Tuesday 30 September 2008

ikan asam pedas

It’s time for Waiter, There’s Something In My….. Indonesian Food.

This month, Andy from Spittoon Extra has chosen Indonesian food for the theme and it couldn’t come at a better time for me since I have been cooking Indonesian a lot lately.

To go along with Indonesian food, a friend of my sister’s recommended Green Sands, a not-too-sweet ginger beer that tastes remarkably close to real beer. I highly recommend it if you can get your hands on it.

On Thursday, for Weekend Herb Blogging, I’ll be posting three more Indonesian recipes, but today I’m focusing on the not-so-pretty but wonderfully-delicious Ikan Asam Pedas which translates literally to Spicy Sour Fish.

I’d rather the English version be Chilli-Tamarind Fish because those are the key ingredients needed to make this dish shine.

I used three kind of spice: fresh chillies, chilli flakes and ground long pepper. Tamarind and lime juice are important to create the sour elements and you need sticky kecap manis and palm sugar to temper the chilli a little. Also, fish sauce (or shrimp paste) add the salt.

For the fish, I used perch in this recipe, but really any firm, white fish will do.

Ikan Asam Pedas (Chilli-Tamarind Fish)
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 2.

2 fillets white fish (snapper, perch, whiting, dory)
2 small red chillies, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 tablespoon tamarind paste
2 teaspoon palm sugar syrup
2 tablespoon kecap manis
4 tablespoons lime juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon ground long pepper
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons potato/corn starch flour, for thickening
Flour, for dusting fish
Oil, for frying


1. Combine chillies, fish sauce, tamarind paste, palm sugar syrup, kecap manis, lime juice, garlic, long pepper, chilli flakes and salt to create a marinade.

2. Place fish in a resealable plastic bag with marinade and refrigerate for 2 – 4 hours.

3. Remove fish and reserve marinade.

4. Heat oil in a frying pan.

5. Dust fish in flour and cook, skin side down, for 3 minutes or until crispy. Turn and cook another 1 minute on other side.

6. In the meantime, heat marinade in a pot until warm. Whisk potato/corn starch flour into marinade and continue whisking over the heat until hot and thickened into a sauce.

7. Serve fish hot, with sauce and side servings of rujak and nasi kuning.

Other Indonesian recipes featured on this blog include:
Buaya Tabiabun (long pepper crocodile)
Jamu Kunyit (turmeric, lime & honey drink) V
Nasi Kuning (fragrant turmeric rice) V
Rujak (spicy tamarind & fruit salad) V
Sambal Goreng Telor (eggs in chilli sauce) V
Sambal Tuwung (roasted eggplant salad) V
Sorbat Susu (sweet spiced milk) V

And I will be blogging these in the coming weeks:
Acar (pickle condiment)
Bregedel Tahu (spiced tofu fritters)
Kangkung Urab (water spinach & coconut salad)
Sago Gula Bali (sago & palm sugar in coconut milk)

Other Indonesian-related posts include a cooking lesson and dining out in Bali and the photos of our honeymoon, as well as posts on the unique fruits sirsak (soursop) and salak.

Be sure to peruse the other Indonesian recipes at Andy's WTSIM round-up.


Sunday 28 September 2008

chickpeas & chorizo

Lucy from Nourish Me is hosting this month’s Legume Love Affair event, where bloggers are invited to celebrate their love of pulses through recipe worship. The event was founded by Susan at the Well Seasoned Cook.

I have always loved legumes, even as a wee lass, so it wasn’t difficult to convince me to take part.

I decided to focus on chickpeas, or garbanzos, because they were always the one legume I didn’t like. But now I love them and try to eat them all the time.

This dish is a really typical Spanish side dish or tapas. The flavour of the chorizo permeates the tomato sauce and the chickpeas provide substance and sustenance. It’s great with a glass of red or even rosé.

Check back at Nourish Me for the legume round-up.

Garbanzo y Chorizo (Chickpeas & Chorizo)
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 2 as side dish or tapa.


400g can chickpeas
2 chorizo sausages
½ cup passata
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Olive oil, for cooking


1. Slice chorizo into rounds on the diagonal.

2. Heat a frying pan then cook chorizo on each side until brown.

3. In the same pan, cook onion until soft.

4. Add garlic and fry, ensuring it doesn’t burn.

5. Add chilli and paprika and fry for 20 seconds, then add tomato paste and fry for 1 minute.

6. Add sugar, salt, passata, chorizo and chickpeas. Cook for 5-10 minutes until chickpeas and chorizo are cooked and warmed through.

7. Remove from heat and stir through fresh parsley. Serve hot.


Friday 26 September 2008

pink grapefruit syrup cupcakes

It's Sugar High Friday and I am feeling particularly sweet and ever-so high since I started my spiffy new job earlier this week.

In celebration, I think it's time to break out the cakes. Cupcakes that is!!!

And how convenient, since the Sugar High Friday theme this month is cupcakes!

Happily, I have now converted my dislike of grapefruit into a contented affection. Like many other food items (asparagus, oysters, olives, brussel sprouts), through sheer force of will, I have made myself like grapefruit, especially in a sweet context.

So in honour of my newfound citrus friend and my brilliant new job, I give you:

Pink Grapefruit Syrup Cupcakes
Based on recipe from Australian Gourmet Traveller. Makes 12.

140gm butter, softened
160gm caster sugar
Finely grated rind of ½ pink grapefruit
3 eggs
290gm self-raising flour, sieved
200ml milk
200gm caster sugar
150ml pink grapefruit juice
Rind of ½ pink grapefruit, thinly removed with vegetable peeler
1. For syrup, using a small knife, remove as much pith as possible from rind and discard.
2. Tear rind into thin strips, blanch in boiling water, drain.
3. Combine with remaining ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil and cook over high heat until rind is translucent (1-2 minutes). Cool.
4. Preheat oven to 170’C.
5. To make cupcakes, beat butter, sugar and grapefruit rind in an electric mixer until pale and creamy.
6. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
7. Next add flour and milk and beat until smooth.
8. Divide among 12 muffin tips, greased and lined with cupcake holders.
9. Bake until golden and centre springs back when lightly pressed (25-30 minutes).
10. Cool for 10 minutes in moulds, then turn onto a wire rack placed over a tray.
11. Using a skewer, pierce a few holes in tops of cakes. Drizzle with syrup while still warm
12. Decorate with strips of rind and serve immediately.

I have made some other interesting cupcakes since I started this blog, so feel free to check these out too:
Glacé Apricot, Chocolate & Poppy Seed Cupcakes
Ricotta, Strawberry & Choc-Chip Muffins
Rosewater Cupcakes
Yoghurt & Orange Blossom Cupcakes

Or better still, check out the extensive cupcake SHF round-up by Fanny from Foodbeam.


Monday 22 September 2008

finger lime martini

This is a finger lime.

Native to Australia, the finger lime (Citrus australasica) is a rare rainforest tree from the Australian east coast.

Of course Australian Aboriginals knew all about finger limes and ate them for generations, but many European settlers cleared the bushes (with their nasty thorns) to create farmland and so the once very common trees have become very rare.

The pulp or flesh of the limes is very unique as the vesicles have a caviar-like appearance and are hence called “lime caviar”, “caviar lime”, “citrus caviar” or even “lime crystals”.

The fruits are very compressed so when you break or cut them open the caviar just bursts out. Many people break them in half and squeeze the caviar out each end like a sausage, but I love to slit them in half and watch the caviar explode out.

Just like caviar, when you put the vesicles in your mouth and apply pressure, they pop and release very tangy, crisp lime juice.

Finger limes don’t taste like other limes. Somehow the flavour is much more aromatic, almost candy-like while still remaining very acidic. The scent is also unique, with a sweet floral edge.

Finger limes are challenging to grow because they take time to develop, but once they are on track they produce a lot of fruit. When picking the fruit, it is important to take only lime that fall from the tree easily as those showing resistance are immature and very astringent. Also, the vibrant colours from the pulp occurs at the very end of the maturation of the fruit, so for full colours it’s best to wait.

There are many varieties of finger limes, with different coloured peels and pulp:
Alstonville: Mostly brown smooth skin with green tinges. Pulp is light green and has a crisp, refreshing flavour.
Judy's Everbearing: Firm smooth skin varies between khaki, dark brown and maroon. Pulp is light green to pink in colour and has a very aromatic lemon lime flavour.
Other varietals include Pink Ice, Purple Viola, Jali Red and Mia Rose.

Apparently finger limes can also be frozen without destroying flavour or texture, which makes them accessible all year.

I just love them and can imagine them applied to all kinds of dishes. My favourite applications thus far has been a sweet finger lime curd as well as an accompaniment to freshly shucked oysters.

But here is my recipe for using them in a cocktail. They are wonderful paired with gin.

Finger Lime Martini
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 1.

75ml Bombay Sapphire Gin
15ml Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
10ml finger lime juice
Ice, for shaking
Lime slice, for garnish
Lime caviar, for garnish

1. Shake with ice and strain into a cold martini glass.
2. Garnish with finger lime caviar and a slice of lime.

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by Haalo from one of my favourite blogs Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once. I guess it’s fitting that I chose finger limes this week, since Haalo is based in the fine Aussie city of Melbourne.



Friday 19 September 2008

crocodile meat w long pepper

A while ago I bought some crocodile meat. It was frozen, so when I got home I put it in my freezer. I knew it was there, snapping away at me, demanding to know when it would be cooked, but there was never really a good enough occasion.

And then Chris from Mele Cotte announced her Deep Freeze Summer Challenge for the second year running and I knew it was now or never. Lucky too, because after I had cooked the thing I realised I was only a month or so off the used by date. Phew!

The meat came in a nifty little package (sorry I forgot to photograph it) and looked like a reasonable slab of meat. Once I opened it, however, I discovered it was folded over on itself and that I had almost double what I’d originally thought! Also, the shape of it made it very obvious that I was dealing with the reptile’s tail.

Hmmm. What to do?

I served the crocodile as part of a Balinese inspired feast, so I decided to grind up some of the long peppers we bought in Bali (using a spice mill), rub the pepper all over the tail then barbeque it?

Long peppers? I hear you ask. What are those?

Long peppers and crocodile meat? What next!!!

Well here’s some information on each of them:

Long pepper (Piper longum) is also known as Javanese Long Pepper, Indian Long Pepper or Indonesian Long Pepper, as well as Tabiabun in Indonesian. It is a flowering vine producing fruit that is usually dried and used as a spice (very top photo).

It is a relative of the black pepper plant, although its flavour is stronger, hotter and muskier. You could say it tastes like a combination of nutmeg, chilli and cardamom.

The long peppers flower spikes are actually made up of tiny fruits, each the size of a poppy seed. Present in these tiny fruits is the chemical, alkaloid piperine, which provides the peppery pungency.

The long pepper was a very important and sought after spice and was known even to the Romans. It’s popularity declined significantly after the discovery of chillies in the Americas. Although it is rarely used in European cooking anymore, it still has a place in Indian, North African and particularly Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine.

And let’s not forget the Deep Freeze crocodile meat. The meat tastes like rich, organic chicken with something a little special that you can’t quite place. It could easily become a new favourite meat.

After a little research I discovered some interesting information about crocodile:
• The Australian saltwater crocodile (C.porosus) is farmed and managed in Australia in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
• Sustainable farming of crocodiles has been an overwhelming success and is a model for other threatened and endangered species.
• The meat is ideally suited to Australian native ingredients including pepperberries, lemon myrtle and wattleseed.
• Can be fried, grilled, BBQ or stewed but should be cooked very slowly over low heat otherwise it can really toughen up.
• Some recommend cooking frozen to prevent the loss of juices during thawing.
• Always use butter or olive oil as margarine can impact the flavour negatively.
• Best served medium-rare.
• The best cuts are the back-strap and tail fillet.
• Always trim the fat, as it has an unpleasant taste.
• From 100g of croc meat you’ll get 21.1g protein, 1.9g fat, 436kj. That’s better results than chicken, beef or legs.
• Low in fat and calories and high in protein, but slightly higher cholesterol than other meats.
• Low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated fat and is considered a good source of niacin and vitamin B12.
• Has a very delicate flavour so accompaniments should not be over powering.
• Use of marinades help to break down the muscle fibres enzymatically (kiwifruit purée, pawpaw, pineapple or mango skin).
• In the 2005 World Expo in Nagoya, the Australian Pavilion served over 100,000 crocodile rolls during the 6 month event.

The recipe is simple but the results were delicious.

And I ticked off another 2008 Food Challenge by taste testing croc meat.

Buaya Tabiabun (Long Pepper Crocodile)
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 4.


1½ teaspoons freshly ground long pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1kg crocodile tail


1. Rub olive oil all over the meat.
2. Dust the long pepper over the meat.
3. Barbecue on a low heat for 2 minutes on each side. Remove and rest 2 minutes.
4. Serve with rujak, pickles and nasi kuning.

So this is my contribution to 2008 Deep Freeze Summer Challenge.



Wednesday 17 September 2008

rujak, spicy tamarind fruit salad

Surprisingly, yesterday I made an impromptu dinner and covered off another three 2008 Food Challenges! The first was to make rujak, a wonderful sweet and sour salad, popular in Indonesia and Malaysia, the second was to cook a Balinese feast and the last was to taste test crocodile meat.

Yes, that's right. Crocodile meat. And I can tell you it's very good!

My sister, Shamu, has been feeling a little down lately, so I decided to cook her Indonesian food since she learnt the language in school and has always had a fascination with the country.

Cooking the dishes was surprisingly easy and I was impressed with how well everything turned out. It was really yummy!

Here is what I cooked:
Rujak (spicy tamarind & fruit salad)
Sambal Tuwung (roasted eggplant salad)
Tahu Goreng Pedas (spicy fried tofu)
Buaya Tabiabun (long-pepper crocodile)
Acar (pickle condiment)
Nasi Kuning (fragrant turmeric rice)

Sago Gula Bali (sago in spiced coconut milk)

I will eventually post all the recipes, but be patient!!!

For now I will write about one of my all time favourite salads, rujak. Popular in both Indonesia and Malaysia, apparently this spicy, sweet-sour salad is a favourite afternoon snack in Bali for people of all ages.

I first tried rujak at a cooking class in Bali and have since seen the instructor’s recipe printed on this website, making it easy for me to reproduce the flavours.

Be careful not to make the dressing was too runny. It needs to be quite thick (almost like honey) and coat the fruit in a brown sauce. The key to this is making sure you cook your palm sugar syrup until very thick and sticky.

The flavours are delicious and I will make it again. It could become a summer favourite and will be a great salad alongside grilled meats and seafood.

Rujak (spicy tamarind & fruit salad)
Recipe from
Fragrant Rice by Janet De Neefe. Serves 4-6.


1-2 red chillies, trimmed (use long for mild or small hot flavour)
3 tablespoons tamarind pulp
4 tablespoons palm sugar syrup
7 teaspoons lime juice (optional)
Sea salt, to taste
¼ pineapple, peeled
1 nashi pear
1 apple
2 cucumbers


1. In a mortar and pestle, grind the chilli and salt.

2. Mix in the tamarind pulp, including the seeds (if using a food processor, the seeds will need to be removed).

3. Add palm sugar syrup. Add sea salt to taste and the lime juice, if using. It should resemble chutney.

4. Check flavours. It is important to achieve a balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy.

5. Chop the fruit into bite size pieces and mix well with dressing. Serve at room temperature.

Traditionally this recipe includes roasted shrimp paste. Put ½ teaspoon of shrimp paste on a small square of aluminium foil and grill under a pre-heated griller until slightly toasted (30 seconds). Add to mortar and pestle when making dressing.

rujak can be made with any combination of apple, starfruit, pineapple, pear, jicama, cucumber etc. The dressing is also delicious with grated carrot or grilled meat.

Palm Sugar Syrup

Makes around 1.5cups


500 grams brown palm sugar
2 cups water
1 pandan leaf or vanilla bean


1. Put palm sugar, pandan (tied in a knot) and water in a saucepan.

2. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes without stirring until liquid has reduced by nearly half. Syrup is ready when large bubbles appear on the surface (as when making coffee).

3. While warm, strain into jug and leave to cool. It will thicken up at this point. Store in refrigerator.

This recipe is my contribution to the blogging event No Croutons Required, which this month has a fruit theme. The event is an opportunity for bloggers to share vegetarian salad or soup recipes and is hosted by Holler, the Scottish author of Tinned Tomatoes.


Tuesday 16 September 2008

drumstick masala

This Recipe Road Test comes straight from fellow blogger Lakshmi from Flavors of Indian Rasoi.

It worked wonderfully and Jonas and I really enjoyed the unique flavours. If you wanted you could easily apply the basic gravy to any vegetable combinations and have a delicious meal.

I have written about Moringa oleifera for WHB before, but then I was focusing on the leaves. This time I want to draw your attention to the most commonly used part of the tree, the long pods which give the tree its common English name: Drumstick Tree.

Munagakaayala Pulusu (Drumstick Masala)
Recipe by Lakshmi from Flavors of Indian Rasoi.

4-6 drumstick pods
1 medium sized potato, cut it into big pieces
2-3 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
1 big onion
4-5 teaspoons fresh coconut
1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2-3 dried red chillies
10 curry leaves
½ teaspoon garam masala powder
1½ teaspoon red chilli powder
Pinch of turmeric powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp of curd
½ cup rice milk


1. Grind coconut, coriander leaves, ginger-garlic paste, coriander powder, cumin powder and onion and keep it aside.

2. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves, dried chillies, garam masala, turmeric powder and fry well.

3. Add coconut-spice paste and tomatoes and fry well.

4. After 5 minutes, add drumsticks and potato and fry for some time.

5. Add water, chilli powder and salt. Cover it and let it cook on medium heat.

6. When it starts boiling add curd.

7. To check whether the drumsticks are properly cooked, take a spoon and touch them to see if they are soft

8. When the drumsticks are ready, add the milk and cook on low heat for not more than 5 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and eat with rice.

Drumstick pods are extremely popular in Indian cooking, and for good reason. They are delicious (almost like asparagus) and highly nutritious. In India, young drumstick pods can be turned into curries, stews, sambars, kormas and dals. They can be served steamed or boil and it’s also common to add cooked pulp to finished dishes for a unique flavour. Older pods yield peas that can be eaten like nuts.

Moringa grows in semi-arid tropical and sub-tropical areas, continuously flowering and fruiting.

The tree is native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas but is widely grown throughout Africa, Central and South America, Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Moringa is an amazing tree because almost every part can be eaten and is exceptionally nutritious due to its high vitamin and mineral content. The leaves taste like spinach, the pods taste like asparagus and the cooked flowers are supposed to taste like mushroom.

Last time I blogged about moringa during WHB I included this list, but I think it’s amazing enough to include again. Weight for weight, moringa leaves have:
- 7 times the Vitamin C content of oranges
- 4 times the calcium of milk
- 4 times the Vitamin A of carrots
- 3 times the potassium of bananas
- 3 times the iron of spinach
- 2 times the protein of milk

Some of the world’s most poverty stricken areas are prime habitat for moringa trees, which are also one of the fastest growing biomasses on the planet! For this reason aid agencies see it as a huge nutritional benefit for those suffering serious malnourishment.

People use drumstick trees to assist stomach aches, gastric ulcers, skin diseases, low blood sugar, poor bone density, nervous conditions, diabetes, fatigue, poor lactation, hay fever, haemorrhoids, headaches and sore gums.

It’s also believed to strengthen the brain, gall bladder, liver as well as digestive, respiratory and immune systems.

Flower infused honey is used as a cough syrup, leaf infusions are used as eye washes for conjunctivitis and seed oil is used for earaches, skin problems and as an insect repellent.

Other drumstick and leaf recipes include:Drumstick Pickle
Mboum (Senegalese sauce)
Moringa Bread
Drumstick, Potato & Eggplant Bhaji
Moringa Omelette
Yeruvalli Kuzhambu (drumstick & coconut curry)
Moringa Juice
Munakkaya Pulusu (drumsticks in tamarind)
Moringa Dal
huge list of international recipes

The recipe also happens to satisfy one of my 2008 Food Challenges (learning about regional Indian cooking) because the dish comes from Andhra Pradesh.

Known as the "rice bowl of India", Andhra Pradesh is located in the south: bordered by the regions of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Orissa in the north, the Bay of Bengal in the East, Tamil Nadu to the south and Karnataka to the west.

It is the 4th largest Indian state (by area and population) and is certainly the largest in southern India with a population of 76 million people. The capital is Hyderabad and the official language of the state, spoken by 84% of the population, is Telugu.

Agriculture is an important income source, with the main crops being rice, sugarcane, cotton, chilli, mango and tobacco.

The food of Andhra Pradesh is famously spicy and rich, with heavy influences from Muslim cuisine.

Lamb, chicken and fish are used a lot, as well as spices and ghee. The Hyderabadi biryani, a delicious rice concoction, has spread throughout India and the world and is very popular.

Pickles and chutneys (pachchadi) from Andhra Pradesh are also very famous, the most well known probably the mango pickle Aavakaaya.

This week our WHB host is the lovely Zorra from Kochtopf. Be sure to visit her blog for the round-up.



Sunday 7 September 2008

ecuadorian tuna & yuca soup

This soup is really easy to make and tastes wonderful.

I have to admit I did make some adjustments to the original recipe, but to be fair it was only available in Spanish and did contain questionable items such as “MSG”. But the basic idea behind the soup was good and I knew I could tweak it a little bit to make it perfect.

The addition of yuca, an ingredient I had never tasted before, was intriguing. Although I can buy fresh yuca/cassava from the grocer next to my house, I was also aware that cassava contains cyanide and cooking it incorrectly can lead to death. Yes, I decided to go with the canned variety for my first time and will be a little more adventurous next time around. I promise!

This recipe, being Ecuadorian (an Andean nation), is another notch for my 2008 Food Challenges. This makes me very happy because it's already September and I haven't even gotten through half of my ambitious list of tasks!

The author of the recipe claims “este es el mejor remedio para el chuchaqui”, which means this soups is an excellent hangover cure. Do you need any more convincing!

Encebollado de Pescado (Ecuadorian Tuna Soup)
Based on an
internet recipe. Serves 2 as main course.

400g tuna, cubed
300g canned yuca (cassava)
1 small red onion, chopped finely
1 tomato, sliced
500ml fish stock
2 garlic cloves
1½ tablespoons tomato paste
1 red chilli, chopped
1½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly milled pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch chilli flakes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Olive oil, for cooking and drizzling
Fresh coriander leaves, for garnish


1. Rinse the yuca and break into smaller pieces.

2. In a pot, fry the onion and garlic until soft.

3. Add the fresh chilli and all the spices then fry until fragrant.

4. Add the tomato and tomato paste and stir until thickened slightly.

5. Add the stock and combine well.

6. Bring the stock to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

7. Add yuca and tuna. Poach until tuna is cooked and yuca is warm (about 5 minutes).

8. Divide soup between bowls then top with lemon juice, olive oil and fresh coriander.

Yuca (Manihot esculenta) is known by many names including cassava, manioc and mandioca.

Native to South America, it is grown all over the world in tropical and subtropical regions, and in fact is the world’s third largest source of carbohydrates for humans.

Based on plant genetics, they believe the first types of cassava were domesticated around 10,000 years ago in west-central Brazil, but the oldest evidence of cultivation is a Mayan site in El Salvador, dating 1,400 years ago.

By the time the Spanish arrived in the Americas, cassava was a staple food for the Olmec, Teotihuacan, Maya and Aztec peoples from Central America down to southern Brazil and even into the West Indies.

In 2002, world production was around 184 million tonnes, making cassava the “third largest source of carbohydrates for human food in the world” and African nations the main producers.

It’s a woody shrub and both the roots and leaves can be eaten, although raw forms of both contain doses of cyanide and therefore must be processed before eating.

Leaves contain good sources of protein but the highest levels of cyanide, while the roots are rich in starch, calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin C.

The roots are sometime eaten raw, although this is dangerous as they still contain levels of cyanogenic glucosides (which produces the cyanide). In fact 40mg of pure cassava cyanogenic glucoside can kill a cow!

Soaking, cooking or mixing the cassava with water to form a paste are the only truly safe ways to consume this root vegetable.

Here are some ways yuca/cassava is served up around the world:
  • Bahamas - used as a skin balm after too much sun exposure.
  • Bermuda - Christmas is celebrated with cassava pie.
  • Bolivia - boiled then fried and eaten with hot sauce, cheese and dried corn .
  • Brazil - the thick gravy pirão is made with cassava flour and fish heads and bones.
  • Caribbean - cassava is turned into flour and made into casaba bread.
  • Central America - Buñuelos, donuts, of are made from cassava.
  • Colombia - the dessert, enyucado, is made from boiled cassava, anise, sugar and guava jam.
  • Cuba - cassava paste is used to treat irritable bowel syndrome and it’s a main ingredient in the traditional vegetarian stew Ajiaco.
  • Dominican Republic - catibía empanadas are made from cassava flour.
  • El Salvador - yuca frita con chicharrón is deep fried cassava served with pickled cabbage, onion and carrot topping and pork rinds.
  • Guyana - the juice of toxic cassava is boiled into a syrup, spiced significantly and then used as the basis of sauce and flavourings when cooking.
  • Haiti - Moussa porridge is made from cassava flour.
  • India - in Kerala it is made into a seafood curry.
  • Indonesia - cassava is fermented to make a sweet paste called tape, a sweet paste which is added to alcoholic drinks.
  • Jamaica - bammies are fried cassava cakes, a recipe passed from the native Arawak Indians.
  • Nicaragua - the national dish Vaho is made from cassava.
  • Philippines - eaten as a dessert in cassava pie, made from grated cassava, sugar, coconut milk, and coconut cream.
  • Sierra Leone - cassava leaves are the basis of the famous palaver sauce.
  • Tanzania - mihogo is street snack of soaked then fried cassava served with a chill salt.
  • West Africa - made into gari by frying grated cassava in palm oil.
  • UK - tapioca pearls, the basis of tapioca pudding, are made from cassava flour.

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by Ulrike from Küchenlatein.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassava


Friday 5 September 2008

lemongrass beef noodles

This salad is delicious. The ingredients are so fragrant and pungent and sum up all the things I love about Vietnamese food.

First the steak is marinated in gorgeous lemongrass overnight, then grilled and served warm, sliced over herby noodles drenched in spicy nước chắm. Divine!

I first discovered this recipe back in 2006 and have wanted to make it ever since. Now that Jonas is back at work, and I have my nights free again, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to give it a try.

This is my contribution to Presto Pasta Nights, founded by Ruth at Once Upon A Feast but this week hosted by Abby of Eat the Right Stuff.

Bún Bò Nướng Xả (Lemongrass Beef Noodle Salad)
Based on a recipe from Little Bouffe. Serves 2 as main course.

2 stalks lemongrass
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
450g beef sirloin
1. Trim the lemongrass stalks by removing the roots and reserving only 6cm from the base. Remove the tough outer layers and chop the core.
2. Blend the lemongrass and garlic in a food processor until finely ground.
3. Add remaining ingredients (except steak) and blend.
4. Place the steak in a plastic bag or container and pour in the marinade. Turn the steak until well-coated and refrigerate overnight.

Nước Chắm:
6 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
1 minced garlic clove
1 minced red chilli
Method: Blend together and allow to sit for 10 minutes or more to infuse.

Marinated steak (from above)
¾ cup nước chắm (from above)
200g rice vermicelli
½ cup shredded holy basil (rau quế)
½ cup chopped coriander leaves
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
1 tomato, deseeded and sliced thinly
1 red chilli, minced


1. Heat a large skillet on high, add steak and cook, 1-2 minutes per side. Set aside on cutting board 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package; drain and rinse in cold water.

3. Toss noodles with fresh herbs, chilli and half the nước chắm.

4. Divide the noodles among 2 bowls. Add cucumber and tomato on top.

5. Slice the steak thinly, on the diagonal, and distribute slices among plates.

6. Serve remaining nước chắm on the side.


Wednesday 3 September 2008

asparagus w taleggio & parmigiano

This is a great little entrée (starter) on cold winter nights.

Be sure to use loads of freshly milled black pepper as the flavour really tops off the dish.

Asparagus w Taleggio & Parmigiano

Recipe from World Vegetarian Cookbook by Sarah Brown. Serves 4.


450g asparagus
125g taleggio cheese
25g grated parmesan
25g butter
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 200°C.

2. Trim off the tough ends of the asparagus. Steam or microwave asparagus for 2-3 minutes or until just tender.

3. Cut the taleggio in rough slices.

4. Grease a baking dish with butter and lay the asparagus in the dish, placing all the tips the same way. Cover with half the taleggio, a sprinkling of parmesan and some salt and pepper.

5. Place a second row on top with the asparagus tips at right angles to the bottom row and cover with remaining taleggio, parmesan and salt and pepper.

6. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese has just melted. Serve hot.

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