Monday, 26 July 2010

Red Thai Fish Curry

A few weeks ago I made a red curry paste. Tonight was an opportunity to use it. This is quite a simple but very nice dish if you have the right store cupboard!



The palm sugar seems to keep for ages (I mean years)



My home-made Red curry Paste



After a gentle cook with the coconut milk and cream & some bamboo shoots



Very nice it was too.....very very nice indeed.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Beef Short Ribs

Been wanting to cook these babies for some time. I'd seen them in my Korean book, and so when I ordered the steak for the previous post I included a couple of slabs.



However, upon re-reading the recipes in the Korean book I have, I realised that these are actually more suited for a low slow braise in a stew. Given it's so hot at the moment I didn't think this was a particularly good idea, and so I decided to try and slow BBQ them.

They certainly look the business. Couldn't mistake them for anything but ribs



And so after 6 slow hours in the smoker...something prehistoric turned up!



I still love this view of them



As you can see, the smoker imparted the usual pink tinge....and you can see that they retained an incredible amount of moisture...but....



...they were actually underdone - even after 6 hours. The cut is quite tough, and an under cooked short rib takes a bit of chewing I can tell you. I do believe a few more hours and they would have been great....they were simply OK at this point. (the left over veg cheese back was however very nice!) 

Monday, 19 July 2010

Steak-off

An email popped into my in box a few weeks ago from the East London Steak Company. Have a click through & you'll see they look like they mean business. However, the problem with places like this is that whilst the quality is great, it's damn frustrating having to buy in bulk ......or pay a large amount for delivery on a single steak....(I'm not willing to freeze steaks this good)

Anyway to get over that.....an idea took hold...and before I knew it I was hosting the inaugural 'steak-off'. I'd emailed a few mates with the link - and proposed we get together basically to eat meat. This then turned into a bit of a competition (well we are blokes), and quite frankly an excellent evening.

This is how the story unfolded....

Firstly the box arrived. Delivery time was between 5:30 and 8 am. Now I happen to think that is perfect - as you can take delivery and get to work...knowing you have a treat in store when you get home.



An awesome game of pass the parcel....



You can't complain about that. Longhorn steak and if you use Google maps you'll end up at the field they used to live in !!




This is the core contents of the "White Box". Any evening that starts off like this has got to be good!



Beautiful thick rib-eye - with plenty of fat running through



A superb sirloin - look at the thickness



The macho looking T-Bones



And a strangely shaped rump



So the plan was that we all drew lots to be allocated one of the steaks. Three cooked in the first round - three in the next round - and the winners of either round got to cook the remaining two.

We decided to let each person cook how they wanted, and then we all judged on firstly the appearance (i.e. which of the three looked the best (3), middle (2) & worst (1), and then the same ratings for actual taste.

With 7 people judging a possible 3*7 = 21 points for each steak was up for grabs (in each category) with 42 points as full monty. Note that if a steak was judged last by all it would still manage 14 points. More on that later eh Rob?

Round 1

And Daren gets under way in round one - by apparently eating his raw!



And Rob also starts cooking one of the rib eyes....even though he was a round two contender...more of this later....remember 14 points....



Russ's sirloin in the first round - in which he manages to pull off the amazing trick of turning an absolutely prime piece of well hung steak into something resembling a pork chop!



And so the first round judgement begins....



On the left....Russ's pork chop pan fried sirloin.
Middle - my BBQ'd T-bone
Right - Daren's tenderised and pan fried rump



So...marks out of 21 for appearance were (in classic last place first)

Sirloin (Russ): 7  (Chuckle)
Rump (Daren): 17
T-Bone (Steve): 18

So - the anaemic looking Sirloin predictably got the lowest score. It was damn funny though!

And now for taste:

My T-Bone (score: 13). Juicy - but probably suffered from the fact it was a t-bone and thus difficult to get that consistent finish all the way across



Russ's sirloin (score: 16). The winner on taste. Despite the looks, the bashing he gave to tenderise it meant the steak was very moist and juicy.



And Daren's pan fried rump (Score: 13). I though this was the best of the three. I've always preferred the more wholesome taste of a rump to the refined fillet. I think Daren himself  (a fillet man normally) was turned to the rump-side this evening.




And so the round one final scores were

Sirloin (Russ) : 23
Rump (Daren) : 30
T-Bone (Steve) : 31 (yes!)

And the conclusion. Well....if the taste scores had been weighted higher than appearance, then I think Russ sirloin would have won. This was how we concluded it on the night (after a few beers and much laughter). However, in the cold light of day I have re-assessed my thoughts. Even though the Sirloin tasted nice-  if I'd been presented it in a restaurant I'd have been mighty annoyed....taste is important - but the whole experience makes up a great meal. Go figure !

And so on to round two!

Mac makes a fine start with the BBQ




Rob's long and slow cooked rib on the right, Mac's BBQ Sirloin middle, and Wayne's pan fried rump (chuckle) on the left.

Appearance scores were:

Rib (Rob): 10 - It looked green!
Rump (Wayne) : 11
Sirloin (Mac): 21

So - Full marks to Mac. It did look superb - but I must mention my lovely wife Lou who was trying to get me some extra marks on the basis that 100's of my previous BBQ meals had added to the overall effect. I could not agree more.




And to taste

Mac' Sirloin (points 19). Fantastic. Nice one Mac



Wayne's Rump (chuckle again) (points 16). I liked this - despite an over zealous use of the Lea & Perrings.



And unfortunately Rob's well overcooked and dried out Rib-Eye. A brave man to slow cook a steak for so long - it could have been great - but......points 7. Rob - don't give up the day job. Oops - too late!




And so the final score for round 2

Sirloin - BBQ (Mac) : 40 (close to the full Monty)
Rump - Pan fried (Wayne) : 27
Rib-eye - Slow cook (Rob) : 17

And so the conclusion

Well - the obvious conclusion is that there aren't many better ways of spending a summer's evening than munching through 8 fantastic steaks with your best mates. It was interesting to see how different these cuts of meats can be served up, and what an amazing difference it makes to the steak. No doubt about it - the meat from the East London Steak company was top notch, and I shall be using them again when I can work out another way of consuming vast amounts of meat at a single sitting. Hopefully they'll open a shop soon.

I think the winning steaks showed that a simple preparation, cooked on a BBQ, with a nice thick good quality cut of meat is a winning combination. Let the ingredients shine through....

Roll on next time.

And Finally

Just a couple of shots of the last two steaks - as cooked by the round winners (Me and Mac). I did the rib-eye with a simple rub and a very brief searing on either side. Then wrapped it in foil and left it for a good ten minutes. It was lovely - crisp on the outside and rare and juicy in the middle. In my opinion the best of the night. However, no photos of the final product as we'd imbibed quite heavily at that point, and hey, who knows, that may have clouded my judgement!



Thursday, 8 July 2010

Tandoori Chicken (test run)

I'm getting annoyed with my tandoor. I've yet to get it so hot that it really sears and tandoors the meat. Indeed, I have always had to finish in the grill / oven. This time I tried a load more coal - and still no luck. Hot at the bottom (to the extent of burning the lowest food) and no cooking the highest at all. What am I doing wrong?? Surely not more coal than this effort.

Anyway - the story....

Made a marinade.





Plenty of coal (or is it??)







Waiting....



Surely that's hot enough ??



153 on the wall - not great.....



Complete with potato guards



looks promising



Tried it with the lid on



This is after 40 minutes



Burnt at bottom - not cooked at the top.



And so into the oven for a grilling

Lovely once complete - but not how they do it at the Star of India !



Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Wing Bean Salad

As I mentioned in the previous post I have a bit of a Thai head on at the moment.

There is a fantastic shop opened up in China Town that is like shopping in a Thai market. They have so much fresh authentic Thai/Asian veg and herbage. In fact - I have a lot of Asian cook books - but there's stuff in the shop that I cannot reference back anywhere. Cool.

So - I bought some Wing Beans....as you do !



The salad is a simple affair. Blanch the beans (taste a bit like a European green bean), crush some dried prawns, cooked chicken, fried shallots, peanuts and a lime and fish sauce dressing



A very different fresh tasting salad.