Cookbooks are very special gifts I think. The kind of pressie that literally keeps on giving; every time the recipient makes a dish they get something new. And hopefully, every time a dish is made, the person who gifted the book is thought of. If they're lucky, they get fed too!
For this week's challenge, I spent a long time looking through my chosen book, Secrets of the Red Lantern. A truly beautiful cookbook and a truly beautiful gift that I was given by my very gorgeous friend Sandi. I had a lovely afternoon flicking pages and remembering. I had Sandi memories and Maria memories - we ate at Red Lantern in Sydney not long ago - and memories of kicking back on a boat, eating dried mango, drinking beer and cruising along the Mekong Delta from Cambodia into Vietnam.
My favourite Vietnamese dish is salt and pepper squid and I did contemplate giving it a go but I don't like deep frying at home so I chose two other dishes from the book and made Mr Tea and me and little feast.
The following quantities are enough for two people, although the bok choy would feed four along with some other side dishes.
Omelette of pork mince, preserved radish and spring onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp fish sauce
2 spring onions, white part only, sliced
1 tbsp oil
1/2 small red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100gm pork mince
1 tbsp preserved radish
Whisk the eggs, salt, pepper, fish sauce and spring onions together in a bowl. Set aside.
Use a non-stick frypan and heat the oil over a medium heat.
Fry off the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the pork and radish and fry until browned.
Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients in the pan and cover with a lid.
Cook until the base is golden brown and the top just set. Slide onto a plate, you can flip it in half if you like and serve immediately.
Wok tossed bok choy with bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms Ingredients
1 tbsp oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
250gm bok choy, quartered (make sure you wash it incredibly well as it's often very gritty)
50gm fresh bamboo shoots
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, re-hydrated and cut in half (just pour water over them about 20 minutes before cooking time and they will soften)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
125ml water or vegetable stock or chicken stock (I used chicken)
1 tsp potato starch or cornflour, mixed with 1 tbsp water
salt to taste
1 tbsp fried red Asian shallots
1 small handful coriander
Pour the oil into the wok over a high heat and add the garlic. Stir-fry until it begins to colour and then add the bok choy, bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms. Stir-fry the vegetables for about 1 minute.
Add the oyster and soy sauces and the sugar and toss to combine all the ingredients.
Add the water/stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and add the potato starch or cornflour mixture which will thicken the sauce. Season with salt to taste and then serve garnished with fried shallots and coriander.
I would make both of these dishes again. The omelette is very flavoursome, even with only a few simple ingredients, and is also quick to prepare.
The bamboo shoots in the side dish are an acquired taste so next time I will omit them and add some water chestnuts instead to give the dish some contrast in texture.
Steamed rice and some lup cheong Chinese sausage were the accompaniments to this little feast.
You can get all these ingredients in an Asian supermarket, so don't be scared if you've not heard of, or cooked with, any of them before.