Nice rice: Indonesian nasi goreng

We have had quite different experiences with nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) throughout our lives. Miranda thinks she first learnt about it thanks to a TV ad for Telstra Bigpond broadband (back in the days when broadband still had to be marketed), the punchline of which centred around the famous dish. We won’t spoil it for you – see for yourself:

Ash, on the other hand, mostly just remembers being excited about eating it. Continue reading

Singing for our supper: Hainanese chicken rice

We stayed in Singapore for three nights on our way to Australia last year, and firmly at the top of our agenda was food – as it always is on our travels. One highlight of the trip was definitely our Singapore Slings and afternoon tea (with legendary bread and butter pudding) at Raffles, but aside from that, our culinary explorations consisted of considerably more local food at the many hawker centres (food courts).

Raffles bread and butter pudding

Raffles Singapore Sling

We arrived in Singapore late in the afternoon after a 14 hour flight. Our first stop was the hotel pool (and poolside bar) for a swim and a mojito. After that, we set off into the humid Singaporean urban jungle to track down a hawker centre for some Hainanese chicken rice.

Hainanese chicken rice in Singapore Continue reading

Mmm… Malaysian: Nasi lemak and beef rendang

Something that was revealed early in our relationship was Ash’s intolerance of all things coconut. Long bartending shifts surrounded by the sickly scent of Malibu combined with his phobia of the texture of desiccated coconut apparently developed into an irrevocable hatred of the tropical treat and everything it stands for. This was devastating news for Miranda, for whom coconut is a favourite flavour: a throwback to an adolescence full of coconut oil and lamingtons and, indeed, student days catered by Malibu. But, ever the compromiser, she agreed to forego her coconut-scented shampoo and moisturiser, and stopped dreaming of piña coladas. Life went on without incident and mostly without complaint.

Then came this weekend, when we hit Malaysia on our cooking challenge and found that not only is nasi lemak (coconut rice) the national dish, but that (according to Nyonya Cooking) it works very nicely next to a beef rendang – a coconutty curry. Miranda was thrilled; Ash was apprehensive but vowed to be big and brave, and thus our Malaysian meal was born. Continue reading

Tongue-Thai’d: ‘Perfect’ Pad Thai

When asked their favourite cuisine, many people choose Thai (with its rich, very spicy coconut curries, and stir fries with the fresh flavours of chilli, lemongrass, lime and coriander), as they reminisce about street food sellers serving banana pancakes with condensed milk and BBQ fish caught that morning eaten at beach front restaurants on one of the many islands.

For Ash, who spent about six weeks in Thailand, the most quintessential Thai meal is the eponymous noodle dish: Pad Thai. However, having arrived home from Thailand and tried to track down the dish (which when bought for about 50p from a street vendor – or 55p with an egg – is spicy, full flavoured and satisfying), he has generally been disappointed, as it appears that most restaurants in England serve a ‘safe’ and bland option suitable for those with more sensitive palates than those of the Thais. This led him to frequently mention that he wanted to learn how to make a really good stir fry, so (taking the hint) Miranda bought him a ‘Perfect Pad Thai’ lesson at the Angela Malik Cookery School in Acton, which is now sadly permanently closed.

At this time, we were still carrying on a long-distance relationship, with Ash living in London and Miranda in the East Midlands. It just so happened that Ash had booked in his Pad Thai lesson on a day that Miranda ended up in London for a job interview, so she decided to tag along, and we both experienced the expertise of the Angela Malik chefs. (Miranda didn’t get the job in the end – but got a better one a few weeks later, so we must still be able to consider this ‘lucky Pad Thai’!)

We’ve been saying, ‘We must make that Pad Thai again,’ for about four years now and finally dug out the recipe this weekend. We were a little bemused at first at the approximate nature of the ingredients list on the original recipe, but we made it a bit more specific (with a couple of twists of our own) as you can see below. Those who have read the ‘About’ section of this blog may remember the reference to Pad Thai seeming more authentic when eaten out of a takeaway container – hence the somewhat unconventional presentation… Continue reading

Another rainy ‘BBQ’: Cambodian beef and coleslaw

It seems like forever since we made our Vietnamese banh mi thit, and indeed it was nearly a full month ago. Our recent weeks have been filled with birthday celebrations, stag and hen dos, catching up with friends and a cupcake decorating class, to name a few events: all pretty much centred around food (as is our way), but not necessarily international food. So we were pleased to get back to the challenge and cook a Cambodian meal this weekend. Ash spent just over a week in Cambodia in 2004, visiting the temples of Angkor, the peaceful beaches of Sihanoukville, the crazy hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh and the museums that record – lest we forget – the horrors of Cambodia’s recent past. So he had a number of food experiences to bring to our dinner table.

Ash’s journey from Thailand was something of an adventure: the pre-booked luxury mini bus had broken down so 14 people with luggage climbed into the back of a pick-up truck at the border and, after a few hours of clinging on for dear life, arrived in Siam Reap. Along the roads of the cities and towns were hawkers and traders trying to sell post cards, trinkets and souvenirs, as well as fast food and snacks of many different kinds, one of which was skewers of barbecued meat.

Cambodian border Continue reading