Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Ikan Tiga Rasa (Three Flavour Fish)

Ikan tiga rasa, or three flavour fish is a Thai inspired dish where the fragrant flavours of South East Asian herbs and spices are blended to produce a sweet, sour and spicy sauce.

Whole medium-size sea bass, cleaned
2 tablespoon corn flour
Salt and pepper

3 cm turmeric root (or powder)
5 cm galangal
4 garlic cloves
1 lemongrass, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 red chilli, sliced
1 cup of water
juice of 1 lime
2 stalks of spring onion, cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon chilli sauce
2 teaspoon sugar

Mix the corn flour and seasonings together and coat the fish well. Fry the fish in a large enough pan on medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side and place in a dish. To ensure the fish is crispy and not oil-logged when cooked, don’t put it in until the oil is hot. Any white fish would work well with this recipe if you do not wish to use sea bass.

Blend the turmeric root, galangal and garlic until smooth. Sauté the onions, chilli and the blended paste until fragrant. Add the lemongrass and some water. When it starts to simmer, add the sugar, lime juice, spring onion, oyster and chilli sauce. Taste and season the sauce.

Pour the sauce over the fish, sprinkle the spring onion over it and serve with white rice.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Rainbow Cake

Martha Stewart’s website would probably be the first hit when you search for ‘rainbow cake’. I didn’t feel like using a total of 18 eggs for my cake when I wanted to make a rainbow cake for Paul’s birthday, so I went with the classic pound cake recipe instead of Martha Stewart's. However, I did get the Wilton gel food colouring, which definitely gave some good results where colours are concerned without diluting the cake mix.


450g butter (or margarine)
450g sugar
450g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla essence
Gel food colouring in yellow, red, blue, orange*, purple* and green*

* These can be mixed using the primary colours

For icing
500-600ml double cream

Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt in a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar well in a different bowl. Add egg and some flour alternately until all the eggs and flour are incorporated into the butter mixture, stirring well after each item is added. Flavour the cake mixture with vanilla.

Divide the mixture into 6 bowls to make six different coloured cake mix using the gel colouring. You will only need a drop or two to get the most vibrant of colour, so it’s best to add a little at a time until you get the desired intensity.

You will need six 8 or 9” round cake tins (I improvised with various stainless steel and pyrex ware) to bake all six layers at the same time. Line these tins with baking parchment, pour the mixture in, gently flatten with a spatula and bake at 180ºC for 25-30 minute. Poke the cake with a toothpick to check if it has cooked- the toothpick will come out clean if it has. It is best to leave the cakes to cool overnight before icing them.

To assemble the cake, remove the baking parchment from the cakes and lightly spread some butter/ margarine on their surface. This ensures the crumbs will not come loose when you try and ice the cake.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Starting with the purple layer, spread the cream over the top and sides of the cake, and place the blue layer on it. Repeat the same and follow with green, yellow, orange and finally, red layer. Use up all remaining cream on the cake, using a spatula to level all over and decorate with sprinkles.

Photo credit: Chris and Steffi Nash

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Spicy Lenthil Vadai

Lentils are an extremely versatile ingredient and feature heavily in south Indian cooking.

Here's one of my favourite things you can do with them:

1 1/2 cups of yellow split peas, soaked for 2 hours or more
1 onion
2-3 green chillies
3 dried chillies
A handful of curry leaves
2 cm ginger
2 teaspoon cumin
Oil for frying

Blend half the lentils, less than half a cup of water and the rest of the ingredients in a food processor or hand blender until nearly smooth. Add the rest of the lentils half way through and blend crudely, to leave some lentils whole or in larger chunks.

Heat about two cups of cooking oil in a deep pan or wok. Wet your hands, pat a heaped spoonful of the vadai batter in your palm and gently slide them into the oil. Repeat until all the batter is used up. It should keep in the fridge for 2-3 days if you wish to save some for another day. Turn them after a minute or two, frying the other side for just as long and remove from heat. Enjoy while hot.