I love duck! Love it! Whenever I want to make something special I will often think of duck. This was my first attempt at smoking duck and it turned out delicious… if I do say so myself!
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 cup of uncooked rice
1/2 cup of tea
1/4 cup sugar
And this is how I made it….
In a mortar, I crushed the cinnamon stick, star anise and clove (crushed but not powdered) and then I combined this spice mix with the rice, tea and sugar.
I lined a wok with a couple of layers of foil and added the tea mix. I heated this over high heat until it was smoking hot. On a trivet, over the smoking tea, I placed the duck breast, skin side up.
I covered the top of the wok with foil, put the lid on and turned the heat down to low. Then I let it smoke for 20-25 minutes.
If you want crispy skin duck (as we did), take the duck out of the wok a little earlier. Heat a frying pan (no oil needed), add duck skin down and cook for a few minutes until crispy.
Shredded cabbage, thinly sliced large red chilli, thinly sliced beans, bean sprouts, finely chopped small red chilli, chopped coriander, mint and basil, grated carrot and grated green apple (apple tossed with the juice of 1/2 lime).
For the dressing – I used the same dressing I made for my green mango salad.
I served the duck with salad and lontong which is a compressed rice cake.
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Som Tam is a Thai-style Green Papaya Salad. A popular street food, Som Tam can be found in roadside stalls, markets and many restaurants in Thailand. There are many styles of Som Tam and it is believed to have originated in Laos. Isaan Som Tam is made by crushing small crabs (Som Tam Pu) and is always very very hot! My Som Tam is more like Som Tam Thai which contains peanuts.
My Papaya was green on the outside but getting quite a pinky orange on the inside. It was still firm enough to grate, however, and very yummy.
Cooking Thai food is always about taste. I don’t follow recipes I just do it to taste. What follows is what I did the last time I made Papaya salad but when making the dressing remember to mix it, then taste it and add the salt, sour and sweet flavours to taste as needed.
2 Tbs fish sauce
3 Tbs lime juice
2 Tbs palm sugar (or brown sugar)
3 cloves of garlic
2 small hot chillies
1 small papaya, peeled and grated
1 small carrot, peeled and grated
1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely julienne
6 beans, very finely sliced
1 tomato, chopped
2 spring onions, finely sliced
a handful of bean sprouts
5 Tbs tiny dried shrimp (crushed a little in the mortar)
Roasted peanuts (or crushed nuts*)
For the dressing
In a jar, I mixed the first three ingredients of the dressing. I gave the jar a really good shake and then tasted the dressing. You should be able to taste the salt of the fish sauce, sourness of the lime and sweetness of the sugar. Adjust your dressing until you are happy with it by adding more of what is needed i.e. sour, sweet or salty.
With a mortar and pestle, I crushed the garlic and red chillies and added them to the jar with the dressing. I gave it a really good shake and set it aside in the refrigerator until needed.
For the salad In a bowl, I mixed the papaya, carrot, chilli, beans, tomato, spring onion and shrimp. Then I added a couple of tablespoons of crushed nuts because I didn’t have any roasted peanuts. The peanuts in this salad are usually chunky.
I added the dressing and mixed the salad well before serving with a sprinkling of crushed nuts.
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I have made the point of naming this Laos’ Larb Kai because it came to my attention while we were travelling in Laos, that the delicious meat salad called larb, did, in fact, originate in Laos, not Thailand as many believe.
I have always enjoyed larb at the Thai restaurants in Adelaide, and in Thailand itself. I wasn’t surprised to see it on the menu in Laos, but I assumed, incorrectly, that the idea had derived from Thailand, not the other way around. In fact, it is regarded as the national dish of Laos – unofficially.
This spicy meat salad is served at room temperature with sticky rice or salad vegetables.
3 Tbs of uncooked sticky rice (Optional)
300g of chicken mince
3-4 Asian shallots, finely sliced
2-3 stalks of spring onion, finely sliced (optional)
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
a handful each of mint and coriander* chopped
1 Tbs chilli flakes The juice of one lime
1 Tbs fish sauce
1/2 Tbs brown sugar
How I make my larb…
The first step is to toast the rice. I say optional for the rice because I have made it many times without the rice when I just wanted to make a quick meal. The toasted rice just adds texture.
To toast the rice, I just heated a wok on low heat without oil and added the rice. I continued to stir the rice until it browned and started to smell like popcorn about 10-15mins.
After I let the rice cool a little, I ground it in a mortar with a pestle to a powder and set it aside.
For the salad dressing, I mixed the juice of one lime with the fish sauce and brown sugar and set aside.
For the larb I added a little oil to my wok and fried up the chicken mince, breaking up any big lumps as I went. I removed the chicken from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. This is when I prepared my vegetables (cucumber and beans) with which I was going to serve with the larb.
Once I was ready to serve I added the shallot, spring onion, and chilli flakes to the chicken in the wok and stirred it well (without heat). I then tossed in the mint, coriander, chopped red chilli and mixed well. I added the dressing next giving the salad a mix, before finally adding three tablespoons of the rice powder.
TIP: add the rice powder gradually as is will depend on the texture you want – I added one tablespoon gave the salad a good toss and did a taste test, before repeat that same process twice more.
Serve with rice or lettuce cups, or as I did with sliced cucumber and green beans.
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This was one of our favourite Cambodian street foods. Often made in roadside stalls; we watch these salads being made with tiny whole crushed crabs and sampled many others that incorporated small dried shrimp. I opted to make my mango salad with the dried shrimp* which is readily available in S E Asia where we are currently located.
2 green mangos, peeled and shredded/grated
1/2 a small carrot, grated (I used the carrot to add a bit of colour)
3 Tbs dried shrimp
1 small hot chilli, finely chopped
1 Tbs of finely chopped garlic
3 small Asian shallots, finely sliced
A handful each of holy** basil and mint, finely chopped
2 Tbs crushed peanuts
For the dressing
3 Tbs fish sauce
The juice of two limes
2 Tbs of sweet chilli sauce
1/2 tsp brown sugar
This is how I made the salad….
I put all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar and gave it a good shake and set aside until needed (this made enough salad dressing to save half to use the next day!)
Then in a bowl, I placed the shredded mango, carrot, shrimp, chilli, garlic, shallots, basil, mint and one tablespoon of the peanuts. I gave the salad a really good mix, then added the dressing and mixed it through well.
To serve I place a good portion on individual plates and sprinkle with more peanuts.
Just bloody delicious!
*leave out the shrimp if you can’t find any or if you do not like them.
**use normal basil if you can’t get holy basil
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A couple of years ago we visited Cambodia. We bought a motorbike and explored Cambodia before crossing the border to Vietnam. In Cambodia, I did my first cooking class. In fact, I did two on the same day. Dwayne and I both did the Cambodian cooking classes and really enjoyed them. One dish we made at both classes was the fish amok.
At each class, they were made slightly different and I have used ideas from both and come up with my own take on Cambodian Fish Amok. I don’t like to blow my own trumpet but Dwayne said it was his favourite! LOL, he says that all the time…. but what surprised me is that he barely remembers the fish amok we had in Cambodia and so he, therefore, believes mine to be so much better than what we had there. Needless to say, I think it turned out pretty good otherwise I would not be passing on my creation to you guys… I would hide it away with all my other failures!
In the class we made baskets, with a banana leaf, to steam the fish in. I didn’t get a chance to buy any banana leaves so I used a couple of ramekins I have on board instead. I also had to use a make-shift steamer because I don’t currently have one. I managed with what I had on board and our lunch, which we ate while anchored off Koh Kradan in Thailand was delicious.
Cambodian Fish Amok
Ingredients (for two)
2 stalks of lemongrass, white part only, hard outer lay removed
3 large cloves of garlic
2 small Asian shallots or half a small-medium red onion
5cm x 1cm length of turmeric
3cm x 2cm piece of galangal
2cm x 2cm piece of ginger
1 large double kaffir lime leaf
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1/2 tsp shrimp paste
200ml coconut cream (reserve 4 tbs)
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
pinch of salt
about 50 g of thinly sliced kale (or noni (amok) leaf if you have it)
1/2 tsp of corn flour (or use rice flour like I did if you don’t have it)
Slice fish and set aside in refrigerator until needed.
Thinly slice the kaffir lime leaf add to a mortar and with the pestle grind it until it is well crushed.
Then add to the mortar thinly sliced lemongrass, crushed garlic, finely diced shallots, thinly sliced ginger and galangal. And continue to crush and grind making it into a paste.
Add the chilli flakes and shrimp paste and continue to crush and grind until you have a fine paste.
Mix the paste with the fish, coconut cream, sugar, salt, chicken stock and thinly sliced kale.
Let the mix marinate for 20 minutes and then put it into ramekins or banana leaf baskets.
Steam for 25 min and then remove from steamer.
Gently heat the reserved coconut cream with the cornflour until it thickens a little. Pour a little of the coconut cream on to the fish amok and garnish with thinly sliced red chilli and thinly sliced kaffir leaf.
Serve with rice.
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We are back in Indonesia for a month and one of the things we really love about Indonesia is the food! We are moored at Pulau Weh, actually we are moored off a smaller island call Pulau Rubiah. The snorkelling here is fantabulous, as is the food! We have discovered a local delicacy called sate gurita (sate octopus). Delicious and tender, it awoke memories of our time with our boys at Gili Air when we sailed there for Christmas 2014. I cooked sate ikan, using some marlin we caught in Australia. It was part of a feast that I cooked up on the boat for a friend who wanted to film it.
While anchored off Gili Air (Lombok Indonesia) with our son’s Jedd, Alex, Kye and two of their girlfriends, we had a visit from Jackie and her son Alexander. Jacqui was interested in filming a short video of us cooking up a storm on Thorfinn. I hadn’t had time to think about what to cook and therefore had not shopped in Bali before we left. So, before I could decide what to cook, I had to look at what I had on the boat and then I had to go ashore to see what I could purchase on the small island of Gili Air. In the tiny village I found a shop selling some fresh produce and a very limited array of other supermarket goods. I choose some things I love to cook with – limes, ginger, garlic, chillies, galangal – while I gradually formulate an idea of what I would cook.
Back on the Thorfinn I fine-tuned my proposed menu. When in Indonesia, do as the Indo’s… I decided to cook some Indonesian favourites. Ikan Bakar (grilled fish), sambal and sate ikan (fish satays).
So, while the boys enjoyed the swimming and snorkelling, and the girls chilled out on the sun-beds with a cocktail, Dwayne and I cooked and Jacqui filmed. It was a lot of fun and when it was ready the kids joined us on Thorfinn for a feast. As we sat around Jedd’s surfboard, which had become our makeshift table for the day, we enjoyed the sunset and the company of family and friends… and I think we all privately reflected on how lucky we were.
For the sates …
I grated one onion into a sieve over a bowl. Using a spoon I then pressed down on the grated onion to squeeze out the onion juice. I set aside the the grated onion for using in the peanut sauce.
To the onion juice I added…
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 finely chopped garlic clove
1 tablespoon of grated ginger
2 teaspoon of palm sugar
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 kg of marlin fillet
I mixed it well, covered and refrigerated it until I was ready to skewer the marlin to grill.
For the peanut dipping sauce…
In a small saucepan, I sautéed the reserved grated onion for two minutes with –
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon of sambal olek
I then added…
3 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 Tablespoon of palm sugar
I stirred continually as I cooked for a minute and then added…
1 1/4 cups coconut cream
I gently heated it until almost boiling, then removed the saucepan from the heat and stirred in…
3 Tablespoons of peanut butter
Once the peanut butter was well blended I returned to a gentle heat and cooked for about 5 minutes while stirring and checking it often. (Add water if needed).
I skewered cubes of marlin onto small skewers and Dwayne cooked them on the BBQ. I then served them with the peanut sauce.
I loved our Christmas on Gili Air!… and have welcomed the opportunity to reminisce about it. Hope you enjoy the recipe.
Want to read about catching the marlin? Click on the photo below!
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Tom Kha Gai, aka Thai Chicken Coconut Soup, is one of my absolute favourites! Now that we are back in Phuket I thought it was about time I made it. I first discovered this soup when Dwayne and I visited Phuket in 2007. I gotta say, I was a little reserved about trying a coconutsoup… it didn’t look that appetising, but it was delicious! So flavoursome in fact, that I sat there tasting it and deciphering the flavours so I would be able to make it myself when I got back home. I think my tastebuds did a good job of recognising the ingredients and my Tom Kha Gai is delicious….. if I do say so myself! However, I don’t have a recipe to share with you as I cook it by taste every time I make it, and I forgot to write it down as I cooked it this time for the blog… doh! But I do remember what goes in it and what I did so I will explain it the best I can.
This is what I did…
I heated 1 cup of chicken stock and added about 8 kaffir lime leaves bruised and ripped apart, two sticks of lemongrass – the hard part remove and the inner white part bashed with a mallet; a couple of crushed garlic cloves, a 2cm piece of galangal, thinly sliced, a 2cm piece of ginger, thinly sliced and some chopped chilli.
I simmered it for 1/2 hour, then I added some chopped chicken and simmered for 10 minutes before adding the coconut milk (approx 250ml) and a handful of enoki mushrooms*. I simmered the soup for another 5 minutes and then added fish sauce, to taste, and a handful of coriander.
To serve, I ladled the soup into two large deep bowls and garnished with some more chopped coriander.
It is so easy to make and delicious!
When I make Tom Kha Gai for Dwayne and me, I do not remove the chunks of ginger, galangal etc when I serve it, as this is how I have had it served to me most of the time in Thailand. However, when I have prepared this soup for guests I have strained the soup before I add the coconut milk, chicken, mushrooms, fish sauce and coriander.
*Shitake, or oyster mushrooms are more often used in Tom Kha Gai but enoki mushrooms were what I had at the time.
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We were anchored in Thailand off a lovely island called Koh Phayam, just below the Myanmar (Burma) border. It was high season in Thailand at the time but even then, Koh Phayam was a quiet, idyllic place. Nowhere was too busy. There are no cars on Koh Phayam, just motorbikes, bicycles and the odd tractor.
We spent our days watching the brahminy kites and white belly sea eagles soaring overhead in search for their dinner, and we would catch sight of the hornbill birds as they flew amongst the trees on the nearby shoreline. From the advantageous location of our comfy hammocks we watched the bait fish jumping out of the water as the predators close in on them. How peaceful… could it get any better than this?… Seafood lunch perhaps?
On one of these “peaceful idyllic” days Dwayne visited a local fishing boat that had dropped its anchor nearby. He returned with a large bag of school prawns and some baby squid. The fishermen wouldn’t accept any money, so Dwayne took some beers over to them. They must have been impressed with the beers as they then presented him with two good sized cuttlefish, some crabs and a pile of huge prawns!
Dwayne cooked the crabs and prawns in salt water. We then chilled them before we devoured them, for lunch, with a little homemade seafood sauce.
For the seafood sauce… I simply mixed Kewpie mayonnaise with tomato ketchup. I didn’t measure the ingredients, I just did it to taste. It’s simple but delicious and the prawns were sooooo fresh!
This is easily one of our favourite squid dishes. I have cooked them a couple of times during our sailing through SE Asia. The first time was in Indonesia when we bought some fresh squid from a local fisherman. The second time was recently in Thailand at a BBQ we put on at PSS Shipyard in Satun.
25g Rice vermicelli noodles
3 spring onions
3 tablespoon of peanut oil
2 garlic, finely chopped
3cm ginger, peeled and grated
½ cup cabbage, finely shredded
325g pork mince
¼ teaspoon ground star anise
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
Several medium squid or 16 baby squid, cleaned and tentacles reserved
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small chilli, finely chopped
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
4 tablespoons fish sauce
Freshly squeezed juice from ½ a lime
To make dipping sauce, mix all ingredients well until sugar has dissolved. Taste and add more lime if needed. Transfer to a dipping bowl.
For the stuffing, pour boiling water over the noodles and allow to stand for 5 minutes until soft. Drain well, chop them into smaller pieces and place in a large bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a fry pan and gently cook the garlic, ginger and spring onion until soft. Remove from heat and add to the bowl. Chop the squid tentacles and add to the bowl along with the pork, cabbage, star anise and fish sauce. Mix well.
Stuff the squid tubes with the stuffing. Make sure to leave a little room at the top and close the top of the tube with a toothpick.
Heat the remaining oil in a fry pan and cook the tube for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.
Slice the squid and serve with the dipping sauce.
At the PSS Shipyard, while painting and varnishing our boat for six weeks, we cooked a goat BBQ. For entree I served my stuffed squid. Dwayne built a four layer BBQ to cook all the food for the 23 people that were to join in on the feast. I used two different types of squid, which I bought from the local fish market down the road. In my opinion the squid are not as yummy when grilled on the BBQ, but everyone still enjoyed them. If you were to cook them on a BBQ use a hot plate instead of a grill.
Nasi lemak is a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf commonly found in Malaysia, where it is considered the national dish. This traditional Malaysian favourite offers sambal, ikan bilis (anchovies), peanuts and boiled egg. Nasi Lemak stalls can be found serving them with fried egg, chicken/beef rendang, sambal kerang (cockles) – a local favourite, sambal squid, sambal fish, squid fritters or even fried chicken or fish. It can be consumed for breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, dinner and even supper. [Wikipedia]
To make this traditional Malaysian nasi lemak this is what I did…..
For the steamed coconut rice
1 cup of rice
1 cup of coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 inch of ginger, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
Note: nasi lemak coconut rice is usually cooked with pandan leaves or screwpine leaves tied in knots. I didn’t have any so did not use them. If you do have them use two in the above recipe.
Rinse the rice twice and drain. Put in a saucepan with the coconut milk, water, ginger, garlic and onion (and pandanus leaves), cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed (about 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and leave covered until serving.
For the sambal ikan bilis (Anchovy Sambal)
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup ikan bilis (dried anchovies)
1 clove garlic
10 dried chillies (deseeded)
1 teaspoon of belacan (prawn paste)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
Rinse the dried anchovies and drain the water. Fry the anchovies until they turn light brown and put aside. Pound the prawn paste together with shallots, garlic, and dried chilies with a mortar and pestle. You can also grind them with a food processor.
Slice the red onion into rings.
Soak the tamarind pulp in water for 15 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind constantly to extract the flavor into the water. Drain the pulp and save the tamarind juice.
Heat some oil in a pan and fry the spice paste until fragrant.
Add in the onion rings.
Add in the ikan bilis and stir well.
Add tamarind juice, salt, and sugar to taste.
Simmer on low heat until the gravy thickens. Set aside.
Note: Original recipe uses 1 cup ikan bilis. I only used 1/2 cup of ikan bilis because I like to serve it with lots of crispy fried ikan bilis on the side.