Every Halloween my mind turns to Loy Krathong in Thailand because they are always close together.
This year its going to be on the 24th of November and once again everyone will gather around and create little rafts of floating lotus flowers adorned with incense and candles and float them off on rivers and lakes to pay respects to the water goddess. Granted sometimes they are polystyrene and tinfoil these days, but nothing beats the sublime beauty of thousands of rafts twinkling away as they make their way down the Chaophraya river.
It struck me that stewed fruit is a mainstay in Thailand and so I thought I would suggest a great way to use up those pumpkins. These instructions are for a kilo of pumpkin so adjust accordingly depending on size. Simply peel the pumpkin, discard the seeds and cut into 2 inch pieces. Bring 750ml of coconut milk to the boil and add 175g caster sugar and a pinch of salt. Add the pumpkin and simmer until the fruit is tender which should take about ten minutes.
Pour into bowls and decorate with some pumpkin seed – or mint – or both – to serve.
- 4 eggs
- 75g soft brown sugar
- 250 ml fresh coconut milk - you can use tinned but I don't approve!
- 1teaspoon coconut essence - you don't need this if the coconut is great but if not boost the taste by using this or rosewater to give a different twist
- Heat the oven to 150c
- Whisk the eggs and sugar
- Whisk in the coconut milk
- Pour into ramekins
- Place the ramekins in a roasting tray and fill halfway up the ramekins with boiling water
- Cook for 35 minutes until set then remove to cool
- I usually top these with grated coconut or desiccated even - to give a crunch, however they are fab with a sprinkling of icing sugar and topped with raspberries
Inspired by the recent sunshine I went out on a day of junk shop browsing and bought six of these lovely little ramekin dishes. I came home desperate to make immediate use of them so I whipped up this little dessert which is simple and quick to make – so enjoy the sunshine and a sweet taste of Thailand.
- 6 Garlic Cloves
- 15 Medium Green Chillies
- 1 Tablespoon of Lime Juice
- 2 Tablespoons of Fish Sauce
- 1 tablespoon of Stock or Water
- 1Teaspoon of Brown Caster Sugar
- Pinch of Fine Salt
- 2 Tablespoons of Chopped Coriander Leaf
- Peel the garlic
- Cut the heads off the chillies
- In a heavy pestle and mortar pound the garlic and chillies with the salt until you have a course paste
- Stir in the lime juice, stock or water and brown sugar
- Combine well and stir until the sugar dissolves
- Slowly add in the fish sauce, tasting as you go and adjust any seasonings you feel necessary to make a balanced sauce
- It should taste spicy and tart.
- Stir in the chopped coriander just before serving
- If you want to keep this its OK for a couple of the days in the fridge but its always best the first day and in fact its better sat for a couple of hours at room temperature before you eat it
We are so lucky to have the wholesale fish market in Birmingham, we can get everything there despite being the farthest from the sea in Britain you could possibly get. Even if you are not in the trade you are welcome to call in and buy direct from the traders and we should all take advantage of that now because as and when the market moves – which is on the cards – that may well change.
If you are a brave and adventurous soul with an unrelenting desire to plunge your hand in to select your own live crab then this simply is the place to be early in the morning.
I have to confess my cowardice here but I just love to eat them fresh and so I always manage to find someone help to prepare them with me.
The fear harks back to when I was a child and we used to serve great piles of them as ploughman’s lunches in our pub in Sheringham, there they came straight from the sea in Cromer and the fishermen would gladly deliver them to the door in exchange for a pint.
Ever conscious of the safety issues involved my dad was always thrusting a pencil in their claws as he ruthlessly dropped them screaming into a pot of boiling water in an attempt to stop our fingers ever venturing near. I have to say it worked and its worked to this day!
When I’m in Bangkok alone though I pluck up the courage to buy fresh water Ayuthayan river prawns and carry them back home on the bus with a giant carrier bag jumping and jiggling with the last vestiges of life ebbing away before I get home to simply halve them and throw them on the barbie.
The Thai’s enhance all their meals with dips and it’s typical to find a range of dips that can be hot and spicy, sweet and tangy, subtle or complex, or even just plain old fish sauce.
Nahm Jim Seafood is my favourite with fish and is so simple to put together I hope that you use the recipe with any fresh grilled or steamed seafood as it allows the pure taste of fish to shine through but at the same time excites and elevates something so simple into something quite sublime.