Smoked Chicken, Wild Mushrooms, Sweet Basil, Coconut & Galangal Soup

Poached chicken, coconut & galingal soup (photo by Kaleem Hyder)

Photo from Farang by Kaleem Hyder

I have just spent the weekend in sunny Birmingham at the BBC Good Food Show cooking with the Thai Embassy on the Thai World Stage to help promote Thai produce and cuisine. I’ve never been to Birmingham before, although I have to say it felt like more like Kingston, Jamaica at 34 degrees- it’s been an absolute scorcher!

The show was a good crack actually, apart from it taking place at the NEC in Birmingham which has to be one of the most boring places on the planet- it reminded me of the film ‘The Truman Show’, where you feel you will walk through a door and hit a cardboard cut out of another door if you’re not careful. All the same the show was great and I’ve come back excited to get another recipe up on ‘Articuleat‘.

In this heat I wanted to cook something quick, effortless, light and tasty as fuck so I went for this soup. This soup can be made in many different variations, a few of which can be found in my book ‘Cook Thai‘ if you ever feel like giving them a go. It only takes a few bits and pieces and around 10-15 minutes to make and all of the ingredients can be found easily in most supermarkets these days. If you’re feeling really exotic throw in some king prawns to this soup too- awesome!

Ingredients Serves 2 / Vegetarian option

1 chicken breast, skin and fat removed, sliced into rough 2cm by 2cm pieces, directions for smoking in recipe  (do not use if vegetarian, ha)

1/4 butternut squash, roughly 50g, peeled and sliced into rough 2cm by 2 cm pieces (pumpkin can be used instead)

8 Thai Shallots, peeled and slightly bruised in a pestle

2 green birds eye chillies, bruised in a pestle

2 kaffir lime leaves, torn slightly

2 sticks lemongrass, chopped into 2 cm long pieces and bruised in a pestle

10g, galangal, peeled and chopped into 2 cm long pieces and bruised in a pestle

2 coriander roots, cleaned, washed and bruised in a pestle

½ teaspoon coarse sea salt

2-3 tablespoons fish sauce (soy sauce if vegetarian)

200ml chicken stock (vegetable stock if vegetarian)

300ml coconut cream

10g, Thai sweet basil (normal basil will do)

50g, assorted wild mushrooms (I use enoki, shittaki and emoji mushrooms)

1 lime, juiced

Method

Before I get started with the recipe I’ll delve a little into explaining how to smoke the chicken. In this recipe I cold smoke my chicken which can be done very easily when you’re at home. This means that I will be adding the smoke flavour from the wood to the meat, without cooking it. All you need is some smoking wood chips, a pan, a colander and some cling film. Place a small handful of wood chips into the pan and heat the pan up until the wood chips set alight within the pan. Once this happens put the flames out with a little water, this will cause the chips to smoke heavily. at this stage place the chicken in the colander and then put the colander upon the smoking pan, then quickly cling film the whole thing so it is air tight with no smoke leaving the cling film. This will leave the chicken inside a smoke vacuum, with minimal oxygen so the wood chips will not be hot but will smoke a lot. If this is left untouched for 20 minutes the smokey flavour would have penetrated the meat, the longer you leave it the smokier the flavour.

Firstly, in a small sauce pan bring a little water to the boil and then submerge the squash into it, then turn down to a simmer, continue to gently cook for around 3-4 minutes until soft but not quite cooked and then remove from the heat and put aside for a few minutes (at this stage you might as well leave it in the hot water as we are to use it straight away).

Next place the chicken stock, 100ml of the coconut cream, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, sea salt, galangal, coriander roots, birds eye chillies, lemongrass, lime leaves, butternut squash and Thai shallots and mushrooms into a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Once simmering add the chicken pieces and continue to cook gently for 4-5 minutes until all chicken is cooked and all vegetables have softened with flavours infused.

Finish by adding the rest of the coconut cream and the sweet basil and the dishing out into bowls. Lastly check the seasoning, it should be creamy, salty, a little spicy, aromatic with a fresh hint of lime at the end, adjust if needs be.

Thanks very much for stopping by at ‘Articuleat’ and I hope you have enjoyed your stay. I always look forward to your feedback so please don’t hesitate to get in touch for any reason whatsoever – I will reply as swiftly as possible.

 

See you next time,

Eat Well,

Sebbyholmes

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Banana Jam with Peanut & Toasted Coconut Praline, Salted Coconut Cream and Lime

Banana Jam with Peanut & Toasted Coconut Praline, Salted Coconut Cream and LimeFunnily enough I got the inspiration to make this dish when I got chatting to a local Thai chef in Brixton. I was aimlessly walking around ‘Wing Tai’, one of my local oriental supermarkets. I was, as I find myself lots these days, lost in the weird and wonderful labyrinth of Asian produce; this must have been pretty obvious to the outside world as this guy felt the need to take time out of his own day and offer me a hand.

He asked, “What is it you’re looking for, what are you going to make?” to which I swiftly and unhelpfully replied “something that I have never made, seen, or heard of before”. To this I half expected him to instantly assume that I was a bit of a fruit loop and see himself off, however he asked, “Do you like Jam?” – “Yes” I replied (please don’t ask me to come for breakfast!!!). “Do you like bananas?” –umm… Yes” I replied (please, please, please don’t ask me to come for breakfast!!!), “how about banana jam?” – “few… I mean yes that sounds delicious”.

All jokes aside he was an extremely nice man, as he even wrote down a rough guide for me to come home and try (and if you’re reading this I would happily come for breakfast).

Now I have made many Jams in my time, however I have never heard of banana jam, this is why I thought it a perfect recipe to include on Articuleat. I love cooking things for the first time, not only do you learn a new recipe but, especially with Asian cuisine, you gain a wider perspective of certain ingredients. I have now been cooking Thai cuisine professionally for over a year and every day is a school day – exciting stuff. Saying this, I don’t think this dish could strictly be categorized as Asian (it’s more fusion), but it did find its way into my recipe book via a Thai chef and his mother’s recipe, so screw it – lets say it’s Asian.

After making this a few times I have changed the recipe slightly to ‘articuleatise’ it. He recommended using gelatin to set it (no thanks); I have used natural pectin as a setting agent. Pectin is a chemical found in fruits (predominantly apples), that can be used to set jams and jellies. As bananas contain such a small amount of pectin naturally, it is necessary to add a little more to guide it towards setting like a normal jam.

He also recommended serving it with tinned coconut cream, however here at Articuleat that just won’t do. For my recipe I have cracked and pressed my own coconut cream. This is a much lengthier process but the final product is in a league of its own. Any tinned coconut cream always has a certain aftertaste to it – this is all the preservatives that it is packed full of. If you ever find the time I recommend that you try cracking your own coconut cream.

Lastly I grated and toasted the remaining coconut flesh and included it in the peanut praline. This adds a little necessary texture to the dish. Although this is an unusual form to see these ingredients in, they compliment each other perfectly in this dish. The salted coconut cream balances out the softly sweet and sharp banana jam, all topped with a crunchy peanut praline and a squeeze of lime – perfect.

Apologies if any anonymous Thai chefs from around the Brixton area have suffered emotional trauma during the reading of this recipe – please do send me a complaint and I will reply as swiftly as possible.

Anyway, that’s enough from me for today – happy jamming.

Ingredients

(For the coconut cream)

-8 coconuts, cracked with a hammer and peeled to the flesh (if you want, drink the coconut water that is released when cracked – it’s very good for you)

-2litre, water, boiling

(For the praline)

-200g, white sugar

-100g, peanuts, toasted and semi-pounded in a pestle and mortar

-40ml, fresh lime juice

-20g, toasted coconut flesh (use coconut that has been cracked for cream)

(For the banana jam)

-1500g, ripe bananas, chopped into chunks

-60ml, fresh lime juice

-70g, unsalted butter

-1 vanilla pod, split lengthways

-1tbspn, pectin

-1000g, white sugar (light brown also works well)

(For the salted coconut cream)

-200ml, fresh coconut cream

-1tspn, white rice flour

-1 pinch Malden sea salt, crumbled as fine as possible

Method

  1. Firstly let’s make the coconut cream. Start by cracking the coconuts with a hammer and remove and discard of the outer shell. This leaves you with the inner flesh of the coconut which has an inedible skin attached to it. Using a peeler remove this skin to leave you with only the fresh, white coconut flesh. Next put this flesh through a mincer, or grate it and add to the boiling water, combine thoroughly using a stick blender for around 5 minutes. Once combined filter the liquid from the flesh by ringing it out in some muslin, or a cloth. Once separated place the liquid in the fridge and leave to cool. As it cools the cream will separate from the water, the white cream on the top is what you want. Keep the coconut water as it can be used to let out curries and soups. Any leftover coconut cream can be boiled down until it splits (cracks); this can then be used as coconut oil (coconut crack) which we will talk about another time. Once finished take some of the grated coconut left behind and toast on a medium heat in the oven, until golden brown and crunchy.
  2. Secondly make the peanut praline, this is a real simple one and only takes minutes to achieve.  Place the sugar and lime juice in a pan and melt on a medium heat, stirring constantly to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the pan. Once melted turn up the heat and continuously stir, until the mixture begins to darken and caramelise (around 3-4 minutes when boiling). Lastly add the peanuts and toasted coconut and pour onto a tray with parchment paper underneath, with a spoon spread the mixture as thin as possible and then leave in the fridge to set. Once solid, hit it with a rolling pin to break up into portion sized pieces.
  3. Now for the banana jam, you will find it much easier with a sugar/jam thermometer, however not to worry if not you will just have to keep a close eye out. Firstly add the bananas, lime juice, scraped vanilla seeds and the remaining pod and the butter to a non-stick pan. Combine as much as possible using a potato masher, cook out on a medium heat for around 7-8 minutes until the banana begins to break down and cook (keep it moving or it will stick). Next add the pectin to the sugar and combine, then pour this fast into the bananas and keep stirring. Boil to 104-105.5 degrees (jam setting temperature), if not using a thermometer then look for when the bubbles get larger, you can see the change in heat bubbles in the pan. Pour this straight in a sterelised jam jar or molds if you wish. The banana jam is great on toast or in natural yoghurt and keeps for around 5-6 months.
  4. Lastly make the salted coconut cream. Bring the cream to a simmer and then add the rice flour and whisk thoroughly to ensure there are no lumps. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer and cook out the flour for a minute or two, whisking constantly. Once the coconut cream has thickened add the pinch of salt and leave to one side to cool. To plate place the banana jam upon the coconut cream and top with some peanut praline, sprinkle with toasted coconut to finish – then enjoy.

Banana Jam with Peanut & Toasted Coconut Praline, Salted Coconut Cream and LimeThanks very much for stopping by at Articuleat and I hope you have enjoyed your stay. I always look forward to your feedback so please don’t hesitate to get in touch for any reason whatsoever – I will reply as swiftly as possible.

See you next time,

Eat Well,

Sebbyholmes

Crispy Fried Coley Fish and Prawn Green Curry Noodles with Vegetables and Coconut Cream

Crispy Fried Coley Fish and Prawn Green Curry Noodles with Vegetables and Coconut CreamIf you’re anything like me you’re probably thinking ‘Coley! Why the hell is he using that?’ If you’re anything like me a day ago you’re probably thinking, ‘what the hell is a Coley fish?’ To answer both of our questions Coley is a type of Pollock, which is a member of the Cod family, most commonly sourced from the waters of the North Atlantic. With its white, flaky flesh and light, subtle flavour it’s a perfect ingredient for an Articuleat green curry – not to mention its amazing value for money.

For some reason this delicious, cheap fish has escaped my knowledge more than it has the fishing net, as I was led to believe from my local fish monger that it is an extremely popular fish. Well that explains it! I’ve obviously been walking around with my eyes shut for the past 23 years.

Green curry in Thailand is referred to as ‘kaeng khiao wan’, this essentially means sweet green curry (the spelling of this changes with many translations, this is down to the nature of Thai translation, as their words do not always exactly match ours meaning for meaning).

Traditionally a green curry is as hot as, or hotter than a red curry, with a sweet and salty balance. However, here at Articuleat I like to season my green curry using no palm sugar, I then let it out using a mixture of prawn stock and fresh coconut cream to create a naturally sweet and creamy curry consistency. By making a light prawn stock using the heads and shells of the prawns I can add a delicate, fishy sweetness to this curry which, for me, is a great way to eat it.

Now if you have never made a curry paste from scratch before you are in for a treat. Whatever anyone says I stand by the simple fact that a Thai curry paste made at home, in a pestle and mortar is a far superior product – once you get it right you will slap yourself for buying the preserved, old, flat pastes that can be found in major supermarkets. Get yourself to a good oriental supermarket (in London, Chinatown is a great location to shop the ingredients you’ll need) and you will find all the fresh, Asian produce you need to make an authentic curry paste.

If you would like to find out a little more about making your own curry pastes check out what Andy Oliver has to say about it – He has spent many years cooking and developing Thai cuisine and has a worthwhile perspective on making your own curry pastes.

Now making a good curry paste from scratch is no easy task and take my word for it, be careful. A few years ago if I was reading these words I wouldn’t have listened – but let me tell you now, a face full of pounded chillies is not an experience that I would wish upon even my worst enemies.

Making a paste involves a therapeutic process of pounding each ingredient to a smooth paste individually, then pounding them all together again to make the finished product. It’s a simple but lengthy process which adds a quality to the final product that can be tasted. It takes a lot of patience and an attitude to make things correctly and you will be chowing down on you very own fresh Thai green curry in no time. Right anyway, lets get cooking.

(Serves 2, takes 2-2 ½ hours with plenty of spare curry paste)

Ingredients

(For the green curry paste)

In order to make it a simple process to make in the kitchen I have measured the ingredients within the same sized mug. As long as the quantities are the same in comparison it will work fine.

– ½ mug, fresh birds eye chillies, stems removed

– ¼ mug, fresh long green chillies, stems and seeds removed, thinly sliced,

– 1 ½ mugs, banana shallots, peeled, roughly chopped (use Thai shallots if possible)

– 1 ¼ mugs, peeled garlic

– 1 mug, peeled lemongrass, topped and tailed, outside shell removed, sliced into small chunks

– ¼ mug, galingale, peeled and cut into small chunks

– ¼ mug coriander roots, cleaned and finely sliced

– 4 chunks, fresh red turmeric, peeled (watch the hands, this stuff stains)

– 4 chunks, gra chi, peeled and roughly chopped

-1 tbsp, roasted gapi paste (fermented shrimp paste)

-1tbsp, whole white peppercorns, lightly toasted in dry pan

– 2 tsp coriander seeds, lightly toasted in dry pan

– 2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted in dry pan

– 2 pieces, mace, lightly roasted in pan

– Malden sea salt

(For the Curry)

-3 small fillets of Coley fish, roughly 300g, 2 fillets left whole, 1 skinned and chopped into chunks

-200g, fresh prawns, heads, shells and shit sack removed (keep heads to one side to make stock with)

– 150g, thick rice noodles, cooked according to instructions on packet then refreshed in cold water

-80g, baby corn, sliced into thin roll-cuts

– 50g, white daikon, peeled and sliced into thin roll-cuts and braised in water until softened (about 5 minutes)

-3, fresh long red chillies, sliced into roll cuts

-3, fresh long green chillies, sliced into roll cuts

-50g, green beans, topped and tailed, cut into 2cm long chunks

-150g, green curry paste

– 300ml, prawn stock (made from prawn heads)

– 150ml, coconut oil (crack)

– 150ml, coconut cream

-3 pieces gra chi, peeled and thinly sliced

-60g, Thai basil, washed and picked

-60g, coriander, washed and picked

– Fish sauce, to taste

– A little cooking oil

– 1 cheek of lime, for garnish

-Malden sea salt

Method

  1. Firstly make the green curry paste. Using a pestle and mortar individually pound up all the fresh ingredients separately until they are combined into one complete paste. For example start with the lemongrass, as it is tough – chop it into small chunks to make it easier on yourself then pound using a pestle and mortar until all is mixed into one paste. Next pound the galangal, as it is also tough, using the same process, then the chillies, garlic etc. Once all are pounded individually, combine them in the pestle until one paste.
  2. Meanwhile toast the spices; however these all toast at different rates so start with the coriander seeds, moving constantly, as soon as they start to smoke a little add the mace and cumin. Keep moving these for one more minute and then add the whole white peppercorns and remove from the heat. The heat from the hot spices is enough to toast the white peppercorns, if they remain on the heat they will pop and explode. Once toasted, spice-grind these spices to a fine powder and pound them into your curry paste. Keep pestle and mortaring away until you are left with a slightly moist, slightly coarse paste, with no identifiable chunks of any ingredients (everything should be equally pounded into a paste – no lumps)
  3. Right now that’s the hard bit done, now onto the curry. Firstly get all the prawn heads that you collected and add them to 320ml of water. Bring this to the boil and then turn down to a simmer, make sure to skim the scum off the surface of the water, simmer for 20 minutes and then strain. Meanwhile heat the coconut oil in a wok, when bubbling, add the green curry paste and keep stirring regularly until paste begins to split like scrambled eggs – you will also notice that the smell of the ingredients changes from raw, to fragrant. At this point add a little fish sauce and allow to cook into the paste for one minute (don’t add too much as it is strong and you can always add, but never take away)
  4. Now it’s time to let the curry out. Add 200ml of the prawn stock and 100ml of the coconut cream, the daikon, green beans and baby corn. Stir to combine and then cover and bring to a simmer, cook out for around five minutes until all vegetables are cooked.
  5. Next drop in the skinless chunks of Coley fish, prawns and the noodles and carefully fold in, at this point the curry would have thickened a little, so finish off the remaining prawn stock and another 50ml of coconut cream. Cook out for two minutes until fish is cooked then add Thai basil, green and red chilli roll-cuts, fish sauce to taste and gra chi, fold these ingredients in carefully as you don’t want to destroy the fish.
  6. Meanwhile in a small frying pan heat a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil, Rub a pinch of Malden salt on either side of both whole Coley fillets, then place them skin side down in the hot pan. Cook for around 3 minutes on the skin side (until golden brown and crispy) and then finish under a grill for roughly 2 minutes, until fish is piping hot throughout with no clear flesh.
  7. Serve the curry in a bowl with the crispy pan-fried fillet on top to garnish (this gives a lovely crunchy texture to go with the otherwise soft green curry noodles). Finish the left over coconut cream by drizzling over the top, then garnish with coriander and a cheek of lime. The curry should be thick enough to coat the noodles, rich, creamy, salty, hot and fishy (the magic is in the balance).

I eat this with chopsticks, however traditionally this would be enjoyed with a fork and a spoon – enjoy it however you like.

Crispy Fried Coley Fish and Prawn Green Curry Noodles with Vegetables and Coconut CreamThanks very much for stopping by at Articuleat and I hope you have enjoyed your stay. I always look forward to your feedback so please don’t hesitate to get in touch for any reason whatsoever – I will reply as swiftly as possible.

See you next time,

Eat Well,

Sebbyholmes