Tag Archives: Cooking at sea

Thai Banana Blossom Salad

We have spent a lot of the last four years in Thailand, therefore I do cook many Thai style meals. I usually shop at the local SuperCheap (a Thai supermarket) and consequently use mostly Thai vegetables and fruits in our meals.

For over a year now I have regularly seen banana flowers in the veggie section and finally decided to make a banana blossom salad. Using the traditional flavours of Thai cuisine this what I came up with…

Banana Blossom Salad

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 Tablespoon palm sugar*
1 Tablespoon chilli paste or chilli jam
3 Tablespoons coconut cream

1 banana blossom
1 large red chilli
1 large green chilli
1 small carrot (or 1/2 a large carrot)
2 spring onions
bean shoots
4 Tablespoons of Asian fried shallots
2 Tablespoons of crushed peanuts**

Method

Mix the lime sauce, fish sauce, palm sugar and chilli paste in a bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add coconut cream and blend well. Check for the right balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy. Adjust as needed (fish sauce – salty, sugar – sweet, lime juice – sour and chilli paste – spicy). Set aside.

Cut the chillies lengthwise, remove the seeds and pith. Slice the chillies thinly and add to a large mixing bowl. Grate the carrot and add to the mixing bowl. Finely slice the spring onion and, along with the bean shoots, add to the dish. Set aside.

Thai food

Fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze some lemon or lime juice into it. Remove the outer leaves of the banana blossom until all dark leaves have been removed. Keep the best two outer leaves for serving. Cut the blossom lengthwise and remove inner core. Finely slice the blossom and place each slice in the water as you do so, to stop it going black.

Thai food cooking

Strain the blossom and add to the mixing bowl, add the dressing and two tablespoons of the fried onion and mix well.

To serve

Place two clean banana blossom leaves on plates and heap with the salad. Garnish with a tablespoon each of fried onion and peanuts.

Banana Blossom Salad1

Bon appetite

Notes

*Use soft brown sugar instead of palm sugar

**I didn’t have peanuts so used a seed mix with the salad in the photos. Peanuts would definitely suit the taste better.

Chilli paste, chilli jam and Asian fried shallots found in Asian grocery stores.

This recipe will serve two as a meal or four to six as a side dish.

Add cooked prawns to make it a meal.

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Thai Banana Blossom Salad

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Lime Panna Cotta

OMG! I love this dessert. Zesty and fresh, creamy and delectable! AND so easy to make. It really is a decadent indulgence which has been a hit at my dinner parties. On a boat? Believe me this is so easy to make as long as you can refrigerate the panna cotta. Another tip is make one large panna cotta instead of individual ones if it is easier for you to store in your fridge.

PannaCottaLime

Ingredients

600ml cream
200ml milk
3/4 cup caster sugar
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn up*
1 teaspoon finely grated lime rind
1/4 cup lime juice
3 gelatine leaves or 10g powdered gelatine
Lime zest and lime slices, to serve

PannaCottaLime5

Method

I use small 85ml metal moulds and the mix fills 6 of them.

Place cream, milk, sugar, lime leaves and lime rind in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 7 to 8 minutes. Do not allow it to boil or even simmer (just bring it close to a simmer). Keep a good eye on it and stir continually. Remove from heat. Add lime juice and gelatine (if using the leaf gelatine squeeze out excess water before adding it to the cream mix). Stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes to help flavours to develop.

After 10 minutes strain mixture through a sieve into a pouring jug and discard the solids.  From the jug pour the mixture into prepared moulds and refrigerate overnight.

Run a knife around the edge of each metal mould and dip base of each mould briefly in hot water. Turn each panna cotta out onto a serving plate. Top with a slice of lime and a sprinkle of lime zest and serve.

*I think of one kaffir lime leaf as the entire leaf i.e. the double. I separate the two leaves from the stem, so in the end I have eight leaves. I wash the leaves then bunch them up and twist them to tear them, leaving them mostly intact.

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Lime Panna Cotta

Som Tam

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.

Papaya-salad

Ingredients

Dressing
2 Tbs fish sauce
3 Tbs lime juice
2 Tbs palm sugar (or brown sugar)
3 cloves of garlic
2 small hot chillies

Salad
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*)

Green-Papaya-Salad

Method

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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Som Tam - Thai papaya salad #papaya #beansprouts #springonions #capsicum #pepper  #recipe #salad #lunch #dinner #thai

Crispy Duck Breast Salad

I cooked this crispy duck breast salad for our 12th anniversary dinner. Our anniversary dinner was a day late because we both forgot our anniversary, until the end of the day when I remembered. I, of course, played the “I was just waiting to see if you’d remember” card… but Dwayne saw through it!

Crispy Duck Salad
Crispy Duck Salad
Crispy Skin Duck Salad - this one I made for Hellen and Phil for their anniversary.
Crispy Skin Duck Salad – this one I made for Hellen and Phil for their anniversary.

What I had aboard… duck breast, cabbage, carrot, chilli, star anise, cinnamon sticks, chicken stock, ginger, garlic, peppercorns and soy.

What I did…

I made a master stock of :

  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dark soy
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cm ginger, sliced
  • 2 garlic, crushed
  • 6 peppercorns

I mixed all the stock ingredients together and marinated the two duck breasts for 12 hours.  Then I removed the duck and put the marinade into a pot and brought it to the boil. I simmered this stock for 10 minutes before adding the duck breast. I then added the duck and simmered for a further 5 minutes. I removed the duck breasts (reserve the stock) and dried them on a paper towel and sat them before a fan to dry.

Crispy Duck Salad

In the mean time I made a salad of shredded cabbage, carrots and julienne chillies.

To serve I placed the salad on plates and set them aside. I heated oil in a fry pan and fried the duck for a few minutes on the underside before turning it over and frying the duck breast, skin side down, until crispy. Once crispy, I sat the duck aside for a few minutes while I heated the reserved stock, reducing it. I sliced the duck and placed it on the salad and ladled  some of the reduced master stock over the salad.

Crispy Duck Breast
Crispy Duck Breast
The salad to go with this duck was made with apple and carrot.
The salad to go with this duck was made with apple and carrot.

Bon appetite!

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Crispy Duck Breast Salad

Pork Stuff Squid Tubes

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.

IMG_2655
Pork stuffed squid served with rice cakes and a simple salad.

Ingredients

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

Dipping sauce

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

Method

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.

Cooking Spicy Stuffed Squid
Cooking the stuffed squid

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.

Pork Stuffed Squid
Slice the squid into rings with a sharp knife.

Slice the squid and serve with the dipping sauce.

Pork Stuffed Squid
Pork Stuffed Squid

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.

IMG_2208
Dwayne’s four layer cooking contraption – squid cooked over the coals and there are potatoes cooking under the coals.

Pantry Pancakes

While cruising though Asia, there have been mornings when Dwayne has asked “what’s for breakfast?” and, like the Mother Hubbard rhyme, ‘the cupboards were bare’. Well… not quite bare. I almost always have flour, powdered egg and powdered milk in the pantry. So I get to work preparing an easy, filling breakfast that Dwayne enjoys with maple syrup. I whip up some pancakes.

Pantry Pancakes
Pancakes and maple syrup… cooked on the BBQ

Simple really, this is what I do …

Gather my ingredients…
1 cup of plain flour
1 tablespoon powdered egg
2 tablespoon powdered milk
and water to add as needed.

Then I…
…sift the first three ingredient into a bowl and gradually add water, stirring continuously until I get my desired thickness. If I’m lucky I then get Dwayne to cook them on the BBQ.

Pancakes

Note: The powdered eggs I bought in Coles in Australia. ‘Farm Pride’ Powdered whole eggs.

Stuffed Squid in a Rich Tomato Sauce

As we sailed amongst the islands off the west coast of Borneo, we were able to purchase fish and squid from the fisherman that visit us, when we drop anchor for the night. The squid, used for this recipe, we bought off a fisherman at Pulau Bawal and the fish I use to stuff the squid was a mackerel we traded a mobile phone and a pair of sunnies for, when anchored off Pulau Genting.

Stuffed Squid in a Rich Tomato Sauce
Stuffed Squid in Rich Tomato Sauce

It had been two weeks since we had been able to get fresh fruit and veg and  I used my last fresh tomato for this recipe. At the time we had been eating rice with almost every meal. Every time I cook rice I will cook a cup of rice and I then use the left over to make rice cakes or I heat it up with curry sauce etc. This time I used it to stuff my squid.

OK so this is what I did…

I made a stuffing for the squid with:

  • about 1/2 cup of left over cooked rice
  • a small fillet of mackerel (finely chopped) about 100g
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped,
  • 5 small asian shallots, finely chopped
  • about 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix it altogether and stuff it into the squid tubes. Close each tube with a toothpick. Cook the squid tubes for 5 mins to brown them slightly and then removed them from the pan

Stuffed Squid in a Rich Tomato Sauce
The prepared stuffed squid tubes

For the sauce…

I heated oil in the fry pan and fried:

  • 1/2 head of garlic (about 6 cloves), chopped
  • 3 small hot chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped
  • 8 small asian shallots, chopped
  • about 80g anchovy fillets
  • 2 Tablespoons capers, chopped
Shallots, garlic, chilli and lots of anchovy!
Shallots, garlic, chilli and lots of anchovy!

I fried this until it was cooked and the garlic and shallots had softened. I then added:

  • 1 can of tomatoes, diced
  • 3 Tbs tomato paste
  • dried italian herbs and black pepper to taste.

I brought it to the boil and then simmered the sauce for about 15 minutes, after which I added the stuffed squid tubes. I then simmered it until the flavours had developed into a rich, spicy, flavoursome sauce and the squid were cooked through (adding water as necessary). I served the squid with rice.

Stuffed Squid in a Rich Tomato Sauce
Stuffed Squid in a Rich Tomato Sauce

The left overs

I used the left over sauce the next day with some mackerel fillets. I cooked the mackerel then added the sauce to the pan with the fish and simmered until heated through. I served it with pasta. Yum!