Tag Archives: rice

Chinese Steamed Fish

Chinese food has something of a bad rep in the UK, greasy Friday night takeaways being most people’s only experience of it. This is something completely different – a fresh, healthy and exciting recipe that is only distantly related to sweet & sour and chicken chow mein. The original recipe for the fish is a Ken Hom recipe, again something we found on the BBC food website! We’re putting our own twist on it by serving it with a big dollop of stir-fried veg with some cracking flavours.

For 2 people, you’ll need:

  • 2 fillets of white fish
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Small thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger, chopped into thin strips
  • 1 pak choi & other mixed veg (we used another pak choi, cabbage, 1/2 courgette, 1 green pepper, 200 g babycorn & mangetout)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 150 g white rice
  • 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (different from Ken’s recipe – we love the flavour but it’s strong!)

Start by putting two pans of water on to boil – one for the rice and one to put the steamer on. While these are coming to the boil, prepare the fish; dry it off with some kitchen paper, rub it with the sea salt and arrange it in the steamer, on top of a few leaves of pak choi, and sprinkle over the ginger. Don’t worry if the fillets overlap – ours was packed in there pretty tight.

We somehow wound up with rather more than 2 fillets!
We somehow wound up with rather more than 2 fillets!

Fish In Steamer With Ginger

Once the water boiling, put the rice in one pan and a couple of minutes later put the steamer on the other one – we found that the fish took about 10 minutes to cook, though this can vary depending on how densely packed it is in the steamer and how tight the steamer fits on the pan! When it’s done it should be opaque and flaky, but still lovely and moist.

While that’s all cooking, chop up the rest of your veg and make up a sauce with the oyster sauce, fish sauce and 1/2 tbsp of the light soy sauce. Heat the oil over a high heat in a wok and add the garlic, stirring for 10 seconds or so before you add the veg. After 30 seconds add the sauce, and mix together thoroughly so that everything is coated.

Stir-fry Veg

Stir Fry Action Shot

When everything is cooked, serve onto warm plates. Drizzle the remaining light and dark soy sauce over the fish, and sprinkle over the spring onions. Now for some excitement! Heat the groundnut and sesame oil in a frying pan over a high heat until smoking, and pour over the fish – you should get a satisfying sizzle.

Chinese Steamed Fish

That’s all there is to it. This dish has some great umami flavours, and is super fresh and healthy. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Thai Style Steamed Sea Bass with Jasmine Rice

In an attempt to counteract the large volumes of cakes/sweets/biscuits we have been consuming over the last few weekends and will probably continue to consume (it’s practically the law when you have guests or are a guest that you have to set yourself well on the track to diabetes) we’ve been getting super healthy with our evening meals. Thai and Vietnamese style food just screams healthy to us – the fresh, spicy, clean flavours are exactly what we need. This recipe, steamed sea bass with jasmine rice and stir fried vegetables, is particularly virtuous. The fish is wrapped in pak choi leaves and steamed over a fragrant liquid while the vegetables set you well on your way to 5 a day (and the jasmine rice is just lush – don’t try to take our carbs away, you might lose your hand!). This one was a make-it-up-as-we-go-along number, as so many of our recipes are, and we’re chuffed with how it turned out! It was also our first time using our new bamboo steamer and we predict we’ll be getting lots of use out of it.

Ingredients

Basmati rice

  • 1 tsp jasmine tea leaves or 2 jasmine tea bags
  • 2 sea bass fillets
  • A piece of ginger, about 2-3 inches long, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 limes
  • 2-3 pak choi
  • 1 birds-eye chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 stick of lemongrass, bruised and chopped in half
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • A selection of vegetables (we used baby corn, pak choi, mange tout, carrot, sugar snap peas XXX), sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Neutral oil such as sunflower or vegetable

Brew the tea for the rice by placing your loose tea or tea bags in a jug and pour over half a litre of boiling water. Allow to brew for at least 5 minutes. Once brewed pour into a saucepan (making sure to strain it if using loose leaf tea!) and top up with more boiling water if necessary, then place over a medium heat to bring to a rolling boil. Once boiling add the rice and stir occasionally until cooked.

Jasmine Tea

Fill up a saucepan (over which you can fit your steamer) about a third of the way full with water. Throw in half of the ginger matchsticks, the chilli, the lemongrass, the garlic, half of the fish sauce, half of the sugar and the juice of half a lime. Bring this to the boil.

Frozen chilli

Meanwhile cover the bottom of the steamer with a layer of pak choi leaves and then lay the sea bass fillets on top. Squeeze over the juice of half a lime and sprinkle the fish with the other half of the ginger. Place another layer of pak choi leaves on top so that the fish is completely covered. If you don’t have a bamboo steamer then you could easily use a metal vegetable steamer, or just buy one – they’re dirt cheap in Asian supermarkets. Once the steaming liquid is bubbling place the steamer over the top. The fish will take around 5-10 minutes to cook depending on thickness, about the same amount of time as the rice.

Seabass raw

To make the sauce for the stir-fried vegetables mix together the oyster sauce with the remaining fish sauce and sugar, the juice of half a lime, a few drops of sesame oil and enough water to thin it out.

Vegetables raw

When the rice and fish have a few minutes of cooking time left get a wok really hot, add 1 tsp of neutral oil, throw in the vegetables and stir to coat in the oil. Once coated and beginning to wilt throw in the sauce and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are slightly soft but still retain a lot of crunch.

Then just dish it all up! Spoon some of the delicious steaming liquid over the fish, it should be just cooked and really moist with delicate Asian flavours. Sit back and feel smug at just how healthy you’ve been!

Steamed sea bass complete

Green Thai Curry

This is a really quick and easy recipe for one of our favourite meals, green Thai curry. I hesitate to call it Thai green curry, because it isn’t really – but it has amazing fresh flavours that really evoke memories of south east Asia (for me, Fats – I promise to take Bird there one day!). We think we might have stolen this from Jamie Oliver – I’m sure he’ll let us know if he wants to claim credit!

Here’s what you’ll need for 2 people:

  • About 10 good-sized raw king prawns
  • A medium-sized bunch of coriander
  • 2-3 spring onions
  • 1 green chilli
  • Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (or other flavourless oil)
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste)
  • Tiny drizzle of sesame oil (this stuff is strong!)
  • 2/3 tin low-fat coconut milk
  • 50 g fine beans
  • 150 g white rice

Green Thai Curry Ingredients

Before you start, put a pan of water on to boil for the rice. Now make the curry paste. To do this, throw together (take a deep breath…) most of the coriander (leave back enough to garnish the finished article), the spring onions, the chilli, the ginger (peeled), the garlic, the juice of half the lime, the vegetable oil, the soy sauce, fish sauce and the sesame oil (phewf!) in a blender – we use a small hand blender. Whizz until you have a nice green paste, don’t worry about it being too smooth.

Green Thai Curry Paste

Green Thai Curry Wok

When your rice water is boiling, add the rice. Now put a wok on a medium heat and then add the mixture. Cook for about 20 seconds to loosen it up, and then add the coconut milk – you don’t want to cook the paste too much as it will lose its lovely green colour. Add the beans and then cover to keep the moisture in. This should take about 10 minutes to cook, so it should be ready at the same time as the rice. About a minute before its ready, add the prawns to cook – they should be just ready after a minute of cooking – pink all the way through – and will be deliciously tender.

Green Thai Curry Nearly Ready

When everything is ready serve it up by carefully sculpting a mound of rice, nestling some curry on it and delicately placing some choice coriander leaves on top… Or just slap it on a plate, it will taste just as good! Serve with a lime wedge each for a little added zing.

Green Thai Curry Done

This recipe is also excellent with salmon – if you want to be really fancy, fry it for a couple of minutes skin-side down before adding it to the wok with the curry to get a satisfyingly crispy texture.

Steak with Stir-Fried Veg

It’s Asian food time again! Normally when we cook stir-fries we bung all of the meat in with the rest of the veg and fry it all in a wok together. This time, we thought we’d try something a little different. In this recipe, we’re stir-frying the veg like we usually do, but griddling the steak separately. This is a little more effort but a million times more rewarding! It’s also a great way to make a steak go that little bit further if you’re on a budget but still fancy a treat.

So here’s what you’ll need:

  • A steak, fatter the better
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 medium-sized pak choi
  • A large handful of mushrooms
  • 8-10 pieces babycorn
  • A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
  • A fresh red chilli
  • 2-3 spring onions
  • 150 g rice
  • 2 tbsp Oyster sauce (1 tbsp for the marinade, 1 for the vegetables)
  • Sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Pepper

Phewf! A whole load of stuff then. But just like with our noodle soup, loads of these are store-cupboard staples. Actually a lot of these ingredients were leftovers from when we cooked that recipe, so they’re a great couple of meals to do close together to make sure you don’t waste anything.

First, knock up a quick marinade for the steak, using nothing more than a tablespoon or so each of oyster sauce and olive oil – make you you have enough to cover the steak. Leave to marinade for an hour or so – it’s a good idea to keep it out of the fridge and covered in some cling film, as your steak ought to be room temperature when you fry it.

Feel free to mix it up with the veg - this lot is nice and colourful though!
Feel free to mix it up with the veg – this lot is nice and colourful though!

Put the rice on to cook. Slice up all your vegetables fairly thinly, as they’ll need to cook pretty quickly. Put a griddle/frying pan on to a high heat for the steak, which you’ll do in a minute. Now get your wok out and heat up some oil, and throw in the veg – it should sizzle satisfyingly (the wonders of cooking on gas! This step would take about 20 minutes using the electric hob at our old place). Mix together some dressing for the veg using 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tbsp water, 1 tsp fish sauce, juice of half a lime and a few twists of pepper and add this to the wok, making sure it covers everything. The veg should take about 5 minutes or so to cook.

Granny Bird's old wok still going strong
Granny Bird’s old wok still going strong

Now for the main event!  Your pan should be hot by now, so put the steak in. Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of your steak and how you like it – our (very rare) steak took about a minute on each side. When it’s done take it out and rest it for a minute while the veg finishes cooking. To serve, we sliced our steak as thinly as we could, on a slight angle so that each piece was still nice and big – remove any excess fat as you slice.

Mmm we like our steak raaare
Mmm we like our steak raaare

Now plate it all up with an extra wedge of lime and appreciate the magnificence of what you have created!

Stir Fry Done

Ultimate Comfort Chilli

We made this dish at the weekend, it was the perfect cheer-up food after a rain soaked Saturday. The smell of it cooking away slowly in the oven was incredible, you have to be very patient!

There are so many recipes for chilli con carne around, this one wasn’t particularly planned, we tend to throw in what we have lying around for a lot of our cooking so feel free to replace things if you don’t like that particular vegetable/spice or if you don’t have it in.

Ingredients (makes enough for 4-6 people):

  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2-3 sticks of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped/minced
  • smoked pancetta (you don’t have to add this but it creates a gorgeous base of smokeyness)
  • 500g good quality lean beef mince
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • ½tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1-2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1-2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1-2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tins/cartons of chopped tomatoes or passata
  • 1 tin of kidney beans in water
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • around 30g of really good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • rice and sour cream to serve

If you wanted to make a vegetarian version of this dish one obvious substitution would be the meat for Quorn (other brands are available!), but we think it would be more interesting not to take the easy route and to bulk it out with lovely, meaty mushrooms and extra beans instead – some black eyed beans and/or pinto beans would make a lovely addition. To get more of the rich flavour without using beef stock cubes you could add a teaspoon of Marmite – it may sound odd but it gives that deep, savoury kick which you might miss otherwise.

Perfect for practising those knife skills.
Perfect for practising those knife skills.

To start with soften the onion, garlic and celery in a large casserole dish over a low heat, cook for at least 10 minutes but try not to get much colour at all on them, you want them to soften and sweeten. Add the diced smoked pancetta, we used barely any in this so you could leave it out if you wanted to but it definitely adds a little something! Fry this for a few minutes until it has lightly cooked and become fragrant and then add the beef mince, breaking it up with your fingers as you put it in. Immediately add 200ml of beef stock (use a whole stock cube to make it) – by not browning the beef off you’re making sure it cooks really slowly and melts in your mouth. Now it’s time to add your herbs and spices! The amounts listed above are a guide, obviously adjust to your own chilli preference and remember you can always add but you can’t take away. We were a little cautious at first and then added more about halfway through the cooking time.

Kidney beans

Once you have stirred the herbs and spices in add the chopped tomatoes followed by the pepper and kidney beans, give it a good stir, bring to a very gentle simmer and then pop in a really low oven (around 130°C) and leave alone for at least an hour. Cook for 3 hours minimum stirring every hour until you can’t take it any longer and have to eat some!

Right before serving place a couple of squares of dark chocolate on top and drool as they melt into the chilli. Don’t worry, this won’t add any sweetness, just the most fantastic, rich flavour.

Resist the urge to put your face in it...
Resist the urge to put your face in it…

Serve with rice and sour cream and if you’re feeling fancy (we were) some homemade guacamole.

We made a really simple guacamole by mixing 1 ripe avocado with a good pinch of sea salt, 1 diced tomato and a big squeeze of lime or lemon juice. Give it all a mix up and you’re ready for your Mexican feast!

... Now you can put your face in it!
… Now you can put your face in it!

This was the perfect meal to sit down to and ignore the rain lashing at the windows – warming, comforting and pretty healthy too.