Chinese stir fried vegetables

I absolutely enjoyed pulling together a stir fried vegetable dish for lunch today.  As previously mentioned there are a few cupboard essentials when wanting to make Chinese food taste slightly more authentic (rice wine, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil) and today I want to add another one to the list – spiced black rice vinegar.   I was in my local Waitrose earlier today and was browsing the specialty oils and vinegar aisle when I spotted three combinations I haven’t come across before – apple balsamic vinegar, apply & cranberry balsamic vinegar and black rice vinegar.   I picked up all three and used the black rice vinegar in the stir fry.  I am looking forward to using the other two in a salad vinaigrette soon.

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What do I need to make it?

  • Handful of green beans cut in half
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 green pepper cubed
  • 2 carrots chopped into wedges
  • 6 large closed cup mushrooms quartered
  • 8 florets of broccoli
  • 1 bunch of choi sum (each stalk cut into 3-4 pieces)
  • 3 sprigs of spring onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1″ piece of ginger minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red chili
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • Handful coriander leaves chopped
  • 2 tsp Shaosin wine
  • 3 tsp dark soya sauce
  • 2 tsp spicy black rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp vegetable/sunflower oil
  • Dash of salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4 as a side dish

How do I make it?

Heat wok and pour oil in once hot.  Add ginger and garlic mince and stir for 30 seconds before adding the crushed red chili flakes.   Stir for another minute before adding green pepper, celery, carrot, beans, mushroom and broccoli.  Stir for five to eight minutes before adding the choi sum (choi sum only takes a couple of minutes to cook).  Then add the rice wine, vinegar, soya sauce and white pepper.  Adjust the seasoning before garnishing with spring onions and fresh coriander.   Serve hot with rice or noodles.

Sunday Soup

Sunday is the day I try to clear out our refrigerator.  I usually find some   tired and limp veggies lurking  in the fridge and absolutely hate wasting them. Sometimes we buy packets of herbs for dishes we make during the week and often find that there is a bit leftover. A ll my leftover herbs go into my wholesome Sunday soup.  Shiv and I try to make our soups interesting.  He is a lot better than I am.  I admit defeat when it comes to finesse.  I am the pedestrian home cook and he is more  the chef.  My soup last Sunday had Moroccan flavours and a lot of vegetables which were saved and used before they rotted and had to be thrown away.

I am not going to write a specific recipe for the soup because one can use any vegetable lying around in their refrigerator.  I used carrots, parsnips, broccoli, radish  green peppers, celery, potatoes, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, mint, fresh coriander a few curry leaves and garlic.  I sautéed onion and garlic in a bit of butter.  Just as they softened,  I added a bit of salt and two teaspoons of Moroccan Rose Harrissa paste, a teaspoon of cumin powder and then all my vegetables and herbs.  I  then added about a liter of water and two vegetable stock cubes and cooked the vegetables till they were soft enough to be blended.  Once blended I poured enough water to get it to my desired consistency and brought to a boil.  For the garnish,Image I sautéed fresh Rosemary  in butter. I served the soup with a dollop of soured cream with the Rosemary butter drizzled on top.  A delicious and healthy way to use up all my veggies.


Pantry essentials

Our predominantly Indian pantry is normally well stocked with both whole and ground spices.  On one of our many shopping trips to Costco we found large bottles of herbs and rubs on offer at a very reasonable price.  One of things we picked up to add to our pantry is now an absolute must have if you love all things spicy – Schwartz Blackened Cajun Seasoning – WARNING for the faint at heart this mix carries a punch.


Here’s a simple recipe (very Paleo friendly) for a delicious salad option:

What do I need to make it?

  • 30-40  deveined shelled prawns washed and dried
  • 2  tbsp Schwartz Blackened Cajun seasoning (more if you want it spicy)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 ripe mango (Brazilian variety – firm and sweet)
  • Salad onions/basil (optional)
  • 1 packet salad greens of your choice

How do I make it?

Mix the prawns with oil and spice and refrigerate for a couple of hours (the longer the better to allow marinade to penetrate the prawns).  Heat pan and cook prawn on both sides till done (should not take more than 10 minutes).  Garnish with chopped salad onions and basil (optional).

Divi up the salad greens into two bowls and spread chopped mangoes around the bowl.  Place equal portions of cooked prawns in the middle and serve hot.

Alternatively try the salad with cherry tomatoes and ripe avocado instead o f the mangoes.



Spice discovery

Anna and I often like to experiment with new spices with the hope of discovering the next best thing since sliced bread.  We were recently picking up some groceries from our local Asian shop, Atif and my eyes locked onto a spice mix I had not come across before.  The name Ras Al Hanout sounded Moroccan/Arabic.  We decided to pick it up and tried it as a marinade for fish (mixed a couple of teaspoons with olive oil to make a paste) and it worked a treat.

The spice mix contains the following ingredients – coriander, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne,  salt, pimento, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and aniseed (pretty much every spice under the sun!).  Drop us a line if you’ve got any other spice mix suggestions.


My food bible

I think any budding cook/chef should get this book as it has some great Indian recipes from across the sub continent.  I have pretty much exhausted most recipes from this book and trust me when I say that you can blindly pick any recipe, follow it to the last T and the outcome is going to enthrall your guests.  Jiggs Kalra has taken recipes from some of the best chefs in India and recreated them for cooking in the home.  He has tried each of the recipes a few times over to ensure that they are perfect.  The recipes are easy to follow and most ingredients are available from UK supermarkets or Indian shops (the only exception is yellow chilli powder which we have managed to get from Delhi through a friend).  I have recommended this book to friends who now swear by it.  Give it a try and let me know how you get along.


Prashad by Jiggs Kalra