Thursday, January 1, 2009

Thai Rice Cake

Not a dry rice snack from the health food shop, but a sumptuous celebration gateau, made from Thai fragrant rice, tangy cream and with a fresh fruit topping. Recipe serves 8-10.


Generous 1 cup Thai fragrant rice, rinsed
4 cups milk
Scant 1/2 cup caster sugar
6 green cardamom pods, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 cups cups whipping cream
6 eggs, separated
Red and white currants, sliced star fruit and kiwi fruit, to decorate
For the Topping:
1 cup double (thickened) cream
2/3 cup Quark or low-fat soft cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Grated rind of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons caster sugar


1. Grease and line a 10 inch (25 cm) round, deep cake tin. Cook the rice in a pan of boiling unsalted water for 3 minutes, then drain, return to the pan and pour in the milk. Stir in the caster sugar, cardamoms and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer the rice for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow the mixture to cool, then remove the bay leaves and cardamom husks.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Spoon the rice mixture into a bowl. Beat in the cream and then the egg yolks. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then fold them into the rice mixture.
3. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes until risen and golden brown. Chill overnight in the tin. Turn the cake out on to a large serving plate.
4. Whip the cream until stiff, then gently fold in the Quark or soft cheese, vanilla essence, lemon rind and sugar.
5. Cover the top of the cake with the cream mixture, swirling it attractively. Decorate with red and white currants, sliced star fruit and kiwi fruit.


Once barely known outside Japan, these tasty rolls of flavored rice and paper-thin seaweed have become very popular, partly due to the proliferation of Sushi Bars that have sprung up in many major cities. Recipe serves 4-6.


For the Tuna Sushi:
2-3 baby carrots, blanched
3 sheets nori (paper-thin seaweed), cut in half
4 ounces (125 g) fresh tuna fillet, cut into fingers
1 teaspoon thin wasabi paste (Japanese horseradish mustard)
For the Salmon Sushi:
2 eggs
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons butter
3 sheets nori
5 ounces (155 g) fresh salmon fillet, cut into fingers
1/2 small cucumber, cut into strips
1 teaspoon thin wasabi paste
For the Sushi Rice:
4 cups sushi rice, rinsed
2 3/4 cups water
For the Sushi Dressing:
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
To Serve:
Sliced pickled ginger, cut in strips
Wasabi paste, thinned with water
Japanese sushi soy sauce


1. Place the rice in a heavy pan and add 2 3/4 cups water or according to the instructions on the packet. Bring to the boil, cover tightly and cook over a very low heat for 15 minutes. Increase the heat to high for 10 seconds, then remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, blend together the rice vinegar, sugar and salt.
2. Stir the sushi dressing into the rice, then cover with a damp cloth and cool. Do not put in the fridge as this will make the rice go hard.
3. To make the tuna sushi, cut the carrots into thin strips. Cut one nori sheet in half and lay one half, shiny side down, on a bamboo rolling mat. Lay strips of tuna across the length of the nori and spread with a little wasabi. Place a line of carrots next to the tuna and, using the mat as a guide, roll up tightly. Repeat with the other half of nori. Set aside any extra tuna or carrot.
4. Place a square of greaseproof paper on the bamboo mat and spread with a little of the cooked sushi rice, leaving a 1/2 inch (1 cm) edge at the top and bottom.
5. Place the tuna-filled nori roll on top, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the edge of the rice, and roll up, using the paper as a guide (and making sure it doesn't get rolled up with the rice). Wrap the roll in greaseproof paper and chill for about 10 minutes. Make another sushi roll using the other tuna-filled nori roll.
6. To make the salmon sushi, beat together the eggs with 2 tablespoons water and the sugar and salt. Melt about one-third of the butter in a small frying pan and add one-third of the egg mixture to make an omelet. Repeat until you have three small omelets.
7. Place a nori sheet, shiny side down, on a bamboo rolling mat, cover with an omelet and spread with sushi rice, leaving a 1/2 inch (1 cm) edge at the top and bottom. Lay strips of salmon across the width and lay cucumber strips next to the salmon. Roll the nori around the filling. Wrap in clear film and chill for 10 minutes. Repeat to make three rolls.
8. When the rolls are cool, remove the greaseproof paper and clear film. Using a wet knife, cut the rolls into six slices. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and Japanese sushi soy sauce.

Lemon Grass and Coconut Rice with Green Chicken Curry

Use one or two fresh green chilies in this dish, according to how hot you like your curry. The mild aromatic flavor of the rice offsets the spiciness of the curry. Recipe serves 3-4.


4 spring onions, trimmed and roughly chopped
1-2 fresh green chilies, seeded and roughly chopped
3/4 inch (2 cm) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce
Large bunch of fresh coriander
Small handful of fresh parsley
2-3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cubed
1 green pepper, seeded and finely sliced
3 ounce (90 g) piece of creamed coconut dissolved in 1 2/3 cups boiling water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Rice:
Generous 1 cup Thai fragrant rice, rinsed
3 ounce (90 g) piece of creamed coconut dissolved in 1 2/3 cups boiling water
1 lemon grass stalk, quartered and bruised


1. Put the spring onions, chilies, ginger, garlic, fish sauce and fresh herbs in a food processor or blender. Pour in the water and process to a smooth paste.
2. Heat half the oil in large frying pan. Fry the chicken cubes until evenly browned. Transfer to a plate.
3. Heat the remaining oil in the pan. Stir-fry the green pepper for 3-4 minutes, then add the chili and ginger paste. Fry, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until the mixture becomes fairly thick.
4. Return the chicken to the pan and add the coconut liquid. Season and bring to the boil, then lower the heat; half cover the pan and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
5. When the chicken is cooked, transfer it with the peppers to a plate. Boil the cooking liquid remaining in the pan for 10-12 minutes until it is well reduced and fairly thick.
6. Meanwhile, put the rice in a large saucepan. Add the coconut liquid and the bruised pieces of lemon grass. Stir in a little salt, bring to the boil, then lower the heat; cover and simmer very gently for 10 minutes, or for the time recommended on the packet. When the rice is tender, discard the pieces of lemon grass and fork the rice on to a warmed serving plate.
7. Return the chicken and peppers to the green curry sauce, stir well and cook gently for a few minutes to heat through. Spoon the curry over the rice, and serve immediately.

Tip: Lemon grass features in many Asian dishes, and makes the perfect partner for coconut, especially when used with chicken. In this recipe, bruise the tough, top end of the lemon grass stem in a pestle and mortar before use.

Indonesian Coconut Rice

This way of cooking rice is very popular throughout the whole of South-east Asia. Coconut rice goes particularly well with fish, chicken and pork. Recipe serves 4-6.


1 3/4 cups Thai fragrant rice
14 fl oz (400 ml) can coconut milk
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 inch (5 cm) cinnamon stick
1 lemon grass stalk, bruised
1 bay leaf
Deep-fried onions, to garnish


1. Put the rice in a strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain well, then put in a pan. Pour in the coconut milk and water. Add the coriander, cinnamon stick, lemon grass and bay leaf. Season with salt. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
2. Lift the lid and check that all the liquid has been absorbed, then fork the rice through carefully, removing the cinnamon stick, lemon grass and bay leaf.
3. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and continue to cook over the lowest possible heat for 3-5 minutes more.
4. Pile the rice on to a warm serving dish and serve garnished with the crisp, deep-fried onions.

Tip: When bringing the rice to the boil, stir it frequently to prevent it from settling on the bottom of the pan. Once the rice is nearly tender, continue to cook over a very low heat or just leave to stand for 5 minutes. The important thing is to cover the pan tightly.