Most of us are looking to maybe lose a pound or two this month, after the Christmas binge, but it doesn’t mean we have to abstain altogether. Some of you may have made a connection with someone over the festive period and may have it in mind to knock a little something together to impress him or her. So, if you’re looking to impress your loved one with something that doesn’t contain turkey, spuds or sprouts, then look no further.
Myles was joined by food writer Mei Chin.
This is a classic dish, but everyone brings their own twist on it. I’ve observed that it’s difficult to get Irish (?) men especially to eat fish, but for some reason, I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t love kedgeree.
It is rice, fish, seasonings, sometimes with egg, sometimes with smoked fish, sometimes with cream and butter and curry powder. More importantly, kedgeree was the first dish I ever cooked to please a man, specifically my stepfather. I knew it was his favorite food, but made by his mother.
My stepfather is part English, part Scottish, and part Irish, and he teaches Chinese history, so you could say he is a bit of a colonialist. Kedgeree is an Anglo-Indian dish, created by Scottish soldiers in India during the 19th century. It was the one way that they could eat their fish, salted and smoked (Scots!) to prevent from spoiling in the heat. It is also the perfect colonial dish, yellow and white. I started making it for my stepfather, and every man in my life has liked it since.
You can serve it with the salad I described above.
Traditionally Kedgeree is smoked haddock, basmati rice, and curry powder. I have made it with the smoked haddock – a tip that I learned from a chef – Michael Quinn from Waterford, taught me that with the vacuum packed stuff, you can actually slip the haddock into simmering water, which is sort of a sous-vide. Since I’ve come to Ireland, I’ve experimented with hot smoked salmon (available in any supermarket) and hot smoked mackerel, and I prefer them. The hot smoked salmon makes for a gorgeous presentation – because the dish is cream, yellow, and pink, and flecked with green. I prefer the flavor of the hot smoked mackerel though.
Start with three cups of cooked basmati rice (3/4 cup raw cooked with water and a pinch of salt – simmer for fifteen minutes, you want to rice to be al dente – still almost raw. The other thing I do is spend 1.50 euro at my corner Indian takeaway.)
In the pan, start cold – this is just something that I do, put olive oil, one finely minced chili (optional), one clove minced garlic, two tbsp of minced coriander stems, and one tsp of ginger, bring it up to high heat with a pinch of salt, and then when the onion starts to turn translucent, add the cooked rice and about two tablespoons of curry powder. Especially if you have bought the rice pre-cooked, you might want to add about two tablespoons of water to make sure that the curry and the onions amalgamate throughout the rice. The rice should be bright yellow at this point, and at this point, add your smoked fish, flaked. Taste for seasoning, add some grated lemon rind and minced coriander and diced hard boiled eggs, then stir in two tbsp of butter to make it creamy.
Another thing that I do – especially if I use the hot smoked salmon, which gives it a slightly more fancy look (more color) is that I omit the hard boiled eggs and garnish each serving with a poached or soft boiled egg (bring water to a boil with the egg, then cover and remove from heat and let rest for five minutes.) Note about poached eggs here because they are scary? I had one boyfriend who swore by his plastic egg poacher. This was very reliable – but I have also had a lot of joy with well salted water, vinegar, and stirring the water, which should be at a simmer, into a whirlpool, into which I slip the egg that I have cracked into a bowl. This is best done one at a time – but the poached egg looks wonderful. Also, for me, soft boiled/poached eggs are frequently a stressful thing, so if you are like me, then I would go with the hard boiled egg option.
I love this recipe, and for some reason, the men for whom I cook it find it very sexy, even though it’s casual. Basically Bahn Xeo is a Vietnamese crepe that is folded over like an omelet, you then cut pieces of it, wrap it in a lettuce leaf. coriander, and mint, and dunk it in a variety of sauces – hoisin, fish sauce, sriacha, sweet chili. Traditionally the dipping sauce is fish sauce + sugar + water + julienned carrots, but I find that the above sauces work just as well.
It is fresh, light, unusual, and delicious. The other thing I like about this recipe is that it is completely gluten free – and you can adjust it if your date is a vegetarian.
If you want to bulk out your menu, you can serve this with Tom Yum soup (spicy soup with coconut milk) or a steak that you have marinated with ginger, fish sauce, sugar, and soy.
Recipe for the crepe
1 ½ cups rice flour
½ cup corn flour
1 ¾ cups water
¾ cups of coconut milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp of tumeric
Mix the flours together with the salt and the tumeric and then let rest in the refirigator over night.
Julienne some pork and let steep in one tsp of cornstarch, one tsp ginger, wine, soysauce, fish sauce, 1 tsp of sugar, 2 tbsp wine, and and 1 tsp minced garlic. Also peel and chop ten prawns. In a pan with oil that is smoking, sautee the pork with a handful of chopped coriander stems until it is no longer pink, and then add two ladles of the crepe batter. Add shrimp, then add a handful of raw cleaned beansprouts. Wait until the crepe begins to color around the edges, then cover the pan and wait three minutes until the other ingredients have cooked. Flip the crepe over like an omelet and serve with lettuce leaves, mint, coriander, and sauces.