Salmorejo: the lesser known cousin of Gazpacho

You wouldn’t be in the minority if you think that Gazpacho is just a cold tomato and vegetable soup consumed on hot summer days. However, there is actually more to Gazpacho than meets the eye; its family is far larger and older than most people realise.

It is thought that the primitive Gazpacho was just a mixture of stale bread, olive oil and vinegar consumed in Pre-Roman Spain; to this other ingredients were added and others were changed. Throughout time this Gazpacho evolved especially after the Columbian Exchange when tomatoes were introduced into Spain; can you imagine a gazpacho without tomato? Well, there are actually many that still survive such as Mazamorra (mixture of bread, olive oil, vinegar & almonds) & Ajoblanco (practically identical to Mazamorra but hailing from Malaga instead of Cordoba). On the other side of the spectrum there is Gazpacho Manchego (from La Mancha in central Spain) which may seem totally different as it is more of a hot stew made with meat and unleavened bread (click here for recipe).

The full name of the Gazpacho that most people recognise is Gazpacho Andaluz (Andalusian Gazpacho, from Andalusia in Southern Spain) and as established is a cold tomato and vegetable soup. Salmorejo, from Cordoba (also in Andalusia) is very similar but it uses more bread so it is thicker and only tomato is used instead of other vegetables (yes, I know technically a tomato is a fruit…). Traditionally it is topped off with hardboiled egg and Serrano Ham but if you are vegan you can easily skip the garnish and just enjoy the soup.

N.B. I always use a splash of vinegar in my Salmorejo but many Salmorejo purists believe vinegar has no place in Salmorejo. If you are a hardcore traditionalist, skip the vinegar but if you frankly don’t care, do whatever your heart desires. Remember, there is always more than one way to skin a cat.

Ingredients

Main:

1kg ripe tomatoes, quartered (you can remove the seeds and peel but it’s not necessary)

1 stale baguette, broken into pieces

1 clove garlic

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as much as needed (we Mediterraneans tend to go overboard)

Splash of vinegar

Salt, to taste

1 tsp cumin powder (optional)

Garnish:

Hard boiled eggs, cubed

Serrano Ham, diced and lightly fried

Method

1 Place the quartered tomatoes into a bowl and add the garlic, bread, salt and cumin. Drizzle over a generous amount of olive oil and a splash of vinegar. Combine well, cover and leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour. You can leave it overnight, if you wish. salmorejo12 Using a hand immersion blender (or high-speed blender/food processor such as a Thermomix) blend all the ingredients together and then add more olive oil until your desired consistency is reached. Bear in mind that it should be thick. Optionally, you can also strain the Salmorejo is you want it to be more velvety and without any trace of the tomato skins but it’s not necessary. salmorejo2Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour and prepare the garnish just before serving. salmorejo34 Pour some Salmorejo into a bowl and top off with the egg and Serrano Ham garnish, if you wish. salmorejo4

 

Yukhoe육회(Korean Raw Marinated Beef)

Yukhoe is certainly not yuck nor a hoe although the thought of eating raw meat for some people can make them heave. I am not one of those people though as I have no qualms about eating raw meat, fish, eggs or anything else.

Yukhoe can be part of Bibimbap where it is slightly cooked in residual heat or as a standalone dish, often served with Nashi Pear. When I make it for Bibimbap, I usually make extra because I love this dish on its own, completely raw and delicious.

It’s best to buy the beef for this dish at your local butchers as they can advise you on the best cut of meat; just ask them for the freshest meat that is very lean and can be eaten raw. The beef needs to be thinly sliced so it’s best if the meat if half frozen so that it is easier to cut, if not just get your butcher to cut it as thinly as possible.

Ingredients

4 slices beef, thinly sliced and cut into strips

3 garlic cloves

1 1/2 Tbsp. light soy sauce

1 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. pure sesame oil

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Method

1 Pound garlic cloves in a pestle and mortar into a paste and add to the thinly sliced beef.yukhoee1

2 Marinate the beef with light soy sauce, honey, pure sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Mix well and enjoy.  You can eat it straightaway or make in advance. yukhoee2

Dolsot Bibimbap 돌솥 비빔밥 (Korean Mixed Rice)

In its purest form, Bibimbap is basically as bowl of rice mixed with a variety of vegetables and from then on it can be as simple or elaborate as you like. White rice goes on the bottom and then a myriad of ingredients are placed on top and finally mixed together. Typical toppings can include seasoned beansprouts, carrots, spinach, cucumber, courgette, gosari (fern bracken), doraji (bellflower root) along with Gochujang, Yukhoe (marinated raw beef) and a raw egg yolk (or fried egg for those who are a bit hypochondriac).

The different colours present in Bibimbap is highly symbolic to the Korean psyche as it is a clear example of Obangsaek, a Korean philosophy which is meant to harmonise nature with the human body. There are five colours (blue or green, red, yellow, white & black) which form obangsaek representing the five cardinal directions (east, south, centre, west & north) and the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal & water).

Sometimes, Bibimbap is cooked in a Dolsot (Hot stone pot) but it is not essential. I actually used a typical Spanish earthenware pot instead. The advantage of using a dolsot (or earthenware pot, maybe even works in a normal pot) is that the rice touching the pot will crisp up transform into Nurungji (누룽지), much like the highly prized Socarrat in a proper Spanish Paella.

Ingredients

2 cups cooked short grain rice (sushi rice is good)

Beansprouts

Spinach

1 carrot, cut into matchsticks

1 small cucumber, cut in half moons

Garlic, pounded

Toasted sesame seeds

Pure sesame oil

1 egg yolk

Yukhoe (optional)

1 Tbsp. Gochujang

1 spring onion, finely chopped (optional if you make Kongnamul Guk)

White pepper, to taste (optional if you make Kongnamul Guk)

Method 

1 Blanch spinach in boiling water and then rinse with cold water. Do not throw away the hot water. Season the blanched spinach with salt, 1 tsp garlic, 2 tsp pure sesame oil and some toasted sesame seeds. Reserve.bibimbap1

2 Cook beansprouts in a pot of boiling water from blanching the spinach for 10 minutes and make sure the lid is on as otherwise it can smell really bad. Once they have cooked, remove them and season with salt, 1 tsp garlic, 2 tsp pure sesame oil and some toasted sesame seeds. Optionally, you can leave some beansprouts in the water and make Kongnamul Guk (Beansprout Soup) to go with the Bibimbap. bibimbap2

3 Lightly fry  the carrot and then season with salt, 1 tsp garlic, 2 tsp pure sesame oil. Reserve.

4 Lightly fry the cucumber and then season with salt, 1 tsp garlic, 2 tsp pure sesame oil and sesame seeds. Reservebibimbap3

Assembly:

1 Heat a dolsot (or earthenware pot) and then add 2 tsp. sesame oil and the cooked rice and flatten down. Arrange the beansprouts, spinach, carrots and cucumber in small bunches on top of the rice. Add the yukhoe, gochujang and place the egg yolk in the centre. Cook the dolsot on a medium heat for a few minutes. You should hear sizzling, this is where the Nurungji is achieved.

2 After a few minutes, mix everything well and dig in!  bibimbap4

For the Kongnamul Guk (optional): 

Season the water from making the beansprouts with salt, white pepper and garnish with spring onions. Serve this soup alongside the Bibimbap if you wish. bibimbap5guk

 

 

Daeji Bulgogi 돼지불고기(Korean Spicy BBQ Pork Belly)

Gogigui (Korean BBQ) is a meat lovers paradise whereby a myriad of different meats are cooked on a BBQ placed in the centre of your table. It’s a great social gathering as each person can cook whatever meat their heart desires and to the doneness that they prefer. Typically, this meat is then slathered with ssamjang sauce and rolled in lettuce or perilla leaves; much like a Korean-style taco. The most popular gogigui meats include bulgogi (marinated beef sirloin), samgyeopsal (unmarinated pork belly), dak (chicken) and galbi (short ribs).

Today’s recipe is a variation of samgyeopsal and bulgogi. The meat used in this recipe is the same as samgyeopsal but instead of being plain it is marinated in a sauce similar to bulgogi but with an added kick of spiciness coming from a mixture of gochujang and gochugaru.

If you don’t have a BBQ set up you can still make this recipe and just cook it on a grill pan (or even a normal frying pan) on your kitchen stove or even in the oven.

Ingredients

750kg pork belly, thinly sliced

For the marinade:

6cm fresh ginger

6 garlic cloves

1 nashi pear, peeled and cored

2 Tbsp. honey

4 Tbsp. gochujang

1 Tbsp. gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes)

2 tsp. pure sesame oil

2 Tbsp. light soy sauce

Black pepper, to taste

2 spring onions, chopped

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Method

1 Mince garlic and ginger in a food processor (or by hand) and then add nashi pear. Blend into a smooth puree and transfer into a large bowl.

2 To this bowl add honey, gochujang, gochugaru, pure sesame oil, light soy sauce, black pepper, spring onions and toasted sesame seeds. Mix well and then use this mixture to marinade the pork belly. Leave to rest for at least 30 minutes or preferably overnight.dsc01418_fotor_collage

Cook on a BBQ grill until lightly charred on each side.Optionally, you can roll the meat in a lettuce or perilla leaf with a dollop of Ssamjang and gobble up.daejibulgogi

Ssamjang 쌈장(Korean Wrapping Sauce)

Ssamjang is used primarily in Korean BBQ whereby a piece of meat is wrapped in lettuce (or perilla leaves if you can get your hands on them) along with a dollop of Ssamjang. It can also be used as a dip for crudites or even crisps (potato chips if you’re American).

Many people buy the prepared Ssamjang sauce from Asian supermarkets but it’s so damn easy to make so why not to do it yourself? The main ingredients include Gochujang and Doenjang which can be used in a myriad of other dishes should you have any left over so it’s not a waste to buy them. Try making my Doenjang Jjigae (Fermented Soybean Stew) or my Daeji Bulgogi (Korean Spicy BBQ Pork Belly) with whatever Doenjang and Gochujang you have left over from making Ssamjang.

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. Doenjang

1 1/2 Tbsp. Gochujang

2 Tbsp. honey

3 tsp. pure sesame oil

1/2 onion, finely diced

1 spring onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Method

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until needed. It’s that easy! ssamjang

 

 

 

 

Bubur Lambuk (Malaysian Chicken Rice Porridge)

During the holy Islamic month of Ramadan most Malaysian mosques prepare massive vats of Bubur Lambuk and dish it out for free to the faithful in order to break their fast after the Asr prayers (Afternoon Prayers).

Bubur Lambuk may be mainly associated with Malaysian Ramadan but it’s so scrumptious that you should be able to enjoy it during any month of the year; it’s a bit like having pancakes throughout the year instead of just eating them on Shrove Tuesday; too good to just limit yourself to once a year.

Rice porridge is common throughout Asia; in China it is known as congee, in Thailand it is chok, in Japan it is Kayu and in India it is known as Kanji. The base of these rice porridges are similar but the spices and cooking methods vary across the continent. In Malaysia it is a thick porridge made with many spices and aromatics such as pandan leaf, lemongrass, cinnamon, fennel, cardamon and it is always garnished with Bawang Goreng (Crispy Shallots) which gives it a nice crunch against the velvety rice. Traditionally it is made with beef but the today’s version with chicken is becoming quite popular.

Ingredients:

For Bawang Goreng:

4 shallots, finely sliced

2 pinches coarse sea salt

Plenty vegetable oil

For Bubur Lambuk:

1 large chicken breast, diced into small pieces

200g jasmine rice, washed

1 litre chicken stock (or plain water)

1 Tbsp ghee (optional)

2 Tbsp shallot oil (from making Bawang Goreng)

4 shallots, diced

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

5cm fresh ginger, finely diced

1 lemongrass stalk, bashed and cut into three pieces

4 pandan leaves, tied into a knot and the ends cut off

2 star anise, whole

1 cinnamon stick, whole

1 tsp. clove (whole or ground)

1 Tbsp. fennel powder

1 tsp. fenugreek

4 cardamoms (whole or ground)

1 tsp. black pepper

Salt, to taste

200ml coconut milk

Garnish: 

Parsley, finely chopped

Bawang Goreng

Red chilli powder (optional)

Method:

First we need to make Bawang Goreng:

1 Place finely sliced shallots on a plate with kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt in order to make them sweat. Leave for around 30 minutes while you prep the Bubur Lambuk ingredients and then dab with more kitchen paper to remove excess moisture. bawang-prep

2 Fry shallots in enough vegetable oil to completely cover the shallots. Start frying them from cold oil and cook on a low flame. Stir shallots continuously as to prevent them from burning and fry them until they have turned brown; it’s a fine line between brown and burnt so make sure you remove them just before you think they might need just a bit more colour. Strain shallots and leave on kitchen paper to soak up the excess oil. Leave to cool until garnishing time. Do not throw the oil from cooking the shallots as it will be full of flavour and be used in the Bubur Lambuk. bawang-goreng

For the Bubur Lambuk:

Fry shallots in a combination of ghee and shallot oil until slightly translucent. bubur-1

2 Ad garlic, ginger and lemongrass and after a few minutes add pandan, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, fenugreek, cardamom, black pepper and fry until fragrant.

3 Add chicken to seal the meat and then add rice; combine well and then add chicken stock (or water). Bring to a boil and then simmer on a low flame for 10 minutes or until the rice has broken down and has become mushy. Season to taste.

bubur2

4 Add coconut milk and stir in well and then remove from the heat. At this point you can play with your desired consistency; if you like it less mushy add more water or coconut milk. dsc01391_fotor

5 Finally, garnish with parsley, Bawang Goreng and red chilli powder if you wish.

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ต้มข่าไก่ Tom Kha Gai (Thai Galangal Chicken Soup)

Some people believe that ginger is a good substitute for galangal but even though they are both rhizomes from the same family (zingiberaceae), they are indeed very different. Perhaps you could get away with using ginger instead of galangal in other recipes but “kha” means galangal so to make this recipe without it wouldn’t really make much sense.

My Thai friend recommended me to boil the chicken in water mixed with a little coconut milk and then throw the liquid away. I thought this was a bit odd as I’d expect the liquid to be full of flavour but apparently  this is a Thai technique (that some Thais follow) to make sure there are no impurities in the final soup as apparently it should be pearly white. I actually couldn’t bring myself to throw the liquid away and ended up using it in another recipe but it could have another use. If you find the final soup to be too heavy, you can “water” it down with some of this liquid; just make sure you sieve it first to get rid of the impurities (or don’t bother and just whack it all in lol).

Even though this is a soup, it is actually common among Thais to serve it with Thai Jasmine rice and eaten much like a Thai curry.

If you love coconut, you’ll love this soup!

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs, deboned and cut into bite sized chunks

1l coconut milk

1 lemongrass, bashed and cut into large pieces

2 galangal, sliced into thick rounds

6 kaffir lime leaves, ripped in half

3 Thai chillies, cut in half lengthwise

1 1/2 Tbsp. Thai Fish Sauce

1 tsp. palm sugar (or any other type)

Oyster mushrooms, torn into strips

1 lime, juiced

Method 

1 In a saucepan add chicken and enough water to just cover the chicken; then add 1/2 glass coconut milk. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Drain and reserve just the chicken. Optional: You can reserve the liquid and use a bit in the recipe if you find the coconut broth to be too strong but make sure to sieve it first to get rid of the impurities.
tom-kha-gai_1
2 Gently heat coconut milk and add lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, chillies, fish sauce, sugar and simmer for 5 minutes to allow the aromatics to infuse. Add the oyster mushrooms and chicken and cook for a few minutes so the chicken reheats.
tom-kha-gai_2
3 Remove from the heat and add lime juice. At this point you can adjust the seasonings and add more fish sauce or sugar if needed.
Optional: Serve with Thai Jasmine rice
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Note: You are not meant to eat the lemongrass, galangal or kaffir lime leaves but you can chew on them to extract maximum flavour if you wish.