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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Pork Pad Ka Pao (Stir-fried spicy pork with Thai Holy Basil)

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Yes people, more Southeast Asian food! I absolutely fell in love with this dish on my travels. It contains savoury, sweet and umami all in one dish. I knew when I was eating it that it was not Paleo, but I was convinced that I would be able to make a Paleo version which tasted just as good. I actually surprised myself! It was absolutely delicious! I did some googling of traditional Pad Ka Pao recipes. I really liked the one I found on shesimmers.com (an amazing Thai food blog), and decided to use it as my base to tinker with for a Paleo version. If you can get to an Asian supermarket, it is definitely worth investing in some Thai Holy Basil. The dish won’t taste the same if you use Italian or Greek basil, although that will have to suffice if you can’t get hold of Thai basil, which has an almost aniseed taste. If you don’t have coconut sugar, you could substitute honey in its place. I served this dish with some asparagus, zucchini and carrots stir-fried with shallots, garlic, ginger and coconut aminos.

Pork Pad Ka Pao (Thai Stir-Fried Spicy Pork with Holy Basil)
Serves 3

Ingredients :
500g minced pork
3 eggs
7 cloves garlic, minced
3 chillies, sliced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp coconut aminos
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp coconut sugar
1 cup Thai Holy Basil leaves

Melt the coconut oil in a wok or large frying pan.
Crack 1 egg into the oil and fry until crispy on the bottom and the white is no longer translucent.
Remove the egg and set aside on a plate.
Repeat the process with the other eggs. Cover and keep warm (or reheat just before serving)
If there isn’t much oil left in the wok by this point, add a little more.
Add the shallots, garlic and chillies. Stir-fry for a minute to soften.
Add the pork mince and fry on a high heat until any liquid from the meat has evaporated and the mince starts browning.
Add the fish sauce, coconut aminos and coconut sugar. Stir through the pork mixture to make sure everything is well coated. If it seems very dry, add a little water.
Add the basil and stir through to wilt it slightly.
Serve with the fried egg on top of the pile of meat and some stir- fried veggies on the side.

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Delicious and Satisfying Tom Kha Soup

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By now you all know that I’m on a Southeast Asian food bender at the moment. I decided that I really should pay a visit to my local Thai supermarket the other day. I was like a kid in a candy store! Whilst there is a lot of crap food in there I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole, they also sell some great stuff. I bought shrimp paste, tamarind paste, pandan leaves, fresh galangal, frozen coconut flesh, Thai basil and was tempted by the frozen durian, but I decided to leave that for another day! I have great plans for a Thai inspired dessert this weekend to utilise the pandan leaves – watch this space! If you do any shopping in Thai supermarkets, check the ingredients list of the foods you are considering (as I’m sure anyone on a whole foods diet would). Many pastes and sauces contain sugar, preservatives and MSG as well as other nasties. However there are usually other brands of the same product which aren’t choc full of evil ingredients.

I think I have had this soup before in the UK, but the taste of it did not compare to what I had while I was in Southeast Asia. It is usually made with shrimp, but I did have it with chicken too. You could even make it with both! I didn’t have any prawns/shrimp on hand, but I did have chicken breast in my fridge. When I got in from teaching boxing outside in the rain last night, I really fancied something aromatic, warming and satisfying but quick (as it was 8.30 by the time I arrived home). This soup took about 30 mins from start to getting it down my throat. As I was on my own last night (as I am Monday to Wednesday nights), the recipe is for one serving (although it was a very large serving). If you want to make it for more people, simply increase the ingredients, although I wouldn’t recommend increasing the aromatics by too much, unless you’re making a huge pot. By aromatics I mean the lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves.

Tom Kha Soup with Chicken (serves 1 generously)

Ingredients:
1 tsp coconut oil
1 chicken breast, cut into bite size chunks
1/2″ piece of galangal, peeled and finely chopped
Bottom inch of a lemongrass stalk, finely sliced (save the top half for something else)
1 red chilli, sliced
1 shallot, finely sliced
1 spring onion/scallion, bulb and leaves sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 kaffir lime leaf, left whole
3 large leaves from a pak choi (or 1 whole baby pak choi), sliced
3 large mushrooms, quartered
3 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp fish sauce
1 1/2 cups water or chicken stock
1/2 cup coconut milk
Juice of 1 lime
Himalayan salt to taste
A few sprigs of fresh coriander/cilantro, leaves only (discard stalks)
1 green birds eye chilli, sliced (optional) for serving

Melt the coconut oil in a wok or large pan.
Add the chicken and stir fry until lightly golden and cooked through.
Add the galangal and lemongrass, mushrooms, shallots and bulb of the scallion (reserve the green part for later). Stir fry for a minute or so.
Add the garlic, chilli, stalk of the pak choi (reserve the green leaves for later) and kaffir lime leaf. Stir fry to soften the chilli and garlic.
Add the water or stock, fish sauce, salt, coconut milk and allow to simmer for a few minutes until the pak choi stalks appear softened.
Add the pak choi and scallion leaves, cherry tomatoes and lime juice.
Allow to simmer for a minute or so longer.
Just before serving, stir through the coriander leaves and birds eye chilli if using. Remove the kaffir lime leaf.
Get it in you and enjoy!

Thai Style Stir-Fried Pork

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Don’t say I didn’t warn you that for a good long while the majority of my posts are going to be Asian inspired! This delicious stir-fry is kind of an amalgamation of several dishes I had whilst I was in Thailand and Cambodia. You could substitute any other veggies you have on hand.

Thai Style Stir-Fried Pork (serves 2-3)

500g pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
1″ piece of ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
200g tenderstem broccoli
3 medium shallots, finely sliced
2 ramiro peppers, finely sliced
2 red chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
Juice of half a lime
2 tsp fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded

Melt half the coconut oil in a wok.
Add the pork and half the chilli and ginger.
Stir-fry until browned and any liquid has evaporated.
Add the remaining coconut oil, followed by the veggies and remaining ginger and chilli.
Cook until the veggies have softened.
Add the kaffir lime leaves and the garlic, stir-fry for a minute longer.
Add the fish sauce and lime juice.
Stir to make sure everything is coated and heated through.
Serve on it’s own or with cauliflower rice.

Refreshing Thai Tea

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I’m back! Did you miss me? I had a fabulous time! Both Thailand and Cambodia were amazing! I drank far too many cocktails and even ate a few spoonfuls of rice a couple of times (shock horror! Don’t call the Paleo Police!) The highlights of the trip were riding an elephant, exploring the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat and staying in a wooden bungalow right on the beach. The food in both Thailand and Cambodia was out of this world! It’s made up of delicious coconut milk curries and lovely fresh stir-fries, all containing aromatic flavours such as kaffir lime leaves, chillies, ginger, lemongrass, galangal and fish sauce/shrimp paste. I tried so many wonderful dishes which have given me plenty of inspiration for my own cooking. So, bear with me as I will be posting a lot of Asian inspired dishes over the next few weeks.

The first thing I want to share with you is the divine, refreshing tea I had on my last night in Bangkok. We went to this fabulous restaurant which specialises in ancient Thai cuisine. We had the tasting menu there. It was definitely the best Thai meal of my life, and up there with the best meals of my life in general (it wasn’t Paleo, but definitely worth the indulgence!) At the end of the meal, they served this tea. I’m not a big fan of herbal and fruit teas – they always smell and taste a bit like the contents of my herb cupboard. This tea, however, tastes fresh and zingy – probably due to it being made from fresh ingredients. I could happily drink this every day, multiple times a day, but it would probably end up being quite expensive. By the way, it’s also very nice cold as an ice tea.

Refreshing Thai Tea (serves 1-2)

1 stalk lemongrass, sliced in half lengthwise
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
2 stalks fresh mint
Boiling water

Place all ingredients into a tea pot.
Fill the pot with freshly boiled water.
Leave to steep for at least three minutes.
Sip and enjoy.

Meatza

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This week has been crazy! Trying to get everything organised for our holiday next week. One of the biggest challenges has been getting inoculations. I phoned up my GP’s surgery two weeks ago to make an appointment for inoculations and to get anti-malarials and was told the first available appointment was two days after I leave! I then had to find a private travel clinic where I will have to pay to have the inoculations (normally they are covered by the NHS). Having found one, I then needed to get details of vaccines I have had previously and when I had them. The GP’s surgery told me to write to the practise nurse, deliver the letter by hand and the nurse would have the list of injections for me the following day. To cut a long story short, this still was not done by Friday afternoon, so I had to beg and plead to get one of the doctors to get this information for me. I did get it, but now I can’t get the jabs until the day I fly! Sometimes (actually most of the time) the NHS is very frustrating! I feel better for having that rant though, so thanks for listening! Now on to food!

One of the things I miss the most about being Primal/Paleo is pizza. I used to eat pizza at least once a week about 5 or 6 years ago. It really was one of my favourite foods – I think my time living in Italy contributed to that! Anyway, I have not had pizza since changing to a grain-free diet. I have not cheated or given in to my pizza cravings once (I swear!). I guess I wasn’t sure that trying to make a Primal pizza would be worth the effort. Last weekend I finally decided to try making a ‘Meatza’. Oh. My. Lord! It was delicious! Whoever came up with the idea of ditching the bland, tasteless crust and replacing it with delicious, tasty meat is a genius! Non-dairy people can omit the cheese and add extra toppings of your choice. Here’s how I made mine.

‘Meatza’ (serves 3-4)
Ingredients:

For the base
500g minced grass-fed beef
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp Himalayan salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp black pepper

For the tomato sauce
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 sprigs fresh basil, left whole
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Salt to taste

For the toppings
1/2 orange or red pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 1/2 cups grated organic cheese
1 small chorizo sausage, sliced

Preheat the grill/broiler to max.
Mix together the ingredients for the base.
Line a baking sheet/pizza tray with aluminium foil.
Press the base mixture down to completely cover the surface of the tray (it will shrink as it cooks).
Place under the grill/broiler for 10 mins.
Meanwhile combine tomato sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Leave the basil sprigs whole so that you can remove them easily – you just want the flavour to infuse.
Prep your toppings whilst the base is cooking.
When the base is done, remove from grill. Pour away any liquid that has formed on the tray.
Spoon as much tomato sauce as you like on to the base and spread to cover it completely.
Pop back under the grill for a minute to heat up the tomato.
Remove and sprinkle the cheese over the tomato.
On top of the cheese, arrange your other toppings.
Place under the grill/broiler for another 10 minutes or until the toppings are cooked and the cheese is melted and slightly bubbling.
Stuff the meatza in your face – I dare you to tell me you miss grains!

Indian Spiced Lamb Skewers with Vegetable Curry

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Wouldn’t you just know it? I haven’t been sick at all so far this year and less than a week to go before my holiday, I am fighting a chesty thing. It’s desperately trying to get the upper hand, but so far I think I’m winning. Let’s hope my immune system can keep fighting the good fight and send the chesty thing running snivelling home to its mummy!

Recently I have been on a spicy food kick. I have been craving really strong spice combinations: Indian, Thai, Middle Eastern, North African… Here is my lamb skewers and vegetable curry recipe. It’s a common ritual in the UK to get Indian takeout on a Friday night. This beat that greasy, unhealthy stuff from the local Tandoori takeaway hands down! I was quite conservative with the hot chilli powder, but feel free to add more if you like to blow your head off! (I think next time I’ll add more!)

Indian Spiced Lamb Skewers with Vegetable Curry (serves 2-3)
Ingredients

For the Lamb Skewers
1 shallot
3 large cloves garlic
1″ piece ginger root, peeled
165 ml coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot chilli powder (add more of a bit of a kick)
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp black pepper
500g lamb leg steaks, cubed
1 tsp black onion/ nigella seeds

Whizz all ingredients except the lamb and nigella seeds in a blender or food processor.
Put lamb, nigella seeds and marinade in a ziplock bag.
Massage well to ensure lamb is completely coated.
Leave for several hours or overnight in the fridge.
Thread lamb cubes onto skewers.
Bake in the oven for 30 mins at 180C, or better still, fire up your barbecue and grill until cooked through.

For the Vegetable Curry
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 aubergine/ eggplant, diced
1 courgette/ zucchini, diced
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomatoes
250ml chicken stock
1/4 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
Juice of half a lemon

Melt the coconut oil in a large pan.
Add aubergine and onion and fry until softened.
Add garlic and spices. Toss over the heat for a few seconds.
Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
Allow to simmer for around 20-30 mins until veggies are tender.
Serve with the lamb skewers and some cauliflower ‘rice’.