Wednesday 30 July 2014

Thai Style Meatballs

I love, love Asian food and flavors. I spend a lot of time poring over recipes and cookbooks dreaming of getting my hands on some of those hard to pronounce and hard to find ingredients and recreating the elaborately pictured dishes. I watch destination shows and dream of accompanying the presenters on their late night street food jaunts  - experiencing the smells and tastes of food I would not ordinarily have. Ah - I continue to dream.
I am also a very busy woman and making dishes that can be stretched and used in multiple ways is a must.
I stumbled on a recipe for these Ken Hom meatballs online and after several attempts, I have tweaked the recipe to make these perfect for my household. These aromatic and very tasty Thai style meatballs satisfy the Asian flavors box and are wonderful served as finger foods for company with cold drinks - and any leftovers can be put in a pasta sauce of your choice and voila- pasta and meatballs with a kick.
I prefer to make meatballs pretty small so I get more mileage - eating 4 cute meatballs vs 1 super large one (and then you end up eating 3 super large ones but you wouldn't eat 12 little meatballs) - perhaps that logic is just for me.....Anyway, make the meatballs any size that you would like.
This recipe will make about 24 mini meatballs.
You will need:
  • 150g minced pork
  • 150g minced beef (the use of 2 kinds of mince makes for moist and juicy meatballs. Chicken and beef mince can also work)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons ice cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or dried coriander
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • Plain flour for dusting
  • Flavorless oil such as Canola for frying - you can also bake these meatballs until cooked through and golden brown
Combine pork and beef mince in a bowl
Add all the ingredients except the flour and oil to the meat mixture. From the picture below, you can see that I got some yolk in my egg whites. Hey, I am human :-)

Mix everything well. I prefer to use my hands. Go on. Get in there. If you are squeamish, get some food safety gloves and put your back into it.
Once mixed, form the meat balls. The mix will be quite moist but forming the balls should not be an issue. They don't have to be super round and even. Just nicely shaped.

Lightly dust the meatballs with the plain flour and fry/bake till cooked through and golden brown

I usually serve my meatballs when guests come over with a dipping sauce - can be a tomato based sauce, or spicy ata dindin. I threw the leftover fresh coriander, some mint, onions, green chilis, salt and some water in a blender one time and this has become my go-to dipping sauce for these meatballs.


Sunday 27 July 2014

Shirley Temple Punch

Happy holidays to my Muslim brothers and sisters.
I know this is not the big feast but quite a few friends will be celebrating and hosting little events all the same. This Shirley Temple punch is a great addition to any event. Its a crowd pleaser. Adults and kids love it, you can add some vodka or dark rum to satisfy any guests that want a little bit of a kick and you can multiply quantities and make huge jugs of this and store in the fridge to be served chilled or over ice. Plus its a delicious change from the same old juice and soda offerings and it is so easy to put together.
To make a jug that will serve 4 short glasses, you will need:
  • 2 cups of ginger ale
  • 2 cups of orange juice
  • 2 cups of orange soda
  • 1 cup grenadine
  • Maraschino cherries for garnish - optional


Combine all the ingredients in a jug. Stir well and that's it. I love easy recipes that look and taste good. I  suggest making a few jugs of this because 1 glass usually is not enough per person.


Thursday 24 July 2014

Making Egusi soup a little more interesting.....

I come from an inter-tribal family. My daddy is Igbo from Abia state and my mom is Yoruba from Ondo state. What this means is that I have been exposed to different cuisines and variations of common dishes all my life.
Egusi soup is common to both tribes and there are several variations of this soup even in each tribe. Got that? LOL.
Anyway, this variation of Egusi soup will fall within the Igbo tribe because of the choice of vegetables used but regardless of where you are from, this is Nigerian comfort food that demands a nap afterwards.
As with most dishes, feel free to adjust ingredient quantities to taste and of course depending on how much you are cooking. This pot can feed 4 comfortably.
In a pot, add 200g of stock fish. We don't really like stock fish so I use these pieces. Stock fish imparts an amazing flavor and texture to anything you add it to.
Cover stock fish with water and add some salt to taste. Add enough water to be the liquid part of your soup. This is the beginning of building the flavor of your soup. You need to start boiling the stock fish well ahead of time since it takes quite a while to soften. An advantage of using pieces like this is it takes less time than the steaks.


 After boiling for 30 minutes,  add the protein of your choice (If using fresh fish, that has to be added at the very end of the cooking process). I used  300 goat meat. Add the goat meat and season very well. Bland stock is bland soup. I added 1 chopped red onion, 2 stock cubes, some Cameroonian powder, a little garlic (which helps the softening process of the goat meat) and a little more salt.

Boil until tender. Taste the broth and adjust seasoning if you need to. Add palm-oil. I advocate measuring palm oil. In as much as it is part of our local repertoire, its cholesterol heavy and really should be eaten sparingly. I used half a cooking spoon of palm oil.

Add ground crayfish, cleaned, deboned dried fish, locust beans and ground egusi and cook for about 10 minutes. I don't mind using locust beans that are whole but feel free to use any version you prefer. 

This is where it gets interesting. The vegetables I used in this version of Egusi soup were Uziza and Bitter-leaf. Yes indeed. Both vegetables have unique but delicious fragrant and taste profiles that add something special to the soup.

Add the washed and drained vegetables to the soup once you are happy with the thickness of the soup. Once the vegetables are added, cooking time is done.

Add vegetables. Stir well and turn the heat off immediately. Let the steam cook the vegetables just enough to ensure they are not raw but still álive'' and with a bit of crunch.

Serve with any starch of your choice. I also love plantain and egusi soup.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

The Infamous Pork Belly...

Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with all kinds of cooking shows: reality cooking shows like Come Dine with Me and competition shows like MasterChef and Chopped to food documentaries and travelogues like Bizarre Foods America. I love them all. In fact, on my bucket list, I would love to host, be a judge and compete on a number of proper food shows.

Anyway, all this preamble is related to this post. I promise.

Ever since I started watching these shows, I have come across variations of crispy succulent pork belly. The quest to achieve that super crispy skin with the juicy layer of meat under the skin has rued many a contestant. I have watched competitors get eliminated for serving less than crispy skin and have seen renowned food critics and Michelin star chefs come to tears and wax lyrical when they are served the 'perfect' pork belly.

I have never had it anywhere but I have been curious. I mean the way pork belly is described, it appears to be food for the gods. So imagine my delight when I went grocery shopping and found a decent piece of pork belly - about 200g for N320. I am sure its been sold in the stores for ages and I never paid attention but this time I had a light bulb moment. I would attempt this much talked about dish.

I remember that it has been said on almost all the shows, that the key to achieving success with pork belly, is time in the oven and simple seasoning. I used a sharp knife and made slits in criss cross lines across the skin and used salt and black pepper generously all over the piece of meat and placed in an oven dish skin side down into a pretty hot oven - about Gas Mark 4 and left it to do its thing for the first 20 minutes.

When I went back to check on it, it was already crisping up. I turned it over for another 20 minutes and then flipped it back skin side down for the last 20 minutes. When it was done, I let it rest for 5 minutes before using a very sharp knife to cut it into pieces.

So verdict: Its crispy that's for sure. The mix of crispy crunchy skin with the melt in your mouth meat is interesting but I found it way too fatty and while it can be addictive, I felt my heart's arteries clogging up. I am disappointed since I simply cannot see the appeal. Now and again sure, but I would not serve this at a dinner party or in a competition for money.

So there - Off my long list of recipes to try. I have an idea I would love to try with pork belly though - stuffed and rolled and sliced - like a roulade. One day.

So crispy crunchy pork belly - its been real.....

Monday 14 July 2014


What a nightmare 2 weeks it has been. Studying and exams have whooped my behind and 2 laptops crashed. Goodness!!

All is slowly returning to normal so blogging continues....yaaayyyy