Mussels with noodles cooked in coconut milk and lemon grass (Thai Inspired)

I got the inspiration to create this dish from my Mom’s amazing fishball noodle soup. Its so comforting and reminds me of hot evenings spent sampling street food on the streets of Bangkok. I loved the dish so much that my Mom called her Thai friend to teach her how to cook it. Unfortunately as neither my local Sainsbury’s nor Waitrose sells Thai fish balls here in the UK, I have created this dish using mussels instead. I have also adapted the recipe using Thai beer for additional layer of flavour, making this a refreshing dish. I hope you enjoy it too.

A large sauce pan with a lid and a medium sauce pan.

Ingredients Serves 4:
The Mussels:
1.  1 kg fresh mussels
2.  2 tbsp. groundnut oil
3.  30g ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
4.  2 cloves of garlic, grated or finely chopped
5.  1 small shallot, finely chopped
6.  1 red birds eye chilli finely chopped (deseed chilli to lessen heat)
7.  2 stalks of lemon grass, finely chopped
8.  150ml Thai Beer
9.  300 ml Coconut milk (tin)

10. 4 tbsp. fish sauce
11. 2 tsp. palm sugar
12. Pinch of Ground white pepper

Egg Noodles:
13. 250g dried egg noodles (use fresh ones if available)
14. Pinch of salt
15. 2 tsp. groundnut oil
16. Handful of coriander, finely chopped
17. Handful of sweet holy basil, torn
18. 2 spring onions, chopped

For the Egg Noodles:
1.  On a medium size sauce pan, over a medium heat, boil some water with a pinch of salt and some oil.
2.  Once the water starts boiling add your egg noodles. (Follow your egg noodles packet instructions) as some dried egg noodles takes longer cooking time.) Once cooked, drain and set aside.

The Mussels:
3.  Wash and clean your mussels on a cold running water, for mussels that are open or slightly open, tap them lightly and if they do not close discard them.
4.  On a large pan, over high heat add 2 tbsp. of groundnut oil, ginger, garlic, shallots, chilies and lemon grass, sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant.

5.  Add mussels and beer; allow it to simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, pinch of pepper and cover with a lid.

6.  Leave to cook for 5 minutes gently shaking the pan a few times. Once the mussels have all opened, remove from heat, stir in some of your garnish herbs and add the egg noodles. Toss the noodles with the mussels.
7.  Garnish with some chopped coriander, sweet holy basil and spring onion.

Serve immediately.

Stir Fry Minced Beef with Sweet Holy Basil “Pad Kra Pao Neua”

Pad Kra Pao

This is certainly one of my favourite Thai street food. Simple to cook and yet so tasty. I love having this as a main course with a Tom Kha Kai for a starter and dessert as Sticky Mango with coconut rice.

· Wok

Ingredients Serves 4:
1.  2 tsp of vegetable oil
2.  4 cloves of garlic
3.  4 bird’s eye chilies
4.  200g minced beef
5.  3 ½ tsp of oyster sauce (I recommend the Thai oyster sauce for this dish, as per the picture below)
6.  4 tsp of beef stock
7.  1 tsp of sugar
8.  2 tsp of fish sauce
9.  2 kaffir lime leaves (on sale in Waitrose, though it is best to get this fresh or frozen from an oriental supermarket)
10. 2 handfuls of sweet holy basil (on sale in Waitrose- labelled as Thai basil). Note that you would need the ‘sweet’ holy basil not just a holy basil, sweet holy basil has a distinct sweet aroma and enhances the flavours of the dish.
11. A handful of fried garlic (you can either fry fresh finely chopped garlic or buy this from an oriental super market, as per the picture below)
12. A handful of coriander leaves for garnish

Oyster Sauce

Thai Oyster Sauce (picture above)

Fried Garlic (picture above)

Sweet Holy Basil

Sweet Holy Basil (picture above)

The Beef:
1. The key to this dish is a smoking hot wok and preparing all the ingredients before you begin cooking. Heat the oil in the wok until it is very, very hot. Fry the garlic and chilli for 30 seconds to a minute. Just as the garlic is browning tip in the minced beef.

2. Fry the minced beef for a minute or two until it browns. Add the beef stock, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, kaffir lime leaves and sweat holy basil. There should not be too much liquid, just enough for a little sauce. Do not add too much liquid or fry the beef for too long as the beef will toughen up and it will not taste as nice.

The Egg:
For a genuine Thai style fried egg. Heat some oil in a frying pan until it is smoking hot. Crack the egg into the pan, because the pan is so hot the egg should crisp up around the edges. Move the egg from side to side, bathing the entire egg with the hot oil, as per the pictures below. This will make the egg crispy, finally turn over the egg so its semi-side up and then serve. The yolk should still be runny.

Serve with rice and a fried egg.



Tom Kha Kai ต้มข่าไก

Tom Kha Kai

This is such a comforting dish, similar to the Thais national dish “Tom Yum Gung” but a creamier version. This recipe is for my lovely friend Vladimira who adores this soup and calls it her ‘Top Soup”.

· Sieve, Muslin Cloth, 2 Large Sauce Pans, Blender or Food Processor.

Ingredients Serves 4:
1.    300g Chicken Breast (skinned)
2.    40 grams of peeled Galangal
3.    6x Sticks of Lemongrass
4.    1 Bunch of Thai Coriander
5.    8 Kaffir Lime Leaves
6.    5 Red Thai Chillies (reduce or add to your preferred level of heat)
7.    5 Thai shallots (crushed)
8.    1x 1 litre carton of Coconut Milk (do not use the reduced fat  coconut milk).
9.   The juice of two limes
10.  7.5x Teaspoons of Fish Sauce
11.  6x straw or oyster mushrooms
12.  4x tomatoes
13.  ¾  tsp of salt
14.  Fresh coriander
15.  4x spring onions
16.  40 grams of garlic
17.  75 grams of ginger
18.  1x tsp black pepper corns
19.  1x star anise
20.  3x tsp sugar

The Stock:
1. Create the Asian style chicken stock. Ideally create the chicken stock by boiling two chicken carcasses in 1.6 litre of water. Skim the scum off the top of the stock leaving you with a clear broth. Alternatively buy Waitrose’s fresh chicken stock or create the chicken stock using Korrs’ chicken stockpot, 2 stockpots will create 1.5 litres of stock. (personally, I would recommend using the fresh stock as the taste does make a big difference.)
2. Add on the boiling stock, four bruised spring onions, 40g of bruised whole garlics cloves (do not slice), 75g of peeled ginger, a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns and up to one whole star anise depending on your taste.

The Tom Kha Paste:
1. Whilst the stock is simmering create the Tom Kha paste. Finely chop 75g of shallots, 40g of garlic, 40g of galangal (you can use ginger if you cannot find galangal in the shops), and six lemongrass stalks. I always chop these ingredients as finely as possible because unless you have an industrial grade food processor/blender if the ingredients are not chopped as finely as possible you will break the blender – as I have already done twice! Put the finely chopped ingredients in the blender with a few tablespoons of coconut milk and blend until smooth.
2. Add the paste to the simmering stock and continue to simmer for three to five minutes.
3. Take the stock off the heat and pass through a sieve to remove the larger ingredients no longer needed such as the spring onions and ginger. For a smoother soup pass the liquid through a muslin cloth, as per the picture below. (This removes any of the ingredients the blender might not have blended completely smooth.)
4. Add the kaffir lime leaves, salt, chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring back to the boil until the chicken is cooked, season with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chillies to taste.

Serve with a sprinkling of chopped fresh coriander leaves. It should taste both sour and creamy.

Tom Kha Kai 2