Monday, 17 February 2014

Burmese Pork Curry Recipe, Mogok-style - Wet-thar Hnut

Mogok Pork Curry
Mogok Pork Curry (photo by Luiz Hara)

My mother is from Mogok, a chilly gem-mining town in the hilly north of Burma, where everyone adores pork (I mentioned before that they refer to wages as "pork funds"). 

This classic Mogok curry is more or less used to wean Burmese children - my nephews and nieces can eat bowls and bowls of the stuff, as it's sweet and mild, yet addictive. 

Before my youngest nephew could talk properly, whenever he visited his grandparents, he'd ask for "pork and yice" (pork and rice), and I'm pleased to say that my one year old daughter is now an equally big fan.

(Wet-thar Hnut)

Serves 4 to 6, freezes well

  • 1 kg pork leg or shoulder, with some fat, diced into 2.5cm cubes
  • 100ml malt vinegar
  • 4 medium white onions, peeled
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled
  • 4 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Toss the pork thoroughly in the vinegar and then discard the vinegar. Place the pork in a large saucepan and add enough water to just submerge the pork. Cover the saucepan with a lid and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and continue to simmer the pork for 15 minutes, still with the lid on. 

Remove the pork and set to one side; pour the pork juices into a bowl and reserve. Do not wash the saucepan - you'll reuse it later. 

Slice the onions into wedges, and bruise the garlic. Pound the ginger into a rough pulp in a pestle and mortar, and add 2 tablespoons of water in the well of the mortar to make ginger juice.

Heat the oil in the saucepan on medium-high. Add the pork cubes and toss for 4-5 minutes until browned all over, followed by the onion wedges, bruised garlic and ginger juice (but not the ginger pulp) and stir-fry for another minute. Add the reserved pork juices, sugar, light and dark soy sauces, chilli powder and pepper, and 500ml water. Cover the saucepan with a lid and bring to the boil.

Now turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 ½ hours OR transfer everything to a lidded casserole dish and bake at 160 degrees for 1 ½ hours.

When the time is up, the pork should be tender and fall apart if you poke it with a fork. Served with lots of fluffy white rice and stir-fried greens on the side.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Lemongrass and Coconut Prawn Curry (Recipe)

Coconut Prawn Curry

I stockpile cans like there's no tomorrow. Chopped and plum tomatoes, baked beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, cannellini beans, sweetcorn, pilchards, sardines, corned beef, condensed milk, random meat products which I bought partly because of their amusing names, and even a forlorn tin of Libby's pumpkin, waiting, always waiting, to be turned into pumpkin pie some (Thanksgiving) day.

The other tin which stares at me reproachfully is one of coconut milk. "You only ever use me to make ohn-no khao swè", it says to me. "I am so versatile and exciting. DO SOMETHING WITH ME. LET ME LIVE".

So I made up this dish.


Coconut Prawn Curry Recipe

Serves 4
  • 500g large raw prawns
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed of woody bits and finely chopped OR 1 tsp lemongrass paste
  • 1 tbsp Marigold bouillon
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g tin coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Small handful of coriander leaves

De-vein the prawns, and slice into their backs with a small, sharp knife by a few millimetres so they butterfly slightly. Set to one side.

Heat the oil in a wok or large saucepan on medium-high. Add the onion, garlic and lemongrass and stir-fry for 5 minutes till fragrant. 

Add the bouillon and mix thoroughly, and then add the tomatoes and 100ml water. Simmer for 30-45 minutes till the tomatoes break down.

Add the coconut milk, mix thoroughly and then simmer for another 15 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce and then turn the heat up to high.

Add the prawns and stir for 4-5 minutes till they turn pink. 

Scatter coriander leaves on top and serve immediately with steamed rice.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Visit Viajante while you can ...


My favourite restaurant in London is Viajante, so I was absolutely gutted to discover that it's closing at the end of this month.

I have always had a brilliant (and sometimes surprising) meal there, and it's as far away from "fayn dayning" as I can think of.

(in fact, the last time we went, my husband and I rolled up after having been to Field Day in nearby Victoria Park and one of the festival acts was chatting up a lady on the front doorstep).


Nuno Mendes, the chef behind Viajante, is moving on to Chiltern Firehouse which Square Meal describes as:
"very different from that of Viajante, with no tasting menus and a more casual feel ... contemporary, ingredient-focused… with an underlying American accent and will showcase the diversity of modern American cooking". 
That's all well and good, but what makes Viajante so magnificent is that you turn up, you choose the number of courses you want and then you're left in their wizard-like hands.


It reminds me of omakase - the Japanese tradition where you entrust yourself to the chef - and even more so, since some of the flavours, techniques and ingredients are quite Japanese in my opinion.

Anyway, I'll stop talking and leave you with some photos from my meals there. 

I strongly suggest you rush to book a meal at Viajante while you can - I certainly have ...