Sunday, 29 January 2012

Never again! What was I thinking?

  • cucumber
  • lemons
  • a punnet of tomatoes
  • chillies
Last night’s san choi bao?  Well, the cos lettuce was fab! Crisp, crunchy, sweet, strong enough to hold the filling - great!  And the filling? What was I thinking!?  I bought a packet from the supermarket!  

I don’t buy processed food generally except the odd can of tinned tomatoes in the off season, the odd can of chick peas or red kidney beans. I like freshly prepared food, that is why I grow and cook. So what was I thinking when I bought  ‘a Marion’?  Obviously seduced by the Masterchef  brand. If Marion  put her name to it, it must be good right?

So I bought  ‘a Marion’ box -  Marion calls it san choy bow -  I call it san choi bao. I suspect the difference is irrelevant given that it would be written in Chinese - just different transliterations? Anyway, I guess you can’t go wrong with vermicelli  noodles and chopped peanuts which were included in the box. Both of which I had in the cupboard anyway! But the brown sauce I thought was horrible. Too salty, too heavy-handed and leaving a lingering aftertaste that I can’t really describe (it was not pleasant). I tried to add to the flavours (and the colour) by adding lots of chopped coriander and chilli but the overwhelming taste was the sauce. And then there was the pile of packaging left over.

So it has inspired me to look up a recipe that I will use next time.

San choi  bao
This recipe is adapted from a recipe called ‘Witlof with chilli pork’ in The Flavour of Asia by Jan Castorina and Dimitra Stais, a cookbook given to me by one of my aunts. I guess I am taking liberties by calling this san choi bao.  I am just interpreting the dish as a mince mixture with Asian flavours in a lettuce-like cup. This recipe has the added benefit of including a good amount of cherry tomatoes - another way to use the glut.

1 tablespoon oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespooon finely chopped ginger
4 spring onions, finely chopped
½ teaspoon shrimp paste
1 tablespoon chopped lemon grass
2 teaspoons sambal oelek
150g pork fillet, finely chopped (or pork mince?)
250g cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon coconut cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 head of cos lettuce broken up (recipe originally called for 1 witlof)

Head oil in frying pan and add garlic, ginger and spring onions, shrimp paste, lemon grass and sambal oelek. Cook until spring onions are soft.

Add the pork and stir until pork turns white. Stir in tomatoes and coconut cream and bring to boil. Simmer uncovered until it thickens and the tomatoes are well cooked. Stir in coriander.

Separate lettuce leaves wash and drain. Spoon mixture into lettuce leaves just before serving.

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