Chicken and Prawn Pad Thai Noodles for your New Years Resolution

chicken and prawn pad thai noodles
If making Pad Thai was your New Years resolution then this is a story for you… read on my friend, read on.

It’s time to say goodbye to 2015; the old suit, last years fashion and the out of date milk… or maybe just plain old out of date, and hello to 2016; the new puppy dog, the fresh threads, the shiny new car and the virgin princess.

That’s right, the New Year has welcomed it’s own self into our lives like a cheeky little gypsy squatter. Yep, 2016 is here and it is here to stay. Now is probably also a good time to bring to point out that it’s not just for Christmas, it’s for life… or at least the next 365 days…

I know it is customary in these times we live in, to make a resolution of some description. You probably want to better yourself and just make yourself a nicer person to be around and I think that is kinda reasonable because let’s face it, you are a bit of a dick but I’m sure with a good positive attitude and the help of the New Years Resolution Gods you can overcome this little hurdle and push on to become a more bearable human being.

Me on the other hand, I’m not really bothered with that whole resolution thing. Too worried about failing at this shit one more year so just staying well away from the whole thing… Well, maybe that’s a bit of a lie (bare with me here). Not more than two weeks ago my brother Matt did send my a pic of a classic Thai noodle dish called Pad Thai that he had made for his dinner. The pic made me want Pad Thai… I could taste it and I knew that with my self judged pro rank at making this aforementioned dish, it was something that I would need to cook for myself (and possibly 14 other people because, like it’s Italian cousin the pasta, this is one of those dishes that I always cook a heap too much of… the neighbours don’t seem to mind though).

Right there and then I decided that I would make Pad Thai on New Years Day. That was my New Years resolution and I was going to try my darndest to stick to it and it was indeed a resolution that was swiftly and efficiently fulfilled.

New Years Day dinner equaled a big fat wok full of prawn and chicken Pad Thai with chilli jam, some soy and garlic greens and Thai-esque coleslaw. I am fucking ruling at 2016 already. Bring on the rest of the year!

Prawn and chicken-y goodness
Prawn and chicken-y goodness

Those garlic and soy greens
Those garlic and soy greens
That Thai style 'slaw
That Thai style ‘slaw
Those Pad Thai noodles
Those Pad Thai noodles

And a close up of those same noodles
And a close up of those same noodles

PAD THAI (serves at least 6 as part of a banquette)

Some dried flat rice noodles (however many you reckon because let’s face it; it really doesn’t effing matter how much you soak because it’s always going to be enough to feed a medium to large Thai village anyways), soaked in warm water until just cooked but still a little firm in the middle AKA al dente. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have some fresh rice noodles with-in your grasp, you go ahead and use them
10 large king prawns or possibly lobster (if the extra cash in your pockets is weighing your pants down and you’re starting to look a little too much like a 90s homeboy) peeled, de-veined and chopped into 2-3 pieces
300-400g chicken thigh (for me) or breast (for other people), chopped into small bite sized pieces. It is also totally feasible to use the left over roast chicken from last night, which is what I did actually do
2 tablespoons each salted radish (chopped) and dried shrimp
4 eggs
1 bunch garlic chives, chopped into 1 inch pieces
Pad Thai sauce (recipe below)
Bean shoots, coriander, crisp eshallots and roasted peanuts
Lime, fish sauce and chilli jam (a recipe will follow in the coming days/weeks) to serve

• Get your wok hot. I mean hot. Like the super model crisping up in the midday sun sans Evian hot. Add a splash of oil and then crack the eggs in and scramble them really fast. Once they are cooked put them on a plate and set aside
• Add a little more oil and let the wok heat up again. Add the prawns, chicken, salted radish and shrimp and fry for 1 minute
• Add the noodles and egg and stir fry for another minute
• Now add most of the Pad Thai sauce (reserve a little to adjust seasoning at the end if necessary), a handful of coriander and bean shoots, and a few garlic chives, crisp eshallots and peanuts. Toss
• It is now one minute later and your Pad Thai is ready
• Check seasoning and adjust with reserved Pad Thai sauce if necessary
• Serve garnished with extra garlic chives, bean shoots, coriander, eshallots, peanuts and heaps of lime for squeezy tang
• Good work

Pad Thai Sauce

¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup tamarind puree
½ cup grated light palm sugar
• Whack it all in a jar and shake it up until the palm sugar is dissolved

That’s it; Pad Thai like a boss. Stay tuned for our foodisthebestshitever Easter food ideas real soon… only three months ahead of time – just like the supermarkets!
chicken and prawn pad thai noodles

Prawn and Chorizo Spaghetti that is so damn simple even Niels can make it

prawn and chorizo pasta
I did a fair bit of tossing up as to whether I would be telling you about some of my new friends in the world of food or a crackingly simple prawn and chorizo pasta that is one of my all time faves, a flavour combination I have used in many different applications… except the bedroom… well, there was that one time but I was hella trash-bagged. So it was a toss up. There was a small tussel, some eye gouging and a cheeky finger up the bot bot, but at the end of the day it was the prawn pasta that won… the bond of old friends would not waver under the pressure of any brazen young upstart. Or something like that. Or even possibly nothing at all like that. Listen, I just decided that I’m going to tell you about the pasta today Ok? I’ll tell you about something cool and hip and contemporary next time… or maybe the time after that. I don’t know. FUCK!

I really need to cut down on my coffee intake.

So this is a damn tasty pasta that is so effing easy even Niels can make it. That’s right, even Niels can make it. You know Niels right? No? Well I shall take a moment to introduce you folks; Niels is an old friend. His name is definitely Niels and not Neil. Niels has an acupuncture clinic and spends his days healing people through the flick of a needle. Niels is not a chef, or a cook. Well, he wasn’t until we opened this restaurant and he kindly put his hand up to do whatever it was (well, anything as long as it was within the international humanitarian guidelines) we needed of him to get this restaurant thing up and running, and in exchange for his services we would cross his palm with silver so that he may appease this guy called Bill who seems to require a lot of Niels’ money… and he seems to get a fair bit from just about everyone else I know too… hmmm. Anyway, Niels showed some skills, a keen-ness that is scarce in this industry at the moment, and the capacity to follow instructions and retain information so before he knew it he was chained to the stove, flipping the pan like his name was Peter… did that work? No, I didn’t think so. I really need to work out how I can stop being so damn lame… maybe they offer a course in that these days? Community college possibly? No, you know what? If I was going to do a course it should definitely be a course in how to stick to the fucking point!!

The bottom line is this; three months ago Niels couldn’t even flip a pan, but he could still cook a damn fine pasta. I am out.

Just simple tasty food
Just simple tasty food

...that even Niels can make.
…that even Niels can make

I have nothing for this except my face hole and a fork.
I have nothing for this except my face hole and a fork

PRAWN AND CHORIZO SPAGHETTI (serves 4)

16-20 large prawns that come from the ocean near where you live (unless the closest ocean is a grey water treatment plant, in which case you use whatever you can find and go with my blessing), peeled and deveined
2 chorizo sausage, sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 long red chilli depending on how hot you like it, chopped nice and small
15 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
A good splash of something white and wine-like
250g spaghetti, fettuccine or whatever the hell pasta you like to eat, cooked per packet instructions
Olive oil
A large handful of parsley, chopped
An even larger handful of mint, picked
Seasoning
Pangrattata and lemon wedges to serve
You’re going to need a large pan for this one, or two medium pans will also do the trick

• Heat a splash of oil in the pan over a high flame. Add prawns, chorizo and a good pinch of salt and pepper
• Toss for one minute (the pan that is… filthy person) until prawns are almost done and then get the garlic, chilli and tomatoes in there
• Give them another minute and then deglaze with the white wine. Add pasta and a tablespoon of water from the pot
• Toss, toss, toss
• Check seasoning and adjust if necessary
• Add parsley, roughly tear in mint, toss, add a little more olive oil if it looks like it need a little more sheen, and the get that bad boy into some bowls, top with pangrattato, put a little lemon on the side and serve
• Bam. There is a high chance you will thank me for this one

Eat it
Eat it

Seafood chowder-esque type thing in a Vienna loaf

seafood chowder in a cob
My brother is just about to head back to his humble grotto in Margaret River, Western Australia, after a mammoth stay of two months. That’s right, now I shall be in charge of my own mis en place again… and we will have to do our own washing… I’ll be sad to see him go, that’s for sure.

But before he makes like a tree and gets out of here we needed a little man time. You know, get a couple of lads together and find ourselves a little riverside cabin where we can eat, drink, fish, wear the same clothes and not make our beds each day if we did’t want to. Power to the man eh? That’s right, the new man power revolution begins with us and it begins right here, today, now! Viva la revolution. Viva le revolution! Also please note, the revolution will end at approximately noon on Wednesday when we shall be returning home, so our office/support group will not be taking any calls from that point onwards…

So I did find us a nice little riverside cabin in the sleepy seaside town of Brunswick Heads (known as Bruns to the indigenous community). It had enough beds to ensure that only two of us need sleep together (I won’t explain that one), a small kitchenette that would enable us to prepare food and stay nourished for the length of our stay and a shower, which apparently was not needed and took up valuable space that could have been used to position a cracking barbecue/smoker set up.

We caught some fish, a couple of which spent less than an hour out of the water before they went into this Creole-esque type seafood number. Kind of even a bit of a chowder… maybe. I really don’t know what to call this bad boy except damn tasty. It was taken to damn-tasty-town by the addition of some of my patented Big Red Rub, which travels with me everywhere like a faithful side kick, adding flavour boosts to food like this and generally making me look a lot better than I actually am. Which is not actually a very hard job so maybe I am giving it a little too much credit…

We did scour the shelves of the one little bakery in Bruns for the cob loaf that this chowder-y number was going to fill, but alas it seemed that there had been a run on cob loaves that morning and we had well and truly missed out… so a crusty, white, $3.10 vienna loaf was going to do the job for us today.

We were right about here
We were right about here

Hollow that bad boy out
Hollow that bad boy out
Clean prawns in the little kitchen
Clean prawns in the little kitchen
Cooking in whatever the little kitchen has on offer
Cooking in whatever the little kitchen has on offer
Eat. Just eat
Eat. Just eat
This was really effing tasty. The Big Red Rub makes me look like a champ once again
This was really effing tasty. The Big Red Rub makes me look like a champ once again

SEAFOOD CHOWER-ESQUE TYPE THING IN A VIENNA LOAF (serves 4-6)

300g each bream and flathead, cut into large chunks (any fish you want to
eat will do the job here)
500g king prawns, peeled, deveined and cut in half
1 chorizo sausage, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon Big Red Rub
1 medium sweet potato, medium dice, steamed/boiled until just cooked
Kernels from 1 cob of corn
600ml cream
Seasoning
1 crusty Vienna or cob
A handful of grated cheese of some description
Chopped parsley
Pickled chilli to serve

• Cut the top off the crusty loaf and hollow it out a little. Tear up insides and top. Get that puppy extra crusty in the oven at 180C for 10 minutes
• Sauté chorizo, onion and garlic in a little oil until starting to brown
• Add big red rub, prawns, sweet potato and corn and cook out for 1 minute
• Add cream and simmer for a few minutes until slightly reduced
• Add fish and stir to combine. Don’t play with it too much now because you don’t want to break this fish up
• Simmer for another few minutes until the fish is cooked
• Season
• Pour into the crusty loaf, top with cheese and parsley and serve with extra crusty bread and pickled chillis on the side. Best consumed with a lot of beer
• This would also be really effing good on some rice or even pasta

Sunset on the river. Pretty
Sunset on the river. Pretty

Easy Thai yellow curry with fish and prawns for Mother’s Day

SAMSUNG CSC
Recently events have transpired, things have happened and I have missed a heap of it, or at least maybe fallen a little bit behind in keeping you up to date with what is happening on my side of the proverbial fence. This is because I have been knee deep in the glorious metaphorical shit that is feeding the people who want the food. I love it though. I fricking love it. You know I love it. Why am I continuing on this weird monologue… fuck, I do not know.

Stop now Grazza, you’re going to scare them away…

One such recent event was Mother’s Day. Yes, that was quite recent. I was unsure if Mother’s Day was celebrated on the same date around the globe or if it was one of those “Queen’s birthday type events” that seem to be celebrated on different dates in different states and countries, yet all for the same Queen. Nope. My various insta-stalking had confirmed for me that it was Mother’s Day all over the place and all on the same day. Twilight zone shit right there.

With all of this Mother’s Day business all up in my (and the rest of the world’s) grill, there was no way that it was going to go un-noticed by Jennee so I would need to take the children to shops and stores in search of the ultimate Mother’s Day gifts to make sure that girl knows she is loved. And then there is the dinner. I asked Jennee for a hint or two, just something subtle, as to what she might like to be consuming on the evening of this seemingly world-recognised Mother’s Day, but instead she told me straight up; “yellow curry, prawns, seafood… like the one you cook… you know, my death row meal”. Seriously, this lady talks about her “death row meal” like she is seriously considering committing a heinous crime in the not-to-distant future.

Just in case, I did cook her a yellow curry and it did contain prawns and fish. She was happy and no crimes were committed on this evening.

This is a pretty simple curry to make but it really pays you back ten fold in the flavour depart. Do what you want with that information.

Get some of that coriander out of the tub and into the curry
Get some of that coriander out of the tub and into the curry

I made fish balls for our curry but I decided that chunks of fish would be better... that and I truly can't be assed writing out the recipe for the fish balls
I made fish balls for our curry but I decided that chunks of fish would be better… that and I truly can’t be assed writing out the recipe for the fish balls

I know it's a bit shit but I do like this pic
I know it’s a bit shit but I do like this pic

YELLOW CURRY PRAWNS & FISH (serves 6)

400g prawns, peeled and de-veined
400g firm white fish (cod or something similar is good), cut into thumb sized chunks
1 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
2 tomatoes, sliced into 10 wedges
2x 400ml coconut cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
10 kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised with the back of a knife
Oil for cooking
Extra chilli and lime, picked coriander, green papaya salad and steamed rice to serve

Curry Paste

1 brown onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 thumb sized pieces of turmeric, chopped
5 coriander roots, washed and chopped
2 dried long red chilli
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

• Blitz curry paste ingredients in food processer to form a paste
• Heat a good splash of oil in a wok or something similar. Add curry paste and move it around as it cooks out
• Once smelling fragrant add fish pieces, broccoli, kaffir lime and lemongrass. Fry for 2 minutes
• Add prawns and sugar and cook out for another 2 minutes
• Add coconut cream and cook out for 3-4 minutes
• Remove from heat and stir through tomatoes
• Check seasoning and adjust if necessary… a splash of fish sauce, a sprinkle of sugar or maybe the juice of a lime – you sort it out
• Garnish with the baby coriander that’s growing in the planter box on the verandah and serve with that good stuff I suggested up there a bit
• Eat, drink and rest assured in the knowledge that no major crime will be committed tonight

Mussels with bacon, apple cider and cream… and introducing “Matty mis en place”

mussels with bacon, apple cider and cream
Just yesterday I was going to get some mussels and cook them up for dinner. Mussels with bacon, onion, cider and cream, I thought. I’ve really been feeling the mussel lately… wait, I believe even I should re-think the wording of that one…

Anyway, my mouth has been yearning for a dripping hot creamy mussel… dear good lord.

Seriously, I really shouldn’t be attempting to write any kind of story to goes with mussels for dinner. Shit, even that sounds like an all male review… I think I should just move fairly quickly to a recipe.

The thing I was going to say is that events came to pass that prevented the consumption of mussels that evening. My palate/face/head would be relegated to whatever leftovers may be hanging around in the fridge. Lucky for my face, held within the cooling grasp of the refrigerator was the remains of two cracking barbecues that were cooked on previous nights. Those leftovers consisted of smoky brisket, pork ribs, pork sausages, coleslaw, add to that a few chips that were purpose chopped and fried, and home made hot sauce and I do conclude that life does not suck.

After eating our dinner we watched a little River Cottage on the interweb, and it just happened to be a fish episode… and Hugh was cooking mussels… and those mussels were indeed cooked with bacon, spring onions, cider and cream. He was basically pointing at me and laughing in my face that I didn’t have mussels. Seriously, I’m pretty sure he gave me a little “suck shit” glance. He’s lucky I think he’s a bloody nice guy or I might have flicked him off in favour of Gray’s Anatomy, a nice hot chocolate and a couple of Iced VoVos.

Would I bollocks!

Anyway, Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall is a nice guy and I cooked those fricking mussels for dinner tonight.

A worthy mention goes to my brother Matt, who prepared the mis en place. Matt now goes by the moniker of “Matty mis en place”.

Getting geared up for the mussel fest... and not one pair of ass-less chaps in sight
Getting geared up for the mussel fest… and not one pair of ass-less chaps in sight

In with he bacon, onion and garlic
In with he bacon, onion and garlic
Deglaze with the cider
Deglaze with the cider
Get the cream in there... and please stop with the gutter mouth innuendo
Get the cream in there… and please stop with the gutter mouth innuendo

Get the mussels into your face... I need to go now
Get the mussels into your face… I need to go now

MUSSELS with BACON, APPLE CIDER AND CREAM (serves six or more with sides)

2kg live mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed (a lot of mussels will come cleaned up and ready to go these days, which makes for a truly quick and easy dining experience… no reason why we can’t your dinner to match your performance in the bedroom now, is there?)
1 onion (whatever you have), diced
4 rashers bacon, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
300ml apple cider… get a big bottle so there’s some left for you. Actually, just get a few now so you don’t need to drive up to the bottle shop later when you’ve decided another one or two might go well with dinner
300ml cream
‘A handful parsley, chopped
Grated pecorino
Pepper (you shouldn’t need salt because of the saltiness of the mussels and bacon. I hope this isn’t news to you because I have told you before. If this needs to keep happening we are not going to be able to remain friends)
15 minutes
Crusty baguette with aioli and green salad, to serve

• In a large pan that is clearly big enough to fit all of the mussels, you can heat some oil
• Sauté bacon onion and garlic until soft and fragrant
• Add cider and simmer for a minute or two
• Add mussels, cover and simmer for another 3-4 minutes
• Remove lid and gently stir through cream. Simmer for another 2 minutes or until all of the mussels are open (it is common for one or two, or even three or four, to hang on for a little longer than the rest. You can pry these open with a butter knife to get what’s yours)
• Season with a little pepper
• Sprinkle with parsley and a bit of pecorino if you feel the urge
• Serve with a little or a lot of other things

Warm salad of squid, chickpeas, olives, tomato and herbs with nutty za’atar

warm salad of squid, chickpeas, olives, tomato, herbs and nutty za'atar
It is difficult to conjure up a cracking meal with what can be only described as eff all. I am not a magician; I don’t even have the skills to do a basic card trick and I certainly do not possess the powers of alchemy.

What is not difficult though, is creating a cracking meal with what I was faced with tonight; fresh squid, herbs, spinach and tomatoes from the garden, our own marinated capsicum (peppers), olives, chickpeas and some za’atar with a bit of nutty addition for good measure.

If we are reading from the same book (but let’s face it; we are probably not. In fact I don’t think our books are even from the same library as I am ashamed to say I would’ve skipped on straight past the public book loan place and picked myself up a magazine from the news agent next door) we both know that there shall be a damn attractive salad emerge from this stack of ingredients. A fantastic, light, summery, still-trying-to-cling-on-to-those-last-few-warm-days type salad.

Anyway, you can see this shit is going to be good so I’ll get right on with the main event.

No magic involved here
No magic involved here

Squid and chickpeas getting to know each other
Squid and chickpeas getting to know each other

Eat it quickly... and without the children
Eat it quickly… and without the children

WARM SALAD OF SQUID, CHICKPEAS, OLIVES, TOMATO AND HERBS with NUTTY ZA’ATAR (serves 2 if you feed the kids toasted cheese sandwiches for dinner and then eat yours once they go to bed)

500g fresh squid, cleaned, scored in a criss cross (not Kris Kross. That would involve pants being worn backwards and that’s just weird whatever planet you’re from) pattern on the inside of the hood and then cut into 2x4cm pieces
1 cup cooked chickpeas (the ones from a tin are fine)
1 handful tomatoes, chopped
1 handful olives
1 handful roasted and marinated capsicum (peppers), sliced
A handful of fresh mint and basil, torn
2 handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons nutty za’atar (recipe follows)
A splash of oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Seasoning
A couple of beers or something white to wash it all down

• Get all of your mis en place ready before you start cooking because once you begin it’s all going to be over very quickly… yeah, a bit like your performance under the sheets last night
• Get a heavy based frying pan plenty hot. Add oil and then squid. Toss for 45ish seconds
• Remove from heat and add the chickpeas to warm through for a minute
• Combine with all other ingredients, dress with lemon juice and a splash of olive oil, season lightly and sprinkle with nutty za’atar-y goodness

NUTTY ZA’ATAR

2 tablespoons za’atar
2 tablespoons chopped almonds and walnuts

• Mix it all together and bam, there you go