In case you haven’t noticed by now, I go through a lot of phases with my food lol. After my Middle Eastern phase I got onto an Oriental/Far Eastern phase which has involved a lot of Chinese, Japanese and Asian food. My favourite homemade Oriental dinner is a prawn laksa curry bowl. Laksa is a lime and coconut soup that’s as mild or spicy as you want to make it.
First you have to make the laksa paste –
2 red chillies, deseeded if you like
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2.5cm piece ginger or galangal, roughly chopped
4 small shallots, roughly chopped
1 stick lemongrass, outer layer discarded, roughly chopped
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
50g ground almonds
Put them all in a blender and blend until the paste is smooth. For me, this is enough for 2 batches and it will store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
To make the curry bowl you need
500g raw prawns (or chicken if you don’t like shellfish)
1 head pak choi, roughly chopped, stems and leaves separated
Handful of mushrooms, sliced
Handful of baby sweetcorn
Handful of mange tout
1/2 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
Handful of beansprouts
(optional – tin of water chestnuts and tin of bamboo shoots)
1 onion, sliced
Juice of 2 limes
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp coconut palm sugar
1 can coconut milk
1 cup good quality fish (or chicken) stock
Rice Noodles (cooked according to instructions)
First I fry the onions in a little sesame oil until they’re just starting to soften. Then I toss in the baby corn, broccoli and mushrooms. Stir for a couple of minutes and then add the stems of the pak choi and the mange tout. Stir for a couple of minutes and then add the prawns and approximately half of the laksa paste (about 3 rounded tbsp). Fry for a couple of minutes and then add the tin of coconut milk, the coconut palm sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and stock. Simmer gently for 5 minutes for prawns, 10 minutes for chicken. Add in the pak choi leaves, beansprouts and water chestnuts and bamboo shoots if you’re using them. Simmer again for another 5 minutes. The sauce will be watery – it’s a soup. I serve it with rice noodles in the bottom of my bowl, usually the rice vermicelli because I’m lazy and they only take 3 minutes in boiling water to cook lol. This amount makes enough for 3 lunches for me.
MISO SOUP VARIANT
If the laksa isn’t your thing, you can also do this with miso paste. Stir fry the vegetables, as above, but this time go until they’re almost completely cooked, add them to a bowl with your noodles and then make up half a pint of chicken/fish stock with a heaped teaspoon of miso paste blended in and pour over the vegetables and noodles. Traditionally in restaurants this is served with a piece of grilled fish or tofu. You can buy premixed miso soup mixes at most Oriental stores that you just add a cup of water too. We’ve had some great ones from our local store, including tofu and seaweed miso and baby clam miso. Delicious!
BASIC MEALS WITH HOMEMADE PESTO
On a basic day I’ll have a portion of grilled or baked meat, 1 scoop of potato or rice or some kind of grain and then half a plate of mixed veg. And when I say mixed, I mean 3 or 4 different types and I try and vary it every day. We buy a huge range of veg. For example, on the day I typed this, my evening meal was an ostrich steak (I know, totally fancypants but Aldi had them on offer lol) with a small spoon of roasted herbed new potatoes. Then I had some roasted butternut squash, asparagus, green beans, broccoli and a small portion of homemade slaw (in vinaigrette instead of mayo). Literally half of my plate was mixed vegetables and that’s what you need to aim for.
A lot of the time I’ll make a homemade pesto and spread it on the meat before I cook it for some flavour.
1 cup herbs (I usually use parsley or basil but anything is fine)
1/2 cup toasted nuts or seeds (I usually use sunflower or walnuts)
Juice of half a large lemon
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
Splash of olive oil
Salt and pepper
I mash the herbs, garlic and nuts/seeds in the food processor and then add the lemon and then add oil until I have a paste texture.
Incidentally, this is also really nice stirred through gluten free gnocchi as a side dish and the other thing I really like to do with it is add it to scrambled eggs just a minute or two before they’re cooked.
This is a North African/Israeli egg dish that is ubiquitous around that region. They mostly eat it for breakfast but I like it as a dinner, served with a side salad and a slice or two of gluten free bread (it’s super good with toasted sourdough).
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chili powder (mild)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Pinch of coconut palm sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)
In a wide frying pan that has a lid, fry the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onion softens. Add the diced pepper and fry for another few minutes until that has softened too. Then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, spices and sugar and simmer until the mixture starts to reduce. Don’t let it reduce too far or it’ll burn while you’re waiting for the eggs. Turn the heat down really low and crack the eggs onto the top of the mixture, cover tightly with the pan lid and let the eggs poach in the tomato sauce for 10 minutes. I have experimented with stirring wilted spinach and diced courgette through the mix and it works well so feel free to experiment with vegetables.