Green Curry-Corn Fritter/Pancakes

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We’re entering a phase of recipes without photos here on my blog; the reason is that my tablet–which i use to snap the pictures–stopped communicating with my laptop which i used for posting, so you see my dilemma. I’m sure someone amongst my brilliant friends will rescue me from the situation. But meanwhile I just want to share the dishes that I make along the way.

Such as tonights green curry-corn fritter/pancakes.

Inspired by the Indonesian corn pancakes of a famous Indonesian food writer who no longer speaks to me for some crazy whacked out reason that i won’t even go into, let me just say: she may have ended her friendship with me, but she left me with the ability to make fabulous corn fritter/pancakes. And to love them to bits.

Mine are different from my ex-friends, though they started with her basics: chile, coriander leaves, aromatics (did she use ginger? garlic? onion? I no longer remember.). Her corn fritter/cakes reminded me of the happiness I had as a child tasting good old fashioned corn fritters, dipped in maple syrup. Perhaps I had them once; i remember them to this day.

My corn fritter/pancakes start when I see a couple of nice big fat ears of corn; if the ears are small and delicate, double the amount. I roll my way through my choice of herb, every so often discovering a new one that I like better than the old one. And I skip around the world of Asian flavourings because when I rediscovered corn fritter/pancakes I discovered that I love them the best with the punchy salty-umami-spiciness of Asian flavours. (In honesty, I played around with Mexican and Latin American flavourings too, and always came back to Asian ones.Though one never knows: my next batch? could easy be heading south of the border.

Tonight, seeing as how I had about 3 tablespoons of a mild though flavourful green chile paste on hand, that is what I used. And when I looked around for a fresh herb, I spied a big bunch of dill. Here is the result.

Green Curry Corn Fritter/Pancakes
Makes enough for 2 as a first course or greedy snack, to four if appetites are less…..exhuberant
All amounts of somewhat aproximate: the finished mixture should be like a thick batter, this side of dough. Almost like ricotta cheese with corn kernals in it.
2 big corn on the cobs; 3-4 small to medium ones
3 tablespoons mild but flavourful green curry (storebought)
About a teaspoon freshly grated ginger (optional)
1 egg
About 3 tablespoons fine polenta/cornmeal
1-2 green/spring onions, thinly sliced
About 6 tablespoons self-rising flour
Large pinch salt
About 1 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste
About 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
Enough water–a few tablespoons–to make a thick batter
Splash hot pepper seasoning depending on the heat of the green curry paste
Olive oil for frying

Cut the kernals off the corn cobs using a knife; scrape as much of the milky substance from the cob as you can. Place in a bowl

Add the curry paste, the ginger if using, the egg, then stir in the polenta, green onion, and self rising flour. When its pretty much together add the salt, sugar, dill, and enough water to make a thick batter.

Heat a tiny amount of olive oil in a nonstick or stick resistance pan; when it smokes, make fritter/pancakes by dropping several tablespoons of the mixture into the pan. Lightly flatted with the back of a spoon or spatula but do not flatten thinly: you want them to be reasonably thick: perhaps 3/4 inch. If they are too fat you can lightly pat them flatter when you turn them over.

Over a medium high heat cook on one side until golden brown, then flip over and cook the second side. Remove to a shallow pan or baking sheet.

Eat right away or reheat in medium hot over for five to ten minutes.

They don’t really need anything to dip them into, though i did think that there must be the perfect thing for the job. Truthfully, they are good just as is.

They make a great appetizer or first course to any spicy, Asian-taste meal. We followed ours with a Japanese chicken stew, sukiyaki-style, and rice rolled into balls, in shiso leaves.

On the Beach across the way from North Korea

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After Michelle Brachet presented a tasting session on Cognac–her book and column in a Chinese wine publication (in other words, her expertise) being the reason she was at the Gourmand Awards)–anyhow, after our tasting there was still a bit of Cognac left in the bottle. And since it was Frapin: oh so beautiful, fragrant and evocative–and since we had been walking distance of the sea for several days already but hadn’t spent any time on the beach, Michelle decided that in the sand, next to the sea, was exactly where we should finish up the Cognac.

She coralled a small posse of myself, the vibrantly hair-coloured Bruna from Brazil and James McIntosh from Northern Ireland who is also the pin-up cookbook western cooking guy of China.

The weather was warm and pleasant, sunny but not so fiercely hot that we would feel fried sitting on the sand.

Since Yantai Wine Bay Resort is on a slight hill, to get there we just had to follow a cobbled stone path headed downward, past various galleries and artisans

creating the traditional pottery of Shandong from local clay.

creating the traditional pottery of Shandong from local clay.

There were gardens with bridges over small lakes, one garden themed Ye Olde English, another with interesting sculptures, such as a much-larger than life bright orange squirrel that we all fell in love with.
Here is Michelle Brachet with the very very large bright orange squirrel (sculpture).

Here is Michelle Brachet with the very very large bright orange squirrel (sculpture).

a beautiful garden that we passed along the way

a beautiful garden that we passed along the way

Once we reached the sand we discovered a row of cabanas looking every so like a beach resort in the UK, selling all the things you might need for the beach: sunscreen, inflatibles, sunhats, as well as spicy noodles and bags of chewy dried fish treats. Then we found the bumper cars! Of course we wanted to ride them, but alas we were too tall–ie adult– so we could only watch the children bump and crash their cars, screaming with glee. But it was okay, we had our Cognac. Then James decided we needed ice cream: I mean what is a holiday at the beach without licking an ice cream on a stick, trying furiously to keep up with it’s melting as droplets run down your arm and you don’t want to miss a single delicious swipe of the tongue? Michelle and Bruna chose vanilla ice cream, covered in chocolate and stuffed on the inside with a jammy fruity mixture. I chose a chocolate fudgesical-looking ice lolly and despite James’ warning: i know i know it looks like chocolate but its probably some sort of sweetened bean flavour, it was, in fact: chocolate! wonderful chocolate! After last years ice cream on the streets of Beijing I had decided never again. But here we were on the beach in Yantai, and really: i was eating the bed fudgsical ever!

another beautiful garden along the way down the hill.......

another beautiful garden along the way down the hill…….

We plopped ourselves down in the damp sand on the edge of the shore and stretched our feet into the little waves as we sipped our Frapin and licked our ice creams. The air smelled of the sea, the soft sand was like California or the Mediterranean, the misty half sunshine half fogginess reminded me of Lima, Peru, the clear water was like Mexico or Malaysia. Yantai beach is very long, miles long, and very beautiful; along the way are promenades and a few hotels–more are being built. Right now the locals seemed to be at that marvel-at-the-miracle stage; they wandered along the promenade, strolled the sands, ate the ice cream and gazed out to the sea. Just as we were doing.

To the right of us was a pier that jutted into the water in what at first seemed a serendipitous way but on closer inspection was shaped like a huge musical clef note, finished only a few months earlier in honor of the developer’s son’s wedding. And because we were happy, and possibly also because of the Cognac, we got philosophical–possibly a result of the Cognac–thinking about how the beaches, the sea, how they are all connected, all people of the world touching the sea, on a beach somewhere…..

But gazing out to sea, before i could wax too lyrical about how we are all one, no matter where we might find ourselves, I saw a shadow of mountains on the horizon, just the other side of the channel. “Whats that James?” I asked. “That?” James answered; “is North Korea”.

an eyes-closed selfie;if you look closely, behind the pier you'll see a shadow of North Korea.

an eyes-closed selfie;if you look closely, behind the pier you’ll see a shadow of North Korea.

Two Great Salads for When You Smuggle Pastrami in Your Suitcase from NYC and Several Nights Later, Dinner is a Sandwich!

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Yes, and I’m just going to believe that Her Majesty’s Custom and Excise has better things to do than read my blog, anyhow, yes, i smuggled some lovely pastrami and rye bread from NYC last week. Last night was the night I put the two together for a sandwich supper.

To complete my New York themed dinner, I made two salads, variation on the classics: potato salad (but in my case with peas and fresh dill) and my own variation on the oil and vinegar based cabbage’coleslaw (“health”) salads i find in my fave delis. The salads are really easy and wonderful and i’m putting them on the blog so I don’t forget about them, and so if you want to make them this hot summer, you can.

Potato, Peas, and Dill Salad
This really only makes enough for two but you can multiply it at will
I like to keep the skins on the potatoes for this salad. Such an earthy taste, the skins.
About 1 lb small to medium waxy potatoes, unpeeled
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon, aprox, white wine vinegar
About 1/2 cup petits pois: either fresh or frozen
3-4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons, aproximately, coarsely chopped fresh dill
3 heaped tablespoons mayonaise
3 heaped tablespoons sour cream
Black pepper to taste

Place the potatoes in a pot with water to cover and bring to the boil; cook 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are just cooked through. Drain, cut each potato in half or quarters, sprinkle with salt and return to the stove for a few moments, shaking, covered, to dry the potato flesh.

Uncover, cut the potatoes into fairly large chunks, sprinkle with white wine vinegar and toss with green onions. Leave to cool.
When cool enough to touch, add the dill, the mayo, and the sour cream; Season to taste with salt if needed and black pepper. Chill until ready to serve.

Cabbage and Red Pepper Slaw
Serves–again, about 2: two hungry people who love cabbage
1/2 a medium to large cabbage, thinly sliced
3 small shallots, peeled and chopped
Coarse grained sea salt, a few shakes
2-3 roasted red peppers, from a jar, diced
2 or so teaspoons white wine vinegar, or as desired
a few shakes garlic powder (i know, i know, garlic powder: its just, i’m aiming for the deli taste and fresh lusty garlic, its a little strong. i’m aiming for that kinda compelling wimpy garlic-ness that comes from dried). (but you can totally use fresh if you like: use one clove, finely chopped)
About 1 tablespoon sugar

In a large bowl combine the cabbage, shallots and salt, and work it through with your hands, squishing and squeezing it.
Add the red peppers, vinegar and sugar; mix well, taste for seasoning, and chill until ready to serve.

Rainy Day Ramen with Cabbage, Miso, Seaweed and Chile Oil

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So its raining, and i’m thinking: what to eat for lunch, and really when i say raining I mean miserable has summer left us forever raining…..and I’m hungry, and of course there is no good bread in the house…..not much of anything really. And i’m trying to watch my weight, always so annoying when thinking about the next delicious thing to eat.

But on my shelf I have dried ramen: the kind from natural foods shops which promises decent noodles (and seems to have delivered) and a not too awful powdered soup mix to go with it. Also: one good thing about using the packaged ramen: you do have a calorie count and can’t help yourself to seconds unless you want to open up a new package. With all the cabbage and seaweed and miso, all of the uber-umami liquid, those 200-ish calories worth of noodles go quite far in your bowl.

so: here is how it goes, at least today. For lunch. I boil a quarter of a shredded cabbage for a few minutes until it softens, add the ramen noodles until they are half tender, then shake in the soup powder along with a little ginger.

When its all tender-ish, a few minutes no longer, I stir in a tablespoon miso (i used white) and 2 tablespoons seaweed bits; I used the kind seasoned with green tea and sesame. Oh and a drizzle of sesame oil at the end.

Then i heated it all up with a big fat splosh of hot fragrant chile oil.

1’/4 white/green cabbage thinly sliced
3 cups water
1 packet of ramen, noodles
the accompanying sachet of soup powder
2 tablespoons white miso
a little bit of shredded ginger
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1-2 tablespoons seaweed bits, the kind meant to be sprinkled onto salads or soups
hot fragrant ( i like homemade) chile oil

Combine the cabbage and water and bring to the oil; add the noodles and cook until noodles are half tender.
Add the soup powder and cook a minute or two longer or until the noodles are just tender.
Stir in the miso, taking care it all dissolves; you can thin it down before you stir it in if you like.
Stir in the ginger, sesame oil, seaweed bits and ladle into bowls. If you like, add a spoonful of the hot chile oil to taste.