Monday, July 16, 2012

Luxury Thai Veggie Stir fry

Here is the standard conversation I have when I tell people I have a food blog and/or that I host supper clubs:

Me: “I have an Asian fusion food blog called Mango Ginger. And I host supper clubs where I cook the recipes”
Random person: “Really? How interesting. Why?”
Me: “Why what?”
RP: “Why do you do it? Do you make money from it?”
Me: “No, not really.”
RP: “Do you want to open a restaurant?”
Me: “No. I already have a job. I just like food. And I like other people who like food.”
RP: “Oh. How interesting [or other such baffled or dismissive remark].”
Me: Sighhhh [with the air of a misunderstood artist]

But it makes perfect sense to me. And it makes perfect sense to my new friend Ramya. I met her online (as all the kids are doing these days), sharing recipes on a food bloggers’ forum call Food Buzz – she has an awesome blog called Mistress of Spices, check it out. It turns out that in addition to our shared food obsession and similar day jobs, we both live in Bangkok. So we have also met up in real life and Ramya was a guest and reviewer at my last supper club. And that, my friends, is why I blog – because it’s a passport into a world of passionate an interesting foodies.

Anyway, Ramya is a veggie and I realised when I was making her tofu dish for the supper club that I have neglected my inner vegetarian of late. It’s a common misconception that Thai food is veggie friendly – most dishes contain meat or at least fish sauce or dried shimps. But the good news is that it’s not hard to make a few tweaks and substitutions to come up with a meat-free delight. As a former veggie, being served this would have made me leap up and hug the person who had cooked it.

Time: 30 mins
Rating: Easy. Luxury doesn’t have to be hard work.
Serves: 2


100g shitake mushrooms
100g oyster mushrooms
1 carrot
100g sugar snap peas
150g tofu (either firm or deep fried)
40g macademia nuts
1 clove garlic
1 small red chilli
½ red onion
1 tbsp tamarind paste (if you can't find it, mix lime juice with a little ketchup)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar


  1. Finely slice the red onion and garlic. Finely chop the chilli.
  2. Then prepare the vegetables: cut both kinds of mushroom into large chunks. Trim the sugar snap peas. Cut the carrot into thin slices.
  3. Cut the tofu into large chunks.
  4. Heat a little oil in a wok over a high flame. Add the onion, garlic and chilli. Fry for about 30 seconds stirring constantly. Add the tamarind paste, soy sauce and sugar and stir well. Next add the tofu and stir till coated. Continue frying for about a minute.
  5. Add the remaining vegetables. Continue to cook stirring constantly for about 5-7 minutes until the vegetables have softened a little but not soggy. Add the nuts and cook for another minute.
  6. Remove from the wok and serve with steamed rice.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lemongrass Chicken Wings

Chicken wings have had some bad press. They have been hijacked by the greasy late-night fried chicken joints, where they have been served dripping in oil, claiming to contain secret herbs and spices (often so secret that you can’t taste them behind all the salt), and served with soggy fries and budget coleslaw.

This recipe transforms them into an exciting starter. There is something inherently inelegant about them – you must abandon cutlery, pick them up and nibble away. But this also makes them fun and informal. And they’re packed with flavour, they don’t dry out like chicken breasts can, and they’re a super cheap cut.

Lemongrass is one of my favourite ingredients in South East Asian cooking. Not only is it distinctly and powerfully fragrant, but it also has therapeutic properties as a diuretic, antiflu and antimicrobial agent – an all-round anti oxidant and heeling herb. So you can actually feel smug about tucking into these chicken wings! This is an awesome starter and I’ll definitely be serving it at one of my supper clubs.

Time: 1 hour plus marinating time
Rating: Super easy
Serves: Makes 16 pieces – serves 4 people as a starter

8 chicken wings
1 small hot red chilli
2 garlic cloves
4 stalks lemon grass
1 inch knob ginger
5 tbsp coconut milk
Juice and zest of lime
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar
Generous pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. First prepare the marinade. Finely chop the chilli including the seeds. Finely chop the ginger, garlic and lemongrass, discarding the tough outer stalks. Turn the ingredients into a thick paste, either using a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. Take time to do this properly so you have a smooth paste.
  2. Add the lime juice, zest, fish sauce, coconut milk, salt & pepper, sugar and oil. Stir well until all the ingredients are well-combined.
  3. Prepare the chicken wings. Using a sharp knife, remove the small outer part of the wing (the small pointy section) and discard. Cut the remaining part of the wing in two along the joint.
  4. Put the wings in a large bowl and cover with the marinade. Toss so that they’re evenly coated. Put in the fridge and leave to marinate for at least half an hour, several hours if possible.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the wings in a roasting dish, leaving a little space between each one. Bake in the oven for about 40 mins until they are nicely browned and sticky.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Crispy Bacon Thai Flavour Bombs

Whenever I am asked what I miss about London, my answer jumps out without a moment’s hesitation: my friends. No matter how wonderful the people I meet along my travels, there is a big part of my heart which is reserved for the friends with whom I have over a decade of shared history. We have seen one another at our best (celebrating graduating, weddings, new jobs) and our worst (monster hangovers, heartbreaks, wardrobe malfunctions). I spent the last night of my recent trip to London with one such gang. And what better way to show them how much I love them than with a Thai-inspired feast?

Miang Kham is a Thai snack which is usually served on a betel leaf. The components (which include some but not all of those I have used here and usually dried shrimp) are assembled onto the leaf, wrapped up eaten in one go. The first time I tasted one, my heart skipped a beat. The flavours are so intense, exciting and unexpected. The more you chew, the more the different layers of flavour make themselves known – sweetness, sourness, salt, and spice. This is one of my favourite ever canapés and was a huge hit with the girls. Nothing says I love you like a Thai-inspired flavour bomb!

The lovely Nat, Anna and Ailsa, about to tuck in

12-16 baby gem lettuce leaves
1 stick lemongrass
2 small shallots or ¼ red onion
Small handful coriander leaves
Small handful mint leaves
1 inch knob ginger
1 lime
2 small red chillies
3 tbsp grated or (unsweetened) dessicated coconut
3 tbsp peanuts
6 rashers bacon

For the sauce:
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
Juice 1 lime


Time: 30 mins
Rating: So easy
Serves: Makes 12-16 canapés

  1. Firstly prepare the sauce by mixing together all the sauce ingredients
  2. Then prepare the coconut. In a pan, dry roast the coconut until it is light brown. It can burn easily so stir constantly and don’t take your eyes off it. It will keep cooking once you take it off the heat, so take it off when it’s a little lighter than you want.
  3. Then dry roast the peanuts in the same way till a little darkened all over. Allow to cool and then finely grind in a food processor or a mortar and pestle.
  4. Dice the ginger and shallots into small chunks (but not minced).
  5. Finely slice the lime and then chop into small chunks – including the skin (really!). This needs to be chopped as finely as possible because big chunks of lime rind will taste bitter.
  6. Roughly chop the mint and coriander.
  7. Very thinly slice the lemongrass.
  8. Finely chop the chillies. Keep the seeds in if you want it spicy, remove them if not.
  9. Cut the bacon into thin slices width-ways (about half a centimetre). In a pan, cook the bacon over a high heat until crispy.
  10. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and combine. Pour the sauce over and mix again.
  11. Spoon a little of the mixture into each of the lettuce leaves – don’t overload them, they should be small enough so they can be easily picked up as a canapé.