Blue Swimming Crab with Spiced Paella Rice

Spiced tomato based Paella rice dish with chunks of blue swimming crab

This recipe, like many good recipes came from me experimenting with store cupboard ingredients and some leftover fresh ingredients. I wished to make a rice dish which was distinctly different from classic rice dishes such as risotto, paella and jambalaya. I am so happy with the results I have decided to share this recipe with you, in the hope you will give it a try.

The flavour base of the dish comes from a fried mixture of chilli, bell pepper, garlic, celery and red onion. This is softened then rice is added along with a spice mixture, this is fried and gently stirred until each grain is coated. White win is then added and cooked off followed by diced tomato flesh, stock, a little water herbs and seasoning. The rice is simmered until it has softened and the juices have almost been cooked off. For the last few minutes chunks of blue swimming crab are carefully placed on top, the steam and residual heat gently warms the crab through. Just before serving the crab is gently stirred through the rice using the back of a wooden spoon, to ensure the chunks don’t break up and get lost in the rice.

I think this dish is a real winner, its simple to cook with a simply fantastic flavour.

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Serves two people

preparation 15 minutes, cooking time 35-40 minutes

Ingredients and method

150-170g Blue swimming crab chunks (from tin)  – drain before adding to rice

2 large red chillies – remove stalk/seeds, finely dice

1 yellow bell pepper – finely diced

4 cloves garlic – peel, crush, finely chop

2 sticks celery – finely diced

2 red onions – finely diced

150g Paella rice

2 tablespoons olive oil

75ml dry white wine

6 round tomatoes – remove skin and seeds, then dice

500ml chicken stock

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli powder

1.5 tsp smoked sweet paprika

Pinch saffron

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried parsley

150-200ml water

2 tsp brown sugar

Generous handful coriander leaf – roughly chop, half for dish, half for garnish

Lime wedges – for garnish

Sea salt and black pepper – for grinding

 

Method: Start by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep flat frying pan then add then chopped chilli, garlic, celery, red onion and yellow bell pepper. Fry over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.

Add the rice then add the spice mixture – 1 tsp cumin, coriander, chilli and 1.5tsp smoked paprika. Stir well until the rice, spices and fried mixture is combined and each grain of rice is coated. Fry and gently stir for 1-2 minutes until all liquid in the pan is absorbed by the rice then pour in the white wine and stir gently until it is cooked off.

Once the wine is cooked off add the diced tomato flesh, 500ml chicken stock and a generous pinch of saffron. Next add 1 tsp dried oregano, basil and parsley, 2 tsp brown sugar, 150ml water , half the chopped coriander and sprinkle of salt (not too much as there is salt in the stock) and a generous amount of ground black pepper. Gently stir, bring to the boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Leave to cook uncovered for 25-30 minutes until the liquid is nearly cooked off and the rice is plump and tender. If the rice is not ready simply add an extra 50ml water, stir through and give it an extra 5-10 minutes.

Once the liquid is nearly cooked off add the crab chunks along with a little more chopped coriander, place across the surface of the rice as it simmers away allowing the steam to warm the crab through. Once the liquid has been fully cooked off use the back of a wooden spoon and very gently fold the crab through the dish. Serve with a garnish of coriander leaf and lime wedges.

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Laksa

Laksa broth with noodles, tofu, tiger prawns, boiled egg and coriander garnish.

Laksa is my among my favourite dishes, its like a cuddle in a bowl. I have had this dish many times across South East Asia, and I can confidently say my recipe stands up to the very best. There are many different types of Laksa rather than it being a single dish, with many different styles from regional cuisines. My version is based on the classic curry Mee Laksa soup from Penang region of Malaysia.

The flavour of this dish comes from a wonderful curry paste which contains 24 ingredients in perfect harmony.  It is fried to release all its flavours then coconut milk, fish stock, soy sauce and fish sauce are added. The dish is assembled in a bowl with cooked noodles on the bottom, broth ladled over the top then pieces of cooked tofu are added along with  sliced spring onions, cooked tiger prawns, a boiled egg and a coriander garnish.

This might sound complicated, but its not. Its actually quite easy to make with results guaranteed to impress any foodie friends.

Please also view my recipe Mussels in Laksa Broth which is an excellent way to use the other half of the Laksa paste.

Notes: This recipe only uses half the paste, the other half can be frozen or stored in an airtight refrigerated container for up to 7 days. For the Tofu use pre fried pieces of silken tofu, either buy pre fried (available from Chinese supermarkets) or cut silken tofu into squares and fry in hot oil until golden brown. These can be portioned and kept in freezer for next time. For noodles I have used egg noodles but traditionally a mixture of rice and egg noodles is used, this is purely a personal preference. In terms of seafood I have used Tiger prawns but white fish, scallops and other shellfish can be added.

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This recipe is for two people

Preparation time 25 minutes, cooking time 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the curry paste:

2 red bird eye chillies – stalk and seeds removed

2 large red chillies – stalk and seeds removed

1 large green chilli – stalk and seeds removed

2 heaped tsp ground coriander

1 heaped tsp smoked paprika

1 heaped tsp ground cumin

1 heaped tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp medium hot chilli powder

2 medium sized brown onions – peeled

2 sticks lemon grass – bruise, inner part only, thinly sliced (for smoother paste)

Thumb sized piece root ginger – peel, finely chopped (for smoother paste)

Generous handful of peanuts

6 cloves garlic – peel

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tsp shrimp paste

2 tsp tamarind paste

3 heaped dessert spoons brown sugar

2 tbsp. fish sauce

2 tbsp. dark soy sauce

2 tbsp. hopped coriander stalks

Juice and zest of 1 lime

3 karrif lime leafs

4 cardamom pods

3 black peppercorns

Method: Add all the ingredients to a mini blender (or mortar and pestle) and blitz until a smooth paste is formed. Slicing the lemon grass and ginger before helps make a smoother paste. Use Half the paste for two portions, the remainder can be frozen (it keeps its flavours well) or stored in a refrigerated airtight container for up to 7 days. Please view my Mussels in Laksa Broth which is an excellent way to use the other half of the paste.

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For the dish:

4-6 large tiger prawns – devein but keep in shell and head on, 

Generous handful of pre fried tofu pieces – see notes in opening section

2 hard boiled eggs – add eggs to boiling water for 8-10 minutes, shell and half

2 portions of cooked egg noodles – see notes in opening section

4 spring onions – sliced on diagonal into 2-3cm lengths

Generous handful of coriander leaf – roughly chop

1 tbsp. dark sauce

1 tbsp. fish sauce

1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil

500ml fish stock – can use chicken as alternative

500ml coconut milk – do not use half fat, doesn’t work 😦

1 lime cut into wedges – to serve

Brown sugar – only use if required to balance flavour

Method: Start by heating 1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil in a deep frying pan or wok then add the paste. Stir fry for 6-8 minutes until the oil starts to separate from the paste. Add the coconut milk and fish stock and heat until it starts to boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add a tbsp. of fish sauce and dark soy sauce then taste test, if it requires more seasoning add a little extra, if it is too strong add a little sugar to balance it.

Heat 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a separate frying pan over a high heat. Once oil is smoking hot add the prawns and cook for approx. 90 seconds on each side, just until the prawns turn pink, then remove from heat and drain on absorbent paper. The hot stock will finish the prawns off, so make sure you do not over cook them.

Bring the laksa broth back to the boil then turn off heat and serve. Place the cooked noodles on the bottom of the bowl, then ladle the hot broth over the noodles. Add pieces of pre cooked tofu, sliced spring onions, boiled egg halves, the cooked tiger prawns and a little chopped coriander to finish. Enjoy.

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Spiced Bean Soup

A rich, smokey and spicey soup of vegetables and mixed beans

A simple recipe for a rich, smokey, spicey and deeply flavoursome soup which is as healthy as it is delicious. A flavour base of onion, peas, garlic, carrot and celery is fried in a little olive oil then mixed beans, chipotle paste, spices, herbs, tomato paste and stock are added. Unlike most my soups this one is not blended so it is important to spend a little time cutting the vegetables so that they are all the same size and cook at the same time. The result is a soup with a really satisfying deep flavour – works brilliantly with a nice bacon roll (other fillings are available) or as a starter on its own.

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 This recipe gives 4 large portions

Preparation time 15 minutes, cooking time 45 minutes

 

Ingredients and method

2 tbsp. olive oil

3 white onions – finely diced

3 sticks celery – finely diced

4 cloves garlic – crush finely chopped

50g garden peas

4 carrots – peel, finely diced

400g tin mixed beans (in water) – drain, rinse well

2 bay leafs

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli powder

2 tsp chipotle paste

2 dessert spoons tomato paste

1 dessert spoon brown sugar

1.5 litres vegetable/chicken stock

2 tbsp. chopped coriander leaf

salt and pepper

Method: Start by heating 2 tbsp. olive oil in a deep stock/soup pot then fry the onion, bay leafs, carrot, garlic, peas and celery for 5-7 minutes until slightly softened. Add the beans, the chipotle and tomato paste and mix well, then add the spices. Stir fry for a further 2 minutes then add in the stock, the chopped coriander, the sugar, a generous amount of black pepper and a little salt. Bring the soup to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cover pot with lid and cook for around 40 minutes. After this carefully remove lid and taste test the seasoning, add a little extra salt or pepper if required. Before serving remove the bay leafs then ladle the soup into bowls. Enjoy.

 

 

Thai King Prawn Red curry

Delicious curry made with a fresh homemade curry paste, with King Prawns, green beans and Thai herbs.

Like all good Thai curries the secret is using a fresh homemade paste. Don’t use the ones in jars from the supermarket, they simply don’t have the flavour. This recipe gives enough paste for two meals, simply store in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze it – it defrosts well and doesn’t loose its flavour. I will feature a number of other recipes using this paste in the coming weeks.

The dish itself is very quick and easy to cook and will bring back those memories of Bangkok or sitting on a perfect Thai beach. I wish I was there now!

Serves two people

Preparation 15 minutes, cooking time approx. 15 minutes

Ingredients and method

For the curry paste

8 cloves garlic – peeled

thumb of ginger – peeled and slice thinly

2 large red chillies – remove stalk, keep seeds

4 red bird eye chillies – remove stalk keep seeds

Zest and juice of 1 lime

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tsp tamarind paste

2 tsp shrimp paste

2 tbsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp. coriander stalks

4 dessert spoons brown sugar

3 dessert spoons desiccated coconut

6 black peppercorns

2 sticks lemongrass – bruise, remove outer husk, slice thinly

Handful of peanuts

8-10 Thai basil leafs – remove stalk

2 lime leafs

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

Method: Use a mini chopper, food processor or mortar and pestle to pound into a smooth paste. Slicing ginger and lemongrass beforehand makes it much easier to form a smooth paste. Once a smooth paste has been formed separate into two even portions. As mentioned above the spare portion can be frozen or stored in an airtight refrigerated container for up to 5 days.

For the main dish

2 portions of jasmine rice – cook as per packet instructions

200g raw King prawns –  shell and head removed

200ml coconut milk

150ml water

70g fine green beans – cut into 4-5cm batons

2 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander leaf

4 spring onions (white part only) – slice diagonally into 4cm lengths

8-10 Thai basil leafs – remove stalk

1 lime – cut into wedges to garnish

Method: Start by frying the paste in a non stick pan, as there is oil in the paste there should be no need to add extra, if paste sticks to pan loosen with a little water rather than adding oil. As the rice takes a similar time start to cook it now as per packet instructions. Fry paste for 4-5 minutes until the paste moves round pan as a single mass, take care not to let paste stick to pan and burn. Add the coconut milk and the water and stir well until fully combined, bring to boil and simmer for 7-8 minutes. Add the green beans and the spring onion and simmer for a further 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the raw king prawns to the sauce and poach them, bring back to a simmer and continue to cook until the prawns change from grey to pink. Remove from heat and serve immediately along with the cooked jasmine rice. Garnish the dish with the coriander, Thai basil and lime wedges.

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Spiced Chicken and Rice

Chicken on the bone, with paella rice, vegetables, herbs, spices and garlic mayonnaise. A true one pot wonder.

It was a little hard to name this dish and really “spiced chicken and rice” doesn’t really do it any justice. This really is absolutely delicious, if I don’t say so myself! I wanted to make a dish like paella but with a very different flavour. I am very happy with the results and cant wait to cook this again, I hope you like it too!

The dish uses chicken wings with the skin removed, cooked on the bone this gives the chicken flavour and keeps the meat moist as the dish cooks. You could substitute wings for thighs or legs, but I think wings work best.

The wings are browned in a pan before adding a mixture of onion, garlic, red pepper, celery and red chilli. This is fried until the vegetables start to soften then a little sugar, black pepper, smoked paprika, ground cumin and chilli powder is added then stirred through the vegetables. Paella rice is added and stirred through the mixture to coat every grain in the flavour base. A glass of white wine is added then cooked off, followed by some tomato paste, chicken stock and a little water. The heat is turned down and the dish is left to simmer until the rice is cooked. The dish is garnished with some freshly chopped coriander, lime wedges and a generous drizzle of garlic mayonnaise.

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 Serves two

Preparation time 15 minutes, cooking time 35 minutes

Ingredients and method

500g chicken wings – skin and connective tissue removed

4 cloves garlic – peeled, crushed and finely chopped

2 medium sized red onions – finely diced

1 red pepper – finely diced

150g Paella rice

125ml dry white wine

1 tsp Smoked paprika

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tbsp. olive oil

500ml chicken stock – keep hot to add to rice

175ml water – add extra if liquid cooks off before rice is ready

2 tsp tomato paste

Black pepper – to taste

Salt – to taste

3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaf –  add to dish and for garnish

4 lime wedges – garnish

Garlic mayonnaise – in squeeze bottle to drizzle over dish

Method: Start by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide deep frying pan, then add the chicken wings and brown over a medium high heat. Once chicken is browned add the celery, garlic, onion, chilli and red pepper, stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp chilli powder, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and 2 tsp of brown sugar and stir through the vegetables. Next add the paella rice and stir well until each grain is coated in the spice mixture, then add a glass of wine and stir until it is cooked off. Add 2 tsp of tomato paste and stir through the rice then add 1 tablespoon chopped coriander, 500ml chicken stock and 175ml water. Gently stir through the rice, bring to the boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Leave uncovered for around 25-30 minutes until the rice is cooked. If required you can add a little extra water and cook for longer if rice is not ready, the chicken will only get more tender and fall off the bone delicious. Before serving check the rice for seasoning then add salt and pepper to taste. Complete the dish by adding lime wedges, sprinkling coriander, then drizzling a generous amount of garlic mayonnaise over the dish.

 

Nasi Goreng

Indonesian fried rice dish with King Prawns, vegetables and a fried egg.

I visited Bali in 2014 as part of my honeymoon and had this dish several times as I liked it so much. The best version I had was at “Breeze” the excellent beach side restaurant at The Samaya hotel in Seminyak, on which I base this recipe.

The flavour in this dish comes from a wonderful curry paste like so many South East Asian dishes. This is fried in hot oil before adding some sliced carrot, chillies and red onion. Pre cooked jasmine rice is added next, which is best cooked in advance and kept in fridge for 1-2 hours – it just tastes better. Cooked prawns are then added with light soy, ketchup manis, tomato paste, peanuts and onion flakes which are stirred through the rice. Chopped coriander leaf, fresh tomato and cucumber slices are added and stirred through the rice. The dish is then served with the essential fried egg on top.

The recipe for the paste below gives two portions, the leftover half can either be frozen or stored in fridge in an airtight jar for up to seven days. You can use this same recipe to make the noodle version Mee Goreng or use the paste as a base for a curry then add coconut milk to make a sauce.

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Serves two people

Preparation time 20 minutes, cooking time 10 minutes

Ingredients

For Nasi Goreng paste:

1 tsp black peppercorns

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Handful peanuts

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 tsp turmeric

2 white onions – peeled

Thumb of root ginger – peeled, roughly chop 

2 stalks lemon grass – discard outer husks, thinly slice 

6 cloves garlic – peel

2 large red chillies

1 tsp shrimp paste

1 dessert spoon brown sugar

1 Tbsp Ketchup manis

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Method: Use a min blender to blitz into a smooth paste. Chopping the tough ingredients before blending helps make a smooth paste. Only use half for this recipe, the remainder can be frozen or stored in the fridge (see notes above).

For the dish:

2 portions of pre cooked Jasmine rice – best stored in fridge for 1-2 hours

Vegetable oil – 2 tbsp for dish plus extra to shallow fry prawns and fry egg

12-18 raw King prawns – devein and butterfly 

1 carrot – cut into thin batons

4 birds eye chilies – keep whole

1 red onion – cut into thin strips

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1 tbsp. ketchup manis

1 tbsp. light soy sauce

2-3 tbsp. peanuts

2-3 tbsp. onion flakes

5cm cucumber – slice and quarter

2 round tomatoes – cut into eighths 

Handful coriander leaf – roughly chopped

2 eggs – fried sunny side up

Method: Start by cooking the Prawns by shallow frying in very hot oil, this method is quick and helps to seal in the juices, as soon as they start to turn from grey to pink remove them from the oil and drain on absorbent paper. Next heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok or deep-frying pan until smoking hot, add the curry paste and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the carrot, onion and birds eye chillies and fry for a further minute then add the rice. Stir fry the rice until it fully breaks up and combines with the paste then add the pre cooked prawns. Add a tablespoon of tomato paste, ketchup manis and light soy sauce and stir into the rice until combined then add the onion flakes and peanuts. Stir fry for a further minute until dish is heated through. Add the coriander, tomatoes and cucumber, stir through the dish then turn off the heat. In a separate pan add a little oil and quickly fry 2 eggs sunny side up. Serve immediately with the fried egg on top of the rice.