Condiments and sauces

Green chilli paste

After eating a very delicious garlic chilli chicken curry out on Friday night, last night I made my own version for the first time.

Starting with making a green chilli paste ... I don’t have a small blender so thought I’d try using my spice/coffee grinder and it worked perfectly.

You’ll need:

20 or so thin green chillies

a good glug of olive oil

salt

the juice of half a lemon

Take the stalks off the chillies and blend/grind, then add olive oil, a good ground or two of salt and the juice of half a lemon and grind/blend again.

This will keep for a week or so in a jar in the fridge.

Rachel Redlaw green chilli paste
Rachel Redlaw green chilli paste

I’ll be adding recipes to use the green chilli paste in as I make them!

I did make a garlic chilli chicken curry last night but have a couple of ideas I want to try out with it before sharing the recipe.



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VIETNAMESE (STYLE) DIPPING SAUCE / NUOC CHAM

A kind of nuoc cham - the Vietnamese dipping sauce .... (aside - and I REALLY must visit Vietnam one day soon!).

I like to make just a little fresh but you could make more and keep it in an airtight jar in the fridge for a week or so.

For this amount - which is going to be perfect for lunch - I used:

1 juicy lime
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 birds eye chilli, finely chopped (I’d wanted red but only had green so green it is)
1 small cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Sri Racha sauce

Combine and stir to dissolve the sugar and then taste taste taste to see if it needs more lime or more fish sauce or a little more sugar.

Rachel Redlaw Nuoc Cham Vietnamese style dipping sauce
Rachel Redlaw Nuoc Cham Vietnamese style dipping sauce

Trust your own palate and what tastes good to you - this is lovely and tangy and hot and sour and a little sweet too.



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Creamy yogurt lemon mustard dressing

OK, World-Cup-obsessed means simple dinners - tonight shop bought fishcakes (they sound delicious too - cod and chorizo).

I was thinking I’d just squeeze lemon juice over the salad but suddenly decided to experiment to make a creamy yogurt lemon mustard dressing.

This was enough for two:

Half a big juicy lemon
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2tsp salt (I have this lovely lemon thyme Cornish sea salt but normal salt is fine!)
1 tablespoon vinegar - white wine vinegar would be ideal but I only had white malt vinegar so used that
1 tablespoon light olive oil (virgin olive oil would have too strong a flavour for me)
A good grind of black pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons plain yogurt - just natural or Greek would be lovely
1/2 or a tiny clove of garlic, minced


Then just stir or whisk it all together - taste and adjust as needed!

Rachel Redlaw creamy yogurt lemon mustard salad dressing

Does it need a little more lemon? Yogurt? Seasoning?

Up to you!

I'll be making this again .... I think it would also be lovely over some simple grilled fish.



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Salmon with a very good hot, sweet, sour sauce

Salmon's not my favourite fish, I have to say; I often find it too bland.  But is is good for us, being an oily fish, and  I'm experimenting beyond my staples of white fish and - more often - seafood.

And this is a fantastic dinner - full of flavour and goodness, easy to make and, importantly, quick. 

All you need to serve two is a couple of skinless, boneless, salmon fillets, whatever you want to serve with it in way of rice or noodles and vegetables, plus the ingredients for the sauce.

If you have any sauce left over, it'll keep in the fridge in a jar for at least a week so you might like to double the quantities and eat this again soon.

Make this simple sauce by combining: 

1 clove of garlic, chopped finely

1 birds eye red chilli, chopped very finely

a small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1.5 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon lime juice (probably half a good juicy lime)

1 tablespoon water

Just stir it all together to dissolve the sugar, then set aside.

And cook your rice, if you're having it, so that it's ready to go as the fish cooks quickly.

I'm making some vegetables cooked on the griddle - strips of courgette, some broccoli and asparagus. I just drizzled these with a very little oil and a tiny amount of toasted sesame oil and cooked on a hot griddle for three minutes each side. I also added a grind of salt and a big squeeze of fresh lime juice while they were cooking.

This means that the griddle pan is really hot when I came to cook the fish and I cooked the salmon for four minutes one side and two the other.  I love watching the fish change colour as it cooks through!

Timings will vary a big depending on the size of the salmon pieces, your frying pan or griddle and how you like your salmon cooked!

I sometimes like it a bit more pink in the middle than I made it today and to get it like that I use a non-stick frying pan with a few sprays of oil and cook it four minutes one side then turn and cook a minute more on the other ... but today I felt like having it cooked through and also wanted those lovely charred lines from cooking on the griddle.

Serve with your rice and / or vegetables and just spoon the lovely sauce over it all.

Rachel Redlaw salmon with a good hot sweet sour sauce
Rachel Redlaw salmon with a good hot sweet sour sauce
IMG_7671.JPGRachel Redlaw salmon with a good hot sweet sour sauce


LIKE THIS? YOU MIGHT WANT TO TRY THESE ...

Homemade tortilla wraps (+ pork / guacamole filling)

I rarely eat bread so when I do it’s got to be good!

Today I needed some flat bread, wraps, tortilla-type things for something I wanted to make.

But the ones in the shop all looked kind of insipid - plus I checked the ingredients list and it had an awful lot of things listed for something so simple.

I only want to eat real food - made from things that I actually know what they are!

And since I only needed two tortillas - it was going to be a waste buying a pack and I couldn’t face buying that plastic wrapper waste either.

I think it was a moment of laziness - that I couldn’t bothered to make them.

But looking at those added ingredients, and thinking of both the food and plastic waste ... of course I can make them!

It's not like I haven't made THESE before.

To make four, you just need:

100g plain flour

a pinch of salt

60g water

Mix the ingredients in a bowl or - as I did - in the jug I used to measure the water, and knead a little to really combine.

Leave while you make whatever it is you’re making to put in them.

Divide the dough into four and roll into balls.

Rachel Redlaw homemade tortilla wraps
dough balls.JPG
Rachel Redlaw homemade tortilla wraps

Put some more flour on the surface and use a rolling pin to make each ball into a tortilla shaped thing.

Non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and when hot add the tortilla - it’ll blister and cook in about a minute then turn and same again the other side.

Rachel Redlaw homemade tortilla wraps
Rachel Redlaw homemade tortilla wraps

And that’s it!

Super simple, real food, no waste ... 

Oh and my filling today? 

I diced some pork belly strips and fried (no added oil) in a non-stick pan with 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, salt and pepper, a minced clove of garlic and a splash of light soy sauce - and another of water.

Rachel Redlaw homemade tortilla wraps
Rachel Redlaw homemade tortilla wraps

I made my favourite guacamole (my friend Ruth's recipe), sliced up some lettuce, and stirred a teaspoon of chilli paste - nam prik pao - but you could use any chilli sauce - into some plain yogurt.

Heaped it all up, rolled it up, dug in ... :) 

Rachel Redlaw homemade tortilla wraps
Rachel Redlaw homemade tortilla wraps


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Thai crispy fried garlic

Well, pretty much most Thai recipes call for garlic ... most start by saying, 'fry the garlic until it smells good ...'

And this yummy crispy fried garlic is used as a topping, added often to noodle soups or perhaps some fried rice, or onto steamed vegetables, but honestly, it's good on so many things! 

Add to eggs, to pizza, to pasta ... anything that could do with a bit of nutty, crunchy, garlicky goodness.

A jar will last several days, maybe a week (I'll double check this with my own and come back and be less vague) at room temperature - if you put it in the fridge, the oil's going to solidify.

It's so easy too - to make a jar you'll need just a cup of cooking oil (something without a flavour of it's own so don't use olive oil, use rapeseed, grapeseed or sunflower) and a bulb of garlic.

I like to use this big flat knife as it makes it so easy to cut the ends off the garlic bulb and then flatten the cloves, which releases the skins, and then just chop into small pieces.

Rachel Redlaw Thai crispy fried garlic
Rachel Redlaw Thai fried crispy garlic
Rachel Redlaw Thai fried crispy garlic

If you have Thai garlic (my local Thai supermarket sells it) you'll notice the cloves are much smaller than our usual garlic and the papery skins much lighter - so you could just throw the skins in too as they'll crisp up and look lovely and are fine to eat (and easy to pick out if you don't want to).

Anyway, back to our crispy fried garlic.

Put the pan on over a low heat and add the oil. Unlike when we usually stir fry and heat the oil first, for this recipe put the garlic straight in.

If you heat the oil first the garlic is going to burn.

Keep stirring the garlic in the oil over a low heat and after about a minute you'll see the oil begin to sizzle.

Keep stirring!

Don't leave this unattended because well, A ... boiling oil can be dangerous and B ... the garlic will still burn easily.

You need to catch it the moment it turns a nutty brown - probably after about four minutes or four and a half minutes - so just keep an eye on it.

Rachel Redlaw Thai fried crispy garlic
Rachel Redlaw Thai fried crispy garlic
Rachel Redlaw Thai fried crispy garlic

Immediately remove from heat as it'll continue cooking in the hot oil even as it cools.

And when cooled a little pour into a jar (you may need to pour into a jug first), seal and then it's ready to keep and use.

Having made some this morning, I'm adding crispy fried garlic to add some pizzazz to my simple chicken and noodle lunch.

YUMMMMMMMMM.

Rachel Redlaw Thai fried crispy garlic
Rachel Redlaw Thai fried crispy garlic
Rachel Redlaw Thai fried crispy garlic


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Spicy mango chutney

What better way to feel at one with this season than by using all the abundance of fruit and vegetables and pickling, preserving, making jam, my favourite brown (plum) sauce, or chutneys.

OK, so these mangoes weren't exactly grown locally, but I use and love mango chutney more than any other - so that's what I'm making.

And the apples at least were straight from my parents' orchard, so I'm not entirely missing the point of seasonal eating!

This recipe is very much based on that of one of my very favourite food writers, Diana Henry, and taken from her wonderful book, Salt Sugar Smoke .... I just simplified (to me) the quantities as I don't like weighing things and changed the spices a bit - just due to personal preference!

So, to make approximately 3 jars of delicious and easy spicy mango chutney, I used:

2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped

400ml white malt vinegar

2 red birds eye chillies, very finely chopped - I keep the seeds in (you can use more or less chillies of course to suit your taste)

1 green chilli, very finely chopped

2 tsp black mustard seeds

3 mangoes (around 1lb each), peeled and the flesh diced (I can't stone mangoes so just slice around the stone and then cut the pieces of mango into smaller pieces)

2 smallish (or 1 large) apple, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces (a tart cooking apple would be good, but I used eating apples)

1 lb granulated sugar

Fresh ginger, grated, approx 2 teaspoons

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

grated zest and juice of 1 juicy lime (or 2 less juicy of course)

Rachel Redlaw mango chutney
Rachel Redlaw mango chutney
Rachel Redlaw mango chutney

Into a large pan go the onions, vinegar and chillies - bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes, when the onions will have started to soften.

Toast the mustard seeds - just put them into a dry frying pan and as soon as they start to pop remove them from the heat.

Add the mangoes, apples and mustard seeds to the pan and simmer for another 10 minutes when the fruit will have started to soften.

Rachel Redlaw mango chutney
Rachel Redlaw mango chutney
Rachel Redlaw mango chutney

Tip in the ginger, coriander, cumim and lime zest and then slowly bring it all to the boil, stirring to help the sugar dissolve.

Reduce the heat if need be to a simmer and cook until it's yummy and thick and jammy.  

It'll take 30-45 minutes and do keep stirring regularly as it'll stick to the bottom if not!

Rachel Redlaw mango chutney
Rachel Redlaw mango chutney

When it's done, squeeze in the lime juice, stir and remove from heat.

While it's still hot put the chutney into warm, dry, sterilised jars, cover with waxed paper discs (confession - I don't have any so I don't do this - also it never hangs around long enough in this house!) and seal with a lid.

It'll keep for AGES too - up to a year - but, as I  said - not in this house it doesn't! 

We tried it immediately for dinner the same night as it was made - with chicken jalfrezi and some carrot salad in place of rice (shredded carrot with a big squeeze of fresh lemon and topped with toasted flaked almonds).

And you can also use it in this recipe for sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry.

Rachel Redlaw mango chutney
Rachel Redlaw mango chutney


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Plum sauce (it's home-made brown sauce)

Ah, now I KNOW it's autumn.

Every year we make plum sauce in my family.

The vinegar smell permeates throughout the house.

The bottles stashed away in larders and cupboards for the year ahead. 

The best 'brown' sauce you can get (in my opinion).

The plums are in season right now, and if you have plum trees, you'll probably have a glut of them you're not sure what to do with ... here's the answer! 

This is an old family recipe. The measurements are imperial ... one day I'll get round to doing a conversion and add it here but in the meantime you'll have to do your own I'm afraid!

But DO make it - like most pickles and chutneys it's time you need, not cooking ability (you just need chopping ability) ... oh and a blender or food processor (or willingness to stand over a sieve for a while).

Let's do it!

I LOVE this sauce and in all honesty, I haven't met someone yet who doesn't like it.

You'll need:

6lb plums

3 pints malt vinegar (yup the cheap brown stuff)

2 lbs dark brown sugar

2 tsp ground cloves

2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp mace (I didn't have any so used ground nutmeg)

6 tsp salt

2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp ground ginger

6 nice fat cloves of garlic (peeled and squashed - no need to chop)

Halve (or quarter or whatever it takes to remove the stones) and de-stone the plums - and get all the ingredients ready.

Rachel Redlaw plum sauce
Rachel Redlaw plum sauce
Rachel Redlaw plum sauce

Put into an enormous saucepan or preserving pan with all the rest of the ingredients.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 - 2.5 hours (check it after 2 hours - I tend to stop at 2.25).

Rachel Redlaw plum sauce
Rachel Redlaw plum sauce
Rachel Redlaw plum sauce

It will reduce a lot - keep stirring it so it doesn't stick.

Rachel Redlaw plum sauce
Rachel Redlaw plum sauce
Rachel Redlaw plum sauce

Cool a little and then liquidise in a blender, food processor or with a sieve.

When cool put into a jug to pour into jars or bottles.

Rachel Redlaw plum sauce
Rachel Redlaw plum sauce

It keeps for AGES ... just in the larder or in a cupboard (just keep it in the dark not in direct sunlight).

I'm excited to share this one - it's been one we've kept in the family for years and years but it feels right to share so I hope you make it and love it too.

And even pass it down through your own family ...



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Delicious, different & easy NYE cocktail party ideas

I have SO many recipes and ideas for things that are easy and delicious to make for a party that I thought it would be useful to do a quick round-up now just ahead of New Year's Eve.

These are not only easy and delicious but will be something a little bit different to normal canape fare - and I also believe that by this stage in festive proceedings, most people are more than ready for some fresh flavours and spice after a few days of rich - but bland - food.

Here's two of my favourite cocktail recipes: 

Lemon prosecco punch and lemon vodka sours (yes I like lemon and citrus flavours!).

And my very favourite snack to have ready and warm when guests arrive is spicy cashew nuts.

Raachel Redlaw spicy cashew nuts

Really easy to prepare ahead - chop and slice everything and then just fry before serving warm - is this larb gai.  It's a spicy warm salad and if you serve small portions in little gem lettuce leaf 'cups' it's a fresh and different canape.

A really nice veggie version are these mango, chilli and lime cups.  Just make sure to only prepare an hour before serving so they don't go mushy! 

Rachel Redlaw larb gai spicy salad
Rachel Redlaw mango salad

These pork and prawn balls are a guaranteed winner! Serve just two on a cocktail stick and with a dipping sauce - honestly, everyone loves them! 

Rachel Redlaw pork and prawn balls
Rachel Redlaw cucumber dipping sauce

No Name are delicious vegetable fritters - make ahead of time and then just fry before serving with a sweet chilli sauce

 
Rachel Redlaw No Name vegetable fritters
 

And I love chicken or pork stir fried with garlic and served (again) on little lettuce leaves.  Really tasty and different! 

Rachel Redlaw pad gratiem

Oops! Can't believe I nearly forgot these pork and prawn sesame toasts! Classic - and easy to prepare ahead and then fry just before serving with a little soy sauce for dipping.

Another winner! 

Rachel Redlaw pork and prawn sesame toasts

And to end ... how about these little balls of deliciousness, pimped up however takes your fancy?!

Rachel Redlaw bits of deliciousness

But the main thing is to host a party with love and spirit - so I'm sure your guests (and you) will have a great time no matter if you just put out bowls of crisps!

If you do try any of my recipes, I'd love to hear if you and your guests liked them so please comment below or come over and chat at my FB page.



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Simplest jam

Saturday was hot, beautifully sun-bathingly hot.

And I really needed a good blast of Vit D and to take in some sun-goodness and re-charge those empty batteries so I loved it.

But the forecast was for rain on Sunday so I thought I'd better get blackberry-picking before the rain got to them.  And they are pretty much perfect right now and the bushes are full of berries although - as always (why is this?) - it feels that the most perfect ones are just out of reach.  

Returned home with scratched legs, sunburnt shoulders and a tub of lovely ripe blackberries. 

Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam
Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam
Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam

It was much too hot to even think about cooking yesterday - plus the sunshine and my roof were calling me back - so the blackberries oozed in the weighing scales overnight waiting for the rainy hours on Sunday before they were made into jam.

And this is the easiest jam recipe ever!

Use any fruit really - peaches, nectarines, plums, all berries, apples, and combinations of them all. I've heard that less ripe fruit sets better but to be honest I just use what there is when I notice there's fruit that needs picking.

First, put a saucer in the fridge as you want it cold for testing when the jam is set.

You'll also need to get your jam jars sterilised - either use them hot straight from the dishwasher for those who have dishwashers, or if you don't (like me), wash them in hot water and put in a very very low oven (I used Gas Mark 1) for about 15 minutes.

Then it's onto the jam making. 

Weigh the fruit and put it in a preserving pan or stainless steel saucepan with an equal quantity of sugar.  

Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam
Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam

I decided to add a couple of apples that I brought back from my dad's garden last weekend, but didn't then add any more sugar too - there's quite enough in there already I think!

Put the pan over a very low heat and heat gently, stirring now and then, until the sugar has dissolved. 

Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam
Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam

Turn up the heat and boil fairy rapidly, for 20-30 minutes.

Stir occasionally and also skim off some of the foam that appears at the start of the boiling time.

Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam
Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam

Test after 20 minutes by dropping a teaspoon of the boiling jam onto the saucer that you have in the fridge and after perhaps 30 seconds it will be setting and a sort of 'skin' wrinkle across the top of the jam blob. 

If it's not quite ready, put the saucer back in the fridge, continue boiling the jam and try again in a couple of minutes.

Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam
Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam

To be honest, I'm not all that good at judging this and often leave it just a little too long and it sets quite hard.  But it still tastes good.  This time I decided it was ready after 25 minutes. 

If you have any tips for getting this part right every time, I'd love to hear them so please comment and share! 

Pour the jam into the hot jars straight away - I transferred it to a pyrex measuring jug first but still managed to spill a little. 

 
Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam
 

One and three quarter jars filled, and a few hours later when it was cool, a slice of toast and jam to test of course (with a cup of tea - and I very very very rarely drink tea - it was nice). 

Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam
Rachel Walder simplest blackberry and apple jam


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Cucumber dipping sauce

A really lovely sweet-spicy dipping sauce, perfect for serving with Thai fishcakes or these fried prawn balls, or anything else you like!

Easy too; all you need to make a bowl is:

one red chilli (a normal milder one not a bird eye chilli)

white granulated sugar

white or rice vinegar

salt

cucumber

coriander leaves (optional)

crushed peanuts to garnish (optional - I didn't have any today but they are good)

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder cucumber dipping sauce

So ... chop the chilli finely.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder cucumber dipping sauce

Then put 3/4 cup of sugar into a saucepan ...

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder cucumber dipping sauce

... along with 1/2 cup white or rice vinegar ... and the chopped chillies plus a tiny pinch of salt.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder cucumber dipping sauce

Bring very slowly to the boil - it'll take a good five minutes - and then boil on a medium boil for three - four minutes.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder cucumber dipping sauce

Take off the heat and cool.  You can now keep this in the fridge for a week or so until using if you're not eating it right away.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder cucumber dipping sauce

If you ARE using now then, while the sauce cools, peel a chunk of cucumber, remove the seeds with a teaspoon and dice the flesh.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder cucumber dipping sauce

And also prepare a small handful of coriander leaves to garnish.  If you have peanuts then do crush a few as they're great to add as well.

When you're ready to serve, pour the sauce into a bowl and top with the cucumber, peanuts (if using) and coriander leaves (if using).

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder cucumber dipping sauce

It's so good a guest at a recent Tiniest Thai supperclub was eating it straight from a spoon!



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Thai salted eggs - kai kaem

Exciting! I made these last year - something that I'd never made before and not sure I'd ever eaten before - and it took 30 days' patience until they were ready to try.

Salted eggs. Originally brined as a preserving method, they have a salty white and a rich yolk and are boiled before being used in recipes or cooked to have with rice or congee.  You can just cook them with the rice for the last few minutes in the saucepan or in a rice cooker - sounds like the simplest meal ever to me and I can't wait to try it.

I have to say there wasn't anything immediately appealing to me about 'salted eggs' until I applied a little logic - which is that I love eggs and I always always put salt on them.  But the main reason I'm making these is because there are so many delicious sounding recipes that call for them.

My friend Kevin, who is fluent in Thai (both spoken and written) recently volunteered (and I bet he'll soon wish he hadn't) to translate some recipes for me from a Thai cookbook.  He sent me the translated  list of contents to choose something from.

I was going to start with the Fish Stomach recipe (still intend to give this a go at some point) but decided on 'squid fried with salted egg on rice', not realising that the salted egg was an ingredient in itself.  However instead of setting off for the Thai supermarket to get some I thought I'd investigate making salted eggs at home.

Once made, I'll be cooking the fried squid dish as well as trying cooking my salted eggs in the rice cooker, and I want to make a spicy sour salad with them too.

You'll need:

1-2 cups of water depending on the size of your jar

1/4 cup of salt

a piece of star anise

3-6 duck eggs preferably as the yolks are bigger and richer or chicken eggs like me (too impatient to wait to get to a bigger shop for duck eggs I bought chicken eggs from the corner shop this evening)

a jar in which the eggs should fit quite snugly

 

Put the water, salt and star anise in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

When boiling stir until the salt has fully dissolved and then immediately remove from the heat and cool completely.

 

Rinse the eggs and pat dry with a tea towel ...

 

... and check for cracks (don't use cracked ones) before putting them carefully into the jar.

 

Pour the cold brine over the eggs. They all need to be submerged in the liquid so if any float above the surface a good trick is to put some water in a sandwich or freezer bag and lay this on top to push the eggs under the brine. I actually didn't have quite enough water so just topped up the last inch with tap water (hope this works ok).

Put a lid on the jar and store at room temperature.

Leave for 30 days, then remove and keep in the fridge until using. 



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2 great condiments to liven up vegetables ...

... and the best 'Zen lunch' guaranteed to do the same for me.

A lovely toasty sesame salt to sprinkle over plain rice, green vegetables, roast chicken and more. And a really good easy soy and sesame sauce that is great on plain steamed veg.

First, the sesame salt, which will keep for a week or two in an airtight container.

All you need is:

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder condiments for veg

Heat a frying pan over a medium-low heat, add the sesame seeds and salt and toast until golden brown, stirring or shaking the pan constantly. It will take maybe five minutes.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder condiments for veg

If you've got more time, the flavour will be even better drawn out more slowly, toasted over a very low heat for perhaps 10-15 minutes.

Once toasted, crush in a mortar or grind in a spice mill and transfer to a jar.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder condiments for veg

The lovely soy and sesame sauce is even easier and you need just these few store cupboard ingredients:

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (if you only have light soy then stir in a teaspoon of brown sugar to dissolve before using)

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

4 teaspoons white or rice vinegar

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder condiments for veg

Mix it all together in a bowl. Any left over will keep covered in the fridge for a few days.

And then - for me today - it all comes together in one restorative, soothing 'Zen lunch' of steamed rice and broccoli with the sauce spooned over and topped with some sesame salt.

All is well.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder condiments for veg


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Chilli paste in oil - nam prik pao

So good and so versatile - if you like Thai cooking you've probably got a jar of nam prik pao somewhere already.  It's both a cooking ingredient and a condiment. It's used in soups including tom yum, and you can add a small spoonful into all sorts of soups, stir fries and curries or stir it into a fried rice or noodle dish. Once you start using it, you'll be adding this to everything ... shepherd's pie, cheese on toast, who knows?

I have just had a quick snack of some plain rice with a teaspoon of chilli paste stirred through it and that on its own tasted great. For a very quick lunch or supper it works even better with a fried egg on top.

Or instead of plain rice, a quick mushroom fried rice with chilli paste and an egg! Yum!

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder chilli paste in oil

This isn't a true nam prik pao which is made from roasted chillies and takes hours and hours to make; its a much simpler chilli paste in oil.  It doesn't have the subtlety and depth of flavour of a true roasted version, but it's easy to make and certainly easy to use.

These quantities made half a small jar ... but a little goes a long way! In a covered jar it will keep  in the fridge for a few months.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder chilli paste in oil

3-4 tbsp vegetable cooking oil

3-4 cloves garlic depending on size, chopped

2 shallots or 1/4 white onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp crushed dried red chillies

1 tbsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder

3 tbsp fish sauce (or 2 of fish sauce and one teaspoon of shrimp paste)

3 tbsp light brown sugar

juice of one lime

2 tbsp water

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and then fry the onions and garlic until light brown and on the edge of going crispy. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan into a separate dish and turn the heat off but leave the oil in the pan.

Mix all the other ingredients together in a pestle and mortar.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder chilli paste in oil

Then add the onions and garlic, pounding together (but gently) to break down the garlic and onion as much as possible. It won't combine perfectly and you will still have separate bits of onions, but it combines the flavours.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder chilli paste in oil

Put the frying pan back on a low heat and then add the chilli mixture. Simmer for 3-4 minutes and then taste - add more water if it is too thin, more oil if you want it more oily and taste it too for flavour.  I added another tablespoon of sugar and half a tablespoon of fish sauce at this stage. (My next jar, made since this post, I added just a splash of water and half a tablespoon of fish sauce - you really need to taste, taste and taste again!).

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder chilli paste in oil

Simmer for a further 3-4 minutes until the paste is caramelised, dark and glossy-looking.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder chilli paste in oil

Cool enough to pour into a jar then cool completely before sealing and storing in the fridge.

Rachel Redlaw chilli paste in oil nam prik pao

Did you make this? And what did you then make with it? Let me know ...



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Sweet hot Thai chilli sauce

I'm off to see a friend's new flat this afternoon and want to take a little housewarming present.

This quick and easy sweet chilli sauce will be perfect - I think almost everyone likes it and it's good to have a jar in the fridge to liven up grilled fish or chicken, or to serve with spring rolls, or have with poached eggs - or just about anything, to be honest!

There's plenty of time to make a quick batch which can then cool down while I get ready to go out ...

A note about measurements.  Where I've used a tablespoon, it is a measured 15ml tablespoon.  It can be easy to put in too much cornflour mixture so err on the side of caution and add a little more water if it looks very cloudy when you tip it into the pan and doesn't disperse when stirred in.  The cup I used holds 300ml water, but I judged the fractionals by eye so the liquid volumes weren't precisely measured.

To make a couple of jars or, like me, one bottle as a gift and a bowl for your own fridge, you'll need:

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder sweet chilli sauce

1 teaspoon salt, ideally coarse

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2-1 tablespoon dried crushed chillies (a full tablespoon is quite spicy)

3/4 cup distilled white vinegar (or rice vinegar)

1 and 1/4 cups white sugar

a splash of water (probably 1-2 tablespoons)

1 scant tablespoon cornflour dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

First, crush together the salt, garlic and chilli flakes, then add to a medium sized pan with the vinegar, sugar and water.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder sweet chilli sauce

Bring to a boil and boil steadily for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder sweet chilli sauce

Reduce the heat and stir in the cornflour mixture, then cook for a further three-four minutes.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder sweet chilli sauce

Remove from the heat and pour into a heat proof bowl.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder sweet chilli sauce

You can just cover this tightly when it's cool and keep in the fridge or, after a few minutes when it's cooled slightly, transfer to your chosen bottles, jars or dishes.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder sweet chilli sauce

It will keep for about two weeks stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Hope you like this recipe - let me know what you think.

NOTE: last time I made this it went really thick, and I've no idea why! However, I put the bottle to stand in some hot water for a few minutes and it then became thinner and pourable again. 



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