Hot & Sour Prawn Noodle Soup

You know those really old Asian cookery books with the ancient faded photographs that make every recipe look unappetising? Well this recipe is form on of those. I know those pictures can be really off putting, but I often find that old recipe books are the best for fool proof flavoursome dishes and this one is no different. There is something nostalgic about an old recipe book. I often wonder who’s cooked from it and how long it’s been around. But, hopefully my photograph looks a little more appetising. 
I made this dish yonks ago with my fiend Emily and I’ve been pestering her for the recipe ever since because it was so delicious and simple. Emily is also a keen cook, so we love nothing more than a midweek get together for cooking up a tasty meal, obviously washed down with a nice wine or, in this case, Thai beer.
This delicately light noodle soup would make the perfect Thai starter or lunch, although we made it for dinner; it’s actually more filling than you might imagine. It’s a myriad of flavours, from the sour element of lime leaves and oyster sauce to the hot of the chilli and fish sauce; it really packs a punch. The soup has a wonderful aroma when cooking; sure to make everyone hungry and the six chillies certainly give it a spicy edge, which I love. It would make for brilliant diet food as it’s ridiculously low in calories but packed with flavour, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out.

Serves 4
1tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 shallots, grated
2.5cm piece of ginger, thinly sliced
4-5 small red chillies, finely chopped
1.5 litres chicken stock
3 kaffier lime leaves, sliced
10cm piece of lemon grass, chopped
225g rice vermicelli noodles
20 large peeled prawns
6 tbsp fish sauce
6 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp palm or brown sugar
16 mushrooms, sliced
Coriander leaves, to garnish
Heat the oil in a saucepan, then stir-fry the garlic, shallots, ginger and chilli for about 1 minute. Pour in the chicken stock, add the lime leaves and lemon grass and bring to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, soak the rice vermicelli for 3 minutes, rinse, drain and divide equally among four bowls. Add the prawns, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and mushrooms to the soup, and then simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Pour the soup into the bowls and sprinkle with coriander leaves. Serve immediately. 


Thai Peanut Curry with Chicken

I want to offer my apologies for practically disappearing off the face of Blogger for the past 2 weeks. The truth is everything has been a little crappy of late. My boyfriend and I decided it was high time we called it day with our relationship. After all life is about moving forward and we certainly weren’t doing that. But alas, it is a new year and what better time to ring out the changes?
It’s no secret that Friday is my favourite day of the week, the promise of two enjoyable days off work is enough to make anyone excited, yet the weather continues to disrupt our plans and mean we are potentially stuck in the house. Nevertheless, I have just the recipe to make you feel warm and satisfied on such a cold and snowy night. This, I assure you, will become a firm favourite.
I cooked this for the first time this week for my friend Karly, who has never eaten Thai food before. Can you actually believe that? I certainly couldn’t. So after much bewilderment and repeatedly asking “you’ve really never tried Thai food before?” we decided that it was about time she did.   
The real beauty of this curry is that it can all come together in under 30 minutes, so if you fancy giving Jamie Oliver a run for his money this is the best place to start. When you think about authentic Asian recipes you’d expect that for that amount of flavour there would be hundreds of ingredients and hours of marinating, but this recipe, although quick, does not compromise on flavour, so why not give it a try?
Yes in my greed i really did over fill my bowl 🙂

2 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts or 4 boneless skinless thighs, chopped into chunks
1 can of coconut milk
1 pack baby corn
2 red chillies, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
Half pack of fresh coriander, chopped
1 large banana shallot, diced
4 tbsp Thai red curry past
4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
4 tbsp unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Thai rice to serve
Heat the oil in a large wok or pan, add the shallot, garlic, chilli and about a tablespoon of the chopped coriander. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes ensuring the onion and garlic do not burn. Then add the chicken and continue to cook for a further 6 minutes.
Stir in the curry paste and peanut butter; once this has liquefied into a thick paste add the fish sauce, soy, lime juice and sugar followed by the can of coconut milk. Stir well and continue to cook for 5 minutes, and then add the baby corn and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Serve the curry on a bed of Thai rice, garnish with chopped coriander, chilli and peanuts.
Serves 4

Thai chilli chicken and Pad Thai noodles

After visiting my favourite Thai restaurant for lunch last week, I discovered an amazing chilli chicken dish which I just had to recreate at home. Often it’s not difficult to work out what’s in the dish, use your eyes, and your half way there, then your taste and et viola! So that’s where I started.
Now, I’m certainly no expert, but it’s a good idea to remember that there are a few fundamental basics in Thai food; and if you follow them you can’t go far wrong. Start with chilli, ginger, garlic and Thai basil, which together create that notorious Thai flavour.

I quite literally would have made this the next day if I could find Thai basil. Something I’d overlooked was that it is just out of season, so it was a little more difficult to find than I’d first thought. I searched supermarkets, called garden centres, and just when I thought I’d have to order it online, pay a ridiculous delivery cost and wait a gruelling 3-4 days for delivery I stumbled upon some in Waitrose. This made my day!
Normally, I encourage people to experiment with recipes, change ingredients to suit their taste (after all, there a no strict rules, you don’t have to stick to a recipe), that’s the true beauty of cooking and recipe development. However, on this occasion you must not substitute the Thai basil for any other type, it is such a key flavour in this dish.  Thai basil has a strong aniseed flavour and the aroma is just heavenly.

To accompany the chilli chicken I decided on Pad Thai noodles, mainly because it’s one of my favourites, but also because you can get some great readymade Pad Thai sauces and pastes to help you along the way. Of course, you can go all out and make it from scratch, if you have the time, but the shop bought pastes really are very good.
Another must with this recipe is Singha beer to wash it all down. Perfect!

For the Thai chilli chicken (see below for the Pad Thai)
380g chicken cut into strips
2 tbsp olive oil
4 fresh Thai finger chillies, red or mixed
4 cloves of garlic chopped
3cm piece of ginger grated
100ml soy sauce
Bunch Thai basil (must be Thai basil, you cannot substitute ordinary basil)
2 banana shallots thinly sliced
1 pack bean sprouts
1 lime
Packet of Sharwood’s Thai spiced crackers
2 Singha Beers
  1. Start by placing your chicken in a shallow dish; add the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, half of the Thai basil and three of the Thai chillies, mix together with your hands until evenly combined. Leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes, but if you have the time, a couple of hours is best. 
  2. Add the olive oil to a wok or frying pan, set on a medium heat and add the chicken, making sure you use all of the marinade, stir fry for about 6 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
  3. Add the shallots and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, ensuring you stir continuously to prevent the chicken or shallots from burning. Add the bean sprouts and cook for 2-3 minutes. Squeeze over the juice of half a lime.
  4. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of Thai basil, wedges of lime and chopped chilli to garnish (this extra chopped chilli adds a real kick, so if you prefer a milder taste just leave this out).

For the prawn Pad Thai:
150g rice noodles
5 tbsp Pad Thai paste
1 fresh red Thai finger chilli
3 tbsp roughly chopped peanuts or cashews
2 tbsp olive oil
200g cooked king prawns
1 large egg beaten
  1. Soak the rice noodles in a large covered bowl of boiling water for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the olive oil to a pan and cook the prawns over a medium heat for 3 minutes, until heated through.
  3. Add the beaten egg to the pan, reduce the heat and stir continuously. The egg should be slightly scrambled, but not completely cooked.
  4. Add half of the Pad Thai paste and allow to heat through before adding the noodles and other half of the paste. Stir fry for 3 minutes, adding half of the peanuts at the last minute.
  5. Serve the Pad Thai with the remaining peanuts and a freshly chopped chilli to garnish.

Serves:                               2
Preparation time:             10 minutes
Cooking time:                  30 minutes
If you try your hand at this one, let me know what you think and how it turns out. Also, if you make any alterations come back and share them!  
If, like me, you struggle to find Thai basil you can order it online from Thai Food Online, or just try Waitrose first!
This recipe is very spicy, the way good Thai food should be. But, if your not so brave just reduce the amount of chilli. I would advise you to go as hot as possible, but obviously the aim is to enjoy it, so I’ll leave that up to you.