Food: Peking jackfruit pancakes

This is a recipe to make a vegan version of my favourite takeaway dish: Peking duck pancakes. Its super easy to knock up and cheaper than going to the local Chinese 😉

To make the pancakes I used this recipe from the Queen of cookery herself, Nigella. It’s a great recipe and yields loads!

 

To make, you’ll need:

For the Peking Jackfruit:

  • 2 heaped tbs plum jam (I used my Nana’s homemade!)
  • 1 tbs golden syrup (agave/corn syrup also good)
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger (grated)
  • 1 tsp five spice
  • 1 tsp chilli paste
  • Glug of garlic infused oil
  • Glug of sesame oil
  • Dash of liquid smoke
  • 2 tbs Shaoxing  rice wine
  • 2 tbs Chinese black vinegar
  • 3 tbs dark soy sauce
  • 1 star anise
  • Splash of water
  • 1 tin green Jackfruit, drained
  • 1 tbs sour plum juice

Also:

  • 
3 spring onions, chopped
  • ⅓ of a cucumber, chopped
  • 4tbs hoisin sauce

To prepare the marinade:

Melt the plum jam in a saucepan with the golden syrup until it begins to caramelise. Agave or corn syrup are good alternatives. Reduce the heat and add the grated ginger, the five spice and the chilli paste and stir together. Add the oils to loosen the mixture and a dash of liquid smoke, the Shaoxing, black vinegar, soy sauce and a splash of water. The mixture should be heady, thick and aromatic. At this point you can add the star anise and let it simmer for ten minutes while you prepare the Jackfruit.

Begin by draining the water then cut the flesh away from the tough core. Cut the pieces into small chunks, stir into the mix when it’s ready and allow to cool. Let the Jackfruit marinade in the mixture for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

When it’s ready to cook, place them in a Dutch oven like a Le Creuset and bake in the oven with the lid off for about an hour at 140°c (fan) until dark and sticky.

The pancakes can be a bit fiddly but Nigella’s recipe is easy to follow and produces great results. They can take a bit of time to make so I’d recommend making them while the Jackfruit is cooking. After you’ve made them it’s important to steam the pancakes to give them that light and slightly translucent quality that the real ones have.

For the vegetables simply cut spring onions and cucumber into strips. Prepare a few ramekins for the Hoisin dipping sauce. Serve the whole thing on a platter and begin building!

 

I served the dish with an equally exotic cocktail, the Empress Wu with the flavours of plum, star anise, ginger and citrus – it perfectly compliments the Jackfruit dish.

For the Empress Wu cocktail you will need:

  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 4 shots of sour plum juice
  • Splash of ginger ale
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 shot orange liqueur
  • 2 shots Shaoxing rice wine
  • 200ml orange juice

Method:
In the first jug add grated ginger to 4 shots of sour plum juice (from a jar of plums – for a recipe on how to use said plums, check out my recipe for vegan apple,plum and ginger crumble). Combine with a splash of ginger ale, the juice of half a lemon and one star anise. Allow them to infuse for five minutes.

Strain the mixture into your serving jug (I used my Iittala Kartio jug – its simple, geometric form and its pop of green suited freshness of this cocktail). Add the orange liqueur and the Shaoxing. Top up the whole thing with orange juice and stir.

 

Enjoy!  享受!

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Food: Aubergine & mushroom Sweet & Sour

With Chinese New Year coming up, what better way than to celebrate than by making this plant-based version of your takeaway favourite? Here’s a secret- it’s gonna taste as good (if not better) and it’s so much cheaper!

Serves 4

To make, you’ll need:

  • 1 medium aubergine
  • 2 large white mushrooms
  • 5-6 chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 pak choi
  • Thumb size piece of ginger, grated
  • A glug of garlic oil
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 tin of pineapple chunks (in juice)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 dashes of light soy sauce
  • 3 tbs ketchup
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1tsp unrefined sugar
  • 1 heaped tbs plum jam (I used my Grandmother’s)
  • 1tbs pickled red pepper brine
  • 100g cornflower
  • salt & pepper
  • Oil, for frying

 

On the hob, start the sauce by adding the pineapple (juice and all) into a pan on low heat. Next, add the zest & lime juice and stir. Add the plum jam and stir until it dissolves. Next, add the ketchup, ginger and the chilli flakes (its aroma will start to become familiar by this point).

Scorch the red pepper on another one of the gas rings until it begins to catch and blacken slightly, then set aside to cool. If you don’t have a gas hob you can roast them on max for about half an hour until the skins start to blacken.

Once cool, chop the pepper into chunks and add to the sauce. Next, sprinkle in some unrefined sugar, a couple of dashes of light soy, pickle brine and a glug of garlic oil. Stir. To thicken add 1tsp cornflour, slaked in some lime juice. Pour in and stir continuously. Turn the heat up slightly until it reduces into a sticky sauce.

Now, to prepare the vegetables!

Whilst you’re cooking the sauce, it’s probably a good idea to chop up the aubergine into coins, place in a colander (over a bowl) and sprinkle them with salt. Then, by the time the sauce is ready, the aubergines should also be ready. Wipe them down with a piece of tissue and set them aside. Next, chop up the mushrooms into thick slices. Place all of the mushroom slices and aubergine on a plate. In a bowl, combine 100g cornflower with some salt & pepper. It’s time to start coating. Coat each slice in plenty of seasoned flour and place on another plate. Once it’s all done – I’d recommend a quick wipe up around the kitchen (cornflour gets everywhere!).

Next, coat a shallow pan with oil (I used my trusty shallow Dutch Oven) and place on the hob on the highest heat setting. Once the oil is hot enough, drop the floury vegetables (in small batches) into the oil and they’ll instantly start to crisp up. Turn a few times, so they don’t burn. Place onto a third plate lined with paper towel. Once the excess oil has been drained off, place in yet another bowl/plate (sorry). When it’s all fried up and crispy, set aside.

With each batch you’ll need to add a glug more oil and open the windows/turn on fans for this one, as it does get smoky!

Next, wash and chop some pak choi, along with a couple of spring onions. Put the sauce back on the heat and add. Once the pak choi begins to wilt, fold in the mushrooms and aubergine. The colour of the sauce at this point should have darkened into a rich red. Keep folding until it’s heated through. To finish, serve with some fluffy boiled rice and garnish with some more spring onion.

I hope you all have a great Chinese New Year!

Gong Xi Fa Cai/ Gong Hey Fat Choy/ 恭禧发财!!!

Food: Korma mash stack with Marsala chickpeas

Here’s a recipe for a tasty, easy and satisfying Indian inspired mid-week meal.

You’ll need:

For the korma mash:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom,
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Garam Marsala
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbs Coconut milk (tinned)
  • 2 tbs Nigella/kalonji seeds
  • Drizzle of sunflower oil
  • Salt & pepper

For the Marsala chickpeas:

  • A drizzle of sunflower oil
  • 2 tbs tomato purée
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tbs of garlic infused oil
  • Half an onion, chopped finely
  • A sprinkle of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp  ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbs tomato ketchup
  • 2 tsp Garam Marsala
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger/ground ginger
  • 1 tsp hot curry powder
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper

To start, get a deep Dutch oven/casserole dish and place the sweet potatoes in their skin along with drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 40 minutes with the lid on, this should both roast and steam the sweet potatoes. After this they should be tender enough to pull apart with a fork (depending on the size of your potatoes, of course. If not, simply put them back in until done). Place into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Once cool, the skin should peel away effortlessly. Place the orange flesh back into the Dutch oven and mash until a smooth purée, then put it on the hob on a low heat. Next, add in the spices and cook the mixture until they have infused the mash with the subtle flavours of South Asia, then add in the coconut milk and Nigella seeds. You’ll want to use the thick and creamy tinned coconut milk, rather than the coconut milk you get in a carton. Stir these in until you have a creamy and speckled mash. Season to taste and with the lid on, set aside. Essentially the hard work has been done, the rest comes together very quickly.

Drizzle a frying pan with a little sunflower oil and place on the hob on a medium heat. Add in the chopped onion and fry off until translucent. If you’re using fresh ginger, now would be the time to add it, along with the tomato purée. Then it’s time to add the myriad of spices. Cook it all out until the spices have infused the purée, then add in the drained chickpeas. You should hear them sizzle as they enter the pan. Add in the garlic oil and fry off for a few minutes. With a final blast of seasoning, some ketchup for sweetness and a squeeze of lemon juice they should be done – and you could leave it at that, but for an extra level of texture, spread the spiced chickpeas on to a baking tray and place in the oven for 8-10 minutes. They should start getting slightly crisp.

To assemble, I used a chef’s ring. Simply place on the place and fill 3/4 full with the mash mixture, then top up with the Marsala chickpeas. Garnish with some chopped coriander and voilà – tis done.  We served ours with a lemon, gin, mint and cucumber cocktail, which perfectly compliments the spicy dish with fresh and summery cool.

 

 

Food: Honey Soy chicken & grapefruit salad

As the weather has miraculously changed this week, I thought a summery dinner was needed. So, on Sunday, before I went to work I got two frozen chicken breasts out of the freezer, (NATURALLY, VEGETARIANS/VEGANS CAN SUBSTITUTE THE CHICKEN FOR TOFU) and put them on a plate to defrost. After I came home I made the all important marinade:

  • 3-4tsbp dark soy sauce
  • a big spoonful of honey (Vegans could substitute it for Agave, I wanted to use some local honey gifted by my plumber who also keeps bees)
  • 1 tsp of light soy sauce
  • a generous amount of chilli powder – Fresh chilli would be best
  • a thumb size amount of ginger, grated
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp chinese Black vinegar
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 200ml orange juice
  • a splash of garlic infused oil

I marinated the now defrosted chicken for a couple of hours and then stuck it in a foiled tin and poached it on a medium heat until cooked and tender.

Leave to cool, and strain the cooking marinade. DON’T THROW AWAY, IT’S COOKING GOLD, YOU COULD USE IT AS A BROTH BASE, OR WHAT I DID AND USED IT TO MAKE THE DRESSING.

Refrigerate the chicken and leave for the following day.

Yesterday evening, I flaked the chicken into chunks. Got the bowl out for my salad, I used my huge 11″ Lotus design Deka plastic bowl- Based on the famous Cathrineholm enamel bowls by Arne Clausen.

In the mean time I cut and segmented a pink grapefruit. To the strained liquor, add in some toasted sesame seeds and a squeeze of grapefruit juice, from the offcuts from preparing it to make a nice sesame & soy dressing.

Now to assemble the salad:

  • Empty a bag of baby spinach leaves and a handful of rocket, place in the bowl, pour a bit of the dressing
  • Add in half a cucumber, chopped into strips and two chopped spring onions (save some for garnishing)
  • Now, add in the chicken, then the grapefruit segments and mix.
  • Pour a bit more dressing on, and sprinkle some toasted black sesame seeds and the remainder of the spring onions.

C’est fini!

We served this with a nice orange, lemon and ginger cocktail- served in my stunning Kaj Franck designed Iitala Kartio carafe that Tom Brought back from his travels in America. To make, mince a bit of ginger ( thumb size I’d reckon) and steep in another 200ml of orange juice. Add 2 shots of vodka to the carafe – I used my fave, Finlandia. once steeped enough to your liking, strain and top up with lemonade.

Serve and cheers ;D

 

Food: Tonight’s dinner

Finishing late on Tuesdays (with German) doesn’t leave much time to do the weekly shop, which is why I’d normally do it on Monday, but stupidly I forgot.

Getting back at ten past 7, belly rumbling, I needed to eat. Normally, one would just go for the easy option of ordering a takeaway, but not ScandiNathan.

At the back of the freezer we had one of these pulled-beef brisket joints from Asda – following the food trend of pulled-pork etc, so we decided to jazz it up. Looking in the cupboards, I decided an Asian American inspired dish was in order.

So, after defrosting the joint, I added 2 tbs of organic miso paste, 2 tbs of dark soy sauce, 1 chili (chopped), 2tsp of chili powder, 1tsp Shichimi powder, 2tsp of sesame seeds, 1tsp of sweet chili sauce, 1 tbs Chinese black vinegar, a thumb size amount of grated ginger, 1sp of honey and a couple of drops of liquid smoke into the pot, a Le Creuset Dutch oven in my case. Lid on, it went into a preheated oven (180°C fan) for 30 minutes.

Now for the accompaniments: the wedges.

Prick a couple of sweet potatoes and place into the microwave until soft, once out cut into wedges and place them into the bowl of marinade:

  • 3tbs of sunflower oil
  • 1 heaped tbs of organic miso paste
  • 1tbs of dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of mirin

Once the wedges are liberally coated, sprinkle them with black sesame seeds and place into the oven until dark with the glaze and crispy.

Now, the ‘slaw.

We used roughly quarter of a head of white cabbage, shredded, half an onion, chopped, and 1 carrot, julienned for the coleslaw. All standard so far, but it was the dressing, which made it pan-Asian:

  • 4 tbs of mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp of white wine vinegar
  • 2tsp of shichimi powder
  • 1tsp mirin
  • 1tsp German Mustard (Because I wanted to try it out 😉 ) feel free to use any mustard here, or wasabi would work well too!
  • 1tbs black sesame seeds,
  • Salt & pepper

Mix, and season accordingly.

Once 30 minutes had passed, take the meat out and break it up with a fork and place back in the oven for a further 5 minutes.

While this was in I made one of the toppings for the sandwich, the soy charred onions, by placing 2tsp of sunflower oil into the pan with 1tbs of dark soy sauce and 10g of muscovado sugar. Place thinly cut onion rings (made with the other half of the onion from coleslaw) into the mixture and cook until almost tar-like in appearance.

Nearly at the finishing line, it was time to make the sandwich. Cut the sourdough roll (although an amazing alternative would be a Chinese bao bun!) and for the first layer place some homemade New York pickled cucumber on the bun (New York style alluding to the spices/herbs in a New York Deli, so the cucumber was cured with caraway and mustard seeds), then place a heaped spoonful of the brisket on top, then the charred onions, then place some Japanese pickles on top (I had made some, ages ago using sugar, salt, rice wine vinegar, shichimi powder, fresh chopped chilli, chopped spring onions and julienned carrots. The pickles, which started, quite mild had taken on the punchiness of the chili, which was amazing. Finish with a fistful ball of rocket (arugula)….again alluding to the New York deli-fusion vibe and the top of the bun.

Plate up and devour with a smile.