Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Saro's Singapore Chilli Crab

This was cooked for me last night by a friend who has just started eating a natural diet. She is a fantastic cook and her crab has to be one of my all time favourites!

Ingredients: (Serves 3-4 as a starter)
Thumb size piece of ginger
2-3 birds eye chillies
2 lemon grass stalks
1 banana shallot
1 tablespoon Thai Fish Sauce
King crab, frozen and pre cooked, about 1Kg
200ml sieved tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste
Juice of 1 lime
Small bunch of fresh coriander leaves to serve
1 tablespoon olive oil

Put the ginger, shallot, lemon grass and chillies in a blender (or grind up in a pestle and mortar, if you want a workout) and blitz into a paste, then fry over a high heat for a couple of minutes in the oil. Add the sieved tomatoes, shrimp paste and fish sauce, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5-10 minutes until reduced to a thick consistency. Add the crab and cook for a further 5 minutes until the crab has warmed through. Just before you take it off the heat add the lime juice and stir. Serve with the coriander leaves and enjoy.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

What I am not (eating)

I thought I'd spend some time explaining what sort of food I am eating. Then I realised an ideal natural evolutionary approach could be described as wild meat and fish (including shellfish), seasonal fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some oils and a little honey. It's that simple.

What is more time consuming to explain is the food we should avoid and why. Here is a list of the most common foods found in the modern western diet that we should avoid at all cost:
  • No vegetable oils: Arguably one of the most heinous of all modern food inventions (with the exception of olive oil and some nut and seed oils). I am talking about soy bean oil, palm oil, rapeseed oil, groundnut oil and other similar oils. The worst of this bad bunch are the hydrogenated oils with large amounts of trans fats which should be avoided like the plague.
  • No grains: Examples include oats, rice, barley, wheat, quinoa, cous cous etc etc. This includes all grain derived food like bread, pasta, cereal.
  • No refined sugar: Sugar, syrups (like the evil glucose-fructose syrup) and glucose.
  • No artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, sucralose, saccharine etc.
  • No pulses: Foods like lentils, kidney beans, haricot beans, broad beans, peas.
  • No potatoes: Or potato derived products, sorry all you chip lovers.
  • No processed food: If it's been developed in a lab and produced in a factory, I'm not interested.
Astute readers will notice that I haven't mentioned dairy products yet. The consumption of this food group is fine if you have the genes to metabolise lactose. I'll talk about this subject in depth in a later post.

You can see that nearly all of these foods to avoid are recent additions to our diet (on the evolutionary time scale). Recent research has shown the body adapts genetically to the food we eat, we have been exposed to granulated sugar for about 1700 years and high fructose corn syrup for about 50 years. Give us another 20,000 years and we may have adapted to metabolise these 'foods' efficiently. Until then count me out.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Ingredients: (Serves 2)
1 tablespoon Ras el hanout (you can buy this, but it's best to make your own. There isn't one definitive list even in Morocco, for this recipe I used a mix of 12 cardamom pods (seeds only), 5 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon red chili flakes, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/2 nutmeg (grated), 10 black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves and 1 teaspoon of turmeric. Dry fry the seeds, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and bay leaves, then grind in a pestle and mortar. Add the other ingredients and mix together.
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped to a paste
Pinch of sea salt
300g free range chicken, (best to use thighs, but any cut will do - I've used chicken breast, because it's all I had at the time)
1 onion, chopped
1 large fennel bulb, sliced
150g mushrooms, sliced
15 green olives, stoned
500ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon, cut into quarters

Ideally you want to marinade the chicken pieces overnight or for about 2 hours in the ras el hanout, ground ginger and ground cumin but if you don't have time just mix together before starting. Brown the marinated chicken pieces in a large heavy based pan (or tagine) with the olive oil over a hot heat. Turn the heat down and add the onion, garlic and fennel pieces and fry for another few minutes. Add the chicken stock and salt then bring to the boil and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover the pan and leave for an hour.

After an hour, put the olives, mushrooms and lemon quarters into the pan and stir. Put the lid back on and simmer for another half an hour.

If there is still too much liquid in the pan, remove the lid and turn up the heat to reduce. Remove the lemon quarters before serving with steamed greens.