Showing posts with label cashew. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cashew. Show all posts

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Unusual Inspiration - Grilled Barramundi with Thai Mango and Cashew Sauce

I read a review of a Thai restaurant that described a mango-ey and cashew-y fish dish. Their description of the dish sounded amazing, and I was intrigued. They called it a name in Thai, that when I googled, yielded zero results. I was a little disappointed, but then set to trying to make something myself, using their flavours. This is by no means what I think their dish would’ve been. This is just a simple sauce topping grilled fish. But the combination of the mango and cashew was definitely a hit with the trademark Thai balance of sweet, sour, salty and hot.

I served this with barramundi, but any firm white fleshed fish would do. Salmon would work ok, too, but I think the barramundi would be better.

Seeing as we are now well and truly at the end of mango season, I used frozen mangoes for this dish. These were still from my tree that I froze when they were in abundance, but you can quite easily by frozen mango cheeks in most supermarkets for a  reasonable price. It’s like a little piece of summer in times when you need the spark.

So here you have a delicious dish, inspired by a restaurant I've never been to, a dish I've never heard of, let alone eaten. Just some words on a screen.

Grilled Barramundi with Thai Mango and Cashew Sauce
2 barramundi fillets
2 mangoes
¾ cup roasted, unsalted cashews
1 bunch coriander and stems
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 long green chilis, minced
2 tbsp fish sauce
Juice of 3 limes

Pat fillets dry, then season and sprinkle with zest of one lime. Set aside.

Roughly chop the cashews either with your knife or a processor. Vary the pieces so you get some bigger chunks, and some is very finely chopped. Cube the mangoes, add to a small saucepan with the cashews, ginger, chilis and coriander stems. Cover, then simmer over a medium-low heat until the mangoes start breaking up 5-10 minutes.

Add the fish sauce and lime juice and if needed, a splash of water to loosen the mixture to a more sauce-like consistency. Stir well, then check for seasoning. If your mangoes aren’t particularly sweet, you may need a teaspoon or so of raw sugar to get the right balance. Leave simmering over a very low heat while you cook the fish.

Heat some grapeseed oil in a frypan of medium-high heat. When the oil is nice and hot (but not quite smoking) place the barramundi skin side down and cook for 2 minutes. Flip over and cook for a further 2 minutes or until almost cooked the whole way through.

Serve the fish topped with the mango cashew sauce, with a salad and/or steamed rice on the side


Friday, January 24, 2014

Warm Hummus Mash Za’atar Spiced Popcorn

Since first making my Yummy Chicken with popcorn, I grew quite fond of using popcorn as a ‘garnish’ on savoury dishes or as an addition to salads. In fact, Lance told me off for writing that the popcorn on the Yummy Chicken was optional – he thought it made the meal special. Something about the presentation as well as the texture addition is really fun in an otherwise everyday meal. I hadn’t done it for a while, when Alejandra posted her Ras El Hanout spiced popcorn. My mind was blown. What a brilliant idea. I already love the popcorn/chocolate combination, this just takes it to a whole new level of awesomeness! Instead of having it as just a snack, I thought I’d like it as a side dish with my dinner. Since I was already planning on having warm hummus with dinner, I thought instead of Ras El Hanout, I’d try more Middle Eastern style spices and went with a Za-atar spice blend that I bought from The Grocer. I really like this blend because I’ve recently discovered the wonders of sumac as a spice and this mix has sumac in it. I then added a little cayenne and extra pepper for a kick – totally optional but I like a bit of heat.

I have become a huge fan of warm hummus since first being served it about 12 months ago. That in itself was a revelation. My favourite dip is also a wonderful mash! Why hadn’t I thought of that? And using tinned chick peas makes it so easy. I like adding cashews instead of tahini because it adds a nice sweet, creaminess which really compliments the warm silky mash. I find tahini can be a bit bitter and prefer it in cold hummus. You do need to soak the cashews overnight to make sure they blend properly.

To balance the heat and vaguely sour taste of the middle eastern spices I wanted a hearty meat and a touch of sweetness. So I served it with lamb rump steak and a fig salad to create that balance. Sadly, the last figs of the season for me, but put to perfect use. The combination of hummus and spiced buttered chocolatey popcorn has been my favourite meal of a long, long time. And I loved standing in the kitchen, eating the leftover popcorn after dinner. This and other spiced popcorn is going to happen. Often.
I try to keep my posts in the order of the dishes I cooked, so when I post them, they are as close to being seasonally pertinent as possible. But whilst I have about 5 posts stockpiled that were cooked and eaten before this dish, I was so blown away by it's deliciousness that I am going to break my rule and let this jump the queue. Make this dish. Now.

Warm Hummus Mash
(serves 3)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tin chick peas, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup cashews, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
Juice from one (small) lemon
1/4 – ½ cup water

In a small saucepan heat olive oil to a low heat and gently cook the garlic with ¼ tsp salt for 5-10 minutes or so until soft, translucent and very aromatic. Do not allow it to colour. Add the cashews and chick peas, stir well then cover and allow to warm through for around 10-15 minutes. The heat should be very low, so it shouldn’t burn, but stir here and there to make sure.

When warm, squeeze the lemon juice over the top and pour everything into a food processor or use a good stick blender if you have it to process to a smooth paste, slowly add some water with the motor running to help the hummus get a creamy, mash like consistency. You could also use milk or cream instead of milk to make it richer, but I think water is fine. Check for seasoning, then pop back in the pot and reheat for a few minutes while you make the popcorn

Za’atar Spiced Popcorn
barely adapted from Always Order Dessert
(makes approx. 3 cups popcorn)
¼ cup popcorn kernels
25g butter (approx.)
1 ½ tsp za’atar spice blend
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
8-10 grinds black pepper
¼ cup dark chocolate chips

Put the popcorn into a brown paper bag, fold the top down a few times to “seal” and put in the microwave for 2-3 minutes on high to pop the kernels. Keep an ear out for the popping to stop, and a nose out to detect it burning.
Put the popped corn into a really large bowl. Melt the butter, pour over the popcorn, then stir to coat. Mix the za’atar spice, sea salt, cayenne and black peppers together, then tip into the bowl and stir really well to coat all the buttered popcorn.

Melt the chocolate chips in a small bowl in the microwave
Serve the mash, tip a generous serving of the popcorn over the top, then drizzle the chocolate over the top of that.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year's Easy Feast - Roasted Corn and Cashew Crema

Happy New Year Everyone!

I know, I know, I’m a little bit late. But better late than never! My husband doesn’t get much time off over the Christmas period. In fact, apart from Christmas Day, he doesn’t get any extra days. Which means that when the rest of the world has January 1st to recover from the revelry of New Year’s Eve – he has to get up and go to work. Because of this, we have started the tradition of New Year’s Eve Eves – on the Saturday before December 31st. Our actual NYE then can be a bit lower-key. But just because we aren’t partying, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat extremely well.

What does sort of prevent the good eating is that I’m not at work and therefore often have daytime plans. This year, I went with a few friends to watch Hopman Cup tennis, because I was lucky enough to score a few tickets in my company’s Corporate Suite. VIP, baby! This is where the slow cooker comes in handy. Before I left for the tennis, I put a pork leg in the slow cooker, so that when I came home I just had to shred it and we had Puerco Pibil. It is just this recipe here, but I used pork instead of the beef. And excitingly, I got a spice grinder for Christmas, so my spices were perfectly ground without slaving away with a mortar and pestle for ages (including annatto seeds this time!! I found some!). It was such an enticing smell to come home to!
Given that it's summer and also corn season, I decided to make a roast corn and cashew crema to go with it. Lance and I had a similar sauce in some pulled pork arepas at a restaurant in Atlantic City and it was so heavenly, we ordered a second lot! We spent the second round trying to break down the flavours we were tasting. It's creamy and rich, with a subtle nuttiness and just the perfect addition to the spice and salt of the pork. I was also a bit lazy in that I used my stick blender instead of my food processor, so it wasn't as smooth as it possibly should be.

Instead of the arepas which are time consuming, I simply grated a large sweet potato in the food processor, then fried it in a little of the pork fat that had rendered out until it was soft and crispy hash.
This also makes a delicious dip! You can even add a few tablespoons of greek yoghurt to make it smoother. And it was amazing with more pork pibil in tacos the next day, too.

Roasted Corn and Cashew Crema
kernels from 2 corn cobs (or about 1 cup frozen kernels)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
3/4 cup cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours.
30-60mL room temperature water
Heat a frypan up to medium heat and add the cumin seeds. Dry toast for a few seconds until fragrant and then put in the base of a food processor. Pulse to roughly chop
In the same frypan, add the corn kernels and toast for 10-15 minutes until brown patches start appearing and there's a distinct toasted corn smell about the pan. Take off the heat.
Rinse and drain the cashews, and add them, the toasted corn and the salt to food processor and then run until it becomes a smooth creamy looking mix. Add 30mL of water to loosen and make more sauce-like in it's consistency. I needed 60mL (two shots) to get the consistency I wanted.

And a few of our NYEEE backyard party shots. Looking forward to what 2014 brings!