Buying prepared Sushi is outside our budget. The problem is we love it but with a 5 piece tray of vegetable Maki selling for £2-3.00 it isn’t something we can justify. What to do? What to do?
We started making Sushi. Nothing fancy not worthy of a bento box but delicious none the less. We use tuna instead of prawns. I rarely have the luxury of an avocado to put in a California roll but I have come up with some interesting combinations. I season tuna salad with a bit of Lee Kum Kee Chilli and Garlic Sauce mixed into the mayonnaise for a bit of zing. I think a bit of Thai Red Curry Paste would be great too. I lay in some fresh spring onions greens from the garden and slide in a pencil of trimmed cucumber next to those. If I have one I throw in some blanched French beans or sugar snap peas. I love sprinkling the rice with toasted sesame seeds for a bit of crunch. The toasted sheets of nori may look expensive but a packet goes a very long way. In a pinch you can cut it into strips to wrap around the rice with a bit of egg omelette and a roasted red pepper. The Sushi rice is also expensive but I just use either pudding rice or short grain white rice. I don’t buy Sushi vinegar for preparing the rice I just use the cheaper rice vinegar seasoned with sugar and a touch of salt. Wasabi and Kikkoman are cheap enough to find but the pickled ginger is outrageously expensive. Unfortunately that is the bit I go crazy for.
The other day I was going to indulge and buy a packet of the CS ginger at Waitrose. Then I read the price sticker and realised I was paying £42.00 per kilo! Yikes and I complain about the cost of fish! I put it back. That night I went onto the net and found out how stupidly simple it is to pickle ginger. Duh! The only ingredient the fancy stuff has is Shiso/Perilla leaves and while I could grow it but I can go without Shiso for now. All it takes is ginger root at £2.40 per kilo, some rice vinegar, sea salt and sugar. I pickled some last night and this morning I have an enormous jar of pink pickled ginger with a flavour that blows the socks off that expensive stuff in the very thin plastic packet. The jar to the right is just what I gifted my friend Emma! Plenty more for us.
If you are a cash-strapped Sushi-phile here is how to satisfy your jones without busting the bank. You can go onto YouTube to find out how to assemble the Maki. Here’s a hint never start with the inside-out rolls with the nori spiralling inside the rice covered outside in sesame seeds. That one takes a lot of practice, something I did not have when I flubbed it right off the bat. Give yourself a break and just try the regular Maki roll first time out. It takes only a little bit of practice but if you have ever seen it done then you know how. I learned the theory while piling up empty plates at the revolving sushi bar in the rooftop of Harvey Nick’s in London. I was lucky enough to go twice and both times we broke the bank, but it was worth it. The chef stands in front of you behind the conveyor belt and assembles sushi adding it to the belt as he finishes. The trick is to be to his right as he is working or you have to wait until it comes around to you after it has been raided by the other diners. I know it should have been an artistic experience but we were too hungry to completely succumb to the aesthetic. We did enjoy and appreciate the individual service stations and the anticipation of each new dish.
- 1 measure of short grain white rice
- 1 1/2 measures of cold water
- 1 measure of rice vinegar
- 1 measure of sugar
- a pinch of salt
Quantities for this are subjective but for us and a guest or two I use 250gms rice or using a measuring cup for volume it is about 250ml of rice to 375ml of water. Rinse the rice once or twice in cold water and drain. This removes the excess starch so your sushi won’t be gummy. Cook the rice as usual in a covered pot over low heat. When the water is absorbed open the lid, fluff it up and let the rice sit open to cool and dry for 5 minutes. Meanwhile for this amount of rice I used 100ml of rice vinegar and an equal volume of sugar. Mix the two in a small pot with the salt. Heat the liquid until the sugar is dissolved. Put the rice out onto a baking tray or pan and spread it out. Slowly pour the hot vinegar mixture over the rice. Now, using a pair of wooden spatulas or spoons, turn the rice gently over and over so that the liquid doesn’t pool and all of the rice is given a chance to absorb it. Careful not to squeeze or mash the rice it is important it remains fluffy. When the liquid is absorbed let the rice cool. That’s it you have pickled sushi rice.
- 500gm ginger root
- 250ml rice vinegar
- 125 ml volume of sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 4-8 Shiso/ Perilla leaves if you have some , if not don’t worry about it
- 1 small fresh cooked beet, this is optional but I love the pink colour in the ginger
Why use the beet root? Well in theory if you use good rice vinegar the ginger will naturally turn pink. The reality is how do you know if you have good vinegar? Slices of cooked beat put in with the ginger turn it a lovely pink without affecting the flavour.
Grab a bowl, a paring knife, a vegetable peeler and the ginger root and put on a good movie. Peel all the ginger making sure none of the peel, dried ends and all of the crevices are free of skin. This is fiddly and you must break up the root knobs to do it properly. When the ginger is peeled carefully slice it crosswise, on the diagonal in as thin slices as you can manage. I had to slice a bit off one side to get it to lie on the cutting board and I had to sharpen the knife several times during the process. As your slices pile up remove them to a steel or glass bowl and sprinkle them with the salt. Let all the slices sit in the salt for 30 minutes. meanwhile put the vinegar and sugar in a steel or glass pot and bring it to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Put the salted ginger along with the slices of beet root into a large glass jar. Slowly pour the vinegar over the slices. The liquid should just cover all the slices. Let the jar sit open until it is lukewarm then screw on the cap and place it in the fridge. The next day it’s ready. You can keep it in the fridge for 2-4 weeks. It won’t last that long as you can throw it into stir fry’s for zing or just snack on it.
- Short Grain White Rice £0.99
- Rice Vinegar £2.45 Really on a tight budget? Water down some plain white vinegar by 15% to equal the acidity of rice vinegar.
- Sugar £1.04
- Ginger Root £1.20 this is for .5 kg of it which goes a very long way
- Wasabi tube £1.50
- Soy Sauce £2.69 I just checked and for only $1.49 Lee Kum Kee at the Big T gives you twice as much soy sauce as Kikkoman does, though it is Chinese.
- Nori Seaweed sheets £3.05 / 7 sheets
- Tuna tinned in spring water £1.12
- Spring Onions £0.69
- Cucumber £0.60
- Sesame Seeds £0.89 these you will need to toast in a dry pan on top of the stove
- Egg £0.25 we used a duck egg from the girls
- Various Vegetables £0.90
- Sushi bamboo mat £1.99 you use this over and over
How many Sushi rolls will this make? You will have enough for 7 rolls, each rolls have 8 pieces, yielding 56 fat pieces of sushi. The total investment would be £19.36 for 56 Maki at a cost of £0.35/ maki. However there will still be wasabi, rice, pickled ginger, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sugar and vegetables for another 10 rolls! So if you add the cost of another 1.5 packets of nori, another 2 tins of tuna, and another bottle of rice vinegar. The entire cost will be £30.15 for a yield of 144 Maki. Bringing your cost per Maki down to £0.21 pence per Maki!!!! And that is if you buy all the ingredients in Waitrose or Tesco instead of an Asian grocer saving you even more dosh.
We have Sushi Heaven for 60% less than buying a little tray made with hard under-cooked rice which never comes with enough ginger or soy sauce to go around.
- Vegan shiitake sushi (mojocentral.wordpress.com)
- Sushi Chef Chisaki-san’s Cooking Class (asiasketches.wordpress.com)
- Salmon mango sushi (applesandginger.com)
- Successes and Failures (ydamaim.wordpress.com)
- Homemade Sushi:Futomaki & Uramaki California Rolls (wwwdotfoodpleasureandhealthdotcom1.wordpress.com)
- How To Make Quinoa Sushi (awakenyourtastebuds.com)
- How to make Sushi Step by Step breakdown (kvantran2.wordpress.com)
- Sushi Making 101 (nicoleandkevin.wordpress.com)
Tonight Nachos Enfrijolados for a light supper. The Pollo Pibil is still marinating.
A pile of Tortilla chips dabbled with lots of lovely Negritos, a rain of grated cheese, some pickled jalapeno chilli slices all warmed in a hot oven until the cheese melted. Then a peppering of chopped fresh tomatoes and onions a confetti of lovely green leafy coriander and a plop of full fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Finger lickin’ good.
Will the joy of a great pot of beans ever end? Not before we have eaten many more interesting delicious meals. Remember the entire pot costs only £1.35 to make!
This pot of Negritos is so good we had them for breakfast too. We piled them on top of a hot hecho a mano (handmade) corn tortilla then crumbled on Feta topped by chopped tomatoes then a fried golden free-range egg and finally a corona (crown) of coriander!
Oh man! That was good and full of protein, calcium, fibre, zinc, thiamine and vitamins A C & E as well as B12 and selenium. Why do I torture you with this? Lack of B12 is somehow linked to diminishing mental capacity as you get older and a problem for diets low in meat as ours is. Zinc will heal you and we are all trying to prevent Osteoporosis at this age. WHO (World Health Organization)reports that bone density in Mexican women is less prevalent than in their White counterparts. Proof enough for me.
I cannot tell you how good for you corn tortillas are versus flour tortilla wraps. Corn tortillas have no fat but flour ones do. The calcium benefit is visible in the large white teeth of every smiling Mexican. The dried corn is slaked with cal known as Calcium Hydroxide turning it into nixtamal, fat kernels of soft floury corn ground into a dough. Slaking is important because it releases Niacin making it available to your body and fills the corn with lovely Calcium. When the Spanish brought back corn to the Old World they poo-pooed the slaking process thinking it too laborious. That is how the introduction of corn plagued Italy, Spain, France and Egypt with Pellegra and Kwashiorkor rose in Africa where corn became a staple. The best thing is when corn tortillas are partnered with beans they form a complete chain of Amino Acids giving you a vegetable protein. Celiac’s alert corn tortillas are Gluten-free!
This does not mean you should go out and buy boxes of deep-fried tortilla shells. Sort of defeats the fat-free status but besides being cost prohibitive they are no where near as good tasting and satisfying as ones you make. You can find the corn flour, Maseca or other brands, and the tortilla press at this website in the UK. They also sell pre-made corn tortillas which are OK but as you can see from the cost of the flour they are still way more expensive than making your own and not as fresh. But if you don’t want the fuss they’ll do it for you. http://www.mexgrocer.com/
This pot of black turtle beans (Waitrose £1.09/500gm) is giving us many meals full of flavour and enjoyment for a total cost of £1.35.
The Negritos have inspired a new dish. Mofongo! No it is not a new emerging African nation, but the dish has its origins in FuFu which is African. Mofongo is a traditional Puerto Rican side dish that should really go well with my little black pearls of goodness. We don’t have a source for the plantains that make up the main ingredient but I do have 3 very green bananas that should substitute fine. We aren’t going to add the traditional broken up bits of fried pork scratchings but we have some lovely corn tortillas chips?
Yes it is a tiny bit Letitia Cropley but the basics will be there. Mofongo is simply fried slices of green unripe banana mashed up with lots of lovely smashed fresh garlic. I’ll serve it with a pool of Negritos topped with Yucatan Chicken Pibil. Maybe I’ll tie the hem of my t-shirt in a knot under my boobs and do a quick rumba as I cook. I just have to make sure they stay clear of the hot oil.
Yucatan Pollo Pibil, Yucatan Achiote Chicken
- 2 Pieces of lovely breast meat cut into 1 inch thick strips
- 1 tsp El Yucateco Red Achiote paste, you can buy this on-line in the UK at; http://www.mexgrocer.com/
- juice of 1 orange
- 1/2 onion sliced thinly
- A pinch of oregano
- A handful of chopped coriander/cilantro
- If you want some zip add a seeded, minced red chilli
Blend the Achiote paste and orange juice into a smooth sauce. This stains everything bright, deep red so be careful! Put the chicken strips, onion, oregano and coriander (and the chilli option) into the smooth red sauce inside a ziplock and leave it overnight in the fridge to marinate. The next day grill the chicken strips until they have lovely little dark bits over high heat so they cook quickly and don’t dry out. Serve with lots of chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped onions, tons of coriander with a squeeze of fresh lime, a stack of soft hot corn tortillas and in this case on top of a pool of Negritos and a lovely fat mound of Mofongo.
- An Island Full Of Flavor: The Cuisine of Puerto Rico (repeatingislands.com)
- Paleo Mofongo w/ Cubed Pork (paleorican.wordpress.com)
- Mofongo (omnomliz.wordpress.com)
- Puerto Rican Cuisine! (vgutierrez14.wordpress.com)
This morning it’s Negritos y Huevos. Black Beans and Eggs sitting on top of a freshly made corn tortilla and topped with chopped tomato, crumbled feta, lots of coriander/cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Why the burst of energy first thing? We need more protein and fibre in our diet and a boost of protein-packed energy in the morning is always welcome. We are on a health drive, more fibre, more calcium, fresh, fresh, fresh and less caffeine. The caffeine bit has caused us to switch from Palanquin Spiced Black Tea to their Red Bush Spiced Tea same great flavour sans caffeine. We mainline the stuff as it is so good for the digestion and warms us up in the damp. You cannot beat cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger and clove for a vitalizing cuppa. You can buy it on line at; http://www.spicesofindia.co.uk/
This is my best black bean recipe which makes a lovely big pot which can be grazed down during the week. Tonight we eat them with Orange Yucatan Chicken marinated in Achiote paste, fresh orange juice, oregano, coriander/cilantro and onion then grilled on top of the stove. Guadalajarans slather beans on their sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or butter. Cubans serve them thinned down with a bit of stock and extra vinegar as a soup topped with chopped red onions, coriander and chopped tomatoes with a crumble of cheese. If we need a complete non-meat protein we use it as a topping for Mexican Red Rice studded with fresh green peas. Puerto Ricans cook black beans with a bit of white rice and a bit of smoked ham hock turning it into Moros y Cristianos; Moors and Christians. Salvadorians stuff Negritos ground into a paste with cheese and onion inside a ball of corn tortilla dough then press it into a fat tortilla and fry them creating Pupusas. A week’s worth of good, cheap eating all in one pot.
- 500gms dried black beans
- 1 chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp ground cumin (generous)
- ½ tsp ground allspice (generous)
- ½ tsp dry oregano
- ¼ tsp ground cloves (generous)
- 1 hot red chile seeded and chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes seeded and chopped
- 1 cube Knorr vegetable stock, (purists can substitute fresh vegetable stock for this and the water)
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp corn oil
- Salt to taste
Pick over the beans and then pour boiling water over them for a pre-soak. Let them sit until cool and then drain. Sauté the onions, garlic, tomatoes and chile in 2 tbsp of the oil inside the *pressure cooker until the onions go limp. Add the spices and oregano and keep cooking for 1 minute stirring constantly. Then pour in 500 ml of water and use the spatula you used for cooking to scrape off the browned spices stuck to the bottom of the pot releasing this goodness into the stock. Add the crushed stock cube, sugar, pepper, vinegar and the drained beans. Top the water up until it is ¼ inch above the level of the beans and veg. close the pressure cooker and let it cook for 1 hour. Remove from the heat and when the cooker has cooled down sufficiently open it. Mash the beans until a soupy liquid is achieved adding the remaining oil. Season with salt if necessary. If the mixture is too thin cook uncovered over medium heat stirring occasionally until it thickens to your desired consistency remembering that it will continue to thicken as it cools.
* I use a pressure cooker to save on our electric bill as dried beans take some time to cook. This way of cooking makes incredibly creamy beans. If you choose to cook them in a standard pot then do not add either the stock cube or the salt until after the beans are cooked soft. Salt toughens the beans during cooking.
This was an absolutely delightful week for Women.
A businessman in Germany thought it was a good idea to put up a life-size pink Barbie Dream House near the Alexanderplatz in Germany. It came complete with giant hot pink plastic high-heel shoe out front, a Barbie plastic cupcake kitchen, a visitor participation Barbie fashion show (for a price) and a group of greeters dressed as Barbie to welcome you in the door. It was celebrated out front by a partly topless protest group Pinkstinks, who burned a crucified Barbie on a cross while trying to discourage mom’s and daughters from entering the lurid atrocity. When Mattel, Barbie’s parent company, heard about this they were puzzled. The felt that they had modernised Barbie by adding positive role models to the Barbie Pantheon. Doctor Barbie (perhaps the name should have been revamped?) Astronaut Barbie, and my favourite Angela Merkel Barbie. Well they got the breasts right on that one, at least during Merkel’s election campaign when she tried but failed to win votes with her pair. Fire your campaign manager Angela.
Then Disney another merchandising juggernaut, tried to makeover the heroine Merida in the Pixar movie Brave to make her more princess-like. They took a terrific, intelligent, physically healthy girl and re-vamped her into an inappropriately sexy siren designed to attract a suitable prince. They gave her bosoms, lowered the neckline on her dress giving it an off-shoulder vamp cut. This from a company whose founder made Annette Funicello bind her breasts to appear less developed during her years as one of the original Mouseketeers. Merida’s eyes became sultry and cat-like with heavy eyeliner and suspiciously thick preternatural lashes. Disney even re-styled her unruly hair. They pared down her waist, not unlike the digital re-touching applied to celebrities and models who do not fit the unrealistic expectations of the media. Then they took away her bow and arrow replacing it with a low-slung, super-studded fashionista belt which no doubt cost her father the King a few ducats. Even the film’s co-director, Brenda Chapman denounced the change to the press. But best of all were the 200,000 women who signed a protest petition to re-instate the original Merida and won against this industry giant. Disney we do not need our girls to believe becoming a princess is a life goal.
On top of all this hoopla burst the shocking story of H & M who put a normal size Jennie Runk in the lead position of their new swimsuit campaign. I wish to God that when I was young this had happened so I could have related to her slightly bulgy hips and thicker waist. It might have saved me years of practicing agonizing and humiliating Bulimia which left me weaker yet still not waifishly thin. Perhaps I could have avoided the Hiatal Hernia that makes swallowing so difficult now and has left me with fewer back teeth. Maybe if the media embraces that normal is normal my friend’s youngest daughter will stop anguishing over whether her 7 year-old rake-thin body will balloon out if she eats her dinner. Why should a little girl worry about having an apple? Let’s hope H & M leads the way for others to follow. Listen up Kate Moss! Looking like an aging embryo is not beautiful.
- Barbie Berlin Dreamhouse draws protests, hand-wringing over opening (pri.org)
- Disney pulls sexy makeover of ‘Brave’ heroine Merida from its official princess website (mercurynews.com)
- Be Brave Little Merida! (littlemisswordy.wordpress.com)
No it isn’t a typo. We are having a vegetarian Indonesian feast tonight. And all for less than £1.80 each.
I just decided to do something different. Actually a lot of some things different. We are having Peanut Sauce & Prawn Crackers, Coconut Rice, Spicy Fried Hard-Boiled Duck Eggs, Nutmeg Sweet Soy Saucy Eggplant, Tofu In Kemiri Nut (read Brazil nut substitute) Sauce and Akar cold pickled salad. If I pull it together I might throw in a Green Fish Curry too. We’ll see and there will be leftovers so I won’t have to cook tomorrow.
With very little except everything was already in stock even Shrimp, Laos Root and Tamarind Pastes. We just had to buy a few stalks of Lemon Grass, fresh red chillies, and an eggplant. These were all on sale. Lucky choice.
We are sharing our bounty with friends too. Good company makes for a good meal.
- Rijsttafel in Amsterdam (ariellafong.com)
- Tofu Vegetable Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce (withpotsandpens.com)
- Kelp Noodles with Thai Style Peanut Sauce (eightpotatoes.wordpress.com)
- Gado-gado Goodness (bakchorme.wordpress.com)
- Asian Peanut Noodles & Baked Tofu Bento #97 (theroxxbox.com)
- Kelp Noodles with Thai Style Peanut Sauce (jjbegonia.com)
With the excitement and exultation surrounding my book deal, it's quite easy to forget just how difficult things are sometimes. Yes, difficult. No, I'm not freezing and starving and struggling to feed my child circa July last year, but life is not exactly a bowl of juicy cherries either.
It is with a bitter irony that with news of me landing a pre-emptive cookbook deal with one of the biggest and most respected publishers in the world, comes news that I am moving house again.
Yesterday we took another 60-70 pieces to auction. This will be followed up by another trip on Monday which will clear out yet another 10-15 large pieces. We hauled two more loads to the dump in between those trips. The kitchen is a tip as most of the items were from my enormous hoard of cookware and equipment. Everything that is scattered around the house in over-full boxes are going to the car boot on Sunday. Despite the mess it actually looks somehow lighter! I suspect we will be doing a weekly or twice weekly car boot all through the summer. How did we accumulate all of this? Most of it is left over from owning a large hacienda and a food shop, though there is an excess of cookware tools and books which I find I no longer use.
Score? 100 out / 1 in
This morning we used up the excess four-day-old Pain au Levain scoffing up a plateful each of New Orleans Pain Perdu made with duck eggs. This is considerably different from the Eggy Bread served as French Toast in the UK. I have to say the first time I had it here in Dorset I was mighty disappointed. Perhaps this recipe will give you an idea why. Read the rest of this entry
Anyone who thinks dogs cannot reason, think or feel is wrong.
Our pooch Mr Squidge has figured out that eggs come from chickens’ rear ends. Squidgy is a wonderfully daft boy who has interesting likes and dislikes. He likes the cat. He likes the chickens and not just for their productivity. He liked them before he knew which end to focus on. Henrietta our big red hen is very friendly. If we open the back patio doors she wanders into the house and right up onto our bed where Squidge spends most of his daylight hours recuperating from an exhaustive night’s sleep in the same location. So far she is the only hen with a name as she exhibits the most personality. I think she likes Squidgy too but not enough to share her eggs.
Henrietta has been known to chase our dogs out of the hen-house after she has made her deposit. This has not deterred Squidgy who lurks around the pen in hopes of snatching a freebee. His favourite layer is our big white hen. Read the rest of this entry