Tamarind and Lime Pickled Leader Prawns with Green Papaya and Rambutan Salad

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Talk about being pushed out of my comfort zone, this week I spoke on live to air radio about cooking, my blog, local produce, and how I work with it in each place I visit. It all happened within a couple of hours. A phone call from the station, asking me whether I’d like to do it and a few questions about myself and what I’ve been doing, then, to answering a phone call at 3.20pm and waiting for the music to finish and the presenter to introduce me. He was relaxed and friendly, and once my nerves calmed down, it was really fun and an awesome experience. What a funny day that was.
Anyway, the whole reason for the segment was to advertise a competition run by the ABC to find regional recipes from around Australia to include in a Cookbook celebrating Australian cuisine and local produce.
So here is my entry! The tropical produce up here in darwin is so beautiful, I can’t get enough! I’ve used the local Leader prawns from the trawlers down at Francis Bay, green papaya from my friends garden, and the rambutans, onion, ginger, chillies, mint and limes from the Rapid Creek Market. With the rest of the ingredients form the local Asian Grocer, I didn’t even need to visit a large supermarket. Which makes me very happy!
I’ve been wanting to try these local Leader prawns since I first saw them, they are so massive, three of them was more than enough for me. However, they are really delicious, with a beautiful texture, made even more special by pickling them in this delicious marinade. You could use any prawns in this recipe through, and it would also work with fish or squid, just omit the blanching part of the process.
This is my third green papaya salad recipe for the blog, obviously, it’s just too delicious. Along with the sweet rambutans, the crunchy coconut, the tangy prawns and the big beautiful edible rice bowl. This is such an exciting meal, that’s impressive whilst still being really simple and easy. I hope you give it a try!

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Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

500g raw Leader prawns, or other large prawns such as King or Tiger
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
Juice of 3 limes
3cm piece ginger, chopped into tiny matchsticks
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp palm sugar
1 tsp tamarind puree
1 tsp fish sauce
salt and pepper
1 small papaya, julienned or grated
6 rambutans, peeled, quartered and de-seeded
1 small spanish onion, very finely sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup toasted coconut chips
2 rice cakes with sesame seeds

Method

Peel and de-vien the prawns, leaving the tails on for presentation if desired.
Combine the chilli, lime juice, ginger, sesame oil, sugar, tamarind, fish sauce and salt and pepper in a shallow, non-reactive dish.
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Drop in the prawns and cook for 30secs, no longer. Strain and place in the dish with the marinade. Stir to combine and arrange so that all the prawns are submerged in the marinade. Cover and place in the fridge for 6 hours.
When ready to serve, toss together the papaya, rambutans, onion, and mint.
Cook the rice cakes, one at a time, in the microwave, on high for 1min.
To serve, divide the salad between the rice cakes. Top with the prawns, some of the marinade (this acts as the dressing), and sprinkle with the coconut chips.
Enjoy!

 

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Ceviche with Avocado and Mango Salsa and Tortilla Chips (and my entry into a competition to win a foodie adventure to Sri Lanka)

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Since starting this blog a couple of years ago, I’m quite surpised at how far I’ve come, and how much I have learnt, all through the process of trial and error. I always strive for something better, new ideas, and inspiration. I don’t have a studio, or special lights, or a set of props, each place I cook in I use what is available to me, look for the best natural light and battle it out with the flies. Being on the road has been very beneficial, as I am constantly meeting new people, discovering new produce and being introduced to new opportunities. I’ve come to realise that there is no point in planning or worrying too much about what the future holds, or whether I am making the right decisions. Everything folds out the way it is meant to. And luckily enough for me, lately, it’s been folding out pretty nicely.
Opportunities have been popping up left, right and centre, from being part of the upcoming annual Darwin Banana Festival this weekend, where I have been hired as a ‘banana stylist’, to writing recipes and styling shots for a new Australian foodie mag, and, to the point of this blog post; my entry into a competition to win a trip to discover and document, the food, culture and experience of Sri Lanka.
I’m so grateful to all of my supporting friends, who are constantly letting me know of little competitions and advertisements they see on social media, that they think I might be interested in. I would have missed half of them, including this competition, if it wasn’t for them. It’s such a lovely feeling, getting older, and realising how lucky I am to have these beautiful, supportive, creative and genuine people in my life.
Regardless of whether I win a position in the Sri Lanka trip, it’s been a fantastic experience completing the entry. As with each blog post I do, I try to push myself for a new angle, and this one really got me out of my comfort zone. If you told me ten years ago that I would have the confidence to ask a bunch of near strangers (except you Mel), to sit on the beach and share a meal while I take photos of them, I would have said, no way! But, despite the very unfortunately times spurt of rain, everything went perfectly and we had a great time, not to mention the delicious food! It gives me confidence, and makes me excited, to know that, unlike my first trip overseas five years ago (where I was too shy), I will be able to photograph more and speak to the locals more about their traditions, culture, recipes, ingredients, etc.
I’ve included my short essays here that were part of the application. It was so hard to stay within the word limits!
Also, if you have a spare couple of minutes and would like to nominate my blog in the upcoming Saveur Magazine Best Food Blog Awards, it would be hugely appreciated, if you think it deserves a nomination that is! http://www.saveur.com/article/contests/blog-awards-2015-nominate

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Competition entry essays:

The Story Behind the recipe.

After a month in central Columbia, I was full to the brim with carbohydrate laden meals of rice, beans, potatoes, bread and meat. Thank goodness for the obligatory bowl of Aji on every table at even the smallest of roadside eateries, I drenched all my meals in this delicious homemade chilli salsa. I was itching to get to the coast.
So, with one last bowl of steaming, chicken feet soup at the bus station, we were on our way to Quito and then to a tiny coastal town called Canoa. We knew nothing about the place apart from the fact that it was a small surf town, famous for it’s slow paced, relaxed vibe.
After a rough overnight bus trip from Quito, we were finally approaching the coast. Morning rituals were getting underway, people riding to work, roadside stalls selling delicious treats and smiling school kids jumping on and off our bus.
We were exhausted, and starving, by the time we arrived in the main street of Canoa (a dirt road running the length of the beach). The beach was lined with little food shacks, shaded by Coco-Cola and Pilsner tarps. Each had a blackboard touting Ceviche, which we knew very little about. As far as I knew, maybe, it was some form of raw fish dish. But, as we had experienced so far on our trip, anything could be eaten at breakfast time, and we were too hungry to care. So, we picked one shack at random and sat down at the plastic table on the sand. Without having to order anything, we were brought two bowls of ceviche and some fried plantain. With a squeeze of fresh lime, and a tad of hesitation, we dug in. WOW! What a fresh and flavoursome bowl of food we had in front of us. The fish so soft and the lime so tangy, paired with a kick from some chilli sauce and the crunchy plantain chips. What a dish!
After that, we ate it at least twice a day for the week that we were there, but, as hard as we tried, we just couldn’t find that one shack where we had eaten our first. It was like it had disappeared, and no other could match it.

About me and why I should be chosen for the gig.

After years of studying art, architecture and teaching, feeling lost and unfulfilled, I finally saved enough money to travel overseas. I started with the Americas, backpacking and having my mind blown by the amazing traditions, landscapes, and people. It was on this trip, whilst working in a bar on the beach in a small fishing village in Peru (famous for it’s amazing tuna), that I came to the realisation that all I wanted to do for the rest of my life was cook. To never stop discovering ingredients, recipes and methods from all over the world, to cook meals that bring people together and make time stand still for a little while, whilst we all enjoy the fruits of the land and the labour of the people who love to cook with them.
Upon returning to Aus I was lucky enough to gain a position in a small cafe, that, over the two years that I helped to run the kitchen, has now turned into one of the most well known cafes in the Hunter.
With only a short stint in Europe in those two years, I decided that it was time to really hit the road. I sold most of what I owned, and have been travelling through Australia in a 4WD ever since, with an overseas ticket booked for April.
My foodblog has been an amazing creative outlet for me also. Something that has been forcing me to learn and discover new things about food and cooking, almost daily. Every meal I create, and every photo shoot I do, creates a new challenge for me. I never do the same thing twice. Discovery is my passion!

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Recipe

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Ceviche
1kg white, firm fleshed fish, I used Robinson Bream
Juice from about 5 limes
1 cup coconut cream
1 tsp caster sugar
1 long red chilli, finley diced
Handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper
Salsa
2 ripe but still firm avocados
1 large mango
1 long red chilli
1 spanish onion, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbs olive oil
Handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
Tortilla chips (or plantain chips if you can get them), lime wedges, sliced chilli, chilli sauce, and salad leaves, to serve

Method
Make sure there are no bones in the fish. Slice fish into pieces about 3cm long and 5mm thick and place in a large, non-reactive bowl. In another bowl place the lime juice, coconut cream, caster sugar, chilli, and coriander. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Add to the bowl with the fish and stir well to combine. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but no longer than 10 hours.
When nearly ready to serve dice the avocados and mango into 5mm pieces. Combine in a bowl with the other salsa ingredients and stir to combine, being careful not to mash the avocado too much.
Serve ceviche with the salsa, tortilla chips, lime wedges, chilli, chilli sauce and salad leaves.
Enjoy!

Oysters with Pickled Cucumber (and a note on how to make a ‘Japanese Slipper’)

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I understand the appeal of oysters, there is something wild and exciting about eating a creature like this, freshly shucked and still alive, smelling of the ocean as you tip it up to your lips…..

and then…
salty snot.

I’m sorry. I really am. I feel terrible that I can’t fully appreciate them yet. I’m getting there though. A friend recently introduced me to what she called the “Japanese Slipper”, consisting of soy, wasabi, pickled ginger and lime. I loved the flavour at first but it’s that creaminess towards the end that i’m still getting used too. Apparently this is the most sought after part!
So, after having the Japanese Slipper, and not totally hating it, I also tried a bit of a pickled cucumber dressing as well. The dressing is delicious and according to my guests, the oysters were as well.
After all, I love the ocean and appreciate everything that comes from it. I’m sure I will love oysters one day. I will never stop trying that’s for sure!
I haven’t included a recipe here for the Japanese Slipper oysters, but they are really easy, just mix some soy sauce and wasabi together, pour about a teaspoon on each oyster, top with some pickled ginger and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Note; they also pair nicely with an icy cold glass of Frangelico and Lime.

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Recipe

Makes 12

Ingredients

12 freshly shucked oysters
130g cucumber, de-seeded, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
1/4 spanish onion, very finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbs coconut vinegar
1 tbs caster sugar
Pinch dried chilli flakes
salt and pepper

Method

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the oysters. Stir well and leave to pickle in the fridge for at least an hour.
When ready to serve, place about a tbs of pickled cucumber dressing on each oyster. Serve with extra lime wedges, if desired.

Sardine and Olive Scrolls with Herbed Cream Cheese

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IMG_2407 IMG_2391 IMG_2395Since winning a hamper at Christmas time, filled with marinated goodies and antipasto ingredients, I’ve had a jar of marinated sardine fillets, sitting at the back of the fridge, looking lonely and waiting to be used in something delicious. However, having only just learnt to appreciate tinned sardines and anchovies in the last two years (I learnt to like them after trying some delicious real deal ones in Portugal), apart from putting them on a pizza, I haven’t done much else with them. Until now!

I’d spent the afternoon with a friend, hanging out at the local pool (it’s next to the beach, the best we can do in the wet season here in Darwin), and we had organised for Saturday afternoon drinks at her new house. Perfect opportunity for me to make something delicious to share!
I love making dough, we’ve been making all our own bread for the last couple of months now so I felt pretty confident to try this idea. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they worked out. The perfect mix of soft chewy bread with the salty, flavoursome filling, along with the herby cream cheese and sweet fresh tomato. Delicious! I also had some tomato soup leftover from dinner a few nights ago, they went perfectly with this also.
These would also work just as well without the anchovies for a vegetarian option.

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Recipe

Makes 16 scrolls

Ingredients

400g strong white bread flour
300ml luke warm water
1 heaped tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
olive oil

400g pitted kalamata olives, drained and pureed
300g marinated sardine fillets, drained, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
small red onion, finely chopped
2 tbs fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
cracked pepper
handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 large tomato, de-seeded, flesh finely chopped

250g cream cheese
1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon

Fresh tomatoes or tomato soup, to serve

Method

In a large bowl combine the flour and the yeast. Add the salt and stir to combine. (Adding the yeast and the salt separately is important as the salt can start to kill the yeast with direct contact).
Make a well in the centre and add the water. Stir with a metal spoon until mixture only just starts to come together, no more than 30secs. Cover with a clean towel and leave for 10mins.
Using olive oil, put a little in your hands and on a clean work surface. Turn out the dough and gently knead for about 10secs by pushing the dough away from you and folding it back towards yourself, then turning, horizontally, 90 degrees, and repeating, four times.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with the towel. Leave for 15mins and repeat the same process twice more.
After the third knead, cover and leave in a warm place for 45-60mins or until almost doubled in size.
Meanwhile, heat a tbs of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and the onion and cook, stirring, for about 5mins. Add the thyme and the chilli flakes and cook for a further 1min. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
When cool, add the chopped sardine fillets, pepper, parsley and tomato. Stir to combine.
In another bowl, combine the cream cheese with the dill, parsley and lemon zest. Stir well to combine and keep in the fridge until needed.
Prepare two baking trays with baking paper and a sprinkle of flour. Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees celcius.
When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a well floured surface. Cut in half evenly. Roll each piece out into a 20cm by 40cm rectangle, about 1cm thick.
Divide the pureed olives onto each piece of dough and spread out evenly with the back of a spoon, then sprinkle with the sardine mixture.
From the long side, gently roll each rectangle into a log.
Cut each log into 8 pieces. Place the pieces on the prepared trays, cut side up/down, about 5cm apart. Use your fingers to gently squash/mould into rounds (as cutting them has probably squashed the circle shape a little).
Cover each tray with a clean towel and leave in a warm place for about 45-60mins or until nearly doubled in size. (Be gentle when moving the trays during his time, so as not to knock the air out of the rising dough)
When ready, place the trays (gently), into the oven, and bake for 30-40mins, or until golden and feel hard when tapped with your finger.
Remove from oven and leave to cool for 15mins.
Serve warm with the cream cheese and some fresh sliced tomato. They are also really beautiful with tomato soup.
Enjoy!

Marinated Baby Octopus Salad with Lemon Pangrattato

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After a long day at work, I love the ritual of creating and cooking dinner. Due to my brainless job, I get to spend the whole day thinking about ingredients and coming up with ideas for future recipes. This one came about after an eleven hour shift, I wanted something that would be perfect in this hot weather, on a Friday night, with a cold glass of wine; yet it had to be quick and easy because I was exhausted. This octopus salad really hit the mark. It was so fresh, tasty, interesting and EASY!

I’ve only had octopus twice before, in restaurants, I’ll admit, I’ve never cooked it, and have only come across frozen ones at work. I feel I’d need someone with some experience to show me how to deal with a fresh one. Maybe this year when in Europe…(fingers crossed)
So, I was lucky enough to have access to these beautiful marinated baby octopus, all ready to go in a delicious, vinegary, herby, garlic marinade. This dish really counts on the marinade, as it acts as the dressing for the salad. If you can’t find the brand that I’ve used here, check the ingredients of the marinade in the ones you buy, taste it and see what its missing and add some ingredients accordingly. You want some garlic, chilli, herbs, vinegar, onion, oil and sugar. If you would like to cook a lighter, or gluten free version of this salad, use an alternative to the pasta, such as chickpeas, quinoa or brown rice.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


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Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

500g small shell pasta, or other small pasta such as orecchiette, or a gluten free alternative
1 zucchini, thinly sliced (a mandolin is ideal)
1 lemon, juiced. Plus 1 cut into quarters to serve
1 small spanish onion, very thinly sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
375g marinated baby octopus (I used Angelikas Bros. brand), large ones halved, smaller ones left whole, marinade reserved
1/2 cup, store bought, lemon and herb breadcrumbs, lightly toasted in a pan (this is the pangrattato)
1 large red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper

Method

Combine the zucchini, lemon juice, onion, tomatoes, octopus (along with it’s marinade), chilli, and parsley, in a large bowl.
Cook the pasta according to packet directions, drain and add to the large bowl of combined ingredients. Stir through to combine and warm the rest of the ingredients.
Check for seasoning and add salt and paper to taste.
Serve with lemon wedges and sprinkle with pangrattato.
Enjoy!

Green Papaya, Rambutan and Crunchy Coconut Salad with Tamarind Dressing

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As I sit here, waiting for these photos to up-load, I look at my hands. They are weathered, scarred, with dirty fingernails and lots of little cuts and pricks due to my current job featuring way to many spiky fish and prawns. I think; ‘I work too hard’. Then, I look up, and see the birds flying past and the beautiful green, tropical surroundings. I feel the warm breeze and appreciate the flavours of the cold spiced rum, lime and soda that I’m sipping on. Then I think; “I’m so, so lucky’.

Life for me at the moment is in such a funny and weird place, between living like a backpacker, working like a Chinese man (I’m allowed to make this judgement, I work with them), and trying to continue with my creative love of cooking and creating. All this, as well as trying to stop every now and then and appreciate the little things, and being part of a relationship that relies on one another to grow and succeed, is somewhat of a juggling act.

I’m not sure if I’m getting it right but there have been a few very exciting developments this week that make me feel as though things could be working out. Stay tuned!

This is a very simple recipe. I’ve been cooking lots of these kinds of meals lately, especially due to the heat and the abundance of produce growing in this yard. It seems ridiculous to go and buy things from the grocery store when we have more than enough food growing in  the yard. We just have to be creative. I think I’ve topped about twenty different way to eat a papaya by now! And if I don’t have to work on a Sunday then I love to go and buy the local produce. This was my first time trying rambutans and I absolutely adored them! We ate this salad with some whiting fillets, simply floured and lightly fried, oh so good.

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Recipe

Serves 2

ingredients

2 small green papayas, julienned on a mandolin or grated

1/2 spanish onion, very thinly sliced

5 rambutan (or lychee), peeled, de-seeded and quartered

1 cup, loosely packed, mint leaves

1/2 cup coconut chips (these are sweetened and roasted coconut chips. You can find them in gourmet food stores and some grocery stores)

Dressing

Thumb size pice of ginger, finely grated

1/2 tsp tamarind puree

1 long red chilli, finely chopped

1/2 tsp caster sugar

1/2 tsp fish sauce

1/4 tsp sesame oil

salt and pepper

Method

For the dressing, grind all the ingredients together in a mortar and pestle until well combined. Alternatively, use a small food processor or stick blender. Or, just very finely chop everything and mix well.

Toss all the salad ingredients together, except for the coconut.

Toast the coconut slightly in a hot frying pan (I know it’s already toasted, but this makes it so much better).

Toss the dressing through the salad, pile onto a serving platter and sprinkle with the still warm coconut.

Enjoy!

 

Seafood Laksa (kind of)

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This is another favourite from the weekend markets here in Darwin, each stall has their own recipe; all equally delicious. I wouldn’t ever claim this to be anywhere near an authentic replica, I used a lot of what I had on hand, and also tried to use a little less oil compared to the traditional recipes. I love this dish for that reason though, so long as you have a few of the key elements, you will no doubt be able to produce a delicious meal.

Another awesome part about this dish is that half of the elements don’t even get added until the very end, so, by putting all of these ingredients out on the table, you not only make for a colourful and exciting table full of food, you also allow people to top their soups in whichever way they choose. This is a great way of catering for a mix of, meat eaters, seafood lovers/haters, and vegetarians. To the list of toppers I have included in this recipe, you could also add; shredded chicken, boiled egg, cucumber, carrot, cabbage…anything you think might be nice.

One more awesome thing…. it’s incredibly delicious as a cold dish the next day; if you manage to keep any leftovers that is!

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Laksa Paste

Ingredients

1 1/2 tbs dried shrimp, soaked in 1/2 cup boiling water for 10 mins

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 long red chillies

2 birdseye chillies

3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled, diced

1 red onion, peeled, diced

2 stalks lemongrass, white and pale green part, diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled, diced

10 roasted cashews

2 tsp roasted shrimp paste

1 tsp peanut oil

Method

In a frying pan, over medium high heat, dry fry the spices for about 1-2mins, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind into powder.

Place the spices and the soaked shrimp, along with the soaking water, and all the remaining ingredients into a small food processor or a bowl deep enough to process with a stick blender. Process until a smooth paste forms.

Transfer to a jar and keep refrigerated. It will last about 1 -2 weeks.

Seafood Laksa

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tbs peanut oil

12 large green prawns, peeled (reserved), de-viened, tails left on

1/2 cup laksa paste

6 cups fish/chicken/or vegetable stock

400ml coconut cream

250g firm tofu, cubed

250g green beans, trimmed and halved

1 tsp coconut sugar

1 tbs fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper

500g firm white fish fillet, cut into 4cm cubes

200g vermicelli noodles

200g wide rice noodles

Bean sprouts, spring onion, chilli, coriander, mint, thai basil, fried shallots, roasted peanuts, lime wedges, to serve

Method

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Fry the reserved prawn shells for about 3 mins, until they turn red. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving as much oil in the saucepan as possible.

Add the laksa paste to the saucepan and cook, stirring, for 2-3 mins.

Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium, add the coconut cream and bring to the simmer. Add the tofu, beans, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and some salt and pepper and allow to simmer for 10-15mins.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan of boiling water, cook the rice noodles and vermicelli, cooking the thicker ones first for about 2 mins, then adding the vermicelli for about 1 min. Strain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Add the fish and prawns to the laksa. Turn off the heat and allow to gently cook through for about 5-8mins.

Divide the noodles between the serving bowls. Top with the laksa, ensuring even distribution of ingredients.

Top with remaining ingredients as desired.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Curry Fish Cakes with Mango Mayo and Salad Cups

DSC_0031DSC_0013Just jumped off the plane back in Darwin tonight, to the stifling heat, ground shaking thunder storms, magical lightning and ‘hopefully’, some torrential rain. We are headed into a month of house-sitting, in a house surrounded, almost engulfed, by banana trees, papaya trees, numerous types of spinach, sweet potatoes, chillies and herbs. There are also three beautiful dogs and twelve very generous chickens; stay tuned for some recipes in the coming month for frittata, omelette, meringue, pastry, custard, ice-cream, etc. Also close to the house is the amazing Rapid Creek Markets, held every Saturday and full of everything you will ever need for Asian style cooking. Apart from the impending heat, and the effect it has on how fast I can get things done, I’m pretty excited for the month to come!

I made these fish cakes a while ago, photographed them and then completely forgot to post the recipe. However, here they are, and I still remember that they are super yummy, fresh and flavoursome; fun and messy to eat as well. Just the way I like it! You could replace the white sweet potato with orange sweet potato, but you would probably be better off using a starchy potato instead, as orange sweet potatoes can sometimes be very soft and hard to work with. Have some napkins on hand and enjoy!

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Recipe

Ingredients

500g white fish fillet, boneless and skinned

1 medium white sweet potato, about 500g

1 tbs shrimp paste

2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tbs plus 1 tsp, grated fresh ginger

2 long green chillies (leave seeds in if you like it hot, or de-seed if not), roughly chopped

2 tbs fish sauce

2 shallots, white and pale green parts roughly chopped

1 kaffir lime leaf, roughly chopped

1/2 cup coriander leaves

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp palm sugar (substitute with coconut or brown)

salt and pepper

peanut oil

rice flour

1 mango, flesh roughly chopped

1 cup whole egg mayonnaise

zest and juice of 1 lime

Cos lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, mint leaves, thai basil leaves, coriander, sliced chilli, sliced cucumber, chopped roasted peanuts, lime wedges, to serve

Method

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celcius. Pierce the sweet potato a few times with a fork and roast, on a baking tray, for about an hour or until very soft. Remove from oven to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 180 degrees celcius and line a baking tray with baking paper. Bake the fish for about 10mins, or until just cooked through. Remove and cool.

In the last few minutes of the fish cooking, roast the shrimp paste by wrapping in a small parcel of foil and baking for about 5mins, or until fragrant.

In a small food processor, process the shrimp paste, garlic, 1tbs ginger, chillies, fish sauce, shallots, kaffir lime leaf, coriander, ground coriander, sesame oil, sugar and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth a smooth paste forms.

Cut the sweet potato in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl, mash with a fork. Use your hands to break the fish into small pieces and add to the bowl with the sweet potato, along with the curry paste. Mix well to combine. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Shape the mixture into small cakes, about 2 tbs mixture per cake. Place on a lined baking tray and chill in the fridge for about an hour or until firm.

Meanwhile, to make the mango mayo, using a small processor or stick blender, process the mango, 1 tsp ginger, lime zest and juice and some salt and pepper, until smooth. Mix with the mayo and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Heat peanut oil in a large frying pan, about 2-3cm deep, over medium high heat or until a cube of bread turns golden brown in about 30secs. Place some rice flour in a shallow bowl. Dip each fish cake into the rice flour, evenly coat and tap off any excess.

In batches, fry the fish cakes, about 5mins per side, flip carefully with a metal spatula, until dark golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper. Repeat with remaining fish cakes, topping up the pan with more oil as you go. Keep cooked ones warm in a low oven while your frying the rest.

Serve fish cakes with the mango mayo, cos lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, mint leaves, thai basil leaves, coriander, sliced chilli, sliced cucumber, chopped roasted peanuts, and lime wedges.

Mango and Ginger Chilli Sauce

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We’re back on the east coast at the moment and man is it good. There’s nothing like a few months in the outback to make you realise how lucky we are to have grown up here. Our first dip in the ocean after a late night flight from Darwin and a long drive from Brisbane was pure bliss. To me there is nothing like the cool, salty waves of the ocean here; a far cry from the warm, stagnant, croc infested waters of the outback.

So far we’ve had lots of festive family times, which means lots of eating and drinking. Lucky there is a nice long stretch of beach here to run along every morning.

I handed out a few jars of this Mango and Ginger Chilli Sauce as early Christmas presents; feeling quite chuffed with myself at my handmade gifts. Little did I know that this family is famous for their preserve making and it will no doubt, be highly critiqued. Well, at least I know we enjoyed the jar we kept for ourselves. I finished it within a couple of days with all the seafood I’ve been getting from my new job at the seafood market down at Fisherman’s Wharf in Darwin. It’s tart and quite hot if made to this recipe, but you can use as little or as much chilli as you want. It’s also slightly sweet but nothing like a sweet chilli sauce, which I find is usually so sweet that it overpowers any other flavours in a meal. I love this sauce with prawns, but it’s also great with other seafood and fish, or even chicken.

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Recipe

Ingredients

1kg mango flesh, from about 6 fresh or you can use frozen

3 brown onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbs grated ginger

3 limes, juiced

Juice of 1 lemon

6 small red chillies, chopped

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

4 tbs vinegar ( I used coconut vinegar, but you could use any)

About 1 cup water

Salt and Vinegar

Method

Process all ingredients together in a food processor.

Put mixture in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium low heat, stirring often. Cover and cook, stirring every so often, but be careful as it will spit. Continue to cook for about half an hour adding the water as you go to get to a desired consistency (I used the whole cup)

Push mixture through a sieve and pour into sterilised jars (Thanks taste.com… .http://www.taste.com.au/how+to/articles/572/how+to+sterilise+jars+and+bottles )

Sauce will keep for months if sterilised properly but keep in the fridge once opened.

Enjoy!