Sous Vide Pork Chinese Style. (Con)Fusion Cooking.

Sous Vide Pork Chinese Style (17 of 19)I’m managing to totally befuddle myself. Up to a few weeks ago, I was pretty clear on the principles of Fusion Cooking. As I understood it, all one had to do was add some chilli, garlic, coriander leaf and a slice of lime to any tried and trusted European dish. Hey Presto! – Fusion Cooking. A regular beef stew could be transformed by the adding of a couple of bashed lemongrass stalks and a ghost chilli. Fusion was easy to understand, if less easy to comprehend. So, when I decided to cook some Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin Chinese Style, it was more confusion than fusion. Continue reading

Easy Oriental Part 14 – Tamarind Prawns, a 30 minute flavour sensation.

Tamarind Prawns (10 of 11)Just in time for the Chinese New Year, I could have titled this “Extremely Easy Oriental Part 1″, had I thought about it a bit more. At the risk of paraphrasing Jamie Oliver, this is a 30 minute meal. In this instance, the 30 minutes includes eating time. The star of the dish is the tamarind. On a recent trip back to Ireland, my brother who lives in Dar es Salaam, brought me a supply. Not that Dar is in the Orient. But, it’s easier to find there than here. The ingredients list is very short but the flavour punch is excellent. In this case, I cooked for two people.

A really short ingredients list but packed with flavours.

A really short ingredients list but packed with flavours.


  • 16 decent sized prawns
  • A clump of tamarind (see the picture)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 6 to 8 spring onions
  • A squeeze of lime
  • Rice to serve

Side note on flavours: There are a number of strong flavours in this dish. Salty soy. Umami tamarind. Sweet sugar. Sharp lime. They all work in harmony to provide a range of tastes and tanginess. They elevate the prawns taste and bring the rice to life. 

Place the tamarind in a bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover.

Enough water to cover is all that's needed.

Enough water to cover is all that’s needed.

Stir the tamarind until it turns the water a nice mid brown and thickens up nicely. Sieve the tamarind into a bowl. Chop the spring onions.

The spring onions chopped and the tamarind  sauce made.

The spring onions chopped and the tamarind sauce made.

Heat some oil in a wok and add the prawns.

One needs to move fast now or the prawns will overcook. Don't over cook the prawns!

One needs to move fast now or the prawns will overcook. Don’t over cook the prawns!

As soon as they start to turn colour, add the spring onions.

Time is not your friend. stir in the spring onions and get the sugar.

Time is not your friend. stir in the spring onions and get the sugar.

Add the sugar, stir it in and then add the tamarind liquid, soy and a squeeze of lime.

It's wroth saying twice. Don't overcook the prawns!

It’s wroth saying twice. Don’t overcook the prawns!

Once the liquids have combined, serve the prawns over rice, spooning the sauce over so it infuses the rice with lovely flavours. Serve it immediately.

The tamarind, lime, soy and sugar give great flavour diversity.

The tamarind, lime, soy and sugar give great flavour diversity.

If you manage to not overcook the prawns, this dish will be prepared, cooked and eaten inside 30 minutes. It’s the simplest Oriental dish I have cooked in a long time. It’s also one of the tastiest. Spend the little bit of time needed and enjoy a flavour sensation. Happy Chinese New Year!

Poussin with garlic, lemon and shallots – One per person and be sure to chill the wine.

Poussin with garlic (8 of 8)One of the great pleasures of the week is ‘Family Dinner’. We have this every Sunday evening. All are welcome and there is shame felt by any family member who “can’t make it”, no matter what the excuse. For over 20 years, my Mum has joined us for this weekly occasion. Her place is, rightly, at the head of the table and she has dispenses great wit, wisdom and example to the younger generations. Continue reading

Steak Sous Vide or “How Boil in the Bag is changing my life.”

Steak Sous Vide (1 of 12)Let’s agree on something. This Sous Vide thing is pretty upscale. It delivers accurately, perfectly and deliciously cooked food every time. The soft texture of a piece of fresh fish cooked at 50º C for 30 minutes is sublime. The meaty taste and consistent ‘doneness’ of a nice steak given 53º C for between 1 and 2 hours will not be experienced by everyone. I have now, unwittingly become part of a distinguished, elite echelon of international gourmets.

Side note on echelons and gourmets: For those of you not in the know, echelons are always elite and gourmets always international. That’s just how it is.  Continue reading

Don’t Dilly, Don’t Dali. Go to Cadaqués and Buy a Paella Pan.

Seafood paella (19 of 21)I love a bit of authenticity. Particularly so when it comes to my kitchen equipment. So when it came to getting my hands on a paella pan, I did my research. They are a shocking price here in Dublin. So, reluctantly, as you can guess, I got on a plane and flew to Spain. Now, there really is no point in seeking out the ‘real deal’ on the Costa del Sol. One is more likely to be served roast beef with Yorkshire pudding than any traditional Spanish dish down that neck of the woods. No, I took myself to the beautiful village of Cadaqués, on the north-east coast. The village was home to that creative genius and surrealist, Salvador Dali. What better place to buy one’s cookware? Continue reading

Dublin Pasties and Cornish Protectionism.

Dublin Pastie (12 of 12)While I was researching Cornish Pasties, I discovered that the former tin miners are a pretty defensive lot. They have the humble pasty protected under European legislation. By way of contrast, with their pasty protectionism, when the Duke of Wellington invented the Beef Wellington (I believe he carried a fillet steak and mushrooms into battle, hidden inside his left boot.), he didn’t say that the Beef Wellington couldn’t be prepared outside Ireland (for he was an Irishman). No, being both Irish and generous of spirit, he allowed anybody, anywhere prepare the now famous dish. By contrast with the complex and delicious Wellington, the humble pasty was originally some leftovers, wrapped in pastry, by a tin miner’s wife. So why, oh why, can one not prepare a Cornish Pastie anywhere outside Cornwall? Continue reading

Salmon Sous Vide – Nonsensical low-temperature cooking or seafood Nirvana?

Salmon Sous Vide (6 of 7)“Sous Vide. What’s that?” “Is that some Spanish stuff?” “Boil-in-the-bag. Like they do on Masterchef”. Such were the reactions to my introducing Sous Vide to the cohort of the Great Unwashed that fronts as ‘my friends’. I did have a debt of honour to repay. So I needed to cook some Sous Vide Salmon and present it as well as I possibly could. Continue reading

Pressed Pork Belly and the End of Economic Austerity

A symbol of the return to  good economic times. Delicious.

This is dedicated to the end of economic austerity in Ireland. As is my way, I know what you are thinking. “What has a bit of pork belly to do with financial collapse and years of hardship for an entire nation?” In truth, the pork belly for me has become a symbol of our ingenuity and our ability to make the best of a pretty dire situation. Let me explain my thinking. Continue reading

Squid Ink Risotto with Scallops and Peas – Now you seafood, now you don’t.

Squid Ink Risotto (1 of 1)A long while ago, I cooked a squid risotto. That time, I carefully preserved the ink sacs to blacken the rice and to add some extra flavour. This time, I managed to buy a couple of sachets of squid ink. I was planning to do something very tasty to try to convince Eldest Daughter (ED) that not all shellfish and crustaceans are revolting. She was living with the memory of a bad shellfish experience and was pretty appalled by the thought of anything in or out of a shell. I had my work cut out. Continue reading

The Post of Christmas Past.

Grafton Street at ChristmasI really don’t care if you think that this is an act of despicable laziness and crass in the extreme. It probably is a bit of both. Two Christmases ago, I posted about my mince tart. It is buried deep in the bowels of One Man’s Meat. A year after that festive, culinary triumph, I went to a lot of trouble to prepare traditional shortbread biscuits. They too are buried, just not as far down the list. If you are new to the blog, you will be delighted to have a couple of recipes, served up just too late to prepare for Christmas 2014. If you are an old codger who tends to forget things that happened over a month ago, these will be new to you. If you take insult at the ‘old codger’ descriptor, take heart, in time, you will forget that too. Continue reading