Lunchtime Noodles

 

Strictly speaking, these aren’t, of course, only for lunchtime; you can have them whenever you want. In fact, they’re particularly effective after a heavy night – or so I’ve been told. In fact, the recipe they’re based on is Nigella’s Drunken Noodles – not that I’m assuming that La Lawson would indulge in too many nights where she needs an appropriate cure but…now, I’m digging that hole deeper!

I like these because they’re quick and easy to whip up from ingredients that you probably have lying around from other meals, and leftovers that could be in the fridge. And, let’s face it when you’re on holiday you probably have better things to be doing with your time than faffing about with cooking a midday meal.

This recipe feeds 2 but will stretch to more if you throw in some veggies and cold meat. We had some leftover chicken from the roast chook the other night, plus snow peas and capsicum (peppers) that we’d used last night in a noodle soup. It, therefore, made a substantial lunch for 3. There’s no coriander in the version I cooked today because my 20-year-old daughter doesn’t eat coriander – that’s a subject for a whole other story – and, to be honest, with the snow peas it had plenty of green without it.

Speaking of which, Ms 20 – who doesn’t cook – has declared that she’ll be making this dish on those times when we’re away and she has to fend for herself. It can, therefore, adapt to a uni student’s attention to detail (and budget) and be made, in need, with garlic and ginger from a squeezy tube or a jar, and a squirt of lime from a bottle in the fridge.

Which reminds me – this is more of an idea than a recipe, so don’t get too hung up on the quantities and feel free to adjust the spicing to your taste.

What you need…

  • About 1/2 a packet (around 150g) dried rice noodles – like the ones you use in pad thai.
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sunflower oil
  • a chunk of ginger – peeled and grated (about 1/2 a thumb size)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1 lime – zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce (I like ordinary soy sauce, but hubby likes the colour you get from the dark soy sauce)
  • a wok or frypan and a burner

What you do with it…

  • Soak the rice noodles in hot water for about 8 minutes and then immediately refresh in cold water and allow to drain in a colander.
  • While the noodles are soaking:
  1. Grate your ginger, garlic and lime zest and set aside
  2. If you’re adding extra meat or veggies toss them about in a frypan and some oil and set aside.
  3. Have on standby something to toss your noodles with – a spoon in each hand works.
  4. Mix the oyster sauce and water together and set aside.
  • When your noodles are done, you can start cooking. Heat the oils in your wok or pan and add the ginger, garlic and lime zest. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes and stir well.
  • Tip in the drained rice noodles and mix everything together – you’ll need to work quite quickly.
  • Add the watery oyster sauce, soy sauce and about 1/2 of the lime juice (I use a whole lime because I really like the zesty hit of the lime).
  • If you’re using additional veggies and meat, add this now. If not, serve immediately.
  • Have some extra soy sauce close to hand – and additional chilli flakes or sriracha for people (like me) who want even more chilli.

 

 

 

Clancy’s Caribbean- Style Rub

This is a quick and easy spice mix to knock together ahead of time and can easily be stored in an airtight container in a cool dark place.

The rub itself is infused with the flavours of the Caribbean and when combined it works well with pretty much any protein especially chicken, pork and fish.

Clancy’s tip….. place the rub in a ziplock bag and store it in the freezer to bring out when needed. No defrosting required.

What you need:

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper (ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

What you do with it…

Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl, mixing well.

Place the rub mix into an airtight container or a ziplock bag and store until required. If stored correctly, it should keep well for a month.

 

Penne with Smoked Chicken and Peas

Ok, let’s talk about comfort food. Sometimes you just need it, right? And the ultimate in comfort food for me is pasta.

This recipe has it all – carbs, creaminess, the smokiness from the chicken…I could go on… It’s also an easy one to do when you’re on an adventure – as long as you have a gas burner, a frypan and something to cook your pasta in, you’re right.

This should feed 4 people generously – or 6 if you’re not in quite that much need of comforting. You can usually get smoked chicken at most supermarkets, but if you can’t get it – or don’t want to go to the effort of it – a couple of chicken breasts will do the job nicely instead. You will, of course, have to cook them through before chopping them up and adding it to the sauce. Also sage can be difficult to get hold off – especially in country supermarkets. Make do with parsley – or maybe even basil – in need.

As an aside, the pesto is a handy jar to keep in your fridge/esky. A couple of tablespoons stirred through some cooked spaghetti with a handful of grated parmesan and maybe a squeeze of lemon makes for a super-quick meal.

What you need

  • 300g smoked chicken breast cut into small cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 sage leaves, finely shredded
  • 2 tsp good quality pesto
  • 100ml white wine
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 400ml cream
  • 150g peas, blanched in boiling water for a few minutes
  • 500g penne pasta
  • freshly grated parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano to serve (optional)

What you do with it

Saute the chicken pieces in a little olive oil until golden. Set aside.

In a pan deep enough to take all the remaining ingredients and have room for stirring, saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until the onion is translucent.

Stir in the sage and pesto.

Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half.

Stir in the chicken stock, cream and chicken, season to taste and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add the peas to the sauce and cook a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente and drain.

Toss the pasta with the sauce.

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.

Clancy’s Steamed Pork Buns

Pic courtesy of deposit photos

This recipe is a must for when you are camping in the colder months. Not only will these warm your soul, but you’ll be sure to make new friends with little beauties around the campfire.

Don’t be put off by the amount of prep work to get these ready. The filling is easily prepared prior to your adventure and, once made up, travels well – refrigerated properly, of course. All you’re left to do is place your bamboo steamer into your cooking pot, pour some water into the base, and in 15 to 20 minutes you’ll be cracking open the wonderfully soft and fluffy sweet bread filled with the aromas of the sticky pork filling.

Pass the beer…stat.

What you need…

Equipment

  • A Dutch oven (camp oven)
  • Bamboo steamer – that fits in the oven
  • You can also place the steamer over a wok using the burner on your barbeque or gas stove
For the dough
  • 2.5 tsp dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2.5 cups plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
For the pork filling
  • 300g finely diced pork
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce

What to do with it

The Filling
  • Place the sauces, wine, and sugar In a saucepan/camp oven/frypan – depending on whether you’re making at home or at your destination –  and mix well. Bring it to a simmer over a medium heat source for approximately 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has slightly thickened.
  • Whisk the cornflour with about a tbsp of water. Once combined, add this to the sauce and stir for a further few mins until the sauce is thick and smooth.
  • Remove it from the heat, add the sesame oil and chopped pork, and you’re done.
  • Cover the mixture and set aside in the fridge (or esky) until required.
The Dough

Okay, this can be a little bit tricky, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort.

  • Mix together the yeast with 3/4  cup of warm (not hot) water to kick start the activation process.
  • Add 2 tsp of the caster sugar, mix well and place it to the side in a warm place for 10-15 mins. It should start to show signs of bubbling or foaming.
  • Mix the remaining caster sugar, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and stir until it is all well combined. Pour into the yeast mixture and add the oil. Continue to mix until a stiff dough is formed. You might need to add a little more warm water if the dough becomes too stiff.
  • Continue to mix until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky. Take the dough out and lightly knead before covering in plastic and placing it in a warm spot to rest for an hour or so.
  • Once rested, take the dough and knead it lightly on a slightly floured bench.
  • Roll the dough into a thick log – approximately 5 cm thick – and cut into about 15 equal pieces of dough.

Putting it all together

  • Take a piece of the prepared dough and roll it out until you have about a 10cm diameter circle.
  • Place the dough into your opened hand and spoon into the centre about a tbsp of the filling.
  • Fold the dough over the filling and bring it together at the top. Twist the top to seal. Don’t worry about how pretty (or otherwise) it looks.
  • Place the bun on a piece of baking paper and cut to be slightly larger than the bun. Cut enough paper for all your remaining buns and repeat.
  • Place all buns (including the baking paper) into a bamboo steamer spacing them about 5cms apart, and cover with the steamer lid.
  • Place the bamboo steamer into your camp oven/pot/wok, add water – to just below the first layer of buns – and steam over a high heat source for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on your water level so it does not completely evaporate.

Kapitan Chicken

I’ve been cooking this curry for years – it’s one of Clancy’s faves – yet as good as it tastes on the stovetop, it tastes better in a camp oven over flames. If you are going to cook it on your next adventure though, blend the spice paste up before you head out. Alternatively, make a big batch and keep some in the freezer that you can take with you.

The method I’ve given here is for a stovetop, but it translates just as well to fire. We last cooked it using the Oz Pig – mainly because it’s easier to control the heat and stir the sauce. If you’re using coals, you don’t need any on the lid.

Some notes on the ingredients

With regards to ingredients, as per usual adjust to your own taste – especially where the chilli is involved. We usually use a few large red chillis and leave some of the small ones with their seeds intact. The large red chillis won’t add a lot of heat to the dish, but they will make your paste more orange than yellow – not a big deal.

Candlenuts are something you might not have come across before – and something we’ve, in the past, left out to adapt the recipe for nut allergies. Sure, they add some authenticity to the dish, but on the other hand, they’re not really missed. If you can’t get candlenuts – which are available mostly at Asian supermarkets – macadamia nuts add a similar texture.

Belacan (Belachan) is another one you might not have come across before. It’s truly foul smelling stuff…when I say foul, I mean, really foul – another reason to mix up your paste before going on your adventure. You don’t want this stuff lying open in your tent/van/whatever.

It’s the sort of smell that seriously you wouldn’t know if it were off or not. Worse than smelly cheese, this doesn’t have the aroma of unwashed wet socks, but rather the stink of decaying shrimp. And that’s what it’s made from – fermented shrimp with a little salt. It’s then sun-dried and cut into blocks – although some stockists will sell it in a wet form that is also pretty manky.

Thankfully there are now some brands that are sold not only pre-roasted but pre-cut into individually sealed portion controlled sizes. Trust me, that is a breath of fresh air for the fridge.

So why would we cook with something that smells as gross as this? Simply because it adds that indefinable but absolutely necessary pungency to Malaysian cooking. (It’s also used widely in Thai, Laotian, Indonesian, Singapore and other South East Asian cuisines). It’s the belacan that gives sambal its potency, and the taste that allows the finished product to take you back to that Hawker’s Market in Penang.

Galangal is similar to ginger, but has a different texture and is more citrusy in taste. If you can’t get it, use more ginger.

Last night I couldn’t be faffed jointing a whole chicken (and our supermarket doesn’t sell free-range pieces other than drumsticks), so we used skinless thighs. If you are doing this, I would recommend taking the chicken out after the initial cooking period so that you have the time to develop the sauce in the way it needs to be developed. Then simply toss the chicken pieces back in for the final 10 mins or so.

Anyways, here is the recipe. It will serve 4 people easily with leftovers dependent on appetites.

What you need

For the paste:
  • 8 red birds eye chillis, split & de-seeded. We like chilli so leave the seeds in a few of these.
  • 3 shallots, sometimes called French shallots. If you can’t get them, use red onions – 1 large one should be enough
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2.5cm each ginger, galangal, and turmeric (peeled & sliced). Galangal is similar to ginger, yet tastes very different.
  • 5 candlenuts (These are hard to source in Australia, but macadamias are a good substitute. They taste like a combination between a mac and a brazil nut)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (the white part)
  • 1 tsp belacan*

Smash this all with your mortar and pestle, or whack it into a food processor and whizz until it is a smooth paste.

You’ll also need:
  • 1 whole chicken jointed (or about 1.5kgs chicken pieces) – we prefer free range chooks that have clucked and scratched their way through their (short) lives.
  • 1 tbsp oil – we use rice bran or coconut oil
  • 5 eschalots (sliced)
  • 400ml can coconut cream
  • Fish sauce to taste
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded, to serve (optional)
  • Coriander to serve (optional)

Putting it all together:

  • Heat the oil in a large frypan or camp oven and fry the paste over medium heat until it is brown and fragrant. This will take about 5 minutes, but trust me, you’ll know.
  • Add the shallots and chicken pieces and coat in the paste before frying for another couple of minutes.
  • Add the coconut cream, 100ml water, and cover the pan with a lid. Bring it up to a boil before reducing to a simmer for 20 minutes. (If you’re cooking it on a stovetop you might not need the extra water).
  • Uncover and simmer for another 5-10minutes – or until the chicken is tender and the sauce has reduced to a dunkable gravy.
  • Add fish sauce to taste, stir in the lime juice and scatter with kaffir lime leaves and (if using) coriander to serve.

Smoked Salmon and avocado salad

You know those weekend days when the skies are blue, the sun is shining and it’s almost warm enough to dip your toe in the pool, but absolutely beach weather? On days like that, you want a lunch like this. One that you can prepare quickly, that won’t weigh you down, that works brilliantly with white wine or water, and that, most importantly, leaves room for pizza or fish and chips at the beach for dinner.

It requires no flames, no special equipment, and can be on the table in 10 minutes. We bought all the ingredients at our local farmer’s market that morning, but if you don’t have a farmer’s market nearby, everything is readily available from most supermarkets.

As an aside, this works just as well with prawns or leftover shredded barbecue chicken.

Finally, a note on quantities. This will feed 4 if it’s part of a shared meal, or 2 if it’s all you’re having.

What you need

  • 100g smoked salmon
  • a handful of rocket or other leaves
  • 1 avocado peeled and sliced
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • about a 10cm length of cucumber – seeded and sliced
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • coriander to garnish (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons plain unsweetened yoghurt

What you do with it

  •  In a large mixing bowl toss together the avocado, tomatoes, leaves, juice of one of the lemons, the olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mix together the yoghurt and the juice from half of the other lemon. Cut the other half into halves for serving.
  • Place the salad in a large serving bowl and arrange the salmon through it. If you don’t trust your dining partner to share, split it all into 2 dishes and split the salmon one piece for me, one piece for him…
  • Drizzle the yoghurt dressing over the top, garnish with coriander – unless you’re a paid-up member of the I Hate Coriander Club – and serve with the leftover lemon.
  • Sit back and tell everyone how healthy you are – knowing all the while that you’ll be blowing it when the 5pm nibblies come out!

 

Bun Cha – Vietnamese Pork Salad

Now that Spring is upon us we’re looking for something lighter and cooler. Vietnamese-style noodle salads like this one deliver on both counts – yet are full of flavour and won’t weigh you down. We like this for lunch on a weekend or a light dinner when we’ve over-indulged a tad.

This noodle salad uses little pork patties – which you can quickly and easily put together in the morning and set aside in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. But you can also use shredded poached or barbecued chicken – it’s a great use of leftovers – or lemongrass-marinated beef. If you’re making the latter, slice about 400g beef into strips and marinade for 30mins in a paste made of 1 lemongrass stalk, 3 cloves garlic smashed or chopped finely, a teaspoon each of fish sauce and caster sugar.

Before I get into the recipe proper, a note about convenience. Obviously fresh is best – and that goes for herbs, spices, etc, but if you’re on the road, camping out or in a van, you’re probably not going to carry the sort of kit you have at home. That’s where those squeezy tubes of ginger, garlic and lemongrass that you find in the veggie section of the supermarket can be lifesavers. I’ll give you the instructions for the fresh stuff, but feel free to take shortcuts too. Just saying.

Vietnamese Salad Dressing

What you need

  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped*

What you do with it

  • Put the water, fish sauce, sugar and vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn it down and let it simmer for a couple of minutes to dissolve the sugar.
  • Stir through the lime juice, garlic and chilli.

*A note on the chilli – we like things spicy so tend to leave some seeds in or include all or half of a small Thai style chilli as well. Your call.

The Pork Patties

What you need

  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 garlic clove – crushed, finely diced
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 1/4 cup green shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

What you do with it

Mix it all together…preferably with your hands. I like to also pick up small amounts and slam it back into the side of the bowl. I have no idea what it does but it does help the mix become quite pliable and sticky.

With wet hands roll into 16 small balls and gently pat to flatten.

Cook in a pan over your burner or on a barbecue. They should take about 3 minutes each side.

The Herb Noodle Salad

What you need

200g rice vermicelli noodles

1 bunch fresh mint, leaves picked

1 bunch fresh coriander, leaves picked

1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts

We also use basil or Thai basil or Vietnamese mint – depending on what’s available – and assorted salad leaves. I don’t like bean sprouts but apparently, everyone else does so while they won’t appear in my salad, they might show up in yours.

What you do with it

Place the vermicelli in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and stand for 2 minutes or until tender. Drain well.

Arrange all your leaves onto a platter with the noodles, top with the patties and pass around the dressing.

 

 

Herby Cheese Dip

One of the highlights of any stay in the great outdoors – regardless of whether you’re in a van, a tent, or a cabin somewhere – is what us Clancys call cocktail hour. It’s that hour (or so) in the late afternoon – maybe as the sun is setting, maybe before you’re thinking about dinner, maybe while you’re thinking about dinner – when the beer comes out and the wine is opened. You sit around and have a drink, something to eat, and wonder what everyone else who isn’t as lucky as you to be where you are is doing.

Even though there are no cocktails as such, and even though it can stretch for much longer than an hour, we call it the cocktail hour.

This cheesy dip is a good one for cocktail hour. It doesn’t need a blender or any fancy equipment – just a bowl and a spoon – and can be whisked together quickly. It is, however, best if you let the flavours develop a tad.

We first tried it when we were road-tripping through the countryside in France earlier this year, although it’s got a far posher French name than herby cheese dip. Over there they serve it on boiled potatoes as a starter course with some salad, but we like it on toasted baguette.

What you need

  • 250g cottage cheese. Choose the full-fat version.
  • 50ml creme fraiche – that’s about 1/4 of the tub. Use the rest in a mushroom sauce for your steaks…yum.  You can also use non-sweetened greek style yoghurt or sour cream if you like.
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp chives, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp continental parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you do with it

  • Place the cottage cheese and creme fraiche in a bowl and mix together.
  • Whisk in the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper
  • Stir through the shallot, chives and parsley.
  • Cover with cling film and pop it in the fridge for an hour

Clancy’s Duck Curry

This dish combines two of my favourite things – curries and cooking on the fire. Plus, it’s a surprisingly easy meal to put together – always a bonus when you’re out and about.  Don’t let me fool you though, whilst it may be easy, it is definitely tasty and full of textural delights.

Aside from taking great, this particular curry has one distinct advantage over other curries – it can be cooked and ready to be eaten in under half an hour. Perfect for a first-night cook if you are arriving at your destination later in the day or early evening.

There were a few extra ingredients that I played with here to get a different texture element and some more depth of flavour. I included canned pineapple cubes for sweetness along with canned lychees – which I must admit I haven’t cooked with before, although I definitely will be adding them to my camping list from now on.

The list below looks a tad long, but don’t forget you can make your curry paste at home before you leave – in fact, I’d suggest that you did. Of course, you can always take a shortcut and buy your favourite curry paste from the supermarket, though for me there is no substitute for freshness – even when camping.

What you need

  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 teaspoon of oil
  • 2 tablespoons of curry paste
  • 400ml can of coconut cream
  • Small tin (225g) of pineapple chunks
  • Half a tin of lychees (about 250g)

Optional:

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

For the curry paste

  • 12 – 15 dried red chillies
  • 4cm piece of galangal (use ginger if you do not have galangal, or include both for even more flavour)
  • 1 whole bunch of coriander – roots and all.
  • 2 stalks lemongrass ( white section only). Smash the stalk with the back of a heavy knife and slice
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves with stems removed
  • 12 cloves of garlic
  • 4 brown shallots
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste. This is often sold as belacan and is available in little individually wrapped squares.
  • Dash of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

What you do with it

Curry Paste

  • Flatten out shrimp paste in between 2 pieces of aluminium foil and roast over medium heat in a frypan for 2 minutes on each side. If you’re making this in your kitchen at home, open all windows and put the fan on as this will smell!
  • Place chillies in a bowl of hot water for 10-15 mins, then drain
  • Throw all the ingredients into a mortar and pestle and pound into a paste – or blitz them in a mini food processor.  If you’re blitzing your paste ingredients, chop each roughly. If you’re going with the pounding method, make life easier on yourself and slice and dice more finely.
  • Pop the lot into a jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It should make a cup. This paste also freezes well – pop it into an ice cube tray to freeze and then store in zip lock bags in the freezer.

Making the curry

  • Do whatever it is that you need to do to get your heat source up to temperature. I like to use the Ozpig.
  • Let’s get the duck skin nice and brown. For the best result (not burnt, or cooked too quickly), score the skin and pat dry the skin with paper towel. Place the duck on a cold skillet or frypan and heat over your fire source. There’s no need to place any oil in the pan as the duck fat will render.

  • Cook until the skin is nice and golden, then flip and cook the other side for approximately 3mins. Once browned take it off the heat and allow to cool on a separate plate. Pour off the duck fat into a clean tin; you can save this for something else later – I’m thinking sauteed potatoes in duck fat…yum!
  • Pour the oil into your pan and fry off the curry paste until fragrant.
  • Now add the coconut cream and bring to the boil, then add the pineapple chunks and lychees. If you have other veggies you’d like to toss in eg beans, tomatoes, do it now.
  • Whilst that is coming back to heat, slice the duck to your desired thickness and add to the curry to heat through. This should only take a few minutes – you don’t want to overcook it.
  • To add even more depth, you can add the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice, though it is also well balanced without this.
  • Serve with rice or in a bowl on its own.