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Nose to Tail Slow Cooker Beef Rendang


I love trying out different cuts of meat from my butcher. I popped in around midday in Saturday, hoping to pick up some beef short ribs as I really fancied making something rich in collagen and full of the goodness of grass-fed beef bones. They had already sold out of short ribs, so I decided to go with oxtail instead. Then something else caught my eye – beef cheek! I’ve had it before in restaurants, but never tried cooking it myself. I bought one with the idea in my mind of ‘beefing up’ (pardon the pun) my oxtail dish.

I wasn’t exactly sure what on earth I was going to make with these random cow parts, so I had a flip through some of my favourite recipe books to get ideas. Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey piqued my interest as I already had some bits and pieces from the Thai supermarket lurking in the fridge. I decided I would make my own take on his Beef Rendang recipe (a Malaysian curry).

Nose to Tail Slow Cooker Beef Rendang (serves 3)

For the spice paste:
60g desiccated coconut, toasted in a dry wok
6 dried birds eye chillies
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
6 cloves garlic
4 shallots (small)
4 red chillies, deseeded

For the beef:
1 tbsp coconut oil
6 kafir lime leaves
2 stalks lemongrass, slit down the middle
160ml coconut cream
1 large cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 tbsp tamarind paste mixed in 120ml boiling water
15 drops stevia liquid
1 beef cheek cut into chunks
3 large pieces oxtail
1/2 cup cilantro leaves

Make spice paste by placing all ingredients into a food processor and blitzing until it forms a thick goo.
Melt coconut oil in a large pan or wok.
Add oxtail sand beef cheek and sear on all sides.
Add in the spice paste and fry for 1 min.
Add in remaining ingredients (except cilantro) and mix well.
Transfer to slow cooker and leave to cook for 4-6 hrs on high.
Just before serving, stir in cilantro leaves and sprinkle a few on top to make it look pretty!

I served this with mashed swede and rainbow chard sautéed in coconut oil, as that is what I had in the fridge. This would be great served with cauliflower ‘rice’.


Amok Trey (Cambodian Fish Curry)


I fell in love with this dish in Cambodia. It’s one of the most popular dishes in the country and you can find it anywhere. Every place I had it, the ingredients were slightly different, as was the presentation, although traditionally it is supposed to be steamed in a bowl made of banana leaves. My version is quicker and easier, just making it in a wok and certainly not messing around making banana leaf bowls, however I might go to the trouble if I were serving this for friends.

The most important ingredient in Amok is the Kroeung or spice paste. Traditionally it is made in a mortar and pestle, but if you don’t have the time or inclination to pound, pop the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth paste. The veggies are interchangeable so feel free to experiment. I have also made this with French beans and okra.
Obviously in Cambodia it is served with steamed rice, so I served mine with cauliflower rice. If you’re not a great fan of fish, it can also be made with chicken, shrimp or both!

Amok Trey (serves 2)

For the Kroeung
3 stalks lemongrass, bottom 3 inches only, outer leaves removed
8 cloves garlic
2 shallots
1 oz galangal, peeled and cut into pieces
1 oz fresh turmeric root or 1 tsp turmeric powder
4 kaffir lime leaves, hard rib removed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp water

For the Amok
1 portion of Kroeung
375g ling or other white fish fillets, cut into bite size chunks
1 red pepper, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 large pak choi, sliced
2 red chillies, sliced (add more for extra heat if you like)
2 green chillies, sliced
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 can coconut milk
1 tsp coconut sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp shrimp paste
1 egg
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 cup cilantro/coriander leaves

Blitz the Kroeung ingredients in a food processor until you have a paste.
Heat the coconut oil in a wok. Add the red peppers and chillies and stir-fry for a minute.
Add the paste and fry for 30 secs until it is is fragrant.
Add a little coconut milk to the paste to loosen it. Continue to add a little more until all the coconut milk is mixed in.
Bring to a simmer.
Add the coconut sugar and shrimp paste.
Stir in the carrots and white stalk part of the pak choi, reserving the leaves for later.
When the veggies are tender (this should only take a few minutes), carefully add the fish and gently fold into the sauce. You don’t want the fish to break up into tiny flakes – it should retain it’s chunk size.
Continue to simmer for about 3 minutes until the fish looks just cooked.
Beat the egg and fish sauce together and gently fold into the curry, trying not to break up the fish as you stir it in. At the same time, add the pak choi leaves.
Simmer for a minute or less until the egg has cooked and coagulated and the pak choi leaves have wilted.
Serve with the cilantro leaves on top and some extra green birds eye chillies if you like. It goes very well with cauliflower rice.

This is how it looked when it was served to me in Siem Reap


Delicious and Satisfying Tom Kha Soup


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)

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


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.