Paul’s Caul – Hash in all of its glory.

Now I’m sure you are either thinking where the hell have I been for the last two years, or more likely who the hell am I? Regardless of which group you fall into I don’t feel I have to answer to any of you so just relax, you don’t own this blog! We don’t work for you!

But with that said I have missed you all and have felt somewhat lacking in my expressive outlets and lets be fair that’s what this is all about, myself and G-balls scribbling about food as a cathartic exercise, that on a good day actually discusses food and on an exceptional day teaches you guys something other than we can ramble on for hours about next to nothing.

I could go into detail about the past few years but lets face it you don’t care, you don’t have the attention span to actually take it in even if you did care and most importantly it’s none of you god damn business. So lets just say I was doing what I love best, which is travelling the world cooking food, making other people cook my food and then watching with baited breath as people eat said food. All of this hoping for the all important smile or groan of love as the flavours and textures I have spend my life trying to achieve elicit the required response in people bellies and taste buds. What I haven’t been doing quite obviously is learning where to place commas or even basic grammar, but this is on my to do list.

Beyond that I did actually marry the best person I know, so as you can imagine for people like G-banger and myself this task takes up a lot of our time. Convincing good people that we are also good people is a very elaborate rouse, which is exhausting, but the end game is so worth it (not the movie as I’m yet to see it, but I did see the new spider-man the other day and managed to fucking ruin the plot of end game for myself like a complete bell-end) so all in all I’m happy, I’m married and cooking somewhere in the world loving food in every form possible from growing to eating and from cooking to serving.

Seems like a good time to actually delve into some legit food talk, I’m going to talk about hash today. Now before you start thinking this is not appropriate for such a wholesome blog to discuss an illegal substance such as hash, I assure you no actual hash was consumed by anyone involved in this website and we do not condone such reckless although hilarious and even relaxing behaviour.

When we talk about hashes in the cooking world its used to explain a mad concoction of ingredients cooked together (with potato being the star) in manner that really gets them knowing each other very intimately. Imagine loads of ingredients just hanging around having a BBQ, or just chilling at the beach. You will often find Mr Potato leading the way, he does like to invite everyone as he a social whore but the party is best when Senor chorizo comes along with his missus ‘senorita pomodoro’. They are just so much fun. I best stop that analogy there otherwise I’m at risk of writing a kids book with an ending that with scare the fuck out of any child cause let’s face it, all of your lead characters being killed is never good unless you involve some dragons, loads of incest and a dwarf.

For me cooking a hash is about using up what’s in the fridge and cupboards – it’s usually chorizo, spinach, potato, tomatoes, chilli, herbs, more herbs, some spices like paprika/cumin/fennel seed and some more herbs. Now if this doesn’t sound like what is left in your fridge and you are thinking how the hell am I going to turn a tub of margarine, a bottle of ketchup and some milk on its way to evolving into something less liquid like, then perhaps go rob your neighbours fridge or heaven forbid go to the shops and start buying some proper food in the hope that you end up buying too much leading towards a day you will have some delicious leftovers ready to cook this incredible hash.

But if you were to have tinned corn, beans of any kind, nuts, meats in any form, veg in any form, cheese can get involved, as far as spices all will work, herbs I cant think of a bad one. So basically anything will do but as with everything in life restraint is the key to success. This style of dish can be vegan it can be the most carnivorous dish you could dream up and everywhere in-between, perhaps think of a dish you already love and break its flavours and ingredients down and re-vamp them into a hash.

As a chef I actually end up having loads of pre-prepped items like confit cherry tomatoes or puy lentils kicking about that already have loads of flavour jammed into them. This isn’t to say you can’t do the same yourself, as these kinds of things are just the best building blocks for dishes. I’ll quickly go through a few items you should start getting amongst in your culinary adventures.

Confit cherry tomatoes

Simply whack load of cherry toms into a high sided oven tray or dish, try not to leave them double stacked but they will collapse a little so a few on top of each other won’t do any harm.

Now completely coat them with olive oil, don’t waste your good extra virgin gear just olive oil or even rapeseed oil will do, in fact I don’t give a fuck what oil you use. If you want to produce some extra flavoured oil as a by-product them add a bit more but for this purpose a light covering is adequate.

Now slice up a couple of chillies and bung them in with the toms and oil, how many chillies and what kind of chillies definitely fall into the I don’t care what you do category. I use green chillies and about 1 chilli per punnet and I usually make 4 punnets worth of cherry toms per batch.

Slice a few cloves of garlic and gently place them in the tray (just kidding smash, slice, crush or leave whole then recklessly throw them in) and while you are at it a couple of sprigs of thyme or rosemary can go in there too. I don’t cut them up at all, I do however remove stalks at end of cooking, but this point the leaves have generally falling off and done it job.

Now stick the tray in an oven at 150c for 2-3 hours or until the toms have collapsed and look sexy and all that.
Now they can be used straight away as a pasta sauce, you can drain off juice and oil and use as dressing, you can use toms for a mega bruschetta-esque thing. Basically this stuff will make cardboard taste good.

Puy lentils

These bad boys are without a doubt my favourite legume, easy and quick to cook and such a great vessel for flavour getting into my face hole.

To cook then you need to cook off some onions, carrot and celery diced fine then add lentils and then some stock and allow to cook for 20 minutes or so to allow them to soak up all of the goodness.

Of course I also jam some herbs in there and often use ginger and some spices but its over to you to find what you like and if this explanation isn’t enough for you, then go Google how to cook puy lentils and leave me alone.

Once you have them cooked they can be used as a side to your dinner, a base to serve your dinner on, as a salad base, placed in a soup for something a little special or just eaten like you would a risotto.

Candied chilli

Slice loads of chillies into a pan then cover with sugar and vinegar and simmer down until it starts to thicken then take off heat and allow cooling.

I don’t care what chilli, sugar or vinegar you use and to be perfectly honest I can’t imagine a combination or quantity that wont end up with something resembling a useable candied chilli.

As for uses there is just too many to start talking about, if you cant find a use for this stuff then we cant be friend, its that simple.

Get that mis en place together
CHORIZO & POTATO HASH

For this hash I slice up one chorizo and half loads of new potatoes and place them on an oven tray, drizzle every so slightly with oil as the chorizo when excited by heat releases it juices and aids in making anything close to it amazing.
Whack this in a hot oven (180c) for 30-40 minutes or until chorizo is crispy and potatoes look the business, this may require a stir half way through.

Then once cooked add half of the mix with some warmed confit cherry toms and some spinach leaves and pour onto a plate or a bowl and scatter the remaining crispy chorizo mix over the it.

Now go wild with chilli, coriander, basil, spring onions and parsley… chop or tear it up and sprinkle over the hash.

Now liberally squeeze some aioli or mayo over the top, finish with a big spoonful of yoghurt.

Its that simple, serve up straight away but be prepared to get addicted to this method of cookery as its easy, delicious and beautifully wholesome in all ways.

Other combinations are…

• Sweet potato, kale and corn
• Potato, spinach, fish and caper mayo
• Courgette, aubergine, ras el hanout, kiffler potatoes
• Mushroom, goats cheese, asparagus, potato and basil
• Puy lentils, thyme roasted potato, confit cherry toms, candied chilli mayo
• Potato gems, bacon, cheddar, spring onion, bbq sauce

I’ll leave you here to enjoy hash in all of its glorious guises and remember kids – hash is great.

Steamed pork rib with black beans


There is not much I do not enjoy about the yum cha (dumpling) table.

Normally I would write a few more words to introduce a recipe.

Not today.

This Christmas thing makes a chef’s life too bloody busy 

A few things I consider to be essential at the dumpling table

Pieces o’ pork
That pork ready to hit the steamer
The sticky rice ready to be tucked in covered with its #cheflife ALSCO towel
Dish that up

Just like that

STEAMED PORK RIBS WITH BLACK BEANS, STICKY RICE AND A FEW OTHER DUMPLING HOUSE GOODIES

500g pork belly with or without rib, pork spare rib or St Louis cut pork ribs, cut into 2cm pieces (your butcher might do this if you are nice to him/her. Otherwise you may need a meat cleaver…)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 clove garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat of a knife
½ onion, diced
1 long green chilli, deseeded and diced
½ red capsicum, diced
2 tablespoons Chinese black beans
2 cups glutinous white rice, soaked for a day or overnight in 1lt of water
1 bunch choy sum
A splash of oyster sauce
Assorted store-bought dumplings
Sriracha, soy sauce and/or whatever it is you like to dunk your dumplings into, to serve

Combine sugar, Shaoxing, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper and garlic. Mix through pork ribs to marinate. Set aside overnight or at least one hour to do its thing.
Add onion, chilli, capsicum and black beans, and transfer to a bowl that will fit in your steamer basket.

Set up steamer in the usual fashion – simmering water in the bottom, and then the layers with the holes in them go over that (dumplings, vegetables, rice and steamed pork go on these levels), and then the lid looking thing goes on top of them.

Line the bottom level of your steamer with a towel, add strained rice and then wrap extra cloth over the top like you were tucking the rice into bed. Now you should say goodnight to the rice. Place steamer basket over simmering water.
Place bowl with pork ribs into top basket. Place onto steamer and cover with lid.
Steam for 25 minutes or until rice and pork is fully cooked.
Remove rice and pork from steamer. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Line bottom steamer basket with baking paper. Place dumplings in basket, ensuring there is ½ cm between each dumpling so they don’t stick together. Place over simmering water.
Place choy sum on a dish that will fit in steamer basket and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons oyster sauce. Place steamer basket over dumplings and then cover with lid. Steam choy sum and dumplings for 6-8 minutes or whatever the instructions on the packaging of the dumplings might tell you.

Get it all on the table now.
Now is the time to eat it.
Place your chosen morsel into the big hole in your face, chew it a little or a lot and then swallow.
You are now eating.
Thumbs up.

Put-on-anything, back up, corny, feel good salsa


This (or some kind of slightly bastardised, red headed step child of a version of this) is the salsa you will now use to impress people when you don’t actually have the brain capacity and/or motor skill to impress people.

This is the thesaurus of the intellectually incapacitated… it is the bath for the homeless man… it is the Google of the modern child… it is the facelift for the elderly whore… it is… time to move on.

The thing is, it will make you seem like a heaps cleverer person than you actually are.

The scenario may be something as simple as you impressing the heck out of yourself with a hangover dinner of shit-in-a-tin nachos topped with this little ray of sun shine of a salsa, or maybe you just want to mix it with a little chopped lettuce for “your own version” (wink, wink) of a chopped salad, or maybe you invite a heap of pretty girls over and impress the knickers off of them with some tasty assed tacos topped with this look-like-a-champion salsa, or maybe even your boss comes for dinner and you serve this with a beautifully roasted piece of chicken (you can find that a few posts back), sautéed spinach or kale and a delicious pan gravy.

Seriously, I am even starting to impress myself a little right now, and believe me – I’m pretty tough to win over.

Grill that corn or flash it in a pan if that’s all you got

Really close to the corn salsa

Really far away from the corn salsa

CORNY SALSA

2 sweet corn, grilled, kernels stripped
2 medium tomatoes, dice (I really can’t be too fucked to remove the seeds)
1 lebanese cucumber, deseeded and diced (Yes. I fucking deseed the cucumber. It’s heaps easier and more efficient than deseeding tomatoes though)
½ red onion, diced
50-100g feta, crumbled
½ bunch coriander and/or oregano, roughly chopped
A splash (or 10) of your favourite hot sauce
Juice of 1-2 limes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Get it all into a large mixing bowl.
Mix gently to combine.
Put on something and eat it in your face.

Apple cider vinaigrette and my sincerest apologies


Apple cider vinaigrette

This is a recipe that I constantly forget to give you fine folks, and for that I’m sorry. But I am giving it to you right now (Well, I’m not actually “giving it to you” right now because that would be perverted… unless it’s consensual I guess… a conversation for another time fo’ sho), and for that you should probably be pretty thankful.

Tangy, a little bit sweet and really good for putting on just about anything – leafy herby salads, potato salad, coleslaw, warm salads such as this one and yes, the use of the term “anything” does definitely include your girlfriends boobies or your boyfriends whatever thingy that a boyfriend has. You will wonder how you have come so far in life with out it… just like everyone else wonders how you have come so far in life full stop… and indeed if you could be trusted to sit the right way on a toilet seat.

This is the sort of thing you can make days, weeks or even years ahead of that “big date” with “the one”, or even permanently have on hand as it will last approximately 1 million years* in your refrigerator.

These are probably some of the most average photos I have attached to a post… And they are definitely in some really good company…

APPLE CIDER VINAIGRETTE

(makes heaps enough for a few salads)

¼ cup yellow mustard (or whatever mustard it is that you like)
2 tablespoons castor sugar
100ml apple cider vinegar
400ml some kind of neutral tasting oil
A pinch of salt

Slowly emulsify oil into other ingredients using a stick wizz or whisk or possibly a small branch with the leaves removed (it’s the same as that mayonnaise thing you learnt about that one time).
You could even try the ol’ put-all-of-the-ingredients-in-a-jar-and-shake-it-up trick if you’re keen.
Store that in the fridge for the rest of your life.

*Might not last quite that long. Let me know how you go.

Friendly Fire; Sushi

pork sushi
“ANOTHER SHARK ATTACK AT BYRON BAY” has been the headline news a little too often in the last few months.

Are there even more sharks or are we just looking a little harder for them now?

Who knows. Either way, the sharks have been hungry this year.

I think it’s possibly because we have been taking a lot of the food from their under water cafeteria. I could be wrong, I have certainly been wrong before, but it’s a theory I have. So, due to the seemingly insatiable appetite of sharks in the Byron Bay area I have opted out of using seafood for my “Friendly Fire Sushi Challenge” on this occasion and have instead headed to the hills and found myself some pork.

Pork is not generally the primary food source for sharks or for any other creature that has been remotely sensationalized and/or thrusted (yeah I just said thrusted) into peoples lives as being a ruthless killer so I feel that it is something that I may use today with out consequence nor burden to add to the weight of my already obese conscience.

I’m sure Dana got to use some kind of delicious seafood that she wasn’t stealing from the mouths of the wee sharky bairn and therefore forcing poppa shark to work a whole heap harder for his money and actually start walking onto the beach on his fins to steal a lone, unaware, overweight, sun glazed tourist and then drag said tourist back into the ocean to feed his family, thus resulting in the end of beach going as we know it today through fear of land walking sharks… The picture I created in my own head right there was probably far more amusing to me than it actually came across…

Brain images 1 – conveying funniness to wider community 0.

So to summarize I can and will tell you that statistically you have more chance of getting killed by falling out of bed or from eating a hotdog than you do from a shark attack, and there is a 100% chance that I shall be making a porky nori rolls for the sushi challenge today.

Epic food battles of history. Who wins? You decide…

See Dana’s (more informative and possibly just darn right better) creation right here.

Get it all together
Get it all together

Mmmm, pulled pork. This was really good and I will probably sort out a recipe for it really soon
Mmmm, pulled pork. This was really good and I will probably sort out a recipe for it really soon
Get a little rice down
Get a little rice down
Stack it up... Not too up though
Stack it up… Not too up though
And then roll it up. It's as easy as that... I'm too OG to even use a rolling mat, but I reckon Dana will be nice enough to tell you about that
And then roll it up. It’s as easy as that… I’m too OG to even use a rolling mat, but I reckon Dana will be nice enough to tell you about that
The pork belly and hoisin number
The pork belly and hoisin number

Chop them up so they fit in your mouth and then fit them into your mouth with a little extra QP and possibly some soy and wasabi if you're keen
Chop them up so they fit in your mouth and then fit them into your mouth with a little extra QP and possibly some soy and wasabi if you’re keen

PORKY SUSHI #1

Cooked brown rice (it’s a Northern Rivers thing)
200g cooked (steamed or roasted) pork belly
QP Japanese mayonnaise
Hoisin sauce
Bean sprouts
Coriander (cilantro)
Shallots
Nori sheets

PORKY SUSHI #2

Cooked brown rice
200g barbecue pulled pork
QP Japanese mayonnaise
Pickles
Slaw
Shallots
Nori sheets

Now you just sorta, um, well, maybe just look at the pictures and roll them up kinda like that. The thing is, when you are rolling nori rolls you just gotta think “teenage years” and remember your mad spliff rolling skills and get them back into play. Certainly not a very good lesson on sushi rolling technique but I think we can all agree it is some sound advice and gripping social commentary from you friends here at foodisthebestshitever.

Anyhow, the sushi; they were both damn tasty but the pulled pork number defo made my face smile the most!

That’s it.
pork sushi

Smile… it’s Christmas

christmas ham mojo
“Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…”

This was true of our house this Christmas; the night before and the morning of.

It was as if we had official National Department of Communicable Diseases’ tape and a big sign with an important signature on it at the front gate stating we were quarantined due to sweaty faces and risk of E-bola contamination…

There were some ducks at the lake. We did not eat the ducks
There were some ducks at the lake. We did not eat the ducks

In actual fact, in a rare venturing from the track of entertainment central, this year we have abstained from inviting hordes of friends and relatives to stay and have instead veered down the road of the relative silence of an “us” Christmas. Just me, Jennee and the boys at home this year. No waking up and stepping over bodies scattered everywhere, cooking breakfast and brewing coffee for the state rugby team or waiting in line to use the shower.
I smoked my own Christmas ham and then hit it up with a mojo marinade, just like I said I would
I smoked my own Christmas ham and then hit it up with a mojo marinade, just like I said I would

We would have a picnic at the lake and catch up with some friends and have a few drinkies and some nice food, but this Christmas our house shall be our sanctuary. We shall be the endangered small bush land marsupial and our home shall be a refuge from the progression of modern society; a place where we shall be able to live safely and breed again… but soon they shall release us back into our natural habitat. Next year we shall be returned to the wild, in vast numbers and with a veracious appetite for loose women and the white mans devil water!
It was nom-licious (a hybrid of nom nom nom and delicious… it could take off)
It was nom-licious (a hybrid of nom nom nom and delicious… it could take off)

Oh yeah, and I did make that mojo ham with the pina colada salsa. Smoked my own ham and the whole package (not my “whole package”, I feel I should add. More of a figuratively speaking type “whole package”). I am so full of ham now I am almost past the point of having a food baby, or food baby twins or even food baby sextuplets. In fact, I am so full that if I were to have an actual food baby the call would go out to the next shire for more midwives to facilitate the delivery.
I made a cake. Chocolate fudge cake in fact, with a coconut and berry mousse centre. I based this recipe on one I found at heaps cool blog - Laura's Mess. I'll put the link at the bottom of the page because I can't put it in this caption
I made a cake. Chocolate fudge cake in fact, with a coconut and berry mousse centre. I based this recipe on one I found at heaps cool blog – Laura’s Mess. I’ll put the link at the bottom of the page because I can’t put it in this caption

It’s been a great Christmas. We hope yours was full of good food, good booze, great chums and other things that make your face smile.

Lots of love from the couch,

Your friends at foodisthebestshitever x

Find Laura’s Mess (the blog, not the actual mess) right here