Blue Elephant Royal Thai Cuisine: Tom Yam Sour & Spicy Soup Meal Kit

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Product Review:

Blue Elephant Royal Thai Cuisine: Tom Yam Sour & Spicy Soup Meal Kit

Cook at home like in Bangkok

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Includes 2 packs each of:

  • Tom Yam Soup Paste
  • Fish Sauce
  • Dried spices (dried Thai lime leaves, dried galangal, dried lemongrass)

My night at The Blue Elephant Restaurant in London was one of my fondest dining experience memories. I tried crocodile Carpaccio for the first time which was mouth watering, fall off the bone fish arrived at your table wrapped inside the bamboo leaf that it was steamed in, and the middle of the room was the most beautiful lush garden scene of an actual bridge crossing over a koi fish pond. Aaahh..I miss you London..or I miss you Phuket?

So anyway, when I came across this Blue Elephant meal kit I was intrigued, but because I prefer to make my Thai soups and curries from scratch, I skipped it. A few weeks ago though, I moved and as a house warming gift, my sister and her hubby sponsored a R500 Woolworths online shop and of course when you’ve just moved, the easier and quicker the meals, the better (without sacrificing taste of course), so needless to say this was one of the first items in my basket.

Each box’s contents are enough for 4 meals so is definitely worth the price. The recipe on the box advises you to simply add 1 Tbsp. lime juice, 8 mushrooms and 200g headless prawns.

I won’t take you through the whole recipe on the box as you can simply follow the instructions when or if you buy the product yourself, but I will tell you how I adjusted the recipe slightly and added my own twist to the dish.

  • First I defrosted 10 large prawns from Checkers (for 2 servings) in the fridge for a day. I then washed them off and patted them dry (water and hot oil don’t play nice).
  • When I was ready for dinner, I fried my shell-on prawns (prawns are much tastier with their shells still in-tact) in some olive oil on medium to high heat for 1 minute. I added in some chunky onion bits (fried onions soak up so much flavour and sweeten any dish), 8 plum tomatoes quartered and a pack of exotic mushrooms (shitake and oyster) from Checkers and continued frying this all together on medium heat, while constantly stirring for about 2 more minutes.
  • I then added the boiling water to the pot, as well as the tom yam paste, the full sachet of fish sauce (the recipe says to not be heavy handed with the fish sauce but this sachet amount I found very mild), and 1 Tbsp. sugar (I added an extra ½ Tbsp. sugar later too as the tom yam paste was overpowering the sweetness). After 30 seconds I removed the prawns to avoid them overcooking.
  • I brought the mixture to the boil without the prawns and allowed it to simmer on medium to low heat for about 5 minutes to get the max flavour out of the spices.
  • I then added ½ Tbsp. lime juice (but ended up adding another 2 limes worth of juice to the mixture as the sweet and sour taste was not prominent enough).
  • I then threw the prawns back in for the last 1 minute just to warm up.
  • After ladling the soup into two bowls, I sprinkled some chopped up spring onion over the top

On the first night, I thought it was pretty tasty but that it still needed some more lime (but I do love my sour in this kind of soup) and I also didn’t think it was hot enough. The box shows 3 chilli’s worth of heat and even recommends using less paste if you don’t like chilli, but I could hardly taste the chilli at all. So next time I think I will add some chopped up red chilli too.

Overall I really loved the flavours though and as I thought, the fried onions, the tomatoes, the extra lime and extra sugar gave it that additional oomph that I really love in Thai soups.

On the second night, I enjoyed my left overs even more! Like with most dishes with a sauce or a soup, an additional day standing enhances the flavours of the dish. In this dish, time allowed the flavours from the dried herbs and prawns to be absorbed into the mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and soup itself even more, and the result was incredible! A Lemongrass and kaffir lime delight!

I will definitely be buying this meal kit again, but I think next time I may make it on Saturday and then enjoy the whole two servings all on my own for Sunday lunch!

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The Boston Beer Party, Durban

 

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Boston Breweries, situated in Paarden Eiland, Cape Town, Western Cape has been brewing expertly crafted beers for many, many years now, but they were officially registered in 2000 when they took Slaapstad by storm. And man! Have they come a long way in 17 years! They won popular acclaim in South Africa so quickly that to keep up with the demand, they had to advance from a modest 100 litre system to the production of 8000 litres per month, and then even further to an impressive current brewing capacity of 32000 litres of beer in just 1 month.

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Chris Barnard, the Chief Brewer and founder of Boston Breweries was always passionate about beer, but after travelling the world, tasting many a foreign beer and catching a mere glimpse of the potential that South African beer could have, he made a decision that would change not only his life, but also take the craft beer scene in Cape Town, and now South Africa, to a whole nother level.

Boston Breweries now boasts 12 different types of craft beer, that not only have beautifully designed labels to match that beer’s individual personality, but also offer their own unique flavours and distinct tasting notes that make them stand out from the rest of the craft beers on the market.

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But what really makes Boston Brewery beers so special? If it’s not enough that their range of crisp, tasty craft beers offer something for everyone, even the non-beer lovers, then maybe the fact that all their beers are 100% hand made and naturally brewed using malted barley, water, yeast and hops will win you over? Or the fact that Chris Barnard himself personally checks and tastes every single batch of beer that is brewed before it is approved for production. Or maybe that the equipment maintenance at all their supplier restaurants and pubs is closely monitored by Boston to ensure it is methodically carried out in a meticulously timeous manner. What more could you ask for? Try one today!

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But first let me tell you about the party that I had the pleasure of throwing last weekend, sponsored by Boston Breweries, centred around a taste testing of their 12 varieties of beers. Hear the opinions of the people, first hand, right here, right now.

We got the party off to a great start in the late afternoon. It was a typically sweltering hot and humid Durban summer day when even the evening approaching doesn’t offer any sort of relief. But we did have one form of relief. The hot and bothered guests arrived to not only a glistening pool begging to be embraced, but also an assortment of free freezing cold Boston Beers chilling in cooler boxes overflowing with ice blocks. Accompanied by some party tunes, girl talk and guy talk around the pool, there was nothing more we needed for a night we would never forget (except for maybe some Tequila shots to get everybody even more loosened up and into both the competitive and social spirit).

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Why competitive you say? Well for the Boston Breweries Beer Tasting Challenge of course. It’s hilarious the different sides that come out as soon as you mention a test. All the super competitive over-achievers start filling in their forms before everyone else, looking over their shoulders to make sure nobody is copying them, the panickers get sweaty palms and start stuttering, and the cheaters stand out like sore thumbs. It was Team 1 vs. Team 2. Each team tasted 5 different beers and then had to guess the tasting notes. Team 1 consisted of 3 guys and 2 girls, and Team 2 of 2 guys and 3 girls. And the ages ranged from 25 to 41. We had a nice cultural mix of South Africans, Americans, Dutch-Indonesion/ Germans, English and Swiss to ensure we had a fair worldly case study (just kidding, that was totally by accident). All the ladies except 2 were beer drinkers, but those who did like beer said that they preferred lighter, more fruity beers with less of a hops aftertaste. Of course all the guys love beer and most also agreed that lighter, easy to drink beers were their favourite.

Each team had to rate the beers allocated to them on a scale from 1 to 5 and tell us what they liked about each beer. In Team 1 the Wild Honey Blonde came out tops and even when comparing what the 2 ladies liked vs. the 3 guys, this drink STILL took the top spot. The team described it as light, with very little hops aftertaste, and sweet with pleasant undertones of honey, mead and molasses.

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In Team 2, Whale Tale Ale shot to first place by a long shot but when comparing the 3 ladies to the 2 guys’ opinions, even though the girls still favoured Whale Tale Ale because it was light, easy drinking, the guys raved about the Arid Light, giving it full marks, interestingly also stating that it was light, easy drinking with absolutely nothing to complain about.

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Then came the really fun part, hearing who could guess the correct tasting notes or alternatively what the perfect paired food was for each beer. Well which team had the most sensitive and experienced palates? It was a close call, but in the end it was a fair draw, which meant Kit Kats for everyone! Woohoo…sugar!

In addition to that, there were some surprising outcomes from the girls. Alexa may have discovered her new favourite beer – the Wild Honey Blonde and Minette fell in love with the Pumpkin Ale. She really enjoyed the clear notes of Pumpkin & Cinnamon – something she said she could see herself serving to family and friends at Christmas time. Minette is an Art Director come Graphic Designer for Mr Price so it definitely means something when she says she also loved all the label designs!

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After consuming a fair amount of beer, we were definitely ready to eat and line our stomachs for some more beer! As is customary with SA braais, far too much braai meat was passed around with delicious sides of Greek salad with homemade croutons and a blue cheese & bacon potato salad dished up onto paper plates with plastic cutlery (is there any other way? Roughing it & loving it!) The group spread themselves out around the pool, legs dangling in the water and sipping on their next beer, chatting about anything and everything, and feeling very excited about the band now having full bellies and getting ready to perform.

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Johnny & Gabriel from the Holy Smokes & the Godforsaken Rollers, all the way from the States, graced us with an unforgettable acoustic performance and had us in a trance with their hauntingly beautiful voices, totally on-key whistling and catchy melodies you can’t help but tap your foot to. Their “dirty south” music fueled by a harmonica, a banjo, a guitar, and a violin was absolute goosebump material and we felt so honoured to have had them play and set the mood at our party (for free Boston Breweries beer of course).

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We were having such a good time that we didn’t even get around to playing Beer Pong. Chilled vibes on the lounger chairs under the starry sky & banana trees, with crazy dogs entertaining you, tends to do that to you.

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We finished the night off with some dancing around the pool and a late night dip. True friendships and tight connections were formed that night and it was all thanks to Boston Breweries. Thank you to Jacqui & the team for giving me this opportunity and for sponsoring the beers. It was an absolute pleasure hosting the party and exposing people from all over the globe to your gorgeous beers. Thank you also to all my friends especially Karen & Andre for opening up their home to us and Tatiana from lekkerness.com for spending all that time snapping so many of the party photos.

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For more info on their range, please read on (descriptions were supplied by Boston Breweries, and photographs taken by myself). For any further info on Boston Breweries, please contact jacqui@bostonbreweries.co.za while their website http://www.bostonbreweries.co.za/ is under construction. Follow me @my_insatiable_appetite on Instagram for more non-stop food porn and subscribe to my blog to receive notifications of upcoming blog posts on recipes and product / restaurant reviews.

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Now what you waiting for?! Go get you some of that Boston Breweries refreshment!

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Lemon & Parsley Prawn Spaghetti

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Nobody wants to come home after work and cook a two to three hour meal, then still have to clean up or fit in gym or help the kids with homework or finish that assignment that you’ve been pushing aside for a week. Not even the biggest foodies can protest to that. So I’ll be posting quite a few recipes this year that all the busy bodies out there will be able to very easily replicate and enjoy. The dishes that take a little bit longer and need a bit more love and attention can be left for the weekend 🙂

This Lemon & Parsley Prawn Spaghetti is the first addition to the quick fix dishes, and is one of those easy mid-week meals that is so tasty you’ll want to add it to your list of regular home cooked meals. It’s all about perfectly cooked prawns, complimented by beautiful citrus notes and fresh flat leaf parsley that just lifts all the flavours to that next level.

I hope you enjoy it!

RECIPE

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • Enough tagliatelle or spaghetti for 2 servings
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Approximately 16 prawns if large or more if medium or small sized (fully defrosted, deshelled and deveined)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • A handful of Italian parsley (half roughly chopped, the rest left as loose leaves)
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed and chopped)
  • Freshly ground salt & pepper
  • Ina Paarman Pasta Spice

Method:

  • Pat your prawns dry with a clean cloth to remove as much moisture as possible (otherwise you’ll end up boiling your prawns instead of searing them)
  • Start boiling your pasta in a pot of water, salt & olive oil and cook until al dente
  • Meanwhile, on high heat, in a large frying pan, melt some butter and fry up your prawns to get a nice char on both sides then set aside before they are fully cooked through.
  • Turn your pan down to low to medium heat and add some more butter to the pan
  • Fry your garlic until just cooked, turn the heat up to medium to high while adding the prawns, chopped parsley, lemon zest and juice
  • As it starts boiling, add your al dente pasta to the pan and toss to distribute (you can also dish your pasta into 2 serving bowls first then pour the prawn mixture and juice over the top)
  • Split the mixture between two serving bowls, and garnish with the loose parsley leaves, salt & pepper to taste and a sprinkling of Ina Paarman Pasta spice
  • Enjoy!

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Christmas Corned Tongue, with Carrot & Cauliflower Purée

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Pickled Tongue with Carrot Purée

For me, Christmas has never been about the gifts and the tree. Sure we spent a few nights as a family listening to Boney-M and Mariah Carey Merry Xmas, while decorating the Christmas tree and wrapping presents, but this was not what I looked forward to the most. I’m sure you’ve already guessed it, but of course it’s the food that was only served on Christmas and New Years Day, that really got me excited about the holidays. Mama’s table was always predicably but satisfyingly filled with the same delights every year: mock crayfish cocktail, corned beef, smoked gammon, crispy roast chicken and trifle, but the pièce de résistance for me was always the pickled tongue. The December holidays were incomplete without it.

I always kept a close eye on the tongue once it was brought to the table and strategically positioned myself so that I was within arm’s reach of it once the serving started. I truly believe there was an unspoken competition amongst the tongue lovers in the family (the majority of us) to see who was going to get the most tongue onto their plate without looking like a glutton, and who could finish their first helping fast enough to get in there for seconds. I have always been a slow eater so I never got seconds but I just made sure that I had enough on my plate from the get go. And who could blame us for this culinary tug of war? Warm lashings of pickled beef tongue, slightly salty, slightly sweet and tenderness for days. And what better time to indulge and savour this meat delicacy than during the Festive Season.

I would go as far as to say I prefer this offal to a fillet steak. Yes, I just said that. So if you haven’t tried it yet, you really need to. Be sure to buy the right accompaniments though and never buy a tongue that isn’t already pickled unless you plan to make a homemade brine and pickle it yourself in herbs & spices for at least 14 days.

I love both sweet and sour flavour combinations with my tongue so I usually make a sweet carrot purée  or orange and parsley soaked carrots with slightly salty creamed spinach and serve that with an array of mustards including the amazing sour tarragon Dijon mustard my sister and brother-in-law bought us from Yuppiechef, and sweet Wholegrain and Honey Mustard. If you like a hit of heat in your meals, then a little Hot English Mustard is also delicious.

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Pickled Tongue with Orange juice & Parsley soaked Carrots and Creamed Spinach
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Tarragon Dijon Mustard

This year I am adding cauliflower purée because I just HAVE to try and recreate the Masterchef Australia plate smear using George Calombaris’s cauliflower purée recipe 🙂

Enjoy and have a most delicious Xmas!

RECIPE

Serves: 3 – 5 (depending on everyone’s level of gluttony)

Ingredients:

For the tongue:

  • 1kg pickled beef tongue
  • 4 bay leaves
  • A handful parsley
  • ½ onion, halved
  • 1 heaped tsp. wholegrain mustard
  • 2 heaped tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. whole peppercorns
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • 3 carrots (peeled and cut into 1/3s) from a 1 kg bag
  • 3 garlic cloves (halved and squashed)

For the purées:

  • Approximately 30g butter
  • The rest of the 1kg bag of carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 200g cauliflower (finely chopped)
  • ½ cup milk (I used vanilla milk which was delicious)
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly ground salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

For serving:

  • Tarragon Dijon Mustard or Honey Mustard or Wholegrain Mustard or Hot English Mustard

 

Method:

Pickled Tongue:

  • Throw all of the tongue ingredients above into a large pot of water, stir and bring to the boil while covered
  • Turn the heat down to 3 or 4, replace the lid and cook the tongue for 30 minutes per 500g plus an extra hour, turning the tongue over halfway through. The tongue must be very soft when piercing it with a fork. If not, let it cook for another 30 min until tender
  • In the last 30 mins, start cooking your carrots and cauliflower as per below
  • When the tongue is done, remove it from the pot, place on a heat proof surface and allow to cool slightly before you carefully start removing the skin
  • Place the peeled tongue back in the pot to soak up the flavours left in the water until your carrots & cauliflower purées are ready to be served.

Carrot Purée:

  • Steam the carrot chunks until just soft
  • Purée the carrots in a blender and season with salt & pepper
  • If your carrots are sweet, there is no need to add anything else, but you may want to run some butter and brown sugar through your purée if it tickles your fancy
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Carrot Purée

Cauliflower Purée

  • Add 20g butter to a sauce pan or pot that has a lid and melt over medium heat
  • Once melted, add the cauliflower, pinch of salt and milk
  • Cover the pan or pot with a lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 8-10 min or until the cauliflower is soft
  • Transfer the cauliflower alone to a blender and add a drizzle of olive oil, 10g butter and a small amount of the leftover milk from the pot
  • Process the cauliflower until smooth and add more of the milk if required.
  • Keep warm until dinner is served

To serve:

  • Using an electric knife, thickly slice the tongue
  • Smear the cauliflower and carrot purée across each plate and lay the tongue slices on top
  • Serve with the mustard sides and enjoy!
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Carrot & Cauliflower Purée smears
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Corned Tongue with cauliflower & carrot purée smears