Lemongrass prawns with Thai noodle salad

This is a very refreshing Asian-style salad, perfect for a hot day. We have a Kaffir lime tree (well worth having, if you cook a lot of Asian food) but if you can’t buy Kaffir lime leaves, then use some grated  lime rind instead. This is also a great do-ahead recipe if you’re entertaining.

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Serves 8

For Prawns and Noodles:

2 stalks lemongrass, white parts only (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 fresh Kaffir lime leaf, finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 lb tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
1 (8-oz) package bean thread (cellophane) noodles

For Dressing:

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped ginger
2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp red pepper flakes

For Garnish:

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, plus sprigs
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
4 spring onions, chopped


For prawns and noodles: Peel outer layer of lemongrass. Cut into very fine crosswise slices and transfer to a large bowl.

In same bowl, combine lime juice, ginger, sesame oil, olive oil, garlic, lime leaf, salt, and pepper. Add prawns and toss to coat. Chill for 1 hour.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high, cook prawns for 2 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer to a plate.

Put noodles in a bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Make dressing: In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients.

Add noodles and toss, then add prawns. Garnish with chopped cilantro, mint, spring onions, and cilantro sprigs.

Sauteed scallops with Thai scented pea puree

This is a terrific recipe from Nigella Lawson which is simple to make and the Thai scented pea puree really adds a terrific zing to the dish. It cuts the sweetness of the peas and is really tangy alongside the sweet scallops.

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Serves: 2

1 lb frozen petits pois
1 tbsp green Thai curry paste
⅓ cup creme fraiche
kosher salt (to taste)
2 tsp peanut oil (or other flavourless oil)
2 tsp butter
6 large scallops (preferably diver caught) (or 10-12 small ones)
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp chopped cilantro (or Thai basil)

Cook the peas in boiling, slightly salted water until tender, then drain and tip into a blender, adding 1 tablespoon curry paste and the crème fraîche. Season to taste with salt and perhaps add more curry paste, depending how strong it is.

Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan until foamy, then fry the scallops for about 2 minutes a side. If you are using big scallops, then it is sometimes easier to cut them in half across. When they are cooked, they will have just lost their raw look in the middle and be lusciously tender, while golden and almost caramelized on the outside.

Lift the scallops onto 2 warmed plates and then de-glaze the hot pan by squeezing in the lime juice. stir to mix well and pick up every scrap of flavour, then pour this over the scallops on each plate.

Dish up the pea purée alongside the scallops, and sprinkle with the chopped coriander or thai basil. Serve with another wedge of lime, if you feel like it.

Shrimp bisque

I adore shrimp bisque and this recipe is from Ina Garten. It’s creamy, with a great shrimp flavor, as you use the shells as added flavor. Serve with warm crusty bread.

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Serves 4 to 6Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 4.07.13 PM

1lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined, but keep all the shells
4 cups seafood stock  (for US cooks, this brand is available in markets)

3 tbsp good olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white and green parts (3 leeks)
1 tbsp chopped garlic (3 cloves)
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half and half
1/3 cup tomato paste (puree)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Place the shrimp shells and seafood stock in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock. add enough water to make 3 & 3/4 cups.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the leeks and cook them for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, or until the leeks are tender but not browned. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute.
Add the cayenne pepper and shrimp and cook over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Cognac/brandy and cook for 1 minute more, then the sherry and cook for 3 minutes longer.
Transfer the shrimp and leeks to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until coarsely pureed.
In the same pot, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium-low heat for 1 minute stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the half and half and cook, stirring with a whisk, until thickened, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the pureed shrimp, the stock, tomato paste, salt and pepper and heat gently until hot but not boiling.
Season, to taste, and serve hot

Quick and easy spicy prawn soup

We love our soups and even eat them through the summer months, sometimes replacing main courses with them, if they are substantial enough.
This is a recipe from the wonderful BBC Good Food website, and I altered it a little to suit our taste buds. It is very light and full of flavor.


Spicy prawn soup
Serves 4
1 tbsp sunflower oil
10 oz bag crunchy stir-fry vegetables
6 scallions, chopped on the diagonal, green and white parts
6 oz shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
2 tbsp Thai green (or yellow) curry paste . You may want to start with 1 tbsp if you’re not too much into spicy food.
15 oz can reduced fat coconut milk
7 fl oz vegetable or fish stock
11 oz medium straight-to-wok noodles
8 oz bag large raw prawns, shelled and de-veined
A handful of roughly chopped cilantro

Heat a wok, add the oil then stir-fry the vegetables, scallions and mushrooms for 3 – 4 minutes.
Take them all out and set them aside, then tip the curry paste into the pan and fry gently for 1 minutes.
Pour in the coconut milk and stock. Bring to the boil, drop in the noodles and prawns, then reduce the heat and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes until the prawns are cooked through.
Stir in the vegetables, add the chopped cilantro and serve. Easy isn’t it?

Thai Butternut squash and seafood curry


This has the most amazing flavors and I have made it at least 6 times, always successfully. With the yellow (or red) curry paste, go carefully as different curry pastes have different strengths. You don’t want to overpower the seafood.
If you use green beans as the green vegetable, make sure you parboil and shock them in cold water before adding them to the pan.

Serves 4 generously.
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk ( about 1 2/3 cups)
1 to 2 tbsp yellow or red curry paste ( I used 1 tbsp)
1 1/2 cups fish stock
3 tbsp fish sauce (Nam Pla is a great one)
2 tbsp sugar
3 lemongrass stalks, each cut into 1/3’s and bruised with the flat of a knife
3 keffir lime leaves, (or regular ones if you can’t get keffir lime leaves) stalked and cut into very thin strips.
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 1/4 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into large, bite sized chunks
1lb 2oz salmon fillet, skinned and cut into large bite sized chunks
1/b 2oz peeled, deveined raw shrimp
Bok Choy or any other green vegetable of your choice
1/2 to 1 lime, juiced or more to taste
Cilantro, for garnish

Skin the thick creamy top off the can of coconut milk and put it into a large saucepan or Dutch oven with the curry paste, over medium heat.
Let it sizzle and, using a fork, whisk or wooden spoon, beat the cream and paste together until combined. Still beating gently, add the rest of the coconut milk, fish sauce, fish stock,  sugar, lemongrass, lime leaves and turmeric.
Bring to the boil then add the butternut squash. Cook on a fast simmer until the squash is tender, about 15 mins.

*  You can cook the recipe up until this part in advance, maybe leaving the butternut squash with some bite still in it as it will continue to soften as the pan cools. Either way, when you’re about 5 mins from wanting to eat, get ready to cook the seafood.

To the robustly simmering pan, add the salmon and shrimp. When the salmon and shrimp have cooked through, which will only take about 3 to 4 minutes, stir in any green vegetable you’re using – sliced, chopped or shredded as suits and push down into the sauce with a wooden spoon.
When the green vegetable is cooked, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, stir and taste and add the juice of the remaining half if you feel it needs it.
Take the pan off the heat and pour the curry into a large bowl and sprinkle over the cilantro; the point is that the cilantro goes in just before serving.
Serve with more chopped cilantro for people to add to their own bowls as they eat and some plain Thai jasmine or Basmati rice.



Chilled corn soup with prawns, avocado and tomato relish

Chilled corn soup with avocado, shrimp and tomato relish

This is the season for gorgeous chilled soups, whether you serve them in shooter glasses or bowls like this picture. I will be posting several of these over the next few summer months, as I love starting a meal with a refreshing and zingy flavor.  You can make them well in advance so they are ideal for dinner parties or spontaneous lunches. Recently we held a house concert here at our home and I made my chilled cucumber soup (also on this blog) and set out 40 shooter glasses and two large pitchers of the soup. There was a constant group hovering over the pitchers refilling their glasses.

Serves 4
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 large leeks, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
3 ears corn, husked, silk removed
3 cups chicken broth
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
6 oz grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
8 to 10 leaves fresh, thinly-sliced basil
8 oz small or medium prawns, peeled and de-veined, tails removed
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp Fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp fresh lime juice

In a large saucepan on low, heat oil until melted. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until softened.
Meanwhile, over a large bowl, cut the corn kernels from the corn cobs (A sharp, serrated knife would work well). With a heavy knife, cut each cob into 2 to 3 pieces.
Add the corn kernels and pieces of cob to the pot with the leeks. Add the chicken broth and 1 cup of water, and increase the heat to high. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
Remove the pot from heat and discard the cobs. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then purée soup with an immersion blender. (Alternatively, carefully purée soup in batches in a food processor or blender.) Transfer to a large bowl, cover and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
In a small bowl, toss avocado, tomatoes and basil
Heat a nonstick skillet on medium. Season the prawns with salt and pepper, add to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes, turning once, until just opaque.
Just before serving, chop the prawns coarsely and stir the lime juice into chilled soup. Ladle into bowls and garnish with avocado-tomato mixture and prawns, dividing evenly.

The classic British shrimp cocktail sauce


I can hear some of you saying “Huh? Why a recipe for this?” Well, having lived in the US for 17 years, I feel the need to post this recipe, as a shrimp cocktail sauce here is a very acidic, tomato sauce, rather than the smooth, creamy, tangy sauce I was brought up with in New Zealand and the UK. Do try this very easy recipe, and simply boil a bunch of good sized shrimp in advance until just cooked, leave to cool and serve with this divine sauce and some shredded lettuce or curly lettuce underneath.

Serves 6

Cocktail sauce ingredients
1 cup of best quality mayonnaise
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
2 tsp Worcester sauce
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 or 2 drops of hot sauce
2lbs cooked medium sized shrimp, peeled and tails intact as it’s easier to pick them up.
lettuce shredded or curly lettuce like frisee and lemon wedges for serving

For the cocktail sauce, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Toss in the shrimp and toss around in the sauce till they are coated.
Arrange the shredded lettuce in attractive glass dishes and put a pile of the sauced shrimp on top of the lettuce.
Garnish with a dusting of paprika and a wedge of lemon.

There! Now I feel better already!







Creole jambalaya

Gorgeous and so flavorful.

Serves 6
12 oz ground pork
1 tbsp olive oil
5 oz Spanish chorizo, diced
1 onion, finely diced
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 red pepper, finely diced
1 green pepper, finely diced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
7 fl oz white wine
14 or 15 oz can of chopped tomatoes
1 3/4 pints chicken stock, and more if required
12 oz brown basmati rice
4 oz shelled raw prawns, tails left on if you like
3 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
4 scallions, sliced
sour cream, optional

Season the ground pork and roll it into bite sized meatballs.
Heat a large pan, add a dash of oil and brown the meatballs for 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the diced chorizo, onion, garlic and peppers to the pan and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the bay leaves, turmeric, paprika and cumin and stir for 1 minutes more before pouring in the white wine and tomatoes.
Meanwhile, heat the stock separately.

Add the rice to the pan and stir well. Pour the stock into the rice and meatball, and bring to a simmer.
Cover the pan with a lid and cook over the lowest heat for 30 to 35 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
Add more stock if it is getting too dry.

Stir in the prawns and cook for 4 to 4 minutes or until they turn pink.
Before serving, stir in the parsley and scallions, then season to taste.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if you like.


Shrimp Burgers with Roasted Garlic-orange aioli

Absolutely gorgeous and SO different with the superb flavors of the garlic-orange aioli binding the succulent shrimp together, then slathered between the burger and the bun.

Makes 4 patties.

Roasted garlic-orange aioli

1 head garlic
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
Kosher salt
2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice plus 1 tsp finely grated zest (from 1 orange)
freshly ground black pepper.

To roast the garlic;  Heat the oven to 400 F.
Peel away the outer skin of 1 garlic head, and cut off the top 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the head to expose the individual cloves.
Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over the garlic head, wrap in foil and roast for 30 to 35 mins, or until the cloves are soft when pressed.
Cool, then squeeze the cloves from their skin. Mash 3 cloves and set aside — reserve the rest for another use.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks.
Gradually whisk in the remaining olive oil, then the grapeseed oil; begin with small drizzles, then whisk in a thin stream until the mayonnaise is very thick.
Whisk in a pinch of salt and then the orange juice, a little at a time (you may not need the full amount) orange zest and the roasted garlic paste.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Shrimp burgers
5 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped fennel, from one small bulb (fronds reserved)
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped fennel fronds
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
1 tbsp grated zest from 1 orange
1 1/2lb shrimp, peeled and deveined, finely chopped by hand
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
* 1 to 2 tbsp roasted garlic-orange aioli
Toasted hamburger buns for serving. (brioche is also nice)

In a large saute pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.
Add the fennel and shallots and cook until they start to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
Add the red bell pepper and cook about 5 mins longer; you want the pepper to soften but retain it’s texture.
Remove from the heat.
Mix in the fennel fronds, chives and orange zest.

In a bowl, combine the chopped shrimp with the sauteed vegetable-herb mixture and salt and pepper. (to taste).
Fold in the aioli, a teaspoon at a time, to just bind the burgers.
Form them into  four patties, refrigerate until ready to cook.

Heat the remaining 3 tbsp olive oil in a pan (cast iron works well) over medium-heat and fry the patties until golden, about 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

Spread the aioli on both sides of the toasted buns’ serve the shrimp burgers with your favorite condiments, such as a big leaf of butter lettuce


Addicting Asian sesame garlic noodles

This recipe is to die for and you won’t be able to stop eating them. You can serve this dish hot or at room temperature and is perfect for a pot luck as you can make the sauce ahead of time, prep whatever you’re going to add to the noodles, and just cook the spaghetti nearer the serving time.
You can augment this recipe as much as you want, but be careful with the red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like it.

These noodles are great just with a few chopped scallions added, but you can also add;
cooked prawns
chopped cilantro
chopped scallions
cooked chicken pieces
chopped red pepper

For 1/2lb spaghetti

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 large garlic cloves, chopped roughly
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp re pepper flakes
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Add these ingredients to a food processor.
Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water, according to the instructions of the packet. Drain the pasta and put it into a large bowl and add the sauce into the hot drained pasta.
Add anything else you want and toss well.