groundnut oil

Duck Ramen with Garlic Oil

A sign of the obsession with food that my girlfriend and I share is that one of the principal reasons for choosing a duck for Christmas lunch was it would mean having duck ramen the following day.

As we ate the roast duck (more on that in a future post) we were already talking about the ramen to come. It all started with a duck ramen we ate back at a Grub Club event in October – that one was rich and full of aniseed, garnished with Thai basil. This one was more subtle and savoury, topped off with garlic oil.

I’m going to assume you’re starting with a roast duck. If not, you can remove the duck breasts and roast the carcass and legs to get to the same starting point, and then grill the duck breasts before you serve. You’ll also need vegetable dashi (or a really good, non-salty vegetable or chicken stock), two stalks of lemongrass, three star anise, two slices of root ginger, noodles, pak choi, garlic, shallots, vegetable oil, sesame seeds, eggs, spring onion, coriander, shiitake mushrooms, beansprouts and coriander (cilantro).

The base: Strip as much meat and skin off the carcass as possible, keeping the skin and meat separate. Cover the bones with water, add three sticks of celery, and a sliced onion. Gentle simmer for three hours and allow to cool. Remove the bones, picking off more meat. Allow the stock to settle, and skim off most of the fat from the top. You want to leave small dots of fat across the top, as this will help the soup stick to the noodles. Strain the stock through some muslin. Taste and add some vegetable dashi to add savoury depth to the broth, and six shiitake mushrooms, with the lemongrass, star anise and ginger. Heat gently but keep just below boiling point.

Garlic Oil: Peel and smash up two shallots and three cloves of garlic in a pestle and mortar. Add a good tablespoon of sesame seeds and pound some more. Tip this into a small saucepan and cover with vegetable or groundnut oil. Heat this and fry off very gently for five minutes or so, and then add Japanese pepper (nanami togarashi) to your taste.

The contents: Blanch the pak choi (one small one per person) and refresh in cold water. Boil an egg per person for six minutes, run under the cold tap and peel. Break the meat into small pieces. Finely slice the spring onions. Rinse the beansprouts and pick the coriander leaves. Lift the mushrooms out of the soup and slice. Cook the noodles per the instructions – but make sure you time it right so that they still have bite when you drain them. Have a frying pan ready and when the noodles are in, add the chopped duck skin and fry it quickly to crisp it up.

The assembly: Before you put the noodle on, pour some boiling water into the ramen bowls to heat them up. When the noodles are about a minute away, empty and dry the bowls, and add the meat, pak choi, beansprouts, sliced mushrooms, spring onion and coriander. Drain the noodles and add them. Slice the egg in half and add this, and finally the crispy duck skin.

Finally: Ladle in the boiling soup, bringing it just up to the top of the ingredients.

Serve with the garlic sauce on the side for people to add as they wish.

This worked out really well and possibly even topped the Christmas lunch!

1. Lemon and Groundnut Oil

This seems to be the easiest home remedy for pimples- just take one tablespoon each of lime juice and groundnut oil and apply this to your face. This method prevents blackheads- the foundations for pimples!

2. Lemon and Rosewater

Smells wonderful apart from treating your acne! Mix lime juice with rose water and apply this on your boils. Leave it for about 30 minutes. Now wash off with water. It’s that simple but remember to do this daily for at least 2-4 weeks depending upon the severity of your pimples.

3. Lemon with Sandalwood and Cinnamon Powder

Why only rosewater, these powders derived from sandal wood and cinnamon too are great when it comes to fragrant remedy for pimples! Just mix one of these with lime juice and apply on pimples in the same way as you did with rosewater-lemon combination and you’ll get rid of acne within 2-4 weeks.

4. Lemon with Egg White

You read it right. Egg whites too are a great companion of lime juice for treating pimples. Apply some fresh lime juice on your pimples. Then take a little egg white and dab it on the pimples over the layer of lime juice. Let it be there till the time you are no longer able to tolerate the smell. Wash it off. Try this whenever you are up to making some preparation from egg! You just need to run your fingers inside the empty egg shell to get that little egg white you need for dabbing on your pimples. Remember, having egg whites daily is as healthy for your body as it is for your pimple-less face!

5. Lemon with Veggies, Fruits and Milk

You might have used lime juice to season your cucumber salad, it’s time now to use this combination for your acne too! Grate or grind cucumber finely and add 2-3 tablespoon of lime juice to get a paste like consistency. Now apply this paste on your pimples. You can even rub this paste on your face and neck to prevent blackheads that gradually give way to pimples.

After, veggies, there are fruits too! Roast the peels of pomegranate and ground them to get some powder out of it. Now mix this roasted pomegranate peels powder with lime juice and make a paste out of it. Apply this mixture to your pimples and see them vanish in almost no time! Yes, it takes a little effort to roast and powder the peels but it’s a quick remedy for pimples.

Now it’s the turn of milk. Take a cup of milk, don’t boil it. Mix some fresh lime juice to this milk and wash your face with it as you do when you apply some face-wash. This natural face wash made with milk and lime can prove a good remedy to get rid of those pimples.

Getting Fried Rice Right

In the past I’ve struggled a bit with fried rice – so I turned to that great cook Mark Bittman for the answer, and found this method for simple fried rice that he adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

It uses simply: cooked rice (and remember you should never use rice that is more than a day old), leeks, ginger, garlic, groundnut oil, sesame oil, soy sauce and if you’re not as averse to eggs as I am, you can top each portion with a fried egg. For enough rice for two people, you’ll want two medium leeks, 2-3 cloves of garlic and about an inch of root ginger.

You start with ginger and garlic. I sliced these finely, rather then mincing them – and I’m not sure it was an improvement. It was a challenge to get both of them to the right level of crispiness at the same time without a few of the slices burning. So I would stick with the original recipe and mince the garlic and ginger and fry them in groundnut oil until golden, then set aside. Then fry the finely sliced leeks on a low heat until they are really soft, but not browned. The trick in doing this is to keep the heat low and to keep them moving.

You then add in the rice and stir to heat through, before diving the rice into bowls, drizzling on a little soy sauce and sesame oil, and topping with the ginger and garlic.

The first attempt at this was not perfect – there’s an art to getting the garlic and ginger crispy without it turning bitter, and using enough oil to allow the leeks to soften but not too much to make the end dish oily. I would start with less oil than the original recipe and add more if you need it.

By ensuring that the rice was cold and a little dried out, and not adding it until everything else is pretty much cooked, this worked better than all my previous attempts and is a dish I’ll be returning to and trying to perfect.

Spicy Barbecued Sweet Potatoes

These are so good you might want to ditch the rest of the barbecue and just eat these. Sweet potato with nanami togarashi (a Japanese spicy pepper blend) and yuzu salt, finished on the barbecue to create crispy caramelised edges.

Sweet potatoes are microwaved until almost cooked, left to cool a little, peeled and cut into wedges. They’re then drizzled with groundnut or sesame oil, dusted with the pepper and salt (ordinary salt will work fine if you can’t find yuzu salt), and cooked on the barbecue until the edges are starting to take on some colour.