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Cha ca 9 September 2014

Posted by uggclogs in Cooking, food, Happiness, Vietnam.
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Since living in Hanoi, one of the foods I miss is cha ca – or grilled fish. The best grilled fish is to be had in the old quarter in Hanoi, of course. Nothing beats the scenery and the atmosphere of being at Cha Ca La Vong, the most famous (and possibly the most expensive) restaurant. When we first arrived in Hanoi, they were still cooking the fish on coals at the table, and the spluttering heat from the frying pan would invariably end up being a health and safety hazard. This is as close as I have managed to get with my recipe, I am sure it’s still not 100%. I have used and adapted several online versions to get as near to authentic as possible.

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Cha ca

This recipe is for two people, but I suggest you always make too much, as it is so delicious.

Ingredients:

– 500 g of firm, white fish. Ling fish is the best, but cod has worked for me in the past.
– 3-4 spring onions (echalottes will work, too, but are a bit firmer)
– 1 tsp of curry powder
– 1 tbs of tumeric
– 2 tbs fish sauce
– 1 tbs yogurt
– 1 tsp crushed garlic
– 4 tbs vegetable oil
– 1 large bunch of scallion/spring onions, cut on an angle
– 1 large handful of dill, roughly chopped
– Fresh rice noodles (or rice vermicelli, if noodles are not available)

Garnish:

– 1 cup of peanuts, slightly roasted
– 1 cup of bean sprouts
– lime wedges
– fish sauce
– 2-3 cups of Vietnamese mint, basil, coriander and other fresh herbs

Method:

– Cut the fish into cubes of about 2cm/ 1inch and set aside in a bowl.
– Cut the spring onion into very small pieces, as small as you can.
– Mix the cut onion, spices, half of the oil, fish sauce, and yogurt together, and add to the fish – make sure the fish is completely covered.
– Place a non-stick pan over high heat and add the peanuts. Move the nuts around until they start to brown. Remove the nuts from the pan and set aside.
– Place the pan back on the heat, add the remaining oil, and fry the fish until just cooked.
– While the fish is cooking, add the noodles to boiling water and cook briefly until tender and warm.
– Add the scallion and dill and cook a little longer, then serve.

To serve, use small bowls. Half-fill a bowl with noodles, add a couple of spoonfulls of fish and greenery on top. Add any combination of the ganishes that you wish/like. Eat with chopsticks.

Marble cake 16 May 2013

Posted by uggclogs in Baking, Cooking, food, Happiness, Life.
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Marble cake

It’s been a while since I have been baking, but last night I brushed off the old skills. I had no idea that I had become so rusty, and was making rookie mistake after rookie mistake! The result was still tasty, but I think I will have to relearn my old tricks by getting back into baking!

An oldie but a goodie – marble cake

Ingredients:
200g butter (room temperature) (mistake number 1: the butter I used was too cold. It needs to be soft, but not melted).
250g sugar
3 eggs
vanilla (1 tsp of essence, 2 tsp of vanilla sugar, OR 1 vanilla bean)
250g plain white flour
2 tsp baking powder
100ml butter milk
2 tsp cocoa

Bread tin, 175 degrees, 45-50 minutes

Method:
– Take all the ingredients out of the fridge and measure out the necessary amounts.
– Make sure the butter and all the other ingredients are at room temperature.
– Butter a bread tin and line the bottom with baking paper (mistake number 2: I forgot the lining, meaning the cake is still in the tim now.)
– Turn the oven on so it pre-heats to the correct temperature.
– Whisk the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Make sure it becomes a fluffy texture.
– Add an egg at the time, whisk until just combined between eggs.
– Add the vanilla, combine.
– Sift the flour and the baking powder into the mixture.
– FOLD the flour through the eggs to maintain as much of the air in it as you can.
– Fold the buttermilk through.
– Separate about 1/3 of the mixture into a separate mixing bowl, and sift the cocoa into it. Fold through gently.
– Pour another third of the vanilla mixture into the baking tin, then the cocoa mixture, then the remaining vanilla.
– Use a skewer to gently draw a line through the mixture (ziggzag about 2.5 cm apart one way, then the long way). Don’t overdo this.
– Place in oven, and leave to bake.

Enjoy with coffee!

This cake also freezes well.

Beef risotto 6 January 2013

Posted by uggclogs in Cooking, food, Happiness.
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I have been travelling lately, and have found that there is a real craving for risotto in Norway at the moment. Everyone wants to make it, but not everyone dares to give it a shot.

To be fair, risotto is not hard to make. Only time consuming, as you should not leave the pan or stop stirring. But it’s also easy to eat – traditionally there are no spices and overwhelming herbs used in them.

I normally make mine with chicken, but was cooking for someone allergic to fowl, so had to adapt and try with minced meat. So here is a little adaptation of a beef risotto! If, like my dad, you find it needs a bit more kick, you can add some cayenne pepper or chilli, but I like it this way.

Beef risotto

Ingredients

4 persons

1 tbs butter (or oil, but butter tastes better)
500 g minced beef

1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed

2 beef stock cubes
Water

1 glass of white cooking wine (omit if you so choose)
1 tin chopped tomatoes (400 g)
2 tbs tomato paste

2 cups arborio rice (other rice is possible, but not as nice)
1/2 cup frozen peas

Handful of shredded basil
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (get a block of cheese and grate it yourself for best results)

Sour cream and basil leaves to serve

Method

– brown the butter or heat the oil in a deep heavy based pan, and cook the minced meat. Remove the meat until further notice.
– add some more butter if necessary to the pan, and brown the onion and garlic.
– add the rice. Make sure you turn the heat down, and completely coat the rice with the remaining fat in the pan. Add the wine, and keep stirring. If not using wine, add the tomato here.
– pour water (about 0.5 litres initially) to a small separate pan to make stock. Add the stock cubes and bring to a simmer.
– when the wine is almost absorbed, add the cooked meat, tinned tomato and tomato paste to the pan. Again, wait to simmer and reduce, constantly stirring.
– every time the liquid reduces in the pan, add another bit of stock. Make sure the stock is warm, otherwise the cooking process of the rice will be halted and thus prolonging the time it takes to cook.
– test the rice by biting on a grain before adding more liquid, but watch out, it will be hot.
– keep adding hot liquid until soft. Note that you may need more than the stock, if so, boil some water to add at the end.
– add the peas.
– the risotto is done when the rice is cooked and a dollop of the risotto placed on a flat plate will sink slightly, without being runny.
– remove from the heat, add the basil and most of the cheese.
– serve with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of cheese and a basil leaf. And maybe a glass of wine.

Bon apetit!

Argentine staples 12 May 2012

Posted by uggclogs in Argentina, food, Travelling, Travels.
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Before arriving, I knew Argentina was famous for beef. So my first night here, I was taken to a regular restaurant, where the pride of the country was grilled and served.

And it truly is amazing; succulent and flavorsome. And getting the right cut is (apparently) quite important, with restaurants serving pretty much every part of the cow you might like. Argentina certainly is not the place to be for staunch vegetarians who can’t even stomach other people eating meat!

The next night, we went on a wine tasting adventure at a local wine merchant in Palermo. Absolutely wonderful wine from Mendoza (a region in west Argentina) including the famous Malbec wine, which is expensive, but heavenly. It was absolutely worth it, and a most cordial of evenings.

I also discovered I understand quite a lot more Spanish than I had expected. Bonus!

After wine, we ordered delivery of Empanadas (hot pockets of meat in pastry) which is another Argentina must-have.

I am so far loving the cuisine, and am dying to try more. I think brorsan’s fiancée said it best when describing the local cuisine as an enormous kids’ menu: everything is grilled and fried, delicious and unchallenging (so far)! But perhaps not exactly the healthiest.

But I am sure I will have a chance to find something more challenging soon (like vegetables?) so we’ll see. But good holiday so far.

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