Posts Tagged ‘prawns’

Prawn Kataifi

Prawn Kataifi

I used to work with a guy whose name I couldn’t pronounce. For months, I managed to avoid calling him by his first name until one day I was in a teleconference call and someone suggested that I introduce everyone. So around I went, introducing each one of them until I reached “Paraic” and I was like “uhm, how do you pronounce your name again?” Turns out it was an Irish name and pronounced something like “Pho-rac” (to date, I’m still not 100% sure).

I told my other officemate about it and he said he also didn’t know how to pronounce his name. In fact, for months he used to refer to Paraic as “the finance guy”.

The other name I can never get my head around is the guy from River Cottage. As much as I love that show, I always call him “Hugh something-something”. This evening I tested my husband (who claims he is also a massive fan of the show).

“What’s the name of the guy from River Cottage?” I asked him.

“Google it.” He said.

“No, just tell me!” I said.

“Hugh Whitley?… or Whitely? … or Fernley?” He guessed.

I burst out laughing. Turns out he was just as bad as I was.

This is one of those recipes where I am totally unsure of how to pronounce the ingredients. Kataifi? Ajvar? Don’t even ask me to try. All I know is that the combination is delicious! The inspiration was from a dinner I had a few weeks ago at Efendy in Balmain. The Ajvar is a Serbian relish made with roasted capsicums, roasted eggplants and some chili. It’s a delicious accompaniment to the prawns and it’s also amazing with fresh sourdough bread topped with goat’s cheese.

The herbs come from my newly planted edible balcony, but more on that another time.

Oh, and for the record – the River Cottage guy? His name is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Prawn Kataifi

Prawn Kataifi

Prawn Kataifi with Ajvar Sauce

Serves 6

  • 12 large prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 100 grams kataifi pastry, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
  • 50 grams butter, melted
  • zest of one orange or mandarin and 1 tablespoon of it’s juice
  • Ajvar sauce (I used Mama’s Brand) to serve
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 210c. Mix the orange/mandarin zest and juice with the melted butter and pour over the kataifi pastry.
  2. Line a tray with foil and spray with some olive oil.
  3. Carefully spread around 2 tablespoons of the pastry on a wooden board and place a prawn on one side of the pastry and roll the pastry over the prawn to cover.
  4. Lay the prawn carefully on the lined tray and repeat with the remaining prawns.
  5. Place the prawns in the oven and bake for around 15 minutes, turning halfway until the prawns are golden.
  6. Serve with ajvar sauce.

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Arroz Negro (Paella with Squid Ink)

Arroz Negro (Paella with Squid Ink)

My new TV obsession is The Newsroom, an HBO drama that depicts behind the scenes events of an American Cable News company. I’m hooked on the dialogue and have grown fond of the characters (well, most of them anyway). I think however, what appeals to me most, is how everyone in the team seems to be committed to reinvent cable television news. At the end of the fourth episode entitled “I’ll Try to Fix You”, the news anchor, Will McAvoy is meant to choose between running with an unconfirmed news report that all other channels have called, or wait until the news has been verified. He chooses, despite being pressured from upper management, to wait, which was actually the better thing to do since the report was proved false.

While the drama ensues, Coldplay’s song Fix You starts playing in the background and I’ll be the first to admit a few tears were shed which I was furiously trying to hide from my husband.

The episode made me think about how there is always hope and, if we wanted to, it’s never too late to re-invent ourselves.

It also made me think about some of the older dishes that I’ve made on this blog. A while back I made a paella with squid ink called Paella Negra. It’s been a long time since I made it and while I remember the dish tasting delicious, the picture never did the dish justice.

So here is the new and improved version of Paella Negra. This recipe comes from Frank Camorra of Movida Restaurant in Melbourne. Here is: Paella Negra 2.0.

Arroz Negro (Paella with Squid Ink)

Paella Negra (Paella with Squid Ink)

Arroz Negro (Paella with Squid Ink)

Serves 6 to 8
Recipe from Frank Camorra

  • 5 vine-ripened tomatoes, scored
  • 125 ml olive oil
  • 500 grams squid, cleaned and cut into 2.5 cm squares
  • 12 pieces prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 8 grams squid ink (available from delicatessens)
  • 200 ml dry white wine
  • 400 grams bomba rice
  • 1.2 litres hot fish stock
  1. Blanch the tomatoes in a saucepan of boiling water until the skin starts to blister, around 30 seconds, then place in a bowl of iced water to refresh. Peel and dice the tomatoes, then set aside.
  2. Heat 50 ml of the olive oil in a 30-34 cm paella pan over high heat. Add the squid and the prawns and cook for about a minute on each side, making sure to season. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the rest of the olive oil along with the onion and the garlic. Cook over low heat until translucent, around 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook another 5 minutes over low heat. Now, add the white wine and continue to cook for another 15 minutes until the mixture thickens.
  4. Increase the heat to medium and add the rice. Cook the rice for about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Now, pour in the hot stock and mix well. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium immediately and add the squid on top of the rice (save a few pieces for topping). Cook the rice for 10 minutes. The rice should have now expanded a little so reduce the heat back to low if the flame doesn’t cover the base of the pan. Move the pan around during cooking to allow the paella to cook evenly for 10 minutes.
  5. Before removing from the stove, add the prawns and the some of the saved squid and cook on high for about 1 minute to help form a crust on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and cover with foil for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

On another note, I’m about to undergo a change myself! I’m so excited to let you know I’ve signed up for Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths Campaign. The campaign is to donate real hair to make wigs for women undergoing cancer treatment. National Haircut Week is from 12 to 18 November. If you are interested to learn more about this campaign, please click here.

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Goat's Cheese Tortellini with Prawns, Pinenuts and Raisins

Goat's Cheese Tortellini with Prawns, Pinenuts and Raisins

Where do I even begin?  We last left of when Bizou died. I never told what exactly happened.  I guess five months ago it was difficult for me to put in in writing.  Even today, I get teary just thinking about it, but hopefully this will explain my absence for so long.

The morning that Bizou died, my friend Calley and I were meant to have a Doggie Donation Day for Monika’s Doggie Rescue.  We were going to have a stand infront of the supermarket to collect old dog toys, beds and other accessories for the event.  We had spent the whole night putting up posters for the event and when I got home, I decided that I was going to make sunflower cupcakes for a gold coin donation.  That morning, as we set up our stand, I had only brought half the cupcakes so I told my husband that we had to go back home to get the rest.  He said that I should just stay and finish setting up while he went back home to pick up the rest.

That’s when it all happened.  As he carried the cupcakes to the car, she slipped out of the gate and was hit by a car.  The rest, you already know.

Not meaning to sound too dramatic, but I truly felt that life was so cruel.  It was ironic that  Calley and I had gone out of our way to do something to help rescue dogs and in the process had lost my own.  When you have something special taken away from you so soon, you want to find ways to explain why it happened.

I blamed it on the cupcakes. If I hadn’t baked them, they my husband wouldn’t have needed to go home and get them and Bizou would have not ran out of the gate.  I couldn’t step into the kitchen without being reminded of Bizou.  And so, as much as I could, I stayed out of the kitchen.

So many things have happened since then that I don’t really know where to start.  I guess it will take a few posts to get you up to speed.

But let me begin by telling you about this little bundle lying at my feet as I write this story.  For the first few months of her life she scared me.  So much so that not a day would pass where I wouldn’t ask myself “what have I done?”  A number of times I thought about giving her back.  I thought that getting a new puppy would make it easier to move on.  Little did I realize that instead, this would be one of the hardest things I’d ever done.

Meet Pash.



I ate out a lot over the last few months.  There is a little cafe near where I lived that served this dish regularly and it was one of our favorites. I remember the first night we ordered it, we were going to share a plate, we ended up ordering three plates. It was that good. The original recipe is from Neil Perry – he serves this at his Rockpool restaurant. Making the pasta is not for the faint hearted. It’s not easy making pasta using only potatoes and flour (no eggs to help bind the mixture) but the results are well worth the effort. If you can’t be bothered, feel free to use regular pasta, or otherwise, I suspect wonton wrappers would work as well.

Goat's Cheese Tortellini

Goat's Cheese Tortellini with Potato Gnocchi Dough

King Prawn and Goat’s Cheese Tortellini

From Neil Perry’s Rockpool Cookbook, Serves 6

  • 12 large prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup raisins soaked in hot English Breakfast Tea
  • 1/4 cup roasted pinenuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve

For the Tortellini

  • 200 grams butter
  • 350 grams floury potatoes (I used Desiree)
  • 150 grams baker’s flour
  • 150 grams fresh goat’s cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. To make the tortellini, boil the potatoes in salted water for about 20 minutes until you are able to pierce the flesh all the way through with a knife.
  2. Place the goat’s cheese, lemon zest, and some lemon juice to taste in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and peel the potatoes and push them through a potato ricer. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and the flour. Mix until the dough forms a cohesive mass. Place half the dough in a bowl covered with a tea towel to keep warm. Take the other half and dust with a little flour as you put it through the pasta machine to ensure it doesn’t stick. Run it through the largest setting a few times until the dough comes together. The dough will not look as smooth as pasta made with flour and eggs.
  4. Continue to lower the setting of the pasta, ensuring that you use just enough flour to ensure that the pasta doesn’t stick to the machine. Stop when you reach the third to the last setting (it won’t be as thin as regular pasta). Lay the pasta sheet on the bench and trim the edges with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Cut the pasta into four inch squares as you will be folding the dough over to make triangles for the tortellini.
  5. Pipe a bit of the goat’s cheese mixture toward the top left hand corner of each square. Fold the bottom right hand corner to the top to form a triangle enveloping the goat’s cheese. You should have the triangles on the bias with the point facing away from you to the top left. Fold the base of the triangle lengthwise so it is level with, and covers, the top point. You will have a long skinny piece of pasta with a bump in the middle.
  6. Pick up the pasta and wrap it around your index finger with the top point of the triangle facing away from you. Squeeze the two ends together where they overlap and remove your finger. Place on a floured tray and continue with the rest.
  7. To finish the dish, place some olive oil in a pan and heat. Add the prawns and cook for around one minute on each side, until cooked through but make sure not to overcook the prawns.
  8. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon once they float to the top. Set aside and keep in a warm place.
  9. To serve, place around 4 to 5 pieces of the tortellini around the outside of a plate and the prawns in the middle. Sprinkle with the raisins and pinenuts. In the same pan used to cook the prawns, heat the butter until it starts to foam and smells nutty. Spoon the butter over the prawns and tortellini. Finish with grater parmesan cheese.
Goat's Cheese Tortellini with Prawns, Pinenuts and Raisins

Goat's Cheese Tortellini with Prawns, Pinenuts and Raisins

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Potato Gnocchi with Prawns, Sage and Burnt Butter

Potato Gnocchi with Prawns, Sage and Burnt Butter

Do you ever feel like yelling “STOP!”?

Time to myself has been scarce for a number of months.   There was moving house, holidays with the family, preparing the  other house to be sold… Then, for the last month or so it’s been the new job.  Working crazy hours has been tiring but I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.  I’m interested, challenged and motivated all at the same time.  But getting home late has been taking it’s toll and things get neglected.  Bills forget to be paid, clothes remained piled up waiting to be washed, friends wonder why I’ve stopped calling,  cooking less, blogging declined, visiting blogs I love at a standstill…

And then last weekend I found sometime on my hands and it felt strange.  I thought it would be a welcome change to sit infront of the TV and watch reruns but the funny thing is that it took the whole of five minutes for me to get the urge to do something else.  So this gnocchi was the result of that weekend impulse – I decided to pick up Maggie Beer’s cookbook, “Maggie’s Kitchen”.  I’ve had this book for a few months already and had never cooked from it.  It was a late discovery but an important one.  I found myself thinking “Yes, yes I’ll make this!” as I flipped through the book’s pages.

Of all the dishes, that day, the potato gnocchi dish stood out.  I like how Maggie recalled how she went through three or four techniques before finding her preferred method – don’t you love it when they do all the experimenting for you?  So thanks to Maggie Beer – here is the best gnocchi I’ve tried – crispy on the outside but delightfully delicate inside.

It isn’t hard to make gnocchi – just remember these simple tips to a perfect gnocchi:

  • Use waxy potatoes
  • Steam (not boil) the potatoes
  • Use a potato ricer (instead of masher/fork)
  • Only add enough flour to bring the potato dough together, there is no need to add everything in the recipe
  • Use a pastry scrapper to bring the dough together and handle the dough as little as possible

The dish is made with a burnt butter and sage sauce, topped with pan fried prawns.   Instead of roasting the gnocchi and sage, I have pan fried mine but I have also added a link to Maggie Beer’s original recipe below.  Either way you choose to follow – this will be delicious!

Potato Gnocchi with Prawns, Sage and Burnt Butter

Potato Gnocchi with Prawns, Sage and Burnt Butter

Maggie Beer’s Potato Gnocchi with Prawns

Adapted From Maggie’s Kitchen (Original recipe can be found here)

  • 750 grams nicola or other waxy potatoes, scrubbed (I used kipfler)
  • 2 free range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 125 grams plain flour
  • 50 ml olive oil for frying
  • 100 grams cold unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 80 ml verjuice (I used good quality balsamic vinegar)
  • 40 sage leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil for cooking
  • 12 raw king prawns, peeled, cleaned, tails intact
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Steam unpeeled potatoes for 30 minutes or until cooked through but not falling apart. Set aside until just cool enough to handle and then peel the potatoes. Pass the potatoes through a ricer in a bowl and then add the eggs and salt. Place the flour on a work surface and spread the potato mixture on top. Working quickly, use a pastry scraper until it comes together for form a dough. You may not need to use all the flour on the surface, stop incorporating the flour when the dough is smooth and does not feel sticky to the touch. Handle the dough as little as possible to ensure a light gnocchi.
  2. Divide the dough in quarters and shape each quarter into a long sausage, around 15 cm in length. Cut off 1.5 cm pieces and gently press the tops with the back of a fork tine or gnocchi maker.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and and a hand full of salt. Add the gnocchi and cook until they float to the surface (it shouldn’t take very long, around 30 seconds). Drain well.
  4. Heat the olive oil and half the butter in a frying pan and pan fry the gnocchi, just until golden and place in a serving plate. Pan fry the prawns and place over the gnocchi.
  5. Wipe the frying pan clean and add the remaining butter. When the butter starts to smell nutty and brown, remove from the heat and add the sage leaves. Fry off for a few seconds until crisp then add the balsamic vinegar. Pour over the prawns and gnocchi. Serve warm.

Note: Gnocchi can be made ahead of time, shaped and frozen.  If cooking from frozen there is no need to thaw – just drop in boiling water.  When they rise to the surface they’re done.

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Prawn Dumplings with XO Sauce

Prawn Dumplings with XO Sauce

A year ago I attempted to make har gow and failed miserably.  It might have been because I used wheat flour instead of wheat starch and the resulting dough was so sticky that I had to throw the “ball of glue” away.  The experience was enough to turn me away from trying to make them for a very long time.  That is until I had a monumental craving for these dumplings. Cravings so intense that I had har-gau for lunch, FIVE straight days.  I would go to one of the nearby yum cha places and order take-away.  By the third day it was not only getting expensive – it was also getting slightly embarrassing to arrive at the restaurant and have the waiter smile knowingly, and then signal the lady in the dumpling cart to bring the har gow for me.

By the fourth day I felt like an addict trying to hide a bad craving.  My husband called at 11:30 asking whether I wanted to have Japanese for lunch.  My heart being set on the dumplings,  “I can’t, I have an important meeting that I need to prepare for.” I told him.

By the fifth day I had to admit that things were getting out of hand and vowed to try my hand at making them again.

So here’s the result.  If you are thinking of having a go at making these crystal prawn dumplings, this is a great place to start.  This version of har gow is delicious – just like the ones in the yum cha place.

Here’s the thing – after having them for five days straight and then making them on my own on the sixth day, I’ve suddenly gotten over my craving.

My husband however, is a different story.

He can’t get enough of them.


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Pancit Palabok - Noodles with Shrimp Gravy

Pancit Palabok - Noodles with Shrimp Gravy

Sometimes desperation drives us to do things we normally wouldn’t do in the right frame of mind.

A few months ago our bedroom door got stuck shut and I couldn’t enter the room.  I asked my husband to try and open the door but he couldn’t.

“What about using a screwdriver?”  I asked him.  After a few minutes of fiddling nothing happened. Now please understand that this happened on a Sunday afternoon and all I could think about was how my clothes were in the room and I would have nothing to wear to work the next day.

Desperate, I told my husband “I think you have to break the door down.”

So he backed up a few feet from the door… ran… straight INTO THE DOOR!  BANG!

Nothing happened.  We looked at each other and started laughing hysterically.

“Please try again!” I pleaded.  He happily obliged.  BANG!  This time, a small crack on the door.

“I have a feeling, the next one will take it down.” He said.

“Yes! Yes!  Please.” I replied.

And so he went, straight into the door and he finally managed to break the door down.

We were doubling over with laughter and to be honest, quite proud of ourselves for getting it open.

That is, until one of the people I mentioned this to came up with a very valid comment “Why didn’t you just call the locksmith?”

That’s desperation for you…


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Homemade Prawn Balls

Homemade Prawn Balls

I think that at some point in time, most of us have openly defied our parents. When I was growing up I had friends who would skip school, or go out with boys their parents banned them from seeing. Some of them take up drinking and go out past their curfews.

Me? My form of rebellion was eating fish balls from the street vendors outside my school.

Because she worried that the stalls were not clean and the food was not sanitary, my Mom explicitly banned all of us from buying any food from the vendors who lined the streets outside the school walls. Every afternoon I would watch as my classmates would spend whatever was left of their daily allowance buying snacks from the vendors. Sometimes they would buy boiled peanuts or green mangoes… but I was always most envious when they’d buy the deep fried fish balls.

The fish balls were served on a barbecue stick and served a sweet and sour dipping sauce. Sometimes, I’d ask my friends for a bite which was always a mistake as it would make me want even more. Finally, one day the little rebel in me decided enough was enough. I decided to sneak out one afternoon with a friend to buy the fish balls. In fact, I bought three sticks and those five minutes it took me to finish eating them, was pure bliss.

When I saw these homemade prawn balls from Indochine Kitchen’s blog, it brought back memories of the days I’d sneak out to buy the fish balls. I had always wondered how to get that crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside texture from these deep fried balls made from seafood (whether it be prawns, fish or squid) and Jun’s recipe was simple enough to try.

Not only did making them take me back to that afternoon I snuck out to eat the forbidden fish balls, but these prawn balls were better – and so incredibly easy to make. In fact, I’ve made these twice already. The first time I made them plain similar to the recipe on Jun’s blog. The second time I added a bit more flavours like coriander, ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Both version were definite crowd pleasers, especially with some sweet chili sauce.

Homemade Prawn Balls

Homemade Prawn Balls

Homemade Prawn Balls

Adapted from Indochine Kitchen

  • 500 grams prawn meat, veins removed
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 stalk spring (green) onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • Oil for frying
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a food processor and blend well.
  2. Take a rounded spoonful of the prawn mixture and shape it into a ball. It helps the shaping if you wet the spoon with cold water.
  3. Heat a wok or pan with oil for frying. When hot enough, gently drop the prawn balls in the oil and fry for around 3 to 5 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper before serving with some sweet chili sauce.

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