Prawn, crab and tofu pad thai

Pad thai is a classic street food dish that can be tweaked and adapted to please even the most fussy of eaters. As long as it is packed with delicious noodles and flavours then the world is your oyster- or crab and prawn in this instance. I have also added tofu in for extra texture- if you don’t routinely use it then do give it a go! You may well be surprised. I have chosen a firm tofu here which I think is the best way to introduce yourself to the bean curd world. The key to a perfect pad thai is in the preparation. Once the you start, it happens relatively quickly so you really do need to prep everything beforehand.

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Ingredients- serves 2 hungry people
2 large eggs
4 spring onions cut on the diagonal
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp tamarind paste dissolved in 30ml boiling water
2 tbsp palm sugar
125g firm tofu cut into 2cm cubes
30g grated ginger
2 red chillies finely chopped
1 banana shallot finely sliced
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
150g raw king prawns deveined and roughly chopped
100g rice noodles
100g white crabmeat
75g beansprouts
10 chives cut into 3 cm lengths
50g peanuts roughly chopped
Small handful of Thai basil and coriander finely chopped

1. Beat the eggs lightly and add a tablespoon of the fish sauce before setting aside ready for later. Read the instructions for your rice noodles at this stage as some need soaking for longer than others. Prepare according to instructions all ready for later.

2. Take the tamarind water and add the palm sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Stir well to ensure the sugar dissolves; if you find it has not fully dissolved you can add a splash of boiling water to help things along.

3. Place a large wok over a medium/ high heat and add 2 tsp of vegetable or groundnut oil. Add the tofu cubes, in a couple of batches if needed so as to not overcrowd the pan, and fry off until golden all over. Set aside to blot of kitchen paper.

4. Next you need to cook the garlic, chillies, ginger, shallots and spring onion until softening. You could also add a piece of finely sliced lemongrass at this stage of you like.

5. Pop in the prawns and the tamarind water to the wok and cook for a few seconds to make sure the prawns are coated. Add the noodles back into the wok and cook for a minute or so, again ensuring the strands are coated in the tamarind. Next into the wok goes the crab, bean sprouts, chive, basil, coriander and tofu. Toss gently to heat through. At this stage I then pushed the noodle mixture to one side in the wok and added the beaten eggs. Beat them in the wok until it begins to scramble and then you can mix it all the way through the rest of the noodles so the egg is well dispersed. Heat until the noodles are warm, the tofu is reheated and the prawns are a delicate blush pink.

Divide between 2 bowls and serve with a garnish of chopped peanut and you can add some roasted chilli flakes for an extra bit of spice or some extra chives if you like.

Prawn, crab and tofu pad thai- a satisfyingly savoury dish that will leave you wanting more!

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Beef Khao Soi topped with crispy noodles

Beef khao soi brings a taste of Thailand to the comfort of your own home. It is a delicately spiced and fragrant curry noodle soup that is perfect for a chilly evening. I have added some mixed vegetables to this recipe to make it even heartier. It can be served with a range of meats and prawns but I have kept this recipe as simple as possible by using minute steak. This cut of beef is perfect as it cooks quickly whilst retaining its tenderness so give it a try!

I have included my recipe for red curry paste which forms the base of the recipe but if you’re short on time you can use a ready made paste. The paste also keeps well in the fridge as long as it’s kept in a well sealed pot so you can make a bigger batch at a time.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
Red curry paste

6 whole dried red chillies
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tbsp galangal- chopped finely
1 tbsp lemonsgrass- chopped finely
1 tsp peppercorns
5 garlic cloves- finely grated
1 inch piece of fresh ginger- finely grated
2 shallots- finely chopped
1 lime- zest finely grated
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt

For the rest of the khao soi
400ml coconut milk
500ml hot vegetable stock
2 minute steaks- cut into thin strips
3 spring onions- shredded
2 generous handfuls of mixed vegetables- such as a stir fry variety pack
3 nests of medium egg noodles- reserve one for the topping

1. Start off by making the curry paste by toasting the coriander and cumin seeds in a small pan over a medium heat. As the spices start to release their fragrance, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly before grinding in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine to form a thick paste and you are good to go!

2. Heat a small amount of vegetable or groundnut oil in a wok and fry off the curry paste for a few minutes until it starts to release its flavours. Add the coconut milk and stock and stir well to combine. Increase the heat and bring to the boil before lowering to a simmer. I simmered it for around half an hour so it begins to reduce down and the flavours develop.

3. As the coconut milk is simmering, cook the noodle nests according to pack instructions. Set 2 nests worth of noodles aside for later and use one to make the crispy noodle topping. To do this, heat a good amount of oil in a deep pan over a medium/ high heat (remember to keep a careful eye on this!). Take some of the noodles at a time, trying not to overcrowd the pan, and fry until they crisp up and go a little golden. I used a slotted spoon to turn them over during cooking to get an even colour. Remove from the pan and blot onto kitchen towel.

4. When you are nearly ready to serve, add the mixed vegetables and spring onions into the wok to simmer for a couple of minutes before removing the wok from the heat and adding in the beef strips. I found that the delicate strips of beef cooked well in the residual heat but you could keep it on the hob on a very low heat if you prefer.

5. Divide the two noodle nests between two deep bowls. I used a slotted spoon to add on the beef and vegetable mix before using a ladle to spoon over the broth. Top with the crispy noodles and watch your fellow diners’ faces as you present this beautiful curry soup to them!

Beef khao soi with cispy noodles- fragrant, delicate and oh so moreish!

Spicy prawn noodle broth

Spicy prawn noodle soup is like a giant hug in a bowl for the soul and the stomach. It combines the sweetness of prawns, the freshness of vegetables, the lightness of broth with a punch! I made my own stock from prawn shells and a few additions as you will see however if you are short on time you could use a readymade stock but it really is worth the effort to do your own.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
For the stock

250g shell on king prawns
Litre of water
Knob of fresh ginger
4 spring onions- cut into thirds
Fresh piece of lemongrass- left whole
1 red chilli- sliced and deseeded (depending on how spicy you like it!)
1 fresh lime
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
2tsp palm sugar

For the noodles
150g rice noodles
Handful of sugar snap peas- sliced on the diagonal
Handful of bamboo shoots- sliced on the diagonal
2 heads of pak choi- white parts finely sliced and leaves shredded

1. Kick off by removing the prawns from their shells. Take a large, deep saucepan and add a splash of vegetable oil and heat this over a high heat. Cook the prawn shells until they turn pink. Add a litre of water and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave this for half an hour before straining and reserving the water- you can discard the shells at this stage. Add the water back into a clean saucepan and infuse with the ginger, lemongrass and spring onion; these will all be removed later and won’t be in the final dish so sling them in and off you go! Simmer again for at least 30 minutes but longer if you can so the flavours can develop.

2. When you are nearly ready to use the stock, remove the ginger, lemongrass and spring onion and discard the prawn shells. Skim off any impurities from the surface of the stock and strain well. Now comes the time to season the stock so you must taste as you go. Add the soy sauce, fish stock and palm sugar as stated in the ingredients list but tweak to suit your tastes. Fish sauce and soy will add the salty edge the broth needs so go easy. Give a squeeze of lime to add a little acidity.

3. In a separate pan, add a splash of oil and heat over a medium heat. Add the sugar snap peas, bamboo and the white part of the pak choi. If you like a spicy broth you should add the chilli in at this stage too; if you prefer it to be milder then add it in at the end to serve. Cook the vegetables for a couple of minutes before adding the broth back into the pan. Bring it back to a simmer before adding the prawns and pak choi leaves to cook. The prawns will go blush pink when ready.

4. Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to packet instructions and drain well. I give mine a minute less than it suggests as it will be in the broth so you don’t want soggy noodles. Take large bowls for serving and divide the noodles between them. Ladle over the finished broth and finish with a little extra chilli or coriander if you like.

Spicy prawn noodle broth- the perfect meal for a chilly evening as autumn looms!

Beef ramen with tamago eggs

If there’s one meal sure to perk up your day or restore you  if you’re feeling under the weather then it’s this! A big, steaming bowl of noodles suspended in a delicate broth is just what the doctor ordered. Be creative with the vegetables you use, I have used a classic combination but also think about what is in season as well. Ramen is traditionally served with pork, chicken or tofu so I have given it a twist by using beef.

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Ingredients- serves 2
For the tamago eggs
2 large eggs
100ml soy sauce
100ml cold water
Splash of mirin
1cm ginger- sliced
1 garlic clove- sliced

For the broth
1 litre dashi stock
3 tbsp brown miso paste
1 garlic clove- crushed
1cm piece ginger- grated
Handful shitake mushrooms and/or enoki- sliced
3 spring onions- shredded
1 beef steak- sirloin or skirt work well
Small packet of ramen or udon noodles
Handful of beansprouts per person
Handful of Asian greens such as choy sum per person
1 small red chilli- deseeded and sliced

1. First thing’s first! You need to get cracking (get it?!) on the eggs in advance if you can. Simply boil the eggs for 5 minutes until they are soft boiled and plunge them into cold water to stop them cooking further. Allow to cool until you can handle them enough to peel the shells. Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat the soy, water, mirin, ginger and garlic and bring to a boil. When it boils take it straight off the heat and allow to cool. When the soy mixture has cooled place into a freezer bag and drop the eggs into it. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal to allow the eggs to marinade for 6 hours before using.

2. For the broth I recommend getting hold of ready made dashi stock (unless you want to make your own) which is now available more readily. Heat the stock in a pan and slowly add in the miso paste until dissolved into the stock. Add the garlic and ginger and bring it to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. Do not boil this as miso does not like it! With two minutes to go from the end of simmering, pop in the white parts of the spring onions and the sliced mushroom.

3. While the stock is simmering you need to cook the steak and the noodles. You may like to marinade the steak lightly with some soy, garlic, ginger and mirin but it wil be just as delicious by itself if you like. Cook the steak to your liking and rest before cutting into thin slices. Meanwhile the noodles also need to be cooked according to packet instructions so everything is ready to assemble.

4. Use a large, deep bowl to serve the ramen. Layer up the bowl with a nest of noodles at the bottom and then arrange the cooked mushroom, beansprouts and greens before ladling over the broth. I didn’t cook my greens before serving to give more crunch but they could be wilted beforehand if you prefer.Spinach would also go well if you prefer. Play around with the combinations of vegetables that you use too. The vegetables will relax into the broth after a couple of minutes but the photo above is just after it’s been served- it was too delicious to remember to take another photo after this!

Top the ramen bowl with the slices of steak, green parts of the spring onions and slices of chilli and give the final flourish with the eggs which need to be cut in half and served. If you have managed to achieve a soft boiled egg then the yolk will still be slightly runny even though it has been refridgerated.

Beef ramen- a foodie hug for the soul!

Asian duck noodles

This is a perfect midweek noodle dish. Fresh duck can be used but it also works well with any leftover duck meat you may have. I prefer using tat soi in this recipe as it brings a slightly mustardy flavour which works well with the blend of spices so do try it. If you prefer a sweeter finish then pak choi is ideal.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 duck breasts- cut into thick slices
2cm piece of ginger- grated
1 garlic clove- crushed
1tsp ground five spice
1/2 tsp corn flour dissolved in 2 tbsp water
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
3 tbsp oyster sauce
100g rice noodles
Glug of sesame oil
2 tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil
1 red chilli- finely sliced
3 spring onions- finely sliced
2 heads pak choi or tat soi
Handful of beansprouts

1. Take the slices of duck breast and add the garlic, ginger and five spice mix to it in a bowl to marinade. Leave for a few minutes but you could also do this the night before. Combine the corn flour paste, soya sauce and the oyster sauce in a small dish and set aside. Boil a kettle and pour over the noodles for a couple of minutes, drain and add a little sesame oil to stop the strands from sticking together.

2. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil and heat over a medium/ high heat. Fry the duck slices until seared and the edges start to go golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the rest of the oil and cook the red chilli and spring onion for a couple of minutes. Add the sauce mixture and cook for a further minute.

3. Add the pak choi or tat soi depending on what you prefer and cook until wilted down. In goes the bean sprouts to give a nice crunch before adding the duck and noodles back into the pan to heat through.

Rich duck and asian spices- a match made in heaven!