Sunday, 27 November 2011

Deep Fried Goujons of Basa with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Basa is a delicious, white fleshed fish, farmed and thus sustainable. It is significantly less expensive than some of the better known species of endangered fish and is becoming extremely popular around the world. One particular problem with basa - at least here in the UK, where it is also called Vietnamese river cobbler - is that although people may well see it in their supermarkets, they don't buy it because they are not sure what it is and are particularly unsure of how to cook it. This recipe sees a basa fillet cut in to goujons and deep fried in batter but you should also check out the link at the end of this article for more delicious ways of cooking basa and basa recipes.

It is important when preparing this recipe to prepare the spicy tomato sauce at least a couple of hours in advance. This is so that the varied flavours may fully infuse. If this presents a problem on the night you intend to eat the dish, simply make it the night before, cool and refrigerate. The sauce can and ideally should be served cold.


Sauce (Serves Two)

1 8oz can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 large garlic clove, peeled and grated or finely chopped
1 small red chilli, finely chopped (seeds in)
Generous pinch of white sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Basa Goujons (Per Serving)

1 fresh basa fillet
2 tbsp plain or all purpose flour
A little bit of cold water
Sea salt

Half a head of broccoli per person as an accompaniment
A little sprig of basil may be used to garnish the sauce if desired


Add all the sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and stir well. Heat on a fairly high setting until the sauce begins to simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer for twenty to twenty-five minutes, stirring frequently, until a thick, smooth sauce is formed. Taste for seasoning and adjust as required. Turn off the heat, place the lid on the saucepan and leave to cool.

Slice the basa fillet in half lengthwise and each half in half again across the way, as shown. Put the flour in to a flat-bottomed bowl and season with salt. Begin pouring cold water in very slowly from a small jug as you whisk with a fork or hand whisk. You want to achieve the consistency of thick cream.

At this stage, break the broccoli in to florets and add it to a pot of boiling, slightly salted water to simmer for eight minutes only, after which time it should be drained for service.

Bring the oil in your deep frier or deep frying pan up to a fairly high heat. Draw each goujon of basa through the batter one at a time, hold it above the bowl to drain off the excess for a few seconds and carefully lay in the hot oil. Fry for three minutes each side until the batter is beautifully golden.

Remove the basa goujons from the oil and lay them on some kitchen paper to drain. Add the spicy tomato sauce to a ramekin and plate with the broccoli, before laying the goujons alongside. The basil sprig should garnish the spicy tomato sauce.

As mentioned at the beginning of today's post, you can find more tasty basa recipes - such as breadcrumbed and fried basa with chips - via the link below. Enjoy!

How to Cook Basa and Basa Recipes

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Irish Stew: Simple, Rustic and Delicious

Irish stew is a fabulous one pot recipe which consists chiefly of a simple combination of lamb chops and root vegetables. It is incredibly easy to prepare and delicious beyond belief. There is very little hands on cooking involved and it is mostly a case of getting the right ingredients in to the pot and knowing for how long to cook them.

This recipe is a little unusual in that it is designed for three people. How often do you see recipes for three published online or included in cookbooks? It is also unusual in that I had to make it in a friend's kitchen, using all his utensils and cooking equipment. Just as well he was on hand to tell me where knives and other utensils were kept or total disaster could have ensued! The reason was simply that three of us were meeting up to sort out some fishing tackle and tie up some lures for a trip this weekend and I got the job of firstly cooking us a meal...


9 lamb chops (loin chops, bone in)
4 medium carrots
2 large white onions
6 medium to large white potatoes
2 pints of fresh lamb stock (chicken stock if lamb is unavailable)
2oz butter
2 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
1 sprig of fresh mint (around a dozen medium leaves), plus three small sprigs to garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

This Irish stew was made in a cast iron cooking pot, which not only reduces the cooking time, it seems to lock the flavours in to the dish. If you do not have such a pot and do like making stews, it is likely you would find this a wonderful purchase, sure to last you a great many years if not in fact a lifetime. The featured items below will give you a few ideas as to what is available.


Put your oven on to preheat to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4.

Top, tail and scrape your carrots. Peel your onions and potatoes. Quarter the onions and chop the carrots and potatoes in to bite sized pieces. Remember it is a rustic dish and also that the vegetables should retain their form and shape when cooked.

Put the butter and the vegetable oil in to the cast iron pot and on to a gentle heat to melt the butter. Lay the chops in the pot and turn up the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Brown the lamb chops by frying them for about three minutes on each side and remove them to a plate.

Add the carrot and onion to the pot and sautee for around four to five minutes. Put the lamb chops back in to the pot and carefully mix them with the carrot and onion.

Pour the lamb stock in to the pot and turn up the heat until it starts to simmer. Lay the potato pieces carefully across the top of the other ingredients but do not stir any further. The potatoes are going to mostly steam on top of the dish. Season again with salt and pepper.

Put the lid on the pot and place it in to the oven for one hour. This should see the potatoes perfectly softened.

Remove the dish from the oven and (being very careful of escaping steam) take the lid off before scattering the roughly torn mint leaves over the top of the potatoes. Replace the lid and leave to rest for fifteen minutes. Ladle on to plates and serve immediately, garnished with the small mint sprigs.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Quail and Herb Buttered Steak with Chips and Braised Savoy Cabbage

Steak and chips is a classic and delicious combination but it can be just a touch predictable. This recipe for steak and chips is spiced up by the addition of braised Savoy cabbage and onion but particularly by a small amount of quail and herb butter. Quail are a very small game bird and this butter is made simply by laying some cooked and cooled quail meat in the base of a small ramekin, covering it with freshly chopped parsley and filling the ramekin up with melted butter. The full instructions for making this delicious condiment can be found on my Quail Recipes site.

Ingredients per Person

1 large potato for making chips
1 6oz beef steak
3 or 4 leaves of Savoy cabbage
1/2 small white onion
1/2 oz quail and herb butter
Olive oil for frying and braising
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


The three stage method of preparing chips which I use has been detailed many times before on this blog. If you need a reminder, you can get full details here: How to Make Perfect Homemade Chips, or simply use your own method.

When the chips are just about ready for their final frying, it is time to cook the steak. You will need to put an ovenproof plate in to a low oven to preheat. This will be used for resting the cooked steak. Bring some olive oil up to a high heat in a frying pan. Season the steak well on both sides with sea salt and black pepper. The cooking time for the steak will vary depending upon how you like your steak and the thickness of your steak. This three-quarter inch steak was fried for three minutes each side on a very high heat for medium rare.

Remove the steak from the pan to the heated plate and cover with foil to rest. Start the final frying of your chips.

Shred the cabbage leaves and finely slice the onion. Bring some more olive oil up to heat in a clean frying pan, add the cabbage and onion and season with sea salt and pepper. Sautee for three to four minutes.

Plate the steak and lay the chips, Savoy cabbage and onion alongside. Put the quail and herb butter on top of the steak and serve immediately.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Scottish Venison and Root Vegetable Winter Warmer Stew

Venison is a delicious eating meat, provided it is cooked in an appropriate fashion. A very lean meat, venison requires long, slow cooking, if it is not to be served tough and unpalatable and one of the best ways to prepare it in this way is in a hearty, winter warmer of a stew. The venison in this recipe is from Scottish red deer and the quantites make for two large portions.


1/2lb diced venison
2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions
2 pints fresh beef stock
2 pints of water
4 small carrots
1 small swede (rutabaga)
Stem only of one leek
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh parsley or other fresh herb to garnish


Put the flour in to a bowl and season. Pour the olive oil in to a large pot and gently heat. Stir the venison pieces briefly in the flour before transferring them to the heated oil. Brown and seal over a low heat. This should take three to four minutes.

Peel the onions, half them and finely slice. Add them to the browned venison and stir for a further couple of minutes.

Pour the beef stock and the water in to the pot. You could use all beef stock but it's not necessary as the liquid will be well reduced to capture the flavours. Bring to a simmer and cook for one and a half hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot. Do note that it may at first seem you have an excess of liquid but resist the temptation to reduce the quantity. You will need every drop by the time it has cooked down and the vegetables have later been added.

When the one and a half hours is almost up, it is time to prepare your root vegetables for the stew. Peel the swede/rutabaga and chop it in to one inch chunks. Peel or scrape the carrot and chop it in to similar sized pieces. The leek should be washed and sliced in to quarter inch thick discs.

Add the vegetables to the stewing venison and stir well. The liquid level should be okay at this stage but you are now going to return it to a simmer for a further hour. Stir frequently and top up with a little bit of boiling water if required.

Taste the stew for seasoning, ladle in to bowls, garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve immediately with some warm, crusty bread.