Saigon chicken and cabbage salad

OH DUDES, I saw this in the latest Australian Gourmet Traveller and had to break my magazine embargo and buy it, just to make it. Well, this and the coconut cake on the front cover which looks divine*.

I made it – I even made the dressing the way it says, with mortar and pestle (rather than bunging it all in the food processor) and OH.MY.GOODNESS. Eleanorfromthecommentbox and I had scoffed two bowls of it before we even got to the official eating location of the back verandah. It was a fitting dish for feeding her family (or parts thereof) too.

So, as we stare down the barrel to some horrendously hot weather, this is the total solution. For those of you in snow, well, just make it regardless.

Saigon chicken and cabbage salad

Australian Gourmet Traveller, January 2011

  • 500g chicken breasts (original recipe uses chicken thighs)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 each white and red cabbage, thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 3 carrots, julienned
  • 1/4 cup (firmly packed) each mint, coriander, Thai basil and Vietnamese mint
  • 1 bunch chives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup roast peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 12 canned quail eggs (I didn’t use these-canned eggs? Skeevy)

Chilli and lime dressing

  • 5 long red chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 3 coriander roots, scraped
  • 1 golden shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 ripe Roma tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Juice of 2 limes, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Combine the chicken with the honey, chilli, ginger and garlic in a baking dish. Season to taste and cover with foil and roast until chicken is cooked (about 12-15 minutes). Remove foil and cool to room temperature, then coarsely shred the chicken and set aside.
  3. For the dressing, pound the chilli, coriander root, shallot and garlic in a mortar and pestle then add the tomato and pound to combine.
  4. Add 25ml water and remaining ingredients, adjust seasoning to taste and set aside. The dressing should be sweet, salty, hot and sour.
  5. Combine the cabbage, carrot and herbs in a bowl, add chicken, drizzle over a little dressing and toss to combine. Add more dressing to taste, scatter with peanuts (and quail eggs if you wish) and serve.

So good. So very very good.

* But get this, the whole section on coconut has you MAKING your own coconut milk or cream by buying FREAKING coconuts. I mean, COME ON.

Current obsession – garlic dip or toum

A few of us have a garlic dip obsession. Some of us have been on a quest to make their own that has frustratingly ended badly each and every time. Even with recipes from reputable restaurants. Then I saw this, or one of them saw it and thought it could be worth a go.

Chef still thinks it’d be better if you blanched the garlic before whizzing it – dancing morgan mouse suggested about 30 seconds in the microwave, what a clever idea is that! But I don’t care if I breath garlic fire, this is divine.

Serve it with kebabs
Smear it quite liberally over a pizza base, scatter over some cheese and voila, the best garlic pizza base ever
Add a teaspoon to some sour cream or guacamole to have with your queasadillas

Dudes, just make it.

Quick Garlic Dip
The Food Blog

  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of iced water of which you will use around 2 tbsp
  1. Put the garlic cloves along with salt and 1/4 of the lemon juice in the blender
  2. Blend on medium and scrape the sides down then add the egg white and blend on medium
  3. Add half the oil in a steady stream. If the sauce looks like it has split, remove half the amount, add another egg white, whizz and re-pour what had already split
  4. Switch to a slow blend, and add the rest of the lemon juice in slowly then  the oil
  5. Add 1 or 2 tbsp of water. You will see the consistency change into something wonderfully creamy and light. 

Go and check out the original on The Food Blog for some gorgeous images.

Pork dumplings with dipping sauce

So Felix wanted to make dinner – how cool is that! He looked through my recipe file and pulled out pork dumplings. This is great food for kids to cook. Easy to mix, easy to compile and DELICIOUS.

Pork Dumplings with dipping sauce

  • 500g pork mince
  • Bunch of chives, chopped finely
  • 8-10 water chestnuts, chopped finely 
  • knob of ginger, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 packets gow gee wrappers
  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl
  3. Have a little bowl of water on your kitchen bench
  4. Place a scant teaspoon of the pork mix in the centre of a wrapper, dip your finger in the water and run it around the edge of the wrapper, pinch the sides together to seal
  5. Put dumplings into the water, when they rise to the top cook for a further 2-3 minutes then drain
  6. Serve with the dipping sauce.

Dipping sauce

  • 1/3 cup black vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • knob of ginger, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, very finely sliced
  • Fresh chilli to taste
  1. Mix together 

Mustard sauce

So I found a Donna Hay recipe for steak and mustard sauce yesterday and told Chef that was going to be dinner. The end.

It is SO easy to make and man, is absolutely to die for. I used light sour cream so it is not even that bad for the waistline and I’ll tell you now, it is sensational on sandwiches with left over beef the next day.

I did a mini standing rib roast in the oven rather than individual chops in the frypan like Donna Hay suggests – it took about 25mins and was still nicely pink through the middle. Oh, and I doubled the sauce amount because I am quite partial to a condiment

Mustard sauce
Quick, easy and delicious mustard sauce. Perfect with steak.
  • ½ cup beef stock
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 heaped tsp hot English mustard
  • ½ cup sour cream
  1. In the pan in which you cooked your steak, pour the stock, wine and mustard
  2. Cook for about a minute or so until it's reduced by half
  3. Stir through the sour cream.




Easy Peasy Custard

Does anything say comfort more than warm homemade custard? Sure but for this post let’s say that custard is the pinnacle of sweet comfort food goodness. Sure there is the need to stand and stir and yes there is the mild anxiety you could end up with a big vat of scrambled eggs, but really, when you’re running the finger around the edge of the emptied saucepan you know it is all worth it.

Now some of you die hard foodies will baulk at this recipe, claiming it is not real custard due to the presence of cornflour, but you know what? I don’t care. I can whip this up toot sweet and watch my kids swoon and that makes the occasional shortcut worthwhile.

This is yet another Bill Granger recipe. What can I say, the shiny happy man can cook.

Easy Custard
Bill Granger

  • 300ml milk
  • 300ml cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1. Bring the milk and cream barely to the boil
  2. In a separate dish whisk the yolks with everything else
  3. Pour the milk and cream into the yolk mixture, stirring constantly
  4. Return it all to the saucepan and stir over a low heat for about 10 minutes. 

I mean COME ON, how simple and how delicious.