Korean Prawn + Spring Onion Pancake

A few weeks ago Jack and I had a very important discussion – if you could only eat the food of one country for the rest of your life, which would it be? The conversation was a long one and it took us to all corners of the world; spicy Indian dhal with warm roti, platters of Japanese sushi and bowls of soothing ramen, homely British food like roast lamb or smoked haddock, Vietnamese bao buns, the fresh lime and coriander flavours of Mexican dishes and, of course, proper Italian pizza with a crisp but chewy crust.

One that we kept coming back to was Korean food. It's full of big, bold flavours that are perfectly balanced and every delicious mouthful is equal parts salty, spicy and tangy. Most dishes come with something on the side, usually pickled or fermented vegetables to add a perfect vinegar sourness, which means you get loads of different textures in one meal. I'm all about textures; crunchy nuts, crispy chicken skin, soft egg yolk, slippery noodles – I'll take as many as I can get.

So we got our hands on Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo and decided to get stuck in making the dishes we'd come to love in restaurants and at markets. I absolutely love this book because it gives you a really good from-the-ground-up approach to Korean home cooking and you genuinely feel like you're reading a collection of homely, frequently used recipes.

This pancake is one of the first things I made from it and after one bite I practically picked it up and did a waltzed it around the room (or at least I would have done if I wasn't fighting to keep Jack over his side of the plate with my chopsticks.) It's made from a dense batter that clings on to every bit of prawny-garlicky flavour and keeps the spring onions (and there are a lot of them) in place. Marinading the prawns in a sesame-garlic mixture first means that every juicy prawn tastes incredible and the scattering of chilli adds spice without setting your mouth on fire and stomping out all the other flavours.

We enjoyed this on a Friday evening, stood at the kitchen counter with a few cold Silent Pool gin and tonics and it couldn't have been a more delicious way to end to the week.

From Root to Stem

Have you ever looked in your bin half way through peeling and chopping your ingredients for dinner and thought "mmm, that looks delicious"? No, neither have I. But here's why one fast spreading food trend of 2016 - root to stem cooking - is about to show us why we're wrong. 

Head over to chicp.co.uk to read the rest of my guest post, including some great recipe suggestions for how to use the whole vegetable! 

Tamari-Rosemary Roasted Nuts

My body is broken after this Christmas. I spent about 2 weeks up to my eyeballs in ham, eating non-stop from my morning croissant to that one last chocolate coin before bed. There was a point when I wasn't even registering what I was eating any more - I would just slather it in leftover bread sauce and stick it in a sandwich with some piccalilli (one evening I did it with roast potatoes - triple carbs, classy.) When all too quickly the first week back at work came around, I decided I needed to take drastic action: no alcohol, no chocolate and (nearly) no carbs for at least the whole of January. I know, I know, why make January even more depressing than it already is? But I knew if I didn't go hardcore I would suddenly find myself in mid February, still eating cake for breakfast and unable to fit in to my jeans. I genuinely grew out of one of my denim skirts a week before Christmas and I haven't dared to try it on since. 

As well as cutting out all things fun I'm also trying to get my portions back down to normal sane sizes. I find it really difficult when adjusting back after a period of overeating that my stomach has been so stretched out that I find myself constantly hungry, despite eating 3 meals a day, so I like to have a few healthy snack options at the ready. There are loads of flavoured nuts in the supermarkets and I used to consider these a healthier option than crisps until I actually read the back of the packet. Since when did dry roasted peanuts need 18 ingredients?! I decided to make my own using a few natural flavours and they were so delicious I will never look back.
These are so salty and savoury, with a deep rosemary flavour, but also have that creamy sweetness that nuts take on when you roast them - so they'll satisfy any craving and curb your hunger as well as giving you a huge boost of healthy fats, protein, fibre and vitamin E (which helps to keep your eyes, skin and immune system healthy). I like to mix up my nuts to get a mix of flavours and textures. 

As much as it pains me to say this during Dry January, these taste unbelievably yummy with a gin and tonic. *sigh* If you're not currently detoxing, these taste best with Silent Pool gin. It has such amazing rich, clean flavours that go perfectly with the salty roasted nuts. Once you've tried Silent Pool I can guarantee you won't want to go back to that toxic-tasting stuff you've had before, it takes gin and tonics to whole new level.  

Makes 1 jar

250g mixed nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1.5 heaped tablespoon dried rosemary
1 pinch sea salt

1. Heat over to 180 degrees.
2. On a baking tray mix together all of the ingredients, bake the nuts for 10-15 minutes keeping an eye on them so they don't burn. 
3. Taste one to see if it's salty enough, if it's not then add some extra salt and another tablespoon or two of soy sauce then roast for another 5-10 minutes.