Category Archives: Woks and Pans

Thai Pork Curry

Thai Pork Curry

I enjoy pork but find it difficult to think of new ways of cooking it. I love Indian food and Thai food, so was delighted to find a Madhur Jaffrey recipe for Thai pork curry in her Far Eastern Cookery book. Having bought the pork fillet before deciding what to do with it, I didn’t have all the ingredients, but then I never follow recipes to the T!

This version of Thai pork curry has a similar flavour to sweet and sour Indian vindaloo curry. It can be made from any boneless pork: fillet, meat cut from the loin or shoulder, or even pork chops with the bones removed.

Red Curry Paste for Thai Pork Curry

Madhur’s recipe, which is based on Burmese-style cooking, calls for a homemade curry paste. This is made with 3-8 hot red chillies, a 2 cm cube of fresh ginger or dried galangal (you can also buy galangal minced), 2 sticks of fresh lemon grass or 2 tbsp dried sliced lemon grass, 90 g shallots or onions, 10 large cloves of garlic, 1 tsp shrimp or anchovy paste, 1 tbsp ground coriander seeds, 2 tsp ground cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp ground turmeric.

Crumble the chillies into 250 ml water and add the lemon grass and galangal if using the dry ingredients. Soak for half an hour. If using fresh galangal or ginger peel and chop it coarsely. If using fresh lemon grass, slice crossways and discard the straw-like top. Peel the shallots or onion and garlic and chop coarsely. Put all the ingredients (including the water from the dry ingredients) into a blender and blend till smooth.

Since this curry paste can be frozen, I’m going to be making some soon; but last night I used about 60 g of ready-made red Thai curry paste instead.

Other Ingredients Required

The other ingredients required are:

  • 875 g boneless pork (I used one pork fillet which was about 500 g in weight) cut into 4 cm cubes
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Japanese soy sauce (I used Japanese naturally fermented Tamari soy sauce)
  • 3 x 2.5 cm cubes of fresh ginger (it should be young and easy to cut), peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 10-12 shallots of small pickling onions cooked whole (I used bulbous spring onions trimmed and sliced)

spring onions

  • 10-15 small cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp of lemon juice or tamarind paste (I used lemon juice)
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • salt (I used a fractional amount of pink Himalayan salt, which was a mistake. The soy sauce is salty enough)

How to Make Thai Pork Curry

Marinate the pork in the curry paste and soy sauce for half an hour. The ready-made curry paste was rather dry so I added about 350 ml of water. After 30 minutes put the pork and marinade into a wide, heavy pan. My favourite Sola wok was absolutely perfect for this. Bring to a simmer over medium to low heat and leave to simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Increase the heat a little and stir-fry for about 10 minutes to get rid of the liquid.

Add about 450 ml of water (less if you are using less pork, as I did) together with the ginger, shallots and garlic. Bring back to a simmer; cover and cook for about 45 minutes. Add the lemon juice and sugar (next time I think I’ll use palm sugar rather than cane sugar). Mix and taste; add salt if you really have to. Cook for a couple more minutes to let the flavours blend.

Serve with brown rice and salad. Enjoy.

Quick and Easy Instant Curries

instant curries

Two Instant Curries Suitable for a GL Diet

While the word “curry” is a hugely oversimplified term for what is in fact an ancient Indian cuisine, I use it here because these recipes are quick, easy and certainly don’t follow the true tradition of genuine Indian food. But both are delicious and suitable for the popular GL diet promoted by British nutrition guru, Patrick Holford.

The two recipes featured here are based on recipes from Holford’s Low GL-Diet Cookbook. They may be served separately or together, with brown rice, quinoa, green vegetables, or with a healthy salad.

The Holford Low-GL Diet

While good nutrition and good health are subjects for all kinds of debate, this post is not promoting one diet above another. Having said that, I tried the Low Glycemic Load (GL) diet about six years ago and it worked. Recognising that it is more than a diet and, like many others, a way of eating rather than a crash plan to lose weight, I eventually gave it up for two reasons:

  1. Many of the ingredients specified as low GL were expensive; including things like berries; oily cold water fish like mackerel, trout and salmon; and coconut oil for cooking (although the price of the latter has more than halved in the past couple of years due to its increasing popularity)
  2. I struggled to eat five small meals/snacks a day, not for hunger reasons, but rather because my lifestyle made it difficult in terms of preparation

In a nutshell, The Holford Low-GL Diet is based on the Glycemic Load (which is different to the better known Glycemic Index) of foods in terms of what they do to your blood sugar, and consequently to your energy levels, and ultimately your weight. Ensuring you eat a maximum of 40 GLs a day (10 per main meal and five per snack), the weight should drop. Other factors include:

  • Mixing protein with low-GL carbs to stabilize blood sugar, banish food cravings, and stave off hunger pangs
  • Eating essential good fats and avoiding harmful saturated and processed fats
  • Cutting out refined carbohydrates including sugar
  • Avoiding common “allergy foods” like wheat and dairy
  • Spreading the consumption of GLs through the day by eating smaller amounts more regularly

Cooking Quick and Easy Instant Curries

You will need a wok or large frying pan for both of the instant curries featured. I used the 36 cm Sola Green Cooking wok as well as the 28 cm (85 mm-deep) Sola pan, both of which are heroes of my currently ongoing Sola Cookware Challenge

Chicken Curry

A recipe that is gluten-, wheat-, dairy-, and yeast-free, this chicken curry has only about 3 GL per serving. You can make up the other 7 GLs allowed for main dishes by eating a very small (no more than 25 g – dry weight) of brown basmati rice or about 35 g of quinoa.

While there is evidence of some typical Indian spices, the coconut milk smacks more of a Thai curry. However it really isn’t either, but rather a slightly spicy and very delicious, if nebulous dish.

Ingredients for four servings are:

  • 2 tbsp coconut or virgin olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts, skinned and sliced into strips
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic (the bigger the better), peeled and crushed
  • 2 red chillies, chopped (and seeded if you can’t take the heat)
  • 4 medium sized onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stock cubes or 4 tsp stock powder
  • 250 ml (no more than a cup) water
  • 410 g (one can) coconut milk

instant curries

Start by heating the oil in a suitable wok or frying pan.

Stir fry the chicken strips over a fairly high heat until the change colour.

Remove the chicken from they wok or pan and place on a plate or in a dish for later.

 

instant curries

 

Now fry the ground cumin and turmeric for a few minutes in the same wok or pan. Be careful the spices don’t burn.

When the spices have browned, add the crushed garlic and chopped chillies. Stir to blend with the spices as they cook.

instant curries

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the onion to the pan, turn down the heat and allow it to cook slowly until soft. The onion shouldn’t brown, though it will turn a lovely golden colour due to the turmeric.

Stir from time to time.

instant curries

 

 

 

 

 

Stir in the stock cubes or powder, water and coconut milk.

Put the chicken back into the pan and allow to simmer until fully cooked – no more than 20 to 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chick Pea Curry

This curry takes even less time than the chicken curry, and it contain about 7 GL per serving. Like the chicken curry, it is gluten-, wheat-, dairy-, and yeast-free. The ground almonds thickens the sauce and give it a lovely nutty flavour.

Ingredients for four servings are:

  • 2 tbsp coconut or virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 medium sized onions, peeled and roughly chopped or diced
  • 1 heaped tbsp curry powder (you decide on the heat intensity according to your own tastes)
  • 500 ml water
  • 2 stock cubes or 4 tsp stock powder
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 x 410 g cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 tbsp ground almonds

instant curries

Heat the oil in a large pan or good quality wok. Then fry the onion and garlic together over a fairly low heat for a few minutes until the mixture is soft and slightly golden. You don’t want it to brown.

 

instant curries

Add the curry powder to the onion mixture and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

The colour of the curry powder will depend on intensity (the redder it is the more cayenne pepper it probably contains), as well as on the brand chosen.

instant curriesThen add the water, stock and tomato puree. Stir.

 

Last of all, throw in the drained chickpeas and the ground almonds.

Bring to a gentle simmer and allow to thicken over a low heat. Stir from time to time.

 

 

References and further reading (click on the links to buy your own copy):

The Holford Low-GL Diet Made Easy by Patrick Holford. Piatkus Books Ltd, London 2006

The Holford Low GL Diet: Lose Fat Fast Using the Revolutionary Fatburner System by Patrick Holford

The Holford Low-GL Diet Cookbook by Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald Joyce. Piatkus Books Ltd, London 2005

The Holford Low-GL Diet Cookbook: Recipes for Weight Loss, Health and Energy by Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald Joyce

Burn Fat Fast: The Alternate-Day Low-GL Diet Plan by Patrick Holford and Kate Staples 

The 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing: How to Live Longer, Look Younger and Feel Great
by Patrick Holford and Jerome Burne

The Feel Good Factor: 10 Proven Ways to Boost Your Mood and Motivate Yourself
by Patrick Holford

Food is Better Medicine Than Drugs: Your prescription for drug-free health by Patrick Holford and Jerome Burne. Piatkus Books Ltd, London 2006

The Holford Diet GL Counter by Patrick Holford. Piatkus Books Ltd, London 2006

The 10 Secrets of 100% Health Cookbook: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Optimum Health by Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald Joyce. Piatkus Books Ltd, London 2012

The Stress Cure: How to Resolve Stress, Build Resilience and Boost Your Energy by Patrick Holford and Susannah Lawson

Cashew Chicken in a Sola Wok

Sola wok

The First Wok-Cooked Meal in My Sola Challenge

Though I’ve never been to Thailand, I am totally sold on Thai cooking. I’ve always enjoyed eating Thai food, but the challenge of cooking it only goes back about five years when a friend returned from a holiday in Thailand and shared her experiences gained in a traditional Thai cooking course, together with some fantastic recipes.

I almost always use a recipe when cooking – and almost always don’t stick to it. This recipe is no exception, but it is based on a traditional Asian recipe.

I have cooked Cashew Chicken many times, and always in a wok. But the Sola wok, challenged Willem Huisamen, isn’t just any wok. So what better way to test this assumption than to cook something I know well?

Ingredients for about 6 people

Sola wok
Dried red chillies
  • 500g (about 1 lb) raw chicken breast off the bone, sliced into strips
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or any other vegetable oil you prefer cooking with)
  • 2 large (more if they aren’t large) cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 or more dried red chillies, chopped (I dry my own)
  • 1 large red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (preferably naturally brewed Tamari)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
  • 4-6 spring onions, coarsely chopped
  • 175 g (about 6 oz) raw cashew nuts
  • Coriander leaves (also known as cilantro and dhania) to garnish (optional)

How to Make Your Cashew Chicken

Sola wok
Heat the coconut oil in your wok and then add the garlic and chillies; cook until golden
Sola wok
Now add the chicken and stir-fry until it changes colour. Add the sliced red pepper and continue stir-frying for a few minutes. You can add a few splashes of water if you need to – but if you’re cooking in a Sola wok you won’t need to.
Sola wok
Now add the sauces and sugar and stir-fry till almost done.

The nuts and spring onions are the last ingredients to add to the Cashew Chicken. I like to use raw cashew nuts and let them cook in the sauces for a short while. If you prefer you can use roasted cashews and simply sprinkle them on top with the spring onions and coriander as a triple garnish.

Serve hot with a mixed salad on the side. You could also serve with coconut rice, or even noodles.

Okay, so I agree wholeheartedly that the Sola wok isn’t just any wok!

Sola wok