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Nose to Tail Slow Cooker Beef Rendang

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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)
Ingredients:

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’.

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Lamb Biryani

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This horrible weather just makes me want to stay at home and eat comfort food! Last night I had a real hankering for Indian food with it’s rich comforting flavours. Luckily I had some organic lamb leg steaks in the fridge, and half an enormous cauliflower. I was struck with a great idea – lamb biryani using cauliflower instead of rice. I also threw a bit of kale in there for some extra greenery, fibre and nutrients. I also happened to have half a can of coconut milk left over from something else, so in that went too! The resulting dish was exactly what I was after! Tasty, satisfying, easy and pretty quick.

Lamb Biryani (serves 2)
Ingredients:
2 lamb leg steaks, trimmed of excess fat and cut into cubes
1/2 large cauliflower, finely chopped
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1″ piece ginger, finely chopped
6-8 large kale leaves, tough stems removed and leaves chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 can coconut milk
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup chopped coriander/cilantro leaves
Sea salt

Melt the coconut oil in a large pan and once really hot, add the lamb and sear. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate.
Add the onion to the remaining fat in the pan. Sauté until soft.
Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry until fragrant.
Add the vegetables, lamb and spices and salt to taste and stir well so that everything is mixed and coated with spice.
Add the coconut milk.
Cover and simmer for 10-15 mins until the cauliflower is well cooked, but not mushy.
Remove the lid, break the cauliflower up with a spoon so that it resembles rice grains.
If there is quite a lot of liquid in the pan, turn the heat up and reduce until the dish is fairly dry.
Just before serving, stir in chopped coriander/ cilantro leaves.

Amok Trey (Cambodian Fish Curry)

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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)
Ingredients:

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

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