Friday, May 14, 2004

ready, steady, cook
I found this wonderful sounding recipe in The Age the other day. I'm trying it out tonight:

One of the most common and intriguing preparations in Vietnam is a quickly assembled stew with tomato and pineapple at its base. Though it might seem reminiscent of the sweet-and-sour concoctions of a couple of decades ago, its sole source of sweetness is the pineapple. It is primarily sour, usually with heat contributed by chilli. The sourness comes primarily from the tomato, and from a hefty dose of lime or tamarind.
The dish can take many forms. In Vietnam I have eaten it with everything from frog to catfish. It's also served as a powerful-tasting vegetarian soup.
I like it best either in its pure vegetarian form or with veal. The sauce comes together well with almost anything, but is never better than when it coalesces around bits of browned meat. Veal, because it becomes tender almost as quickly as chicken (and frog), is always a great choice for quick braises such as this (overall, it takes about an hour - not the quickest of dishes, but for more than half the time, it takes care of itself).
The recipe is straightforward but the heat level can range from extremely mild to quite hot - I usually make it with a single small Thai chilli. The sourness, however, should be pretty intense. Lime juice does the job, but about a tablespoon of concentrated tamarind paste would work well.
Finally, a cup or so of white turnip (or daikon radish) is a nice touch.

Veal with pineapple and tomato

2 tbs neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
750g-1kg boneless veal shoulder, cut into 3cm or smaller chunks
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 small chilli, stemmed, seeded, and minced, or ½ tsp dried red chilli flakes (or to taste)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ cups pineapple chunks, preferably fresh
1 cup chopped tomato
1½ cups peeled white turnip or daikon radish, cut into 2cm chunks, optional
2 limes
¼ cup chopped coriander leaves

· Put a 30cm frying pan over high heat and, a minute later, add the oil. Add meat in one layer (you may have to use a little more oil, and brown in batches). Cook, undisturbed, until meat is nicely browned on the bottom (about 5 minutes).
· Add onion, garlic, chilli, and some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and any bits of meat stuck to the pan are released (about 5 minutes). Add pineapple, tomato and turnip; stir, reduce heat to low, and cover. Stew 30 to 40 minutes, or until veal is tender.
· Juice one lime and quarter the other.
· Uncover the mixture; if it is soupy raise the heat to high and cook, stirring, until it thickens a bit. Add lime juice, then taste and adjust seasoning. Cook about 5 minutes longer. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with coriander and serve with the quartered lime.

Badger amendments: I am using tamarind paste and a little lime juice (me, sour?) with dried pineapple (sent over in the in-laws' care parcel). Our budget can't stretch to veal so I'm using a mixture of soya and minced beef. I'd love to be using daikon, but since there's none in the fridge I'm making do without. I am baking sweet potatoes and I think I might serve spinach too, not sure on that front.

Since the oven is on for the sweet potatoes I thought I'd also have a stab at the animator's mother's recipe:

Marshmallow pudding
2 eggs
2 cups of milk
vanilla essence (I use vanilla extract)
1 tablespoon of sugar
marshmallows (the animator likes the plain ones)

Beat the eggs with a little milk add the vanilla and sugar beat until the sugar has disolved and then add the remaining milk. Place mixture in a dish, scatter the top with marshmallows. Cook in a bain marie in a moderate oven for around half an hour.

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