Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Salami and pea risotto


I’ve blogged before about risotto.  It really isn’t as hard as it seems.  Just add a bit of stock at a time and stir in the same direction until cooked.  That’s pretty much it.  And this is one is super simple because there’s very little prep and so there’s not much to throw you off your rice stirring.   Ready in 25 minutes – that’s a good midweek meal.  It’s also pretty cheap.  You can use any salami, I used a nice one from Lidl but really whatever you want.  Frozen peas too, are a staple so it’s quite easy to do with what you have.  if you don’t have salami you can use ham or chorizo, or anything like that.  Even Mr J thought it was good, which is pretty hard to do as he’s so spoilt by my cooking.

I found the recipe here:

Salami and pea risotto

Serves 2

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion,finely chopped
  • 150g risotto rice (I used arborio, also from Lidl, so fancy doesn’t need to be expensive)
  • 750ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • large handful of frozen or fresh peas, defrosted or use mushrooms or other vege
  • 50-60g sliced salami, shredded
  • handful of parmesan cheese
  • small knob of butter or margerine or a spoonful of creme fraiche or cream
  1. Heat the oil in a high sided pan on a medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook until softened.
  3. Add the rice, stiring until it turns translucent.
  4. Add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stiring until evaporated.
  5. Turn the heat down to a low simmer.
  6. Continue adding stock until the rice is cooked and the stock absorbed (you may need slightly less or more stock)
  7. Mid way through, add the peas.
  8. Whilst the rice is cooking, dry fry the salami in a separate pan until crispy, then turn out onto kitchen towel.
  9. When the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and stir through most of the salami, the parmesan and the butter or margerine or cream.
  10. Leave for 3-4 minutes to ‘rest’.
  11. Serve with the remaining salami sprinkled on top
  12. And enjoy the deliciousness!


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Summer curry: Goan fish curry


So, since we moved, my weight has been a bit up and down like a yoyo.  It’s all to do with finding a rhythm at the gym now, and also avoiding the biscuits at work.

This week I’m recommitting to the gym and trying to be healthier.  Many people think curries aren’t healthy, but they can be, and this is a good example of one.  Using fish as well, means it’s a lot lighter and good for summer eating.  At 238 calories per serving this is a great healthy dinner.

I do find that fish isn’t the cheapest thing to buy, but you can get good deals.  Our local co-op often has meat discounted towards the end of the day, and the haddock I got was one such example.  I also got prawns as they were reduced too, but you can leave them out as they can be expensive.

You can use any firm white fish for this – pollack or coley would work well and are often a lot cheaper.

This is a delicious curry and really simple to make.  No making pastes, and just use ground spices. I found it on trusty BBC Good Food but from a reader and not the usual chefs.  I served with boiled rice, but naan or chappatis would be good too.

Goan Fish Curry

Serves 2

  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 long green chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp garam masala
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1 cardamom pods, seeds only
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4-5 mushrooms, quartered (you can add whatever vegetables you like)
  • 70ml reduced fat coconut milk
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 250g skinless haddock or any firm white fish cut into chunks
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 12 raw prawns (I used cooked king prawns as couldn’t find uncooked)
  • 1tbsp fresh chopped coriander
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying or sauce pan.  Add the onions and cook until browned.
  2. Next add the chilli, garlic, ginger and dried spices, and mushrooms cooking for a further minute, until the spice aromas fill the kitchen.
  3. Add the coconut milk and tomatoes.  You may need to add some water here
  4. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for about 5-10 minutes, or until thickened slightly.
  5. Add the fish chunks and cook for about 10 minutes until cooked through (add the prawns after 5 minutes if they’re raw)
  6. Add the cooked prawns and the coriander, and lime juice and cook through for a couple of minutes.
  7. Serve with boiled rice and enjoy the light fish with spicy flavours



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Stuffed roasted peppers

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This is a super easy midweek recipe. And healthy too. It’s a bit like keema dhal in a pepper. I found the original recipe on BBC good food but because I didn’t have much mince (just some left over in the fridge) I added the lentils as well.

You can easily do with it beef or turkey mince instead, or quorn. It’s very versatile and really great for something different.

Here’s the original recipe

And here’s mine!

Keema dhal stuffed peppers

Serves 2

  • 150g minced lamb
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 80g red or green lentils
  • 50g raw rice (or 100g cooked)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • a pinch chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley , chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped flaked almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Cut the peppers in half, leaving the stalk on, but removing the pith and seeds. Place on a baking tray and drizzle over a little oil and some salt. Put in the oven to cook for about 20 minutes. Drain off any water that collects in the peppers.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the rice as per your usual method, and boil the lentils in salted water until soft. Drain both and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat until translucent but not coloured. Add the spices and stir for another minute. Then add the mince and fry until browned, breaking it up with the spatula.
  4. Add the tomato puree, chicken stock, almonds and parsley. Stir well to combine, then reduce the heat to low and allow to bubble off some of the liquid.
  5. Stir the rice and lentils into the mince mixture and remove from the heat.
  6. Remove the peppers from the oven and spoon the mixture into each until its over full.
  7. Return to the oven and cook for a further 20-30 minutes or until crispy on top and the peppers chargrilled.
  8. Serve and eat immediately! 🙂
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Italian style rice & egg salad

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It was sunny yesterday, and a pleasant return to the UK after a great holiday in Cape Verde where we just chilled out, ate too much and I didn’t cook once. Just what I needed. So I returned 1/2 a stone heavier and in need of a diet. I wanted to do something healthy and light and salad seemed like a good thing. But we didn’t have much in the fridge, so I was being inventive.

I got the recipe from my new Italian Comfort Foods cook book, which you can find here and it uses pickled vegetables. But I didn’t have any of them, except for onions, so I just used marinated roasted peppers and artichokes and some olives instead. And some sweetcorn that was lurking in the fridge. I also didn’t have any mozzarella, so I used goats cheese and it was delicious.

So basically – just substitute whatever you’ve got into the salad and I’m sure it’ll be fine.

I also used Thai Jasmine rice for the rice, as that’s what I had, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It was ok but it’s quite a sticky rice. I think a long grain rice would be better for a salad.

Italian style rice & egg salad

Serves 3

  • 130g rice
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1.2l water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 90g pickled onions (the little ones you use for cheese crackers – I had leftover ones from Christmas!)
  • 100g (ish) roasted peppers from a jar – drain and rinse off the oil and slice into strips.
  • 100g (ish) artichoke hearts from a jar – again drain and rinse off the oil
  • 100g (ish) green olives – rinse off the oil or brine
  • 100g tinned sweetcorn, drained
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and sliced
  • 100g mozzarella cheese (real stuff, not the pizza stuff), diced or use goats cheese instead
  • handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1tsp English mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Spread the rice out on a baking tray and place in the oven to toast for a few minutes.
  2. Bring the water to boil, place the lemon in the water and the salt and then add the rice. Re-bring to the boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer until the rice is just cooked (you don’t want to over cook it and have all the starch come out) – about 10 minutes.
  3. Then drain and rinse under cold water until the rice is cooled and the water runs clear. Set aside until needed.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, salt & pepper to form a dressing.
  5. Put all the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl (the larger the better for mixing) and toss. Add the rice and toss again.
  6. Add the dressing and toss once more to combine then serve immediately.
  7. Enjoy! 🙂
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South Indian chicken curry

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As I write this, I’m eating my lunchbox salad of beetroots, green beans and goats cheese. And very nice it is too. Perfect for lunches as it’s low in carbs and high in protein – giving me the boost for this afternoon and not making me sleepy! Whilst the dieting mantra is no carbs after 5, actually this doesn’t make sense in terms of how your body functions. You want to avoid carbs at lunch as they’ll make you sleepy and stock up on protein to give you a boost, and eat carbs for dinner to slow you down and give you a good nights sleep (and to avoid a glucose crash in the middle of the night, waking up with a headache). This will be my next post (the salad, not dieting tips – I’m not sure I have any of them, I just use common sense – this being one such example).

Now, for those of you who are dieting (I’m not, by the way, I don’t do diets, I just try to eat sensibly) this is a very good option. It even has coconut milk in it, which normally is a ‘no no’ for dieters, but according to the recipe, it’s only 320 calories. Have it with a bit of rice or a chappatti, and you’ve got a very healthy 500 calorie-ish meal. Perfect for dinner. The only thing I would say is, I made half of this recipe for 2 people and we ate all of it. So 6 servings is probably unrealistic unless you are very committed to your diet. So probably 450 calories is more realistic – which still isn’t bad. If you use reduced fat coconut milk you could probably lose a few more too.

For those of you not dieting, don’t worry, it’s full of flavours and utterly delicious. I think I may even prefer it to the chicken and cashew nut curry I posted last week.

I do not love the name though, because it suggests that this is the only South Indian Chicken curry, when of course there are many, and I’m not sure I ever ate one in the 2 years I lived there that had coconut milk in it. Maybe it’s more of a Keralan version. Anyway, as it’s a very generic title I’m not sure what else to call it and have kept the unsatisfactory name.

Here’s the original recipe, but I of course changed it a bit. Not by much though:

South Indian Chicken Curry

Serves 2

  • 1 small green chilli, roughly chopped (de seed if you don’t want too spicy, add another if you like a good kick)
  • 5cm piece root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and one roughly chopped, the other sliced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil (groundnut, sunflower, vegetable, rapeseed – whatever)
  • 5 curry leaves (can be bought from most Indian and some Chinese supermarkets, and often local Indian corner shops – keep in freezer and take out when needed)
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts (or 1 large if from a butcher), chopped into bitesized pieces
  • vegetables – I used mushrooms but carrots, peppers, peas, beans – whatever you have, will work just as well
  • 1/2 tin coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 large green chillis, chopped on the diagonal (de seed if you want – they aren’t very hot anyway)
  • handful of chopped fresh coriander
  1. Wizz the chopped onion, garlic, ginger, ground spices, salt and small chillis in a food processor or blender to make a paste (or you can do it by hand with a pestle and mortar). Add a bit of the oil if it’s sticking and not very pasty (the recipe suggests water – I found that this made it too watery and when adding to the hot oil in the pan, made it spit at me).
  2. Heat the oil in the pan. Add the paste and cook out for a couple of minutes.
  3. Then add the onions. Cook until starting to brown. Then add the chicken, stiring well to coat in the paste.
  4. Cook until the chicken turns white on the outside before chucking in your vege, mixing again.
  5. Cook for a further couple of minutes until the veges start to soften.
  6. Add the coconut milk, tamarind paste and lime juice.
  7. Cook for a few minutes until you have a nice thick curry sauce and the chicken is cooked through.
  8. Toss in the coriander and chillis, stirring through.
  9. Serve immediately with boiled rice, naans or chappatis.
  10. Enjoy!
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Diet friendly creamy curry: chicken & cashew nut curry

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This is one of those that I cook on a fairly regular basis but keep forgetting to take photos of, so this is the first time its made it on here! This is a great curry, pretty easy to make, low in calories and fat, high in taste and deliciousness, probably even fairly kiddy friendly as it’s not super spicy and the nuts are ground up.

The best thing about this curry is, wouldn’t know it was low calorie at all, just from eating it. It’s quite creamy but doesn’t have any cream or coconut milk in it – it’s all provided by a tablespoon of yoghurt and some cashew nuts! And the cashews give it a really great earthy flavour too. It’s also quick to make so it’s a great midweek option.

I had friends over on Saturday so I thought I’d make this to line our stomachs for the drinking that was coming after it! We had it with rice and naan.

Chicken and cashew nut curry

Serves 4

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 50g cashew nuts
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp low fat plain yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp oil (rapeseed, groundnut, sunflower, vegetable)
  • 4 chicken breasts, chopped into bitesized pieces (or two if very large breasts)
  • handful of sultanas (or raisins)
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • 100g frozen peas, defrosted, or chopped green beans
  • 1 mug of water
  • handful of chopped fresh coriander
  1. Put the onions in a mini food processor and grind first before adding the garlic, ground spices, tomato puree, yoghurt and cashew nuts – and blending to form a rough paste (doesn’t need to be smooth – the little bits of cashew nuts in the sauce are quite nice). Alternatively, if using a large food processor – blend all at once to form a paste.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok on a medium heat. Add the paste and cook it out for a few minutes until it starts to darken in colour (add more oil and lower the heat if it starts to stick).
  3. Then add the chicken and mix well to coat in the sauce. Cook for a couple of minutes until the chicken is cooked on the outside.
  4. Then add the raisins, mushrooms and peas or beans. mix well again to coat, before adding the water and mixing well again so that there’s a nice creamy sauce.
  5. Bring to a simmer, and allow to gently cook for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is quite nice and thick (but not so thick its not a sauce anymore!).
  6. Chuck in the coriander and stir through.
  7. Serve with rice, naan, chapattis, and enjoy!
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Post-cake detox: Griddled aubergine dhal

Having eaten far too much cake batter and icing and all sorts over the weekend, I felt sick and bloated!  So it was definitely time to return to the detox.  My stomach has never been great with too much dairy fat or processed sugar – and it got a bit overloaded.  That’s growing up in Asia for you – I’ve just never adjusted well to a rich diet.  When I did the Atkins diet, it nearly killed me (and I didn’t lose any weight either!). 

After a workout at the gym and then eating this delicious dhal, I felt so much better and the bloating subsided almost immediately – that’s the power of ginger!  I absolutely believe in overdoing the ginger, garlic and chillis (and of course, the now obligatory turmeric, cinnamon or paprika!) to sort out pretty much any ailment – from colds to stomach upsets.  Although, if your stomach is very upset – go easy on the chilli!  And chuck in some mint instead. 

I didn’t really taste the tamarind in this, and you know how I love tamarind, so I think I’d add 2 tablespoons in future, and not just one.  But apart from that, it was beautiful.  I also used yellow lentils (mong dhal) instead of red ones (masoor).  Apart from taking longer to cook, I don’t think it made much difference.  Served with boiled rice, but chapattis or naan would also be lovely.

The original recipe is here, but just looking at it, it seemed boring so I upped the flavour factor somewhat!  Part way through, despite my interventions, it still didn’t taste brilliant, so I added some chilli powder, tomato puree and some chopped fresh tomatoes – which did the trick.  I’ve included these in the recipe below.  But leave out you if you’re wanting a milder, watery-er flavour.

Griddled aubergine dhal

Serves 2

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • knob of root ginger, grated
  • 4 whole green chillis
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp hot madras curry powder (use mild if you’re not into chilli)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100g red or yellow lentils, rinsed
  • 500ml water
  • 1 medium aubergine, sliced into 2cm rounds
  • 3 tomatoes, quartered
  • handful of chopped fresh coriander
  1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan.  When it’s hot, add the onion and cumin and fry together until browned.
  2. Then add the garlic, ginger and 2 whole chillis.  Fry for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Then add the spices, tamarind, tomato puree and salt.  Mix well to combine for 30 seconds.
  4. Tip in the lentils, mix well to combine and cook for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add about half of the water, to cover the lentils.  Bring to the boil and then reduce to a low simmer and cover. 
  6. Check the lentils periodically and top up with water as needed. 
  7. Meanwhile, heat a griddle pan til smoking hot. 
  8. Brush the aubergines with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place in the griddle pan and cook on either side until chargrilled.  Set aside until needed.
  9. When the lentils are nearly done (the sauce is starting to go creamy) add the tomatoes, remaining chillis and coriander.  Stir well to combine.  Only add water if absolutely needed to prevent sticking as the tomatoes will break down somewhat.
  10. Cook for a further few minutes until the lentils are nice and mushy.
  11. Serve over rice with the aubergines piled on top.
  12. Enjoy the healthiness and punchy flavours 🙂

Summer risotto: spinach and asparagus

As you know, hubby has a thing for asparagus. But it’s rare to find really nice, good quality asparagus. And also, once it’s been in the fridge for a week or so, it’s not as nice in any case. So a good way of utilising all that flavour and essence of asparagus, without subjecting yourself to boring and woody stuff, is to put it in risotto. I’ve previously blogged about a champagne ristotto that has griddled asparagus on top, but this is one with asaparagus going through it.

I actually combined two recipes. One was for a ‘green risotto’ which had spinach and fresh herbs in it and the other was for asparagus. Both from my 500 Italian recipes cookbook, which you can find here

If you can get baby spinach, it is better for this, but I just had normal spinach and it tasted fine – just be sure to remove the woody stalks first. And a tip for removing the woody bits of asparagus. Grab either end of the asparagus stalk, and gently bend each end downwards until it snaps – where it snaps is where the woody bit ends.

Spinach and asparagus risotto

Serves 2

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 150g arborio risotto rice
  • 125ml white wine
  • 500ml chicken stock (or vege stock if making for veges)
  • 200g spinach, either baby or grown with stalks removed.
  • 30g parmesan cheese, grated
  • knob of butter
  • salt & pepper
  1. Peel the stalks of the asparagus, up to their heads. Then place in boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, reserving the water, and run under cold water to prevent further cooking. Leave to cool and then chop into 1 inch pieces placing the stalks and heads in separate piles.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan or wok or large deep sided frying pan, on a gentle heat. Add the onion and garlic and fry until softened. Add the rice, stiring until mixed with the oil and the grains turn translucent. Add the wine, and allow to bubble and reduce.
  3. When the wine is almost completely absorbed, add a ladle of the stock, stiring in a clockwise, semi circular fashion until absorbed. Repeat with the rest of the stock.
  4. About 10 minutes into the rice cooking, add the asparagus stalks, stiring well. continue adding the stock a ladle at a time. When you run out of stock, continue with the reserved asparagus water.
  5. When the rice is nearly done (you can tell this when it’s mostly clear but there’s a small bit in the middle that’s still opaque) add the asparagus heads and the spinach stiring well. Add another ladle of stock/water
  6. When the rice is cooked (when it goes completely clear, but only just – you don’t want it mushy), turn off the heat. Add the parmesan, butter and seasoning, stir in to combine and leave for about 3 minutes.
  7. Serve into bowls with a glass of the remaining wine and enjoy a lovely summer dinner dish.
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Pork and pineapple thai style curry

The pineapples were going cheap at the grocers – so I bought two. We like pineapple and I figured we’d eat them but they weren’t ripe so I left them on the window sill and forgot about them. They’re now over ripe! So it’s pineapple every day for this week!

I was wondering what to do with them that didn’t involve lots of sugar and calories, and found this recipe.

It’s for prawns but I had already started defrosting pork so I used that instead. And I had an aubergine that needed eating so that went in as well. And then I thought I’d do it more thai style and add garlic, frying it first. And then an onion too!

I didn’t have massaman curry paste either, so I used penang, but really you could use any thai curry paste. It will obviously alter the taste a bit but these ingredients will go with any really. If you use green or red paste – omit the fresh chilli or it’ll be too spicy, unless you’re actually Thai. We eat chilli all the time, I would leave it out for us as the paste, especially if you get the stuff from the Chinese supermarket, is very strong.

If you can get the small Thai aubergines, these are best for it, but otherwise, a normal purple one will do. I used a normal purple one which I chopped into chunks and sprinkled with salt. If using the Thai baby ones – chop in half or quarters and then sprinkle with salt.

This is not the lowest in calories of curry – with the coconut milk, but if you can find reduced fat coconut milk, it helps. You can use any meat this too – chicken, white fish, prawns would all work well instead of pork. With the exception of Massaman curry, it’s unusual to have beef in Thai curries, but you could use it. And if you’re vege or making for veges – just leave out the meat, and you have a great meatless curry. You could even add tofu as well if you wanted. It’s even vegan friendly!

Pork and pineapple curry

Serves 4

  • 1 aubergine, chopped into chunks
  • 2 tbsp oil (sunflower, vegetable, sesame, peanut, groundnut)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp curry paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 400g unboned pork, diced (most pork will do – I used pork fillet, but it’s not necessary. I’d avoid belly pork as it’ll take too long to cook well).
  • 3 red chilli, finely chopped (also knob of ginger grated, if you want)
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 1 medium pineapple, peeled and choped into chunks
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • juice 1/2 lemon
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
  • handful of chopped fresh coriander
  1. Place the aubergine chunks in the bottom of a colander so they aren’t overlapping and cover in salt, pile another layer on top and repeat, if necessary. Continue until all the aubergine is in the collander. Leave on a draining board (or in a sink) for about 20 minutes until the bitter juices are removed. Then rinse well under cold water to remove the salt and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil on a high heat in a wok. When it’s hot, add the garlic, stiring quickly until browned. Then add the onion, frying quickly again until browned. Then add the curry paste, turmeric and sugar, breaking down the curry paste with your spoon or spatula.
  3. Next add the pork (or other meat, except prawns) and stir well to coat in the curry paste. Fry until the meat is browned.
  4. Then add the aubergines, again stiring well to coat in the mix and allowing to cook slightly.
  5. Next add the coconut milk, pineapple, fish sauce, lemon juice and lemongrass. Mix well. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  6. Allow to cook for about 20 minutes or until the pork and aubergines are cooked and the sauce is nicely thickened.
  7. Stir through the coriander and serve with boiled rice.
  8. Enjoy the sweet spiciness 🙂
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Spicy crispy beef – Szechuan style

Aldi’s fresh meat options seem to be improving. I used to only buy their specially selected dry cured bacon and sausages. And then they started having free range whole chickens and I’ve done a couple recipes on here with them. But now they’ve expanded to have free range chicken breasts and british specially selected beef. So I bought some frying steak that they had to try it and I must say, I was quite impressed.

Don’t ask me why, but somewhere in the course of looking for a recipe, I got it in my head that I had to have crispy beef. I found some szechuan recipes for it but they all involved five spice, aniseed, star anise, hoisin sauce or black bean sauce. And hubby hates aniseedy tastes, most of which those have. And I hate proper (Szechuan style) black bean sauce. I don’t mind the rubbish takeaway stuff, but really, what’s the point?

So I found a more cantonese style recipe, but just added Szechuan peppercorns and chilli to it to make it spicier and more Szechuan-stylee. So it’s not true Szechuan, but regardless, it’s extremely tasty and definitely husband approved. This is one of those takeaway meals that you can make really easily and cheaply at home and will taste so much better and have less calories and other nasties like MSG in it.

If you don’t have Szechuan peppercorns, don’t worry. Just leave them out. It’ll still be delicious. And if you’re afraid of chillis, leave them out too – you may want to put in some star anise, black bean sauce or hoisin sauce though instead to add to the flavour.

The original recipe I used (and adapted) is here

And here’s mine:

Szechuan style spicy crispy beef

Serves 2

  • 180-200g beef steak (I used frying steak – no point in getting prime sirloin steak for this!), very finely sliced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tbsp cornflour
  • Lots of oil for frying (not olive – vegetable, sunflower, groundnut, peanut, sesame)
  • 1 carrot, julienned (sliced very thinly)
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • Handful of green beans, topped & tailed
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped (de seed if you don’t want too spicy)
  • 2 large red chillis, de seeded and finely shredded
  • 10 szechuan peppercorns, lightly bashed in a pestle and mortar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1.5-2 tbsp rice vinegar (use white wine vinegar if you don’t have)
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  1. Make a batter with the corflour, salt and egg by putting the flour & salt in a medium bowl, making a well in the middle and cracking the egg into it. Whisk the egg well to beat slowly incorporating the flour until you have a fairly thick batter (you wouldn’t want to make pancakes with it). Add you beef strips to it and coat well. I then stuck in the fridge whilst I prepped the vege.
  2. Using a wok or high sided frying pan (or a saucepan even), pour about 3-4 inches of oil into it and heat until smoking. When it’s very hot, add the beef and batter (taking care as it may spit) and deep fry. I found that this instantly turned into some kind of weird beef pancake thing. When it was crisp on one side, I turned the whole pancakey thing over to fry on the other side. When it had started to go crisp on that side I used tongs to quite forcefully pull the beef apart. As I did this, I tried to make sure that the parts that weren’t golden brown were fully in the oil. Fry until crisp and golden brown all over. Then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen towel.
  3. Pour away all but about 1-2 tbsp of the oil and fry the onionin it on a high heat until it starts to soften, then add the carrot and beans. Fry these quickly for a minute, then add the ginger, garlic, chillis and peppercorns. Mix well and fry for a minute.
  4. Then add the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Mix well to blend then add the beef and mix well again to ensure all the beef is coated in the mix.
  5. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with boiled rice or soft fried noodles.
  6. Enjoy the tastiness of the takeaway made in minutes all by yourself at much less cost.

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