Saturday, 30 June 2012

Vegan Cambodian and Khmer Recipes

This month Gormandize with A-dizzle and K-bobo has been featuring vegan recipes inspired by Cambodian cuisine. Cambodian cuisine is a delicious and elegant food, based upon combining simple and fresh ingredients in just the right amounts to create an exceptional burst of flavour in each mouthful! Here is a summary of what I shared this month. I hope you enjoyed it and if you've been following along (or even if you haven't), drop me a comment below and let me know what you thought looked the most delicious!

Also - check out down the bottom of this post for news on next month!


Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup

I highly recommend this soup. It's ready in about 10 minutes, the mushrooms make it a light but substantial lunch and it's absolutely delicious. This one is going into my regular lunch rotation! Check out the recipe here!

Kho Manor Nung To Hu
This wonderfully simple dish of marinated chunks of tofu cooked with fresh pineapple has a rich caramelised flavour. It went down very well with all my dinner guests - including those who professed themselves as being anti-tofu, so it's a good one to introduce those who think they don't like tofu to it's many delights! Check out the recipe here!

Spiced Eggplant
Asian countries really know what they're doing with eggplant. It takes a bit of skill to get eggplant just right - not too oily but it has to be properly cooked. This recipe resulted in the perfect consistency eggplant, with just the perfect combination of spices. Served as part of a dinner party or potluck it it a treat. Check out the recipe here!

Khmer Lemon grass Vegetable Curry
Honestly - one of the best curries I've ever eaten! The three main ingredients - tofu, eggplant and potato are the ideal components of a curry in my opinion! It could benefit from some steamed green vegies on the side, but otherwise a perfect meal and very quick and easy to prepare. Check out the recipe here!

Nem To-hu Sap
These delicious summer rolls are filled with tofu which has been marinated in garlic and ginger, vermicelli, cucumber, fresh herbs and shredded lettuce. They're simple but very satisfying and perfectly delicious when combined with the sweet soy dipping sauce. These make very impressive and easy appetisers or an easy and special lunch. Check out the recipe here! 


Borbo Skor La-Pov
This is probably a little bit of an unusual dessert combination for most westerners, but don't dismiss it because it is delicious! It's pumpkin and sweet potato sago parfait - an delicious combination of flavours and actually a fairly healthy dessert! Check out the recipe here!

Num Chet Chien
These delicious deep fried nuggets of banana are probably my favourite offering of the whole month. It's just a base instinct to fall in love with delicious crunchy deep fried spring roll wrappers around delicious cooked pieces of banana. It's incredibly easy to make and I recommend it! You have to treat yourself sometimes, and when you want to treat yourself - you should do it with this! Check out the recipe here!

Next Month....

Next month will be slightly different! I'm spending most of it travelling around Sri Lanka (many delicious food photos and anecdotes to come), so will be taking a month off featuring the cuisine of different countries. I'll be starting up again in August though, and featuring the incredible delights of Swedish cuisine (starting August 1st)! I'm excited about Sweden, from what I have read I think it will be a special month! If anybody knows anything about Swedish cuisine and wants to make some suggestions or give me any tips than I would be so happy to hear from you!

Happy gormandizing!

Nem To-hu Sap (Cambodian Vegetarian Summer Rolls)

I think I love summer rolls even more than I like spring rolls. I think it's the freshness and also the fact that you don't have to cook them - which saves time! I'm sure other factors include that they're not dripping with oil and that I don't have to buy a litre of oil in order to cook them.

These Cambodian Vegetable Summer Rolls are the last recipe I have for this month from Cambodia. I've had a pretty busy month this month (organising my trip overseas!) so actually haven't had the chance to blog all the recipes from Cambodia that I wanted to. That means that I might sneakily add a few more later in the year and link them back so that I can share the rest of them with you!

Cambodia has been such a delicious country that there are so many more wonderful things I could have tried! It was hard to cut it down to just the 10 or so dishes that I made, most of which made it up onto the blog. The last is these lovely and simple summer rolls with sweet soy dipping sauce. I hope you've enjoyed Cambodian Month as much as I have (it has inspired me to start thinking about travelling there!).

300g hard tofu, drained and cut into strips (about the size and shape of carrot sticks)
1 x 2cm knob of ginger, peeled and finely grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 packet of rice paper rolls
1 1/2 cups cooked rice vermicelli noodles (cook according to the directions on the back of the packet)
2 cucumbers, cut into strips
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
Approx 2 cups shredded cos lettuce

To Make
1. Place slices of tofu with the ginger, garlic, soy and sesame oil and leave to marinate for about an hour. Mixing or shaking every so often so that they all get nice and tasty.
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan or skillet and fry the tofu on each side for 4-5 minutes or until nicely browned and crispy. You can pour the marinade into the pan at the end if you like to add even more flavour. Drain on paper towel.
3. Get all your pre chopped ingredients around you and you're ready to roll.
4. The packet of rice paper rolls will most likely have instructions on the back on how to use them, you can follow these (and skip ahead to step 6). If yours doesn't - here is what you do:
5. Get a deepish dinner plate and fill it with boiling hot water. Carefully slide your dry rice paper roll under the water (don't just place it on top - this will make it curl up) and leave in for about 5-10 seconds. Carefully pick it out and spread it out on a board ready to roll. You will find that as the water in your plate cools down a bit you will need to leave them in for longer to cook properly. You will probably have to replace the hot water after every 5-6 rolls.
6. Now you have your rice paper ready add a piece of tofu to the middle of the bottom edge. Add a small amount of vermicelli, a piece of cucumber and a sprinkling of the mint, coriander and lettuce.
7. Roll the bottom of the paper over the filling and then fold in the sides. Continue to roll until it is all together (like you would roll a spring roll, or a cigar - because we all roll cigars all the time!).
8. Repeat until you start to run out of ingredients! Serve dipped in sweet soy dipping sauce,

Sweet Soy Dipping Sauce (Trik Sa-ieu Chu P'em)
4 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp sugar
Juice of 2 limes
2 tsp Sambal Oelek
2 tbsp soy sauce

To Make
1. Dissolve the sugar in the hot water.
2. Add all other ingredients and serve with the summer rolls.

Makes about 20 rolls.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Khmer Lemongrass Vegetable Curry

Super exciting news - on Monday I'm going to Sri Lanka! My aim is to get out of the country every winter because I don't cope too well with the cold, so we're heading off for a three week holiday in Sri Lanka!

The sad news is that you won't be getting many posts from me during July! The good news is that I'll be eating lots of amazing Sri Lankan curry and I promise to share lots of photos when I get back. I have to admit I'm very excited about all the curry! Whenever I'm picking places to travel I always immediately think about all the amazing food I'll eat while I'm there - I guess it just shows how food-oriented I am!

To celebrate me going to Sri Lanka and because I'm featuring Cambodian food this month, I'm giving you a delicious Cambodian curry. This is a super easy and really delicious curry, probably one of my favourites out of all the ones I've made (although I haven't been to Sri Lanka yet - so hopefully I'll learn a few new ones)!

2 tbsp vegetable oil
300g hard tofu, cut in half lengthways
2 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
3 Asian eggplants (the skinny kind), sliced
2 cups vegetable stock
1 400ml can coconut milk
1/4 cup mushroom sauce (see note)
1 tsp sugar

To Make
1. Heat oil in a wok and fry the pieces of tofu until browned on both sides, remove and set aside on some kitchen paper to drain. Cut into cubes.

2. Add the minced garlic, minced lemongrass and onion and sauté until the onion is softened. Add the eggplant and saute until the eggplant is softened.
3. Add the paprika and curry powder and fry for another minute or two.
4. Add all the rest of the ingredients (including the tofu you cooked earlier) and bring to a simmer.
5. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until the potato is cooked.

Serve with rice.

Serves 4 with rice.

NOTE: Mushroom sauce is generally used as a vegetarian alternative to oyster sauce, it is pretty widely available in Asian supermarkets and some regular supermarkets. If you can't find any, check the Asian section of your supermarkets for anything which is labelled as "Stir Fry Sauce" with no other specific descriptions. These generic sauces are usually vegan friendly (you will have to check the back to make sure) and are made from either mushroom stock or a soy bean product. It will have a very similar taste to mushroom sauce, so just substitute that.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Num Chet Chien (Banana Nuggets!)

Deep fried desserts are not something that we should all have every day, but you just can't deny that they are incredibly delicious and sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy life right? I think so anyway! You can kid yourself that since they're fruit-filled they're healthy, but the truth is all you need to know is that it's not nearly as bad for you as this. But don't worry about any of the stuff that I've just written - just make these for dessert tonight. They're easy, quick and will blow you and your guests away. That's all you need to know!

1 banana, peeled and chopped into 12 disks
6 spring roll wrappers, thawed if frozen
Vegetable oil, for deep frying (you'll need heaps to deep fry, but don't worry you can just pour it back in the bottle after it's cooled down and use it again for other cooking)
Icing sugar, for dusting

That's it! Too easy!
Here are some variations that I've tried which are also amazing:
1) Add a small chunk of dark chocolate with the piece of banana
2) Add a slice of cream cheese with the piece of banana (it goes all melty and yummy)

To Make
1. Cut each spring roll wrapper in half. 
2. Brush the piece of wrapper with water to soften it. Place a piece of banana at one end and roll it up just like you were rolling a spring roll - don't worry about making it too neat.
3. Continue with all the rest of the banana pieces and wrappers.
4. Heat a lot of oil in a wok, pan or, if you're an American, the deep fryer you have on your counter (jokes - I love Americans!)
5. Take a small square of the wrappers or a cube of bread to test if the oil is hot enough - if the oil fizzles around it and it crisps up quickly then the oil is hot enough. 
6. Deep fry the wrapped bananas in the hot oil for about 4-5 minutes or until they're browned slightly. Remove and drain on paper towel.
7. Roll them in the icing sugar and eat them immediately while they're nice and hot!

Makes 12 (serves about 2 people).

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Easiest, Stickiest and Yummiest Banana Rum Pie Ever!

This delicious homely sticky mess is part of the "Sweet as Pie" Sweet Adventures Blog Hop - this month hosted by a blogger who I'm very fond of and who I'm exited to hear is making a fabulous and exciting move to a beautiful new place - Heather at The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader. Best of luck to you!

I've been pretty busy myself lately, planning and organising a trip overseas which we are embarking on in about 11 days! It's super exciting, but the result is that I'm often not in the mood to cook up elaborate and fiddly dishes after a long day out doing shopping and an evening spent on the phone trying to book accommodation across a language barrier. Of course, saving money to spend on our trip also means that I'm not keen on spending too much money on fancy ingredients as well! I always try and pull something out for the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop though, as the Hostesses are some of my favourite bloggers. 

So, I wanted the easiest, yummiest pie I could whip up in about 10 minutes and not have to buy too many ingredients for. It turns out that the quickest, yummiest and easiest pie here is also probably the best comfort food I've ever invented. Here are my rules of comfort food: 

1) It has to be really quick and easy - because nobody wants to be cooking for ages and doing something hard when they're feeling down, it's just not going to happen
2) If it's sweet then it should also be messy. Nothing makes you feel better than making a bit of mess while you eat something amazing
3) It should involve some kind of alcohol
4) It has to be slightly healthy, but not feel too healthy. Now, I know that a lot of people might disagree with me on this one but really it is true. If you eat something laden with fat and cream and all sorts you will end up feeling worse when you have eaten it then you did before - both physically and mentally. Comfort sweets should be sweet and delicious but not a total binge.

This pie fulfils all these requirements perfectly! It's made of only 4 ingredients and they're ones that you're likely to have around in your freezer/pantry/fruit bowl/booze cupboard anyway. It took be about 5-10 minutes to put together and then baked for 20 while I watched a show on my laptop. Perfect.

I was going for super quick and rustic - so I didn't trim my puff pastry square into a circle which would have made a neater pie. If neatness is important then you may want to do this, but I don't like to waste the pastry and I though it looked fine.

1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry (cheaper brands are generally vegan friendly)
2 tbsp dark rum (I used vanilla rum, but any will do)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 ripe bananas, peeled and thinly sliced (do this just before putting them on the pie so they don't go brown)

To Make
1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C.
2. Thaw your pastry completely and then place it on a baking tray lined with non stick baking paper.
3. Set aside 2 tsp of the brown sugar and mix the rest with the rum to make a thick paste.
4. Spread the sugar paste over the pastry - you don't have to go all the way to the edges though as you will fold these over.
5. Layer the slices of banana over the pastry, leaving a small amount of space around the edges to fold over. One you have filled up the pastry sheet you will still have about half a banana left so just add a second layer around the middle of the pie.
6. Fold the edges over the top of the banana layer, you'll have to fold them over themselves a bit too so that the square sheet becomes a round pie. Sprinkle the brown sugar that you set aside over the top.
7. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. I recommend that if your oven as a "bottom only" setting, that you use this setting for the last 5-8 minutes to make sure that the pastry cooks on the bottom as well.
8. When you pull it out the sugary rum paste will have melted everywhere, so spoon any syrup that has run out of the pie back on to the top and then let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
9. Cut and serve warm.

Serves two, perfect with vanilla ice cream or just as it is!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Sago Parfait (Cambodian Borbo Skor La-Pov)

As with most Asian countries, Cambodia has a list of typical desserts which Westerners may deem "exotic". They pair things based on sweetness rather than classification. Whereas in the West we understand that basically vegetables and legumes go in savoury dishes and typically fruit is for sweet dishes. There are some obvious exceptions, such as carrot cake, pumpkin pie and duck al'orange, however, this rule is generally held true. In Asian cultures, however, these barriers don't exist. Fruit is freely added to savoury dishes and curries throughout Thailand, Cambodia, India and Sri Lanka. Whilst desserts use anything that has a sweet taste, including carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, corn, cassava, taro, red beans (also called adzuki beans) and mung beans. 

Mostly, as I've observed before, the main crossovers are orange vegetables. This is because orange vegetables are generally often sweet (carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato) whilst orange fruits are often naturally tart and sour (oranges, mandarines, tangerines etc). However, in Cambodia (as in other Asian countries) beans such as mung beans are also classified as sweets and used in desserts.

My Cambodian inspired dessert for you today is based on a recipe which involves mixing pumpkin, sweet potato, cassava and taro into sago. I've changed it up a bit by simplifying it and serving it parfait style - in layers! It's a very easy dessert and quite healthy (except for the sugar) and makes a nice change from the same old desserts we're used to serving up to guests.


Orange Layer
400g pumpkin (I used Jap), peeled and cubed
400g sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract 
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional - not traditionally used)

Sago Layer
1 can coconut milk
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sago (tapioca pearls)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean, sliced open - remove before serving if using)

Chopped peanuts, to garnish.

To Make:
1. Cover the pumpkin and sweet potato with water and bring to a simmer. Simmer, covered for about 30-40 minutes, or until very soft.
2. Bring the coconut milk, water, (vanilla bean), and sugar to a simmer in a different saucepan. Add the sago and simmer over a very low heat, partly covered for about 30 minutes. Stir frequently to make sure it isn't sticking to the bottom too much (it probably will a little bit anyway). After 30 minutes remove from heat, stir through the vanilla extract and allow to cool.
3. Strain the pumpkin and sweet potato, reserving the water. Add back 1-2 tbsp of the reserved water and then either mash or puree in a food processor until smooth (I was able to just mash mine pretty smooth because they were quite over cooked, which is what you want!).
4. Pass the purée through a sieve to make it extra smooth and smash out any remaining lumps (this is optional, it just makes sure that your purée is nice and smooth and even consistency). Stir the vanilla extract and cinnamon through and allow to cool completely.
5. Start with a layer of the purée in the bottom of your parfait glasses (using about half the purée across six parfait glasses). Follow with a layer of the sago (once again, using about half the sago) and then the remaining purée and sago in layers. Top with chopped peanuts and serve.

Serves 6.

This month I'm featuring lots of amazing recipes from Cambodia!
Check out my other Cambodian recipe posts:

Friday, 15 June 2012

Jalapeño Chocolate Truffles

Truffles are a deliciously simple way to add the flavours of anything you love to chocolate, and that is pretty much a recipe for success. Still unsure? Check out some of our other flavours of truffles -  including smoked paprika, tahini and sesame and strawberry gum (an unique Australian spice). This post is part of the Eat the Alphabet Blog Hop - which is featuring the letters I and J this month. I and J are particularly difficult letters, I think. I could only think of 4 things: Iceberg Lettuce, Jerusalem Artichokes, Jackfruit and Jalapeños. I wish I could have used Jackfruit but sadly I don't live in South East Asia where it is readily available :( I also would have loved to try something new with Jerusalem Artichokes, but I couldn't find them anywhere so I assume they aren't a winter vegetable. So - Jalapeños it is!

I love the combination of chilli and chocolate, however, I don't always love how it's done. Often chilli chocolate just involves adding some chilli powder to anything chocolate. This ok, but gives the chocolate a bit of a powdery aftertaste and the chilli tastes more like that "stale-spice-jar-chilli-powder-that-has-been-sitting-in-my-cupcoard-for-years" type of chilli. So, I wanted to infuse a spicy fresh chilli flavour which wouldn't only be hot in your mouth but actually showcase the unique flavour of jalapeño chillis.

They were perfect- the first flavour you get is the rich and creamy ganache truffle followed by a fresh heat that spreads through your mouth. So neither of the flavours dominate over the other and you get to appreciate the chocolate and then the fresh chilli hit - I couldn't have asked for them to work out better. If you are a chilli lover, then you're a fool not to try these!

250g of dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ cup of soy milk
1 fresh jalapeño chilli
Cocoa powder for dusting

How to make:
1. Roughly chop the jalapeño chilli and soak it in the milk for about 15 minute or so (you can shop your chocolate up while you are waiting). Strain the milk and discard the pieces of jalapeño.
2. Heat the soymilk in a small saucepan until small bubbles appear and steam rises off the pan.
3. Take off heat, add chocolate and stir vigorously until the chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth.
4. Place in a container and leave to chill in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.
5. Time to roll some truffles!

6. Remove ganache from the fridge. Place about ¼ cup of cocoa powder on a small bowl, and using a teaspoon or a melon baller (these are perfect!), place a spoonful of the ganache into the cocoa, tossing it in the cocoa until covered. Then dust your palms with some of the cocoa and roll the ganache piece into a ball, and place on a serving plate/whatever plate you like. Repeat until you run out of ganache.

Makes about 30 truffles (depends how big you roll them)

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Vegan Rocky Road Layer Cake

I’ve been blogging for exactly one year this month. It’s been a great experience thus far and I’m learning loads as I go. Like most bloggers I started off with some recipes which had really dodgy photos and this vague idea that maybe my blog could be awesomely successful without me putting that much effort into it. More than a hundred recipes, a new camera and hours of work later, I’ve managed to build my blog into something that I’m really happy with and proud of.

But the best thing I discovered about blogging was the unexpected friendships that sprung out of it with other bloggers. It has been wonderful to connect with other food lovers all over the world and have fun exploring food with your new friends. One such friend I have been happy to make is Erin from Big Fat Baker, and I was very happy when she asked me to write a guest post for her.

This cake is one that I made for my mother’s birthday recently, and it was a creation I just had always wanted to try. You may notice that my rocky road contains absolutely no marshmallows. There are two main reasons for this:
  • Marshmallow are a cheap way to fill out rocky road so that you don’t have to put in so much of the decadent and luscious ingredents
  • Marshmallows are made from gelatine – which is made from boiling up all the skin, crushed bones, connective tissues, organs and sometimes intestines of slaughtered animals. Now, I’m a vegan, but that aside, I don’t know who would really want to put that in their bodies!
Check out the recipe at Erin's blog here and make this wonderment for yourself!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Cambodian Spiced Eggplant

This month is Cambodian food month on this blog, I'm researching lots of different Cambodian/Khmer dishes and recreating them here, it has been particularly delicious thus far -starting with delicious Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup and Kho Manor Nung To Hu (Caramelised Pineapple with Tofu).

Khmer cuisine emphasises combinations of complementary flavours in quick and easy to prepare dishes, which is music to my ears because I love quick wok dishes that taste amazing! Here is one - it's a quick and easy eggplant dish which is perfect as a meal served with rice or as a dish to bring to a family gathering or potluck.

6 Asian-style eggplants (the skinny ones)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Fresh coriander and mint, to serve
Cooked rice, to serve.

To Make:
1. Chop the eggplant up in about 1.5cm width. 
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok and add the eggplant. Fry over a medium heat for about 4 minutes.
3. While it's frying combine all other ingredients (except the fresh herbs and rice) in a small bowl and mix well.
4. Add to the frying eggplant and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened.
5. Stir through the chopped fresh herbs and serve over cooked rice.

Serves 4-5.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes

You may look at the title of this post and think "Seriously? Chocolate pancakes? Does she want me to get fat?". The answer is no, I do not. I can also safely say that these pancakes will not make you fat. They are vegan, low in fat and are actually just as healthy as regular pancakes.

The reason for this is that the things that are really bad for you in chocolate are the sugar and the milk fat or butter fat. These pancakes are made with cocoa, which makes them practically healthy because cocoa is actually really good for you. So don't dismiss these. Just eat them. And love them. 

These chocolate pancakes also already have the jam in them, so you actually don't need to top them with anything. Just add a small amount of your favourite non dairy margarine or butter and off you go! You can use any jam you like, but I recommend sticking with berry based jams. So try them with strawberry jam, blueberry jam, blackberry jam, strawberry and mulberry jam or even strawberry and rhubarb jam.

Pancakes are also a traditional dessert food in countries such as Sweden, so you could add a touch more sugar and serve them with some whipped cream or chocolate sauce for a different and easy dessert.

1 1/4 cups soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup wholemeal flour
4 tbsp cocoa 
3 tbsp sugar
4 heaped tsp raspberry jam
1 tsp hot water
About 4-5 tablespoons of nuttelex (or other non dairy butter/margarine)

To Make
1. Mix the soy milk and vinegar in together and set aside for a few minutes (it will curdle slightly).
2. Put the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl and sift in the cocoa, mix to combine. 
3. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the milk into it. Use a whisk to combine.
4. Mix the jam with the tsp of hot water to thin the jam out slightly.
5. Add the jam into the pancake batter and mix through.
6. Melt a tbsp of nuttelex in a frypan over a medium heat and add a ladle of batter. You should be able to cook about 2 at a time. Once bubbles start to appear around the edges you can carefully flip them over and cook the other side. They should need about 3-4 minutes on each side, but check to see how they look and you can cook them a bit longer or a bit less according to preference (and how hot your stove is!)
7. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Serves 2 (about 4-5 pancakes)

This post is part of the Holiday Recipe Club's Hop to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II on the throne, which is pretty amazing. She was only 26 when she suddenly became queen, which must have been a huge change for her. Not only grieving for the death of her father, but suddenly becoming queen at such a young age.

At this point I feel I should mention that way back in my family tree I'm descended from King Henry VII, which means I should be some sort of princess in Australia right? :)

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Kho Manor Nung To Hu (Cambodian Pineapple and Tofu)

Cambodian food is famous for being simple, elegant, fresh and for it's skilful combinations of contrasting flavours. Often fresh fruit takes a starring role in savoury dishes, such as mango and chilli salsa or this delicious and quick pineapple and tofu dish. Apart from marinating the tofu, the dish is very quick to whip up and will have even the most tofu-wary coming back for more. I served this up to a table full of dinner guests, several  of which remarked "I don't usually like tofu, but I love this!". So it may be a good one to use when introducing tofu to sceptics!

300g hard tofu (sometimes called extra-firm tofu)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 stem lemon grass, tough outer parts removed and finely minced
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup mushroom sauce (see note below)
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small fresh pineapple, skin removed and chopped into wedges
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped coriander

To Make
1. Drain the tofu of any liquid in the packet, then squeeze the block gently in your hands to remove as much liquid as possible (if your tofu doesn't withstand gentle squeezing then you have bought the wrong type of tofu - you want hard tofu not firm tofu, it should be a fairly solid block).
2. Cut the tofu into about 2cm squared cubes and place in a bowl or tupperware container.
3. Add the garlic, lemongrass, sugar, soy sauce, mushroom sauce, black pepper and sesame oil and stir well to coat. Leave the tofu to marinate for 2 hours (more is fine, you can leave it over night if you want), stirring every now and then to ensure even marinating.
4. Heat the tbsp of vegetable oil in a wok and add the tofu (including all the marinade). 
5. Add the pineapple and water and simmer for about 15 minutes. The pineapple should be cooked and the sauce thickened slightly. 
6. Stir through the fresh coriander and serve immediately. Serve with rice.

Serves 3-4 as a meal with rice.

NOTE: Mushroom sauce is generally used as a vegetarian alternative to oyster sauce, it is pretty widely available in Asian supermarkets and some regular supermarkets. If you can't find any, check the Asian section of your supermarkets for anything which is labelled as "Stir Fry Sauce" with no other specific descriptions. These generic sauces are usually vegan friendly (you will have to check the back to make sure) and are made from either mushroom stock or a soy bean product. It will have a very similar taste to mushroom sauce, so just substitute that.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Cambodian Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup

Welcome to another month on Gormandize with A-dizzle & K-bobo! Today is a pretty exciting day for me - because today we finally leap off the continent and explore Asia! If you're not already aware, every month I feature a country requested by you and post lots of yummy recipes that that come from or are inspired by that country - in a vegan version. If you think this is pretty awesome and want to request a country then jump onto this page here to request a country. Cambodia was requested by a reader called MishLich and I am so thrilled that they suggested Cambodia! So far we have featured Croatia, Chad, Bosnia, Iran and Scotland - which is a nice mix of continents but lacking in Asia (and South America! But that doesn't seem to be very popular in people's suggestions for some reason!), so I'm very excited to get to be able to explore Cambodian food!

I'm pretty all up in Asia. For two reasons, firstly because I'm a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and because I lived in China for a year studying and travelling. Secondly because Asia is close to Australia, it makes for excellent cheap travelling. I have been to China, Thailand, Laos, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam and Mongolia and in July I will be heading off for a trip to Sri Lanka (which I can't even tell you how excited I am about!). But sadly I haven't made it to Cambodia yet. However, after looking at all the delicious food that is going to change soon because researching this country's cuisine actually made me plan a trip to Cambodia - it just sounded that good!

I'm starting off the month with this delicious Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup. Cambodian food it all about perfectly combining flavours - hot, sweet, sour, spicy and salty all combine in the right amounts to make a fresh, fragrant and tangy dish. The hot and sour in this soup is quite mild, but you could boost it up by adding more chilli and more lime juice. It also literally takes 15 minutes to make, so is the perfect quick meal. I made this for our lunch yesterday. Initially I was worried that it wouldn't be filling enough, but the mushrooms and noodles were very substantial. It was the perfect quick and healthy lunch!

2 x 100g cakes dried bean thread vermicelli (also called glass noodles or cellophane noodles)
5 cups hot vegetable stock
150g oyster mushrooms
3 kaffir lime leaves, bruised and torn in half
2 long red chillis, chopped into about thirds (you don't have to eat them, just adds the hotness to the broth)
1 tsp sugar
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce
Fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve

To Make
1. Soak the noodles in cold water for 15 minutes (they won't be cooked after 15 minutes, but they will be softened).
2. Wash the oyster mushrooms and slice them.
3. Combine all ingredients except the noodles  and coriander in a pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes (while your noodles are soaking). You can taste the broth and add more chilli, lime or soy sauce to taste.
4. Divide the noodles amongst two bowls and top with the mushrooms and broth. You can either remove the kaffir lime leaves before serving or serve with them and instruct whoever you are cooking for not to eat them. The big chunks of chilli the same, although you can eat them if you want! (My partner ate them). Garnish with chopped coriander.

Serves 2.