Oh, how I wish I could title this post Kielbasa and Kabbage! We’ve had a Mleckzo Polish delicatessen open up in Croydon recently and I am in awe at the selection of kielbasa (Polish sausage) that is available – there must be at least 50 different kinds in their refrigerated display cabinet! They’re all different colours too – some more reddish, others darker and possibly smoked. Some are pork only, others are beef, still others are pork and beef or turkey. Anyway, I have no real idea how to use all of them but I do know that a lot of them will work well cooked with cabbage.

I don’t claim that this is a particularly Polish recipe – I just put it together based on what I had to use up in the house. And it tasted great! I love the combination of the strong sausage with the cabbage – I love cabbage in stews. I’ve tried this now with a couple different types of cabbage and a few different kielbasas from the display. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the different types as they are all labelled in Polish, which I don’t read! Ah well.

Kielbasa and Cabbage

Kielbasa and Cabbage
serves 2

1 length of Kielbasa – about 25cm
1 small cabbage – green or Savoy
1 large onion
olive oil
200 ml cider
1 tsp caraway seeds
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut up your onion and soften it over medium heat in a little olive oil in a large saute pan. Slice the kielbasa into bite sized slices and when the onion is soft, add them into the pan with the caraway seeds. When they have browned a little, pour in the cider and let it all bubble.

Get your cabbage cut up into bite sized pieces, leaving the core. Add them to the pan, stirring through and adding a little more water if it’s looking dry. Cover and reduce the heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is cooked to your liking. Season to taste.

Serve hot with a little bread on the side – rye is a good choice.

Did you watch the most recent Rick Stein series – From Venice to Istanbul? There was one episode somewhere in Turkey where Mr Stein watched a tomato and lemon fish stew being cooked by a woman. I think perhaps the recipe was so simple that no one even bothered to write down the recipe as it’s not on the BBC website. A similar recipe is provided, cooked by a fisherman (in another episode, I think) but I wanted *that one*.

I had my doubts whether the recipe as presented would even work. All the ingredients, including a whole fish, are dumped into a large saute pan, it’s covered and then set onto the heat. But somehow it did work as various juices were exuded from the tomatoes, lemon and fish and this all mingled together and created a delectable fish stew. It’s stupidly easy and I highly recommend it! I reckon there are plenty of fishy combinations that will work when cooked in this way.

Turkish Fish Stew with Tomato and Lemon

Turkish Tomato and Lemon Fish Stew
serves 2.

Two sea bass (I used small individual serving sized ones), cleaned
1 large onion
3 large tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 lemons
salt
extra virgin olive oil

Peel and slice the onion and spread the rings in the bottom of a large saute pan (that has a lid). Sit the fish on top of the onions. Peel and dice the tomatoes (pour boiling water over the tomatoes in a heatproof bowl, leave for a minute, and the skins should just slip off) and scatter them over the fish. Peel the garlic and cut into large chunks and also add this to the pan along with the chopped parsley.

Take one lemon and slice off the peel. Slice the now naked lemon into slices and dot the top of your fish mixture. Take half of the second lemon and squeeze the juice over. Season with salt and drizzle over a very generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.

Cover the pan and set it over medium heat. In about 40 minutes, the fish should be cooked through and everything else should have cooked down, leaving you with a lovely fish stew. Serve with lots of bread for mopping it all up.

It sure doesn’t feel like spring… maybe it was an April Fool’s joke by someone or something above but there was a bit of light snow coming down in west London in the early afternoon today. Spring weather it may not be but it’s still perfect weather for braises and stews.

Braised beef and daikon is a traditional Cantonese stew and most classic recipes online call for Chee Hou sauce, a ready made sauce of soybeans, ginger and garlic used for Chinese braising. I have no experience with the stuff and didn’t have any of it to hand but I did have a tub of white miso paste in the fridge. A spoonful of it went it and didn’t hurt it one bit. Melt-in-the-mouth beef, tender daikon, lots of thick sauce that’s perfect over white rice – this will keep you warm on the inside!

Braised Beef and Daikon

Braised Beef and Daikon
serves 4 with rice.

600-800g beef for stewing (like braising steak, shin, brisket)
2 tbsps oil
4 slices ginger
3 large garlic cloves
80ml Shaoxing wine
2 tbsps oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 heaped tsp miso paste
1-2 star anise
1 stick cinnamon/cassia
a sprinkle or two of white pepper
a small chunk of rock sugar
3-4 cups water
1 small to medium sized daikon
2 tbsps cornstarch

Cut up the beef into large chunks. Heat up a pot over medium heat, add the oil and then brown the beef on all sides. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for a minute or two until aromatic. Add all the other ingredients except the daikon and cornstarch and stir to mix. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat so that everything is just at a simmer. Half cover the pot and let it do its thing for about 1.5 to 2 hours. You want that beef to be tender.

Peel and cut the daikon into large chunks. Add to the cooking beef and then continue cooking all together until everything is tender. Mix up a cornstarch slurry by combining the cornstarch with cold water and then stir as much as you desire into the sauce to thicken it to your liking.

Serve with rice and other dishes if desired. Stay warm, everyone!

We spent last Sunday night with a squirrel – two actually. I bought these at our farmers’ market (Ealing) and they were sold cleaned and skinned.

Prepared

Butchering is obviously not my strength. I managed to get off the haunches and some of the forearms and various other bits of meat but couldn’t deal with the main chest cavities. Nothing I read online prepared me for the strong odour of one of the animals; while it certainly wasn’t a rotten meat smell, I just wonder if the squirrel’s scent glands had been accidentally activated.

Stewing

They were stewed using my default stew recipe. Onions, carrots, (we didn’t have celery), a herb (this time dried oregano), flour, red wine, vegetable stock and a long slow braise.

Squirrel Stew with Mash

The flavour? Well, while some of the meat had too much of that scent (discarded), other pieces were totally fine. It’s extremely lean and gamey and well, a bit chickeny. I won’t be rushing to have them again but at least I can say I’ve tried it!

The woman behind the counter at Duri, a new Korean shop and cafe in Ealing Common, was looking interested in what I was purchasing. In an attempt to explain, I said that I was making kimchi jjigae at home.

Kimchi Jjigae

“Wwoooaaaaahhhh! Kimchi jjigae?!” She looked again at what she was just about to place into a plastic bag. Kimchi. Gochujang. Choco Pies (ahem, not for the jjigae). “You also need tofu.”

I waved my other plastic bag at her, having purchased some at the nearby Japanese shop Natural Natural. She burst into a big smile, finished up with my order, and sent me off with further approval of kimchi jjigae. Apparently they served some the other day and it sold out quickly.

Yes, kimchi jjigae, or kimchi stew, is delicious and as it’s served piping hot, it’s perfect for a cold night (and surely you know those). I reckon it’s also a gentle introduction to kimchi if you’re a bit nervous of it. All that’s required on the side is some white rice. Slurp.

Kimchi Jjigae

Kimchi Jjigae
serves 2.

200g pork tenderloin (or belly), thinly sliced
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium sized onion, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 loose cupful of kimchi, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 cups water
1-2 tbsps gochujang
1 block of soft tofu (silken, if possible)
3 spring onions, chopped
salt to taste

Heat a pot over medium heat and pour in the sunflower oil when it is hot. Add the onion and fry until it has softened. Add the garlic and stir fry for another minute. Add the sliced pork and again fry until cooked. Toss in the kimchi, fry for another minute, and then add the water and bring it all to a boil.

Stir in the gochujang (add to taste) and reduce the temperature so it all simmers away happily. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes though longer wouldn’t hurt it at all. Cut the block of silken tofu into cubes and carefully drop them into the pot. Stir them in gently and leave to simmer for another 5 minutes. Add salt to taste (you may not need any – I found mine fine as is) and throw in the spring onions at the end. Serve piping hot with white rice on the side.