Can you actually imagine that ever getting onto a menu? You have got to be kidding!
Well one of the areas of my life that has changed a lot in recent times has been my interest in gardening. Addictive personalities find new things to obsess over… At one point last summer I counted 150 chilli plants of a number of varieties. I would wake up at 4:45am and water the plants by hand until around 7:30am, quickly shower then go to work. I had a heap of tomato plants, eggplant, capsicum, beetroot, the list goes on. Having been in Europe for a month I was rather nervous to see how my winter vegies had fared during the unusually dry winter here in Perth.
I came back and observed that the weeds had certainly done well during the dry cool winter. I was heartened to notice that I had a fantastic selection of broccoli, cauliflower, celery, kohl rabi, rocket, multi coloured carrots and amazingly a heap of tomatoes and capsicums that had survived the frosty winter mornings. The cold mornings only managed to take around 10-15 casualties from the chilli crop which is quite extraordinary!
All of my stone fruit and citrus are now coming on. This is great timing as the first batch of oranges, lemons and mandarins are nearly finished. I am sensing some mulberry jam and mixed citrus marmalade very soon!
So enough of my garden and let me tell you what I cooked the other night from my patch.
When we got back from Europe we set up a challenge. For the month of September we would only cook what was in the fridge, freezer cupboard and garden. We didn’t say the river, though its not shopping so I’m happy to include it. I’m going to post some comments on my bream catch when I get all of the photos. We have done pretty darn well on this challenge. Tonight it was broccoli and cauliflower soup.
I picked a number of items from the garden including a purple kohl rabi, red capsicum, broccoli, carrots (orange and purple), lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and coriander.
The noodles i decided to use were Taishan noodles. They come up nice and flat, and are quite firm if not overcooked. You still want them to be a little firm after removing them from the boiling water. This way they wont go softy an stodgy once thrown in the pan. This dish would also work with fresh flat rice noodles, used in Vietnamese cooking.
For flavour i chopped up the lime leaves and lemongrass as can be seen below. I added them to some light olive oil in the wok with a teaspoon or so of ginger. Oh, i shouldnt forget the beautiful smelling dried shrimp!
You cannot beat fresh lime leaves. If you dont have a tree BUY ONE! They dont grow that large if you prune them back.
Next, the finely sliced red capsicum.Then the beautiful orange and purple carrots. I then removed the fried ingredients from the wok to ensure that they would not overcook.
The beautiful Chinese lantern chillies and the fresh broccoli. I steamed the broccoli separately.
I boiled the noodles and strained them. I transferred the noodles back to the pan with some oil, kecap manis (ABC Sweet Soy Sauce), fish sauce and some palm sugar.
Whilst i was preparing the noodles i placed the tuna steaks on the grill part of the bbq.
The noodles were mixed with the previously fried ingredients, as well as the fresh Julienned kohl rabi. I then placed the noodles on top of the broccoli. The tuna steak was then placed on top and decorated with Chinese lantern chillies and some fresh coriander.
Oh but that’s not all!!!
Remember how i said i put aside the kohl rabi leaves? As we watched Poh’s kitchen and she started talking about belacan, Quin’s mouth started salivating. For those who do not know what belacan is, its a pungent smelling dried shrimp paste that most often comes in a hard block. If you are not used to it then the odour will make you wonder whether the neighbourhood septic system has given up. Once you learn to love belacan there is no turning back! So i melted the beautiful belacan in some oil and garlic. I fried up some prawns and added them to the mix. There the final addition of some oyster sauce and some crunchy fried shallots.
I hope you enjoy my garden feast. This took a little imagination, especially with the multi-use kohl rabi, a vegetable im only just learning how to use, but i love it!
The infused lemongrass and lime leaves were spectacular. The flavour of this infusion, with the addition of kecap manis and palm sugar coasted the noodles with the most beautiful flavour. Quin said that this noodle dish was quite possibly the best she has ever eaten… I guess when someone has grown up in South East Asia and makes a throw away comment like that, its possible that the white wine has gone to the head, or im on to something. Enjoy!