Monday 30 April 2012
The Holy basil is revered by the Thai for it's aromatic fragrant as well as for its medicinal purposes. It is high in antioxidant and is used to treat a wide variety of conditions.
I have been looking for Thai holy basil for some time now and for a while, it was practically impossible to locate them even in the best supermarket in Chinatown. The recent flood crisis in Thailand destroyed many of the crops hence the scarcity of this delectable fragrant herb. After numerous back and forth trips to Chinatown for almost a month, I've finally managed to tracked them down.
The holy basil has a sharp, mentholated taste which is completely unique and refreshing. My first thought was to make this classic Thai stir fried dish which make the best of this herb by allowing its flavour to shine through. It is extremely simple and quick to prepare but with the ending result being so delicious, no one will ever guess.
Ingredients (Serve 4)
3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 large chicken thigh fillets, skinned and deboned and cut into bite-size pieces
1 large red chilli, deseeded and chopped
a large handful of fresh Thai Holy basil, leave picked and roughly torn
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until smoking, add the garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the chicken and stir fry for 3 minutes before adding the chilli and half of the holy basil. Cook for another minute and add the fish sauce and toss to mix well.
Transfer onto a clean plate, scatter the rest of the holy basil and serve immediately with some steamed rice.
Sunday 29 April 2012
Over the past six months or so, Tonkotsu (of Turu Sushi) held a series of ramen pop up events at their Bishopgate branch attended by all the ramen aficionados like myself. Like all good things, this has finally came to end and what a spectacular ending this was.
Since the last Classic Shoyu ramen event, I have been waiting anxiously with bated breath to find out what their house ramen will be. Upon arriving and once seated, it was finally revealed to us that it will be their own take on the traditional English breakfast in a slat based ramen. That sounded exciting and since all classic ramen were named after the city they were from so London ramen just seemed like an appropriate choice.
The crispy kara-age were juicy and moist as usual, great flavours and I am delighted to see that the standards of this had been very consistent over our past few visits as were the pork gyoza. They were both excellent and perfect starters to the meal.
The London ramen arrived once our starters were cleared, bringing with it a whiff of intense smokey bacon aroma, which was rather comforting on a cold rainy day.
Adorned with three slices of flamed-charred smoked bacon, a soft curd-like egg with oozy yolk, some woody shimeji, lightly pan-fried shiitake, spring onions and sesame seeds. The clarity of the soup base masked the punchy flavours hidden within, a result of cooking the smoked bacon in the soup stock first. There was a dirty taste about the soup, not dissimilar to a classic Tonkotsu ramen but without the cloudy, milky-white appearance. The bacon were tender and packed full of toothsomeness. The searing of the shiitake before adding to the ramen was a clever touch - adding charred flavour and fantastic texture. It was very well done indeed. This, we were told will definitely be on the menu of the restaurant and deservedly so - A big smokey ramen in honour of 'The Big Smoke'
Another news announced on the day was the Tonkotsu has finally found a home (hurrah!) and it will be residing in Soho, 63, Dean street opening in June/July. We were told that this was all very recent and that the contract was only finalised a couple of weeks ago, so good news for all ramen lovers in London.
The ramen world has had the Tokyo, Hokkaido and Tonkotsu and now it has London ramen, or as I prefer, The Big Smoke.
Follow the progress of Tonkotsu Bar and Ramen on twitter @tonkotsulondon
A couple of days ago, while seeking shelter from the torrential downpour that crazy London has been experiencing lately in Chinatown, I came across this green rosette-like vegetable that I remember from back when I was a child.
There are many names for this wonderful vegetable, I known it as taai goo choy, but it also called tat soi/tot soi in Japanese and Chinese flat cabbage or rosette bok choy. Coming from the same family as the Chinese white cabbage, it has tiny spoon-like leave that grows flat and round, spreading out like a blossoming flower, which is rather unusual and beautiful to look at. Unlike the white cabbage, it has darker green leaves which are stronger and peppery in taste and has a tougher texture. It is great for used raw in salad as well as lightly wilted in quick stir fry dishes.
Due to it's abundance of leaves, it is also considered as very lucky and auspicious. My family would used to served this during Chinese new year celebration, cooked alongside with another auspicious ingredient, Fat Choy (black moss) in a sweet oyster sauce.
With this and some tiger prawns that I have bought from the market on the day, I made a very simple stir fry dish for supper. Feel free to substitute the flat cabbage with other Chinese greens but I simply adore the crunchiness and flavour of this vegetable.
400g raw tiger prawns, shelled and deveined
3 or 4 Chinese rosette cabbage, separate the leaves, washed and dry thoroughly
2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
2 tbsp shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tsp roasted sesame oil
Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until smoking. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and stir fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
Add the prawns and stir fry for 2 minutes, or until it turned pink before adding the cabbage leaves and stir fry for another 30 seconds., until they just wilted. Add the rice wine, soy sauce and toss together. Season with black pepper and add the sesame oil.
Served immediately with some steamed rice.
Saturday 28 April 2012
Following the success of last year, the StockMKT is hoping to repeat itself again this year with another pop up night market in the middle of Bermondsey square on 28th April. When I got wind of this, I immediately crossed everything out of my diary and headed down to Bermondsey. I was that excited that I found myself arrived way too early and all the traders were still setting up their stalls. But very soon, it all started to get going with the local Bouther Primary School choir singing an arrays of songs.
|(Clockwise from top left) Pizza Pilgrims, Bhangra Burger, Kamm and Sons, Kebab Kitchen|
I came prepared by starving myself silly throughout the day to be able to eat as much as I can. I zoomed in on the newly established Pom Pom Takoyaki by two lovely Japanese girls, Hana and Tamo. I learnt about them through the medium of twitter and had been dying to get my paws on those delectable octopus balls and I wasn't disappointed. In addition to the classic octopus combination, they also offered chicken mayonnaise and curried potatoes version - their reinvention of the classic. Light and truly flavoursome, they were all delicious and it was hard for me to pick out a favourite, so much so that I went back for a second helping of all three toward the end of my stay at the market just to be sure. I am predicting great things from these girls.
|Pom Pom Takoyaki|
'Look at these eggs! That's why they called me the boss!' he chuckled.
He was a great entertainer. The eggs were just as mesmerising with flavours such as the spicy Creole, black pudding and the notorious Holy F*ck sauce by The Ribman and many other. I handed over £12 and walked away with all the flavours I've mentioned and a St Georges version which contains pickles. All were brilliantly cooked, the yolks were gooey when cut through and the meat casing were well seasoned. My favourite was definitely the Holy F*ck and the spicy creole, being a chili aficionado myself. (Please note: The * has been added to make this blog more family friendly)
The Big Apple Hot Dogs served what I think is the best quality hot dog rolls around. I have tried the Big Dog from their usual Old Street stalls and decided to go for the Big Frank this time round. Most of you who have read my past review of this brilliant hot dog joint would have noted how disappointed I was not being able to meet the man behind all this but this had been rectified as Abiye himself was here on the night and I was able to have a quick chat and what a privilege it was. And as for the Big Frank, it was beautifully seasoned and the pork was meaty and firm with light smokey flavour, miles better than any hotdog rolls that I've ever had, beside the Big Dog that is. For those who always think that all hot dogs comes from a jar should really ought to pay the BAHD a visit just to see what a true hot dog is.
|Big Apple Hot Dogs|
Bea's of Bloomsbury, with their amazing displays of beautiful baked goods were also another stall that I had the fortune of sampling. Bea herself were manning the deep-fried brownies which although I was tempted, was eventually too faint-hearted to go for. Although I did bought all three different cupcakes - red velvet, sticky toffee and raspberry - and a slice of the very naughty fudge and chocolate brownie cheese cake. The cheese cake were creamy and just sweet enough with the doughy brownies and the chewy toffee, offered an all balanced texture. It might be sinful, but it was also delicious! The cupcakes were light and fluffy and had a creamy and rich toppings which were just divine. I had initially bought then to keep for breakfast the following day but none of them survived the night. They were just too moreish.
|Bea's Of Bloomsbury|
For more information on upcoming pop up from The StockMKT, visit their website by clicking on the link or follow their progress on twitter @TheStockMKT.
Friday 27 April 2012
Eat street comprises of a group of street food vendors that have settled on one end of the King's Boulevard, sandwiched in between Pancras Road and Goods Way. Running weekly from Tuesday to Friday, different traders rotates and set up their stalls on varies days. These ranges from the delicious Hot Dogs from Big Apple Hot Dogs to the scrumptios Vietnamese Bahm Mi from Bahn Mi 11. Each traders have been carefully considered and only the very best were showcased which is what made this such a superb collective and regardless of what day you visit, there will only be good quality food served by traders who are passionate about their work.
On arrival to King's Cross station via the Victoria line, I gallantly braved the pouring rain and made my way to this street food collective venue. There were already a handful of street food enthusiast who, like me, ignored the dreary April shower in a quest for good street food.
|Well Kneaded Ltd|
|French and Grace|
my last encounter with Danny of Kimchi cult, he was top on my list as I simply had to try out the Mexican-Korean Torta that he had spoken of. Once stood in front of the stall, the aroma of the meat grilling on the sizzler were just sensational. Still the same old amiable self, Danny were doing his thing and chatting to the customers at the same time. His helper took the order and assemble the tortas. There were a choice of either Bulgogi beef or pulled pork (£5) and I went for the latter. Nice chunks of pork that were not only moist, but also beautifully tender; with the unusual pairing of guacamole and spicy kimchi (it worked!) and together the jalepenos and oozy cheese all encased in a traditional Mexican Boulillo bread. These were then toasted with a panini presser which gave the torta a contrasting crunchy crust. Without a doubt was one of the best sandwiches I have had in yonks and I might even go as far as to say that it was even better than his Kimchi Cult Special. Thumbs up from me!
Another stall that I tried was the Eat My Pies. I was mesmerised by the arrays of pies, scotch eggs and the solitary custard tart on display. But what really caught my eye was the clever and inventive giant Yorkshire pudding filled with rare beef. I happily handed over £3.50 and was given one of those magical Yorkie.It might not be the most conventional way to serve Sunday lunch but by gosh, what a treat that was. The beef was tender with just enough pinkness. The fresh horseradish cream and the peppery rocket provided a nice kick to the ensemble. The Yorshire pudding itself was light although being served cold meant that it had none of the crispiness, although it does remind me of a brioche-like texture which was lovely once you get past the notion of eating a cold Yorkie.
Sad to say, I was too full up to be able to try out the other vendors but maybe next time when I'm near King's Cross again, this will definitely be my top choice for a nice spot of lunch.
For more information on Eat Street, you can go to their website by clicking on the link or follow their progress via twitter @EatStreet .
Wednesday 25 April 2012
Ingredients (Serves 2)
4 red mullet fillets, about 300g altogether
225g dried linguine
4 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic clove, crushed
8 baby tomatoes, cut into halves
a small handful of fresh basil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the linguine according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the red mullet fillets, skin-side down, for 3 minutes. Turn them over and fry for 1 minute before removing them from the pan and set aside and keep warm.
Serve immediately, drizzled with the extra virgin olive oil and garnish with the remaining fillets and basil.
|Linguine with Red Mullet, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil|
Monday 23 April 2012
So guess the excitement I had when I walked past Borough market yesterday and came across this solitary packet of organic wild garlic - not all of us are habitual forager so do not judge me. I'm sure the greengrocer were bemused by my reaction as I gasp quite loudly right in front of the till when I spotted this parked next to it.
And now there is just one thing I need to do....forage for more (from farmers market or perhaps taking up foraging as a full time career, which I am serious contemplating)
In the meantime, whisk the olive oil and lemon juice in a large bowl and gradually add the pecorino until well mix and slightly emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
225g dried linguine
50ml extra virgin olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
75g Pecorino cheese, grated
a bunch of wild garlic
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the linguine according to packet's instructions until al dente.
Sunday 22 April 2012
We arrived 15 minutes before our reservation ( yes, you can make a reservation for lunch here on the weekend - what a relief!) but thankfully, there was a vacant table and so we duly sat right next the window where the view of Borough market was in full sight.
The fried maris piper potato with aioli (£3.50) were just as brilliant. Good flavours and crispy outer just as it should be.
Our meal came to a total of £83 with a bottle of wine, the filtered water and the superb service are free.
12 Stoney Street