Regular readers will know how much I love Asian food. It is one of my favourite places to travel and as well as visiting lots of restaurants I have really enjoyed taking part in cookery classes when I was on holiday. Today’s recipes would make for an enjoyable dinner party with a bit of a Thai twist. This recipe would also work well with monkfish in place of chicken. I like to use Thai Gold curry pastes, which are produced in Wexford. Make it as hot as you enjoy.
Basmati rice triples in length as it cooks and gives off a beautiful aroma. I sometimes add a quarter of a cube of chicken stock.
Coole Swan, a Cavan liqueur, is very popular in the restaurant and it is a lovely flavour to add to the crème anglaise. This is a classic French dish again with a little Asian twist and it is not as complicated as it might look at first glance. The custard could be made the day before and warmed before serving, but the meringues need to be fresh on the day.
Thai curried chicken and butternut squash in coconut milk
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp freshly grated root ginger
2 tsp Thai red curry paste
450ml (¾ pint) chicken stock
1 x 400g (14oz) tin of coconut milk
2 tsp caster sugar
good pinch of salt
juice of 1 lime
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small chunks
chopped fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
Steamed fragrant rice, to serve
1 Heat a large heavy-based pan or wok that has a lid until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat until it’s almost smoking, swirling it around the sides. Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 3–4 minutes, until just tender and lightly browned. Tip onto a plate and set aside.
2 Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan. Tip in the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 3–4 minutes, until softened. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Pour in the chicken stock and coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer, then stir in the sugar and salt.
3 Add lime juice to taste, then tip in the butternut squash. Cover and simmer gently for 10–15 minutes, until the sauce has slightly reduced and the squash is almost tender. Stir in the cooked chicken pieces and simmer gently for another 5 minutes, until well heated through and the butternut squash is completely tender.
4 Divide among warmed wide-rimmed bowls and garnish with the coriander, then serve with separate bowls of the fragrant rice.
Steamed fragrant rice
350g (12oz) basmati rice
1 tbsp sunflower oil
4 whole cloves
4 green cardamom pods, cracked
5cm (2in) piece of cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
600ml (1 pint) boiling water
½ tsp salt
1 Wash the rice in numerous changes of cold water until the water runs relatively clear. Cover with more cold water and leave to soak for 7 minutes, then drain well.
2 Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan that is approximately 20cm (8in) in diameter. Add the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and bay leaf and cook gently over a low heat for 1 minute, until they start to smell aromatic.
3 Stir in the rice and add the boiling water and salt, then quickly bring to the boil. Stir once, cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to low and cook over a low heat for 1 minute. Uncover, then fluff up the grains with a fork to serve.
Coconut floating islands with Coole Swan crème anglaise and raspberries
2 medium egg whites
100g (4oz) caster sugar
50g (2oz) desiccated coconut, toasted
600 ml (1 pint) milk
1 tbsp toasted flaked almonds to serve
2 tbsp raspberry coulis to serve
Fresh raspberries to decorate
Fresh tiny mint sprigs to decorate
Coole Swan crème anglaise to serve
1 To make the floating islands, whisk the egg whites in a spotlessly clean, dry, large bowl until stiff. Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition, until glossy and stiff. Fold in the coconut until well combined.
2 Place the milk in a large, deep frying pan and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Using 2 dessertspoons, shape the coconut meringue into a quenelle (a smooth, oval shaped scoop) and drop into the milk. Then repeat until you have 5 or 6 quenelles cooking in total. Poach for 4 minutes, turning once, until lightly set.
3 Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and plunge into a large bowl of iced water to cool down quickly and then drain on kitchen paper. Repeat until all the mixture is used up. There should be 12 meringues.
4 To serve, pour the Coole Swan crème anglaise onto plates and carefully arrange 3 poached meringues on top. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and drizzle with the raspberry purée. Decorate with the fresh raspberries and mint sprigs.
Coole Swan crème anglaise
Makes about 400ml (14 fl oz)
5 egg yolks
3 tbsp caster sugar
Half vanilla pod and seeds scraped out
300 ml (half pint) milk
100 ml cream
2 tbsp Coole Swan dairy cream liqueur
1 Place the egg yolks in a large bowl with the sugar and vanilla seeds. Whisk with an electric mixer for a few minutes until pale and thickened.
2 Place the milk and cream in a medium pan and bring to the boil. Then immediately remove from the heat.
3 Gradually whisk the heated milk and cream into the egg yolk mixture until smooth. Then pour back into the pan and place over a gentle heat. Add 2 tablespoons Coole Swan cream liqueur and cook gently for 6-8 minutes on a medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon.