Saturday, 28 July 2012

A noodle soup

The original of this was a clear soup with chopped chilli and no mushroom, but this is our favourite version.

For the soup:
Udon or soba for two - I use Clearspring, which come conveniently portioned
Six or seven spring onions
Six or seven shiitake mushrooms
A clove of garlic
Half a litre of chicken stock
Chilli oil, for frying

For the tempura:
Twelve raw king prawns, shelled
A red pepper
A courgette
Tempura batter mix (lazy? moi?)
Oil, for frying

Thickly slice the courgette and pepper, salt, and place in a bowl lined with kitchen paper, with a gentle weight on top.

Cook the noodles by placing them in boiling water then adding a small cup of cold water when they come to the boil. Repeat the cold water at least three times, until the noodles are cooked almost al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water immediately, then cover with cold water until needed.

Get the oil for frying the tempura heating - if you're using a fryer, you know how long it takes; if not, slowly heat at least two-and-a-half inches of oil in a pan.

Heat the stock, if cold.

Clean and chop the spring onions and de-stalk then thinly slice the mushrooms. Mince the garlic. Reserve some of the green spring onion tops for garnish.

Heat the chilli oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the spring onions. When softened, add the garlic and mirin and cook for a minute. Add the mushrooms and the stock and simmer for ten minutes. Add the noodles and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, season with shoyu or salt if needed and leave to simmer for up to ten minutes.

Meanwhile, make up the tempura batter, salt the prawns and turn out the courgette and pepper. Dipping in batter, fry first the prawns, then the peppers, in batches if necessary (both about 90 - 120 seconds), placing them on kitchen paper to drain; then the courgettes, frying till almost golden then removing, resting, and returning to the oil for a final blast.

Serve the soup garnished with spring onion, with the tempura.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Cataplana Dreaming

Having had our first encounter with a cataplana at The Wheelhouse in Falmouth, we'd been longing to try cooking with one ourselves for ages, but the price for a new copper vessel - approaching £100 for a medium-sized one, with shipping from Portugal - seemed rather steep for an occasional cooking pot. Step up, eBay: we managed, against all hope, to secure one for thirty quid including delivery and, having eventually de-lacquered it, finally got to grips with cataplana cooking last weekend. This is the sort of recipe that can be found in various places online, but I'll note my own variations, nevertheless.

Serves 2, very comfortably!

One chorizo sausage, approx 200g, cut in large chunks. The picante from SpainSun is perfect here
Twenty raw king prawns, in the shell, preferably intact
A medium-sized Spanish onion, roughly chopped
Six large, ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped, juice reserved (or a 400g tin)
A good handful of paella rice
Two cloves of garlic, minced
A red pepper, roughly chopped
A teaspoon of smoked paprika
A pinch of cayenne pepper
Tomato puree
Salt and pepper
Wine - a glass each of red and white
Lemon juice
Olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan for which you have a lid. Fry the chorizo gently for a few minutes till it begins to brown and release its oil. Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon. Add the onion to the pan, letting it soften, and then add the garlic for a couple of minutes. Next stir in the tomato puree, red pepper and spices and cook for a minute, then add the red wine and tomatoes. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer gently for thirty minutes. After twenty minutes, stir in the rice and season well.

Once the sauce is cooked, transfer to the cataplana and stir in the white wine. Lay the prawns on top - don't push them down - check the seasoning and seal the lid, allowing it to steam on a very low heat for around ten to twelve minutes, depending on the size of the prawns.

Serve in the cataplana, with finger bowls and perhaps with bread.