Sunday 30 May 2010

Korean-style teriyaki mackerel

This is not your typical teriyaki marinade, as it's not Japanese. I learnt it from my Korean friend, Cat, about 10 years ago, and she got the recipe from her mum. It has now not only become part of my repertoire but also been passed on to others. My mate, Rob, now cooks it on a regular basis and apparently he's even won hearts with it. So it's pretty damn good. You can use various oily fish with it - salmon works well - but I like to use local and sustainable fish, so i have taken to making it with mackerel. I ask the fishmonger to clean it up for me, so I get two filets, like this


Mackerel fillets
Aprox 50 ml sesame oil
Aprox 50 ml soya sauce
1 tablespoon honey
Ginger (about 2 inch chunk, peeled and chopped)
2-4 garlic cloves

Broccoli or any other greens for stir frying

First blend the soya sauce, sesame oil, honey, with 1 chopped garlic clove and ginger. Cut the fillets into chunks and cover in the marinade. Leave this in the fridge for between 2-4 hours. If you only have half an hour, then that will do too. Once you are ready to eat, push the rice on (I often pop something in there to give the rice extra flavour, with this I added a couple of garlic cloves), and give it ten minutes before you start frying the fish. Fry it skin down first, it doesn't need any extra oil. Give it about 5 minutes on this side, spooning on more marinade every minute or so to create a sauce. Then turn the fish over and start on the stir fry. I fried chopped garlic on the hot wok in some sesame oil, then added the broccoli, and stir fried for about 5 minutes. Et voila! You won't get a picture, as I messed it up, but trust me, it looked great. And it's also really good served with roast veg

Thursday 27 May 2010

Nourishing dhaal

Sometimes all you want is some lentils and rice - simple, nourishing food. There are so many different ways of making dhaal, that I have a different method of each different type of lentil. Yesterday, I used green lentils. These need to soak in cold water for a couple of hours before you use them. I used the stuff below to flavour them


Green lentils
Clove of garlic
A couple of green chillies
Cinamon stick
A few cardamon pods
Vegetable stock
Coconut milk
Olive oil

Once I'd soaked the lentils, I fried the chopped chillies, garlic and ginger off in some olive oil for a couple of minutes before adding them, plus the stock, to the pan. I then added the tin of coconut milk, cinamon and cardamon seeds, as well as plenty of salt. This needed to be cooked for about 45 in total. Therefore, I put the rice on after about 25 minutes

I cooked and ate this dinner in cyberspace, somewhere between London and Athens. I was skyping with my friend Karina for about 3 hours, who was also cooking dinner. So it was a really lovely evening, sharing a meal and a couple of glasses of wine while catching up with someone who lives so far away.
And here's another type of dhaal recipe

Friday 21 May 2010

Milk soup or "zupa mleczna"

A few days ago I had a dream about making milk soup, or "zupa mleczna". In my dream, I used cannelloni, which is completely inappropriate, and accidently put paprika in it. I have no idea what my sub-conscious was trying to to tell me (perhaps that strange things are happening in my life), but I decided to make milk soup for breakfast nevertheless


Half a mug of bulghur - cracked wheat
1 litre milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
30 grams butter

There are many different types of milk soup and all have the same basic ingredients - milk, sugar, salt, butter. What's inside is interchangeable. You can use pasta - the smaller the shapes the better, therefore cannelloni would look freakish in this dish. You may use rice, or various different types of wheat. I used "kasza iglana", I have not been able to find an exact translation online, but I believe that it's bulghur, or cracked wheat

You cook the wheat according to packet instructions (usually about 10 minutes once the water is boiling). When it is ready, you add the other ingredients, and bring it all back to the boil. Then turn the heat down and simmer for a further 10 minutes or so. It's a delicious, warm, soothing breakfast. I am loving anything white at the moment - I have painted my room, and am finding some kind of peace and clarity in it. Perhaps that's another reason why I am slightly obsessed with milk soups at the moment

Saturday 15 May 2010

Fishy dinner, with gunard, scallops and samphire

I am back in Eastbourne for the weekend - I forgot all my camera bit and pieces, that's why I haven't written for a week. Since I am by the sea, I decided to cook a fishy dinner. And if you're going to do that properly, you need a good fish shop. That down there is the best fish shop in Eastbourne in my book - it's on the beach, off the Royal Parade. Here, you buy lovely, fresh fish straight from the lovely, friendly fishermen

I never know exactly what I am going to buy when I come here. I wanted to make dinner with a Polish feel to it, therefore I asked for a tasty, local fish which fries well, for three people, and under £13. I got an ugly gurnard, which tasted divine. I had £3 left, and the fisherman suggested some samphire and plump scallops. It should have cost more, but he gave me everything for £3, and with lots of good advice on how to cook it best. Here he is, with the gunard

So, I did a starter of scallop on a bed of samphire (which was not only delicious, but took less that 5 minutes to make!) and a Polish-style main course of gunard in breadcrumbs, with surowka (a salad of shredded leek, carrot and apple) and new potatoes

The scallop on a bed of samphire was a rare treat! But the first thing you need to do, if you would like to reproduce this meal, is start on the surowka . So shred the leek as finely as possible and squeeze half a lemon on top. Leave this for a little while. Then add the shredded carrot and apple, salt, pepper, sugar and mayonaise, and leave to stand for as long as you like, ideally half an hour or more. With the samphire, all you need to do is blanche it for about 5 minutes in boiling water. While it is blanching, crush the garlic, heat some oil on a frying pan, add it to the pan and and fry the scallops for 1 minute each side, on a medium heat, adding some salt near the end. Drain the samphire and add a knob of butter. And serve, that's all there is to it. You don't need a list of ingredients for this, it's just scallops, samphire, garlic, basically. Now to the main


Gunard fillets (or any other white fish)
1 egg (will do for 3-4)
Breadcrumbs (enough to coat the fillets, about a handful)
New potatoes
3 leeks
1 carrot
1 apple
3-4 tablespoons mayonaise
Salt, pepper, sugar
Oil for frying
Butter (for the potatoes)

Once you have made the surowka, as described before, put the potatoes on and prepare one plate of whisked egg (with salt and pepper added), and one of breadcrumbs. Go and have a glass of wine and come back in 10 minutes. Then, we dip the fish first in egg and then in breadcrumbs, and fry for about 5 minutes each side. And that's it. I love fish, as long as it's local and fresh, it will taste good cooked in the simplest way! 

This meal is very typical of how you would have fish in Poland, and reminds me of summer camps, pine forests and wooden huts with plastic chairs, sun setting over a lake, and cold beers

Thursday 6 May 2010

Polish tomato soup with rice - zupa pomidorowa

I have to be honest, I messed up the tomato soup. But it still turned out good. I spent ages cooking, tasting, adding ingredients to get the taste just right, and then I messed it all up by putting way, way too much rice in. The rice swelled more and more in the pan until it looked like some kind of a rice stew! So mum came to the rescue (of course) and made more soup base. Now my parents are going to be eating tomato soup for at least a week, but nevermind, I will give you the correct measurements below, and hope you won't be put off by my disaster story. The ingredients below will make 6-8 portions of soup


2 litres water (or a big pan 3/4 full)
Chicken thigh
2 carrots
1 leek
1 parsnip
3 bay leaves
5 large juniper berries
1 tsp whole peppercorns
200g tomato puree
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
300ml single cream
1 tbsp sugar
2 tblsp dill
1 tblsp parsley
salt to taste (I used about 2tblsp)
Ground pepper to taste
50g of rice per person

My chicken thigh was frozen so I cooked this first, covering it with the cold water, bringing that to the boil, and letting it cook for 20mins on a low heat, before adding the peeled, whole vegetables (carrots, parsnip and leek), the herbs shown up there on that photo (juniper berries, bay leaves and whole peppercorns), as well as some of the salt (about a tablespoon). However, if your thigh is fresh, then you can cook all these ingredients together. After another 20mins with the vegetables cooking, I removed the solids from the pan. The leek and parsnip you can either discard or use for something else (a Russian salad would benefit from cooked parsnip for example), whereas the chicken thigh and carrots, we keep. You want to take the skin off the chicken and the bits of meat off the bone - they should be flaking off easily by now. The carrots, you want to slice into thin, round morsels. And stick both of these back into the soup, now adding the tomato puree and tin of chopped tomatoes, more salt and ground pepper, sugar, as well as the dill and the parsley (or you can just use one or the other, according to preference). Allow this all to cook for a further 5mins and then turn the heat off

Now you can put the rice on, in a separate pan - my disaster (down below) was as a result of using 100g of rice per person, if you half that, and use 50g, then the consistency will be just right. Above, is an example of what the soup should look like (and did once my mum had saved it). Once the soup has cooled a bit, after about 15mins, you can stir in the single cream. The soup and rice can now wait until you are ready to eat - they just need adding together and warming up

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Another Polish recipe - spinach with fried egg

Polish food has a reputation for being meaty and stodgy. This isn't entirely unwarrented of course, but, there are many lighter, meat-free, lesser-known dishes, which I would like to bring to someone's (anyone's) attention. One of these is this spinach dish, which my mum used to always make for me when I was on a "detox". Its not dairy or wheat free, but it is healthy, while not compromising in the least, on taste. If you would like to make this into a nutritionally balanced meal, you may want to consider some mashed potatoes to go with it. Today, I had it for lunch without mash, and found it satisfyingly filling. I also realised that I had thoroughly missed it. The ingredients below are for one person, and approximate, as I rarely measure anything
I started off by washing the spinach under running water, then braising it in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes. I drained it, pressing it down with the spoon, trying to get as much of the water out as possible, and blended it to a rough paste in my blender. On a frying pan, I made what is called a "zasmazka" - you use this base for many vegetables in Poland and it makes them taste distinctly delicious! My mum says it's a kind of bechamel sauce but it is a bit thicker, as you can see in the photo up there. So, you melt most of the butter (leaving a bit for the egg) and sieve in the flour, stiring, adding milk to make the sauce into the consistency of a thick, smooth paste. I also added juices from the blended spinach, to make it a little bit more watery. Then, I turned the heat off. In the next step, we crush the garlic and mash it with a little bit of the salt - this is a mixture that's used for many dishes in Poland, and we used it for the borscht in my last recipe. We mix the garlic mash-up into the spinach, and then add the spinach mixture into the "zasmazka", putting the heat back on, really low. At this point, it's time to start frying the egg on a separate frying pan with the remaining butter, and adding a little salt as usual. All the while it's cooking, you need to stir the spinach, mixing it into the sauce thoroughly
This dish is great as a lunch, or, as I mentioned before, with mash for a more substantial meal. Both veggies and meat-eaters love it in my experience, so I pretty much guarantee that you will not be disappointed. On a more personal note, I am getting through my break-up hell with a book, which I have to recommend to anyone who needs to be distracted, whatever the reason. A friend recommended this to me, and I have not been able to put it down all day - it's called Shantaram - spread the word. It's a true story of a good man that has been a heroin addict, an armed robber, a street soldier and a real soldier, a part of the Bombay mafia, a money launderer, forger and a Bollywood actor, and then wrote his story in jail, where it was destroyed twice. Despite my description, it is not depressing - it's funny and honest and pure, somehow. Great for anyone who wants to forget their lives for a couple of hours a day, or about five in my case!


1 250g bag of spinach
20g butter
1 garlic clove
2tblsp salt
1tblsp plain flour
2 generous splashes of milk
1 egg