Friday, 31 October 2014

Sweary chicken tikka curry

Curry really is such a fucking woolly name for a dish. What does it actually mean? For example, you have your Indian/Bangladeshi/Pakistani from curry houses all over the UK which have become so very much part of the fabric of the UK that chicken tikka masala is, for all intents and purposes, our national dish. So much so, in fact, that former BNP leader and hypothyroid guppy-faced, racist cockwomble, Nick Griffin, apparently insists that his favourite food is actually that self same dish. Of course, most of us probably wouldn't have exactly the same culinary experience of dining in Indian restaurants that you might imagine Mr Griffin would get:

"Abdul, guess who'd just ordered chicken tikka masala!"
"Who?
"Only that twat from the BNP, Nick Griffin!"
"You'd better pass me my copy of Penthouse, then. We're all out of 'special sauce'"

The thing about South Asian curries is that they're all about dried spices. In contrast you  have Thai curries, which use fresh, aromatic flavours from herbs like lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves plus lots and lots of chilli. Then there are "curries" from other countries in SE Asia, from Japan, from parts of Africa, from the Caribbean. Yet the tagine I posted in this blog earlier on isn't a curry, though it has a lot of the same spice flavours. So, what about the celebrity chefs? Jamie Oliver, on the pay roll of Sainsbury's a few years ago, did an ad for the supermarket where he declared he was making a "Ruby" for his mates,before hopping onto his scooter to pick up the ingredients, the mockney wanker.

This recipe requires a lot of effort and takes frigging ages, but it is worth it.

INGREDIENTS
Chicken tikka
150g plain natural yoghurt
Piece of ginger (about the size of your thumb) coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
 Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp tandoori spice
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp tumeric
1 green chilli, finely chopped
400g chicken, cubed

Curry sauce
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2-3 cm ginger (about a thumbsworth), finely chopped
4 green cardamom pods
4 cloves
1 bay leaf
stick of cinnamon (about 5cm)
2 or 3 fresh chillies
grate of nutmeg
2 tsp whole cumin
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1tsp paprika
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 tin of tomatoes
1 green pepper
2 tsp garam masala

RECIPE
First you need to prepare the chicken tikka marinade. Put the garlic and ginger in a pestle and mortar and pound them into a paste. Put the paste plus all the other ingredients, minus the chicken, into a dish and mix well. Add the chicken and make sure all the pieces are well covered by the marinade mixture. Cover, put the bowl in the fridge and leave it for at least three hours.

Marination

Have a beer or two while you wait, watch a film or do something else like have sex (with someone else or on your own, just don't forget to wash your hands afterwards).

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and add the marinated chicken. Fry it gently for 15-20 minutes until it's cooked. You could do this on a griddle pan, under a grill or even on a barbecue if you can be truly arsed. Remove the chicken from the pan and keep on the side on a plate


Spices
(from the leaf: bay, red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, cardamom pods, tumeric, cloves, fennel, black pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon in the middle)
For the curry sauce, heat 2 tbsp oil in a nice, solid pan, and add the sliced onion, garlic and ginger. Fry them gently for a couple of minutes then add all the spices (and I know, there are shitloads), and fry for another 5-7 minutes while the onion gets nice and soft. Pour the tinned tomatoes into a blender then add the onion/spice mixture from the pan and liquidise to give a nice, smooth sauce.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan, add the chunky onion and fry for 7 minutes. Add the pepper and fry for another 5 minutes. Return the chicken (including any liquid that might have seeped out of the chicken) to the pan and mix well. Add the sauce from the blender. It might be pretty thick, so add a splash of water to the blender jug to get all the mixture into the pan.

Leave the curry to simmer on a low heat for 20-30 minutes then add the garam masala. Mix well and serve.

Apologies for the crap photo, but that's the curry with rice and squash curry
This makes plenty for two adults and is great with Indian bread, like naan, and/or rice (like my pilau to be posted soon) plus a vegetable accompaniment like the squash curry, also to be posted soon.

NOTES
As I said, this is quite a laboured task to do all the way through. You can cut the time down by doing away with the chicken tikka marination palava and frying up some chopped ginger and garlic with the tandoori spice and cooking the chicken in that as the first stage. To be honest, this is the way I usually cook this dish when I'm not pursuing my mission to bring the best recipes with the foulest language to the fucking masses.

It's a little known fact that the aforementioned guppy-faced racist cockwomble, Nick Griffin, actually has tried his hand at a cookery video blog of his own. I resent this, since I feel it's challenging my crown to be the most offensive food blog on the web. And no, I'm not posting a link to it and giving old endocrinologically-challenged-goldfish chops more traffic.

As I said above, this dish has more spices in it than you can shake a shitty stick at. You could buy branded spices in tiny jars by companies like Schwarz if you really like. However, they cost a fucking fortune. One alternative is supermarket own brand jars which are a lot cheaper. Better still, get spices from an Asian grocer or supermarket. They cost a lot less and come in much bigger packets. On the down side you need to get airtight containers to put them in.

This version wasn't especially hot with chilli, though it really needs a kick like a mule with a urinary tract infection to enjoy it's full potential.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Pineapple fried rice

Fucking grass! It's everywhere. You get it growing up through the cracks in your drive, sprouting in your flower beds and you keep having to mow the fucker every few days in the summer. Fucking annoying. On the other hand, grass also provides most of the bulk calorific content for the diet of the majority of the human race. Wheat, barley, maize, oats, rye and especially rice all come from types of grass. Some people even drink grass juice, but they are fucking idiots falling for psuedoscientific bullshit. Well, that, or they are channeling Ermintrude from the Magic Roundabout.

Rice has been the major food source of a huge proportion of the world's population over the last few thousands of years. However, in the 1970s, rice in the house I grew up in was always bland American long grain rice from some company like Uncle Ben or Bachelors. By God, it was dull, tasteless and generally quit shit. It was akin to eating oily polystyrene chips. However, trust my parents to make a bland thing truly bad, they developed a concoction (I hesitate to call it a recipe) that had crap like chopped spam in it which tasted like death probably feels. I last had it maybe 35 years ago but it took until about 2006 until it stopped repeating on me whenever I burped. This almost put me off rice for ever. Then, later in life, I tried new varieties of rice. Rice that had taste and texture and was made into recipes containing any meat that you needed a tin opener to access. Pilau rice in Indian restaurants, egg fried rice in Chinese. Later on it was risotto, pilaf and paella. Truth be told, rice is a fantastic accompaniment to the right dish, as long as it's a decent quality rice used to start with. This means basmati for a curry or Thai jasmine rice for anything east of India.

Now, anyone reading my blog may have realised that I'm not especially arsed about how a dish looks. However, this recipe looks fucking great, served up in half a pineapple.

INGREDIENTS

200g rice
2 tbsp vegetable oil (not olive, it's too strongly flavoured)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 spring onions
5 large, raw prawns, chopped
1 pineapple, halved and flesh scooped out and chopped finely
1 egg, beaten
black pepper
splash of light soy sauce

RECIPE
Put the rice in a pan of water and bring it to the boil. Boil it for about 12-15 minutes (it needs to e firm or, if you're a foodie wanker, al dente). Drain it in a sieve and keep it on the side.

Add the oil to a wok (or frying pan if you prefer, it tastes the same). Put on the heat and once the oil is hot add the garlic and fry for a minute. Add the prawns and the spring onion for about another minute (the raw prawn should change colour to a nice pink). Add the chopped pineapple then throw in the egg and stir it around so it makes a sort of scrambled mess with the other ingredients. Return the rice to the pan and stir it all up so everything gets mixed. Add the black pepper and the soy sauce and continue to mix until it's a consistent colour. Take the rice out of the pan and onto a plate it's almost time to serve it.

A few minutes before you want to serve dinner, put the oven on at 170°. When it's warm, remove the rice from the pan and pile it into the empty half pineapple. Cover the rice with foil and put the whole lot in the oven in an oven-proof dish. Heat it for 10-15 minutes.Take it out, remove the foil and serve.
This is a fantastic accompaniment to my baked fish recipe or anything vaguely East/southeast Asian.


NOTES
This is about as fucking close as you will get to a wanky dinner party dish in this blog. To be fair, if you made it this far, you probably realise that isn't really my style. Even I, though, have to admit that this does look quite impressive brought to the table in the pineapple. In fact you might find that your guests apparently gasp at the spectacle, but you can guarantee they are thinking "You pretentious fucking twat!". However, if they aren't, and they actually are genuinely impressed by some rice in half a pineapple you need to get new friends since, if you're like me, you're only serving it like that because it saves on the washing up.

Rice is a great foodstuff: cheap, fairly easy to cook and quick to prepare. However, as a rule of thumb, avoid buying the shit they sell in the supermarket in 500g or 1kg packets. Either it's going to be cheap, which will mean it's of crap quality (see above about American long grain rice), or else it's grossly overpriced. The best place to buy rice is a Chinese or other Asian supermarket, and in as big a pack as you can afford/store. It costs more to buy the pack but per kg it's much cheaper. Also, it lasts for ages. I am a bit of a foodie wanker, but I buy Thai fragrant rice by the 5kg sack. It's better quality, costs about a third of the price per kg as a small pack in Tesco's and lasts for literally months. Having said this, the local demographic in your area may dictate that your local supermarket does stock decent Asian rice in big quantities, so have a look.

Tim Rice, you got away without being in the blog... this time

Baked sea bream with chilli, lime, ginger and spring onion with pineapple sambal


The career of Richard Curtis has covered writing Blackadder, Mr Bean and any unfunny "rom-com" starring Hugh Grant made over what seems like the last couple of hundred pissing years. He has truly covered the gamut from the the sublime to the ridiculous followed by the bag of utter shite. In addition to this, or perhaps as a result of it, a few years ago he decided he'd not made quite enough money, so was taken on by the new owners of the Oxo brand (at that time, Campbell's) to write their adverts. One of the TV ads he was supposedly involved in the writing of had the mother of the now postmodern (and post-Lynda Bellingham "classic") Oxo family telling her soon-to-be wedded daughter to crumble a chicken Oxo cube over a chicken before putting it in the oven because "it makes it taste really chickeny". Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but doesn't something become chickeny when it tastes of chicken? I mean, a chicken can't actually taste any more "chickeny" than it already is since it is literally already as chickeny as anything can be, given the fact that it's actually made of fucking chicken. Frigging genius! Until a few years ago I would have said it was a more ridiculous premise than upper class twit, Hugh fucking Grant, being the British PM. This was before 2010, though, when David cunting Cameron managed to scrape his way into power showing truth is in fact just as fucked up as fiction.

Anyway, there is relevance to this preamble. The point is that, although "chickeny" is a good thing if it's describing how your chicken tastes, "fishy" is not necessarily a good thing to describe the taste and smell of fish. Fishiness in fish generally means it's not fresh and that you're fishmonger is taking the piss. Actually, taking the piss is quite appropriate because fishiness in fish arises through degradation of urea, the major nitrogenous component of urine in mammals, which is taste- and odourless until it's acted upon by bacteria when fish goes off.

Of course, being an island nation with our proud maritime history, we Brits love our fish. As long as the fucker is cod or haddock, comes coated in fucking batter and is served with fucking chips. In fairness, fish and chips is a wonderful dish, especially with curry sauce, mushy peas and plenty of salt, vinegar and ketchup, but then we're back to the British obsession with fucking chips (see previous blog entry on potato wedges).

The thing is, despite being surrounded by water, it seems like we can't get decent fish easily. That, and the fact that again, a lot of people say they don't like fish ("eurrgh, it's fishy!"). But, a trip to any decent sized supermarket will reveal a fish counter with some decent offerings. Just make sure they're fresh. Not wanting to sound like regular blog guest star, Rick fucking Stein, but they should have clear eyes and smell of the sea, not of "fish".

This way of cooking fish is easy and tastes great. It keeps the subtle flavour and ensures the fish stays moist. It's based on south east Asian  recipes from places like Indonesia, Malaysia and Hunan in S China. The sambal goes really well with it (riding rough-shod over my previous rant about how fruit doesn't belong in savoury dishes).


INGREDIENTS
For the fish
1 decent-sized, whole sea bream (about 300-400g was enough for two)
Splash of olive or other vegetable oil
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 piece of fresh ginger, about 2cm cubed in size, chopped into fine matchstick-sized pieces
Zest of 1 lime plus half of its juice
Black pepper
Salt

For the sambal

1/2 medium sized onion, coarsely chopped
2 cm piece of ginger, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
The other half of the juice of the lime
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
flesh of half a pineapple chopped into smallish chunks
1 spring onion, coarsely chopped


Makes enough for two people. Serve it with rice, especially my recipe for pineapple rice which is the next entry of this blog, which it goes with especially well.

RECIPE
For the fish
Pre-heat the oven to 180. Take a piece of foil about three times the length of the fish (enough to put the fish on and fold over to make a cavity with plenty of space for the flavours to mingle). Smear the area you're going to put the fish on with oil. Dry the fish with kitchen roll, inside and out, and place it on the oiled part. Make three deep cuts into the body of the fish.  Mix the other ingredients for the fish in a bowl and scatter them over the top and into the cavity.

California breamingReady to go in the oven
Pour on the lime juice then fold over the foil and scrunch it up to seal it, leaving plenty of space for steam to surround the fish. Place it on a baking sheet and put it into the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes.



For the sambal
Put the onion, ginger and garlic into a mortar and pound it to a fine paste with the pestle.  Heat the oil in a pan and add the paste. Fry it until it's cooked and add the chilli, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce. Once it's bubbling, add the pineapple and the spring onion and allow it to warm through.

Pineapple sambal

Serve the fish whole so people can get freaked out by their dinner looking at them.



NOTES
A sambal is the Indonesian equivalent of a salsa.

The fish ought to come prepared (ie be gutted and cleaned). If it isn't, you could do it yourself, but that is a bit of a pain in the arse. so ask the person behind the counter what the fuck they think they are doing for a living and get them to do it for you. Following that, feel free to walk away from the fish counter mumbling how you can't get the fucking staff these days and how they will be bally well horsewhipped when you become prime minister

I did this with sea bream, which is a fantastic fish, but sea bass would also work as would snapper or tilapia. One of the best things about a whole fish is the fun in dissecting it to get every last morsel of flesh, including around the head where some of the sweetest meat actually is. It also really grosses out some people. Fish head curry is actually a well known (and fucking delicious) dish in Singapore.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Pollo Español (Spanish chicken)

There is a long relationship between Britain and Spain. However, the traditional British image of Spain is quite lopsided and very different to the reality. It's Manuel from Fawlty Towers (as portrayed by a Jewish Englishman). It's colonies of retired middle-Englanders who want warm weather, bingo and the Daily Mail. It's holidays on the Med. It's places you can get egg and chips and a pot of sodding Tetley's or a pint of pissing Tetley's any time of day, where you can buy a souvenir straw donkey that disintegrates into razor-sharp fragments that are just the right size to lodge in a toddler's windpipe as soon as it encounters the British climate. It's Torremo-fucking-linos, Costa del-shitting Sol, Beni-cunting-dorm.Yes, this is a seriously fucking skewed image of what is actually a magnificent and varied country.

Salvador Dali's The Great Masturbator
Well, this is a blog written by a massive pretentious wanker

OK, from that opening paragraph, two things are plainly obvious. 1: I'm an insufferable snobby and arrogant prick as far as travel is concerned and 2: I absolutely fucking love Spain. I love the food, the wine, the people, the lifestyle, the climate, even the language. Their beer's not all that, but, hey, nowhere's perfect. Besides, since this is also the place that gave the world Velazquez, Dali, Picasso, Miro, Gaudi, Cervantes, Almodavar I can let them off that. Anyway, since this is a food blog, let's concentrate on that aspect of Spanish life. Spanish food is hugely varied from region to region but is crystallised in one thing: tapas. Plates of food you get in a bar when you order drinks. Often they're even fucking free! And it's not even crap food, either. It's usually things like jamon iberico, chorizo, seafood morsels, portions of hearty stew, paella. FREE! And the ingredients are so fucking fresh. It's all about meat with real flavour and vibrant vegetables. You can actually taste the sun in this food. It's like felching a star. Seriously, what's not to love about a country who approaches food like that?

That brings me onto this recipe. It's yet another quick and cheap meal that tastes frigging great. In reality it's a pretty pale imitation of a genuine Spanish stew like carcamusas*. For a start it's got tinned tomatoes, the peppers are most likely to be from Holland or Morocco, the onion is British. The chorizo is probably Spanish, mind. On the other hand, while it's a diluted version, it still tastes very much of Spain though.

TIMING
Preparation: 10-15 minutes
Cooking: around 90 minutes in total

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
500g chicken fillet, cubed
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
100g chorizo, chopped
1 sweet pepper (red, orange or yellow), chopped
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp smoked paprika
Pinch dried thyme
Black pepper to taste.
150 ml dry sherry
juice of half a lemon (or 1tbsp of bottled stuff)
1 tsp sugar

RECIPE

Onions, garlic, pepper and chorizo frying in olive oil

Heat the oil and add the chicken to seal and gain a little colour.

After about 5 minutes, remove it with a slotted spoon and add the onion and garlic to the remaining oil and fry gently for 5-7 minutes until the onion is softened.

Add the chorizo and fry for another of couple of minutes.

Throw in the pepper and fry up for another two minutes before adding the tomatoes.

Return the chicken to the pan and stir in the tomato puree, paprika, thyme and pepper.

Leave to simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

Add the sherry and lemon juice and stew for 30-60 minutes, at least until the chicken is cooked. Taste and add the sugar if necessary (it's to offset the sourness of the lemon juice).

Add salt if required.

Works well with fresh bread and sauté potatoes, especially if you tart them up with a bit of rosemary and salt.

The stew ready to serve

NOTES
*Carcamusas is a stew of pork in tomatoes which is from the city of Toledo. That's a sweary blog to come.

By sherry I mean a manzanillo or fino. It has to be dry and pale. Not QC, not "medium" and definitely not Harvey's fucking Bristol cream. This is not the same drink associated with the WI. Real sherry is a wonderful, crisp drink that is a great aperitif or actually goes well with the dish instead of a regular white wine.

For something that's essentially just a fancy sausage, chorizo is one of the most fantastic ingredients in savoury cooking. It makes almost anything taste fucking great.

While the recipe above works all year round, you could make it that much more authentic at the height of summer with ripe, fresh tomatoes, fresh thyme and better quality peppers.