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.

Sri Lankan-esque Prawn Curry a la Peter Kuruvita

SAMSUNG CSC
This is a prawn version of the pork and black pepper curry recipe that I was given by Peter Kuruvita, and when I say given to me I really mean I fair and square pulled the recipe straight off his website. Cheers Peter! Smiley face all up in my head right now as this is my new “go to” curry, my default curry setting, my special blanky that I cuddle when I am afraid of the night horrors (or uncle Bo, which ever comes first), if you will. Also, Peter Father Christmas (as I shall now know him because of his generosity and give, give, give attitude) gifted me with the knowledge of the carrot and coconut sambal, which I now make often as it is effing delicious and a great side dish with curry.

So recently, when I came across a nice big pile of prawns, I came to the conclusion this curry sauce was going to flavour them and also provide a conduit and worthy lubrication for the prawn’s final journey into my stomach. Also, the carrot sambal would stand by its side, much like the wife of an adulterous politician.

I feel it is worthy of mention that when I went to visit my peeps at the local seafood joint the 1kg of prawns that I’d asked for quickly turned into an amount that was easily closer to 2kg. They must’ve got a few too many off the boat that week, which was not a problem for me as I love eating prawns, and there was not a chance in hell I was going to be peeling them. On this day I would rather swim naked in raw sewage then peel prawns. Neinen peel prawnen for Grazza.

Enter Jennee’s dad, Dr Chris.

Upon hearing of my lack of interest (no interest, in fact) he summoned the regions finest carnie mobile prawn-peeling troupe. As this prawn-peeling troupe was clearly fictitious, Dr Chris decided it was time he scrubbed up. For the next 30 minutes he would not answer to the nom de guerre Dr Chris, but would be know simply as Chris the Prawn Peeler!

You really need to try this curry whether it is with pork, chicken, prawns or dry roasted endangered wood-pigeon hearts… I really don’t care. One thing I do care about though is a small monkey-man named Kevin. He fetches my slippers. Nice Kevin.

I don't even know how to make this look nice… you need to be able to smell it with your nose… but you can't so do me a favour and go cook it would you
I don’t even know how to make this look nice… you need to be able to smell it with your nose… but you can’t so do me a favour and go cook it would you

I've seen worse pics than this one
I’ve seen worse pics than this one
I couldn't leave you with at least one overhead shot
I couldn’t leave you with at least one overhead shot

SRI LANKAN-ISH PRAWN & BLACK PEPPER CURRY (for 4)

Marinade
1kg fresh prawns, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon roasted curry powder
2 black cardamom pods
½ bunch coriander, chopped
1 sprig of curry leaf
½ teaspoon ground chilli
1 teaspoon salt

To cook
1 brown onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 thumbsized knob ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
1 tablespoon ghee or oil
1x 400ml tin coconut milk

• Marinate prawns for 1 hour so it can get to know the spices, have a little party, a couple of drinks – you know the deal
• Add all “to cook” ingredients except tamarind and coconut milk to a hot wok and cook out for a minute until aromatic… as apposed to acrobatic… which would have them jumping about all over the place and not flavouring your food like they should be
• Now add prawns and cook out for another 2 minutes
• Add tamarind and coconut milk and simmer for another 2 minutes until the prawns are cooked and the gravy has thickened

RICE
Cook some rice or buy some already cooked from someone who knows how. Asian or Indian take-aways are usually a good spot to start

CARROT SAMBAL
1 large carrot, grated
1 
green chilli, finely chopped
1
 small onion, finely diced
2
 limes, juiced
1 
clove garlic, very finely chopped
½ cup 
shredded coconut
2-3 
curry leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
• Combine all ingredients and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes for the flavours to amalgamate

Jamaican Goat Curry Mun

SAMSUNG CSC
I am not sure where this recipe came from (although as I look at the title of this story I figure it could have originated somewhere in the vicinity of Jamaica) but it is one I have been cooking for many years and, as a bit of goat had managed to find it’s way into my possession, I sensed it was time to feel a little Caribbean sun in my belly once again.

OK mun (that’s a dodgy Jamaican accent attempt), we need to get into character for this one… time to smoke a reefer.

Now you need to find a good butcher who is going to be able to supply you with some goat… and has a little wage slave apprentice who is going to dice it up for you. Also, you should be able to buy some more weed from the dodgy apprentice.

If you think you are afraid of goat you should watch that kids movie “Frozen”. That is some proper scary shit. You’ll be humming those dumb assed tunes to yourself for days to come… but goat, goat is not scary at all. It is kind of lamby and we all know how cute and delicious lambs are.

Time to smoke a “special cigarette” laced with your best sensimlia, mun.

So find yourself some goat meat, pay the purveyor of said meat his due fee so that he will not chase you down the street with a large knife and unruly eyes, smoke a big fat reefer of the finest herb you can find and cook yourself this so-simple-it-could-be-your-step-father curry.

Cook that kid up
Cook that kid up

That tomato salad
That tomato salad
Mmmm, goat curry
Mmmm, goat curry
Effing delicious
Effing delicious

JAMAICAN GOAT CURRY (for 6)

1kg goat shoulder meat, diced
2 brown onion, sliced
2 carrots, diced kinda chunky
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons curry powder
1-2 scotch bonnet chilli (but as my kids will be eating this I will leave it out for now and use it to garnish my dinner. I dare say Jennee will be having some on hers, too)
1 tablespoon ground allspice
3 tomatoes, diced
1lt stock or water
1 medium sweet potato (or regular potato if your wife isn’t rocking the paleo thing)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt
Steamed rice and tomato salad (I wasn’t sure what the traditional accompaniments might be so this is what you get. Tomato, onion, chopped parsley, a splash of apple cider vinegar, oil and seasoning) to serve

• In a heavy based pot, brown meat in a little oil. Set aside
• In the same pot sauté onions and garlic until soft. Add carrot and spices and cook out for a minute or two
• Return goat to the pot with seasoning and stock/water
• Cover and simmer for 1 hour over low heat
• Add potato, tomato, and a little water if it looks like it’s getting a bit dry, and simmer for a further half hour or until meat will push apart in your fingers
• Get it in your belly… I dare say you’re gonna need it after all of that reefer smoking

*We here at foodisthebestshitever do in no way condone the smoking of Jah’s finest sensimilia

Sri Lankan Pork and Black Pepper Curry

 

SAMSUNG CSC

I have had difficulty coming up with an amusing anecdote to go with this one… no stories of drunken shenanigans with carnival folk… no nothing really. I guess I could tell you about my day but as it has only consisted of mowing the lawn and putting a lemongrass plant in the ground I suspect that would have the potential to bore the ears off a field of corn. Hmmm, I am clearly grasping for a little ray of hope right now. But as nothing has presented itself for my brain to convey to you through the power in my fingertips that our god thou-art-in-internet-heaven has bestowed on me, a recipe is what you shall receive. A recipe and nothing more.

Get that bad boy cooking
Get that bad boy cooking
Make some roti
Make some roti
That carrot number was some good shit
That carrot number was some good shit
Put it on the table with the carrot samba, rice, roti and a bit of sauerkraut doesn't go astray if you have some floating about
Put it on the table with the carrot sambal, rice, roti and a bit of sauerkraut doesn’t go astray if you have some floating about
Nom nom nom
Nom nom nom

(SORT OF) SRI LANKAN PORK AND BLACK PEPPER CURRY

This is based on a recipe by Peter Kuruvita (who’s styles I have been digging at this point in time) from his series on SBS. He uses 3 teaspoons of black pepper and a full teaspoon of ground chilli in the marinade, plus 2 chopped green chilies when cooking it off. I’ve toned it down a bit so my kids will eat it, but have a go if you like it hot

Marinade
1kg pork shoulder, chopped into 2-3cm cubes, fat and all
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon roasted curry powder
2 black cardamom pods
1 cinnamon quill, broken
1 sprig of curry leaf (fresh from the bush out the front as always. Gotta love that curry plant)
½ teaspoon ground chilli
1 teaspoon salt

To cook
1 brown onion, chopped
1 cup peeled and chopped eggplant (I peel it so the kids don’t know it’s there and it breaks down and thickens the curry and adds a nice creaminess)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 thumbsized knob ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
1 tablespoon ghee or oil
1lt water

• Marinate pork for 1 hour so it can get to know the spices, have a little party, a couple of drinks – you know the deal
• Add all “to cook” ingredients except tamarind and water to a pot and cook out for a couple of minutes until softened and aromatic… as apposed to acrobatic… which would have them jumping about all over the place and not flavouring your food like they should be
• Now add pork and eggplant and cook out for another few minutes
• Add tamarind and water and simmer for 45 or so minutes until the meat is tender and the gravy has thickened

RICE
Cook some rice or buy some already cooked from someone who knows how. Asian or Indian take-aways are usually a good spot to start

ROTI
2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon melted ghee or butter
1 ½ cups warm water
A pinch of salt
• Combine all ingredients and kneed until the dough is feeling like a dough… probs a minute or so
• For into 3-4 balls and rest dough for half and hour
• Press or roll into 5mm thick flat bread type things
• Brush with melted butter or oil and fry over medium heat for a minute each side

CARROT SAMBAL
1 
large carrot, grated
1 
green chilli, finely chopped
1 
small onion, finely diced
2 
limes, juiced
1 
clove garlic, very finely chopped
½ cup
 shredded coconut
2-3 
curry leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
• Combine all ingredients and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes for the flavours to amalgamate

A Mexi feast that would make a Mexican proud… possibly… i don’t know any Mexicans I can ask…

This is the Mexi Fiesta we served at work. A photo of the domestic version is down below
This is the Mexi Fiesta we served at work. A photo of the domestic version is down below

Recently, at my place of paid employment, I cooked a Mexican fiesta for anyone and everyone to try… providing they had a burro for transportation, a fake big black moustache and the fare of six silver pesos to pay their way.

 

After a day of sending out feast after feast after proud gringo Mexicano feast, I came to the conclusion that it would be silly, nay, down right irresponsible of me to not consume this same damn tasty looking spread of Mexican influenced treats for my own dinner that evening. A quick call was placed to my darling Jennee to determine if she was conducive to the idea. Upon hearing her reply in the negative, followed by a heap of other dribble that I missed due to the fact I had stopped listening and went to my special place where I was definitely eating a Mexican feast for my evening meal, I decided I WOULD BE be eating a Mexi feast all of my own because I was bloody well cooking the dinner and I am the boss of this house and… and… and Jennee could have some too if she was extra nice… or even just if she wanted to eat some because my dream bubble has burst and I have come crashing back through the walls of my dream world, all covered in bubbly juice – bubbly afterbirth if you will, into the reality that Jennee is the boss of me and she is very nice and I should start digging upwards sometime soon…

 

So in the true spirit of the theme I smuggled my dinner out of the kitchen under the dress of a pregnant woman, and then quickly got it into the back of an old F100 truck which sped away to safety…

 

We also had sangria with our Mexican Fiesta because a Mexican fiesta without sangria is not a Mexican fiesta at all. It actually becomes null and void. It becomes consciously uncoupled (yep) from the glorious heights it could have reached. So now that I have segued Gweneth’s quote of the year into that story I feel my work here is done. Time to move onto the recipe!

 

Pork and beans...
Pork and beans…
plus tortilla...
plus tortilla…
plus a bit of all of this other stuff...
plus a bit of all of this other stuff…
equals happy Grazza!
equals happy Grazza!

 

PORK WITH KIDNEY BEANS AND ROAST CAPSICUM (as part of a fiesta for 6 or so. Or a cracking dinner for one big fat bastard… I’d do it)
500g left over pork shoulder roast (or braise 500g pork shoulder on a low heat with a sliced onion, salt and pepper and 1 cup water for 1.5-2 hours or until tender), shredded with a fork
1 brown onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 fresh jalepeno chilli, sliced
2 fire roasted red capsicum (make your own or get them from a jar if you’re feeling lazy), diced
3 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons mexi-seasoning (recipe follows)
2 400g tins kidney beans
¼ cup olive oil
A handful of fresh coriander and sliced radish to serve
• Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent
• Add everything else except pork and beans, and cook out over low heat for 10 minutes
• Add pork and beans and cook for a further 10 minutes, adding a splash of water (or pork juices if you were smart enough to keep them) if it starts to get a bit dry. For dry beans are like… um… well, other dry things that shall not be discussed on these pages now or ever
• Check seasoning and adjust if necessary
• Garnish and serve
• Serve with a pile of other mexi goodies. No, I am not referring to a cheap Mexican rip off of the classic English comedy from the ‘80s, The Goodies. Although I would be really keen to see it if it does exist… But I am referring to dishes like beef ribs with mole sauce, salsa picante, charred corn rice, pickled jalapeño ‘slaw, yoghurt (I always have yoghurt with my Mexican) and tortillas to make a little Mexican sandwich of mucho goodness. Ole!

MEXI SEASONING

1/2 tablespoon ground dried chilli

1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons whole cumin, roasted and ground

No Meat Monday… eggplant and silverbeet curry

SAMSUNG CSC

No meat Monday… eggplant and silverbeet curry

So it has finally happened. A full winter of eating as much rich, hearty food as I could possibly lay my hands on has taken its toll. That last pork belly I consumed in a style not totally dissimilar to that of Obelix in the stories of the Gaul village withstanding the charge of the mighty Roman army, has finally tipped me over the edge. The bread and pastries I have to sample (consume) in my job as head chef have done what they always promised they would do. That’s right junior detectives, I got fat.

Anyways, I’m not going to get silly about this situation. Sure I’m going to eat less big hearty food and exercise a little more but this isn’t going to be a diet. It’s just… well… I was just a jam and cream croissant, one pock hock and an aboriginal dot-painting tee shirt away from looking like a German tourist at circular quay.

I don’t know about no meat though, so maybe I’m going to need to call this day Minimal Meat Monday… maybe Minimal Meat Weekdays. I know I’m sounding like a pussy right now but bare with me, we may still get a good recipe or two… unless the lack of meat makes my brain melt away.

Less meat and more salad shall be the theory. It’s hit spring now so the weather is being a little more generous with it’s allocation of sunshine and warmth so lighter meals here I come. Even when there is still a little chill in the air something along the lines of a nice vegetable curry is bound to do the trick. This is sort of more of a rice with condiments type thing so make sure you cook your rice properly for effs sake. You know what? I don’t want to hear you whinging about not being able to cook rice right now. I’m feeling like my diet is lacking meat already and to be absolutely honest I’m a little on edge. If you can’t cook rice go down to the local Chinese or Indian restaurant and by some from there. 3 bucks. And get some prawn crackers while you’re at it.

Cook out the paste and then add the vegetables
Cook out the paste and then add the vegetables
Roll out your flatbread like a boss!
Roll out your flatbread like a boss!

SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC

Thanks Obi. Thanks a lot.
I’m not even kidding when I tell you Obi came out with this picture for me this morning.Thanks Obi. Thanks a lot.

EGGPLANT AND SILVERBEET CURRY

1 eggplant, diced into 1cm-ish cubes

1 bunch silverbeet, sliced, 1cm is good

1 zucchini, diced

1 dried long red chilli

3 cardamon pods, bruised

1 cinnamon quill

1 branch of curry leaf

2 tablespoons tamarind pulp

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup of stock or water

1 cup yoghurt

salt

paste

2 brown onion, peeled and dice

5 cloves garlic, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon grated ginger

5 coriander roots (and stem is fine), washed and chopped

1 tablespoon each ground cumin, tumeric and paprika

1 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon oil to get it moving

  • Blitz all ingredients for the paste in a food processor or blender until smooth
  • Cook paste with a splash of oil until fragrant and just starting to colour. Add eggplant and cook for 5 minutes. Add all other ingredients except stock and yoghurt and cook out for another 5 minutes. Add stock and simmer, covered for 20 minutes
  • Stir through yoghurt, check seasoning and serve

Tomato and cucumber salad, yoghurt, coriander, kasundi, crisp eshallots and flat bread to serve