Friday, 10 April 2015

Spring Sprout Salad

This is a refreshing, crunchy salad that goes very well with fatty meats like roast pork or bacon. I like to sprout my own seeds using a sprouting tray but you also buy sprouts from good farmers markets.

50g dried Chinese shitake mushrooms
150g soy bean sprouts 50g lentil sprouts
50g mixed seed sprouts
100g carrots, shredded
50g Chinese celery, finely sliced
50g banana shallots, finely sliced
a small bunch of coriander, leaves only
half a tablespoon sesame seeds
a tablespoon rice wine vinegar
half a tablespoon lime juice
half a tablespoon lemon juice
half a tablespoon fish sauce
half a tablespoon light soy sauce
a tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
a teaspoon untoasted sesame oil

Put the Chinese mushrooms in a small saucepan and pour over enough boiling water to cover them. If you have one put a small plate on top of the mushrooms to hold them down in the soaking liquid. Leave for 20 minutes, then slice the stalk off from each mushroom and discard. Put the saucepan over a medium flame and bring the mushroom caps and soaking liquid to the boil. Simmer the mushroom caps until they are tender - they should not have any dry parts when sliced in half. Remove the mushroom caps from the simmering liquid and leave to cool in a covered bowl. When cool slice each cap into half cm thick slices.

Rinse out the small saucepan and heat it again over a high flame. Add the soy bean sprouts, stirring constantly for two minutes so they cook but don't brown. Then cover the pan and turn off the heat to allow the sprouts to cook through without losing their crunch. Leave for five minutes.

Set a small frying pan over a low heat and add the sesame seeds. Keep a close eye on them and shake the pan occasionally until the seeds brown lightly and smell lovely.

In a large bowl combine all the sprouts with the sliced mushrooms, carrot shreds, celery, shallots, coriander and sesame seeds. Mix the dressing in a separate bowl, then pour over and toss everything to combine.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Monbiot family pork sambal


2kg pork belly
16 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
8 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
16 chillies, roughly chopped and deseeded
2 tbsp belacan (shrimp paste with chillies)
3 tbsp peanut oil
2 tsp turmeric
8 tbsp tamarind water
8 tbsp fish sauce (approx, add more to taste if needed)
4 tbsp brown sugar
4 stalks of lemongrass, outer layers removed and cut into 1 inch sections
chicken stock
sea salt, to taste

Cut the pork belly into 2 inch by 1 inch pieces. Blitz the shallots, garlic, chillies and belacan in a food processor until smooth. Sauté the paste in peanut oil for five minutes or so until fragrant. Add the pork belly pieces, turmeric, tamarind water, fish sauce, brown sugar, lemongrass and enough chicken stock to cover the pork. Bring to the boil and simmer covered until the pork is soft and tender. Taste and season with sea salt to taste.

Serve with steamed rice. This is even better made the night before.

Smoked buffalo chicken wings

2.5lbs chicken wings
535g sea salt
Peanut oil (the amount will depend on the size of your saucepan)
Beech wood dust for smoking

Cut through the tendons of each wing joint so it separates into three parts - the wing, drumstick and tips. Reserve the tips separately - you can roast these in a 350ºF oven for 25 minutes for a crispy treat. Brine the wings and drumsticks in a 80% salt to water brine for one hour. For 2.25 litres of water dissolve 535g salt in about one litre of hot water and then top up with cold water and ice. I put everything in a ziplock bag and close it without air bubbles.

After an hour pour away the brine and rinse the wings. Lay them on an oven rack over a baking tray and allow to dry for an hour. Cold smoke the wings for three hours over beech wood dust. Preheat the oven to 212ºF and then roast the wings until they reach an internal temperature of 65ºC. Check them periodically with a meat thermometer. At this point you can cool and store the wings in a fridge for up to a week.

Fill a saucepan three quarters the way up with peanut oil and heat over a medium flame until the oil reaches 215ºC. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 100ºC. Carefully lower each wing into the hot oil to avoid any splattering. Deep fry the wings in batches of no more than six for four minutes until they are light brown and crisp. Remove the wings with tongs and place on a plate covered with kitchen roll to soak up any excess oil. Transfer the wings onto an oven rack and place in the preheated oven to keep warm. When the oil in the saucepan reaches 215ºC again start frying the next batch and continue until you have fried all the wings. When you are ready to serve Put all the wings into a bowl with the warm hot sauce and toss to coat.

Serve the wings with blue cheese sauce, extra hot sauce and carrot and celery sticks. Eat them as soon as you can pick one up without burning your fingers.

Hot sauce

6 fl oz Tabasco or Louisiana sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
About 6 fl oz of white vinegar (adjust to taste)
5-10 grams of cornstarch or kudzu starch dissolved in a little water
200g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Sea salt to taste

Combine the hot and Worcestershire sauces, cayenne and garlic powders and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Turn the heat down and simmer until the mixture reduces by half. Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter, cube by cube. Taste and adjust the sauce with salt if needed. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon. If it is too thin bring the sauce back to the boil and add the starch mixture sparingly, whisking each time until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency. Keep the sauce warm but not bubbling over a low heat or in a warm oven.

Blue cheese sauce

Half a tablespoon of butter
Half a tablespoon of flour
150ml whole milk
6oz salty, citrusy blue cheese like Great Hill Blue
150g crème fraîche

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a low heat and add the flour. Stir to form a soft paste - add more flour if needed. Whisk in the milk bit by bit and simmer the mixture to form a smooth sauce that will thickly coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and cool. Blend the cooled white sauce with the crème fraîche and half of the blue cheese (especially the white bits near the rind) in a food processor until smooth. Spoon the mixture into a serving bowl, crumble in the remaining cheese and stir to combine. Chill until needed.

Celery and carrot sticks

Wash the vegetables, peel the carrots and cut them into one inch by 2-3 inch batons.