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Oriental

If you want to get something approaching authentic Thai flavour in your home-cooked curry, you face a bit of a dilemma. Let’s face it, making up a curry paste from fresh ingredients for one curry is a pain in the seating area. So, most of you don’t bother. Instead, you buy a jar of some bright red sludge from the supermarket, fry up an onion and some meat, add the sludge (sauce, if you must), sprinkle on some coriander leaves and you think you have made a curry. You haven’t. You have added some gloop to a saucepan and you don’t know what you are missing. Here’s how to deal with this particular culinary dilemma.

I’ve been cooking a fair deal of Thai style dishes over the past while. I love the combination of creamy coconut, chilli heat, lemongrass freshness, fish sauce saltiness and the bite of a nice bit of lime. Add to that the delight (or disgust) of a handful of coriander and whatever meat or fish is going to act as the carrier and one has the perfect Thai delight. Or do you? I have wondered for a long time about cooking in banana leaf. What would it add? It looks the business. But will it make my dish any better? Let’s find out. 

There are eleven other lamb shank recipes here on the blog. Some are better than others. Some would qualify as really excellent in any cook book. However, this one is the best. It excels in flavour, texture, simplicity and most importantly, the Wife says it’s the best I have ever cooked. And we all know, what she says goes. With not a little pride, I present Soy Braised Lamb Shanks with Creamed Parsnip and Garlic Purée.

Somewhere buried in the cookery books that I rarely open these days lies a recipe for Vietnamese Roast Chicken. Somewhere on the blog, I cooked it. That was a few years ago. It is a worthy dish packed with delightful authentic Vietnamese ingredients that give a real flavour punch to the delicious chicken. I thought that I might try to get the same level of flavour and all round deliciousness cooking some free range chicken thighs in the sous vide. You can cook it in a traditional oven, under a grill or on a barbecue too and the instructions are below for that too. This is how I got on and I can only recommend to to you.

I have cooked hundreds of lamb shanks in my time. There is a bevy of recipes here on the blog for all sorts of lamb shank delights. This one is a revelation. In some ways it is very simple, in others it is the result of planning and a bit of work that many of you are not going to do. You can, of course, cut some corners. If you do, you are on your own as I will have cut you loose and want no part of your second rate cookery. If you do follow along, you will enjoy an Oriental lamb shank treat.

I’m not sure which is the star of this show. The 5 spice duck legs, cooked sous vide were really easy to prepare and tasted delicious. However, the cherry sauce is a seasonal treat and really added an extra dimension to the lovely duck meat. So, if you are guided by the picture above, it’s the cherry sauce. However, I am as yet undecided as it’s a bit like comparing apples with oranges (Comparing duck legs with cherries will never catch on as an expression.).

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a brace of wild trout recently and decided to cook them in an Oriental style. This caused a bit of a of stir (not a stir fry) at home. The rational used by my detractor (the Wife) was that as they were such a fine pair of fish, they could be let stand on their own merits and there was little need to “Mess around with them with all those ingredients”. Under normal circumstances, I would be the last person to go against the views of the Wife. But, I really wanted to make the most of these delightful ingredients. I pressed ahead and hoped against hope that I would turn out a delicious dish. Wild trout is a delicate fish and needs to be treated in the same way as one might treat an argument against the instincts of the Wife. That is, proceed with caution.

If you are looking for elegance, look somewhere else. If you are looking for subtlety pass by, my friend.  This dish is not such a preparation, it’s like being hit in the face with the all ingredients from an Oriental grocery store, all at once. Don’t get me wrong, it is delicious and you won’t regret making it. Just be prepared for a flavour explosion in your face.

If you have a crowd to feed…. What am I saying! Nobody has a crowd to feed these days. I got my chicken thighs on a 3 for 2 offer and ended up with more than I needed. Having said that, we ate this on the day we cooked it, the day after and also froze a few portions that got eaten a few days later.  For simplicity, divide the recipe by three if you are feeding three hungry people, by two if you are feeding four and so on.  Having said all that, I really do have to say “My, my that is one tasty thigh”. This is a really delightful recipe. Don’t be put off by the quantity and diversity of ingredients. It is really easy to prepare and diversity is good.

There are short ribs and then there are short ribs. One can’t blame the average butcher for trying to sell as much of the animal as possible. But, many go too far and end up harming their own businesses by selling bits of the animal that should really be put to other use. The humble short rib or Jacob’s Ladder is such a cut. The very best of the short ribs comes from high up the ribs, towards the front of the animal. As one goes lower and back, the ribs get thinner, the meat gets likewise and the connective tissue to meat ratio goes up. Having said all that, I was stunned by the quality of the short ribs I used for this recipe.

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