Finally I’m back behind the keyboard, I have an increasingly large list of events, recipes, anecdotes and articles in the back burner for ‘Articuleat’, (I just need to find the damn time to write them up).
The London pop-up scene has swallowed me up whole at the minute, in a big pile of edible insects and Thai food. Its amazing fun! Not to mention that the Begging Bowl is busier than ever. Thai food in London is booming and why not? It’s awesome! I feel privileged to be part of it.
I will soon be updating you all with what I’ve been up to in my ‘behind the whites section’. I’ve just finished another pop-up with EatGrub at the ‘Hot House Rooftop‘ in London Fields. I’m also going to be helping Andy Oliver at his next pop-up with ‘Som Saa’, at the chilli festival ‘chilli chilli bang bang’ in Dalston Yard – all exciting stuff.
Now anyway I’m getting ahead of myself again. This recipe for you today is a fairly quick one to put together (once you have dried your own turmeric and ginger). It’s the perfect accompaniment to a hot summer’s day, which we all know should be enjoyed with a nice cold pint in one hand and a fork in the other (not that I’ve got out of the shade of the extraction fans much recently).
When I make this dish I like to make my own mild curry powder to add to my egg batter before frying. Fresh turmeric, like ginger, is a rhizome – a thick underground stem. Due to this it take a lengthy, but simple process to dry it out and grind to a powder. Both fresh spices can be dried in the same way – peel, thinly slice and dry in a warm dry place, on a drying rack for at least 24 hours (May need longer dependent on environment). You can buy pre-dried turmeric and ginger but it’s in no way as good, or even similar to the real thing, try making it you’ll love it (why not make loads and leave it in the kitchen for another day?). However, when working with red turmeric be carful, the stuff stains your bloody hands orange for days. The last thing you want is everyone thinking that you look like an ‘umpa lumpa’ from the neck down!
I also think it’s important for me to talk you through making your own chilli powder. At the begging bowl we always use dried chillies and call it ‘blue tongue’? Now that I think of it, I actually have no bloody idea why or where that came from? I’m assuming it’s something to do with the fact that it’s fucking hot and it will certainly leave you with a burning mouth if you’re not careful. Now I’m lucky when making this as for best results it should be made in a wok (which I have at work), with a wok burner (very high heat). The intense temperature of the wok smokes the chillies whilst crisping them, making them easy to spice grind into a smoky, hot powder. I appreciate that unless you are some kind of maniac, you probably don’t have a wok burner to hand at home? I have found the best way to do it at home is in a dry pan on a high heat on the stove top, keep the chillies moving until they start smoking, then cover with tin foil and place in a hot oven for 2-3 minutes allowing to smoke a little. Carful- if you breathe in the smoke, you will cough. I also like to use 50/50 dried birds eye chillies to dried long red chillies, this gives the chilli powder a fiery hot, smokey and sweet flavour. It’s great when added to the curry powder.
When grating the vegetables to make this fritter (the daikon and sweet potato), it’s important to julienne them evenly to ensure it all cooks at a similar rate when being deep-fried. If your knife skills are still in practice, I suggest using a papaya shredder, or something of similar function. For anyone that is unsure what a Daikon is, it’s a type of radish. It’s also known as ‘mooli’ or Oriental radish and is much larger than a normal radish, they can be found in most good Asian supermarkets with a fresh vegetable section. If grating daikon (which we are) it’s important to use it as quickly as possible to retain the crisp, crunchy freshness.
The natural sweetness of tiger prawns are a great accompaniment to this lightly curried fritter. Once our home-made curry powder is completed, the vegetables, prawns and Thai Basil are tossed through a light egg batter and deep-fried to make the fritters. This is then served with a sweet, sour and fiery hot Nham jim dipping sauce- delicious.
I think that’s enough from me for one day and I’m sure you guys want to get cooking so I’ll leave you to it.
Enough to satisfy two people with a light lunch:
Ingredients (leaves loads spare to use another time, scale down if you want)
(For the curry powder)
-1tbspn, black peppercorns
-3tbspn, coriander seeds
-3tbspn, cumin seeds
-1tbspn fennel seeds
-15, Thai cardamom pods
-15, pik kwan, stems removed
-3tbspn home made chilli powder (1tbspn dried birds eye chillies, 1tbspn dried long red chillies, follow instructions above)
-5tbspns, ground, home-made dried ginger (follow instructions above for drying)
-7tbspns, ground, home-made dried turmeric (follow instructions above for drying)
(For the Nham jim dipping sauce)
-7, peeled garlic cloves
-5, green birds eye chillies, roughly chopped
-2tbspn, coriander root, finely chopped
-3tbspn, caster sugar (might need more to taste)
-300ml, fresh lime juice (might need more/or less to taste
-150ml, fish sauce, I like the mega chef brand best (might need more/or less to taste)
-2, mandarins, juiced
(For everything else)
-6 whole tiger prawns, body shells and shit removed, tails and head still attached
-1, sweet potato, julienned or shredded
-200g, daikon, julienned or shredded
-20g Thai Basil, picked
-10g, white sesame seeds
-2, free-range eggs
-100ml sparkling water
-1tbspn, rice flour
-1pinch Malden sea salt
-2 litres, cooking oil (for deep-frying)
- Ok so firstly let’s get the spices toasted and the curry powder made. Have all you spices separated to start, as they need to be added to the pan at different times. The ginger, turmeric and chilli powder is already good to go if you followed my instructions in the writing above. In a large flat pan toast the spices on a low heat. When toasting spices you should always heat them in terms of their size, larger spices first and for longer ( as a larger object takes longer to toast). Once a spice begins to change colour and release a fragrant smell it is ready to use. The only spices that should not be toasted according to size are peppercorns as they pop and explode, just add them at the end and let the other spices warm them through. One toasted, add the ginger, turmeric and chilli powder then spice grind together to make the curry powder.
- Next make the fritter, heat the oil in a deep pan to 180 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together 1tbspn of the home-made curry powder, 1tbspn of rice flour, 1 pinch of Malden sea salt, the sparkling water and the eggs, beat to a pale mixture then rest in the fridge for a few minutes. In another mixing bowl, combine the prawns, shredded sweet potato, daikon, sesame seeds and the Thai basil. Pour the batter over all of this then mix with your hands until everything is covered in the egg mixture.
- Now the fritters are ready to be cooked. However if you throw the mixture in as is, it will break up and not cook together. Use a kitchen spider (large spoon with holes it it) to gently lower handfuls of the fritter mixture into the oil, making sure that the vegetables have cooked together, holding the fritters in one piece. Cook batches of the mixture one at a time for around 2-3 minutes in the oil, moving regularly to ensure an even cook. When ready remove from oil and leave to drain on kitchen roll.
- Meanwhile make your Nham jim dipping sauce, fresh is always best with a lime juice based product. In a pestle and mortar, pestle the coriander root, garlic then chillies in this order to a coarse paste, using sea salt as an abrasive if necessary. Next add the caster sugar and pound for a few seconds using the sugar as a second abrasive. Lastly add the lime, mandarin juice and fish sauce to make the dipping sauce. It should taste sweet, salty, sour and hot, adjust seasoning accordingly. An exact recipe is impossible as ingredients strengths change constantly.
- Serve the fritters garnished with some fresh Thai Basil leaves and enjoy.
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,