Herby sorta thai ‘slaw

This is a story about the search for new sides to go with my BBQ.

“Some kinda ‘slaw has got to be a good start”, I thought to myself (because if I thought to someone else that would make me some kind of other-world super computer human and that, I am not).

This started with the usual cabbage and carrot scenario, and then branched off into a few of the ingredients that might compose a Thai green papaya salad, and then a little kale because quite frankly I live in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales and local law dictates that kale must constitute at least 18% of my daily food intake (also, I really do like the stuff. Really), and then a little nam jim inspired dressing to finish her off.

It is a little different and bloody good so you should probably try it.

HERBY SORTA THAI ‘SLAW

Enough to go on the table with a few other sides at your next BBQ.

2 cups shredded green cabbage from approximately ¼ medium cabbage
1 carrot, grated
2 leaves curly kale, stem removed, shredded
1 Lebanese cucumber, randomly chopped
1-2 tomatoes, randomly chopped too
2-3 red radish, thinly sliced
½ cup bean sprouts of some description
2 shallots (spring onions), sliced
1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1 handful each coriander and mint, roughly chopped
Lime dressing (recipe follows), or your favourite nam jim or nuoc nam will work just fine


LIME DRESSING

250ml lime juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 clove garlic, microplaned
3 coriander root
Combine all ingredients and whisk until sugar is dissolved.
Check seasoning and adjust with a little salt if necessary.
Use it to dress the salad above.
Any leftover dressing will happily hang out in the fridge for 5 days and can be used to anoint chicken, seafood or noodley dishes or whatever you think might like a little limey goodtimes.


Cheeky BBQ pork belly

Cheeky BBQ pork belly

Go to the beach all morning and still BBQ like a champion. AKA. Spend a few hours getting a secure enclosure built for the new shipment of Russian import carnie sex slaves you are expecting within the week.

Where-as a normal pork roast on the BBQ can be as needy as your first girlfriend and will generally require a fair bit of tending to, this method is going to give you the time you need to do the shit you need to do, and you will still get a nice lick of smoke and flame flavour (yes, that is definitely a flavour).

For this cheeky little BBQ cook up we’re going to pre-cook the pork for 2 hours in the oven so the pork is almost ready to go once it hits the grill. It can even be cooked a day or two before hand, brought to room temperature and then cooked for an extra 10-15 minutes to make sure she is hot.

This might not suit the die-hard BBQ enthusiast but it certainly works and sometimes die-hard enthusiasts of anything in this world can just be a bunch of wankers, so just do what you gotta do to get your freak on.

Get a nice bit of pork belly from your local purveyor of fine meats

Grilly, grilly

Flip it over to admire it beauty

Bloody delicious

CHEEKY BBQ PORK BELLY

Serves 8

2kg pork belly, scored
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
Salt and pepper
Whatever sides you can rummage together, to serve

Pre-heat oven to 160C (320F).
Rub underside of pork with garlic, chilli and a pinch of salt and pepper (and a few fennel seeds or a star anise would go well in here too).
Flip over into oven dish.
Rub the skin of the pork with more salt… A really good pinch of salt… pork skin really loves a good hit of salt.
Place pork in pre-heated oven for 2 hours. Go and do some other things.
Now you’re back and the pork is ready to go so its time to fire up the BBQ.
(For the BBQ.
I like coals. For something like this pork belly I will have my main charcoal pile to one side of the BBQ, pulling quite literally a few pieces of glowing coal under the pork at any given time to give it some sizzle and flavour, and also to get that crackle going.)
Take the pork out of the oven dish and place skin side down over a few coals, with the main pile off to the side, as explained above.
Grill pork for 30 minutes, rotating two or three times, and tending to any little flare ups that might occur (this is also known as your beer drinking time).
Flip pork over and give the bottom side 5 minutes of charcoal time.
Now it should be hot and it should be bloody well ready to go.
Carve it up and get it in your face hole the best you know how.

Whack some stuffed apples on the grill for dessert if you have the inclination

Cherry tomato salsa / sauce for a steak date


Steak with cherry tomato salsa / sauce.

This little cherry tomato number is great for when you need to get away from the gravy for a night, or maybe even try to impress a date who you have lured, err, coaxed, err, invited to your lair, err, den, err, house. Whatever. I’m pretty sure you get the gist.

The steak. I am not going to try and help you to cook a beautiful steak here today. The steak is something you’re going to cook exactly how you like to cook it. Make a boiled steak if you think that might impress your date. I know for a fact it won’t, but I’m not going to try and talk you out of it.

Just make the salsa. It’s simple like your in-bred cousin and might just be enough to get you over the line.

Cook the steak first for best results

That steak, cherry tomato sauce and some big chips. Deliciousness.

CHERRY TOMATO SALSA / SAUCE

(serves 4 or so)

500g little baby cherry tomatoes, cut in halves if they are a little bigger
1 medium onion, sliced into rings
3 cloves garlic, smashed
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 handful oregano, picked. A few sprigs reserved for garnish and the rest gets roughly chopped (parsley or a little thyme will also work just fine if oregano is not your thing)
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to season

Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
Add onions and a little salt and pepper and saute until starting to colour a little.
Add cherry tomatoes, garlic and chilli and cook out for another 2 minutes.
Deglaze with sherry vinegar.
Add oregano and another splash of olive oil to gloss it all up. Stir to combine.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Get it on you steak.
Garnish with reserved oregano sprigs.

Eat it.

Creamy take-away joint ‘slaw


I lived a very cabbage sodden childhood.

As the grand child of German and Polish new-Australian grandparents there was little doubt that I would grow up eating cabbage in one or more of its many guises. I did indeed embrace the cabbage in many forms but without a doubt, my favourite was the creamy coleslaw. Mums version was great, as was my nans, but if I were to asked my absolute favourite coleslaw of my early childhood my gaze would be cast straight down the path, past the health food store and the early learning center, past the op shop and the supermarket carpark, and onto the planet-like red and white bucket beacon that was the local dirty bird joint. Just like any kid, I fucking loved a bit of takeaway and due to the fact that said takeaway did not come very often in our house hold (something I am truly thankful for now), it was ever more enticing.

Sometimes I still feel that I may enjoy a bit of that dirty bird, maybe some mashed potato and gravy, a cute little baby soft sweet roll and definitely some creamy, overdressed coleslaw, but mostly that thought is swiftly replaced with the memory that this food* makes me feel like I may have eaten actual shit, so I stay at home and do my home-made version… or maybe just the ‘slaw with whatever else may hit the table that day.

Feel free to swap out some of the green cabbage for a little red cabbage and / or kale. It works.

CREAMY TAKE-AWAY JOINT ‘SLAW

Serves 6 – 8 as a side

¼ large green cabbage
2 medium carrots
½ brown onion, peeled
Buttermilk dressing (recipe follows)

Roughly chop all ingredients.
In a food processor, pulse cabbage 4 -5 times until roughly chopped some more. Just pulse it though – you don’t want to puree the cabbage. Repeat with remaining vegetables.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, dress with buttermilk ‘slaw dressing and set aside in the fridge for 15 minutes for the flavours to amalgamate and get all sexy and nasty tasting (Yes, I do believe sexy and nasty can be very successfully used in a sentence together).
Get it in your face however you see fit – with fried chicken, BBQ, burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, pork chops, your girlfriend’s belly button, straight up – you choose.
This will last in your fridge for a day or two.

You should definitely serve it with a hotdog. I’ll tell you how in my next post…

BUTTERMILK ‘SLAW DRESSING

¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tbls rice vinegar (white wine vinegar will also do the trick)
1 tbls castor sugar
A pinch of each salt and white pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
Whisk until amalgamated.

*this is the word “food” being used in its loosest possible context

Curried sausages on the campfire (but easily adaptable for the home kitchen just in case you didn’t figure that one out for yo’ self)


Welcome to another thrilling installment of “the things my ma cooked for dinner when I was a kid and now I cook them sometimes because I am disgustingly in love with nostalgia”.

The ol’ curried sausages were on high rotation as a midweek dinner option during my years at home. Woolies snags, a bit of Keen’s curry powder (one of the only “spices” in my Ma’s pantry. Seriously, I made a spice rack for my year 8 wood work project and it was home for the Saxa salt and pepper, and Keen’s curry powder. That was it), an onion and a couple of other bits and pieces all came together in the big pot to make our bellies very happy indeed. A scoop of either under cooked or over cooked rice on the side and dinner was sorted.

I have made it a little different because that’s just what I do but I think even my Ma would agree that the essence of the thing is still there.


CURRIED SAUSAGES

Serves 4

600 g sausages (beef or lamb is my choice but this is also perfect with pork, chicken or “of no specific origin” snags)
1 onion, large dice
5 garlic, roughly chopped
1 ½ tbls Keen’s curry powder
1 capsicum, large dice
1 zucchini, large dice
1 x 400 g tin diced tomato
1 x 400 ml tin coconut milk
Salt and pepper
Natural yoghurt, mango chutney, coriander and steamed rice, to serve

Heat a splash of oil in the pot that you will be cooking your curried sausages in. Add whole sausages and cook over medium heat for 6 – 7 minutes or until cooked through.
Remove sausages and set aside while you get the rest of this thing going on.
Using the same pot as the sausages were cooked in, sauté onion and garlic until starting to soften a little.
Add curry powder and cook out for 1 minute.
Slice cooked sausages into 2 cm pieces and return to pot with all other ingredients.
Simmer for 30 minutes over med – low heat.
Check seasoning and get it on the table, with garnishes somewhere also on the same table.
Camp fire or stove top, it’s Keen’s curry powder for the win.

Reverse seared steak


The theory behind the reverse seared steak is that the meat is given a bit of smoke at a low temp first and then finished with a flash on the grill at high heat. Basically the reverse of what any classically trained French chef would have taught you in the 90s.

Still definitely not related to the reverse cowgirl, but still definitely something you want to get all up in your face if you’ve never tried it before.

Find yourself some nice steaks

Indirect heat for the first part of the process

Get it on the table with some tasty sides and something to wash it down with.

REVERSE SEARED STEAK

Serves 2 – 4
(It really depends on your appetite and what else may be accompanying the steak to the table)

2x 600 g ribeye steaks on the bone (caveman steaks, texas t-bone)
Steak seasoning (recipe below)
50 – 100 g butter, depending on how French you are
A lump of cherry wood for the smoking
Chimmichurri, to serve (find recipe here)
A couple of sides that you like to eat with steak, to serve

Season your steaks liberally with steak seasoning and allow to sit at room temp while you get your grill sorted.
Fire up your grill to do an indirect cook. Get it sitting at somewhere around 250 F (125 C).
Add the lump of cherry wood.
Place steak on the side of the grill away from the coals so it can have a little smoky time without getting charred.
Cook steak to 130 F (55 C) for medium rare – this will take somewhere in the vicinity of half an hour to 40 minutes.
Remove steak from grill and whack it into a dish with the butter. Cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes. While all that resting and relaxing is going down you should make sure you have enough charcoal glowing for a quick direct cook to finish your steak off.
Flash steaks on grill for 1 – 2 minutes each side to finish.
Plate steak up and serve with chimmichurri and tasty sides and something boozy.

STEAK SEASONING
2 tbls cooking salt
2 tbls cracked black pepper
2 tbls garlic granules (roughly the size of a speck of polenta, not garlic flakes)

Mix well to combine.
Pretty easy.

Steak and chimmichurri is reals good