Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Tamarind Date Bread

This is a recipe for people who enjoy a good challenge in the kitchen, and who like serving their guests something that leaves them scratching their heads and asking, “What flavors are in this? How did you make it?” Although it has a long list of ingredients, it really is not that difficult to prepare (once you have everything ready). You will see that the recipe has a lot of spices but all are in small quantities, almost like you might see when following a recipe for Indian Curry. I guess all that measuring of ingredients will not be appealing to some people but for those who are looking for something different, this is what you will find here. However the preparation time, and the long list may put some folks off even trying. The result is, however, really worth the effort!

I looked at other date bread recipes on the net, even remembered one from my childhood called 3 Minute Date Cake. Date breads are usually very heavy and moist, or dry, and without much flavor! It was difficult to find any recipe that seemed to offer anything in between those two extremes. None of what I saw or remembered matched the concept I had in mind. What I wanted was bread that had an interesting taste, and a new taste sensation with every bite.....and low in fat!

This bread combines the sweetness of the dates with the tartness of tamarind, and those two flavors balanced with dried apricots. The main spices are cardamom and dried orange peel. This combination is what I would consider complimentary to both the date and tamarind flavors. I did not use the cardamom seeds like in other recipes as I wanted a more subtle flavor. I have used the other spices as background notes that work together with the two main spices. These spices are also said to aid digestion. The bread is very filling, especially when thickly spread with sweet cream butter or accompanied by a slice of Manchego Cheese.


1 cup chopped dates
6 dried apricots, chopped into small cubes
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 tbsp tamarind paste
Juice and zest of one lime
1 rounded teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons coconut oil (this is usually solid at room temperature so it is easily measured)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts, almost ground to a meal
1 tbsp molasses
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups plain baking flour
1/2 cup flax meal
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp green cardamom pods
2 pieces of dried orange peel
1.      Grease and line the bottom of a loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2.      Soak dried orange peel for about 4 hours or until soft. Scrape away white pith, and discard. Chop the peel finely and put in a small bowl.
3.      Smash the cardamom pods with the back of a cleaver or mortar. Place the seeds and husks in bowl with orange peel.
4.      Measure the flours, flax meal, spices, and chopped walnut and put in a large mixing bowl.
5.      Mix the chopped dates, apricots, coconut oil, tamarind paste and molasses in a medium sized bowl.
6.      Boil the 1 ¼ cups water and pour over the smashed cardamom pods and orange peel. Let that steep like you would when making tea for 3-5 minutes. Pour through a strainer and discard the pods and peel.
7.      Bring the “tea” again to a boil and pour over dates, apricots, coconut oil, tamarind paste and molasses. Stir until coconut oil is melted.  Set aside for one hour. Add zest and lime juice when the mixture has cooled to room temperature.
8.      Beat sugar, and egg with a hand mixer until it becomes a bit pale in color. Add cooled date mixture to this.
9.      Mix together wet and dry ingredients. Stir until just combined, making sure to incorporate any flour that sticks to the bottom of the bowl.
10.  Pour mixture into a greased 9” loaf tin and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until inserted skewer/cake tester comes out clean.
11.   Leave in tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto cooling rack. Wait until it has completely cooled before slicing.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Mahi Mahi with Spicy Tamarind Apricot Sauce

Mahi Mahi with Spicy Tamarind Apricot Sauce

Mahi Mahi with Spicy Tamarind Apricot Sauce, Rice, Baked Plantain, Pickled Green Mango Vietnamese Style

This is not a recipe for people who do not enjoy cooking. The sauce is a complex one with very diverse flavors, and requires patience to prepare. It uses a mixture of Asian, Indian and Jamaican ingredients. The cooking style is similar to that of a Chinese stir-fry, or Balti style Indian cooking. For someone like me who thinks that fish is the most boring thing to eat, this certainly goes a far way in waking up the taste. Mahi Mahi is a dense, firm fish so it works well for this.

8 oz Mahi Mahi filet
1 tbsp tamarind chutney
½ tbsp Japanese vinegar
½ tbsp Pickapeppa sauce
½ tbsp Sriracha sauce
3 dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled, sliced
1 inch piece of Lemongrass, tender inner portions only
½ tbsp garam masala
½ tsp curry powder
2-3 tbsp water or coconut milk (preferred)
  1. Cut the Mahi Mahi Filet into cubes (photo)
    Season with the Garam Masala and curry powder. Let marinate in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
  2. Mix the next 6 ingredients for the sauce and store in refrigerator until ready to prepare.
  3. In a wok or frying pan, sauté the chopped shallot, sliced garlic, ginger root and lemon grass in oil until it starts to release their fragrances. Remove from oil and put in a small chopper along with the sauce mixture from the refrigerator, and the water or coconut milk. Puree until it forms a smooth paste.
  4. Over high heat, sear the fish cubes in the oil until the Masala starts to smell. Add the pureed sauce. Cover and simmer for about 5-10 minutes or until cooked to your taste.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Five Pepper Sauce Pork

Every country has its own type of peppers, and pepper sauces. All are revered and beloved in their country of origin. However, none of them, used alone, has ever given me a “complete” or “balanced” taste. There always seems to be something missing e.g. not spicy enough, not sour enough, not sweet enough etc. I guess this is the reason why I’m always trying new combinations of the various sauces to see how well they “play” together. This recipe came from that thinking. The Jamaican meat seasoning I used is just to provide some background spice notes, along with the shallots and garlic. Some of the pepper pastes do contain onion powder, and spices but I have never found that concentration to be strong enough to prevent me adding my own spice combination. To balance the “hot” with “sweet”, I used dried Cranberries.

1 3/4 lb pork butt strips, with some marbling and fat (see photo)
2 tbsp Jamaican meat seasoning
2 shallots
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp Korean red pepper paste (Gochujang)
¼ cup Aji Amarillo paste (Peruvian)
¼ cup Aji Panca (Peruvian)
¼ cup sweet and spicy Thai Chili sauce (Thailand)
¼ cup Sriracha pepper sauce
1 tbsp Vinegar
1/4-1/3 cup dried cranberries

  1. Make some shallow cuts in the pork strips, and place in a Ziploc bag. Add the meat seasoning and make sure all the pieces get covered with it.
  2. Put the shallots, garlic cloves, vinegar, and pepper pastes in a small chopper. Blend to a smooth paste and put that over the pork in the Ziploc bag. Massage the bag well so that all pieces of pork are coated with the paste. Marinate in refrigerator overnight.
  3. When ready to start cooking, set oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Dump the contents of the Ziploc bag in a roasting pan lined with foil (see photo).
    Sprinkle the cranberries over the meat, and cover with foil. Bake for 1 ½ hours. This cooks the meat slowly, and helps render any fat present.
  4. Remove from oven, uncover, and place under broiler for 3-5 minutes until sauce is bubbling. Keep turning the meat in the thickening sauce, making sure that it coats all sides. Broil to slight char.  To plate, slice and dress with a tablespoon of the thick sauce (see photo at top of page).


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Steamed Fish with Lime Pickle

Like most people, I am trying to find new ways to include more fish in my diet.This recipe is loosely based on a Hakka Chinese recipe that my best friend’s Mother used to make. It was called Fish and Corned Lime. The Corned Lime was the Hakka way of preserving limes in salt, and then using it in their cooking. The cured lime is said to help aid digestion. My friend's Mother showed me how to make it, and I used to make my own for a while but could not use it up fast enough. Inevitably, I’d have to throw it out. Recently, I found a salt cured pickle from Sri Lanka that tasted pretty much the same, and although it had some extra spices in it, I figured that would only enhance the flavor. I used a Mahi-Mahi filet for this but I think that a less dense fish might be better. Maybe next time I’ll try it with snapper, Basa (Swai) or even Tilapia.
Some of the ingredients
Clockwise, Lime pickle,Shallot,garlic cloves, lemongrass, ginger root, red jalapeno, dried orange peel in middle
Chinese cooking wine, lime pickle, soy sauce

1 Fish filet, about 8 ozs
1 shallot
4 cloves garlic
1 stalk of Lemongrass, inner part only, cut in batons
1 Red Jalapeno
2 pieces of dried orange peel, soaked in water until soft
1 piece of ginger root, peeled and sliced
4 pieces of Indian Pickle
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
2 tbsb water or chicken broth
½ tsp sugar
Salt and white or black pepper

  1. Sprinkle salt, pepper, sugar, and a light dusting of cornstarch over the fish filet. Place in steamer dish
  2. Cut the ginger root and lemongrass stalk as seen in the photo.
    They are cut in large pieces that will make it easier for them to be removed before plating. They are not eaten but only used to flavor the sauce.
  3. Put the shallot, jalapeno, garlic cloves, and orange peel in a small chopper (see photo)
    and coarsely chop.
  4. Sauté the chopped mixture, along with the larger pieces of lemongrass and ginger in 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Add the soy sauce and cooking wine to this and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Pour this over the fish filet. Add the water or chicken broth. Steam for about 20 minutes depending on the type of fish and thickness of the filet. Before plating, remove the lemongrass stalks and sliced ginger, then spoon the sauce from the steamer over the fish.
    Steamed fish with lime pickle, Chinese Broccoli, Brown Rice and Vietnamese pickled Mustard Greens


Sunday, 21 June 2015

A more traditional, non spicy version of Jamaican Steamed Fish

I have been asked many times if all the dishes I prepare are spicy. I guess the answer to that would be “most” but not “all”. I grew up in a country where every house had Habanero Chili Peppers or “Scotch Bonnet” pepper plants (a type of Habanero) growing in the yard, and that pepper went in most of the dishes. This version of Steamed Fish is a more traditional Jamaican dish, and although it has Habanero Chili in it, it is not spicy (don’t be put off by the Habanero slices that you see in the photo). The flavors really just perfume the meat but for people who like to taste the flavor of the fish, without a lot of spiciness, this is the recipe to use. Traditionally, in Jamaica the fish is “steamed” in the sauce as a “one-pot” meal, along with vegetables but I have opted to use a steamer so only the flavorings in the steam permeate the fish and very delicately flavor it. Because I like very spicy dishes, this is not a dish I make often! I plated it with Korean Yam and Chinese Broccoli.
Steamed Fish, Korean Yam and Chinese Broccoli

1 1/4 lb fish (filet or whole). This is one and a quarter pounds not one, quarter pound of fish.
Salt, black pepper, ground allspice and any brand of dried, Jamaican fish seasoning you like
2 shallots
2 tbsp cooking oil or butter
3 cloves garlic
1 small Roma tomato, coarsely chopped
1 green Habanero Chili Pepper (green Habaneros are traditionally used as they are not mature or “ripe”, and therefore much less spicy)
5 sprigs fresh thyme
3 stalks green onions (green part only)
½ tbsp vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp any sweet and hot chili tomato sauce

  1. Put the thyme sprigs and the slices of Habanero chili in the bottom of the steamer dish.
  2. Season the fish with the spices, both sides, according to taste
  3. Put the garlic, shallots, and green onions in a small chopper and coarsely chop all.
  4. Gently sauté the chopped mixture in the oil or butter over medium heat, taking care not to burn the garlic (it becomes bitter when it is burnt)
  5. When the shallots become transparent, add the vinegar, honey and tomato chili sauce along with the chopped Roma tomato. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Place the fish on top of the thyme sprigs and Habanero slices then pour the sautéed “sauce” over the fish.
  7. Place in steamer and steam for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish, or until it flakes easily when touched with a fork.
  8. Plate and top with some of the sauce from the steamer dish.


Saturday, 20 June 2015

Spicy Masala Chicken with Tamarind Sauce

This is NOT the same thing as Chicken Marsala! No, it isn’t a typo and I left out the “r”. I’d hate for anyone to get the wrong idea and try this believing it to be the same thing! This recipe is totally different, and unrelated! It uses a mixture of Indian Garam Masala spices and Jerk Seasoning, along with a variety of prepared sauces, each one adding a complimentary flavor to the other. It is not for folks who do not like very spicy food. This is very, very spicy. Jamaican Jerk seasoning and Indian Garam Masala share some of same spices in their mix (Cinnamon, Allspice, Black Pepper, Nutmeg, and Cloves). However, they taste nothing alike due to the addition of other spices in varying proportions. I wanted to see how they complimented each other, using a sauce base of Tamarind Chutney for sweetness, and a Sweet, Hot Tomato chili sauce for a background flavor. The result is a thick spicy sauce that coats the chicken pieces and flavors the meat throughout. Because of its spicy nature, this dish goes well with sweet vegetables such as fried plantain or butternut squash. In the photo, it is paired with sweet butternut squash and sour lime pickle.
A crisp Riesling or a semi-sweet Moscato is perfect to go with this!
These are the ingredients for the sauce.

1 heaping tbsp of Chicken Garam Masala (I use the Shan brand)
1/2 -1 tbsp dried Jerk Seasoning (depending on your tolerance for spiciness)
½ tsp salt
4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
½ cup Tamarind Chutney (I used the National brand)
1/4 cup Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato Chili Sauce
¼ cup Sriracha Sauce

1. Make 2-3 cuts in the thighs down to the bone. Season the meat with the spices as you would do with a rub, coating the outside of the meat, rubbing the spice mixture into the slashes.
2. Marinate in a plastic bag overnight in the refrigerator
3. Place the thighs in an oven proof dish, brush on a little cooking oil or ghee, and place under the broiler for the first broil. Broil until the skin bubbles a bit, and chars slightly (see photo).The chicken is NOT cooked at this stage so handle as you would any raw meat.
4. Remove from under broiler and set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add sauce mixture to meat in oven proof dish, and cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and uncover. The sauce should be nice and thick (see photo)
Turn the chicken pieces over in the sauce so that it is coated, and on the final turn make sure the pieces are skin side down.(see photo)

6. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake uncovered for15 minutes.
7. Remove dish from oven, turn skin side up, and place under broiler for final broil. The sauce should bubble and slightly caramelize. Broil until a char develops on the skin, and it crisps up in a few places (see photo).  
Final broil with caramelized sauce and skin char

Monday, 15 June 2015

Spicy Asian Fusion Oven Grilled Pork Belly Strips

To most Koreans, the pepper paste they use (Gochujang) is considered to be very spicy. To someone like me who grew up using Jerk Seasoning, and eating Habanero chili pepper on an almost daily basis, the paste is not spicy at all. Whenever I use Gochujang, I have to spice it up with other types of peppers, and pepper sauces to both strengthen the “heat” and cut back on the slightly sweet taste that the Gochujang has. I also don’t like the taste of the Asian Pears that are used traditionally in Korean cuisine to make Bulgolgi marinade so I omit it. The ingredients used in the marinade are based on the Pan-Asian concept of combining sweet, salty, spicy and sour flavors.

This recipe for oven grilled pork belly strips is neither stir-fried nor grilled on an open BBQ. Instead it is done in the oven using my standard combination of steam-baking (helps to infuse the marinade into the pork, and renders the fat), and final broil (crisps up the strips and gives them a final char). This method makes it easier for apartment dwellers to prepare. I eat it in a lettuce wrap with a julienned cucumber, rice vermicelli, and Vietnamese pickle mustard greens or Kim Chee, topped with Sriracha pepper sauce or red Habanero pepper sauce. I guess this is an Asian Fusion dish with a Jamaican flair, given that I have added the Habanero Chili pepper to the marinade. 

1 lb pork belly slices (you can either slice it yourself or buy it ready sliced from Asian supermarkets)

5 shallots
7 cloves garlic
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 Habanero chili with seeds
½ tsp black pepper
2 tsp sesame oil
1-1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled
½ cup scallion greens
½ tbsp thick soya sauce
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
1 tbsp Sriracha pepper sauce
3 tbsp Korean pepper paste (Gochujang)
1 tbsp Marukan Japanese vinegar

  1. Put all the ingredients for the marinade in a small chopper and blend to a puree. Pour marinade over pork strips and massage well into the pork (I put the marinade puree and pork strips in a Ziploc plastic bag and then mix it well through the bag). Marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
    Pork belly strips marinating in Ziploc bag
  2. Set oven to 425 degrees f. Line a 9”X13” roasting pan with foil and empty pork strips and marinade from the Ziploc bag. Cover roasting pan with foil and steam bake in oven for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove foil and quickly broil pork strips just enough to get a light char (see photo).
  4. Eat with a lettuce wrap and condiments of your choice. (see photo)
    Pork belly strip, lettuce wrap, cucumber, rice vermicelli, pickled mustard greens and Sriracha
    It can also be used in a salad. The good thing about this is the oil from the pork belly strips is left behind, and discarded (see photo).
    Oil to be discarded

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Molasses and Mixed Spice Tea Bread

Because it is fat-free, and uses "heavy" flours, this is very dense and not overly moist bread. It is suitable for people who either do not like the taste of honey or are unable to tolerate it. The combination of maple syrup and molasses give the bread a balanced sweetness, and goes well with the taste of the dried fruits. It is best cut in thick slices, and enjoyed with a lot of butter. The shelf life is short, even in an airtight container. It’s best sliced and the slices frozen for use as needed. The slices warm up well in a microwave wrapped in a dampened paper towel, and using low power to reheat. The flavors in this bread will go well with either tea or coffee, and eaten as a breakfast bread or an afternoon snack.

  • 225g dark raisins, sour cherries and blueberries, in roughly equal proportions, coarsely chopped (makes slicing the bread easier)
  • 300ml strong black tea (Use 2 teabags to the volume of water. Steep for 5 minutes)
  • 75g Maple Syrup and Molasses mixed half and half
  • 2 lightly beaten medium eggs
  • 200 gms wholewheat flour
  • 50 gms Flax Meal
  • 25 gms ground oatmeal
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2-3 dashes Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp granola for sprinkling (optional)
  1. Put the chopped dried fruit in a bowl. Pour molasses and maple syrup over the fruit. Brew 300ml strong tea and add to the mixed fruit, maple syrup and molasses in the bowl. Cover and leave to soak in the fridge overnight. The next day, remove from fridge and bring to room temperature.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well with a whisk.
  3. Lightly beat the two eggs and add this to the soaked fruit mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well with a spoon making sure to incorporate all the flour at the bottom of the bowl.  Do not over mix.
  4. Transfer to a greased loaf tin. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of your favorite granola mix over the top (if desired). Bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour, 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Serve sliced with lots of butter!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Cantonese Jamaican Steamed Fish – My version

Cantonese Jamaican Steamed Snapper
 After slavery was abolished in Jamaica, workers were needed to work on the sugar plantations and provide other services. The British introduced the system of indentured labour and imported workers from all parts of the British Empire, including Malaya, Hong Kong (British Canton), and India. These workers, coming from tropical and semi-tropical regions of the world, found many of the ingredients needed to cook their traditional dishes. However, they also had to find ways to incorporate others as substitutes for what was not available. This resulted in the fusion of culinary styles that we see in modern day Jamaican cuisine. The use of the Habanero Chili pepper gives it a unique Jamaican flavor. One such dish is Cantonese Steamed Fish that my childhood friend’s mother used to make regularly. Her style of cooking was Hakka but it is Cantonese influenced since the Hakka Chinese who came to Jamaica in the 19th century, came from Hong Kong. I have added a few other flavors to spice things up as the traditional dish is very simple, using few flavors, ginger, scallions, soy sauce and garlic. I have added shallots, lemongrass, and altered the cooking technique in addition to the steaming and hot oil sizzle at the end. The techniques I have added are to ensure more complete extraction of all the flavors from the herbs. Since fish does not take a long time to cook, this cooking technique ensures that the flavors are infused into the fish at all steps of the cooking process. 
1 ½ lb Red Snapper or other fish
1 stalk of lemongrass, use only inner, tender parts. Cut into strips
5 stalks green onions
1 red Habanero Chili pepper
1 thumb sized piece of ginger root cut in batons
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
3 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp sesame oil.

  1. Cut the herbs as shown in the photo.

    They are cut in large pieces, not minced as they only impart their flavor, and are not eaten
  2. Cut the green onions in half. The white parts will go at the base of the steamer to act as a platform on which the fish rests. Slice the green parts and put in a separate bowl.
  3. Make 1-2 slashes in the fish down to bone. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar. Place in steamer on top of the green onion stems. Sprinkle the other ingredients (except the sliced green onions) on top of the fish, ensuring that the Habanero slices are at the very top. (See photo)
  4. Drizzle the Chinese cooking wine over the fish and put in steamer. Steam for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. It is done when the meat flakes easily.
  5. Remove steaming dish from steamer. Remove as many of the herbs (except the Habanero slices) as you can without breaking the fish into pieces. Put these in the cooking oil/sesame oil mixture and gently sauté until they release their fragrance and flavor the oil. Discard the herbs but keep the oil.
  6. Drizzle the Soy sauce over the cooked fish. Sprinkle the sliced green onions over the fish. (See photo)
  7. Heat the oil in a wok until it starts to smoke, then pour the hot oil over the fish making sure that it sizzles the Habanero and sliced green onion leaves. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Spicy Kale and Bacon “Mix-up”

Spicy Kale and Bacon

I struggle to find ways to eat more Kale. I got tired of steaming it with butter, or eating in raw in salads. This recipe is inspired by the Jamaican way of cooking “Callalloo”, a green leaf vegetable used throughout the Caribbean. It’s not done exactly the way it is cooked in Jamaica but instead combines other seasonings to get a unique taste, especially from the addition of the Japanese Rice Wine Vinegar. It makes a quick and satisfying breakfast. Because it has a slightly tart taste (in addition to being spicy), it is best paired, and balanced with a sweet root vegetable like Korean Yam or Caribbean Sweet Potato (Bonaito).

2 ½ -3 cups coarsely chopped kale
3 slices thick cut bacon, cut in ½ inch pieces
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 shallot
3 cloves garlic
2 Thai Chili
1 Roma Tomato
1 tsp dried Jerk seasoning
½ tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
2 green onions, green parts only, sliced thinly
½ tbsp Marukan Japanese vinegar (I use this because it is less acid than ordinary vinegar)
1 tsp Worcester Sauce

  1. Cut bacon in ½ inch strips. Render this down in a frying pan with the oil until the bacon pieces are crisp, and most of the fat has been rendered. Remove the bacon bits, and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat/oil.
  2. Put garlic cloves, Thai chili pepper, and shallot in a small chopper and pulse chop finely. Do the same with the Roma tomato.
  3. Fry the chopped seasonings in the pan with the mixed bacon fat/oil until shallots start to sweat. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  4. Add the chopped kale, sliced green onions, jerk seasoning, dried thyme, salt, Worcester sauce, and vinegar to this. Cover and steam for about 5 minutes. Add the bacon bits, and steam for another 5-10 minutes until kale is cooked to desired tenderness.


Saturday, 6 June 2015

Vietnamese Grilled Pork with Lemongrass-Thit Nuong-My Spiced up version

Vietnamese Grilled Pork with Lemongrass-Thit Nuong-My Spiced up version
Sliced and still moist


There are many recipes on the internet for this dish. My version uses a Red Habanero chili in addition to the Thai Chili to give the meat a spicy, fruity flavor. I do not remove the seeds from the Habanero but it's advisable for people who are not accustomed to spicy food to remove them. The other ingredients are all pretty traditional, and are found in most of the recipes I came across on the net. I also cooked it using a variety of techniques (steam bake, and broil) since I do this in the oven, not on a grill. This makes it more suitable for urban dwellers that live in apartments. I slice the cooked meat thinly, and eat it in a lettuce wrap with rice vermicelli, mint leaves, cilantro, basil leaves, Sriracha sauce and Vietnamese Do Choa pickle. It’s a perfect Summer dish. I also use it in noodle soups to spice up the canned broth that forms the base for the soup.
 2 ½ lb pork butt or shoulder. I got some thick sliced pieces with fat in it. 
 1/4 cup minced Lemongrass 
 3 tsp brown sugar 
 4 tbsp fish sauce

  2 tsp ground black pepper 
  3 thai chili
  1 Jalapeno chili 
  1 red habanero chili 
  4 -5 cloves garlic, minced 
  3-4 shallots, minced.
    2 -3 green onions white and green part
    2 tbsp sesame oil
    2 tbsp thick soy sauce (not regular soy sauce. This is Soya sauce mixed with molasses, making it thicker and gives a good char to the meat. If you can’t get this, use a combination of equal parts of molasses and dark soya sauce)
Juice of 2 limes

  1. Make cuts in the meat with a cleaver. Do not cut all the way through. The idea behind this is to increase the absorptive area of the meat so that it takes up the marinade better.
  2. Put the lemongrass (cut away tough outer covering), shallots, green onion, peppers, garlic, sugar, and fish sauce in a small chopper. Puree to a paste. Pour over pork in plastic bag and add black pepper, thick soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix well. Marinate in refrigerator overnight.
  3. Remove pork from bag, reserving marinade. Scrape off as much of the marinade mix as possible (see photo).
    Ready for first broil
    Place pork on a rack in a roasting pan, and place under broiler to char the meat. (see photo).
    Slight char after first broil
    When charred, place meat strips in roasting pan (lined with foil). The meat is not cooked at this stage so handle like you would raw meat.
  4. Pour marinade over the charred meat and use the lime juice to wash out any remaining marinade in the bag.Pour this over the pork as well.
    Marinade poured over pork, ready to be covered and baked
    5. Cover the roasting pan with foil. Bake covered at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour.Remove foil (see photo) 
    After baking for 1 hour covered
    and place under broiler to obtain final char on both sides of the strips.
    Final broil
    Slice and eat in a lettuce wrap with the herbs and rice noodles(see photos)

Plate of herbs, Thai Basil, Cilantro, Mint and Pickled Cucumbers

Rice noodles with sesame oil

Iceberg lettuce
Wrap with pork, herbs, noodles, and sriracha