Friday, March 25, 2011

Cooking for the Bajajses! Citrussy Sichuan pork, garlic and green peppercorn lamb chops, charrred portabellas, sweetcorn with finger lime chilli butter and figs with pepper chesse and caramel

The fabulous meal!
Mohit, Neha’s adorable husband and my darling brother in law planned to take us to dinner at one of his favourite steak restaurants that night but after my shopping trip on Chapel street, I just had to get in the kitchen and cook. So I wheedled him out of going out to dinner and eating in instead. It worked! And we made our way home via a trip to Coles, the local supermarket. 

One of my favourite things to do when I visit Melbourne is to shop for everyday things at the local markets and supermarkets and then cook fabulous meals with them. This trip also turned out to be an eye opener for Neha and Mohit, as I pointed out tons of products and ideas for what they could do with them, thereby widening their daily meal options! I must say, that I was extremely well behaved with my shopping that day though! 

Once we got home I made a beeline for the kitchen, with Neha playing my sous chef while Mohit settled in front of his computer, exclaiming at the aromas coming out of the kitchen and occasionally bestirring himself to come and take pictures of the food. 

Here is what I cooked! We ate it all with crusty bread and washed it down with a robust local Australian wine called Mr Frog!

Zingy Citrusy Pork Chops – featuring Sichuan Peppercorns
Because of its pleasant, mild flavor, pork is versatile enough to go with everything from sweet to stronger flavors like vinegar, chiles, garlic, soy and ginger and pairs well with tons of flavours but Nehas had grapefruit lying around that she wanted me to use up and since  I am partial to pork with sweet citrusy accents AND since I had picked up Sichuan peppercorns from Neha’s favourite Asian grocer on Chapel street, I decided to do this recipe.

Also a quick note on Sichuan Peppercorns (although i will do an elaborate post later) Sichuan Peppercorns, also spelled Szechwan and Szechuan, are native to northern China. They are completely unrelated to black pepper or any other pepper. They were the source of heat in Chinese cuisine before Asian cultures were introduced to chillies. Intensely aromatic with citrusy notes they create a riot of numbing, tingling sensations in the mouth and were ideal to add zing to the Pork and cut through its sweet notes. If you cannot get Sichuan peppercorns, use Indian Triphala the spice (not the medicine) that is available in Goa and along the Konkan coast. It is very different from Sichuan peppercorns in appearance but it lends the same flavour.

4 pork loin boneless chops, about 1 1/2 in. thick1/2 cup zest of orange or more of milder citrus.
1/2 c fresh citrus juice (I used grapefruit but orange will also work
4-6 red chillies chopped coarsely
1 1/2 tbsp sichuan peppercorns
Coarse salt

Toast the Sichuan peppercorns in a pan briefly and leave to cool. Pound coarsely in mortar and pestle. Combine crushed sichuan peppercorns, citrus zest, juice, chillies and salt and coat both sides of the chops. Place the chops in a resealable freezer bag and refrigerate up to 4 hours. Heat gas grill or grill pan, to medium hot and place chops on grill ensuring lots of the chunky marinade gets under them. Cook the chops until nicely browned, about 2-3 minutes on one side, then turn ensuring bits of the marinade get on other side as well and grill 2-3 minutes more. Ensure you baste chops regularly with leftover marinade on both sides. Grill, until the chops are just cooked through, about 10-15 minutes more, depending on desired doneness basting regularly. Serve hot.  

Lamb Chops with Green Peppercorn and Garlic

This one I did because I spotted green peppercorns at the Asian store and i wanted to show Neha how to use them.

4 lean lamb chops
5 tsp green peppercorns in brine
1 head of garlic chopped coarsely
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 tablespoon oil
Juice of 1 lime

Trim away any excess fat from the lamb chops. Crush the green peppercorns and mix them with the salt and garlic and lime. Pour over lamb chops and press well onto both sides of the lamb chops. Brush the lamb with oil and then place on the grill for about 10 minutes on each side or until the meat is cooked to your liking.

Sweet Corn in Finger lime and green chilli butter featuring Australian Finger Limes
About Finger Limes. I had never heard of Finger Limes before and only stopped to look at them out of my passion for all things citrus. You can’t blame me really, these Australian native citrus are unlike any other citrus  I had ever seen. They have none of the voluptuousness of other limes, and actually look more like gherkins or parvals elongated with a thin skin that can range light shiny green to the most typical purplish or greenish black to rusty red. Basically they can be quite ugly! BUT it was lust at first sight once I saw their insides! Finger limes are also called citrus caviar, and appropriately so. On being cut open one finds what can only be described "citrus pop rocks"! Unlike tear-drop shaped juice sacs in other citrus Finger Lime pulp is made of hundreds of tiny bead like balls of juice. I could not resist cutting one in half and tasting the psychedelic caviar. The beads are round and firm and pop between the teeth just like caviar and they are pucker inducing sour at first but their flavour is a combination of lemon and lime with distinctly green. I wanted to keep the beads intact so I decided to stick to a simple recipe that would not do too much damage.

 4 ears fresh corn, husked
100g butter, room temperature
1-2 tsp spicy green chillies, minced
2 garlic cloves minced
Pulp of 1 finger lime
Salt to taste

Cut corn cobs into 2-3 chunks each and boil in salt water or roast. While the corn is cooking, combine butter with the chilli, garlic, finger lime pulp and salt. Mix gently so the lime 'caviar' does not burst. When corn is done, toss gently with butter. Serve hot!

Grilled Portabella Mushrooms
Is there anything better than a big, fat, juicy cooked mushroom? And you CANNNOT get bigger than those sexy portabellas we bought from Damian Pikes stall at Prahran market.Mushroom s being so full of flavour r and meatiness, I rarely mess with them too much, preferring to grill them with EVOO, rock salt and pepper. 

8 portabella mushrooms
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp black pepper freshly ground
Olive oil to drizzle

Rinse mushrooms and pat dry, then cut off and chop the stems. Mix chopped stems garlic and pepper. Reserve. Place mushrooms on grill and cook till done. Deglaze pan with some wine and transfer to a small saucepan. Add mushrooms stems and simmer till reduced to half. Drizzle over mushrooms and serve.

Figs with Pepper Cheddar and Caramel sauce

Fresh Figs were in season and this spicy-sweet-salty combination of flavours seemed the perfect marriage of flavours.Sweet juicy figs, salty cheese and caramel flavours left a lingering aftertaste with a pleasant back of the throat warmth!

6 fresh plump figs, halved
2 tbsp pepper cheddar shavings
4 tbsp Caramel sauce

To make spicy Caramel sauce, heat premade carmel sauce in a pan. Stir in green chilli paste and mix well. Spoon 1 tbsp each onto two indiidual dessrt plates. Arrange three figs each on the plates. Srinkls with chdder flakes. Drizzle with remaining sauce and serve.

Sichuan peppercorns!
The Pork
The marinade - grapfruit juice and zest, redchillies and toasted crushed peppercorns
Love the colors!
The marinade for the lamb - green peppercorns adn garlic in olive oil and lime juice!
Green peppercorns in brine
On the pan!
Australian Finger Lime
Finger lime butter!
the Portabellas go on the grill!
chopped stems for sauce!
deglazing the pan


Linhy said...

wow food looks amazing and with that huge mushrooms!

zainab said...

awesome work...loved it!!