Welcome to my food blog Any Tom Yum , Spotted Dick or Haricot Bean...My name is Harriet Jenkins and I work for AB World Foods, a company passionate about flavour and World cuisines. This blog will give you a taster of the sorts of things that i get up to in search of foodie perfection across the globe...

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Best Vietnamese in London?!

I thought I should pass on this restaurant tip as it was soooo good…

Mien Tay 180 Lavender Hill, Battersea SW11 5TQ (02073500721)

Last night I went to Mien Tay on Lavender Hill, which is a fantastic Vietnamese restaurant. Recently reviewed by AA Gill IN THE Sunday Times, it received 4 out of 5 stars and was said by him to be ‘the best Vietnamese in London’. Traditionally most Vietnamese are found in Kingsland Road in the Northern part of London, but this is situated just a 5 min walk from Clapham Junction – so has great transport links and is in the South of London.

After visiting pre and post review some of the dishes I can recommend are:

-Fresh (summer) shrimp rolls
-Pho soup with beef
-Crispy egg pancake with beansprouts
-Green Papaya salad with dry spicy beef
-Beef with lemongrass and chilli
-Goat curry with galangal

The top three dishes are very traditional and the signature dishes of Vietnam – staples, really, if you go to a Vietnamese restaurant.

For four people it came to £50 which is peanuts and it’s BYOB – even better!!!

If you get the chance to go let me know what you think!

Happy Cooking!


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

More Sweet Treats

When i was up in St Andrews a couple of months ago i was inspired by a new bakery called Bibi's. they had some great flavour ideas including the mini oreo cupcakes (a recipe inspired by Hummingbird and Bibi's is below in an older post) and the choc mint cupcakes i had a go at this week- i was pretty chuffed with the results!

I also had a go at making some cherry compote cupcakes with white chocolate and marscapone icing. I dropped a spoonful of cherry compote in the middle of the vanilla sponge mix and it made a fabulous gooey centre...all cakes were made with the delicious Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract of course...!!

Happy Cooking!


Marketing Meeting Fun - we cook regional Thai!!

Each month i invite the Marketing teams (Blue Dragon and Pataks) to join me in the AB World Foods kitchen for a research and learning session. We look at our products, competitors products, and learn about the cuisines of the Far East and India.

This session we focused on regional Thai - i had been out in Thailand for a month, earlier on in the year, and i was keen to share with them some of the dishes i had experienced...

Prawns in a curdled yellow curry sauce – SOUTHERN

Naturally seafood is very important in the south and this dish is commonly made with crab. We however used prawns for their ease and it worked rather well. A touch of mild curry powder added the pop of yellow colour to the dish and the addition of eggs to the curry sauce base thickened and curdled the mixture. It was delicious and one of the favourites!
Pad Thai with Crispy Wontons– CENTRAL

I tried this fantastic dish in perhaps the best Pad Thai restaurant in Bangkok. They leave out the noodles from the dish, in favour of serving the bits in the sauce with a bundle full of deep fried crispy wontons – YUM! The secret ingredient in the best Pad Thais is the pickled radish. It adds a sweet vinegary flavour that just lifts the dish from great to fantastiche!!
Wood ear Mushrooms with egg and coriander – CHAOZHOU

This dish is great for texture – the mushrooms are kind of crunchy and rubbery at the same time, and the coriander adds a fantastic freshness to the eggs. All seasoned up with chillies and light soy sauce, it makes for a yummy vegetarian dish. Chaozhou (as I mentioned previously in my blog) is a style of cooking that comes from Chinese immigrants to Thailand – making use of Chinese recipes that incorporate some Thai influences/ ingredients.
Jungle Curry – NORTH

Jungle curry is a very hot curry for the north. It is traditionally made with a paste to start, and then cooked in a stock (rather than coconut milk) with pea and apple aubergines, chicken, thai sweet basil, coriander and many chillies and green peppercorns. It certainly cleaned out the sinuses!
Som Tam with Fruit (in silver bowl on left) – ISARN

This dish is popular among the dieters of Bangkok as it contains almost no calories! It traditionally comes from the Isarn or North Eastern part of Thailand and is made from green papaya and has a hot and sour flavour profile. The street hawkers of Bangkok like to change it up a bit and sometimes make it with fruits like rose apple (and salty crabs), which give it a pleasing crunch. We made ours with granny smith and pink lady apples, radishes, carrot and sugar snap peas for their crispness.

Happy cooking!


Monday, 14 June 2010

Soul Food In Nowa Sol, Poland

Me (left), Zaneta (Middle) and Anjali (Right) outside ABFoods, Poland
Anjali Pathak and i were asked by the guys in HR at our outpost in Poland, to come over for their summer festival. Allsorts of things kicked off over the weekend including music concerts, funfairs, food and other Polish frolics. Anjali and i were demonstrating our specialist cuisines, Indian and Oriental respectively, and we made quite an impact! People on both days jumped onto the stage to help us prepare our dishes - the enthusiam to learn new recipes was inspirational and with the help of Zaneta (our ABFooodsPolska fixer) we made a real impact over the two days.

The stage upon which we 'performed'!
It was quite intimidating standing up in front of the people of Nowa Sol and having to have everything translated by a translator. I cooked a selection of dishes from a variety of cuisines including a Chinese Sichuan-style stir fry, Japanese Teriyaki Salmon and Thai Chicken Satay, using Blue Dragon products. Everything went without a hitch thanks to the great handymen on site, Zaneta and my 'assistante' Anjali!

Hopefully we will be invited back next year to demonstrate some more exciting and exotic Oriental and Indian dishes...

Happy Cooking!


Nielsen-Massey Goodies

Rum & Raisin Brownies

Macademia Cookies
This month i have taken on the responsibility of looking after the Nielsen-Massey brand of Vanilla Extract, for which i'm really excited! It's meant i've been able to get in the kitchen and practise various recipes for our PR company, including Macademia Cookies, Fruit and Nut Muffins, Vanilla Cookies and Rum and Rasin Brownies.

Crisp Vanilla Cookies

Fruit & Nut Muffins
I also got into the cupcake fever and cooked some Oreo Cupcakes for the ABWF charity bake sale - i am pleased to announce that they all went within two minutes! Must be the superior quality of the Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract i was using...! ;)

Oreo Cupcakes

Makes 6

100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100ml semi-skimmed milk
1 egg
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract
Preheat oven to 170/325/gas3. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter until a sandytexture is formed. Whisk the milk, egg and Nielsen-Massey together in a jug, then slowly pour about half in with the dry ingredients. Mix until combined and with no lumps. Pour in the remaining liquid, scarape down the sides of the bowl and ensure everything is smooth and well combined.
Line a muffin tin with 6 muffin cases (preferably brown which can be bought from ASDA and most good baking shops). Spoon the mixture into the cases until 2/3 full. Place in the oven for 20-25mins until firm. Check if they are cooked, by placing a skewer in the centre of a cupcake and ensuring that it pulls out cleanly. If not replace for another 5 minutes.
Top with a cream cheese icing made from 300g icing sugar, 50g unsalted butter, 1tsp Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract creamed together - it should be of a light and fluffy dropping consistancy. Pipe onto the cupcakes with a meringue nozzle (to create the wide fluted shape) and top with a mini oreo cookie

I *heart* baking!
Happy cooking!

Undercover at the Dusit Thani

Front enterance of the Hotel
Amazingly Tim Beard had managed to squeeze me into the legendary Dusit Thani hotel in Bangkok for my last day in Asia, and i worked both lunch and evening services. There was so much that I could have learnt there, but the political situation (and subsequently the closing of all but three of their restaurants) prevented me from achieving it.

Making Nam Prik Om
However, the one day that I did spend in the kitchens was great. I started off with an introduction with Chef Erwin and his deputy Phillipe. I was then given the grand tour of the restaurants and kitchens - only three were open and one was prepping – and then was invited to join the head chefs for their daily briefing.
Stuffed Prawn, pork and crab claws
I then was invited to join the Thai restaurant, Benjarong, to learn how to prepare some of their dishes, including Stuffed Crabs and Crab Claws, Nam Prik Num, Nam Prik Rua, Gaeng Som Pla Chen, Pork Satay, Sweet Pork and Pomelo salad. Chef Siriwat was a great help and talked me through all the recipes and methods, even demonstrating some of them too me including the Nam Prik ong, Stuffed crabs and Pomelo salad. I stayed with them for three hours or so.
Ingredients for Nam Prik Rua
Then in the evening, at 6pm I joined the Vietnamese restaurant, Thien Duong. Again, they were more than hospitable. Even though they had no customers whilst I was there, they demonstrated to me (and got me making) their version of summer rolls, Deep fried Summer Rolls, Vietnamese Ravioli and Prawn on Sugar cane sticks. They also talked me through the different dipping sauces used with each dish.
Nam Prik Om - stir fried until dry
From there I went to The Pavilion kitchen, which is the main buffet area for evening dinner and breakfast. I was in the kitchen and was taught how to make Thai Green and Red curries as well as Pad Thai.

All in all this was a fantastic experience and I just wish more restaurants had been open (Chinese, Thai, French, Italian, Steakhouse) so that I could have spent more time in each of them, learning the ropes.
Happy Cooking!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Dim-Sum - Hong Kong's Breakfast

The great thing about dim-sum is that there is always something for everyone – be it steamed, fried, baked or wokked.

Traditionally served as breakfast for Hong Kong natives, it sprang up in the southern Cantonese area of China as an accompaniment to drinking tea or 'yum cha'. Dim sum literally means 'to touch your heart' and given the fondness people have for these little snacks across the whole world, it is a very fitting translation!

As is the tradition, we enjoyed our dim-sum at lunchtime (as to eat it in the evening is not traditional and slightly frowned upon - much like drinking a cappuccino at breakfast in Italy)! We were presented with a dim-sum banquet that consisted of cold drunken chicken (so called because it is cooking in shaoxing wine), followed by multitudinous varieties of dumplings and buns, rounded off traditionally with a noodle dish served for the whole table.
Drunken Chicken with dipping sauces
Steamed buns - Left Char Siu Bau, Right Sweet Custard
Deep-fried Chinese chive dumplings
Shu Mai - pork and prawn
Shu mai - crab and pork, b/g noodles
Cheong Fun - Square rice noodles rolled around bbq pork
Special Stir-fried Egg Noodles
Happy Cooking!

The Food of Mon

I felt I should briefly write about Mon-style food that I ate when I visited the island of Ko (or Pak) Kret in Nonthaburi, Bangkok. Puwadol took me and as we were dropped on the island I realised it was a very small place. We were greeted by a temple (wat) and what looked like the Thai version of a Moroccan souk. It was here that I was treated (!?) to Mon-style food.

The Mon originated in the Mon kingdom, located near Burma and Thailand to the West of Thailand. Their country was invaded over various centuries by both Thailand and Burma and their kingdom was swallowed up as a result of the skirmishes. The Mon were used by the Thais as labourers/ slaves and were moved to various areas of Thailand. When they received their freedom, they set up small communities and Ko Kret was one of the places they settled.

Mon Food
After weaving our way through covered walkways resplendent with food and knick-knack shops, we found ourselves at a vendor who served the traditional food of the Mon people. It consisted of a small bowl of rice in iced water called Khao Chae, served with various accompanying dishes including shredded candied pork, fish and preserved vegetables. All the accompaniments were overwhelmingly sweet. The iced water is jasmine scented and is imparted with the smoke from candles (rendering it with – I thought – a rather an unpleasant taste of paraffin)! This is traditionally eaten, much like the Japanese and their cold soba noodles, as a cooling dish for the summer months. An unusual lunch…!

Happy Cooking!


Monday, 24 May 2010

Sichuan vs Hunan; Clash of the Titans

Sichuan and Hunan cuisines are one half of China’s big four; the others being Yue (Cantonese) and Shandong (Beijing). I would say the better half (!) but then I am biased. After eating both of these cuisines two nights in a row, I find it difficult to decide which is the most special – I mean both are pretty fantastic!
Mapo Doufo
Sichuan-style food originates from the West of China in the hills and mountains of Sichuan. The food is quite unique in that it makes use of not only over 20 different cooking techniques (including dry-frying, explode frying etc) but also showcases a flavour sensation known as ‘ma la’ which translated means ‘hot and numbing’. This sensation is created through the use of Sichuan pepper, sometimes called fagara, which is actually a minute husk that is toasted over heat before being ground to a fine powder and sprinkled over many Sichuanese dishes. The flavour is zesty lemon, and the sensation is difficult to describe – I liken it to a cross between Bongela and the gush of your tastebuds when your mouth starts to water…It also makes grand use of the dried Sichuan chilli – both small that are left whole and large that are sliced up into pieces. The idea is not to eat the chillies, they are just there to impart flavour during the cooking process and to make the dish look attractive when presented. Only fools eat them when they reach the table!
Watch the Chinese gingerly pick around them.

Dry-fried Chicken
We ate dry-fried chicken prepared in just this way, mapo doufu (Mother Chen’s Pockmarked Beancurd) cooked in spicy Sichuan chilli oil and yellow bean paste with a touch of minced beef. There was also stewed pork belly served on top of Sichuan preserved vegetables that tasted of cooked and sautéed chard, and steamed asparagus. The first two dishes demonstrated the technique of ‘ma la’ perfectly, whilst the others showed me what other marvellous things Sichuan had to offer.
Belly pork with wheat dumpling breads
In contrast Hunan food shares the similarity of cooking with chillies, but instead of being dried, they are crisp and fresh and used in an entirely different way.
Wood ear Mushrooms with Hunan Dressing
It is the fresh and fragrant combination of chillies, spring onion, garlic and coriander that is at the heart of this cooking – the combination makes fish, meat and vegetables sing. We ate some really special food. We ordered some Wood Ear mushrooms in a dressing of garlic, light soy, rice vinegar, sugar, chilli and coriander and it was delicious. The texture of the mushrooms was crisp and chewy and they were a perfect foil to the softness of the second dish, stir fried egg with chilli and onion.
Stir fried Egg with Onion and Chilli
We also had a beautifully presented dish of firm silken tofu, sliced and served in a similar dressing to the mushrooms, but with spring onion and more chilli. But perhaps the most exciting dish was a fish opened out attractively, garnished with fragrant mince cooked with fresh chillies, coriander, spring onion, garlic and chilli oil. In Hunan circles this is referred to as ‘Squirrel fish’ as it is said to resemble a squirrel (?) but for me the combination of fish and meat, so unusual, is what makes this dish. It was fantastic!
Squirrel Fish
So, which one threw the best punches? Well it’s a toughie. Sichuan has always held a place in heart and I love the unusual ‘ma la’ flavour. However, the lesser known Hunan cuisine, I have to say wins out. The punchiness of the ‘yang’ fresh chillies hit you around the head but are perfectly balanced with the crisp ‘yin’ or cooling note of coriander, which is lacking in Sichuan (or less flavourful as they favour cucumber as the balancing ‘yin’ note). So there it is. Hunan wins – but Sichuan puts up a jolly good fight. Three cheers to the victor….’hip,hip, Hunan’!!!!
Hunan-style Tofu (Doufu)
Happy Cooking!

Little Venice

It was an experience visiting the waterways of North-Western Bangkok. For centuries the tributaries that flow off the main river in the city, the Chaopraya, have been home to many Thais who see these waterways as their livelihood. It resembled a tropical and lush version of Venice, with the houses perched at the water’s edge. People were going about their daily lives, motoring around on their boats, washing their hair and woks and children playing, all using the water that is integral to the routine of their day-to-day lives. Puwadol and I also visited the floating market where we bought all sorts of yummies including deep-fried bananas, pork on sticks and little cakes made from coconut and palm fruits (which contains natural yeasts that ferment the cake batter and give the little cakes a ‘floaty light’ texture).

This part of Thailand is seen as the best for growing fruit and the best Durian grown here can fetch around £200 – you buy the fruit as a bud on the tree and get to take it home when it is fully grown, spiky and ripe. The best texture for Durian is firm on the outside and soft on the inside and the most popular variety is the long-stemmed species. It tastes good, a bit like roast chestnuts and I think is best eaten when not too ripe (and stinky)! It has a fearsome reputation as the stinkiest of all fruits and is banned on airlines, hotels and public places because of the stench it can give off. But it also inspires the greatest of affections amongst the Thais as the King of fruits and is always eaten alongside the purple coloured Queen of fruits, the Mangosteen, to balance the ying and yang (Durian is seen as hot and Mangosteen, cold). It is quite funny actually, as you do start to feel hot after you have eaten Durian – apparently because it is so high in calories! Not one for those on diets, ladies….

Happy Cooking!


The Tale of Goldilocks and the Three Stinks…

Gam Som Gung
I was taken to experience Southern Thai food in a wooden house, surrounded by a moat, called Ban Peung Chom. You would think I would have to go to Southern Thailand and the Islands to experience this super-hot, fish based cuisine, but much to my chagrin this excellent restaurant can be found in the sois of Bangkok.

Tord Mun Hua Pee
We chose typically Southern dishes of Gam Som Gung (Sour soup with prawns), stir fried noodles, Tord Mun Hua Pee (deep fried banana flower), Nam Prik Poo (spicy crab relish with raw vegetables), chicken wings with a spicy sweet marinade topped with deep fried cabbage (very Chinese in flavour), and cowslip in Oyster sauce. The principal protein was prawns or seafood such as crabs, as typical from the sea-surrounded islands of the South.

Spicy Chicken Wings with Deep fried Cabbage
All of it was great. I actually expected it to be spicier as Southern food is supposed to be exceptionally hot, with dishes like the Southern Curry with Turmeric topping the Richter scale in heat. But Boworn explained we were eating Southern Thai from the Island of Phuket which meant that it was milder, as it had been influenced by the Chinese Fujian-style of cooking brought with them when they emigrated to this Thai Island.

Nam Prik Poo
My favourite dish by far was the stir fry, or ‘Mung Bean Noodles with 3 Stinks’. I loved it not least because of its awesome name! The ‘3 stinks’ in question were stink beans (that looked like large shelled wrinkly broad beans but tasted strongly, like garlic), pickled garlic and leed tree leaves (pungent, again quite like garlic). It provided the source of many jokes at the table(!) but was in fact a seriously good dish. They make use of the fantastic mung bean vermicelli noodles, that are translucent when cooked, and have a great texture. The vegetables worked will in it, and there was a smattering of cooked pork mince and stir fried egg stirred though it to add interest and texture.

3 stinks stir fry
I enjoyed the meal very much and left feeling pleased that I hadn’t been subjected to bowls of rice porridge (also called Congee, like the real Goldilocks) but had dined on delicious traditional Southern Fayre!

Happy Cooking!