Saturday, September 18, 2010


This is a sort of Japanese/Thai fusion. The ingredients are completely Thai, but the method is Japanese.

Firstly I made a Thai curry soboro.

Onion, garlic, massaman curry paste and pork mince fried together …

… then some soy sauce, fish sauce, tamarind paste, and brown sugar went in …

 …and some coconut milk powder …

… lemon grass, and a bit of tomato paste …

… a bit of water followed, and I simmered it, stirring often …

… until it was quite dry.

Then I left it to cool overnight, while I soaked a couple of cups of long grain glutinous rice in water.

Next day I steamed the rice over a pot of boiling water until it was cooked:

Then I mixed it with a very little coconut milk in which I'd dissolved half a teaspoon each of salt and sugar:

The rice absorbed that completely, it could probably have absorbed a great deal more, but I wanted it quite dry and sticky.

I used the rice to make onigiri.

I lined a tiny silicon bowl with Glad-Wrap, filled it with rice and made a walnut-sized indentation in the middle:

Pressed about 2 teaspoons of the Thai curry soboro into the middle:

Covered that with more rice, and used the dangling bits of plastic under my hands to shape the rice into a ball:

Because nori wouldn't really go with Thai food, I decided to coat the rice balls with crushed nuts. There were no peanuts in the cupboard, so I used toasted cashews,…

… that I pulverised in a mortar:

Then I wrapped the rice balls in more plastic and put them in the freezer.

I have eaten one of them (they need warming in the microwave to soften the rice) and I have to say, it was delicious. The curry soboro is very strongly flavoured, I was a bit afraid it had too much of everything in it, but it's just right as a seasoning for the rice.

Pork and aubergine patties

This is something I made up as I was going along the other day so I have no idea how much of what went in. I had the patties in my lunches.

An aubergine, the big purple sort, shredded into a fine julienne on the mandoline …

… then salted and left to drain for half an hour or so …

… and then squeezed hard to remove all superfluous moisture:

Mixed with an egg …

… a chopped onion …

… lots of parsley …

… some cooked bulghur wheat …

… a bit of pork mince, smoked paprika, and salt …

Formed into patties and fried …

… on both sides to brown, then the heat was turned down and the lid put on and they were left to thoroughly cook through.

The aubergine takes a bit of cooking, so they need to cook for half an hour or so covered.

Bulghur pilaf

Bulghur pilaf is a good high fibre substitution for a risotto. Better than risotto in some ways, as it doesn't suffer from being refrigerated and reheated, and it is also nice at room temperature in a bento.  This is a tomato, red pepper, and guanciale one.

Put some sliced onion, …

… some diced guanciale, pancetta, or bacon,

… and some chopped garlic …

… into a pan and sauté in some olive oil …

… until the meat is cooked and the onions are soft:

Add some uncooked coarse bulghur (burghul, bulgar) wheat. This is two cups:

Stir it around on the heat the way you would with rice in a risotto. Add more oil if necessary:

Add a teaspoon or so of smoked paprika, …

… some red peppers …

… that you've sliced …

… and give it a bit of a stir.

Then add a tin of chopped tomatoes

… and give it another stir.

Fill the empty tomato tin with water and add that and some salt and pepper. You can taste it to see how much you need.

Bring the pan to the boil and simmer it covered until all the liquid has been absorbed.

This is nearly done:

And this is done:

When it's done you can cover it with a double thickness of paper towels then put the lid back on and leave it to rest for ten minutes or so. That will absorb any last bits of unwanted moisture. It's delicious served with labneh on top, either as a side dish at dinner or with a salad for lunch.


Red bulghur pilaf

1 onion, sliced
100g bacon, pancetta, or similar, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups coarse bulghur wheat
olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 bottled roasted red peppers (or could use fresh)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
the tomato tin full of water
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the onion, garlic and meat in a little oil over a medium heat until the onions are transparent.
Add the wheat, stir around and fry slightly to mix with the oil. Add more oil if necessary. Some fat will have been rendered from the meat, so you just need to use your judgement about how much you need.
Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, cover and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I woke up very suddenly yesterday morning at 4.35. The house was shaking and rattling enough that I got up out of bed to stand under a doorway, but nothing fell over or was damaged.

Usually when we have earthquakes in Dunedin the epicentres are over on the other side of the island where the big fault line runs under the Southern Alps, or out to sea somewhere. Imagine my surprise, when my radio went on a 6.30, to find that this one was close to Christchurch (400km away), was very shallow, and had done an awful lot of damage.

Luckily no-one has been killed, and there are only a couple of serious injuries. I hate to think what the toll would have been if the earthquake had happened during daytime on a weekday. As it is, they had no electricity yesterday, people are doing without running water at least until tomorrow, and it will be days, if not weeks, until the sewerage systems are fixed.

I keep bottles of water in my "beer fridge" for emergencies (and for my soda stream), and I have gas burners, candles and a stock of tinned, bottled, and dry foods, but I rely far too much on mains electricity. I have no battery radio, and I had never even considered what I'd do in the event of a failure of the sewerage system. In Christchurch, people are digging "long-drops" in their back yards.

I'm off to get a chemical toilet and a battery radio ASAP! We are overdue a "big one", and when it comes (hopefully not in my lifetime) it will be far worse than what Christchurch suffered yesterday.

Red shoes

These are the shoes I wore to a colleague's retirement party last weekend:

I bought them in Christchurch in February when I was there for some motorcycle races and haven't worn them until now. The tights are from One of the waiters at the restaurant actually thought I had tattoos all over my legs!

Kouign Amann

One of the blogs I read religiously, and really look forward to, is Joe Pastry.  He's a sensible sort of a guy and knows what he's talking about. He also bakes some great stuff, and I just had to try  Kouign Amann when I saw it.

I didn't actually use his recipe for the dough, I just used half of my usual weekend bread dough. I ended up with half-sized loaves of sourdough and a sort of sourdough Kouign Amann.

I did as one of Joe's correspondents recommended and mixed the butter with some flour. It puffed up beautifully, but I don't know if that was because of the flour, or because our butter is different from the stuff they get in America. I'm always horrified when he writes about how their dairy food is made - our butter is just made from cream.

A duck Pt 2. Duck prosciutto.

These duck breasts are in the fridge being salted.

One of them just has salt and curing salt on it, the other has some liquid smoke as well. We'll see what it's like in a few weeks - I need to dry them for a couple of weeks once they've finished curing.

A duck, Pt 1. Confit and rillettes

A duckling:

Twenty-eight dollars that cost - I shan't be filing this post under "thriftiness". I am making the most of the duck though.

I broke it down into its component parts, and put the carcass, …

… fat, …

… and wings, …

… into my steamed pudding bowl, …

… and put it all in a pot of boiling water for several hours.

Meanwhile, the legs and the meaty rump parts …

… were being salted, with a bit of garlic as well …

… in preparation for being turned into confit.

I strained the steamed duck parts …

… retrieving just under a cup of duck "juice" (no water was added, so it's not really stock), and just over half a cup of rendered duck fat:

The juice jelled solid when it cooled and will go into the freezer.

I picked all the little bits of meat off the bones …

… and pounded them with some of the fat and some thyme from the garden:

The mixture went into a couple of little ramekins, and I poured a little more fat over to seal it:

I didn't have enough fat for the confit, so I opened one of the tins of duck fat my sister-in-law gave me a wee while ago …

… and used some of it to extend what was left of the fat rendered from the duck, so I had enough to cover the legs and rumps:

I also added a bit of thyme from the garden. After about 6 hours in a 90°C oven I had this:

Which I let cool, then put in the fridge. I have to let it "mature" for a week or so before I can excavate the duck from the fat and do something delicious with it.