Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Kao Phat Prik

I am slowly transporting all my cookery books from my parents' house to my flat- despite the lack of space for more books, I look forward to the day when the entirety of my collection is no longer based in London. I've just become reacquainted with Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian Cookbook. I recently discovered this book was first published nearly 40 years ago- amazingly,it hasn't become at all dated.
I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed by all the recipe books I have, and all the recipes I want to cook- and the lack of time to do it in. Recently, a dear friend and I came to the realisation that 3 meals a day doesn't feel enough to try everything. I'm trying to focus on a few recipes books, and really get into them, rather than feeling swamped by a huge collection of books. I've decided to start with The Complete Asian Cookbook- it's certainly got enough recipes to keep me going for a while.
I picked quite a simple starting point, with Kao Phat Prik, or chilli fried rice. I happened to have both leftover cooked rice, and some red curry paste in the fridge already, so I was partway there, ingredients-wise. I had made this red curry paste, but you could use any, homemade or bought.

Charmaine Solomon suggests garnishing with chilli flowers- I confess I left this part out, and just used the coriander leaves.

4 cups cold, cooked rice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 red chilli, sliced
I green chilli, sliced
1 tablespoons red curry paste (I upped this a little)
1 pork chop, finely diced or minced
500 g  peeled and deveined raw prawns, roughly chopped if large,
2 eggs, beaten and seasoned,
salt and pepper
3 tablespoon fish sauce
1 bunch chopped spring onions
handful chopped coriander leaves

 Heat the oil in a wok and fry the onion and red chilli until softened. Add the curry paste, and cook until the oil begins to separate.  Add the pork and stir-fry until cooked. Add the prawns to the pan. Once these are cooked through, add the rice, and stir so it is coated with the curry paste and the pork and prawns are well combined. Push the rice to the edge of the wok, leaving a space in the centre, and pour in the beaten eggs.. Stir until they start to set. Mix with the rice and toss over high heat until the eggs are cooked. Sprinkle with fish sauce, and stir in the spring onions.  Take off the heat and stir in the coriander leaves.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Fish Fragrant Aubergine

This recipe has reignited my love of aubergines- I often eat them and find them very unappealing, with a strange woolly texture and tough skin. In this recipe, they are fried in lots of oil, and get a soft/silky texture. I also chose to remove peel them, so avoiding the possibility of difficult to eat skin, although this wasn’t specified in the original recipe.

Perhaps confusingly, ‘fish fragrant’ does not mean the recipe contains any fish- it just refers to a style of cooking involving ginger, garlic, spring onions, soy, and chilli bean paste. The result is quite hot, and very satisfying- very good if you have a cold too. You can cook other ingredients in a similar style, but my favourite is definitely this aubergine and pork mince combination. I’d like to cook prawns with these flavourings, although I am not sure how authentic cooking seafood or fish in this manner is.  
If you are hesitant about cooking with aubergines, I would recommend this- this recipe has jumped into my top ten dishes.
You might have to go to a Chinese supermarket for the chilli bean paste, and almost definitely for the Chinkiang black vinegar. I think it is worth it though, especially for the chilli bean paste, which is fast becoming one of my favourite store cupboard ingredients, for stir fries, stews, or anything I feel needs a kick.

The recipe I used can be found here- another recipe from Sunflower Food Galore. I chose to deep fry the aubergine, and also to peel it. I also made 1 1/2 times as much, for 4 as a main dish with rice- there was enough, but not enough for seconds- I think I would probably double the recipe next time for the same amount of people.