New addiction alert: Smoked Bacon & Scallop Sandwich

Bacon and Scallops have always been good friends, a tried and tested combination I’m sure many of you have tried before.  Only this time, try it in a sandwich. Salty, smoky, chewy bacon meets sweet, succulent scallop, wedged in doorstep slices of the softest white loaf.  This will make you raise your eyebrows I’m sure – that was my reaction when I first heard of it. But trust me, it’s good.  Better than good.  It’s ‘Up There’ with the All Time Top Weekend Breakfasts.

Don’t mess around with crap bacon for this. It’s got to be good quality and thick cut. I had some of my favourite smoked molasses bacon from Brixton Village Market, and some very fine hand dived scallops from Moxon’s Fishmonger, roe still intact.

The choice of bread is also important – you want a super soft white loaf – cut thick enough to hold everything in place as you munch away.  After frying the bacon, I quickly seared the scallops and roe in the same pan, adding a little butter.  Once cooked I let the scallops rest, and wiped the pan clean with one slice of the sandwich bread before assembling the tastiest sandwich ever. Enough said.

Fiery BBQ Pork Ribs with Holy Fuck Sauce

With London weather as good as this, it seems a sin to cook in the kitchen instead of firing up the BBQ nestled in my uber small garden. I feel for the neighbours upstairs as they slam their windows shut to stop the smoke from billowing in, but I just can’t help myself. The unmistakable taste of charred meat on raw flame is too big a temptation to resist.

Last nights offering was slow cooked Pork Ribs, basted in the deliciously fiery but flavoursome Holy F@*k sauce. Not for the faint hearted, these ribs will leave you tingling for hours.

For those of you not already acquainted with Holy F@*k Sauce, this kick ass hot sauce is the creation of The Rib Man – a street food god hailed as serving up some of the best ribs and rib rolls in London.  The sauce is made with Scotch Bonnet and Naga Bhut Jolokia chills – the hottest in the world….reach for the milk!

The Rib Man has gained himself a bit of a cult following of late, and his special brew sauce is being put to the test in all manner of dishes, from French Toast to Burgers to Pizza. My tribute to the cause are these ribs – slow cooked in the oven with a few aromatics for a couple of hours and then smothered in the fiery sauce before finishing on the flame.

This is the way to do ribs – they were MEAN – meat falling off the bone, with a charred, sticky, fiery hot coating. The perfect distraction for all this summer sunshine if there ever was one.

Simply done – I cooked the whole rib in the oven on a low temperature for 2 hours – with 1 roughly chopped leak underneath, 8 peppercorns, 5 cloves, a couple of star anise and a good glug of water (covered tightly in foil).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little, then pour any of the baking tray juices into a saucepan and reduce until you have thicker syrupy sauce.  Add some Holy Fuck Sauce (how much is up to your discretion) and a squeeze of ketchup and cook out for a further minute or so.  Baste the ribs generously, and place on the BBQ. Turn the ribs and rebaste every couple of minutes to guarantee a deliciously sticky and charred rib.  My only advice is to do more than you think as they’ll be gone before you know it!

Black Truffle Linguine

An indulgent splurge on the man’s birthday left me with no choice but to smother butter coated Linguine with generous shavings of Black Truffle. A very simple recipe, no fuss allowed.

Boil the Linguine in salted water till al dente, saving a little of the starchy water back when draining.  Add a generous knob of  unsalted butter to a frying pan and allow to bubbly way till nutty and brown but not burnt.

Add the drained pasta to the frying pan and coat the Linguine with the butter, adding a little of the starchy water to loosen and provide a little more moisture. Season generously with salt, and transfer to a plate immediately. Top generously with shavings of freshly grated black truffle (or as generously as the wallet allows) and devour!

Tamago-Yaki, it’s Sunshine on a Plate!

1

Tamago-yaki is a perfect way to ease in to a lazy sunday morning, and seems especially good when the sun is shining!  The name translates literally as “grilled” or “fried” egg, created by rolling thin layers of egg mixture flavoured with soy and sake, and sweetened with sugar and mirin. A special rectangular Tamago pan is often used, which helps create the neat sides of the finished omelette, although I’m sure a regular pan would still give good results.

Until fairly recently, I think my experience of Tamago-yaki has mainly been of the mass made, factory variety – almost toxic yellow in colour, processed texture and not fresh at all (used in the majority of sushi chains around London and even many restaurants). Freshly made home cooked Tamagoyaki, on the contrary is totally delicious and so quick to make.

Substantial enough to eat on its own or cooked plain for a topping to sushi rice, I’ve been trying lots of variations recently (to feed my slight addiction). My first attempt was guided by Reiko Hashimoto’s recipe in Hashi Cooking and contained good quality smoked ham and english chives (recipe below). However I’ve also had them plain, or with minced prawns and chinese chives, shiitake mushrooms, shredded nori, sliced spring onions etc. etc. – the options are endless and can be based on whatever you have left in the fridge. Serve with some grated daikon seasoned with a little soy, or cucumber if you can’t get hold of daikon for a little freshness. I sometimes top this with a dollop of salmon roe, another very tasty addition!

Here’s the recipe from Hashi Cooking….let the good times roll.

Ingredients (makes 2 rolls, serves 4)
6 Large eggs
3 tbsp finely chopped chives
60g finely chopped smoked ham
1 tspn instant dashi powder
1 tbsp mirin
2 tspn caster sugar
1 tspn soy sauce
pinch salt
veg oil for cooking
Garnish – grated daikon, shiso leaves, few drops of soy
 
Method

Mix all the ingredients for the omelette in a large bowl or jug and stir well.

Heat the Tamago Pan over a medium heat and brush a little vegetable oil on the base and sides of the pan, coating evenly.

Pour about 10% of the egg mixture into the pan and tilt the pan to coat the base evenly. When the egg starts to set, lift up the edge on one side and roll upwards using chopsticks or a spatula – make sure you roll while the surface of the egg is still wet so the layers stick together. I found it helped to keep the heat very low on my first few attempts, buying more time to roll before the egg sets as it can be a bit fiddly the first couple of times.

Grease the empty part of the pan again, keeping the rolled omelette at the side of the pan furthest from you.  Then quickly pour another 10% of the mixture, tilting to cover the empty side of the pan, and lifting the roll up to allow the egg to run underneath. When it looks half set, roll the omelette backwards until you get to the other side.

And keep going – until you have used up about half the mixture.  Once it’s rolled, I let the outside colour just a little, then remove from the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes.  Make the second omelette with the remaining egg mix.

Once the omelette has rested for 5 minutes, slice into 2.5cm thick slices (or thinner if using as a sushi topping), and serve with the grated daikon and chopped shiso leaves, and a few drops of soy.

Tamagoyaki

U-don think it’s easy to make Udon?

My latest cookery course endeavour was a fresh noodle making class with Reiko Hashimoto, possibly the first of its kind in London, for I’ve yet to come across anything remotely similar.  I’ve been to Reiko’s Gourmet course and left with nothing but praise for the standard of expertise in Japanese cuisine that Reiko offers, relaxed and informal surroundings and above all, damn tasty food that you CAN recreate at home (whilst wowing your friends as they marvel at your culinary skills!).

My assumption has always been that it’s pretty tough to make noodles and I was so surprised to see how so few ingredients and a little hard graft result in fresh noodles ready for the pot in less than 20 minuntes (or a little longer for feebles like me with wimpy arms).

We made Udon noodles – equal quantities of strong white flour and plain flour, and Reiko explained how to make Soba noodles – a combination of buckwheat flour and plain flour.  Nothing else needed, just a little cold water to bring the mixture together.  The soba noodles were made before the class began to allow for resting.

This is a very hands-on class, and no doubt the messiest one for Reiko’s kitchen, although aprons were thoughtfully provided for all of us. Everyone has their own Udon mix to knead and after about 15 minutes of taking out the days aggressions on the dough, it is miraculously transformed into a springy ball ready for rolling and cutting.

The noodles are hand cut, which all adds to the ‘feel-good’ factor when making something very tactile like this, and you get a much better idea of how thin the dough should be rolled and cut than if it were to be pressed through a machine.

We also rolled and cut the Soba, which were more tricky to work with as the dough was drier and less elastic, and the strands should be cut much thinner than for Udon.

Some of the noodles came out fat, some thin…and some with a rogue hair in them (whoops!).  For me, this was all part of the enjoyment and I’m sure we all left learning from our mishaps.

At the beginning of the class, Reiko started by preparing a traditional Dashi stock with Kombu and Bonito flakes and we revisit the pot at several stages throughout the class. Of course when you’re in a rush it’s ok to use instant dashi stock, but you really can taste the difference if the stock is made from scratch.

We went through a variety of accompaniments for the noodles – Soy & Honey Glazed Smoked Mackeral or Saba and Deep Fried Tofu or Kitsune for the udon, and a sweet soy based Zaru dressing for the Soba noodles which are traditionally eaten cold with a little wasabi and chopped spring onion. We also had some sliced Japanese fish cake to serve with the udon. Needless to say, this then led to the inevitable slurping of the noodles, with a refreshing glass of wine or beer.  I dare say we deserved it for all that kneading!

The Udon and amazing dashi stock were especially good – when freshly made they have a certain spring to them that you don’t get with dried or frozen udon. This is something I will definitely try at home, I really was amazed at how simple they were to make, with no specialist equipment or ingredients needed.

All in the evening costs £65 and it’s one of a kind. Reiko’s classes always attract a nice mix of attendees from all kinds of backgrounds, and the ice is broken quickly with such a hands on class where everyone rolls up their sleeves and mucks in. Another triumph from Reiko which I wholeheartedly recommend!