Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cheat’s Caramelised Pork

This rather sweet side dish is usually used as an accompaniment for other spicy mains in Thailand. The most common is Rice with Shrimp Paste (ข้าวคลุกกระปิ), the dish that I haven’t cooked in the past 15 years as it smells like death, although tastes heavenly. It’s one downside of open plan kitchen and I don’t want to cleanse the air with frankincense and myrrh. Caramelised pork is also good for picnic as it does not go off easily. This pork dish can be kept in the fridge for days.

I have made this dish the other day with my shortcut version.

You will need:

300 grams pork steak with a bit of fat, cut into big pieces (about 5-6 cm)

50 grams Palm Sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)

1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion


A bit of oil for frying


Fry onion with a little bit of ground white pepper in a pan over medium high heat until soft and fragrant. Add pork to seal (don’t brown) and then transfer to the thick bottom saucepan or cast iron casserole. Add water (about 400 mil) and simmer for 20 minutes – lift the meat and slice into smaller pieces (1 cm) and return to the saucepan and add soy sauces. Dark soy sauce will give an instant caramelised brownish colour (my mother will have used white sugar and caramelised it with a little bit of water before adding cooked pork and fish sauce). Simmer with lid on for 40 minutes further or until the pork is tender, add more water if the liquid reduced too much. Add sugar and simmer lid-off until the liquid reduced and thickened. Taste and add more seasoning if required – you can add fish sauce at this point or salt if fish sauce smells too strong for you.

What do I do with it?
I have it with my instant noodles. It’s not at all strange – they serve this in many Chinese restaurants in Thailand too. They cook their pork with some Chinese spices but it’s a similar kind of idea.

Just cook the noodles per instruction on the packet with seasoning in the sachet except seasoning oil if any (I use Yum Yum Chicken Flavour, they come with a sachet seasoning oil). Drain and drizzle with seasoning oil or a bit of canola oil and ½ teaspoon of oyster sauce to prevent them from sticking together and add a bit of flavour.

Slice pork into small pieces and place on top of the noodles in a bowl. Add some liquid from the pork. Sprinkle with chopped spring onion and coriander and a tiny dash of white pepper. Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pretty Little Things

I am no domestic goddess but well pleased to get this pair of gorgeous washing gloves from a dear friend of mine, Debbie. 

They are over the top but their longer length is actually better when you are hand deep into the washing sink. They also came at the time when our dishwasher played up – thanks, Debbie! The big pink diamante is removable of course.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Guess Who’s Got a New Kitten

Is he a cutie? Sparkle is the newest member in my neighbour’s household. Barbara’s old cat, Ginny, is between 20 to a hundred years old – I’m not quite sure - she’s been there forever! Barbara told me she would not get another one when Ginny’s gone but this one kept meowing at her in the pet shop so she could not help it.Yeah, right.

As we are not dead keen on ginger cats, we have told her we will not steal this one – rest assure - so she does not have to keep an eye on him when we are around.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Braised Beef with Tomatoes (เนื้อหม่อมจันทร์)

This dish has been our family favourite back in Thailand as long as I can remember. It's my grand-aunt's recipe - simple and versatile – you can have it with rice or bread or mashed. The trick is choosing only good quality tomatoes. They should be ripe (vine ripened will be good) and sweet with only a little bit of zing. For people who have divorced beef for any reason, pork steak is also a good alternative.

800 grams Rump Steak, fat removed and cubed

2 coriander roots, chopped

2 tablespoons soy sauce

400 mil water

Salt & Black Pepper

4 – 5 medium ripe tomatoes, halved

Rub the beef with salt and pepper, add coriander root and rest for fifteen minutes.

Heat a bit of oil in the cast iron casserole on medium high heat and brown the beef well. Add tomatoes and fry one to two minutes further before adding water. Bring to the boil and place the lid on the casserole - reduce the heat to low.

Let it simmer covered for about an hour. Remove the lid and simmer a little bit longer until the liquid reduced to half. Taste and add more seasoning if required.

Serve with mashed potatoes or steamed rice.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Chemotherapy and Food

I was supposed to write this post ages ago when my good friend Barbara had to go through the treatment for uterine cancer last year but didn’t get round to it.

Last week, Cherie, one of my gym instructors told me that her mum has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She had mastectomy early on and is now undergoing chemotherapy. Her mum has been losing her appetite as everything tastes like cardboard to her.

I read quite a bit about the side effects of Chemotherapy when Barbara underwent her 6 courses. It is common that food and drinks do not taste good for patients undergoing Chemotherapy –they can even taste a bit metallic. To help make the food a bit more tasty try using plastic utensils instead of the metal ones. I had several sets of good plastic cutlery so I gave some to Cherie and she reported back a few days ago that they make food taste better for her mum.

Using plastic cutlery is just one simple solution. There are a lot of resources about food and diet for cancer patients on the Internet that friends and relatives can read and research to make your love ones more comfortable. Also talk to doctors and nurses and if possible attend the pre-treatment sessions with them.