Pork

Noodles with kale, pork and sesame

kaleporkstirfry.jpg

What I love about the internet is that you can search quickly for a recipe based on what’s in your fridge. There’s no trawling through badly indexed recipe books in the vague hope of finding something suitable.

And the internet is exactly how I found this one – in a rush when we were starving and my husband was reaching for the takeaway menu.

It’s not going to win any gourmet awards but it’s perfectly tasty and a good dish to have in your repertoire of quick, easy (and relatively nutritious) weekday dinners.

Noodles with kale, pork and sesame

Serves 2

  • 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
  • 250g of pork mince
  • 200g of kale, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced (or ¼ teaspoons of dried chilli flakes)
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • A thumb sized piece of fresh root ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of kecap manis (Malaysian sweet soy sauce – or use regular soy sauce with a teaspoon of sugar)
  • 3 spring onions, trimmed and shredded
  • A pack of straight to wok noodles (I buy mine from Lidl, you get two small portions in a pack and I use both)

Optional (i.e. don’t be put off making this if you don’t have these in your fridge)

  • A tablespoon of fresh mint, chopped
  • A tablespoon of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Lime wedges or bottled lime juice, to serve

Put the kale in a small saucepan, add a tiny splash of water, put a lid on and turn the heat up high until the water is steaming. Then turn off the heat and leave for a few minutes to wilt.

Stir fry the sesame seeds and pork mince until cooked through and a deep brown colour (about 5 minutes on high). You should not need any extra oil as the mince has a high enough fat content as it is.

Add the kale, chilli, garlic and ginger to the pan and stir over a high heat for a few minutes. Add the kecap manis and sesame oil and stir again. Then add the noodles and stir fry until the noodles are cooked through. Finally add the spring onions and fresh herbs and mix well.

Serve with lime wedges.

Meatballs with brown ale gravy

meatballsbrownale.jpg

I made these last week and they were fantastic – comforting and homely with a good old-fashioned meatball taste (more school dinner or granny’s kitchen than IKEA). Ben said they tasted just like faggots but I disagreed (there is no offal involved for starters, which is good because I hate offal). Everyone in our house loved them and I will definitely be making them again.

I recently began a subscription to Honest Brew beer delivery service. The idea behind it being that I should drink LESS but BETTER beer. It’s expensive (£36 a month for 12 beers, which I have to share with Ben!) but I drink less so it sort of evens itself out. I get very excited when the delivery arrives (sad, I know). Aside from interesting tasting beers I take a huge amount of pleasure in the beautifully designed beer labels – the creative collaboration between illustrators and craft beer makers is a truly wonderful thing indeed.

I used this tasty little number from Siren Craft Brew for the beer gravy with my meatballs.

beerlabel.jpg

Tom Kerridge’s pork meatballs in brown ale gravy

Makes 24 meatballs

For the meatballs

  • 600g of good quality minced pork
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 100g of dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons of English mustard
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of dried sage (I used fresh because this was all I had)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 1 egg

For the gravy

  • 2 shallots or small onions, skin on and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, skin on and roughly chopped
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 300ml of brown ale
  • 500ml of chicken stock (homemade is best but readymade is fine)

Fry the diced onion gently in a little oil until soft (about 10 minutes) and leave to cool (I missed this bit by accident and added it to the meatball mix raw – the results were still good).

In a large bowl add all the meatball ingredients and mix thoroughly with your hands. The more you mix the better the meatballs will hold together. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill in the fridge overnight (or for at least an hour).

Divide the mixture into quarters and then divide each quarter into six and roll each portion into a ball so you have 24 meatballs. Put them on a plate and cover and chill again for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Fry the meatballs in a little vegetable oil until well browned on all sides. They do not need to be cooked all the way through. Put them into an oven proof serving dish.

Turn on the oven to 190oC.

To make the gravy, put the onion, garlic, rosemary and 250ml of beer in a saucepan. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and almost all the beer has evaporated. Add the stock and reduce by about a third.

Pour the gravy through a sieve over the meatballs and bake them (uncovered) in the oven for 20 minutes until the gravy has thickened and the meatballs are cooked through.

To finish pour in the remaining beer, sprinkle over some fresh sage (or I used parsley) and give everything a good stir. I thought it sounded strange to add ‘raw’ beer to the mix at the end but trust me it really does work.

Tom serves his meatballs with buttered peas and mushrooms. I served mine with homemade potato wedges (I  really wanted oven chips). But they would also be good with mash, rice, spaghetti – pretty much anything really.

meatballswithchips

Pork with cashew nuts, lime and mint

pork lime cashews

I was rather mean about Nigel Slater in a recent blog post and it’s been bothering me. Being horrible doesn’t sit well with me – I was just trying (and failing) to be clever and cutting like many journalists (forgetting that I am not clever, or indeed a journalist). So I’m sorry Nigel, as I constantly remind my children, how someone looks should never be important.

And my view that Nigel is a really good food writer was strengthened recently when I picked up his recipe book ‘Real Food’ in a charity shop. It was written 16 years ago and it’s brilliant. A no nonsense cookbook, full of straightforward recipes with big flavours – just the sort of food I like. It also includes several Nigella recipes (from the time before she was on the telly).

I’ve tried a few recipes but so far this ‘pork with cashews, lime and mint’ is my favourite. It’s punchy, refreshing and just perfect for a Sunday evening when you’ve drunk a little too much over the weekend. If you like powerful flavours and a feeling that you’ve in some way cleansed your body then you should definitely give this dish a go.

Nigel Slater’s pork with cashew nuts, lime and mint (in my own words)

Serves 2

  • 400g of pork fillet (trim off as much fat as possible, then cut into 1/2 inch thick medallions and cut these into thin strips)
  • 5 tablespoons of groundnut oil
  • 90g of cashew nuts (finely chopped with a knife or roughly crushed in a pestle and mortar)
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • a 4cm knob of ginger, finely shredded
  • 4 small red chillies, finely chopped, (or I use 1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes)
  • The zest and juice of 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • a handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • a handful of basil leaves, torn

Pour three tablespoons of oil into a really hot wok and stir fry the pork for three or four minutes, keeping the heat high and stirring from time to time so that it browns nicely. Tip the meat into a bowl along with any juices.

Return the wok to the heat and add the remaining oil. Add the spring onions, garlic, ginger and chillies and fry for a minute, stirring constantly so that they don’t stick or burn.

Then add the nuts and stir fry for another minute.

Add the meat back to the pan, along with any juices and stir in the lime zest and juice and fish sauce. Fry for a couple of minutes and then stir in the herbs.

Serve with plain rice.

Lovely little dumplings – Gyoza

gyoza

I adore Japanese food and I’ve had a mini obsession with gyoza (Japanese dumplings) since I first had them in Wagamamas 15 years ago.

When I was travelling in Tokyo my love affair even led me to seek out a ‘Gyoza Stadium’ (inside Namja Town a rather bonkers video game theme park featuring a strange cartoon girl and a ghost cat!!!) which had a whole ‘street’ of booths selling hundreds of types of gyoza. I was expecting a taste sensation but the dumplings I tried there were a bit disappointing. I decided (dare I say it) that I preferred the anglicised Wagamama’s version back home.

This recipe takes the Europeanisation of gyoza one step further and uses home-made pasta sheets as the dumpling wrappers. I came across the idea in Jamie Oliver’s ‘The Return of the Naked Chef’ and I think it works really well. If you’re not into making your own pasta then you could use ready-made gyoza wrappers  which you can buy from Asian supermarkets. The filling is similar to Jamie’s recipe but I form mine into half-moon shapes and cook by frying on one side and then steaming in the same pan – which I believe is more traditional.

These are a labour of love and you have to have a calm head as they are rather fiddly to assemble. In my view though, they are definitely, definitely worth it.

Gyoza

Makes about 20 (enough for 4 people as a starter)

Pasta

  • 110g 00 flour, or plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • A dash of oil (use a tasteless oil, not olive oil)
  • A pinch of salt

Filling

  • 150g pork (I use the scraggy ends of a piece of pork filet)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 10g ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander, including stalks
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 8 water chestnuts (from a small tin)
  • A good pinch of salt
  • A little black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of groundnut oil for frying
  • A ladleful of hot water

Preparing the filing
To make the filing whizz up the ginger and garlic in a food processor or mini chopper. Then add all the other filling ingredients (meat, lemon juice, coriander, sesame oil, chestnuts, salt and pepper) and blitz again until relatively smooth.

Making the wrappers
Put all of the pasta ingredients in a bowl and mix together with your hands until it comes together in a ball. Lightly flour your work surface and knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Clamp your pasta machine to your work surface and set the machine to its thickest setting. Start by flattening the ball a little with your hands and then run through the machine. Keep rolling the piece through the machine changing for thinner and thinner settings until you reach the thinnest setting possible.

Cut out circles of pasta with a 7cm diameter cutter. Put the offcuts back through the pasta machine and cut out more circles, repeating until you have run out of dough. You should be able to get at least 20 circles from this amount of dough.

Assembling the gyoza
Put a small dollop of filling into the centre of each pasta circle. Lightly water the edge of the circle with your finger and fold the circle in half. Seal the edges and then pleat around the edge as in the photo below.

gyoza uncooked

This is a little laborious so make yourself a nice pot of tea, or pour yourself a glass of wine and set about it with a calm head. If you’re in the right frame of mind then it’s actually rather enjoyable.

Put each gyoza onto a cling film covered board sprinkled with a little semolina or flour to stop them sticking.

Cooking the gyoza
Heat a tablespoon of groundnut oil in a frying pan until hot. Add the gyoza to the pan and fry until they are golden on one side. Add a ladleful of boiling water to the pan and then immediate put a lid on and steam the gyoza in the pan for 4-5 minutes until the water has evaporated and the dumplings are cooked through. Serve immediately.

Serving
I like to make a dipping sauce using 3 parts soy sauce to 1 part rice wine, garnished with some coriander and red chilli.

NOTE: You can also make this recipe using chicken or prawns instead of pork.

My little helper.

My little helper.

Mmmm curry

thai pork curry

This is one of several recipes from my little pink Chiang Mai Cookery School recipe book that I use all the time. When I was on my world trip (a long time ago now) I did what every sweaty English tourist seems to do in Thailand and spent a day learning to cook Thai food. Oh my goodness it was the hottest  I’ve ever been in my whole life, and standing up all day over a steaming wok meant that I did actually pass out at one stage (very, very embarrassing). Worse than that, it was a pregnant lady who came to help me out my offering me her chair. Despite this, the course was excellent and the free recipe book that came home with me has proved to be invaluable.

I’ve just looked on line and the cookery school is still in existence although it is 9 years now since I was there so I can’t vouch for whether it is still good or not. You do still get a free recipe book though. http://www.thaicookeryschool.com/

This recipe is great when you’re cooking for guests or when you need something really quick and easy as it takes less than 15 minutes to cook. I cooked this in a holiday cottage for my friends at the weekend and it went down very well indeed.

Red curry with pork from the Chiang Mai Cookery School

Serves 4

  • 3 large pork fillets
  • 1 x 400 ml tin of coconut milk
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of Mae Ploy red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
  • A good handful of Thai basil leaves
  • 3 small yellow courgettes cut into 1 ½ cm cubes

Since you don’t cook the pork for very long or brown it to crisp up the fat you need to make sure it is as lean as possible for this dish. Take your time and remove all the fat and silver skin from the pork fillets and chop into medallions about half a cm thick. Then add the red curry paste and rub it into the pork with your hands until it is evenly coated. Set aside.

Put the coconut milk into a wok and fry for 3-5 minutes on a medium high heat, stirring continuously, the milk will bubble and start to thicken a little. Then add the pork and cook until the outside of the meat is cooked. Add the courgettes and simmer until the pork and courgette are cooked through. I put a lid on at this point and find that it usually takes about 5-7 minutes. I keep an eagle eye on things and keep testing the pork so as not to overcook it.

Combine the sugar, fish sauce and lime juice in a small bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then add to the wok with half the basil leaves and stir to combine.

Serve with the remaining basil leaves sprinkled over the top and a good pile of rice (see my post ‘Nice Rice’).

Notes:

Don’t be tempted to use other pork cuts for this dish however lean. I tried pork steaks and it tasted fine but the meat was ever so tough. The dish does work well with chicken breast however.

I add courgettes because they are in season but the original recipe doesn’t include any veg. I think they work well in this dish but would leave them out if they weren’t in season.

I’ve tried making my own curry paste but the Mae Ploy one is so good that I really don’t think it is worth the bother. Whatever you do though don’t buy what they call red curry ‘sauce’ which they sell in jars.

thai cookery school

Back in the day at the Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School.
Spot a sweaty me inspecting potatoes at the market.