thai (chicken) meatballs

We have a restaurant in Stockholm called Berns Asiatiska which I’ve always heard is supposed to be really good. The venue is a hotel, restaurant, night club, and event venue – for example there are often shows there during Stockholm Fashion Week – and I’d been to the night club before, but not the restaurant. I’d heard a lot about it though, especially the brunch buffet. It’s quite expensive, but apparently worth it with a number of sushi, dumpling and other hot food options available. But they say the best thing is the dessert buffet.

In February we were getting an influx of new people at work (they have two big dates – one in February and one in September – where all the newly graduated lawyers start) and decided to go for a group lunch at Berns. Because we were such a large group we were given three options to pre-order our lunch from, and I chose their Thai meatballs in red curry. I’m not usually a huge fan of curry – I have too many bad memories of curry powder flavoured things from school – but the other two dishes had too many things in them I didn’t like and I’d heard good things. Thai curry is also more to my taste than Indian curry, because it often has coconut milk and lemon grass and such in it. Either way though, I was definitely both impressed and pleased with the dish.

Fast-forward to yesterday and the eternal ‘what do I do for dinner today while my slow cooker makes food for the week?’. I’d had a lingering craving for Asian food since we’d had Thai takeaway on Saturday and had found a chicken and cashew nut recipe for the slow cooker I was going to throw together for my lunch boxes for the week, but still couldn’t shake that craving. So I was browsing Ica’s Asian recipes and came across a recipe for chicken meatballs in a Phanaeng curry which made me think about the Thai meatballs at Berns. Though I don’t think they were made of chicken and I know they were served in a red curry sauce, I figured that the Ica recipe would still be a nice way to fill that craving.

The recipe was very simple and called for basically four things: sesame seeds, chicken mince, Phanaeng curry sauce, and a wok-mix of vegetables. However, my local Ica didn’t have the ready wok-mix, so instead I just bought some of what was in it and chopped it up myself. You could probably use frozen vegetable mixes as well though, depending on what you want in yours. Also, I added bread crumbs to my meatballs, because I didn’t feel like they were holding together very well when I was first trying to roll them.


Ingredients (3-4 portions)

500g chicken mince

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp bread crumbs

0.5 tsp salt

4-600 ml Phanaeng curry sauce (‘Paneng curry grytbas’ at Ica – one tin is 400 ml)

90g broccoli

90g carrot

100g white cabbage

or 300g wok-mix vegetables

1 tsp oil

3-4 portions rice


Boil the rice as per the instructions.

Mix the mince, sesame seeds, salt, and bread crumbs and shape into balls. I found the mince mix very sticky and felt that it helped to grease my palms with a bit of oil.

Bring the Phanaeng sauce to boil in a pan/pot, then add the meatballs and reduce to a simmer. Cover the pan/pot with a lid and leave to simmer for 8 minutes, turning the meatballs over halfway through.

In the meantime stir-fry your vegetables in the oil.

Remove the meatballs from the pan and add the vegetables. Stir so they’re well-coated, then return the meatballs to the pan. (I didn’t do this, I just plated up, and I felt like my vegetables didn’t get covered enough by the sauce.)

Serve with rice.


The original recipe said to use 300g mince, but because they only had chicken mince in 500g packs, I used the whole 500g and therefore got three quite big portions out of this. In fact, I didn’t eat all the meatballs with each portion, so I could have probably made it into four portions instead.

I would, however, recommend that if you do use 500g mince instead of 300g, you also increase the amount of sauce somewhat. I only used the 400 ml stated in the recipe (and above) and I felt like I would have wanted a bit more. Whether you want to add more vegetables is up to you, but for three portions I thought it worked out quite well.

/t

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chicken noodle soup (ramen-ish)

This looks so drab and boring but it actually wasn’t! Of course it’s not the most exciting noodle soup I’ve ever had, but at the time it really filled a craving.

I was heading home from work and didn’t have any inspiration for what I wanted to eat.  I had one leftover chicken breast from something and I felt like I should use it, but I didn’t know what for. Browsing the supermarket recipe selection I came upon this recipe that they called Asian chicken soup and it sounded simple yet excotic-ish enough to fill me needs that day. It’s not a very complicated, several ingredient Asian ramen, but it fit the bill then and there.


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Ingredients (1 portion)

1 chicken breast or thigh

4 mushrooms

0.75 red chili

0.5 yellow onion

1 clove of garlic

0.5 tbsp fresh ginger

2 tbsp chicken stock

300 ml water

50g noodles

Thai basil


Fry sliced mushrooms, chicken and onion in oil in a pot for a few minutes.

Add chili, ginger and garlic and fry for another minute.

Pour over chicken stock and water. Add the noodles and cook for as long as the instructions on the pack says.

If you want to, add Thai basil (I had it at home already) or spring onion to your soup. I can really recommend Thai basil because it brought an extra flavour-note to the soup.


And that’s it. Not including chopping time this will take you max 10 minutes to make, and when you’re craving Asian food or just want something light and simple it’s a perfect quick fix.

/t

‘singapore’ chili stir fry

The week when I bought the Blue Dragon satay sauce, I also bought the ingredients to make this dish. However, after the disappointment with the satay, I wasn’t quite so keen to take on another stir-fry, albeit one I had no expectations of, so I used the beef I’d bought to make the Kelda Texas Chili Stew (that I’m yet to post my review about). But that meant that I had the other ingredients lying around at home. So last week I decided to make this stir-fry, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

I didn’t have much experience of hoisin sauce other than having a hoisin duck pancake once, which I didn’t really like (I thought it was a bit too sweet, and it probably didn’t help that the duck was dry) so I didn’t quite know what to expect. What I got was a dark, sticky – albeit sweet – stir-fry with bursts of chili, garlic, and ginger.

I think that it was maybe a little too sweet – more so when reheated in the microwave than when coming straight out of the work – but that can easily be adjusted by reducing the amount of hoisin sauce and adding more soy. I also think that adding another red chili would have made it pop more, but if you’re not a fan of spice, one will be enough.


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Ingredients (4 portions)

500g thinly cut beef strips

250g broccoli

1-2 red chili peppers

2-3 cloves of garlic (dependent on size)

1 cm fresh ginger

200 ml hoisin sauce

1-2 tbsp soy sauce

oil

rice


Cut up the garlic and chili into small pieces, and grate the ginger. Cut the broccoli into smaller florets and cut your beef into strips.

Brown the beef in oil, then set aside as you stir-fry the broccoli for 3-4 minutes.

Re-add the beef together with the garlic, chili, and ginger.

Then add the hoisin sauce and soy sauce and leave to cook for a little bit longer, until the sauce is heated through.

Serve with rice (or maybe noodles, but Jasmine rice was really good with this).


Such a quick recipe that is easy to adjust to your liking as well.

I bought what in Sweden is called lövbiff (cube steak or minute steak) to make this dish, and then cut it into strips. Because the beef has been tenderised to create a thinner piece of meat and allow for a shorter cooking time, I thought that cut worked out really well in this dish. Sometimes when I do a stir-fry I can feel that the beef can get a little chewy from first being cooked on its own and then cooked again for a bit with the vegetables and the sauce, but this cut didn’t.

/t

a japanese sunday

This weekend I went to London to see S. As I wrote last week, we had our first wedding anniversary on the 19th, and he was here the weekend before to celebrate. On top of this, I had already booked in that I would come to London this weekend because there was a Japanese harvest festival on the Sunday that we were going to go to. So I took Friday and Monday off and had a long weekend in the city I used to call home seven months ago. (I still called Stockholm home too!)

Now I don’t know if it’s because I was introduced to Japanese food at an early-ish age (mum is a huge sushi fan and dad’s wife is half-Japanese) or because it just appeals to me on a taste and texture level (probably a bit of both), but I really like Japanese food. I love sushi, and it has been one of my great sorrows that S doesn’t (lol) –  but he’s starting to open up to it a bit! But I also really like their meat/chicken and noodle dishes – yakitori, yakiniku, teriyaki, tonkatsu, katsu curry, ramen, udon, and so on – as well as for example lotus roots and yuzu.

Either way I love it, and since S and I had said we would double celebrate our anniversary (nice dinner and Bridget Jones’ Baby in Stockholm the weekend before and nice dinner in London the weekend after) my wish had been to go to Sticks’n’Sushi, a Danish restaurant group having branched out in London. We’ve been there before with friends, but since S is now getting more adventurous with the sushi bit, we thought it could be nice to go just the two of us.

The day started at Trafalgar Square though, at the Japan Matsuri (a harvest festival) where we were treated to some Japanese food and culture. We bought some really nice Gyoza and a Hirata bun (sorry, no picture of that), and were then treated to a Japan Airlines bento box in the Guest Section. The bento box was apparently what they serve first and business class passengers on JAL, and though a few things were not quite to my taste (I don’t like mackerel for example), most of it were really nice. We were also given a bag of Scottish shortbread – which is never wrong!

We were supposed to have lunch with a friend from uni, but since we’d had so much food at the festival we decided to invite her to dinner instead. Unfortunately, S started feeling bad in the afternoon and by dinner-time he was too sick to go out! So I ended up having dinner with just my friend, while S was at home and asleep.

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It wasn’t quite what we’d planned, but the food was still nice. We had a sharing plate of sushi and three sticks each, and then shared three desserts (they’re quite small). The sticks were pork belly, chicken skewer, and chicken meatballs, and the sushi was salmon, tuna, sea bass, and prawn nigiri, and pink Alaska, spicy tuna, and gypsy roll maki. For dessert we shared a vanilla bean crème brulée, a cheesecake with yuzu and crumble, and a macha moji ice-cream. A real treat.

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The food at Sticks’n’Sushi is always great, and if you’re a sushi lover I definitely recommend it. I’ve only been to the Canary Wharf branch though, and the service there isn’t always great. When I came to the restaurant (15 minutes late because I had to drive poor S back home since he was feeling sick) they told me my friend hadn’t arrived yet. So I text her and she said she was already at our table! I went up to the waiter who seated me and he said “No, there’s no one here. Look.” and took me further in the restaurant. Then he said “Unless it’s her.” and pointed at my friend. Hrm!

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It then took at least 20 minutes until we got to order, despite the waiter coming up and taking our drinks order, giving us water, and serving us our drinks. It also took ages before anyone came to take our dessert order or let us pay the bill. And it’s not like there were a lot of people in the restaurant, or few staff working. Needless to say, we didn’t tip them (but still had to pay the service charge included in the bill – I don’t really like it when they do that).

If the service is good, Sticks’n’Sushi is a great place to go. If the service isn’t great – the food still is. And they have a lot of nice fruity (non-alcoholic) drinks. I definitely recommend it for any fellow sushi-lovers out there!

/t

review: satay sauce

When I lived in London I lived near Westfield Stratford, and they have a great food court with food from many different countries and cultures.

One of the restaurants at the food court is a Chinese one called Lotus Leaf, and they do a really good chicken satay. It’s not like the satay I was used to before – you know the one with the plain chicken skewers and rice, and then the sauce either on the side for dipping or poured over – which I guess could be the Thai version? Instead this one is served with the rice on a plate and the satay sauce in a bowl combined with chicken, peppers, onion, and carrots. The sauce itself also tastes slightly different – as if there’s more to it than just a peanut sauce.

For a while now I’ve been really craving this type of chicken satay, so I decided to try and make it at home. Being somewhat lazy and somewhat cheap, i.e. not wanting to go out and buy all the necessary ingredients, I decided to try a jar version. I was stood at the supermarket trying to decide between the Blue Dragon and Santa Maria, but Santa Maria looked more like the dipping version so I went Blue Dragon.

I decided to make mine with chicken, broccoli, and peppers, and serve with Jasmine rice.


20160918_200737 (2).jpgIngredients (3-4 portions)

400g chicken

250g broccoli

2 peppers

1 jar Blue Dragon Satay Cooking Sauce


Stir-fry the chicken until cooked through. Set aside and stir-fry the broccoli and peppers for 3-4 minutes. Throw everything back in the wok and pour over the sauce. Leave to simmer for a few minutes, then serve with rice.


20160919_121359 (2).jpgFirst of all, I don’t think this sauce is made for covering anything other than chicken. The reason I’m saying that is that it claims to be four portions of sauce in the jar, but the sauce didn’t quite cover everything.

Second, it didn’t taste anything like the Lotus Leaf’s satay – which was a huge disappointment. Once I got over the disappointment of the small amount of sauce and the taste-mismatch, it did taste quite nice. It just wasn’t what I wanted.

I think the sauce was a little too sweet, and I wonder if mixing the Blue Dragon sauce with the Santa Maria sauce would make it less so. It kind of feels like a mix between a peanut sauce and a sweet chili sauce.

I also think that if you want to serve it with rice, you should double the sauce or reduce the chicken and vegetables. However, I stir-fried it with noodles for dinner one day, and that was much better in terms of ‘sauce-coverage’.

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All in all, it’s an ok sauce, but I don’t think I’d use it again – unless I mix it with a jar of the Santa Maria just to try.

/t

veal curry with broccoli

My recipe collection on Ica has a recipe for veal meatballs in a plum cream sauce, which I’m dying to try. For this week I already had a lot of leftovers, and one four portion meal planned, when I was browsing through, and though the veal meatballs were calling out to me, I couldn’t quite gather up the enthusiasm and energy I knew it would take to make it.

So instead I got the ingredients for this meal – a veal mince curry. It called for a lot less prep work (just mince, broccoli, Thai curry sauce in a jar, and rice – and I already had two of those) and seemed like an easier dish to divide into portions and bring to work for lunch. But I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. I don’t know if it’s because I should have used more sauce (I used what the recipe called for) or if I should have bought a different sauce, but I didn’t think it tasted of much. When you say ‘curry’ you have a certain spice explosion in mind (or at least the gentle creamy taste of a Korma) but this was just plain and, to be honest, a bit boring.

If I made it again I would probably replace the veal with beef and I would definitely get another curry sauce. One that says ‘hot’ and looks like it has a lot of spices in it.


20160823_180940 (2).JPGIngredients (4 portions)

500g veal mince

1 jar Thai curry sauce (490g)

250g broccoli

Vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

Rice to serve


20160823_180933 (2).JPGCook the rice according to the instructions.

I used frozen broccoli because that’s what I had at home, so I started by heating 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok and stir-frying the broccoli until hot. If you use fresh broccoli, cut into florets and boil or steam until tender.

Then brown the mince with some oil, salt, and pepper in a wok (or large frying pan) and once done, add the Thai curry sauce and leave to simmer for a few minutes.

Throw in the broccoli florets with the mince and sauce, mix well, and serve with rice.


For lunch at work I have kept the curry and the rice separate, but since I don’t have a microwave at home and needed to reheat it in the wok, I mixed it up for dinner. I actually think mixing it up was a little bit nicer taste-wise, though it doesn’t make for a very enticing picture.

/t

beef, mushroom, and greens stir-fry

I love Asian food. Especially the more Eastern dishes from China, Japan, and Korea – although a good Pad Thai is not to be trifled with. Sushi and dim sum are at the top, then come different versions of stir-fries and meat dishes served with white, sticky rice (think satay chicken, yakiniku, teriyaki, and so on).

The thing about stir-fries is that they’re so simple to make, but also so easy to mess up. Too much or too little sauce, too small pan, too dry meat. Having been to Asia and enjoyed the genuine Asian cuisine, the disappointment when it’s bad at home (whether you cook it or you’re severed it in a restaurant) is so much greater, because you know what you’re missing out on.

There are a few stir-fries that I would never attempt myself, like Pad Thai. I just know that it’s not going to taste as nice as it does when the Thai place down the street makes it, so I’m not even going to try. The ones I have made with the most success at home though are the beef and broccoli ones. I’ve made beef and broccoli in pepper sauce (the kind you can by in the Asian supermarkets) which was really nice, as well as a beef and broccoli one where the beef was just marinated in garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil.

So this time, looking for something similar yet different, I decided to go with a beef and mushroom recipe. All you need is some beef, mushrooms, greens of your choice, ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce and oil. And then rice or noodles to serve. The original recipe calls for spring greens, but because we’re in the middle/late summer now and my supermarket’s selection of spring greens and cabbage was not that inspiring, I went for pak choi instead. I figured that being an Asian cabbage it would blend better with an Asian stir-fry than my European cabbage anyway.

This is a really quick and easy recipe, the only thing that can take some time is cooking the rice. But because I like convenience and portion control I usually get the boil-in-bag rice which doesn’t take much more than 10-15 minutes. 


Ingredients (3 portions)

300 g beef steak of your choice

200 g spring greens

150 g mushrooms

1 cm fresh ginger

2 cloves of garlic

3 tbsp oyster sauce

1.5 tbsp dark soy sauce

vegetable oil


Start by combining the sauces and setting it aside.

Heat a wok (or large frying pan – but wok is really so much better) until it’s really hot, then stir-fry the beef in some oil.  Set aside.

Chop the ginger and garlic and stir-fry until golden, then add the greens and the mushrooms. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the steak and sauce mix and cook for another 3-4 minutes so that everything is heated through and the sauce mix has thickened slightly.

Serve over rice or noodles (or maybe on an omelette – seeing as the prawn and broccoli one was so nice?) and enjoy.

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It should be stated that the original recipe serves 4, with 400 g beef, but because I could only get my hands on a 300 g pack of beef in the supermarket I decided to rework it to 3 servings. I have divided the oyster and soy sauces exactly, but have a slightly higher quantity of greens and mushrooms than the original recipe does. I haven’t reduced the amount of ginger (the original recipes does not include garlic).

A stir-fry is probably the best thing for me to make when I want leftovers, because it’s easy to reheat both at home and at work. At work we only have a microwave and at home I don’t have one, so some foods are better suited for work while others should be enjoyed at home. For example, I made these really good little taco pizza parcels (they’ll make an appearance), but heating them up in the microwave made the pizza dough loose it’s crispiness, so they’re more of a home food. Whereas I haven’t had a baked potato in months – do you know how long it takes to bake a potato in the oven?

/t