Friday, 12 August 2011

Finding recipes

With the internet, finding recipes to suit every taste and occasion has become very easy indeed. Type 'green curry paste recipe' into Google and it returns about 755,000 results! Whatever you want to cook, sweet or savoury, someone has posted a recipe for it. The trick lies in filtering out overly complicated recipes or ones with obscure ingredients. While it would be great to include galangal (a root similar to ginger) in your Thai cooking, it may not be easy to buy locally.

When searching for recipes online I find the top results are often from websites I know and trust, like BBC Food or celebrity chefs such as Delia Smith. Sometimes the links go to recipes provided by commercial companies. Both Blue Dragon and Amoy sell a range of quality Asian cooking products, from cook-in or stir-fry sauces to ingredients such as Thai fish sauce or tamarind paste and they have excellent websites which provide a range of recipes using their products. Of course you don't have to stick to the brand to enjoy cooking and eating the food, but it helps to know that the ingredients for what you plan to cook are readily available!

As I live in the UK, I tend to stick to UK-based sites, especially when it comes to recipes as the measurements are familiar. US sites tend to use cup measurements - this baffles me as it is too vague. Do they mean a teacup or a mug? Anyway, I find it all a bit confusing, so unless they provide measurements in either imperial or metric, the recipe is of little use to me. Also, they tend to refer to coriander as cilantro and courgettes as zucchini - there could be other misunderstandings, hence my preference for UK-based websites.

Many of the websites I have listed in the left column have internal search functionality, where you can enter an ingredient, such as chicken or lemongrass, and it will return a list of recipes using the item specified. This is handy when you have one or two  main ingredients but are not sure what you can use them for. It helps to have a well stocked store cupboard though. I always have the following in stock:

  • coconut milk
  • tinned chopped tomatoes
  • rice (Basmati, long grain and jasmine)
  • noodles
  • several types of pasta
  • a range of herbs and spices, including dried chillies
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • ready-made curry pastes (Madras, Thai green curry, harissa)
  • soy sauce (both light and dark)
  • Shaoxing rice wine
  • sesame oil
  • olive oil

With these 'basics' available, I can always cook a dinner in the evening after work. It is easy to whip up a stir-fry with whatever fresh meat and/or vegetables I have in the fridge. Tinned tomatoes make a great sauce for pasta with the addition of garlic, onion and basil if there is no meat around. In fact, with a little bit of imagination it it easy to rustle up a quick meal from a few basic ingredients cooked with herbs and/or spices.

No comments:

Post a Comment