Kimchi Burger

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After making this awesome kimchi sweet potato salad to go with my Korean slow roast ribs, me and Mr. Porker were rather peckish on this New Year’s Eve. And then I had a stroke of genius… BEHOLD: the kimchi burger!

Kimchi burger, burgering

Kimchi burger, burgering

Basically I’m style biting from the kimchi sweet potato salad recipe, but gochujang (Korean chili paste) is pretty much Korean for crack and makes everything better.

What you need
Kimchi (store bought this time, but I’ll try and make my own soon)
Burger buns (whichever you prefer)
Lettuce or salad leaves (I use baby gem leaves, crispy and fresh)
Avocado
Burgers (again, store bought this time, but do make your own)
1 tbsp of guchojang
1 tbsp of mayo (Hellman’s or similar)

Fry up the burgers. Slice your buns in half and grill them cut-side-down on a griddle (seriously, this makes all the difference in a good home made burger). Mix the guchojang with the mayo. Assemble your burger in the layering of your choice (I went with bun> lettuce> burger> avocado> kimchi> sauce myself) and bask in the glory of this burger.

Best recipes for home made kimchi and home made basic burgers are welcome.

Honey lemon pork chops

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I went a little overboard last year and ordered all the fancy Phaidon cookbooks. I’ve been boo’ed up since then and because Mr. Porker is severely allergic to cats we spend most weekends at his, sans cookbooks. I bought another Phaidon food related book over the weekend (the Amsterdam recommendations are a joke) but it reminded me I needed to get cracking on this books collecting dust and grease on my kitchen counter.

The light and the way, honey lemon pork chops

The light and the way, honey lemon pork chops

Looking for a stew in Spanish essential 1080 Recipes, I bumped into this honey lemon curry pork chop recipe. Honey and curry sounds kinda weird to me, so I decided to go for it. And then again the next day, but more on that later.

What you need
5 or 6 pork chops
6 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp clear honey
3 tbsp lemon juice (fresh, duh)
1.5 tsp curry powder
250 ml/ 8 fl oz sunflower oil (not really)
salt

What you do
Mix together the olive oil, honey, lemon juice, curry powder and a pinch of salt in a non-metallic dish. Put in the pork chops, making sure you coat them all evenly. Store for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Drain the pork chops, but hang on to the marinade (for dear life). Now fry off the chops in portions, unless you can fit them all into your frying pan together (go you), giving them about 5 minutes on each side. Finally, add the marinade to the oil and bring to the boil, pour over the chops and serve immediately.

Side notes
Unlike all time favorite Nigel Slater, this cookbook doesn’t really tell you what you’re looking for while you’re cooking. That, combined with my fear of frying, meant I had a hard time gauging when the chops were ready. I reckon really, they’re ready when not just the edges but at least part of the surface has also caramelized.

Now, as for that 250 milliliters of oil. I did it, but it was fucking ridiculous. I think you can do with about 50 to 100 ml of oil, cause a quarter liter of oil is fucking ridiculous.

The first day I had my honey lemon pork chops with some grilled courgette and a bit of couscous. But the second day I saw the way and the light, and stuck my pork chops (reheated in the oily marinade) on some home made slider buns (made earlier, pro-tip: they freeze very very well, pro-tip two: please grill your buns cut side down on a griddle), along with some avocado, fresh coriander and home made pear chutney. Heaven. I don’t think I’ve ever loved myself more.

Spicy roast pumpkin soup

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On this, the hottest fall day ever, I decided to try my hand at roast pumpkin soup again. Mainly because pumpkins are in season, and this soup is hella easy. I got the recipe from Donna Hay’s Fast, Fresh, Simple, the Bible for anybody who is lazy but likes to eat.

My onion did something funny in the oven

My onion did something funny in the oven

I started making this soup last winter, but it always felt a little bland. I tried adding coconut milk instead of regular cream before, but the roast pumpkin is so strong the coconut milk does jack shit for the flavor of this soup. Today, a quick Google search for spicy roast pumpkin soup fixed my pumpkin woes, so now I’m ready to share.

What you need
One decent sized pumpkin, cut in half/ seeds removed
One large onion
Olive oil
Seasalt
3,5 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of single cream
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne

Preheat the oven to 220C/ 425F. Place the pumpkin, cut side up, and the onion (whole, skin on!) on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or tinfoil. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle on a fair amount of salt. Bake in the oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft and starting to brown.

Scoop the pumpkin out of the skin and into a blender (or into a large saucepan, if you have a stick blender). Remove the onion from its skin and add that to the blender, with about a third of the chicken stock. Blend until smooth and pour into a saucepan (if you hadn’t already) and add the remaining stock, cream, honey and spices. Stir and heat through.

Small time Thai pork burgers

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This recipe for mini Thai pork burgers (more commonly known as sliders) caught my eye because it has Sriracha mayo, cucumber pickles and home made buns. I need to step up my baking and pickling game, so with this recipe I could conquer both fears in one fell swoop.

Not my best presentation...

Not my best presentation…

Okay, so I don’t really fear pickling. It’s my favorite kind of cooking. Stick stuff in a jar, wait, eat. There isn’t even any heat involved! I’m not pregnant, so I do need an excuse to make pickles, like sticking them on these pork burgers.

Baking turned out to be mad easy. The buns from the original recipe turned out a little too dense for my tastes though, so I’ve adjusted the recipe a bit for slightly fluffier buns.

The buns
2 tbs active dry yeast
1 cup and 2 tbsp of warm water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
3 and 1/2 cup of flour
1 egg beaten with 2 tsp of water
sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit/ 220 Celcius. Combine yeast, water, oil and sugar in a bowl. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, the yeast should dissolve and the mixture should turn slightly goopy. Stir in the egg and salt, then stir in the flour a cup at a time until you get a soft dough. Turn out the dough on a flat service and knead until smooth and elastic, this should take about 5 to 8 minutes. Return to the bowl, cover and let rise for 10 minutes. Knead again. Place back in bowl and let rise for an additional 10 minutes. Break the dough into 16 equal sizes (sort of) and roll them into balls (sort of). Flatten slightly and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 10 minutes.

Brush the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

The pickles
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup honey
2 tbs fresh orange juice
1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
half a bundle of fresh cilantro, chopped
8 large basil leaves, chopped
16 fresh mint leaves, chopped

Whisk the vinegar, honey and orange juice together until the honey is dissolved. Stir in the cucumbers and chopped herbs and set aside.

The pork burgers
450 gr/ 1lb ground pork
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbs ginger, minced
1 tbs sesame oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp crushed chilli flakes
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tbs vegetable oil

Combine the pork, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, cinnamon, chilli flakes and soy sauce in a bowl. Mix together well before dividing them into 8 to 10 small burger patties. Fry off the burgers, to prevent them from bulging up too much while you cook them push a little dent into the middle of them with your thumb.

Now, stick those babies on one of your home made buns, dump on some Sriracha mayo (i.e. mayo mixed with Sriracha) and some of your home made pickled cucumber and you’re all set.

 

Fast and simple Thai chicken soup

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I got this recipe for Thai chicken soup from Donna Hay’s Fast, Fresh, Simple. The book makes true on its title and is perfect for anyone just starting out in the kitchen or anyone who wants to eat a little bit better but isn’t into cooking all that much.

Guess who forgot to shred her snowpeas?

Guess who forgot to shred her snowpeas?

This Thai chicken soup, from the ‘Fast’ section is something I keep coming back to. Living alone I stick the left-overs in my freezer so I can come home to a healthy home made ready-meal rather than a bad store bought one.

What you need
750 ml/ 3 cups chicken stock
500 ml/ 2 cups coconut milk
1 long red chilli, thinly sliced
6 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
2 coriander roots, finely chopped
200 gr chicken filet, sliced
60 gr snow peas, shredded
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
Fresh coriander leaves and extra sliced chilli to serve

Put the stock, coconut milk, chilli, lime leaves and coriander root in a sauce pan over a medium high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 3 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the snowpeas and cook for a further minute. Stir through the fish sauce and lime juice. Ladle into bowls and finish off with some fresh coriander leaves and sliced chilli.

Mind you, I can’t find coriander root for the life of me here, so I’ve been adding severely bashed lemon grass to my version instead. I bash the lemon grass to release the flavors, but tying it into a knot will work too. I’ve made this a couple of times now, but I think I could slice the chicken even thinner and recommend you do too.

Hawaiian salmon poke recipe

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Normally I’m not as fast and loose with the blogging but this was so good I have to post the genius that is Hawaiian poke right now.

The poke with the most

The poke with the most

I first encountered Hawaiian salmon poke on Venice Beach in L.A. It sounded really good. I mean: raw salmon mixed with a bunch of stuff, what’s not to love?

But the execution was meh and I forgot all about poke until I was pondering my dinner plans for tonight. I felt like having salmon, but I only like my salmon raw. And there’s only so many times in life you can slice up a raw piece of salmon, dip it in soy and pretend you’re having sashimi. I also wanted to have some avocado and rice with my salmon, so suddenly I remembered… POKE!

I found this Hawaiian salmon poke recipe, but made a few adjustments. It was spot on. I’m not sure I’ll ever eat anything else again.

What you need
1 salmon filet, skin off
1 avocado
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce (the salty Japanese kind)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 thinly sliced spring onion
A pinch of shichimi
A pinch of fancy salt

Dice the salmon and avocado into 1 cm/ 1/3 inch cubes. Mix in all the other ingredients. Enjoy. It really is that simple.

Adjustamundos to my first Hawaiian salmon poke
I had my poke with boiled rice. I was going to wait for it to cool down and put the poke on top, which is the way I had it in L.A. but I couldn’t wait that long because the poke was looking so good so I just had to have it straight away.

I replaced the sake in the original recipe with rice wine vinegar because I don’t drink, but if you do, sake sounds pretty damned good. I added the avocado for bulk and greeneries and well: AVOCADO.

Finally I added shichimi because shichimi rocks, particularly on fish or in any pseudo-Asian* recipe. If you have not yet gotten yourself acquainted with shichimi, I suggest you go out and rectify that situation immediately.

*Disclaimer: I am pretty fed up with the term ‘Asian’, Asia is a huge continent covering a vast array of people, cultures and foods and we need to start being more specific when we talk about shit from Asia. Fuck, I don’t even know if Hawaii counts as Asia, but with the sesame oil, soy and sake, poke sounds pretty damned ‘Asian’ to me.

Istanbul eating adventure

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Last week I went to Istanbul with Mr. Porker. Prior to my trip I’d gotten mixed reviews of Turkish food. Some of my friends told me it was amazing and fresh and wonderful, while others said they just weren’t a fan. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that, but given Istanbul’s location and size I had high hopes, so off we went.

The biggest problem to me it seems, is not so much that there isn’t any good Turkish food, but more so how do you actually find it.

Istanbul is huge. I thought London was big (and Amsterdam is a joke, but that’s another story altogether) but with estimated population of anywhere between 17.5 and 22 million residents, Istanbul takes the cake. It’s also a high contrast city, from all mod cons, to some of the worst poverty I’ve ever seen, to violently oppressed protests occurring right next to people out for a late night stroll and people leaning back in quiet jazz café’s. So while one back alley may offer the nicest spots with the best food and the friendliest service, another alley may offer you a completely different experience (insert prejudice here).

And travel guides hardly help. I remember once, my mother and I were excited to discover a fish restaurant in our travel guide for Berlin, only to end up at a location for a fast food fish joint. And so it goes with the Rough Guide for Istanbul. The food they recommend was okay, but most of the time, it stopped there or quite a ways short of it.

All the meze you need

All the meze you need

Mr. Porker had gotten some pro-tips from one of his more travelled friends, so for our first breakfast we trekked all the way from the old city to somewhere halfway up a mountain in Beyoğlu, sweat pouring down our backs, for a crazy ass breakfast of quite literally everything at Van Kahvalti Evi. The spread cost us 20 lire each and consisted of a basket of bread, unlimited tea and a vast array of small plates containing everything from fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumber, to a variety of cheeses, to Nutella on to eggs and olives and meats and everything in between. It was amazing, and it’s only now that I’m back that I’m wondering if we were really supposed to try and finish the lot.

Mistakes were made
Late risers at best, we didn’t have to eat again until later that night. So I took the Rough Guide up on their advice and we made it all the way down to the wrong side of town, memorizing the city upside down in our heads and ending up catching a cab back to the restaurant we had planned to go.

Balik ekmek, sorely disappointing fish sandwich

Balik ekmek, sorely disappointing fish sandwich

Now this, dear reader, is the point where you need to take heed. Our dear cab driver informed us that the area we were going to was very very busy at this time of night and he knew a much better place. Alarm bells should’ve started ringing when he whipped out a laminated flyer to this far better (“The best, my friend”) restaurant in another part of town, ‘only’ a three minute drive away. Ten minutes later he drops us off. We take the elevator up to an empty, depressing looking restaurant with a vaguely threatening atmosphere. We look at one another in doubt, but before we know it they break out a bunch of meze and we end up ordering whichever fish our waiter recommended to us. Once we’re left by ourselves I remember one of the scams I read about online. If a menu is laminated and has prices written over it in marker, odds are you’re getting ripped off. I realise we have made our order from a menu that didn’t even have any prices on it and decide to check in the other laminated menu. The mark up is insane. The atmosphere is eerie and I start feeling sick.

I am blessed with a better half who does not like to waste times on things he does not like, so we decided to offer to just pay as long as we got to leave. We end up paying 70 euro for a bag of mediocre fried fish. We get a discount because it’s all the money we have on us. Bailing from the restaurant, we discover we’re on the verge of nowhere and make our way back to Beyoğlu, where we are too late to get anything decent to eat but just in time to stroll down Istiklal, and see the crowd in front of us suddenly turning into a wave of screaming fear that was coming right for us. It’s times like that you learn whether you have good instincts or not. Ours turn out to be in good working order, so we make a shift turn, run as fast as we can and dip into a side street to safety, ending our adventures for day one.

We did a lot better after that, though we still managed to get ripped off a bunch of times. I recommend you read up an all Istanbul scams a few days prior to your trip, so you have them all fresh in your head and don’t fall for them like I did, while thinking “Hmm… I think I read about this somewhere…” and getting my ass handed to me on a platter several times.

On with the food!
We did manage to make it to the restaurant I had picked out the first night. Antakya Restaurant & Cafe  is located in an alley across from the Blue Mosque and serves a variety of fairly standard but well executed things that you’d expect in Turkey. We had a variety of heavenly dolma, before moving on to mixed kebab and lamb cutlets in eggplant. The köfte with pistachios was especially amazing. Everything else was what you’d expect of well grilled meats, not too exciting, but not bad either. Across the road from Antakya you have Mozaik Restaurant, where the menu is slightly less standard and possibly a little better executed.

Oh give me lamb lots of lamb...

Oh give me lamb lots of lamb…

It’s Ramadan right now so the area surrounding the Blue Mosque was packed with people waiting for iftar to begin. This is how we spotted Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi, which had a huge line of locals waiting for their iftar meals. We took a mental note to come back during the day and promptly fucked up when we returned to the Sultanahmet area later in the week, and decided to have ‘breakfast’ at the ‘legendary’ (but horribly shitty and evil evil evil) Pudding Shop instead. Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi was our saviour, offering an amazing köfte sandwich for only 8 lire. Half of what the Pudding Shop had charged us seconds before for a boiled egg, a few slices of cucumber, tomato and a handful of containers of butter, ham and off-brand Nutella.

The rest of our trip was equally mixed bag. We found a really nice bar that also serves fairly good food through a friend. Urban Cafe is tucked away in an alley behind Istiklal. Their terrace takes up most of the broad alley, which is covered in graffiti and vine leaves. It’s great to spend a long evening having drinks with friends, but we came back a few nights later and had some pretty decent stuff to nosh on too.

Milk puddingy goodness, photograph courtesy of Mr. Porker

Milk pudding goodness, photograph courtesy of Mr. Porker

Our favorite haunt for a bit of a breather on the madness that is Istiklal was Ada Cafe, where the staff is friendly and the frozens are good. A frozen is like a fancy slushy (beware of brain freeze) and apparently they are huge in Istanbul. You can get them in amazing flavors like mango and melon, I miss them dearly already. The food at Ada is maybe a little bit too low-brow America-inspired, but we only tried a mixed starter plate so I can’t really judge. Also right off Istiklal is Ara Cafe, owned by one of the world’s finest photographers Ara Güler. I didn’t think the staff there was particularly helpful, but the milk pudding with hazelnuts and goat milk ice cream, the home made ginger beer (oh god, the home made ginger beer!) and the relaxed vibe (despite being around the corner from chanting protesters) really made up for it.

Hold your enemies close
I had a disappointing burger at burger square in Kadakoy. In Istanbul for some reason, a lot of businesses like to be close to their competitors. So the street down from Istiklal near Tünel is lined with music shops, while the buildings blocking the view to Istanbul Modern are all filled with nargile spots. Kadakoy has a distinctly nineties feel and is filled with tattoo parlors that offer roughly the same quality. Which is where we also found burger square. Three hippish looking burger spots, all on the same intersection. We opted for Burger House, which looked the most legit. I made the mistake of ordering a small burger, which drowned on a regular sized bun. It was supposed to have café de paris sauce, but it didn’t. I am confident that, had it been bigger and had the sauce actually been there, it would’ve been a pretty good burger.

Salvation from mixed-bag eating came on the day-before-last of our trip in the form of the nifty little Istanbul Eats pocket book, which is a lot easier to navigate than their website. At under 15 lire it made our final days in Istanbul our best. The first night, we hit up Mekan in one of the many side streets of Istiklal. We shared an array of amazing meze for around 20 lire each, with (to our minds anyway) very enjoyable 90s triphop playing overhead.

Heaven is a place on earth and it's called Giritli

Heaven is a place on earth and it’s called Giritli

I died and went to heaven
Our final day we decided to splurge on another recommendation from Istanbul Eats. We only had the afternoon left and decided to enjoy an all inclusive set menu at Giritli, right beneath the Aya Sofia and Blue Mosque. It’s one of the smaller listings in Istanbul Eats, but the recommendation was glowing and the theme was fish. My Porker-sense was tingling. For 50 euro a head (unlimited drinks included) we were barraged with around 15 cold meze, which were literally, each and every one of them, amazing. I don’t know if I can ever have another garbanzo bean again, without it depressing me. The array of cold meze were followed by the best calamaris I have ever tasted, flanked only by the best grilled octopus leg I’ve ever had, alongside a börek which made me question whether I’d died and gone to heaven or not, filled with cheese, eggplant and prawns. Then we had our choice for mains and I went with these amazing, grilled to perfection sardines wrapped in vine leaves. All this was followed up by a nice small dessert. As if we had room for any more.

And so when we left Istanbul I was finally convinced, there is such a thing as good Turkish food, you just have to know where to look.

You can view the rest of the photos I took on Flickr.

Indonesian rice table

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After being disappointed in Dutch-Indonesian restaurant food a couple of times in the past month, I decided to make a small Indonesian rice table a few weeks ago and basically spent my entire day in the kitchen. I was there from 11am to 5pm and then I got to eat. I thought I’d collect the recipes into one post, so if you want to make your own Indonesian rice table you know where to find them.

In my memories, we would have massive full Indonesian rice tables at my grandparents house every Sunday. Though my mom told me my grandmother only went all out for special occasions like birthdays and things, I’m pretty sure as a bare minimum she still prepared way (way) (WAY) more on any given Sunday than the itty bitty rice table I made for myself recently.

Party on my plate

Party on my plate

Pictures above is the rice table I made. I made it with plain white rice, sambal goreng beans, perkedel, rendang and sambal goreng tempeh. I have not put up the tempeh recipe just yet because it was my first time making it and I do not feel confident sharing my knowledge (or lack there of, basically) with you.

Indonesian rice table rules (sort of)
Now there are some rules as to which things go together, but I am not quite sure how they work. I think the above plate makes sense, as there is a very wet dish (the beans), a dry dish (the perkedel), an inbetweeny dish (the rendang, which is very interesting to read up on on Wikipedia, apparently it’s a ceremonial dish) and what we in the family like the call ‘sprinkles’ (i.e. shit to mix with your rice, the tempeh, though usually this consists of smaller store bought bits and bobs).

What you don’t want to do, even though it’s tempting, is have this with nasi goreng. Stir fried rice is nice, but Indonesian stir fried rice is pretty overpowering and more of a dish in its own right. My dad warned me about this before and I was stubborn and he was right. So you know, listen to the man and boil some white rice instead.

Sambal goreng beans

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Another entry level Indonesian (or Indo-Dutch, not as much research done on my part here) dish is sambal goreng beans. You can make it less spicy depending on your preference. but generally speaking it has a nice mild flavor that will appeal to most. The nice thing about sambal goreng beans is that you can also easily prepare a vegetarian version of this dish (though in my humble opinion: fuck vegetarians, I’ll eat meat until we run out thank you very much).

Just showing you the recipe cause I ate it all

Just showing you the recipe cause I ate it all

So I lost my dad’s recipe and tried this recipe from ‘Rijsttafelen’  by Lia Warani instead. It calls for butter, but I think butter in Indonesian cooking is kind of weird, unless you’re making perkedel.

What you need
300 gr green beans, tips removed
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 red chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped (leave the seeds if you like it hot)
1 tsp trassi (shrimp paste), crushed
1/2 tsp of tamarind pulp
Salt to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
50 grams of small prawns (optional)
1 disc of laos (galangal)
2 salam leaves (dried Indonesian bay leaves)
1/2 tsp of koriander powder
1 small tin of coconut milk
A pinch of sugar
Hard boiled eggs or quails’  eggs (optional)

What you do
Glaze off the chopped shallots, chillies, garlic together with the trassi, tamarind and salt until the shallot is translucent. Add the beans, laos, salam leaves and ground coriander as well as the prawns, if you’re using them. Add half a cup of luke warm water and keep stirring until everything is mixed well. Close the pan off with a lid, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for around 7 minutes. Now add the coconut milk and sugar and add the boiled and peeled eggs so they can soak up the flavor. Stir occasionally until read, which is basically anywhere between 15 to 30 mins.