Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dinner party recipes Pt 1: Japanese & Malaysian.

First Course

The first course of the dinner party I had on the 18th April was Japanese. Most of the recipes are pretty standard and available on the net somewhere - there was inari-zushi with toasted sesame seeds in the rice; smoked salmon nigiri-zushi made using a mould; tonkatsu; hamaguri-zushi using umeboshi vinegar in the rice and bits of pink grapefruit on top; tamagoyaki with nori in it; bought seaweed salad; and slow cooked shitake mushrooms, the recipe for which follows.

Slow-Cooked Shitake Mushrooms (adapted slightly from Japanese Cooking)

20 dried shitake mushrooms
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp shoyu (soy sauce)
1.5 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Soak the mushrooms in water overnight.
Drain the mushrooms, saving the soaking water. Remove the stalks and discard.
Heat the oil in a large pan and stir fry the mushrooms for 5 mins, stirring continuously.
Reduce the heat to very low and add the soaking water, the shoyu, and the sugar. Cook until there is almost no moisture left, stirring frequently. Add the sesame oil and remove from the heat.
Leave to cool, then slice and arrange on a plate.

This keeps well in the fridge - apparently for a couple of weeks.

Second Course

The second course was a choice of four dishes from Malaysia (or so The Essential Asian Cookbook assured me, it's where all the recipes came from)

Mixed Vegetables in Mild Curry Sauce ( serves four to six, adapted somewhat)

1/2 kabocha squash
1 purple skinned sweet potato
1 orange sweet potato
(the original used pumpkin, sweet potato and yellow squash)
a good handful of green beans
1/4 of a cabbage
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 can chopped tomato
1 red chilli, chopped
3 strips lemon rind
4 lime leaves (supposed to be kaffir, but I used the ones from my tree)
1 block palm sugar (about 3 x 1 x 2 cm)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 400ml can coconut cream
1 cup vegetable stock (supposed to be chicken stock, but I was feeding a vegetarian who will eat fish sauce)
juice of a lemon

Heat the oil in a medium pan, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft.
Add the tomato, chilli, lemon rind, lime leaves, sugar, salt, fish sauce, coconut milk, stock, and lemon juice. Simmer for 5 mins to intensify the flavours.

Up to here you can prepare in advance. I did it a couple of days ahead and froze it.

Peel the squash and sweet potatoes and cut into sensible sized bits, 1 cm thick. Top, tail, and halve the beans. Cut the cabbage into 1 cm wide shreds. You can do this slightly ahead of time, say in the morning. Before the guests arrive anyway.

Add the kabocha and sweet potatoes (and pumpkin if using) to the simmering liquid and cook for 8 mins. Add the beans and cabbage (and yellow squash if using) and cook 6 mins more.

Supposed to be served with rice, but I served it as more of a soup.

Prawn Laksa (serves four, adapted slightly)

Spice Paste
4-5 dried red chillis
1 medium red onion, chopped
5 cm fresh galangal, chopped (I used bottled stuff)
4 stems lemon grass, white part only, sliced
3 red chillis, chopped
10 candlenuts
2 tsp shrimp paste
2 tsp grated fresh tumeric (I used dried)
500g frozen cooked prawns, tail shells still on (supposed to be raw with shells)
1 400ml can coconut milk
10 crab sticks cut into 2 cm lengths (supposed to be ready made fried fish balls)
1 cucumber cut into short thin strips
100g bean sprouts
mint leaves (supposed to be Vietnamese)
1 1/2 litres fish stock (you were supposed to make stock from the prawn shells)
(and I didn't put noodles in it because I didn't want to fill people up too much, so it wasn't really laksa at all)

Spice paste
Soak dried chillis in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain, and chop in a food processor with other spice paste ingredients until very finely chopped.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok or large pot and cook the spice paste over a low heat for a few minutes, stirring regularly. Stir in the stock and coconut milk, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 mins.

I did this much couple of days in advance then froze it.

Add prawns and crab sticks to the simmering sauce and cook until heated through (or until prawns are cooked, if using raw).

Divide cucumber and bean sprouts (and prepared noodles if using) among four plates.

Add the soup, garnish with mint leaves.

Fish and Herb Salad (serves four to six)

500g smoked fish
3 tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup flaked coconut (I didn't use this, to make it suitable for the "no saturated fats" diet of one guest)
1 cup of jasmine rice, cooked and cooled
1/2 cup chopped mint (supposed to be Vietnamese, plus 3 tbsp ordinary)
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
8 kaffir lime leaves, very finely shredded (I used Tahitian lime leaves from my tree)

1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander root
2 cm fresh ginger, grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped lemon grass, white part only
3 tbsp chopped fresh Thai basil (I used ordinary)
1 avocado, chopped
1/3 cup lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut oil (I used light olive)

Poach the smoked fish in a large pan with the lime juice and water to cover for 15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily. Drain and set aside to cool before breaking it into bite-sized pieces.
Place the fish and other salad ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine.

Place all ingredients into the bowl of your food processor and combine until smoth and creamy.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat the rice and fish. Serve immediately.

Mixed Vegetable Salad (serves four to six)

300 g chopped fresh pineapple
1 long cucumber, chopped
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
150 g green beans, finely sliced
150 g bean sprouts

1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
2 red chillis, very finely chopped
2 tsp sugar

300g dried shrimp (I didn't use, to make suitable for the vegetarian)
small fresh mint leaves

Toss together the salad ingredients, cover and refrigerate to chill.
Combine dressing ingredients and stil until sugar is dissolved.
If using the shrimp, dry fry until light orange and fragrant, grind in food processor until finely chopped.
Arrange salad on platter or plates, drizzle dressing over it and garnish with mint (and shrimps). Serve.

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