Tag Archives: Asian-inspired

Recipe: Thai pumpkin soup

Thai style pumpkin soup recipe | lizniland.com

When Granny hands you a massive pumpkin, fresh out of her garden, you’re in no position to refuse her generosity. You are in a position however, to make a deliciously warming Thai-style pumpkin soup!

In season: Pumpkin | lizniland.com

Recipe: Thai-style pumpkin soup

Serves 6 | Give yourself an hour or so to make this one happen

  • 1.2kg of peeled pumpkin
  • 1 red onion, sliced or diced
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1L stock (chicken or veggie)
  • 2-3 tblsp red curry paste (Look for one without added sugar & other nonsense. Or make your own)
  • 1-2 tblsp minced ginger
  • Splash of fish sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • To serve: Chopped herbs, spinach, leftover cooked protein & toasted pumpkin seeds

Chop your pumpkin into even 1-inch cubes. It doesn’t have to be perfectly pretty but evenly sized cubes will make life easier for you. Now, you can either steam or roast your pumpkin: I think optimal deliciousness is always found from within your roasting tray but if you’re short on time, feel free to get a boil up. Either way, cook your pumpkin until it’s soft when poked with a fork. This will take up to 30 minutes, depending on your method & the size of your cubes.

When the pumpkin is approaching the pointy end of done, add a splash of oil and your curry paste to a cold stock pot. As it warms to a medium heat, combine in your ginger, onion and a pinch of salt. Once the onion starts to soften, add your cooked pumpkin, stock, fish sauce and squeeze of lemon and bring to a simmer. Add the coconut milk and stir through, continuing to simmer for around 10 minutes.

Toasted pumpkin seeds | lizniland.com

Turn the heat off and, using your immersion/stick blender (kitchen essential!), puree up your mixture. If you prefer a thinner soup, you may wish to add a little extra milk or stock as you blend. I love a good thick soup though.

I ladled my soup over a sliced up leftover chicken thigh and a handful of baby spinach and topped it with chopped fresh mint and toasted pumpkin seeds. And the best bit? There’s plenty leftover for work lunches!

Thai pumpkin soup | lizniland.com

I’d love to know if you make it!

x Liz

Photo note: All by me, on my trusty iPhone & slightly touched up with the ABM Actions.

Week of eats: A taste of Darwin

As I type with frozen finger tips, I definitely know I’m back home in the winter weather & no longer holidaying in Australia’s sunny ‘Top End’, Darwin. We flew in late last night & are still stepping over half-emptied bags and laundry piles.

Until I get all my photos sorted & some more thoughts organised, I thought I’d share some of the stand out food moments from Darwin’s restaurants, cafes & much-loved markets.

It has to be said: it’s hard sticking to our primarily Paleo eating template when there’s crocodile burgers to taste. This trio from the infamous Humpty Doo Hotel was our inspired grub of choice en route to see the jumping crocs – pics to follow, don’t you worry!

Humpty Doo Hotel Darwin burgers

The Asian influence on the food scene in Darwin is particularly noticeable at the markets which pop up throughout the surrounding suburbs right across the weekend in the dry season. This laksa most definitely lived up to the recommendations we had from both locals and previous travellers. I got this at Mindil Beach Markets but apparently the favourite laksa-vendor to many is to be found at Parap’s Saturday markets.

Mindil Beach Markets laksa

The Asian influence (especially South East Asian) is not limited to market food – there are plenty of restaurants in Darwin dishing up rice paper rolls, creamy curries and spicy seafood. Chow was a notable favourite.

kimchi chow restaurant darwin

Good coffee in Darwin is notoriously hard to find but newcomer The Pearl offered one of the better beans (we ranked it 2nd behind Pierre’s long blacks at Rawgasm Cafe in the mall). Being from increasingly cafe-saturated Newcastle though, we are pretty snobbish with such things! While the coffee was certainly above the local average, it was the inspired cafe food that grabbed our attention. This Arabic rice pudding was a feast for the senses.

The Pearl Darwin cafe pudding

Have you been to Darwin? What were your thoughts on the food options?

I’ll be sharing more from our Top End adventure over the coming week – stay tuned!

Sesame Orange Chicken

Chinese food is a funny thing. The food I thought of as “Chinese” when I was growing up included spring rolls, beef in black bean sauce and anything else in the bain marie at the local bowling club’s all-you-can-eat.

Scorpions… Crunchy.

When I was in China though, the food was a whole other level of delicious & there wasn’t a soggy dim sim in sight. Peking duck, garlicky choy and every sauced up animal part you could imagine was on offer. While scorpion, testicles & starfish weren’t the most delicious options, they certainly opened up a new world of what Chinese food really has to offer.

Testicles. Yep, testicles.

The discovery of Shanghai cuisine was another highlight – hello to one of my favourite restaurants, New Shanghai. Once you go Xiao Long Bao, you won’t go back.

So given this excitement for what lies beyond the bain marie, it’s taken me a long time to come back for Westernised Chinese food. It’s actually taken me pretty much until this recipe – Sesame Orange Chicken – to attempt to cook it, let alone eat it.

I never deep fry at home (for a combination of health, taste & excessive oil usage reasons) so I ditched the batter end of this recipe & just opted for a good cornflour dredge instead.

Other than that and the addition of some greens though, our stab at Sesame Orange Chicken went pretty much to the letter.

The first time we made it (with lightly steamed beans for the greens), the sauce gathered up so quickly that what should’ve been sticky orange deliciousness turned into a bit of a glug-fest (albeit a very flavoursome one!)

Round One: Glug fest

With the Lad keen to give it another chance, Sesame Orange Chicken made this week’s menu in the hope we could do the recipe justice. This time, instead of the 2 tablespoons of cornflour in the sauce mix, we opted for 2 teaspoons worth. And we added in extra orange zest this round – if you’re going to be a bear, you may as well be a grizzly! This. Was. A. Winner. (A winner winner chicken dinner, if you will!)

Yummmm

The sauce was a ladle-able puddle of sweet yet tangy syrupy goodness. For greens, we went for some almost-faded broccoli (which chirped up nicely in some icy water) and the whole deal was dished out on a bed of white rice.

Sesame Orange Chicken, adapted from Blogchef.net

Chicken
2 chicken breasts sliced into bite-sized chunks & seasoned with salt & pepper
enough cornflour to fairly decently coat the chicken pieces
peanut oil for shallow pan frying
steamed greens

Sauce
¼ cup tomato sauce
¼ cup honey
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
½ cup water
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon sesame oil
the juice of ½ orange
zest of one orange
sprinkle of garlic powder
sesame seeds

Step 1: Dredge chicken in cornflour & pan fry. Remove from pan when browned & cooked through.
Step 2: In a bowl whisk together sauce ingredients and pour into the wok to cook until thickened and bubbly.
Step 3: Add chicken & steamed greens back to the pan & heat together until everything is coated in syrupy sauce.
Step 4: Load up your bowl and say it with me “Oooooh yeahhh”.

Shallot & Turkey Rissoles with Soy-Ginger Glaze

Feeding three hungry post-gym mouths (Hello BodyAttack – major session tonight!) is no mean feat but this variation on a Smitten Kitchen recipe was A Winner.

Turkey Rissoles

Served up with a mini-mountain of brown rice and an improvised garlic, mint, bean and mushroom dish, Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Glaze were made man-size & doused in this delish glaze. We pretty much followed the recipe exactly, except for subbing in the rice wine vinegar & sugar combo for the mirin in the glaze recipe – it worked perfectly though. Oh Em Gee the syrupy glaze…

Syrupy glaze

Definitely make these suckers – whether you go rissole style like we did or meatball style like the original, they are absolutely deeelightful.

To make the green bean-centric side dish, I plonked a pile of green beans (topped, tailed & halved), the rest of last night’s sliced swiss browns and a little handful of chopped up fresh mint into a pan with a couple of spoons of peanut oil & around 2 tsp of minced garlic. After everything gets a bit browned around the edges & the deliciousness all mingles together, I poured around half a cup of water into the pan to help steam the beans a bit further into tender submission.

Totally a recipe worth repeating – gotta love it when a throw-together-hope-for-the-best makes even the anti-mushroom housemate get a little excited.

Greeeeens

Ah greens, I love thee. Is it surprising that my car is also green?

Chicken Lettuce Wraps + Smashed Spuds

The Lad is a big fan of San Choy Bao and while I’ve never hated the dish, it’s not one I was keen on re-creating at home. I’m all done for the Asian-y, mince-y, meaty good times but the lettuce always gets a bit warm and limp and just makes me wish it was a pile of capsicum or noodles or something else that would stay snazzy with warm mince.

BUT when I came across Spoon Fork Bacon’s recipe for Chicken Lettuce Wraps I thought I might be on to a winner that would keep both me & him happy. Something about the deliciously thick and saucy chicken breast pieces stirred up with shallots and mushrooms was too good to refuse – even with the presence of lettuce leaves!

Pretty Lettuce Photo
We pretty much made the recipe exactly as it was here except we omitted the chestnuts & bamboo shoots (keepin’ it simple) & used swiss brown mushies (on sale at Woolies – hello!) instead of shiitakes.

Saucy chicken

Thick, sticky & delicious

Being inspired by the thought of a barbecue on stinking hot days such as today (and tonight – it’s gotta be about 30 degrees C still I reckon!) we opted for the pot luck randomness of a little potato side to accompany our chicken lettuce combo.

Delicious Potatoes

Based on a recipe Iowa Girl Eats posted sometime back, these carbolicious lip-smackers are an easy alternative to roasted taters but just as tasty. Boil the suckers up whole & then, when they’re done nicely (still firm but not crunchy), put some slice marks across the top to resemble a noughts & crosses board & then give them a gentle squash down with a masher/spatula/textbook. Lay out on a tray & give a good sprinkle with S&P, garlic powder & decent olive oil. Stick them under the grill and let them get niiiice and crispyyyy around the edges. Delish!

With bellies full of sticky chicken, lettuce leaves & spuds, we’re going to attempt to hit the hay despite the humidity… C’mon cool change!

“It’s so damn hot, milk was a bad choice!” 

My not so secret ingredient

After becoming a little infatuated with the Kung Pao Chicken recipe I found on Iowa Girl Eats (one of my most favey-faves) I decided tonight to mix it up a bit and make what I’ll call “Kind Of Kung Pao Chicken”. Which brings me to my not so secret ingredient…

…Cornflour! It completely changes chicken in stirfry/Asian-inspired dishes & adds a beautiful coating which, when combined with a good salt & pepper sprinkle & then lightly fried off in a combination of sesame & peanut oil, is bloody delicious!

So for this evening’s Not Quite Kung Pao, we did the cornflour/s&p dredge, followed by a light browning in the pan & a rest on a plate when done.

While this is happening, we got some quinoa & water in a saucepan along with the juice of half a lemon, a good sprinkle of dried red chilli flakes & a sprinkle of fennel seeds. For two super-hungry post-gym bellies, we shared 2/3 cup of dry quinoa which cooked up with 3 x 2/3 cups of water. Let that boil up & get all fluffy & delicious – just like rice but with plenty more nutritious goodness!

20120112-224534.jpg

Back to the oily, chickeny pan remnants, add a chopped red chilli & couple of garlic cloves. Sauté until fragrantly fabulous & then add in whatever veg you’ve got on hand. We opted for half a head of broccoli, a zucchini & a couple of handfuls of chopped beans. Once you’ve got the veg all in, throw the chicken back in and give it all a stir.

To that, get saucy with a few tablespoons of a) Chinese rice wine vinegar- about 4tbls b) soy sauce- about 5tbls and c) oyster sauce- a good little glug to the middle of the pan. We also threw in a solid handful of fresh coriander for good measure. Stir it all around until everything is combined, the chicken is a little saucy & the veggies have softened a little, or until it looks a bit like this…

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Mmmm!! Once it’s all cooked, get it on the plate & get eating! Deeeelicious!