground roast rice*

Method

  1. Blitz the chillies, garlic, shallot and palm sugar. Add the tamarind water, fish sauce and ground roast rice, stir checking for seasoning. Should be hot, salty and sour.

* Roast rice in a pan until golden. Allow to cool and then blitz in a spice grinder until ground. Store in a dry container.

Adam Liaw’s Chicken with Garlic & Crispy Lime Leaves

Serves: 2 – 4

Another cracking Adam Liaw dinner by Nat.

Very simple. Very elegant. Very garlic.Very Monday night. Very much an excuse to open a bottle of white.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs, skinless
8 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
10 kaffir lime leaves, veins removed and shredded
Vegetable oil for for deep frying (about 2 litres)
Lime wedges to serve

Marinade

1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp sesame oil

Method

  1. Trim any visible fat from the chicken and cut each thigh across the grain into 1cm strips. Mix together all of the marinade ingredients and stir through the chicken strips. Set aside for at least 10 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer, wok or open saucepan to 190c and deep-fry the chicken strips in small batches for 2 minutes, or until well browned and almost cooked. Set aside on a wire rack to drain and rest for a few minutes (the chicken will continue to cook through while resting.)
  3. Reduce the heat of the oil to 160c by adding a little cold oil and testing the temperature again with a thermometer. Fry the garlic until just browned and then scoop out with a wire-mesh strainer and set aside. Add the shredded lime leaves to the hot oil for just 1 – 2 seconds until they crisp. Set aside to drain on paper towel.
  4. Place the chicken on a warmed plate and scatter the the crispy garlic and lime leaves on top. Serve with lime wedges.

Adam Liaw’s Salt & Pepper Pork Belly

Serves: 4

There are a couple of chefs and cooks that I put blind faith in.

Adam Liaw is one of them.

When I saw his new book, Asian After Work, a quick skim and it was clear it had to join the house. Nat and I browsed through it in the kitchen that night and I swear, there is not one recipe we would not cook.

It’s that good.

This pork belly is just wonderful and quite a surprise from Nat who is suspicious of pork belly on calorie grounds.

Made my night and teaches that pork belly is not exclusively about slow cooking and crackling.

Ingredients

500gm piece of pork belly, skin and bones removed
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 bird’s eye chilli, sliced
2 spring onions, white and light green parts, trimmed and sliced
1 tsp salt flakes
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
A handful of coriander leaves to serve
Boiled Jasmine rice to serve

Method

  1. Slice the pork into 1cm steaks, then cut into 3cm squares about 1cm thick.
  2. Heat a wok or frypan until very hot and add the sesame oil. Fry the pork in batches until well browned on all sides and cooked through. Set aside.
  3. Poor out any excess fat from the pan and add the garlic, chilli and spring onions. Toss over very high heat until the garlic starts to brown and the mixture is very fragrant. Return pork pieces to the wok, add the salt and black pepper and toss to coat well.
  4. Transfer to a warm plate, scatter with coriander and serve.

Beef Mince with Chilli, Basil and Snake Beans

Serves: 4

There is something so appealing – and so comfortable – about Thai mince on rice, beef or pork.

Fish sauce, plenty of chilli, a fried egg on top.

Perfect mid-week dinner territory.

I’ve typed up very similar, though this one is really quite simple and the addition of the snake beans is always a neat touch.

Ingredients

6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bullseye chillies, sliced and deseeded
4 tbsp vegetable oil plus extra for frying the eggs
750gm beef mince
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp castor sugar
2 cups Thai basil leaves
1 bunch snake beans, cut into 5cm batons
4 eggs
Steam Jasmine rice, to serve

Method

  1. Heat a wok over a medium heat until hot and ad the oil. Add the garlic and chilli and stir-fry for about two minutes until fragrant. Add the beef and stir fry until the beef is browned and cooked through.
  2. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce and castor sugar and stir fry until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the snake beans and cook for a minute or two.
  3. Add the basil, stir through and remove from the heat.
  4. Fry four eggs in a separate pan.
  5. Serve the mince on steamed rice, topping with a fried egg.

Brendan Pang’s Special Crab Fried Rice

Serves: 4

We both agreed, this is a next notch up Fried Rice.

1-hat, super-subtle Chinese cooking.

A definite addition to a home-cooked Chinese banquette.

Clearly not your local Chinese take away fried rice.

The key is the Chilli and Garlic dipping sauce. Poured on top just prior to serving, it adds a cracking zing on top of the crab and egg.

Wonderful.

Well done Brendan Pang!

Ingredients

Chilli and Garlic dipping sauce

1/4 cup white vinegar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp superfine sugar
2 Birdseye chillies, finely chopped (including seeds)
1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped

Fried Rice

4 tbsp vegetable oil
6 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 spring onions, chopped and divided
4 cups cold, cooked short-grain rice
Pinch of ground white pepper
Pinch of superfine sugar
3 tbsp light soy sauce
Salt
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tbsp finely chopped preserved mustard greens (I substituted baby spinach)
1 cup cooked crabmeat
Handful of chopped fresh coriander, plus more for serving

Method

  1. Make the dipping sauce: in a small bowl, stir together all the sauce ingredients until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is well combined. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Make the fried rice: in a wok, heat the oil over a medium-high heat,. Add the ginger and cook, stirring for 30 seconds, followed by the garlic and one of the green onions. Stir-fry for an additional 30 seconds or until aromatic.
  3. Add the rice, increase the heat to high and toss with a spatula to combine. Use the spatula to flatten the rice and break up any clumps. Add the white pepper, sugar and light soy sauce. Toss and season with salt to taste.
  4. Using your spatula, spread out the rice into an even layer along the surface of the wok. Pour the beaten egg evenly over the rice and stir until all the egg is cooked and broken into pieces. (Nat reckons cooking the egg separately should be the way to go and I don’t necessary disagree with this.)
  5. Add the preserved mustard greens and crab and toss until combined and the crab is warmed. Add the remaining green onion and coriander and toss until well combined. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce and additional coriander.