An Evening in Cambodia, Kampot to be Precise! Loc Lac Beef ឡុកឡាក់សាច់គោ

WP_20140830_17_05_48_ProJust about to go back to work after a few days chilling and I decided that some more kitchen time was needed, albeit minimalist by comparison to some of my recent ventures. There is sill one more dish I plan to prepare after this one, and then the geography will change and more closer to home!

The tastes of the Far East continue to surprise, along with many of the ingredients. In researching this dish I stumbled across a couple of variations, one in ‘Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey’ the other on a website that Google found on my behalf!

WP_20140830_17_44_02_ProThe ‘special’ ingredient is Kampot Pepper, you can get Red Kampot Pepper HERE, along with many other different varieties. Its used in the dressing on the bottom right hand side, along with Fresh Lime Juice and Salt, it has an amazing flavour.

This is a simple recipe, making a sauce to marinade the Rump Steak in before cooking briefly and serving with sliced Tomato, Red Onion, Lettuce and Roasted Peanuts, kind of a Cambodian ‘Wrap’! I put the Galangal, Garlic, Chilli’s and wizzed in a small blender adding the wet ingredients and repeating to form a rich aromatic paste. The Rump Steak was added and well combined, leaving for an hour to marinate.

WP_20140830_19_58_46_ProI did make one minor change to the recipe, well probably two. The first was the Red Onion, I find raw Onion a bit harsh so I decided to make a sousing liquid. If you Google ‘Sousing’ you will find Wikipedia will show ‘Head cheese’, a terrine of an animals head pickled in Vinegar! Mine is a mixture of Rice Wine Vinegar Salt and Palm Sugar, so still using local regional ingredients, but applying a european slant to the dish. Add it to the thinly sliced Onion and steep for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

The 2nd change was adding a small amount of MSG, a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid ,in the form of MAGGI liquid seasoning. You can buy MSG from Oriental Supermarkets, or use a few drops of the Maggi Seasoning which is generally available. Its adds an extra ‘savoury’ or ‘Umami’ flavour giving s boost to the richness of the dish, this detail was in the page google found.

WP_20140830_19_59_24_ProThe Rump Steak only took about 3-4 minutes cooking on a high heat, followed by resting for a couple of minutes in a warm dish to relax. The Peanuts were dry roasted in a frying pan, and sprinkled with some sea salt.

The Lettuce (Iceberg or baby Gem), replaces the Tortilla wrap and forms the container for some Steak, Onion, Tomato and Peanuts, dipping into the Lime and Pepper dressing once rolled up. Its a delicious light, zingy dish, quick to make but amazingly tasty and moorish.

WP_20140830_20_00_24_ProThe picture does not do this dish justice, its VERY VERY good so thank-you Cambodia and thank-you Kampot, for your pepper, and this tasty dish.

Till next time……L8ers…..

Back to Belgium, Memories of my 40th Birthday – Carbonade Flamande

WP_20140826_16_56_29_ProAbout a week before my 40th Birthday (nearly 10 years ago!), nothing was planned so anything organised was most definitely last minute dot com! I had been to Belgium quite a few times on Business many years before but never had a chance to sightsee. Minutes later, the Eurostar was booked, along with a room at the Metropole Hotel in Place De Brouckere, a 5 minute walk from the famous Grand Place and some interesting restaurants.

WP_20140826_17_19_01_ProCarbonade Flamande is a traditional Belgian dish, a variation on a Beef Stew and quite delicious. Made with Onions, Bacon Lardons & Belgian Beer, its a nice slow cooking winter dish, or one when the weather turns such as the gap in the summer we seem to be having at the moment. I used St. Stefanus Blonde  an interesting brew dating back to the year 1295, and followed the recipe in David Lebovitz’s excellent Book ‘My Paris Kitchen’.

WP_20140826_17_28_57_ProTo get both colour and flavour, the Chuck Stuck is coated with seasoned flour and fried until deep brown and removed from the pan. Then the Onions and Bacon Lardons get a similar treatment, but without the flower!! All the ingredients then go in together and the Beer is added, time to relax.

WP_20140826_18_30_28_ProThe next stage, after things have been bubbling for a while is to add the Pain D’Épice (details in previous post), which has one side coated with Dijon Mustard, this adds some subtle spice and background heat to the dish. The mixture is stirred a couple of times during the 2nd stage of cooking to break up the Pain D’Épice and let it meld into the mixture.

WP_20140826_20_15_10_ProThe completed dish was served with a very rich, very Buttery Mash Potato, and some Green Beans, that had been cooked with some Garlic and finished with Tomato Concasse and Butter.

Quite delicious, a very nice meal on our Silver Anniversary, and fond memories of an amazing weekend in Belgium nearly 10 years ago, where our son Justin was conceived and made in Brussels, (and we had some amazing food)!

Till next time……..L8ers…..

Celebrating 25 Years, Pain D’Épice, Babi kecap & Foie Gras

WP_20140824_13_22_45_Pro25 Years ago today I got married to a wonderful lady, 25 years later I am proud to say we are still together and everything is fantastic. We had planned a few days on the south coast, but cancelled at the last minute when we saw the weather forecast!! Instead, we have booked a trip to Tunisia in October, where I celebrated by 21st birthday MANY years ago!

My better half has recently had an operation and is still suffering with back pains so when I offered to book a nice place to eat, the answer I got was ‘please can YOU cook me something nice, I would prefer it’! Its a double celebration this week as it’s her birthday so I sat surrounded with cookbooks and my trusty Mac, and scoured for something nice to prepare.

WP_20140824_15_55_31_ProDavid Lebovitz is well known in the food blogging world, an accomplished Chef and writer, I recently got hold of his latest book, My Paris Kitchen. Its a brilliant piece of work and contains some really good recipes, two of which caught my eye.

As previously blogged, I spent a week in Gascony earlier this year and learned some new skills and recipes. One was preparing Foie Gras using something called Pain D’Épice, a spicy bread like cake and very tasty. The one we used was purchased, I had found a recipe to make it myself  In David’s book, you can see the end result above.

The reason I picked this was that it is also a component of Carbonnade Flamande, a delicious Beef dish from Belgium which I am cooking on our anniversary today, I will be posting the results later this week. You may wonder why I picked a dish that does not seem s0 special, a beef stew! Well our son Justin was conceived in Brussels on my 40th Birthday, and so the trip holds MANY fond memories for both of us including trying my first Carbonnade Flamande.

The big Red bag of Spice above is something quite special, Piment d’EspeletteIt has AOC status, the origins of AOC date to the year 1411, when Roquefort was regulated by a parliamentary decree. In practise this means its production, marketing and sales are tightly controlled. You CAN get it mail order from ‘The Spicery”, I ordered it Friday last week and it arrived Saturday!!!!

Piment d’Espelette is a component of preparing a particular style of Foie Gras, hence my purchase. i also plan to experiment with some Basque cooking, I have just ordered a new cookery book which focusses on this particular cuisine, more on that later.

WP_20140824_17_55_48_ProSo for the Birthday treat I turned to Rick Steins Far Eastern Odyssey and Babi Kecap, you can see the ingredients above, along with those for Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad), which I have described before. Both were to be served with Coconut Rice to balance and join the flavours and textures.

WP_20140824_13_48_46_ProTo Start Babi kecap you need an ‘Asian Chicken Broth’, essentially a spiced Chicken Stock. Mine was made with a whole Organic Chicken, the flavour enhancers included Star Anise, Spring Onions, loads of Garlic and Galangal and Red Kampot Pepper from Cambodia, (I had recently re-stocked my spice cupboard using Steenbergs mail order and added this to the list as something new to try). You can find the recipe at the back for Rick Steins book, its needs bringing to the boil, skimming to remove the sludge and gently simmering for 1 1/2 hours, job done!

The next stage is to fry loads of shallots until golden brown, then add more Garlic and Ginger, some pork shoulder and colour. Then add the stock and all the other ingredients including the Kecap Manis, a sweet Soy Sauce from Indonesia. After 1 1/2 hours I removed the meat to a warm covered dish, sieved the remaining sauce and hard reduced until shiny, sticky and unctuous!

WP_20140824_20_25_57_ProServed with the Som Tum salad and Coconut Rice it was absolutely stunning, well worth the effort in finding the Sweet Soy Sauce which is available mail order, (just google the name) or, from Asian Supermarkets. I got mine from See Woo in Reading who seem to have all the unusual and difficult to get ingredients including Fresh Turmeric and Green Papaya.

The missus had a great birthday, some food cooked with love, and very tasty too. Watch out for the followup later this week as I have more cooking to do.

Until next time…. L8ers……



Quick & Dirty, because I had too – North West Carolina Pork Shoulder My Way

WP_20140803_19_03_14_ProMy Wife (of 25 years this August), had to go into hospital recently for a minor operation, just before last weekend in fact. My weekends are typically spent watching, reading relaxing and cooking in between playing with my 8 year old and trips out. I had been ordered by the Romanian nurse that that weekend had to be spent making sure the boss did nothing whilst recovering, so no time in the kitchen was to be!

On the Saturday evening we decided to have Roast Chicken on Sunday, but forgot to take it out the freezer! DOH. Sunday morning came and after some inspiration from Sunday Bruch care of Rebecca Seal, we headed off to Waitrose as my mind started to construct a dish, this had to be a speedy one as I was not allowed to leave the Boss for too Long.

WP_20140803_20_04_03_ProAs I wander around, I am mentally constructing a dish, getting inspiration from ingredients such as  North West Carolina Pork Shoulder (only needed to be shoved in the oven as it was already marinated etc.). Chicory, Coleslaw, Chilli Bacon Jam! Wait a minute Chilli Bacon Jam, never had that before so in the basket it went.

All the ingredients are in the above two pictures (White Sweet Onions have just appeared on the shelves as have Heirloom Tomatoes which you will need), the result was absolutely awesome, even though it was merely a construction job. The Coleslaw had added ingredients, Lime Zest and Juice, and some chopped Coriander and additional Black Pepper. The Chicory was partnered with a Dressing, 3 Parts Oil (Rapeseed) 1 part Vinegar (2 1/3d’s Moscatel to 1 1/3d Aged Balsamic). a Teaspoon of Dijon Mustard, Maldon Sea Salt and Pepper and well mixed and chilled.


Dress the Chicory at the very last minute, I bought some Italian Flat Breads, they are much nicer than wraps, enriched with Olive Oil and a bit more robust. Place some leaves of Dressed Chicory as a bed for the next ingredients. The Carolina Pork only needs 30 minutes in the Oven, which gives you plenty of time to quickly prepare everything, this is a really quick dish to make.


Next, spread a thin layer of the Bacon Chilli Jam alongside the Chicory, and add some thinly sliced White Onion and Tomato on top of the Chicory as above.


Finally, add the pork, then layer some of the Zesty Lime Coleslaw and finish with a decent drizzle of Sriracha sauce which is available in supermarkets or online at Ottolenghi’s.

I had achieved a couple of objectives, spending as much time with the boss as possible, but also creating another tasty meal, but really quickly. The Chicory with Dijon Mustard Dressing was awesome, and could be a meal In its own right as part of an unusual Tapas, it was really delish..

So if you loved one has to go into hospital, you can still create really tasty food in no time at all.

Until next time.   L8ers…………..