Tag Archives: Prawns

Asian Salad & Tempura

21st May 2013

When I’ve had a naughty day at work like today (snacking constantly on wine gums and chocolate) I want to make something healthy for dinner.  The thing is, I often can’t face proper ‘health food’, as it just doesn’t seem like enough of an incentive to get in to the kitchen and cook.

This salad is an ideal compromise – lots of vegetables, but a bit of batter thrown in for that indulgent kick.  The best thing about it is that making the tempura is really fun.  So it’s a nice wind down activity as well.  I think it would be great to serve for a summer dinner party, you’d just have to make sure to get all the prep done first and the timing of the tempura right.

For the salad:

Finely chop spring onions and carrots, and quarter some tomatoes.

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While you’ve got the veg board out, dice a couple of cloves of garlic and a bit of ginger (for the dressing).  Cut a lime in half and roughly chop some mint.

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Mix up the dressing in a jug/bowl/mug… whatever’s handy.  These are the ingredients – don’t worry about exact measurements, taste it when you’re done and see if any little adjustments are needed.

  • Juice from the lime (no pips please)
  • The chopped garlic and ginger
  • Couple of tablespoons fish sauce
  • Couple of tablespoons soy sauce
  • One tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
  • One tablespoon of sugar

Throw in some fresh chilli if you like it spicy.

Place a generous handful of the carrot, spring onions and tomatoes on a bed of crispy salad leaves on each plate you’re serving up.  Sprinkle with some mint.  You can probably get 3 good servings from these quantities (or starter sizes for 6).

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Put those to one side somewhere cool, and whip up your batter.  This is really easy – whisk together 100g of plain floor, a pinch of salt, an egg yolk, a teaspoon of baking powder and 150ml sparkling water.

It should end up looking something like this…

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Now the fun part!  The next couple of steps need to happen fairly quickly, so it’s helpful if you have someone around to join in.  You can slow it down a bit if you’ve got a hot plate or an Aga to keep the tempura warm on, but they’re really best served as fresh as possible.

You can use this batter for anything – meat, veg, even cheese (yes, I tried it!).

For this salad, I did a mixture of prawns and chicken.  Heat up 1/3 of a pan of vegetable oil or similar.  It’s ready when you chuck a crumb of bread in and it sizzles.  PLEASE be careful, hot oil is very dangerous.  Do not flick any water into the pan by accident.

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Use two forks to dip the prawns and chicken (bite size pieces) into the batter, and then cook in the oil for 1-2 minutes.  When they’re golden, lift them out of the oil (carefully, again) and place them on a plate covered with kitchen towel.  Work through them in batches of 5 or 6 at a time – if you do too many the oil will cool down and they’ll get soggy.

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About half way through cooking the tempura, put a packet of fresh white noodles in a bowl with a tablespoon of water and zap them in the microwave for a minute (I know.. cheating..).

You can start arranging and serving your salads while your lovely assistant finishes the rest of the tempura.  This way the batter should still be hot and crispy, the noodles warm, and the salad zingy.

I placed noodles around the outside of the leaves and then put the tempura on top of the noodles in a ring.  

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Pour some dressing evenly over the leaves, tempura and noodles.  You can see the bits of garlic and ginger, which are slightly softened after marinading.

And it’s ready!  A guilt free, treat of a salad.

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And if you didn’t eat your body weight in wine gums today, enjoy the extra tempura with some sweet chilli sauce or any other dip that takes your fancy.

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Kimchee

9th April 2013

A long overdue girls’ dinner always means a hunt for the perfect location.  Food, of course, is high on the list of priorities.

We found ourselves heading to Kimchee – partly because we had heard excellent things from foodie friends, and party because it sits in a convenient spot to reach from several corners of London. You can find it in Holborn, details here: Kimchee.

I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I am completely in love with all types of Asian cuisine… the flavours, the textures… that happy knowledge that it is generally healthier than the homey foods we enjoy on a Sunday in the pub!

You can’t book at Kimchee except for large tables (10 or more), so we turned up at the door hungry and excited.  The zen-like interior is contrasted by the busy chatter of the crowd inside – this restaurant is popular and with good reason.  We put our names down for a table and headed to the pub opposite – please note, there’s no bar to wait in…  I think this is what I’d change if I had my way!

Kimchee

Source – I love the wooden lights and long benchy tables

When we came back in we were shown to our table –  we were told off a little bit as apparently you’re meant to wait there (although this hadn’t really been explained and given my above point on the absence of a bar…)

Luckily, seating protocol was soon forgotten as we spied on all the food making its way to tables around us.  The open kitchen and Wagamama style long tables mean that you can check out what’s on offer before making your own decisions.

Our waitress was lovely, and bemused by our many questions about the menu – but when we made up our minds, this is what we ordered.

Yang Yeum Prawn – Delicious, crunchy, crisp battered prawns, served in a rice basket that you can munch on after if that’s your thing (it’s definitely mine!).  The prawns came with a sweet chilli sauce for dipping.

Bibimbap (Beef/Chicken) – The order of choice if you want to experience authentic Korean food.  Rice, vegetables, egg – they’re all in the earthenware pot the dish comes in, and here’s the fun part: the dish is very hot, so the food continues to cook and will stay warm throughout your meal (perfect for the Nana eaters among us).  When it arrives, chuck in the chilli sauce that comes with, and mix it all around. The egg will cook, and you’ve got a really yummy, unique dish to enjoy!

Bibimbap

Bibimbap in a smoking hot dish

Chargrilled Broccoli – Confession: we ordered this twice.  It’s gorgeous long stems of broccoli in a light soybean sauce with great smoky flavour.  The first time we ordered it, it arrived exactly as described, which was perfect. The second time, it had a slightly odd, fruity pink sauce on.  The waiter who delivered it said it always has this sauce, which was a bit confusing, but we didn’t like it very much.  The open grill gives the broccoli more than enough of its own gusto – so I’d recommend asking them to hold the sauce.

Chicken Katsu Udon – If you’re a fan of Katsu, do me a favour and try this.  It’s much lighter than the usual popular Katsu curry dishes you get at other venues, but filling and so tasty.  The Udon noodles are made in house, and they’re the exact satisfying consistency they should be.

Kimchee – While in Kimchee, you need to order kimchee – the namesake of the whole place.  Kimchee is basically pickled cabbage, with a sort of chilli and garlic marinade.  Don’t be put off if you’re not a cabbage eater; it’s worth a try as it has a real kick and compliments all the other food.  Get a side to share, just so you can tick it off your bucket list.

Chargrilled Veg

Veg and meat grilling away happily

Overall we had a great meal here – lively atmosphere, bit of vino, and key tip for end of the evening – get some Plum Tea – it is like nectar, especially if you’re feeling on the edge of a cold.  You can get a big pot between four people.

Do pop over at some point and enjoy this slice of Korean cooking neatly tucked into central London.  The best thing about it is getting to eat something a bit different to the great but overcrowded Italian/Thai scene that’s taking over the city – embrace a new set of flavours and try something you haven’t come across before.

Sorry the photos aren’t brilliant quality – was relying on the iPhone and had a bit of a power down situation.  I’m working on this for future posts…

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