Harissa paste and then harissa marinated olives

harissa olives
Harissa is one of those condiments that is going to be a hell of a shock for your white bread, margarine and mayonnaise sandwich eating ass. Yeah, you probably won’t try it… it’s one of those things you “just wouldn’t like”. That is possibly one of my least favourite lines ever – “I just wouldn’t like that”. How do you know if you’ve never tried it? The satisfaction I get when I can make someone eat those recklessly spoken words is unfathomable… back to the harissa though.

Harissa is a spicy condiment commonplace in the kitchens of Tunisia, and for good reason.

Roughly about as subtle as the underwear display at Mardi Gras, this is a 4-hit combo straight to the top of your dome. Aromatic with garlic, sweet with roasted capsicum, heady with cumin seed and fresh coriander, and spicy with chilli… very similar to an Arabic bazaar in your face, complete with belly dancers and monkeys with funny little hats.

Yes it has a good strong flavour, perfect to stir though steamed mussels, or maybe with some slow roasted lamb with yoghurt, or even mixed with a little mayonnaise on a chicken sandwich, or, as in the recipe I will be sharing with you today, used as a marinade for olives.

Get it all roasted off and then blitzy blitzy
Get it all roasted off and then blitzy blitzy

Looking good
Looking good

Just like a bought one, in fact
Just like a bought one, in fact

HARISSA OLIVES

3 capsicum (bell peppers), it really doesn’t matter too much what colour they are… unless they are brown. Brown generally means they’ve gone a little past their use by date
5-10 long red chilli, depending on how spicy you like it
5 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon cumin seed, roasted & ground
½ bunch coriander, stems and roots and all, washed and then roughly chopped
60ml extra virgin olive oil

• Heat oven to 200C
• Place capsicum in an oven proof dish, rub with a little of the olive oil and season with a little of the salt. Whack it into the oven for 10 minutes
• Add chilli and garlic to oven dish, toss a little and whack it back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes (you should have a few charry blistery bits going on by now)
• Allow to cool for a few minutes until you can get in there and peel back some of the charred bits of skin. Kind of a get of whatever you can be assed ripping off at the time type mission… much like having sex with your socks on. You can be as frugal or as frivolous with your own charry skin pulling as you please
• Now your roasted goodies can go into a food processer or blender with all of the other ingredients and then blitzed to form a paste, smooth or coarse, it’s your call
• Check seasoning
• Stir harissa through 1-2kg of your favourite olives, leave for at least a day to marinate before eating
• Remaining olives will last for 3 or so weeks in a sealed container in the fridge
• If you decide you like harissa you can double or triple this batch and freeze it down in take away tubs

Olive sexy time
Olive sexy time

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

Another rant about home made baked beans

baked beans
I know I have waxed the lyrical, stood atop my soap box spruked about and just down right pleaded with you to make your own baked beans. They are a totally different world of awesome. If you do not believe me and choose a path of abstinence from making your own beans then there is nothing more I can do to help you. You are on your own now child.

There are several rules when making top notch baked beans;

1. Get some smoked pork in there; Good baked beans owe a debt of gratitude to a good ham bone or smoked sausage, it just improves the flavour of these little legumes ten fold. Unless you are vegetarian or one of the other groups of people out there who are wrong about smoked pork. Except Muslims… I got no beef with them… wait, no pork I should say… beef should be A.O.K
2. Bake the beans; They are called baked beans for a reason. They can not get the same oven-generated crusty bits when cooked on the stove top and so lack a little extra depth of flavour (I’m sorry you had to read those words. I should definitely have prefixed them with a large, illuminated sign that read “wanker alert”). Also, they are more prone to sticking and burning with the direct heat from the burner. Pretty shit time all round actually…
3. Read points 1 and 2 again before you move on

This recipe is not one of those times where you have to follow it to the letter. Use different beans if you want, different herbs or whatever you got. As long as you have a bit of good smoked or cured pork product in there (you can even use salami as the meat product if you want) I garantee, yes guarantee, you will be a happy camper. Unless of course you are actually camping but hate the outdoors, in which case I can guarantee you will not be a happy camper. I’ve really got to get my story straight somewhere along the line.

From this...
From this…

To this...
To this…

To this... served up with morcilla, cottage cheese, egg and rocket, and the remainder portioned and frozen down behind the postman :)
To this… served up with morcilla, cottage cheese, egg and rocket, and the remainder portioned and frozen down behind the postman 🙂

BAKED BEANS with SMOKED PORK

3x 400g tins canellini or navy beans
2x 400g tins crushed tomatoes
300-400g ham bone or ham hock or some smoked sausage eg.chorizo
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme, or a mix of both, or whatever herbs you like (you’ll work your favourite combo in time I’m sure)
Some kind of chilli. I had 1 fresh long green chilli but a good pinch of dried chilli flakes or a splash of hot sauce would do the trick, and a fresh jalepeno would be really good
A splash of BBQ or worcestshire sauce if you’re feeling it
Eggs (cooked), toasted sourdough, cottage cheese (or feta or pecorino), fresh herbs and olive oil are always good for that final “yeah I’m boss at this shit” flourish to serve
• Sweat off ham or sausage (hmmm, sweaty sausage. Tastes heaps better then it sounds), onion and spices
• Add beans and tomato, cook in 170C oven for 1 hour (possibly a little longer if you are using ham hock as it will need a little time to soften up), stirring a couple of times
• Check seasoning
• Serve with all the stuff it says up there
• I like to make a batch that is double to triple the size of this recipe so I can freeze it down in portions in the boxed icey tundra that is my freezer, right behind the postman… er, let’s just pretend you didn’t read that. He was a nasty prick though… had it coming…

Pulled pork Chinese styles for my ol’ mate Bretty B

Shredded... pulled... forked... whatever pork
Shredded… pulled… forked… whatever pork

So my old mate Brett, AKA Bretty B, sends me a message asking what the hell pulled pork is. I explained that my understanding of pulled pork is that it is a slow cooked piece of pork, with some kind of juicy marinade, that ends up being so damn heart meltingly tender that you can shred it up with a fork for easy consumption. Brett was excited to say the least, but he was afraid that he would not be able to find it in the country town he now calls home. I suggested that he should make his own and he was very receptive to the idea. We spoke of a few flavours, but in the end he was down for the Chinese styles… even if it was because he is a devoted student of kung fu.

“Share with me the culinary skills that will make my peers weep with flavours of pure porky goodness”, said Brett.

So Chinese pulled pork it was!

Well. It was for him anyway. I kinda just made the recipe up on the fly and I thought it about time I tried it out for myself… just to double check I’ve got the minimals. As it turned out I do have the minimals, and even if it did taste like shit and/or I did need to change the recipe I would still be sitting here right now telling you that I did anyway. Smiley face.

I like the way a smiley face or indeed any form of emoji can be used to replace full stops these days. I truly think it is genius, but that is irrelevant.

We had our pork in home made gua bao (steamed bun things) with coriander slaw, pickled radish and cucumber, mayo and chilli. It was pretty effing good PS.

All busted up all by itself
All busted up all by itself

This is some sexy looking shit
This is some sexy looking shit

Get the sauciness back into he mix and then chuck some steamed buns at it like you think you're some kind of trendy assed food stylist
Get the sauciness back into he mix and then chuck some steamed buns at it like you think you’re some kind of trendy assed food stylist

PULLED PORK with CHINESE FLAVOURS (serves as many as you do or don’t want to share it with)

2kg pork shoulder
¼ cup light soy sauce
¼ cup oyster sauce
1 brown onion, diced
10 cloves garlic, crushed
1 thumbsized knob ginger, finely sliced
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder (or a couple of star anise, a cinnamon stick, a cardamom pod and 2 cloves will do the trick)
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ cup Chinese black vinegar
¼ cup shao-xing Chinese cooking wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups chicken stock or water

• Mix everything, except pork and stock/water, to make a marinade
• Rub that shit all over the pork and put it in the fridge to do its thing. Over night is ideal but at least 3-4 is good. If you don’t marinate it it will still work out A-OK. Yes, you may stop your blubbing now
• Whack the pork and all the sexy marinade juices in an oven dish and cover that bad boy. A stock/water and cook at 150C for 3-4 hours, or until the meat will push away from the bone very easily… a slow cooker would also do the job here (get it on first thing in the morning for dinner that evening)
• Pull the meat out of the juices and into a bowl for the shredding action. All going according to plan the meat will be so tender it will yield under the pressure of the tongs or your tough-guy hands and you will end up with many smaller chunks
• Let it cool a little, but while it is still warm shred the meat up with two forks, or a fork and some tongs, or your fingers if you really want me to love you
• Strain juices and pour over pork
• Eat this one with rice, or in a sandwich, or how ever you want to really… it is your pork after all!

Certainly didn't give too many fucks about attempting any kind of cleaning up with this one... it wasn't going to be around long enough to put the effort into making it look pretty
Certainly didn’t give too many fucks about attempting any kind of cleaning up with this one… it wasn’t going to be around long enough to put the effort into making it look pretty

Soz for all of the Asia talk that’s coming up and a recipe for Smoky Eggplant and Pork (kinda knicked from Morning Glory Restaurant, Hoi An)

smoky eggplant, pork, morning glory, vietnam, hoi an
As you may or may not know, Jennee and I have spent the last three weeks with our two boys, Seba and Obi, travelling around the Mid-North of Vietnam and Laos – get a bit of culture and a whole heap of good food into us, yeah?

Well, now we’re back and I feel I should semi-apologise for the talk of these countries that will ensue on this blog over the next while… but not really…

While we were travelling I wrote some stuff down in a small brown writing book that had off white pages and faint black lines to keep my writing neat. How clever of the journal making people. I carried my writing book and a black pen with me in a backpack. I wrote words about the things I saw, heard, touched, smelled and more importantly, ate.

It was an interesting experience to be doing the old pen on paper thing again full time for three weeks. Interesting and good. Really good. Although from time to time I ended up feeling like a student who was completing his away-from-school-journal that his nasty assed parents were making him write about his experience because he was missing school… a lot like what we did to our children, except we got work sheets from the school as well *insert absolutely sinister, deriving way to much pleasure from the children’s suffering, parent laugh here*.

As it seems like it may take me a day or two to properly decipher and amalgamate said journal, I shall get straight into the cooking side of things. The last few weeks have been easily the longest time I have spent out of the kitchen in the last 10-15 years purely because… well… let’s face it, there was soooo much really fucking good food, getting cooked on every street corner in Vietnam, all being sold at what can only be described as ridiculously low prices, like, eat some cracking food and get a beer for the same price as a coffee is going to be in Australia, that there was no way I was going to be cooking on this trip. No effing way.

Now is time for me to return to my rightful place at the stove and off load some of the pressure that has been building in my brain due to the sensory overload that was Vietnam and Laos.

This is an attempt (the first of many I am sure) at the reincarnation of a dish we ate at Morning Glory Restaurant (don’t worry, there’s a post all of its own coming for this little gem of a place… sexual innuendo included) in Hoi An. It was the tastiest little smoky eggplant number and, if you love the tasty of smoky charred eggplant as I do, then you will love this dish. Unless you don’t like pork, in which case you will not like this dish at all. You should leave the pork out. Yes, for those of you amongst us who are of the predisposition that does not for what ever reason believe in the consumption of pork, we here at foodisthebestshitever recommend you omit the pork from this dish.

Also, I have added a little rice to the pork mince in the recipe, which the more astute amongst you may notice is not in the pics. This is because as I was winging this recipe I neglected to look at the photos I had taken of the original dish at Morning Glory and realised later that the OG dish did indeed appear to have a little rice mixed through the pork mince. This little number was damn tasty but I think it was just missing the rice to help the pork stick together a little. Anyway, this shit is fully easy, tasty, good. Get on it!

Grill the eggplant over an open flame so it gets all black and delicious looking
Grill the eggplant over an open flame so it gets all black and delicious looking

Get some rice cooking in a rice cooker. This shit is legit
Get some rice cooking in a rice cooker. This shit is legit
Eggplant peeled, cut and looking sweet
Eggplant peeled, cut and looking sweet
Porky goodness slapped on top
Porky goodness slapped on top

Garnished with the good stuff and ready to hit the table
Garnished with the good stuff and ready to hit the table

SMOKY EGGPLANT with PORK MINCE (serves 4 with sides)

500g pork mince
3 medium eggplant
1 large or 2 small onions, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
½ teaspoon castor sugar
½ teaspoon ground pepper, black is what they use in ‘nam
A splash of stock or water
1 cup of cooked rice (you can use the stuff you’re going to serve it with)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Crisp eshallots* and sliced green chilli to garnish
Stir fried vegetables with garlic and steamed rice to serve

• Grill the eggplant on an open flame as you would for a babaganoush or something similar, except don’t quite cook it all the way through as you will finish the cooking process in the pan. Peel and cut into thumb-sized pieces
• Lay the eggplant pieces in a pan and set aside while you get the pork ready
• Heat oil and cook onions over med-high heat for two minutes or until starting to brown. Add fish sauce and garlic (I feel a knob of ginger, finely julienned, would also be a great addition right now) and cook out for another minute. Set aside
• In same pan stir fry pork mince over high heat until cooked. Season with black pepper. Stir through onion mix including all of the oil, and also stir through one cup of cooked rice… I hope you have some rice cooking**…
• Now to get it all together
• Dress eggplant with soy sauce, sugar and a splash of stock/water and the spoon pork mix over the top
• Cover and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until eggplant is fully cooked
• Check seasoning and add a little more soy sauce if necessary
• Garnish with a heap of chilli and crisp eshallots, and serve

*Crisp eshallots are available everywhere you look in Vietnam, or Asian grocery stores and probably even major supermarkets in whatever country you live in

**It is totally legit to use a rice cooker. I recommend using a rice cooker. Asians use rice cookers. In Asia it was not uncommon for us to wake to the sound of tens of thousands of rice cookers being simultaneously switched on around the city. True story. Get a rice cooker today.

The Round Eye Review… Hu Tieu Thanh Liem Vietnamese Restaurant, Mirrabooka

It’s kind of apt that our friend G-Money should be reviewing a Vietnamese restaurant today, as I myself am currently in that land of the small table settings in person. So let this be an introduction to what will surely be a month of talk about Vietnamese cuisine… – Grazza McFilthy Mouth

Hu Tieu Thanh Liem
73 Honeywell Blvd, Mirrabooka, WA 6061

Ok. Let’s address the elephant in the room.

Yes. This is the closest restaurant to my house.

Yes. I love this place. If it were legal, I would marry this place quicker than an insane Japanese man could marry his manga pillow.

Therefore…

(SPOILER ALERT : THIS REVIEW IS GETTING A HIGH SCORE.)

So by now you should of pieced together that I live in Mirrabooka, if you haven’t then I recommend more protein for lunch and less paint chips. Mirrabooka. That word can conjure many reactions in people, and rightly so as this area has a chequered past, but it is a lot better area nowadays and where there are cons, there are awesome pros too.

Cons: drug deals on the corner and occasional murders in the neighbouring suburbs. No biggy.

Pros: get a whole block of land for two goats and a hard boiled egg, and the multiculturalism.

Lets focus on the multiculturalism. Any evening around dinner time you can stick your head out the front door, and smell the amazing aroma of 2 or 3 different continents cooking up some delicious shit. Just in my cul-de-sac alone we have Filipinos, Vietnamese, Eastern European, Middle Eastern and Western folk all cooking up a storm. I really would like to push for a food fair down at the park, if it weren’t for the terrible, terrible risk of being sold weed at a food fair. This multiculturalism is responsible for a local mecca called Honeywell Shops. Oh my god Honeywell Shops. A dodgy roller shuttered hole of a shopping centre at night becomes a vibrant display of fresh produce, meat, seafood, spices and food during the day. For me it’s food prep heaven, but I’m not a shopping centre reviewer and no doubt by now a few of you are thinking “When is this nut job getting on about the food?” Right about now i say.

Hu Tieu Thanh Liem, or as the wife and I call it – Vietnamizzle (we don’t know how you pronounce it), and yes I am about to say it, is the best suburban Vietnamese in Perth. I can here some of you gasp as there is some good competition, especially around the corner at Marangaroo shops, which is great and I will get to them in later reviews. Vietnamizzle encompasses everything I think Vietnamese food should be. Spicy, sour, sweet, salty, bitter flavours that are bold but well balanced and smack bang full of uber fresh produce. Always some of the freshest produce you’ll ever be served. Lets face it, the Vietnamese are hard working bastards and churn out some amazing stuff. At Vietnamizzle most dishes will be served with a mountain of fresh basil, mint, chilli and bean sprouts. And if you get takeaway expect to have a shopping bag full of these accompanying your order. Have I mentioned I love this place?

The wife, like she regularly does went for The Pho. Not A pho. This is THE pho. The award winning pho. Now I know saying this is “The pho” that steam is coming out of a few of my friends and readers ears. “But my place does the best pho” just blasted through their lips. Like dim sum, pho is different for everyone, but for me, some Sunday Times award, a food website I can’t recall award, and most definitely for my wife, this is the best. A bowl of Raw Beef Hofan Soup (Pho Tai) will set you back a whopping $10. That’s right $10 for a bowl of heaven. Thinly sliced raw beef that just gets that rare steak look as it swims above a bed of thick, plump rice noodles and in a broth that is too far along the mind blowing scale to even start comparing to something. A hell of a lot goes into pho broth, and my brain can’t even fathom breaking it down into what I think is in there. I prefer to just eat it and be amazed. Served with a side of fresh cut chilli, lemon, bean sprouts, and mint, this is a dish that’s more of an experience than a meal.

I have pretty much eaten this whole menu, but also pictured here is another favourite the Bánh xèo ($12) or as we order it “Vietnamese Pancake.” A perfect blend of rice flour, pork, prawns, bean sprouts and chives that are all fried in a coconut oil. This is a great starter and will serve four people as an entrée. Served with another mountain of herbs and fresh vegetables, it is a dish that is best eaten served up in a lettuce leaf with the herbs (similar to san choy bau) and topped with a drizzle of the sweet, spicy & sour sauce that accompanies it. I must warn that the prawns do come with the shell still on but they are perfectly cooked and the shell adds a nice crunch to the dish. A must have if you come here.

I went for the Bun Bi Cha Gio Thit Nuong ($13), which equates to in english as rice vermicelli with shredded pork, grilled pork and a fried spring roll. I love my pork, Vietnamizzle love their pork, so no surprise here – I love this dish. Have I mentioned I love this place? The noodles here are always done so well, they are no match for Noodle Forum, but still very good. Always loose, never stuck together and perfectly cooked. The seasoned pork has that crispy texture you expect of some grilled pig, but is also packed with this immensely satisfying smokey flavour. Cover all this with the accompanying sauce and you have a fantastic feed. This is a tasty simple dish, and is especially good for those who are a bit cautious with asian food.

Other favourite dishes here are: salt and pepper squid, spicy beef salad, stuffed chicken wings, lemongrass & chilli beef, Vietnamese rolls, rice net paste dishes, wontons,….i could go on and on.

By now you definitely think I am biased, possibly endorsed, but it really is a suburban gem and incredible value for money. Our total dinner bill was $35, add $1 corkage per person, yes it is BYO anything alcoholic, and BINGO….winner winner tasty, cheap Vietnamese dinner.

I love this place.

4.5 mispronounced dishes out of 5

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