Tag Archives: ginger root

Easy chicken korma, UK-style

I’ll be honest, I don’t like korma. I’m not even particularly fond of proper Indian kurma, but it’s the British korma that I really do NOT like. Why not? Because it’s usually far too sweet (almost like a pudding) and usually far too greasy as well, and it has no chillies to counter that cloying taste. But Pete likes korma rather a lot for precisely that reason. Well, each to his – or her – own. I’m happy enough to make korma at home for Pete as long as I don’t have to eat it. I do not add extra sugar (which is something I’m sure is done in restaurants), which probably allows the coconut milk to provide its own natural sweetness. I say probably, but that’s because I don’t taste it at all and never have. So it’s kind of tricky, really, cooking non-vegetarian items for my husband… but more often than not, whatever I cook turns out rather well. It’s quite rare that he has to add extra seasoning. Touch wood.

So, enough of blowing my own trumpet and on with today’s recipe. This korma is quite simple and is perfect for a weeknight supper. Yes, it looks like a long list of ingredients, but I promise that if you exercise due diligence with your mise en place before you start cooking, this curry can be ready in 20 minutes. The more complicated, authentic Indian kurma is a recipe for another day, and another blog.

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Pork stir fry with black sesame seeds

I’ve decided not to buy supermarket bottled Chinese stir fry sauces any more, because practically the first ingredient in them is sugar. Yes, I knew about this, but continued to buy ready-made sauces because of the convenience factor. That’s how those supermarkets nab you – they play on your natural vices. Laziness is my biggest vice. It was partly out of laziness that I bought those sauces, but also because I’m not confident with making Chinese food. Eating it, yes (not with chopsticks though), but making it… not so much.

However, there are plenty of recipes on the Net for instant sauces. As long as you have a little sweet (honey/sugar/sweetener of choice), a little sour (vinegar), a little hot (chilli sauce/flakes) and a bit of salt, you already have a base for the stir-fry sauce. After that you just add whatever takes your fancy (peanuts, cashews, sesame seeds, garlic, etc) and some veg and meat, and there you are.

Today I made a pork stir fry with black sesame seeds. There were two boneless pork medallions, a bell pepper and a pak choi. and that’s what made up Pete’s dinner. Those were the only veg I had handy, but you can add mangetout, mushrooms, baby corn, scallions – whatever you like.

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Sweet and sour chicken

Pete’s favourite cuisine of all is Chinese. I’ve cooked Chinese stir fries for him at home… but here’s a confession – the sauce has always come from a bottle, so strictly speaking, it’s not cooking as such. It’s just prepping the veg and meat or chicken. When he says “Babe, this is good”, I get a sneaking feeling of guilt at the praise because I feel it’s undeserved. Hell, anyone can “cook” like that.

So this recipe is my attempt at a sauce that’s not from a bottle – it’s from several bottles and a can, haha. No, seriously – I know that sweet’n’sour is probably the most ubiquitous of all Chinese takeaway items. I don’t know if “real” Chinese would be surprised to learn that this is “their” cuisine, much as Madrasis would be surprised to learn that there’s a “Madras curry” in the UK that has literally nothing to do with South Indian food!

Authentic or not, sweet’n’sour is Pete’s favourite recipe, so I’ve tried to make it, with no extra sugar added. All the sweetness is strictly from the pineapple (and whatever is in the ketchup).

One extra tip: Before you add the chicken pieces, taste the marinade sauce to make sure it’s to your liking. You can add a bit more of whatever you feel is lacking. 

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Whole steamed sea bass, Chinese style


I have a cookbook that deals entirely and only with fish, which I bought on Ebay after a fraught bidding war. I really, really, REALLY wanted that book! The book is simply titled “Fish”, and the author is Sophie Grigson. What I really like about this cookbook is that there is a very informative foreword on the various types of fish that are (or could be) available, and the recipes all have suggestions for substitutions in case you don’t have the particular type of fish required. That to me is invaluable, because I’m not at all knowledgeable about which fish are alike in texture/taste, etc.

This recipe is from her book, and is absurdly simple if you have a steamer. That was handy because I wanted to try the electric steamer (which my husband had bought for using in the campervan, not at home – too bad), because I’d never used one before. It’s got two compartments, and I steamed the whole sea bass in the top compartment, following the suggestion given on the steamer for cooking time, which was about 25 minutes. Easy enough to set the timer for 25 minutes and forget about it thereafter, to be reminded again when it pinged “done”.

The fish tasted fine, but again, it was really quite bony. Ok, it’s not as if I was going to eat the fish… but still, I still prefer my food to be easily accessible and eaten without discomfort – which means not having to pick out the bones carefully from every mouthful before eating. I know I’ve said this before, but seriously, eating such fiddly things seems like such a pain in the wrong place! Much simpler to get fillets which have been de-boned.

Anyway, this is a very healthy way to cook fish, and I was quite pleased with how well it worked out. I served it with Chinese-style fried rice. Simple flavours, maximum taste. I don’t suppose it can get better than that.

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Vietnamese-spiced duck legs in orange sauce

Pete likes duck, but I haven’t often bought it because it seemed to me rather difficult to cook (from what I’d seen on TV shows, anyway). However, the whole purpose of this blog is to face my fears and make my discomfort zone into at least a zone of tolerance, if not quite a comfort zone quite yet. I guess that if you make anything often enough, it automatically becomes something you get good at cooking.

Anyway, I mentioned to Pete that I was going to make duck a l’orange (to get all Frenchified about it). Then I came across a recipe at The Foodpot that gave a Far-East twist to this classically French recipe, and that seemed like a better idea still, because I had plans for a bunch of choi sum greens that I’d picked up at Morrisons. Pete made a slight face when I said there would be a change of plan, but decided to go with the flow because after all, it was ME going to do the cooking. Chef‘s word is law, around here.

I followed the Food Pot recipe quite faithfully (the time for dicking around with recipes is after you’ve gained some experience) and the result, served with the choi sum (done to my own recipe!) was better than I’d dreamed because Pete couldn’t stop praising the end result. With one exception, though, which was to NOT salt the duck legs before frying. To be fair, I hadn’t wanted to salt the legs at all, never mind as generously as the original recipe had stated… so I guess I should have just followed my instinct. Next time, I certainly will. Like I said, this counts as learning from experience!

Choi sum, in case you’re new to it, is a leafy Chinese green like pak choi, except that it looks like pak choi‘s much taller cousin. It tastes pretty much like pak choi, too. I served the duck legs with the choi sum and plain steamed rice. Pete’s other suggestion was to use duck breasts rather than legs, the next time around, because he said those would slice up easily and look pretty on the plate, as well as taste great. I guess he’s hoping to invite his mates round for dinner some time soon.

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