Monday, June 3, 2013

Tropical Tart Nouveau

One of the best things about being an expat in Bangkok is the amazing circle of friends you make from all over the world. One of the worst things is that just as you feel like you are becoming really great friends, they take up a new posting thousands of miles away. I have had my heart broken several times in this way since moving here and console myself with the knowledge that I will be warmly welcomed if I am ever in Istanbul, New York, Nairobi or Dhaka.  The latest heartbreaker is my friend Marcus, who is about trade in his charmed life in this city for a gritty humanitarian experience in Afghanistan where he will be helping get food to people who need it. By way of send-off, I hosted a Sunday lunch called ‘Come Swine With Me’ – three pork-based courses before he moves to a land where pork is strictly off the menu.

I wanted to end the meal with a flourish and serve a dessert that would reflect Thailand’s bright colours and sweetness. And then I remembered that I suck at baking and I have a shameful history of tarts with soggy bottoms. But nothing says “I will miss you loads and wish you a safe passage to Kabul” like a home-made, from scratch tropical fruit tart. So I avoided the temptation to buy a ready-made dessert, did my research, cherry picked the most doable bits from some of my favourite chefs’ tart recipes (many thanks Delia, Pascal and Michel), added my own tropical twist and this is the result. It really worked. There were moments in the process when I thought it wouldn’t – my crème patissiere went lumpy in the fridge but I whisked it out, my pastry fell apart as I transferred it to the dish but I patched it up. It came good in the end and the whole thing vanished as soon as it was served. I will definitely be making this again – not least to welcome back absent friends who come to visit.


For the pastry:
120g unsalted butter
60g icing sugar
140g plain flour
70g ground almonds
2g baking powder
1 egg yolk
1 pinch salt

For the crème patissiere:
200ml full fat milk
40g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
14g cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the fruit:
8 large strawberries
2 kiwis
30ml sweet white or rose wine
1.5 tbsp clear honey

1.       First make the pastry. Take the butter out of the fridge and cut into small cubes. Place in a metal mixing bowl and leave to soften. Add the icing sugar and whisk together until pale and smooth. Sift in the flour and then add the almonds, baking powder and salt. Mix together with your finger tips. It should be a sandy texture. If it feels too buttery, add a little more flour. Then add the egg yolk and combine until you have a dough (it will still feel a bit buttery). Don’t over-work the pastry – once it is done, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge for 2 hours.
2.       Meanwhile make your crème patissiere. Bring the milk to the boil. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until you have a silky, thick paste. Add the cornflour and continue whisking vigorously.
3.       Pour half of the boiled milk into the bowl and whisk until combined. Then pour the mixture from the bowl into the saucepan with the remaining milk and whisk. Bring it back to the boil and then reduce to a low temperature. Keep whisking the mixture over the low heat for 3-4 minutes and add the vanilla extract. Don’t take your eye of the mixture and keep stirring otherwise you will over-cook it and ruin the texture.
4.       After 4 minutes of cooking you should have a thick, silky cream. Transfer it to a shallow dish, cover with cling film and put in the fridge. After half an hour or so, when it has cooled down, take it out and whisk it up again. Don’t worry if it’s a bit lumpy, keep whisking and the lumps will go away. Cover once again with cling film and leave in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
5.       Next prepare your fruit. Cut it into slices however you like – either lots of thin slivers or big thick chunks.  I went somewhere in between. Then combine the wine and honey and pour over the fruit. Cover and leave to marinate until you are ready to serve.
6.       When two hours have gone by, take your pastry from the fridge and pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Dust with flour and roll out to about half a centimeter in thickness. You then need to transfer it to a tart dish. I did not manage to do this in one clean movement – my pastry was too delicate so I ended up transferring it in pieces and reconstructing it in the tart dish. I’m sure this isn’t how the professionals do it but it worked for me. Pat the pastry snugly and evenly into the dish, making sure you build a generous crust around the edge of the dish.
7.       Bake in the oven for 16 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. I wasn’t brave enough to remove the tart from the glass dish, but if you have a springform dish you can do this once the pastry has completely cooled.
8.       When you are ready to serve, remove the crème patissiere from the fridge and whisk up again. Pour it into the pastry and spread evenly. Place the fruit on top of the crème patissiere once piece at a time, arranging it however you like. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Surf n Turf with Funk-Busting Star Fruit Salsa

Sometimes we get ourselves into a funk. We’re not sure where it came from or how long it’s going to stay and we just have to ride it out orr hope that something comes along to move it on. Even here in Thailand, despite the sunshine and the beaches and the delicious food on every corner, the funk can find its way in. In my case, it came along and gave me chronic bloggers’ block.

Until last Friday when I received my first ever home delivery ‘munching box’ of organic locally produced fruit and vegetables from Raitong Organic Farm.  Purple long beans, green eggplants, spinach, mangosteens, green mangoes, spring onions and other tropical leafy delights covered my kitchen counter and lifted the cloud instantly. The star of the show was undoubtedly the bright yellow star fruit. How can anyone be in a funk when they have organic star fruit beaming up at them?

Funk busted, my tummy started rumbling and creative juices flowing. This was the first time I ever cooked with star fruit. They have a sweet yet earthy flavour and a delicious crunch, which makes for the most delicate salsa. With a fat juicy steak and whopping great Thai prawns, it was a match made in heaven.

Time: 15 mins prep time, 5 mins cooking time + marinating time
Rating: Super easy
Serves: 2


2 medium-sized steaks (I used sirloin)
4 tiger prawns
2cm fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
Generous slug of olive oil

For the salsa:
1 star fruit
1 red bell pepper
1/3 of a cucumber (or two baby cucumbers)
1 spring onion
1 large red chilli (mild)
1 small bunch fresh coriander
Juice of 1 large lime
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil


  1. Start by marinating the steak and prawns. Crush or grate the garlic and ginger and place in a shallow dish with the olive oil. Peel and devein the prawns and place in the dish with the steak, making sure they are all covered in the marinade on both sides. Cover and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  2. Next make your salsa. Finely chop the star fruit, leaving one slice intact to use as a garnish. Chop the red pepper, spring onion, cucumber and coriander and combine in a bowl.
  3. Make the dressing for your salsa. Finely chop the chilli and combine with the lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. If you are making this ahead, don’t add the dressing until the last minute as it will make the salsa soggy.
  4. Shortly before you are ready to cook the prawns and steak, remove them from the fridge to let them return to room temperature.
  5. Heat some olive oil in a griddle pan until smoking. For medium-rare steaks, cook for about 2.5 mins on each side. Don’t turn them over until you get a good sear mark on the first side. Once they are cooked, remove and leave them to rest in a dish. This will let the juices run out before you serve. While they are resting, cook the prawns in the same way for about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side (depending on their size). They should have turned from grey to pink and be cooked through but not rubbery.
  6. Dress the salsa and toss.
  7. Serve the steak, prawns and salsa together, using your star fruit slice as a garnish.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Halloween Supper Club

Calling all ghosts, ghouls, witches and vamps in Bangkok! Mango Ginger is delighted to reveal the menu for this Saturday's Halloween Supper Club (27th October). Brace yourselves for an  evening of devilishly good food and fun, where the where the blood runs cold and the curries hot. This is our largest event so far with 16 guests.

The event is now fully booked. Those of you with a seat at the table will be sent an email with directions to the secret location in the next couple of days. After dinner, those who would like can join the creatures of the night out on the town. If this is your first supper club, please read up on the event here before you come. There are no strict rules but it's good to understand how and why we do things.
Dress: Spooky, surreal and comedy fancy dress is strongly encouraged – fangs, blood, cloaks…whatever turns you on!
Price: 500 THB. BYO drinks. There is no corkage fee. Please bring plenty to drink. You'll stay for longer than you expect and probably drink more than you thought you would. You are welcome to take it home if you don't finish it. Please don't rely on us or other guests to make sure there is enough.
The Feast
To Welcome

 A potent potion

To Start:

Steak through the heart
Cubes of delicately Indian spiced beef steak in a tangy tomato chutney
(aubergine version for veggie guests)

Thai’d up Bloody Mary prawn cocktail
Red prawn salad with a spicy Thai bloody mary sauce
(mushroom version for vegetarians)

Dragons’ claws
Sugar snap pea tempura with a soy and spring onion dipping sauce

Main Event

 Devilled Malaysian seafood wands
Minced prawn, flounder and salmon kebabs with Malaysian curry spices, coconut and lime and a crunchy peanut dipping sauce

Fiendishly good butter chicken
Rich, spicy Moghul Indian curry
(tofu version for vegetarians)

Jack’o lantern curry
Pumpkin Thai red curry

Jeweled chucumber salad
Cooling cucumber, lime and coriander salad with pomegranate

Cauldrons of cardamom rice

Bitter Sweet Ending

Death by chocolate
Small cauldrons of spiced chocolate mousse served with a potent chocolate martini shot

All of our curry pastes, marinades and sauces are made from scratch. Don’t recognize some of the dishes? Because many are originals, designed just for you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Supper Club 4 - September 2012

August's supper club will be taking place on Thursday 13th September at 7:30pm. Eight lucky diners will be treated to an exciting Asian Fusion feast - dishes you won't find anywhere else in Bangkok. A Supper club is a social even that combines eating great food with making new friends in Bangkok and the rare treat of home cooking. Here's where you can learn more about supper clubs  - everything you need to know to be the perfect supper club guest.

Following the success of August's Supper Club, I will be teaming up with fellow Bangkok-based food blogger (and former Supper Club guest), Ramya aka the Mistress of Spices. She is a lot of fun, her food is amazing and I'm addicted to her blog. Between us we combine South and South East Asian flavours.

After dinner drinks (and more drinks) at August's supper club

As ever, it's a fixed price (500 THB) for a cocktail and three courses and it's BYO drinks. There are just eight seats around the table so get in there fast if you'd like one! Please contact me or Ramya to book your seat and we'll send you all the details. And here's the feast we have in store for you:

To Welcome & Unwind:
Tamarind Martini

To Start - Glamorous Asian Fusion Trio:
Duck summer rolls with hoisin and cashew dipping sauce (mushroom for veggies)
Chana masala bisque shots
Japanese salmon, sesame and wasabi spoons

Main Event - Curries & More
Better than restaurant palak paneer
Seafood and pineapple Thai curry
Singaporean chicken satay and cucumber relish (tofu for veggies)

Sweet Ending from India
Mango lassi ice-cream

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Slow Cooked Massaman Chicken Curry

I am trying to embrace a slower pace of life. I put it down to my German upbringing that I am always set to ‘high efficiency’ mode. Even when I am having a Thai massage, I find myself going through a mental checklist of all the things I’ll do when I’m done. When I cook, I am simmering, chopping, searing, seasoning several different dishes or components at once. But I know that life as a high-speed muliti-tasker will eventually take its toll on my body and soul. So I am trying to learn from the saffron-robed monks that I often see near my office, serenely going about their day with a gentle pace and smile.

I still have a way to go before I find myself spending hours in the lotus position, or address my unhealthy relationship with my outlook calendar. But I’m making small changes, including experimenting with slow cooking. Slow cooking is a great metaphor and advert for the slower life. The depth of flavour and the gentleness of texture that you get from cooking something over a low heat for a long time cannot be achieved through a fiery flash in the pan. And Massaman (an under-celebrated hero of Thai cuisine in my opinion), with its unusual combination of herbs and spices, lends itself to the method perfectly.  I don’t own a slow cooker because I like to keep my kitchen appliances to a bare minimum. Instead I use a good heavy casserole dish and a conventional oven on a low heat.

I served this at my last supper club and ever scrap was eaten. It’s a great dinner party dish. All the work is done hours before your guests arrive, leaving you to enjoy the company and relax.


4 chicken legs and 4 thighs

3 tbsp massaman curry paste (you can buy this from good supermarkets, or make your own using the recipe here)
2 large cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
400ml coconut milk
200ml good quality chicken stock
4 small potatoes
1 onion
2 inch knob ginger
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar (or palm sugar if you have it)
2 tbsp tamarind paste (if you can’t find this, mix together lime juice and a little tomato ketchup)
1 tsp salt
100g salted peanuts


  1. Preheat your oven to 120°C.
  2. Finely shred the ginger. Chop the onion into small chunks. Set both aside.
  3. In a pan, dry roast the cinnamon and cardamom a until you can start to smell them toasting. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. In the same pan dry roast the peanuts also for about 2 minutes until they are slightly browned and smell roasted. Remove from the heat, allow to cool and then coarsely chop or grind.
  5. In a casserole dish, heat a little vegetable oil and add the chicken. Gently brown for about 2-3 minutes on each side and then remove from the heat. In the same pan, add the curry paste and fry for about 2 mins in the oil left in the pan, stirring constantly.
  6. Add the stock, coconut milk, dry spices, tamarind, fish sauce, salt, sugar, onion and ¾ of the peanuts. Stir well and continue cooking over a medium heat for about 3-4 mins, stirring often.
  7. Remove from the heat, and return the chicken to the pot. Add the potatoes and make sure everything is submerged in the sauce. Put the lid on and put in the oven.
  8. Cook for about 4-5 hours, or until the potatoes are soft and the chicken is cooked all the way through.
  9. Serve with cardamom rice and garnish with the remaining peanuts.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Supper Club 3 - August 2012

August's supper club will be taking place on Thursday 16th August at 7:30pm. Eight lucky diners will be treated to the best home-cooked Asian Fusion food that Mango Ginger has to offer. A Supper club is a social even that combines eating great food with making new friends in Bangkok. Here's where you can learn more about supper clubs.

And things just got even more exciting. This month I will be teaming up with fellow Bangkok-based food blogger (and former Supper Club guest), Ramya aka the Mistress of Spices. She is a lot of fun, her food is amazing and I'm addicted to her blog. I couldn't pick a better partner in crime.

Here's the menu for the evening:

To welcome:
Thai Sangria

To start:

Green mango, mint and seafood salad
Chilli paneer spring rolls
Spiced roasted eggplant dip and pita chips

Main event:
Slow-cooked Massaman chicken curry
Mirchi Ka Salan (bell peppers in a peanut-sesame-tamarind sauce)
Pomegranate jewelled chucumber salad
Cardamom rice

Sweet ending:
Mango ginger and coriander cheese cake

Bring your own alcoholic or soft drinks to enjoy with dinner. No corkage charge.
All for a bargain 400 THB per person.

If you would like to join us please email Ramya or I via our blogs or facebook pages. There are only eight seats at the table so book your place quickly! We look forward to supper clubbing with you :-)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Salmon Tom Yum Soup

Holidays, good food and friends are, in my humble opinion, the key to happiness. The second I am on a beach with a belly full of seafood, I instantly relax and all my troubles drift of to sea.

Last week I got back from another long trip to Bangladesh and needed urgently to recharge the batteries. For me, when I feel this way, I autopilot down to Railay – the most wonderful of Thailand’s beaches in Krabi province. It’s my happy place. I lived there, I learned to rock climb there, I got married there and have many good friends there. At the risk of turning this blog into a Railay tourism promotion piece, I strongly advise anyone holidaying on the Andaman coast to visit.

And it just got a little bit better because my favourite restaurant which closed last year has returned with a vengeance. A lady called Sao serves up some of the best Thai food I have eaten in Thailand from her shack marked simply, ‘Local Thai Food’. There is no fancy décor – just wooden tables and plastic crockery. The key to her success is simple. It’s all about quality ingredients (the biggest prawns, freshest vegetables, wholesome brown rice), big portions and low prices. Even in low season, there is often a queue.

Behind the scenes in the kitchen

Her tom yum soup is the most flavoursome I’ve tasted so I just had to get the recipe. This is a classic Thai dish, a hot and sour soup packed with tasty herbs. Sao makes hers with prawns, which is the classic way the dish is served.

Tom Yum cooking in the wok

I was very privileged to be allowed behind the scenes and learn some of Sao’s secrets – she cooked, I watched, learned and took notes.

Learning from the master!

When I got back to Bangkok I recreated the dish using salmon which was so tasty. This is easily my favourite soup ever.

Time: 30 mins
Rating: super easy
Serves: 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter

2 salmon fillets
2 lemongrass sticks
2 inch knob of galangal or ginger
8 kaffir lime leaves
Handful of mushrooms (I used black fungus - any variety will do)
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
8 spring onions
2 tomatoes
Bunch coriander
2 tbsp chilli paste
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
8 tbsp lime juice (about 4 limes)
8 tbsp coconut milk
2 small red chillies (optional)
800ml water


  1. Remove the skin from the salmon and cut into large chunks.
  2. Then prepare the herbs. Slice the lemongrass diagonally about half a centimetre in thickness. Slice the galangal or ginger into thick slices – no need to peel it. Thickly slice the garlic.
  3. Cut the onion into chunks about 1cm in size. Trim the spring onions and cut into pieces about 3-4cm in length. Cut the mushrooms into quarters. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and coarsely chop the coriander.
  4. Bring the water to the boil. Add the chilli paste, sugar and salt and stir well. Add the lemongrass, galangal/ginger, kaffir lime leaves, mushrooms, onion and garlic and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the lime juice and stir well. Then add the spring onion, tomato, coriander and coconut milk and stir well. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. If you would like the dish spicy, bruise the small red chillies and add these to the pot now. Taste the liquid – the flavours are yours to adjust. Add more salt, sugar, lime or chilli according to your tastes. Then add the salmon and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring gently until the salmon is cooked.
  6. Remove from the heat and serve in large bowls either on its own or with steamed rice. The lemongrass, galangal and lime leaves are only for flavour – don’t eat these as they’re very tough!