Fish and seafood

Pasta with lemon

Super-easy, super-quick lemon sauce for pasta and fittingly for today, a sunny day in June, it is sunshine on a plate. Best with long thin pasta like tagliatelle, spaghetti or linguine - but I make it with penne sometimes too.

A good lunch or easy supper, this goes well with a quick salad and it's also easy to add prawns or grilled chicken to make it more substantial. And lemon linguine alone makes an elegant first course.

My favourite sort-of-French-dressing uses:

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons white vinegar

1 garlic clove, skinned and squashed (not chopped)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Method (if you can call it that!) - put it all in a jar and shake, and add more of any dressing ingredient as needed to balance and until you're happy.

I put the jar into the fridge after using and every day just add more vinegar and/or oil as it gets more and more garlicky ...

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

The original recipe for the pasta with lemon is from Mireille Guiliano's 'French Women Don't Get Fat' and while her recipe serves four, this has been modified and serves two.

if adding prawns, I find it easiest to throw them in with the pasta for the last minute or two to heat or cook.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

Make the sauce during the last few minutes of your pasta cooking, or when it's cooked, as it's very quick.

You'll need:

2 lemons

a good slosh of olive oil

around 100g-150g creme fraiche

approx 60g Parmesan

salt and pepper

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

Grate the zest of the lemons and halve one of them so you have it ready to squeeze into the sauce and grate the cheese.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

In a saucepan, warm the olive oil and add the zest. Cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

Add the creme fraiche and bring to the boil, then squeeze in the juice of one lemon and bring to the boil again.

The easiest way to juice a lemon is to squeeze a half over your closed hand so your fingers catch the pips.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the grated Parmesan, season to taste and cook for another minute.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

Combine with the cooked pasta and serve immediately.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder lemon pasta

Yep, sunshine on a plate and super-quick too :)



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Spicy stir-fried squid

In my mind I'm at the fishing port of Ban Phe, whiling away the time before the ferry to Koh Samet by having a a very spicy squid dish and squinting in the sun.  An afternoon on beautiful Samet can't really be beaten - silver sand, perfect sea, a cold beer and a Thai massage on the beach under the trees before the speedboat back to the mainland.  Day dreams.

In reality, it's been a really hectic day and I haven't had time to go to the shops so need a store-cupboard dinner - and I want it fast too! Frozen squid rings are a store-cupboard staple for me as they defrost quickly in a bowl of water, changed a couple of times as the ice comes off them, and are then also so quick to cook.

This easy recipe uses the nam prik pao (chilli paste in oil) recipe as well as fresh chillies, just to layer up the heat.  You could make it without the chilli paste too, just add more chopped fresh chillies. You can of course make it with less, but I like this dish fiery hot.

Don't leave out the fresh mint and coriander - they make this simple dish something much more special.

Cook your rice first so that it's ready, as the squid cooks so fast. To save both time and washing up, I just threw some chopped green beans and broccoli in with the rice for the last few minutes' cooking time rather than cooking the veg separately.

Quantities for this dish are really up to you, but to serve two I used:

cooking oil

two cloves of garlic, chopped

one large milder red chilli and two birds eye red chillies, sliced

a 300g bag of frozen squid rings, defrosted

a tablespoon of  nam prik pao chilli paste

a teaspoon of sugar

half - one tablespoon fish sauce to taste

two spring onions, sliced

a handful each of coriander and mint leaves

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder spicy stir fried squid

Chop and slice the garlic, chillies and spring onions, and tear the leaves of the herbs into small pieces so that everything's ready to go.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder spicy stir fried squid

Heat a wok or frying pan and add the cooking oil, swirling to cover and when hot add the garlic and chopped chillies and cook for about 30 seconds over a fairly high heat.

Add the squid rings and cook, stirring, for a minute then add the chilli paste and cook for a further minute.

Turn the heat down a little to medium and add the sugar, fish sauce and spring onions - and cook, still stirring, for another minute until the sugar dissolves.

Take off the heat and stir in the mint and coriander leaves, and serve immediately with rice and green vegetables.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder spicy stir fried squid

Let me know if you make this and if you liked it!

Update:

I just made this again without chilli paste but with another couple of fresh birds eye chillies and it was much hotter with just fresh chillies! My eyes are watering and I'm a chilli freak. I also used a mix of prawns and squid and yes it was hot but it was also super tasty - the mint makes it really interesting. This is a very good dinner.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder spicy stir fried squid


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Pla neung manao - steamed chilli lime fish

Now this is what I want (what I really, really want) for dinner - something like this:

chilli+lime+fish.jpg

A whole steamed fish with chillies and garlic in a lime sauce, brought steaming and simmering to the table in a fish shaped serving tray ... one of my very favourite dishes.

But ... I don't have a fish shaped dish, or even a whole fish- and I need to make dinner with what's available at my small local supermarket.

It's surprisingly easy to make a very delicious version using white fish fillets and steaming the fish in parcels of foil in the oven. And with all the warming chillies, this is as perfect for a midweek winter supper in London as eaten on the beach in Thailand!

To serve two, you'll need

2 fillets of white fish

2-4 garlic cloves

4-6 bird eye chillies (it IS a spicy dish, but obviously use chilli to your own taste)

2 tablespoons fish sauce

the juice of 1-2 limes

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tsp stock granules or 1/2 a stock cube

coriander to garnish

rice and steamed green vegetables to serve

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder pla neung manao

1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas 7 / 220 C / 425 F

2. Tear off two large pieces of foil and place a fish fillet diagonally across each.

3. Chop the garlic and chillies finely and spread over the fish.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder pla neung manao
The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder pla neung manao

4. In a small bowl, mix together the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and stock cube (don't worry if the stock cube/granules don't dissolve as they will do as it cooks).  Tuck the ends of the foil up to start creating the parcels and pour the sauce equally into each parcel around the fish.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder pla neung manao

5. Crimp the edges of the foil together, creating a parcel bigger than the fish so there's room for it to steam inside, and place on a baking tray in the pre-heated oven.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder pla neung manao

6. Cook for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.

7. Serve sprinkled with coriander and slices of lime, alongside rice and green vegetables.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder pla neung manao

Do try this! I want everyone to know how easy it is to make a simple version of pla neung manao at home.

Let me know what you think ...



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Tod mon pla - Thai fishcakes

Working on a recipe to recreate my favourite tod mon pla is an ongoing labour of love.  I make them obsessively, trying things out and changing ingredients and quantities, then stop for a while before taking up the challenge again.

Having needed a break from the last round of experimenting, I haven’t given them a go for a couple of years.  I’ve previously tried making them with egg and with coconut milk, I’ve used different fish, I’ve even made a non-fish version with pork as well as made endless variations of the cucumber and peanut sauce.

I love the little slices of green beans hidden in tod mon pla, but for a while couldn’t work out how to get them to be slightly more well cooked, still with a bite, but not crunchy.  I now blanch the sliced beans before using.  An added benefit of blanching green vegetables is that it means they stay a really bright green, which is a great trick for keeping green veg in stir fries looking fresh too.

It may well be my life’s work to refine these hot morsels of deliciousness!  Here’s where I am with them today.

Makes 8 fishcakes.

1/2 lb / about 225g white fish

1 tbspn red curry paste

1 tsp fish sauce

1 green chilli

1 tsp sugar

zest of 1/2 –  1 lime

squeeze of lime juice

handful of coriander leaves, chopped

a few green beans, sliced in very fine rounds

oil for frying

Put a pan of water on to boil for the green beans.  

Then put all the fishcake ingredients (except the beans!) into a food processor, if using, or mortar or other heavy bowl for pounding if not.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder tod mon pla Thai fishcakes

Mix or pound until smooth – but be careful if using a food processor as it will come together really quickly and you don’t want it pureed.  Turn the mixture out into a bowl.

As soon as the water comes to the boil, drop in the slices of green beans for around 20 seconds, drain and rinse in cold water to stop them cooking any further.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder tod mon pla Thai fishcakes

Add the beans to the mixture and combine.

Then just roll into eight little patties – squeezing out any juice – and flatten.  They can be cooked straight away or, as I did, popped in the fridge for half an hour or so to firm up a little more.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder tod mon pla Thai fishcakes

While they firm up, make the cucumber dipping sauce.  Quantities are up to you! The only things I think you really need for this are:

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder tod mon pla Thai fishcakes

cucumber

green chilli

carrots

rice or white wine vinegar

sugar

peanuts

Today I also used a spring onion and a piece of ginger.

Chop all the vegetables really finely (or get the food processor to earn its keep again).

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder tod mon pla Thai fishcakes

Combine approx two parts vinegar with one part sugar, but do keep tasting until you like it, perhaps adding a little more sugar, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the chopped vegetables and top with crushed roasted peanuts, either as they are, or toasted in a dry pan first.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder tod mon pla Thai fishcakes

Today, I also added a splash of soy sauce at the end.  So just experiment and see what you like.

Back to the fishcakes …

Heat a wok or frying pan and then add quite a bit of vegetable cooking oil, around 3 tablespoons, as they should be almost deep fried.

Add the fishcakes to the hot oil, cooking in batches if need be, and cook for 1.5 – 2 minutes each side.

Drain on kitchen paper and eat immediately with the cucumber dipping sauce.

 
The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder tod mon pla Thai fishcakes
 

And then please let me know what you think in the comments box below!



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Fried prawn balls

I've been cooking so much recently (which I have loved) that I’ve now got a lot to catch up with here and lots of recipes to share. Can’t wait!

Will start with these little fried prawn balls I made a few nights ago – and I think everyone liked them. Well, they ate them! These are good served with a cucumber dipping sauce or with sweet chilli sauce.

They’re also really useful as once cooked you can just shallow fry -as I’ve done here – for a snack or starter, or use in noodle dishes or in soups and curries. Or once cooled they will keep in the freezer for a couple of months to use another time.

You can fry them as they are or thread onto wooden skewers (soak the skewers in water for half an hour before using).  I didn’t have any skewers the other evening so used wooden toothpicks with just two prawn balls on each –  and actually thought they looked so cute it’s my favourite way to serve them.

These take a little time and have a few stages in the process of making them – and generate a few pans to wash up – but are really simple and it’s well worth giving them a try!

To make about 20 small prawn balls you’ll need:

The Tinest Thai Rachel Walder prawn balls

a small piece of pork or a tablespoon or so of pork mince (optional but it’s good to have a bit of fat in them)

a packet of raw prawns (approx 200g), defrosted if frozen, and de-veined

zest of one lime

a small handful of coriander leaves

half a red chilli, chopped

one garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon soy sauce

one egg white

plain flour

If it’s not already minced put the piece of pork into the food processor first and give it a quick whizz to mince.

Then add all the other ingredients except the flour …

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder fried prawn balls

Pulse to combine thoroughly and then add the flour straight in, a little at a time, and pulse again.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder fried prawn balls

Add flour until the mixture starts to hold together. It takes quite a bit of flour so just add it steadily bit by bit and pulse each time.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder fried prawn balls

Put a saucepan of water on to boil and whilst waiting for it to boil make the fish balls.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder fried prawn balls

Using two teaspoons, make little scoops of the mixture into balls and set aside until the water is boiling.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder fried prawn balls

Then drop the fish balls into the water one at a time and when they’re all in wait for the water to return to the boil – which will take a minute or two – and boil for a couple of minutes.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder fried prawn balls

Drain …

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder fried prawn balls

… and then either cool before freezing or using in other dishes, or thread onto bamboo skewers/toothpicks to fry.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder fried prawn balls

Heat oil in a pan and fry until golden, turning a few times. It will take probably a good five minutes.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder fried prawn balls

And then serve with some sweet chilli sauce and eat. And that’s it!

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder fried prawn balls

Hope you like these – let me know in the comments.

 PS. The step-by-step pictures that look like they were taken on my phone … they were!

The two gorgeous shots were taken by my photographer friend Viktoria Kuti – and very many thank you's Vik.  (viktoriakuti.com)



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