Sunday, 17 March 2013

Recipe - Fakeaway - Quick Tom Yum Soup and Salt and Pepper Prawns

Aarrrrggh!  My PC just BSOD on me mid blog-post.  It did restart, thankfully, but it's on it's way out definitely.    I'm going to have to be doing some serious data back-up today, before the whole thing gives up the ghost on me.  Everything is going wrong or breaking down...

I was going to post this last night but I was too full to move.  Two brand new dishes for me to make, and both an absolutely resounding success!   Here are the pictures of the finished results. As usual no points for presentation but they both tasted amazing!

Quick Tom Yum Soup

Salt and Pepper Prawns

The soup - I've been harbouring the paste in my spice cupboard since last year, and finally decided it was time to use it.  I've never had this soup before, but I'll definitely be having it again.  I imagine it's a very healthy soup as well?    I didn't use prawns in it this time, as although Mr G likes prawns, he only likes them in certain dishes, and I think he'd draw the line at soup.  From reading online I think the beauty of this soup is that you can chuck whatever you have in to it.  I don't think it would lose anything in taste by being a purely vegetarian soup either.

So - I sauteed a few chopped chicken breasts, then added celery, sliced mushrooms, quartered tomatoes and a tablespoon of minced garlic.  Added a litre of water, and four tablespoons of Tom Yum Paste.  The recipe dictated for two tablespoons of pepper - I added one.  It asked for 1 teaspoon of salt - I added a few grinds of sea salt.  I threw in a crumbled chicken stock cube and ½ teaspoon of all-purpose seasoning.  Brought to the boil and simmered for about 20 - 25 minutes.  Voila.

This was hot!  I love hot foods.  But my tasting as I was cooking this didn't betray how HOT the soup was going to be.  Unfortunately I've never tried this dish from a takeaway before, so I don't have anything to compare it to.  But it suited our spicy tastes down to the ground, and Mr G told me this was going to become a regular recipe for us.  Result!

The story behind the prawns.  We have, or rather had a Chinese and Cantonese takeaway in the town that we used regularly.  It was known affectionately as 'Ken's' after the owner as opposed to its proper name.  Ken had a dish on the menu 'Fried King Prawns with Chilli and Salt'.  It was absolutely lush.  I have spent hours and hours on the internet trying to find out how this dish was made.  It's a common dish in different restaurants and takeaways.  I've worked in a pub kitchen and I know that in a lot of catering trades shortcuts are used.  For example - our Steak and Ale pie filling was all homemade, but we used frozen, cut to size puff pastry lids.  Some of the bigger pub chains (that a family member worked for) - an awful lot more, pretty much everything was bought in frozen.  So - my advice is, when people knock themselves out trying to create an authentic Fakeaway - you phone your order in, and they say you can pick it up in 10 minutes.  You arrive, and it's ready for you.  Don't turn your nose up at the sauces in the ethnic grocers.  What do you think the takeaway is using, to have your Sweet and Sour Chicken, or Beef in Black Bean ready for you in 10 minutes??

This particular dish, contained huge King Prawns.  It was quite oily, so not very healthy, but this is the beauty of making it at home, you can make it so much healthier.  In the 'juice' was chillies, spring onion, and chopped onions.  The Prawns were either breaded or battered, but weren't crispy, due to being in this sauce.  The dish was spicy and very, very salty, but also Chinese-y.  What would I use?  Five Spice?  Szechuan Peppercorn?  I just didn't know, and I didn't want to ruin a dish by getting it wrong - I don't like to and simply can't afford to waste food.

So, while I was in Tesco the other day, pottering up and down the aisle that had spices and seasonings and other ethnic bits and bobs, I saw something new.  I was bouncing up and down that aisle when Mr G finally caught up with me. 

Hello?  Is it me you're looking for? 

Oh yes, it most definitely IS you I have been looking for!   I've been a Flava-it user for about 3 years now, maybe more.  I bought some to try when having a barbecue and looking for time-saving ways to flavour meat than having to marinate everything for hours before.   When I have a get together it's usually a big one, so I don't have the space to have tubs of meat everywhere.  I tried their 'Piri Piri' and 'Hot and Spicy' and 'Chinese' marinade powders and was so impressed with the ease, the speed and the taste, that I always have at least two of their varied range in my storecupboard.  This wasn't the first time I'd used their Coaters either, the Pepper Steak one is lovely, but I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to (beef) steak, I don't want the taste altered by coating nor sauces, so I used it on Pork Steaks.  I assume this Oriental Salt and Pepper is a relatively new one because I've never seen it anywhere before.  Put it this way, so impressed am I with my previous experience of their range of marinades and coatings that I bought four on the spot.  This was it, this had to be it.  I could feel it in me waters...

I was so nervous about this.  I was so close.  So, so close.  I walked into the kitchen, walked out again.  Made a coffee.  Drank a bottle of wine.  Went upstairs to check Twitter.  Checked my blog.  Checked my emails.  Went downstairs.  Dished up the soup.  Finished the soup.  And I was off.

I made a very small amount of a very basic coating batter, using self raising flour, vegetable oil and water.  I heated the oil in my mini fryer.  Sticking a fork in a King Prawn, I dunked it into a bowl of cornflour, then into the batter, then into the fryer.  I cooked three Prawns at a time, for about 1 - 2 minutes, until they were all battered.

The battered King Prawns

They looked so, so yummy, they nearly didn't make the final dish, but I was good and didn't steal one.  Honest.

I heated a little vegetable oil in my wok, and added three chopped chillies (two green and one red) and a chopped onion.  Don't chop the onion too fine, you want a bit of bite to it.  Unfortunately I'd forgot to buy Spring Onions.  Cook this out for about 1-2 minutes over a high heat.

Then add the battered prawns to the wok.  Cook, stirring, shaking, however you use a wok - I'm a stirrer - for about 2 more minutes.

Stirred, not shaken

This next part went a bit wrong, I shook some of the Flava-it onto the prawns and stirred.  Having not used this particular one before, and the dish not being very large, I didn't want to overdo it, especially with it being a very salty coating.  My Mother's words ringing in my ears 'You can always add salt but you can't take it away!'   I tried it and I hadn't put enough in.  So I sprinkled a bit more.  Tried an onion, and it was fine.  But by this time, the batter of a few prawns was just starting to stick to the wok and pull away from the prawns.  So - next time I make the dish, I'll use the Flava-it before I add the Prawns.  Trial and error, isn't it?  As you know by now, my presentation and photography are crap, but hopefully my recipes make up for in taste, what they lack in everything else!

You can see a few of the prawns have no coating at this point

Mr G loved this dish.  I loved this dish.  Was it exactly the same as the takeaway?  No.  Was it close?  Yes.  Is there scope for improvement?  Probably, if I thought long and hard enough about it.  If I was craving this dish from the takeaway, would it satisfy those cravings?  Yes.  So, all in all a very successful evenings cooking, with two lovely, flavoursome new dishes to add to my Fakeaway series!  Thanks, in a major part to Flava-it!

(* Disclaimer - This isn't a post sponsored by Flava-it, although it may look that way.  If I recommend a product, it's because I like it, not because I feel obliged to.  Flava-it are, of course, welcome to send me kilos and kilos of Flava-it for being so nice and complimentary about their amazing product!  Which is called Flava-it.  Did I mention it was amazing?)


  1. I need you in my life. And especially in my kitchen.


    1. Awwwwwwww thank you :-) I know my presentation lets me down but hey, I'm a harrassed mum, not a food photographer. It was so lovely. You want to hire me as a chef, I'm there. Mr G can raise the kids, I'll send him a cheque in the post once a month...


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